Monday, March 23, 2009

Passing the Baton

I am very happy to say that Swap-O-Rama-Rama in Vancouver lives on. After organising four fabulous occasions of community clothes swapping and creativity, I have passed the event on to Andrea and Rob Tucker and the Vancouver Craft Mafia. I am sure that they will bring even more energy and vitality to this great event, which, as you should know by now, was begun by the luminescent and divine Wendy Tremayne.

April 19
11:00am to 4:00pm
Location: Heritage Hall – 3102 Main Street, Vancouver
Admission: $6.00 plus one bag of clean clothing or craft supplies

As well, I won't be involved in the Swap-O-Rama-Rama at Maker Faire in San Mateo this year. The talented Scatha Allison, aka Miss Velvet Cream is taking on the reins.

I loved doing SORR, but geography and energy have their limits. I am a changed person through the grace of the amazing entity that is Swap-O-Rama-Rama, and thank everyone who volunteered, modelled, silkscreened, sorted, lent sewing machines, wrote press releases, took photographs, brought food, MC'd, and otherwise shared their skills, time and energy. Long live Swap-O-Rama-Rama!

Corky Evans, One of the Good Ones

Corky Evans, a "good lefty" representing the Kootenay riding I used to live in, recently gave his retirement speech in the BC Legislature. The whole transcript is well worth reading, particularly towards the end when Corky really gets going, listing his failures in 17 years of politics as well as his continued hope for the future. Corky has always allowed his folksy, down to earth persona to cover for his sharp political skills, and I think this speech shows (once again) what we missed by not electing him leader of the BC NDP.

I agree with what he says about taxes and politicians:
I don't think this Legislature is a sideshow. I know I'm a bit of anachronism in this regard. I know it's been popular in Canada for the last 25 years or so for politicians, even, to denigrate politics and public service and legislatures and legal and regulatory measures intended to limit excess, and even to denigrate the public service.

All of us in this room, on both sides, have been living through a time when we learned to call the employees of the Crown by the pejorative term "bureaucrats" in order to dehumanize them and strip their work of the honour and dignity and pride that used to accompany managing this land and human well-being. It reminds me of when the American people learned to call the Vietnamese people gooks in order to justify making war in their country.

In short, it has become hip to belittle the idea of the Crown and the function of this place to generate discourse or to resolve issues. One minister that we all know has even been known to suggest that politicians have better things to do than to serve the people in public, on the record and in this room. I despise this trend, and I would like to see it end now.

I think that government has to exist. I think that government has to raise taxes to do the people's work and use those taxes to buy civilization. I think parliament has to exist and even meet and use the public record as a way to express alternative ideas about what that civilization should look like and how it should function.

I think there has to be a free press and not a monopoly press. The people who own that press actually have to employ people to report what happens here and to tell the story to whomever wishes to know.

None of this would happen if it wasn't for this place and if it wasn't for two sides — or maybe three or six, which I happen to think might be better yet — working here.

And I think a lot of people, not just British Columbians, can identify with this:
Here's the good news about change. I think it's happening already. Intellectually, you can read the demands for change in the pages of The Economist magazine and even in the speeches of the world's super-elite in Davos, Switzerland, asking for re-regulation to save capitalism by limiting its capacity for excess.

Personally, I feel it happening inside myself. I was driving through Oliver a few weeks ago with a 45-gallon drum of fertilizer in the back of my truck, and I turned on the radio to hear the inauguration of the new President of the United States. Aretha Franklin started singing, and I found that I couldn't drive. I couldn't drive because I couldn't see the road through my tears. When Aretha finished singing, I got back on to the road, and I made it as far as Osoyoos. Then the new President of the United States began to speak.

I hid my face and my pickup truck in an alley behind the laundromat, and I sobbed for 17 minutes. Now, I'm 61 years old, and I'm a guy, and for a little while longer I'm an MLA. And we old MLA guys don't hide in parking lots and sob in our pickup trucks. I kept thinking: "Why is this happening to me?"

The answer I came up with was simply this. We made it. We, my generation, the generation who watched the Berlin Wall come down and celebrated and then watched the whole world lose its collective mind and despaired, had maybe made it to the end of that terrible, shortsighted, speculator-driven, utterly selfish and self-serving pendulum swing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Textiles in Our Midst

What's going on here? No news for weeks and then a veritable spew of blogging! The guilt rides heavily on my shoulders and, true to form, I over-compensate....

First, what may possibly be the oldest Brownie uniform in existence, or at least in private hands. This tiny dress was worn by my sweetie's mother when she was a wee Sprite (or is it a Pixie?) and was already handed down at that point. She lived in South Africa, and I don't know if this was a standard international style or particular to that country.

