Herring are running

DSC_2527-sealions
By the time we got there the sea lions had gorged and were mostly just hanging out airing their armpits. 
DSC_2530-sealion
A couple did come close by shore to check out Our Dog. Our Dog barked. Sure told THEM.

The bridge idea that will not die

c7ixj8qvaaazso6Well, this tweet is interesting. It’s from a CHEK News reporter; I assume he’s sitting in a news conference somewhere.

Not that there’s much likelihood such a proposal will come to pass, given the Conservatives’ electoral standing in BC. But I suppose it gives them an election talking point to try to show they are forward-thinking and different from the other parties.

UPDATE: yes, it’s a real proposal. Here’s a news article about it, and here’s the plank in the Conservative platform.

Weather

path through snow

We’ve had rather a lot of it, haven’t we? Today it’s raining and the snow is super-saturated and heavy (this is the Voice of Experience speaking, as I went out and shovelled) and it’s altogether miserable and nasty. And yes, I know that it will melt, but it WILL MELT A LOT FASTER if one shovels. Continue reading “Weather”

Watch out for those turkeys…

So I spotted this article today: Don’t feed the turkeys! Kimberley urged to outlaw feeding big birds. And I was struck by this line:

That has led to an increase in noise complaints along with concerns the big birds can damage property and be quite aggressive.

Now, maybe my experience is out of the ordinary, but I essentially live with feral turkeys around a lot of the time. I’ve never noticed that they’re particularly noisy—they call a bit, but rarely enough that I usually have a “what’s that? oh, the turkeys” response—and they’ve certainly never been aggressive. Even when they were in our yard, with poults, and I approached them. They just move away, making suspicious noises. The most exciting thing that ever happened to me with a turkey was having a tom block the road and display to my car.

Now I’m wondering if the turkeys here are more genteel and gentle than the ones in Kimberley, or if the reports might be a tad exaggerated…? What do you think?

The Fall Fair

So yesterday was the Fall Fair at the Commons.

the commons entrance

We hopped on our bikes and rode over—a great way to avoid parking problems—which meant that we came in from a side trail, and that meant the first things we saw was the agricultural exhibition; specifically, the animals.

rooster rooster

The roosters were particularly photogenic.

rooster crowing

And noisy.

skinny pig

Roosters weren’t the only thing on show! Look, a skinny pig (hairless guinea pig)!

jar full of beans

There was an opportunity to win… something? by guessing the number of beans in this jar. I don’t think I won.

gate sign to "the orchard"

The Commons is really very beautiful, and they’ve put up some lovely new signs.

dog show

There was a dog show. Every single dog was a Very Good Dog, and every single dog won! (I’m not sure if they were trying to pry the dog out of the tunnel in this one, or what.)

terrier

Our buddy Bonnie.

leonberger puppy

Our buddy Yolanda. (Yolanda is a leonberger puppy. At 13 weeks old, as I recall, she weighed 45 pounds. Right now she is the softest, floofiest snookums imaginable.)

parade

There was a parade, led by the Ken Capon Memorial Marching Band.

salmon float

There was a float! It was all about protecting wild salmon and was pulled, of course, by a dog.

squash racetrack ramp

And there was, of course, the World Famous Squash Race. We left before that happened, but did get a good look at the racetrack.

All in all, as usual, a wonderful Fall Fair.

Solstice and strawberry moon

moonrise over the ocean

Yesterday I went down to a beach just after 5 am and watched the solstice sunrise with friends. There were seals, possibly an otter, a hummingbird, and passing orcas. There was a faint sundog to one side of the rising sun.

In the evening I mediated and watched the full moon rise just before 9:30. There were seals, an eagle in the tree above us, drummers on the other point, and a collection of people who are good to spend time with.

Solstice and strawberry moon, all at once. I’m told that it will be 70 years till it happens again. I made a conscious decision not to take a camera, in order to be in the moment, but I took some snaps with my phone.

The world is a beautiful place, especially where we live.

Tree falling

arborist up a tree
It’s a long way up, even when the top is gone.

So… last summer we had a drought, and by the end of the season it was clear that we’d lost some trees. So today Tom the arborist and his assistant came in and took out four cedars and one fir. They were about 80 feet high.

arborist leaning back on climbing belt

(He also whacked a whole bunch off the willow over the garden, but that’s a different story.

chainsawing through trunk while hanging on climbing belt
Usually they take them down in woodstove-sized pieces, but we need them for a project, so they took them down in bigger lengths, aiming for 20 to 30 feet.

It’s sad to see them go. Our yard is… quite different now.

arborist pushing over top of tree
Once you’ve cut most of the way through it just takes a push. (And a rope to make sure it falls in the right direction.)

