Thursday, March 29, 2018

Skywatching, including Skye

Skywatching, Skye
Far-flung friends under far-away skies...!!!

Many thanks to the wonderful Fiona for this always-fun meme:
I've been going through my old travel photos and I see I've been to many places with wonderful skywatching opportunities: sun, cloud, blue, grey...
so, for today, two from 'away' and I'll have some homemade skywatching here soon.

(with Richard Schear and Mara Jellema)
We took more than one cruise out of the port of Amsterdam, when our friend Mara was actually living in The Netherlands, her home country. Having her meet us at the train to go walking for a while was wonderful. Even more wonderful, she once came to Canada to visit. Unfortunately, we were unable to return the visit while she was living in Scandinavia. But perhaps while she's in her next chosen country? More will be revealed.
(Yamini MacLean photo)
I will always remember, with great delight, touring Scotland with my dear friend Yamini, an accomplished writer, photographer, and world traveller.

Andy Stewart

I always wanted to see the Isle of Skye...a dream since my brother Clint and I were young and our mostly-Scottish father introduced us to the song "Donald, Where's Your Troosers" by Scotland's late wonderful, inimitable Andy Stewart.

We'll always miss ye, Andy.

Thanks for getting me there, Yam!

POSTING FOR   Skywatch Friday


Monday, March 26, 2018

An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel: Fighting against the inevitable Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel: Fighting against the inevitable

Fighting against the inevitable

San Felipe sunrise
To repeat what I said last week:

"If someone offers you a travel opportunity, you may regret it if you don’t go, but you aren’t likely to regret it if you do go."

This is a true story. It more or less has a beginning but, so far, it has no end. It isnʼt fiction and doesnʼt have a villain or even much of a heroine.

It happened to me.

The "I" in the book is me, Kay Davies, a former workaholic turned government-registered unfittie; the "he" in the book is my husband Richard, a senior who can still run fast enough to referee high school basketball and football, plus play tennis and pickleball.
My mind boggles at the thought of his energy.


After a few successful trips westbound from southeastern Alberta for visits with my family on The Wet Coast, including popping down from Vancouver to Seattle, Washington, to watch the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team play the Seattle Mariners, my husband Dick and I decided we should try "real" travel...
Rather than the 30-hour round-trip drive to the coast and back, we decided to try flying somewhere.
The Toronto Blue Jays were about to play in the first-ever World Baseball Classic in San Diego, California, so we flew down to take in the sights as well as a game or two.

2006 World Baseball Classic

Yes, I ached all over but, still, I was a different person then...younger,  a little healthier perhaps, but certainly no wiser: so when Dick had suggested San Diego, I thought "Sure, San Diego, piece of cake" or words to that effect. Catch a couple of ball games, go to the zoo, eat some seafood, smell the ocean. Why not?


Travel wasn't new to me, and nor was San Diego. In my earlier days, I thought nothing of flying from the west coast of Canada to the east coast of the US to meet up with friends for a weekend...or spontaneously catch a flight to southern California, rent a car and pop down the Baja Peninsula  to visit my parents and much-younger brother at their winter home in Mexico, so San Diego wasn't new to me, either.
My brothers, Rob, left,
and Clint, 1968

I once took a year off to play, rather than work. During that year I took my 14-year-old brother Rob to Australia for a month, then returned to British Columbia to write my first (and only) novel. It was not a success, and never published, but I was pleased to have finished it. 

Later came the time when it all stopped...not just running foot-races with my much-younger brother. That went first, of course, because he got faster as I got slower...but my pick-up-and-take-off lifestyle eventually stopped, too.

I didnʼt relinquish my wanderlust willingly, but relinquish it I finally did, because I could no longer work as a newspaper compositor. My several disabilities meant I couldn't guarantee Iʼd show up on the job every day, nor be able to produce any significant amount of work once I got there.

For a while (for too long, in fact) I fought my fate. I denied it even as I railed against it, and  refused to apply for a disability pension until several different illnesses, pains and horrible-awfuls in various parts of my body had me pretty much licked. I had tried to work, but couldnʼt, so was forced to sell my house and live on the proceeds.

