April 29, 2011

The whole sky was a spectacle. In all directions. by the ocean, by the mountains, over the bridge, to the south. So many hues of blues, grays and whites, shadows, gold and darkness. Rain showers in the distance to the north, Sunshine to the west. It’s so glorious.

the cars keep zooming by. I kept zooming by. It’s almost disrespectful. Such a display we should all stop and absorb.

I finally stopped, the sun’s almost gone. I took some photos of the very end of it. On an elevated road, by a farm, and shot away.

It was a generous peaceful day. Thank God. And so is today.

Angels are among us and they respond to the call.


This too shall pass.

April 27, 2011

The lady unbuying the sculpture was screaming via the phone in my ear : “IT’S ALL LIES, IT’S ALL LIES…  WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME!!!” She’s out of her mind. That is why she bought the sculpture in the first place. A sad reality but it does make sense. “I WAS AT THE HOSPITAL LAST NIGHT!!! I WAS AT THE HOSPITAL TODAY!!! She had told me last week that she had had minor strokes after a car accident and that it had changed her usually controlled personality into a more aggressive one. Despite the screaming she sounds frail. I was afraid she would just “pop” on me right there on the phone. 

I had been thinking about all this misunderstanding and anger between us, I wanted to put love in there. Let go of my fear of losing that money that would have made quite a few things a lot easier right now… I just wanted this whole outcome to be peaceful and fair.

I took the most soothing voice I could muster, “I’ts OK, calm down, just relax… I don’t want war with you.. it’s all ok, I’m not trying to do anything… ” tried to pass on as much love as I could over the phone line… she relaxed a bit. 

It’s such a mess.. it’s so upsetting to me.  As if the madness oozing out of the phone was insidiously seeping into the recesses of my mind turning me into an idiot. All logic and good sense gone. All arguments lost. She has me doing all this stuff for her that is detrimental to me… She is leaving me with sculptures I can’t carry around on the bike when they would have been safely on the truck bound to California. it’s costing me money, time, emotional distress, financial chaos, bank fees… and now it’s as if I am the cause of her relapse… But maybe I’m doing it to myself and if that is the case I don’t know how to stop it… like I am truly mad myself. My heart is pounding, my hands and arms have this weakness overcoming them.

She wants me to go get the sculptures tonight. And for the life of me I can’t say no because I so want this to be over. I want this HELL to be over NOW. But my haste is my self destruct button.
It’s 5:20 PM. I now need to get insurance to run the van so I can pick up the stones, another $35 bucks… I stop at the bank, get her a certified cheque so I can give her the money back and be accused of whatever. $6.50. At this point I still feel somewhat collected and calm. The idea that I may conclude this tonight keeps me rolling. I then stopped at the insurance brokers’ office next door. Oops…I have the wrong papers… Nooooo… I crumple a bit. The right ones are inside the van, which is 15 miles away. 5:35 PM… I get out of the office, walk to the bike. I am starting to unravel. My phone rings… I got from moaning to shining in an instant


“Hi Danielle? Here’s Brian, can you come tomorrow to our office? 1 PM. You can park in the Home Depot parking lot”

Brian is a guy I talked to earlier about possible work as an extra on movie sets. I need to make some money… I sent them my info and they called back immediately. So I have to sound good.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll be there” I said all sparkly.”

Whooooo… that was like turning on a switch and becoming someone else in a second and that made me feel even more mad.

I don’t want to ride as I feel so unsettled. But I got to. I put on the helmet and ride to where the van is parked. There I get the papers, get back on the bike and run to the insurance office…I get there, “office hours : 9 to 5:30” It’s too late it’s closed.

“OK, OK, figure it out” I tell myself.

“Well… there is insurance brokers at this drugstore… I pull out the GPS to find a location… the GPS says : “Low Battery”. It dies two seconds later. Black screen. A kind of digital “f@% you” that hits me too hard.

“What!?! I had the damn thing on the charger all night. Now I can’t do anything. I slowly slid down to the ground sobbing. I was beaten.  Without the GPS I can’t find the insurance broker and I can’t get to her place because the address is in it. and it’s late, and I’m tired and I’ve been running around all day and I just failed miserably again in pulling this thorn out of my flesh.

The sun is going down and some gigantic storm clouds fill the sky blotting the light. It gets cold in a hurry. The asphalt is cold too but I can’t move. I’m sitting down on the ground of a parking lot of a non-descript multi ethnic-shitty shopping mall on 152 street in Surrey BC.

