Thursday, November 06, 2008

Common Mushroom with Bug

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thoughts on the American Elections: One Canadian's Perspective

Since 9/11 I have followed the news from the US with trepidation and, I admit some fearfulness.

Shock, denial, paranoia, abject fear, a closing up of the psyche, reactionary attitudes and terrible aggression. But I've also watched as more & more Americans have taken the time to really learn about the rest of the world, too. Travelling to other countries, reading more about themselves as others view them, taking the time to examine the issues from a different perspective, become in turn frightened, frustrated then angry as they realize how they have been used, manipulated and denied more and more freedom in their own country by those in elected office and those with enormous corporate power.

And the result is a new willingness to take power back into their own hands. To not allow their fears to paralyze and dictate an empty arrogance in the face of internal and external disapproval and economic chaos.

Yesterday I watched with admiration as democracy was taken back and used, by the majority, for the good of all. I'm not saying that either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain should have won or lost. I am saying that I now have some admiration again for the American people as a nation. They have accepted that change is necessary and that their voices and actions have come through loud and clear.

Welcome Back!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Road to Whistler

(I've been having trouble with Blogger not finding my pics so will add them once I figure out the problem). In the meantime, check them out at

So now it's well over due that I post to my poor, neglected blog. I see that the blog that got lost is now found - I'll leave them both to confuse you even more.

I've been playing way to much at Tagoria!!!

Last weekend, my friend and I took a day trip up to Whistler, a well-known ski & sun resort north of Vancouver. Whistler is one of the major venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Para-Olympics, as well as being a top world vacation destination.

I plan to take plenty of pics to share on this site and on Picasa so dutifully recharge all my camera batteries the night before while packing a picnic cooler with strawberries, Camembert, crackers, egg salad, juice and granola bars. Mmmm.

Early the next morning we leave town and head over Lion's Gate Bridge, through West Vancouver, and soon after passing the Horseshoe Bay ferry turnoff
we quickly join the Sea to Sky Highway. The drive up the coast is gorgeous on a sunny day. Most of the reconstruction on the highway is complete with only a few spots left where you have to slow down, but there are no delays. Howe Sound is calm, it's early spring so the trees are that amazing bright yellowy green that gladdens the heart and quickens our sluggish winter blood.

Considering the first few pics were taken through the windshield, and while travelling at speed, they turned out better than expected, but by the time we come into sight of The Chief, my camera is beeping its low battery signal. Eeek! Change batteries. Eeek! Same response from said camera. At this point I'm really ticked because of the crummy camera. We pull into the Shopper's drug store in Squamish and I fork out $18 plus change for new NiMH batteries. Same thing. Bloody cheap technology! So I resorted to turning the camera off, then quickly turning it on and snapping a pic or two before the camera dies again. Typical. First trip in ages and this happens.

Hence the title "The Road to Whistler".

The Chief is a 450 m cliff face that pro climbers love. They even sleep there, hanging from little hanging nets and tents. Weird. But there are paths of varying difficulty along the back of the mountain for those who are brave but not exactly crazy, like my daughters. Named for Chief Mountain, an ancestral Nisga'a, there are 7-10 kms of return hiking trails, depending on your route. One of several in the area, it is estimated at 93 million years old; as volcanic monoliths go, it is one of the world's biggest freestanding mounts. On the Picas site I've placed markers on the google map for you.

I will post more later.

Oh...when I got home that night, I tried recharging the batteries again, but in a different wall outlet. It worked fine. So not only did I not get the pics I wanted, I also had forked out $18 for dead NiMH Duracells from a brand new still-smell-the-paint drug store. Go figure...

The Road to Whistler

I'm spending way too much time at!!!

Anyway, I've decided to tell you about my trip to Whistler, one of the best sun & ski resorts on the planet (and probably one of the most expensive, too). This is one of the major venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics and ParaOlympics. I had planned to do a whole series of pics as the drive up the coast is as spectacular as the surrounding mountains. Half way up the highway my camera started blinking that the batteries were dead. I changed them. Same thing. Thinking it might be a problem with the camera, we stopped at a shop in Squamish and I forked over about $18 for extras. They didn't work either! Definitely the camera. Very depressing. It wasn't until I got home that night and plugged the recharger into a different outlet that I discovered it wasn't the batteries at all. It was the bloody wall plug I'd used the night before...which also meant I'd forked out $18 for 2 dead NiMH Duracells from the brand new Shopper's drug store...