Moved myself and my cats...Herman, left, and Ava
(Drawing by Rob Davies, Atomic Cartoons)
Then I gave up, applied to the feds for a pension, and waited for my application to be approved. 

When it saw I was thoroughly beaten down, the government finally started giving me money every month to make up for my general uselessness and lack of reliability.

I moved myself and my two cats from The Wet Coast to a drier climate in central British Columbia, where my new doctor discovered that the medication prescribed for one illness had caused more damage to my already beleaguered body.

My eyes developed cataracts, my teeth began to shatter, my blood sugar went wonky, my bones got terrifyingly thin, and I got fat. I swelled up like a balloon, and have never lost that steroid weight.

My old self-image
It was a few years after this that I met Dick. He didn't realize I had lost my looks, and if he did notice I wasn't slim, he didn't seem at all put off by it.

I, meanwhile, was still hanging on to my old self-image, inwardly screaming because "I" was gone, and I still wanted to be me.

However, being cared-about was somewhat seductive. I sold my mobile home and moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta, married Dick and took up some serious traveling with him.

Sometimes I still wonder which I miss most, a successful career in the newspaper and printing industry, or a pretty face and a slim body.
Itʼs a tough call. 
My job would have disappeared anyway. Newspaper compositors have now been replaced by computers the world over and, on the other hand, it doesnʼt much matter if old ladies arenʼt pretty.
Dick thinks Iʼm cute, which is probably why I married him. However, it is a compliment about which Iʼm ambivalent. Most of the time, I am glad he thinks so, until I remember Iʼm a cute old lady, not a cute young thing. Sigh.

So, where was I? Oh, yes, I relinquished my lifestyle, moved away from the wet west coast, and some years later settled into semi-domesticity (Iʼm no oneʼs idea of a housewife) out here on the prairie, where the deer and the antelope play.
I could still book a seat-sale flight, or Dick would drive me out to BC to check on my elderly parents a couple of times a year. Iʼd see other members of the family, visit a few old friends, get some good fish and chips. Coupled with our occasional adventures, it was enough.
I was content. 
(more to come)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Unfittie's Guide, redux

Blue-footed Boobies
Galapagos Islands
(redux) an adjective meaning "brought back, restored"

Okay, perhaps you are so used to me that you no longer think about the name of my blog...if you are my blogging friends from 'way back, for instance, but now there are some of you who don't know about my "adventurous travels," so we're re-visiting here one of my first blog posts, and I hope to share more soon. 

Let's begin with this:
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. 
Just accept it!


Photo from Trip Advisor
For a long time, my self-image was of the day I walked to Peace Arch Park near our home town in southwestern British Columbia with my mother and my young teenage brother Rob.

The inscription of the Canadian side of the Peace Arch reads "Brethren dwelling together in unity."
On the American side it says "Children of a Common Mother."
It certainly was a beautiful day for a walk with our mother! 

It was also a beautiful day for a run, and I suddenly found myself shouting, “Race you to the arch, Robbie!” 
It felt wonderful, moving as fast as I could. In my mind’s eye, I still see soft green grass below me, blue sky above me, the Canada-US border in front of us, and Mom laughing behind us. 
Alright, okay, I know my brother was only 13 at the time, and my legs were still longer than his. And maybe, just maybe, Rob wasn’t trying very hard because he really didn’t think I could beat him. Nevertheless, I got there first, and I was 21 when Mom had him!
Laughing and perspiring, I panted, “I won!”
“That was pretty good,” he said, with a grin. 

America's Cup winner: Australian yacht, Gretel.
Rob and our friend and I spent a day aboard
when she started her retirement career
as a day sailer off the Queensland coast.
Of course it never happened again. A year later, when Rob and I were traveling with a friend in Queensland, Australia, I tried to run, tripped over a tree root, fell flat on my face, and decided enough was enough.
However, I’ve carried the image of that one victory in my head for years, pushing aside the embarrassing memory of eating Australian dirt, ignoring the pain slowly overtaking me, and trying to ignore the years overtaking me as well.

