Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Bridget condos

The other night I walked across the Granville Street bridge and it occurred to me that bridges could soon be locations pounced upon by real estate speculators and that custom slimmed condo towers may soon be plonked in the middle of them and determined to be the ultimate place to live. As I pondered this I could imagine the advertising slogans and what they’d promise. The property would naturally be called “Bridget”

This just caught my eye about the speculated upon BIG tower: “If approved for construction it would rise 52 storeys from a narrow base next to the Granville Bridge and curve up to the top.”

Not much of a hop or a slight misread of the plans (curve around and over onti the top) til my premonition could be realized.

 

 

Winter Reading Rituals

Here is a piece on Winter Reading Rituals I wrote for the International Festival of Authors blog back in October:

I’m not long returned from the Brooklyn Book Festival where the weather was beautifully warm and I had to pace about wearing shorts. Last weekend I travelled to the Victoria Writers Festival and Wordstock, the Portland writers festival, and tonight have just arrived home from the launch of the Vancouver Writers Fest.

I remember all four recent festivals by the weather and conversations. In New York I had to turn on the air conditioner. In Portland I had to turn on the heater and yesterday night I could not sleep because it was so windy here in Vancouver.

I love the fall season in Vancouver and pay close attention to the wind and rain. It signals for me the start of my winter reading rituals. The weather closing in, the sky turning grey means it’s time to turn in to the page.

All year I turn to the page, but in winter I embrace the page amid additional attention to physical comfort.

To establish any ritual it’s necessary to repeat it. It’s not a ritual if you only ever do it once. My reading rituals are particularly employed and important when it’s raining. As it’s regularly raining in Vancouver, I am committed.

Comfort is vital. I adopted two couches from a generous couch shedder because I deemed we needed a couch-per-reading-person (in this case two). I have invested in four hot water bottles because I deemed we needed two per person. I bought my son the softest blanket in the world which I subsequently commandeered and he has yet to raise a loud protest since he has disappeared into the vortex of video gaming. Quilts are very important in our apartment, they are dragged up and down stairs and sometimes found under the kitchen table and are thus umbilically connected to winter reading rituals. Pillows and cushions are critical.

Liquids. Liquid comfort matters during a winter reading ritual. In this case: teapot, teacups, milk jug, glass of hot port have proved trojan company. For smaller participants I admit to providing endless bags of chips and token chopped apples.

Finally I have found fuzzy or warm socks a most important part of my winter reading ritual. If my feet are cold or itchy it’s very distracting to my reading.

Once comfort is established and the weather has been noted, this liberates my brain and reading begins.

A stack of books is always within arms reach of the couch because I practice inter-reading. I might wish to digest a paragraph by reading a different work after it, or I might just dig in for the long haul with the same text.

Walks are taken only to refill hot water bottles or the teapot. Generally the plan is not to get up. Naps are sometimes taken at the book, but this isn’t encouraged. The teapot is the weapon against slumber. The curtains are always open, darkness is welcome but the curtains stay open because the weather doing its thing outside is a pleasing visual carnival.

Titles vary, but I would not necessarily reread Madame Bovary in winter. She is usually reserved for the wooden chair on Grandma’s deck.

Long-left leaves

I apologize for the interruption or hiatus in postings. I have some catching up to do because I’ve been on the road so much this season.

The past two days have seen quite a weather event. I’ll call it a single event because there was very little interruption. Rain, relentless, plunging rain — there was a small river running down the back alley this morning. And wind. 16,000 people had their power knocked out by the high wind in spots like Steveston, Southern Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast etc.

This evening though, the rain took a pause and there was a hint of fog out there when I went for a wander. It was almost a blue fog. I have decided it was a Christmas fog since there was only a hint of it and since we’re technically no where near Christmas.

The leaves are drowned to a mush, they look like long-left breakfast cereal.

If you are feeling down during the winter season please check out the In Our Time BBC Radio 4 episode I posted below and convene with Mr Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy for company and comfort. I also recommend hot water bottle, perhaps some oolong tea and the softest blanket you can find to curl up with.

Hot Spot!

The wave of heat has been with us for two days and we are delighted with it. Welcome heat. Welcome wave. It’s a particularly good combination because at night the temperate falls and it’s not unbearable.

Or it may be the case that we are simply defrosting from the past six months of chilly puddling and therefore cannot gain any actual sense of the temperature because we’ve been so frozen. Who would actually know at this point what’s unbearably hot as we’ve become fluent in unbearably overcast.