Even sadder is thinking that if this weather pattern of summer drought keeps up, as it seems to be doing I’m betting there likely won’t be any cedars to speak of on our island in ten years. Our forests are already full of dead cedars, mostly youngish, but not all. They tell me the taking-out-dead-trees part of their business has been insanely busy since last summer. And it looks like the fire hazard will shut everything down even earlier than last year; we were lucky to get them here before the ban on powered equipment starts.

passages

DSC_9378

This is the art piece I have done for the Gabriola Arts Councils’ annual gala fundraiser. The work started with a chart of Gabriola Passage that included Drumbeg Park, so I decided that that was what I wanted to focus on, that and the idea of travelling and how you end up in the place you do. It made sense given the complicated story of how we came to be where we are.

"passages" art piece

It’s made from a cigar box (an actual cigar box, i.e. one that contained cigars) that was given to me by the artist Ross Penhall, whom I met in the dog-room of a ferry on one of my many commuting crossings between the Island and Vancouver. He’d just acquired a batch for his own work, and very generously gave me a couple of them. When this project came up I knew that I wanted to use one of them. Thanks, Ross!

"passages" art piece

The photos are all mine, taken at the park.

"passages" art piece

The words are sampled from Drumbeg Park, by Naomi Beth Wakan, who kindly gave me permission to use them. Thanks, Naomi!

"passages" art piece

In the end, the meaning of the piece changed considerably from my original intentions. Really, this is a piece that is all about kindness and generosity, and the passages from one place or state to another that bring the interconnections that situate us at the centre of our very own maps.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Well.

Today I went to check out Gabriolan.ca, and found this:

I’ve shut down Gabriolan.ca.

It seems that this is necessary in order to maintain my privacy. I’m sad about that, but some people don’t accept or respect the fact that there are good reasons for wanting to be anonymous on the internet.

I’ve enjoyed the chance to share things with you over the last seven years. The articles, photos, and comments you contributed were a gift to me and to everybody who stopped by to read the site.

… Best wishes to all of you. To the kind and respectful readers: thank you for enriching my life.

-Gabriolan

I am beyond furious about this. This was a great site, I found so much of interest there; it was one of very few blogs I read regularly.

And it’s been shut down because of concerns for privacy. And for me this is a hot-button issue.

Here’s the thing: there are a lot of good reasons to be private on the internet, i.e. keeping your identity and/or personal information private. Here are two (of countless) recent examples of what happens to people who are not anonymous and who annoyed someone on the internet.

And this kind of harassment—let’s call it stalking, because that’s what much of it is—has been going on for MONTHS.

For some people it has been going on for years.

And yes, most of it might “just” be assholes behaving like assholes (and why is that okay anyway? why is it somehow okay to be an aggressive asshole if you are pointing your assholery at someone who is anonymous?). But the point is that the recipient DOESN’T KNOW what’s a creditable threat and what isn’t. (Does the name Elliot Rodger ring a bell?) Consider this: A redditor succinctly breaks down the fear behind “credible threats” with regards to safety precautions/leaving home. This is the reality of the experience of online harassment for many people, and not just people who are prominent and well known.

But here’s my main point: why the hell should someone else get to decide whether your concerns are realistic or not, and make the choice of whether you should be anonymous or not?

My opinion? You don’t get to choose for someone else.

Gabriolan is a private citizen, expressing their views on matters affecting their community and way of life. Private citizens get to remain private if they so wish, for any reason or none at all. No one gets to make the decision of how private we should be for me, for you, for Gabriolan, or for that matter anyone anywhere. They don’t get to decide for any of us what we wear to market, or what locks we do or don’t put on our doors (virtual or otherwise). They don’t get to decide what name I put on my driver’s license, for that matter, much less what name I hang on my website. If they are not comfortable with the names we’ve chosen to use within the spheres in which we move, their (honest and civil) options are limited to ‘sucking it up’ and ‘sucking it up harder’. (They could also grouse and whine, but that’s merely being petty and human, rather than grossly self-centred and reckless.)

“Outing” someone in any way—making public any information about them that they have chosen to keep private—is not “honesty.” It is solely an act of aggression. It is punishment. It is someone admitting they cannot counter another’s views or position using reasoned argument, and therefore they will silence them using whatever underhanded weapons they can bring to bear. It’s flipping the gameboard and setting fire to the pieces because you can’t stand the idea of others disagreeing with you.

There is nothing to stop anyone with engaging with ideas and opinions from an anonymous source. (If someone won’t allow you to do so using their personal platform, there’s nothing to stop you from creating your own platform and arguing from that.) Ideas and opinions require neither identity nor anonymity; they stand on their own. Insisting that people do not have the right to be anonymous is not an argument with the substance of their ideas; it is the opposite. It is in fact detached from the substance of the ideas, and a red herring. It is bullying.

And that claim I have seen so often, that anonymity is the refuge of cowards? Applying it to everyone, without knowledge of individual circumstances or context, is the height of privileged arrogance and entitlement. And given what’s in the news about online harassment these days, I think it would be very, very difficult to make that claim without being disingenuous in the extreme.

New trails

green flagging tape hanging from a branch
The important thing about hiking on a new trail seems to be a good ability to spot green flagging tape.

