Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On a rock on the Rock

Newfoundland is as far east as we can go while still being in Canada -- quite a trek from our home on the west coast. The rock I'm standing on is along the East Coast Trail, where we took a mini-hike yesterday.

This trip here is to promote the new Amelia book, but it's also an opportunity to explore. Besides, the people are friendly, and the sights are magnificent. We've even managed to find a few icebergs!

But now, onward!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Eeny meeny miny no

This is just a sample of the crazy bouquets of signs that were lined up on nearly every boulevard and median in our neighbourhood. I'm sure this was a common sight all over the province as we prepared for the election held here in BC earlier this week.

Results of this election proved one thing to me: we are ready for (and need) some form of proportional representation.

If we use stats reported (as of May 10), the percentages of votes cast would suggest a legislature caught in a tie. The BC Liberals and NDP would each have 35, rather than their current respective 43 and 41. But the Greens, rather than having 3 members elected to the legislature, would have a whopping 15 seats. Even those 'other' candidates, based on the 2.55% of votes they received, would have elected 2 members instead of none.

I find it of interest that it was exactly 8 years ago today that British Columbians went to the polls to vote on a referendum that might have given us a proportional system.

Needless to day, it didn't pass, or we wouldn't be facing the unsettled confusion we have today.

There had been an earlier vote on the issue in 2005, though if you look at the conditions that passage required then, it almost appears to have been rigged to fail. Revision of the voting system required 60% approval to pass, (It seems worth noting that a far bigger issue, the Brexit referendum, passed on a simple majority.) But because it only got a 57.7% approval, it had to go to a provincial referendum. In that referendum, the one that took place on this date in 2009, the motion failed -- for any number of reasons.

There are still plenty of votes to be counted, especially absentee ballots. And I'm sure there'll be a number of ridings where a recount will be needed. There's one instance where the current margin determining the winner is only 9 votes. But even that illustrates the point -- every vote counts, yes -- but in a first-past-the-post system, pretty well half of voters are not represented. Maybe by the time the next election takes place, we'll have a system that better reflects the wishes and beliefs of the people. Here's hoping.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Be prepared

If I'm not mistaken, for years this was the motto of the Boy Scouts. A quick search revealed that it's now the motto of Scouts Canada, which has morphed into an organization for boys and girls.

Looking to origins of the sentence, it's attributed to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement. The motto turns out to be perfectly appropriate for Canada's Emergency Preparedness Week.

This is a week when we're supposed to be updating (or establishing) our emergency kits -- maybe even talking with neighbours about how we can plan for ways to get through a natural (or other) disaster.

This was one of the topics at the recent Permaculture event I attended. One of our activities was to list those skills or materials each of us has -- ones that might prove useful in a disaster, especially if the situation proved to be a long-term one. We quickly realized that, by pooling resources, our group had access to tools, books, water supplies, barbecues, firewood and more.

Even though the items in the photo above are good ones for in an emergency kit (don't forget that manual can opener), these were simply a part of our normal, non-emergency Sunday supper. The dark stuff on top of the beans isn't a mistake. I like to add a dollop of molasses to tinned beans, as I think it always makes them taste better.

Right now there are a lot of people in Canada who are doing their best to get through actual disaster situations, as almost unimaginable flooding has occurred in so many places. We can only be grateful that our emergency kits (including those shoes under the bed, a flashlight in the nightstand, bottled water at easy access) are, at least for the time being, just a part of being prepared.

Monday, May 01, 2017


The April rains, traditionally reputed to bring May flowers, have nearly lived up to expectations. Although the daffodils have long since come and been, the tulips are still standing and even the stalwart daisies have started asserting themselves. As for the lilac, you can see that it's still in the 'almost' category, just about ready to pop open, with that wonderful once-a-year scent.

But the garden isn't the only place where 'almost' is the operative word. It's almost time for our provincial election, one we can only hope will bring about a more positive direction for people here.

My happiest 'almost' is the fact that my new book about Amelia Earhart is now at the printer and is expected to be ready for take-off later this month. One of the most exciting parts of that particular 'almost' is the fact that I will be launching the book at Harbour Grace in Newfoundland -- the same town where Amelia took off for her history-making transatlantic solo across the Atlantic -- and on May 20th, exactly 85 years after her departure from there.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Every day needs to be Earth Day

It's wild how quickly the days keep flipping past -- with me only now finally getting around to saying a bit about how I spent Earth Day. Where the theme of this year's observance was Environmental and Climate Literacy, it was appropriate for this to also be the day when scientists marched, with the goal of science being respected again as the basis for decision-making.

As for my day, I was lucky enough to be invited to a conference on Permaculture. It seemed like an appropriate way to spend the day, even though much of the time was spent indoors. Topics addressed ranged from disaster-preparedness (and forming community in our neighbourhoods) to understanding the nature of currency. For the currency session, all 50 of us walked down to nearby Crescent Beach, where our history lesson included rocks and a stick with notches carved into it.

I first heard about the permaculture movement when I lived in Australia, back in 2002. I suppose it's taken a while for it to take hold here. But, the same way I like to think about postings on this blog, better late than not at all.

It was encouraging to see a range of ages represented at this event -- for a nice change, there were more young people than older ones -- certainly a positive sign for our future.

And I was especially happy to come home and be reminded of the ways we practise so many of the tenets of permaculture in our little yard -- our rain barrels, our compost bin and of course, our 'kitchen garden' which will soon again be providing our summer salads. Yep, those tender green shoots in the image above are some of the seedlings we've started for our outdoor salad bar. Yummm!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pot is on the table

At last! It was 1969 that the LeDain Commission was called -- an official government inquiry into the non-medical use of marijuana.

Over the course of the early 1970s their findings were reported, and -- surprise, surprise -- even back then, their conclusions were that it was time for marijuana laws to change.

Finally, with Thursday's Cannabis Act, Canada has begun to move forward towards legalization.

Sure, there are still kinks to work out. I plan to follow as this process unfolds. I'm just hoping there isn't any back-pedaling from the government. Considering how they've backed out of other promises they've made, I'm going to pay close attention.

One thing I am sure of is that next week's 4/20 events will truly have cause to be celebrations!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Women vote, because we can

It was only 100 years ago today that women were granted the right to vote here in British Columbia. The only reason I know this is because Daphne Bramham, one of the excellent columnists for the Vancouver Sun, brought it to readers' attention. Weirdly, I'm not able to find the piece in question online, though many of her other columns show up in a search. I'll do my best to not be paranoid about this.

Something she mentioned in the piece (it does exist; photo is of the print version which appeared on Saturday) is the fact that it was only in 1964 that women were permitted to open a bank account without their husband's permission. Strange though it seems, I recall being asked for my husband's signature when I applied for my first credit card (if memory serves, it was called 'Chargex') in the early 1980s. The thing is, I wasn't even married. My partner was a common-law spouse and wasn't the primary breadwinner in our household. Somehow I worked around this -- or, who knows, maybe I caved.

Today, on another errand, I needed to stop in at my Member of Parliament's office. While there, I mentioned the significance of the date, and I might as well have been looking at the deer in the headlights. Not a clue. And my MP is female.

We need to know more about our history, especially our history as women. And with an election coming up in our province on May 9th, it's important to support whichever party we most believe in.

It's simple: because we can vote, we must.