Monday, July 31, 2017

Destination nowhere?

Even though it was way last week when I attended a panel presentation at the Surrey Art Gallery, I'm still mulling what sort of enlightenment it was supposed to bring. And sadly, I'm still not feeling any more enlightened now than I was then.

I'd understood that the topic, "Reflections on Canada" would offer some kind of vision on what contemporary Canadian Art is, and where it might be going in the future -- especially now that the hoopla over Canada 150 has eased.

The roster of presenters seemed pretty terrific -- a potter, a poet, a musician and an artist. With this in mind, I expected a diverse view of 'art-now'.

Unfortunately, not all of the presenters were there to talk about Canada. One seemed most intent on ensuring we understood she was not 'of Canada' while another spent much of the time displaying a personal C.V. of accomplishments. And as for discussion, there was hardly any. The bulk of the evening had been eaten up by some of the presenters going overtime. Moderator, where were you? Hello...

I was -- and remain -- curious about what constitutes Canadian art. Even in the limited area I know best, literature, it seems to be all over the place.

But maybe place -- the very place each of us stands upon -- is as far as any of can go, whether in understanding or in making art that might (or might not be) 'Canadian'.

Whatever, next time there's a panel on what seems to be a specific topic, I hope it will in some way deliver more on that promise.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What puts the 'festive' in Festival?


For a festival to truly live up to the meaning of the word, it must celebrate a thing or an event. The festival I've just been to takes place every year and the 'thing' it celebrates is a person, Amelia Earhart.

The Amelia Earhart Festival has been a tradition in Atchison, Kansas since 1997, and every summer it seems to only grow bigger and more exciting. This year's festival certainly bore that out, with the town of her birth attracting too many visitors for me to be able to count, though I know that at least one came from as far away as Spain -- and another from Ukraine -- to attend. Truly, a 'round-the-world' celebration!

Although it doesn't officially start until Friday, tradition dictates that the celebrating starts with Thursday evening's fundraiser, an old-fashioned ice cream social. There's an assortment of homemade pies and cakes, plenty of ice cream (at least four flavours to choose from), colourful sprinkles to scatter over top.

Dramatic performances, author readings, a speakers' symposium --  even a carnival of rides in the downtown area -- mean there's something for everyone. Flight aficianados had plenty to be excited about this year, as the airport in Atchison is now home to the last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E, twin to the plane Earhart flew on her last flight. "Muriel" (named after Amelia's sister) is the gorgeous machine pictured above.

And another of this year's highlights had to be a slide presentation by Ann Pellegreno, who successfully followed Earhart's round-the-world circuit in 1967 -- fifty years ago. History alive!

Plenty of visitors come to the Birthplace Museum, where they took plenty of photos of the many articles there that belonged to Amelia and her family.

Culmination of the weekend is always a spectacular display of fireworks set to music. I got to sit in a rocking chair for this, surrounded by friends old and new. What a time!
video


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sunny sunflower for Kansas


It's the state flower of Kansas, the place I'm off to for the next few days. Just the littlest bit of research reveals that Kansans take their state flower seriously -- there's even an ode to it!

I suppose, to be sure I can get back home again, I should take a pair of ruby slippers along. Since I don't have any with jewels, these little red shoes will have to do the trick.

If nothing else, they make me feel happy when I wear 'em.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Rollin' into Stardust

Once upon a time, going to a roller rink was its own kind of social media -- or maybe social milieu would be fairer.

Surrey's Stardust roller rink was just such a place. Even its slogan offered an invitation: "Where meeting people is half the fun!" Only now, after many years (and who knows how many round-and-rounds of wheels), the Stardust is saying its last farewell.

Today is the last day the rink will be open to skaters, with a kind of finale event tonight.

I was surprised to discover that there is no entry on Wikipedia for the Stardust rink. I hope that this will change. One of my best memories of the place was a Grad fundraiser at the school where I worked. We had an all-night skate, or 'Roll-a-Thon' where parents and friends sponsored us to skate from midnight to dawn. Tiring, but fun -- with even a fair bit of money raised for the cause.

The building will be replaced with a 55-storey building, but I'm sure there are more than 55 stories with their origin this particular heritage site.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Summer dreams

One of my favourite summer pleasures is sleeping outdoors. The cool night air fills my lungs, freshening them and refreshing me.

No tent this year -- at least not yet -- just a long couch nestled beneath the cedars.

Morning birdsong is so much better than hearing an alarm. Watching the gradual lighting of the sky so much calmer than turning on a light switch.

When I woke here, I lay still for quite a long while, just taking in the possibilities of another new day.

Looking at the greenery above me, it gave a whole new meaning to the concept of a canopy bed. Such sweet dreams lying under the real thing.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Incongruities abound


Initially eager to observe this year's Canada Day, I hung the big flag outside the front door and charged ahead making a treat I usually only make at Christmas.

Butter tarts, a treat I think of as quintessentially Canadian, even though my recipe doesn't contain that most quintessentially Canadian ingredient, maple syrup.

Yet finding one last bucket of strawberries in the fridge from last Sunday's pick meant I was baking wintry treats in summer -- at the same time I was needing to slice berries for the freezer -- for wintry treats.

This somehow felt like a happy juxtaposition, a sunny kind of parallel, even complementary -- a yin and yang of seasons, of oven and freezer.

Tonight was another tradition -- the fireworks show on the beach in White Rock. As always, crowds of people streamed down the hills towards the sea, looking for the best vantage point for viewing. We managed a spot along the boardwalk, just below the train tracks that run the length of the beach. When we heard a train go by shortly before the show started, we thought that would be good to have it out of the way before everyone got down there.

But then in the midst of the celebratory display, not just one, but two more trains came through. Tanker cars, black. To me, ominous-looking as they rumbled along so close to those thousands of people -- young and old, so many families and groups of friends -- who'd been talking and laughing and pointing at the colours in the sky.

Black metal train cars carrying something toxic. Even their sound overshadowed the fireworks. American train on Canada Day. Talk about stealing someone's thunder.