“The Cucumber Tree”

May 3, 2011

I’m a little behind with my blogging so I am only now reporting on a meeting of the Vancouver Historical Society which we attended last Thursday night.   On the last Thursday of most months they have a presentation lecture on a subject of local historical interest.

Last Thursday, Bob Ross took us through “The Cucumber Tree,” his excellent memoir of growing up in Kerrisdale and the Fraser River Flats in the 1940s and 1950s.  It was interesting to listen to what childhood on the almost rural westside was like in those years.  It was so very different from the more industrial inner-city environment that was the lot of those on Commercial Drive.

I’m giving the January lecture by the way. Oddly enough it will be about some parts of my “The Drive.”

I’m Back!

March 30, 2011

Where have I been? Here, of course; but my mind has been elsewhere — mostly on the final details of getting my “The Drive” published. This is the cover.

Now that I have gone through a couple of Proofs and the necessary edits, I can pretty much push the Publish button anytime.  However,  I’ve been fussing with email lists, drafting a release letter, getting review copies sent etc etc. I have to follow up on what Amazon needs from me by way of websites, previews etc. With luck I will publish on or about April 15th.

Deathly Hallows At The Rio

December 6, 2010

We went to the movies yesterday afternoon, to see the latest Harry Potter film.  I am not a big Potter fan; I’ve seen a few of the films and read none of the books.  But the Boss has read them all and seen every one of the movies. She loved it, thought it was just great.  It certainly was well made, but I would have had no idea of the plot without having at least seen the first couple of films. As it was a lot of the background story passed me by.  Still, it was good to be out together.

We went to the Rio at Commercial and Broadway.  The last time we were there was ten years ago when we went to see a documentary about the D’Arcy Island Leper Colony, and the seating was fold-up chairs.  Now, I am happy to report, the Rio has wonderfully comfortable seats, perfectly good for a nap if your mind wanders.

I was also very impressed by the efforts they have made to get local small business to advertize between shows.  The Van East Cinema could learn some useful lessons from them.

Waazubee Is Gone

November 3, 2010

I was walking along the Drive today and was saddened to see that the Waazubee Cafe has closed.

Ten years ago, we held our wedding reception there; and before that, since it opened, I had been a fixture near the front, writing hundreds of thousands of words in long hand and drinking way too much of their house red wine.  However, we haven’t been there very often over the last few years and no doubt that — along with similar withdrawals by others — helped contribute to its closure.  For us, the main problem was that we moved from Graveley Street, just a block from Waazubee, to the north end of the Drive where other restaurants were more convenient.  The lack of a real patio, and the constant trucks servicing Triple A Produce, didn’t help either.

Still, I am sad to see it disappear along with some great memories.

Carthage Cafe

October 14, 2010

Carthage Cafe at 1851 Commercial has been open for a while now, a couple of years or more, but I hadn’t had the chance to visit there until today.   A friend who shares a birthday with me in October invited me for lunch and we settled on the Carthage which he has visited several times before.

I have passed by the Cafe scores of times and had never really formed an impression of what it might be like.  But I was still surprised and pleased to find an elegantly dressed and furnished haute Parisian cafe, with decoration that hinted at the warmth of North Africa.  Pleasant saxophone jazz played in the background.  Sparkling silverware and glassware was set on purple and white table linen, and every table was graced with a generous vase of fresh flowers.

Business was light over a rainy lunch hour, but the service was very friendly with good information conveyed about the daily specials.  The menu is short, with mussels or couscous as their signature dish, each with an attractive set of optional Tunisian flavours.  My friend had the daily omelet with salad, and I ordered the Croque Monsieur (to help me relive memories of my youth in Paris.)  It is hard to review a restaurant’s menu over a single meal but both our dishes were perfectly executed and that augers well.

Prices were at standard Drive level, with appetizers at $7 to $10 and entrees between $13 and $18.

I’m already looking forward to my next visit and if you are in the neighbourhood, give it a try.


People’s Co-op Bookstore

September 25, 2010

I have lived on Commercial Drive for twenty years, and I’ve been a member of the People’s Co-op Bookstore almost as long.  Local bookstores, well-run, add depth, freshness and a certain intellectual frisson to any neighbourhood. The collectively operated People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial has done all that for decades.

Although I have been a member for a long time, work and life commitments have previously kept me from being involved in any way other than the occasional purchase.  Now that I have more free time, I thought the least I could do was attend the store collective’s Annual General Meeting last night, and I was glad to find that about 30 other people had been willing to come out on a chilly evening to support the store.

Like many businesses, the last few years have been tough, but the bookstore — supported by a tiny staff and a core of dedicated volunteers, and specialising in social justice, environmental issues and local authors — has survived and there is hope for the future. The store has become a centre for book launches in Vancouver, they are active on Facebook and Twitter (@coopbooks), and have become involved in a number of outside events — good for PR and fund-raising, including Word On The Street tomorrow.

I’m glad I went to the meeting and hope to stay more involved.  If you happen to be on the Drive anytime, stop in the bookstore and take a look around.


September 23, 2010

Greenscape” found at Commercial & Venables.


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