Monday, December 26, 2016

A Christmas resolution

It has long been my intention to take better care of myself, but I never do it. Today is a good example...I had a wakeful night, and felt awful when I got up. So what did I do? I turned the carcass of last night's Christmas turkey into seven containers of turkey broth, ready for the freezer, with, I admit, some help from my husband.
Did my aching back feel better after that? It did not. Am I now lying down to rest? I am not.
No, when I don't feel well, I tackle a household task that only makes me feel worse. I do it all the time. Click on the link below to find out what I should be doing.
I should take the advice of Nat King Cole, to straighten up...

So...Happy day after Christmas to all
and to all a wonderful 2017

Now I will have a nap, and then make
a concerted effort to straighten up and
fly right, for my own sake!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Just think who might be hurt

Searching online, I found this beautiful map detailing all the First Nations on the BC coast who have so much to lose in the event of an oil spill in coastal waters. These lands are their heritage, the lands of their forefathers. This breaks my heart, because I have had and do have many First Nations friends whose lives cannot help but be affected by such a spill.

First, apologies to those of my friends in Alberta who are concerned about the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the effect it will have on the rivers and lands of Alberta, as well as its citizens — I have been unable to find a map showing the number of Alberta First Nations people who can be affected by pipeline expansion.
I did find this link, however. I don't know if it's really applicable or not.

The map below, of BC Ferries routes, shows the wonderful Gulf Islands of the BC coast, between the mainland and Vancouver Island. These islands, as well as Vancouver Island itself, and the San Juan islands in US waters on the other side of that dotted line, stand to lose much of their pristine beauty. Present and future leaders of the USA might complain, perhaps vociferously.
Now, while I am attempting in my own small way to show the effects of an oil spill on the First Nations on the BC coast, I certainly can't help but think of all my other friends and relatives who live on or near the waters which stand to be spoiled by a spill, in Washington as well as BC. Who would be liable for such damages? Or will there be a war, perhaps?

In no way do I consider myself very knowledgeable about this looming problem, but I feel I must speak out strongly in hopes of helping to save the lands and rivers crossing Alberta, where I now live, as well as BC, where my roots are. Who gets hurt? It might be me or thee.

One thing I now know: because the Rocky Mountains form an insurmountable barrier between the two provinces, the waters from Alberta's rivers wend their way east and north, eventually ending up in Hudson's Bay—
Imagine my surprise when I first moved to Alberta, and found myself looking at the South Saskatchewan River as it flowed through Medicine Hat, and suddenly realized that the water was flowing "the wrong way"! It was going from west to east! As a third-generation British Columbian, I was flabbergasted by this discovery.
Now, however, I wonder if a break in a pipeline somewhere in Alberta might actually end up in one of our east-moving rivers, perhaps carrying oil pollution to Saskatchewan or farther east.

Magnanimity and other insanity

I don't know when last I cooked a full Christmas dinner. I don't think it was anything like a year ago, or even two or three, but... as I am often heard to say, these days "my rememberer is broke"...

I must have forgotten the amount of work entailed in such a cooking spree, because yesterday, in a fit of feeling good to the point of magnanimity, I invited our teenaged grandson and granddaughter,  along with their parents, to have Christmas dinner here.
At our house.
Dinner for six.
To be cooked in my kitchen.

I can't believe I said that. But there I was, flush from the triumph of getting the house semi-clean and somewhat tidy, then having our granddaughter stay with us overnight, so I offered to turn one of these:

into one of these:

less than a week from now, aided only by my husband, which is often like having no help at all.
Note: The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of magnanimity is not, as I thought, complete insanity, but is instead "loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity"!

Good grief! Lofty me just "disdained meanness and pettiness" and displayed the noble generosity entailed in cooking Christmas dinner.

Who, me?

Who knew?

Now, less than 24 hours later, I have finished writing two lists: a to-buy list and an equally long to-do list, and I am overwhelmed. I don't even have my husband here to help underwhelm me, because he is off playing tennis. No, not in the snow. Even he and his intrepid tennis partner aren't that hardy. In the winter they play on an indoor court somewhere. But I digress.

Fortunately for me, I have an appointment to see our family doctor this afternoon. Perhaps he will explain to my husband and the kids that I am constitutionally incapable of such a crazy feat.

But probably not. It's more likely he'll say, "Kay, you look so much better than you did the last time I saw you. Merry Christmas!" and I will be overwhelmed with the folly of (a) looking good and (b) offering to make a huge dinner.

