Thursday, May 31, 2018

Garden Shed

A garden shed at 21st and Clark.

In the 25 years I have lived in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage/Little Saigon neighbourhood, this shed has remained more-or-less unchanged -- a wooden structure wrapped in tar paper. The only thing that has changed is the addition of those black shingles near the roof.

Years ago, while hosting a German friend, I showed her this structure after she asked if Vancouver has any schrebergartens.

"This is not a schrebergarten," I was told rather seriously, in the way Germans can be serious about such things. "This is, in fact, closer to nature than that which it pretends to be at home with."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


I don't know who designed the Vancouver Veterinary Hospital building at 1541 Kingsway. Judging from its profile and Roman brick exterior, I would guess it was built in the 1950s.

Semmens & Simpson's Collingwood Branch of the Vancouver Public Library (2985 Kingsway) has a similar presence and opened in 1951. The Collingwood VPL was originally painted to match the colour of the earth. In the 1980s it was repainted to mismatch the colour of the sky.

The Vancouver Veterinary Hospital has undergone its share of alterations over the years. Besides its awning (signage?), the one that got my attention occurs at the southeast corner -- what might have been an entrance/exit in the original design, before its steps were turned into a planter and its door a window. And now its most recent "go away" incarnation:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Up Clark across Kingsway to 23rd. A left to the back of Pallet, then a right at the lane to 24th.

A left to Knight, then a right to King Ed.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Alpine Bedsit

A Béthanie bedsit near Samoëns, a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France. The bedsit is 18 meters square and has an eastern (mountain) view. Pets accepted.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ad Hoc Design

Two instances where open spaces have been closed off: the space below the ramp to the upper parking lot of Glad Tidings Church at East 19th and Fraser and, three houses east, the space below a trapezoid-ed platform that leads to a flight of stairs.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Dancing Circles (2018)

Is Roberta's question sincere? Rhetorical? Evaluative?

Somewhere last year I read a statement by an exasperated Canadian art educator asking that institutions stop teaching Dan Graham, that course curricula should place greater emphasis on relationality, positionality...

Seems to me Dan Graham's Dancing Circles (2018) is aware of just that through the material (as opposed to the reflective and thus imagistic) merging of his glass pavilions and, given our long, increasingly spatialized, and ultimately timeless moment, the inevitability not of a stand (a position to take up) but a stasis (a statue that stands in for what what amounts to Time's memorial).

Friday, May 25, 2018


Yesterday morning I set out for Amir's to get my hair cut. On my way back I walked west down the lane just south of Kingsway and noticed an apartment building on Parry Street. I was drawn to the entrance, so I took its picture.

What attracted me to the entrance were the vaguely deco details near the top of its archway. Later, while looking at its picture, I noticed that the building is made of cinderblocks, and reflected in the window is a light standard the City introduced to the neighbourhood a few years back in recognition of its Victorian heritage.

There is more, of course.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Rural Cafe Societies

Marianne's voice-over...

     Over what 1960s American film critics called a montage sequence.

...her laconic remembrance...

    From where or when, we are not told.

...of Ferdinand, who appears as a mansplainer, and who Marianne calls Pierrot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Geoffrey Farmer and the Fitted-Sheet

Not supposed to say anything just yet, but a North Korean "cultural publisher" is commissioning Harry Potter-like stories featuring contemporary artists in pastoral settings. I was given a choice -- pick one of five artists -- and last night I made my decision.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Mullet of Lodgings

I remember the first time I saw a camper without its pick-up. I was eleven or twelve, and the camper was "standing" at the side of a corner house on its spindly retractable legs like a baby moose getting to its feet for the first time. It seemed impossible, on the verge of falling over. Suddenly the door springs open and out comes this old woman in maroon coveralls holding a wrench and a whole lotta anger. "Fuckin' bolt!" she mutters, and I pretend not to hear her.

Monday, May 21, 2018


A hay barn. One of three. Its diagonals yanked from it, a chain tied to its left front leg, a tug from a tractor and ...

Down it came!

As a hay barn, it is finished. But its tin roof will live on as the outer walls of the Shop.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Yesterday Brian and I drove into Vernon. Brian wanted a haircut, and I thought I did too, but somewhere between Little Kingdom and the Village Green I decided to hold out until I was in Vancouver later this week, when I would visit my usual guy, Amir, and catch up on what he's thinking.

While Brian was getting sheared, I wandered about the neighbourhood, where I came upon an apartment building with an unusual addition at its northeast aspect. Unfortunately the detail got lost in the shadows, but as is often the case with me and my phone, something unforeseen happens -- in this instance, the floral line and the line at the top of those clouds.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Sense of an Ending (2011)

With the ground tamped and the pavers placed, with the thesis project submitted and the previews for Preview in the bag, not to mention the book review I was asked to write for TCR that, at various points over the past three weeks, I was convinced I would not have time for, I allowed myself to drift into the Book Department of the Vernon Sally Anne, where I came upon a Julian Barnes novel whose sadness I had heard about when it was making the rounds six or seven years ago and, with my own unpuzzled piece of sadness in hand, purchased for a dollar and tossed on my bed with an I'll-get-to-you-later smile.

