Saturday, December 29, 2007

One very cool lady

Once again, our Governor-General, Michaelle Jean has demonstrated just how classy she is. This morning's Globe and Mail contains picks for great reads from a number of prominent people. Her picks? Poetry. The winners of this year's G-G Awards, in both French and English.

M.J., you rock.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Solsticey greetings

And how's this for a sign of hope?
Hyacinth bulbs sprouting -- spring can't be far...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This is what I do

I make butter tarts and banana breads and chocolate-covered brandied apricots, row on crazy row.

But it sure beats going to the mall for gifts for family and friends!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And still more . . .

This flower still isn't ready to quit. After putting out eight blooms, there's yet another bud poking its head out.
More to come from this guy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Miraculous amaryllis

Okay, not really a miracle, but. For someone with such an anything-but-green thumb, I'm impressed by how it's thrived, despite me.

It sure started out as an ugly duckling.

But with just the barest amounts of water and light, look how gorgeous it's become!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Feed the people

What a fun fundraiser!

Last night the White Rock Blues Society brought a lot of people out of their Sunday night cocoon mode. The event managed to raise a heap of money for the local food bank. The photo at the top is Brandon Isaak, fronting a band made up mostly of his band, The Twisters. The pic at the bottom is a fairly surreal shot (sans flash) of the Mud Bay Blues Band. Their trumpet player alone is worth going to hear them play.

Terrific event and a very worthy cause. Let's hope all of us do something for others during this season of sharing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm stumped to why Robert Latimer was denied parole. Okay, they claim he hasn't shown enough remorse. But really, it isn't as if he has another severely disabled child whose suffering he might end. What harm do the powers-that-be expect him to inflict? This sounds like a case of sour grapes, of 'power-over' in one of its ugliest forms.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Guess it must really be December

. . . because I've been making cards. Now it's just a matter of figuring out who gets which one, signing them, and getting them into the mail -- and in time for Christmas! Still, this feels like a great start.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Talk about micro-climate!

The weirdest part is that while this snow was falling, it was raining barely 2km south of here, at the beach in White Rock. Slight change in elevation plus that big liquid sea.

In truth, it always surprises me when it snows here. I know: it's the end of November, so I should be prepared for the white stuff.

My attitude must have something to do with my still holding the image in mind of that January day when I first came to Vancouver from the wintry climate of Sault Ste. Marie. As I rode along in the taxi, everything looked soooo greeeeeen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I like little books

The top shelf of my desk holds a row of tiny books. There's a miniature edition of nursery rhymes, a guide to Japanese gardening, a flip book of Eadward Muybridge photos (the bird flies or a man jumps, depending which way you flip the book's pages). You'll even find Nancy Drew's very brief Guide to Life.

Last spring, when I was in San Francisco, I bought a set of tiny books from a street vendor, Thom Schimer. Lately, I've been reading Kevin Spenst's collection, Fast Fictions. I always love it when I experience synchronicity in what I'm reading. That happened in 'A Story Both Big and Small'. The story makes reference to November, 1972, then closes by referring to a date 36 years after that -- in other words, now.[N.B. bad math -- that would be one year from now -- will have to re-read the story next November]

The stories are all over the place, but prompted me to insert stickies in many different spots throughout the book -- bits of language that jumped off the page and made me want to read them again. But for sheer imagination power, Spenst is at his best in 'What the Soup Told Me To Do'.

He's reading again Sunday (the 25th) at Bibliophile on Commercial Drive. The event begins at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Zappa plays Zappa, again

Last year on December 20th, Dweezil Zappa played at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Last night, he and his band were back -- this time at the Orpheum. I think the sound was even better than last year's show. Who knows, maybe our seats were just better.

A surprise (at least for me) was video footage, with Frank on guitar -- one that wasn't necessary, still a very cool addition. Talk about dessert after an already full buffet.

Only, right now I'm completely jealous. My friend Rolf was at the concert too -- and he managed to meet the band. Apparently, he and Ray White had a chat about hats. What a smarty pants.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rock 'n Read

Saturday, November 17th, and the place to be was the Legion in Crescent Beach. A combo event, it was the first ever in the Rock 'n Read Series, sponsored by the local Community Arts Council. The evening's headliners were Wyckham Porteous and John Armstrong.

John opened up, reading from his hilarious memoir, Guilty of Everything. This hit the spot with the locals, as many recognized the places and times Armstrong was writing about -- the old 7-Eleven behind the OP Safeway, the chicken factory in Newton, cheap apartments for rent down on the beach. He went on to read from his latest, Wages, and kept us both laughing and shaking our heads -- often in recognition over bad times and bad jobs.