You wouldn't believe what else I thought of doing...I thought of using the silverplated flatware that I haven't used since since the 1990s. It is clean and shiny now, but who knows? It might need to be polished after exposure to contaminants like orange juice, cranberries, and who-knows-what-all.

But I digress again, and would love to digress myself right out of the whole turkey dinner idea, but I can't. I must get on with my list-making...first on the list: get rid of everything I own which is of no use whatsoever, then clean and tidy whatever is left.

The moral of this story is: be careful what you offer to do, because you just might find yourself doing it.

Linking with Our World Tuesday

Friday, December 9, 2016

Pardon me if I rant a lot

Before I moved to Alberta because of my husband’s work, I was a happy third-generation British Columbian. I have lived in more than one of BC’s ecosystems, by its ocean, its rivers, its lakes. Now I live in southern Alberta and am concerned about this province as well. I am determined to do my one small part in saving both provinces from a crude oil disaster of massive proportions.

As others have said...
“Industrial economy is killing the planet.”
“Any option is a better option than a dead planet.”
“The good news is: there are other options.”

North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, flow through Alberta and Saskatchewan before joining together in Manitoba, then emptying into Hudson's Bay.

Jasper National Park, a Canadian wilderness of exquisite beauty.

The black line shows the present pipeline, the blue one its "twin"...I can see from this map that the pipeline and its proposed twin pass through some of my favourite places.

The prime minister of Canada recently approved the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which starts in northeastern Alberta and, in southern Alberta, crosses the Rocky Mountains, right through the middle of Jasper National Park.

The proposed twin pipeline will cross the Saskatchewan River, cross many of Alberta’s and BC’s mountain ranges, rivers and provincial parks, then end on the shore of southwestern British Columbia, to load crude oil to be exported across the Pacific Ocean, where an oil spill could cause a monumental ecological disaster.

A "city" of oil tanks overlooking Burrard Inlet
 with North Vancouver's industrial area and
a cargo ship in the distance.

The satellite map at has the proposed pipeline route superimposed on it. That route goes through places where I used to live, places where my friends still live.
Lower Fraser River, British Columbia

The river closest to my heart is BC’s Fraser River. I was born in a hospital overlooking the Fraser, and as soon as I was old enough to understand that fact, I was filled with pride, for the river was beautiful then and pretty much unsullied by ‘progress’!

I learned early that rivers are not stand-alone entities. For every major river there is a vast river system...tributaries, lakes, ponds, shores and habitats... for animals and birds as well as for fish.

Fraser River, coming down the mountain near the old town of Spuzzum.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline will no doubt have to be built alongside the Fraser at some point, on one shore or the other, either for a short distance or a long one. And it will have to go under or over the Fraser, to reach Burrard Inlet.

Pipelines are not the only danger awaiting our two provinces, but to me they are one of the scariest.
In addition: once the pipeline has carried its crude oil across Alberta successfully, it must then cross British Columbia, made up of valleys, lakes and rivers...yes, and mountain ranges one right after another, with lakes and rivers in between. BC's mountain valleys, with their readily-available fresh water, have long been a boon to ranchers, farmers and orchardists. But what crop can grow after an oil spill?

Alberta has 129 rivers. I don’t know what the Kinder Morgan people have decided about getting crude oil over or under rivers in Alberta, but they have a bigger job awaiting them in British Columbia which has more than 1000 rivers.
After crossing both Alberta and BC, we come to the Pacific Ocean.

For instance, take the Columbia River, which is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The Columbia rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between the states of Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia river is 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, and has 14 tributaries.

The Columbia’s drainage basin is roughly the size of France and extends into seven US states as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia. According to the International Energy Agency in 2014, the Columbia provides more than 40% of total US hydroelectric power.

 Now of course, the Kinder Morgan pipeline route isn’t going to cross over or under all, or even the majority, of these 1129 rivers.

However no pipeline across Canada’s two western provinces can avoid every body of water,  each of which is a potential victim of an oil spill.

Kinder Morgan’s expansion will be enough to bring its export up to one oil tanker a day, perhaps two, and one of those days a possible spill can destroy much of southern BC’s beauty.

After crossing both Alberta and BC, we come to the Pacific Ocean.

Most, but not all oil tankers make it across the ocean successfully. Are Canadians willing to risk that “not all” possibility? 