Yesterday (Sunday) it was scorching at 4pm. I gave thanks and scorched along with it.

My only concern now is that of thunderstorms and what they lead to — the dreadful forest fires.

Sources tell me there was an hour long discussion on BC Almanac on the weather today. I am ashamed to say I missed it. Such is the nature of my present life my weather forecasting or weather watching has been derailed.

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Under the weather

Oh glory, oh grief how we are challenged by our current weather! It is so ridiculously dark outside today and grim that I must insist to myself there’s something unbeknownst to discover from it. It’s like a set of bricks on the eyelids from indoors, just misery inducing.

To wit, in the spirit of Our Woman, I shall not be sunk and shall up and out into it rather than remain surly in retreat.

I have daily reports of similar weather elsewhere. I was only remarking yesterday to a correspondent on the incredible power of the weather to do our heads in. I maintain tho’ it needs to be embraced, even tho’ I am not a great example of such today.

Washing retrieval wind

I noted a sharp wind ouside just now when I pulled in the washing off the line. I was surprised at the chill in it and checked the weather station which claims an 8 degrees. But there was something enlivening in it after a particularly draining day. An encore quality. The reward for carrying on. Must remember to dip out and take note of night weathers and temperatures, they can be so satisfying.

Little Tokyo in the Industrial Playground

Great night at the Little Tokyo in the Industrial Playground opening at the Firehall Arts Centre — Go see Jeremy Isao Speier’s installation, it looks amazing in that space. Thanks to everyone for the discourse on the Rolf Knight extracts I read. I really enjoyed thinking about our city’s industrial playgrounds and their eradication. I hope some kind of collaborative essay series may emerge out of our discussion.

Now it’s time to cook a frozen curry.

Turbulent birds

The dry-sounding November windstorm blew into an epic wind event all day long. Vigorous and refreshing. It’s still gusting out there now, but the dial has been turned down on the worst of it.

Today at the Farmer’s Market the poor, tent-less vendors were grabbing and clutching their goods like you would a tumbling child. I bought some very tasty arugula and have found a source of local BC salmon, which I’d previously been hunting for. Very delicious supper. We are so lucky in these parts with the access to local and so much variety of fruits, veggies and great fish.

The birds were dipping and being sidelined by the wind. I was watching them trying to understand how they compensate because they still seem to level out. But they certainly experienced turbulence today the poor blighters.  Would we were so savvy as the birds when turbulent circumstances strike!

My condo post yesterday if actually read is clearly something of anti-developer position and certainly anti-the-city being beholden to and essentially run by developers, thus it was amusing to see it being scooped up by condo blogs and essentially lifted as content! Do these peeps cease at nothing? What are they drinking? It’s a delusional blend right down to the google alert.

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I have thought more about the Zadie Smith’s quote included in my other post On reading better and at 5.30 am I was struck by a reservation around this (in bold) part of it

“…When I write about books I’m trying to honor reading as a creative act: as far as I’m
concerned the job is not simply to describe an end product but to
delineate a process, an intimate experience with a book which the
general reader understands just as well as the professional critic.”

It’s the choice of the word honor, a tad precious, a tad careful. I was struck instead by an image of the reader at the coalface mining and how we enter an engagement with reading that should be perhaps mucky and challenging and muscular. That said the raw material must be at that coalface for us to dig in and dig at and dig out.

I’ve noticed this preciousness also creeping in around the aesthetics of the physical book amid the yawning insistence that the physical book, by virtue of being tactile and rectangular, (in contrast to a zillion pixels) is therefore an art object. Speaking as someone who co-habits with a visual artist, I find this notion bunkish and dislike this cloying romanticism that’s creeping in with the advanced pre-bemoaning the death of the book.  Hang on a minute there with the funeral garlands and elevation… Books aren’t all beautiful objects far from it. There’s also a long history of them being dog eared and abandoned and lifted (in my case) from the side of the road. I don’t want my books to become reverred, sacred icons. They are as practical to me as a set of buckets. We have a working relationship. Yes there are some I am a bit soft hearted at the sight or lift of them, but they are mostly late 1960’s Grove Press (typographical cover) ones and they certainly possess a utlilitarian look to them.

I would be keen to acknowledge reading as a muscular act, one that takes places in all kinds of conditions and circumstances. Nor is it a singular act. One reading bleeds to and from and back to another.

