Thursday, April 19, 2018

Destroying the ancients

The Cheewhat Giant, a western red cedar in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, several hours north of Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island, is 56 metres (183.7 feet) high, and 18.8 metres (61.7 feet) in circumference. It is the largest tree in Canada.

I am too old to tie myself to a tree in order to protect it from loggers, as do so many good people who believe in the conservation of old-growth forests. However, I am able to post my objections here on my own blog.

These dignified old-growth trees are so large it is often impossible for a hiker to see the sky. They form a wilderness cathedral for those who believe in conservation rather than destruction, decimation, annihilation, devastation and destruction.

“The old-growth forest and lichen-covered rocky outcrops on Juniper Ridge are endangered, sensitive ecosystems growing on extremely thin soils. It would take centuries for the old-growth forest to fully recover here after logging. With the trend of harvesting smaller sized trees with shorter logging rotations, these old growth Douglas Fir ecosystems will never have the chance to return.” 

“This forest is heavily used by wintering deer, and was intended to be preserved for this purpose.” 

Those are the words used by experts in ecology who, like me and so many of my friends, mourn the looming loss of giants in British Columbia's old-growth forests, on the mainland and on Canada's offshore islands, especially on Vancouver Island where logging companies have grabbed up so much of the land.

BC is home to some of the largest, oldest and most impressive trees in the world, but many of them are not yet protected. (British Columbia Magazine)

The only options open to protesters used to be forming human chains to block logging trucks and stand up to the loggers, and to send letters (which may or not get printed) to newspapers— but now environmentalists can send e-mails to editors, and can twitter and tweet to give voices to the animals and birds who live in these forests but cannot tweet for themselves.

Tweeting is popular with some very powerful people now, so why shouldn't bird-lovers join the chorus? I must admit I don't know how to tweet, although of course I blog, and I also use Facebook, so now I beseech the tweeters among you to tweet to give voices to the birds in the trees.

If the trees are still standing, that is. If they haven't gone the way of the dinosaur.

I am trying, here, to be as calm and rational as I can, but the words "rape" and "pillage" come to mind, and might offend readers of my blog. However, I have reached old age without changing my opinions on environmental matters, so I want to do something, somehow, while I still have the time. And there are so many environmental matters!

We haven't done much traveling lately, so I am using my blog as a platform for protest. Bear with me, blogging buddies...I will have other topics sometimes, you can be sure.

Posting for Fiona's
Sky Watch Friday

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Will they shut down Venice?

Photos Kay Davies and Richard Schear

Young Venetians
who love the canals
Richard and I have been to Venice more than once, and I can't honestly say there are no unattractive parts, but it's a large city, so I acknowledge that there might be some less-than-perfect places!
However, there are so many lovely spots, as in the photo above, and so many quintessential Venetian scenes (see the canal below) that imperfection is somehow hard for tourists to imagine.

Rumors and stories now have it, however, that this ancient city will soon be closed to cruise ships.
I think I can understand that. Passengers who disembark to explore the city might buy souvenirs, yes, but they don't stay in local hotels, and might not even visit local restaurants.
Some tourists, instead, leave trash on the narrow sidewalks, and throw things into the canals so beloved by Venetian citizens.

It's all very well, however, for me to say "off with their heads!" because neither of us had ever been averse to exploring the city before sailing away with hardly a look back...

I don't know if there is any one answer to the cruise ship question that will satisfy all, but Venetian officials are studying the situation seriously and, of course, at some length.

A wide range of water transport is available beneath Venetian skies.

While wandering Venice during our first visit, years ago, we loved to spot our hotel from a short distance, knowing that this church door marked our stop to leave the vaporetto and turn left to the bridge and from there to to the hotel's own door. Not simple, but certainly scenic.

And my question
in the header above?
Much has been written about the possibility of a Venetian cruise shutdown but we'll never know until everything has been discussed, until all the decisions have been considered, made, reconsidered, and probably re-discussed.

