Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The world in pieces?

Sometimes it feels that way. Wars, the threat of climate change, random shootings and more. You know what I mean, I am sure.

And I realize the images here are only of an elaborate jigsaw puzzle. Still, I want to think of it as a metaphor for starting out the new year. Besides, it was certainly calming to take a break from all that's hectic and work on assembling it.

My wish is that 2015 will be a year where we see the people of the world coming together and working towards finding real solutions to the changes we need to accomplish.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peace on earth

Wouldn't that be the most wonderful gift? Even as a child, when I used to hear beauty queens stating 'world peace' as their greatest wish, the cynic in me would quietly sneer. Doubt, even then. Or was it fear that prompted those 'as if' feelings.

Thankfully, we no longer have to rely on beauty queens to promote the idea of world peace. Think about Malala, not afraid to speak her truths, including the goal of peace.

Considering the mess the world is in, that outcome likely isn't in the cards for the very near future. Nonetheless, I can still wish for peace, especially when I consider such a peaceful image as the one of my wind chime outside the back door.

And I can at least send wishes of 'good will to all'.

However you celebrate, may it be with kindness.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The parade has begun!

 And no, I don’t mean the Santa Claus parade. That took place at least a month ago, back when the messages to ‘Buy, buy, buy!’ went into full swing. Nor do I mean the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” (one of the songs the choir I’m in performed earlier this month, though not at all the version in the link). This parade is the annual one that takes place here, the parade of the holiday goodies.

The banana breads are full of walnuts and will go as gifts to friends and neighbours. The butter tarts (below) are a Christmas tradition which I still make with the ‘secret recipe’ given to me years ago by Betty from the Soo.

The apricots are more of the special treats that only appear once a year. They’ve been soaking in brandy for quite a few weeks and they retain enough spirits that they probably don’t make for safe driving. Dipping them into chocolate makes them festive. I was glad to be able to make them earlier this week for the first day of Hanukkah

There are still a few more treats that need to be made, but it’s a good feeling that I’ve managed to make a good start. We’ll be able to do some sampling for Solstice. Convenient that it will occur just after 3 in the afternoon here. 

So yes, the holiday preparations are in full swing here. And yum, does the kitchen ever smell scrumptious! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Today is the last day in most of our lifetimes when we'll be able to write the date as a consecutive set of numbers. Next time this opportunity comes up is more than 88 years from now, on the second of January, 2103.

Even then, to make it work, zeroes will have to be incorporated: 01-02-03,

It's likely by then no one will even notice the zero, as digitization of everything will have long occurred.

I'm not sure whether I'm disappointed or relieved to discover I'm not the only one who's considered the importance of this date.

A numbers nut I'll admit to being, but I suspect there are worse things to be.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Better late than never?

If I'd been serious about having bulbs in bloom for Christmas Day, I would have got started on this project much sooner. Unfortunately, too many sad things have slowed me down the last little while, the saddest being the death of a very dear friend.

Still, where she was such a skilled gardener (and especially fond of items that were exotic), it seemed important to at least start a few pots of bulbs for forcing even if they might not bloom until the new year.

The ones in the photo are one of the most traditional (and easiest) bulbs for this, paper-white narcissi, and despite how they might resemble a pan of yummy roasted onions, they are definitely not an edible.

I also planted a couple of hyacinths, each in their own Christmas-themed cup. They're so very fragrant when they bloom, they can't help but bring sweet thoughts of springtime.

My wildest experiment (also in a cup) is the Acmopetala Fritallaria. It's supposed to be easy to grow (though that may only apply to outside in the garden or in the Middle East, where they're from). Whatever, it's a species that's got to be easier to grow than to pronounce.

And just to ensure a showy display, I've got an amaryllis with a pretty good start. Those showy trumpeting blossoms are guaranteed to brighten the darkest day or mood.

I'm looking forward to having all these flowers in bloom to help me to celebrate, whether it's Christmas or New Year's or for that matter, Australia Day. Something bright and sweet to remind me of Jane.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Change for the better

Last week when I was up on Burnaby Mountain, the mud was deep enough to nearly go over the tops of my boots. This week things look much different up there.

Nearly all of the protectors/protesters have gone home. Why? Because Kinder Morgan has left.

Thankfully, they’re not all that’s gone. So are the charges against nearly all of those brave souls who were arrested. It seems that KM didn’t set their boundaries correctly, or had some problems reading their GPS devices, so their injunction was completely compromised. If their engineers can't read a GSP, it doesn't exactly bode well for the thought of their running more pipeline, or boring through the mountain. 

But the difference this week isn't just because hardly any people are left in the camp up there. The weather has also played a huge role in the change.

That ankle-deep mud has now frozen into solid earth and been covered with a thin layer of snow. Even with footprints in the snow, the ground appears to be healing from all that human traffic.

The frozen mud makes me think of Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant book, Cat’s Cradle, in which an experiment to rid battlefields of mud goes terribly wrong.

It’s the book that's raised my hackles over fears about the kind of grand-scale water-poisoning that might occur if the frackers have it wrong when they say their actions won’t see oil or gas leaking into the water table.

At first glance, water and oil and pipelines may not seem to be related. But, just as all of us are related, so are all of those concerns.