Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Knit one run two. Repeat this pattern until end.

I've been thinking about yarn a lot lately. I just can't help myself. There are so many beautiful strands out there that I never need to think about wool again. My recent success with the cardigan has inspired me. Also my sis mentioned that a friend of hers was looking for wool alternatives and was amazed at the bamboo silk, soy silk, organic cottons and hemp yarns (like the ones pictured here) that are a pleasure to knit with.

Outside of that my free-thinking time is taken up with running and running related topics. I'm searching for last years model of shoes again and D and I are hopeful to find my shoe at a discount. After all "my shoe" has gone up another 10 dollars this year bringing it to $210 before taxes. Um...yeah...not possible especially clocking the kilometers I am these days.

Now I'm trying to figure out a way to hydrate on the long runs so that I don't have to carry that stupid RR belt I bought. The water bottle sticks up into my spine and if I put it on my hip, it bumps my arm. There's got to be a better way. I was so lucky in the big city with my High Park to Lakeshore route where there was enough water fountains to get me through the toughest run. I've been spoiled.

So combining two of my passions, I'm crocheting a running hat in hemp which is warm and breathable as far as fibers go and I can custom make it to suit my needs. I should have it done once it's warm enough to run without a hat. Oh well, there's next season and it'll be here before I know it.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Conversely, I do miss the uniqueness of our neighbourhood. For all of its problems, I miss the corner lot house we lived in. As you may or may not have heard I have boasted many times about our garden. I became a gardner in that yard. My sister, D. and I spent many hours working that garden, shaping it and re-shaping it until it developed into something we were quite proud of. We had a balance of perennials, trees, rocks and veggies that provided food and pleasure from spring to winter. I only wish I had more time to develop a pleasing winter garden as well, but i've only just learned about that.

One of the most flattering moments was when our neighbour's eldest child, whose bedroom window faced the alley and our garden and who was always fairly quiet and shy whenever we met, told me that she loved our garden and had always admired it. It didn't even occur to me that she was aware of it. Of course if my bedroom window looked down into a garden, I would spend much time looking at it too. So I'm glad we gave her a nice view for the years we were there.

At one point we talked about buying the house from my sister with those neighbours who wanted it as a rental property. Joe and I talked about how the other apartment could go to another artist and we'd have a little film community going between these two houses. Dreaming, we also talked about making that section of the alley pedestrian only and expanding our gardens out over the concrete. Robin wanted more rose bushes of course. She loves roses. We had a few cocktail parties with them either on our patio or up on my sister's deck which had a fabulous view and yet it felt so secluded up there.

Another neighbour had this great dog that I saw grow up from a puppy. He was the happiest dog and I think that reflected the attitude of our neighbour who was always friendly when we met. We often only met while going to and from, but occasionally we'd talk over the fence while one of us was picking raspberries or something. He always dressed up at Halloween as we did as well and we all sat out front and gave candy out to the kids who were completely unphased by our appearances for the most part. There was one year that my sister (remember she's an actor) was so frigtening as a vampire and our house was so scary looking because we had this gnarly vine all over the front (that later we took down) that the younger kids wouldn't come up the walkway. We'd have to shut off the music from the Shining and turn up the lights, putting on smiley faces to get the wee ones to meet us half way for candy. The next year my sister dressed up as a cowgirl so there were no problems with kids approaching that year. D. has this very real looking Frankenstein mask and does a great impression. The kids loved him. They weren't frightened at all. One girl waved to him as she walked away from the house and said "Bye Frankie." They had no idea that I was Bride of Frankenstein (too obscure at that age I guess).

That's only part of the fun.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I couldn't believe my luck. When I woke up this morning it wasn't raining! The forecast had promised a very wet weekend. I was all geared up last night, mentally prepared to wake up Sunday morning and go out for my run in the rain, telling myself that it's the tough runs that will get me through the finish line on race day. I was actually looking forward to being positive about running in the rain. Then I woke up and no rain. Huh? There was even some blue sky patches. So I got ready as quickly as possible just in case the clouds got darker. The rain can move in so quickly here, you have to take advantage of the good weather when you can.