Anyway, I did get a few shots before the batteries died. Some of them were taken through the windshield of a car going well over the speed limit, so take this into account when viewing. The lake shots were taken at Porteau Cove Provincial Park. There is a beautiful campground there. If planning to camp at any BC Provincial Park, book well in advance and have your credit card ready.

The very high (450 m), bare stone cliff is a very popular climbing wall, experts only. You can also climb up the back end to reach the top. Clearly marked paths, but still steep and not for the faint of heart...literally. Google Stawamus Chief Provincial Park for info. Might as well check out Pemberton info as well. It's world famous for the eagles and bears that enjoy salmon fishing priveleges. Cameras are de rigeur, but leave your weapons at home. Canadian folk don't take kindly to anyone messing with the wildlife. You won't be invited back EVER and the monetary penalties are very high, but still way too low in my humble opinion.

That said, British Columbia is a truly spectacular place to live and I love it here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

MSG - Deliberate Obesity for Fun and Profit

I don't usually do the soapbox thing but I've been aware for a long time that MSG is not nice stuff and have tried to avoid it when shopping or dining out. Given the info below, it's been a bit of a fool's errand.

Convenience foods are just that - convenient. When you are in a rush to get food on the table, or if your kids are fussy eaters and prepackaged foods are all they will eat, if you are on a tight work schedule and have to grab lunch on the run, please remember what you read below. It's a long article but worth the read.

MSG is usually made from the fermentation of corn, cane sugar or beet sugar, and further processed to make the fine white crystalline product that is then added to foods.

For a partial list of the major offenders go to the website listed at the bottom of this post.

A friend sent me this email. I found it very informative with good resources. I hope that it will at least generate some critical thinking regarding additives on your part - even if you do not agree with the writer. If you are concerned, please pass this on. Thank you.

"MSG The food additive MSG (Mono-Sodium Glutamate) is a slow poison. MSG hides behind 25 or more names, such as "Natural Flavouring." MSG is even in your favourite coffee from Tim Horton's and other brand-name coffee shops!

I wondered if there could be an actual chemical causing the massive obesity epidemic, and so did a friend of mine, John Erb. He was a research assistant at the University of Waterloo in Ontario , Canada , and spent years working for the government. He made an amazing discovery while going through scientific journals for a book he was writing called, "The Slow Poisoning of America."

In hundreds of studies around the world, scientists were creating obese mice and rats to use in diet or diabetes test studies. No strain of rat or mice is naturally obese, so scientists have to create them. They make these creatures morbidly obese by injecting them with MSG when they are first born. The MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates, causing rats (and perhaps humans) to become obese. They even have a name for the fat rodents they create: "MSG-Treated Rats."

When I heard this, I was shocked. I went into my kitchen and checked the cupboards and the refrigerator. MSG was in everything -- the Campbell 's soups, the Hostess Doritos, the Lays flavoured potato chips, Top Ramen, Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper, Heinz canned gravy, Swanson frozen prepared meals, and Kraft salad dressings, especially the "healthy low-fat" ones.
The items that didn't have MSG marked on the product label had something called "Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein," which is just another name for Monosodium Glutamate. It was shocking to see just how many of the foods we feed our children everyday are filled with this stuff. MSG is hidden under many different names in order to fool those who read the ingredient list, so that they don't catch on. (Other names for MSG are "Accent, "Aginomoto," "Natural Meat Tenderizer," etc.)

But it didn't stop there. When our family went out to eat, we started asking at the restaurants what menu items contained MSG. Many employees, even the managers, swore they didn't use MSG. But when we asked for the ingredient list, which they grudgingly provided, sure enough, MSG and Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein were everywhere.

Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, every restaurant -- even the sit-down eateries like TGIF, Chili's, Applebee's, and Denny's -- use MSG in abundance. Kentucky Fried Chicken seemed to be the WORST offender: MSG was in every chicken dish, salad dressing. and gravy. No wonder I loved to eat that coating on the skin -- their secret spice was MSG!

So why is MSG in so many of the foods we eat? Is it a preservative, or a vitamin? Not according to my friend John Erb. In his book The Slow Poisoning of America, he said that MSG is added to food for the addictive effect it has on the human body.

Even the propaganda website sponsored by the food manufacturers lobby group supporting MSG explains that the reason they add it to food is to make people eat more. A study of the elderly showed that older people eat more of the foods that it is added to. The Glutamate Association lobbying group says eating more is a benefit to the elderly, but what does it do to the rest of us?

