Monthly Archives: October 2009

Robert Burns and Halloween

Hallowe'en, by Robert Burns was published in 1796, in the Kilmarnock edition. 

Burns scholar Andrew Noble gave me a copy of his book “The Cannongate Burns.”  On page 74 he writes:

'To this headnote, Burns defines Halloween thus: Is thought to be a night when Witches, Devils, and other mischief-making beings, are all abroad on their baneful, midnight errands: particularly, those aerial people, the fairies, are said, on that night, to hold a grand anniversary.'

'The following poem will, by many readers, be well enough understood;
but for the sake of those unaquainted with the manners and tradtions of
the country [region] where the scene is cast, the notes are added, to
give some account of the principal charms and spells of that night, so
big with prophecy to the peasntry of the west of Scotland.  The passion
of prying into futurity makes a striking part of the history of human
nature in its rude state, in all ages and nations; and it may be some
entertainment to a philosphic mind, if any such honour the author with
a perusal, to see the remains of it, among the more unenlightened in
our own'


by Robert Burns

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin' clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu' blithe that night.

The lasses feat, and cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they're fine;
Their faces blithe, fu' sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, and warm, and kin';
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs,
Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, and some wi' gabs,
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin'
Whiles fast at night.

Then, first and foremost, through the kail,
Their stocks maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, and graip and wale,
For muckle anes and straught anes.
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
And wander'd through the bow-kail,
And pou't, for want o' better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.

Then, staught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar and cry a' throu'ther;
The very wee things, todlin', rin,
Wi' stocks out owre their shouther;
And gif the custoc's sweet or sour.
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Syne cozily, aboon the door,
Wi cannie care, they've placed them
To lie that night.

The lasses staw frae 'mang them a'
To pou their stalks of corn:
But Rab slips out, and jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard and fast;
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kitlin' in the fause-house
Wi' him that night.

The auld guidwife's well-hoordit nits,
Are round and round divided,
And monie lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle coothie, side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa, wi' saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu' high that night.

Jean slips in twa wi' tentie ee;
Wha 'twas she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to hersel:
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see't that night.

Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compared to Willie;
Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu' fling,
And her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.

Nell had the fause-house in her min',
She pits hersel and Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they're sobbin';
Nell's heart was dancin' at the view,
She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonny mou',
Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
Unseen that night.

But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,
And slips out by hersel:
She through the yard the nearest taks,
And to the kiln goes then,
And darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear't that night.

And aye she win't, and aye she swat,
I wat she made nae jaukin',
Till something held within the pat,
Guid Lord! but she was quakin'!
But whether 'was the deil himsel,
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She didna wait on talkin'
To spier that night.

Wee Jennie to her grannie says,
“Will ye go wi' me, grannie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass
I gat frae Uncle Johnnie:”
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
She notice't na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out through that night.

“Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
I daur you try sic sportin',
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune.
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret
On sic a night.

“Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor, —
I mind't as weel's yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
I wasna past fifteen;
The simmer had been cauld and wat,
And stuff was unco green;
And aye a rantin' kirn we gat,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.

“Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
A clever sturdy fallow:
His son gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
And he made unco light o't;
But mony a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted
That very night.”

Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a' but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
And out a hanfu' gied him;
Syne bade him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Some time when nae ane see'd him,
And try't that night.

He marches through amang the stacks,
Though he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks.
And haurls it at his curpin;
And every now and then he says,
“Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
And her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, and draw thee
As fast this night.”

He whistled up Lord Lennox' march
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to arch,
He was say fley'd and eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a grane and gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
And tumbled wi' a wintle
Out-owre that night.

He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu' desperation!
And young and auld came runnin' out
To hear the sad narration;
He swore 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
Till, stop! she trotted through them
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!

Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
To win three wechts o' naething;
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
And two red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That very nicht.

She turns the key wi cannie thraw,
And owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca'
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattled up the wa',
And she cried, Lord, preserve her!
And ran through midden-hole and a',
And pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
Fu' fast that night;

They hoy't out Will wi' sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanced the stack he faddom'd thrice
Was timmer-propt for thrawin';
He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak,
For some black grousome carlin;
And loot a winze, and drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin'
Aff's nieves that night.

