Monday, September 29, 2008

Heritage Group Outing --- BC Agricultural Museum

One of the interest groups of the Faculty Women's Club is the Heritage Group. Now I am sure that in this very relatively newly settled part of the globe you could say that the word heritage is a bit of an oxymoron. But the group has been going for five years or more and somehow the conveners have managed to find something of interest for the seven outings held during each year for all that time.

Outings take place monthly, always on a Friday which is not a convenient day for me, but after missing all of last year's meetings I decided I would try to make the effort to attend more often this year.

This past Friday the historic town of Fort Langley, where British Columbia settlement began in 1827 with a Hudson's Bay Company post, was our destination, an hour's drive from Vancouver, to visit the BC Farm Machinery and Agricultural Museum, one of the largest Agricultural Museums in Western Canada.

Overall view of the museum from the mezzanine level. Rather chaotic.
An early cropduster, a 1941 Tiger moth, hangs above all.

Originally it was planned to be onsite at the University but ultimately an offsite location was chosen and the Museum was officially opened at Fort Langley in 1966 by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robert Billinger. It is run by an Association, all volunteers and the majority of those involved in this enterprise are for the most part retired mechanics, machinists, millwrights, etc. who use their skills to restore the museum's artifacts, all donated, for there is no budget for acquisition.

I imagine this wheelbarrow is just like they used in the Middle Ages
for it surely is very rudimentary.

Carl, a volunteer, conducted nineteen of us around the museum which consists of several very large buildings. The collection seemed just like a big hodge podge of articles, but there is a sort of organization and he managed to point out some of the highlights and demonstrate some of the restored working machinery and we did find it of great interest, most of us not being of an agricultural background.

An early combine harvester which went from farm to farm, even
over the USA border one time and was refused reentry by customs.
Of course the farmers smuggled it back over at night.

They also collect household items of interest and many were of the era when we most of our group were young. I guess much of what we discard these days will reside in museums of the future or will we just look at photos on the internet I wonder.

Early high tech washing equipment. The one on the right is electric.
I guess it beats washing clothes in the river and pounding
them on the rocks.

The washing was hung over the stove in the farm kitchen
where the warmth was.

No electricity of course, so kerosene lanterns were the norm.
We had one of those for blackouts, a regular occurrence in my youth.

The iceman cometh, on a regular basis. We had an ice chest until I was about twelve
when we finally got a Kelvinator refrigerator.

A 1919 Model T truck, used to cart the milk cans about
on the farm.

Err, a two-headed calf which lived for three weeks was pointed out
to me by another volunteer at the museum
as something of interest.

After thanking our tour guide and making a donation to the Museum we continued on, taking the small Albion car ferry over the Fraser River to lunch at a pub overlooking the river and the ferries coming and going. This free ferry, part of the road system, saves a 42 mile journey to get from Maple Ridge to Fort Langley but soon will become part of the history of the area as a bridge, now nearing completion, replaces it.

One of the two ferries which run from 4.45 am to 1.15 am each day.
This image is not mine but from here.

History is where you find it and this group does its best to scout out interesting things from the past in this neck of the woods which has a very short history in scheme of things, unless you look at it from the First Nations' point of view. But that's another history. We did have a very enjoyable outing and we learned something new. What more could you ask?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- View


The first thing that sprang to mind for this week was the book, A Room with a View. So here is the view from my hotel room in San Diego earlier this year, looking at a corner of the harbour with the Star of India, part of the Maritime Museum, at the bottom of our street.


Sunset, different but just as beautiful

Every time you come to my blog you have a great view of Vancouver in my header. So maybe you were expecting that. Well I would not want to disappoint you so a view towards the North Shore mountains.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cat's Back!

Remember this photo, in the fullness of Summer? See below for the Autumn view.
My Hot Cocoa rose.

Yes the old scientist has returned from his journey to Australia to see his three siblings so my freedom is over. Just kidding of course, since I freely "follow my muse" whenever I like whether he is here or not, as does he. But I don't believe he would think much of dinner appearing on the table at 9.30 pm as was my wont when he was away. He always starts to mutter a bit if it does not appear by 8pm so I shall have to change my solo dining habits.

His journey out was horrible, fifteen hours in a totally packed aeroplane, in a middle seat. It was no fun at all, but the return journey was great as the plane was only half full and he had three seats to himself. He landed here just after 7am so I did not think much of being at the airport at that unearthly hour. Anyway, it seems his sister who was in very poor health is feeling a bit better and they had very good visits over several days. However her long-term prognosis is not good but she takes each day as it comes. She is a woman of strong faith and she was an Anglican minister's wife and no doubt this stands her in good stead. However he felt his older brother was not in very good health which he had not expected so it was lucky he got to spend some time with him too.

