Venues

Hello all!

It is with mixed feelings that I have decided to shut this blog down for the time being. WordPress alerted me that I was coming up for renewal at the end of July, and given the Covid 19 world and skipping the day tripping for the time being, I decided it was wise to focus myself elsewhere.

I wanted to thank all you readers — it has been great interacting with everyone and seeing the responses to my thoughts. If you are interested in continuing to follow me, please check out my website at https://www.leighmacfarlanecreates.com. On the homepage, there is a place where you can sign up for the monthly newsletter and there is also a blog attached to this site which you can follow. I will be moving some of my daytrippin articles over to that blog.

As well, you can check out my Instagram @leighmacfarlanecreates123. I have also recently started a YouTube channel — Leigh Macfarlane Writes — where I share thoughts and tips on writing.

Hope to see some of you on some of these other sites! Thanks again for all the love — stay happy and healthy, all.

Best wishes in the future,

Leigh Macfarlane

 

Road Map of Freckles

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Yesterday was Father’s Day. I’m fortunate to still have both my parents, and so my youngest and I spent yesterday on a socially distant patio visit at my parents place. While getting ready to go, I got sidetracked on my way to the shower and stood naked in front of the mirror in my bathroom tracking the freckles across my body.

I’ve gotten to the age where in the summer, I think about skin cancer. I’ve gotten to the age where this body, which once was a thing of beauty, has frankly seen better days. Yet, yesterday as I ensured that I have freckles not cancer, I found myself immensely thankful for this body where I reside. This body has been used. The marks of my life are a road map of my history.

There are the scars from my two surgeries. There is the tattoo I got to commemorate my University graduation. There are oodles of stretch marks, but as I’ve always said, the lives of four human beings for my figure seems a fair trade. There are my twin ear piercings and the bump of scar tissue where the third piercing closed over. That was at the top of my right ear, and I loved that piercing except that my long hair constantly ripped the earring from my flesh. This was a battle I eventually succeeded. Hair, one: piercing, zero.

My right front tooth is yellow because when I was eight, my brother and I were horsing around in a pool. I tried to jump out the side of the pool, and when he pulled me back in, I smashed my tooth on the cement edge. Well, in truth, that is why the tooth is fake. It is yellow because my dentist aunt was so good at her job that although I was told to get the cap replaced when I turned nineteen, it is still here many years later. Subsequent to this early dental work, I came to hate going to the dentist. That is why I still posses one of my wisdom teeth.

Currently, I have dark roots because for the first and only time in my life, I died my hair with a permanent colour. Mostly, I did this because it was corona-virus stay-cation, and I could. I didn’t think the dark roots thing through. Also currently, there is extra of me to love. That is because three years ago I had several people I cared about die, and I coped by sitting on my couch eating everything in the house and watching vampire shows. Hey, don’t judge me.

On my right knee, there is a tiny scar where I fell at the end of an escalator because I didn’t listen when my dad told me to stop fooling around. I also have his blue eyes, and according to my mother, his nice, firm skin. His white skin.

Yesterday, I stood in front of my mirror thinking about how I never asked to have white skin, but how my life would have been different if that one little detail about my body was different. The biggest difference — beyond the potential pipes of Beyonce or hoops of Jordan or unjust death of far too many — is the simple fact that I so rarely spend time thinking about the colour of my skin or its effect upon my life. Other than making sure the freckles are not skin cancer, I do not often have to think those thoughts.

This body is mine, and it has been used. I am proud of the living I have done in this body, and looking forward to more living yet to come. I can never fully exist outside of the reality of this body’s experiences. That is my road map of freckles, and that means this body is still a thing of beauty.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the hearing in this body. The mind it contains is interested in hearing about your map of freckles, too.

Shaking (Anger so Deep)

Black Lives Matter - Toronto - Black Lives Matter Protesters

There is a lot in the world to be angry about these days. Sometimes I think, on behalf of many Christians I know, what will it be like for them to stand back in years to come and realize they stood on the wrong side of history?

That’s right, I just said that.

I just blocked another Christian from my Facebook account. This happened after I read her most recent post about how Donald Trump is pro-life and pro-Israel and God’s appointed, and that there really isn’t that much racism in America, and people need to stop believing the news, and those Christians who believe in the news and disagree with Trump can kiss heaven goodbye. Okay, I’m paraphrasing. But that was the gist.