A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlin;
But, och! that night amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu' settlin'!
She through the whins, and by the cairn,
And owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.

Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl't;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays;
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.

Among the brackens, on the brae,
Between her and the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up and gae a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool!
Near lav'rock-height she jumpit;
but mist a fit, and in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi' a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And every time great care is ta'en',
To see them duly changed:
Auld Uncle John, wha wedlock joys
Sin' Mar's year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.

Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery;
Till butter'd so'ns, wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin';
Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
They parted aff careerin'
Fu' blythe that night.

Johnny Cash is Scottish… “Because it's Burns, Burns Burns… It's Robbie Burns”

I've always wanted a version of Johnny Cash's “Ring of Fire” to be redone for Robbie Burns…

(sing to the chorus of “Ring of Fire”)

We celebrate

January 25th

We wear kilts

and eat haggis too.

“Because it's Burns, Burns Burns…

It's Robbie Burns…

It's Robbie Burns.”

The following is from Johnny Cash's daughter Roseanne Cash's weblog:

This is a street sign in the town of Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland,

where my family on my dad’s side originated in the 11th century.

There are still a few things with the name of Cash scattered around
this part of Fife:  Cash Mill, Cash Farm, Cash Easter and Cash Wester,
and this street, Cash Feus.  It’s odd— and comforting— to know that my
ancestors lived here for hundreds of years, until one of them decided
to move to America in the 17th century.  I don’t even know what they
passed on to me— perhaps a love of melancholy, Celtic- rooted music?  A
love of rolling hills and crumbling stone walls?

Maybe even the red hair.

first photo is a monument to the legendary Black Watch regiment, in
Aberfeldy, Scotland.  My ancestry on my father’s side begins in
Scotland, as part of the Clan McDonald, not too far from Aberfeldy, in
what is lovingly called The Kingdom of Fife.  I visited Aberfeldy in
February, 2009, for the first time.  I had been to Fife and the
surrounding area many times, as well as Glasgow, Edinburgh and
Aberdeen, but never to this part of Perthshire.  I filmed a couple of
episodes of “Transatlantic Sessions” at a beautiful estate, inside an
ancient barn, near Aberfeldy, in Fortingall.

The second photo is of the filming in the barn, with my friends and
great musicians Phil Cunningham, Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas and several
other superb musicians.  I found out something very strange during the
filming.  In the year 1692,  there was a bloody massacre called the
Massacre of Glencoe,  in which the men from the Campbell clan murdered
38 unarmed McDonalds in one horrible night.  I found out that the very
estate where we were filming “Transatlantic Sessions” was where the
plan for the massacre hatched, and just over a little hill from the
place where 38 unarmed McDonalds were killed in this infamous raid, which is
still memorialized every year in Scotland.

I looked around the barn
where we were playing, which was in existence during the massacre, and
I walked the very grounds where the massacre was put in motion.  I
thought about the fact that I, with my Clan McDonald ancestry, was
making music with men with Campbell ancestry, on a night over three
hundred years after those distant ancestors met in mortal combat, in
the very same spot.  It was a transcendent moment, and a very potent
reminder that music is the great connector. No matter how profound our
differences, even those that are part of our DNA, even those
differences that somehow merit memorials and rituals and centuries of
bitterness, can be dissolved very quickly with an A minor chord, a
piano, a guitar and a violin.  This knowledge, and the music, is
perhaps the most important thing I have received as a legacy.

Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Art Exhibition features artists from across Canada

Aboriginal artists from across Canada, featured at Vancouver 2010 exhibition,

Over 50 artists were featured at the Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Art Exhibition at Canada Place in Vancouver BC, Oct 17/18.  It's a two day free exhibition with sales to the public.  On Friday evening, a live auction of highlighted artworks was held with proceeds going towards the Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund.

Many of the artists were commissioned to create artworks for the Olympic venue sites.  These works are featured in the book,
O Siyam: Aboriginal Art Inspired by the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which will be available in stores on November 2 the first official Games-related book to be published.  Pre-ordered copies of the book can be made at the exhibition.

