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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bananas for spring!

It's finally rounded the corner and turned into spring. I've been outside pruning -- the blackberries and rasps stand tidier than ever before. The quince and plum trees look ready to bloom. I even snipped the dead bits off grapevine and trimmed the little peach sprawled against the wall of the house. The only ones I left alone were the fig trees, spoilsports that they seem to be, so rarely bearing fruit.

Earlier this week I managed a trip to two of our coastal islands -- always a good way to get into the swing of feeling the seasons change.

Nope, I'm not foolin' (nor would my birth buddy, Debbie Reynolds have joked) when I say I go bananas for spring.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

In among the animals

It's been a wilder than usual week. Not just because of those photos of animals on the walls,though they contributed too -- in a positive way.

The woman is Bonnie Nish, the primary force behind Pandora's Collective, a long-standing group that promotes the arts in the Lower Mainland.

One of the many ongoing events established by Pandora's is 'Word Whips in the Gallery', a gathering that this time I was lucky enough to be a part of.

The way it works: several poets (and usually a musician and/or a dancer) are invited to visit the Zack Gallery at Vancouver's Jewish Community Centre on or around the opening of a new exhibit. Following that, they go home and prepare work that serves as a response to images in the show.

This time, the exhibit, "The Intersection of Science & Art" contained photos taken in South Africa and on the Galapagos Islands. Also included were realistic sculptures of various fish and birds, mainly ones that live here on the West Coast. Both elements served to inspire some strong responses -- not only from the poets who'd officially been invited, but from participants in the Open Mic, such as the talented Sho Wiley.

Of the pieces Bonnie read, the one that resonated solidly was one containing a line, easy for me to identify with, mentioning "days we all want to /crawl into our shell". This is particularly appropriate for Nish, as she's the editor of a book about concussion and brain injury. Not only was she the compiler of (and a contributor to) the book, but she's a survivor of concussion, unafraid to talk about it.

The work presented by the other poets offered the always imaginative range one encounters at readings, although just about everyone seemed to have a poem responding to the photograph of the blue-footed booby with its always-fashionable bright blue feet.

The imagination: surely one of the best traits of our species!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Not quite there yet

These daffodils serve as a good example of how I'm feeling ''not quite there yet" on a number of fronts. Even though I bought them a week ago, they've only barely begun to open -- and in truth, I'm not confident that all the buds will make it.

Oddly, the same thing occurred with quite a few of the bulbs I tried forcing this year. Specifically, it was members of the narcissus family, including the usually reliable 'paper white' variety' that disappointed. They formed what looked like normal buds, but they simply didn't open. And it wasn't just the set of bulbs I'd potted, but ones that came as a gift from a friend -- a friend who's a professional gardener.

But flowers aren't the only case of my feeling "not quite there."

Tomorrow is International Women's Day, and I'm seeing far too many instances of women being nowhere near "there" especially if 'there' can be defined as a place of equality.

I'm thinking specifically of recent court cases where sexual assault charges were not taken seriously, where the judge ruled that being passed out drunk could still signal 'consent'. If there can be any good news in this, it's the fact that the decision has raised an outcry and that today an appeal has been made.

As for wage inequity or glass ceilings, I'm not even going there. Sadly, that's not news.

And maybe I'd feel less edgy about all of this if it weren't for the fact that even spring seems to be on hold. Yep, instead of daffs outside, there's still more snow.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Vigilance required

Today marks the first day of Freedom to Read Week. The books above are on display at my local library. I can't help but notice that several of them are considered science fiction -- books from writers who think about the future, and who often write books that serve as warnings. When writers hit too close to the mark (think Nineteen Eighty-Four, a book that's currently high on best seller lists), what happens? Their books are banned -- or, as we prefer to call it here in Canada, 'challenged'.

This year it seems more urgent than ever to speak out against censorship, even when the battle about 'fake news' is across the border from us. That's much too close for comfort.

The absurdity of the term hit me when I was watching this week's episode in the History of Comedy series (ironically, produced by CNN). In talking about some of the traditional family-comedy shows, Larry David used the term 'fake life'. I can only suspect that the guy complaining most about fake news probably knows quite a bit about it.

We've seen things go from bad to worse regarding Trump's non-relationship with the press, a group he's labelled an enemy of the people.

This week his 'shut up' statements to various reporters have been upped. In effect these now apply to several entire news organizations, notably CNN and the New York Times. If this were in a science fiction novel, it would be scary enough (maybe even enough to get the book banned). Only it isn't fiction; it's reality -- and a frightening one.

It's one thing to ban books -- a horror, to be sure. But it's quite another to disallow writers from gathering information and formulating the words. If I'm not mistaken, the Americans even have an amendment to their constitution which enshrines, among other essential rights, freedom of the press.

Dangerous signs in precarious times? You bet. Vigilance. Probably both meanings are in effect.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's wrong with this picture?

Earlier this year we treated ourselves to a quick holiday (too short, but that's another story) in Cuba. I spent a lot of time strolling along the beach. Initially, my beachwalks were of the standard variety, keeping an eye out for shells or pretty rocks. But it didn't take long for me to decide there were far too many rainbow straws littering the beach.

Because one of my daily practices is picking up a piece of litter, it was easy to bend and pick up the first pink plastic straw that greeted me. But I soon found these littered straws were in abundance. And these were just the ones still on the beach. How many others had made their way out to sea?

In a place where plenty of drinks are being served, practically 24//7, I understand that hygiene is important -- thus, straws are inserted into just about every glass (even the plastic 'glasses') the bartenders hand out. I suppose the colourful straws also present some aesthetic appeal, and no doubt are cheaper than tiny umbrellas would be.

But, the abundance of these plastic straws along the shoreline got me worried about how much ocean contamination they were causing.

The pipe coral in my photo was washed up on shore, yes. And I'll admit to inserting some of the straws I'd picked up into the hollow tubes. I hope the juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made helps make a point -- a point I first heard about from an action in Tofino called 'Straws Suck.'

Plastic doesn't break down well, not even in the sea. Where tourism in Tofino is all about nature and the ocean, folks there take their stewardship seriously. The Straws Suck campaign is simple: avoid straws if you can, but if you need to use straws, use paper ones instead. Something to think about next time you're sucking up a drink.