Friday, February 28, 2014

Houston, we have a problem

If I was the suspicious type, I would suspect that Houston's G. Bush Intercontinental Airport has got something personal against my man. Perhaps we should not have mocked its namesake as much as we did, back in the day.

On the way to Mexico on the weekend, the Spousal Unit was delayed in Houston for 8 hours,on the same day that a blogger friend was also cooling her heels in the exact same airport, on what would turn out to be a 40-hour trip home from Mexico. So I guess he was lucky.

Today, he was delayed at G Bush Intercon for 3.5 hours. 

Interestingly, the Air Canada flight tracker still shows the flight as leaving and arriving on time. It's airline magic!

The SRK is now in serious needs of those belly rubs that only her daddy can give. 
In much cheerier news, I was chuffed to see my byline in today's Calgary Sun. I'll be contributing to a regular feature all about the National Music Centre which will grace the Show Biz section every Friday. I'll be darkening those pages about every two weeks, but you should pick up the Calgary Sun every Friday to learn about all the cool goings on. 

/shameless self-promotion


Saturday, February 22, 2014

dear Maui: it's not you, it's me

Maui is an incredibly lovely island, bursting with colours and sounds and textures that I have never experienced elsewhere. Which means, obviously, that it is totally wrong for me.

It's not even the fact that Maui is an island (because we all know how freaked out I get by islands) or that the sun is 3.7 million times stronger than I expected it to be. Oh no wait, that was partly it, actually. This is not the ideal spot for a person with sun allergies.

I did manage to find a few lovely shady locales, among my favourite being the lobby of the hotel. Which isn't as pathetic as it sounds - it is a stunning lobby, all open on one side, built onto a pool with a waterfall. Small rounded peninsulas jut out into the pool, each appointed with two deep plush chairs and a table with flowers. I wasn't the only person who sat there regularly, watching the resident pelicans and the black swan duke it out with the rather pedestrian (by comparison) mallard duck. From my vantage point, I could also watch the human stream flow by along main traffic area of the lobby, perpendicular to where I sat. I always kept an eye out for the 90-year-old who roamed the lobby in her bikini, clanking her cane whenever she stopped to chat to the regulars. I still regret not taking her photo when I had the chance.

I also missed getting a photo of the slightly younger fellow (by perhaps five years) who hung out at the adult-only anything-goes pool. I really wanted a shot of his bathing trunks, the ones with SPANK written across the ass. When you are in your eighties, you can wear whatever the hell you want.

Perhaps if I hadn't gotten a blister on the bottom of my foot on the first day there, a blister which took a turn for the worse after my fight with the undertow and my subsequent panic-stricken scramble-climb out of the ocean - requiring me to wear shoes and socks for the rest of the week - I would have felt a little less out of place. Not enough to ever go swimming in the ocean again, perhaps - or at least not at a part of the beach where the land drops away sharply and the waves keep knocking you over while the undertow prevents you from standing up again - but at the kiddie beach, maybe. 

Just kidding, there is no kiddie beach. This is not Disneyland. This is a real ocean, fraught with dangers, requiring your respect. There is a reason there are warning signs every 20 metres along the beach. Do not fuck with this ocean.

Not being a beachy person, and not seeing any record shops or book stores in the vicinity, I loved that we went on side trips during which I learned about things I didn't even realize I knew nothing about. Things like pineapple growing, things like coffee production, and the fact that Hawaii only grows 10% of its food and that if it were suddenly cut off from external food supplies, Hawaii would run out of food in two weeks. 

I especially loved the whale watching we did late one afternoon, during which we saw several pods of whales up close and all slappy-fighty. Even better was that dinner that evening was held at the nearby Maui Ocean Centre and was preceded by a tour through the aquarium, complete with appies and drinks, and extended chats with some really knowledgeable and enthusiastic marine biologists. Ever the know-it-all,I even managed to impart a little octopae culture (about Paul the soccer-prognosticating octopus) to one interpreter.

We went to a luau on our last night, along the beach in the harbour town of Lahaina. There were 160 of us, so it was a sitdown meal, rather than the pig in the ground type of luau. The food was interesting and odd, while the entertainment - which featured stories and dances from around Polynesia - was spectacular, particularly against a backdrop of the setting sun over the ocean.

I ate a lot of mahi mahi in Maui, which was to be expected, as it is a delicious fish. Less expected was the amount of eggs benedict and bacon that I managed to consume. Curse you, buffet breakfast!

I have never had pineapple quite like the absolutely perfect fruit we sampled at the Maui Gold pineapple plantation. Apparently the hotels will often buy under-ripe pineapple under the mistaken impression that it will last longer. However pineapple doesn't ripen after it is picked, so it remains hard and pale. Not the same animal at all!

After my infected blister healed, I enjoyed one glorious day of feeling free and islandy (albeit with a steady supply of bandages) in sandals. We hung out at the upper pool at our hotel during the afternoon, in the deepest shade we could find, taking an occasional dip in the adult-only anything-goes pool, sipping on tropical drinks and judging sunbathers harshly. It was glorious. Especially since that night, as the luau drew to a close, I was slammed with a head cold that instantly turned my noggin into a solid wall of snot.