That "later" came the following evening when, after another German dinner, I began to read the unremarkably written first-person account of the equally unremarkable Tony Webster, who we meet in the last year of grade school sometime in the 1960s, where he motors along with three equally though variably arrogant male friends, after which he goes to university, dates Veronica for a year before going through a break up that affects his relationship with said friends, then, in the last seven paragraphs before the end of the first section, bums around the United States for six months before returning to England, where he becomes an arts administrator, marries, sires a daughter, divorces and retires.

Interestingly enough, it is in the second and final section where the writing becomes more remarkable, just as Tony's life takes a remarkable turn towards understanding both himself and the world around him. An example of form following function, but also of English men who, despite coming of age in the 1960s, still suffer from Edwardian adages like You can't hurt me and You love everyone, you love no one. Pity about the ending, with its improbable hook, and Tony still "not getting it," as Veronica would say, when, as Tony's deceased friend (and Veronica's deceased boyfriend) Adrian complained with respect to "the English", Tony, too, could not be serious about being serious.

Friday, May 18, 2018


The rock we use to measure the creek level. We look at the banks, too, and the space between the creek and the bridge, but at the end of the day it is the rock that has the most to tell us.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

David Jacob Harder

Quesnel-born artist David Jacob Harder dropped by last week. He told us about his "bark ball" (Ponderosa Sphere, 2018) and another project he is working on -- a corral with texts applied to its rails' butt ends.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Newport Beach

For the past few years Newport Beach on Westside Road has been an interior-lit sign advertising Campgrounds and a Mobile Home Park, R.V. Hook Ups, a Store, an ATM Cash Machine, and Visa, MasterCard and Interact receptivity. Yesterday, while driving into Vernon, Lindsay and I wondered, What's this place really about? What's behind the sign, its store, its bushes?

On our return we asked Newport's manager if we could look around. She nodded yes, and off we went down gravel roads lined with mobile homes, all of which have been added to over the years, from uncovered decks to covered porches, some of which have been turned into enclosed rooms, with more rooms added to them, reshaping their original design from minimal industrial to Bavarian cottage to west coast deco.

The grounds surrounding these homes have all been thoughtfully landscaped, many of them with hearty shrubs, some from the previous century, while others have been tamed with rock and pebble fields, at the centre of which stand birdbaths, wishing wells, driftwood sculptures. There is no longer camping at Newport, just lease-hold homes and monthly hook-ups. The boat launch, pictured above, is deserted.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cinder Block, River Rock, Sedum and Things

Dreamt last night of Vancouver alleys and my walks along them and found this on my phone, taken on April 24. Somewhere between Dumfries and Bella Vista, judging from the photos around it.

Monday, May 14, 2018


There she is, Venus, like something left behind on your screen after flossing your teeth while checking your inbox.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


This morning Amy sent the above from her and Gabe's bike ride yesterday along the Kettle Valley Railway at the southeastern edge of Lake Okanagan. If the sun were to have an anvil in this region, it would be here, at Naramata.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


The waters have fallen since Thursday, when there was barely a foot between the creek and the bridge.

Yesterday morning, after some creaking and popping, a cottonwood fell across the creek, coming to rest in the fork of another.

All day long we walked around these trees trying to determine which way the tree will fall when it eventually falls to the ground, and whether we should move the trailer outside its potential fall lines.

We still haven't decided. Nor has Brian's evocation of Murphy's Law been much help: "If you move the trailer, it won't fall; if you don't move the trailer, it will."

Friday, May 11, 2018

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Last night's hallway riot. I didn't see it, but I have seen it before and it always sounds the same: the dumb thump of a cat on fir, like a cursor at odds with its mouse.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Animals are sensitive to things that humans have lost touch with. Like floods.

Yesterday I asked the nanny if we will lose the bridge. She answered in ways that I have lost touch with.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


The rains began at exactly 5pm last night, followed by thunder and lightning. The sun broke through at sunset, followed by another blast.

When I awoke this morning, the creek was quieter than it had been in previous days. But when I looked out my window, it was noticeably higher.

If it it gets much higher, it will be higher still.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Visiting Artist

Kevin Schmidt paid a visit yesterday to test out his latest adjustments to his washing-machine-cum-hydro generator. Scott set up the pipe, while Brian supplied the land and snapped the pic.

Looking forward to Kevin's exhibition at the VAG this July.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


friend, mentor, protector

Saturday, May 5, 2018

To Air Is Human

With nothing to fill I let out a sigh and inserted two quarters. The air felt good on my face knowing that my money would help to feed a machine's "starving children."

Friday, May 4, 2018

Known Fibres

Wednesday's nest included dog hair. The following day a dog returned, its spirit gone.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Equine Profile

Could a horse not stand any more sideways?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Two Nests

The transparent apple had a couple of nests in it. One fully formed, with birch leaves as linens, the other only started, or just linens.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A New Month of Spring

Temperatures rise, snow melts, and down, down, down comes its waters, directed not by its banks but by its teamsters' silent partner: Gravity.