Check Mate. Beaten every step of the way by a madwoman’s wishes who is making me do mad things endlessly.  She is running my life like the conductor of a demented orchestra. And I obey.  Like an idiot puppet on strings, with a fake smile on my face and it freaks me out. Why am I doing this? Everyone tells me I should just keep the money and let her go to hell, but I can’t. some kind of conscience.

“She’s playing you, she’s evil” I was told… I can’t stand the thought of leaving bad vibes, to be called a thief or to think that someone would say that I used anyone for financial gains… “She wrote the cheque? Didn’t she?” yeah, she did. but it’s all wrong. Something is so wrong.

When she had told me she was going to buy the piece my first gut feeling was bad. Didn’t want to do it. Then I reasoned : “could be a lesson in letting go of some of that stuff and you need the money”

I’m trying to see clearly and there is no coherent answer that comes to me.

Time runs faster and faster and California starts to look like some distant dream, like an impossibility… Money, borders, miles, conditions, can’ts and “reality”… and I feel like such a loser. I should be on my way by now. But I can’t seem to be able to not fuck up, to get all confused and dumb. And every fuck up keeps me here where the tentacles of the place slowly but surely wrap themselves around me. How am I doing this to myself?

It’s a strange powerful mix of good and awful. Light and darkness. One moment is jubilant the next I am utterly unable to handle the situation.

Why do I have to get in there so deep?

I got back up. Pulled the helmet over my head. Got on the bike. Started the bike. Beowulf. I look around the parking lot sitting there with the engine running for a little longer than I should. I get back on the road. I end up at 80th and highway 15. It’s 7 something PM. To the West apocalyptic skies. To the North big tall mountains shrouded in some gigantic white and grey clouds. I stop. Turn off the engine. Sit for a moment then get up, get the camera. Take photos. I will want to remember this moment.

I cross the road and take more photos then walk back to the bike. As I do, I see a motorcycle across the intersection. Two people on it. They approached, slowing down. His round headlight shines, it is some sort of Japanese cruiser.

“Everything all right?” he asks above the engine sound.

I smiled, gave him the thumbs up.

“Yeah, everything’s all right”
the girlfriend was blonde and had the gentlest smile. They went on. I watched them go away on their evening ride, amazed and thankful for this little moment of perfection among the cataclysmic skies, forbidding snow covered mountains and the farm fields that won’t come to life this cold spring.

I got back on Beowulf, took off and hit a 100 MPH in a hurry. Took a deep breath.
This too shall pass.

Well, it’s been an uphill battle ever since I left California, with weather, fatigue, physical demands of moving boxes, hundred pounds stones, cleaning and scrubbing, facing all the “can’t do’s” and overcoming them, facing the emotional pull caused by tossing away art work, things I cared about and all the intangibles of letting go. So far I managed to take the curves with relative grace, a few tears but much determination and ultimately got things done with amazing friends blessing me with their love.

This Easter week end proved to be filled with challenges I did not expect.

First of all, I learned that a song of mine that is particularly significant to me (and that’s saying it mildly) has been recorded without my knowledge and permission despite a very specific verbal agreement. That was a shock, and again, that is saying this mildly. I felt absolutely violated. This song is the story of my heartbreak and incredible sense of loss when my husband left. Can’t be more personal. I had been told nothing was going to be done with it. Now I learn it’s already been re-recorded. It felt like rape. If only they had asked…

Then the next thing I learn via email : the lady I sold a sculpture to last Tuesday decided she had a change of heart and tells me Sunday that she wants her money back as the sculpture “does not match her decor” and that she tried “everything she could” to sell it and did not succeed. (that was a full 3 days of asking her friends if they wanted the piece) Now she says to me that there is a “trial period” for such things… that I had no bill of sale, and that I knew she didn’t want it… well she wrote the cheque, no?? This morning we had a phone conversation and I am not proud to say that I lost it when she told me : “You are in this just for the money”

Me? In it for the money? I offered her a 7 thousand dollar piece for $1500. That is greed for sure. Yeah, I’m just a greedy, mean, ill-intentioned artist trying to pry money out of frail little old women. Yep, for sure.

To top this all up, the following news I got via email came from my tax accountant. I learned that I owe more money than I have which makes me officially destitute.

I kind of lost it for a moment.

And for a moment my mind only gave me the picture of a dark, narrowing tunnel into unavoidable oblivion. I questioned my choices. My decisions. I very much felt the weight of time and space heavily upon my heart and shoulders.

Now what?

Ground Zero.

I gotta make it work. Gotta rise. Gotta have faith.

It was a gorgeous day. Everyone was out enjoying the warmth and the sun. They both have been a rarity around here in Vancouver.

