On “Boyhood”

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You’ve probably heard about the excellent reviews that “Boyhood”, the new film by Richard Linklater, is getting. It’s scoring 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and, in the words of the critics:

“An extraordinarily intimate portrait of a life unfolding and an exceptional, unconventional film.” (Los Angeles Times)

“[Linklater] captures moments in time and relinquishes them as he moves from year to year. He isn’t fighting time but embracing it in all its glorious and agonizingly fleeting beauty.” (The New York Times)

“Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age tale is the best movie of the year, a four-star game-changer that earns its place in the cultural time capsule.” (Rollling Stone)

Joe and I saw Boyhood last night at our neighbourhood theatre, Cinema 21, with a packed audience. I’m a fan of Linklater’s work, especially the “Before” Trilogy with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Boyhood was filmed in 39 days over a 12-year period, capturing the evolution of a family with divorced parents through the perspective of a boy, who is 6 when the film starts and 18 when it ends. It takes place in Texas and stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as parents Olivia and Mason, and Lorelei Linklater (who is the writer/director’s daughter) and Ellar Coltrane as kids Samantha and Mason Jr.

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As expected, Boyhood was absorbing, moving, funny, and beautiful to watch, with the kind of insightful, complex dialogue you actually hear in real life. My favourite scenes were the ones with Ethan Hawke, who portrays so well the conflict of a father who only sees his children every other weekend, but tries to pack in as much wisdom (such as why there is no ‘best Beatle’, and how whales are as magic as elves) and fun as he can every two-day visit.

I found myself hoping the parents would get back together at some point, which I guess stems from the same romantic part of me that cried my eyes out teared up while watching ‘Before Sunset” alone in a Victoria theatre a decade ago. (That was the first time I’d ever gone to a movie by myself. Lesson learned—romantic movies are not meant to be seen alone!)

Have you seen Boyhood? What did you think?

ps. The New York Times review of Boyhood and a Slate interview with Richard Linklater

Going Home: Part 2 (The Vortex + Senanus Swim)

Going home always starts with a visit to my mom’s, and is almost always followed by hanging out with Adam and Antonia.

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For those of you reading who don’t know them, they are my super talented musician friends, currently expressing their melodic awesomeness with their band Thieves. I could go on, but I’ll save the details for my upcoming interview with Adam. We’re gonna chat about music, life, transitions, the future…the sort of ground we’ve been covering in our lengthy conversations over the last 15 years or so, but shared here, on the blog. This is an interview I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I’m really stoked we’re making it happen.

So a couple days after we returned to Victoria from Salt Spring, Joe and I drove out to Adam’s mom’s house for a BBQ. Tucked away off a narrow road in Saanichton, about 30 minutes from Victoria, this house is the stuff dreams are made of. (I rarely use clichés, but in this case, totally necessary.) Once you arrive, you never want to leave. We call it The Vortex.

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This home eases worries, soothes angst and heals hearts. It’s where you go when you need a house that hugs. It pulls you in and you are so glad it does. It’s also a great place for a party.

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I’ve actually been coming here since I was really young (Adam and I grew up together), so it has that comforting feeling of being a place that knows me well, has seen me as a skinny kid jumping on the trampoline and playing the piano.

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This is the orchard. Not bad for a front yard! I’m pretty sure that’s where the trampoline was when we were kids.

A huge highlight of The Vortex is Adam’s mom Anne, who we call Munsta.

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She’s clearly an amazing gardener, and has impeccable design taste (I am really wishing I had interior photos to show you guys), but what really stands out about Munsta is her ability to get you talking. Within about two minutes of arriving at The Vortex, you’ll probably find yourself telling her the details of what’s going on in your life and how you’re feeling about it all. As soon as she met Joe she was asking him about his plans for school and the differences between med school and PA school, and soon we were talking about the ways we communicate and our different family backgrounds. It’s just like that with Munsta! Love this lady.

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It was a hot afternoon, and Adam suggested a trip to Senanus, a nearby ocean spot. We were joined by Tula, Murphy, and Indie, the posse of dogs that belongs to this family.

