Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's wrong with this picture?

Earlier this year we treated ourselves to a quick holiday (too short, but that's another story) in Cuba. I spent a lot of time strolling along the beach. Initially, my beachwalks were of the standard variety, keeping an eye out for shells or pretty rocks. But it didn't take long for me to decide there were far too many rainbow straws littering the beach.

Because one of my daily practices is picking up a piece of litter, it was easy to bend and pick up the first pink plastic straw that greeted me. But I soon found these littered straws were in abundance. And these were just the ones still on the beach. How many others had made their way out to sea?

In a place where plenty of drinks are being served, practically 24//7, I understand that hygiene is important -- thus, straws are inserted into just about every glass (even the plastic 'glasses') the bartenders hand out. I suppose the colourful straws also present some aesthetic appeal, and no doubt are cheaper than tiny umbrellas would be.

But, the abundance of these plastic straws along the shoreline got me worried about how much ocean contamination they were causing.

The pipe coral in my photo was washed up on shore, yes. And I'll admit to inserting some of the straws I'd picked up into the hollow tubes. I hope the juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made helps make a point -- a point I first heard about from an action in Tofino called 'Straws Suck.'

Plastic doesn't break down well, not even in the sea. Where tourism in Tofino is all about nature and the ocean, folks there take their stewardship seriously. The Straws Suck campaign is simple: avoid straws if you can, but if you need to use straws, use paper ones instead. Something to think about next time you're sucking up a drink.




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ridiculous

When I was little (like, five) I used to play store. This involved getting tins from my mother's cupboards and arranging them on the steps outside the front of our house. I never sold anything, but I remember taking great pleasure in setting up the 'store' and taking some kind of strange pride in how it all looked. Plentiful, secure. Who knows.

Looking at my kitchen counter, I realized it still looks like I'm playing store -- only the display isn't on the steps outside, and the line-up doesn't consist of beans or corn or soups.

The set-up this time is an assortment of the various remedies I have tried to get through this ridiculous coughing flu, the manifestation of this winter's flu that's decided to pay me an unwelcome visit.

It probably looks as though I've decided to play drugstore. Frankly, it's nowhere near as much fun as playing 'ordinary' store. I'm just hoping I'm not going to need to rely on these supplies for much longer. But excuse me, please, while I go to find another lozenge.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Snow job

It was sunny here on Thursday, Groundhog Day, so I suppose the little critter saw his shadow and ran back inside. Even though snowdrops were blooming in the garden, I guess I should have expected 'six more weeks of winter' -- just as the local groundhog must have predicted,

Still, when the snow started falling on Friday morning, I was less than enthusiastic. Mostly I've taken comfort in the fact that I don't really have to go anyplace this weekend, so I can stay home and hunker down for a few days. Besides, I can blame it on the groundhog.

If only I could blame the other snow job on a character as innocuous as a groundhog.

I'm talking about the second of the big campaign promises that have been dashed by our prime minister, who once seemed like such a beacon of hope.

Many British Columbians must have voted for Liberal candidates on the basis of promises made on that party's behalf by its leader, Mr Trudeau.

Elements of their policy platform (still posted as least as of today's blog posting) include the promise of electoral reform -- in other words, as they put it: We will make every vote count, with Trudeau telling us many times that the 2015 election would the last we'd see of the first-past-the-post system.

People believed the Liberal promises in the last election, as evidenced by the fact that the party's dismal results in 2011 (when only 34 Liberal MPs were elected) were more than reversed by their resounding success in 2015 (with 184 elected, 17 of them from here in B.C.).

But electoral reform isn't the only promise that's already been put aside.

Trudeau campaigned on protecting BCs coastal waters. There was even a proposed moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic. Apparently that sort of ban doesn't apply to the waters of Burrard Inlet or the Strait of Georgia, as another broken promise came when Trudeau approval the Kinder Morgan pipeline plan.

The third big promise was the plan to legalize and regulate marijuana. At the rate he's been going with breaking his commitments to the citizens of Canada, I fully expect this one too will turn out to be too difficult for him to follow through on.

A snow job from the skies above? I can pretend to blame it on a rodent. A snow job from the government? I object.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mr. Jaws and others who come to mind

Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year, this time the Year of the Rooster. Since I didn't have a live rooster handy in my neighbourhood (and I didn't think you'd like the pic I took of the dead one on the street in Havana), this image of the little rooster box must suffice.