Here’s the thing — STOP CONFLATING MY GOD WITH YOUR IDOLATRY. Because I’m calling it like I see it — the way Christian’s blindly venerate Donald Trump is nothing less than idolatry.

If you don’t believe racism exists, you have a right to your blind stupidity. If you believe Donald Trump is truly a good leader who cares about his nation above himself, that is your right. Just stop bringing Jesus into it! Stop.

Just stop.

I am still so angry I am shaking. Today, of all days, on the day when George Floyd is being honored, when people at his funeral are standing for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — which illustrates what a bloody long time that actually is, by the way — do not go spouting your propaganda and calling it faith.

On her wall, I told her I sincerely hope God opens her eyes. I mean that. The irony, of course, is that she isn’t Caucasian. Filipino, I think, married to a Canadian man, so their three lovely children are also not white-skinned. If she and her family have not experienced racism directed their way, I am happy for her. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real. At the very least, what she could accurately say is that she has not experienced much racism here in Canada. Had she stated her beliefs that way, well, you can’t argue with personal experience, can you? But she didn’t.

And I am done listening to Christians express thoughts which denigrate the precepts of love thy neighbour as thyself, and if you’ve done it to the least of these, and the entire story of the Good Samaritan, while suggesting that such stances are an embodiment of any kind of Christian morality or faith. I am fed up.

When are the rest of you brothers and sisters gonna get fed up, too?

I am white – black lives matter is not my experience.

But.

I am human – so black lives matter is my fight.

Rock Bottom Ranch – eBook 5 days free no

Ebook FREE on Amazon March 30,2020 - April 3, 2020

 

 

Originally scheduled for a January 2021 launch, I have decided to release the stand alone romance Rock Bottom Ranch early. I decided to release it in eBook format on Amazon only, and wanted to offer it for free as my little way of contributing in these difficult times. I’m not a doctor or even a grocery clerk, I’m a writer — this is what I have to bring.

I don’t generally launch straight to Amazon, though, and so learned that I can only do a five day free promo. With that said, Rock Bottom Ranch is now available in eBook form on Amazon. It will be free to download from March 30, 2020 until April 3, 2020. Enjoy!

Former Rodeo queen Pearl Robinson made one mistake in life — she married the wrong man. Now, divorced and barren, she is returning to her hometown of Armstrong, BC. She has a new job as an instructor and wrangler at Rock Bottom Ranch — owned and operated by former town bod boy, Tim Wenger. Rock Bottom is a place where troubled teens can find help and comfort through equine therapy. It doesn’t take long for Pearl to catch the vision of Rock Bottom. She has fallen in love with her new job, her new students — and possibly her new employer, as well.

Check out the youtube promo video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEdY4Q50EGk or at my website https://www.leighmacfarlanecreates.com.

Stay well everyone!

Leigh Macfarlane

 

Kelowna: Accidentally the Best Day Off in a Long Time

Today, at Hambleton Art Gallery on Kelowna’s Ellis Street, the owner asked me what I was doing with my day. I told him I was Gallery Hopping, to which he asked if I was in the market, and I sighed, and told him, I wish.

Currently, I work as a barista at Starbucks while furthering my forever career as a novelist. No art purchasing for me. Still, somehow this week the scheduling diva at Starbucks saw fit to give me a three-day weekend, and since earlier this week I finished editing my third novel in a month — effectively accomplishing my January writing target several days in advance — and since this morning I ordered the hard copies of the novel I will be launching in March (The Way of Things – Book Two in the Lakeland Series), I decided to run with the weekend.

On Sunday, I may possibly head to church to hear my son’s new girlfriend sing. In the afternoon, I am heading to UBCO because my daughter is playing on the JR Heat team and they have practice. And Monday I am heading to Vernon to visit my sister and get the tour of her newly purchased home. Which left today free.

I had only one definite goal for my day — head to Kelowna Art Gallery, where I worked last year, to visit Ryan and return the Margaret Atwood book he loaned me. Other than that, my Saturday was a large maybe. Maybe I’d drive over the bridge and go for a walk along the boardwalk in Peachland. Maybe I’d call up a friend and reconnect. Maybe I’d hit up a pub or go dancing. Maybe I’d take my computer on a road trip to some small cafe somewhere with an internet connection to the world. Or maybe I’d wing it.

I picked wing it.

