Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Forget Why

busylizzy checking out the stash in the bag.

We saw a fellow bending over and snipping while we were walking in the park the other day. When he straightened out we saw it was busylizzy's uncle. He was clipping the small tender shoots of Stinging Nettle and putting them in a plastic bag. We greeted him and he did not know at first who we were. Maybe he still doesn't. We asked him why he was collecting the small plants and he gave us a blank stare for a few seconds.
"To make tea", was his reply.
After a long pause, "My brain needs help, it is getting old"
"What will this tea do for your brain?"
Another long pause and then, "It will help me remember."
"What is it that you need to remember?"
"To take the tea. Yes, the tea will help me to remember. If I cannot remember, then it is called ....... what do you call it....."
"Yes, and it helps with joints and my wife's cousin had terrible headaches and when he took the tea, they went away completely"
"Have a nice day and don't forget to make the tea, and then don't forget to drink it"
He looked at me like he was not quite sure what I was talking about.
At least that is the way I remember it.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Park Life

Cormorants are very shy birds. They are usually sitting on the stumps in the middle of the creek, but in a place where you need a telephoto lens to 'capture' them. I only have a 200 mm lens so this is as close as I can get.

We were not sure what this raptor was until I got my telephoto on him and then decided it was a Bald Eagle, but a juvenile because his head was not yet white. He is definitely competition for the Cormorants in the fishing department. However, come time for the goose hatchlings, the Eagles will be out in force looking for an easy warm lunch.

Pussy Willows everywhere and many of them blooming already. The bees love these.

This is a Red Maple in early bud. These very red clusters will soon become green leaves, and then, in Autumn, they will turn back to a deep red colour.

We often see groups of young people in the park, clustered in the out of the way spots. As we approach, we get strong whiffs of Cannabis. The resemblance of that odour to Skunk Cabbage is uncanny. As we walked past a cluster of these pretty yellow shoots, we instinctively looked to left and right to see who was smoking Marijuana.
The Dandelion and the Skunk Cabbage are a bit repulsive, but maybe that is why God put them on the top of the list for first spring plants in the wild.
After a long grey winter, a splash of bright yellow is welcome, no matter the source.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Where is Spring?

We headed to the Discovery Trail in search of signs of Spring, but what we found were signs of Winter. Ice! That was true two weeks ago. Are the city parks people telling us they know something?

Last year's information signs are so moss and mildew ridden that they are unreadable. This is the first of the new signs. I have never seen a Kingfisher here, but Cormorants, Herons, and Humming Birds are plentiful.

And these guys are everywhere. They do not even go south for winter anymore. A Canada Goose trying to fly south over the USA border will probably just get sent back anyway. No passport.

Their back feathers are amazing. They remind me of a shake shingle roof. They are nesting and mating these days and are very noisy. There are too many and should be harvested. Fish Trap Creek Park and the Discovery Trail have been renamed by the locals. Goose Poop Loop. We always clean our shoes when we get home from a walk in that part of town.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Signs Of Spring

Back to our walk last Sunday, in search of the first blossoms of spring in our favourite park. The first colour we found were these wonderful Crocuses, on the park border, that have been struggling to open up for weeks already. Today was the day.

I had walked here two days previous and there were no buds or leaves on most of the trees. It is amazing what two warm days can do. These yellow clusters will turn into purple clusters of berries called Oregon Grape.

This is a Flowering Current bush, with more flower than current.

These white blossom clusters are everywhere but even the flower whiz, busylizzy, does not know what they are. Is that even possible?

Typical of a BC bush, Salmon Berry blossoms abound. These berries are very good when ripe. Most people do not know that they are edible so there is usually a feast for us when they ripen. They look like an anemic raspberry when ready to eat.

Wild Plum or maybe Wild Cherry. I just know that there is no fruit on these trees later in summer.
This last weekend was truly an introduction to spring. We even lounged in the sun in our garden after our 6 km. walk, and I, at one point, between sneezes, took off my shirt to revive the Mexican tan.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Allergy Culprits

When I was in my early thirties, about the time my allergies first came along, I heard that you can outgrow allergies. Every eight years or so, your metabolism etc. changes enough that it is like starting over again. Let's clear it up right now that this is a myth. I waited patiently for 8 years, with great anticipation, for the allergies to go away. Thirty years later, what has happened is that they have increased in intensity.

