Wow, I haven't posted in a long while; too busy, too stressed, and just plain not into typing into a computer having been just about sunburned by myriad displays with the ones at the office, so it was time to get away from it all and have a quality long weekend in Victoria B.C.
Selene and I left Kirkland Friday morning 8:30AM to catch our first 10AM ferry at Edmonds, crossing over to Kingston. We were early so we found a nice local (as in not Starbucks) coffee/chai shop, ordered a couple chai latte and just hung around watching the birds and police do their morning patrol. Though the Edmonds/Kingston crossing is faster than the Seattle/Bainbridge crossing, it tends to be homely; the two ports are fairly ordinary with no redeeming architecture. Add a deeply grey backdrop to this and it's well, boring. Once off, we drove for an hour and a half to Port Angeles, and though this town is designed to move containers and products, it is a livelier and established place. Once again we were early, mainly because the good ship M. V. Coho was nearly fully booked. Earlier, Selene noticed that while perusing the ferry WEB site and she managed to secure passage reservations. There were only two left after we got ours, and it helps to be at the head of the line because even reservations at the tail of the line can get bumped if their loading estimates are off. So, we had a nice lunch at a nearby restaurant, an Ahi sandwich, pretty good fish but served on an ordinary hamburger bun.
The crossing from Port Angeles to Victoria was eventful. The M. V. Coho is a big ship with a cargo maw three stories tall. It is one enormous door with steam driven piston actuators that hiss and gurgle for several minutes to move that massive chunk of steel. The hinge pins were easily two feet in diameter.
Under the new security rules, once the boat is underway no one can go below decks to their cars. We hung out in the observation deck, and watched the ship pitch, roll, and yaw. Huge swells were causing the ships prow to lift up and down a good 30 feet above and below the horizon. It was difficult to walk inside. Outside, it was difficult to not get hurled onto the outboard deck rails. I looked behind to see heavy weather collecting on the backside of the Olympics. Big dark mammary clouds were headed our way. About that time the overspray was getting heavy, so I went back inside. After 90 minutes of this, the weather lightened. The protecting spit becalmed the waters and we entered Victoria's harbor. We plied quietly into the terminal and this time another two story steel door opened up near the bow on the starboard side. This was strange because side doors like that are usually on the port side, but because of harborage layout, this ship was custom built for a right docking. First in, first out and short jaunt to an uneventful immigrations and customs.
We arrived Friday around 5PM giving us plenty of time for a stroll and shopping adventure. We thought we found the hemp store we visited last time but it turned out to be another one with a young woman running it who looked just like the young woman who ran the other one. I know, but I must say it, those Canadians look alike. Canadians are also taller and to Selene's delight she finally found both jeans and a top that fit her lanky frame *and* were long enough reach ankles and wrists.
I've been looking for another kilt and I recall seeing a reference to a place that makes "Freedom Kilts". These kilts are also non-tartan but they have a more traditional pleating, unlike utilikilts (of which mine I do like much), but are made of light weight materials like poly-cotton blend. As I was mentioning this to Selene, we saw two men kitty corner from us standing in front of a pub having a pipe smoke in their splendid kilts. "Provenance", I wondered, so we went across and I asked the fellows whether they knew of the Freedom Kilt store. It turns out the older fellow is the proprietor and we discussed when I could visit. He graciously offered to open up the place Sunday, though it was usually closed that day. A lovely dinner at Camille's closed the day for us. Victoria is a lovely strolling friendly city. We walked for about ten minutes to the Embassy Inn. It's a nice older place, not nearly as fancy or expensive as the more modern hotels on the harbor. It is sited right across the street from the Government Building with its beautiful grounds, fountains, and grassy walkways.
