Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Each year, I take this day to decide on one change I can make to walk lighter on this planet. What kind of practice can I start that shifts my way of being in the world? Each time I take out the compost, I am delighted that I have been able to live in places where I have a place to put compostables.  This I have done for over 20 years.  Considering that 40% of landfills are full of compost, recycling it into the earth makes a lot of sense to me.

Part of this day, I was listening to stories of what other people are doing in the world.

  • In Invermere, BC - the local high school (David Thompson Secondary) has decided to expand their lunch program where they create their own meals to include growing their own food.  They have built a greenhouse for year-round growing. 
  • A new movement in Nelson called Edible Nelson are encouraging people to turn their lawns into vegetable gardens.   At this website people can register their names if they are looking for a yard to share or if they have a yard to share.
  • Ontario has introduced legislation today to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides on lawns. 
  • There are many Earth Day events happening including on Saturday in the Kootenays.
  • Here's what is happening more nationally.  Here are the 10 top actions to honour Earth Day.
  • Starbucks is offering a free cup of coffee for whoever brings in their own cups on Earth Day.
As for me, I haven't picked my Earth Day good habit yet.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter Sunday in San Francisco

Easter Sunday in San Francisco began innocently enough. After the traditional Easter egg hunt (isn't it curious where the last one is hiding), Ryan made breakfast, and then we set out to explore the city. Our plan was to check out Chinatown, which is apparently the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest one in North America.

We caught the F-line which took us down Market Avenue to Grant where we walked up to Chinatown. We ate at a sushi place, with a definite Easter-egg-shape to the dinnerware...

Perhaps we should have taken the before picture?

We walked and shopped, and landed in a gelato place where we had a lovely visit with a newbie to SF - John. He told us a good deal about mechanical engineering. While I was sitting, I noticed that my knee was feeling a bit wonky.

We said goodbye to our new friend. We had 2 hours before our arranged Skype-date with family in Winnipeg.

At first, it was all pleasant, though I was walking slower with the tender knee. The sidewalks are mesmerizing in that they sparkle in the sun, like diamonds....

As we walked along, we decided on a splendid plan. My last time downtown this trip would be punctuated with a ride on the cable car. We walked several blocks and I dug out my $5 bill. After a wait, the cable car came up the hill, but it was full. The operator shouted for us to take the next one. Ryan checked on his iPhone; we had 8 minutes to wait. The weather was a bit chilly so we stayed in the sun. The next cable car came along, and it was full and didn't stop for us.

We abandoned the idea of the cable car. A bus. We walked several blocks to the bus stop. And waited. Ten minutes later, a bus arrived. Full. It passed us by.

Here is a place we passed along the way....

Our next plan was to walk to Fisherman's Wharf and catch the F-line home. So we walked and walked (I more like hobbled and hobbled). We piled into the streetcar, and I met 4 lads from England who just came back from Alcatraz. Several blocks down the road, our driver said, "End of the line. Everyone off."

So we all piled off our double car and crammed ourselves onto the next single car.  2 l/2 hours after the decision to go home, we arrived.  We had a delightful visit. With webcams, you can:
  • show your new purchases or gifts
  • give a tour of your home
  • make distorted pictures of yourself that makes your mother laugh and laugh
We said farewell, and got in Ryan's car for our trip to Trader Joe's, my first for this visit. Apparently, Trader Joe's closes early on Easter Sunday; I swallowed the disappointment and focussed on dinner. Part of the trip was to pick up our dinner and so I suggested that we go to the King of Thai Noodles; Ryan declined as he goes there frequently. His idea was for me to do take out. Groovy to me. Ryan parked outside, and I hobbled to the restaurant and to the server. "The kitchen closes at 9 pm." I looked at the clock - it was 9:05. The server offered to go and talk to the cooks, but it was a no deal.