Every day a loaded oil tanker will have to navigate through Burrard Inlet, under two bridges, through BC’s beautiful Gulf Islands, then make its way past Vancouver Island and out into the wide open Pacific Ocean. This map shows BC’s Gulf Islands, and the Canada-US border. An offshore oil spill could easily move into American waters.

Yes, to get to the open ocean, tanker captains can face the possibility of a spill in southwestern Canada and the northwestern US — despoiling the coastline of each country, each with its islands, fjords, bays, inlets, coves, and rivers.

Most, but not all oil tankers make it across the ocean successfully. Are Canadians willing to risk that “not all” possibility? 

An ocean is an ecosystem that makes even British Columbia’s lakes, rivers and vast wilderness look paltry. The Pacific Ocean’s ecosystem is huge, beyond my ability to describe.

I worked in Vancouver for many years. It is not just an ordinary city. Think of Stanley Park, that beautifully wooded jewel: almost as old as New York’s Central Park, and quite a bit bigger...1000 acres vs 843 acres in New York.
If you want to argue about downtown dangers: a murder in Stanley Park is not the everyday ho-hum event it is in Central Park, New York.
Yes, there are some shady parts of Vancouver, with drunks and druggies and ladies-in-waiting, but most of the city is clean, bright, and beautiful—some parts with sparkling water and beautiful beaches, some with a view of the mountains, and others with comfortable, happy neighbourhoods.

One oil spill—just one—could ruin it all.

Note: while the prime minister also vetoed the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, he went ahead and approved, also, the Enbridge 3 pipeline in the province of Manitoba, a line that also crosses the US border.

One out of three possibly disastrous pipelines is insufficient, Prime Minister Trudeau!
Hoping to link this post to Lady Fi's wonderful meme
Our World Tuesday


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Montenegro—my new favourite place

We often travel by cruise ship because it's a great way to see many different places in a fairly short period of time. Of course, we only see a small part of each country or city, but it is enough to give us a taste of what each place offers.
Last month's cruise stopped in Montenegro, and the Norwegian Spirit offered a shore excursion for people like me, people who can't walk very far very fast. I was immediately smitten with the city of Kotor in Montenegro.
I've mentioned this port before, but with only a few photos. Now you get to see my favourite port.

Above is my favourite photo because,
if you look closely,
you can see the lamp post
reflected in the puddle on the street.

I looked at Kotor's peaceful harbour, at its palm trees, ivy, and flowers, and I thought I could live here. Of course I can't, because of the dampness, but I can dream.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Foreign exchange foreign to me

An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel blogger Kay Davies (that would be me) recently home from a trip to Scotland, England and Europe (that would be me, too) was surfing online and discovered a Huffington Post article on foreign exchange rates by Stephanie Caudle, Managing Editor, She's My Superwoman.

The article intrigued me enough to set me to quoting it without direct permission. My thanks, however, to Ms Caudle and to the Huffington Post, as well as apologies if those are deemed necessary.

I admit I was nervous when I chose to buy Sterling and Euros before I left Canada all by my somewhat dithery self. (Okay, more than somewhat, as Damon Runyon used to say.)

I based my which-bank decision on location, not on any particular bank's foreign exchange rate. More fool I, perhaps, but that's how I looked at it in October. (Get there quickly and easily and get right back home.) Don't tell anyone that 'quickly' meant I left my wallet in my car, thus approaching the bank teller without it, and having to rush (i.e. waddle quickly) back to the car. Returning to the same teller, I was quite pleased with myself for finding both British Pounds and Scottish pounds, the latter of which I never knew existed, but which I loved immediately. (See what I mean about me?)

I wish I had learned of Ms Caudle's wisdom earlier:

"When it comes to local currency exchange, it’s important to recognize there are two sets of exchange rates. There is the Bank of Canada published rates that we can find online and in the newspaper, then there are the exchange rates your bank actually uses when you buy U.S. cash with Canadian currency.
"The lower published rates reflect what banks use when they exchange enormous sums of money amongst themselves, (but) the rates they charge us are typically as much as 3% higher.
"Exchange rates fluctuate from one financial institution to the next and are typically set by the individual banks themselves."
(Note: I had heard of the Canadian Snowbirds Association but didn't realize it offers "better-than-bank rates through online transfers.")
The article went on to say “The banks...don’t compete on price...we are keeping them honest and helping Canadians save,” according to Rahim Madhavji, president of Toronto’s Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange Inc., a firm he co-founded after quitting his job at the Royal Bank of Canada in 2009.
"The Snowbirds and Knightsbridge are putting the power of bulk buying into the hands of the individual, and in doing so, are giving Canadians the opportunity to beat the banks at their own game."

