Saturday, August 31, 2013

pretty daze

The pause before the headlong rush into life, Labour Day weekend lends itself to lazy contemplation. With delightful bipolarity, Arizona-hot days morph into extra blanket nights. Morning shadows stretch out and slow the movement away from coffee pot and easy chair.  I crave new pencil crayons and unchewed erasers.

Under turning leaves at Casa del Zombie, milestones are marked. Notably, the Spousal Unit chalks up 30 years with Company X. Retirement inches closer, counted down in trips to the Lebanese barber. 

Coastally, the Offspring moves into new digs today. An entire house this time - mid-century ranch - with a yard and a windows above ground, close to campus. Five will share the space, a mix of Canadian and American, female and male, old friends and new. The excitement is palpable in her keystrokes, amplified by the finality of no longer being asked by the landlord's mother to stream Farsi soap operas every 45 minutes. This being the first unfurnished rental place, though, I foresee a couple of weeks of thrift store scouring and alley furniture picking in her future.

For me, there is a little loin girding to be done, in amongst the delicious laziness. Preparing for a few more weeks of every-day, full-time, just-like-normal-people downtown work weighs a little on my mind, not gonna lie. Preparing meals after getting home at 6:30, packing lunches right after dinner, collapsing on the chesterfield before an early bed, I am still unaccustomed to that routine. And squeezing in my freelance work is challenging. 

But I did finally buy some proper office attire, so that my coworkers no longer have to look at me wearing the same ratty clothes every day. I've got this.

Monday, August 26, 2013


What is it about clouds that makes us get lost in them? Sure, there's the whole that one looks like a puppy and that one looks like an evil axe-murderer clown thing. And there's the fact that clouds draw your eyes up from the screen or the page in front of your nose (or the to-do list bouncing around in your pre-frontal cortex) and make you consider the larger, much larger, picture. Clouds are, after all, but curtains drawn over the portal to the cosmos.

We channel our inner farmers' almanac to read the coming weather in the skies - wispy streaks of cirrus, billowing altocumulus that hint at a building thunderstorm, the towering thunderhead of cumulonimbus that leaves no doubt. We can read the future in the clouds.  Or at least whether or not to bring an umbrella tomorrow.

And even more, we can read the past. It's hard not to consider that this is the same sky - the same clouds - that the dinosaurs gazed at idly as they chewed their palm fronds, contemplating that the cloud over there looks an awful lot like an evil axe-murderer clown.

Let's hear it for the water cycle.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

speed date

It's all been rather whirlwindy. We made the 10 hour trek to the lake place the morning after we said a regretful goodbye to the OFKAR at the airport. We spent a few days finishing the siding on the foundation, then turned around and raced back home to do laundry, buy groceries and dole out feline belly rubs, before I headed downtown for a week of full-time every single day work. Just like normal people do. 

I have no idea how other people ever get anything done when they have to leave the house at 7 in the morning and don't get back till 6. Evidently I am lacking real world survival skills. 

It has quickly become abundantly clear that I also lack proper office clothes.

But I am enjoying hanging out with my work colleagues, people whom I normally only see in passing as I come in for a shift when they are leaving for home. They don't even seem to mind seeing me in the same ratty clothes every day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

high art of river crossing

We didn't do nearly as much city hiking as we normally do, but we did manage to get a couple of hoods explored. I had to admit, shamefacedly, that I had never actually walked over the controversial Santiago Calatrava bridge before. 

I have driven by countless times, of course, always admiring the dramatic statement the bridge makes. And of course I always think "I have got to walk over that giant red Chinese finger trap bridge sometime". But of course, I never actually have time to stop.

That's just one more reason why I love it when the OFKAR comes home to visit. It gives me license to take pause and to be a tourist in my own town.

What touristy things do you want to do in your own city?

Sunday, August 11, 2013


It's not fair. 

If nobody wants the visit to end, not even the cat, you should be automatically allowed to extend it as long as you want. Responsibility be damned.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

sing in uneasy time

Sing to the Moon - Laura Mvula

There has been no shortage of praise among music critics for Laura Mvula's recently released debut album, Sing to the Moon. The classically-trained British soul and jazz singer has scooped up plenty of critical acclaim for her highly stylized gospeldelic sound. Filled with intensely layered doo-wop harmony, time changes and highly unusual compositions, the songs on Sing to the Moon are certainly distinctive, but they can sometimes be a challenging listen.

There is no denying the beauty of Mvula's versatile voice and the unique composition of her songs, but personally I found much of the music on the album to be either draggy or grating. Though comparisons to icons like Nina Simone are certainly valid, it's bands like Tune-Yards (who I like in small doses) and The Dirty Projectors (who I cannot tolerate), that spring immediately to my mind, thanks to Mvula's liberal use of time change and melody interruption.

The more upbeat tracks like the finger-snapping gem Green Garden, That's Alright and Flying Without You (which breaks down into a horn-filled extravaganza) were lively enough to allow me to appreciate the unusual structure while still being pacified by a steady beat. I wish there had been more songs like that on Sing to the Moon.

Sing to the Moon is not for everybody and it certainly isn't a comfortable album for people who, like myself, are irritated by discordant structure. But I would encourage anyone to listen and decide for yourself if it speaks to you.

Monday, August 05, 2013

inner Escher

How do you follow up a visit to the museum to see the M.C. Escher exhibition? 

You go inside a giant head and you take photographs out through the ear, of course.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

till we drop

With folk fest now safely behind us, the Offspring and I have been spending an extraordinary amount of time doing something that I normally shun as a necessary evil. To be honest, though, I've been having a lot of fun shopping this past week.

A large part of the fun, of course, is just being able to spend time with her. Hitting a few favourite haunts, including the usual thrift stores, brings a comfortable nostalgia to this visit, and helps me ignore the fact that it will be over again in a week. And what parent doesn't secretly love blowing money on their kid?

There's the added benefit of no longer having any excuse not to replace those falling apart items that I have been trying to squeeze an extra month or two of life from. You should see the new purse I am sporting these days - no more duct tape and gordian knot straps. 

I feel like such a grownup.