2009_Oct 015 by you.

Alano Edzerza (right) is an amazing young artist that I met. Melissa (left) is his friend who helps him plan events. Melissa is wearing a shirt that Alano designed, for her marathon running competitions.  Behind them is a 3-panel design of flying ravens. I really liked it's three dimensionality, and repeated motif.  It stands out to many of the flat 2-dimensional designs I have seen in aboriginal art. Alano also designed a 3-panel work featuring killer whales, which inspired a commission from GM place of killer whales. Born in 1981, this 28 year old artist has both a remarkable maturity, and an extensive collection of works and his own gallery.  So impressive is Edzerza's work that Roy Henry Vickers was sending people his way at the exhibition.

2009_Oct 008 by you.
Councillor Lois Joseph of the Lil'Wat Nation Mount Currie Band is very proud of Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Museum, recently build in Whistler BC.  She said it is a collaboration by two nations, Squamish and Lilwat, and it is designed to showcase the history, culture and artworks of the Lil'Wat and Squamish peoples who have been a big part of the Sea to Sky country.  I have visited Aboriginal Cultural Centres in Alert Bay, the Haida Gwaii Museum, and even the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Hawaii.  I will definitely go visit on my next trip to Whistler.

2009_Oct 011 by you.

Roy Henry Vickers was one of the first aboriginal artists to recieve mass popularity in BC.  His striking serigraphs are available as postcards and prints.  He is also recipient of Order of BC, and Order of Canada.  His Aerie Gallery in Tofino is a must-see. When I found him, he was playing with a computer image of a five-finned killer whale on a lap top computer. He shared with me the very personal story of this very special whale which also includes the story of his “Chieftainship, Tlagwigila more commonly spelled,
Tlakwakila which means Copperman. Tlakwakila is from the house of WAKAS
and my adopted family,”

Mr. Vickers and I talked about commonalities about Chinese and First Nations peoples.  He said “There is no Yellow Skin, only a person, there is no Red skin, only a person, There is no black or white skin, only a person.  We are all the same race… We are human.”

When I told him about Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and how the give recognition to BC's pioneer cultures the Scottish, Chinese and First Nations instead of Canada's two solitudes of French and English… he shared with me that his mother was English. 

I thanked him for sharing his wisdom and helping make our society a better place.
Check out:

2009_Oct 013 by you.

KC Adams is from Winnipeg, but she doesn't identify herself as Metis, because she is part Scottish – not French-Canadian.  She is tuned into the growing Mixed-Race culture of Canada, but doesn't call herself a hybrid or mixed-race.  Instead she calls herself a cyborg, reflecting our new technology culture for the 21st Century. 

Her artwork also reflects her post-modern, post-colonial viewpoints.  She plays with stereotypes and juxtaposes them with contrary images.  The portraits are beautiful, clean, and dressed in white.  The words on the clothing say things like ““AUTHORITY ON ALL ABORIGINAL ISSUES”,
You can see her Cyborg series here:

KC's websites states:

Cyborg Hybrids is a photo series that attempts to challenge our views towards
mixed race classifications by using humorous text and imagery from two cultures.
The Cyborg Hybrids are digital prints of Euro-Aboriginal artists who are forward
thinkers and plugged in with technology. They follow the doctrine of Donna Harroway’s
, which states that a cyborg is a creature in a technological,
post-gender world free of traditional western stereotypes towards race and gender.

KC laughed when I told her about Gung Haggis Fat Choy – but she got it.  Juxtoposing cultural images and language in ways that reflect a new understanding – that's what we both do.  We recognize Mixed-Race heritage.  She was intrigued when I told her that there were people in Madagasca called Metis, but were of Chinese and Madagascar heritage, in this former French colony. But Metis means half, just like the Hawaiian term Hapa.

2009_Oct 016 by you.

While at the exhibition, my friend Sabine found me and said “You have to see Jean Taylor.”  Her biography states her “Tlingit name is Khàsx’ ân Tlâ is from the Dakhł awèdi Clan of the
Teslin Tlingit Nation in Teslin, Yukon Territory. She is also a member
of the Tlingit Haida Central Council of Alaska.”

