Winter Olympic Musings

InukshukAs some of you may know from my snail mail New Years letter in December, I had a scheme to work for the winter Olympics and make a ton of money in a short time period. I used to work large sporting events (catered for the APGA golf tournament in 2000 and the NZ V-8 car races in 2004) and had found that huge sports events usually pay the best money. So I was pretty shocked to discover that to work for the Molson Canadian Hockey House, and provide the food for Concord Place during the 2010 Winter Olympics would only be an hourly rate of $15.

Wolfgang Puck is the big name connected to the catering for these events. I guess companies have found that if they pay a lot of money to a top dog chef, then all the little cooks will eagerly offer up their sweat and souls (and sometimes the tip of a finger or more) to have a chance to work ‘with’ him (although they may not even see him). I suppose it also looks good on your resume, fortunately I am too old to worry about those sorts of things any more–I am not so eager to be a slave for rich/famous people as I was in my youth–I suppose that is a good thing?

I also had spoken with a North Shore catering company that hoped to get the contract to cater for Cypress mountain, unfortunately that ended up going to a catering company from San Diego (not sure how that all works, but I do find it curious that these US companies and chefs are getting the contracts for an event that is in Canada (what happened to the whole ‘local’ slogan?), but I suppose that is how ‘free trade’ works–the ability to freely undercut the little person from every direction.

Anyway, all that aside, I actually am now working for a catering company, Lazy Gourmet, Susan Mendelson’s catering company. This friendly gang of hard-working chefs are happy to have me join their team, pay me a decent wage and are even working with me by giving me a schedule that I can handle since I have been so unhealthy these past few years. The first day I barely made it through but I am doing fine now, apart from not being used to being on my feet 8 hours a day, and I mostly chalk this up to the GAPS diet we started in February.

Ken Wesman ArtIt is fun to be part of the action and the excitement that has taken over Vancouver, and it also gets me out regularly to find out what is going on all around the city. I am also helping out with an art show put on by the YWCA with local athlete and artist Ken Wesman, who does really vibrant and energy filled acrylics of the winter games. He’s also donating 50% of the profits to the YWCA and is a really friendly easy-going guy with more energy than I have and is in his 70s. You can view his paintings here or get down to 733 Beatty Street if you are in town!

We heard there was going to be a protest marching on BC Place, as the torch came down Beatty Street for the opening ceremony so we headed down-town to join in the activities, we took a slow route past Science World (Russia House) and on around False Creek, and got some nice views of the Olympic Village. I do confess to having very conflicting feelings around these Olympics. My first Olympics were the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles (the 1980 Olympics were boycotted because of…something to do with USSR in Afghanistan…right? …but didn’t I just hear that a Canadian kid was killed in a military training in Afghanistan?). Sorry for the sidetrack…


I have made some of these photos into postcards which you can buy here.

We were back in the US of A on furlow (my folks were missionaries so we came back to the States once every three years to see the relatives) that year and were staying in LA for part of the Olympics, we got to see a field hockey game and an equestrian race or something I vaguely remember. I even wrote a report on Mark Spitz (where is he now?). This was the Olympics that Russia didn’t come for, to the shock and horror for McDonalds. That year they were running a give-away of a Big Mac for every gold medal the US athletes won and various other things for the other medals. Our father took us on a road trip up the coast to Seattle, visiting friends and keeping us out of our mother’s hair (my mother was on the verge of giving birth to my youngest brother so was at Grandma’s place resting up). We lived on McDonalds burgers, fries and shakes that summer for free as the US athletes took home all the medals. McDonalds suffered some losses I believe and never ran such a campaign again. Their presence is hot and heavy here at the 2010 Olympics…and I have one question…do Olympic athletes really eat McDonalds? Well, all of that to say that despite the fact that I abhor large sporting events, I have to confess it is impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of the Olympics.

With the death of an athlete before the games even began and many more serious injuries in the first week, I really hope that the world will recognize that the costs of these games is too high, it has gotten way out of hand. Although honestly I have no real idea of how hard those athletes work to get that amazing minute with the sunlight of the whole world shinning on them, I think that if these athletes had a chance to really see and speak to the people whose lives are stolen by the incredible cost (I heard that $10,000 an hour was being spent to fly snow to Cypress so the events could go on in the incredibly warm spring weather we are having here!). Once we really understand the costs we will wake up and recognize that we should be channelling that money into true earth healing before it is too late.

I better go to bed now, so I hope this makes a little sense and I will talk about February 14th in Chinatown this year which was also one of conflicting energies — Chinese New Year celebrations bringing in the year of the tiger and a memorial for the missing and murdered women of the Down Town East Side (DTES). These events were held about two blocks away from each other. One was of exuberance and the other was collectively directed inward with deep pain and love, but steadfastly looking and speaking out despite the pain. It is great to be in a city that has all of these interacting energies that have a place to be heard. I have lived in places where such things are only dreamt of.

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