I’d honestly forgotten that I’d need to pay for parking downtown until I popped in at Starbucks on my way to KAG. My need for caffeine has morphed since working for Starbucks. While I waited for my order (Irish Cream Americano, which, unfortunately I did not receive as ordered but didn’t even notice until I was in my car and realized my drink was iced rather than hot but who cares ‘cuz I’m on days off and this is good, too, and caffeine is caffeine and I’m already driving, and boy, that was a good U-turn I just performed — away I go!), I chatted with Dan, store regular and karaoke facilitator, and he told me a story of parking downtown and I went, oi! I’m gonna need change.

It boded well for my gallery visit that after performing a second U-turn (this one a bit scarier by virtue of its occurring on Water Street in haste), I found a perfect parking spot directly in front of gallery doors. Then I stood in a Winnie the Pooh kind of day and waited extensively for the nice french-speaking couple to figure out how to operate the parking metre so I could pay for my spot.

Once inside the gallery, though, it was good times. I got to catch up with my colleagues, and Ryan took me on a private tour of the exhibits. Then he set me loose to explore on my own, and I discovered the new exhibit, F#Minor (or something like that, I forget). In it, the artist has created a board full of amplifier cones of various sizes, each corresponding to different musical settings, and all motion sensitive so that when you hover near (without touching – do not touch the art – even if tempted) you can create a symphony with the wave of an arm. Well! Once I discovered that, I went to town! I had the place to myself (except for the security cams, but whatever), so I went a little nuts.

First, I very politely stepped to the threshold of the art piece. In response, it started to hum. A lovely soprano hit a note and sustained it. Next, piano keys chimed.

I walked to the left, and the tones changed. By the time I made it to the far end of the piece, I had electric guitars wailing and drums and bass throbbing, and I WAS HAVING FUN! To the left, whispered voices and cackling laughter and squealing feedback turned the darkened room I was standing in into the set of a horror flick. AND IT WAS AWESOME!

I’d completed a polite, investigatory circuit, and now it was time to get my money’s worth (ha! I’m still a member. I get in for free.) I ran up the left to a storm of sound. In front of the percussion section, I whirled and twirled and danced, and quite frankly, felt the pagan side of my Celtic ancestry doing its best to surface as I danced in the dark to a throb of sound in a circle under a dark-as-night space.

Then, I let my inner conductor out, and I pointed, and I stabbed, and I stoked up that band one hand motion at a time.

In other words, go see it. You’ll love it.

Stopping in at Hambleton Galleries after visiting KAG was completely a spur of the moment impulse. The art at Hambleton is so completely different from KAG, that I always find them a good pairing. At KAG, the art tends to take cerebral twists. At Hambleton, a lot of local artists are represented, a lot of nature and landscape work is done in various styles. I get off on both, so they both make me happy. Plus, they are a block apart, and once again, I found parking directly in front. So, good times!

Inside Hambleton, I did a fairly quick circuit. I hadn’t paid for my parking this time (hahahahaha City of Kelowna!), and I didn’t want to overly tempt the metre masters with my parking roulette. Still, I took photos of my favourites along with the artists names (I will research them online later), and I fantasized about where I’d place certain pieces in my house after my clearly-needed lottery win. Then I realized, wait, after the lottery win, I will buy a new place with walls better designed to facilitate my obvious need for an art collection, so… But in all seriousness, the work at Hambleton was gorgeous, and I noticed one thing I hadn’t seen before — not only do they have prices listed, they have monthly payment amount suggestions listed. I could actually afford $57 a month for the gorgeous statue of the sun being swallowed by the silhouetted tree’s gnarled arms. And that is a fact which I can’t seem to get out of my head.

I left the art world behind and decided against driving across the bridge. That meant, no Peachland today. Instead, I drove out to the Mission and parked at the beach. Getting out of my car, I was definitely under-dressed for the wind coming in off the lake. Art Gallery clothes are not winds-of-60-km/hr clothes, and I would later read that winds were reaching that level today.

I have a thing for the wind. Always have. For most of my life, I’ve worn my hair long, and there is just something about the feeling that rises up inside my spirit when I am standing, facing into the wind, breathing it in while my hair whips around in cyclones battering my skin like Medusa and her snakes. It is something good. It makes me feel wild, and alive, and invigorated, and somehow settled, internally, all at the same time. It’s a feeling which defies the boundaries of words, which I’ve never managed to satisfactorily capture. But I know it when I feel it. Standing in the wind at the beach, I felt it today.