So don’t think I titled this section “just accept it” because I’m good at acceptance. I’m not. I’m here to say don’t do what I did. Don’t do what I still do from time to time – don’t refuse to accept your limitations. 
This may sound contrary to the moral “it’s better to go than not go” but it isn’t. Acceptance is key to enjoying adventurous travel. Accept your limitations by learning to deal with them effectively; accept being unable to do everything your traveling companions can do and, above all, accept help.
Accept help? 
Become a little old lady escorted across streets by boy scouts? Oh no, your inner voice screams, I can’t, I won’t, and I never will, so there! 
(From Shutterstock)
I know, I know. My inner voice screamed the same things, but there were times when I had to accept help from the most unlikely sources...for instance, from my mother. 
Good grief!
I’d rather have had a boy scout help me. Or a girl scout.

So how did I get from there to the Galapagos Islands? To Costa Rica? To anywhere outside my immediate neighbourhood?
The moral of this story should be immediately clear, but in case you’re having one of those days when the obvious doesn’t jump out at you (I have lots of those days), let me state the moral right up front. 
It is better to go than not to go. 
Enlarging upon that unpretty little sentence: If someone offers you a travel opportunity, you may regret it if you don’t go, but you aren’t likely to regret it if you do go.
It still doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue, does it? So you might want to make it easier for yourself by borrowing a well-known phrase from The Bard: “To be or not to be?”
Blue-footed booby with egg.

Because, really, that is the question.
When my husband, flush from our successful exploration of Charles Darwin’s eye-opening Galapagos Islands, within the 

boundaries set for tourists, suddenly announced we should also go on a wilderness adventure trip to Costa Rica, I suggested he go without me.
I hadn’t been the best at hiking in the Galapagos, but fortunately managed to spend most of a day sitting in a field full of blue-footed boobies because they nest in the open.
But the Costa Rica suggestion?
“You’ll have more fun if I’m not there to slow you down,” I reasoned. “Go ahead,” I insisted, “I don’t mind.” 
“But I don’t want to go without you,” he replied. 
Aww, that was sweet!
Monkeys in Costa Rica
Many a husband would agree with a wife, then promptly make a reservation for himself, or decide to take his son instead. My husband only has daughters, and he didn’t immediately suggest taking one of them. Neither did I.

“I really don’t want to go if you don’t,” he repeated, “and, you know, they have monkeys.” (Pause while that sinks in.) 

Buttercup,  the world's most famous sloth.
I spent a whole day with her!
“And they have sloths.”

Well now, sloths I can relate to. Big time.
So I had my own answer. I knew I would regret staying home and never seeing sloths. 

This, then, is part of the moral of the story. If you would regret missing the Louvre when you had the chance; if you’d hate yourself forever for saying no to the Northern Lights; if you’d cry because you never saw dolphins – then don’t miss the opportunity when it is offered. 
If the opportunity doesn't arise, it’s different. If I never get a chance to go to Olduvai Gorge to see where the remains of ancient homonids were found, I know I can live with reading about it in books.
But if I'm ever offered a camera safari, and I know there’s a way for me to make the trip, but yet I still say, “I don’t want to slow you down,” then I may regret it. 
Regret is something we all want to live without, isn’t it? Disappointment we can handle; pain and sorrow await us all; but regret is something we can avoid by the way we respond to life’s opportunities. 


Right. Good questions. I asked myself those same questions many times, and learned the answers through experience, both good and bad. 
I want to share my hard-won knowledge with you. Not because my way will be perfect for all unfitties of all genders, but because it worked for me – sometimes well, and sometimes, well, not so well. 
But it’s been fun. 

As Dick likes to point out to me every time he finds a new adventure on which to embark: By the time I get home I’m always glad I went.
Ask me at 30,000 feet over one of the major oceans if I’m glad I squeezed my portly self into an uncomfortable airplane seat for nine hours and I’m apt to snarl in reply; but get me home, fed, rested, and within hobbling distance of my very own bathroom, and I’ll admit I’m glad I went. 