Condos rise along with daft name quota

There’s a building that’s risen below Main and 2nd Avenue that entirely changes a view I’ve been familiar with since I landed in Vancouver. Yesterday the building that has been promising to rise up there has finally risen and reminded me of a filing cabinet. It has these odd slitty windows up and down the side facing you as you pass it (going North on foot or on wheels.)

Beside it, more such condo buildings are promised changing the corridor there from fast food outlets and so on. The one outlet I’d be glad to see removed because of its garish dominance remains and looks likely to. Strange that.

As you drive the other direction along Kingsway you have the sense that we may need to do visits to Kingsway to be reminded of the City say 12 years ago. Then you keep going up Kingsway and bam! Sure enough a similiar building, with surely one of the worst names so far, promises to rise: Charm, she’s called this one.

Last week around Main & 30th my son and I were laughing at yet another condo building which was decorated with hanging pictures that read “ACTUAL VIEW” and showed a mountain range and what have you. Except the side of the building were they hung actually looks out on a hoover shop and a faded travel agents. There’s absolutely no sign of a mountain at all. The building also promised itself as “the highest point” on Main Street, which again, seemed a little lavish, since generally Main Street is not exactly the Kilamanjaroo of heights.

We are living now in the time of buildings with ridiculous names and embellished features. Charm takes the biscuit but OnQue is a close second. But it’s not even the names, it’s what they promise, it’s what they suggest might be waiting in store for you when you move into these places. (I am reminded of the building with the Churchill quote on the side and the people who were (accidentally) floating above the pavement in one advert for example). They also now include the terms “living and retail experience” on their holdings.

And finally in my housing reflections I was out for a light run yesterday and marvelling at the sky and general shape of the weather (crisp about the fingers, but oh so fresh) when hark disappointment ladled as I noticed they’ve torn down one of the last few interesting houses in our neighbourhood. OK I admit it was a hoarding enclave, but it fascinated me because of what was piled in the windows and the back garden. Now the land is bald with a plywood hut emerging and the only defiant gesture is a binner, who has used the new space to park his shopping trolley. Fair play to him/her on their initiative!

 

Adventures in sledge hockey

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The wail for the coach Peggy to plod onto the ice and help me get back up. You needed longer arms for the task than I possess. However eventually I figured out a method with feet. So much fun this sport!

This picture made my day. Giant radio at Victory Sq. 1931 (Vancouver Archives)

 

Just went for a little field trip in the -5 (which feels like minus 9) arctic outflow warning and it wasn’t too bad.

But I was wearing ski-ing clothes in anticipation of the arctic encounter and my mind was full of warm thoughts about penguins and their supreme intellect.

There’s a bit of a wind out there alright.

This is a major cold weather event for us. Even tho’ by Edmonton standards it’s tropical.

A Man of Our Times

This really is an incredible resource where you can read Rolf Knight’s books

I had an engrossing time today reading A Man of Our Times The life-history of a Japanese-Canadian fisherman (1976, 105 pp). 

A brief life history of a Japanese-Canadian fisherman, logger, socialist union organizer and editor from his arrival in British Columbia in 1910 to the early 1970s. Includes an overview of Japanese-Canadian labour history and is unique in its account of the internal class struggles within that community as well as the struggle against racism.

My forecast was wrong! It’s 8 degrees and pouring rain since this morning! I have figured out why. The problem is I am forecasting indoors in a building which is approx 4 degrees colder at any given time then what is happening outside.

Therefore the -4 weather event, felt to be -8 outside, was felt to be at least -12 in here therefore it is very hard to see how the temperature could rise so rapidly. I have to factor this in. We have this crazed tradition of fans blowing constantly in our hallways. I recently asked our manager why this must be so (each year I have a lengthy exchange in winter with the organization who run our building about why we must live in a freezer .. they acknowledge it and refuse to turn the fans off because of a myriad of rotating reasons). The most recent explanation given was the sump pump was broken (that’s sewerage) and there was problems getting a replacement, therefore the fans had to be blowing all the time because the smell is so terrible.

Point taken, says I and added another scarf to my layers.

I love our building though. There are ups, downs and inbetweens and a certain honesty that comes with it. I am very, very fortunate to have housing.

A wind event is now picking up outside. Today is what my mother would describe as ‘dirty’ weather.