With little sleep that night, the next day spent waiting for our 10:30 pm flight, was tough. I sat in the lobby, mouth-breathing, until we remembered that there was a small whaling museum in the Whalers' Village shopping mall next door. Not only was it a fascinating look at the difficult life faced by early whalers, but I got a senior's discount on my admission. 

It was the perfect way to end our island trip, before the lengthy shuttle bus ride to the airport, followed by passing out on the overnight flight, aided by Nyquil. Much better than on a whaling boat.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

sinking with sharks

what will not be writ 
without a fight. 
Deadline looming, 
brain hurts. 
Why did I not become 
a marine biologist?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Maui wowie

For now, only pictures. Words to follow, sometime after I have erased the sleep debt of a night spent on the plane.

Good thing Maui sunsets speak for themselves. 

In the meantime, while you wait to hear why Maui is paradise, but that I am not built for it, here are some more pictorial highlights.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

nice work if you can get it

The bars here (and there are many of them) all close at 10:30 pm. We figure that's because everybody is up by 6:00 am, out doing their running and/or beach yoga before it gets really hot. By 10 in the morning, everyone has established their spot by one of the pools or on the beach and by noon the drinks are flowing. 

We figure that's why elevator noise turned out not to be that big of an issue at night after all. Since we are okay with being woken at 6 each morning, we opted to stay in our current room. We really do have a splendid view, after all. It was incredibly nice of the concierge to send a bottle of wine up to our room though!

After yesterday's meet and greet and welcome dinner,it was lovely to have an essentially free day today. We originally considered taking a shuttle into Lahaina, but it looked pretty built up with malls and pizza huts when we passed through it on the way from the airport. A little different from the idyllic village that the spousal unit remembered from thirty years ago. So we opted to stay put and do some swimming and sitting.

That ocean is one scary bitch. Those undertows will yank the feet right out from under you and drag you out, only to return you back near the shore with a force that has you skidding along the sandy bottom for several yards. I emptied about 20 pounds of sand out of my bathing suit when we got back to our room. The rest of the afternoon was spent in numerous shady locales poolside.

We'll be sleeping soundly tonight.

Tomorrow - business meeting in the morning for the spousal unit, article writing for me. Whale watching and a group dinner in the afternoon and evening. Free Willy!

Saturday, February 08, 2014


I know it's terribly bad form to bitch and whine when you are in Hawaii, but in the 19 hours since we have landed, I have gotten heat stroke, a blister on the bottom of my foot, and been housed in a room directly beside the elevator shaft. Not separated by a stairwell or an ice machine alcove, but set up so that our heads are directly butting up against the elevator as we lie awake in bed and as it moves among ten stories at all hours of day and night.

That's the bad. The good is that Maui is incredibly lovely and that the hotel we are in is gorgeous, very old world Polynesian charm meets tiki bar. In the best way. The lobby is open to a series of pools and waterfalls populated by flamingoes and fish and a very domineering black swan (as black swans should be). The grounds are well treed with a series of pools descending onto various levels, and finally ending in a well-used beach pathway, and, of course, the beach.

We walked the pathway last night after we arrived, to see how far we had to walk the next morning to meet with the rest of the group at a neighbouring hotel and I was amazed at the force of the waves we could see and hear crashing onto the shore.

I will be trading in my sandals for shoes and socks and bringing a hat with me in the future. I want to be able to enjoy this trip, even if it means looking like a Canadian.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

head down

It's -29C, the roads are an icy mess, and I have many places to go and people to see today. But I really don't feel like I have license to complain, since the Spousal Unit and I will be ditching this frozen desert in a couple of days and winging off to paradise.

It's a work trip for the Spousal Unit, so there will be some necessary schmoozing to be done. And I do have considerable work to do while away, but I don't mind trying my hand at writing on the beach.

I just have to use my time wisely over the next couple of days, work hard and gather as much quality information as I can, before collapsing onto that plane.

A few months ago I was asked to write about the building of Festival Hall, the deceptively modest and beautifully functional home of the Calgary Folk Festival. Check out my story of how Festival Hall came to be, despite all odds.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

bikini diet perogies

Despite having not pounded back the oatmeal shortbread for a month now and despite having embraced an rigourous exercise regime in place of competitive cookie eating(okay, that ended with the onset of the first head cold in years that I contracted a week ago), I have accepted the bitter reality that my bikini body days are well behind me. 

Actually, I am okay with that. Especially now that I am fully grey; somehow it gives me license to be the fat lady on the beach. Before long I'll be telling them damn kids to get the hell off my lawn.

I will be able to test this theory shortly, because there is indeed a beach in my near future. Being the trophy wife that I am, I am accompanying the spousal unit on a work trip to Maui in mere days from now. 

Naturally it occurs just as my work load ramps up, but given enough planning time, I can squeeze it all in. And although I have never had to write articles on the beach before, I am more than willing to give it a try.

I leave you with my latest album review on the National Music Centre blog, a review of the drop dead gorgeous new album from the Abramson Singers. A must for fans of beautiful voices.