 

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Joe is a dog guy. He loves our crazy kitten Cleo, but deep down, he is meant to own a pooch. One day…

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The day before, Adam had been really sick with a weird stomach bug, and still wasn’t feeling great.

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So we collectively decided he should jump in the freezing cold water to revive himself.

Joe offered to join him…

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Which is why I am featuring, for the first time ever, two dudes in their underwear on my blog.

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The dogs were in full support.

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Even Murphy felt refreshed.

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Adam was back in action, just in time to show off his Salmon BBQ’ing skills on the west deck. These guys know how to host.

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Isn’t there a saying about how friends are the family you choose? That’s how I feel about these guys. Dinner on the deck, chats over wine, a sleepover in the guest room, and coffee in the morning, under the skylights…I am always at peace here.

xx~C.

Going Home: Part 1 (Surprise Trip to Salt Spring)

One of the best parts of growing up in Victoria was being so close to the Gulf Islands—an archipelago in the Strait of Georgia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland. IMG_0767If you’re into camping oceanside, hiking through dense forests covered in moss, checking out paintings and pottery in artist markets, hanging out in cozy cafes (that serve organic, delicious everything) and buying fresh berries and flowers from little roadside stalls, the Gulf Islands are pretty much heaven.

The one closest to Victoria is called Salt Spring, and it’s a place my brother and I visited with my mom when we were kids. She hadn’t been back in decades, so for her 60th birthday, we decided to surprise her with a weekend trip. I found this super cute cottage called Tantramar

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and we booked it. The problem was, her birthday was last December, and at the time I was still waiting on my green card, which meant if I left the US, I wouldn’t be allowed to re-cross the border and get back in. (Side note: if you ever plan to immigrate to the US, prepare to not book dates for anything for a good year and a half. Just put your life on hold and pray to the green card Gods.)

When we realized my visa issues wouldn’t be sorted out in time, we postponed the trip, re-booked the cottage, and finally went this past May. The weekend we chose turned out to be Mother’s Day, so the timing was perfect. Joe and I rented a car in Portland and drove to Port Angeles (only a 3.5 hr trip!), then caught the ferry to Victoria, spent the night at my mom’s, and whisked her away the next afternoon. She was told to pack a bag and that we were meeting Noel (my brother) and Johanna (his fiancée) for two days and two nights. The destination was kept top secret…until we got to the ferry and parked in the lane headed for Salt Spring.

My mom was thrilled.

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She loves Joe. Couldn’t be happier with who her daughter married. It’s very sweet.

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Having a “I love where I’m from” moment on the ride…

On the drive to the cottage, my mom kept saying, “Oh, I love it here. I could live here.” I was excited just to see her enjoy a weekend of nature and family time, eat some great food, and relax on a porch with ocean views. Tantramar is on Vesuvius Beach, on the northwest side of the island.

IMG_0712 IMG_0723 I wish I had taken some interior shots to show you guys! It was beautiful and homey, with hardwood floors, a glassed-in porch, and wood-burning fireplace. It sleeps up to 6 people and they allow dogs. (Noel and Johanna brought their pooch Rose.) I would definitely recommend it for a family trip or getaway with friends. You can see more photos on the website here, if you’re interested.

Joe and I went for a little stroll soon after arriving… IMG_0713         IMG_0717 IMG_0721And that night we grilled prawn and veggie skewers and lemon garlic potatoes on the BBQ. Johanna is a trained chef, and we knew she’d be cooking some delicious meals the next day, so Joe and I did our best to impress on the first night.

Saturday was gorgeous…the beginning of amazing weather we lucked out with for the rest of the week. IMG_0732 IMG_0733 Johanna whipped up a breakfast frittata for everyone and then we spent a few hours in Ganges, the town on Salt Spring, checking out the weekend market and stopping for gelato. My mom had told me a week or so earlier she’d been craving curry, so Johanna treated us again with her skills, making a huge pot of spicy curry and a salad with strawberries, greens and goat cheese for dinner. We’re all pretty stoked to have a chef in the family!   IMG_0746Sunset chats on the deck after dinner. (Island life at its best.)

