Did you miss me, oh faithful five dedicated readers of my column?
Enjoying some summer bliss with family on the west coast for a couple of weeks to recharge the batteries helped put things in perspective, and always comes with the observations on the human condition:
FLIGHT OF FANCY: It is getting to the point for me on flights that there really needs to be some sort of betting system in Las Vegas set up much like the classic scene with Kramer off of Seinfeld sitting in an airport lobby, betting with a Texan on arrivals and departures. I would literally be independently wealthy by betting my life savings over and over again that any trip I take, one of my flights will be delayed.
I’ve lost track of when was the last time I’ve booked a trip where there were no delays on any of the flights. Sure enough the puddle-jumper flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo was delayed a couple of hours. No biggie compared to the hell of some delays people have had to endure, but nevertheless, the flight streak continues.
Getting a more direct flight on the way back from Nanaimo to Calgary, I must admit I found a scene unsettling even for a slob bachelor like myself. A flight attendant looked like she was hitching a ride home right beside me when I encountered something I had never seen before on an airplane. She wiped down literally everything with disinfectant that could come in contact with her be it the seat, arm rests, seatbelt, the back of the seat of the passenger in front of her, the food tray and the video screen for movies. Who knows the flight attendant’s personal story, maybe it’s a health issue with an auto-immune problem, or she just got over a bad illness, she’s OCD, a germaphobe or clean freak. But a thought entered my mind of her knowing the ins and outs of the aviation industry in which I was thinking ‘do you know something about the cleanliness of planes that I don’t know?’ Thankfully, she didn’t break out the hazmat suit.
SWING OF THINGS: I had a golf game scheduled in Osoyoos with my dad, uncle and aunt and it was nice knowing in the early morning it was still warm enough to wear shorts to get some sun on my Casper-like legs. What also warmed me was the thought of having another strong round like I had previously. I golfed in the Kiwanis Club charity golf tournament a couple of weeks prior and did quite well for it being the first time I had swung a club all year. The best-ball format had my required drives being used first out of my foursome along with a healthy number of my shots being used throughout the 18 holes in which we finished six under. Well, the best way I could describe my round in Osoyoos was the weather was beautiful and the company was very nice and pleasant. That’s all I could muster in a round in which I three-putted with aplomb, lost more balls in the first three holes than I did all my previous round, delivered worm food after wood shot on the fairways and had more slices on my drive than a bakery.
FINE WINE: Got to take another wine tour in Osoyoos thanks to my uncle who knows the lay of the land and I must say I think my palette is becoming more educated. No, I’m still not at the point where I can sense ‘a hint of hickory with blueberry undertones’, but at least I know to spit out my gum now beforehand. Besides, I’m sure once people start getting on their ninth or 10th winery, your palette is not that refined. Either the wine tastes good to me or it doesn’t and no amount of flowery prose is going to make me think otherwise. I do know I like red wine more compared to white wine and a drier wine compared to a sweeter wine. As I made the tour of about a half-dozen wineries it was the Pinot Noir varieties that stood out to me. I’ve also discovered just because a wine is expensive, does not necessarily make it good. I’ve tasted a $15 bottle of wine I thought was just as good as an $80 bottle of wine. What stood out to me on this wine tour was the salesmanship of owner Anna Manola of Silver Sage in Oliver. People were given seating as workers traveled around giving us each a sample of the various wines in which Anna weaved many a great story and description of each wine, including one of my favourites of ‘First it will seem like it hits you across the face and then it is kissing you,’ describing a wine that is bold at first taste and then settles into a pleasant finish. I strongly recommend taking the tour to that place where you will find yourself wanting to buy a bottle simply from knowing the passion Anna has for her winery in her descriptive story telling of each wine.
ROAD TRIP: Traveling to Osoyoos from Nanaimo, I did a road trip with my parents. In tow for our musical listening, I brought my copy of Rise Against’s Wolves, much to the joy of my groaning mother. I thought it only fair that we both be able to listen to our favourites and I would certainly recommend the album to anyone as it is an offering of punk with some more radio-friendly tracks as well.
While I could see my mother continue to roll her eyes in the back of the car in disdain, there was my father visibly enjoying the music, tapping his fingers on his knee to the beat. I’d say to anyone give a listen to the tracks of Wolves, The Violence, Far From Perfect, Bullshit, Politics of Love and How Many Walls.
“How old is their drummer, he’s good,” my father inquired of the 38-year-old Brandon Barnes. “He is certainly getting a workout.”
Yes indeed he is where there is no Rise Against song you could substitute a drum machine for given the unique progressions. With a name like Brandon Barnes, it sounds like the secret identity of a superhero and it indeed looks like Barnes has superpowers with what looks like four arms being required in his offerings.
Certainly more inventive than The Cars drummer in David Robinson I had to endure with what seemed like the same cadence for every song, with my parents music, which luckily was switched to Neil Diamond. Now that dude rocks.
WATERWORLD: Every trip to Nanaimo I make sure I take at least one trip to the waterfront. It’s so beautiful and soothing where the mind can simply sign off listening to buskers, looking at some of the native art that is sold, admire some of the float planes and boats in the harbour and step into one of the many local shops. It’s how nature and commerce can be joined in a very pleasing way.
FEELING FUNKY: I have a favourite store I like to go to when I visit in Nanaimo called Funk Your Fashion. It’s a consignment clothing store for men and women and it’s very nice clothing that lines the racks with a little bit more flair than your ordinary garb. The shirt I wore to Saturday’s Unfinished Business was from the store along with golf clothes I wore on my golf round in Osoyoos which featured Puma shorts. I bought six items in total including some psychedelic multicoloured shorts. My only regret was the Point Break shirt featuring artist renditions of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in their classic promotional poster pose was not in my size. It’s very nice clothes, in good shape and for reasonable prices — plus you are supporting local and doing the environment a favour by recycling clothes. Plus, with an owner like Greg Badger who has CEO/Janitor spliced on his business card, why would you not want to support a laid back and friendly guy like that? You can find them on Facebook.
VEGOMATIC: My mother felt like I didn’t do much this time around in a two-week voyage to Vancouver Island — and you know what, I didn’t…and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m a veteran of Vancouver Island and I’ve pretty much done what’s already to be done. Coming off a very stressful work month that featured putting out a 64-page special supplement celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, all while tending to writing copy for our regular papers and special week features, I wasn’t looking for a go-go vacation.
Sometimes you appreciate the subtleties of life by sleeping in until 9:30 a.m., or sipping on coffee and visiting with your parents until almost noon, still in your PJs.
Or making the short trip to Errington, B.C. and being chased around by your cousin’s kids on their acreage and breaking bread over some good conversation with uncles, aunts, cousins and their flocks. There was also checking out my uncle’s new gourmet meat shop in Nanaimo with Meat Craft Island Butchery (yes I’m into shameless plugs this column, check it out on Facebook as well, you won’t be disappointed if you ever travel there).
Good food, good family, good libations and good conversation, they are things that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It was a great way to recharge my batteries heading back to work and family and friends will always be foremost with me.