Archive for February, 2010


daily practice

When I was wee I used to take violin lessons, but I hated practicing, because I didn’t want anyone to hear my imperfect playing. I practiced with barely even half a heart, and ditched it entirely whenever I could get away with it, so it’s no surprise that my violin skills never got very far.

Do something every day and you’re bound to get good at it. Since I have my showers at the pool I swim every day. But by now I could also say since I swim every day I have my showers at the pool. It’s become a daily practise. I’ve become a much better swimmer, which is great, but what’s even better is that it’s become a kind of… what to call it? A meditation? A devotion? A new relationship with one of the elements that deepens every day, and that turns me into a completely different kind of animal. I’m offered housesitting gigs all the time, or people tell me I can come use the shower at their house, and while I’m touched and honoured by the offers, they aren’t even a little bit tempting to me. I have my daily practice, and I love it.

Vandwelling has given me another daily practice of course, which is this blog. Lots of times I didn’t really feel like writing, but I kept it up out of a sense of duty, and by that I don’t mean something onerous, I mean a sense that I’ve started something that involves all of you, and I want to do it properly. That means a daily practice of recording, of sharing, hopefully of entertaining or provoking thoughts. My writing and my photos have changed in that process, I think for the better. For that I’m very grateful!

home #69

18th & Ontario. When I was a kid I loved Fantasy Island. There was an episode where Mr. Rourke and one of the guests had a chess duel with a big life-size board and life-size pieces. I’ve wanted to give that a try ever since, and now’s my chance! Here they’ve painted chess piece symbols on flat checkers pieces… that doesn’t really do it for me, so I’m going to have to make some real 3D pieces. Anyone want to help me, and/or play with me once we have the pieces?

home #68

3rd & Trafalgar.

home #67

13th & Larch.

home #66

Wall street at Eton, near my old apartment. I was there solving a mystery.

When I was moving out I came across a box of essays and course material… my handwriting was on the box from an old move, but the stuff inside wasn’t mine, it was from university courses I hadn’t taken. I assumed the box belonged to Mishka, who had moved out of the apartment a year previously. But when we finally got a chance to connect, Mishka said she’d never seen it before. Then we noticed a large manila envelope with a sticker label on it, and the name was that of the woman who’d lived next door to us, along with the department at VGH where she worked. We couldn’t imagine how her stuff had gotten into my box but it wasn’t completely impossible; the three of us used to talk in the hallway pretty regularly, and our underground parking stalls were right beside each other. Last night I finally got a chance to bring our old neighbour the box… and found that it wasn’t hers either. That envelope, when we pulled it out further, was an inter-departmental message folder that had gone to her first, then to ten other people within the Providence Health system. Years ago. The last address was in the Kenny building: the psych department at UBC. Inside the envelope was reading material from some animal cognition course. Then I pulled out a different stack of papers and saw that they were from a different course, one that I had taken. What the…???? It was the course where I’d met Mirona back in 2004. Mirona the owner of the box, who must have picked up the envelope during one of her positions as a psych researcher and used it to put her course readings in. Who now lives on another continent. She and I split up in 2006, and I guess I’ve been carrying her box around ever since.

Good people, I know it’s a rotten job, but I really suggest you all dig out the crap in your closets and get rid of it. Today!

And Mirona, if you’re out there reading… what the #&@% should I do with this box????

home #65

William & Woodland. My neighbour was a stubby little matt-purple Studebaker with a plastic Hawaiian girl, shaking her grass-skirted hips and playing ukulele in the back window.

The last two weeks were hard. I had more expenses than usual, and my normal strategy of spending indiscriminately and letting more money arrive when it needs to… didn’t really work this time. And it didn’t work even sooner than it normally doesn’t work. I have to say, I learned a lot. It was really interesting to notice how many times a day I felt an urge to snack on something or to buy something, and to know that if there had been money in my pocket I would have obeyed that impulse every time. It was interesting to allow myself to feel hunger, and to recognize it as the real signal I should wait for to eat. It was interesting to accept charity on a couple of occasions.

(I want to interject with a cute little story here: the night I went to Tanya Tagaq and Michael Red (I had paid for the ticket in advance, with the last of my credit… you see where my priorities are) I ran into my friends Dave and Marketa. After the show they treated me to another event down the street, and when they were ready to go home each one of them snuck a five dollar bill into my hand. I don’t think they coordinated this, they’re just really kind people.)

Okay back to my lessons… It was interesting to notice that despite the strategic problem of my poverty I still felt blissfully happy because vandwelling rocks. And it was interesting to notice that in my state of poverty my behaviour was actually healthier than usual. I’d really like to cultivate that health. Without the poverty part.

Today I found $33USD that I must have been carrying around since early September, when I was in the states last. On top of that, an old friend who lives far away was at long last able to pick up (and pay for) the stuff that she bought in my auction. And she brought me the most beautiful gift basket full of incredible local-to-Lasquete-made treats. On top of that, I get paid tomorrow.

I’m rich again! Now let’s see if I can remember the lessons I’ve learned…

home #64

Kent Avenue, at the very south end of Victoria Drive. It’s a lovely area on the banks of the Fraser River, a mix of park and industry and cute little condos with names like Tugboat Landing. I used to live here when I was in high school; at really low tide you could see the ribs of rotten old boats sticking out of the muck like dinosaur bones, and in places there were bits of broken concrete from industries long gone… the remains of a lost culture. Today I was just smitten with the sun and the frost and the ducks.

home #63

Balsam & Pt Grey Rd. I think this wins the Most Cultivated Ivy in Vancouver award, it looks like you could bite into it.

This block is full of enormous homes right on the beach with views straight across to the north shore; living here costs zillions of dollars. Free for me though! At Trafalgar there are steps down to the water; I went down just before bed and watched the city lights and the lights on Grouse Mountain. Cypress too. Quiet and lovely.

home #62

6th & St. Catherine’s. This little community garden is right at the top of the hill in that huge park by the VCC campus. Great spot for tobogganing, if it ever snows in Vancouver again. I chose this place so that I could stagger home late after a show at the Great Northern Way Campus.

If any of you haven’t ever seen Tanya Tagaq perform, you really, really have to rectify that. Prehistoric wailing and growling and heavy breathing that does something subliminal to your primate brain. And last night she was paired with Michael Red, one of Vancouver’s most darkly gifted electronic music producers… the two of them had every single person there totally entranced and ecstatic. So goooooood!!!!