Yesterday was a day for mess ups. I thought I had lost the van keys, I had lost my phone, all my plans fell apart. I had traveled all the way to Vancouver to hand a set of keys only to realize I had no keys… I felt like a complete idiot. There has been so much moving, changing, displacing, reorganizing and all that sort of stuff that I suddenly can’t keep track of anything. That puts me in a very weird state of mind as I cannot afford to make those kind of mistakes by myself on the road.

They are the kind of mistakes that are a threat to my survival and well being… in the sense that if I lose certain things, I’ll either be too cold, out of money, walking or in some kind of jeopardy. Can’t do that.

The day left me all bent out of shape but I should not forget one miracle. I told you about Russ, the man at the heart of Richmond Mobile Brake and Tune… well, I had called him regarding the van’s throttle… the problem was that it would either be wide open with the engine going full throttle WAAAAAAAAAAH!!! and the vehicle would feel like I was barely holding onto a horde of wild horses, which was dangerous as it was litteraly going out of control with too much power and not enough brakes to hold it back at a light… or it would be almost closed which means that it would not even idle enough to keep the engine running which meant I had to go to neutral and pump up the gas everytime I stopped or the engine would go dead… Thursday night I had forgotten the phone in the van, so Friday morning I didn’t know Russ had called and was on his way.

When I finally caught up with him, he had already been to the van and fixed the whole issue. I was blown away… So the thing was fixed but I did not drive the van until today… then, I was blown away again… The machine was purring like a cat. It was running like it used to in some distant past. All smooth, civilized and efficient. “yeah… this used to be like this…”

I don’t know if you’ll read this but Russ.. You ROCK. I don’t know how else to quantify who you are, what you do and how you do it. THANK YOU!!!

Today was a much better day. I had good rest last night so I was ready for a more productive day.

After some errands, a meeting with my accountant and the delicious ride in the van I took the bike and rode West towards Vancouver. I ended up in Steveston meeting with Erika. We had loads of laughter, good coffee and we went around the boutiques here, just browsing and checking things out. Everyone Knows Erika around here. She LOVES Steveston and Steveston loves her back.

Steveston is a fishing village located on the south-Western tip of Lulu Island, which is Richmond, just south of Vancouver. The village had to grow and evolve, so now it’s part yuppies and part industrial with fishing and fishermen and all the related industries like boat building, boat motors, nets and all that kind of stuff.

So side by side you have the new moms wearing the latest Lululemon spandex and pushing space age tri-wheeled jogging stroller and grizzled fishermen, welders and mechanics. It works for now, but I think the corporate vision will eventually win and erase the fishing industry to build more designer boutiques and ocean view condos. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Erika had been at my show on the 13th and had taken photos… here are some of them.

Here is Erika, at the potato farm… a long story I might tell one day, it was her Goulag for a while… Thanks for everything Erika. You rock it and your smile lights the world.

Thanks Erika for taking those… it’s just priceless to me…

So finally things are just about done. A few more days, many meetings and finalizings, and I’ll be back on the road with Beowulf, Southbound.

To ride is to be.

April 21, 2011

Lower Mainland

It had been a long day. I can’t begin to tell you how long, that is how long it felt. But now it is dark and there are only mere minutes before it’s over.

I pull in the driveway. The lumbering van grumbles, whines and roars all at once. It’s just about empty now.

The bike was sitting there as I left it. Lonesome, two wheeled implement, leaning on its kick stand like a cowboy in a door frame.

The air inside the van was warm, outside it wasn’t. This spring is just not bringing the happy warmth that we expect and want. The leaves refuse to come out and the blooms are shy and a month late. I step out of the van and walk towards the bike, remove the rain cover, and see a piece of paper on the seat. I had the lights of the truck illuminating the night, it was some outdoor house cleaning advert. Who would put that on a bike seat under the cover…

I click in the choke to the second setting, flip the engine switch, turn the key and the headlight and instruments come on. The clock says 10:21. I put the bike in neutral and push the starter. I now have two engines purring in the night.

I let the bike warm up and go to the van to retrieve my riding gear : balaclava, heated vest, leather jacket, rain pants to put over my jeans, and gore tex shell to finish that up. Thank God for that heated vest. I would have been frozen to death these last few weeks. I find the helmet with the gloves inside and proceed to put on all that gear.

I move the bike down the driveway and then park the van in its place, turn off the engine, the headlights and lock the doors. There is more to do with the van. The inside is littered with the leftovers from all the moving that has been going on. Empty boxes, plastic, pieces of sculpture stands, gum wrappers, wood, raw stones, blankets… Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll deal with that.

