Saturday, September 13, 2014

I get up in the morning and walk Bosco the dog, whom I'm dog-sitting while his owner is out of town, running a race in Alberta. Our walk takes us through the Meadow, so that the dog can run around off-leash and I can follow behind him, or ahead of him while he side-tracks in the bush. Then I hear the slappity-slap of little dog feet and he is hurtling towards me, mouth open and tongue flopping as he dashes to catch up.

Sunday morning we sketch a big loop around and through town, ending at the farmers' market where I tie Bosco up out of food's way and discover that The Bread Peddler (AKA Kate and Tim from up the road) has baked ginger-chocolate scones. I buy one and munch it, the chocolate chips liquid and melting, fresh from the oven.

Tuesday I hike with Stan and Graeme up up up to Groundhog Lake. We walk though Barkerville so early that the draft horses are still running loose along the road. The cloud cover is low, and as we get up to 5700 feet the treetops are so dusted with frost that it looks as though all colour is being leached out of the world. The lake is in a bowl; on one side is a public-use cabin and on the other side Mount Agnes rises in a ragged rocky curve. Today we can't see the summit but it's still spectacular.

Today we do our show for three friends who are leaving us after working with us all summer. Two of them are my best girl friends and I can't even imagine how it's going to be up here without them.  They clap, they giggle, they cheer, they galvanize the rest of the audience and us and we do one of the best shows we've done in a long while.

Movie nights with pickles-and-cheese. Family dinners before people start leaving. A new home to house-sit. Playing music at the Bear's Paw tonight to a packed house. September I write my love letter to this place while the days tick by and life gets ready to change again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Discombobulation

The end of the main season always gets to me.

The weather and the leaves are changing faster than you can say fall in the mountains.

Friends are leaving; staff is being reduced to a skeleton crew all over town. There are parties, too many drinks, and tearful goodbyes.

On top of this, I have had a whirlwind week, riding some incredible emotional highs as I celebrated my birthday and had a lot of fun (maybe a little too much fun) with my friends and co-workers.

We have also had an extremely intense month at the theatre: someone left the company in early August, was replaced by another performer, we rehearsed like mad; then someone else got sick so we had to re-jig everything again; then again as they recovered and got worked back into the show. We had to plaster cheat sheets all over the stage and wings just so we could remember the show order(s). It made us a very tight little unit, very close, with a ton of laughs, and the kind of intense friendships that are formed in the face of adversity. This weekend we had to say goodbye to 3 of those people, as their contracts don't last to the end of September.

We get 2 days off after Labour Day- I went north to the nearest big city, to spend way too much of my hard-earned paycheque on new clothes and unhealthy food. My stomach feels yucky from over-indulgence. My heart is sad. The big city was ugly and rainy. I tried to have a good time, and I was glad I'd gone- in a way- because I needed a change of scene, but all I wanted was to be home.

And now I am. Home in this tiny town with my new clothes and some new books, getting ready to adjust to the shoulder season. There is a lot of fun to be had in the fall, and I look forward to the weeks ahead, but this weekend always gets to me, every single year.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A New Year

I think this picture captures last night's party perfectly. Cake and laughter.
It's dark because we were all around the campfire in our backyard; the rain held off (more or less) and everyone I love best in this place came to spend my birthday party with me. My heart is full.
What made it even more special is that it was such a challenging day and we were all exhausted by the time we got home. My room mates and I stared blankly at the walls or napped before guests started to arrive. We were so drained I thought the party would be a total bust.
It had started the night before with the last cabaret of the season. I performed; I drank well-but not wisely- and stayed out too late. I got up yesterday morning determined to go running with a girlfriend even though I was hungover and had had about 5 hours' sleep.
Soon after the run, a phone call from work. A cast member was too ill to perform. Heading in to hospital with the boss. We had to go in to Barkerville, re-plot the show and do it with one less performer. Nervous and grumpy, we ran through the variety show figuring out who would sing what, who would say what to cover her absence. In the dressing room I cried from pure nerves, angry with myself for being underslept and hungover, knowing my voice was not at its best.
And then... the magic you always hope for as a performer. An electric show that crackled with the energy we were all putting out. A wonderful audience. A voice that held up, even though it was tired. An exhilarated, giggly lunch together afterwards. Then home, rest, rallying, fire-making, friends, and another late night/early morning bedtime that was sooooo worth it, spent with friends old and new.
I can't say enough how grateful and amazed I am that I have so many people in my life to love me, celebrate my quirks, comfort me when I'm down, laugh hysterically with me, and make me feel like a million bucks. All I can say is that everyone should be lucky enough to find their tribe. I have tribes in both the places I call home, and that has made a world of difference.
Here comes a new decade. I can honestly say that I am thinner, healthier, wiser, and way happier than I was last year. If that isn't a good way to start your forties then I don't know what is.
Painted by a new friend of mine, signed on the back by a whole bunch of lovely people. Happy happy. 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

