The mundane peculiarities of life have stacked up in a way that has thwarted any chance of Kelly and I going off somewhere for a vacation, even a short one, right now when she’s off work. She’s got a series of days right now when I still have job stuff to show up for, in other words. In a couple weeks’ time the reverse will be true–she’ll be commuting to her exciting new job while I have a week of loaf.
It happens, it’s no huge deal, and in the meantime I’m taking as much downtime as I can while she’s off. This morning, for example, we ambled to Gastown and tried out a new cafe, Finch’s Tea and Coffee House, that makes excellent tea, delicious little breakfasts and, from the looks of things, has a lot of potential for excellent sandwich. It’s a quaint, cute, inexpensive and somehow English-seeming place.
Then we came back to East Van, bought every delicious thing we could find at the produce store, including two pounds of strawberries, and I napped!
A half-day in, the so-called staycation has, in other words, been restful and comfortable. All that’s really lacking is the “We saved our pennies and went went Here! To this really cool place! On a plane! Or maybe by sled dog! And did this wholly sexy thing that doesn’t exist in Vancouver! Here’s pictures.”
Instead I can tell you that last weekend we went to Burnaby Lake! On the Skytrain! And hiked about eight kilometers. Where I captured a blurry redwing blackbird.
Redwings can be rather unrewarding subjects. When they’re sitting still, which is never, their colored patches aren’t all that interesting. The rest of the time they look like this, only usually the color contrast isn’t as interesting.
Thought balloon: Dammit, I promised myself I would actually bring some of the flowers in from the garden this year, and have them in the house. I’m going to do that right now.
(Chop, chop, chop. Rend.)
Alyx: EEEEE! A bee, a bee, hiding in the crocus pretending to drown, undercover homicidal bumblebee of death, OMG, I’m going to dieeeee!!!!
(Run. Run. Crash. Pant pant pant pant.)
Thought balloon: Oh, no, I’ve probably killed her. Poor bumblebee! What can I do? I will rescue her! But wait! What if she suddenly comes to life and stings me to DEATH?? God, I hope the cats don’t eat her while I sit here waffling. OMG, what if she stings Minnow on the tongue? Extend your reach. That was what you did with drowning victims, right? Maybe a tablespoon?
Alyx: La la la… we’re all very calm heeeere.
All very calm… look, would you grab the fucking spoon already… yes, very calm…
Okay, bee. You can dry off there. Or freeze. I will say if you’re not gonna make it, I’d prefer it if you climbed over the edge of the flower box and plummeted three floors to your death so I don’t have to deal with guilt. Or your zombie sting-you-even-in-death corpse.
Alyx: Would you be more photogenic if I moved the spoon?
(Click click click click click click…)
The sad part is I’ve had similar encounters where the bee came off far worse. She seemed pretty robust after it all. And was obediently making for the edge of the window box when last I saw her.
Kelly and I try to get out for at least one long walk each weekend, and Saturday we set out south. The thought was we’d go up to the high point on Clark Drive–where one of Vancouver’s best views can be had–then take the bike path east to Main Street. I don’t usually spend much time on Main, but the past few weekends I’ve been there a lot, and Saturday’s excuse was that I had a gift certificate from Front & Company. Also key to the whole scheme was a stop at the soon to be closed Re-entry Espresso for a last banana chocolate muffin.
We were on 29th & John when the first flakes started coming down, tiny barely visible bits of ice, so sparse you could count them. Here a flake, there a flake, not a threat of snow, barely a tease. The light had the uncompromising steely palette of a horror movie and it was quiet, but for the periodic caw of a crow.
We got to Reentry to find a wake in progress; all the neighborhood regulars were in for a last shot of decent espresso and to write up good wishes on brightly colored pieces of paper. The farewell notes got stuck to the window as patrons were leaving. We arrived just as someone vacated one of their mini-booths so I parked my butt, claiming the space…
…where I immediately attracted a bright-eyed four year old girl, who began petting the other seat–where K would eventually sit–covetously. She had the charming, hopeful gleam of a baby bird spotting a worm.
“You can sit for awhile,” I told her.
She slid in all the way to the wall. Introduced herself as Kimmy, shook my hand with enough vigor that I was afraid she’d smack my overworked, chronically sore paw into the table, and yanked up her skirt to show me her tights. They were very fine tights, pink, with both stripes and hearts. I told her I’d wear them.
She then cast those hopeful peepers on my hat.
It is quite the fab hat. Barb bought it for me a few Christmases ago, and it is colorful and reversible.
I told Kimmy she could try it on. She did, with great delight, and suddenly I had three kids in the bench across from me… another girl had joined us along with a slightly younger boy. They seemed into the hat but lacked Kimmy’s fashion initative. I flipped it inside out, turning it to a less intimidating black fleece objet, with pink brim. Nope. Kimmy was wild with delirium, but her sidekicks were content to stare.
(I figured hauling out the camera would change the chemistry or there would be pictures).
Then K turned and set our muffins on the table. Boychild snagged the plate, casual as anything. Like: thanks, lady! I had to move fast to rescue our pastries. He didn’t seem to take it personally.
The kids’ fathers–it was a very dad and tot crowd–retrieved them as soon as K was ready to sit. She heard one of of the guys say the cafe was the first place he’d taken his baby by himself. Awww!
So, Reentry, I barely knew ye, but I can see you are already missed.
I am forty-three today, which is amazing in a one hundred percent gratifying way.
Birthday themed celebrations did not include a party, but did include: going to see Jonathan Coulton last Friday, going to le Crocodile for a night of Alsation fare (translation: mountain of pork!), having a fabulous dinner out with my mother, at Salsa and Agave, buying a pretty new dress, having a Sherlock rewatch at home with dessert last night and, um, telling all of you! Whee!
(Yes, there was supposed to be a trip, but it didn’t pan out. We’ll go, but it won’t be a birthday thing.)
I’m not much for presents, but if any of you can arrange for the 2nd Avenue skunk to pause in a photogenic shaft of light when I have my camera at and and ten minutes to spare, I’d be obliged. My current best photo of the beast could be mistaken for a quasar.
I wrote “Origin of Species” at almost exactly the same time as I did “Faces of Gemini” (whose intro is here) and the process was very similar: an anthology invitation from editor Jeanne Cavelos became an outline in point form, which in turn became an outline of detailed sentences. These became a bony first draft in need of fleshing. The two stories feel like siblings of a sort, having come together in this fashion.
I cannot remember how I hit upon the idea of taking Annie Darwin’s ghost and putting her in a Van Helsing story. I knew I didn’t want to set the story in the time of Dracula, didn’t want monster-stalking by gaslight: I figured that the anthology would have plenty of those, written well by people who actually know their Victorian history.
I do know I was deeply pleased with the idea as soon as I conceived it; I vaguely remember that I’d just read Annie’s Box: Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution and had it on my mind, and saw that Annie could be put to good use there.
It felt right, in other words, which is no doubt another reason why the story came together so fast.