Okanagan Peaches (I want you so bad)

I had an Okanagan peach today.http://blogs.msdn.com/mswanson/articles/wallpaper.aspx
Its golden skin awash in velvety fuzz,
A wobbly robin nestled in my palm.
The first bite was ever rapturous,
Golden nectar dripping down my chin,
That I delicately stopped with my index finger,
And lapped up the drop that lay on the tip.
Armed with a tissue,
The second bite was greedily taken.
Juices gushed from the dense sinewy flesh,
And fell to the shorn carpet.
The fruit’s musky fragrance filled my senses,
and embedded itself in my memory.
I finished eating the fruit in a few deep bites.
A bit of summer in my hand,
Quickly disappeared,
Leaving a crinkled pit,
Bereft of its protective cover.

The Wedding Debrief

I am house sitting out in Lower Caulfeild (and yes, that is ‘ei’ Caulfeild, not ‘ie’ Caulfield) for a lovely Tommy Hilfiger family. They’ve gone off on an African safari and are hunting lions, giraffes, and elephants with cameras, and taking selfies with cheetah cubs. They are having a fabulous time. I’ve been left in charge of a faux French chateaux, a lovable wheaton terrier who is starting to get on in her years, a full fridge of food, and two bottles of chardonnay to get me through the next two weeks. The house is beautifully positioned to overlook Caulfeild Cove, and the summer nights have been stunningly clear and warm so just before I go to bed, I take in the full moon shining down the cove, making the water glisten like gold.

Lower Caulfeild is the only area of West Vancouver has that has a formal design policy for the area, as the founder of the area, Francis Caulfeild I think was his name, was an English gentleman who wanted to recreate the feel of an English village and associated landscape. The houses are situated on large lots, the landscaping is fairly organic and incorporates much of the natural topography, geology, and botany of the area. Houses, and much of them are mansions at this point, as it is a highly desirable area in which to live, perch atop granite outcrops, and command peekaboo views of the sea through the tall cedars that have to remain in situ. The houses are a mix of the older homes, and the newer ones either West Coast modern or Craftsman. I personally prefer the West Coast modern as it blends a bit of the Japanese aesthetic of being one with your environment (at least to my untutored eye). An Anglican church, St. Francis-in-the-Woods sits in an approximate middle of the area, with a English-styled village green in front, a nod to the area’s intent.

I walk Sophie, the dog, every morning and every evening. I took her once on a longer walk but the second time I tried to do the same, she puller her wheaton terrier card on me and balked. She’s trained me well. We just do the figure eight of the one way streets in the area (another quirk of Lower Caulfeild) so that she can enjoy her morning and evening constitutionals, and I stretch my legs at least. The walk is beautiful, even if only a twenty minuter: I have a stunning view of Vancouver in the distance, starting from Point Grey and UBC, to Kitsilano, then Stanley Park with the city looming behind, then Lionsgate Bridge, and finally the shores of West Vancouver. I’ve seen bald eagles sitting in the cedars, herons silently gliding overhead from tree to sea, squirrels throwing beech nuts down at the road, and sea otters scurrying across the lanes into the brambles of Caulfeild Park. Sitting out on the patio one evening, enjoying a glass of wine with a friend after we’d done a short hike up to Whyte Lake, two bats swooped about our heads, picking off mosquitoes.

As the days have grown rather warm, it hits about thirty degrees during the day right now, although there is a pleasant breeze off of the water still that keeps the air comfortable, I have taken Sophie out later on her evening walks, closer to nine in the evening, so that she does not overheat. We walk a figure eight route through the lanes in Lower Caulfeild, with the bottom of the loop meandering by the shore. My final leg is the short walk up the rather steep hill, atop which lies the house; the bottom of the hill is the village green. St. Francis-in-the-Woods, has taken an entrepreneurial spirit towards modernization and the necessity to branch out in order to survive. As such, some intrepid local parishioners had the church hall renovated into a modern banquet facility, albeit in a small scale, which is subsequently rented out. The revenue from the hall rental keeps the church in continuing along its religious business.