The surf was crazy, the noise ricocheting around me as it spent itself in temperamental tantrums against the shoreline. That, alone, would not have kept me standing out there in my too-thin shirt. The kite skiers, though, they kept me rooted to the beach long after I could no longer feel my fingers. I took video clips and photos until my phone battery was all but spent, and thrilled to the aerial acrobatics of these — possibly insane — gladiators of the wind. And decided on the spot that someday, an adrenaline junkie kite skier will be a hero in a book with my name on it.

I climbed into my car and cranked the heater while considering my options. The truth was, I wanted to get a little exercise today, and it was simply too cold at the beach to walk. I was close to the Mission Sports Fields, though, and potentially there would be shelter from the wind there, so that became the plan. When I got there, though, I found the path I intended to beat gated off, so I changed course. You can do that when you are on day one of three days off and you are winging it. I drove one driveway further, and parked at the Capital News Building — aka, the library.

I found a spot inside the library where I could charge my phone, and sat waiting for the battery to come back to life. While doing so, I purused the local book stacks (fiction). I picked up one called The Horseman, which turned out to be set in World War 1 (not my thing) so I put it back. I wandered over to Mary Higgins Clark’s selection deliberately, because she died at the age of 92 yesterday. In her obit, which I read in bed this morning while cuddling Lily, it said she wrote about women surviving difficult odds. I didn’t know that. I only remember she wrote about a woman who won the lottery and then became a crime solver. I don’t know. It’s been awhile since I’ve read one of her books. What was interesting to me, though, was learning she started her writing career by looking at her bookshelf and then giving herself permission to write what she liked to read. Kudos, Mary, I did exactly the same thing!

I’d had a low-grade headache all morning, and while in the library waiting on my phone, it finally got past the Slightly Aggravating stage and made it to the This Bites stage. I popped another pill, and when I next stood and discovered I was both mildly wobbly and also nauseous, I remembered that I had as yet forgotten to eat anything other than coffee. I figured pub fries might just do the trick to soak up some of the Advil overdose I might potentially be suffering, and since I knew there was a pub in the Capital News Building, I decided to seek it out. On my way, though, I realized there was a concession stand between the pub and myself, and that seemed a faster route to take. I purchased chicken fingers and a Gatorade, and I wandered.

And next thing you know, I was accidentally standing behind the goalie’s net at what I first thought (due to the jerseys) to be a Kelowna Rockets game (Why is it free? Is it okay for me to be standing here? Nobody’s kicked me out so far, so I guess I’m going to continue standing here and by the way, this ROCKS!). I realized, once the score made it to 13-3 halfway through the second, that this might not be THE Rockets. Do the Rockets have a Junior team? I texted the question to my sixteen year old daughter, source of all pop-culture knowledge. Her response was, look for this guy — photo included in her text — he’s so pretty. I responded, no, he’s not playing. Her response, do their jerseys say WHL? My response, I’ll check next time they slam into the glass in front of me. Answer, no, but the glass held, so all good.

I’m more a bump-set-spike/love-means-nothing kind of athlete than a slam-your-mate-into-the-boards/ punches-for-penalties kind of athlete, so this was both novel and fun for me. I mean, yeah, I’ve been to hockey games before, and I watch it on TV some, but I don’t think I’ve ever stood directly behind the goalie’s net before. It was kind of awesome, actually. The sounds of the game down at that level were unbelievable — and loud. I LIKED IT. The size of these guys was daunting. The speed they were skating at was really something impressive. And yes, they were constantly doing their best to break the glass in front of me with their opponent’s shoulder. And I am such a girl that when they rammed each other into the glass directly in front of me that one time and the sound of the thudding bodies ricocheted like blow-back from a gun and the boards thunked and the glass which was all that was keeping these two monsters from including me IN the game wobbled, I will admit that I took an involuntarily step back and I think possibly closed my eyes. Eek. So much for my career as a sports  photographer!

I stayed to the end of the second period. Then, with my daughter wanting details about who exactly I was watching, I wandered over to the booth some women were manning and asked permission to ask an uninformed question — who am I watching? What level is this? Bantam. Which, I learned roughly translates to fourteen and fifteen year olds. Very large ones. When I mentioned to the women that my daughter was asking, they said, “Just tell her, they all skate. And tell her to stay away from all of them.”