Her artwork captures the spirit and minuitae of aboriginal cultural life.  There are scenes of dancing, farming, running with sled dogs.  It's beautiful, reflective and wonderfully presented.
Check out:

CUPE's WriterFest Oct 22 featuring host Daniel Gawthrop + Larrisa Lai, Stan Persky, David Chariandy + more!

Invitation to CUPE’s WriterFest!

2009_Oct_CUPE_writerfest 106 by you.

Todd Wong, CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Worker  with authors David Chariandy and Larissa Lai.

Authors, bibliophiles, reference users, and library lovers:
Please join for a discussion on the importance of locally-purchased materials and collection development.

With cuts to libraries, arts and recently to BC BookWorld,  ABPBC and BCAMP – this is timely!

Featured author panelists:
CAROLINE ADDERSON (A History of Forgetting, I Bruno)
CARELLIN BROOKS (Wreck Beach, Carnal Nations)
LARRISA LAI (Salt Fish Girl, When Fox is a Thousand
STAN PERSKY (The Short Version: An ABC Book, Mixed Media Mixed Messages)
BILL TIELMAN (24 Hours, The Tyee)
+ moderator DANIEL GAWTHROP (Rice Queen Diaries)

WHEN: Thursday, October 22, 2009, 7:30-9:30 pm
WHERE: Alice MacKay Room, Central Library (350 West Georgia)

*Please RSVP to Mike DePaoli ( Alexandra Youngberg (

Gung Haggis paddlers featured in cover photo of Langley Advance for Cranberry Festival!

7530_1212791673264_1032953280_30654273_2054761_n by you.Logout

Cranberry Festival is a big fun and important event in Ft. Langley.  Every year the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team attends.

In the above picture our Gung Haggis Hot Chili team is caught in a boat jam, as a team pushes our stern forward, preventing us from turn the boat to go left. 

I am in the front seat, trying to steer our boat left.  Our left side paddlers are paddling at a 45 degree angle to help pull our boat left.  Our right side paddlers are paddling hard to get us away from the boat colliding on our right side.

This is what happens when 3 teams enter a wide turn all at the same time.  We got the inside edge going into the turn, and pulled away from the boat beside us… but they kept their bow against our stern, preventing us from turning… meanwhile a third boat caught up on the outside and tried to paddle around us… but got stuck in the middle.  It sure looks like fun from this angle.

Gung Haggis paddlers compete at Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta: 1st in B Final 5th in A Final

AMAZING paddling Stories from today's races. 
Challenges and big leads…
Missed Opportunities and lots of boat collisions.

2009_Oct_Ft_Langley_cranberry_canoe_race 111 by you.
Our team's favorite photo from the weekend. Sheer determination of our paddlers as they paddle along the beach. Our lead stroke Tzhe really leans out to help pull the boat forward away from the beach. – photo Todd Wong

Our paddlers on the Gung Haggis Bacon Explosion and Gung Haggis Hot
Chili teams proved their competitiveness, team spirit and sportsmanship.

Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta
October 10th, 2009

In the weeks prior, our 2 rosters had filled to 11 paddlers per team,
so we had to recommend to paddler friends Remus Wong and Tricia Pang
(Gung Haggis Friends at UBC Long Boat), to paddle for Team Naluwan,
home team of Richard & Karen Mah and Oliver Wu who paddled with us
at Richmond races.

Then in the final week, we had 4 paddlers unexpectedly drop out or be
sick.  We are thankful to Marciel and Michael, and Johannes for filling
in for us at the last minute.  We are also happy that friends Lisa
Venables, Maggie and Harvey (Richmond) and Carolyn (former GH paddler)
could join us for Ft. Langley races.

Final Rosters

Gung Haggis Bacon Explosion
Raphael – Captain
Dave Samis (steer final)
Adam (steer first race)

Gung Haggis Hot Chili
Debbie Poon (captain)

2009_Oct_Ft_Langley_cranberry_canoe_race 008 by you.

