Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Best Day Since I Arrived!

P4230028, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

A day so good that it practically demands a second blog entry! So Mountain Man arrived at work this morning with all his photos from our Mt Straughn trek - many of his photos provide a clearer view from the top of the mountain and besides, I'm in some of his photos and this is my blog so there you go! Call it a vanity project but hell it was such a grand day and when else am I going to look so good in snow shoes! I'm seriously thinking about quitting work and running away to the mountains for good. These damn vancouverites can deal with their own drug problems!

Pretending to Know What I'm Doing

P4230032, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Resting on top of Mt Straughn!

P4230035, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

The Pick of the Bunch!!

P4230050, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Ravens Part 2

P4230056, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Nearly there at the Top!!

P4230061, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Me and the Mountain Man

DSC00908, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Danny (hereafter the mountain man for obvious reasons) and I today climbed to the top of Mt Straughn behind the city. We have been blessed with the best weather since our arrival this past week - amazing stuff. Today we hired snow shoes and poles and set off from the Cyprus car park. Two hours up the mountain for lunch aopt the peak with true panoramic views - to Bowen Island in the west to Mt Baker in Washington state in the south and Vancouver city to the east - just magical. I'm afraid I now need to make room in my all time top 10 day trips. It was that good - god if I could do this every day I'd never come home! This was glorious - for my man Danny S - one of nature's gentlemen!

Bowen Island Ver. 2

DSC00907, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Bowen Island out on the Howe Sound

DSC00909, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Friendly Visitors

DSC00939, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

As me and the Mountain Man were enjoying our lunch atop Mt Straughn, these two ravens visited to help us eat our muesli bars - Danny and I giggled like children as our new friends swooped around us trying to pinch our lunch. Honestly I must have 15 pix of these two - they came so close - a real highlight of the trek!

The Two Sisters

DSC00920, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Top of Mt Straughn

DSC00916, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Today of All Days!

DSC00955, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Snowboards and Rainy Days

Happy Easter All!

At last four days' rest...has been a frantic couple of weeks of late friends. That said, I think I have finally finished a reasonable piece of writing that has been troubling me for many months now (always a nice feeling to get these things finished!)...I now have a working theory of context waiting for some apposite moment of quiet application (I think I can finally feel a Canadian social sciences research grant application coming on!!)...anyway work schmirk! Things are going rather swimmingly at work at the moment and now I have the international Harm Reduction conference to look forward to with a big contingent of Aussies on their way so things are definitely looking up for a great spring! Speaking of spring, alas the snowfields are now closed though I did at last get a chance to get up to Grouse Mt and try out this snowboarding business that all the local teenage toughs have been banging on about...friends! Consider me converted to the perils of racing down a mountain face on a piece of polished space shuttle fuselage!! I'm seriously considering changing the name of this blog! How can I possibly pretend to hate a place where you can have this much fun just 20 minutes from work.

So my friend Danny (formerly known as the mountain man for reasons you are soon to be reminded of) has been bugging me for weeks to try boarding with him though each time I have offered some lame excuse (some to do with my desire to complete my aforementioned paper, others to do with my innate fear of falling on my arse at intemperate speed!). Not to be deterred, Danny persisted and so last Wednesday I finally got out there with him and ohmygod!! How much fun is snowboarding! I swear to god this is something else - high above the city with fantastic views all the way to Mt Baker in the northwest United States and to the ranges on Vancouver Island and that's without even considering the thrill of the boarding itself - fucking incredible!! So with Danny's expert tutelage and with no small injury to my pride I proceeded to acquire the skills of balance and perseverance. Once you have the sense of balance boarding is not all that difficult - the real challenge as I discovered was learning to have faith enough to actually lean down into the mountain to learn how to steer! This took quite some learning I can tell you - leaning into a downhill gradient when you're already going quite fast enough thank you very much takes quite an effort of will. Anyway - it was all great fun - I've been told to try and keep my posts "pithy" whatever that means so as to encourage repeat visits.

All else is well - our good friend Elvira has just given birth of her first child so this one's for you little Ayla - already the most beautiful girl in all of Spain and that's really saying something...

right friends!! Stay well.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy Days

PICT0213, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

OK Andrea says I have to post more photos as an incentive for people to read the interminably long blogs...so here you go. Now read the rest of it!

