Sunday, December 16, 2018

Ya gotta have art...

Every now and then, it comes to my attention that the arts community doesn't get the respect it deserves. I'm not sure why this is, as it's hard for me to imagine what life would be like without having art in it.

Not long ago, the city where I live changed its mayor and council. It was all above board, a civic (and mostly civil even) election, nary a Russian influence peddler in sight, I am sure.

But along with the change of persons, it seems as if the new government may have lost its heart, especially when it comes to the A-R-T part of that word.

Tomorrow night the Council will be voting on their new budget, a pared-down plan that withholds funding for so many of those things that enliven and enrich our lives. The proposed plan fails to allocate monies to just about anything that might be deemed cultural -- the expansion of community centres, libraries and museums, even athletic facilities.

With our city's population growing by 1,000 people every month, it seems short-sighted in the extreme to be taking this hard-nosed stance. After all, isn't the administration of a city supposed to be there to benefit its citizens?

So why, you might be wondering, did I post a photo of a choir?

Besides being safely camouflaged in among the altos, I'm pleased that, as a result of our annual winter concert, we helped raise money for an important community-serving group whose funding has been cancelled, the Volunteer Cancer Drivers. Audience members made donations which were matched and then topped up by anonymous donor, resulting in a total of $8,000 for the cause.

I can only hope -- in particular during this season that's supposed to be about giving -- that tomorrow night's meeting will see a reversal of the current mindset and will loosen the purse strings to the benefit of everyone who lives here.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Fallen soldier

This week the first person who comes to mind for most people when they read today's subject header must be President Bush the Elder, George H W. And while it was good to hear the way he was eulogized on Wednesday, the fallen soldier I have in mind to day is my dad.

Had he still been alive, he'd have been turning 100 today. He was born in 1918 on the date that would later be called the Day of Infamy, Pearl Harbor Day.

It's hard to picture him being 100, as he died a long time ago -- by coincidence, at the same age I've now achieved -- and I can't imagine lasting to be 100 either.

Not long ago, while cleaning out old items from the attic, we came across an ancient suitcase -- one he'd used decades ago, complete with fading stickers affixed. Most of them were fairly straightforward: souvenirs of towns he'd visited, a university he'd briefly attended, and several others with meanings long gone obscure.

One I managed to track down was a sticker from C&S Air Lines. Another -- one I haven't been able to identify -- is, I suspect, from when he piloted a bomber during WWII. I'm guessing it as maybe meaning Overseas Bombing something-or-other.

It's hard for me to try to think of what life might be like (though I'm hoping human life will still exist) in 2118. And I'm sure that no one in 1918 could have envisioned what today's world would be. Happy what-would-have-been-your-100th-birthday, JB.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Season for recycling

It's again been the time of year when my friend and I make Christmas cards.

This year I took a somewhat different tack than usual. Rather than relying on the wealth of supplies I've accumulated over the years, I decided to try using as many 'old' cards as I could -- recycling them into 'new' cards by cutting and pasting and decorating them.

Some were easier to use than others -- nice, tight little designs that lent themselves to being reused, sometimes even in combination with bits from other cards.

The results, if I do say so, were pretty good, with a few I almost hate to send away.

And I'll admit, because I even tried to use cards from specific people to make 'new' cards that will go to them this year, it'll be interesting to see whether any of them notice their 'old' card coming back to them with happy holiday greetings.

Monday, November 26, 2018


These little lettuces might be looking a little straggly, though you might too if you'd been living outside during the start of our rainy season.

Still, I'm pretty happy that a couple of these have hung in this long.

Two pots of geraniums are still blooming red out front, and I even picked a half-dozen raspberries the other day.

Survivors? Yes, but not for long, as tonight's salad bowl is looking a little empty -- but not for long!

Monday, November 19, 2018


The last few days have been busy with a number of launches -- of books and even of venues.

Wednesday saw a packed house at Vancouver's Massy Books (a wonderful bookstore, filled with titles both classic and new), with Leslie Timmins and I both launching our new books of poetry. Leslie's is Every Shameless Ray, and mine the crazily-named Practical Anxiety.

But that wasn't the end of the week's launches, as Sunday was the day things really got rolling.

Rob Taylor launched What the Poets are Doing -- not to be mistaken for the Tragically Hip's always-cool song about the poets. Taylor's book provides readers with an updated version of a book from 2002, this time with more Canadian Poets in Conversation.

Sunday was also when Marion Quednau launched her new collection from Caitlin Press, Paradise, Later Years. That's a photo of her, signing copies of the book.

And oh yes -- for me at least -- one of the many exciting parts of the day was the 'launch' of Vancouver Public Library's new rooftop garden.

Nine floors up and views to forever.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

One hundred years on

....since the end of the 'War to End All Wars'. Unfortunately, that idealistic name for World War One has not proven to be true. Numbers of how many died vary according to source, but taking into account civilians as well as military, 37 million is one figure I saw for casualties -- just about exactly our country's current population. If every single person in Canada were to suddenly die, the world would need to take notice.

This day of remembrance is filled with traditions, including the red poppy so many of us choose to wear as commemoration.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
between the crosses row on row. 
The photo of the 'row' of poppies is from above the kitchen sink in our RV, The Rattler. We seem to often be on the road in early November, so poppies are often part of our apparel. It's good for me to know where a few extras are, as too often I seem to go out with the 'wrong' jacket -- with my poppy invariably on a different coat.

Right now, I can still hear a few of the big planes passing overhead. Earlier a tight formation of single-engine fighters went by. After that, I even saw a biplane -- the same kind of plane that actually flew in WWI.

But at the stroke of 11:00, I was listening to a different kind of sound. Turning on the radio, I was greeted by silence -- a sound (or lack thereof) that might have been disconcerting any other day.

I am sure the people in Syria would be glad to have their world quiet down. And not only Syria, but Afghanistan and far too many other places to name. It seems a bit crazy, but maybe we really will have to wait for extraterrestrials to visit for us to decide to live together in harmony and peace. Considering what bad shape we seem to be in, I'd like to think that maybe they're on their way.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The incredible stillness of silence

I'm not a golfer, but I admit to enjoying the walking part, as golf courses seem to always be beautiful places. Luckily, my partner (who's an awesome golfer) doesn't mind my tagging along, dragging only my camera for my usual nine-hole limit.

The photo above is from the course at Discovery Bay, and it's either the 13th or 14th hole. Whichever isn't all that important. The situation prompting this post is what mattered to me. The photo is from only a few seconds after the fact.

I'm not sure how I noticed it, but notice I did -- silence. Not a traffic sound, not a plane overhead, not even the sound of wind or an animal. The unusualness of the quiet managed to catch me off-guard.

It's not very often that total silence reigns. Even now, in the privacy of my office, besides the quiet taps of my fingers on the keyboard, there are sounds. Although the window's closed, I can hear a kind of humming from outside. Probably a machine, part of the ongoing construction our neighbourhood continues to endure. And another, the sound of a truck or other large vehicle passing a few blocks away.

How long did that momentary silence last? Twenty seconds? Maybe. I don't really know.

What ended it? I'm not even sure anymore, though I'm pretty sure it was a natural sound that broke the spell -- either a frog or a trill of birdsong. And soon after, I noticed the hum of traffic on the nearby road and then another of the little planes overhead.

The silence didn't last long, but its effect was deep and something I won't forget. For that small but precious interval, I'd witnessed something I don't get enough of, and experienced myself as a part of it. Exhale. Ahhh.