This Saturday, as Sophie and I began to round the corner to climb the hill, I could hear laughter and the clinking of glasses in the distance. A wedding was being celebrated at the church hall that perfect July evening. As I turned the corner, I came across three people, having a smoke in the middle of the lane. They were hidden from the church by the high laurel bushes that many of the Lower Caulfeild houses have lining the lanes. There was a man and a woman, in their late twenties or early thirties, members of the wedding party, as the gent was wearing a dark suit, and the lady was wearing a sassy cocktail dress. She had one arm crossing the other that was holding her cigarette, and she took languid pulls of the stick, blowing smoke up into the evening air. The man, perhaps her boyfriend, husband, friend, or fellow guest smoker, stood speaking animatedly, almost panting in excitement (and not unlike Sophie at the tail end of her walk) to the third person, a waiter. The waiter was Asian, and though dressed in his work uniform, he wore it like a tuxedo. He was surer and more dignified than the wedding guest, and commanded the lane like he was holding an audience, with the guests as his petitioners. The waiter said little, but would periodically inhale on the cigarette in silent concentration.

Clearly, decisions were being made, warrants signed, world order redesigned.

And it was was the waiter who was in charge, not the other two. I wondered what the conversation was about.

Sophie started to squat off to one side of the lane, so I hurried over to clean up her business. By the time I turned around just to see if I could hear anything, the three were gone, back in the thick of their evening.

Caulfeild Cove


In Other News (from Saskatoon)

My friend flagged the following to me and I had to share. Same anchor has one more doozie of a moment that complements the first.

Although this is out of the realm of my writing focus, it’s worth the reminder to always try to think things through before putting them out for public consumption, as a seemingly innocent phrase can be completely taken out of context (advice that is more pertinent to the second video than the first).

▶ Pick a Dick x264 720p Web Upload – YouTube.

▶ [MUST SEE] News Anchor Does “Vibrating Tooth Brush” Demonstration On Live TV – YouTube.

Canada Day Thoughts

Yesterday was Canada Day. I spent the day up in Squamish, at my parents’ place, barbecuing for four hours in 33 degree weather. The worst of it was that I couldn’t even have a cold beer to help take the sting off of the heat, as I am on antibiotics due to a sudden onset of tonsilitis last week. I’d never had tonsilitis. I used to be jealous of kids who had to get their tonsils out, when I was in elementary school, as not only did they get a week or two off of school, they had to eat ice cream. One could only hope for so much.

Last week, I woke up with a pain I can only equate to the sensation of razors in my throat. The doctor whistled, and said it was as bad a case as he’d seen and I had to take penicillin, and rest. No ice cream for me though; I’m attempting to be good and keep to a paleo diet during the week, and ice cream just isn’t conducive to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle (because, clearly, as a suburbanite, I am a hunter-gatherer).

So I spent the weekend in bed, save for a stint on Saturday, where I cleaned the whole flat, top to bottom, side to side, inside and out, and promptly got sicker again, so Sunday was back in bed, watching Netherlands beat Mexico in the last three minutes of their World Cup match. I’d promised to help my mum prep for the party, but couldn’t obviously, so that is how I ended up in front of the barbecue on Canada Day. Well, to be fair, I would have volunteered to cook anyhow; my dad isn’t too fond of it anymore, and he tends to go Cajun on everything (read: he burns it).

The whole patio party was a great success. From the grill, in order of appearance: cedar planked sockeye salmon, sirloin tip roast that had sat in a barbecue brine for 24 hours before being slowed cooked at 225 in the oven for another four, before being placed about the salmon and smoked lightly, ginger-soy chicken, and good old fashioned barbecue pork ribs. Inside, you could find pink (beet-based) potato salad; tomato and onion salad with just white vinegar; spring salad with honey roasted pecans, strawberries, and a light balsamic dressing; Asian slaw with sesame seeds and spring onions; little rounds of choux pastry stuffed with cream cheese and green chilis; meatballs slightly warmed through in a spicy tomato sauce; cheese ravioli in a cheese sauce and hard-boiled eggs; bruschetta on little baguette rounds, toasted with cheese.

