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?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Breaking the silence, breaking the cold

These past two weeks have been silent, I know.

Silent, blog-wise, but not silent here. The sounds in our home have been anything but pleasant: sneezing, nose-blowing, cough cough cough coughing. But today, that is finally changing, thanks to what I will have to call My Healing Tree.

Long ago, at a point when I was filled with a grief so harsh I felt completely lost, I took comfort in the arms of one of the cedars in our yard. Weaving my way through the fronds, almost to the centre -- the trunk -- of the tree, I pretty much collapsed into the branches. Without complaint, those branches cradled me, supporting me firmly enough that they kept me from falling to the ground. They held me and kept me safe while I wept myself dry, a turning point in healing from the sadness I'd been overfilled with.

And last night, this same tree offered help again.

Blustery. A Winnie-the-Pooh word for the sort of night it was. But when I woke in the night, I felt that I was being called. Opening the front door, the branches of the cedar seemed to be reaching out to me. This time the branches were whipping in frenetic bursts of wind, but it was a wind that was filling me with sharply scented air, offering what felt like a cleansing for my lungs.

I can only trust that the neighbours weren't watching as I stood outside on the deck, taking in huge gulps of air that seemed to be pulling phlegm and spew from me. I cast it out in spasms of coughing, projectile sputum hurtled into darkness. How long this went on, I'm not even sure.

But finally, once back inside, I managed to sleep. A deep sleep, one that was filled with dreams of summertime, swimming and light. And somehow buried in those dreams, I was handed a vial containing a precious essence. It was small, and in a container that reminded me of the slim darkened glass ampoules of royal jelly I used to buy from the Chinese store.

But this one, singular, held what I was told I needed: cedar oil.

So today I selected tips from the tree, the greenest and freshest ones. Snipped them into a pot and brewed a tea. Tenting myself over the pot, I breathed in the foresty steam, held it deep and long. Then took the smallest cup of it, sipping and taking in its vapours until it was gone.

Almost immediately, I could feel the clearing in my chest. What I had pictured as white fungus (like the white mould that might grow on the soil of a fouled houseplant) inside of me was now gone.

While this sounds as though I must still be well in the grip of fever dreams, I can only say that an Internet search for cedar oil has only suggested caution -- not to drink very much of it, so I am paying attention and doing that. But I also see that indeed cedar oil has, among a number of its other uses, the clearing of fungus.

So maybe the crossover between dream world and reality isn't as great as we may sometimes think, especially when there's a healing tree that serves as a messenger between those two worlds.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Reclaiming lands, reclaiming lives

Before the Site C dam project goes any further, we need to consider another option -- one that would protect all those hectares of farmland (equivalent to about eight Stanley Parks), one that would preserve the sacred burial sites, one that would see the land put to better use than as lake bottom in a lake that nobody needs.

A lot of work has already gone into the site, so abandoning the project will be costly. But re-purposing it could make sense. My vision sees it as a prison farm. 

The nearest correctional centre (a facility designated for offenders serving less than two years) is in Prince George, pretty much a five-hour drive away. The rest of BC's prison facilities are on Vancouver Island or in the Lower Mainland and are, for the most part, over capacity. In other words, there is cause for British Columbians to build another such institution.

Although Oakalla Prison in Burnaby had a dark history, it also had a more positive side, as it was the site of a productive farm. Kingston Ontario was also home to such a facility, but thanks to the Harper government, it was closed down. There are still groups who are working to have this policy rescinded. There is even a herd of cows ready to 'go to prison'. 

A small city already exists on the banks of the Peace. Why not stop building a dam that doesn't make sense and build something else? If mistakes have been made, so be it. That isn't a good reason to dig further into the mistake. 

A prison farm would make use of the threatened agricultural land (even BC Hydro's reports predicted the land could feed a million people) and would give meaningful employment -- not only to inmates, but to farmers from the Peace region who could be employed to manage the prison farm. 

Such a plan would also ensure that sacred sites and burial caches (many of them thousands of years old) of Indigenous peoples from the region would not be flooded, but would be protected. And who knows, a tourist industry might well arise; certainly an interpretive centre could provide work for members of local First Nations. This could be yet another step forward in our efforts at Reconciliation. 

And no prison runs without a large staff -- personnel who range from guards to social workers and medical experts. 

It isn't too late for us to find the courage to proceed along another path in this precious waterway, a path that would preserve the land and heritage while still creating jobs -- and maybe even rescuing some who might have become just another batch of lost souls in the world of gangs and crime.