 Gung Haggis Fat Chili leads the race in boat #2.  Todd is lead stroke, while Harvey steers. – photo Deb Martin

First Race (Right turn oval X ) 5 boats

GH Fat Chili

Good start… and we were 2nd going down the first stretch.
We caught up to the team on the 1st turn… taking the inside edge.
We raced neck and neck down the stretch.  Steersperson Harvey got us
the inside track and we entered the 2nd turn.  Coming around the 2nd
turn, the other team tried to hold us back… their lead stroke stuck
their paddle in front of our boat, trying to push us back…
But we stayed ahead of them.  As we cleared the last pylon, our front
paddlers tried to turn the boat… left… but the back of the boat was
blocked by that other darn boat… and a third boat, came into the
logjam.  We were pushed off towards shore and had to hold the boat,
while two other boats, turned behind us and down the 3rd stretch.  We
righted our boat, and headed into the 3rd turn trailing fast behind the
Pirates team.  We came down the final stretch hot on their heels and
and catching up… We placed 3rd.

Gung Haggis Bacon Explosion – (2X left ovals)
GREAT start… and BacEx is in the lead down the first stretch.  Other
teams get hung up in collisions.  BacEx makes the 1st turn with nobody
near them.  The final team has just finished the 1st turn, when BacEx
is making the 2nd turn.  They are 10 boat lengths in first place.  But
why is Tzhe drawing on the right side, when they are turning left? 
BacEx is on the wrong side of the buoy.  They paddle backwards, as the
2nd place team passes them.  They start paddling forward when the 3rd
place team passes them… they jockey for 2nd place along the turn…
boats colliding.  Finally they start to pull away out of the 2nd turn
and down the 3rd stretch.  At the 3rd turn they are 2 boat lengths
behind the 1st place team.  Down the 4th and final stretch they paddle
hard… creeping up to the tail.  They make their move in the final 1/4
stretch… gaining seat by seat… 4 seats behind… closer… 3 seats
behind…  almost there… one seat behind… will they make it?  So


We eat our Chilis…  Deb has made a cranberry/craisin chili.  Raphael
makes a bacon explosian chili.  Everybody is happy.  We mingle and chat
with our cheerleading squad led by Deb Martin, Jonas & Wendy,
Alissa & Ryan, Debbie's dad KK, Lisa's mom Peg, sister and nephew,
Remus' daughters Rebecca and Sarah, Brooke, Brooke's mother, and
niece.  We have enough cheerleaders to fill a boat.

The 1st race of the 2nd round of reverse ovals…
A team takes the first turn too sharply… people lean the wrong way…
people fall into the water.  The other teams are all racing down the
2nd stretch along the South Shore.  The small rescue boat goes to their
aid.  Race organizers are trying to tell the competing teams to stop
the race, but they can't hear.  They call the teams in, and boats are
sent out half empty to try to help rescue the wet paddlers.  But the
rescue boat has managed to take 4 people at a time to the South Shore,
while 2 paddlers remain helping to bail the capsized boat.

A meeting is held, and the races are post-poned because of the high
winds.  One woman is sent to the hospital to be treated for
hypo-thermia, but she is later reported to be okay.
Teams are told to reconvene at 1:30, and a decision will be made.  We go off to eat more chili,

At 1:30 16 teams remain to paddle.  4 teams have quit, gone home or to the beer garden.

Gung Haggis Hot Chili

Gung Haggis is racing against the other lower 7 finishers, including
Naluwan which contains friends Richard & Karen Mah, Oliver, Remus
and Tricia.

We go over the tactics needed to do good turns, and a good beach run. 
We change the start from a 6-6-6 to a 6-8-8.  We are lined up near the
North Shore at the start.  We tell our races to watch the red flag,
along with the air horn.  We think we hear an air horn… We feel a few
paddles take a stroke… but we don't start… yet… The flag goes
down/ hear the air horn… We paddle… hard… Eastwards… toward the
bridge…  I can see somebody on the bridge holding up a pumpkin… Our
boat steers a bit to the right where three pumpkins are thrown into the
water.  Steersperson Harvey wants to go where we have the best chance
of finding a pumpkin – not like last year's Gung Haggis teams – who
both missed pumpkins in the A final.