I’d had food anxiety – this is a Polish cultural phenomenon – that morning, and convinced my mother to pull out a string of sausages just in case. We didn’t need them, thankfully. Just to put this in context, if you don’t have enough food in case the army were to visit, you aren’t a good hostess. My aunt, whose background is Dutch, and is married to my mother’s brother, has confessed that she has had nightmares in which she is hosting a party and has no food to serve; that is a classic case of food anxiety.

By the time the meat was all off the barbecue and I’d finally had a chance to sit down to eat, everyone was sprawled out in various corners of the house and on the patio, out of the baking sun, digesting slowly, sweating slowly, halfheartedly swatting at the late-afternoon insects that started to appear.

I wanted to sit and to digest as well, but we had to make room for dessert so I tackled the dishes, and some people managed to raise themselves out of their food comas to help put away food. Dessert was cold watermelon; vanilla cheesecake that resembled a marble slab, all swirled through with strawberry preserves; lemon cookies in little perfect rounds with a dollop of raspberry jam; and my mother’s fancy, Canada Day cupcakes that consisted of a vanilla pound cake base with a raspberry buttercream icing, in a deep pink (the closest we could come to red) and gold sprinkles. As one friend noted, the cupcakes didn’t look so great but tasted amazing. And my mum wanted to skimp on the raspberry buttercream icing. A travesty of nature to even think that way!

It was hot though, and from my years of gardening, I knew where the coolest spots in the house and garden were, so I talked my friends down from the ledge in the back, where they’d hid themselves from the sun, and brought them out front where the shade was most prevalent. My litmus test for a successful party are one particular couple who always end up on the floor or on the ground, digesting, and having to undo the top button of their pants. Sweet success, my mum’s party passed the test. Buttons were undone, shoelaces untied, and sighs of relief audibly heard. Maple leaves

By 5pm, people started the slow exodus back to their homes, in twos, and fours. I’d made plans with another set of friends to watch the Canada Day fireworks from the rooftop patio of their apartment building, so after making my rounds of goodbyes, pilfering the remainder of the roast beef, and absconding with all the remaining cupcakes (to bring to my colleagues at work the following day), I left.

The drive was a bit painful, as I suddenly hit my wall, and had to set the air conditioning on high, to keep my body from slipping into the warm embrace of sleep. Just before Lions Bay, just after that one stretch of the Sea-to-Sky that is always in commercials, I saw a car pulled over to the side of the highway, with a woman rolling a tire to the back of her car, clearly working on swapping out for the spare. A man, her husband, boyfriend, or brother, stood leaning against the concrete barrier, toying about on his cell, shades over his eyes, looking rather bored.

My initial reaction to the scene was to think, “What an asshole, he’s not even helping her. He should be doing that,” meaning the tire change. I then immediately felt guilty. Why couldn’t she do it? Of course she should do it. Just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean that she can’t change a tire while her male passenger stands idly by. In fact, were the roles reversed, would I even give the scene a second thought, if it were a guy changing out the tire, and the woman standing by, looking bored? Likely not. I spent the rest of the drive home debating the scene and my reaction to it. The old-fashioned side of me wants the guy to change out the tire; the feminist in me is happy that the woman is taking the lead. I suppose it really comes down to who actually knows how to change a tire. I certainly don’t; I’d call BCAA for help. The whole incident was good food for thought.

When I got home, I showered, as I was sticky with sweat and smoke. I called my friends to say I’d be a bit late as I wanted to have a quick nap. I set the alarm for a fifteen minute shut eye. I woke up half an hour later; either I’d been so sound asleep that I’d missed the alarm or I’d missed setting it in the first place.

I made it in time though, and with extra cupcakes to share. I was rewarded with a spectacular fireworks display over Dundarave, that rivalled anything I’ve seen come out of the States. In fact, the last time I’d watched a Canada Day fireworks display was back in the nineties, at Canada Place, and a teenager at Hallowe’en would have done a better job than what I saw, so I’d renounced Canada Day fireworks displays for the better part of fifteen years. The one I saw yesterday was simply beautiful. Whoever sponsored it, went all out. When we went back inside, my friend opened up a bottle of 2004 Mission Hill ice wine; a bit of summer in a bottle to celebrate what felt like the first true day of summer.

Happy birthday, Country.