Thursday, May 30, 2013

Congratulations James

I am so proud of my son James, who has now officially graduated as a Mechanical Engineer after many long years of hard work and study at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

It's a big accomplishment to complete a technical degree and he had what it takes.  Now he'll be moving on to finding a position somewhere.  We are kind of hoping for somewhere close by like Victoria so we can see more of him... or maybe Great Britain or somewhere in Europe so we can go and visit there.

But where ever he ends up I know that he'll continue to make the world a happier place with his skills and his positive attitude and his beaming smile.

Seen on the right, Jamie's  accepting his degree from a UBC faculty member.  Seen on the left he's trying on his "graduation socks"

And here he is celebrating at a restaurant with his proud mama.

Congratulations James!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

An afternoon in Metchosin

Metchosin is a rural community just outside of victoria along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Yesterday we went out to see a pottery show and stayed to walk with dogs in a beautiful spot.  It's called Tower Point and I think this tower on some old farmland may be the reason why.  It's still used for sheep, as you can see if you look closely at this photo.

Here are the fields sloping down to the sea with a pathway mowed through.  It's really just so pastoral and beautiful.

We followed the path down through the fir trees to the water.  Here's what we found.

Isn't that an interesting rock formation?

And look at these two old fir trees embracing.

The dogs enjoyed the walk and so did we.

For me the highlight was a hedgerow of blooming wild roses. These are perhaps my most favourite flower of all-- because of their fragrance and the beautiful change in colour from the deep pink bud to the paler flower. Also they are always in full bloom every year on my birthday, which comes the first week of June.

Here's a photo of the old church in Metchosin complete with gravestones and tall grass.

And here's a photo from the pottery show--a beautiful teapot.  What a lot of talented potters we have here on Vancouver Island.

 Metchosin is a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon. I can't think why we don't go there more often.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What does it take to stop the madness?

Like most people, I've got to the point where my response to reports of CO2 levels in the atmosphere is a what-can-one-person-do-about-it shrug of the shoulders.  For too long, far too long, we in North America have been turning our backs on the knowledge that our lifestyles are the ruination of the atmosphere and the oceans.  We don't want to hear about our carbon footprint or the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. We're just far too busy working to pay off our car loans. What can one person do anyway?

Well one filmmaker by the name of Rob Stewart has a made a movie that just might stop us in our tracks. He's a young Canadian man who spent four years making a movie to shed light on the shark fin industry. While promoting that film in China he was asked a question that stopped him in his tracks. A girl asked him why he was worried about saving the sharks when it was a known fact that our oceans won't have any life in them at all by 2048.

Our oceans, in addition to green plants, create the oxygen we breathe. The death of the oceans will result in serious reduction and likely the extinction of air breathing organisms--including the human species. Can we put it any more clearly? Are you listening yet?

Most of us know what Rob Stewart presents so eloquently and so simply in his movie.  We know that we can't continue to spew greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.  This movie is aimed at young people, children, because they are the ones impacted by our addiction to fossil fuels.  It's a beautiful and terrifying movie. Take a look at this trailer for  The REVOLUTION movie and please don't turn your back or shrug your shoulders.

We know that we have a decision to make and we don't have much time. We know that we can't continue to let corporations and governments run the world on dirty coal and fossil fuels.  Here in Canada, my country, we know that we cannot allow the tar sands to expand. It's already one of the biggest polluters on the planet. We have to find ways to stop it.

Last night I saw Rob's film and I found it hard to sleep. I just got up from my bed and sat down at the computer to find a press release from Adriane Carr of The Green Party of Canada in my inbox. She reminds us that this month the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration   announced that the carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million.  She is asking Canadians who care about the future of our children and our planet to sign a petition to our government. Sadly the lack of action on climate change by Canada's Harper Government is almost as alarming as the increasing concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere.

What can you do?

See the movie REVOLUTION.  Make sure all your friends and their children also see the movie. It gives some ideas of how we can make change. 

If you are a Canadian, download the petition and print it off.  This is not an email petition. It requires actual written signatures. Get as many signatures as you can and send them to our one Canadian Green Party MP, Elizabeth May.

It's a start.  One small way to begin to stop the madness.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jan's flowers

These flowers are in my sister Jan's front garden.  Aren't they stunning?

Here's a a delicate peony with a bud just about to open.

And these are photos from her big clump of Calla Lilies. I love the way the light shines through the creamy cups to illuminate the faint stripes beneath.

Plus of course there's the very cool way the flowers come to a curly little tip at the top.

