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A really long time ago, back in the days of recess and pogs, one of my favourite subjects was Art. I can still recall one of my grade 5 projects – making a picture of a bird entirely out of tiny, twisted pieces of coloured tissue paper.
When I was about 11 years old, a Japanese exchange student lived with my family. Her name was Miwako. I still have a small painting of some Japanese kites that she helped me do. And a giant painting of a lettuce. Nothing else, just lettuce. She stuck it on the table and got me to draw it and then either her or my mom ( who is a great painter) helped me mix my watercolours together so that I could tackle the various shades of yellow and green that make up a lettuce. I also had a stellar pencil drawing of the three girls from 90s band TLC. I think it’s in my parent’s attic now in a box.
But then I got busy, and the sketchbooks and pencils started collecting dust on my bookshelf and my watercolours dried up. Over the years I have lost a bit of my patience and the ability to sit still and focus on a “hobby” and not on work or something that has to get done.
So when I saw a Tweet from Vancouver Draw Down about their online daily drawing projects that started on May 9, I was curious. Vancouver Draw Down is 31 days of drawing prompts. Each day there are two prompts shared via Twitter and on their Facebook page – one for beginner drawers ( 5 minutes of drawing) and one for more advanced drawers (15 minutes of drawing).
In its third year, the 31 days of drawing leads up to a big Vancouver Draw Down event. It is a one-day public drawing event inviting people of all ages to join in at a number of locations and engage in art. Its purpose is to connect people back to their creativity and put aside preconceived notions about art.
People who partake in the drawing prompts are welcome to share their daily drawings with the public through the Facebook page, or they can just collect them and know that they are on the path to opening up a part of their brain that (if they’re anything like me) hasn’t been used in a while!
I am trying my best to draw each day – sometimes the easier prompt and sometimes the harder one. I will try to post my drawings here as I can.
It started with a bike. And ended with a three hour hike across town…and a cider,or two.
The offender? Me.
The offense? Online shopping.
This is the story of the seven dollar picnic basket.
As anyone living in a downtown core knows, having a vehicle can be more hassle than its worth. There’s the traffic and parking…oh, parking – those hefty monthly passes, the obscene tickets, the uncertainty of whether or not your car will be in one piece each morning, or if you will have to patch up its wounds caused by some drunk reveller who thought it would be funny to scratch down the side with a key, or smash a window even though there is clearly nothing to steal.
So, you stick with transit and your own two feet. Which brings me to…the bike.
I was on trademe (New Zealand’s version of craigslist combined with ebay) looking for a bicycle. Something that could get me up and over Auckland’s hills, to where the sparkling ocean laps away at the nearby beaches of Mission Bay. I browsed through the listings, saving a few good looking two-wheelers to my “watchlist” page, and before long my attention had drifted away from bikes and I was off oogling picnic baskets.
Maybe its something in the water here, or more likely the tropical climate, but right then I decided it was imperative that I own a picnic basket. How I would get the picnic basket to future picnics could be sorted out later. Hopefully in the form of the previously mentioned, and not yet purchased bike.
So I searched for a listing in Auckland city, until I found one that sounded like it was close by. It looked cute and the seller had a starting bid of $1.50. Why not right? I waited and watched. As the auction deadline drew closer, a few 50-cent bids went in, raising the ante to $4. In the final minute, I threw in a bid of 50 cents and then excitedly back-arrowed to the item page to check the status. It said someone had just bid. Not wanting to miss out, I quickly upped it by $2.50, not realizing that the other bid was actually mine, but because I had back arrowed instead of refreshing the page, it hadn’t appeared on the screen as my bid. (Lesson learned). Needless to say, I probably confused whomever else was bidding with my frantic action and happily won the picnic basket for a whopping $7.00.
I promptly received an email instructing me how to pay for and collect my basket, which I found out was in Mt. Eden, a neighbourhood some 4-5 kilometres from the city centre (if walking in a straight line). Looking at a map, and of course being new to the city, I thought it looked quite simple and estimated a 30-minute walk each way. Unfortunately I didn’t factor in the fact that the rain would stop and I would soon find myself walking in the piercing New Zealand summer sun (still getting used to Auckland’s schizophrenic weather), up hills, down hills, over motorways and under them…until I got so twisted around that I was in a sweaty frazzle and really had no idea where I was.
Eventually I stopped acting like a stubborn male and asked for directions, only to find that I had been going the correct way but having second-guessed the busy highway I was walking along, had veered off and somehow been walking back towards where I started.
I almost threw in the towel, but I was determined to defeat the city and all of its bloody hills so I pushed on until I eventually found the address of the elusive picnic basket. I sat out front waiting for the lady to bring it down, thinking to myself how the stupid basket better be worth my time.
And then, there it was. Beautiful wicker, pretty much new, and with solid blue and green handles fastened with straps of leather. I actually had the energy left to smile.
After paying the lady and collecting my new treasure, I turned to walk back into town, but something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. It was the word:
It was fate. It had to be.
I discovered Rekorderlig, a delicious Swedish cider, in Canada through my friend Leah and promptly developed a mild obsession with it, if not just because they are impossibly hard to get your hands on. Something about the seasons and the demand make them hard to stock, but the shop owner kindly informed me that after a recent sell-out they had sourced out shipments from Australia and Sweden to ensure they got more.
Since I obviously couldn’t risk there not being any the next time I just happened to walk all the way to Mt. Eden, I bought two 500ml bottles and popped them into my picnic basket for the walk home.
Roundtrip? Three hours.