When Jody Comes Home

JWR Opens Up

The site took rare advantage of an opportunity to re-visit the University Women’s Club of Vancouver in my old Shaughnessy hood on McRae there at “Hycroft”, courtesy of an invite from the Liberal Party of Canada.  The Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Vancouver Granville was taking a meet and greet with constituents in the lower ballroom of the venerable old institution, site of many weddings over the years.

The last time I’d been here was some years ago to attend a wedding.  It was a fine wedding with all the pomp you’d expect of a wedding at Hycroft and the marriage lasted one year.

Many are the memories of me tricycling around “The Crescent” when we lived close by before Dad had to go to jail and our family became destitute.  The Crecsent was lined with cars tonight but we found a spot not far from the venue and eased in our beautiful old car.

We’d thought first to walk up from our residence down the hill several blocks but with the threat of rain, a threat we took seriously, the car it was.  I had my own, personal reasons for coming to a thing like this.  Not only had I voted for Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last federal election but I had never been to anything like this before in my life and I was curious.  And it was Hycroft.  In my old Shaughnessy.

I’d had invitations before to functions like this because I’m a pretty important person to the Liberal party.  I give and no donation is too small, which is a good attitude.  In a fit of reverie one lost night I’d thrown the party a fiver in hopes they’d call off their dogs and stop hectoring me for a donation.  It didn’t work but I guess that’s politics.

And politics can be good in minute doses infrequently, and in my case, very infrequently. And this was a case of that.  And she was with me.  My consort had attended that old Hycroft wedding and had also voted for Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last federal election.

It must be admitted we were also here because our MP was a pretty important person and one who had also recently experienced some pretty intense, career-altering events.  These events, as everyone knows, have been all over the news all over the country.  Jody Wilson-Raybould, until recently, was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the reason she was no longer in that fine position, to a lot of people, had some unseemliness attached to it.   A lot of controversy had erupted and, you guessed it, politics.

So it sounded like fun and we both had the evening off and it would be an opportunity to be in close proximity  to the very public person of The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville.

Even though the event is more than two weeks ago the Honourable Member’s saga won’t die.  It wasn’t dying before the event either.

It was a good-sized crowd.  There was wine and beer at the bar by donation and most people from what I could see were donating a fiver.  I didn’t see what brand of beer was on offer but the only wine label I could see was “Oculus”, a retail $135 a bottle red Bordeaux-style from Mission Hill in the Okanagan.  Everybody knows that.  We took two modestly filled glasses from the barkeep for a fiver each and were well pleased with our adventure.

Occupying seats against the wall near the grazing table it was scant minutes before a nice gentleman in his mid-forties, impeccably dressed in business caj and sitting to the right of my partner initiated conversation with her.  I wasn’t close enough to hear exactly what he was saying above the hubbub prior to the start of the show but it turned out he must have surveyed the cut of my Kitten’s jib and deemed her harmless and was sharing a few jokes with her.  Something about lobsters and surfing or something.

He was most pleasant, a largish white guy with french cuffs, monogrammed, and nice looking links on his sharp, blue stripe shirt under the dark blue jacket below which, right again, were blue jeans.  He’d introduced himself and we’d done the same but his name blew right past me and I didn’t catch it.

It developed that he was a member of the legal profession, had worked in Ottawa but was now back home working downtown.  I gathered he’d been a supporter of the federal Liberal Party for some time, but then, in reality, so had we with the one difference that up until tonight we had pretty much been closet liberals but not our  jovial friend.

I always wonder in a crowd if I’m going to run into somebody I know.  It happens, right? So it was gratifying to see Leslie Hurtig happen by.  Leslie and I are old friends and contacts from the book business.  These days she’s doing an excellent job as artistic director of the Vancouver Writers Festival.  We chatted a second, joking about marriages at Hycroft and other stuff.

The constituency president came to the podium and said a few words then a middle aged gentleman in a light grey suit took over and introduced Jody Wilson-Raybould to the assembled multitude to enthusiastic applause.  But not before mentioning that the event was being held on the land and traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Jody Gets down. Baldy guy unknown

She looks just like she does on TV and in the newspaper.  Exactly the same and her visage, as above, has been splashed all over everywhere these weeks.  Jody Wilson-Raybould comes across as a very solid, down-to-earth person but no less a polished professional at ease at centre stage.  She was relaxed.  One of the first things she said was the acknowledgment that we were on traditional territories meant a lot to her hearing it.

That revised my opinion somewhat that this statement regarding First Nations “traditional territories”  heard at the beginning of just about any event of any sort now was already in a state of tiresome cliché with barnacles of political correctness all over it.  The Honourable Member is First Nations herself.  I already knew that and that she’d done a lot of growing up here but she brought the message home somehow.