laughter

This has been a week of laughter, which is a pretty great epitaph for the week that was.
Laughter that has had me doubled over, or bellowing with it, head thrown back, or breaking into giggles at the best/worst times during rehearsals.
Part of it is stress, because at a time when we're usually doing our parts by rote we've been thrown back  into creation and rehearsal again. So by the end of the day we're tired and exhilarated and so wound up that we're manic. Three of us showed up at the taco stand for dinner last night and I think our friend Mark thought we were on crack.
Part of it is relief because the atmosphere at work is so much lighter, which is something I didn't realize until things changed.
Part of it is because this is the time of summer when friendships have fully ripened, and we have a particularly great group of friends this year. A really good gang of people to play with.
And part of it is the good weather, which continues to shower us with heat and sunlight when we are more used to... well, the other kind of showers.
The four of us who live together up here rented a cabin at the lake and spent 2 nights there this week after 3 long days of rehearsals. Friends came up and visited. We swam all day, when we weren't eating or playing cards or lying on a paddleboard reading on the lake (my favorite). We floated downriver, got out, and did it again. I had my bathing suit on all day. I still can't believe how much fun we had and how much we needed that break.
Three shows today, and a sick cast member to boot, and we still laughed a lot. Our new cast member is talented, funny, and gives as good as he gets when it comes to jokes and teasing. He is also an appreciator of women, which after a long summer of pretty much zero attention from anyone is slightly dizzying and very fun. We are all more generous onstage than we were.
This morning I lay in bed early in the morning and listened to rain pounding on our metal roof (a rare break from the heat and sunshine) and felt cozy and lucky all over.
In a few more weeks I will be forty. I am in a frame of mind these days where that feels like a promise and a beginning rather than a curse.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Snapshot

Today was an unexpected day off (don't ask).

The sun was shining and the air was warm. You learn not to take that for granted around here, especially by August.

I had to play the organ for a Masonic church service (again, don't ask). After that, the day was my own.  I possess the kind of personality that feels guilty when I'm inside and it's a sunny day. My 21-year-old roomie was perfectly content playing video games on the couch, and he'd certainly earned the right to do so. I got on my bike and rode. It was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing. I hadn't eaten, I forgot sunscreen and water and all that good stuff. A stop off at the taco stand took care of the no-breakfast thing. Then I hit the road.

Past the dump, past the gravel pit, past Manmade Lake. Up, up, up Devil's Canyon, black rocks and scorched-looking trees looming above. Two tiny lakes at the top, one on each side. Put my foot into one: primordial sludge sucks at me and makes me reconsider. Whiz back down the canyon and stop at Manmade Lake: stash my bike and find the perfect spot to swim, then bike home, soaking wet and bone-deep content.

I glance in the mirror: tanned face, huge eyes, lake-messy hair. A better testament to this surprising and perfect day off than any photo I could have taken.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Blue Day.


“Fear is the original sin. Almost all of the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something.It is a cold slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.”
― L.M. MontgomeryThe Blue Castle

A note from a new acquaintance stuns me out of my usual selfishness: I am blessed to have been able to get to know you guys a bit... She was a shy girl who hung around with us for a few days during ArtsWells and then abruptly left her job because she and her boss didn't get along... I thought she was young for her age and a bit of a pill; she found beautiful things to say about each one of us (me and my 3 roommates) in this note she left us. I am humbled and schooled. I try to be a nicer person. It doesn't always work out. But I try.

This is our Monday and people are at daggers drawn (what a great expression) at work. Tension, drama. I keep my head down and get through the day. I visit a friend where he works; I relax and we chat and laugh but later I recall L.M. Montgomery's wonderful quote about fear. I am so fearful sometimes. I can't say what's in my heart and it becomes this big thing that I can't shrug off. I cycle home feeling sad about my shitty day at work and my fears which stifle some of the things I need to say.

I watch some documentary shorts at a film festival in town. God, why are they all so damn depressing? There's an 81/2 minute doc about a man who's friends with a spoon. His family have rejected him for this and in the end he takes meds so he can stop being friends with the spoon and go to his son's wedding as a "normal" person.  A few tears trickle out. God, it's just a spoon. Why can't they accept him as he is? Then there's a documentary about a residential school survivor... the tears start to flow for reals. By intermission my eyes are red and swollen. Several of the docs were shot in east Vancouver and I'm surprised by how homesick that makes me feel. We walk home and autumn's chill bites at us in our thin sweaters. Is it that time already? Yes it is, up here where summer is short at best.

It's a blue day, for sure. We had an amazing day off yesterday, which makes today's sadnesses bearable, because I know how much fun can be had here too. Yesterday a gang of us went to the lake and paddled and swam and snacked and laughed and it was perfection, which is what the lake always is for me. Sun on my skin and lakewater in my hair and good friends to share it all with. So I know there will be more of that, and more great days of work, too.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thrills & Spills


Today is the first day of ArtsWells, the "festival of all things Art", as it bills itself. Half of east van, my other home, comes to Wells, either to perform or to watch. I shoot into the day firing on all cylinders. A 4k run at 7am. Walking a friend's dog. Two shows. The weather is hot and the haze from a distant (we hope) forest fire puts a blur on the mountains. 
It's an odd sort of day. Three of us are tired from an epic day off of paddleboarding and going shopping in town. This morning my run feels good at the time but is probably not really such a hot idea. Our stage manager takes a tumble off a railing before the 4pm show, bruising her back and shaking herself up quite a bit. I get through that show in a daze, hot and tired out. On our way home we spot a friend of ours lying on the side of the road. She's skidded in gravel, fallen off her bike and broken her wrist. 
From the worry and sombre waiting at the accident scene to the giddiness of a festival- it's a weird transition. 
It ends up being the best year so far for dancing friends (usually I'm alone, wanting to hit the dance floor but lacking friends who want to join me). This year I have a nice pack of girls to get my groove on with. They are all way, way younger than me, but that's no big deal. I bump into friends I had forgotten were coming up here, I hug fellow-musicians who are performing, I buy a pretty ring, I dance and dance. 

Yesterday I spent the day in the water and sun and today I immerse myself in music, with the promise of more to come. Life's pretty much perfect.