His brother has always been a brilliant pianist although he was a Mathematics teacher and he owned a 1914 Steinway full sized concert grand piano which his, and of course the old scientist's, father, a professional musician, had purchased during the thirties and refurbished then. Over the years it had moved with him whenever he did and he would buy a house depending on whether this treasure would fit in. Sadly when he and his wife moved into a retirement community several years ago, there was no room for the piano so he gave it away to someone who no doubt appreciated it and bought a Yamaha baby grand. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease not long afterwards and it seems he does not play very much now as the illness has affected his playing.

The old scientist very much enjoyed driving around the state of NSW and north to Brisbane where his brother lives, although it was a little difficult to stay on the "right" side of the road which is the left side in Australia and he said he gave the odd person a scare on occasion. He continually had to remind himself, keep to the left, keep to the left.

He seems to have enjoyed his sudden unexpected to trip to Australia, although not the journey and we will be making it in early March as we fly there, firstly to take a 17 day cruise from Sydney south to Tasmania then around New Zealand and back to Sydney. This will be followed by a visit to see some friends and the relatives in Australia.

Do you think they will have developed teleporting by then? Well perhaps we will win the lottery and travel first class instead of economy, even business class. Can anyone tell me why it costs $12,600 to fly business class from Vancouver to Sydney while it costs $1700 economy? Double I would definitely pay but 6 times the price? I don't think I can justify that.

Still lots of blossoms but not so beautiful now that Autumn is
here. I don't think we had nearly enough Summer
I'm not ready for Winter!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Books! Books! Books!

Today was the annual meeting of the Faculty Women's Club Book Circulation group of which I am a longtime member. I written about this several times before and it is such a brilliant idea I don't understand why there are not more groups like it but it is the only one I know. From this post last year:

It's run by two convenors who, in the month or so before the meeting, choose and buy 2 copies of 17 books. Often Canadian bestsellers, often not. Some fiction, some not. We each pay $25 to cover the cost of the books and at the end of the year we have a draw and get to keep one. We get a list of the 17 people in our subgroup and the dates to exchange each book and every three weeks or so we pass the book on. Each time you pick up your book from the same person and another person picks up from you and it is arranged so that we live close to each other. So you get to read 17 books for the price of one and get to keep a book as well.

Today we returned the last book we read for this past year, for me this was What the Psychic told the Pilgrim by Jane Christmas. This book opened with the very intriguing sentence: Impulse is intuition on crack.

What followed was the story of her journey, in celebration of her 50th birthday, following the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a centuries-old pilgrimage route stretching 800 kilometers (500 miles) from southwestern France across the Pyrenees almost to the northwestern shore of Spain.

While by no means the best book I have ever read I found it a highly entertaining and informative read, especially since I have never been to Spain. Now why is that I wonder? But all those little interesting facts she included made her a woman after my own heart. Did I tell you she was travelling with a group of other women? However this did not go well and she completed the journey without them.

The exciting part of the meeting is the lottery draw for the book each member gets to keep. Names are drawn from a container and it depends on how early your name is drawn how likely you are to get your first choice or even your second or third choice. Today my name came up very early so I was able to get my first choice, a book I did not read during the year since I was out of town when it was my turn to read it.

I am definitely looking forward to reading Infidel, the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born former member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with director Theo van Gogh, who was himself assassinated. A very controversial lady so it should be an interesting read.

Last of all the books for this post is the one I received as the first book of this year's choices, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, by Kate Summerscale. In it the author recreates the story of the 1860 murder of three year old Saville Kent in the English countryside and the subsequent investigation by Scotland Yard detective Jonathan Whicher. It was an investigation which lead to his undoing as a detective but he became the model for Sgt Cuff in Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, considered the first mystery novel. I don't know how easy this will be to read given the age of the victim but the reviews of this fictionalized true crime story all seem to be five stars.

So three books for one post today. We shall see, we shall see and I'll let you know what I think later.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blogpower Roundup --- An Eclectic Mix

Yes, the image is from one of the posts below
most of which did not have an image to use

After the very comprehensive roundups of recent weeks, this time you will find a more relaxed compilation of the random picks of my butterfly mind, as I cruised through the Blogpower folder on my Bloglines feed during this past week. So in no particular order, with no rhyme nor reason whatsoever, may I present this and that from some of our members.

Deejay of Age is all in the Mind is gearing up for a Charity Run of 10km in October. Well it is actually a serious athletic club run but he's decided to raise some money for the British Heart Foundation in the process. You can donate via a widget in his sidebar if so inclined.

Ellee Seymour, as her elder son stands at the beginning of his university studies in Economics, wonders How useful is a degree today? Well there is no doubt in my mind that it is much more than useful. It's not too late to add your thoughts to the comment section.