Thinking about roosters, I must recall one our family owned briefly many years ago. His temperament was none too friendly, so we named him "Mr. Jaws". Sadly, he met an untimely demise at the jaws of an animal bigger than he was.

I also can't help but think about the personality to the south who has invaded the White House. Right down to (or should that be 'up to') his flamboyant hairstyle, it's hard not to think of a cock's comb when I see him.

Of the several rooster-related quotes I've checked out, the most appropriate seems to be one attributed to Jeff Foxworthy: "The more excited the rooster gets, the higher his voice gets." Or, though certainly darker, this descriptor from the work of Stephen King, "a banty-rooster sort of guy -- the kind that likes to pick fights, especially when the odds are all their way."

So, aside from thinking about that particular rooster of sorts, what's inside the box?

Although it might appear empty, I'm sure this 'New Year's Box' contains a number of wispy plans, at least several unspoken dreams and of course, as always, plenty of hope.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Peace starts here

I'm doing my best to remind myself that mindful intention can be nearly as powerful as action, especially when it's combined with time devoted to a meditative practice. But even with such self-reminders, I'll admit to feeling a little guilty about not going into Vancouver today to be part of the Women's March there.

The closest I've come to being part of this weekend's social actions was participating in yesterday's virtual march in Surrey, the city where I live. The little guy in the photo above was one of the marchers in that. Again, intention, intention.

Especially if you've never tried meditating, here's a website that provides some solid guidance. Because it's by subscription, please know that I'm not necessarily promoting it, just saying it's a good place for learning.

But now I'm moving beyond intention (in my own small way) and heading out the door for a private march for peace in my neighbourhood.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Post-performance notes on an evening of song and light

All right, the photo is duller than most of the pics I post, but that doesn't mean that what I'm writing about was dull in any way. I'd have taken photos of the presentation if I'd been able, but cameras weren't allowed at the event.

Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre offers a program where certain of the plays they put on in the city circulate later at theatres in the suburbs. I've been a subscriber to this series in Surrey for several years, and last night's show was one of the best I have seen.

I'll admit, beyond knowing that the play had been written by Tomson Highway and that it was essentially a one-woman show, I knew almost nothing about The (Post)Mistress in advance.

The playwright's bio states that he grew up speaking Cree and Dene. So it wasn't too surprising to find the interplay of languages playing an important role in the script.

The main character, Marie-Louise Painchaud (indeed, that means 'hot bread'), who plays the all-knowing postmistress in a small Ontario town, spoke and sang in French, English and Cree. The French was easy enough for even me to understand, though English sub-titles appeared on a screen for both the Cree and the French. So yes, the show was wonderfully inclusive.

Beyond being inclusive, the message of the play was powerful. It probably sounds simplistic to say the focus of its themes was the importance of love, kindness and laughter, but that would be true.

The show seemed to be the quintessentially Canadian play -- from its use of language to its portrayal of life in a small town. How very appropriate for this, our country's 150th anniversary.

Marie-Louise was played by the remarkable Patricia Cano, who has a voice big enough to blast away anyone's winter blahs and a stage presence that nearly overfilled the theatre. She had all of us in gales of laughter and also drew us to tears (even hard-hearted moi, who rarely cries, even privately).

There are elements of the play that I can't give away; I can only encourage anyone who has the opportunity to see it to do so. Because truly, as the show ended, as I and the rest of the audience rose with applause, I could only feel that it had been an honour to be able to attend this amazing show.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"Are they mating yet?"

Some things in life just don't make any sense. Today's stumper for me is the mystery of the mismatched lids-and-containers.

How is it that when they get washed and put on a shelf, top and bottom are intact, but when I go to tidy their chaos, more than half of them are loners?

I haven't heard any arguments coming from their shelf, so I can't blame this disconnect on domestic discord or messy divorces. As for my question at the top of this page, some may recognize it from the film version of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. However it is that this disconnect occurs, I'll admit to being puzzled. After all, I don't think anyone's been sneaking into the laundry room and stealing lonesome bits of plastic for the re-use phase of recycling. If they are, I wish they'd take the lids to go with all those missing bottoms.

And while I'm not exactly saying that there's a black hole behind the washer (though who knows, maybe there is), if there is, maybe it's a companion to the one behind the dryer that keeps chomping down those singleton socks.