Friday, 13 August 2010

All red in the face

Brilliant sunshine, hot, temps 28

Gorgeous day!!! Yesterday was hectic and tiring, but let me tell you a little about it. Started with our last breakfast at the fabulous A Place by the Sea. then frenzied packing - and Nancy came and got us for the cruise - which was captained by her husband Shay (pronounced Shy). He was wonderful...very funny, passionate, knowledgable, and we had great confidence in him. He's from Israel - was 6 years in the army - now has 2 grown sons and wanted to get them out before they had to serve. He speaks his mind and has a wonderful sense of humour. He's alos a real estate agent. I think HGTV should send a crew and build a show around Shay and Nancy - their luxury B and B on a rugged coast of BC, their cruises, and his real estate escapades. I'd watch.

We went down the bay and up Salmon Arm and it was exquisite, as you can see by the wind-blown photo. It really is a blessing I have no sense of personal aesthetics. Good hair, bad hair, flat hair, facial hair, no hair - I don't care.

Talk about rugged...fortests right to the shore. And every now and then an isolated cabin. And, like the hermit's cabin in The Brutal Telling - a big part of me yearned to ask Shay to drop us off and we'll just live there. Quietly. Peacefully.

I suspect Michael would have something to say about that! And I suspect that while I dream of such a thing, the reality might be quite different. But for a week? Ahhh.

As you might be able to see, too, I didn't put a hat on fast enough, nor did I think to do the now I'm beet red - an unbecoming blush. I arrived back at the dock with hair both flattened and standing up in areas, and a face as red as a glorious sunset. And a smile to shame the Buddha.

Both Michael and I had just the best time. Nancy had made this wonderful, endless, lunch which we ate on the upper deck. Smoke salmon spread, cheese, vegetables, an assortment of gourmet crackers, deviled eggs (which I adore) - then smoked salmon sandwiches, with mango of all inspired combination - and a gorgeous plate of fresh fruit - cherries, strawberries, peaches, oranges. Yum.

Honestly - what an astonishing life. Because of you. Yes, I mean you. Because you're supporting the books. It's only because of that that we're invited to wonderful festivals in divine places, Like the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

Nancy drove us to the Driftwood - and the good luck continued! Our room is actually very nice...newly renovated, clean, and right on the ocean...we went to sleep with the sound of the waves on the shore 20 feet away.

So, I owe the driftwood an apology for my last past. This isn't a dump. And besides, the staff here is wonderful - very friendly despite it being fully booked and very active.

Had the cocktail last night - the terriific Lonnie and Susan picked us up for that, and Susan brought some homemade banana bread - which didn't last long, I'll tell you!!! Then, I'm embarrassed to admit, Michael and I were just too tired to do Lawrence Hill last night - so we came home, crawled into bed with a diet coke and some peanuts - and read. Lights out by 10pm.

Breakfast and a walk along the shore this morning...the top photo was taken then by a very nice passerby. Then off to the festival. We are really having just the best time here. We arrived to hear Adam Schroeder read from several of his works. he was brilliant! Even sang a song. Loved it. Then met Gwen Southin and her husband Vic for lunch - did a sound check, then it was our turn. Or really, her turn. I was just asking the questions.

Now, in my experience of quite a few literary festivals, the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts is unique in several ways. It has only one author 'performing' at a time. Often festivals have what they call 'streams' and there are two or three of them, so you need to choose and it can be frustrating when you have competing desires. Here there is only on stream.

And the venue is magnificent. Made of wood, with great tree trunks holding it up, built in the forest with two sides open. It holds 450 people, and is always full. As a writer, when you do an event you often consider yourself luck if 100 people show. Often it's empty!!! But the idea that 450 people will be there is amazing. And perhaps just a little frightening. But everyone is just so friendly.

Gwen is 83. She has 4 books out, beginning with Dead in a Family Way, published when she was 73. And the latest, Dead as a Last Resort just out. She's also the co-author of the Great Canadian Literary Cookbook....and a co-founder of this festival 27 years ago. Like the other women who founded it, she spent most of the first years in the kitchen! And described sweeping up long after everyone else had gone home.

It was such a privilege to be asked to interview her on stage this afternoon - and to look out and see 450 beaming faces - people there to celebrate what this woman had achieved....creating the festival, and then going on to be one of the featured authors! Deeply moving.

Then, as though that wasn't enough, at the end of the event, Jane Davidson, the fabulous director of the festival, came on stage with a glorious bouquet of flowers....from Gwen's husband of 65 years, Vic. Well, we were all in tears. As she said, no one achieves what she has without a husband who is a true partner.

There's a photo at the top of Gwen and me at the cocktail last night. She's standing straight, and I'm bending down...doing our imitation of a totem pole!

How lucky, lucky, lucky I am.

Doing my event at 9am tomorrow - then a local book club has generously offered to host a pot luck for Michael and me, then Lonnie and Susan will pick us up and take us to the ferry. 45 minutes boat ride back to Vancouver...then airport limo to the airport and the red-eye home. Hurrying home to see Jacques and Louise!!!

Speak to you tomorrow, perhaps...not actually sure when I'll get a chance...but will try.


Darlene said...

How amazing that you could give us such a full report after such a long day. Sounds wonderful, but wearing. Thank you.

Diane said...

Awesome post, thanks. To be surrounded by all that beauty, and all those beautiful people, let alone all that food! A real blessing. Travel safe home.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Darlene and Diane,

Thank you! It's been such fun. Hope you've enjoyed the trip.

Ottawa Susan said...

Just when I think Michael has reached the apex of his "best look" - - - in the baby blue Beetle --- he lands another stunning sartorial coup. The man looks like he's lived his life at sea, or on a beach!

And I think you look darling with the sun-kissed look & wind blown hear. Not quite your usual English Rose style, but very suited to the Sunshine Coast.