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Spring Gillard
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Grousing About Grouse

grousesunsetMy Dad was in town for his 83rd birthday last weekend. He is always treating us and not one to let us celebrate him. But this birthday was different. He had been wanting to have dinner at Grouse Mountain for a long time, and we finally had our chance. The weather was picture perfect.

When we arrived at the gondola area that would carry us up the mountain, we weren’t sure where to go. There wasn’t any signage directing us, at least not that we could see. Half our party was still at the car gathering kids and bags. We went into one of the buildings and joined the queue. I couldn’t see the Skyride ticket prices there either, only ski lift tickets. When I got to the counter, I told the woman staff person that I wanted six tickets, one was for a four year old child. When she told me the total, I gasped. It was $44 per adult. I don’t want season tickets, I quipped. All the activities are included, she said. Oh, like the grizzly bears? I asked. Yes, and everything else. Okay, I said.

Meanwhile, the other half of our party, thinking we’d gone ahead, had just taken off in the gondola. They’d gone to the ticket booth where you can pay just before you step aboard. No line up there we learned later. We also heard afterwards that my brother was banging on the window trying to get my Dad’s attention as he took a photo of the gondola leaving. We spent a few frantic moments searching for them and finally reached them by cell when they got to the top.me&dadgrouse

Once we arrived, we put our names in at the Bistro restaurant and went for a stroll to take in all the activities. The grizzly bears were nowhere in sight, much to the disappointment of my nephew. The lumberjack show wasn’t on. The Eye of the Wind wasn’t operating (a ride up the wind turbine). The zip lines cost extra and so did the chair lift. Walking around appeared to be the only activity that was included in our peak experience; fortunately the views were breathtaking.

We headed back to the restaurant only to find that they were so understaffed on this perfect late summer evening that the seating with the best views was roped off. We waited a long time beyond our 7pm booking. Fortunately, we were finally seated on the patio and had a wonderful waitress who helped to make the evening memorable for us. When we got chilly, she moved us inside to a booth with a killer view.

The ride back down was worth the price of admission. It was a crystal clear night and the lights of the city glittered beneath us as we descended. My Dad said it was the best birthday he’s ever had. So yes, it was worth it, but likely a once in a lifetime event at those prices.

Beach Furniture

beachartThis wonderful beach furniture was created by Hugo Franca of Brazil. It’s part of the Vancouver Biennale, a public art exhibition that takes place every two years and includes sculpture, media and performance works by established and emerging artists from around the world. The functional sculptures are located at Spanish Banks. See some great pictures and more detail on the art here.

Citizen Scientists

bamfieldThe David Suzuki Foundation is looking for volunteers to help with monitoring the radioactivity in the water on our BC coastline. We aren’t hearing about this potential in the news too much, but it is still a grave concern. Details below. Photo: Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre.

Become a citizen scientist and test the (Fukushima) waters in your community

Concerned about the health of our oceans? Why not become a citizen scientist in a project to monitor low-level radioactivity arriving on Canada’s West Coast from Japan’s 2011 tsunami and Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster?

Volunteers are being recruited now to collect monthly seawater samples from 14 locations between Victoria and Haida Gwaii. The David Suzuki Foundation is helping the InFORM network find volunteers for the three-year commitment in Port Renfrew, Bamfield, Tofino/Ucluelet, Nootka Island/Tahsis, Winter Harbour, Port Hardy, Bella Bella, Hartley Bay, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii, Salt Spring Island, Powell River/Sunshine Coast, Vancouver and Victoria.

You’ll be helping fill an information and monitoring gap that’s left many people concerned. Local groups of citizen scientists will be trained to collect 24-litre seawater samples for radioisotope analysis and recording of properties like seawater temperature and salinity. Results will be communicated as widely as possible. The project is built on the OurRadiactiveOcean.org model. While radioactivity levels measured have been low, it’s important to monitor seawater because radioactive isotopes continue to be released from Fukushima.

Learn more and apply before September 30, 2014.

Quelling the Violence Within

nitobeThis thought for the day comes from Eknath Easwaran, Sept 7th entry. He describes the only real route to peace.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.  – Martin Luther King

All of us can play an important part in the conquest of violence. We can do this by throwing our full weight behind peaceful, effective programs for eliminating the situations from which violence arises. But just as importantly, we need to do everything we can to remove every trace of hostility in ourselves.

The violence that is flaring up on our streets and in many corners of the world is the inevitable expression of the hostility in our hearts. Hostility is like an infectious disease. Whenever we indulge in a violent act or even in hostile words, we are passing this disease on to those around us. When we quarrel at home, it is not just a domestic problem; we are contributing to turmoil everywhere.

A teacher of meditation in ancient India, Patanjali, wrote that in the presence of a man or woman in whom all hostility has died, others cannot be hostile. In the presence of a man or woman in whom all fear has died, no one can be afraid. This is the power released in true nonviolence, as we can see in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Because all hostility had died in his heart, he was a profound force for peace. – Eknath Easwaran

Park It

Photo: http://parkingday.org

Photo: http://parkingday.org

Love this annual event that transforms parking spaces into parklets. The one day happening takes place all over the world. This local temporary park initiative is put on by the Vancouver Public Space Network (VSPN). Details below.