This has been our week for exploring new trails. A few days ago we hiked the new trail in Cox Park, and today I decided to take Our Dog out on the new trails in the Haven Woods, which just opened up to the public with the acquisition of a GALTT trail licence.

We’d already been on trails there a week or so ago, and had explored quite a bit. But there’s a side trail marked on the map that would make a good loop, so I went looking for it. I didn’t find the end closest to King Road, but I found the other end.

woodland trail with flagging tape in the distance
See the tape? Yes, it’s about that easy to see in real life.

It’s very pretty. In this part it’s actually fairly easy to see the trail itself as the trail had been cleared a bit.

Other parts aren’t quite so easy to follow, though the trail is usually more or less visible once you see where the flagging tape is pointing you…

woods with flagging tape and no apparent trail
Er, trail?

Eventually the trail decanted me into a clearing with some lovely big old maples.

bigleaf maple

After that came fifteen minutes of looking for the next piece of flagging tape; I did find it eventually, but the route had degraded into an overgrown deer trail and it was clear that major bushwhacking would have to happen. I considered doing it, but within 50 feet fell flat on my face in dense salal because I couldn’t see where I was putting my feet. (Luckily dense salal makes a nice bouncy floor to land on.) So at that point I decided discretion was the better part of valour and retraced my steps.

I understand there’s a GALTT workparty to clear the rest of this trail this coming weekend. I’m looking forward to exploring the whole thing once it’s a little easier to navigate. It’s a lovely walk.

A hiking and cycling map of the 707

Pericat has put together a wonderful downloadable map of Gabriola’s 707 Park, with additional detail maps of sections of the park. They’re sized to work on iPhones or other handheld devices or you can print them (there are black and white versions for greyscale printers). The maps show which trails are suitable for cycling and which are not—or at least, which require higher levels of skill and a significant degree of attention—some of those trails are windy and only a foot wide!

Snow events

looking through patio door to fallen trees

Monday Feb 24, noon:

This is the current view from our dining room patio doors. I just watched these trees crashing down from the neighbouring lot—more exciting dining entertainment than I usually get at lunchtime. I guess the fence repairs this year will be more significant than usual.

I’m so very glad they didn’t come down 30 degrees to the right, or I would be wearing the skylight.

And it’s still snowing. Hard.

—————

Tuesday February 25th, late afternoon

So.. what has been happening in our neck of the woods?

Continue reading “Snow events”

Is that a promise?

trail marker says "erratic trail"

The 707 Community Park on Gabriola has been installing trail markers. I had to giggle when I saw the new sign naming the trail I’d been on. Well, yes it is…

Sky rock barnacles

white sky, pink and ochre rock, then barnacles at the bottom

Canadian World Oceans Day is June 8th, but Gabriola celebrated it yesterday. I thought it made sense to post a photo relating to oceans yesterday in honour of the event and I think I’ll just keep putting up ocean-related images through the 8th. (Why not make it Oceans Week? Oceans Year? Heck, make it Oceans Lifetime. Someone’s got to do it, since the government clearly won’t.)

In any case, today was grey and showery but also had a very, very low tide (0.0), so I headed down to the shore to see what I could see. At a very low tide you can walk way out on reefs and mud/sand flats at Descanso Bay.

In the middle of the uncovered bay, resting on the lower sandstone reef, is an enormous boulder. The bottom is covered in barnacles, and, on the north and east sides, mussels. The top has layers of lichens. The middle is apparently no-man’s land. A nice combination of colours and textures.

Toque time

power outage map

There are a lot of things I love about living in a rural environment. One of the downsides is that power outages can be a significant problem. We decided as soon as we moved here to invest in a generator, and it’s been a blessing. A power outage hits, we turn on the generator and flip a switch, and hurrah, we have power.

It’s limited—the generator can’t power everything—but it does allow us to run essentials like the fridge and the gas stove that provides heat and the water system and a few lights. (We can run the cooking stove with or without power, as it’s gas and can be lit manually.) A couple of extension cords and we can run our computers; and assuming that cable doesn’t go out too, we remain connected. (This is critical for Peri, who works online shifts, and important for my work as well.)

So it’s not too bad. My office, in a renovated carport, isn’t terribly well insulated, so it gets pretty cold. I’m currently wrapped in a blankie and wearing a toque and finally beginning to warm up.

But although living in a rural environment might mean a few extra power outages, living in a rural environment with a generator means that when a major storm hits, we actually do better than people in cities. We lost power just after 7 this morning. But I suspect we’re happier than many today: the news reports about 56,000 people without power all along the coast, and the map is showing a whole bunch of outages in the Lower Mainland. (I’m particularly happy to have made it home yesterday before the storm hit—I hope our friends who are supposed to come home today from a ski trip manage to make it.)

All because we’ve been hit by a major windstorm, one that has exceeded predictions, and at 8 am the weather forecaster said gusts might peak at 120 kph. The current forecast is that we’ll have power back by 4 pm.

Power outages, trees down, ferry cancellations… a chilly office is not so much to worry about.

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