Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Something a little more upbeat

That last post was a downer, OMG. I sent emails to three different people and phoned my sister to check in on life.

I did something today that brings me a great deal of joy. I went to school. I kept my mind occupied for the most part by working on a PowerPoint presentation for class tonight. There was a certain amount of motivation to do it too, since four people's grades were riding on this! There's something about that adrenalin rush you get with up-to-the-last-minute assignment completion that rides the line of "it's almost late"!

And it was! (ALMOST late, that is!) I left the house 15 minutes before class, but MAN, did we score. The class loved our presentation, and I received several comments on the production side. I, of course, was much harder on the technical production than anyone in the class because I kept noticing things I "could tweak" to make it "that much better". It's probably why I ran the deadline so tight. I'm not what you'd ever call a "perfectionist", but when it comes to stuff like that, I always burn up massive amounts of time with "What if I did this?" or "I could simply add this to make it that much cooler!"

Anyway, done and in.

On to Essay #2.

By the way, I highly recommend the book we did our presentation on. It was Wayne Johnston's Colony of Unrequited Dreams. It's a metafictional account of Joe Smallwood in Newfoundland in the early 20th Century, and it;s a gripper.

You won't put it down.

I'm not an avid reader... you won't put it down.

Maybe reading isn't so bad, after all.


It's movie time.

Horton Hears a Who.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Proof, once again, that life is short, and Henry remembered...

This last weekend marked one year since I travelled to Ontario for my friend Henry's funeral.

I found out only today over lunch with my friend Michelle, that a mutual friend, Doug, with whom we had grown up, was killed in an avalanche in British Columbia in February. Not that long ago, I DJ'd Doug's wedding reception at a local Calgary golf course. When I saw him last, I shook his hand and shared a beverage with him at the old neighbourhood's Stampede Block Party in July - a bit of a tradition for both of us since we were boys of 8 and 10.

I remember telling a story at Doug's wedding. Not long after we'd moved to the neighbourhood, my Dad had purchased a load of soil which was delivered to our front lawn. At the time, Doug fancied himself an accomplished BMX Motocross bike rider. He took great delight in using the pile as a bike jump for stunts. This infuriated my Dad who felt that the soil was precious and for use in his garden, NOT to be used for anything as frivolous as stunting. Those at the wedding reception who were from the neighbourhood laughed, as they too were there to witness the antics of an 8-year-old.

Doug was 35.

Henry was 51.

I'm 38.

It makes me wonder how much more life I have to live.

Life IS short, as cliche as it may sound, and I hope you will acknowledge and appreciate those who share this life with you.

With reference to my previous post about projects, one is going to be human connections.

In fact, maybe that's a good title.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Projects abound

There seems to be no end of things going on around here. Numerous household projects, school, work, general living - it's all sometimes a little overwhelming, but in a good way.

What I'm craving though, is something new. A new project - something that I can get lost in with reckless abandon and glee. I'm simply not sure what.

Last year it was school. Going to University, even as a recreational student, had me wide-eyed and keen. It's still interesting, and I'm on a regular path with it, but somehow the "newness" of it has faded. I have to admit, in the beginning I had the most wonderful professor. Her equal, I dare say, does not exist. I haven't heard from M. since she took medical leave in September, right at the beginning of our Detective Fiction course. I have heard through the grape vine that she is well and spending her time doing what she needs to do in order to return to the classroom in the Fall. Will I take a course from her? Not sure. A second language course is what I had in mind for September.

Last year, too, I started yoga. New, introspective and calming. It continues.

This year, I need a new 'something'. I'd considered revisiting an 'old something' like music lessons, model railroading or dance lessons but I think 'expansion' is the key. Something fresh, something new.

I'm going to open the floor for suggestions. Also, if you're a regular reader here at the Armchair who doesn't normally leave comments, please do. I may simply take all the bits and pieces, place them in a hat and pick.

The first new project? Find a project!

