May 18, 2017
Thirty-seven years ago today, a bunch of friends and I were recovering from a heavy night of partying at a home on the North Shore with a southern view. We had spent a few fitful hours sprawled on the carpet or on sofas trying to sleep off the effects of whatever it was we may have ingested, and I am certain none of us would have been awake at 8:30 that Sunday morning if it hadn’t been for the explosion way south of us.
I’m not sure that we heard the big bang, but we sure felt it as we struggled to our feet and struggled to understand what was happening. Someone switched on the TV and soon the Seattle stations were covering the volcano moment by moment, and we could finally figure out what had disturbed us so.
I spent almost the entire day transfixed to the screen as the disaster unfolded. I had only moved to Vancouver a few months earlier, and I thought this was just the most exciting thing. And then the death toll started rising, and it wasn’t so cool anymore.
April 29, 2017
I went to Costco today. I’m not keen on crowds generally, and crowds who seem unable to steer lethal-sized over-filled shopping carts scare me the most. Anyway, I went.
While there, we had lunch at the place attached. There is only a limited menu, perhaps a dozen items, all fried, but it is incredibly popular. And who can wonder? We had two six-inch Polish hot dogs, very tasty, with all the onions and peppers and relish you could ever want, plus two large and refillable cups of soda. And it was just $3.51.
I can’t think of much else you can buy these days that delivers that kind of value.
April 7, 2017
One of the joys of a full English breakfast are Heinz baked beans. At college, beans on toast were the staple supper whenever money was tight (like always). I doubt there is a larder in England that doesn’t have a can or two on a shelf.
I always assumed that the “Beanz Means Heinz” slogan pre-dated me but that is not so; I was in my late teens when Maurice Drake came up with one of the most durable of advertising lines in 1967. I know this now because of an article in the incomparable Creative Review. From the same place I learn that Selfridge’s department store has made the bean can a feature of its displays this spring.
When I first arrived in Canada, it was a grave disappointment to me to find that cans of Heinz beans in North America were not the same as the English beans I grew up with. However, I am glad to say that the original English flavour is now available here, if you know where to look — SuperValu on Commercial, for example.
They are one of life’s simple pleasures.
April 4, 2017
A Memoir of 1968
The dusty road had held us all day long. Huge trucks belching choking fumes had raced past us, barely missing our outstretched thumbs by inches it seemed. Sometimes they blared their industrial strength horns at us, scaring us, pushing us away from the road edge. There had been very few cars, and those mostly tiny SEATs already filled with farmers and dogs and kids, and certainly not looking to pick up two hippies dirt-encrusted from too much unsuccessful hitchhiking.
I guess we managed to walk three or four miles that day, in the blazing sun, just south of Valencia. We had expected better luck (“Gibraltar by evening!” had been our war cry as we emerged from a night in a roadside culvert) and had not prepared for such a long long day trudging through heat and dust and flies. We were exhausted, and more, we were dehydrated, the half dozen blood oranges we had each consumed notwithstanding.
Ahead of us we could see the outskirts of a village, and a village meant a cafe and Coca-Cola and even iced water, perhaps. It was one of those days when we knew we were willing to spend a few of our remaining pesetas. We stumbled forward, the dust scuffing beneath our feet, coughing. We must have looked liked ancient mummies straight from the desert as we finally collapsed into the two canvas chairs set out under the tin-roofed patio of a tiny cafe. I can only imagine the thoughts that were flowing through the old man’s head as he took our order for two Cokes.
We had been sitting for some minutes before we realized that an old radio was scratching its way through the late afternoon heaviness. And it may have been a minute or so more before we understood that it was speaking to us in English. American Forces Radio, probably from Germany. “…And as the crowds begin to gather from all across Memphis, we remind our listeners that President Johnson will speak to the nation this evening, on this day when Dr Martin Luther King has been shot and killed on his hotel balcony…”
The Cokes, glistening as the ice melted down the sides of the bottles, stood unremembered as our tears washed black gullies across our cheeks.
February 10, 2017
The ever-loving made a pavlova filled with berries!
January 29, 2017
To be frank, I have never been a dog person. I don’t mind dogs (in principle) but if I have to be described, I guess I am a cat person. However, as I have aged (and boy did that take a lot of time), I have come to enjoy the company of certain dogs — three-legged Lucky from Salsbury Park, for example, and our friends’ dog Sadie.
Unfortunately, two of the dogs I have come to know and like, died this week. Both belong to good friends and I fully understand their sorrow at having to end their companions’ lives.
I have had three cats die in my arms (two from the needle, and one who just simply died). All three were deeply emotional events for me as I had come to know and love and trust each one of them as individuals. I mourn the losses my friends have suffered.
January 27, 2017
Just to prove how tough life can be on the Adanac bike route, here is a leg I found on the street this afternoon. Hope the bike was OK.