On Sunday morning we decided to take my mom to the top of Mt. Maxwell, one of the highest points on Salt Spring. But not before setting up the self-timer for a family pic…

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We didn’t realize how steep (and bumpy) the drive up Mt. Maxwell was going to be—the gravel road was a bit much for our rental car!

But the views were worth it.

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One of my secret dreams is to have my own little cottage on one of the Gulf Islands…or some other magic spot by the sea. (I could live in Indonesia very, very easily.) I think my mom has the same dream. I knew she’d be sad to leave Tantramar, and she was, but she said a few days later that the trip had kickstarted her life again, given her a fresh spark to pursue the things she loves to do.

Do you have a favourite place you love going back to? Somewhere that recharges you? (I’d love to hear in the comments!) I like the idea of returning to the same cottage year after year, but for me, discovering new places always seems to win over. Though Joe and I really loved one of the campgrounds we stayed at on our honeymoon, so much so that we’re going back with friends in a couple weeks. (The first time we rented a yurt, but this time we’re tenting it.)

After Salt Spring, we spent six days in Victoria, so a few more “Going Home” posts to come. :)

xx~C.

ps. 3 Cute Cottages to Rent in Oregon and Mom Turns 60: A Thank You

*First Tantramar photo via Salt Spring Cottages

Portland Minute: Pride Parade, in Photos

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A couple Sundays back, Joe and I met up with Sam, Bryan and José on the corner of Broadway and Davis for Portland’s Pride Parade. Other than the one I have a vague memory of attending in Victoria over a decade ago, this was the first Pride I’ve been to.

As some of you probably know, Oregon recently legalized gay marriage, joining 18 other states who have made marrying your partner possible no matter who you are or who you love. Hopefully the U.S. will catch up to Canada eventually, and legalize gay marriage nationwide. I would LOVE to see this happen in my lifetime.

In light of the progress, it felt like a particularly exciting time for a parade.

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A friend mentioned seeing a naked dude in red heels at the last Pride she went to in Portland, so I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. But I was really impressed by the huge cross section of the city’s businesses and organizations that participated, showing their support for the LGBTQ community.

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One of the coolest aspects was seeing so many different churches taking part. It’s often perceived that most organized religious groups don’t support the LGBTQ community, so it was wonderful to witness people from a range of churches participating in the event. I saw one man holding a sign that said “Walking with my boyfriend and supportive Mormon mom.” A woman from another group carried a sign that read, “Who am I to judge?”

These paraders are from the First Congregational United Church of Christ.

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This car was representing Hillsdale Community Church, United Church of Christ.

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And these are Unitarian Universalists.

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I’m pretty sure these guys weren’t with their church group.

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A few more folks who caught my eye…

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And this was our parade posse. :)

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If we’re in Portland this time next year, I definitely want to check out the parade again. Joe works at OHSU, one of the city’s main hospitals which was a participant, so maybe we’ll even walk in it in 2015.

What about you guys? Did any of you see or walk in the Pride Parade where you live? I’d love to hear!

Coming soon, notes and photos from our Victoria vacation…we lucked out with amazing weather the entire 10 days we were there.

Have a great Sunday, friends.

xx~C.

The Cacti + The Family: Arizona, Sans Grand Canyon

IMG_0682According to my dad, I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, camped overnight and spent a day exploring it with him, my brother, and my mom when I was five. I have no memory of our Canyon excursion. Until this past April, when I flew to Phoenix to spend a few days hanging out with my dad, stepmom, and sister Abby during their vacation, I thought I’d never been to Arizona at all. When someone mentions the Grand Canyon I always think of that scene from Thelma & Louise, when they’re driving through the desert on the run from the cops and Louise suddenly realizes what’s ahead and says to Thelma, “It’s the goddamn Grand Canyon!”

