Saturday, June 30, 2018

In search of comfort

Not long ago, walking on a golf course (yes, I walk, sometimes even play caddy though I don't golf), I spotted what appeared to be an inviting comfort station. It looked as though it might even offer a view of the sprawling green valley below.

It's too bad such conveniences aren't more readily available -- especially when one is travelling on Vancouver's transit system.

To get from my house into the heart of the city means two buses to get to the Bridgeport Station, where I can board the Canada Line into town. Natch, if I want to go anywhere not on that line, it means yet another transfer to a bus or another train line.

While it's terrific to have such non-driving options (especially with the price of parking!), it would be nice if there were a public toilet along the way. But the fact is: none of the train stations have such an amenity.

Thinking about this makes me wonder who it is that we are we so afraid of. And what exactly is it we fear they might do? Yes, it's possible someone might do something they shouldn't, but this avoidance of restrooms seems to mostly be a stereotyped backlash against the few who might misuse such a facility. To put a name on who that might be, I suspect: the homeless, the addicted, the poor. A fearsome trio, to be sure.

To give them some credit, TransLink does keep planning improvements, (though I'm not sure toilets are part of their action plan). To support these extensions and services, the Mayors' Council has just announced a hike to the gas tax, scheduled to come into effect next spring. Interesting, as it was barely three years ago that Metro electors voted No to a proposed 0.5% tax to support additional funding for transit.

But I guess those results don't matter anymore. Though where that seems to be the case, I can't help wonder why those millions spent on the referendum vote didn't go instead directly to transit services? Who knows. The money might have even been enough to buy riders like me a little comfort on our travels.

And as for what appeared to be the lovely 'comfort station' on the golf course,
even it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.

Nonetheless, somewhat better than having to hold it (oh, and now I am just starting to understand those many signs on the train that urge you to 'hold on'). Small comfort, indeed.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

It's a sign

...that summer is well and truly here. No more excuses for using the dryer when I can do this in the backyard.

Solstice arrived at 3:07am -- at least in my time zone, Pacific Daylight Time. This makes it official: summer is well and truly here.

Celebrations vary, depending on your beliefs. Of course, for many, it's just another day.

This year there's at least one group who believes this solstice marks the coming of the Rapture, the return of Christ to take believers up and into the heavens. They've determined this using various numbers -- mostly the number of days since various persons died: the religious leader Billy Graham died (120 days), Stephen Hawking (99 days), even Christopher Hitchens (6 years, 6 months, 6 days).

Despite all their tallying of numbers, I'm not holding my breath. Because, really, who can say what any particular day may bring?

But just in case, I'll be set. And at least I'll have sweet-smelling sheets.

Friday, June 15, 2018


But then what, under the sun or moon, isn't. Even the gorgeous calla lily above has holes in its leaves -- and who knows what the little spider might be planning. 

Earlier this week we received sad news of the death of the writer, Stephen Reid. (If interested, there's an interview with him on As It Happens -- the whole program is here; go towards the end of it for the interview.)

It's made me sad that too much of the coverage has seemed to focus on his crimes -- not, as far as I'm concerned, what he should be remembered for.

Maybe I'm just soft-hearted from having spent time as a volunteer in various penal institutions. But really, those experiences have only reminded me that everyone makes mistakes (admittedly, some are much bigger than others) and for many of us -- myself included -- being incarcerated may well be a matter of the old "there but for the grace of God" theory.

Stephen was a husband, a grandfather, a mentor to many (both in and out of prisons) and a wonderful writer. I was lucky enough to review his book of essays, A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden in the Vancouver Sun.

Even luckier is the fact that I own one of the beautiful drums Stephen made. Every time I see it, it now holds a new significance, a touchstone to a beautiful soul.

As his wife Susan has noted, a group of orcas passed by the nearby beach shortly before Stephen died. Among beliefs about them is that they guide the traveller home. Expanding on the thought of what 'home' means, their visit is also believed to signify a coming death. This indeed proved to be true.

I like to think of them as seven orcas coming to escort the soul of a brave warrior spirit home. Someone who, like the rest of us, was in his own way, flawed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Up and away!

Even though I love our home and the mini-forest it's nestled in, I still love getting out into the bigger realms of the world.

A short camping trip found us on Washington's Olympic peninsula, climbing Hurricane Ridge with a group of friends. Even though we had to trek through snow that still clogged parts of the trail, the views at the top made the hike well worthwhile. To see for yourself, here's a link to the webcam with views from the visitors' lodge, not too far from the summit.

Despite the elevation there (nearly a mile), for me the trip's high point was being offline for five days -- not a long time, but enough to clear my head of much of the busy-ness that so often fills it.

Time even to take a photo of the first of the season's salmonberries, the true harbinger of summer. Ahhh.