So sweet, and a far cry from the t-shirts they wear today. But don't get me started on the decline of the Guiding movement (High on Life badges indeed!)

Well, here it is folks. Almost done. What has been consuming me through packing and moving and stinging nettle attacks and flu and urgent tree pruning and garlic planting. The anniversary sweaters!!

I just have to finish the closures. These matching sweaters are in honour of my friend's parent's 50th wedding anniversary. The design is based on a west coast Cowichan type of sweater and incorporates birds, fleur-de-lis, rolling waves, and a monogram of the couple's initials.

And, although I am happy and proud of how they turned out, I am compelled to share with you evidence of the path I have travelled on the journey of making.

My chart is definitely seat of the pants designing. Full of mistakes and cutting and pasting, figuring it out as I go. There was a lot of ripping on this project!

And here is a picture of my kitchen table on acid.

Actually, I scored a tin of buttons at the Free Store. There's some groovy leather buttons and some lovely mother of pearl ones amongst the dross. It was lots of fun going through them - a glass of Bushmills + CBC jazz + old buttons = a rockin' Saturday night on Lasqueti!

Flotsam and Jetsom

Sometimes the waves spin seaweed and bits of rope into designer yarn of the sea.

But more often what washes up is not so picturesque. Spring Bay is a pretty clean beach, but every morning I manage to gather a handful of plastic trash that the tide had brought in. Included were the expected pop bottles and candy wrappers, but also a couple of spent shotgun shells and a used insulin syringe. There were a lot of tampon applicators, (shame, sisters!), a high heel platform shoe, and numerous zip lock bags.

Guess what topped the trash list? Plastic water bottle caps. Another reason to stick with tap water.
(I eventually filled a big trash bag with the plastic, and took it back with me to the mainland recycling centre.)

Spring Flowers and Funny Looking Sheep

The flowers are bravely pushing up in spite of the cold winds and rain.

They hold a promise of lovely days to come.

Not a bad shot for my little digital camera. Even more amazing is the web that a wee spider has woven.

Enough of the pretty pictures and on to a more serious concern - keeping my dog out of the trouble she so dearly would like to get into. Those of you with teenagers may relate.

Keiko is very clever and has the hyperactive energy of her border collie forebears. As long as I keep throwing the sticks she is okay. Unfortunately Lasqueti is a place where the local feral sheep are valued more highly than the family pet, and yesterday I had an unidentified neighbour tell me that my dog was going to get shot if it ran free. Now, at the time the dog was in my yard and behaving herself nicely, so I assumed it was just a pre-emptive strike on the neighbour's part. (She very clearly was afraid of dogs.)

However, last summer, Keiko did indeed chase a sheep, prompting a rather hysterical rescue. (I tried to link but failed. Go to the August, 2008 archive on the sidebar for a full account.)

I am doing my best to keep her leashed and submissive, but I am tormented by the thought that she may escape when my vigilence lapses. So, I have been thinking about knitting her a sheep outfit that she can wear when she goes out. Then, if she gets loose and goes after a wooly friend, the islanders will only be talking about that funny looking sheep they saw chasing one of its own down the beach, instead of that damn Cameron dog that ought to be shot.
What do you think? The black legs should pass, a big floppy forelock and a fluffy white coat are all she needs. Might have to file down the teeth a bit. And teach her to say "Baaaaaa."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Westward, Ho!

My silence for the last couple of weeks has a simple explanation. I have moved, yet again, and hopefully for the last time. My brother has graciously allowed me to rent his house on Lasqueti, and of course I leapt at the chance.

The day I was scheduled to move ran into a bit of a snag when high winds prevented the barge from sailing. We were able to load her up and cover everything with a tarp before the snow hit. Here is the view from the motel in Parksville where my brother and I had to spend the night. Lasqueti is somewhere off in the distant mist.

The next day was sunny and calm. We took the first ferry in the morning, and passed the little yellow barge laden with all our stuff, bobbing cheerfully on the waves.

The barge is operated by a fellow named D'Arcy, who manages to roll the best qualities of Robert Plant (curly locks, swaggering charisma) and Popeye (strength and seafaring ways) into one person. Couldn't have done it without him - the island is normally reached by a foot passenger ferry, anything big has to come by barge.

Our motley collection of worldly goods sat safely on the beach as we took loads back and forth in Rob's truck. (Do you think there's a musician in the family?)

It took five loads and a couple of hours to move everything.

I have sheep in my yard!

And there were some little flower buds poking up to greet us! (You may have to click on the image to see them.)