Betcha can't eat [just] one," takes on a whole new meaning where MSG is concerned! And we wonder why the nation is overweight! MSG manufacturers themselves admit that it addicts people to their products. It makes people choose their product over others, and makes people eat more of it than they would if MSG wasn't added.

Not only is MSG scientifically proven to cause obesity, it is an addictive substance. Since its introduction into the American food supply fifty years ago, MSG has been added in larger and larger doses to the pre-packaged meals, soups, snacks, and fast foods we are tempted to eat everyday.

The FDA has set no limits on how much of it can be added to food. They claim it's safe to eat in any amount. But how can they claim it's safe when there are hundreds of scientific studies with titles like these:

-"The monosodium glutamate (MSG) obese rat as a model for the study of exercise in obesity." Gobatto CA, Mello MA, Souza CT, Ribeiro IA. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 2002.
-Adrenalectomy abolishes the food-induced hypothalamic serotonin release in both normal and monosodium glutamate-obese rats." Guimaraes RB, Telles MM, Coelho VB, Mori C, Nascimento CM, Ribeiro. Brain Res Bull. 2002 Aug.
-Obesity induced by neonatal monosodium glutamate treatment in spontaneously hypertensive rats: An animal model of multiple risk factors." Iwase M, Yamamoto M, Iino K, Ichikawa K, Shinohara N, Yoshinari Fujishima. Hypertens Res. 1998 Mar.
-Hypothalamic lesion induced by injection of monosodium glutamate in suckling period and subsequent development of obesity." Tanaka K, Shimada M, Nakao K Kusunoki. Exp Neurol. 1978 Oct.

No, the date of that last study was not a typo; it was published in 1978. Both the "medical research community" and "food manufacturers" have known about the side effects of MSG for decades. Many more of the studies mentioned in John Erb's book link MSG to diabetes, migraines and headaches, autism, ADHD, and even Alzheimer's. So what can we do to stop the food manufactures from dumping this fattening and addictive MSG into our food supply and causing the obesity epidemic we now see?

Several months ago, John Erb took his book and his concerns to one of the highest government health officials in Canada . While he was sitting in the government office, the official told him, "Sure, I know how bad MSG is. I wouldn't touch the stuff." But this top-level government official refuses to tell the public what he knows.

The big media doesn't want to tell the public either, fearing issues with their advertisers. It seems that the fallout on the fast food industry may hurt their profit margin. The food producers and restaurants have been addicting us to their products for years, and now we are paying the price for it. Our children should not be cursed with obesity caused by an addictive food additive.

But what can I do about it? I'm just one voice! What can I do to stop the poisoning of our children, while our governments are insuring financial protection for the industry that is poisoning us? This message is going out to everyone I know in an attempt to tell you the truth that the corporate-owned politicians and media won't tell you.

The best way you can help to save yourself and your children from this drug-induced epidemic is to forward this article to everyone. With any luck, it will circle the globe before politicians can pass the legislation protecting those who are poisoning us.
The food industry learned a lot from the tobacco industry. Imagine if big tobacco had a bill like this in place before someone blew the whistle on nicotine?
If you are one of the few who can still believe that MSG is good for us and you don't believe what John Erb has to say, see for yourself:

Go to the National Library of Medicine at
Type in the words "MSG Obese" and read a few of the 115 medical studies that appear.

We the public do not want to be rats in one giant experiment, and we do not approve of food that makes us into a nation of obese, lethargic, addicted sheep, feeding the food industry's bottom line while waiting for the heart transplant, the diabetic-induced amputation, blindness, or other obesity-induced, life-threatening disorders.
With your help we can put an end to this poison.
Do your part in sending this message out by word of mouth, e-mail, or by distribution of this printout to your friends all over the world and stop this "Slow Poisoning of Mankind" by the packaged food industry.
Blowing the whistle on MSG is our responsibility, so get the word out.

For a partial list of msg-added foods click on:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Life is Good

Well, not much to say. Didn't get to sleep last night because of a major toothache, so off to the dentist today for..oh, joy...two root canals, one that didn't take. That's okay. I've been trying to get someone to take that tooth out for ages. On Friday I get my wish, then no more achy face.

Also, got a letter from the bus company. I passed the first four hurdles and on to the next steps. Yay...the wheels on the bus go round, round, round.

Get to babysit my favourite grandson...well, my only grandson, but favourite grandson nonetheless.

Studying my reflexology course on weekends, so once I'm working again I can supplement my income by setting up shop at Sunset Beach in the summer.

