Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Harmonius Holidays, Haze and Happiness

The word of the week is splendiferous.

June 29 – Wonder

I’d like to say a little about being happy.

It’s a strange, strange thing to realize that you’ve never really known what it is to be truly happy, until you’ve experienced it because of someone else in your life.

I know that now, and it’s a wondrous, uplifting thing.

In years past, I’ve imagined what it’d like to really be happy, to trust someone completely enough to give them your heart and all the things in it. Imagination, while an amazing thing, can’t come close to describing the real feelings that being perfectly connected with another human being brings you.

If I seem like I’m rhapsodizing, bear with me: I’ve a point to make.

In all the years that I’ve imagined the Other, I’ve always done so from a solitary perspective. That’s not a good place to picture Things Romantic from, as they’re always skewed, always a distortion of the true measure of what you can find in another. Because you really can’t know, until it’s right there, at arm’s length.

These last few months have shown me the truth of that, which is why I’m mentioning it here. To find the words to describe it fully, well… I don’t know their shapes or patterns yet, to do justice to how I’ve felt recently.

It would likely take me another million words to encompass here how it feels.

June 30 – Character Complexity

Being able to create a good character is one of the keys to being a good author.

Some of the best characters are the most enduring and a good example of these is Wolverine from the Marvel comic universe. He's angry, extremely skilled and usually just can't be stopped when he's got his mind set on things, but these are only small aspects of his depth of character.

Today I discovered this fascinating graphic, which has many of Wolverine's teammates describing him - each one of them has something different and sometimes contradictory to say about him:

I am intrigued all over again by how a single character can be viewed so differently by so many other characters. To be able to imbue a creation with that kind of depth and flexibility is something that I aspire to, so that many people see them many ways but the character themselves still retained their own individuality and are recognizably unique in the world.

Adamantine claws probably help a lot, too.

July 1 – Happy B-day, Canada!

What a great day!

It was special, as I spent the whole holiday today with my girlfriend.

We went out for the morning to see the town and experience the celebrations. The Inner Harbor area was crowded with locals and tourists alike, all of them thoroughly enjoying the balmy weather that has being hanging around for the last month here in Victoria. We managed to sneak in some root beer floats and pinball along the line, quite enjoying our people-watching times of the day.

The late afternoon saw us headed over to Sooke, which is an hour's drive from Victoria, located on the west coast of the island. We went to attend an annual barbecue at our friend Deborah and Josh’s place, which had enough shade for everyone, though just barely. It was extremely hot out and we were all content to chat of g33ky things for a few hours while sipping cool drinks and enjoying the wondrous spread of food that everyone had contributed to.

The both of us were back in town well before dusk, anticipating seeing the Canada Day fireworks down to the harbor. However, fate had other things in mind with an amusing twist: my keys had disappeared! Somehow I had managed to let us into my apartment, but after that my keys simply vanished and we spent most of an hour looking for them, well past the time when we heard the fireworks start in the sky nearby. I felt very uncomfortable leaving my apartment without my keys, on the off chance that I had left them in the door and someone had grabbed them while passing through the nearby hallway, which is fairly well-trafficked that time of night.

After turning the place upside-down, including checking the bathroom and in every couch cushion as well as every article of clothing that could possibly have acquired the keys, we were at a loss. I almost never misplace my keys or wallet, having learned years ago that it's just too stressful; I developed the habit of always putting them back in the same place, wherever I established myself.

Guess where we found them, long after the fireworks had ended?

In my girlfriend's purse; apparently her habit was to immediately put away any set of keys that she sees so that they're never left behind….

Good habit, wrong time. But we both had a good laugh: that's one of the keys to a good relationship!

July 2 – Accounting For Hollywood

Have you ever wondered why artists don't make a lot of money?

I know that I have and finally, I've come across a solid explanation as to why. This article explains how movies that would be considered successful by anyone's definition still only receive a pittance of the money that is made from the fruits of the artist’s labor.

It's shocking.

