Thursday, July 04, 2024


We have been planning around a quick trip up to Vancouver, BC... 170 miles north of us, just over the Canadian border.

Conspiring with us is our long & deep friend & god-buddy, Malcolm, who lives in Port Townsend, which is closer, but requires a ferry. It became a complicated dance of four guys living in numerous places on lively schedules! 

We intend to visit another soul mate named Sequoia, who has been creating & reinventing his life due to health. He has just published his autobiography, titled DIVINING DESIRE.

This will be be the virgin crossing using my new passport... renewed after lapsing during Covid-19. It feels good to be traveling wider again! 

We left our condo Friday mid-morning driving I-5 after its very busy rush hour,  to arrive at an acquaintance of Stephen, who allowed us to park our car & meet Malcolm, who'd offered to drive us up in his Tesla. 

Not being a driver anymore, I was happy to retire into the back seat, having a driver... plus a spare! 

Checking into EXchange, our LEED-certified hotel began an interesting experience on many levels. First, because LEED is acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, we felt we were honoring our many efforts to be good environmental citizens.  

Next because the building...the old Stock Exchange... hence it's name... is only one of many older buildings in the long bustling urban core of a historic city which preserves its earlier historic street-scape by requiring such buildings to retain at least part of the the original facades. 

We'd been given rather complicated instruction how to park... first for finding the entrance well down a one-way alley with an obviously temporary plywood structure hovering 'round the view as we began descending several steep tight loops, passing ample charging outlets for EV, like the one we are in... comforting & later useful. Then up to the modern building's dizzily wavy-tiled lobby before finding a turn into the original interior elevator lobby with its colorful terracotta-tiled  ceiling, which served only the few floors of the hotel. Finally we found welcome at the reception desk. 'Twas already a minor adventure, clothed as potential predicament.

Malcolm is a builder, so he & I were fascinated with all this mixed architecture. He later discovered a model in the new lobby which helped us understand the project better.

 Our room was fine, except for the wallpaper, printed to mimic or imply something like an detail from a stock certificate[?], but at a scale conjuring mostly sloppy stucco.

I cannot resist sharing Oscar Wilde's quote, often reputably from on his deathbed, as "Either this wallpaper goes or I do.” but what he actually said was, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death.

We dressed to meet Sequoia at his apartment, well located 5 floors up from a hillside cul-de-sac above Stanley Park, where he's lived for 20 years. We had fresh vegetable rolls which Malcolm brought from the Chimacum farmer's market he helped create some years ago. I especially appreciated that they'd been garnished from the inside with toasted sesame seeds before being rolled around the filling. Malcolm is entrepreneurial as well as a true farm-foodie!

Sequoia invited us to one of his favorite nearby restaurants & we were seated in a room open to the sky. Our delightful server's name was Miriam... with sparkling Egyptian eyes. 

A lovely reunion in deep camaraderie. We all have long history of sharing many of Soundcliff's fabled Thanksgiving feasts. 

We had packed with the forecast of probable rain, planning to spend the day retreating in the UBC Museum of Anthropology, but easily rejoiced in a glorious Saturday. 

Additionally, it happened to be the re-opening day of the museum's renovation of its renowned architecture, by Arthur Erickson.  Much of its famed glass facade had not been originally built to the architect's design & was found to be vulnerable to seismic failure. That lofty transparent space perfectly housed the collection of tall totem poles originally sited in the First Nations' coastal fishing villages. 

It was explained that the youngsters were learning the traditions in situ...

Canada has wrestled with its indigenous population with more remedial attention, if still too-late, than have we in the US, where they are still usually called "Indians"... The new signage acknowledges a series of navigational, geographic & linguistic errors.  Ah, the hubris of white men, living on in ever-destructive delusions of superiority! "Sad," as one currently visible adherent pretense to great superiority that might say. 

 Stephen & I joined a short tourof the new space, being given by the director of the museum... an erudite well spoken woman who explained the care with which these poles were ceremonially "put to sleep" by members of the First Nations' people to be stored horizontally before the building's glass facade was reconstructed. It was a monumental reworking, including deep rethinking of how the artifacts were re-installed... with new , more properly & precisely written signage all with consultation... plus First Nations ceremony. 

 Watching the dances commemorating the opening, we realized that our timing in this case was not nearly so intentional as quite lucky! 

 I was particularly pleased to be revisiting this art because I had studied its influences I honored when I designed THE NORTHWEST COLLECTION linked here:

 DUCK:   FROG:                   ORCA;

[Somehow, I left our hotel that day without bringing my phone/camera, so I'm pleased that Stephen is allowing me to use his photos to enliven this post.]

This image made by a handy bystander of the four of us in front of a favorite Bill Reid sculpture, portraying the story of the discovery of mankind in a clam shell by Raven. I remember being impressed by this huge cedar wood carving from my first visit to this museum 20+ years agoI still find it magnificent..  The Raven and the First Men can be studied here: ;
Stephen caught this fine casual portrait of our compadres Malcolm left, Sequoia right... both rapt & wrapped inside the intensity of learning in this treasure trove of history.

I met first met Sequoia at one of his Men In Touch retreats at the Bodhi Manda Zen monastery in New Mexico, in 1999. Stephen & I made plans to meet after separate visits to our families... he in Minnesota, me in Kansas. Both of our fathers were dying.

Sequoia has actively evolved a career from Air Force pilot to massage therapist ever deeper into the nexus of spirituality & sexuality. I have been introduced numerous times & ways into dancing with these concepts in my own life & can vouch for value added, while not feeling much need or capability to expound more here. I can happily refer to his newly published book Divining Desire... Exploring Sacred Eros by Sequoia Thom... I can invite you to read it with me if you are curious.

Sequoia has been diagnosed with stage four cancer but has been living in a remarkable state of health for more than a year, eliciting further appreciation. The reason for our visit to his home in Vancouver was to celebrate another time with him.

The weather returned toward the prediction on Sunday, when we had a brunch at the old hotel in which Stephen had first hoped to find our lodging. The Sylvia Hotel had more of our style, but the kitchen lacked some of the basic how to properly poach eggs!

As we returned, I appreciated the rather ephemerally embracing sculpture... quickly dissolving,... evaporating visually... all in the few minutes we spent driving through the pleasant woman examining our passports at the border.

Because we had such important time inside friendship, we returned home deeply satisfied. I am grateful that Stephen accepts & loves being ''my driver"!

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