Slowly levelling up on . This is how I spend my evenings when I can't sleep because of my achy face.

Mexico Pictorials

It's 2 a.m. I've given up trying to sleep. Every time I lie down two teeth on my right jaw start to throb and hurt so badly that I'm in tears. No point.

So here are some more photos of my trip to Mexico in October 2006. I think I took about 350 photos but will not subject you to all of them. At my Picasa site I've started to divide the pics into albums so that one will be churches, one the countryside, markets, florals and plants, Uxmal and Teotehuacan World Heritage sites, a bird sanctuary on the Yucatan facing the Gulf of Mexico, a few museums. And a miscellaneous album for odd pics that don't fit anywhere else.

Now blogger can't find my pics on the computer and I'm too tired to try and find the problem. So just trust me. Go to Picasa. The photos are all there for you to see.

And for heaven's sake, somebody send a comment once in a while. I know you look at the blog but it's lonely here, sorting through photos and typing away for you at 2:53 am. Thanks :-)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Whitesroad - Best Photo Journal Blog on the Net

My friend Rauf in Chennai, India is a graphic artist and photographer. You can spend hours at his site as the pics are gorgeous and his commentaries about life in India well worth every minute. His take on life is in turn poignant, funny, bittersweet and always self-effacing. I would love to meet the man and see the country.

Here, you can see the faces, wildlife, cities and countryside, the hustle and bustle of daily life and yes, the tranquillity of this most ancient and beautiful part of the planet.

Rauf presents a side of India that is very different from the usual travel or documentary shows we see but I suspect much more balanced. He tells it like it is and with great love.

So check out his blog 'Daylight Again' at:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Junior Magicians

T & J's Magnificent Magic Show

Going for walk around the neighbourhood today I came across two little guys about eleven years old performing a magic show for spare change. Apparently, they stand on this corner on weekends and perform for passersby. Not only do they entertain with a large bevy of magic tricks, the one guy, T, is an amazing contortionist, twisting his legs and arms into seemingly impossible convolutions. Gollum?

They are so funny and entertaining that T & J have gained quite a following. In fact, one passerby is an indie film maker who will be doing a five minute short about them and will be submitting it to a competition. Good luck to all three. Check out their show next time you are walking in the West End near the Burrard Street Bridge.

A few more pics at Picasa.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Floral Pictorial is on Picasa

Me again

I'm learning how to create online photo albums using Picasa. My first effort is now uploaded and you are welcome to visit anytime. Click on the link in the sidebar.

These photos were taken last year in Summerland, BC. My friend has a house there and last August her gardens were in full bloom, the air redolent with the scents of the good earth, echinacea, feverfew and velvety deep red and white roses; apple, pear and apricot trees well on the way to harvest time. The famous volcanic remnant Giant's Head is visible from her backyard and the semi-rural homes in the area just as beautiful as hers. She has one black currant bush that provides one large luscious bowl of fruit per branch.

The apricots are from a neighbour whose tree was laden with succulent apricots - too many for one household. As you can see by the pics, canning, juicing and making jams are de rigueur, and what you see is only half of her harvest. When I was visiting, the smell of these delicious, glowingly healthy gifts of the earth wafted through the house, out the doors and throughout the neighbourhood. I collected a little container of poppy seeds that I'm tempted to scatter throughout my Vancouver neighbourhood to liven things up even more.

On this first day of Spring let us celebrate the return of the Sun and give thanks for Nature's bounty yet to come.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quinoa ~ Nature's Gift

Always on the search for new food experiences I came across references to a product that is newish to North America but one of nature’s earliest gifts. Grown as a food staple in the Andes for 6,000 years, easily cultivated and insect resistant…. 
“Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and followed in third place by maize. In contemporary times this crop has come to be highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. This means it takes less quinoa protein to meet one's needs than wheat protein. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest”. (wikipedia)
Available in bulk at Whole Foods, Costco ('tru-brands') or from health food stores (more expensive), some locations carry products that are gritty and need to be picked over. Tedious work, and can be avoided if you buy from better shops, although you may find closer sources. Bought some at Granville Island that I had to throw out! This recipe is a family favourite, summer or winter, filling and great as part of a healthy lunch or side dish. A little goes a long way.
Quinoa Salad

1 cup Quinoa (keen-wa)
1 7/8 cups Water
1 tbsp Olive oil (light or extra virgin)
3 tbsp Lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup Wild rice, cooked (optional)
1/2 tsp Sea salt or Herbamare
1 Large, firm tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 Carrots, finely grated
1 Small zucchini, small dice, or grated and drained
2 Celery sticks, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup dried cranberries or currants(optional)

Rinse quinoa under running water. Use a fine strainer as grains are very small. Add to cold water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to just above minimum and cook for 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat, fluff the grains to separate, re-cover and let sit until cooled.
In the meantime, rinse and prepare vegetables.
Add all the ingredients, mix together by tossing with a fork. Serve.
Will store for a few days but probably won’t last that long.