I've tried to grow these flowers without success.  But then I'm not the gardener my sister is.  She can grow just about anything and the secret to her success is really taking care of the plants.  I do  enjoy visiting her garden; it's almost like a botanical park.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Life on the farm

Just in case you think we don't do anything but drink coffee and read magazines and play with the dogs, I'm showing you some images of life on our farm.

Here's Harry digging in the garden by the shed that we've spruced up.

You can see it complete with flowers and vegetable plantings, including a teepee for the Scarlet Runners made by Sue.  In fact this garden is pretty much Sue's work.  She lives downstairs from us and is an avid veggie gardener.  Today I purchased four different basil plants that we'll put in once this cooler weather is finished. That sprayer sitting on the lawn is to deal with the little green worms that are eating the apple and plum leaves. Work on the farm just never ends.

And here's what we were doing last week:  painting the kitchen ceiling.  It hadn't been painted since before we moved here seven years ago.  Badly overdue; now it's done.

So you see, its ok that we're now spending some days dallying in elegant coffee shops.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What to do on a rainy day

After our stretch of lovely weather it was a shock to wake up this morning to drizzle that turned into full-blown rain.  So what to do?

We had planned to go down to the inner harbour and hear a free performance of a Mariachi band from Jalisco but it was raining hard when we got there so no surprise that the band didn't show. I think those musicians would be reluctant to take their instruments out in the rain. It's not something they encounter much in Mexico.

So we wandered into a cafe that we hadn't been to before. And we loved sitting in this European-inspired spot sipping lovely cups of coffee,  nibbling on a wholesome blueberry muffin, and reading back issues of local magazines.

Then we drifted around through the touristy part of town enjoying some new views. It's amazing how things can change in a season or two.

On the way home we stopped to do a couple of errands. One was at the Industrial Plastics store where I bought some plastic scrapers for my studio.

These little yellow guys do a good job of scraping the acrylic paint off of the plastic that I've laid down over my old desk to create a working space. You can see them there at the bottom right, along with some of my works in progress.

The rest of the afternoon was spent experimenting with paint.  I'm spending more time each week doing these exercises.  Someday soon I may even come up with a painting.

In any case, by late afternoon the sun came out so we could play with dogs in the yard. Now we're looking forward to a springy-summery weekend.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sadly it's business as usual in British Columbia

Despite high hopes of many and the predictions of all the pollsters for the government to change, the voters chose to keep the status quo here.  Last night we went down to the NDP headquarters to celebrate the upcoming victory. But the party turned into a wake quite quickly as the results poured in.  So it's business as usual in British Columbia and the door is open for pipelines to be built and for our coast to be filled with oil tankers. It's a sad day for our beautiful coastal waters.

Everyone I know is in shock.  But the people have spoken--at least those who bothered to vote. Less than 50 percent turnout. Even lower than the last election. Now comes all the analysis of what went wrong and the second guessing. But for a while at least I'm taking a break from politics. It's just too depressing.

One bright spot was the election of British Columbia's very first Green MLA, Andrew Weaver representing a suburb of Victdoria. At least that shows some here are ready for change.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Waiting with fingers crossed

Tomorrow is the provincial election here in BC.  We have endured 12 years of a government not of my choosing and it's quite possible that there will be a change tomorrow. Excitement is mounting and many of my friends and acquaintances are holding their breath hoping that the NDP will form the government.

Of course nothing is certain until the votes are counted.

Both the NDP and the Green Party are opposed to increased tanker traffic on our coast.  The thing is that these two parties are both on the progressive side of the spectrum and may split the vote allowing the incumbents to be returned.  We will be watching the returns with our fingers crossed tomorrow night.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The front yard four years later

It's been four years since we redid our front yard and the garden is looking beautiful. The rhododendrons have grown up and the trees are established.  This is the best time of year for gardens in the Pacific North West and with our recent stretch of warm weather everything is coming into bloom.

Here's what it looked like four years ago when we first planted the shrubs and trees.

And here's the garden now.  It's looking good after some warm weather and a day of soft rain.

Close ups of some of the Rhodies for your Mother's Day viewing. Don't they look nice with the cedar trees as a backdrop? (This may be the only time of year that I like those trees.)

A couple more, the Magnolia in bloom and the Cotton Candy Rhododendron.  Happy Mother's Day.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cycling in France

My friend Jennifer and her husband went to France last year with their bicycles for a month and loved it so much that they've returned this year for two months. She's just outside of Bordeaux after a few days exploring that lovely city and they've set out on their cycling adventure.

Jennifer is a great writer and photographer and reading her daily blog entries is like spending a few minutes going along with them on their trip.

Here's the link:

PS: Inspired by Jennifer's trip last year we are planning to spend some time in France in September. I've been busy looking into gites in small villages and apartments in Paris.  I'll keep you posted.