Matt the Insomniac asks How influential is the TV we watch? in his post highlighting a Belgian study on the influence of medical shows on teenage viewers. Turning them into hypochondriacs? But he is not so sure the results are all due to television.

Calum Carr, in
Stefan's story, looks back on an incident in his life which obviously still haunts him to some degree. Could he have done more to help Stefan? Should he have? At the time it also inspired him to write some poetry which he included with the story.

Odiyya (or Kori Brus) of the Conscious Earth, now back in Vancouver after extensive travels shares a slideshow of places he's been, things he's seen in
8 months of photo highlights. Enjoy the show.

Did you know that Liz has gone to Canada for her vacation? She did mention it I think before she left, once or twice. Reporting in This is really me she tells us what she has been up to so far along with her plans for the near future. In case you missed it, Liz and I met for lunch in Vancouver earlier in the week, along with Leslie, another local blogger.

After a long two years or more of run-up the Presidential election in the USA is finally getting close and blogging on the topic has heated up, especially with the controversial choice of Sarah Palin for Republican Vice Presidential nominee. In fact the topic has drawn out Hell's Handmaiden from his hiatus as he writes on the topic in a flurry of posts. One which quite shocked me was his highlighting
of some spurious election practices planned by certain Republicans in Let's steal an election.

A. Tory does not mince words on the topic of McCain's choice of running mate in Sarah Palin is a joke, why can't everyone see it?
You'll get no disagreement from me there Mr Tory although some of your commenters took you to task and there was quite the debate in the comment section.

Even Crushed took up the US election topic as he supports Obama and explains why he thinks it's America's chance to usher in something new .

None of us can ignore the crises which shook the very core of the financial world this past week, causing a stock market meltdown followed by a surging rebound as the USA cobbled together a dubious rescue of AIG, the world's biggest insurance company. Cityunslicker followed the week's happenings, among his posts Learnings from a day of chaos in which he worries about the effects on UK banks, prior to the news of AIG's rescue.

While Sacherson in his turn worries about the ramifications of the AIG solution in
Not the end, as long as you and I breathe, highlighting his frequent source Karl Denninger's announcement of the potential end of America's government. Take a look at Karl's rather interesting video.

The Pub Philosopher ponders about Morgan Stanley approaching the Chinese government for a bail-out in Banks ask for state aid - any state will do. Now doesn't that boggle the mind?

In On Dodgy Minicabs MJW, observing from the Hillside, tells a personalized story of a young foreign student having been ripped off by a Croydon minicab driver who absconded with his change of 45 pounds. What kind of first impression of the UK does that give to this young man?

Instead of his usual style of humourous posts Mutley has been in a more serious frame of mind lately. No more so than in
When you know it is time for a divorce... Sadly for Mutley he knows whereof he speaks so I think you can trust him on this one. Of course it is from the man's point of view.

Devonshire Dumpling of No Clue has a stream of consciousness post in Bloody Sheep as during a bout of insomnia she finds that counting sheep is not the answer.

I really admire and secretly envy people who are have a way with words. So I am enjoying the blog of BP's newest member, David Hadley at a Tangled Rope, with his fragments of prose and poetry. A snippet which I found quite meaningful was Secret Places, some thoughts that will resonate with many of us.

On occasion Jams of the Poor Mouth highlights the work of an Iranean woman poet, Forough Farrokhzad, who sadly died forty years ago, aged 32, and this week he posted another called To my sister. Just a taste but please read the whole of this very powerful poem.

Seek your rights, Sister,
from those who keep you weak,
from those whose myriad tricks and schemes
keep you seated in a corner of the house.

I would like to conclude with this post from Crushed, History -It's You, one of his best posts in my opinion. In it he talks about the generation gap, comparing his own history with that of his Irish grandmother and contrasting his own experiences with an unnamed twenty three year old. As progress advances ever more rapidly the generation gap becomes apparent with a much smaller difference in age.

Yes, well it was only going to be a short roundup, but like Topsy it just grew and grew.

Crossposted at Defending the Blog and at Nobody Important

Friday, September 19, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Road


I live in a small housing development consisting of three streets with 225 houses. We are surrounded on one side by the mighty Fraser River, two other sides by golf courses and there is but one road out. Since July we have been having our roads dug up as they replace the water mains and it is still ongoing. The original deadline of August has long past, with the end of September now projected but who knows? Piles of gravel, yellow tractors, red traffic cones, workmen with stop and slow signs are what we deal with as we come and go.

