Book Tour Diary: Week Seven

We spent the Esbat and Thanksgiving with the Zults, and got out late on Thanksgiving Monday.  It turned out that contrary to my belief, it was faster to go through Saskatoon to get back to Edmonton from Regina; at least according to Voice.  Voice is what we’ve named the GPS function at Google Maps; which, I have to say, is bloody brilliant other than on some odd idiosyncratic weirdnesses (such as getting completely lost in parking-lots and being able to pronounce “Saskatchewan” in her Indian accent but not her North American one).  What wonderful technology we live with!

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As we passed through Saskatoon we picked up the sweater and computer cord we’d left there (that was a story, trying to find a replacement computer power cord and a camera cord since I’d left mine at home somewhere.  For the benefit of other travellers, Future Shop is not only useless, but patronizing if everything you own didn’t come out less than six months ago, suggesting strongly that it’s your fault that they don’t have the right cords for you because your machine is three years old; but the Source was exceptionally helpful and knew what I was talking about right away.  Just sayin’.)  Because Mike and Erin weren’t home that weekend they left our stuff where we could find it; and it was where they’d said it would be.  We enjoyed a pleasant, unhurried drive back up to ByThor and Selene’s in Edmonton.

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Well, my darling husband apparently told ByThor we’d be there in the evening, and not knowing this, we didn’t get there until 11:30 at night.  Someone had parked their truck in the parking spot we’d used last time, so we pulled up the street and gave them a call.  Apparently we woke Selene up.  There was an enormous production about trying to get us plugged in, trying to move the car so we could park in a place we knew wouldn’t fit; eventually managing to plug in up the street with the maximum use of all the extension cord we had.  I came in to apologize and ByThor, in the interests of clearing the air, let me have it for things that had apparently gone wrong when we were there last.

Well, I was very discouraged that we had seemingly been such poor guests.  We were very uncomfortable and felt like we were waiting for the bus all day, since plans had been made for us to go to our mutual friend Gerri’s place that night instead (this had been talked about when we left Edmonton initially).  Selene proved her magic as a cook by making us macaroni with soy cheese and tomatoes, which was delicious, along with a gluten-free apple pie that was amazing, but conversation had been somewhat strained and we felt odd about the situation so we left as soon as we could.

For additional drama, my distributor was furious that I had sold out in Regina and needed new books right away, and told me that I wouldn’t be able to get them until Thursday.  With this understanding I changed the address to Red Deer and made plans to cancel the Sherwood Park signing.

I realized I’d taken Edmonton for granted a little when I was there last.  It’s because I go there fairly frequently and so I don’t think about it much.  But there’s really a very unique perspective in Edmonton.  Big city attitude with some country values; influenced by Americanized southern Alberta but not quite as American in its perspective; with an odd juxtaposition of a strong Conservative and a strong socialist tradition, and environmental movements (such as one of the biggest interconnecting parks systems in North America and advanced public transit) in a city where everyone owns a car and the place was built on oil.  I took some pictures this time to illustrate this iconic Canadian city:

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We were relieved when Gerri arrived and guided us over to her place.  We set up and found ourselves in the middle of our friend Rasa’s divination class, which we’d been talking about when we were at Where Faeries Live on the trip through.  She invited us to join in so I took the opportunity to learn a little about chieromancy, or reading candle drippings in water.  It seemed very similar to tea leaf readings in that it was about your impressions.  In my reading I asked about what the next step was in my career and I got an octopus, suggesting to me that I should put tentacles in a lot of different things.

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Another good friend of ours was there as well so we got to catch up with him a bit.  We made plans to go to his place the next day but instead we were obliged to go to Nevaeh Concepts to explain the situation and ask Talla what she wanted to do.

Sherwood Park is a wealthier bedroom community to Edmonton.  Every road to the place was under construction; the biggest construction mess I have ever seen.  But the community itself was beautiful.  I’m told it’s a hamlet; with 90000 people in it!

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Nevaeh Concepts is this little shop in the lower concourse of the Franklin Inn.  There’s no signage on the outside to let you know it’s there.  We actually wondered if we were in the right place at all, and the Google directions were very odd; telling us to turn at “Traffic Camera 2” (where’s 1?) and turn left and then right on streets that are apparently nameless.  I liked the place once I got there, but I could see that it might be difficult to find.  Talla, the owner, is a decidedly grey hedgewitch and a dyed-in-the-wool geek like me and we complained good-naturedly about the crap the current DC comics writers are coming up with, and the new show Gotham.  Talla decided to postpone to Friday, so now our plans changed to come back to Edmonton and stay with Gerri one more day.  So we never did make it to my friend Heatherly’s in Delburne at all.

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After that was sorted out, we sought out a tobacconist that was recommended by a friend of Erin’s, and we had a great visit there and we reviewed the place and interviewed the owner for Smoking Jacket Magazine.  Then we went back to Gerri’s.  After all the drama and all the driving of the previous couple of days we were really tired and we decided to rest for a couple of days.  Gerri took Erin into her treatment room (she’s a Reiki Master, among other healing modalities) and I relaxed and did a review of one of the cigars that we were given in Winnipeg.

Voice said it was a little less than two hours to Red Deer but she lied.  The traffic is horrible and the drive is tedious at best.  Every asshole on the road thinks he’s in that old video game Pole Position.  We damn near got killed maybe six times between the two drives.