PS For an easy way to get a call into your MLA, click on this link and fill out the form. They'll phone you right back, putting you through to her/his office. 

Friday, November 03, 2017

Icing on the cake?

Last night, past midnight but well before dawn, light crept into the bedroom, waking me. Outside I discovered the reason. No flash on the camera, just reflected light from the glow of the unexpected white stuff, thus the spooky glow.

I admit to not being a big fan of snow (okay, it can look pretty for a few minutes, especially if it's Christmastime). And even though today is a friend's birthday, the icing on the cake I'm talking about isn't exactly the bonus kind.

Last week broke temp records here.

On Tuesday I was still wearing sandals.

This morning I need to find the shovel and figure out something saucey for those little yellow dots still there shivering on the vine.

Or, I suppose I should just think of all this as icing on the tomatoes.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Our neighbourhood has some pretty wild decorations. This is one of the tamer ones, though they seem to have all the bases covered -- witch, skeleton, ghost, spider with webs. But Halloween decorations aren't the scariest things hanging around these days...

Monday, October 23, 2017

Whales and ...

I don't usually write about books on this blog, especially not ones that have my work in them, but this book is somehow different.

Maybe it's just that so many things seem to be on the cusp of change -- politically, decisions are soon to be announced regarding both the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal and plans for Site C. Anyone who knows or follows me understands that I don't support current plans for either of these going forward, and it tuns out I'm not alone in my thoughts about the Burnaby Mountain project. Today the City of Vancouver has put out a court challenge to review the approval process that took place. There are also several organized protests today, highlighting the dangers of the plan. It looks as though we'll have to wait a few more weeks to know any outcomes.

But back to the book, Refugium: it's an amazing collection of works that honour the Pacific Ocean. Edited by Yvonne Blomer, Victoria's Poet Laureate (that's her in the photo on the left), it brings together poems that celebrate, that praise, and that warn.

It seemed significant when I traveled to Victoria to be part of the launch on the island that, on both legs of my journey across the water the ferry's captain announced the presence of humpbacks nearby. On the trip over, though I dashed to a window, all I managed to see was the roiling water left by their deep dive. But when the same announcement was made on the way back, I got see part of a long, long body curling across the surface, and even got a glimpse of the tail, complete with its own distinctive white markings.

At last week's Vancouver launch one of the presenters, Stephen Collis, startled many of us by mentioning that humpback whales (that's the species pictured on the book's cover) have been known to come to the aid of other sea animals. He called them 'peacekeepers' -- that wonderful term that once, not so long ago, was applied to Canada and its military. And then, as if to back up that tidbit, the next morning's paper had a piece on the social awareness of whales.

With the crazed and crazy ways we (and some of our world's leaders) have been behaving, it's hard to be positive about outcomes for the future. So it's good to know that if we blow ourselves up, perhaps the whales, swimming deep in the oceans will remain. And even if those whales and dolphins don't have our opposable thumbs which have enabled us to create buildings and technologies, we'll be leaving the planet in 'good hands', probably better than the ones it's currently in.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Eat well, eat local

Today is the first day of an "Eat Local" challenge. It runs through early November, perfectly in tune with the final harvest of autumn. It's all about eating well, and cooking with locally-produced food.

All the foods in the photo are ones that were locally grown. This particular batch of eggs, a product I usually buy at my local Farmer's Market, were a gift from a friend who raises chickens (and other critters) at her farm. I love the range of their colours, a mix from the different varieties of chickens she keeps.

The rainbow of tomatoes and sprigs of basil (even in a photo, they want to be near each other, just the way they do in a salad or sauce) are the most locally grown of all, as they're among the last survivors in the back yard garden.

Besides having an excellent market every week, I'm lucky enough to be able to choose among several excellent nearby produce shops, where local food is always identified, making it easy to decide what to buy.

More and more people are choosing to pay closer attention to the food they eat -- all part of staying healthier, eating food that tastes better, and also about using the land better. A number of my friends now proclaim themselves to be urban farmers. A great way to start making this goal a reality for next year is to get a copy of Digging the City. No snobbery here; it proclaims itself as a "manifesto for omnivores" -- a group I'm still proudly a member of.

While I doubt that I can make it through to November without wanting an avocado or banana or orange or lemon or... (Oh dear, I am still too reliant on too many foods from 'away'), I have joined the challenge, as I like its awareness factor.

If you'd like to try the challenge too, follow this link and click on the 'join' button. And even if you don't join, here's to good eating!