Good sized water pipes

Regularly parked on the road outside my house this machine rumbles to life at 7am

So there you have it. The state of the road in front of my house and in my area. If you are a regular reader you have seen several of these before. I know I should not complain when I think of so many people in the world who would love to have a regular supply of piped water and believe me I am truly appreciate my water supply and the fact that we have plenty of water. All the rain we endure at least ensures that.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lunch with Liz and Leslie

Oh, oh. I'm falling down on the job of reporting on lunch with Liz from Wales and Leslie from Ladner, two days ago already. But I haven't really been home much in the past two days as I catch up with some friends whom I don't see so often. Leslie put up her report on lunch right away so puts me to shame, but here is mine, better late than never!

Leslie on the left, Liz on the right

While we did not have such a brilliant summer in Vancouver, I was really hoping for a lovely day for Liz's visit and sure enough the weather cooperated. I picked up Liz from her hotel, the luxury Pan Pacific which frankly has the best location in Vancouver, right on the water facing the mountains and is no slouch in the service and facilities department so I think she would have had a good impression of Vancouver from the word go.

But of course I wanted her to see my favourite place, Granville Island, so I had arranged to meet Leslie at Bridges restaurant, the yellow landmark on the island where you can eat out on their deck, right amongst the boats in the marina.

In the brilliant sunshine of the magnificent day, we sat outside and chatted away, none of us having met each other before but since we had been reading each other's blogs for quite a while it did not seem like meeting with strangers at all. Naturally one of the first questions was where was George. Well no doubt he is stretching the patience of the owners of the kennel where he is housed for the next two weeks as he does his Houdini act, but I am sure that Liz is delighted to have a rest from chasing him down and bringing him home.

Poor us, we had to sit and look at this view as we lunched.

I'm very sorry to say I did not take a photo of the main courses and we all had something different. I had a West Coast salad, Liz a crab and salmon burger and Leslie a smoked salmon and avocado sandwich. I did manage to get it together for dessert which we unanimously decided would be fresh berry shortcake, with blueberries and blackberries.

As we sat there enjoying this creation and having tea I said I think I'll just have a boiled egg for dinner, but suddenly remembered I was going to book club that night which includes dinner and of course my Sunken Grape cake for dessert. Sigh. How am I ever going to lose weight with this regime?

Beloved by locals and tourists alike, Bridges' deck is
wonderful place to enjoy a meal

Leslie had to leave early so Liz and I sat on the deck for a while longer until she had to return to her hotel to meet her husband and daughter and son-in-law since they planned to visit Grouse Mountain in the afternoon. So I dropped her back at the hotel after a very pleasant lunch and a wonderful visit with two blog friends.

I do hope the weather cooperates for the rest of her stay in Canada as she next visits Vancouver Island and then off to the Rockies, one of the most beautiful parts of the world to my mind.

Any more blog friends planning to visit Vancouver? I know it is the end of the earth but it is a very beautiful spot and I promise you lunch or dinner at Bridges. Lady Mac, Liz, you next?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cake with a Story and a Sweet Memory

This is the cake which I will take for dessert to the meeting of my Short Book Club tomorrow. Yes it does look a little plain but it is delicious and dobs of whipped cream dress up any cake you know.

For me this is a very special cake, Sunken Grape Cake, a cake with a story, which I would like to share with you. The recipe* was given to me by a dear friend, C, who sadly passed away a several years ago from cancer. Below are parts of the eulogy I gave at her memorial service, which was a story in itself as I had viral laryngitis but could not persuade anyone to read the eulogy for me. So I croaked into the microphone and what with my accent and my defective voice I am sure no one understood a word.
C was not one of those friends of very long standing whom I met when I first came to Canada. In fact we first met in the early nineties, when we belonged to the Pfaff Club, both owners of a Pfaff computerized sewing machine and together we learned the intricacies and capabilities of our new toy.
Later, in the mid nineties, we crossed paths again as I joined the Islanders group of the Faculty Women's Club, of which C was a long time member. Then when I retired fully in 1998, I joined many of the other interest groups of the Club and she seemed to belong to all the same ones as I did. So we quickly became friends due to our common interests. She was from Edinburgh, my father was from Glasgow, I had traveled in her homeland and was interested in the stories of her life there. We both had lived in London for a time and both had traveled widely. We shared the immigrant experience, coming from far away places to settle in Vancouver and to my mind we just seemed to be kindred spirits.
We spent hours talking on the phone and often went together on the various outings of the club. The more I got to know her, the more I realized what a wonderful, kind, generous person she was. She was the first person to extend a helping hand, to give someone a lift, to lend something she had to anyone who needed it and to welcome all the new people who joined the Club, either for short periods or for longer ones. But it was really hard to reciprocate because she wouldn’t let you do things for her.
On one occasion I was able to lend her a navy blazer for a sail past she was to attend with her husband. I was so happy to be able to do something for her for a change, but of course when she returned the blazer it had been dry cleaned and was accompanied by a clematis plant in a pot, which I still have to this day.
C. loved food. She was a wonderful cook. She knew all about food ingredients and all the classic and nouveaux ways of preparing food. She always knew what the exotic things were in the recipes or on the plate when we lunched out together. She knew all the best restaurants and she formed our little group of five people, the Lunch Bunch, who ate out once a month when we tried all the new or different restaurants which, usually, she discovered. She was a gracious hostess and constantly tried new recipes which she discovered in books, on the Food Network and online. We always teased her about watching the Food Network.
She also generously shared these recipes with her friends. In fact one of the recipes, known as C’s Sunken Grape Cake, has a life of its own. We all seemed to make it often and bring it to various events. We had to check with each other, is C bringing it, or someone else perhaps, to whatever occasion for which we were asked to provide cakes or squares. We even shared it with other friends so there are people who never knew C making it.