Park(ing) Day is an annual celebration that takes place around the globe. It invites participants to creatively re-imagine metered parking spaces as… parks, mini gathering places, theatres, dance floors, landscape installations, art stations, you name it! It’s a challenge that’s been producing some excellent results since it was first started (in good ‘ol San Fran) back in 2005.

2014 will mark the 7th year that the VPSN has held a Park(ing) Day event in Vancouver, and this year, as always, we’re looking for volunteer assistance to make it a success.

The event takes place on Friday, Sept. 19. For more information contact Aateka Shashank at aateka [at] vancouverpublicspace [dot] ca.

Make Change

The United Way is sponsoring an innovative changemaker training program for non-profit groups. Deadline to apply is October 10th. Info below.

Are you a changemaker and want to help strengthen your organization’s capacity to advance social change? Organizations applying to attend this training program must be from the non-profit sector, active in the areas of social or health-related services and interested in affecting public policy change in those areas. Enrollment is open to organizations from all regions of the province.

This program is specifically designed to help non-profit leaders and their organizations increase their knowledge of the public policy process and their capacity to influence it. Monthly two-day sessions will be delivered over a six month period; from January to June 2015. A dedicated and very experienced cohort, the opportunity for shared learning as part of a small cohort of 25 sector leaders and an applied learning approach with a manageable course calendar make this a unique capacity building opportunity.

United Way starts accepting applications on Aug 13, 2014 and the deadline to apply is Oct 10, 2014. For more information please visit the program webpage. To obtain an application form, please contact Yves Trudel at: yvest@uwlm.ca

Apple Ganza

appleposterSpotted this nice local apple festival in the Grandview Woodlands newsletter this week. There’s a wonderful line-up of fall events, this one included. If you live near Callister Park, go pick some apples next weekend.

Air $upply

Photo: http://www.sideofsneakers.com/2010/05/07/bike-mechanics-101-change-a-tire/

Photo: http://www.sideofsneakers.com/2010/05/07/bike-mechanics-101-change-a-tire/

I guess sucking the life out of the earth wasn’t lucrative enough, now gas companies have turned to selling air. Yup, local gas stations that used to offer air to cyclists and car owners alike, now charge for the privilege of serving themselves to the compressed air pumps and tire gauges. In an article in the Globe and Mail, the company that services the often broken machines, defends the companies, claiming repairs are a real cost. And besides, they say, the gas conglomerates give some of the money to charity. I guess the shareholders get the rest. Fortunately, many bike shops share their pumps with cyclists – no-holds-barred.

Berry Suspect

strawberriesI went to pick up some local blueberries from New Apple Farm the other day, my local green grocer. I want to freeze some berries so that I have plenty for fruit cobblers through the winter. I could only see the California berries, so I just picked up a few other items. When I went to cash out, I asked about local blueberries. The cashier told me the ones in the plastic Driscoll containers were the local ones, they had just recycled the containers. The California strawberries that had been in the plastic boxes were now in green paper boxes in the display outside; those boxes are usually for the local fruit. Although Driscoll’s was written on the sign above the strawberries, I’m sure many people thought they were a late local crop. Sure, local strawberries look different, but not everyone would be aware, neither would they necessarily know that Driscoll’s = California. There was also a tiny sign above the blueberries indicating that they were local, and if you really looked, you would see that there was a “strawberries” label on the package. When I examined the blueberries closely, I could see they were starting to go. It’s harder to see the rotting fruit when it’s encased in plastic. The cashier kept insisting it was all because they wanted to recycle. I wasn’t convinced the reasons were environmental. What do you think?

Groovy Granola

granolaI know, two recipes in a row. It’s a sure sign of my busy-ness when that starts happening. I’m adjusting to working full time, writing my MA thesis on weekends, and keeping up with household chores. This great time-saving and delicious recipe comes from my good friend Megan. I make a big batch of her groovy granola every couple of weeks. I have some in the oven right now. Smells so good. At first I laughed at the small serving size, but Megan was right, it’s enough. I have mine with soy milk, and sometimes add a banana. Or sprinkle over fresh fruit and yogurt.

4 cups large flake, old-fashioned oats

1 ¼ cups nuts or same amount mixed nuts and coconut (I use cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds & coconut)

½ cup brown sugar (could reduce to 1/4 c)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup oil – Crisco, coconut or grapeseed

¼ cup sweet – honey, maple syrup or agave syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine first five ingredients in large bowl. Combine final three ingredients in small bowl and mix well. Add wet to dry and mix well. Spread on two rimmed baking sheets. No need to grease them.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, stirring and rotating pans every 10 minutes, until golden.

Add raisins, dried cranberries or other fruit once granola has finished baking.

Store in tightly sealed container. You can also freeze it.

Serving size is ½ cup.