Glomesh Purses, Cowboy Songs, Honey Lager and the Mid Week Blues...

Another rainy Saturday afternoon calls for a moment's pause for reflection...what a week it has been! With Andrea finally receiving news of last semester's RMIT work, positive all but still for reasons unknown no mark, we decided to blow it out with cold beers and cowboy songs! Well to the extent that 4 skinny white boys from Scotland and one big man with a beard and a bigger heart count among the more woeful of wayward cowboys, then it's one more for the world my lonesome friend!

Arab Strap were in town for one night only Wednesday so we trudged down to the Media Club with all the other hipsters and country beaus for some dirty blues and heart-broken high plains drifter heavenly laments. Nothing like rock and roll in a Scottish accent to kick out the work-a-day worries. So with beers in hand we found ourselves a perch beside the bar to enjoy the show. Soon some buddies from work and school joined us as we drank to our good fortune and enjoyed the music. Local outfit Book of Lists blew everyone away with some fantastic Jesus and Mary Chain riffs and loads of record shop hype and for once we were all impressed. Apparently some London bigwigs with Warp records were in the room so there was quite a buzz going around. Andrea is convinced the woman who wandered up to her and complimented her as the best dressed woman in the room was among these Warp hipsters so maybe that long waited "Dusty in Memphis" covers album is not too far away Angie!! Hey you've got the look all you need to do now is convince those record company types to put you in a room with some good backroom session musos and enough whisky to keep it real and bam - you have a hit record. Well this argument made much sense on Wednesday night - perhaps the honey lager had something to do with it.

That reminds me - the damn beer here! Sweet beer my friends!? I don't know but having been raised in QLD with beer so profoundly unpleasant one feels truly rewarded just to finish it let alone acquire a taste for it, one feels more than a little short-shrifted with the lack of imagination over here! Honey lager indeed - it shouldn't be that easy to drink god damn it! Anyway, barring Andrea and I no one seems to care. Let's just say Andrea and I will be very happy to return to the land of Coopers and Cascade pale ale for some real beer in the happy month of June so stock the fridge comrades. We're thirsty!

Arab Strap next wandered onto the makeshift stage and launched directly into some truly beautiful twisted Scottish ballads amid the more terrifying guitar assaults. Go out and buy the Last Romance now - very cool and you'll apparently be keeping the singer in beer money and given his appetite I would suggest that he needs some help poor soul. Sings like a demon though - very fun. To Andrea's delight the band dispensed with the sham of the encore and rather played straight through and then marched of the stage with everyone well satisfied at a night's fine entertainment.

With my 9am appointment the next morning I had given up on this drinking business some time earlier in the night. Just can't get the taste for this honey lager business as I said so that makes my alertness at morning meetings a much surer thing. Well Andrea having Thursday's free this semester felt no such restraint and with the crowd clearing out at the end of the night Andrea insisted on one last beer. Well the famous last beer - you know we Duffs invented the fabled "one last beer" so I was having none of this chicanery! This is where the glomesh purse comes in. Andrea's purse attached to her arm, I proceeded to drag Andrea out of the bar led by the aforementioned purse with Angie protesting all the way in pointing out that we appeared to be moving further away from the bar rather than closer. Certain she was right I continued to frogmarch her out of the venue. With uncommon good fortune a cab was waiting right outside and so I was able to bundle her into the vehicle before she got too crazy! Still demanding more beer Andrea pointed out bars on the way home offering any number of compelling reasons why the driver should stop so we might all avail ourselves of a nightcap.

Even at the door to the apartment building she was pointing out all the times I had made her stay out for one last beer - this was a pretty good argument I must say but still we were home and I still had that 9am meeting.

It wasn't until the next morning that Angie conceded that yes I might have been right and one more beer probably wasn't really a good idea. Pity the way this kind of reasonable insight only arrives the next day. Must work on that myself.

That leaves going away drinks on Thursday night and yet more efforts to restrict overly enthusiastic drinking on a school night. You'll all be impressed at my new found restraint! This Canadian air is sure good for the practise of responsibility.

I'll tell you that story tomorrow.