In fact, someone brought it to the the reception after her memorial service and there were people at the reception who asked me for the recipe which I dutifully emailed to them since I knew she would have graciously offered it if asked or even if you only said I really like that cake.
I admired C greatly for her goodness, her kindness, her generosity of spirit and her genuineness. But most of all I admired her for the way in which she handled the last few months of her life, with such grace, courage and dignity.

C was co-convener of the Thursday Walking Group, as I am now. I'm sure you know what a close-knit group we are as we go for a walk in various places all over the Lower Mainland and always have lunch together afterwards. Some of the members, who are unable to walk so far now, or have various periods of incapacity due to injury or whatever, often meet us for lunch anyway.
So, as C underwent various tests to discover the reason for her ill health, we all worried along with her. When she phoned to tell me the definitive diagnosis she said, “I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I don’t want people to treat me differently and I don’t want to talk about it.” I hope we didn’t treat her differently but of course we talked often about it. How could we not? It took over her life and she herself brought it up all the time. But she never gave up hope, even when the medical profession could do nothing more for her. She was always cheerful when we spoke, in person or on the phone.
On December 8th, 2005, the walking group met for a Christmas pot luck lunch at a member's house. C was determined to be there and her husband did indeed bring her. She was frail but beautifully groomed and dressed, as always, with her lovely smiling face and her spirit shining through. We were all delighted to see her. It was a very joyous occasion and 14 of us sat at the table and celebrated the season and the fact that she was able to be there with us. Someone took some wonderful pictures with her digital camera, to memorialize the occasion and she sent them to C. Most of us did not see her again (she died ten days later), although we all phoned regularly and if she was not well enough to talk to us, we talked to her answering machine. And we wrote cards and sent flowers, anything to show her how much we cared.
We all miss our dear friend C and talk about her often. Yes, she belonged to the Short Book Club too, so it is fitting that we eat her Sunken Grape Cake at one of our meetings, don't you think?

* Recipe for this Sunken Grape Cake can be found here, although it is actually the creation of Monique Sui, co-owner of Zefiro in Portland.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Grass Widow

I'm a grass widow for the next twelve days and I'm contemplating what mischief I shall get up to. You know while the cat's away the mouse will play.

The old scientist has jetted off to Australia and should be arriving momentarily. Sadly it is not a happy trip, since his sister who has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia is not doing well and we fear she may not be around when we visit there next March.

Despite that fact, I think he was rather excited when he left. He was going home, for we expat Australians always think of Australia as home, no matter how long we have been gone, although he did leave a very long time ago, in 1957 in fact.

There's now a direct flight between Vancouver and Sydney but it is a pretty brutal fifteen hours and at the end of it he has to pick up a rental car and drive on the "wrong" side of the road, through the mad traffic of Sydney and north for four hours to reach his other sister's house. So he has instructions to telephone me as soon as he arrives. He said I'll send you an email but I said no way, you phone.

So where does the expression, grass widow come from, you might ask? Well I did anyway and naturally I had to google it and I just have to share what I found. By the way, the image above is Sisyrinchium inflatum or "Grass Widow", a charming North American native wildflower.

Definiton of a grass widow:

NOUN: 1. A woman who is divorced or separated from her husband. 2. A woman whose husband is temporarily absent. 3. An abandoned mistress. 4. The mother of a child born out of wedlock.

So already I've learned something new since I only knew of meaning 2. It seems the British and consequently the Australians use that meaning, while in North America meaning 1 is the one more commonly understood. Thus this explanation:

Grass probably refers to a bed of grass or hay as opposed to a real bed. This association would help explain the earliest recorded sense of the word (1528), "an unmarried woman who has lived with one or more men," as well as the related senses "an abandoned mistress" and "the mother of an illegitimate child." Later on, after the sense of grass had been obscured, people may have interpreted grass as equivalent to the figurative use of pasture, as in out to pasture. Hence grass widow could have developed the senses "a divorced or separated wife" or "a wife whose husband is temporarily absent."

