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Category Archives: out of the house and wanderin’

6 feet in the rain

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 There’s a puddle on the floor just below my coat and it’s shedding a slow drip-drip of water.  It’s seriously raining and Hank and I arrived back to my place soaked. We of our matching purple coats. It’s a funny coincidence really. I’m a big fan of purple but I didn’t buy his coat. And even though we have matching coats he attracts a lot more looks than I do. He’s really quite handsome and a lot of people want to pet him. Yes, Hank’s a dog. A very striking little Jack Russell and I take care of him for a friend. We’re walking from his place to mine and I do my best to avoid some of the biggest puddles since he travels only about 6 inches from the ground. The route we walk today is different from the last. It’s different every time. I like to walk the half hourish distance a different way every time. There’s so much I discover on these journeys and it’s all my newly adopted neighbourhood. When I lived downtown before I lived across town by the park and I didn’t really come over this way. I especially didn’t spend a lot of time anywhere near Railway town where Hank lives except for the odd foray into Gastown.

Today our trip takes us more through Chinatown and I notice how gentrified it really is becoming. I mean, I know it’s happening but to really see the scope of it is sort of jarring. Expensive coffee shops, restaurants and shops have cropped up that I probably wouldn’t go into. They are the arenas of hipsters.

Normally, spending a lot of time in this sort of weather would make me walk all the faster to get out of it, but with Hank it’s OK, even though we are getting soaked. Although I imagine he isn’t enjoying today as much as he does the sunny days we walk through even if he’s a dog wearing a coat. 

people watching

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Everybody people watches, in one way or another. Once upon a time a friend and I would sit on a bench at the beach with our morning coffee and watch people passing by. We sat drinking our coffee and as each group neared we concocted outlandish stories based on the impressions of what we saw. It wasn’t mean-spirited in any way. It was more an expansion of what we might think if we had simply walked by them on the street.

I don’t make up stories anymore, well not really, but now I want to know the story. I want to know the 5 W’s of their daily lives. It’s more because I’m curious and just a tad nosy. Now as I sit passively, keenly taking note of details, I wonder. It’s what I do out of habit more than entertainment.

Yesterday an Asian man sat across from me wearing a mustard coloured jacket and heavy boots. Both seemed like were far too big for him. He’s doing that obnoxious man spreading thing and beside him sits a giant bag (doubly bad). He would be what someone would call nondescript perhaps; a little mussed with a receding hairline and thick glasses. He held his hands in a strange manner and it immediately piqued my curiosity. Then he pushed the glassed up his nose and I caught a flash of colour on his thumbs. A little while later he checked his watch and I saw all his nails were painted a deep blood red. Then as he had before he tucked his fingers into a fist, tucking in his thumbs into his hands, hiding his nails and he became just another person riding the train. And there was me on the other side of the aisle, still wanting to know why. A phrase popped into my head “what’s your story morning glory?”.

Easy like…

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I went for a walk this morning, not willingly. I had to force myself out of the house. The sun is still hiding behind a thick layer of grey and I wanted nothing more than to curl up into the softness of a blanket and begin binge watching something. I went before my second coffee or crosswords or any distractions could give me an excuse to put it off or not go at all. At first it was just going to walk around the block to say I’d done something but I forced myself down to the sea wall. My hands thrust in my pockets I passed groups of eager runners and the occasional dog walker as the clouds dispensed a pit pat of misty rain. I managed 25 minutes of striding with some purpose before looping around back toward home. As I neared the paper box I realized the paper’s not published on Sunday although the happy reward was that someone had left the display paper behind. I’ll get some brain exercise as well. Look at me go.

Heart sings it

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I went to the river market for the curious flea but found not much of interest so I carried on. I don’t feel bad about it. It is what is. To be frank the whole market has been a bit of a disappointment since it opened. It utterly lacks luscious mounds of vegetables and fruits and other foods in explosions of colours and smells and noises delighting the senses. It is not the market shopping experience one might expect to find at most markets, but it is ours in my neighbourhood, so I continue to visit, on the off chance that something will have changed and for a destination on a dreary day such as today.

