Wednesday, May 27, 2009


i have my old job at the bike store back.
my plan for the summer is to get ripped.
(and have many bike toys.)

off to a good start with both the biceps and the knog frogs (as seen above). i think they look like octopuses having sex.

cass is also biking this summer - pictured here setting up her spiffy bike computer among a few of my household's many sets of wheels (six bikes in one corridor!)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

island hopping

cass and i had an ace camping trip to hornby island last weekend. hornby is one of the little islands between vancouver island and the mainland, north a bit of vancouver. it took us about seven hours to get there, involving three buses, three ferries and a half hour walk through forest, but it was a beautiful journey.

the island is very small and mostly forest. it has a beautiful rocky coastline and lots of garry oaks, arbutus trees and red cedars. there's also masses and masses of bald eagles (which we had planned to see - one must always set a wildlife goal for these sorts of trips). we met a local who was all "pfft, eagles!" but we couldn't be that cool.

cass spotted this one, squawking and flapping. we watched it for ages, til it flew off the edge of the cliff and over the sea:

and here's one in its huge messy nest:

and here, if you go to this website, you can watch an eaglet and its parents in real time. eagle cam! on hornby island!

the eagles are so beautiful. we saw two sitting on rocks on the shore line, just watching for fish. it's funny, when they catch your eyes you automatically feel kind of guilty, like they're going to tell you off, or fly down and carry you away. they have presence, that's what.

here's two pairs, circling quietly over the trees:

on one day we explored the urban parts of hornby. here's the main drag:

that's a sweet little bookshop on the left, and some nice hippy clothes on the right. there was also decent coffee and nice pottery, and a co-op.

many of the gulf islands are also famous for their recycling depots and attached free stores. hornby island's is very well organised, and, on the day we were there, very well attended.

the islands tend to be populated by hippies, and the small community combined with a pack-it-in, pack-it-out policy means that they're very aware of consumption and waste. thus, recycling! water is also an issue, and it was difficult to find clean drinking water to fill our bottles. some places you could pay at a coin-operated tap.

the toilet at the depot was really cool:

we walked the long way back along the beach (cass says she's not that much shorter than me, but was leaning against the rock):

we camped good. cass is a gearhead nowadays, so we had lots of interesting equipment, including this temperamental but tasty coffee maker:

and we had a fire and marshmallows:

on another day we did a day trip to denman island, the next island along. we had lunch next to a stand of old growth forest, and cass did revolting things to a banana and some nice dark chocolate.

it was very quiet and still, and there was a blue heron fishing:

(this is looking east, you can see the mainland in the distance.)

on the way back from denman island we climbed a mountain to check out a lookout on hornby island. see, here, if you look beyond my bad bad hair, we're looking west. the dark green lump behind is denman island, and the misty mountainous lumps behind that are part of the mainland of vancouver island.

this is looking south. there's the tip of denman island and the little island south of it, with the lighthouse on. (if you look very closely among the trees on the left you can see a little cass!)

it was super windy up there:

we did a lot of walking (downside of a very small island is no public transit!) and a lot of eating, and, oh, how could i forget?? we saw these luridly coloured starfish everywhere! and banana slugs! the starfish are carnivorous! crunch!

then we caught the ferry home again. this is pulling into horseshoe bay, on the mainland again. here we're looking north, up the sunshine coast.

as always, it was a bit of a hassle being back in the city, but i have my lovely map to look at now, and new trips to plan.

and, um, a new font. huh.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

what i'm reading

i've thoughtfully grouped the books into comfort reading, research and personal projects, with the images+words texts behind.

comfort reading is that book that everyone knows, plus tamora pierce's new novel bloodhound, which i bought yesterday and finished today. it was very good comfort reading. one knows that the goodies will win, magic has its price and women can take anyone out in a physical fight if they train hard enough.

the right hand stack includes a book about the haida gwaii (islands in north BC, on the way to alaska), the good ol' lonely planet guide to canada, a book about cycling around the maritime provinces (far east canada, PEI and nova scotia and so forth), anne mustoe's rather annoying books about cycling around the world (picked it up at a garage sale for a dollar) and cycling around british columbia. i leave you to draw your own conclusions.

