August 17, 2016

Commercial Street Cafe

No, it's not on The Drive. This is Commercial Street. Near The Drive but not. And that's a good thing. Less hassle, fewer cars and more people from the neighbourhood itself.

And it appears to be a neighbourhood in transition. Detached homes, apartments, new stuff going up and that light industrial thing happening too (and probably exiting due to the increase in land values).

At the heart of it all is the Commercial Street Cafe: less attitude, great  coffee and a nice sense of belonging to its neighbourhood.

It's kind of deceiving, this coffee shop located in the refurbished and historic Gow Building: it's larger than it looks and would make a damn fine meeting place if only it were in the proper riding. But that's another story, and we already have Gigi Blin, the best coffee shop in Marpole.

Commercial Street Cafe is owned, and operated, by four young people who live and work in the area. The coffee is from Matchstick, the East Van coffee roaster,  and it's truly excellent.

There's lots of space inside, and some tables outside too. Friendly and inviting. Excellent coffee, good pastries and sandwiches, and nice people too.

The Commercial Street Cafe is well worth the visit. Why take The Drive when you can enjoy the coffee here? And on that point, it's worth the drive.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

August 15, 2016

A Playwright's reading... in Chilliwack

Recently we've made two trips down the Trans-Canada to Chilliwack. It's further away than it looks.

Sherry had a reading of one of her plays at the TheatreBC's annual Mainstage event in Chilliwack. One of her plays in progress had won an award, hence the reading.

The Chilliwack Cultural Centre is a large and impressive facility in a variety of ways. Jeem liked the piano.

The reading was an excellent opportunity to "hear" the words as spoken/performed by others, and your faithful correspondent was impressed by the reading and with the talk-back conversation with actors, audience members and the playwright that followed.

At times heated, the talk was indicative of the kind of reaction I suspect the play, when produced, will evoke.

Our second trip to Chilliwack took on a slightly gala turn, with awards and speeches of some description, and some toasting too. And another long drive home.

Sherry MacDonald's play, The Seduction Theory, will have its world premiere in Winnipeg this September at the nationally acclaimed FemFest by Sarasv├áti Productions. Winnipeg is a wee bit east of Chilliwack and not too far from the Murray family tree. Jeem will be in Winnipeg too, if he gets his passport renewed in time.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

August 07, 2016

Idabel Lake's magic

After Jeem stumbled around TRU in Kamloops, becoming more politically activated with every speech he heard, and Sherry served as a calm and generous volunteer at the same event, they headed to the serenity of Idabel Lake. To reflect and relax.

We had been introduced to Idabel a few years earlier, and fell in love with the place. It's about a 40 minute drive south of Kelowna, and lacks adequate cell phone coverage. Not that we have cell phones mind you, but it's nice to know we'd be incommunicado if we did have the contraptions.

There is lodge accommodation at Idabel, along with a number of similarly shaped cabins available too; up a steep hill which can only be exited by driving in reverse. Jeem felt bad at first, but apparently everyone hits the tree at the bottom of the hill. Or another vehicle. But let's not go down that road, even though it is the only way out.

Our cabin was a self-contained utopia of sorts: two decks overlooking the lake, a hot tub, a gas barbecue, the usual amenities, and an old television from the last century with a VCR and an odd collection of movies! The TV was never turned on during our all-too-short sojourn.

We were awakened every morning by the call of a loon; its plaintive cry heard all round the lake. In the afternoons the sun was hot and the skies were never-ending. One night was full of the deep bass notes of thunder and the skies illuminated with sheets and bolts of lightning. Other evenings featured the Milky Way, shooting stars and satellites of unknown origin.

The "resort" offers a variety of watercraft for the enjoyment of its guests. Personal Flotation Devices are recommend, as is mosquito repellent, and sunscreen, though Jeem would never fall for that nonsense. Hence the peeling nose and the endless scratching.

Of special interest to many who come here in the summer is the year-round ice rink located under the lodge. Some days were given over to curling, others to friendly hockey matches, and the remainder to skating around in circles while the Carpenters, Gilbert O'Sullivan and the Captain and Tenille played on the PA system. It was refreshing to get out of the sun on those hot afternoons and cool off with a nice skate. The fact that the lake water is so horrendously cold, even in summer, helps the ice making process.

Still, the reason Jeem and Sherry are here, and all the other visitors too, is the lake. A few days at Idabel is relaxing in a way that is difficult to explain, though once you're here, it's unforgettable.

Photos by Jeem. 
Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.