Thursday, January 18, 2018

Finders keepers


I'm pretty sure it was Stephen King who impressed me with his recommendation to read Dickens. He may have even said he often re-reads particular books by Dickens, including the tome of tomes, Bleak House. It isn't one I've ever tried.

Great Expectations was a novel we were expected to read in high school. Memorable in its own ways (at least parts of it linger in memory), it wasn't enough to push me into wanting to read the rest of the Dickens library.

But today (not rainy, hurrah!) might mean that I have to screw up my courage (and clear my calendar?) to take a run at this 1,000+ pages classic. As I entered a building where I had an appointment, there it was, standing near these mossy bricks, extending an invitation to me. For someone who's a believer in 'signs' it's hard to ignore this new addition to my bookshelves (especially where it takes up what seems like more than its fair share).

I'm not ready to start it yet, though I am sure over the course of the year, it will beckon me. When (if?) I manage it, I'll let you know.

Gosh though, if only the title wasn't so grimly discouraging.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A new leaf?

Yikes, we're already into the double digits of January in what I'm still thinking of as a new year. And what a new year it is turning out to be!

I'm still trying to get used to the sound of it: 2018 -- a number I am sure I once believed would mean flying cars. Too bad about those, especially when you consider the traffic congestion we contend with.

But not everything is as bad (or getting worse) as traffic congestion.

Anyone who doubts that some things aren't getting better didn't see Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards, where so many people spoke out on behalf of change. And oh my, there was Oprah, putting a president to shame with her eloquence.

A new leaf? Let's hope so. It's time.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good intentions

It was a rainy night in Vancouver and maybe a time when city workers were on holiday. While it looked as though plenty of people did their best to put their trash where it belonged...somehow this was not exactly the way it was supposed to work. I guess it was a case of good intentions gone awry.

This is a time of year when most of us look back -- whether on what we've accomplished or what we've lost -- and it's also a time for looking ahead, usually with good intentions. Resolutions are often part of the plan, though they often fall aside before long too.

Looking back, it's hard to ignore the near-fiasco that was Canada 150. Well-intentioned, I am sure, but it's leaving very little beside still more debt in its wake. After Canada's Centennial, back in 1967, nearly every little town came away with a legacy, often in the form of a new sports complex. Our local example of this, White Rock's Centennial Arena, still attracts skaters of all ages, whether for hockey, figure skating, or plain old fun.

But what's to show after this year's extravaganza? I'm not sure. Certainly nothing I can cite locally, especially not something we'll be able to point at in another 50 years. Sure, there were gimmicky gizmos, flags and shirts and hats -- even coins that glow in the dark -- though the one of these I liked best doesn't have fireworks, only the glow of the beautiful Northern Lights.

Even the weather seemed to frown on the celebrations. Canada Day in Ottawa saw a downpour of rain. Year-end celebrations with the whopping expensive no-fun skating pond also fizzled, thanks to temperatures deemed too cold, complete with safety warnings. 

Best memento I came across was one that we had for dessert not so long ago. A delicious dark chocolate bar, that came in a box a few sizes too big for the bar. Yummy, yes. But kind of like the celebratory year itself: not quite up to expectations.

And I haven't even mentioned the elephant in the room: the fact that Canada is way more than 150 years old. People have lived here for eons.

I'm hoping for better from our government(s) in 2018, and hoping as well that I will be able to live up to some of my goals and not have them dribble off into the Land of Good Intentions. How about you?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The power of believing

Over the years, it's been a bit of a tradition for me to write about some of our family's traditions as we celebrate the return of the light at Solstice and, of course, the things we do to observe Christmas.

One of the oddest of these has to be our "Christmas Pig" -- the one in the photo above. It's hard to remember when he began taking up position, playing guard at the end of our walkway each December. But there he sits, year after year, on a complicated bicycle sculpture that's always illuminated by many coloured lights.

This year, he got an added topping of snow. As it melted, it turned to ice, giving him a decidedly punkish coif. Just as Charlotte wrote in her magical web, I have to agree: "SOME PIG!"