Sound advice, obviously.

I left after that and headed for home and the roast beef I planned for dinner. After eating, I picked Sheena up from the Heat Volleyball game, then Lily and I zonked out on my sofa. I woke up with the headache problem solved, but the new problem of… it’s now 2:42 am and who’s not tired? Me. I’m not tired. But that’s okay, because without planning well, any of it, really, I just had the best day off I’ve had in months. Completely by accident. Thank you, Kelowna!

 

 

 

 

Journeying – Music

I am sitting at the precipice of a new decade, and as I’m sure is the case with many of you, I am feeling contemplative. So contemplative that I just cut and pasted the previous post I had written since I had to accept that I was really writing chapter one of a book, and not a goodbye to the teens hello to the twenties of this century.

Over the past ten years, I have been fortunate to release five cd’s of original music plus a cd of Christmas music. Truth: each album has its strengths and weaknesses. Studio time is expensive, and I was always working around the budget, still, I am proud of each project for its own reasons.

identity – 2012. studio album recorded with Dan Marcelino, Chris Schriek and Joe Harrison at DMA Studios. I play keys. Occasionally guitar. All vocals are mine with the exception of the kids “choir” (Jerome Laroche, Sheena Macfarlane, Thea Ley) on “Save the Children” — about trafficking. I wrote all the songs, the guys made them sound like actual songs. Favorite part of the album? It was the first. Every second for me was charged with joy. What might have been better? I was a brand new guitar player and I sucked. lol. Also, I wish we’d gotten the kids choir a little louder in the mix.

Trusting You – 2013. Studio album recorded with Greg Wenger at The Groove Studio in Vernon. The intention with this album changed, Originally, it was only meant to be a demo I could give the band so they could learn the songs, then I decided to publish and so things changed. Best part of the album? Cover art – me riding the carousel in San Fran while on a school band trip with Alison (my daughter). Also, it represents two different bands. One I sang with plus the first I led. Band one, Me, Joe Harrison, Gordie Harrison, Dan Harrison. Band two, Me on guitar and keys and vocals. Pete Petrescu on drums, Cole Hubscher on bass, Deanna DeCosta, guitar and vocals, Lynne Ivanoff, keys and vocals. Guest spots by my niece Adrienne Alexander on bass, Chris Schriek lead guitar, Alison Macfarlane on flute, and Jon Buller on bass. The worst part of the album? Not my best work. Sorry guys. Better material to come.

Legacy – 2014 (?) Live album. SO MUCH FUN! We recorded this entire album in one five hour session — which shows in my voice by the end of some of the songs. lol. Because we were recording live, I stacked the deck with all my friends plus some super strong extras.  In no particular order – Lynne Ivanoff, Deanna DeCosta, Mary Machibroda, Dave Newland, Karen Wolfe, Chris Schriek, Dan Marcelino, Gordie Harrison, Alisha Margaret, that guy Deanna was seeing, and my daddy, Marlin Kenneth Penner. The best part of this album? I love this project. We were all breaking up. Lynne moved a week later, Karen moved that summer. Things were changing. But, for this one last moment, we were all together and it was a brilliant night — even if some people complained that I gave them too much to learn to fast. Whatever… I love this album because we all just flowed against one another, just ad-libing, vibing off each other, bringing out the best in each other. And mostly, I love that I got to record a duet “Great is Thy Faithfulness” with the most faithful man I know — my dad. All my feelings associated with this album are happy ones. Worst part of the album? Live. Perhaps some takes could have been better in studio. Like, you know, where I sang the wrong words in one song. I mean, not like I wrote it, or anything! Still, all in all, sound quality is surprisingly good.

Joy to the World – 2015 (?) Ten songs, four originals, one remix of Joy to the World. At the time, I was leading in churches and was soooooo sick of Christmas carols. I think I recorded this partly as a form of rebellion, partly as a way of putting my own stamp on some old favorites. Best part of the album? There are some songs I really love. I love my take on Joy to the World, although it’s at the top of my range and now that I am not singing all the time, the vocal cords are not impressed. I love the way the duet with Dan Marcelino — Merry Christmas — turned out. I love The Smile of a Child as a song. Could use a studio quality recording on that one to improve the sound. And I love The Coventry Carol, which I sing acapella in four part harmony — all me. Fun stuff! Worst part of the album? Definitely the sound quality. Since this was never going to be a main project of mine, we recorded in three different formats — on the church sound system, which provided a fuzzy background hum you just gotta love, on Joe’s personal recording gear, which sounded better but still not perfect, and in Dan’s studio. Which rocked. Stupid money. Why do you always have to be a factor that messes with creativity?? Oh, on this album, Joe Harrison, me, Dave Newland, Mary Machibroda, Dave Anthony on Away in a Manger, and Dan the man Marcelino.

