Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tonight's the night

It's the evening of the annual Earth Hour event. That means we're supposed to effectively put ourselves off the grid for an hour by turning off the power. Won't be long until it's time to power down...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy World Poetry Day!

Even though we're still on the road, staying at campgrounds in Washington state, as you can see from my reading material, I'm celebrating the day.

World Poetry Day was proclaimed by UNESCO in 1999, and was first celebrated in 2000.

The day has also been officially proclaimed in many places around the world, including my own city, Surrey, BC.

It's a day to read or remember a poem you love. Or, better yet, why not write one!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On hols

We're away for a week or so, in the beloved RV, The Rattler.

Although March in western Washington state can be relied upon for rain (hey, they don't call it the rain forest for nothin'), we're pretty good at recognizing and taking advantage of the sunny breaks.

While the Dear Man went off for a round of golf, I nestled in with the most recent title in the ongoing saga of Adrian Mole, who (as always) makes me laugh and cry, usually in combination.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy birthday, Mr. Poetry

Okay, so I’m taking liberties with Marilyn Monroe’s line – the one she used in that famously breathy tune she sang to then-President John Kennedy.

Today is the day that one of Canada’s candidates for ‘Mr. Poetry’ – Irving Layton – would have turned 100 years old.

Like so much of history, this depends somewhat on whose version you trust. Some claim he was actually born on the 5th and not the 12th. But whenever it was, when it comes to observing a centenary, I hope we’re allowed a few days’ grace.

This past weekend saw a number of events taking place across the country,

including one in Vancouver. Sponsored by the Dead Poets Reading Society, the reading showcased a range of Layton’s work, even classic correspondences with Robert Creeley and Al Purdy.

If you click here, you'll see the celebratory video posted by Layton's son, Max.

But going back to today's subject header: why would Marilyn Monroe come up in the context of Irving Layton?

Because one of his poems, an elegy for the film star, is one which I think serves as almost a time capsule for the early ’60s, a time when the world was more innocent than now. You might find it worth tracking down (one of the collections it's included in is Balls for a One-Armed Juggler).

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Birth control pills as a banned substance?

This isn’t a prediction of some Rick Santorum-approved society. It’s simply what was dictated by law -- and not all that many years ago.

Listening to archival clips broadcast by CBC for International Women’s Day, I learned (among other, now equally absurd-seeming facts) that the birth control pill – even a prescription for oral contraceptives – was only made legal in Canada in 1969.

The slogan used to be, ‘You’ve come a long way, baby.’ I’ll say!

Especially when it comes to being able to decide: ‘No thank you, not a baby, not just now.’

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Small victories -- Round One

They're heeeere!

Today was the day the 'smart-meter' installers appeared in our neighbourhood. I'd gone through the proper channels and jumped through all of BC Hydro's hoops, so they passed by our house -- at least this time.

I have to give the Corix workers credit for following procedure. They
knocked on each door before doing the installation (of course, most people seemed to be gone to work or otherwise not at home).

So, why does this make me think of Passover? Although this event clearly has nothing to do with anything so drastic as reaping one's first-born, this particular 'passing over' coincides with spring. For me, at least, it also corresponds to the meaning, 'Time of Our Freedom' which I will take while I can.

It will be interesting to see how (and when) Round Two occurs.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Taking to the street for kids – Day One

Walking home from my errands today, I spotted this wonderful sign at my feet. It’s a leftover from the action many BC students took on Friday on behalf of their teachers.

Today is the first day of the three-day-strike the government is permitting teachers (the BC Liberals' plan to reap enough to recoup funds?). I spoke with some of the staff who teach at the nearby high school. To a person, it seems that they’re out on behalf of the kids -- learning conditions, class size, basic supplies.
Cutbacks to education have been going on here in BC since the early 1980s, but in 2002 things got even worse, as teacher contracts were stripped of clauses that referred to class size and working conditions. Much of this has since been declared unconstitutional; nonetheless, the refusal to negotiate towards meeting student/classroom needs continues.

What our government doesn't seem to get is that there’s only so far any system can survive in light of such enduring drastic cuts, especially when any supposed 'fat' is long gone. It’s time for our government's priorities to shift: They need to end the special treatment they grant corporate forces and start investing real dollars in the only future that matters -- students.

The most exciting part of my visit with the teachers outside the school had to be when the firetruck thundered past, sirens a-blare and lights flashing. As the firefighters rolled past the school on their emergency call, the driver honked the truck’s impressive-sounding horn in what could only be heard as a loud blast of support. Hear, hear!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Wrestling anacondas

That’s how it felt, doing the annual spring pruning of my beloved blackberry hedge. Some of the vines were so long, they sprawled over the fence and into the neighbours’ space. Hauling them back to our side took some pretty wild exertions. And oh, those thorns! I'm sure that anacondas must be a lot smoother.

Still, after a few hours, I had the beast tamed. Ready to bear another crop of luscious (and free!) fruit this summer.