We are paddling hard towards the pumpkin.  There is another boat in
front to the right.  I am lead stroke… I keep paddling because it is
hard to pick up a pumpkin because of the raised bow in seat one.  Lisa
shouts “I've getting it!”  She is in seat two left.  While everybody
else is still paddling… she bravely bends down with her body to get
the pumpking bringing it to her chest.  I will ask her later
“Were you bobbing for pumpkins?”

She brings the pumpkin into the boat, and shakes the water from her
head, grabs her paddle and takes good hard strokes.  Our boat is the
first to emerge on the East side of the bridge because the 1st place
team missed their pumpkin and had to back up.  We are first all the way
to the 1st turn.  As we turn left, I call out “Take it easy”, I spike
my paddle to help facilitate the turn around the 1st buoy.  We have a
good sharp turn, we call a power series and race back under the bridge
towards the 2nd buoy. Another good turn, and we head North towards the
beach.  As we approach the beach, we feel our paddles hit the bottom of
the river, as Harvey turns the boat right.  Devon jumps out of the boat
to do the cranberry juice walk.  He has to balance a glass of juice on
his paddle and walk up the beach.  We try to push the boat forward, but
we are beached. 

“Back up!” I shout.  A few pushes, and we are free.  “Paddle forward!”
and our paddles scrape against the shallow shore.  Our boat moves to
deeper water and we move up the river.  Devon has finished his juice
walk, and he runs to our boat.  We draw left to bring the boat closer
to shore to pick him up.  He scrambles in, as we paddle forward, turn
right and cross the river.  The other boats have all finished turning
at 2nd buoy… Thankfully, because we now have to go around the same
buoy – but in the opposite direction.  It's a tight turn… So I spike
it hard, by turning backwards in my seat – pointing the paddle towards
the left front of the boat, to help facilitate the turn, as Harvey
completes the steering arc at the back of the boat.  We call a power
series and head Eastwards again towards the bridge and the finish line
beyond.  We can hear people chanting “Go Gung Haggis!”  We emerge on
the other side… and call another power series… heading to the
finish line buoys.  2, 4, 6, 8, 10… We call a finish and paddle
hard.  “More, More, More! 10 more strokes… we count them down 9, 8,
7, 6, 5… as we cross the finish line… 4, 3, 2, 1… We rest and
look back to see Naluwan battling it our with another team…. paddling
hard to the finish line.  Our friends finish 2nd.  We cheer on the
finishing teams.

Our friends and team mates congratulate us… and we exchange race
information.  Tony compliments us on a beautiful race…. the most
beautiful he has seen!  Our turns were tight, and we avoided any
collisions.  He is pumped up, and he tells the GH BacEx team to make
sure they grab the pumpkins (avoiding last year's fate)!

A Final 

Gung Haggis Bacon Explosion

BacEx had a good start.  They pulled away from the two team on their
left side.  But somehow they veered left and cut them off causing a
collision.  BacEx corrected and led the way to the closest pumpkin. 
Marciel grabbed the pumpkin, but lost his paddle at the same moment. 
Luckily, Raphael, sitting behind him, grabbed it with his left hand,
and a moment later Marciel was able to grab it back.   BacEx emerged
from under the bridge with four teams to their right.  The centre most
team was in the lead.  All the teams had to do a left turn around a
buoy.  BacEx made their turn behind the lead team,  they paddled hard
to go back under the bridge.  But they were still on the North side of
the bridge.  They had to race to the South side of the river and make a
right turn at the 2nd buoy.  Teams further south were closer to the
buoy.  They were in 5th place by the time they made their turn.

As BacEx approached the beach,  there were 4 boats already there… 
Raphael jumped out of the beach and held out his paddle for the juice. 
We walked quickly up the beach.  We had done this walk the previous two
years as well.  Two years ago, he had tripped climbing out of the
boat.  No tripping this year.  BacEx boat moved up the beach to pick up
Raphael, cutting off another runner from his boat.  BacEx paddled hard
towards the finish line going under the bridge.