My run started out okay. It wasn't even that chilly. I felt overdressed so I peeled off a layer. It was my first long run with a water bottle on my hip -- the first time ever and it was a pain. I fought with that stupid water bottle belt for the first half (or 40 minutes) of my run. It was really slowing me down and frustrating me because I wasn't thinking about running or the beautiful morning, but rather this stupid water bottle I had to carry. I enjoyed the benefits of having the water on hand and even a spot to put my carb snacks, but overall it ruined my run.

When I headed towards the inlet and ran along the water near the end of my run, the sun came out and it was really quite warm out. The water was perfectly still and the mountains rose up behind. It was very picturesque. At that point I just tried to enjoy my run on the off road trail through what I think is a really lovely part of BC. I also thought about how much I like living where we are. We could have ended up in a condo or some crappy apartment building out this way, but we didn't. We have a great little garden suite.

* * *

We went to Chinatown the other day just to get some rice paper and I was so glad to come home at the end of the day and be away from the city noise. I like visiting the city, but I prefer to live outside of it. I think that's how I really envision whoville. It's a bit quieter. Maybe it's my age and my need to write. I like having a quiet room to write in. Granted I can always find distractions anywhere, but at least I'm not calling the cops in the middle of the day like I use to when the teenagers got out of hand and were gathering in the alley next to our house.

Here are the things I miss about our old city home that we moved away from just four months ago:

There were the gummos across the street. We called them gummos because of the movie Gummo. Anyway, they were always making a racket, having 24/7 garage sales with stolen goods. They stole the wooden fence from the school to put up around their "garage sale." There was a lot of coming and going of suspicious looking characters in that time. They moved or were evicted or something.

The young mum with her teen boys moved in. That was when our Italian flag was stolen during the world cup.

I heard gun shots one night and the police came the next day to look through our yard to see if a weapon had been dumped there and ask us if we'd seen anything. There were at least two other shooting related deaths within a block of our house in the 7 years we lived there.

Then there was the "saw man" who was a carpenter and decided that he needed a workshop on his front lawn across the street from us. This went on while I was trying to write my second thesis so that was fun.

One of the tenants next door had a lot of kids. The young boys use to hang off our fence and watch us while we tried to sit peacefully in the backyard. They always wanted to talk to us and we just wanted some quiet.

After they moved out another family moved in. The father was nice enough, but he cooked these huge chunks of meat on this miniature barbecue and the smoke would force us indoors and we'd have to shut the windows just to keep the smells of cooking flesh out of the house. Yuck. It really did smoke up more than any barbecue I've ever seen.

Another neighbour across the street we called "toenails" because my sister saw him walking on his heels one time and realized he'd had a pedicure. He must have been up at 4 every morning and on garbage day he often would bring his garbage and leave it with ours. He didn't like to have garbage in front of his house. My sister caught him one time and told him if it happened again she'd empty the bag all over the street. One morning we even watched from our windows to try and catch him in the act. We didn't. He did stop for a while, but occasionally we'd still find bags in front of our place.

Someone drove into our fence and took part of it out. D., sis and I replaced the boards, and re-painted the whole fence only to have it graffitied not long after.

Somone also came through the alley and pruned branches off our mulberry tree. I suspect they didn't like how low the branches hung down and grazed the roof of their vehicle. That was our intention. We wanted to slow people down in the alley so we let the branches hang a little more.

The neighbour on the other side chopped off the tops of the lilacs to let more light in on his veggie garden. He never asked. I assumed this is why he did it. He also use to spray his lawn with some chemical so ugh that wasn't good.

