Sunday, August 30, 2015


Well, this time the weather people were right about the rain. It started yesterday morning and came down pretty much all through the night. Hurrah!

With this end to the drought, it feels like I can exhale. There's something about waiting (and waiting) for rain that makes me feel like I have to hold my breath. I guess I must be acclimatized to where I live.

Along with the wet came a whole lot of wind, but we were among the lucky ones. None of our trees came down (huge ones at a friend's place did, crushing her deck), just a lot of small branches, spruce cones and cedar bits.

Our power was out for nearly 24 hours, but we're pretty well set to deal with those sorts of emergencies. Still, it was a good wake-up call -- enough of one that the generator has been tuned up and is set for the next round of whatever.

The garden sure looks happy though and the trees appear to be smiling again. Me too.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Canada Dry

And I don't mean the ginger ale.

When people learn where I live (not far from Vancouver), they often remark on the weather, and ask how I can bear all the rainfall.

But this year has been different. It seems as though it's hardly rained since April.

We've been visiting a friend on nearby Salt Spring Island where water supply in the summertime is often precarious.

As with the Lower Mainland, it's dry, dry, dry here. I can only hope this poor parched azalea (or is it a rhododendron?) will recover once the drought comes to end.

They keep predicting rain, but it hasn't been panning out. The skies will darken, and then the clouds will pass.

Hmm. Can you say 'climate change'?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Getting touristical

When out-of-town visitors come to stay, it's almost obligatory to tour them around to see a few sights. When they're from out of country, the stakes go higher.

When my sister visited recently, we started off by heading for Vancouver Island. Sure, we visited some of the usual mid-island spots -- Cathedral Grove, Englishman River Falls, Goats-on-the-Roof at Coombs.

But then she expressed a desire to visit some of the attractions mentioned in some of the brochures, and I'll admit it, I balked. The thought of greenhouse with butterflies in it did not leave me eager to drive further down the road. I'm an appreciator of nature, but this didn't really tempt me, especially after we'd been disappointed by two other similar-sounding places -- both of which were supposed to be wildlife rescue sites. The first of these looked too scary to go into; the second held more examples of taxidermy than live specimens.

Then, though the butterfly place didn't look all that tempting from the parking lot, we decided to take a chance and go in. Not only were there butterflies in profusion, they were surrounded by tropical plants filled with blossoms. Heck, there was even calming music. Butterfly World and Gardens. Worth it? For sure. Sometimes it pays to take a chance on being a touristy tourist.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lego Surrey

Among current exhibits at the Surrey Museum is one assembled (literally) by a group of Lego enthusiasts. This image is one of many that envision Surrey's past, future -- or, as this one indicates, its present.

The club's creations go back to the Ice Age and forward into a future that's not altogether happy looking, despite supposed changes to what our energy sources will be.

Still, it's a thought-provoking batch of pieces (and yes, thousands and thousands of pieces of Lego), resulting from hundreds of hours of work. Worth taking in -- and the price is right: Free!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Poetic feet

Iambs? Dactyls? Not that kind of poetic feet. The feet with the beautiful blue toenails belong to poet Sandy Shreve.

She's just released a new book of poems, Waiting for the Albatross. The book, which she calls a collection of found poems, is based on words her father wrote in 1936 when he was 21, working as a deckhand on a freighter.

It becomes clear that 80 years ago, when Jack Shreve kept those journals, there was time to observe life more closely. He notes clouds, sea birds, a shark swimming belly-up. But maybe that was just who he was -- a careful observer. I can't help but wonder whether some of that might be because he didn't have television or all the other screens we devote so much of our attention to -- screens that so often seem to keep us from the real world, from things that matter.

But back to the book. It's enhanced by black-and-white photos. Many of them are of her father and his fellow labourers on the freighter where he worked during those days when he was keeping that diary which Sandy used as source material.

So what have her feet got to do with anything?

While she was sharing some of the poems with a group of us, the day was hot and she'd kicked off her shoes. While she sat straight in her chair, holding the book and reading to us, her feet were gesticulating to the words -- every bit as eloquently as hands might have been.

I suppose it would have been more fun to have a video of those expressive feet in action, but somehow it would have been too intrusive on the gathering. You'll just have to buy the book and imagine those feet in action, swinging to the sounds of Sandy's (and her dad's) poetry.