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Owen was my partner. I offer up here some humble reflections on this day of his celebration of life.

with love,

Naomi

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I met Owen at Miradoro.  He was there giving some much needed direction and focus at restaurant opening.  I saw that he had a bass clef tattooed on his arm.  Immediately I asked him if he played the acoustic bass and if he was at all interested in Free Jazz.

No and no were the answers.  That didn’t stop us from becoming friends.

His Italian cooking chops were top notch.  He had a deep feel for the culture and the food to where I no longer lamented the fact he didn’t play bass.  His art was his cooking (among other things–his website and video work was well ahead of the curve.)

Owen was the winner of the third annual Meat Fest at the Elite in Penticton.   Dee-lish.  I envy those of you who had multiple occasion to enjoy his cooking.

Unlike so many I have met in the hospitality industry, Owen could “hang.”  I looked forward to his company.  He stayed overnight at our house quite shortly after we met.  Maybe it was for Meat Fest?  Regardless, he just fit in, was a complete gentleman, knew how to be around people, was very low maintenance, was very entertaining.  Just an easy going, agreeable person.  It was always a “chillax” time when Owen was around.

Our friendship took on a new, different facet when he was diagnosed.  Previously, I had been through stage IV testicular cancer with metastasis to the liver and lymph nodes, gone through chemo, had numerous surgeries, etc.  E-mails turned to questions and complaints about the chemo process.  From what I could tell, he handled that process it a lot more stoically and gracefully than I did.

I met up with Owen and Naomi in New York city in (I think) October of 2013.  Owen had started chemo and was showing some of the effects–he had lost some weight and was getting around a little slower.  None the less, he still had his hair, his personality and love of life.  We walked all over lower Manhattan, went to art galleries, strolled the Highline and enjoyed the sensory inputs of the city.

The last time I saw Owen was at my house in Oliver.  Though he was clearly in great pain and feeling the effects of his medication, it wasn’t enough to obscure the Owen we knew and loved.  He refused to let it get the better of him.  We ate dinner, sat on the couch, and hung out.  It was all very normal.  Being the gentleman he was, Owen ignored the spectre so our memory would be warm and joyous, like him.

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Remembering Owen’s food

I wish I could have taken the opportunities when I had them to take more pictures of Owen’s food. So many moments of beauty have slipped away, and will always be locked suspended in the pictures I never took. I hope this helps you at least remember Owen’s food. Soon, let’s all get together and cook his recipes. And then enjoy every last bite.

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The Night Air Brings Me Home by Owen Lightly (from the Desolation Sound album)

 

There’s peace in the alley

It’s hell behind the stove

I wake up every morning

And I don’t want to go

 

But the night air brings me home

It always brings me home

 

I spend too many hours

Standing on my feet

I just want a sad song

To put on repeat

 

But the night air brings me home

It always brings me home

 

Baby you’re the light

A reason to fight

And if I was able

I would buy you a stable

Of horses

 

You said cheer up sailor

Your boat is close to shore

And all I need to do is think of you

When I want to walk out of that door

 

But the night air brings me home

It always brings me home

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Leading Man

 

 

Leading Man by Owen Lightly (from the Desolation Sound album)

 

Let me take you out of danger child

Round here these folks are wild

They look you up and down with a dangerous smile

While playing tricks on you all the while

 

We’ll run and run until peace is found

Forever watching the sun go down

Our old life, it just came unwound

Just like a ship that’s run aground

 

It’s all over, all over

All over in my dreams

 

Let’s keep on moving if we can

Across the plains of another land

Truth is honey, there is no plan

I was never much of a leading man

 

The breaking light of another dawn

The feeling comes and then it’s gone

I keep singing the same old song

And we keep on keeping on

 

It’s all over, all over

All over in my dreams

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There is a Buddhist proverb reminding us that there are as many ways to point to the moon as there are places to stand on this earth. I believe Owen knew this from childhood. He sought light.

He would like to have been a country troubadour, written songs about far away places, epic battles, dogs.

But the inspiration he longed for manifested itself chiefly in the kitchen. He could have been the tenzo in a zen monastery…turning the Wheel of Reality within a grain of dust. “If you only have wild grasses with which to make a broth,” Master Eihei Dogen warned a thousand years ago, “do not disdain them. If you have ingredients for a creamy soup do not be delighted. Where there is no attachment, there can be no aversion. Do not be careless with poor ingredients and do not depend on fine ingredients to do your work for you but work with everything with the same sincerity. If you do not do so then it is like changing your behaviour according to the status of the person you meet; this is not how a student of the Way is.”

