Showing posts from July, 2015

Purpose Of Your Visit?

A gloved hand connected to an arm visible up to the elbow emerged from the booth and then an index finger unhinged and indicated the precise spot on the pavement where my car would stop and the questions would begin.
"Where's home?" was the first.

"Edmonton," I answered.

The gloved hand had retracted, and, with its mate, shuffled our three passports under the gaze of a skull that moved up and down, looking at the documents, looking into the car, looking back at the documents. Our information was sucked in through eyes curtained by green-tinted sunglasses.

"Purpose of your visit?"

"Just a holiday," I offered.

This was the border, and this was the focus-group interrogation in which I provided an account of our time in Seattle. And of what was in the Thule roof carrier. And of why we were stopping in Vancouver and why our youngest son had travelled ahead of us, failing with a misplaced joke about children and their parents. And it was where I …

Edmontonians Of Humanity: Sean McAnally

A weekend ago we were sitting outside having breakfast at Blue Plate Diner on 104th St. when Sean McAnally walked by.

In itself Sean McAnally's walking by is not a notable event. But it can lead to one. That's because Sean is good at delivering stuff: parcels, music, and things you think about for awhile.
Sean was with Shawna and it was market day and they were walking Louis, a dog rescued from Mexico. That led, naturally, to the question of which Disney Jungle Book character Sean's brother Rob most closely resembled. We played with King Louie, the jungle VIP who reached the top and had to stop and was troubled by that fact, before settling on Baloo.

And then we talked about whether human beings would get outside for exercise as much if they didn't have to do good by their dogs and get them out to stretch their four legs.

Small talk got a little bigger when Sean shared what he's leaned from from his walks, summarized here in nucleic form.

1. There are seasons, and

New Arrival: The Eradicated Bike Lane Musette!

I did have more words for those on Edmonton city council who smudged over, ripped out, de-signed, and washed away any physical memory of the bike lanes on 95 Ave, but, really, we don't need more words. We need more style.

So, instead, I ordered a fashionable EBL (Eradicated Bike Lane) protest musette. And it just arrived!

Made from recycled curtains, the striped cotton musette features a pink webbing shoulder strap and in its composition underlines the need for colour and diversity in the way a city decides its citizens will move.

A two-tone asphalt-coloured reflective strip is set at an angle across the hypnotic black and white bars of the pouch. Under the hypotenuse beam, and stencilled in steel grey acrylic paint, nervously sits the number 95, a weatherproof reminder of the west end avenue where bike lanes once ran next to automobile lanes.

A handsome black snap keeps contents secure and allows the musette wearer to achieve a degree of closure.

The musette opens to reveal a cu…

9700 Jasper Avenue

Canada happened to me this morning at a red light at about 7:46 am on the corner of Jasper Ave. and 101 St. in the rain in Edmonton.

"Do you need help getting somewhere?" I asked.

She had been standing on the corner while others shuffled by. She was holding a white sheet that had a Google map printed on it, and she was looking down, looking up, stepping, stopping, unsure. I was on my bike, stopped at the curb by the traffic light, waiting to pedal the last two blocks to work.

I had been thinking thoughts that sometimes invade me at red lights. Petty grievances. Imagined conversations with real and imagined adversaries. Things I should have said yesterday. Or 15 years ago. A holiday next week. That oil slick in a puddle on the road. Michael Walters taking his instructions from Lorne Gunter in leading the charge to remove bike lanes. Still the wrong time on the clock outside Starbucks.

"It's 9700 Jasper Avenue," she said, snapping me back, smiling nervously, sho…

Comment ça va!

The run up to the end in Cambrai of stage 4 of this year's Tour de France delivered a telling moment, my favourite moment in the race, so far.

It was there that race leader Chris Froome was captured on video dropping, gently, a water bottle in front of a fan standing on the road side. Of course, the usual move would have been for a cyclist to jettison the water bottle with no small degree of force, launching it in an arc that brought it down in a field or in stand of crops or trees, the goal being to lose ballast quickly, rather than to deliver a souvenir kindly.

It was an image television viewers witnessed go by at the speed of it all, but a moment that was then masterfully and thankfully rescued from the flow.

"Chris Froome, what a gent," Carlton Kirby, the Eurosport commentator, immediately told viewers.

"He takes a big toot on a bidon, thinks about putting it in the cage, 'cause there's a little bit left, sees a young fan at the side of the road, offers…

Canada Day, 2015: Home

Canada in my grandfather's hand remains my favourite font for the word. All these years later I can see him tracing it, can feel still what that word meant for him, and I smile at his decision to underline it boldly, as if it were his signature. Which, it was.

The sentence those words to Canada belong to—One day Mom say you are going to Canada we had no money, cost $200 but how—is from my grandfather's handwritten account of his life, composed a few years before he died, a priceless document that has with time acquired the status of a country's founding document in our family, a living artifact that releases more meaning with every reading.

There is vivid storytelling from the very first paragraph, as we meet a young boy with a sense for the momentous events and the dramatic conversations swirling around Poland at that hour:
Memory of 1914, October (start of first War) We were notified by Government to prepare to leave our home, bake bread and other food, and be ready when…