There are lots of other stories and incidents that occurred, but I can't get it all in. I'll just save them for another time. I'll try and include stories about our good neighbours too. Fortunately we did have several great neighbours who were always nice to see and gave us a sense of some community in our small space.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Another film festival night. We saw Familia directed by Louise Archambault. Not a big crowd for a Saturday night, but it was a 9:30 show and I expect it may have been a bit late for some people. No, I'm not kidding.

The story revolves around Michele and her daughter Margot. Michele is a gambling addict who leaves her boyfriend and is then penniless and homeless. While hoping to start a new life in California with a friend who is her daughter's godmother, she starts by imposing on Janine, another friend (and family member by former marriage) whom she hasn't seen in over a year. Janine lives outside of Montreal in a upper middle class home. She buys Michele's sob story and agrees to let Michele and Margot stay the night. However, Michele becomes the guest that won't leave and she manoeuvres her way into Janine's life. This seems to be the only way Michele knows how to survive. Both women suffer and benefit from this arrangement. All of their lives are affected dramatically.

While the title suggests a larger theme about family, the film really focuses on mothers and daughters of different classes. We see three generations of two families and how those two families are intertwined through marriage even after divorce. The film does try to suggest almost every kind of familial combination and dysfunction. While a same sex marriage is not overtly depicted in the film, there is the suggestion of a same sex coupling between Michele and Janine. Michele and her daughter, Margot, are staying with Janine and her daughter, Gaby, (albeit somewhat unwelcome). There is an impromptu small family gathering where Michele and Janine suggest that they are the parented couple in this family because the "father figures" are absent and it really is a household trying to function while these two women work out their friendship/relationship to each other. In essence though the film is about single mothers.

The men in the film are quite pathetic really. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the film or an important point in the film. I'll have to give it more thought. The women in the film are no saints that's for sure, but they do drive the action of the story and as I said it is really their stories that are being told. Each one of them is being "screwed over" literally and figuratively by a man or boy. However once again the film isn't about this and the men are merely obstacles for the women. The film directs our attention to the inner conflicts of each of the women and how that shapes their inter-personal conflicts with each other. The mother/daughter bond forces these women to attempt to find resolution with each other.

By the end of the film we suppose Michele and Margot will have become closer while Janine and Gaby may be further apart than ever. However, the film doesn't suggest it will always be this way, but rather reveals that such a relationship is an on-going process that will always be re-negotiated as new problems arise and get resolved (or not).

What I did not like about the film was the repetition of anonymous faces flashing on the screen at the end. It seemed intrusive of the filmmaker breaking the narrative cohesion in a unproductive way. It added nothing to the film, but rather took away from the strong narrative ending. While D. did not care for the final image of the foetus that was a repetition of the opening image, I did like the final sequence, but not the music that went over it. Again, it took away from the cohesion of the narrative.

Familia is a film worth seeing. Here again is another Canadian film I recommend. Too bad we worry so much about Americans coming here to keep the industry alive instead of pushing harder to build our own stronger national cinema. We have the resources and talent why don't we have a thriving national cinema?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Eve and the Firehorse

Thursday night D and I bought two memberships to the local film society. This gives us access to weekly films at the theatre for a discounted price (although I didn't see a non-member price listed) and perhaps we get the occasional newsletter or something if we ask for it. It's all very exciting. I've been missing the luxury of being able to walk to my local theatre and see independently made films, or go to a place like camera and see some classic horror films as julia and I did occasionally. In this small corner of whoville, the accessibility to such films seemed unlikely because apparently if it isn't playing at Silvercity, it's not worth seeing.

When I saw the poster for a film festival here in whoville I thought, "wow, this is a great chance to see something a little more interesting and in a film festival friendly crowd." Eve and the Firehorse was playing and I have wanted to see this film ever since I heard the filmmaker interviewed on CBC. I heard the filmmaker mention that Lea Pool was on set and I swooned at that (if you haven't seen Emporte-moi you should).