I stash the van keys in my bag. I have to be so mindful of where I put everything. My surroundings are changing daily so there are no automaticities that can take place. Losing one thing is a small disaster, like the day I could not find my balaclava. someone had misplaced it in the recycling bags at the house… I was out of my mind thinking how cold I was going to be without it…

I get on the bike. The rain pants are slippery on the seat. It’s cold. I plug in the vest. The night is dark and quiet. Get the gloves on. I roll off the gravel driveway unto the alley, the sound of crunching sharp edged gravel under the wheels. I slip a bit on the seat as I go down the curb, those pants… Nothing rides like leather.

I am so tired, my hands, arms, back… lifting, holding, pulling throwing, all the actions required to move. Today I moved hundreds of pounds of stone and I feel it now. I settle on the bike. Vibration, rhythm. I feel the cold seep in any and all opening or weakness of my clothing. For a moment I miss the van. The warmth, the thick comfy high seat, the relaxation it allows. the walls all around that can allow you to pretend that all is nice and cozy.

I get to a traffic light, it’s green, I proceed. The engine revs up. Beowulf rolls to life. I turn the corner and feel the sweet acceleration, the wind. I am alive. The cockpit of the bike is glowing from the light of the instruments, beacons in the night. I feel the tank against my thighs, the heat starting to come off the engine. We meld. Oh how I missed it. Yes. I am a complete addict. A complete bike addict.

The van now seems like this incredibly clumsy, slow, unyieldly machine. A sort of cute dinosaur.

Deep breath, the gears shift, I relax.

I cannot explain it. But I need it. I have to have it, that intensity, that immediacy, the power and the partnership.

I have to ride.

instruments in the dark

Yer done.

April 20, 2011

She said : “That’s it. You’re done.”

“Huh, I’m done? …. I’m done.”

it was around 4:30 PM.

“Wow, I’m done”

I had just signed the last form. My heart is still torn in a knot. My two favorite sculptures are sitting on the dock of a loading bay back behind this office, They will be crated and packed and they will head down to California on a truck. Without me. Jason helped me pack and I know he was thinking I was pretty neurotic about those stones… They move stuff all the time… they don’t get excited about something fragile.

“Do you make those things?” He had asked me, when I said yes, he had a hard time believing it. Sometimes I have a hard time believing it myself.

The day had started early. I was awake around 7 something AM when Erika’s alarm when off. Then my head was just spinning, rehearsing the scenarios, possibilities, options and challenges ahead.

First I had to go get the studio keys in Vancouver, second, get back down to Steveston to load up the stones in the van. Luckily I had help. Erika was there and a friend, Adrian, came to lend a hand. It took about an hour and we got the whole load down the stairs and into the van.

I was already sore from the last few days, I’ve been moving stuff, boxes, heavy weights since Sunday and the heaviest was still to come.

I then drove to Karen’s house, she wanted to give one of my sculpture a home so I dropped one off to her.

I then made my way to Annacis Island one more time. Unload those stone horses one more time. My arms are getting weak…There is confusion as the person I had talked to so far wasn’t there and Abdullah started to turn “Canadian”on me saying “You can’t come in the warehouse… You can’t pack your stuff…. You can’t leave your things in the loading bay… ” Can’t, can’t, can’t… I was trying to tell him that Alain, the owner had asked me to come and get things packed here… He just would not hear me. He just kept rattling the same thing about guys coming in to work and all that I could not do… So I finally said to him raising my voice :

“OK, fine, I got that. Now then tell me what I CAN do and I’ll do that. I’m just trying to get this done. I was told yesterday to come here. if I can’t leave my stones here I will load them back in the van…” To which he retorted with massive attitude :

“Well, if you “want” to load them in your van, go ahead…”

Sigh… Gigantic sigh…

He then stood there looking far away. I know this whole vibe… This dude doesn’t know how to deal with me. He’s trying to be in control but he doesn’t know how to look good. I had seen him a week ago and I could see how he was puzzled with me, this woman on a bike taking care of business and all… it is as if there was no program on his hard drive that would handle the type of file I was presenting him, as if he could only get an error message…

Where is Alain, I asked. He knows. so finally he got his phone out and called his boss… I heard him say on the phone. :

“Hi boss, sorry to call you…”

“Well it’s this client… …you know when sometimes you just don’t click with someone… …her stuff…”

“He wants to talk to you” Abdullah said to me handing me the phone.

“Hi Alain”

“Hi Danielle, what’s up?”

“Well, I am here, I just need to know if I can pack this stuff as we discussed or what else I am supposed to do at this point.”

“You can leave your stuff there, it’s all OK. He didn’t know about it.”

“Cool, thanks”

“Put Abdullah back on the phone”

I called Abdullah, I realized that this was the first time I called the name “Abdullah” out loud.