Meanwhile, I'm very grateful my husband and I have been able to explore Venice.
I'm not quite so grateful, however, that he made me walk a vast distance from his hotel to the cruise ship port a year or two ago when I joined him for a cruise down the Adriatic Sea and up the Mediterranean Sea to Barcelona.
Large and healthy husband
Richard Schear
Dick had gone to Venice early...not, however, to clear the way for his unfit wife, but to make sure he would get to see all the sights on his list before I arrived to slow him down!
I might, some day, forgive him for dragging me, on foot, speedily (not my preferred speed: I couldn't keep up) through all the ups and downs from the Venice airport to the cruise ship terminal.

I had been quietly and peacefully visiting with friends in Scotland and England while he wandered Venice to his heart's content. I then flew out to join him for a cruise down the Adriatic, then up the west coast of Italy, and across to Barcelona.
It's been a little while now since that trip, and I still let him get away with being flagrantly healthy in spite of my hobbling ways.

Posting for  Our World Tuesday 
that marvellous meme from Fiona in Sweden.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Grey, green, blue, sky and sea: Montenegro

Montenegro, meaning "Black Mountain" is a sovereign state in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the southwest and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Kosovo to the east, and Albania to the southeast. (Wikipedia)

After visiting friends in Scotland and England a couple of years ago, I joined my husband, Richard Schear, for a cruise down the Adriatic Sea with a stop in beautiful, legendary Montenegro, and then up the Mediterranean. I was thrilled and excited about Montenegro.
 Cruise ships on of the Bay of Kotor (Wikipedia photo)
Once upon a time, long ago and far away, an American author named Rex Stout wrote a series of books about a reclusive Montenegran detective named Nero Wolfe.
Wolfe was the main character, along with his assistant, Archie Goodwin, in Rex Stout's 33 novels between 1934 and 1975.
Portly and ponderous, Wolfe does not reveal much about himself, keeping his Montenegran past murky while confining himself and his detective work to his luxurious brownstone in New York. He is loath to leave his home for business, or for anything that would keep him from reading his books, tending his orchids, and eating gourmet meals prepared by his personal chef.
Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's sharp-witted, dapper young confidential assistant, narrates the cases and does the legwork for the detective genius. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia.)

Montenegran monk
walking along the shore path
(Kay Davies photo)
When I found out we would be visiting the town of Kotor in Montenegro, I was ecstatic. Since I was a youngster and first discovered Rex Stout's most famous fictional character, Nero Wolfe, I was fascinated by the idea of Montenegro, said to be the land of that fictional character's birth.
I don't remember when I started reading Rex Stout's novels. I was a prodigious reader from a young age and when I discovered the Nero Wolfe books at the public library, I was hooked. 
Montenegro, sigh! Oh, yes, I know Nero Wolfe is a fictional character, but I somehow understand how he felt about Montenegro. It is so beautiful even, and sometimes especially, in the fog that creeps down the mountains.

From the time our cruise ship turned east from the Adriatic Sea to enter magnificent Kotor Harbor, I was excited. More than excited!
While casually shopping and exploring in the town of Kotor, occasionally looking upward to look for my husband walking the zig-zag path to the top of the mountain, I was thrilled just to be there. (I couldn't see him, but I did see a monk on the shore path, and I met many friendly Montenegran cats.)

I could live here!
(Kay Davies photo)

Richard walked this zig-zag path
to the top of the mountain
(Wikipedia photo)

In my excitement, I announced to my husband that I wanted to move to Montenegro, until he reminded me of the effect wet weather has on my fibromyalgia — the reason, I had to agree ruefully, why I had moved away from British Columbia's wet west coast to the dry interior of BC and from there to Alberta's dry, desert prairie some years ago. Sigh.

Cats roam everywhere in Kotor. The Montenegrans, especially fishermen, feed the cats but give them free rein to explore and to discuss the day's events with passing tourists, perhaps earning treats, or else just enjoying some stroking and skritching. (Kay Davies photo)
See Wikipedia

(Wikipedia photos)

There are two islets off the shore of Kotor, but my photo above does not show detail, better seen in these photos from Wikipedia. Note the dome visible on the island to the right. It is a church called "Our Lady of the Rocks." You can see an overhead view of the islands in the photo below. "Our Lady of the Rocks" looks almost like a ship when seen from above. For details about the church and its significance: See Wikipedia

Looking down to the Bay of Kotor and the islands mentioned above. (Wikipedia photo)

Posting here for Fiona's fabulous... 