On my way through to the market to pick up odds and sods for the week at the grocery store that anchors the whole affair, I pass wild rice and I couldn’t resist the temptation for a decadent afternoon drink so I doubled back and went in. I ordered the lotus and an impossibly teeny appetizer dish of Sui Mai (dumplings) and the lotus. Lingering over the 4 them, savouring the mixture of flavours I contemplated my latest solo excursion.

It’s one thing to strike out and do your own thing; follow your own whimsy, it’s another to find yourself bored with your own company after a mere few hours. I seek out the new friends I have made but they are otherwise engaged or simply don’t answer back. It looks like it will be just me and my cat for the rest of the day. That’s okay, Bijou is a warm lap dog of a cat and she will greet me like I’ve been gone forever and follow me around the apartment until I sit down. Then she will pad around me waiting for me to get comfortable so she can too.

It’s been just she and I for awhile now. Again. At first I enjoyed the luxury of the alone time with no one making claims on it, but now I simply pine for human interaction. There’s no spontaneous brunches or wild shopping jaunts down Queen Street or games night at Jay’s. I don’t live in a big thrumming city anymore, and there’s not much to see and do and I struggle with getting to that place where I’m truly OK with it. I’m not as intrepid as I once was, lacking the desire to get on the train and go into Vancouver to walk along the seawall or around my old neighbourhood to reminisce a bit. I find myself living too much inside my head while my life gets smaller around me. This is not about woe is me, this is just a place where I am at right now and that’s just a fact. I am working on it. I’ve been meaning to for a long time, but now it is simply an absolute necessity.

loving a rainy night

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i went out after dinner and dawdled back. it's
raining, but i don't care. i'm just glad not to be working anymore. this is the longest week i can recall in recent memory, though i know i've had my share in the past few years having climbed the steep curve of learning in a few different jobs.

the sweet relief of not having to rack my brain to find some elusive missing iota of information is incredibly liberating.  it's not that i learned how to launch rockets or anything, but this
past week has proven challenging to say the least. if the possible side effect of cramming too much stuff into your head is a giant headache, i experienced it; with tertiary symptoms of feeling extraordinarily obtuse and dense. to be honest, i really don't want to do this job, i am simply compelled by financial desperation and need, so from the corner i will attempt to work out to a better place.

there's the faint aroma of lilacs in the air…….my favourite. nature's aromatherapy…

the pit-pat of droplets is comforting and i take the long way back. down the street, bypassing the crosswalks, opting for the corner and the streetlight. i don't trust drivers at the best of times. 

i ponder again the empty lot on e. columbia and think to myself that a community garden would be perfectly suited for the spot. loads of room. put that on my long list of things to do. how does one make that happen?

a young man startles me from my reverie as he passes on my left. i have seen him around and on the bus. he's got a startling handsome face; lightly flushed, all angles and perfect stubble. his hair is cut fashionably  long, deliberately studied and messy. most women would kill for that head of hair. i had made the assumption that he worked as a mechanic or some similar profession judging by the coveralls he's in the habit of wearing, and has on again tonight. they seem distinctly at odds with his bearing. he is carrying a giant sign that boldly states simply "hello you chicken faced c***" or a sentiment very similar. the c***is covered haphazardly by a piece of paper, but since he is carrying it upside down the message is easily read. as he carries on down the street i wonder who the recipient of this rancor might be.

a softball game of intrepid players is taking place on the soft carpet of emerald in the park. a flash at the top of the steep incline of the road catches my eye; a cyclist is aggressively pumping his arms in the air as he begins to gain swift momentum.