I look forward to spending more time outside in the early spring, but that is exactly the time that the Birch and Alder trees throw off these da**ed little dangley things that are just bursting with prickly clouds of pollen, waiting for me to breathe them up my nose and collect them in the corners of my eyes.

It hit me with a vengeance this week. The thing is, I can be out in it for hours and it does not bother me, and then when I get home and settle down to a book or some other task, it hits. Itchy eyes and sneezing, sometimes ten or twelve times in a row. The season was delayed this year due to cold, wet weather, and if the warm season comes on strong, the pollen producing season will be short lived. At least, that is what I am hoping for.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Search For Colour

As an outdoor photographer, I get very antsy when spring is late. I have waited all winter for some colour, and only found it in Mexico. My search is coming to an end, however, as busylizzy bought some Primroses and placed them strategically in our garden. Fortunately these plants do well in the cold. Our weekend was balmy and we walked a lot, me with camera in hand, searching for some natural colour. Not that these flowers are not natural, but they were forced in a greenhouse. We did find snippets of colour on our walks, and because spring will once more be put on hold in the coming week, I will post some of what we found while walking in the sunshine.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Under Construction

Under construction in Mexico

When riding from the airport in Puerto Vallarta to the hotel district, one cannot help but notice that almost every building is in a various state of  construction. There is raw concrete, re bar, post and beam, empty window openings and general disrepair everywhere. Most of these buildings are being occupied or used for some purpose, but incomplete. One might think it is the poverty, or a bad economy, but what is really happening is that the rules are being abused to financial advantage. Apparently, you do not pay taxes on your building until it is complete. By the look of huge portions of the city, there must be little tax revenue.
Our lives are much like that. We are continually under construction. It seems that the lessons that have to be learned are never ending and just when you think you have it together, or life is sailing along just fine, there is an issue that comes under construction and you need an attitude adjustment, or maybe even a makeover. Most of us can put up a nice facade, but underneath there is a construction mess with drywall dust and missing light fixtures here and there. This places continual tension into our lives. When will we ever find the perfection we are longing for? Why is nothing ever just right? If there is no trouble in our lives right now, we just know it is around the corner. Peace, perfection, and tranquility are not for this life, even though there is a longing for it in each of our lives. The 'perfect moments' in our lives are fleeting, yet we keep trying to recreate them. I believe this is a longing for Heaven, that the Creator has put into each of us. We get little tastes of it every so often, just enough to give us encouragement and to make us want more.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Inevitabley, a Bad One

For some reason, this blog has turned out to be a book review blog. Since I got my Kindle, I have become a voracious and efficient reader. (22 books in the last 12 weeks) Being a cheapskate also, I do not spend a lot of money on my book downloads, and indeed a few of them are free. But, you do not necessarily get what you pay for in that regard. I have read some amazing books lately, books that are not big commercial successes, but should be. As I have said before, I trust the reviews before actually purchasing a book. It was only a matter of time before I bought a book that I do not like. But, there is no getting your money back from the Kindle store, only a delete button.

The Fall of Billy Hitchings, first of all, in a misnomer. As the story progresses, Billy, a nineteen year old who works at a burger joint, actually rises above his mundane existence, and in the end becomes something of a miracle man, a fact that is not well explained in the story. Had the reviews revealed more of the actual content and subject matter of this book, I would probably not have bought it.

The author is a good descriptive writer, but his plot lacks credibility and cohesion. It is like he wrote several versions and then took bits and pieces of all versions and pieced them together. I will not even bother to tell you the gist of the story as I would not recommend you read it. There is much better literature out there.

