Saturday, May 31, 2014

Easy as pie?

Whoever it was that coined that aphorism probably never made a pie. Or at least, they never cleaned up after making one.

The photo shows the aftermath (along with the resulting two pies) of a pie-making session in my kitchen. And really, the process was relatively easy considering I'd picked the berries way last summer. These were the last of the blueberries in the freezer.

I'd even been one step ahead of the game with the pastry, as I'd made up the 'dry' part of it some while ago, and it had been waiting in the back of the fridge for this very day.

Still, what with the flour and the rolling and the fitting parts together -- well, you can see the mess for yourself.

As for the inside of the oven now that the pies have baked, well, I'm saving that job for some other day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A basket of world peace?

I don't suppose a basket of mangoes looks much like a recipe for world peace. Still, I think they have possibilities.

Yesterday at the produce store, I found myself drooling (only mentally, I promise) over the boxes of mangoes that were on sale. Buying by the box was a lot cheaper than buying individual ones would have been, but a dozen ripe fruits seemed like too many to buy at one time. After all, there are only two of us.

When I noticed another woman who appeared to be making the same mental calculations, I turned to her and asked, "Would you like to share a box of those?"

She thought that was a great idea, so we chose a box. She bought it and I handed over the right amount of cash to close the deal. We split up the fruit and voila! Each of us had what we wanted.

Maybe it wasn't exactly world peace, but it felt as though we'd taken a small step toward 'community' -- that network of people who look after each other and help out, so often in small and simple ways.

This morning's news has a piece about 100-in-1 Day, an event scheduled for June 7th in Vancouver. Lots of friend-making and other community-building actions are being set up. While this sounds as though it requires a formal approach (devising an event, registering it), it does seem a good step.

As for me, I think I'll stick with the little, spontaneous things that present themselves in the course of the day-to-day. But first, I'm going to take a lunch break and eat a mango.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Death of an (another?) industry?

The boxes in the photo are paper products -- about to be recycled by a Vancouver publisher.

The way this works is that the publisher (a small business person) phones the recycling guy (another small business person) and arranges for the recycling guy to come and pick up the boxes of paper product for shredding and pulping.

At least that's how it worked in the past.

But now, Victoria (they don't even much bother to call it 'the government' anymore) has determined that BC residents will be better off if our recycling needs are met by a new kid on the block, MMBC. Although their business address is listed as North Vancouver, payments made to them go to Toronto. Huh?

Even though the new system isn't scheduled to come into effect until next week, our small business publisher has not only been billed, he's had to submit the first quarter payment (it sounded as though there might be penalties if he failed to do so) and the next quarter's invoice has already arrived.

So now, because he's paid his 'sin tax' (think carbon tax?) he's basically off the hook. If he feels like it, he can toss all that spare paper into any old garbage bin. Recycling? Why bother? It'd cost more. He'd have to phone the shredder/pulper guy, wouldn't he...

So now, the shredder/pulper guy will probably go out of business. And as for the publisher -- well, with postage rates and now this latest gouge, who knows?

As with too many decisions made by 'Victoria' these days, opposition doesn't seem to make a difference, even when some of it is coming from the very people who helped get this crew elected.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Erasing borders

This is the flag of the not-yet-in-official-existence Cascadia, a country/nation/region that extends from Northern California up through Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

The idea has been around since at least the 1970s. Boundaries of Cascadia are based on geography and geology rather than on wars or political decisions that might have been made half a continent away.

I first encountered the notion (or something similar) in the works of Ernest Callenbach, a Pacific coast author. He called the region Ecotopia. The basis of that nation was the will of its people to live in ecological harmony with the earth. Shortly after Callenbach's death in 2012, a kind of manifesto of farewell was published -- a document found on Callenbach's computer called "Epistle to the Ecotopians". It's an important document and worth taking the time to read. If you click here and then scroll down, you'll find it. I'd recommend waiting for a time when you don't have to simply skim it. Have a cup of tea at your side, and settle in for words that will likely echo long after you finish.

This past weekend, I participated in the Second Cascadia Poetry Festival, held in Seattle, Washington, the heart of Cascadia. I say the heart, as that's where David McCloskey, a geographer known as the Father of Cascadia taught for many years. As part of the festival, McCloskey presented a session explaining the many unique characteristics of our region.

And the poets, well they certainly demonstrated some of the artistic attributes and elements that make this region so special.

The two most remarkable panelists (for me) were Stephen Collis, who spoke about innovation in poetry, especially as manifested by work in our region and Derek Sheffield, who gave the most lucid explanation of eco-poetry eco-poetry

The festival was an extended weekend (Thursday through Sunday, with follow-up on Monday morning) that will remain lodged in memory for a long while.

The idea of Cascadia is an important one. One man I met takes its message and goals seriously enough that he's decided to wear one of its emblems on his skin for the rest of his life.

Hmm. I'm not ready to go as far as a tattoo. Still, I'm ready to start counting sleeps until next year's Cascadia Three. That will happen this side of the invisible (geographically, at least) border, in Nanaimo, BC.