D. and I walked down to the theatre at the town centre and managed to get tickets. It was good to see a full house for the film. The ticket seller said there was free popcorn freshly popped, but we'd have to hurry because we couldn't take it into the theatre. Someone piped in "there's a short before the film so you could stay out a little longer." Uh...I'd like to see the short. Isn't that the point of a film festival, to see the films? Also, in these brief encounters I tend not to get into "no thanks I can't eat the popcorn because I'm vegan" because it opens the can and I just can't get into having to explain what a vegan is etc etc.

Because we were late we ended up in row 1. A nice elderly couple in row 2 directed us to two seats available. We thanked them and took our row #2 seats and settled in. Then it started. I'm not going to be nice here. I'm usually quite forgiving, but naw, I can't be bothered. This geezer behind us starts yakking through the trailers in his normal "outside" voice. "Oh I saw this. It's really good. Just my kind of thing." This was his comments to a cop drama. D. and I are laughing to ourselves at this point because it's funny. It's the trailers. Everybody talks in trailers. Then there's a trailer for the film 3 Needles, which is three narratives set on different continents with subject matter such as AIDS in Africa, and a youth in Montreal in the porn industry. Geezer is silent because he's probably startled at the images. At the end of the trailer he says "I don't think that's my thing. It doesn't look very good." Then the short film starts.
Geezer: Is this the main movie?
Companion (slightly younger): I don't know (pause). I think so. Oh yes, it is.
Geezer: Okay then.

The short film is about a young Chinese boy reluctantly visiting his grandfather on his birthday. In the climactic moment of the film when a photo drops of the grandfather's wife who has long since passed, there's a silent moment in the film.
Geezer: (loudly) Is that his wife?
Companion: Yes it is.
When the film ends.
Companion: Oh I guess that's not the movie.
Geezer: Is it next?

The production house logos start going.

Geezer: I don't like all of that stuff they put before the movie.
Companion: Oh the advertising. Yes, there is an awful lot of it now.
Geezer: Ads everywhere. It's ridiculous.

His voice cuts into the opening shot of the film. He calms down as the film begins to roll. There's a brief moment when the picture jumps. It lasts two, maybe three seconds.

Geezer: They don't know what they're doing up there. (He's referring to the projectionist -- I think).

The film continues. For the most part he's quiet. I think because he has to concentrate on reading the subtitles.

Thank god it was subtitled.

About a young Chinese girl struggling with faith and tradition, Eve and the Firehorse moves along quite well. The death of her grandmother and her mother's miscarriage sends Eve's world into confusion as she blames herself for her grandmother's death and does not understand why the efforts she makes does not help her mother in her pregnancy. While her father is in China to return the dead grandmother to her homeland, Eve's older sister takes an interest in Catholicism while her mother becomes a practicing Buddhist. Eve is led along by the stories in both religions but feels no affinity with one or the other. She exists in the film with one foot in Catholicism and one foot in Buddhism, but for Eve none of it is very serious as she imagines goddesses dancing in the night and even Jesus and Buddha dancing together in the living room while she laughs and then is invited to dance with them. While her main concern is trying to be good, underneath Eve is really trying to cover her grief for the loss of her grandmother.

There are some beautiful moments in the film that are simple, understated and very cinematic. Following Eve through her childhood world, knowing she is different from everyone else is what really keeps one interested in the story. The scenes when we watch Eve say nothing to what is going on around her reminds us of how confusing and alienating the adult world can be to a child. Eve's voice narrates the film which acts to also remind us that we are witnessing the world from her point of view. While Eve shows no overt signs of distress in her confusion, it is her dreams, imaginings and wild story telling that reveals how Eve is trying to negotiate the world around her. It is also those scenes that are the strongest in the film.

I recommend this film not only because there are some wonderful and creative scenes in this film, but also because I encourage everyone to see Canadian film whenever they can.

Don't go by Geezer's reading of the film because in the last shot of the film before the credits rolled, Geezer said "Is that the ending?" Yes it was and it was the right ending.


