Monday, December 31, 2012

A somewhat raggedy year end

So, what kind of year was 2012 for you? Google’s doodle for today provides a starting point for clicking on all kinds of events from the year. Without Google, who would have known that June 6th was the 79th anniversary of the first drive-in movie? They’ve even given us a review of theyear, complete with a spot for adding your resolution for 2013.

For us here at the home of the big limb, it was the Year of the Houseguest. We had people staying with us nearly every month this year. From Alberta, Ontario, even Australia. Luckily, our little house is good at expanding to meet whatever needs we might have.

Work-wise, almost enough progress was made. Guest spots at the Inaugural Cascadia Poetry Festival and at City Council in Surrey were some of the highlights.

Travel was focused on our part of the world, with ventures into Washington State and our own Gulf Islands. A personal highlight (and the most hopeful story of the year) was getting to see the progress made at the Elwha Dam site in Washington State. Imagine, un-building a dam to reinstate habitat for salmon!

So, why the photo of the raggedy Canadian flag?

On too many fronts it seems our country is in trouble – mainly as a result of actions taken by the increasingly frightening Harper regime, er, government.

What used to be known as the Navigable Waters Protection Act serves as just one example. Where waterways used to be protected, as of this fall, most no longer are. Even as the need grows more urgent, standards for safeguarding the environmental keep getting weaker. 

And while we get less protection for environment, we get more prisons, more prisoners, more offenses requiring minimum sentences.

And though there is apparently money for prisons, cultural and heritage institutions get cutbacks. The National Library and Archives, the CBC.

No more Gun Registry, despite recent events in the US which suggest that having such safeguards in place might be a very good idea. After all, the registry came about after our own mass shooting, the one at L’EcolePolytechnique on December 6, 1989. 

And the scariest part in all these scenarios is the fact that so much of it is being done without a shred of public debate. 

Luckily we have grassroots organizations such as Lead Now and Change.Org Avaaz and Idle No More. Maybe through using tools such as these (and perhaps even donating to them), we can continue having some positive effects.  

So, not exactly a resolution, more of a wish. What I’d like most for 2013 would be finding some way to convince this government to remember who they are supposed to be here for – us. Because I can't imagine what shreds of sane governance might be left if we really have to wait for the next election in 2015. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

And to all a good night!

It looks a bit like Santa has landed in Hawaii -- all those orchids flirting with him. That's not quite the case. It's just that this year our Mos Craciun finds himself windowside, on our 'plants' table. By luck, all three orchids are in bloom. Even the African violet is still blossoming.
Tonight's supper will be the traditional (for our family, at least) Swedish meatballs, though no, we're not Swedish. They just taste good.
Whatever the holiday traditions at your house may be, I hope that you'll enjoy celebrating in the company of those you love and who love you.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Face it. It's been a dark week. All those little coffins. Senseless.
But tonight, while most of us in this part of the world are sleeping, the solstice will occur. Once again, the sun will appear to turn that proverbial corner in the sky, bringing us a little more light each day as we move again towards summer.
Inspiring even more hope than moving towards the light and warmth that the changing seasons bring is the belief that we are moving towards social transformation. I'm envisioning 2013 as the year when we too will 'turn that proverbial corner' and begin to see the light about how each of us can help bring about the changes that need to be made. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 - 12 - 12

I've always loved 12 -- the number, that is. I even have a poem about it, explaining some of my reasons for admiring it the way I do. 

I also never understood how a number as beautifully elegant as 12 could, when multiplied by itself, result in a number known by such a disgusting term as ‘gross’. Who dreamed up that one?

But if today’s date isn’t beautiful enough in itself, I took the photo above earlier today – a lovely day expressing itself in an early display of spring, a hedge of bursting-into-blossom golden broom. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Han-Shan Project

Yesterday was yet another magical day in the forest. Thanks to poet Susan McCaslin, McLellan Park has been transformed into a gallery of poems.  

She took inspiration for her idea from Han-Shan, a 9th century Chinese poet who lived as a hermit

I strolled through, snapping photos of selected works (and words) that were hanging from branches or gently tied around trunks. As I wandered amidst the quiet, I couldn’t help but think that even the trees must be pleased by the efforts that have been made to protect this special place.

The project – and its cause – to preserve the McLellan Park forest has been picked up by the press, including Canada's national newspaper, the Globe and Mail. Poems and notes of support continue to arrive in McCaslin’s inbox.

Among the many poems posted (about 200), the closing stanza in a piece from Australian poet Ilka Blue Nelson stands out as saying so much about what this cause represents.
A tree stands
In memory of a time
Before greed forested the world. 
Monday night will be the meeting at which the Township of Langley’s council decides the forest’s fate. To keep apprised of news about the forest, visit WOLF's blog

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Salish Sea-change

Today is the day that new laws in Washington state come into effect.

 Last month, voters from that state took a stand on some (I believe) important issues -- same-sex marriage and marijuana laws.

The photo may be puzzling. I offer it only as a small indication of a different sort of attitude I've noticed down there. It's a picture I took on a ferry when we were travelling in Washington over the long weekend in November.

The run from Coupeville to Port Townsend isn't a long haul -- only about half-an-hour. Enough time to sort out a few pieces of a puzzle before heading back down to your car to drive off and go on your way.

The unfinished puzzle was just lying on the table and I couldn't resist. I couldn't walk past without matching up a couple of shapes. And then, like everyone else had before me, I left it for the next passerby to add to, or not.

And that's something I like. An atmosphere that allows me to do something if I want to.

The new marriage laws in Washington aren't telling me I have to marry someone of my own sex. Maybe that's why I love the approach in the wording of the proposal: Marriage for All.

Exactly. Why not be able to marry if you want to. 

And the new pot laws there don't force me to smoke up.

The thing that's so great is that if I want to do these things, I can. And, unlike in so many other places, I won't be arrested or sent to jail for having done so.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The art of the book

One of the nicest things that happened this week was the reading and chapbook launch at the public library in North Delta. More than just a reading, as you can see from the photo, it was a celebration.

The event was the culmination of a workshop I led this fall on the topic of making a chapbook. It helped, of course, that it was such a terrific group -- 6 women and 2 men -- each writer with their own distinctive voice and style.

Although most of the books contained poetry (one was fiction, four linked short stories), the range of poems was remarkable -- from rhyming poems for kids with the words based on High Frequency Sight Words, to thoughtful reflections on family, the mundanities of daily life, the mysteries of defining one's relationship with God. One was inspired by the poems of Walt Whitman, and included several multi-media experiments.

One book was laminated (since it's for kids, good idea!), most were hand-sewn, though one was bound by a tidy row of black machine-stitching. Nice intersection of technologies! I especially liked the choice of colours offered in Zero to Sixty. It was hard to decide which one to pick. I was tempted to buy one of each.

Even though this workshop won't be repeated until fall of 2013, I'm already looking forward to it and wondering what surprises will result then.