Myself, I find it disturbing that the person who is the originator of a unique idea can end up being the biggest loser in the end, receiving almost nothing for what they had created from nothing, literally. You can see from the graphic below exactly how little the artists get, using the 2009 Harry Potter film The Order Of The Phoenix as an example:

Things like this make me all the more determined to prepare myself for the financial realities of being an author, of learning the business and knowing as many of the missteps that are possible ahead of time when I'm establishing myself. I truly feel for artists the world over, as it seems to me that too many people feel that good art can be taken for granted or paid a pittance for, which wouldn't bode well for the creative development of the human race as a whole.

The world needs good art, and we need to learn to value it for what it truly worth.

July 3 – ROAD TRIP!

After work, around dinnertime today, I left for the USA!

My girlfriend and I headed to the States, to celebrate the Fourth Of July holiday in her hometown, east of Mount Vernon WA. I’ve never been to the US for the Fourth, so I was pretty excited! We made the 7pm ferry sailing and arrived in WA State proper a little after 9pm, having breezed through the border with zero wait times – highly unusual but most welcome!

The route we took was to the north, taking the ferry from Sidney to Tsawwassen, which is the normal way one would go in order to drive to Vancouver. Instead of turning north at Delta BC, we instead turned south towards the border with the States. It was rather hot on the mainland, with the car not being graced with any A/C, so cool drinks and a good breeze were key to enjoying the trip. Along with good company, of course:

I'd love to be along on THIS road trip!

We had to go easy as we travelled though, as her car inexplicably developed some kind of brake issue. While loading on the ferry, the brakes suddenly went soft and only her catlike reflexes saved us from clunking into the vehicle ahead of us! We tried to enjoy the crossing and a tense few minutes after we'd unloaded on the other side, we determined that it was safe enough to proceed onwards to our destination hotel. We arrived well after 10 PM and settle down for the night, prepared for the festivities to follow in the morning.

I was really excited, as this was my first real road trip into the USA in many years and I was spending it with someone I adore who was not a family member. Many years ago, my family and I used to drive down to Florida on a regular basis for summer vacations, or fly down in later years. We also spent a lot of time daytripping over to New York State for cross-border shopping when the Canadian dollar was much closer to par then it is today. I have many happy memories of those trips and I kept them all close with me today, knowing that I was heading to my girlfriend’s quiet small-town-USA hometown, south of Bellingham WA with a population of less than 25,000 people.

We were also going to be seeing her parents, so there was that on my mind as well as I fell asleep.

July 4 – Happy Fourth Of July!

What an incredible day!

We woke up early and went back to sleep for a bit, excited for the festivities to come. My girlfriend and I partook of the small but tasty complimentary breakfast at the hotel had to offer, then hit the road for the short journey to her parent’s place nearby. Interestingly, her parents live in a house across the road from where her brother now lives, who resides in their old family home – neat!

The backyard, which was perfect for the party!

We arrived well before any other guests and assisted in the setup, giving me time to meet her parents and to simply enjoy the morning. The house was practically made for family gatherings, with a large backyard that has been lovingly landscaped into various areas that lend themselves well to seating several dozen people. A pair of small dogs, named Bentley and Royce, happily kept us company the entire time while I assisted with some of the barbecue prep as well.

It was a long, colourful and happy parade!

At 11 AM, it was time for the Independence Day Parade. My lady and I found a spot on the main road, only a block away from her parent’s place. We stood under the shade of an umbrella, watching the floats meander on by. I was impressed by the variety and the enthusiasm the many participants, as well as the joyously simple pleasure that the crowd showed. Everyone was happy, friendly and relaxed, making me feel quite at home. We even walked a few blocks away to take a look at the wood carving events towards the end of the parade, which blew my mind when I saw all of the talent on display:

Rocket and Groot!

After the parade, people started arriving around 1PM atr her parent's house and the day really became busy after that. Several dozen people were there by early afternoon, with more arriving thereafter. I happily spent the time getting to know folks, including my girlfriend's brother, who it turns out is as big a g33k in many ways as I am: he loves video games as well as talking about scifi and fantasy!