Lion’s Roar – 2016. This was definitely my most experimental — thus creative — album. Back in studio in Vernon with Greg Wenger at the helm. Greg gave me a skookum deal on the recording of this baby. Best part of the album? First, that we messed around and tried so much stuff. Second – saxophone, yeah baby! Third, Wings, which I recorded and turned into a video which I gave to my niece when she was going through a hard time. Love that song. Love that sound. Oh, I suppose also the fact that a friend’s partner was having brain surgery, and my friend told me at that time in her life she played the song Quiet Me over and over daily and found strength from it. Yeah, that’s kind of the point, after all. And the very best? Cover art by my dad- Marlin Penner. Hands down. XO dad. Worst part? Trouble in the band. sad face. Some of the memories don’t make me so happy.  Some of the experiments worked better than others. c’est la vie. On this album, Dave Newland, Mary Machibroda, Curtis Kieres (sax, yeah baby), Randy Roberts, Dwaine Alexander (my bro-in-law) and Nolan Basset on trumpet. Special thanks to Greg for the woohoos on Lion’s Roar — he knows what I mean! lol

All In – 2016. To me, this is the best sound I produced — ever. After going to town with all the bells and whistles on Lion’s Roar, I stripped it down for All In. Recorded in the Seburn’s basement studio with Luke Seburn as engineer. The price was right, and Luke, you are and likely always will be by far the most creative musician I have ever met. Point in case — he bought a pair of sterling wine glasses at a thrift store and turned them into percussion instruments… and they are on the album somewhere! I wanted to do an acoustic, sitting on the country back porch vibe-ing album, and this comes pretty close in parts. Courtesy of Paul Seburn doing something amazing to the tuning of my guitar, this album is far and away the best my voice ever sounded. If I do say so myself. Best part of the album? It is as close to the sound inside my head as any of my albums ever got. Also, Mary is recorded singing lead on the song she always liked best of mine — pretty cool. Also, one song I wrote in one night and recorded the next day — swaggy (stealing my daughter’s vocab). Also, on Hand this guy I met plays the spoons. Yep. The spoons. There are also birds and other sampled sounds Luke put in there and Dave plays harmonica and it kind of sounds like a train coming round the bend. I got Luke playing my banjo — whoo baby — he got me playing a legit Hammond B3 organ (hehehehehehe), and, yeah, musically, this one works for me. The worst part? Band broke up a week before the album came out. SUCKED. Not only did I take a big financial hit, but I do have some sad feelings when I listen. Then I go all vain on my voice, and I get over it. As well, mastering could have been louder. To be fair, he offered to redo it. On this one — Dave Newland, Mary Machibroda, Luke Seburn and featuring Ken Riley on spoons!

I learned so many things while pursuing music. Things about myself, such as, I am more in love with creating than with performing. Things about leading, like, it requires humility, the ability to render constructive criticism appropriately, and it takes as least as much work ethic, vision and drive as it does talent. Things about people, for example, supremely talented people will follow a mediocre talent if that talent is coupled with vision and genuine appreciation. I also learned technical things, like singing too close to the studio mic will not sound great on an album, that infusing passion into a song (as a vocalist) is a matter of connecting with the lyric, that it is good to let someone tell you how to hit the high notes better but bad to let them tell you to try to sound like someone else. Plus some other stuff, which, perhaps most significantly of all for me was, it was never only about the music. In the six years I was making albums, I was able to include 49 people on my albums or on stage with me. These people ranged from professional musicians, a couple award winning ones, a couple professional music teachers, to a whole bunch of amateurs of varying skill levels, to children as young as six years old. Musical accompaniments included: Grand piano, Korg and Roland keyboards, Hammond B3 organ, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, various percussion, djembe, electric drum kit, acoustic drum kit, flute, sax, trombone, trumpet, violin, the spoons, harmonica and voices. So many beautiful voices. I loved all of it — and you. Thank you to every person who was involved in the music I made this past decade. People, I have discovered, follow a vision. And when the vision is gone, people will find another vision to follow — myself most of all.

