Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rockabye, Baby

Even though wikipedia cites some interesting theories about the origins of the well-known lullaby, something I discovered this morning gives me yet another slant. It’s not at all complicated, but very down-to-earth. Literally.

Under one of our cedar trees, I found an overstuffed nest, bedraggled from being out in last night’s rain. I suspect if I’d found it sooner, it would have been fluffy and dry, as it’s filled with everything from hair and insulation material to the seasonal down from cottonwood trees.

Looking up, I saw the birdhouse it likely fell from, one I’d thought was unoccupied, as I hadn’t spotted any tenants zipping in or out. I can only surmise the nest got too big or too heavy (or, too full of squirming babies, calling to be fed) and that the front panel got shoved open. Before next year, we’ll have to make some sort of latch so this doesn’t happen again. I don’t want to have to find another ‘cradle and all’.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bowled over!

The weather's been too cool to want to go to the park to hit a tennis ball back and forth, so we decided to head to the local lanes for a different brand of exercise.

We have a tradition of posting pseudonyms when we bowl. One friend is often 'Dr. Doom'. Names from TV shows often come into play, especially 'Lucy' and 'Ethel'. But last night's cooler weather must have made us more original. Instead of our stand-by names, one of us took the generic 'Bowler' as a name. Another took 'Footloose' and silly me, I tempted fate by taking the presumptuous, 'Pinstrike'. Wouldn't you know, nary a strike all night.

I probably threw the worst score of my life, but still, it was plenty of fun.

And just to note, even though my feet are bigger than most, they're not as gigantic as they might seem compared to those balls in the photo at the top. After all, we were playing the usually quite forgiving five-pin.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I don't know how he does it. One of my sons can bend over a sprawl of lawn and pick out a four-leaf clover faster than I'd be able to find a dime in the grass.

When he came over for supper tonight, he brought me this as a prize. It seemed like the perfect gift for the night the last mysteries of Lost should finally be found.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Complicity in action

Today is the day that Mark Emery heads south. He's going to prison in Washington state, part of a plea bargain over selling seeds.

There was a time when the Canadian government referred clients to him -- after all, patients who qualify to use marijuana for medical purposes have to get their seeds from somewhere, don't they? Yet, despite the government's willingness to recommend Emery as a supplier, they don't stand by him when the U.S. comes a-calling with extradition papers.

For now, Emery will be held until later in the summer when his case will come up and he'll be sentenced to time in an American prison.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Monopoly Rules

I’ve long been puzzled by the recorded announcement that rings out near the end of any trip on the B.C. Ferries: “Thank you for sailing B.C. Ferries.”

I mean, really, who else are we going to ‘sail’ with?

Similarly, because the B.C. Ferries are the only show on the water, I wonder why they spend money on advertising. It isn’t as if it’s a matter of swaying us to choose them over some other ferry service. Next time there’s a hockey game based in B.C. (okay, the Canucks have folded camp for the year – I’ve dried my tears), take a look at the boards and see the ads there. Emblazoned are the words, B.C. Ferries. (Not only does the monopoly held by the ferries run ads, so does the lottery corporation – who else you gonna buy lottery tix from?)

It was about ten days ago that I took a couple of ferry rides. On the last leg, I noticed how rusty the boat looked. It may be selective memory, but I don’t remember the ferries looking this bad before they became privatized.

I also don’t remember the scheduling being as tight-fistedly miserable as it seems now. I’d hoped to attend a meeting on Gabriola Island this weekend. Scheduled for 2 pm to 6 pm, I figured I could even have a glass of wine with friends afterward before heading off towards the ferries for home. But a close look at the schedules revealed that the last ferry left (not even Gabriola, but my transfer point on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo) at 5:45 p.m., before the actual meeting was even adjourned. Oddly, going through papers in my office, I ran across a schedule from 1994 (!). Saturdays saw sailings from Nanaimo to Tsawwassen every hour and a half from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. So much for service improving over the years.

Even if I’d been able to stay overnight on the island, next morning’s ferries off the island are ‘unreservable’, so to ensure getting onto the first ship leaving Nanaimo at 10:15, I’d have needed to plan on being at the ferry dock by half past seven. All so I could get home before 1 p.m., in time to make birthday supper, for the family planning to arrive at three. Too frantic sounding, I gave up on being part of the meeting.