After a short break, Wyckham Porteous stepped to the mic. He commented on the irony of our being in a Canadian Legion Hall this night, as two more Canadian soldiers had just died in Afghanistan. He opened his set with the first cut from 3D, his latest CD, a piece that finds its roots in the current conflict.

The band accompanying him was beyond outrageously good. I'll admit to having a soft spot for great keyboard playing, and this concert was no exception. Simon Kendall, once upon a time of Doug and the Slugs, was nothing short of amazing. Pounding piano keys with his right hand, and playing an electronic keyboard with his left, he made as much great sound as a band on his own.

Altogether, a totally wailin' night. And hey, get a load of these two, Wyck's sisters, Robin and Kitty.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm ashamed

...of the Taser incident at YVR that resulted in the death of Robert Dziekanski. And I'm embarrassed that earlier this year, I bragged up YVR on this blog. But then, my positive experience there might have something to do with the fact that I speak English, not Polish.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

O, Blogger, where art thou?

Monday's storm here left us without power. This wasn't your usual annoyance-type-outage -- the kind that sends you re-setting every clockish appliance in the house. We were living on candlepower for over 40 hours.

All because one of the beautiful old trees in our neighbourhood blew down, snagging a power line as it fell across the lane.

So this morning, I'm appreciative as I sit here typing on this lighted screen that connects me to the world. Still, as I sip my hot coffee (made in the under-counter automatic unit, not on the burner of the old fondue set), I cringe as I can hear the wind rising yet again.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Art -- indoors and out

Visiting my sister in North Carolina -- and wow, has she ever set up an itinerary of activities!

Yesterday was a visit to the North Carolina Art Gallery. Links and pix will have to come later, once I'm home. What a cool place though: Impressionists in the featured show; amazing installation pieces outdoors, including a building that's essentially a pinhole camera.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


This was just a week ago, and look what's happened tonight. Maybe Linus has the right idea after all -- shades of The Great Pumpkin, rising.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You are not alone

There probably should have been signs announcing that last time we went out mushrooming-picking. While we didn't encounter any little green creatures, there was plenty of evidence of large brown ones.

Besides piles of scat on the trail, the forest held several reminders that bears were about. We knew it was the season when they'd be fattening up for hibernation. And if we'd forgotten, we would have been reminded by the many salmon battling their way up the shallow streams. Still, despite making plenty of noise while foraging, I came close to stepping on someone's dinner-interruptus -- a partially eaten salmon much too far from the river to have leapt there.
I was glad to be wearing both a bell and a whistle, and much to the disgust of the bears I am sure, I did a lot of singing.

Over the course of the day, we saw some beautiful sights and made a good haul of edible shrooms, most of which are now dried and stored in jars for the winter. Still, I'm darn glad we didn't have to tussle with any of the neighbours.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

World Pasta Day

Can you believe that there's really such a day? Whatever. To observe the day properly, we had linguini for supper.

The recipe is a quickie, passed along to me by a friend. It's one of those combinations that's very forgiving about its ingredients.

If I have mushrooms, I cook them up with the pasta then drain both. While those sit in the colander, I heat up some olive oil and add bits of fresh garlic. (Since you're really supposed to make this with butter, I usually add some butter to the garlicked oil.)

Next, smoosh up a ripe avocado or two, swirl in the juice of a lemon (or, failing that, a lime). Chop up a few green onions (or else add finely chopped bits of red or other onion). Once you get a sauce that resembles soft guacamole, throw the pasta back into the pan and smoosh it all together. Heat it through and add a bunch of grated Parmesan. Sprinkle liberally with freshly-ground black pepper and prepare to be hungry.

Serve with a salad and a cold, crisp white wine. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Galiano -- a place for action

Because George was going to attend a filmmaking workshop on Galiano Island, I decided to come along so we could visit with Chris, our friend over there.

It had been a few years since I'd been to Galiano, and happily, much seemed unchanged. I visited the local bookstore where I made my contribution to the local economy, and then of course the recycle store where the price is the best: free.

Chris and I also accomplished more permanent work. We built a new fence for the goats, Blackie and Bluey (named for the bruises they've been known to inflict on their human). We also took part in a letter-writing campaign -- a continuation of the ongoing process of protecting the forests and watershed of the island. The community hall was a busy place that Saturday morning, with everyone from kids to oldsters doing their bit for the future, questioning the proposed PMFL Act.

