Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hostess with the mostest

On Day 2 of the Olympics 3/4's of our family drove to Whistler - to watch TV.

But how could you not? There are TVs everywhere you look, inside & out.
Every plaza & town square, every store, pub & fast food restaurant is wired for the big show. Coming out of the washroom at an Indian restaurant where I'd popped in for a pee-break, Kim grabbed me & whispered "You have to buy something, I don't want to miss the rest of this event." I was ready for a pot of Chai tea anyway and the waiter let Shea have the last strawberry-banana lassie that he'd hidden away for himself.

We watched the very first gold medal win of 2010 standing at the base of the mountain, on a TV screen the size of a small house.
See those clouds, chopping off the mountain at it's feet? That's why the men's downhills were postponed. That and the relentless drizzle that started later and kept the weathermen their jobs by fulfilling their forecasts.

From an Irish pub we watched three Korean speed skaters almost win the top three places, until one of them hit the boards just before the finish, taking one of her teammates with her.
Yup, we drove 2 hours to sit in a pub very similar to the one 1/2 a block from home and watch on TV an event happening 10 minutes from our house.

But it was worth it. The Sea-to-Sky highway was almost empty, only a few buses and official Olympic vehicles, and us, on the road. (We had a borrowed resident's pass) The weather, at first, was spectacular. Kim was kicking himself for believing the negative forecasts and leaving the skis at home. I had to keep reminding him that it was promised to get worse.

We had a mission to find Shea some new ski gloves so hit every single sports shop in Whistler (wait, don't we do that every time we go there anyway?) and some galleries.
One of our favourites, Gallery Luminaura, a glass gallery at the Chateau Whistler, had just received Dale Chihuly's new 2010 line of pieces. They got them before anyone else in the world because, well the whole world was going to be at Whistler wasn't it? They are amazing, I could easily have brought a couple home with me, except for, you know, that money thing.
Across the hall from the glass gallery is the gallery where I first fell in love with Francis Solar's woven metal pieces. They had a good collection of dolls they had commissioned from Kate Church for the occasion: quirky winter athletes and a whole herd of wacky spectators, all wearing those red mitts. And selling fast, judging by the number of red dots. "Look Kim, polymer clay in a gallery of this calibre! We are gaining some respect in some places"

Walking through Whistler Village, you really could tell that the world had come to visit: athletes, tourists and media people from all over the world, everyone in coordinating outfits, displaying their country or reason for being there. The coolest were the TV France guys we kept bumping into in their tres chic black down jackets, (OK, that's the limit of my high-school french) although Shea's favourites are still the Czech athlete's jackets.

What a festive atmosphere, and live music everywhere. We did manage to see a short set by the Great Lakes Swimmers and most of (darn, can't remember the name, will have to fill it in here when it comes back to me) before the rain started to soak through our jackets into our bones and we had to squelch back to the car for the long drive home. This is how Vancouverites enjoy outdoor concerts. Shea says the music really does sound better in the rain.

Here's me and Shea, who was mistaken once or twice for Sean White, the red-haired US snowboarder, even though Shea still needs a few more inches of hair to be a contender for the gold in "best hair".

Oh, one last thing. To all of you in the rest of Canada: if you've ever considered committing a crime, now is your chance.
Right now, when every single cop in the country is here, in Whistler or Vancouver.

Monday, February 8, 2010

TheTorch and the Torched

My Mom dropped by the other day:
Mom: "I saw the schedule for the Olympic Torch Relay and it's going down your road on Tuesday at 5:30.

Me: "Right past my house? So we're going to have crowds of people standing in our driveway watching it? Hmmm, it's not something I'd normally go out of my way to see but if it's going to be literally on our doorstep I guess that means we should have a little Torch Relay Party on Tuesday."

"Yes, I think you should. I've already told my Tuesday bridge group that we could all come here straight from bridge."

"So. You came over to tell me you've already started inviting people to the party you hadn't yet told me I'm having."
Why am I not surprised?

Later that day a neighbour came by to invite us to the "Torch Relay Block Party" their townhouse complex is having. I told her their party had just expanded it's boundaries since I'm (apparently) having one too.

While I've never believed that hosting the Olympics is a good thing for Vancouver & BC, even before those American bankers broke the economy, it is hard to resist getting caught up in the excitement.
Especially when even a trip to the grocery store becomes an Olympic event. At the checkout to one side was an "Official Timekeeper" while on our other side was a group of Russians in matching grey warm-up suits. I wonder if it's Olympic regulations that everyone involved has to have a large label across their back letting everyone know where they're from or what their job is?

In honour of the Torch Relay I'll show you some things I 'torched' myself.
Sad isn't it?
This lumpy black cratered specimen WAS a very pretty turquoise, lacy-patterned pin.
I really liked it.
Enough that I wanted to wear it, so I put a pin-back on it right away and popped it back in the oven with some other things.....

Oh, dear. These were such a lovely purple, cream & gold.
I covered some of the tea containers that hold my tools in my studio with some nice-looking sheets of scrap clay.
Not so nice-looking now.
They actually look much better in the photos than in real life because the harsh lighting shows up the pattern that in normal light just looks dark, sooty and charred.

I've never done this before. Of the hundreds of pieces I've cured, (thousands if you count my beads) I've had a few come out slightly scorched before but never pushed the polymer clay to the extreme, to this bubbling, charred, lumpy, stinking, lava-like mess.
Thank goodness I have a good range hood fan. In fact it's so powerful that the salesman wouldn't even sell it to me until I'd assured him that we had a make-up vent (A what? Oh, is that what that vent in the pantry is for that we couldn't figure out what on earth the ducting guy was thinking when he installed a vent in the pantry?) so that when the fan is running it doesn't create a vaccuum in the house that could cause the entire house to implode.

To be honest, this oven disaster could have been worse.
I mean I've been using naked tea containers for years so do you think I'm going to care that instead of saying "Tetley Earl Grey" my tool canisters now say "volcanic eruption"?
And my lovely heart pin? At least it was only one, not that whole week's worth of work I baked the day before. Besides, I'm wearing the blackened pin now - on my black sweater. Very subtle.
I kind of like it, even though it's nothing like what I intended. You must be flexible about these things. (or you WILL lose your mind).

It's now my "un-Valentine heart".