The Rhiannon singing workshop took place Saturday, 10AM to 5PM. It was pretty good but the exercises took longer, mainly because the experience level of the group varied widely. Still we managed to get in some nice 'round the circle trio sings - one person starts with a bass line, another person brings in counterpoint, and the third person solos. All three determine when to end it, and then the new trio becomes two original plus one new person. I think this was intended to go faster but it got stuck in a few places. I started a bass line, a simple well spaced funk-esque piece that I thought my trio mate would do well with counterpoint. Earlier I heard him doing the human beat box thing, pretty good rhythm, so my little swing laced funkadelic riff should have found a home with him. Rhythm he's got, vocal accuracy... not. Rhiannon worked with him to get that straightened out and I ended up hold that riff for several minutes non-stop. Now, I can hold a click track in my head or in my body for a goodly amount of time but this was getting difficult. And, the little riff wanted to evolve, grow wings, be alive, jump about, but I held it steady - that was the point of this exercise after all, to be a group and play off each other - one soloist with their insta-band.
There were other splendid singers too. A young red-haired lass opened up and sang honey running down flowers, blossoms opening up to an ethereal morning, larks and wind, timeless haunting language. Wow! She told us, in her sweet Irish accented voice, that her 'day job' is as a busker. She just travels around the world and lives on a song. She reminds me of an upbeat 'Vas' sans the dark melancholy.
We also spent time working on shape shifting. Rhiannon picked a few people to form the first group and after about a minute I noticed her motioning me to join the group. I think she was looking for voicing balance, so I entered with bass. The energy was good, most everyone played with each other and we all found the right places for our voices, sometimes harmonize with another person, other times a few others would sing in unison to bolster a pattern. Soloist darted in for a time, dropping out; the phrasing and emotion would shift. It reminded me of those massive clouds made up of birds - shifting shapes forming dissolving then reforming all the while the individual patterns contrasted deeply with the meta-forms. Mmmm! To other groups went up. Selene was in the third one. Several of us walked quietly around the group circle to listen to the point specific music. Other listeners piled up in the center to take on the wholeness.
Afterward, we rushed off to the kilt store to look at his inventory. He is an excellent kilt maker ranging from traditional House tartans to modern camo-kilts to industrial workman's kilts. I choose a cargo style kilt, a somewhat modern version of the traditional kilt - wider pleats but with a full non-pleated front waist, charcoal poly-cotton. These are custom made; he took several measurements to ensure a perfect fit and I should have it in a month.
Then we had to rush back to downtown to make it to the concert. As we entered the place, one of the people led Selene and I to the front row. We were selected along with four others to sing with Rhiannon onstage. She was great, channeling song and performance from Planet Improv. In the middle of it all, she called us up and there we were, looking at each other realizing we were about to do a shape shifting improv piece. It was fun, it was scary, we played with each other, and it worked. I was elated. People liked it, they showed their appreciation with applause. Oh yes! This brought on a flood of memories of my modern dance perforances in the Trilogy Dance Company. I had forgotten the sense of ecstasy in performance art. Programming, software architecture, and design is a money maker, but this was real, this was plain and simple joy - a deep resonance building up from within - cat's purr - flying on wings of song.
Afterward, I basked in the glow of that joy. Selene was feeling it too. She has a lovely voice and I looked upon her joy. It was great. A bunch of us went to a common friend's house where several of the singers were staying, had a great impromptu dinner then off to head to sleep.
Sunday, Selene and I found time to go to the British Museum for a long wander. We heard a docent speaking to a group of people about the first peoples of B.C., and that voice seemed awfully familiar; it was the kilt maker, a most interesting coincidence. We stopped to listen and he smiled at us when we left. Time marched ahead while we were stuck in the past, so we had to rush to get our car and drive off to the ferry terminal and line up for U.S. immigration, the crossing this time calm across the straits of Juan De Fuca to Port Angeles, a simple one question test at customs "are you carrying any illegal drugs or alcohol?" "No". "OK, have a nice day."
A long drive to Kingston and then onto the Ferry of Near Death and Dismemberment to Edmonds. I could not believe how badly this thing was running. Its engine or propeller shaft was so out of balance that it shook the entire ferry violently all the way across, so much so that the windows were bouncing visibly in their stays; these are six feet high ten feet wide inch thick panes. When the ship began its glide to the terminal, the engine slowed to a stop and we all could feel the ship's deck heave up and down about six inches in unison with the revolutions. I was happy to get off that thing and drive home to Kirkland.
We had a great weekend.