Collision as they emerged under the bridge.  Oops, BacEx veers left. 
Another boat emerges colliding with the other boat.  Gung Haggis Bacon
Explosion turns tries to take the outside line, but the 2 boats are
pushing Northward off course.  BacEx slows down, waits for the boats to
pass, cuts right, and heads for the finish line…  Wheewww what a
finish.  One of the boats back paddles, then turns right to cross the
finish line.  The other boat does not finish.  Gung Haggis BacEx
finishes 4th or 5th in A Final for our highest ever finish in A Final.

Good races all around for everybody!  People on both our teams had big
smiles on their faces. Lots of compliments to our steers people Harvey,
Adam and Dave… and to our team captains Raphael and Debbie.  Thank
you to all paddlers for joining us.  It was the first Cranberry regatta
for many paddlers, and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  WARNING: Some are
even planning for next year already.

More pictures here on flickr:

Cheers, Todd


Here is a message from race organizer Cheryl McIntosh ( who paddled with Gung Haggis in Vernon 07)


What an exciting day – We never get wind like that in Fort Langley. 
But thank you all for being understanding and flexible in our day.  I
want to thank everyone for being to helpful when we had paddlers in the
water and let you know that the one that went to the hospital for
observation is fine and at home.  She phoned to thank all for your
help. Better safe than sorry. 

In case you did not hear the announcement at the midday meeting the
winner of the chili contest were
Best Meat – Cran-vores
Best Cranberries (and Veggies) – Canoe Yahoo

Here's the results from the final races

Final B
GH Hot chili 8:33.21
Naulwan 9:22.72
PP Apple blueberries 9:34.43
KS Chickens 10:03.87
Canoe Yahoo 10:17.18
DF Cranberry Kickers 10:31.76
Saints Preserve Us 10:45.15

Final A
FLCC Flatwater 7:00.49
Misfits 7:55.09
Cran-ivores 8:05.75
SOAR 8:38.81
GH Bacon Explosion 9:24.81
Sturgeon Bashers 9:25.79 DNF – outside of finish buoys
Crusaders 9:51.25

Great racing everyone and congratulations to Flatwater for placing
first overall. 
I am so glad we were able to have our last races and everything was
I ask each of your teams if they have any comments or suggestions for
next year please email me.
And of course thanks for helping put the equipment away after the last

I hope everyone had fun, enjoyed the festival and races, and that we'll
see you next year.

Orchid Ensemble creates East meets Middle East featuring Jewish and Chinese music!

Orchid Ensemble is one of Vancouver's bravest culturally exploring musical ensembles.
Jewish and Chinese musical influences combine for Oct 3 show at Vancouver Community College

Here is the latest from my friend Lan Tung and Orchid Ensemble:

2009 Orchid Ensemble Concert
East meets Middle East in the Orchid Ensemble’s New Show
The Orchid Ensemble & Vancouver Community College present
Ten Thousand Miles to Kai-Feng

A musical exploration of the cultural exchange between the Jews and the Chinese

featuring Mike Braverman (clarinet & saxophone) of Olam, Boris Sichon (percussion), and The Madrigal Singers
October 3rd, 8pm, at the Vancouver Community College auditorium
VCC Broadway and King Edward Campus
Tickets $15 / $12 / $10 for VCC students with ID
Available at /
When it comes to Chinese Western musical fusions, Vancouver is the
undisputed leader.  Artists from these parts have at varying times
merged Chinese folk and classical music with Celtic, Brazilian, Spanish
and Aboriginal music to name a few, not to mention North American folk,
jazz, blues and classical sounds.

Now Vancouver’s Orchid
Ensemble, already one of the pioneering acts of the cross-cultural
fusion scene, is preparing a concert that will showcase its members’
most personal repertoire yet: a concert that pays tribute to the
centuries-old links between Chinese and Jewish culture.  It’s called
Ten Thousand Miles to Kai-Feng.