my research stack is 50/50 foucault and children's literature criticism. i'm doing a directed reading with my new supervisor this semester, rather than taking a course. i get to read stacks and stacks of kidlitcrit! the foucault is a personal summer project. i've decided that i've spent enough time name-dropping the man and not enough time reading his actual texts. postmodern me up one time!

mattland is an unusual picturebook in that it is drawn in the first person: we see what matt does from his perspective, and never see his face, only his hands and feet from above, and one time a muddled reflection in a puddle. it's an interesting counterpoint to perry nodelman's discussion about how in picturebooks one often reads the words in the first person ("i jumped so high!) and looks at the pictures in third person (illustration of a girl jumping) and how weird that is.

islands in the salish sea: a community atlas is a beautiful book i picked up on our weekend trip to the island. it's a collection of the most lovely hand drawn community maps of different little islands between the mainland of BC and vancouver island. the maps have an emphasis on indigenous heritage and ecological issues, and make me both want to explore all of the islands and never visit any of them again because of my environmental footprint. those urges are also about 50/50.

what are you reading?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

get your vote on

BC had a provincial election the other night. it was interesting in a depressing kind of way.

we had a "get your vote on" critical mass, which i attended as the voting fairy:

despite all our efforts, there was only a 41% voter turnout, which is shockingly low, i think.

chicory's human, my roommate (who i am going to christian Mr. Fix-It), and i went to a pub on the drive to watch the election results come in. we bullied the bartender into switching one of the tellies over from the hockey (luckily the canucks just got booted out of the finals, or there would have been a riot) and steadily sank lower and lower on our barstools as the right wing Liberal party got more and more seats.

there was also a vote on the table about bringing in a preferential voting system instead of keeping the "first past the post" system BC currently has, and that was soundly defeated as well. the greens got 8% of the votes this time and not one seat.

i like the fact that none of this was my fault, though. it's relaxing. we were the only three people in the bar interested in the election. chicory's human tried to engage the waitress in discussion on the topic. "i'm an american!" she says. "so am i! *she's* australian! he's the only one here who can actually vote!" chicory's human says, pointing at mr. fix-it. "i tried," he replies.

Monday, May 11, 2009

more bloody knitting

look! i made socks!

and see how well my garden is growing! strawberry flowers!


it was cass' bday on the weekend (happy birthday, cassandra!). my household had drinkies and a big cooked breakfast and yesterday we all went on a big ride to steveston. it was about 40k there and back, beautiful sunny day. here we all are spread out along the richmond dyke:

now i'm still pottering on with job hunting, reading and departmental politics. it's quite fun in a gentle way.

it's raining again.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

fan-squeeing is not okay

ah, nanaimo, land of nanaimo bars. nanaimo bars are. . . no, actually. i'm not going to tell you. there's a recipe here. you must discover the artery-clogging goodness for yourself.

i had another conference last weekend. this was a children's literature conference, and i was talking about a local book banning incident, which took six years of court cases to end up with Asha's Mums still not allowed in the kindergarten. you can find some information about it on wiki. wait for my article to be published to read the rest!

the conference was pretty sweet. my talk went well, and i learnt some interesting things from other people's presentations. but, BUT, i got to hang out with one of kidlitcrit idols! and i went to dinner with both guest speakers! and *didn't* say "i've read all your books! eeeee!" which was very restrained compared to other people at the conference who brought their books to sign. anyways. yes. exciting.

nanaimo itself is pretty dull. the locals call it "land of the box store". it's kind of like bacchus marsh or something, except situated on a stunning BC coastline, with little islands dotted all around, and a distant view of the snow-capped mountains on the mainland.

it's also cherry-blossom-time again:

i took an extra day after the conference and went for a bike ride round gabriola, island of nature and back to the land style hippies.

it was a really nice bike ride. gentle rolling hills, huge trees, fresh salty air. it only took two hours, and i took it slow. everytime i stopped i saw something beautiful. i saw deers and fawns, sheep and lambs, great fluffy alpacas, bald eagles, lots of northern goshawks (beautiful big birds of prey with speckled wings), several great blue herons flapping up from dams, their long legs dangling behind them, a northern flicker (a kind of woodpecker) and american robins everywhere.

everyone's all friendly on the islands (even nanimo, which is on vancouver island). cars shared the road with me, and i had lots of rather intimate chats with people on the ferries and in coffee shops and on street corners.

on the ferry back from gabriola i saw three white sided dolphins leaping out of the water, very close. it was stunning.