But believing in Christmas magic is what's been on my mind. Best of all was the experience I shared with my sister, when we looked out the window and saw (yes, we both swear to it -- and we were way too young to drink) the magical sleigh, flying through the sky, pulled along by that famous team of reindeer.

And even later, another Christmas miracle: this time when I was (still) an adult. One Christmas morning, my kids and I went out to the backyard and were amazed to find parallel marks gouged into the snow, surely the tracks of a sleigh.

Although the kids pestered me, accusing me of making the marks, I knew positively that I hadn't made then, nor could I have been as precise if I'd tried. Besides, no footprints accompanied the tracks.

A prank by a neighbour? I doubt it, as we had only lived in that particular house for about two months and really didn't know anyone who lived nearby. In fact, our next door 'neighbour' was a lumber yard -- an unlikely source for elfish tricks.

I attribute these sights to the power of belief. And if you're lucky enough to have someone in your life who is young enough (or young-at-heart enough) to have such strong beliefs in the Magic of the Season, you are truly blessed.

As for the rest of us, I can only suggest that we all try -- even for just a few minutes -- to believe. Because, if we do, who knows? Maybe tonight, even pigs will fly.

Sending Happy Christmas greetings to friends and family near and far, with hopes that you indeed find time to believe.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Thirteen bananas

...that didn't get eaten, somehow made their way to the freezer. This morning, when I saw that we were getting some snow, it looked like a good day to thaw those and put them to better use.

So, thirteen loaves of banana bread are cooling on the counter, waiting for plastic wrap and a bow. Edible gifts for friends.

Ho ho...


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Two out of three -- not good enough

Thankfully, there were a few rays of good news this week. In the US, Democrats scored a victory -- both political and moral -- when voters in Alabama elected Doug Jones to represent them in the Senate, the first time in more than 20 years for such an occurrence. This marked a huge shift in thinking. Or, perhaps it meant simply the beginning of thinking: not choosing the 'same old, same old' candidate from the Old Boys' Network. Mind you, voters there had plenty of reasons to not vote for the incumbent, but that's another story or two.

Locally, voters in the riding where I live also made history by coming out to support the federal Liberal candidate. In doing so, they gave us our first Liberal Member of Parliament in 64 years. We've had nothing but conservatives of one stripe or other heading to Ottawa on our behalf for way too long. And even though I am not always fond of the federal Liberals, I'll admit that I was part of this sea change. For the only the second time in all my years of voting, someone I cast a ballot for has won a seat. I can only hope that with proportional representation becoming a stronger possibility -- at least at the provincial level -- my vote will count more often.

So, two good news stories, but counterbalanced by one very bad one: On Monday, the provincial government came down with its decision on the fate of the Peace River Valley -- in essence, damning it by going ahead with plans to dam it. This Site C decision is bound to have many negative repercussions for the provincial NDP, the party currently in control (by a hair) here. As for the other negative outcomes -- disregard for farmland, First Nations claims and heritage, and of course the overall environmental losses (forests, fish, birds and a slew of wildlife), those will echo far into the future. Although our premier's statement was thoughtful, it's hard for me to not be suspicious of political ties that may have weighed on him. But, that's only speculation, and not something that's going to change anything -- especially not for residents of BC, in particular, those who live in this region of the Peace, whose homes and land will be flooded.

So, two out of three reasons to celebrate; one to cry over.

It's interesting that the two positive outcomes were brought about through the voice of the people, while the Site C decision was made by a group of politicians sitting around a table. Had there been a referendum, with our province's citizens voting to decide, might the result been different?

All I can hope is that come Solstice, we'll start seeing more change for the better. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

No two the same

Hmm. Looks as though I must be on another of my kicks to keep Canada Post in business -- all on my own. That isn't really the reason I still send cards, mostly it's because I love making them.

Many of them are made from bits and pieces of cards that people have sent me. Some of them are more involved -- layers of stamps and stickers -- or my favourite: getting out the pencil crayons and colouring.

Luckily, my friend and I started early this year. We closed up our 'crafts shop' early in November. But now, here it is, almost mid-December, and I'm still deciding who gets what and sending them out.

Oh well, there'll be plenty of other things to do this month. But then, aren't there always?