You might like to know more about their campaign. Who knows? You might even feel like sending a letter of your own!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Reading at Janet's

Really, I have such civilized friends. To celebrate Marion Quednau's recent book, The Gift of Odin, Janet Vickers hosted a Sunday afternoon soiree.

Because Odin is a pig, albeit of the Vietnamese variety, guests were asked to bring a piggy haiku for the occasion.

Here's Janet, reading hers. Unfortunately, I didn't write that one down. Instead, you get stuck with the silly one I wrote:

"Cartoon in Pink and White"
pretty ballerinas
piggies dancing tippy-toe
on clouds of whipped cream

Write a better one, please. Odin deserves it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Paintings at the Cultch

A beautiful autumn day, lunch on Commercial Drive with a friend, and a stroll to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

Three artists had work on display -- a water colourist, a photographer, and Jane Barker. Jane's work was by far the most interesting, as it exhibited not only skill but a wry sense of humour.

Besides creating accomplished portraits of the men who'd been part of the Gomery Inquiry, she's added brief comments at the corner of each piece. These little brass plaques bring the portraits into the category of biting political cartoons.

A terrific addition to an already great day. Hmm, I wonder what Jean Chretien would think of her work.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Thanksgiving dinner

Since I'm usually the one who makes the big Sunday dinners, I wasn't about to say no when I was invited to Sharon's for turkey.

Really, beyond being grateful for not being the one who did the cooking, I can only offer two more words.



Saturday, October 06, 2007

Peace in our time

Protests continue to take place around the world, in an effort to keep all eyes on the 'Saffron Revolt' in Myanmar (or as some still call it, Burma).

This photo of a Buddhist monk, taken in Sydney in 2002, illustrates the patient care of a mandala-maker. It's important to note that the medium he's using is sand -- a good reminder of how temporaral our existence is. That seems like all the more reason to be looking for peace, and now.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Season of the spiders

When they're this fat, I reckon I prob'ly need to ask permission to take a photo. As far as I could tell, this guy nodded.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik is 50

So, fifty years ago today was the first time people tossed anything far enough into space that it stayed there for a while. This anniversary seemed like a great excuse to phone my mother (who lives in the US) to see what she recalled of that day.

She remembered it as being exciting -- said that it proved that man really could explore space. She did say it was surprising that it was Russia who did it first. Still, she thought there doing it was probably a good motivator. According to her, "It got us going."

I maybe guess you had to be there to realize its importance. It's hard now to imagine a sky without flashes of light zipping across it. Heck, even Blogger thoughts must rely on satellites to get from my computer to yours.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Barely a whimper

Yet another Canadian soldier, Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, has died in Afghanistan. This time, the fact of his death seems to cause barely a ripple. Buried beneath other stories –- such earth-shaking news as Canadians’ aggressive driving habits or the effect of Omega 3s on diabetes –- death in the line of duty doesn’t warrant much attention.
Is it that so many people have died in Afghanistan (this is the 72nd fatality -- 71 soldiers and one diplomat)? Is the media playing down the deaths, hoping we might not notice? Or, are we all just becoming complacent about the fact that we’re even over there?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn moon

It's hard to see that little moon in the photo, but in real life it just seemed to get bigger and bigger over the course of a lovely evening. It was a perfect night to get together with friends for a farewell weenie roast at Rennie's.
Officially autumn, as of way early this morning, the bonfire was the best way I can think of to salute the new season.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Can you say 'Arrrr'?

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! If you feel a bit silly, their website is pretty much fun.

There's even a translator feature on the site. When I asked it to translate 'Good morning, world,' a phrase that I thought might stymie it (just too ordinary and plain), it popped right back with "Aye, good mornin' world Gar."

To be truthful, I thought this was all pretty silly, until later in the day when I decided to punish myself -- not by walking the plank (that might've been more fun) -- by sorting and tossing old newspapers I'd thought needed saving.

The more I sorted, the more I kept encountering pirates. An enviromental piece about the Dominican Republic busily dissed the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for its less-than-conscientious stewardship of the land there.

There was the obit for Canadian publishing icon, Jack McClelland. None other than Margaret Atwood was quoted as calling him a "genteel pirate".

Even the book review section got into the act with this headline, "Aye, matey, it's sailor's life for me." Really, pirates seemed to be everywhere.

So, ahoy, all -- and may the parrot steer a wide berth round yer shoulder!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Art, protests, and art as protest

I was one of the many who made it to the final weekend of the Monet to Dali show at the VAG. The paintings and sculpture were wonderful, but in some ways, the more important show was happening outside. The steps of the gallery have been the site of so many peace-focused activities, and today was no different. Of course, there were the usual hand-painted signs that said it all.