This was going to be a picture of the Freya pattern I've knitted but a friend always seems to turn up on my lap, keeping me in one place and slowing down my typing at the same time. I took several pictures of Primavera, but this one caught her off guard and I managed to get one of us with her looking at the "camera". I am wearing the sweater I knit not that it really matters in this picture.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I have to put this in. Following a link from Wandering Coyote, I found this quiz. Having a very special virgo in my life and a parent and brother who are virgos I wanted to see if I had been influenced by any of them at all.

You are 67% Virgo

Monday, February 12, 2007

Solar Powered

The soleil broke through. I waited out the morning drizzle and just as I had hoped, the sky lightened. By the time I laced up my running shoes, the sun was shining through the windows. I couldn't wait to get outside.

At the beginning of my run, just half way down the hill from my house, I saw a coyote standing in one lane of the roadway. Traffic was approaching so the coyote turned around and trotted back to the sidewalk. S/he saw me coming down the hill and hugged closer to the bushes, sniffing about, but s/he was definitely waiting to cross the road. I crossed to the other sidewalk. I thought it would be better to pass the coyote with at least two lanes between us. As I ran past, there it stood waiting for the traffic to go by so it could cross. The coyote seemed to barely take notice of me, perhaps too focused on its mission. I got a good look at it with its one ear bent over like Wile E. Coyote. It was quite scruffy looking like it had just gotten up and was heading to Fivebucks for the morning coffee. It just seemed confused. I suppose traffic is confusing. All of us have to learn the rules of crossing the road. Anywho...after I ran past I stopped and watched to make sure s/he had a safe crossing and s/he did. Down the hill s/he went.

The run went well. The sun kept me very positive and charged. I really enjoy running along the inlet with the beautiful view of the mountains beyond the water. It was completely spring-like today. It didn't take me long before I had to peel off a layer and then continue on in my short sleeves. I even saw crocuses in the neighbour's garden, little yellow and purple ones sticking out of the mulch (Sis, when did it become about the cedar mulch?). I have to keep reminding myself that it is spring here. No more snowfalls or frost on the sidewalks in the morning.

I know 10 k is completely doable for me, but I still can't get over the fact that it still takes all my energy just to do 10 right now, and I'm gearing up for 42! The race is in June! Huh? One run at a time, right? I just have to try and stay hydrated, well fed with good vegan foods, and injury free.

I just noticed that Van City (I know all you Van cityites hate that term but I like it) has a perfectly timed race so that I can do my 21k "training run" on that Sunday in the half marathon race. This is motivation for me and afterall, the joy of racing is what it is all about for me. I'm not sure if the route that typically goes through Stanley Park will be re-routed or not. There's no indication yet that that will be the case. I'll have to wait and see.

I think I have to get outside again and take in a little more sun. Perhaps I'll see Wile E. again. S/he was probably just as eager to be in the sun like the rest of us, having also waited out the morning drizzle before venturing out.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Chidren of Men

A dark dystopian film, the Children of Men stunned me. I loved the book when I read it several years ago as part of my thesis research. I was very eager to see the film since the book left such a strong impression upon me. The film has had the same effect, but as I said it is very dark. Of course PD James' book also depicts a chaotic world, but the film really brings it to the forefront by taking us directly into the middle of the battle quite literally.

Set in Britain in 2027, the Children of Men depicts a world where no children have been born in almost twenty years. As the world mourns the death of the youngest living person on earth, Theo (Clive Owen) gets caught up in the political struggles between government (depicted as a police state with a totalitarian approach to immigration -- immigrants being anyone who is not British since the rest of the world is in complete ruins) and a "terrorist group".

When Theo discovers that Kee, the woman he is helping, is actually pregnant, the stakes are raised and so begins his journey to help her reach the "human project" a supposed safe haven for those who risk getting to them. No one has actually spoken to anyone from the human project since they do not communicate with the rest of the world directly. Theo and Kee must rely on "faith and chance" to complete their journey. And this is what the film is really about.

