Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday Night, Night Market

Again it was a cool night, but one that called for doing something outside. Since we'd managed to miss out on going to the Asian Market last year, we headed for Richmond and a late supper of dim sum treats and whatever else might turn up on the menu. As we expected, there were lots of skewery treats, from octopus and squid to pork and beef and tofu and fish and...Japanese crepes with ice cream.

Each year, the Market seems to have some new 'hot' item. In that respect this year's no different. Foodwise, it was clearly hurricane potatoes, a swirl-cut potato that's deep-fried and comes out like a series of hot chips. The line-ups for these were crazy, as it seemed nearly everyone wanted to try these. I must say, I was glad to be wearing my glasses, as long skewers seemed to be pointing everywhere.

Take-home treats were a last-minute purchase. These included fresh rambutan, a hard-to-find tropical treat.

Of course, there's more to the market than food, but frankly, it's mostly junk. Waaaay too many cell-phone covers, bargain socks, and false eyelash kits. There are still the goofy clothes for pets, though not as many outfits as I've seen in previous years. Disappointingly, there weren't any household sundries, as I was actually hoping to find a new bug zapper. Oh well, since the season for bugs is nearly over, I guess I'll have to wait until next year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bright moon, summer dreams

Last night’s big moon was very close to full, and so bright it woke me at 3 a.m.

The photo above is one I took by moonlight. If I’d used a tripod, it would have been less blurry. Still, it gives you an idea of just how bright it was.

When I went back in I had dreams of my girlfriends as super-heroes, one of them running as fast as a car, another running up a wall like Angelina on special-effects.

But there were more summer dreams on the weekend. Pandora’s Collective sponsored its seventh annual Summer Dreams Festival.

Their events started Friday evening, with an honours ceremony recognizing many members of B.C.'s literary arts community. Among the presentations was a Lifetime Achievement Award for Susan Musgrave.

Although the recognition event went on too long, there was a kind of magic in the air. Even traffic out on Granville Street seemed to fit the occasion, contributing its own particular rhythms. And when Jamie Reid read poems, with Mike Peacock accompanying on keyboard, it seemed proof that summer dreams really do sometimes come true.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I still don't get it

So the ruling has finally come through that seems to permit the anti-HST petition its due. Failing this, the whole initiative/recall established in our province would have been pretty much worthless.

But the part I still don't get -- about the HST issue and about the census kafuffle -- is how matters that appear to require legislation get passed by virtue of cabinet's saying so.

It's sure getting hard to remember that we're supposedly part of a democracy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A remembering

This week has been complicated. There’s been an extraordinarily beautiful wedding, the burial of a young man whose genetic inheritance caught up to him much too soon, a 40th birthday celebration, and the observance of a sad anniversary. But the cloud that’s hung over the last few days has been for a longtime friend whose cancer, despite months of treatment, got the best of him.

Mike was 15 when he came to Canada – alone – escaping the ’56 invasion of Hungary. He spent some time in Montreal at a range of menial jobs, but soon, like so many others back then, he started heading west. He learned English, got himself through a degree at UBC and forged a career as an entrepreneur, ever the independent man, both in action and in thought.

He loved nothing more than a good bout of arguing. And even though English was his second language, his vocabulary was one of the richest I’ve known. He may have pronounced words with an accent, but he knew how to pull out the most precise, the most elegant choice for the occasion. Or, as was more likely the case, the cause.

A visionary he was, but like so many visionaries, ahead of his time. It’s interesting to think about how the city of White Rock might be different if Mike had won a seat on Council when he ran for office. Marine Drive might now be a pedestrian walkway with a market-style mall; shuttle buses would run up and down State Street, providing pedestrians easy access to the beach.

Dear to my heart was his love for good food, especially if it was a bargain – or better yet, free. He loved to fish, dig for clams, set a trap for a feed of crabs.

One of my favourite companions for mushrooming in fall, he’s the only person I know who could find truffles without the help of a pig or a dog. He had a great eye for spotting a patch of helvella at the side of the road – only trouble was, when he was on the prowl, he’d drive while looking at the verge, rather than watching the road. This led to the occasional slip of wheels onto the shoulder, and more than one offer to take over the driving. Not a chance, especially with his beloved Fiero. But I suppose the occasional slip of the wheels must at least be good for the passenger's heart.

Anyway, next time I go for dim sum without him (especially if they serve chicken feet), I am going to miss him. Just as I am going to miss him when I have Greek food or crab or when I eat outdoors in the fading light of evening, especially if a boisterous discussion is on the menu. I am going to miss this man we mostly called Michael or Mike. Although in my heart I will always think of him by the name we used when we lovingly mocked his accent, and called him Der Mickey.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Pork 'n beans

Though these aren't exactly what you might expect.

I guess I must be missing the supper blog I kept last year, as here I am doing what I did then -- telling about what we had for supper.

The pork was something I'd found on sale, that had waited in the freezer for just the right night. The beans were ones I picked yesterday, when I was out picking yet another load of blueberries.

Still, this new twist on an old favourite seemed worthy enough of a post. Although, where we're having it with rice, maybe it should be known by the name of that other favourite dish, rice 'n beans.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Blacks are Out!

Yes, I am happy that the first of the blackberries are ready for picking. They're going to play a big role in the dessert element of tonight's family supper.

But there's also another Black who's out. I have to admit, I never thought I'd be rooting for Conrad Black, but the piece he wrote for yesterday's National Post had me cheering. If you'd like to read it in its entirety, click here.

So much for a few thoughts on blackberries...

In it, he decries the absurdity of the US's War on Drugs, pointing out how ridiculous it is to have so many people in prison for marijuana offenses. He also reminds us of the injustice of penalizing sellers of crack cocaine so much more harshly than sellers of the rich man's nose powder. Okay, he doesn't put it quite it that way, but he makes it clear he realizes that the unbalanced sentences are a reflection of the institutionalized racism that seems to be built in to the US penal system. Sadly, our penal system is no different, even though those most frequently incarcerated here are members of our First Nations, rather than those of African heritage.

One thing I noticed in Black's article is his reference to computers in the Florida prison where he spent his time. And not only computers, but computers capable of email.

Sadly, the prisons I've entered here have no such access available. And yet, I always have to scratch my head: How can anyone in the year 2010 expect to reintegrate themselves into mainstream society without experience using the Internet? Where's the rehabilitative element in a system as backward as that?

Like I said, I can't say I admire Mr. Black, but I do have to thank him for using his position to publish an article that so clearly incriminates the prison system.

Now, if only Steve Harper and his crew could see the truth in Black's remarks and apply them to Canada -- if only they'd look at the evidence to see just how wrong-headed they are with their 'tough on crime' stance.