Linking with Lady Fi's Our World Tuesday meme

Birthday, yes...but seriously...

I got about 40 "Happy 70th Birthday" wishes via Facebook on Thursday, and I'm "tickled pink" — to use a phrase from my youth.
I've been on the planet a long time, and I've survived it all, even the worst bits. I am very grateful for that.
However, this is not the world into which I was born in British Columbia in 1946. Never mind the obvious differences from the 1940s to the 21st dress styles and cars, radio and the first television...
Today we live on the brink of a global disaster. Polar ice cap melting, oceans polluted, along with rivers, lakes and streams. (Not to mention war, famine, disease, and shocking political debacles.)
What can we do? I don't know now. I believe we're past the tipping point, as others have also said.
I think of my late father,  and his books about the Living Rivers of British Columbia. He lived long enough to see the beginning of our global melt-down, but I'm actually glad he's not alive today to see how much worse things have become. His living rivers might soon die.
I miss Dad dearly, but I wouldn't have wanted him to see his beloved rivers killed by garbage and other detritus, and in grave danger of a worse disaster—fossil fuels, specifically potentially leaky oil pipelines.
Now, don't get me wrong, I really do understand about people who work in the "oil patch" here in Alberta and elsewhere: of course I know they need jobs in order to feed their families, but I believe the dangers of transporting oil across our land and our oceans will far outweigh the benefits.
Therefore, I believe federal and provincial governments should look at paying displaced oil patch personnel while they train for other jobs...yes, the people who depend upon fossil fuel revenues to feed their families are important. They are very important, I understand that, but not any more so than other Canadians who depend upon oceans, forests, lakes and rivers for their livelihood, indeed for their very lives.
By paying people as they re-train for jobs such as building solar panels, wind turbines, and other new and exciting technology, we could save our environment: oceans, rivers, forests, lakes and streams, as well as the oil-patch workers.
I do not understand why any country, including Canada, would endanger the environment in exchange for money.
If our country is dead, money will mean nothing.
Our prime minister who, before he was elected, seemed to be opposed to reliance on fossil fuels, has instead approved new two pipelines to be built through my beloved country. I thought it was his beloved country, too, as it was his father's before him, but now I wonder.
There was Justin, on TV a few days ago, talking about money, from the other side of the world, in exchange for Canadian oil, about oil revenues being so great for the country's economy.
But what kind of country will his children and grandchildren inherit when its oceans, forests, lakes and rivers — even the land itself— are polluted and die after one or more oil disasters?
I voted for Prime Minister Trudeau, thinking "Pierre's kid" had an education that taught him to face, head on, the dangers to Canada.
Look, Justin...and look, fellow Canadians, it can be done, look at what other countries have accomplished:

5 Countries Leading the Way Toward 100% Renewable Energy (2015)

It's not that Canada doesn't know about these things: on the Government of Canada website we see a discussion about various types of energy, including wind, solar, and ocean energy (who knew?) along with fossil fuels because it is a government website, after all, and can't ignore the energy now being touted by its leader. 
However, I am one of those British Columbia-born leftwing pinko radicals who, if I were young and healthy again, would be in Burnaby, BC, protesting the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. And, although I'm very glad, even grateful, that Prime Minister Trudeau did not approve the particularly scary Northern Gateway pipeline shown here, still he and his cohort, Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, did approve enlarging the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline which threatens the province of Manitoba. That one could become Canada's equivalent of Standing Rock to the south.
I wouldn't want to be suffering the cruel winter weather which has hit the Standing Rock protestors, but I do wish I could be one of them.
The young me, with a job that allowed me to take unpaid time off pretty much as often as I wanted it, would be spending time with all three groups of protestors.
Plus, that job paid very well and, if I had it now, I could afford to send money to all three protest groups.
However, technology pretty much erased that went the way of all good things. I was a printer and, when I lived in Vancouver, I set type for the city's two daily newspapers, along with 300 other journeyman compositors, most of whom are dead now, just as our International Typographical Union is dead: killed by technological change.
But don't get me started on the much-mourned ITU.
It isn't the world into which I was born in 1946.