Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Who knew, eh?

By one of those flukes of taking my time reading the weekend newspaper, I ran across an article on 'homegrown literature' and the importance of reading exactly that. It claimed that today has been proclaimed as "I Read Canadian Day."

Only, as it happened, I was in a bookstore today and as I made my purchase, I asked about the observance. The employee gave me the deer-in-the-headlights face, and said she didn't know what I was talking about. If the booksellers don't know about it, no wonder there's no promotion.

I remember that, during the '80s we had "Canada Book Day" and it fell on, I'm pretty sure, April 23rd. And whaddya know, apparently it still exists (though even the entry about it admits that few people know about this).

It really was quite the celebration, as the Canada Council provided a box of Canadian books to libraries that made a request.

And next week, there'll be another Canadian literary observance. If it doesn't come to mind immediately, you might have to check back here, as who knows, I might even do a post about it.

Read on -- and when you can, think about reading something written by a Canadian author.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Yesterday was for learning

Yesterday meant that a decade had passed since Vancouver's Olympic Games officially opened. There are plenty of stories online about the many ways this anniversary is being observed, as well as recaps of all that went on, right down to the glitches that were part of the torch-lighting ceremony.

But more important to me than attending the relighting ceremony might have been was my good fortune over being invited to attend a luncheon where the Calgary's mayor, Naheed Nenshi was the featured speaker. After hearing him, I'm not at all surprised that he was once named the Best Mayor in the World.

Because he was addressing members and guests of the Surrey Board of Trade, much of his talk concerned commerce and trade -- and even included his city's commitment to investments in art and culture. When he came into office, Calgary doubled its funding of the Arts, and since then, despite economic woes in Alberta, the City has managed to protect such funds.

But the real focus of his talk was how we need to start listening to each other. He said that in essence, we all want the same things: we want to save the planet in a state that will remain habitable for future generations and we also want prosperity for all. A big ticket to fill, to be sure.

One thought that I'm taking away from his speech is an anecdote he shared early on. He pointed to his necktie and told us that for nearly ten years he's been wearing purple every day. He reminded us that it's a secondary colour, made up of two primary ones, red and blue, which just happen to be the colours representing the two major political parties, long held as two viewpoints that stand in opposition to each other.

This idea of blending the two points of view, and of being able to hear both sides is the message that stays with me today. I'm hoping I might from now on be able to hear both sides better, and want to start practising something he said (and I'm quoting Mayor Nenshi): "I like to listen with both ears." Yes.

Thursday, February 06, 2020


That's what I thought when I encountered this little primrose, its white petals couched in the white of a surprise snowfall.

Here I'd thought the groundhog would have been right -- after all, I don't think he saw any shadow the other day. And isn't that supposed to mean that winter is over?

I'm just hoping that next time I look at this little flower it'll be surrounded by green.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

It's been a long time...

 ...and will be an even longer time until this happens again. The event? A numerical palindrome. Yep, along the lines of 'Madam I'm Adam' or my perhaps favourite, 'Do geese see God?' But not made up of letters, but numbers.

And today is one of the most remarkable of such dates, as the palindromes only seem to build and build on each other -- worth reading the article in this link for the many crazy details.

I'll admit, this morning when I'd looked at the number residing at the bottom of my computer screen I'd thought they looked cool. But it was only while I was watching golf on tv (yes, one of my many guilty pleasures) that one of the commentators remarked on the palindromic factor. So yes, I tried finding a way to create an image that would suit it.

Badly posed, but this kind of date event won't happen again while any of us are around. In fact, this level of palindromic effect in a date won't occur again until 03/03/3030 -- and who knows whether we'll even be on the same digital version of the Gregorian calendar when that rolls around. I suspect "Stardate whatever" might be more likely by then.

And yes, the most lovely representation of the figure two I found during my search was one of the brass swans who keeps me company on the ledge above the sink when I do the washing up. A very special and graceful number two for this pretty special 'two' of a day.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Another kind of new year

Saturday was officially the day to mark the Lunar New Year. Because I knew the restaurants would be crowded with people wanting to celebrate, I stayed home.

But staying home doesn't mean going without yummy treats. My local produce store has a freezer filled with ready-to-steam dumplings and lotus-wrapped packets of sticky rice. So, a little feast at home serves as a nice appetizer -- just a taste to encourage me to gather a crew for a trip into Richmond for a proper feed of dim sum.

I'll admit to having mixed feelings about this being called the Year of the Rat. According to tradition, it's the first of the twelve animals depicted in the Chinese zodiac. First or not, my associations with rats are less than savoury. Especially now that coronavirus is making the news.

Even though I understand it's passed by contact with fluids (mucus, etc.) and isn't an airborne virus (which sounds promising for not having it spread more than it already has), it's causing me some concern, as it's hard not to think about SARS, which initially didn't seem like such a big deal. I remember having to pass through Toronto's Pearson International while that epidemic was raging. Many people were wearing masks. My paranoid reaction was keeping my ears covered, as I'd somehow got it into my head that ears were a forgotten point of entry (not the usual mouth, eyes, nose).

So, we're being told that this one isn't airborne, and not like the Great Plague with the fleas from rats serving as carriers. Still, this morning when I brought my empty garbage bins back in, it was disconcerting to spot a rat slinking along the neighbour's lawn. I can only hope he was there on invitation to celebrate this new lunar year.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Ongoing inspiration

Because I'm a coward when it comes to cold weather, last week found me mostly staying in. Unless I was outside clearing snow off the walk, I was inside, doing my best to stave off cabin fever.

In keeping with the decluttering plan I started earlier this month, I've been cleaning up inside too, though using more subtle tools than the shovel I used outside. The focus has been mainly my office, where I've been sifting papers, getting rid of items I shouldn't have kept as long as I have.

But every once in a while, something special turns up. A forgotten photograph of a now-gone friend, or sometimes, as with the scrap of newspaper above, a timely piece of advice. The quote on the image above feels important and true: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

I'm old enough to remember that terrible spring when King was assassinated (and when only two months later, Bobby Kennedy would be too). Old enough to be shocked now to learn that a man who accomplished so much for civil rights, and left such an impact on so many, was shot when he was only 39 years old.

So this is my small observance for today, Martin Luther King Day, a promise to myself. With it, I am reminding myself to keep to my beliefs and to speak out when I see one of those many 'things that matter.'

Odd how a scrap of paper, nearly forgotten, can offer such encouragement. Ah yes, the power of words.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Goin' nowhere

Those of us who live in BC's Lower Mainland are generally blessed with not having to shovel ourselves out during the winter. Many express pity on us, as most of our precipitation falls in the form of rain, which yes, means skies that are often grey.

While today's skies aren't blue -- or even grey for that matter -- more whitish than anything, what's on the ground is definitely white.

So, what am I doing? Staying inside as much as I can (though yes, I bundled up and shoveled the walk on the odd chance the letter carrier comes through ("...neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night...??") with something for the mailbox. The radio is full of warnings, saying that roads are icy (even transit is having big problems), and cautioning everyone to stay home if we can.

It feels like a day for carbs, so pasta it shall likely be, especially if I can come up with a recipe that will want some time in the oven. And of course, a few more chapters in the novel I'm currently reading. Who knows, maybe even curling up under the covers and taking a hibernatory nap.