Just got back from a delightful long weekend in Vancouver BC, staying with square dancing friends Grant and Will.
It was a weekend filled with serendipity. For example, our morning amble along the shore turned into a trip to Granville Island when we happened to notice the water taxi. This kind of thing happened over and over — it was wonderful to be so free of agenda that we could indulge the fates. It was also a weekend filled with ducks — flying in the air, paddling on the water, stuffed and mounted on the wall, floating in the soup. Wherever we went, there they were.
The weekend began on Thursday night, when we got out of Portland right after work and hit the McMenamins’ Olympic Club Hotel & Theater in Centralia, just in time to see the movie Inside Man and have a bite to eat. The next morning we zipped up to Vancouver and avoided both the border crush and the rush hour traffic we meet when we leave Portland first thing Friday morning.
We usually only visit Vancouver, which is one of our favorite cities, for the square dance fly-in on (US) Thanksgiving weekend, and it was a real treat to a) not have to try to cram in visits and touristing around the dancing, b) have more opportunities to sample Vancouver’s fine restaurants (the fly-in provides several meals), and c) visit during warm dry weather.
The weather was, in fact, even better than we could have hoped, with record high temperatures making for shirtsleeve weather almost all weekend. We walked on the beach; we walked in Stanley Park (twice); we browsed antique stores; we took a water taxi to Granville Island and browsed the market there, also taking in an outdoor orchestra concert. And we ate — oh my, how we ate. Fine French cuisine. Excellent dim sum. Marvelous gelato (two different places). Singaporean. Japanese. Pub grub. Fresh bagels (of the Montreal rather than New York variety).
We got to spend more time than usual with Grant, though Will was away much of the weekend due to various responsibilities. We seem to amuse them. We also met square dancer Jan and her partner Deb for dim sum, which we might have missed out on (due to Mother’s Day brunch crowds) but for Jan’s persistence and familiarity with the staff. Thanks, Jan!
We introduced our hosts to the joys of polenta. We had a nice conversation with a vendor of intriguing knitted items (would you believe a knitted seaweed hat, knitted vegetables and flowers as brooches, and knitted teapot and French press cozies with such patterns as skull and crossbones?) at Granville Market. We met various dogs and cats. We walked through Mole Hill and other neighborhoods we’d never visited. We selected from among 218 flavors of gelato at La Casa Gelato, an amazing Disneyland of frozen treats, with an international clientele, hidden away in the middle of an industrial wasteland. We dropped in on Grant’s weekly knitting group. I picked up a couple of CDs at a rummage sale.
I didn’t blow off the writing completely. I spent a half-hour here and a half-hour there and completed the edits (after a month of work, jeez) on my “Heaven as bureaucracy” story from Clarion, now titled “Joy is the Serious Business of Heaven.” It goes in the mail to F&SF tomorrow. I considered sending it to my critique group to get their feedback on the revisions, but after spending so much time revising it I just want it out of my hands.
And, speaking of serendipity, my next writing project just fell in my lap. I got a long email from a friend last week, describing a recent adventure of hers, which had almost everything — curious incidents, rich setting, telling details, unusual characters — all it needed was a fantastic element and a little plot structure to be an incredible story. She’s given her permission for me to turn it into a story, and I’ll start in on that tomorrow.