Abdullah picked up the phone and walked away talking. He finally came back saying : “We’ll get this other guy to help you” and he left. Jason came down. He’s in his twenties, has that aloof attitude but he’s actually helpful. He started putting boxes together for me and I packed the clay sculptures in there. It takes a little while but we get it all packed, listed, marked and tagged.

“Now you’ll need to fill the forms.” he said.

So I drove the van around the front went in the office and met with the lady at the office. She has a beautiful Scottish lilt. We go through the forms. It’s quick, easy. Thank God. and that is when she said : “You’re done, that’s it”

I’m done.

It is slowly sinking in. Done. Well… Not quite, there is more to do. I still have a sculpture to find a home for, things to get rid of, one of the clay horses got broken on the trip today so that will go to the garbage, some of this is heart breaking. I put too much love in what I do, It makes it hard to separate. On the other hand, it is freeing. Ying, Yang.

I still have to wash the van,that will be hard on my hands again… I hope they forgive me all this abuse. Right now they are so hurt they are swollen and I drop things down… but that van needs to be cleaned up, and put up for sale…

Tomorrow I have a photo shoot around noon… there is one more interview… my taxes to do… appointments and a few friends to see.

a big list still but the done things are starting to make a longer list than the “to do” list.

onwards, forward.

Saturday’s show : Awesome. I got there leisurely after a delicious coffee and Skype chatting. I was in the second half of the night so it was pretty relaxed.

wicked coffee from Wicked Cafe!

This trip has been a bit of a test for the concept of riding and performing kind of thing. Testing the Go guitar on the go and in the weather and seeing how this could all work.

Go guitar and motorcycle helmet

It does.

I arrived all motorcycle-geared up, I had to operate a transformation from that to “performer”. I had jeans and a sweater to trade for the leathers and heated vest and make up. Yeah, make up! I found my stash of make up in the van and tried it on for the Wednesday show. Somehow it helps my looks so I brought it with me. In about 12 minutes the trick was done and Karen gasped when she saw me come out with my “performer’s face”

I warmed up my hands for a good 40 minutes, trying to loosen up my motorcycle hands. I was tempted to changed the strings, they were dead… but I did not have pliers to cut the ends so I waited.

the stage

the room quickly filled up with a warm and eclectic crowd and the show got started. 4 performers, they each sang two songs and the two hosts : Karen Larsen and Bruce Gerrish were asking questions to each singer. Then a break and sound check and we were on.

Karen, one of our hosts

This was the first time I went on with the Go Guitar with absolutely no external equipment. Just a direct cable from the guitar to the board. It sounded GREAT. I was really glad. I ended up being the last of our group of four to come on. I started to play and the guitar was just sounding great. As good as all those full size instruments. I played Wish I Could Tell, a song from the upcoming album and it came out really good. It was interesting as my style was completely different than what the other artists were doing.

Another round and I played Don’t Wanna Drown and …. on the last chorus I busted a string! But I was able to finish the song minus the D string to very warm applause.

Then it was change time, back in the leathers, and back on the bike. Outside the skies were clear. Oh relief. the moon was almost full. The night was incredible. I started the engine, let Beowulf warm up as the temperatures hover just a little above the freezing point. I rode away my heart happy, thinking how perfect this all is… music, motorcycle, other artists and beautiful beings… I was gliding down highway 99 towards Steveston, the engine purring. I made it to Erika’s place, grabbed my guitar and the laptop and went upstairs where a warm appartment and the couch were waiting for me.

I woke up realizing that the nice time I had was now in the past and what was staring at me now was the tasks of moving my stuff, packing, cleaning, moldy van and all. Argh.

We both got up and went for a nice breakfast at Cimona cafe. They have an awesome breakfast, you can even get free range eggs… Erika and I had a good time over breakfast then it was time to head back to the van.

I spent most of the day pulling everything out again, repacking and trying to reduce the load as much as possible. Around 4 PM I was done, sore, and exhausted.

Monday : Big day. I rose early, ate fast and got going. I rode the bike to the van and then started the van and headed towards Vancouver. I did not know yet where I was going to start. But as I was driving over the Iron Workers Bridge I saw the sign for Annacis Island and decided to go to the movers. I got there and dropped off the stuff. That felt like a major step. Things are now in gear. I then drove to Steveston, I had some more painting stuff that I gave to Erika and some raw stones I left with her. Then to the sculpture studio to organize the pick up of the sculptures… Wheels are in motion. I go back to Erika’s and we both head downtown to the place where the last of my music gear is stored. We get there, eat a lunch Erika had made and then it’s time to do my phone interview with CBC Winnipeg.