All it would have taken would have been at least one of the two evening ships, ferries that are in service every other night of the week. Any other night, I’d have had the option of an 8:15 or a 10:45. I can understand canceling one of the sailings if that’s the slowest night of the week, but really, both?

If schedule cutbacks, a visible lack of maintenance, and higher fares are the costs of privatizing a service that’s really a branch of our provincial highways, I say it looks like a mistake.

Their latest slogan? ‘Experience the difference’[TM] – I’ll say.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A new look at art

Last night, I went to an event for a new book about art. It considers the work of three artists whose work should be better known: Frank Molnar, Jack Hardman, and LeRoy Jensen.

The book is second in a series from Mother Tongue Publishing, The Unheralded Artists of B.C.

The presenters, authors Eve Lazarus and Claudia Cornwall, offered slides to complement the passages they read and fielded questions from the much-too-small audience. Maybe it was because it was a Monday night, maybe the weather was too nice -- whatever the reason, the small number in attendance was the only disappointing part of the evening.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A question of attitude

Yesterday, almost everywhere I went, people were wearing Canucks jerseys or T-shirts. Everyone was in a terrific mood, anticipating the game, hollering 'Go Canucks Go' at the slightest prompt.

And then the game happened.

And they lost. A whopping 7-4.

This morning's newspaper made it clear: Vancouver's fickle fans have given up. The front page teaser says it all, "Painful post-season: One more loss and it's game over for the Canucks."

Even the car in the photo above, which was there for a couple of weeks, has now disappeared (for a new paint job?).

So hey, I have to wonder, if the fans have already given up, why shouldn't the team?

***Afternote, Monday, the 10th:
After last night's win, the Canuckmobile is back!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Too many anniversaries

Yesterday marked 100 years since Canada's navy was created by the Naval Service Act. And now, in a bizarre twist of fate, 37-year-old Craig Blake has become the first member of Canada's navy to die in Afghanistan. He was a member of the Navy's bomb disposal units -- and no, I don't know why that truck was in my neighbourhood, other than so I could take its picture.

Yesterday was also the day to remember some other senseless deaths, the four who were killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio.

So much for "Peace Now", eh.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Oily wake-up call

Events in the Gulf of Mexico indicate it's time for us to end our dependency on oil.

I remember a time there was a fire in Nanaimo, a city it takes nearly half the day to get to because it's a highway drive, a wait in a line-up and then a ferry ride. Yet as the crow flies, it's barely 30 km (22 miles).

And I remember a day back when I used to live in a house with a view of the sea. I spotted a fiercely black cloud huffing our way. When it reached us, its fury broke: there was rain like I'd never experienced -- hard as if someone were emptying buckets from the sky -- and its smell was nothing like the sweet scent that rain is supposed to have. Later, we learned there'd been a fiery explosion of a fuel storage tank, so the explanation of the oily cloud became clear.

When I hear there is talk in the U.S. of burning off the slick, I fear for the sort of clouds that could be unleashed.

And I wonder too, draining all that oil out of those deep crevices in the earth -- could that have something to do with all the earthquakes we're experiencing? Could the removal of that much mass be triggering slippage of the tectonic plates?

Today is World Press Freedom Day. I feel very lucky to be able to say all these outrageous things, crazy as they may seem. How lucky to know the men in white (or blue, for that matter) won't be coming for me because of what I choose to type.

The scariest part about the oil spill off Louisiana? That our prime minister, Steve Harper, seems to think such an oil spill couldn't happen here.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Road Trip

Over the past few weeks, I've been on the road a lot, partly with my sister in North Carolina. Then, being part of the Powell River Writers' Conference meant I had another excuse to do some travelling.

The trip up Vancouver Island was spectacular, cruising on a nearly empty highway in a car that makes me happy -- and because I was alone, singing along to the tunes I had blasting.

The sun cooperated fully, shining into the forest, lighting up the many blooming dogwoods. Bounded by mountains still capped with snow, it couldn't have been any better. Heck, hollering out the window was never more fun.