And that is how we ended up eating crunchy tacos for our Easter dinner. At home, I opened the Taco Bell take-out bag, and sat in front of HDTV with an ice pack on my knee. I was grateful.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Touring the Bay Area

The second day of my Easter break was spent touring. We headed north over the Golden Gate bridge into Marin County. We decided that this was a good place to turn off...

The first stop was in Corte Madeira where we visited Book Passage...

This is a lively bookstore that hosts several writers' conferences every year, many readings, and keeps a buzz on much that is happening. I think I saw a picture of Obama in the masthead.

Next, we set out for Oakland. On the way, we passed this place.

In Oakland, we found the clothing stores I had originally seen in magazine advertisements over 20 years ago, and a mighty fine pastry shop close by where we picked up cookies.

Then we found the freeway, with impressive greenery...

We wound our way again to the ocean to see the sunset, but the clouds stole the view. We walked for a while along the boardwalk as the wind was cold. It reminded me of a comedian who made a comment about a man who could withstand gale-force winds. He said, "It isn't THAT the wind blows, it is WHAT the wind blows." In this case, it was sand being pelted on the sides of our faces. I, of course, was wearing capris.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Beach Day

April 10th

We arrived to the beach late, due in part to a headache and secondly, because we chose a beach miles away from here. The plan was to go to Half Moon Bay but we landed further down the road in Pescadero State Beach, about 44 miles along Highway 1, which winds its way along the ocean.

"Do you want to go for a walk?" Ryan asked. Seasoned to the northern California weather, he had brought the kind of clothes that I left at home - the coverings that I was pretty much done with after a long and hard winter.

"Yes!" I was excited to walk along the ocean. I was grateful for the extra fleece I had brought. Fleece is not the best fabric for wind; if I was writing the text for the tag that went on clothing, I would say... for indoor use only.

Later, I found this suggestion on the state park website:

Seasons/Climate/Recommended clothing
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.

Good. I was now in 3 layers of clothing. My first clue to our beach experience was in the outdoor loo, the kind without plumbing. The wind was whirling around in there; no place I would say to expose skin.

When we meandered our way through the sand dunes to the beach, it was a busy weather day. Closer to San Francisco, we had seen surfers.

Glad I didn't spend a lot of time doing the hair that day.

The beach, as you may have guessed, we had to ourselves.

Luckily, we found shelter in a beach house...

And saw the sunset (very thrilling event for someone who lives in the mountains)...

Ryan, the-fellow-who-never-does-the-same-road-twice-if-he-doesn't-have-to, decided to follow the country road through the hills to get to the interstate. This was a l-o-n-g road that had many curves through dark forest - the kind of place where you probably wouldn't want to get stranded. After several miles, it was too much for my already queasy stomach; I was green. I offered to drive and that definitely helped, but I was quite relieved to be on the interstate - going in a straight line.

I notice today that there is barely any wind - I better get outside before it changes.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

April Begins

Thursday morning we woke up to... yep, more snow. This winter is getting old; the conciliation is that it has to leave. So it was with a new adjusted attitude that I set out my door with my camera. The snow flakes were intriguing in that they were in a cluster, like a group of teenage girlfriends at the mall.

A bit like a feather bed, I thought...

When each cluster of snow flakes landed, they collapsed like this...

It was all short lived. By the time that I left work, the snow was not only gone, but the streets were totally dry. Friday the car went into the shop because of this...

The windshield was originally hit by a rock a month after I bought it, on that damn Hope-Princeton. It was truly a reminder about impermanence as I washed and polished and shone my brand new car. The remarkable thing about the rock chip was that it stayed that way - for close to 8 years. And then this winter, it decided to spread its wings. With a brand new windshield (I can see clearly now - very), my plan is to stay away from other cars on the road.

The excitement of spring is everywhere. The cat lies on the windowsill by the open window; she dashes around as the birds land on the various trees. And today, we woke up to beautiful blue sunny skies. In the afternoon, the fireman and I swept off the walkways.

And here is the last of this year's snow...