Give me six months, then I’ll be acting as if the whole thing were my idea to begin with. I’ll be hosting slide shows for my friends, explaining the history and geography of faraway places, and I’ll have completely forgotten that I didn’t want to go in the first place.
True fact.

Remembering October, awaiting April

October 28, 2017

October 28, 2017

October 28, 2017
Photos by
Kay Davies

The sun sinks slowly into the west, where our big back yard looks toward wonderful skyscapes above our neighbour's house (which is barely visible when the trees are in leaf).
I'll be back with spring/summertime photos some day. All you have to do is wait!
(And maybe/perhaps/probably wait some more. I do live in Alberta, after all.)

Posting for 

hosted by the wonderful and talented Fiona in Sweden.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Could we have done better?

Richard Wagamese, Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) novelist, journalist, mentor, born October 4, 1955, in northwestern Ontario, died March 10, 2017, in Kamloops, BC.
A well-known Indigenous writer in Canada, Wagamese won several awards including the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize in 2013 and the Writers' Trust of Canada's Matt Cohen Award in 2015.
His novel, Indian Horse, was the People's Choice Award winner in the national 2013 Canada Reads competition.
His novel, Medicine Walk, is a national bestseller.

Richard Wagamese was born to the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Canada. When he was almost three years old, his parents left him and his three siblings alone in a bush camp for days. Cold and hungry, the children managed to cross a frozen bay to seek shelter.
A provincial policeman spotted them and dropped them off at the Children's Aid Society, but this story can have no "happily ever after" ending.

From there, the siblings were taken away in what is now known as "the Sixties Scoop," a government program in Canada that aggressively "scooped" Indigenous children from their homes and placed them in foster care.

Much has been written about the horrors of the Sixties Scoop and the years that followed, but I am no expert on that subject, nor even on Richard Wagamese.
Far from it...

My own reaction to the story of Wagamese's childhood is the story I wish to tell here. Richard Wagamese was born in 1955, a year that drastically changed my life. I was nine years old, with one younger brother and one little sister, and our mom was about to have a new baby.
Photo from Pexels

Having been of little help with my two siblings, I was so excited to have another sister when wee Barbara Diane was born! After all, being nine years old (and almost grown up, or so I thought) meant I could help Mom with the new baby.
However, due to a mysterious something called "the RH factor" my baby sister died after three days.
I didn't even get to see her, because children weren't allowed to visit hospitals in  the 1950s.

But no, again, I'm not here to talk about baby Barbara, her short life, nor even her death, although it proved to be of lasting devastation to me after all my excitement.

No, I want to tell you about two little Indigenous boys who did not come into my life.

Some while after Barbara died and, because the doctor told Mom and Dad to avoid further pregnancies, they decided to look into adoption. Apparently, however, the part of the British Columbia bureaucracy that handled adoption applications also handled fostering. Therefore, when no child was available for adoption in our bureaucracy's jurisdiction, Mom and Dad were told they could foster two small Indigenous boys.

Photo from Pexels
My mother was horrified. "Foster them? Do you mean we might have to give them up?"

Mom could not face losing another child, and especially two children. "I would be happy to adopt both of them, but I cannot give them up."

The subject of their ethnicity didn't factor into the equation. They could have been purple people from Pluto but, if they were little ones in need of love and caring, Mom would have adopted and loved them and cared for them, but wouldn't have given them up any more than she'd have let go of me, my brother or  my sister.
"Horrified" hardly suffices, now that I look back on it. My brother, sister, and I were raised to believe that ethnicity didn't factor into any equation whatsoever. "All men are created equal" could have come from my father if that great American Thomas Jefferson hadn't already said it.

Now, however, I can look back and answer my own question: could we (Canadians and especially British Columbians) have done better than the governments of the 1950s and 60s did in their dealings with our Indigenous peoples?
Yes, we certainly could.
It seems to me, from the distance of many decades, that the federal and provincial governments of Canada could have done far better. Many, many lives, old and young, were ruined by the thoughtless scooping-up of Canada's youngsters in such a cavalier manner.
I can't even excuse them on the basis of their having had good intentions because, clearly, some of them did not. Many, so many children suffered beatings at the hands of their so-called caregivers, and many suffered more than mere beatings: torture, rape, starvation in the name of discipline...