finding coffee and sunshine on a sunday morn

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down at the local s/bux. out of coffee at home. It's a mild and bright early morning. a bird trills a melody from somewhere in a tree i can't see. chwee-u-chwee-u-chwee-u—-chirup-chirup-chirup-chirup-chirup….i wonder what kind of bird it is. i've heard the call in other places other times.

i opt for drip coffee and it is bland, unusual for starbucks. brown water. makes me smile small and think of baghdad cafe. a memorable line (to me) attributable to the character of a stern german woman. i'll have to see the whole movie again to recall the rest.

a dapper man with his two daughters inhabit a bench down the way. he is as subdued as they are frenzied. they take off running and he begins a process of tedious shushing; warning them off this tree and that bush. they're not listening. after awhile he gets off his ass and makes a lame attempt at properly reining them in and they literally begin to run circles around him.there's a playground close by but he seems intent on sticking to the sterile confines of the concrete plaza.

a woman with two dogs–a giant doberman who fairly drags her, and a tiny, ancient black chihuahua arrives–she apologizes in advance for…..and then the barking ensues….so much for peace. i'm familiar with them both, the doberman is most memorable because he let's off a series of bellowing barks as soon as his owner is out of sight and doesn't stop until she gets back. apparently, this is normal behaviour for him. i wonder idly what must happen when she, say, goes to work every day. the little chihuahua is far more cagey and subtle. he prances over to the door a few beats behind her and almost slips into the store when a couple of patrons leave. once she returns to the table the barking, a few people in the smoking circle strike up dog talk with her. the dobie is still a puppy and the greying chuhuahua is 8. he began to go salt and pepper when he was 3. he only looks like a senior citizen. i don't see dobermans very often.  most people have wandered off into designer dog territory or opted favour of other currently popular breeds like birnese water dogs. bubba is a majestic highstepper, and clearly a sweetheart, but i can see where they got their guard dog rep from. i'd definitely back off if he started roaring an earnest fuck off or die bark at me.

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I walked up the hill on a mission. Big SLR in tow. It's time for its workout. I've got my little elph as a control, because, in all honesty, sometimes, or usually, it takes better pictures, but they are related so it's all OK. And, perhaps it is the user.


The cherry trees that line the fence by the local school at the top of the hill are in full bloom; a showy pale pink profusion of colour against the clear deep blue of the sky. Parked cars are in my way, and worse, obnoxious signage and wires mar the desire effect. I just cant get that image I had visualized. *sigh* Onward. The local cemetery intrigues me. All cemeteries do. It's as if I can feel the energy of the people who now inhabit the spaces under the earth.

The day seems downright cheery belied only by the bite in the air. Today is as good as any, so today is the day. I tentatively enter the cemetery even though anyone can enter. Many of the stones lay unevenly, almost haphazardly as if they were strewn as not so much carefully placed. Some of the markers have sunk into the soft hands of the damp earth. I kneel in front of some to better read what is written; the declarations and homages to loved ones passed. I marvel at the age of some of them. Many of these stones have been here longer than the person lived; a good deal of them. And some of these stones have weathered a hundred years or more of time passing.

I can't help but think about my mom who has no marker, no grave. No place where I can commune with her, should I wish. My grandparents were consigned to the same oblivion. Rumour has it that they were "misplaced" somewhere on the back forty behind my mom's house. Not a horrible fate really, it was an inspired and peaceful oasis back there; a carefully tended miscellany of flora, something my Dutch grandfather (with the proverbial green thumb) would appreciate. For a time, she herself was stowed ignominiously in a crown royal velvet bag that sat by the back door of the house. Tears begin to stream at the thought.

The day isn't as dark  as I would like for a suitably sombre and moody picture and I can't seem to find the right…angle. The results are far less than desirable. 


It was a nice day for a walk, at the very least.