I won't tell you how it ends, but I will tell you to see it. It is a hopeful ending without wrapping things up too neatly. It's a powerful film. It is very violent and yet has very touching moments within such chaos. I couldn't help but think of places in the world where such violence exists and while people suffer and die they also survive and somehow find hope.

I recommend the film and/or the book. Both were well worth my time.

Friday, February 02, 2007

D. phoned me from work this morning.

D: I saw two coyotes across from our house.
Me: What?
D: I saw one crossing the road and then another one followed.
Me: Hey, I was looking out the window. I didn't see anything.
D: Well not right across from the house. Just down a bit. That little street that's really steep.
Me: Steeple.
D: Yeah there.
Me: Holy.
D: At first I thought it was a dog. It was running across and it stopped to look at me. It just stood there looking at me. Then another ran across the street. Then they went up Steeple.
Me: It was a bit lighter this morning.
D: No, it was dark when I left.
Me: Yeah but it was lighter this morning than usual.
D: Yeah I guess the sun was just starting to come up.
Me: I guess they were heading home.
D: Probably.
Me: How big were they?
D: Um.
Me: Like a Shepherd? Or taller.
D: They weren't that big. They look wolf like, but smaller. (pause) They're not dangerous are they?
Me: They're more afraid of you.
D: Okay.
Me: They won't bother you. They're probably afraid. They're after small stuff. Gigi sized animals.
D: Poor Gigi.
Me: The cats are definitely staying in now.
D: Yeah.

If that kid can do it...

Whoville's local library has a small selection of English dvds. I popped in there the other day because it's next to the Cornerstone Cafe (free wireless -- no strings attached) and I wanted to pick up a copy of the first Harry Potter book. On my way out I scanned over the dvds and didn't see much except for this Canadian film, Saint Ralph. My intentions are always to try and see Canadian films in their first weekend of release since so much is based on how the film does in its first weekend. However, Saint Ralph got missed and then put off etc etc.

The second reason I picked up this film is because I was looking for inspiration for running. A minor hip injury has slowed my training and D. (the coach) has been telling me I've got nothing to worry about, but I still wanted to watch a movie about running that would inevitably situate the hero in a story where he would have to overcome many obstacles in order to achieve his running goal. And that is essentially what Saint Ralph is about.

Set in the 1950s, Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a teenager in a Catholic boys school and is not doing well as a student. As punishment for his many transgressions, he's forced to join the running club, coached by Father Hibbert (Cambell Scott). Ralph lives alone in his house, pretending that his grandparents are taking care of him while his mother is in the hospital. She has either undergone surgery to remove a tumor or is sick from some sort of cancer. It's never explained. When she slips into a coma, Ralph is told it will take a miracle to bring her out of it. He decides that the miracle will be his winning the Boston marathon. He then attempts to enlist the athletic and the holy to help him train and pray for his goal.

The film gets a little too sappy at the end, but it is effective and doesn't feel too fake in its efforts. The story is a little thin and much is left out of the plot that could have been put in to fill in some of the gaps. At times it feels very amateur in its performances, and sometimes it's the younger actors and sometimes its the awkwardness of the writing itself. There is one very good scene between Campbell Scott (Father Hibbert) and Gordon Pinsent (Father Fitzpatrick) that is a discussion about Ralph going to Boston, but is really about the struggle between the younger and older generation and the radical and traditional in Catholicism. Furthermore, it's a scene with two very fine actors really giving it all for the scene. While it's not the biggest moment in the film or the most relevant, it is very strong and it is fully played out while other scenes in the film aren't always completely realized. I often try to apply the "get into the scene as late as possible and get out as early as possible" to my writing and Saint Ralph often misses the mark.

Okay, now no one is going to see it after what I've just written. I do recommend it though because it is a "small" film, and there are some genuinely funny moments. Furthermore, as a runner, I appreciated the training and the differing ideas about preparing for a race. And finally, If that kid can do it...