Skywatch Friday!

Monday, April 9, 2018

O Canada, how we mourn for thee

More than one generation
of my family played hockey
and death,
on the ice

The game of ice hockey has long been Canada's favourite sport, although not our national game. Therefore, it is no wonder that our country is now deep in mourning following a terrible bus/truck crash on a lonely stretch of Saskatchewan highway.

When I was young, no one in our small hockey-playing town even considered the idea that there might be any other kind of hockey than ice hockey. We had never heard of field hockey and, when our dad told us about it, my brother and I just laughed. Backyard ice hockey, yes. Down-the-middle-of-an-icy-road games, we played those, too. But hockey without ice, no way!

ICE, however, that so-essential part of the game, contributed to 15 deaths in the cold of a prairie winter, as a team bus carried the Humboldt Broncos hockey team toward a game scheduled in Nipiwan, Saskatchewan.

But the Nipiwan Hawks waited in vain for their opponents to arrive.
Canadians later learned that the team bus would have had the right-of-way, rather than the truck also involved in the fatal collision.
So far, as of April 9, I have no details except for the aerial photo and the links below.

CBC photo of the intersection where the transport truck and the team bus collided
Over the course of this past weekend, the death toll rose to 15...players, coaches, a young math whiz who was the team statistician...and no one came out of the crash unscathed, either physically, mentally or emotionally.

Families, friends, nationally-known hockey personalities, and Prime Minister Trudeau and his son...gathered in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, while the rest of our nation followed the memorial service on television.
"Not a dry eye in the place" barely suffices as a description of that gathering, and yet, there was some small degree of healing as neighbour embraced neighbour, brother hugged sister, and visiting sport legends shared their solidarity as only fellow hockey players can.
Mourners included survivors of previous team bus crashes, members of Canadian Olympic hockey teams, members of the National Hockey League, sports broadcasters and many others.

Across Canada, news stories continue as details unfold, and as the world mourns.

Sharing with Fiona's Our World Tuesday

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Beautiful Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi, and me

Grey skies never deter devoted visitors to Spain...
I have always loved Barcelona.

It seems to me that work never stops on La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.
Cranes and scaffolding can be seen behind the greenery behind and on either side.

Famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece cathedral,

on which he worked for 43 years, is still under construction,
but is expected to be finished in 2026.

Gaudi was born in 1852 in Baix Camp, then the second city in Catalonia.
In 1859 he took over the design of Spain's most widely known church, La Sagrada Familia.
In 1914, Gaudi left all other work to concentrate exclusively on this project,
until a tragic accident led to his death on June 10, 1926.

His funeral cortege went through most of Barcelona, and finished
in the cathedreal—a grand event in recognition of his status as
the greatest architect Barcelona has ever seen. He was buried
in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia.

Sharing here for the ever-popular meme,
Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Helpful information found

This is my second Our World post for this week, because I wanted to share what I'd found. I typed miles of information, all of which looked awful on my page preview: it looked like I'd clipped it and pasted it onto my page, with all the type on white strips. Plug ugly, so I deleted it. That didn't help, so here it is, white strips and all.

So I'll keep it brief because the cut-and-paste look hasn't gone away. It's still good information, although probably not complete, because I'm no expert.

This morning while toying with the idea of  doing a bit of gardening, I came up with extensive information about plants that are poisonous to pets.

Our little terrier-cross is pretty much omnivorous...she'll eat anything that isn't nailed down, so I did a bit of research, and it turned into a lot of research, none of which would show up properly on my page here, according to the preview button.

There are a great many things that are poisonous to pets, so I'm just going to list some of them and include a helpful link.

Autumn Crocus








Lily of the Valley

Sago Palm

Tulips and Hyacinths

More information can be found at
Pet Poison Helpline
(A 24-hour animal poison control service available in the US, Canada and the Caribbean.)

Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Not sure if you want to travel?