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I summited the second row of the V neck jumper, despite two males and two guinea pigs distracting me. It’s a lovely rusty colour. But it is proving so difficult. I taught a friend to knit on Saturday evening, she told me her mother could knit all kinds of cable-knit jumpers. She picked it up in no time and her stitches were so perfectly even. Knitting DNA! To watch as someone’s brain and in turn hands process the directions is fascinating because people are so different in the way they pick things up. We have left-handed people and ambidextrous people in our family so our learning styles are often very different.

Punk reply

Here’s the link to Bloodied But Unbowed where you can, courtesy of the Knowledge Network, watch this documentary on Vancouver’s early punk history.

My curiosity was piqued by the woman sat on the bonnet of her car who described wanton verbal abuse and physical assaults in response to looking like or appearing to be a punk. I’ve been asking friends about this, since it’s hard to reconcile these descriptions with city life at present. It’s often difficult to get anyone to respond to you in some parts of the city. Good morning or hello seems to put the fear of God and instant eye-aversion from people passing…

As one friend put it “There was a time when a haircut meant something…”

That is not to suggest a return to the habit of people getting verbally abused and bashed in for having a particular haircut, music taste and tight black jeans or being sprinkled with safety pins. More to observe a contrast in conduct and examine where or how that has been recorded.

I think this may be our most middling Autumnal day. The leaves are droopy with despair.

They remain on the turn. They’re at the halfway point now so you can look at a long line of them and see the beginning, middle, and end of the leaves colour changes. I had never noticed before how the timing can differ between them.

Weather exile, nay exhilaration

Fog (Sun eve) my first official note of fog amid bewilderment as to whether in actual fact I merely need new glasses.

Fog – rain – rain – wind (bit) – immense over cast grey bulge — rain – rain – rain.

This morning it’s confirmed a La Nina Winter Forecast for us this winter. What this means will become apparent as I continue “past-casting”.

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In Murakami weather moments I can report a degree of exhilaration running with water dripping off my sleeves and nose and eyelashes. I passed a completely bereft park and laughed out loud at how ridiculous running in pouring rain is.

But I admired the 8 people out strolling under umbrellas yesterday.

The rest of the West Coast world audaciously announced yesterday as the last day of summer, whereas here at Literature et Folie the Autumn season is already four days underway.

A CBC report (what-do-they-know-wha?) declared the summer passed a “bummer summer”. What a ludicrous assertion, on what basis? On the basis of assumption. The assumption of what summer must be. It was certainly not a “bummer summer” rather it was a moody summer season with pronounced independent thinking and bouts of non conformity and an impressive last minute “up do”. The only mildly inconvenient aspect of it was the late start to the growing season, but my garden was suffering from drowning by peat so I think my peat flooding was more of a problem than the lack of sun.

I have to check the winter forecasts, the last time I looked they were predicting colder than normal temperatures for the Wesssst and warmer than normal elsewhere.

I am heartened by the arrival of our atmospheric rains. They are so temperate thus far. I am awaiting the first fog eagerly.

Nothing quite so reliable as the insomniac’s weather report!

At 1.07am if you were in the land of slumber I am pleased to report for you it was raining. And a most excellent rain it was too, coming as it did after the 27 degree scorcher of a day. (The employment of the gerund in this sentence is an absolute disservice to the quality and verve of the rain, but the insomniac weather report cannot focus on guitar solo grammar and must remain attentive instead to the finery of nabbing what you are sensibly missing by being asleep).

This is a fresh camping rain without the pain and discomfort of needing to go camping. This rain possesses a sense of contentment rather than entitlement… (the insomniac’s weather report is permitted to give the weather human qualities, since slumbering humans are not awake to dispute it).

A rain of convenience and I repeat finery. A fresh cross breeze included. The kind of breeze a random doorway smoker could absolutely destroy if they stood beneath your window.

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I have been blessed yet again by tripping over literary treasure. This time a 12 cent copy of a book called Lifetime by Scott Sommer. It is sharp, short fiction. No one I’ve asked remembers him. (But those I’ve asked do not live in Brooklyn where perhaps he’s v well remembered) He died of a heart attack at 42. This book was published in (well it lists several dates so am thinking it must be a third printing, the dates offered are 78, 81 and 86. Sommer was a writer who certainly embraced new ways of cutting up his sandwiches. The form of these stories is lively and innovative.

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