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Monday, 22 February 2016

Chance Meetings

(Written Friday February 19th, 2016)
I’ve always been the chatty type with total strangers it seems. It’s my natural curiosity I guess. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Meeting #1
Last Saturday night Linda and I went to a beer and burger fund raiser for The Vancouver Island Mental Health Society. She is employed by the society and we’ve been to a number of these events over the years. This one was at a local Nanaimo pub called The Wellington which many refer to as “The Well” which makes sense. The plan before we got there was whoever got to the pub first between Linda and I and her co-worker Donna and her husband Tom, would try and secure a couple of tables that 6 people could sit at.
We got to the pub first and managed to secure 2 tables. It was about 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon. We could see instruments set up on the stage in front of us for a live band that would play later in the evening. I noticed a couple in between us and the stage who seemed to be holding a table for some friends who hadn’t arrived like we were. It turned out that the friends they were waiting for were Donna and Tom. Introductions were made. We had already ordered our food and a beer before Donna and Tom turned up. I had one eye on the Canucks hockey game on TV and they were taking another thrashing. So much for that I thought.
Donna and Tom’s friend’s names are Laraine and John. My guess is that they are somewhere near 40 years of age. I asked both of them individually what they did for a living. I believe Laraine works in labour relations on behalf of the BC government. Donna and Laraine have been friends for years. They met when they were both newly divorced. John has written and published a number of books and magazines about kayaking and hiking on the west coast of British Columbia. As an avid kayaker myself (albeit with just a 14’ boat) I was very keen on asking John a number of questions. I learned a lot in talking to him. I was particularly impressed that he didn’t brag about his successes. It was Laraine (spelling?) that told me that John had kayaked all the way to Alaska from Vancouver Island. I was bowled over by that. There are not a lot of people who can say they have accomplished that feat.
Last summer I was on a 3 day camping/kayaking ocean trip with a friend when I got into some trouble trying to paddle against a very strong current. The area was south of a camping spot at Blackberry Point some distance south of Nanaimo. I asked John about the pass between two islands that we were close to that day. John told me that the currents in that area are some of the most treacherous on the southern BC coast. He said that sometimes small boats can end up going in circles drawn by the currents. I guess I was one lucky bastard that day. Luckily I got some help in the form of a tow from the friend I was kayaking with. A 14’ kayak isn’t made for that kind of ocean.
We didn’t hang around the pub to see the band. 8 hours in a pub is a bit too long for me, at least these days. I really enjoyed the 3 or 4 hours that we did stay.
To find out more about John Kimantas google any of the following….his name, Coastal Guide Books, Wild Coast Magazine, or Coast & Kayak Magazine. This guy knows his stuff!
Meeting #2
It’s Sunday February 14th, Valentine’s Day, the day after the night at the pub. Linda and I have decided to head over to our favourite sushi place for lunch, a spot called Nori Sushi. We usually stop in about twice a month. The place is almost always packed and jazz is always playing on the sound system. People come from all over Vancouver Island to eat here. There is a bit of wait, probably because it’s Valentine’s Day, but there are some empty seats at the bar. Sitting on a stool is fine with me. It’s close to the action.
We soon realize that they don’t have Bento boxes on Sundays. A couple in their sixties sitting next to us confirms that fact. The gal in the couple gives us an overview of the menu. They are frequent visitors to the place and know the head sushi guy on the other side of the counter whose name is John. John asks Linda and I our names and a while later he addresses me by my name, pretty impressive. This is the way to run a successful restaurant.
We got into a conversation with the couple. They are retired and bought a small beachfront house in Qualicum Beach about a year ago. Qualicum Beach is about a 45 minute drive north of where we live. Their house is about 1000 square feet and they have been doing reno work for some time. They mentioned waves hitting the house one day.
Their names are Brian and Mary. Brian told us he had held a number of jobs before retiring including being a cop for about 20 years and selling boats. His politics are to the right and mine are more to the left but we didn’t talk about that stuff much.
While they were eating the sushi guy John gave Mary a single rose. Does this guy know how to run a restaurant or what? Later on John also gave Linda a single rose. Does this guy know how to run……….
Brian and Mary invited us to drop in at their place in Qualicum Beach and we asked them to do the same when they were down our way. For some reason we forgot to exchange phone numbers. Linda is laid up for a week or two after a toe operation but we will drop in in the next few weeks. Nice couple.
Meeting #3
Linda went in for her toe operation (a minor thing really other than a bit of pain) this past Tuesday. I had some time to kill and instead of sitting in the waiting room I took a walk across the street to investigate a Scandinavian furniture place. I’m kind of in the market for a couple of bar stools.
I was a bit surprised how big the store was. After wandering around for several minutes I ended up in a downstairs showroom. I spotted a gal who appeared to be in early to mid-thirties in what looked like a black cocktail dress. It was the first sign of life in the place. I probably could have walked out of the joint with a sofa if I was a criminal type and had some assistance and nobody would have been the wiser other than finding a vacant space.
The gal in the black dress is a sales associate and while I was poking about we got into a conversation about music and David Bowie in particular. Right away I noticed that she had a very positive upbeat personality. She also had a touch of blue or was it light green in her blonde hair. I asked her where she was from and she answered “all over the place” which included various spots on Vancouver Island and Gabriola Island which is close to Nanaimo.
Altogether I guess that we chatted for about 20 minutes. She is a singer and guitar player who has appeared on stage with and without a band. From what I understand her musical niche is “alternative country rock”. She has appeared with Jim Byrnes, The Beach Boys, and Mike Reno (Everbody’s Working For The Weekend). Her real name is Shauna McAllister and she goes by the name Jupiter Jill when it comes to music.
As I said, I only talked to her for a short while but I could tell she has a big heart. This was reaffirmed when I checked out a video of her and her children. I think she is what the kids today (and others) call today an “indie” performer meaning she has recorded some music but not with a major label.
I checked her out on YouTube and really enjoyed her singing. Music is a hard business to make a living in a smaller city like Nanaimo. I am going to keep my eye open and hopefully see her perform in the next few months.
You go girl!


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