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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Star-Crossed 

Only days after my loving bike club gave me the award for best crash ("Favell's Famous Folly": I got it for going 2/2 on inviting people to the ride and having them wipe out on my rear wheel) the namesake of the award crashed on our club ride and broke his hip, not that long after coming back from breaking his other hip.

The rest of the ride was not nearly that bad, but still sucked. Three hours of heavy Fall rain exposed considerable issues with my riding gear, the ride dwindled to me and two others as everyone else either gave up or was taking care of the fallen rider, and I managed to flat twice on the ride. After the second flat, I couldn't fix the holes in my tubes due to a combination of the rain making patching tricky, not being able to find the holes at the side of the road, and a growing distractedness as I got colder and wetter. I eventually gave up, walked a mile or so to the nearest fried chicken joint, ate a meal, and was still unable to fix the problem. So I gave up some more, and started walking the mile or two back to my car, until I came upon Cables & Cogs, a friendly, repair-oriented shop. Inspired, I popped in, bought a new tube, picked up a cheap-and-cheerful clear plastic rain jacket (worn by the pros because they're impermeable and let the sponsor logos show through) for $20, and they let me change the tire in the comfort of the shop floor, using their pump. Successful at last, I carried on and got back to the car after the usual stop at Bon Ton for some pastries (The Lovely One favours the Philippine; I am more changeable).

Sure, I was wet and cold, had seen a comrade badly injured, and was completely gutted by the ride, but pastries!

After retrieving TLO from her office, we went on a cultural excursion: off to the Heffel Gallery, since they were exhibiting a rather unusual Emily Carr canvas prior to its auctioning.

This particular canvas was noteworthy in that the main painting was a respectable oil of an Arbutus tree, but the back side of the canvas had a surprise waiting for restorers under a wash of black paint: an early portrait by Carr, apparently the earliest-known oil portrait by the artist (Carr was never famous as a portrait painter, but made her reputation with dramatic coastal landscapes), and possibly a self-portrait.

To my eye, the portrait was not only very good, it was a better painting than the arbutus tree.

The rest of the auction was to consist of high-end Canadian art: you got your other Carrs, your groups of Group of Sevens, and then your deservedly obscure artists. I saw some things I liked (the Carr portrait, a painting by E.J. Hughes, whose work I had previously seen an enjoyed in an exhibit in Victoria, miscellaneous others), and some very, very bad art. We're talking can't-draw-hands figures, sloppy landscapes, and tried-their-best Picasso imitations which finally suggested to me that Picasso might have talent, at least relatively speaking. Our home has four very simple flower still-lifes on the wall, all done by TLO's grandmother. I think I can say without sentimental judgment that I liked the best of grandma's work better than at least half of the paintings at the gallery. Our art shows an eye for composition and the hand of an artist with considerable skill; one of the gallery paintings looked like a miniature impressionist landscape done with a brush held between the artist's teeth.

But the bad art was eclipsed by the stuff I liked, so it was a grand visit.

And since we serendipitously parked in front of the Girl Guide shop, we stopped in and bought some cookies.

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