Saturday, 25 May 2019

Memory: lost, retrieved, elusive, concussive

Younger daughter and I have been taking watercolour lessons over the past year. As a result, I'm becoming a wee bit more familiar with the materials required and the ones which I prefer.

Recently, I dropped into Island View Print, which is the most convenient art supply store, relative to my haunts and wanderings. We've been painting long enough to begin running out of supplies, and I've developed a liking for a brand of paper called, oddly, "The Langden". Demeter picked a pad of it up from Island View Point about seven years ago. It's difficult to pinpoint or even describe why I like it. It's soft and giving (does that make sense?), and I think what I manage to produce somehow looks better on it.
I had looked it up online, and it's there, but doesn't look readily available, so I asked the nice fellow in the shop about it.

He shook his head regretfully.
"I doubt they make it anymore."

He directed me to the watercolour paper shelves, to see if I could find something to my liking.

To my astonishment, I spotted the familiar green cover in the bottom shelf. I extracted it and waved my trophy at the assistant in delight.

"You must have found the very last pad we have!" he exclaimed.

I was cradling it triumphantly as I advanced to the cash register, when I saw a lady with a familiar face enter. I smiled warmly at her; she also smiled - politely - and proceeded into the store.

I finished my purchases, and was juggling my treasures while trying to retrieve my cloth bag from my knapsack. The lady came up to pay for her supplies, and placed a card on the counter, explaining she was a teacher - for a discount, I guess. And I was juggling, struggling, and thinking: Jessica? Jessie? Last name?

I would have tried to surreptitiously read the name on the card, if I hadn't thought this would be a rude and disturbing thing to do.

By the time I'd stepped out to the bus stop, I was sure I had known her from my teaching days at the university. We had become quite good buddies. I'd even been to her house in my days of early motherhood.

But she showed no signs of recognition, and I hesitated.

At home, I rummaged through my journals, and found her. The journals told me her last name, and that she'd visited me in the hospital after I'd given birth, and that she and another friend became estranged.

I'd forgotten all of this. I'd even mentioned the estrangement in passing at the time, no doubt certain I'd remember the details without writing them down. She'd clearly drifted out of my life with the birth of younger daughter, and I hadn't even noticed.

Writing things down helps, but it doesn't always prevent the fading away.

You think you'll remember. You won't.

Friday, 24 May 2019

On the conveyor belt

Yesterday, I took my first bus ride into Esquimalt in several years.

Esquimalt, the community beyond Vic West across the Johnson Street Bridge, is the municipality where I spent my adolescence and my first years as a young married.

I used to take the #23 bus to trundle down the length of Esquimalt Road, but now it's the #15 Express, which, in the opposite direction, can take you all the way to the University of Victoria. I sure could have used that when I was a student.

The Resident Fan Boy and I rode past divider islands that run down the centre of the road, planted with flowers and trees. Those certainly weren't around when we lived there.

Some of the stretches are depressingly the same; other stretches have been condo-ized and still others shopified, so bits of Esquimalt look like the busier bits of Shelbourne.

However, the sorts of people clambering on and off the bus are much as I remember - elderly and clearly struggling (in every sense), young and gritty (also in every sense).

So many memories - interrupted by the astonishment of unfamiliar buildings, fronted by mature trees, reminding us how very long we've been away.

We were on our way to a so-called Celebration of Life, so-called because the gentleman in question died a month ago, and this post-funeral/memorial-service gathering accommodated his far-flung family.

The bus took us to the very western edge of Esquimalt. Despite my long history of living in the municipality, I'd never been beyond the south end of Admirals Road, where I'd ridden my bike to junior high, and where the taxi took me when I was in labour with elder daughter.

So we rode deep into "Pongo-land", and alighted by the blue waters of Esquimalt Harbour, making our way up the volcanic rock where the Ward Room sits, with its million-dollar view (well, millions of dollars, these days) out over Juan de Fuca Strait.

The man we'd come to remember and honour had been one of the RFB's very first bosses, and he, along with his business partner, had been a kindly older gentleman of the same vintage as my father - except with honesty and integrity -- are those sour grapes? (Vintage? Grapes? Get it? Oh, never mind.)

The widow seemed truly touched we'd come, and we told it was our pleasure, and meant it.

On our way home, the Resident Fan Boy was contemplative.
"It's just that...they're gone ..."
"...and the conveyor belt rolls on," I finished.

Yep. So many reminders that afternoon of the relentless passage of time.

This isn't going to get any easier.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

You bad cabbie, you!

I make a habit of ignoring advertisements - that's what mute buttons and fast-forwards are for.

However, every now and then, there's a delightful ad that make me want to at least remember the product, if only to prove that witty commercial works just as well as an annoying commercial.

I was thinking of a few of them this evening - but could only find a video of one of them, this very funny - and epic - promotion of a 1990's style Toshiba laptop.

 If you've got a minute, take a look.  (A minute is all I have.  Good night.)

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

But I can stand a little pain

 CBC Radio "Mornings" has introduced a "Question of the Week".  This week, because everyone is pushing for summer (but how loud will they complain when it gets here?), they're after candidates for the quintessential Canadian summer song.

Their two top contenders are "Summer of '69" and "Call Me Maybe".

Here's my choice:

Well it's hot and it's sticky, 
Think I'll get myself a micky
I'm so parched and dry...

Yep.  I can wait for summer...

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

After a fashion

With Victoria Day out of the way, I hear people claiming it's summer.

No, it isn't.  Not even in Victoria, where a run of cool days have resulted in a mixture of clothes downtown:  from quilted winter coats to tee-shirts.  An older gentlemen just walked by dressed in shorts with a fleece jacket --- Look!  There's another one!