Convinced? Perhaps not. It seems to have first been used by Sir Thomas More in a dialogue in 1528. From here:

But then it meant something rather different: either an abandoned mistress or an unmarried woman who had cohabited with several men. It might have expressed the idea that the abandoned lover had been "put out to grass". But it could conceivably have come from the same type of origin as bastard; this is from the Latin bastum for a pack saddle, suggesting a child born after a brief encounter on an improvised bed, such as a packsaddle pillow, whose owner had gone by morning. Could the grass in grass widow refer to surreptitious love-making in the fields rather than indoors, or the straw in a barn used for an illicit tryst?

How about this rather interesting explanation?

Another theory is that it's slang from the British Raj for wives sent away during the hot summer to the cooler (and greener) hill stations while their husbands remained on duty in the plains. We can trace this theory back to the famous Anglo-Indian dictionary Hobson-Jobson of 1886. It says that the term is applied "with a shade of malignancy", a tantalisingly opaque comment.......It seems possible that the term was applied derisively to Anglo-Indian wives sent away for the summer (were there perhaps well-known opportunities for hanky-panky in the hill stations?) and that it only gradually took on the modern sense through a reinterpretation of grass to mean the green landscape of the hills.

Mmm. So there, you know as much about the origin of the expression as I do and probably more than you ever wanted to know.

Well I did receive a phone call just now and he did arrive safely, after first of all getting lost in Sydney while trying to get onto the Sydney Harbour bridge which he said he could see but not access. The streets seemed to "have changed" since he was there five years ago. Luckily it was Sunday and the traffic was not too bad but I think he needs a GPS system, don't you?

Now back to my plans. Well I am going for lunch on Monday with Liz who is currently on her way from the UK, and Leslie, a local blogger and then there's book club. Good heavens, I'll have to do better than that!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Wild


What immediately sprang to mind for this week's theme was my visit to San Diego zoo, earlier this year. Surely, tucked away in my archives, there was something which I had not shown before on this blog and of course there was.

An orangutan, not in the wild, but in San Diego Zoo

How about an orangutan contemplating its next move, surveying the world from on its high perch. Unfortunately in the wild these highly intelligent red apes are now extinct in much of Asia due to the destruction of 80% of the rainforests where they make their home and they are on the endangered list.

We all know bears are wild animals and bear stories and experiences abound in this part of the world and we treat bears very cautiously here. But two days ago, at a marina on Vancouver Island, a bear climbed into a fisherman's boat and savagely mauled him. The man, now recovering in hospital, was rescued by four other fisherman who killed the bear with fishing gaffes and a knife. No the bear below is not a local black bear but a different one from San Diego Zoo.

A spectacled bear, a South American bear, also on the endangered
list in the wild


Thursday, September 11, 2008

What is Happening with Wet Coast Women this Week

Some of you may have noticed this button on my sidebar which has been there since almost the beginning of my blog. I posted some photos of Vancouver on my blog and someone suggested they would be good for the Wet Coast Women blog site which was started as a cooperative blog for local women by Crunchy Carpets.

Last week Crunchy instituted a What's Happening with our members type of roundup post on the blog but at the moment our fearless leader is without her computer so she begged for help with a roundup for this week and I stepped into the breech. This is crossposted here and at Wet Coast Women.

Mary Anne over at A Place I call Home is talking about canning in Bountiful Harvest. Now this is a very busy lady who works as a nurse and has other extracurricular activities but still manages to put up produce for winter in this time honoured tradition.

While a bear is in the news for attacking a fisherman in BC this week, the one over at Vic Grace's Cariboo Ponderer was patiently Waiting for his Dinner to be served at the table.

Expat Traveller has moved to Victoria recently and she shares some of her wonderful photos of her new locale in Weekend Snapshots.

Alice at I was Born3Cree8 had a very busy Monday with a long list of things to do but all did not go as smoothly as planned. However she was very satisfied with her performance at her branch of the Toastmasters Club.

Crunchy herself of Crunchy Carpets is suffering the agonies of Parenthood in Helicoptering my Kids.... Happily, as her young son, her little free spirit, navigates the early days of Grade 1 in school. As she picks him up from school she anxiously searches his face, how was his day?

Leslie at the Pedalogue in My Heart Bleeds pays tribute to her friend Kathy who passed away from cancer after a twenty year battle. It's a story of a lovely friendship these two women shared.

Lisa at in Falling Behind tells us that her child has made the transition from kindergarten to First Grade relatively smoothly and she also recounts the story of her recent trip to Victoria along with a few this and thats in her life.

Margy at Powell River Books gives us the skinny on Growing Potatoes in a Barrel. It is a very intriguing method and also has the advantage of being self storing of the harvest for later use.