Be creative. You can add other veggies in season, fresh garden peas, radishes, green tomatoes, toasted sunflower seeds, chopped dried fruit, etc.
Quinoa has a light, nutty flavour. There are lots of recipes available. The seeds germinate in cold water in two to four hours and can be eaten raw. Be sure to rinse well as the seeds have a natural coating that may taste a little bitter but is not harmful. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Looking for work...

Looking for work is not as easy as I thought it would be.

I spend so much time checking Craigslist, Monster, and the rest that applying for the jobs has me confused about my actual skill sets. After 14 years without a break, I'm not even sure what my skills are, or whether the work I can do is what I still want to do.

In the meantime, I'm also having fun picking up ideas for creative ways to use up about 150 pounds (68 kilos) of fabric samples I've accumulated from various sources over the years. So, coffee cup sleeves, doggy jackets and gear, quilts, scarves and eco-bags are on the list of things yet to be started. Again, I spend too much time finding cool patterns on the old www that actually doing is temporarily beyond me.

I've lost 2 pant sizes in the past 6 weeks, which makes me very happy. Now I just have to figure out how to take in the hips, waistbands and legs evenly on about 20 pairs of slacks and jeans.

I've explored Google Earth. Actually found the apartment building we lived in briefly in Toronto after we arrived in Canada when I was a tyke. And the spot on the river where we used to play on those long, hot summer days. The river then was slow, with oaks, maples, reeds, ferns and cool, damp earth providing us with all the materials we needed to build little playhouses. We fished with string and sticks - never caught anything, but it was all pretend anyway. We had jars full of tadpoles, though. :)
Oh, for the good old days when 4, 5 & 6-year-olds could disappear for hours without the stay-at-home moms calling the cops.

Thinking about themes for blogs- How about a ' What people throw away' pictorial? Or crafty stuff? Recipes? Plants and flowers of the Pacific Northwest?

Anyway, I'm volunteering to help out at the Vancouver Wellness Show, an annual event held at Canada Place, see you Cooperative Automobile Network display, Feb 1, 2 or 3. Come and find out why it's more sensible to borrow a car from the co-op when you need it instead of buying a gas guzzling, insurance-eating, rapidly depreciating car.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Vancouver in Winter

Here it is...Mid-January.

Vancouver weather is more its usual gray and rainy than last winter's freeze-up and wild wind and snow storms. Occasionally a bit of blue opens up in the cloud cover, then vanishes with the next breath to be replaced with a mix of fine mist, drizzle, heavy rain, then another bit of sunny blue. Living close to the water, our weather tends to be more moderate than inland areas. We can be walking along the seawall in sunshine and in Chilliwack the wind and snow will be blasting across Highway 1, pushing cars and semis into the median ditches. In the meantime skiers atop sunny Grouse Mountain are oblivious to all but the cloud cover spread below like a a great soft blanket. The pic above was taken at noon on a recent Sunday, and yes; that's the sun poking through, not the moon.

This is also a shot from my balcony. Bare branches on the plane trees, but still providing bits of sustenance for our local finches, chickadees, the occasional woodpecker and of course, the large murders of crows that leave their rookeries early in the day and head to their alloted city neighbourhoods. At dusk they return, raucous and happy or silently, depending on the pickings. That's them in the background. It's really sad to note that many of the rookeries are vanishing under the onslaught of machines clearing space for condos and new housing developments. I wonder if the new residents will ever even think about the Goddess's evicted little garbage men and the job they do for her, cleaning up after us, getting rid of road kill, dropped fries and burgers, and worse. As long as they keep going to and fro each day, then our small piece of the planet is still somewhat healthy. If they disappear then it's time to move to the Interior!

This is a shot from Granville Island. Taken last year at the end of January. We were waiting for the water taxi to take us back to the landing just on the other side of Burrard Bridge after an hour or so of wandering aimlessly, picking up a few veggies and the obligatory landjaeger sausage from the year-round market. Cold, crisp and not a cloud in the sky.