She said she’d been in politics five years and had been drawn to the idea of doing politics differently, which, as everyone knows, was a campaign concept from 2015.  Jody added that she was also drawn to an idea of, “non-partisanship to grapple with the serious problems we face.”  And that, “The last five weeks have been hard on me and my family.”

I don’t know why, but I felt myself choking up slightly because with those words Jody Wilson-Raybould  got choked up just very slightly herself for an instant.  I know it’s difficult to believe the hard-assed administrator of samoyeddogs.net has feelings but I was thinking here is a human being.  This is the person, not the TV and newspaper packaged semi-cardboard cut-out for consumption.

The member for Vancouver Granville said she’d been very proud to be the minister of justice and attorney general and proud to be the minister of veteran’s affairs.  There were a few more words.

Photo Op Post Address

And that was more or less it.  We strode purposefully up the stairs and out into classic grey month of March twi-nite Vancouver rain.

The Abandoned Old Auberge

Not even that old really. 25 years?  The whole thing’s been defunct for at least 5.  The ghosts of failed winemakers haunt it.  But it’s probably the greatest place to get free rosemary in town and there isn’t even a town around here.  Those green bushes there.

Grandiose schemes.  We’ve seen it before.  As I think Wolverton said, “They made a wasteland and called it bankruptcy”.  I may be misquoting.  This patch of ground could never make enough wine to make the place profitable.  Some say that was the plan. Rumours.

Intruder In The Dust

Those are all vines stretching way back there up the hill and the vineyard goes as far in the other direction all the way down to Thompson Park, as it’s called these days.  The whole thing used to be just one big cattle pasture.  Indeed.  Je me souviens.

The grapes still grow on the vines year after year but they just hang out turning into raisins in the sun.  Nobody tends them.  Pinot noir mostly.  I think they grew some riesling down here too.  The machinery’s all just sitting around in the yard getting old.

It’s not a wasteland of course.  It’s a fine, beautiful quiet place and there is nobody around. Comes complete with 10,000 square foot winemaking building in aluminum and steel, just sitting here like everything else.  You can drive down on a narrow, steep, slightly hairy piece of road that was built to get to the winery.  Before that, yes, in the old days, in former times, you had to take the trail down here or come in by water via the beach.

It’s the poetry of abandoned places.  The call of ruins.  The Auberge could be fixed up.  It needs paint and some of the siding’s falling off but it still has potential, but potential for what?  There’s nobody around.

I know.  An artist’s colony.  First ten million bucks takes, or whatever you got.  Get a bunch of artists down here being creative and getting drunk and arguing and fornicating and burning the place down and maybe producing some art, maybe not.  Great idea.

At one time you could get a glass of wine and something to eat at the Auberge but not any more.  The chairs are long since stacked and there’s been nobody behind that bar in many moons.  Sayonara.


Our net admin lit up the board earlier with the site has passed 100,000 subscribers, many of them living, breathing human beings who aren’t afraid of digging down.  You just never know what you’re going to find.  This is huge.  I’m starting to finally believe that people are finally starting to realize what I’ve been saying all along: I didn’t quit.  I was fired.  Thank u. It felt good, Mike.

That’s right.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Southern Belle 2013

DSCN0202 That’s right. ‘Pastoral scene of the gallant south/ the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth’.  I remember that one.  It’s funny the associations you make with some of these McLaren Vale stand-outs.  McLaren Vale

I’ve no idea, but the name for this brilliant shiraz may have something to do with it’s being placed in oak barrels previously containing Kentucky bourbon. Just sort of sleeping in there for a bit.  I like bourbon.  So it nailed it with me.

“Fruitatious” is a word I’ve just invented.  I like it better than “Fruit forward”, which is just the beginning of what this blast of Aussie joy-juice can do for you.  And it’s a whopping 16% alcohol by volume.  Bejeezus, mate.  Stand clear. DSCN0203This James Jean guy is terrific.  James Jean  Talk about designer labeling.  This is a well-capitalized wine.  The Belle Dame carries in her raiment the skulls of her defeated suitors.  As they used to say in the south, and still do, “It is a fine day, sir.”

These images are a bit out of focus and that’s good to remember.  They got that way honestly.  The bottle is empty.  I’ve been to Mclaren Vale and it’s a nice little Vale.  No.  I haven’t been there.  I meant to say it sure would be cool to get down to the hot south and visit Mclaren Vale in old Australia.

‘Strange Fruit’, the work from which the above quotation is taken, was originally a poem written by Allan Lewis, whose real name was, apparently, Abel Meeropol.  Billie Holiday recorded it in song on April 20, 1939.  It was a hit.

It still is.  Thanks for stopping by.