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But the trip was worth it!  Magical Elements in Red Deer is definitely a contender for the witchiest store in Western Canada, and the owner, Corry, is a delightful, bubbly extroverted eclectic witch who makes no apologies for who and what she is.  I liked her and the store psychic, Connie, and their young covenmate immediately.  The space is right downtown, easy to find, and obviously once was an apartment.  The storefront is beautiful and sports a comfortable hearth to sit in, and they are blessed by a kitchen space, a bathroom, a readings and consultation space, storage areas and a second kitchen space converted to a workshop area.  My books had arrived and they were set up already, and the four of us had a great visit while a couple of people came by to get their books signed and we sold a few more.  I bought some anil balls for Voodoo work (why the hell can you not find this stuff in BC?) and then we went for dinner.

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We found this great  tandoori place a block over called Tandoor ‘n’ Flame, and proceeded to enjoy an amazing beef vindaloo with an unusual amount of cinnamon (but it was good!) along with the best aloo gobi that we’d ever had.  Understand that Jamie’s from Surrey and I lived in downtown Vancouver for three months, so I think we’re reasonable judges.  But word to the wise; ask for extra spice if you’re like us; I told him to make it like they make it at home, we’re from Surrey and we can handle it, but we got what I would describe as “flavourfully mild” instead.  I guess that’s spicy for Red Deer!

After dinner, our dear friend Moonshadow came by after work to say hi and we chatted for a while.  It was great to catch up!  Then it was showtime.  The workshop was packed and it seemed to go over really well!  Heatherly was there so we told her we’d probably come the following night.

We went back to Edmonton and were tired enough to get into a good rip-roaring argument before we got to sleep, I am sorry to say.

The next day we packed everything up, said goodbyes to Gerri and headed to Sherwood Park.  It was a pretty quiet signing, which I expected because we’d had to change the date at the last minute.  Still, two of our friends came by and bought some books and brought us some lovely gifts; venison and a pack of genuine Cohiba cigars!  Wow!

Even more cool, Talla’s next door neighbour turned out to be these two amazing sculptors and artists, Zazo and Gabrielle.  They’re Hungarian and they insisted we join them for some delightfully strong black coffee.  I was astounded at the beauty of their galley-level work and wondered why they were hiding in the basement of the Franklin Inn!  Some of Zazo’s work is part of the National War Memorial, in the form of cast bronze plaques he made; how cool is that?  Their little shop was full of ancient reproductions in pottery and raku, beautiful paintings on canvas and in glaze on pottery, and the most amazing cast bronze busts of historic Canadians, including several First Nations chiefs and two of the co-signers of Treaty 8.  Since this is the second time on this trip that I have encountered Treaty 8, I am going to research it more thoroughly.  In the meantime, please enjoy this amazing art as I did:

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Zazo and Gabrielle were kind enough to pick up a book too; which surprised me, but perhaps the information in the iconography is what appealed to them.  Then again, Gabrielle makes goddess sculptures.  I think I’ve made some friends and I am glad of it!

Back to Red Deer.  Traffic was backed up along our intended route for several kilometers.  Voice redeemed herself by helping us find a re-route that made us only 15 minutes late.  The workshop didn’t seem to go as well as it had the previous night because one person was inexplicably uncomfortable and one had anxiety attacks.  Still, I guess it went well enough and Moonshadow came so that was great.  But we were very tired so instead of sleeping at Heatherly’s the decision was made to drive in shifts and head home.  It was a long night of driving; I started it for about an hour and a half, slept, and finished it for about three hours at the end, with a half hour eye close in Enderby, half an hour from my home.

I have to say, one thing that surprised me about the prairies was how little everyone seems to know about what’s going on with their neighbours.  For instance, the folks in Red Deer didn’t seem to know that Original Joe’s was a chain.  Everyone in Edmonton still thinks it’s twenty-five years ago in the Okanagan Valley.  Saskatchewan had no news about anyone but Saskatchewan, and all the people in Alberta know about BC is that we don’t want their damn pipeline and we don’t have a single straight road.  Even Manitoba, which is politically aware, seemed oblivious to the rest of the country.  I found it strange.

Also, the Pagan community is even worse.  The Saskatoon and Regina communities communicate and even have a bit of a friendly rivalry going, and Winnipeg seems pretty aware (probably in no small part because of Dodie and Dominique) but Pagans in Regina have a hard time finding others, and no one in Calgary, Red Deer or Edmonton seems to talk to each other at all.  It’s no wonder we have such a hard time organizing ourselves!  I suppose distance contributes, but I know there’s got to be a better way.

We’re back now for about a week, nesting in and unpacking.  The house is still there and my dog Blue was sure happy to see us!  We’ll be off to Vancouver Island this weekend and then that’s it, and I might be doing a radio show this week but we’ll see.  I’m tired and I’m really glad to be home, though I wouldn’t have missed the journey!  Overall the weather in the prairies was unseasonably beautiful and I have had the pleasure of enjoying the golden beauty of fall in some of the most stunning landscapes in the world.  And I woke up this morning to find that even my home had been transformed into a striking autumn scene full of coloured leaves and misty mountains.  No matter where you go in this country, it’s gorgeous except where we’ve messed with it all.  We are so fortunate to be in Canada.

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~ by Sable Aradia on October 23, 2014.

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