Not long ago Owen dreamed of a sky in which bells hung. Nobody knew who put them there or what set them off. They chimed irregularly, without rhythm. Loud. “Damn loud,” Owen said. In his dream he sat in his apartment writing notes to his beloved Naomi as they waited for the bells to peal.

“I think this might be a dream,” he told her. “Don’t worry, we’ll wake up soon.”

“It’s been years,” she replied. “We’re never getting out of here.”

The dream was a puzzle. Life is a puzzle. Night falls. The moon makes its way across the sky. In the forest a tree leans. A bubble floats in a stream, bursts. Somewhere fat sizzles in a frying pan. Somewhere two lovers press together in the darkness. A baby cries. A bell rings.

Here is a song Owen might have liked to have written. It is a Navajo night chant.

House made of dawn,
House made of evening light,
House made of dark cloud…
Dark cloud is at the house’s door,
The trail out of it is dark cloud,
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it…
Happily may I walk,
Happily, with abundant showers may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily, on the trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.

Here is a pygmy funeral song. It is the song I turn to in grieving my dear friend Owen. He is free now. The shadow has melted away.

An animal is born, passes this way, dies,
And the great cold comes,
The great cold of night, blackness.

A bird passes this way, flies, dies,
And the great cold comes,
The great cold of night, blackness.

A fish darts by, passes this way, dies,
And the great cold comes,
The great cold of night, blackness.

A man is born, eats, sleeps,
And the great cold comes,
The great cold of night, blackness.

The sky bursts into flame, its eyes go out,
The morning star shines,
The cold below, the light above.

A man has passed this way, the prisoner is free,
The shadow has melted away….

 

Written by Owen’s friend and mentor, Bernard Laurie Edwards
2014

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Owen on stilts

 

Owen

 

A heron stands, akimbo, in the shallows

perplexed by his catch,

     too large for the swallowing.

 

A boy with blazing, light-filled eyes

precariously balances atop dry-walling stilts,

     face a dumbshow of pride, delight, terror.

 

I called the heron Blue.

Owen was the boy seizing the day,

     as the poets say.

 

He grew up on the bench of a hill,

knew the songs of thrushes, hooting owls,

     quarrelling ravens.

 

He dreamed rock and roll,

wracking with loud desire the stone and trees

     and restless sea below.

 

Then to the city,

tattooed and dapper, salmon on his arm,

     cookery in mind.

 

Stories were told:

butter on the endive, travels in Italy,

     brotherhoods and friendships.

 

A return visit, Naomi on his arm

them walking softly on the land,

     deer paths and hideouts.

 

They blessed my home.

I imagined old Blue swallowing at last,

     the boy standing straight on his stilts.

 

 

Written by Owen’s friend and mentor, Bernard Laurie Edwards

2014

 

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Celebration of Life

To all those whose lives have been touched by our beloved Owen, please join us on June 22 as we celebrate his life.
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photo by naomi horii

photo by naomi horii

Put on a good album and MAKE AN APPLE TART RIGHT NOW. Stop waiting for a special dinner or lunch with friends. Just use those amazing organic apples you just bought and make a tart. Here, to help you hurry up here’s the recipe. For more pictures on how we ended up enjoying the thing, check out our first guest post on the Lululab blog.

Apple Tart
Yields 1 8-inch tart

Sweet Tart Dough – (from the Tartine cookbook)

1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Method:
Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer and mix on a medium speed until completely smooth, approximately 3-4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Return mixer to medium speed and add the eggs one at a time until completely combined. Stop the mixer and add the flour. Mix on low speed until a loose dough is formed. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equal balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. This recipe makes extra tart dough, which can be frozen for up to 2 months. For one 8-inch tart shell, you will need one quarter of the dough.

The Tart

5-6 medium sized apples, we used both granny smith and gala
1 ball sweet tart dough, recipe above
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, diced small
1 tablespoon Beta 5 yuzu marmalade, lightly warmed

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 325 F. Bring the dough to room temperature and roll on a lightly floured work surface until approximately 1/8th of an inch thick. Line an 8-inch tart pan with the dough and gently press the dough into the mold. Use a knife to trim the excess dough around the edge of the pan. Peel the apples, quarter and remove the core. Thinly slice the apples to 1/8th of an inch thick. Begin to arrange the apples from the outside in. Sprinkle sugar on each layer, as well as a few small pieces of butter. Continue until the shell is full and bake the tart in the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the tart shell is golden brown. Using a pastry brush, glaze the top of the tart with the warmed marmalade. Cool to room temperature and enjoy.

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My Daily Mantra: Rise Above

Nothing like some hardcore punk rock to get the blood flowing.

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