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The bus trundles up the hill and stops just shy of the crest of the hill near cumberland. the thought pops into my head that during our big snow dump of a year or so ago the bus never would have even paused for the girl waiting at that stop or any stop even vaguely resembling an incline. i wondered what it was like to get around new west during that time. as he cruises into the stop, the engine bucks in protest at the deceleration. i swear there's jet engines in the butt of the bus judging by the sounds coming from behind me.

i didn't dilly dally uptown and i feel triumphant at making the entire trip in the 90 minutes allotted by the bus ticket. of course, even with a list, i forgot an item or two. i know part of the reason why, though. i trolled the aisles of the save on foods searching high and low for udon noodles. i finally asked for some assistance from a stocking clerk. turns out they are kept in the refrigerator section of the produce section, where they keep sprouts and special vegetables. he was clearly in a chatty mood and asked me if i made my own broth and i confessed i didn't but used a packet seasoning that i got at a japanese specialty food store in the west end thinking that would be the end of it but he followed me and engaged me a little while longer.

the weather has abruptly turned from a pleasant spring day a black angry sky threatening rain. a few spats of rain hit me as i turn the corner home. laundry and sundry are still on my list of things to do today.

just another day.

thursday meanderings

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I'm at the local s/bux sitting in my absolutely favourite chair. It's an armless high back swivelling upright that sort of defies description. It's placed near the window in a grouping of similarly groovy but disparate chairs. I slip into the travelling fantasy, ignoring the familiar landscape; tapping my toes to the music and turning to and from the window–to to observe passersby and from to take in the coffeehouse patrons. i applied for a job here, and though the manager really likes me the process has been slowed to nothing by an absentee "DM" that's s/bux speak for the guy that's bigger than her, who has the ultimate veto or approval power. i remain hopeful. as companies go, some of our values align and there is growth potential, and company support;  learning and other initiatives. Of course this is all fuzzy grey feelgood stuff she's outlined for me enthusiastically. we were speaking in the great big vague picture sorta way.

Another shop is moving out of the area, or "migrating" as they so eloquently put it. it wasn't really an anchor, but it was a big storefront at the end of the street, and a gaping hole will be left once it is absent. strange this area, considering all the condo and apartment dwellers, one would think the streetscape much more lively and certainly offering more in the way of shops and amenities for the people of the area. in an idle conversation i had with someone they posited it would suit oldtimers just fine if it stayed this way. Nice and quiet. At the current rate of attrition the street will be deserted before long. Frankly, I'd much rather shop at an efficient, practical grocery store in the neighbourhood. there's always 7-eleven for emergency buys.

I read in an article pasted up in farm cottage deli that the market–when it opens in "the summer"–will be mostly food oriented, which will make it a lovely destination. there's no firm re-opening date yet. it was supposed to be a year from just before we moved into the area and that year has come and gone. i really can't wait. two skytrain stops out of oblivion.

They've revamped the menu at the deli, so you can't build-your-own sandwich anymore, instead making you choose from 3 meats and one veg selection. my mouth was fairly salivating by the time i got it home and sat down to eat, but i noticed that the ingredients have changed as well, going the way of subpar. My sandwich was practically inedible and cost $1 more than only a short time ago.  i really found myself wishing I'd gone to subway. far more bang for the buck, and….tastier.

snowman cometh

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we've had a light sprinkling of snow in the past few days. just enough to brighten the otherwise dull landscape. it lifts the spirits as well. there's something so clean and fresh about snow. the quality of the air seems different, crisp and renewed. deep breaths of it are a tonic for the spirit.

i went out today for a few items–forgetting one, par for the course–though i don't stay out long. there's only so much aimless wandering i can do at the mall and the surrounding area. the idea was to go out and get back. i got back to the bus stop early before he left the loop early to trundle slowly up the hill. i had a spot of content warming my chest. these moments are fleeting.

i gazed out the window letting my eyes flit over the the brightened scenery as it passed by. 11 days to christmas and i've done almost nothing to prepare for christmas. it doesn't help i don't have a spare sou to spend on the event. and i'm just not really in the mood.

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