The project began about 11 years
ago as a labour of love for the ensemble’s founders, the husband and
wife duo of Lan Tung and Jonathan Bernard.  Tung was an award-winning
erhu player in Taiwan before settling in Canada with her family at age
20.  Bernard is a Canadian percussionist of Jewish ancestry who is a
regular with the Vancouver Symphony.

they discovered together is fascinating: tangible evidence of a Jewish
presence in China can be dated to the seventh century when Sephardic
Jews arrived from Persia along the several Silk Roads, settling in
China’s capital city, Xi'an. By the Northern Sung dynasty (960-1127
CE), a thriving Jewish community had been established in the new
capital Kaifeng, and it remained active for the next 1200 years. More
recently Russian Jews settled in Harbin and Ashkenazi Jewish refugees
settled in Shanghai.  There is also a long-ago-established Jewish
community in Hong Kong.

What has not survived, however, is any sense of what the music
made by the Jewish settlers and their Chinese neighbours might have
sounded like, or to what extent their respective musical traditions
were merged.  Thus, Tung and Bernard used their imaginations to create
the music that might have been – compositions that find common ground
between Jewish and Chinese styles.  They also turned to Moshe Denberg,
the composer behind B.C.’s well-known Jewish music ensemble, Tzimmes.
The resulting concert promises a fascinating array of
work.  Among the pieces to be performed is a Denberg composition called
“El Ginat Egoz,” which will feature the VCC Madrigal Singers, and a
unique arrangement of a traditional Chinese piece called “Hundred Birds
Honouring the Pheonix,” which has been transformed for soprano sax by
Mike Braverman, the lightening-fast reed player behind Olam. The show
will also mark the world premier of “El Adon,” a Denberg composition
based on a sacred Jewish melody, and “Ba Ban Variations,” a new
composition by Tung. In addition, there will be some Jewish-influenced
pieces from the group’s 2005 Juno-nominated CD The Road to Kashgar,
which explored Chinese interaction with cultures all along the Silk

Lan Tung

Orchid Ensemble
Chinese Music and Beyond…

Dalai Lama in Calgary: meets my cousin Johnee Wong Smedley

Dalai Lama in Calgary: meets great-great grandson of Rev. Chan Yu Tan m

My cousin's son Johnee Wong Smedley lives in Calgary.  He has studied martial arts and Asian philosophy, as ways to connect with his Asian heritage.  We reconnected this summer at my grandmother's 99th birthday.  Johnnee was last in Vancouver in 2000 when we held a Rev. Chan family reunion.  Today he met the Dalai Lama.

Here is a story from my cousin Johnee Wong Smedley in Calgary:

Today is a milestone for me in my life as of late; I volunteered on my
day off to work a special event. I just signed up for the extra hours
and was in for a great surprise! I mean something I was not ever

Here is the heart of the day.

His Holiness
the Dalai Lama is the wisest of the wise; his heart is so pure I had
tears in my eyes. When he spoke his compassion was with out words. He
is humble and sincere. I cried when he gave me some advice.

simply said, “No matter how hard ife becomes or how dark you may feel
always remember two things. Love unconditionally yourself and all of
humanity. The second is to breathe. Breathe love into yourself when you
breathe in; when you breathe out breathe out love unto the world.”

put his warm, strong, yet gentle hands onto my heart and said, “YES,
Just like that.” He smiled again a big smile and said “Thank you for
being here with me today.” I replied, “Your Holiness it is my deepest
honor to serve you.” and thanked him for his wisdom and heart felt

He hugged me then went on stage to greet his audience,
his speech and his words to me made me weep. At lunch he said “You have
great love in your heart, the world needs more men with such love to
give.” I bowed deeply and said “I serve humanity.”

Other then
those personal moments with him the remainder of the day was small talk
of events through out the day with his advisors, RCMP officers, K-9
handlers, security officers, audio/video production staff, and event

The experience was so deep and powerful for me, not a single word can describe my day with his Holiness.

is moments like these that make you take a long hard look within and
see who and what you truly are. Honestly, I have not liked myself in a
very long time. My life fell to pieces, I could not accept where my
life ended up in the last year. I’ve been unhappy and dissatisfied and
became extremely bitter to myself and to those I have loved and cared

After today, I can now look upon myself with hope and
inspiration. It is amazing how the words of one man can have such a
significant impact on me on every level. I wish love upon the world and
will try my best to be the inspiration he shared with me today. I
commit myself to loving everyone with respect and dignity. Finally I
can be at peace with myself.