Two stars at best.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Great Book

Nathan, a middle aged man, is out duck hunting when his dog sniffs out an amazing discovery. A tiny newborn baby left under the autumn leaves to die. Next of kin eventually take custody but Nathan is promised that one day he will be introduced to the young man by the grandmother who is looking after him. When he does eventually meet young Nat, his life changes forever. This is a great story of love, obligation, mentoring, patience, endurance, and hope in the  most hopeless of situations. The story is well paced and the characters are real. The insights we gain from seeing a young man turn to rebellion is an education and the reader will feel the frustration as the story gains momentum. But love endures all and conquers all. It is an age old theme that makes a great story when crafted by a great writer. 
Four stars for sure.   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


busylizzy and I decided to travel down to the USA to do a bit of cross border shopping yesterday. We made five stops altogether and made some, or should I say, saved some money on a number of purchases. Every few years we go into the big mall called Bellis Fair. We bought nothing there as no store had exactly what we were looking for, but we did make an amazing discovery while wandering the lanes between the stores. There, off to one side, sitting on a walker, was a beautiful elderly white haired lady. And for goodness sakes, it was my ninety two year old Aunt, just sitting there looking really perky. Of course, we stopped and greeted her and she told us she was there with her daughter.
Her daughter, my cousin, lives in Korea and I have not seen her in years. And there, suddenly, she appeared. Well, we had a reunion. She had with her, her own daughter and two of her daughter's seven children. As it turns out, my cousin, who is almost exactly my age, has 21 grandchildren!
We would like to have stayed right there, plugging up the aisles and annoying the other shoppers while we chatted away, but they had to run off to a rendezvous with other family members. They were all meeting at the  "Old Country Buffet" at the other end of the mall. We said our goodbyes and watched as the 60 something cousin, the 30 something daughter, and the two kids, 7 and 4, hustled like crazy to keep up with the 92 year old. She is feisty and knows how to motor. Well, that just made my day and was even better than the big chocolate ice-cream soft serve I had at Ed-Aileen's dairy on the way home.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wasn't That a Party?

Nathan's 14th birthday party started off with games. Nathan and his grandma competed to see who could roll a marble to a marked spot on a tennis racket. Not as easy as it looks.

Then Grandpa and his daughter-in-law competed in a cut out puzzle made from an old cereal box. These were all one minute competitions.

Uncle Murray and Uncle Andrew tried to toss four golf balls into a bucket using only two fingers and an elastic band.

Nana and Nathan flipped as many pennies as they could into a bucket. Only one minute!

Nathan and Uncle Murray found out who could balance ten books on their head first, one at a time.

Chad and Nathan had to fold and fly a paper airplane in one minute, and with only one hand.

Then Andrew and Murray tried it and Andrew got his flying first, but with only a second left on the clock, Murray flung his and it went further.

Everybody got a great prize when it was time to eat.

And, as you saw in yesterday's post, there was a 'melt in your mouth' triple chocolate cheesecake with candles. Nathan knows how to pick 'em and his mom knows how to bake 'em. Everything was delicious!  

Gifts galore!

Post party activity was this 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. So addictive!

After a most delightful evening, we had to haul Nana off to bed. As you can tell, the party made her very tired. Liam, a regular party animal, would go on a little longer yet.
So who is having a party next week? Can we come?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Twice as Old

Yesterday was my Grandson Nathan's birthday. He is twice as old now as he was when I took this photo of him in 2005. How does a little seven year old boy turn into a young man of 14 in such a short time?
Happy Birthday Nathan. We love you and are very proud of you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Southern Discomfort

I continue to surprise myself with my choice of Kindle books lately. Depending, again, on reviews from other readers, I selected this book with anticipation and was not one bit disappointed. Joy Jordon-Lake has a truly masterful way of weaving words into unforgettable images and emotional experiences.

The story takes place in the deep south during a time when racial prejudice and cross burning Klu Kluxers should have been a thing of the past, but as the teens in this novel find out, this is not the case. In her unique imagery and southern way with words, Joy Jordon-Lake explores love, laughter, friendship, loyalty, intrigue, prejudice, faith, and honour like only a word master can. What happens when a little clique of southern white kids befriend a Sri Lankan girl and invite her to their swimming hole one hot summer day, will change all of their lives forever.
"Blue Hole back home" gets an unqualified 5 star rating from this reader.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Except for rap and opera, I can listen to most genres of music for considerable periods of time. I used to listen to a lot of 'talk radio' when driving in my truck to and from work. I find it frustrates me to no end so I hit one of the  presets on my radio and find the music there soothing. It is one thing to be informed about what is going on in the world, but quite another to talk it to death, often with no solution or even a wise perspective. Music, on the other hand, just seems to speak to the soul more often than not. Take what I am listening to this instant. busylizzy hauled out an old CD collection that we salvaged from my father's home before it sold. It is an extensive collection of Negro Spirituals. The music is a bit of an eclectic mix, but mostly quite well done. 
It reminds me of our early years in Saskatchewan. My father sang in a musical production put on by the local United Church. It was a minstrel show! For those of you who do not know what that is, think Mark Twain. It is a bunch of white guys dressed up like black people complete with lampblack on their faces, singing Negro Spirituals. One would never get away with such a production in these days, but back then they were popular. My dad was an exceptional musician and as I recall, he was quite a hit with the audience.
Ah yes. "Swing Low" and "Rock 'a my Soul" will forever be classics.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