I wouldn't be intrusive enough to snap pictures to illustrate, but I can do a sort of written snapshot.

Here's something I wrote over my bowl of oatmeal (with maple syrup, bananas and sour cream) at the Blue Fox Cafe last February, when no one was in shorts.  Not even in Victoria.

The girls my daughters' ages are wearing toques in neutral shades, pulled down to just above their ears, with the toque-tips arranged in artful pockets, and their wavy tresses carefully flowing down from beneath.

They wear layers, some draped over the backs of their chairs:  cable sweaters - also in neutral shades - sheep-skin-lined patchwork jackets (but not real sheepskin - that's cruel), broad shawl-style scarves perfectly covering their shoulders in soft folds.

At the next table, a lady with bobbed, noticeably tousled, dark, dyed hair looks out from what's left of her eyebrows.  She's wearing what appears to be an exact replica of the close-knit midnight blue pullover worn by the honey-blonde (possibly also dyed) taupe-toqued young girl a few feet away.  The lady has a gold band hanging from a pendant, heart-shaped.  Her close-fitting jeans are folded up to reveal her stylish ankle-boots.

Women dress so much more deliberately for the company of other women.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Before the parade passes by

I've mentioned this before, but I found the Victoria Day weekend in Hades depressing beyond belief. It was a long weekend when those who had cottages left town to open them, and those who didn't finally planted the bedding plants as the weather began to get hot.

Being neither a cottager nor a gardener, that left me with little to do but sweat and look for things for younger daughter to do.

Here, we have the Victoria Day Parade.

Younger daughter decided not to accompany us, but never mind.

The Resident Fan Boy and I headed off into the morning rain, which had tapered off by the time we reached Douglas Street. We found a free edge of pavement near the end of the parade route past Broughton. A fella with a small daughter proudly pointed out his son to us, a large lad, like his dad, beating his drum with the one local school that had enter this year.

My junior high entered every year; our normally affable director turned into a snarling sergeant-type for the week preceding the parade as we stumbled around the school field. We always came in third -- second, if only two local school bands had entered.
The parade hasn't changed much since those far-off days. There are still long lines of vintage fire engines, plus Shriners and Job's Daughters, albeit in much diminished numbers.
There are still racing cars, sponsored by local pubs, with young girls riding the hoods. (I haven't seen a puppy on one before.)
However, Victoria isn't nearly as homogeneous as it once seemed, and the parade has gradually began to reflect that.
Younger daughter saw these pictures, and told me she'd like to come next year.

I think she liked the puppy.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Mr Woof-woof

There are fleeting things that make a neighbourhood.

When we lived in Fairfield, it was The Whistler, a cheerful 50-something cyclist who became our gauge for how late we were.

After the morning struggle to get elder daughter dressed and breakfasted, I, with younger daughter strapped into the stroller, would stride east, the rising sun blinding all three of us. Out of the glare, the Whistler would emerge, peddling smoothly and swiftly, but we'd hear his steady whistling first, interrupted by a friendly "Good Morning" as he whipped past.

In Hades, I'd watch the platinum-blond trio of sibling neighbours burst from their front door, tumbling down the porch steps, quarreling all the way to the tank their mother was warming up (probably out of self-defense).

I don't know when The Whistler ceased wheeling his way west, because we moved. Gradually, the Battling Blonds across the street grew more independent, setting off separately to different schools with different companions.

In our current neighbourhood, a feature has been Mr Woof-woof. That's not his name. It's what I'd hear as I strolled to or from our apartment.


Not bossy, not threatening, just deep and carrying. A huge white dog, usually sitting on the steps of his large house, tied to the railing, behind a gate reading "Beware of Dog".

I always felt rather sorry for him; he seemed to spend hours outside on his own. You're not supposed to wave or call out to dogs, according to those online articles - it's supposed to count as teasing - but I couldn't help calling out a soft "Hello, Mr Woof-woof", as I passed on the opposite sidewalk.

Just before Christmas, the Resident Fanboy ran into Mr Woof-woof, walking out one evening with his owner, who did tell him Mr Woof-woof's actual name. She also told the RFB that her dog had cancer.

And one day, I noticed the gate was open.

Years later, when we recall these little everyday details that made up where we lived, we might say, "Oh yes, it was always like that; that went on for years."

But it didn't.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Flower flow

Gotta scoot. This is what's been dangling along Fort Street below Wentworth Villa - a place I've been meaning to visit since we came to the neighbourhood. I have another neighbourhood story tomorrow -- it's a sad one.

Friday, 17 May 2019

I just thought we locked the gate

 Sometimes when I'm getting up and listening to the radio, a song will make me dive toward the speaker to listen, then fumble for my phone, where I've bookmarked the playlist for CBC Radio Morning.

Lately, I've been diving for this bouncy little ditty from Vampire Weekend (a group I've always rather liked) with rather depressing lyrics.  Seems to be the thing these days.

This evening while I was looking up the video, I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted a Jimmy Fallon video featuring a recent appearance by Vampire Weekend -- with Haim (another favourite) singing back-up!

Here's the official video which, sadly, doesn't provide the lyrics, but looks a bit like some of my high school biology labs.

This one reminds me of an absolutely gorgeous video by Talk Talk, which makes me shiver like an early morning when I watch it.  The high definition in this night-time imagery was really quite a startling thing in the eighties.

And the lyrics are a tad more upbeat.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

What a wonderful world

You know, I think it's important to keep current.

However, I've read, watched, and listened to the news this week, and today, I've really become rather afraid that I'll sprain my middle fingers.