Yes, Canada, we could have done better!
Yes, my beloved British Columbia, you too.

Posting for Our World Tuesday at a time when
I think of the world in which
so many of Canada's First Nations people suffered, and too many died.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Edited somewhat, but here's my rant

Now, keep this in mind: I don't often use my blog as a position from which to protest, and I seldom if ever repeat things over and over in a blog post. I'm usually determined to avoid the over-use of boldface, red ink, underlining italic, just as I try to avoid grammatical errors, and a mixture of different typefaces...but you might now guess I feel very strongly about this subject.
Most of the time I want my blog to be entertaining but every now and then I want it to make you think.
So, for this week, it's a make-you-think blog post. You might think as I do, and of course you might not, but for what it's worth, these are the news:

Ottawa recently announced major changes to the way pipelines and tar sands projects are approved...

Now... NEW projects

will have to follow NEW rules!

This is wonderful for Canada!

But here’s the problem, and it bears repeating, so I'll probably say it again:

The largest open-pit tar-sands mine ever proposed
in the history of Canada is 
still slated to be approved
using archaic fossil-fuel friendly rules!

Yes... "still slated to be approved using
archaic fossil-fuel friendly rules!"

The government of Canada should have the sense, and I hope it does, to retroactively change the conditions under which a new mine can operate, ensuring that such a massive new project will have to avoid the use of methods that would continue to endanger land, lakes, rivers, oceans, and wildlife. New technologies do exist. Just look to Europe for confirmation. Itty-bitty forward-thinking countries with great big ideas: solar power, of course; windpower, for instance—heating entire cities with hot-water underground heating, some of those countries!

I now live in the Canadian province of Alberta, which has thrived on its oil reserves ever since its big oil boom in the 1960s. I spent most of my life in my home province of British Columbia, and I definitely remember the 60s when jobs were scarce in Alberta, when Albertans flocked to BC to find work. Some became lifelong friends.

But then came the Alberta oil boom and all hell broke loose...

I'm guessing environmental issues were not high on the list of considerations during the rush to make Alberta rich. It's likely no one even thought of the environmental impact of a massive oil boom.
Workers from across Canada, especially from eastern provinces, flocked to Alberta, where they made enough money to be able to fly back and forth to Newfoundland or other eastern provinces whenever they wanted to see their families.
(My husband's favourite joke, which he often uses when he's visiting Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta: How do you recognize a Newfie in Alberta? He's the one who wants to go home!)

So, yes, all hell broke loose and, since then, life was exciting in this province... excitement about the oil boom which was good for Alberta's politicians and rule-makers, most of whom overlooked environmental dangers, because the boom was good for the economy.

The oil industry wasn't so good for the northern landscape, however, and it seems environmental considerations would have been bad for the oil boom and thus for the province's newly booming economy, so any environmentalists who happened to live in Alberta were largely ignored.

Now, just look at this photo, and imagine this is your back yard:


This Tolkeinesque landscape is not my dream for the Canadian province of Alberta, but it could happen.
Birds and animals of all kinds are endangered.


I am taking the position that the government of Canada should reconsider the matter of the huge new open pit tar sands mine being developed under the old rules.

Instead, Canada should take a look at the countries in Europe that are thriving on new technologies such as wind turbines and other sources of power. Then Canada should follow their example. Many new kinds of jobs can be had in the manufacturing and building of new kinds of power sources.

The largest open-pit tar sands mine ever proposed in the history of Canada should not be allowed if it doesn't follow the new regulations!
Due to the huge environmental impact under the old rules...the drastic danger to wildlife will, with the trickle-down effect, eventually impact on the health of the people of Alberta.

More food for thought now, new news from the National Energy Board: to read is to weep.

Posting for Lady Fi's memorable meme, because "our world" is so wonderful:

Our World Tuesday