Once that was done I looked at the stuff, repacked, and then we loaded the gear in the van. Back to the movers we go to unload all that stuff. Then to the dump for a second time… Oh my what a stench.

notice Erika holding her nose...

Suddenly this gigantic task is starting to dwindle in size, Oh My God. I might just make it…

tomorrow will be moving the the stone horses to the mover and packing them… Once that is done the “heavy stuff” is over.

Wednesday a photo shoot for the album cover with Paul McDermott.

Then it will be a few more things and I will be done… I’m so sore! but…. I’ll git ‘er done!

The sun was out. That was a bonus. The night before I had gotten absolutely completely soaked on my way from Vancouver to Surrey. Well, my feet did. I curse those pants. Those “Frog Togs” the waist is so high, the waistband stops pretty much at heart level. The pant legs are short, they stop at calf level. I wish they had used a little more fabric on the legs and a little less up the waist… Now, when you stand up they cover the top of your boots. When you sit down on the bike they crawl up so to expose the edge of the boot, which means that as you ride the water can come in freely so as you progress in the rain, you can feel the water gliding down along your ankle and pool in the toe box. That was two days ago, my boots are still damp.

I promised myself I would go to Mountain Equipment Coop to get pants that will do the job. I can vouch for the Alpinestar “waterproof” gloves with gore-tex. Strangely, the outside shell fills right up with water but the inside stays dry and keep your hands warm.

But enough with gear reviews… I had to get to the van and try to get the hood opened. somehow the latch had gotten stuck. I had called a few friends and the consensus seemed to be : hold the latch while someone pounds on the hood. A very manly technique, reminiscent of the fist on the TV set protocol.

One of the people I had called was Russ, Russ has a mobile garage Richmond Mobile Brake and Tune. A truck with all that is needed to fix any car, anywhere, any time. He had fixed the van’s brakes at the house last year just before I left for the trip. I figured that if someone would know what to do, he would. Russ offered to stop by. So I said yes.


I first heard the sound of this truck’s engine turning the corner. A big diesel engine. It was so good to see him. When I first met him I had been struck by how resourceful, capable and how competent he was. I hopped behind the wheel and he started hitting the hood while I pulled the handle.

Russ's truck and mobile garage. If you need help with your car, he's the man!


Up and running!

It opened! Whooo! that was a good start. He then proceeded to connect the battery post and offered to start the truck. It took a bit of “pumping the gas pedal” (old style carburetor.. the van is an 84) and the engine came to life, one more time.

I don’t know what it is about this van but when I hear that engine roar, I always get a feeling that all is right in the world. Yes, it makes zero sense but that is what happens.

Russ had to run, so he left. It was so good to see him. He said he had followed my journey from time to time on the blog. He rides too. He just got himself a new bike. People can be so amazing.

Next on the agenda was to go get insurance for the van. I got on the bike and headed down 152 Avenue looking around for the “Autoplan” sign, which I located about 3 blocks up.

I walked in and was helped immediately. Surrey is quite the melting pot of cultures. East Indian, Asian, and all kinds of ethnicities and religions and cultures. This place was a reflection of that. I quickly got the insurance and rode back out.

Next : the dump. Barbara came with me and we headed down the road to the Surrey Transfer Station. Clean name for a very smelly place. I managed to miss the exit… and found myself heading over the “Golden Ear” bridge. A new construction that was a cooperation between government and the private sector… which means that I will have to pay 11 dollars for having gone the wrong way. It’s a toll bridge that no one wants to use. The government has even started giving “rebates” when you ride on it off peak hours to try to generate some funds and ridership.

I lumbered over and turned around… then we got to the Transfer Station. I’ve been in these kinds of places before and the stench is unbelievable. I backed up the van and we opened the doors and started to throw stuff out.

I do not like to throw away perfectly good stuff. It’s just wrong. Here I was throwing out all my old but still serviceable kitchen pots and pans, my espresso machine, even paintings that I really loved that had molded over and warped in the van. I had to shut down my mind, my heart, just throw the stuff out. I had to. Have to. I have to lighten the load as much as possible. I grabbed boxes and did not even ponder, just fling them out… Soon it’s all part of the pile that is there, not mine anymore but just garbage among garbage. Just stuff that means nothing because you took out the meaning out of it.

Starship 7 at the dump (that is the van's name)

disappearing in a pile of rubble... what was.