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Shortly before 2019, I started daytrippinwithleighmacfarlane thinking it was going to be a travel blog. There is some of that on here, and there will be more — please, God. The thing I’ve realized in the teens of the twenty-first century is that the journey of life really happens inside. Whether that is a geographical journey or a metaphorical, metaphysical one, the way I interact with events and with people is the real journey which counts.

This past decade has seen so many things in my life. Physical injuries which turned me from an athletic focus to a creative one. Growing pains and joys with my children, who now are well on their way to being self-supporting adults. Spiritual highs and lows. The almost marriage which wasn’t. The deaths of people I love. Jobs jobs and more jobs. I think in the last few years I hold the record for how many different industries one person can work in. Friends who have come in and out of my life and thankfully, the important ones have come back in. So much love and joy and pain and sorrow and growth and hope and dreams… 

And now, I am pursuing another dream — writing.

That is a whole other blog post. Because in 2010, I graduated with a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and since then, I have written two memoirs, a co-authored cookbook, a children’s picture book, a book of poetry, and am now up to eight completed novel manuscripts — four of which were published in 2019.

There have been times in my life where I have jokingly said, I wish God had made me an accountant. Life would be simple and financially secure, and I’d know what each day would hold. Gah! Worst. Plan. Ever.

I am no accountant. I am a creative. And how much more fun is that?!

I am so thankful, at the end of 2019, that God didn’t make me an accountant. People ask me all the time where my story ideas come from, and I can’t answer, because they just come from bumping shoulders with life, from breathing and observing, and experiencing. They are just there. One of my greatest realities is I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO TELL ALL THE STORIES. So, maybe being an accountant looked good to me at one time. Now, though, I am embracing the journey of being a creative — this is me, at the end of 2019, excited for all 2020 will bring.

Including but not limited to:

The Way of Things – April

The Best of Things – July

The Merry Kind of Things – November

Santa’s Surf School – December

And… ???

(stay tuned for future daytripping, both geographical and existential!)

 

Golf, Rodeo and Yorkshire Pudding: Armstrong’s Fairways Bistro

Saturday night.

I’ve just finished up my week at Kelowna Art Gallery on Water Street, downtown Kelowna, and my daughter has requested I chauffeur her out to see a friend in Vernon. It’s been a stressful week because my transmission has died on my car, and the vehicle is sitting in a lot awaiting the arrival of parts. It’s been a fun week, because I’ve had to rent a car for work, and so I am driving a 2019 Hyundai Elantra which has heated seats, Apple Play and amazing gas mileage.

By the time I get Sheena to Vernon, it is 6:30, and my stomach is saying, feed me! I realize that with Sheena elsewhere,  I don’t have to cook. Neither do I immediately need to go home. Darren Bezanson and Fairways Bistro comes to mind.

Some years back, I worked, very briefly, for Darren. My life was overcrowded at the time, and so this ended, but I hadn’t forgotten how delicious his food tasted. His bistro is located at Fairways Golf Course in Armstrong, BC, twenty minutes north of Vernon. I’m already halfway there, and I have the dream-team of gas tanks at my disposal. After two weeks of renting cars, my budget for the month is shot, anyway, how much worse can one dinner out make it? I flip open google on my phone, notice that, yes, I have time to get there before closing. No time like the present, I figure, and crank the wheel north.

It is raining and grey when I pull into Fairways, but this doesn’t stop me from snapping a few pictures of the gorgeous log and stone entrance to the clubhouse. Trees drip around me, and there are puffy white mist clouds snagged on the hills across the street, silhouetted by the storm clouds behind them. Parked on either side of my itsy-bitsy silver Hyundai are serious looking trucks with four doors and King cabs and extended boxes. It’s official — I am now in cowboy country.

Knotted pine vaulted ceilings, thick warm cedar beams, rock work, chalet feel, groomed golf course grounds, high and bright windows with natural lighting. These are just some of the words I jot down as descriptions of the place. In summary — gorgeous.