This is just a taste of what our members are writing about. I just counted and this group has grown to ninety members. I think that is astounding and a tribute to Crunchy who does such a sterling job keeping this site going for all of us to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Accidental Time Traveller

Ok, as threatened, another book review as mentioned in a comment to Sienna, The Accidental Time Traveller by Sharon Griffiths, published by Avon. I thank you and apologize in advance for not being able to reply immediately to any comments anyone may make this time.

I really rather enjoyed this book. For those of you familiar with the TV series ‘Ashes to Ashes’ this book has certain similarities. This doesn’t spoil the story. It manages despite any similarity to be quite different.

For a start it reaches back further in time than the 80’s or 70’s and does a good job of highlighting some of the differences between 50’s Britain and naughties Britain and the world.

I touched on changing attitudes in my last review. This author seems well aware of such things over a range of subjects and picks them up without making a meal of it. I guess the story could be loosely categorized as ‘Chick-Lit’ in that it does deal with relationships and feelings.

So, a taster. The heroine is Rosie Harford, a reporter for the local newspaper the ‘The News’, in a provincial English town.

The morning after a fierce row with her boyfriend Will, she is assigned to interview Mrs Turnbull, a long time resident of a run down local council estate, the Meadows, on the 50th anniversary of it being built in the 1950s, amid talk of a possible reality TV series being set there to be called “The 1950s House”.

Rosie duly arrives at the estate and as she walks up the path to the door she feels faint and finds everything seems strange. By the time she gets to the door it is not the door of the house she was planning to visit. Everything is very different.

At first she is convinced she has somehow been drafted into the 1950s house with out her knowledge and looks for hidden cameras as the occupants tell her it has been arranged for her to stay with them and work on the News. From her accent and speech mannerisms they seem convinced she is American.

The following day Rosie takes up her ‘temporary’ post as a reporter at the News It begins to dawn on her that not even a TV company could take over a whole town and convincingly turn the clock back.

And so begins her adventures reporting on the, sometimes dramatic, stories of the day, saving the day for more than one person. She starts to find herself falling for a new colleague Bill, who so closely resembles Will, she thinks it is him at first. Except here he is responsible a married man with children, married to Carol, who looks very much like her best friend Caz with bad teeth.

Then there is the lack of washing up liquid, decent shampoo, conditioner, tooth powder...

Torn by her feelings for Bill, Rosie also begins to realize she really misses/loves Will terribly, but does not know how to get back to him...

If you want to know more read the book ^_^

NB: This is Moggsy's review despite showing JMB's name. Technical problems required some tweaking by JMB so it shows her name as poster.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Conversation with an Author -- Michelle Richmond --- in Second Life

Earlier on this year I wrote about a book I had read called The Year of Fog, written by Michelle Richmond, which I had enjoyed immensely, despite the topic being about a missing child who is found by the end of the book, otherwise I don't think I could have read it.

Imagine my surprise to find out that Michelle would be present at the Story Mountain Center for Writers in Second Life to chat about her new book No One You Know and her writing experience in general. To my mind, this is what Second Life is great at accomplishing, getting together, in real time, people from different parts of the world so they can converse with each other and exchange ideas.

This event I definitely had to attend. I had no idea what to expect since I had never been to the centre before. I found on my arrival that there were but five of us, including Michelle, who goes by the name of Michelle Mefusula in Second Life and as you see we all sat around a table together.

She asked if we were all writers and rather embarrassed I had to admit that I was only a blogger, but an inveterate reader and a fan of her earlier work. She asked the name of my blog and I was very surprised when she said she remembered my post, but I suppose she checks all the links made to her site.

Michelle in typing mode at the roundtable session

To give you some background information about Michelle, let me tell you that she holds an MFA from the University of Miami, where she was a James Michener Fellow, and teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at California College of the Arts. She has also taught in the MFA programs of the University of San Francisco, St. Mary's College of Moraga, and Bowling Green State University. In addition she has published a collection of short stories and three novels and her essays and stories have appeared widely in various periodicals.

The roundtable discussion was a combination of Michelle talking and answering various questions about her work. It was interesting to hear that she published her first two books without having an agent, which is quite remarkable in this day and age. Her first book, the short story collection, won a contest which guaranteed automatic publication, the second was picked up when she sent it to a small literary publishing house.

Michelle in the pink dress, me in the red dress with the red hair
Click to enlarge

She found her agent at a writers' festival, another very rare occurrence, but she did have two published books under her belt by that time so perhaps it is not so surprising. Michelle talked about her own writing and revision process and gave some excellent ideas for writers starting out to get their work disseminated and published. I found the whole hour very interesting but just as we were nearing the end with me waiting to ask her a question I crashed out of Second Life and I was not able to sign back in for love nor money. If you are interested, a full transcript of the meeting is here with more photos, written by the coordinater Alas Zerbino.