Now... off to clean up some old ones!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Life in a nut... no, Turtle shell

March and April typically bring with them a sense of a lull. Mid-to-down-season activity work wise coupled with that 'it's not really winter / not yet spring' seasonal confusion add up to an overall feeling of "ugh".

This year's been unique. I think because there has been so much going on, the busy-ness of it all has over-rode the typical blahness. Or maybe it's that life is just generally better. I've noticed, as you have too, no doubt, a lower frequency of blog posts. That isn't because there's less noteworthy stuff going on. In fact, to the contrary I've been so busy I haven't taken the time to keep the blog updated.

As a bit of a side bar, I've also felt less compelled to share my life publicly. I look back on posts of the past and realize that I was quite over-eager to share and bare all. For example, early in my blog journey I was in a relationship that seemed so very perfect. It caused senses to awaken that I'd never known existed. I also shared my experiences - victories and failures - regardless of their seemingly greater or lesser importance. I'd discovered a whole new world which, actually, was simply the world. I was just awake now, and enjoying it. Now, as I continue to do all these things that enrich, educate and cause me to grow consistently, I seem to feel like they're less note-worthy somehow. Perhaps this is simply a plateau of great experiences, and my next burst of writing may come with the next upward swing of growth.

So, a quick update, spare the details... um... yah, right... me? spare the details?

SCHOOL - First quiz this term deflated me. I mean, it was bad. First essay? "You did some amazing research! I think you missed the point of the assignment, however." What I'd done was focus too much on the historic thread of my paper and not nearly enough on the textural reference to the novel we were actually reading. Oops. Group assignment - feeling the pressure right now. I'm responsible for creating our PowerPoint presentation. Two of my group mates showed up without their scripts ready to voice yesterday. It's puttin' the production guy under a wee bit of a time crunch for a Monday deadline, a Wednesday presentation. We meet again tomorrow.

WORK - Trucks along. Contracts seem to be coming in without an obsessive need to chase them. Is this what I should expect after 21 years? I should hope so.

YOGA - New studio, same favourite instructor. Haven't been in a couple weeks - last time the studio reeked of oil-based paint. I'm not allergic, but it simply isn't pleasant while I'm trying to focus on being good to my body, mind, spirit and soul.

POTTERY - So busy with 'other stuff', pottery's in the background right now.

MASSAGE THERAPY AND CHIROPRACTIC - Most of my issues lie in muscle groups, not as much in skeletal frame stuff. The kicker is that the frame is affected by the condition of the muscle groups! So, lots of stretching! The massage therapist student I had this week and last is amazing. The treatments themselves are pretty basic, but last session we both caught on to something key: working the muscle groups of the scapula and... believe it or not, arm pits. Sounds gross, I know, but it's these little buggers that are causing a great deal of forward rotation in my shoulders. I've requested to book with the same therapist student for the next little while. She's a smart cookie!

WALK/RUN PROGRAM FOR MOTHER'S DAY 5K - Hit and miss, really. The running part is great, the cold air in the mornings around here makes it difficult. My upper chest hurts, so I back it off, and hence don't get the 'forward motion' I'm looking for. It may be time to hit the treadmill or an indoor track.

HOUSE, HOUSE MATES, TENANTS AND ANIMALS - It's a crazy, mixed up world. Animals upstairs, animals downstairs and people all over. We're in transition as the basement becomes "more finished". What started as a simple "face lift" has grown into weeks of... waiting mostly. This is crunch weekend. We aim to have the floor done and the kitchen back together. Translation? I get my upstairs space back, and my tenants settle themselves in for a long, happy and hopefully healthy stay. Now... the yard. Eeek.

TURTLE OVERALL - Overall, things are good, pushing great. Turtle is tired often, but happy, and must remember... less coffee. I'm back into nasty habits like many-a-day coffees. Bad Turtle.

Turtle out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coffee and getting enough sleep

Yesterday I had a warm and fuzzy experience at Starbucks.

Yes, at Starbucks.

