Monday, June 24, 2013

Salady days

Not the same thing as the 'salad days' referred to in Shakespeare, but these salady days are every bit as permeated with green.

Once the Solstice has passed, I want it to be full-on summer, and fresh salad greens from the backyard are part of that. Yes, this batch rides in a wagon. It can easily be moved for mowing (or, to get more sun). And by being that little bit raised off the ground, the lettuces are safe from slugs and the resident bunny.

Having our own daily salad bar is a treat. But seeing all the condominiums that have sprouted in our neighbourhood, I wonder how people can grow any of their own food. And when I see so many vacant lots (houses torn down, developers waiting for whatever it is they wait for), I wish some of those lots could be turned into community gardens, even if only temporarily.

Disappointingly, Surrey, the city where I live, has only four community gardens. Comparing this to Vancouver, with its 75 community gardens (with one of them occupying the grounds of the City Hall in the city's downtown), this seems just plain not good enough.

For now, about all I can do is be grateful for how lucky I am -- to have a bit of a yard where we can grow such a nice part of our daily food.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Private. Keep out.

As if. Still, that idea is probably the reason any kid builds a treefort, or finds a hole in a shrubbery somewhere she thinks she can call her own. Just a space for thinking, a spot for some privacy.

The hero of the day (the week, month, year?) has to be whistle-blower Edward Snowden. The Guardian ran an interview with him today (worth clicking on and reading).

Weird the way he has the same name as such an important character in Catch-22. Snowden was the bombardier who'd been shot and kept saying he was cold. He serves as the transformative force in the novel which shifts Yossarian's thinking.

Today's Snowden seems to be serving a similar purpose: shifting our thinking so we'll look harder at the matter of our privacy -- where it's gone, how can we retrieve any shreds of it.

They're watching. We know they are. Sifting among the raccoons and elks and bunnies or whatever we might choose to write about, hoping for weasel words to light up their scorecards.

I suppose I should throw in some weasel words tonight. 

How many might fit into one sentence? Hmmm... How about this. 

Stephen Harper’s speech bombed at the G8 Summit.  

That should get a whole raft of buzzer-bots zinging.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Coming to fruition

June restores my belief in renewal. If I could bottle the morning air, I'm sure it would sustain me through winter better than any vitamin concoction.

The strawberries are just about ready, but they're not the only new beginnings I've been privy to.

The past few days have been pretty hectic, as two friends have brand new books out, one of them a novel, the other her fifth book of poetry. I've been hosting one of them -- laughing and driving her here and there, being part of readings as we made our merry way through coastal B.C.

There've been readings in Vancouver, in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island, in Victoria and back again on the mainland in New Westminster.

Tiring? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Especially if I'll soon be able to reward myself with a feed of sweet (nothing better than) BC strawberries.

Monday, June 03, 2013

City of contrasts

A five-day visit to Ottawa has convinced me the silly polls are wrong. Our capital doesn’t deserve its recent designation as Canada’s most boring city. Boring wasn’t a term I could apply. There was so much to do, I ran out of time and couldn’t get around to everything I’d wanted to see or do.

It’s a city where old meets new, most obviously in its architecture. Turn of the century (that is, the 19th to 20th) houses stand in small clumps beneath office towers. Churches and government buildings lend an air of tradition, while glass buildings and construction cranes crowd the horizon.

The National Gallery, where I spent two afternoons, provides further contrast, with antiquities under the same roof as starkly modern abstractions. The two items that fascinated me the most were a video loop shown on the ceiling (mattresses on the floor to lie on, so you can look up) and a tiny carving of a beluga whale, marked as being 2,500 years old. Wow!

As in any cosmopolitan city, there's plenty of high-end shopping and fancy restaurants. Unfortunately, the same contrasts evident elsewhere -- the ones between rich and poor -- are here as well. 

The market area provided more reasonable food choices -- bakeries, ethnic restaurants, poutine stands, flowers for sale. 

But the biggest contrast of all was the new exhibit on at Canada’s War Museum – an exhibit on Peace. 

One of the coolest aspects of this is the fact that John Lennon and Yoko Ono came to Ottawa on June 3, 1969. It was the day after they'd finished the bed-in events they'd done in Amsterdam and Montreal. By fluke, I ran into a photo of their meeting with Pierre Elliott Trudeau during that historic visit.

Now, if only I could convince the powers-that-be to change the name of the memorial museum to the Museum of War and Peace.