We drove out, paid our fee, and now we’re heading to the recyclers. We find the place and there I dropped off my Sony Trinitron graphics monitors, two huge CRTs that cost me a really pretty penny some years back. The had gotten wet in the van, and now one could find those for $15 on Craigslist, so out they went, and out went the printer, a keyboard…

The last stop was at the thrift store. There I left a perfectly good microwave oven, a toaster, clothes iron and my work desk. That was hard too… that desk was perfect… but very heavy and again, you can find desks on Craigslist for $50….

At each stop, the van kept getting lighter and lighter.

There is still quite a few things to do. i will have to box and pack the sculptures.. .that is my biggest headache. The van is insured until Tuesday Midnight. Cinderella has a deadline. I am hoping to have everything at the movers by then. After that I will clean up the van, get it detailed inside and put it for sale. My van… Yep. Let it all go. Let it all go…

Tonight I have a show, not anything big but it should be fun. At the Beaumont. Here is the poster. The next three days will be busy, full of purpose. In my mind the mantra rolls on

” Git ‘er done!”


April 15, 2011

I arrived at the venue and parked at the end of a long line of various two-wheeled vehicles lined up against the wall of the Vancouver Public Library, likely the only free parking available in the downtown core! On the bike I have the guitar, two tripods, video camera, change of clothes and all little things I will need for the show.

I was greeted by this sign inside of the venue.

I walked in the room and Xavier was there to do sound and Kitty was in charge of lighting. Sophie who was the person I had dealt with to book and organize this night was there too.

Sophie and Kitty

Elliot warming up

my view from the stage

gordon warming up

Then Tommy showed up with is double bass

the Go Guitar in the dressing room along with the snacks and water we got to munch on

We had a long sound check as we were still running through some songs. I ended up having many technical issues, I could not find my guitar picks, my patch cord broke, the battery for the guitar’s pick up died and I had forgotten the nine volt adaptor for my tuner… Thankfully Gord had an extra pick and an extra patch cord, Sophie went twice to the store to get the double A batteries then the 9 volt batteries. Thank God for those angels!

ready for the audience

At the last minute my friend Bruce showed up to man the cameras. Barbara did loan me two cameras so I managed to get the show taped!

The show felt amazing to me. These musicians brought a whole new color and life to the songs. I wanted to let things breathe and flow as they would naturally as opposed to try to re-create something from the past. I was able to take flight and really get into the music, which is the ultimate gift.

vancouver at night

After the show everyone left pretty quickly, Erika was with me and Bruce, so we went to get a bite. It was the night of the first hockey game between Chicago and Vancouver so we walked in the pub and there must have been 10 television sets showing the game. It was Hockey everywhere. The Canucks won so everyone was satisfied.

Thank you Radio Canada for all the good times

I headed back to the bike and dressed for rain, and pointed the bike south towards Surrey. My head was full of the night’s magic. Rain started to hit really hard, there sure is a lot of the stuff around.

Beowulf ready to go at the end of the night

Sunny day.

Thank you. It’s cold but I’ll take cold before rain any day here.

I headed out of Surrey around 10:30 to get to Elliot’s house for rehearsal. I have played many a show with Elliot so it’s smooth and easy. Elliot is the drummer. He actually plays on some of the songs on Aventuriere Accidentelle. Gordon Grdina will play guitar. I had met Gordon doing his website then we played an impromtu show at Rhymes on Commercial Drive a few years ago and I had loved his musicianship, talent and virtuosity. Then Tommy Babin Joins us on the bass. I had never played with him. Elliot described him as Manson (the murderer) on a good day but also as a mad genius, musical scientist.

We got together and started playing the songs. It was immediately fluid, very musical. Their interpretation is different than what the songs used to be played like and that is good. On some of the songs I already had goose bumps. I think it will be outstanding. I am very grateful that these guys were willing to play and that the schedules all worked out. It will add quite a dimension to the music. A once in a blue moon kind of thing. We will reconvene on Wednesday.

Beowulf at the CBC

I left rehearsal and headed to Radio-Canada the French National TV and Radio Network which is the CBC in English (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I was a bit early so I sat in the sun for a while next to the bike. The sun feels good. There is an electronic device and I see the date, 11, 11, 04. Seems like a good number. Leo asked to be let out so I let him hand out in the fresh air for awhile.

Leo hangs out

The Mountains are covered in snow in the distance. Vancouver is gorgeous on a sunny day. I know this air, this vibe. I know this town. I just sit there. I feel good.

At 4:30 I walk up to the CBC building I see a cameraman setting up outside for a shoot and I wonder if it is for me and Yolaine. Yolaine Mottet is the reporter I will be doing the interview with. She has known me for a long time. She was one of the first people to interview me, years ago when I had my first albums out. She has seen the ups and downs. She was there when I wrote music for plays for the Theatre la Seizieme. She knew when I my marriage and my life fell apart in 2009. I had seen her not long before the trip last May… Almost a year ago.