Did I mention it was hot? In the mid-90’s hot, so much so that we spent as little time as possible in the sun and just relaxed in the shade, me alternating the occasional beer with more frequent glasses of water and snacks. I was completely at ease in the gathering, feeling quite at home with my girlfriend’s parents as well as the other guests, most of whom were relatives or kids of same.

Later in the evening, with the sun still blazing hot and bright overhead, my girlfriend and I walked down to the carnival located in the Park at the edge of town by the Skagit river. We were anxious to escape to have some time to ourselves and the walk definitely did us good with the minimal breeze that was stirring the air. The carnival itself was bright and loud and pretty much what you would expect, though I was a little irked that I forgot my wallet so neither of us could get an ice cream after a long hot walk. Again, it was a good thing that it really wasn't too far back to her place; an hour's total slow-walk and we were back again.

An hour or so after that, we headed out, quite tired and hot after the long busy day. We stopped for some ice cream at a local shop called The Big Scoop, which offered an impressive number of flavors to choose from. I had some peanut butter chocolate, she had some praline and we both enjoyed the cool bliss that taking in our treats afforded us.

Rolling into our hotel at last, we marveled at how well the day had gone. I have never been so happy and so comfortable with a group of strangers than I have been today, quickly going from the outsider to someone who felt right at home.

I went to bed smiling as much as I ever have in my life - content.

July 5 – Weekending Wrapup

Today was a more relaxed day.

My girlfriend and I woke and breakfasted around 9am with her parents at the local iHop. It was a relaxed, friendly time and I again marveled at how surreal my experience here has been.

Heading towards the border to the north, we took a detour down the gorgeously scenic and winding Chuckanut Drive. Rocky cliff faces, twisty corners and forest everywhere made for an extremely scenic ride, one which I greatly appreciated and not only for having my lady there to drive along the unfamiliar but stunning roads. Interestingly, we passed dozens and dozens of cyclists heading the other way, almost all of whom were mounted on dual tandem bikes – cool!

Nearing the border, we soon realized that we weren't going to cross in anything like the time we've managed heading into the States. It was an hour's wait in the sweltering heat and to pass the time, I read Tennyson out loud, selecting passages for their beauty and content alike.

We both really enjoyed it. Did I mention she's incredible already?

We made it through the border with no complications and less than an hour after that we were safely aboard the ferry, heading home. We dined after lunch in the Pacific Buffet Lounge, located in the bow of the ship with a fantastic view of the sunlit ocean. For some reason, I soon had the urge to switch tables, heading over to the starboard side to watch the water from there. As it turns out, I made a fortuitous choice, for not 5 min. after we settled into our new table, the officer of the day paged to let us all know that a pod of orcas had been spotted on the starboard side:

As it turns out, it wasn't just a pod of orcas but over a dozen of the sleek beasts, breaching then rolling and diving in merriment among the whale-watching boats and other pleasure craft that were close-in the shore. My girlfriend told me in amazement that in all the trips that she's taken over on the ferry( regularly for business )she had never seen so many orcas at one time.

How's that for timing? 

When we finally arrived in Victoria, the light was extraordinarily strange.

Due to the massive wildfires taking place in BC right now, huge areas of the province are covered with a thick smoky haze and it's changed the light that we are receiving rather significantly:

It was like being on an alien planet: the sky was orange!!!

As you can see, everything in the late day was bathed in an eerie orange light, which combined with the colour of grass to produce an unearthly shade of green that seem to glow in the diffused daylight. It's very hard to describe as I couldn't capture the image very well with my camera, though I tried; I suppose I would've needed a much more expensive set up along with some specific photographic knowledge in order to properly set up the capture conditions. Certainly an unusual end to a fantastic weekend but I didn't let it bother me. I was  tired from the long trip and the heat, but I just couldn't stop smiling from the experience.
It just keeps getting better: another perfect weekend with my girlfriend. 

Life is good.

Incredibly, I had to finish off this blog long after midnight on Monday the 6th of July, because I’d just returned from an unexpected fourth day( some lovely irony there )with my lady. We went to see Inside Out and loved it… but more on that next week. For now, it’s time to post the blog and pass out!