So, where was I with my last blog post for Our World? 

The Deer

"...relinquished my lifestyle, left the wet west coast for the dry interior of BC, and later settled into domesticity on the prairie where the deer and the antelope play!"
My husband thinks Iʼm cute, which is probably why I married him. Most of the time, I'm glad he thinks so, until I remember Iʼm a cute old lady, not a cute young thing. 
and the Antelope

Perhaps you’ve never really accepted being less than completely fit.
Maybe your mental image of yourself is from an earlier time, when you felt ten feet tall and bulletproof.

I've learned a few things—
some things that some of you might need
Okay, so you’re not as young as you used to be. You have pains in places where you didn’t used to have places, and you suspect your weight in pounds far exceeds your height in centimetres, although you’ve never been mathematically inclined and perhaps never mastered the metric system. The math part won’t matter anyway, unless you want to explore countries where everything is metric. 

But you're not sure you want to explore anywhere any more
Yes, you would walk to the library if  you thought you could carry all those books home. (You're still a fast reader, so one or two books will not suffice.) 
You’d walk to the coffee place you love so much, just to hang out for a while, if you thought you wouldn’t have to ask someone for a ride home.
“Maybe I can get there, but I don’t know if I can get back!” has become your mantra. 

Can this really be you?
How did you get to be an unfittie?
You remember when you could work full time plus overtime, do your own housework and cooking and laundry, serve on a couple of committees, attend a few meetings, and go dancing on a Friday or Saturday evening.

You remember when you were 34 and could outrun a soccer-playing 13-year-old in a hundred-yard dash, although you realize you couldn’t have held out for a longer distance, even then.
Maybe it was a sign, but you were too triumphant to notice it. 

Triumphant, oh yes, you were, and you were all kinds of other good things, too. You were still young in your 30s – you were bright, productive, resourceful, excited and sometimes even exciting. Members of the opposite sex still turned to look when you passed, and you still appreciated it. Hey, you still expected it! 

You don’t know when you became invisible
Someone else's
purple hair
When your hair first started greying, you thought it quite chic. Rather than dye it to conceal the grey, you dyed the grey parts purple to match your favourite sweaters. You certainly weren’t invisible then. (Now, however, you regret that the only photo of your purple hair is a black and white shot.)
So... you weren't completely invisible in your 40s. You could still turn a head now and then, but nobody called you ‘cute’ any more. Instead, they might have said ‘good-looking’ or perhaps ‘charming’ or, if they loved you very much, ‘gorgeous’ which, of course, you took with a grain of salt.

In your 50s, you fondly remembered the optimistic plans of your youth, when we all wanted to change the world. You never did accomplish it but, in your 40s, you still imagined there was time.
The wild excitement of civil rights issues and women’s issues had perhaps given way to more subtle environmental causes with no marching, but you could still get pretty wrought-up about saving whales, pandas, or your local river. 
You wanted to save polar bears, whales and those endangered penguin species, but you weren’t sure you could travel far enough to see them.

You aren’t even sure you want to travel at all (home is nice)

Then, one day, as you both sit reading, you casually ask your spouse a question — just as a point of interest, perhaps to see if you’re still soulmates.
Not as a suggestion at all!

“If you could go anywhere in the whole world, where would you want to go?” 

Uh-oh. Much to your surprise, he waves a brochure at you and declares, without hesitation or doubt, “Here!”

And "here" turned out to be the Galapagos Islands, via Ecuador!

Ohhh, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, and giant tortoises! Endangered species found nowhere else on the planet! Giant tortoises! Just think!
I was hooked.
Because my husband always says, "I don't want to go without you," I have found myself in some surprising places, and I have delighted in seeing more than a few amazing things.

It hasn't always been easy for me, but I now say "It is better to go than not go, better to go than stay at home!"

In other words, I won't regret going, but I might regret not going. 

This, then, is the moral of the story.
I hope some of you might recognize and heed it.
Galapagos Tortoise

Posting for

Fiona's wonderful meme:

   Our World Tuesday

Yes, it's OUR world, so
let's celebrate it while we can!
Ballet Folkloricao, Ecuador