But one of the strongest pieces I saw all day happened to be 'in-process' -- someone adding an all-too-apt addition to the ridiculous Olympic countdown clock that's been plunked next to the fountain at the gallery.

Friday, September 14, 2007

BC Author Recognition Day

Even though the workers are still out on strike (whew, but the laneways are stinky!), Vancouver City Council managed to declare today as BC Author Recognition Day. This year's honoree, bill bissett, helped celebrate the event by reading a memory-filled piece he'd created for the occasion.

The reading was part of Alan Twigg's creation, Reckoning 07 -- a celebration of and commemoration of BC's publishing industry.

As recipient of this year's George Woodcock Award for Lifetime Achievement (formerly known as the Terasen Award -- do you suppose when Kinder-Morgan got involved, the commitment to BC arts evaporated like so much gas?), bissett will have a bronze plaque installed in Library Square.

Now if only bill could be our National Poet Laureate...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Welcome to Assbook!

I've been asked by host, Juan Dosa, to say something about the latest thing in social contact networks. After Facebook, what else could there be, but Assbook.

Here are a few random shots of some of the lovely asses of Assbook.

Shy Ass

Shiny Ass

Bride Ass

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Literacy Day (or is that Listeracy Day?)

It seems appropriate that today, International Literacy Day, the Vancouver Sun’s arts
pages should feature a literature-related installation in the gallery at SFU.
It’s a new piece by Douglas Coupland and presents 50 books that he’s read more than once.

This made me think about some of the books I’ve read multiple times. Top of the list (I’m sure I’ve read it at least 33 1/3 times) would have to be J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The ‘third’ would be for the last time I skimmed it, when it played a role in a Freedom-to-Read event.

I’ve started a list of other books that I’ve read more than three times. These include, in no particular order:

Earth Abides by George R Stewart

all of the Tintin books (Hergé)

David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd

The Narnia Series (all seven books) by C.S. Lewis

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (first book only fits this ‘many times’ category) by Douglas Adams

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

The Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

Looking through these, it becomes obvious that my taste for repeats finds its focus in fantasy, children’s lit, and science/speculative fiction. In other words (so what else is new?) – I can’t seem to grow up.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


What is it with summer? For me at least, it gets in the way of some things that are important to me, especially blogging.

But once again, September's here. As so many others have mentioned, this month seems more like a new year than January does. Still, I feel as though some of the summer's events need attention.

The photo at the top is from one of our annual summer highlights -- visiting friends at Cusheon Lake on Saltsping Island. I took this when we were out for a paddle; the canoe is a great way to see all the life on the lake: fish, beavers, and even insect-infested lily pads. So many of the plants were curled up, obviously losing the battle against whatever it was that fed on them this summer.

An oddity in my own poor excuse for a garden was my favourite pink gerbera -- a gift from someone who knows about gardening, Elsie Neufeld. For some reason, it decided to go mutant this year. I never saw those petals coming out of the centre before.

And what summer would be complete without a dose of poetry? One of our area's few remaining independent bookstores, Whitby's, hosted an event to launch Andrea MacPherson's book, Natural Disasters. Unfortunately, the evening wasn't all it could have been, with the capuccino machine presenting the greatest intrusion. The event didn't seem to follow much of a plan, but luckily (pro that she is) Carolyn Swayze stepped up and did a lovely introduction. I wonder if I was the only attendee who was somewhat disappointed by the fact that Andrea read only three poems -- and this after waiting nearly an hour beyond the advertised start time. Oh well, the three were enough for me to buy the book and read it at home, so I guess the launch served its purpose after all.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Summer wouldn't be complete

...without a visit to the PNE.

Naturally, one of the main events is eating. While there are waaay too many choices to show, as a main course, the barbecued chicken is always reliably yummy.

A new feature I made a point of visiting was Bryan Berg's re-creation of Vancouver -- built out of playing cards! Berg holds the Guinness Book of Records for what he does. It was a good thing his display was behind plenty of plexiglass. And I guess he was lucky too that we didn't get one of our once-in-a-while earth tremors!

Even if some of them don't eat grass, you have to see the critters; after all, the PNE started out as an agricultural fair. This is one of the City of Burnaby's eco-sculpures. Like I said, it doesn't eat grass -- it is grass (and parsley and a mix of other green delights).

Of course, no visit would be complete without braving a couple of rides. There go Jeremy and Brenna on the Tilt-A-Whirl!