I'm in the habit these days of ordering a double-shot espresso instead of a full coffee. Add a little cream and a drop of honey, and it's all good.

On Saturday I'd ordered a triple down at Chinook Centre when I met with a client. Yesterday I decided to do the same, but closer to home. Both times, the baristas said,

"A triple shot - OK, what size?"

I'm thinking to myself, "What do you mean, 'what size'?"

Both times there was a pause, a bit of a blush, then recognition of 'what size'!

I cannot be too hard on them though. After all, anyone who can remember ALL those obsessively integrated beverage names must be afforded some latitude. I simply found it amusing that I got the same reaction at two different locations.

What I got at the second, however, was unique. The girl who actually made my espresso presented it to me and asked,

"Would you like another shot? I mean, I have to make them in doubles, so I'm throwing one out anyway since you only want a triple."

What does a guy say, other than "SURE!"

So there I was, ready to face my day with a quadruple espresso, the effects of which did not take hold until it came to sleeping last night. I was awake and asleep several times, and ended up sleeping most of the afternoon away today.

So I walked to Safeway for groceries tonight. I'm in great shape for a sleep now.

Turtle out.

Monday, March 03, 2008

MUSIC MONDAY: A tribute to Jeff Healey

Healey remembered as talented titan of blues and jazz
By Adam McDowell, Canwest News Service
Published: Monday, March 03, 2008
- The death of Jeff Healey on Sunday left Canada without one of its strongest champions of blues and jazz, said musicians who paid tribute to the late guitarist Monday.

Healey helped popularize "the kind of music that's always kind of been under the wire," said Colin James, a fellow traveller in the blues/jazz circuit. "It's always good when there's someone leading the charge."

Healey died of cancer in Toronto at 41, leaving behind his wife, Cristie, and their two children, aged 13 and three.

For many, Healey's blindness - the result of a rare form of eye cancer he'd fought as an infant - was his most recognizable feature.

However, musicians emphasized Healey's talent as they remembered him - especially his virtuosity on the guitar, which he held in his lap. "He really attacked that guitar and that sound was a real barrage," James said. "He manipulated it in such an unorthodox way that it was astounding."

Said Bryan Adams in a press release Monday: "Jeff was one of Canada's greatest talents, it is a huge regret to have to say goodbye."

"Of course I knew he was sick, but when I saw the paper this morning, it was like a gut punch," said David Wilcox, another of Canada's few internationally recognized roots musicians. Noting Healey's role as an ambassador for the country's blues and jazz, "For many people internationally he was one the first Canadians," said Wilcox said " . . . who made a mark for them in the field."

A representative of Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, a close friend of Healey's, released this statement: "Jeff had it all: he was a virtuoso guitar player, he had an international reputation as a musician and he was an incredibly nice. The only strike against him was that his speaking voice sounded like Brian Mulroney. We love him, and we'll miss him."

Healey made his breakthrough as a blues rocker with early albums See the Light (1988) and the soundtrack for the film Road House (1989), in which he also acted.

"What was always bubbling underneath was his love of early jazz," James recalled. While Healey spent most of the present decade focusing on jazz, James wondered "if he wished he'd got at that a little sooner, as opposed to the commercially driven stuff that he later on professed not to have enjoyed."

The guitarist chose to return to his rock-and-blues roots for his last album, Mess of Blues, which will be released April 22.

"His legacy is he wants us to remember the music that he loved, particularly the early jazz," said Danny Marks, who hosts a Saturday night blues show on Jazz.FM91, the same Toronto radio station that aired Healey's My Kinda Jazz on Monday nights. "Maybe collectively we can keep it alive."

Marks took over the ailing Healey's regular Thursday night gig at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse in Toronto's Entertainment District last November. A representative of the nightclub said Monday it does not yet have plans for a major tribute to Healey. (Though he had lent Healey's his name and often played there, Jeff Healey did not own or manage the bar.)

Those who were close to Healey say a memorial concert is sure to happen, but only when his family is ready.

About Me

My photo
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.