I am sitting in a dining room that is one hour away from closing, and there are only a handful of patrons still here. Dress code leans towards denim and ball caps, t-shirts and work boots. Brett Kissel’s You’re My Anthem gives way to Jordan Davis’ Singles You Up to Chris Stapleton’s Broken Halos. I may look out of place in my art gallery duds and with my lap top slung over my shoulder, but actually, I am feeling right at home as I look up at the twinkle lights caught in sheer tule netting suspended from the cedar beams of the ceiling.

My stomach rumbles in appreciation of the savoury smells drifting towards me from the realm of the kitchen, and I am scoping out the food on other patrons plates as I contemplate my menu choices. In the middle section of the restaurant sits a table of seniors on what appears to be a double date, their plates heaped high with down-home cooking. Behind me, an attractive man my own age who smiles as I walk by — ‘cuz I still got it, baby — sits with an older man with a handlebar mustache who I suspect is his father. I overhear snatches of their conversation about race horses, and when Shawnee, the waitress, brings their food, both plates are full of meat, gravy and Yorkshire pudding. 

Decision made. I follow their lead and order the roast beef. It arrives mounded on the plate, heaps of meat and a gigantic Yorkshire pudding piled high atop a bed of julienned carrots, green beans and slivered zucchini slices which have been sauteed in butter. This huge meal is smothered in thick brown gravy and topped with crystallyzed onions. The food is piping hot — I can actually feel the heat coming at me without even picking up my fork. Next time, I decide, I will try the salmon. For now, the hearty smells are making me salivate. Come to Momma!

There is so much food here and it is piled so high that it is hard to know how best to attack the meal. Darren has been cooking professionally for 29 years, and has worked in a kitchen since he was 14 years old. Trust me, he knows how to do this right. The al dente veggies, which I try first, positively melt in my mouth. They are tender but firm, not the least bit mushy, and taste absolutely amazing. Next, I take a bite of the cheesy twice baked potatoes, and although they, too, are so so good, they are to my surprise, my least favorite part of the meal. That’s not because there’s a problem with the potatoes. No, they are scrumptious, and with the peel in, I know they are packed with nutrients. It’s just that everything about this meal is so overwhelmingly perfect. By the time I get to the meat and the gigantic Yorshire, my taste buds think they have died and gone to heaven.

Chef and owner, Darren Bezanson, tells me his slogan is Food Made Simple. A carrot, he tells me, should be a carrot — not deconstructed and then told it is a carrot. Well, he has nailed it. I dig into the beef, and it is roasted well done and is so tender it melts off my fork and disintegrates inside my mouth. The Yorkshire is huge and perfect and would have done my British Granny proud. It was fluffy and light, smooth with just the hint of egg in the batter. I devour the entire thing.

Darren tells me that on Prime Rib night, everyone is in awe of the size of the Yorkshire Puddings. This is a personal favourite for the chef. He tells me he creates the menu by getting to know the neighbourhood his restaurant is serving then, with a bit of trial and error, he works up a list of comfort food that isn’t complicated, and that people feel good about trying. Fairways Bistro has been open for five years, and although they are currently a seasonal business, the goal is to operate year round. They want to be more restaurant than clubhouse in the future.

For my visit, I decide to be a wanna-be food critic, and in order to do so, I get a take out box, then order dessert without eating my full meal. For dessert, I select the Brownie Cheesecake, and when it comes out looking like a layer of brownie topped by a layer of cheesecake, topped by a scoop of homemade ice cream drizzled with caramel topping, everything inside me wants to stand up and cheer. Since it won’t make the trip home, I eat all the ice cream, and honestly, it is so fantastic that a scoop of ice cream alone would have been a completely satisfying end to the meal. But, as a dutiful food critic, I force myself (This is a lie. I attack it like I might never get a chance to eat ever again.) to sample the brownie cheesecake before packing it up in a second to go box.

I tell myself I will eat the contents of both boxes for lunch the next day. Of course, none of the food will make it through the night. It did make for one amazing midnight snack, though. I decide then and there that in the interest of not weighing three hundred pounds, I am giving up my food critic aspirations.

Check out Fairways Bistro.  You can find more information including menu and driving directions at their website https://www.fairwaysbistroandcatering.com. Every Friday night is Prime Rib Night, and Father’s Day Brunch is happening June 16th from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. The location is great, and the food is well worth the trip.

Thanks, Darren, and Fairways. I will see you again soon!

 

 

 

 

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