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Turns out the scene was actually filmed in Utah, but that’s beside the point. It was an at-the-edge-of-death moment undoubtedly more dramatic (and clearly more memorable) than my own Canyon experience, in part because of the intense bond between these two women, but also because the scene was preceded by those ones featuring Brad Pitt as J.D., the hitchhiker who showed Thelma/Geena Davis how to rob a bank . . . among other things. I think I was about 12 when I first saw the film. Afterward I swore to myself I would watch every Brad Pitt movie that came out from then onward in the theatre (instead of just on VHS). It’s a commitment I haven’t kept up but one I still think was worth trying for. My pre-teen movie star crush. He deserved the big screen.

So in my mind, Arizona was a first for me this spring. We stayed an hour outside Phoenix, at my aunt Nita’s house, a two-bedroom bungalow in a gated community landscaped with palm trees and cacti. Mornings were spent poolside, drinking coffee with my stepmom Colleen while my dad puttered around the property and my sister—thrilled to be out of the Saskatchewan winter for a week (because April in Saskatchewan is still winter)—worked on her tan.

We also wore muumuus.

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I felt a little like Helen Roper (sans Stanley) in a good way. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are clearly either much younger than I am or didn’t feel the need to watch Three’s Company reruns every evening of your early childhood.

We didn’t go to the Grand Canyon this trip (not enough time to do it justice). But we did head into the city for a baseball game—my first MLB game ever—on a Sunday afternoon, where we sat in the sun sipping beer out of ridiculously oversized cups and watched the Arizona Diamondbacks lose 2-0 to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The next day, we drove to Sedona, a town a couple hours north of Phoenix known for its galleries, crystals and vortexes

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and then hiked for a couple hours in Red Rock State Park.

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The Park views were Canyon-esque. On a much smaller scale, of course.

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The thing about Arizona is that the landscape is so dramatic—the red rock, the cacti looming every few metres along the highway like lone soldiers guarding the horizon, the massive sky—but it’s also so dry.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing terrain that’s vastly different from what I grew up in (and I’m a huge fan of cactus plants) but on this hike it struck me how much the lush vegetation of the Pacific Northwest has shaped my sense of beauty. It’s why I like jungles, why I always stop to touch the moss carpeting the sides of trees. I felt dazzled by the natural environment in Arizona—it’s stunning. But while walking this trail I kept finding myself thinking, ‘the scenery is so cool, but I don’t think I could live here.’ It was a such a strong sense of feeling separate from my surroundings, as if I didn’t totally align with the landscape.

Have you ever felt that way in a place you’ve visited? It fascinates me what creates the connection between a person and place. When I look back, the parts of the world I’ve always been happiest living in are near forests and the ocean. But I wonder if I would feel that way if I hadn’t grown up on Vancouver Island, if that draw to coastal elements would be less prevalent.

Arizona’s purple cacti was particularly amazing, and new to my eyes. And how about that yellow flower, bursting out the side?

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That’s my dad, Curtis. Not sure why I was hiking in a sundress, other than we didn’t really plan to walk a long trail, it just kind of happened. It’s my dad’s birthday tomorrow. He probably wouldn’t want me throwing numbers around here on the blog, but let me just say this guy does not let age, the fact that he’s had a hip replacement, or the blazing Arizona sun slow him down. He has instilled his love of travel in me since I was a kid, and I can’t thank him enough for it. Happy Birthday, Dad!

I’ve been strongly urging him and my stepmom to take a trip to Indonesia ever since Joe and I went two years ago, and this July, they’re flying to Bali for a month. They’ve got their first two nights of accommodation booked, and then they’re going to ‘wing it’ as my dad would say. I’ve really talked the place up, so I’m hoping they love it as much as we did. If I know my dad, he’ll be daydreaming about buying land and starting a business there within the first couple days.

Well that’s it, friends, my April Arizona Adventure. I leave you here, with way too much alliteration and a little more cacti…

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Those spikes are nuts.

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Highway scenery, en route to Sedona.

I have a feeling I’ll be back to this part of the country one day, maybe with a kid in tow, showing them the Grand Canyon and hoping they’ll remember it.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

xx~C.

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