Monday, May 29, 2017

The future looks green

It sounds official. The Green Party, with its three elected members of the BC Legislature, have decided to join forces with the New Democrats. This changes everything -- it's history in action.

Any number of items will at least be revisited -- the plan for the extension of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Massey bridge extravaganza, and most of all, the Site C project.

And at last we should be in line for electoral reform. Plenty to celebrate!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New found (land) taste treats

When we were in Newfoundland, we didn't only chase icebergs. We also did our best to track down some of their specialty foods -- treats we knew we wouldn't find here.

The one in the photo above is called Jiggs dinner. Not really so different from what I might call 'boiled dinner', it's the kind of meal that fills the house with steamy scents on a wintry afternoon. Comfort food at its most basic. The only variations from what I might cook at home would be the meat itself (corned beef seems a little different from the 'salt beef' they use there) and the peas pudding wasn't a thing I'd had before -- it was good though. Kind of like thick pea soup, very tasty.

One of the best restaurants we found was Chafe's Landing in Petty Harbour (I learned the place got its name from the early French settlers -- 'petite' harbour -- which later, with the arrival of the Irish, became Petty).

We shared a pulled-moose sandwich and a mini-basket of clam strips. I was charmed, not only by the little basket they were served in, but by the bank of supplies on our table --
more than one kind of vinegar, pepper and salt, and (they must know other messy eaters besides me) an entire roll of paper towels!

As for our 'best-value' meal, that would have to have been our fresh lobster feast. We found the local Sobey's supermarket, picked two lobsters from the tank, and got the deli to steam them for us. With paper plates, along with newspaper spread on the table, it was even easy to do the clean-up. And oh, so delicious, complete with melted garlic butter.
One Newfoundland detail we won't be able to repeat (unless maybe we go back there at the right time of year) was a very special evening cocktail -- whisky over iceberg ice we'd picked from a beach along the East Coast Trail.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On a rock on the Rock

Newfoundland is as far east as we can go while still being in Canada -- quite a trek from our home on the west coast. The rock I'm standing on is along the East Coast Trail, where we took a mini-hike yesterday.

This trip here is to promote the new Amelia book, but it's also an opportunity to explore. Besides, the people are friendly, and the sights are magnificent. We've even managed to find a few icebergs!

But now, onward!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Eeny meeny miny no

This is just a sample of the crazy bouquets of signs that were lined up on nearly every boulevard and median in our neighbourhood. I'm sure this was a common sight all over the province as we prepared for the election held here in BC earlier this week.

Results of this election proved one thing to me: we are ready for (and need) some form of proportional representation.

If we use stats reported (as of May 10), the percentages of votes cast would suggest a legislature caught in a tie. The BC Liberals and NDP would each have 35, rather than their current respective 43 and 41. But the Greens, rather than having 3 members elected to the legislature, would have a whopping 15 seats. Even those 'other' candidates, based on the 2.55% of votes they received, would have elected 2 members instead of none.

I find it of interest that it was exactly 8 years ago today that British Columbians went to the polls to vote on a referendum that might have given us a proportional system.

Needless to day, it didn't pass, or we wouldn't be facing the unsettled confusion we have today.

There had been an earlier vote on the issue in 2005, though if you look at the conditions that passage required then, it almost appears to have been rigged to fail. Revision of the voting system required 60% approval to pass, (It seems worth noting that a far bigger issue, the Brexit referendum, passed on a simple majority.) But because it only got a 57.7% approval, it had to go to a provincial referendum. In that referendum, the one that took place on this date in 2009, the motion failed -- for any number of reasons.

There are still plenty of votes to be counted, especially absentee ballots. And I'm sure there'll be a number of ridings where a recount will be needed. There's one instance where the current margin determining the winner is only 9 votes. But even that illustrates the point -- every vote counts, yes -- but in a first-past-the-post system, pretty well half of voters are not represented. Maybe by the time the next election takes place, we'll have a system that better reflects the wishes and beliefs of the people. Here's hoping.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Be prepared

If I'm not mistaken, for years this was the motto of the Boy Scouts. A quick search revealed that it's now the motto of Scouts Canada, which has morphed into an organization for boys and girls.

Looking to origins of the sentence, it's attributed to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement. The motto turns out to be perfectly appropriate for Canada's Emergency Preparedness Week.

This is a week when we're supposed to be updating (or establishing) our emergency kits -- maybe even talking with neighbours about how we can plan for ways to get through a natural (or other) disaster.

This was one of the topics at the recent Permaculture event I attended. One of our activities was to list those skills or materials each of us has -- ones that might prove useful in a disaster, especially if the situation proved to be a long-term one. We quickly realized that, by pooling resources, our group had access to tools, books, water supplies, barbecues, firewood and more.

Even though the items in the photo above are good ones for in an emergency kit (don't forget that manual can opener), these were simply a part of our normal, non-emergency Sunday supper. The dark stuff on top of the beans isn't a mistake. I like to add a dollop of molasses to tinned beans, as I think it always makes them taste better.

Right now there are a lot of people in Canada who are doing their best to get through actual disaster situations, as almost unimaginable flooding has occurred in so many places. We can only be grateful that our emergency kits (including those shoes under the bed, a flashlight in the nightstand, bottled water at easy access) are, at least for the time being, just a part of being prepared.

Monday, May 01, 2017


The April rains, traditionally reputed to bring May flowers, have nearly lived up to expectations. Although the daffodils have long since come and been, the tulips are still standing and even the stalwart daisies have started asserting themselves. As for the lilac, you can see that it's still in the 'almost' category, just about ready to pop open, with that wonderful once-a-year scent.

But the garden isn't the only place where 'almost' is the operative word. It's almost time for our provincial election, one we can only hope will bring about a more positive direction for people here.

My happiest 'almost' is the fact that my new book about Amelia Earhart is now at the printer and is expected to be ready for take-off later this month. One of the most exciting parts of that particular 'almost' is the fact that I will be launching the book at Harbour Grace in Newfoundland -- the same town where Amelia took off for her history-making transatlantic solo across the Atlantic -- and on May 20th, exactly 85 years after her departure from there.