Saturday, October 31, 2015


This is one of the pumpkins greeting trick-or-treaters at our door tonight. So far, we've had 29 little raiders, ooops -- there's a new batch!

Best costumes so far were worn by a group of five girls who looked like they'd just stepped out of lessons at Hogwarts, including one who was willing to admit she was from Slytherin. Luckily for us, they promised no evil spells.

For me, the scariest part of this Halloween might be that the shots I took today might be the last ones I get with my longtime faithful Nikon point-and-shoot. The other day I spotted a crack in its body, never a good sign for a camera.

In the meantime, safe flying to witches everywhere and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Someone special

Today is the anniversary of the day that George's grandmother died. Yesterday would have been her birthday. It seems odd how the two dates are so very near. Celebrating one's birth on one day, dying the next.

But then maybe that's the way life is for all of us. A span of eighty, even a hundred years, is nothing on the timeline of the cosmos.

And maybe I'm just thinking on this kind of scale owing to an animation that came to my attention yesterday. It illustrates just how tiny we really are in the grand scheme of things.

And yes, that's a candle we have burning for her in our kitchen, the part of the house she always knew best. A bit of whisky in a glass for her, along with fresh fruit -- the one in front is a quince, something she liked to bake with.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Canada, renewed

Last night's election results are still reverberating across the country. News coverage of the change seems non-stop, all of it about going forward. It's as if a weight has been lifted. Even the sun has come out.

Two bits of oddness were handed to me by the Universe today.

One arrived while I was sorting a box I'd run across while cleaning my office. I found some items wrapped in newspaper, some personal treasures I'd put away when we travelled in 2011 and rented out our house. The date on the paper affirmed this theory, March 9, 2011. A headline on a letter to the editor caught my eye, The Government of Harper.

The letter, sent by Jeanette Campbell of Mission, B.C. read:
     The media announced recently that federal civil servants were ordered in a December 2010 directive that all federal communications, such as press releases, had to replace the words "the Government of Canada" in their missives with "The Harper Government."
     Have Canadians lost their identity and sense of national sovereignty and pride?
     Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to think so. Incandescent outrage?
     You'd better believe it. Next misnomer on the plate for Canadians? You guessed it! President Harper. 
Fortunately, things didn't sink low enough for her last prediction to come true. But 'incandescent outrage'? Yes. That seems to be the reason we've had this wonderful change to the Government of Canada.

As for that other bit of oddness sent my way -- it arrived in the post, an opportunity to renew my subscription to a magazine. Yep, Harper's.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


Last night was a presentation by four of the six candidates running for election in our riding. The topic for the evening's discussion was homelessness and housing. But nearly all of the answers they gave were discouraging in the fact that they were such non-answers.

Or, if they did respond to the topic, they gave answers that were much more applicable to other, faraway parts of the city.

It was as if they all lived in the same protected little cottage, one that's covered so completely in flowering ivy it's impossible to see out.

Not one of the candidates alluded to the biggest issue in this part of the city: the fact that so many perfectly good houses are being torn down to make way for an ever-increasing number of monster houses.

If these new homes were even occupied by people who planned to stay in the neighbourhood and become part of the community, things might be different. But no, it seems inevitable that within 12 to 18 months, they get flipped.

Trees are coming down and crime is going up.

But did these candidates have anything to say about this? Not a peep.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Han Shan Project -- revisited

It was just about two years ago that poets from around the world heard the call sent out by Susan McCaslin, a writer from Fort Langley, B.C.

She'd learned that the Township of Langley had plans to sell off a tract of forest, and that once sold it would be developed for 'estate' housing. Because Susan knew how valuable this forest was -- how important it would be as greenspace for future generations -- she set about organizing the Han Shan Project.

Poets from as far away as Australia submitted poems. Susan and her husband printed out the poems, put them into plastic sleeves and suspended them from trees throughout the forest.

Soon the project received national press (thanks in large part to the involvement of artist Robert Bateman) and hurrah, the forest was saved. Then, even more miraculously, Langley's Blaauw family stepped forward to purchase a second tract of the forest, ensuring a sustainable number of trees would endure. The bench in the picture above shows a bench dedicated to the memory of Thomas Blaauw, whose estate funded the purchase.

Trinity Western University, now charged with caretaking the forest, has sponsored a symposium -- some of which has reported on confirmation of endangered species discovered in the forest. To celebrate, they have remounted the Han Shan Project, again hanging poems from the trees.

Just as the first time this decoration-of-the-forest occurred, the feeling created is magical.

The poems will be on display in the forest until early December.