Done With Commuting

It is time to come out of hiding. We finished the four days of commuting into Delta and none too soon. It went well and we were never really held up in traffic, but spending an hour on the road before and after work is a bit tiring. I did it for about eight years in the eighties and one day I just snapped. I called my customers and the designers and builders I worked with and told them when I completed the projects I had started, I would no longer be available. I never regretted that move. Now, in 2012, it only took 4 days. My, how things change and how our tolerance levels drop as we age.

Two of the days we were there it snowed buckets and most days the drive there and back were in downpours of rain and/or wet snow. The last drive home was in sunshine as if God was giving us a little reward for having stuck it out.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The wet and blustery commute this morning was only made bearable by my ability to zone out and tap into the embedded memories of a warmer and sunnier time only a few months ago. 'They' say that the few days after a time change are hazardous for drivers. The missed one hour of sleep causes drowsiness and a lack of concentration. Add to that the lack of light so early in the morning, and the rain and wind driving against the windshield and you have a recipe for a mishap. I happened to do perfectly fine even though the odds were not in my favour. I attribute that to the wonderful memory I conjured up of sitting in the town square of the sleepy village of Bucerias, Mexico, one bright and sunny Sunday morning. The church goers were streaming through the open doors of the ornate Catholic church, preparing themselves for Mass. I gazed upwards into the perfectly blue sky and saw the bell and clock tower of the mini cathedral, framed by the bright red Bougainvillea blossoms. The sun was quite hot at 10:45 am, but I had just heard of the news of snow back home. It made me edge a little further into the direct sunlight.
The memory was so vivid that I had to turn down the heat in my truck and I was actually able to smile at the guy in the Honda who cut me off.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


In a moment of weakness, I gave in to the pleadings of a designer and consented to going outside of my territory to look at a job yesterday. As the Lower Mainland continues to over populate, the traffic becomes heavier and the commute takes up too much of the day if I venture out of my home town.
I was able to drive the 50 Km. in under an hour, but it was a Saturday afternoon.
After negotiating a price, the customer contracted my services and I am on for Monday morning. That was fast, but we had an opening in our schedule that needed filling.
Now we will see what weekday traffic will be like. I expect the job to take a week and I expect that I will have more resolve the next time someone asks me to work out of town. In case the blog posts are few and far between this week, you now know why.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On the Decline

I wrote a post the other day (March 3) regarding the state of the world's population. Since our seven billionth person came along on March 1, Time Magazine reported that two of the world's most influential countries are on the decline in a big way.
According to the current trend, Russia's population is going to decline by 40 million people and Japan's by 25 million by the year 2050! It seems that these people do not like making babies.

Of course, populations rise and fall. That's what they do. Indigenous tribes succumb to the aspirations of conquering marauders. Then, when looters becomes incumbents, when foreigners set up camp and become locals, they in turn open themselves up for conquest from abroad, or from within. These events have always happened and probably will continue to do so. Right now, the question is, who will provide us with Sushi and Honda cars in the future? And where will the matryoshka dolls be made? Probably China. They can 'knock off' anything.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cold Legs

A seaside restaurant in Bucerias, Mexico.

I was all bundled up today and was passing a
Starbucks where a young lady was sitting at an outdoor table sipping her $6 beverage. What really caught my eye was the fact she was wearing shorts! Excuse me, but it was only 6C and had she ever in her life sat at the seaside in the hot Mexican sun, she would have known that she was supposed to be bundled up ... like I was. I will continue having thoughts like these until our summer arrives.