Friday, August 24, 2012

Wing-ed summer

Been flying through our finally arrived hot enough days of the season; several band gigs, rounding out the marching band activities.  Plenty of pleasant walks, wonderful stuff from the farmers' market, although the tomatoes have been a bit late in arriving. 
Starting to feel autumnal, cooler nights and days; this sort of atmosphere could go on indefinitely, with occasional nocturnal rains, for my taste.
Just finished re-reading a passel of Dickens novels;  I'd forgotten how clever he could be at social satire. Timeless observation of human venality; Uncle Ralph Nickleby could be Dick Cheney in breeches.  The virtuous young female characters can grate somewhat, or should I say overwhelm a reader with almost unbearable sweetness and light, but his villains are for the ages.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pseudo Euro vacation

Our marching band had a spot in the Vancouver, B.C. Pride Parade, so we decided to take Amtrak up there early last Friday morning.  The views were good from the west side of the train; at times we were so close to the water we seemed to be hydro foiling along.  We found our bags along the fence at the end of the line, and hastened to the Skytrain, an elevated conveyance which sped us to within a couple of blocks of the Carmana Plaza, where we stayed last year.  It was in the heart of the Robson Street area, lots of restaurants and such.  We walked around a bit, then rested up for a longer day of footing it on Saturday, when we went down to the beach and walked all the way around Stanley Park, as well as along more waterfront in an area called Coal Harbor, an expensive-looking section.
A fellow clarinetist and her boyfriend joined us at our spacious two bedroom suite for Saturday night, and we all went to a place claiming it served "Japanese tapas."  Groovy little joint full of young
Asians and young Asian music, except for the number which sounded like Cher singing in Japanese.
Saturday night we went down to the beach to watch Italy's offering in the international fireworks competition Benson & Hedges sponsors every year.  It was nearly half an hour of explosions, but not as good as last year's Chinese performance, I thought.  Still pleasant on a balmy night, which we hardly ever experience.
Parade day found us at first struggling horribly against a tide of humanity to try to get into our staging area. Once in, we waited almost two hours to step off.  It was rewarding, though, as every song we played received thunderous acknowledgment. Hot, steamy, like a marching sauna, and we had to people down from overheating; as it was, I had sweat pouring into my eyes, which rarely happens.
Most everyone high-tailed it back to Seattle, but we stayed through Monday afternoon. We left our bags at the hotel and walked over to the Vancouver Art Gallery, a nice little museum which was featuring the collection of the Cone sisters from Baltimore, MD, who befriended Matisse in his early days and collected a lot of his work, along with a few others.  They were friends with Gertrude Stein and her brother, and unmarried women who collected female nudes.  I had a hunch they were gay, and fortunate enough to be wealthy and beyond persecution. Quite an interesting exhibit.
The train ride home was fine, not much delayed.  It was about four hours each way, and that's about the ideal, considering we didn't have to drive. Nice city, but bring $$$.