Undaunted I sent her a message of apology about "leaving" the discussion so precipitously and asked her my question which arose from my own post about her book of Year of Fog. I found some commenters recounting stories of their own children's brief disappearances and wondered if she found people sharing such stories with her. I don't think Michelle would mind me sharing her reply:

Hi there. Oh, no worries! I totally understand. When I first installed SL yesterday, my computer crashed. I went back and reread your wonderful post about THE YEAR OF FOG. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and lengthy comments. I also appreciated your link to the website of the writer (Ellee Seymour) who has been keeping track of missing persons. I've been very interested in the Madeleine McCann case, and have been saddened by recent reports that confirm it is likely she was taken by a pedophile ring. I have in the past couple of months received emails from two families whose children have gone missing--one 18 years ago. Neither have been found. It was very humbling to hear from these families. I remember reading the story about losing your daughter for half an hour--how absolutely terrifying! Thanks so much for attending the event in SL!

I know many people think that Second Life is a very strange concept but I really appreciate this wonderful aspect of it. How else could I meet and speak with Michelle Richmond, an author whom I like very much but normally would never encounter in real life? Of course I had to immediately order No One you Know and it is next on my TBR pile. I know that I will enjoy it all the more now that I have "met" Michelle in person.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- String(s)


I had no idea what to post for this week, not even an idea to pursue with my camera. But browsing through my library of photos I came across this one. Strings. Of course, perfect.

This photo was taken at a garden tour which the Faculty Women's Club held as a fund raiser. We toured various members' gardens and there were little snacks and drinks provided at some houses and musical interludes too. This was the last garden I visited and we sat in the shade of the trees, sipping a cold drink, for it was a hot summer day, listening to the son of one of our members who is accompanying him on the grand piano, play the cello out on the sundeck. What a lovely finish to a very pleasurable tour and we raised a goodly sum for the ten scholarships which our club provides at the University of British Columbia.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Perfect Day -- Out and about with the Thursday Walking Group

Today Vancouver outdid itself with a glorious September day and as my Thursday Walking Group took in the West Vancouver walk we kept saying to each other, "What a perfect day it is."

Looking across a sandy beach with its obligatory logs in place towards the north shore
I told you, a perfect day

Surf's up. Well that's as good as it gets here in the harbour.

The late season brings into bloom these stunning rudebeckia daisies called Goldsturm, Perennial Plant of the Year in 1999. They are almost a cliche as we all have them in
our gardens and in this little park beside the walkway they make a cheerful display

Our walk is done, ten past twelve, time for lunch, according to the floral clock

I downloaded fifty photos today from this walk today but I don't think you want to see them all. I'm sure I take the same photos over and over again.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Confused? What else is new?

No, I am not talking about myself for once. Not I, but sometimes you seem to be confused as to whether it is JMB posting here or my Second Life pal, Miss Moggs who introduced herself with this post.

So I think to clarify the situation Miss Moggs should have her own photo accompanying her posts, just like any regular newspaper columnist. I think that should do it, don't you? Yep, she's the beautiful blonde one, while I am the one who hides behind the Westie avatar, the image you see in the sidebar every time you visit, the one you have become accustomed to in your comment section.

Besides being pals in Second Life, it seems we have other things in common like reading and writing book reviews so she fits right in here, doesn't she? I hope you are enjoying reading her posts as much as I am, so don't forget to leave a comment for her, will you?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Could you get Lostin Austin?

I guess this post is mostly going to be of immediate interest to UK readers. Sorry people, but knowing the way TV productions often eventually find their way all over, maybe it will be a heads up for everyone else also.

Who likes Jane Austin Novels? If I asked for a show of hands I bet it would be pretty solid vote.

Well the UK’s ITV1 is screening a new series on Wednesday Sept 3rd (tomorrow). The high concept is ‘Ashes to Ashes’ meets ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

Now it depends on how well this is done, but it has good potential to be romantic fun.

For those who don’t know it ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is a UK TV series about a Naughties female cop who gets shot and somehow finds herself in the 1980s working with a curiously engaging, if rough and unreconstructed, Detective Gene Hunt. Is the rough etc. why he is so curiously engaging?

The poetically titled ‘Lost in Austin’ stars Gemma Arterton as Amanda Price, get it.. Mansfield Park... who just loves Jayne Austin novels and sooo longs for romance.

One day she finds a secret door that leads into her favourite ‘Austin’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and (forgetting all about modern dentistry, shampoo, conditioners, antibiotics, votes for women etc.), what girl could resist with thoughts of Mr Darcy, steps through it.

But what happens to the original story line when modern day Amanda Price is added to the mix…

I plan to catch it on TV and find out (and hope it delivers on some of it’s potential). Maybe you will too…