The interview was about the show, the musicians, the music and a bit about the album coming up.

Then, the funny part started. They wanted to get a shot of me taking off on the bike and arriving on the bike.

“Hugh the cameraman was directing the proceedings.

“OK, I’ll start with a shot of the helmet”

The helmet was set on a cement block. I could see in the visor the sun shine, all the buildings around reflected in it, then the worn out matte black finish of the helmet. A sort of worn glorious thing.

“OK, now put it on”

so I grabbed it as I would normally do. Making sure the straps are outside…

“No, no, doi it in one move, just one shot, on your head”

“hmm, OK”

So I guess we’ll stop again for me to pull out the straps from inside. I do what he says…

“OK, now put on the gloves and walk to the bike, get on it and start it”

So I start putting the gloves on… the key is in my pocket… I usually would get to the bike, get the key out of my pocket then put on the gloves, just because it’s so much easier to grab a key with no gloves on…

It takes a few stops and starts he gets his shots and I get on the bike.

“OK, now start the bike”

I do. He goes to the back of the bike and crouches down with the camera near the exhaust.

“OK, now turn it off and turn it on again” I obey. Then I look back and he says :
“I guess it’s a good bike… I was expecting it to shake and smoke!”

Yeah, it’s a good bike. No smoke on this baby and certainly no shakes. I had actually followed two lady motor cops on Harleys today, when we stopped at a traffic light I could see them just shake and rattle… which made me burst out laughing. Must make for a really long day on the bike and something like “pppaaapppppersand regggisttttration pppplease!” when they stop someone.

Nope. No shakes on my BMW. But back to the shoot…

“OK, now take off and go around the block and then park”

Off I went, around the block, and when I got around, he was just putting the camera on the tripod. He yells out :

“Can you come again?”
I give him the thumb up and I zipped around the block once more. This time he’s ready. I wonder if it’s cool to have the turn signal on when I park or if I should just turn and park… I get close to him pull out and start backing up in the parking spot…

“NO! No! Not like that! Can you… like just pull in the spot?”

“yeah, sure” I guess backing up in a parking spot is not cool… I zip back out around the block. Get close, no signal and pull in the parking spot and turn the engine off.

“OK, now start it again and turn it off, then get off, take your helmet off and walk towards the entrance.” He gets on the other side of the bike to get a couple of shots.

I do that. Get off. Take my gloves off…

“Oh… the gloves… yeah, OK, do that again.”

It’s funny all the little details.. like trying to get a helmet strap undone with heavy winter gloves… Can’t be done… well, it can but it’s not graceful… So I do it again, try to be as “smooth” as possible with the strap by cheating and just putting the end through the loop and not attaching it. I remove the helmet, while walking, do the little “Head & Shoulders” head shake to allow for the : “look! It’s a woman” kind of thing and walk decisively . So as I do all this, he was walking backwards to follow me and suddenly ran into a post! It was just so funny! Ooops! A guy was parked on the road watching the proceedings was laughing his head off at that moment I really wished someone would have been filming that from the outside. too, too funny!

“You’re all right?” I asked.

“Oh yeah… OK, now lets do it again.”

I do it again, this time it all works, and I walk all the way to the door. I can’t wait to see this!

They will have it on the art segment of the Vancouver news tomorrow, Tuesday the 12th at 6 something PM. It should actually be on the internet for the late edition, which runs at 11 PM I’ll try to get a link..

I re-join with Yolaine. We go back up to her office, where my extra jackets and bags were during the “shoot”.

She says to me : “I envy you. To just go. I mean, it’s good.. my life is good. But to be so free… I told her that was probably what I heard the most often on that trip. “You’re so lucky… I always wanted to do that… Oh I’m envious… It takes courage.” she says.

“No, I replied. It would have taken a whole lot more courage to stay put and keep the same old life.”

In her eyes I see the faraway look, the dream awakened. The desire for freedom and a sort of admiration.

We go back outside, I put on the gear. She helps me handing the vest, the jacket, the helmet.

“Oh it’s light!” She says. She used to ride when one of her boyfriend had a bike years ago. She said she always kept that helmet. A Bell.

“Technnology has come a long way…”

We hug again, she is getting cold so we say good bye. I get on the bike and one more time zoom around part of the block.

It was a good day. It is amazing to see these friends, these beautiful souls. To be at peace with it all. To have music to feed on and to share. To know I can still fly, free on the wind. To know all this love is all around me. It’s amazing to be so incredibly blessed.

Beowulf hangs on Cambie Steet at 16th Avenue