House for rent, Hastings-Sunrise

We’re renting our home near Nanimo and Hastings, on the bike route. Both the upstairs and downstairs suites are available for October 1, 2012. UPDATE Sept. 7. The downstairs suite is rented but the upstairs is available.


It’s a quiet neighbourhood (no traffic noise.)
Safe for kids.
Kind, responsible neighbours all around.
Local elementary school is Garibaldi Annex with an intimate, caring K-4 program and an innovative homelearning program.
Walk the back lane’s and see how generations of families have grown food in the city.
Fabulous local food shopping and restaurants along Hastings St.

About the house:
New drainage in 2006.
New roof in 2005.
Heating and insulation upgrade complete by October 1st, 2012.



Full of perennial food (raspberries, currants, gooseberries etc) asparagus, rhubarb herbs, flowers and art/craft materials. Care of garden will be negotiated between us as landlords and residents of both suites depending on interest level. There’s lots of room for annual vegetable gardens.


About the suites:

Upstairs: $1450 plus 60% utilities
900 ft2
2 bedrooms
Kitchen and private back deck face south over the backyard. Front yard patio.
Freshly painted this summer.
Gas Fireplace in living room
Storage closet on main floor plus overflow in downstairs laundry room.

Downstairs $1050 plus 40% utilities
850 ft2
2 bedrooms
New floor in living room.
Note: ceilings are 8 ft in living areas but shower in bathroom is 6.5 ft.
Private patio onto the back garden
Big closets in both bedrooms plus unheated 35ft2 storage room (good for root cellar!)

Interested? Call 604-707-0337 and ask for Keira.


After the fire

It’s been a doozy of a month for many I love. We met Jacinda and Leon and their baby Maddy when Harry was a baby. We live close, we celebrate our milestones and holidays together. Maddy slept over the night her sister Phoebe was born and we went to meet her together, just a few hours after she arrived.

We live far away from our families and that’s only possible with friends like these. They bring the joy. And endless practical help.

A fire broke out at their house, started in the dryer. Jacinda was sound asleep but woke up, feeling hot. She looked out the window to flames and screamed “FIRE!”

Maddy flew down from upstairs, Jake and Leon grabbed the girls, whatever coats they could from the front door and escaped to the street. They watched as flames engulfed their home and all their belongings.

Fire trucks arrived, blocking their car, and so they ran up the street to us. As we would have done.

We got through the first few days, alternately giddy with relief and shell-shocked. Offers of help came from near and far and most of our activity, once our school community and their extended family met their immediate needs, was answering the phone and emails of all those who love them.

Soul Sister on a bed of rose hips One of Jacinda’s hand-crafted Soul Sisters on a bed or rosehips, harvested last fall from their wild and lovely garden

The next wave of support rolled in. Tawny, one of the many fabulous souls they’ve introduced me to over the last 9 years, set up a website with a list of their needs to get re-established. It’s a wiki, a website that we can all edit. So we can add in what we can share and they can keep track of the needs that are being met. It takes a lot of help to start again.

Here it is:


p.s. The title of this post is borrowed from Jane Rule’s great novel: After the Fire
I hope you cross paths with it someday.

Primordial soup, a thank-you to the Flaming Lips

Photo by strangejourney

I saw a swarm of mosquitoes hovering today

flying in drunk tired circles

stupid in the late season

There’s breeding ground a-plenty:

garbage can lids under pots of earth,

overflowing with rain water

mini ponds in low, sodden footprints

but I tracked them to a crack in the lid of  5 gallon plastic juice bucket

Inside a stinking brew of  weeds

water rich green, primordial soup

I remember now: a splash of olive oil on top of the weed tea prevents this

Tip it over, wave goodbye, no tears at the

mosquito graveyard (where the garlic grew)

There’s death in the garden. I’m  always murdering something when I’m out there. Slugs get it the worst. Right through their soft bellies with a sharp stick. I don’t show much mercy to aphids and their nasty leaf-sucking ways either.

However, it’s all hand to hand combat and I don’t focus. I’m opportunistic and lazy. I’m picking greens for dinner or throwing a bit of mulch around, thinking peaceful garden thoughts (or anxious thoughts about money or bored considerations of what to make for dinner) and then GWAH HA HA…!

What I need are  more predators. Garden snakes eat slugs. They’d be more consistently motivated.  But it’d take some doing to get a habitat corridor going in this neighbourhood that would support a snake population. A snake learning party? Invites all done up with skull and cross-bones with a big X through the slug? T-shirt tie-in?

Photo by photogirl7.1

Gardening, from a permaculture perspective anyway,  gets you thinking about sex and death pretty much all the time. A permaculture garden provides the setting for a frenzy of fucking, birthing, eating and dying. (I liked when farmer, story-teller Michael Ableman said last year at his talk in North Van that we we are missing the boat trying to interest people in sustainable farming by talking about health and abundance etc: it’s SEX, SEX, SEX all the time people. But then again, you start with sex, you get to death and in that little human conundrum there lies the story of how we got to the hyper-controlled rows of veggies jacked up on fertilizers.)

I spent yesterday’s late afternoon out there in the end of September sun; warm enough for bare skin, humming the same song over and over, like an am transistor radio in the 70’s


Do you realize

that everyone you know

someday will die

and instead of saying all of your goodbyes

let them know you realize that life goes fast its hard to make the good things last

You realize the sun doesn’t go down

it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning around

The Flaming Lips know what’s up. They share it generously with balloons and confetti and smoke and LOUD, BEAUTIFUL noise. I loved hearing the new Embryonic songs live and loved, loved that Steph was there with me.  We’ve been listening to new music together since we met in grade 9 but its been a million years since we’ve been able to go to a gig together.

It was perfect- well a drink or two would have made for more unrestrained dancing but as Wayne points out there’s trade-offs to the Malkin Bowl. You get to rock out in a forest cathedral but they kick you out at 10 and don’t serve booze.  Isn’t that just like real life.

Thank-you Flaming Lips for another magic show in our forest, in the heart of Vancouver. ’til we meet again, in the meantime,  I discovered you’re all on twitter…

photo by draggin

photo by draggin

Growing Traditions: Sharing gardening knowledge across generations

The elders in our community have abundant knowledge of gardening practices. My grandparents grew up on farms on the Prairies during the Depression. Growing food and composting were facts of life. But as this generation of gardeners retires to smaller homes, their knowledge is leaving us.

At the same time, so many people are getting excited about growing their own food. Maybe it’s the recession, or maybe it’s just time: new parents want to teach their children how to garden, and flower gardeners are starting to cultivate food as well.

This year, the Sustainable Living Arts School, in consultation with the Edible Garden Project, is  working on a small garden mentorship program funded by North Shore Health. The Growing Traditions project is a small pilot program designed to help us learn how elders and new food gardeners can share their knowledge. We would like to learn how garden mentorships work, experiment with how learning parties can support these relationships…and get families growing food!

A big thanks to Stacey Friedman and all the participants of Intergenerational Landed Learning at UBC Farm who welcomed us to join them for a day of Landed Learning fun at the farm. We also took the opportunity to crash in on  Diane Johnson, who managed UBC’s Trimentoring Program through its start-up years.  They both asked great questions, created a context where we could ask what we needed and well, mentored us for a day.

The project is looking for experienced gardeners on the North Shore who would like to mentor newer gardeners. We’re also looking for families to participate – newer gardeners who would both contribute to and benefit from a community connection with an elder gardener. The mentorship would occur from June until the end of September.  At the end  families and elders will share their knowledge with their neighbors and friends by hosting a learning party.

Do you know anyone who would like to do something like this? Interested participants or those with any questions are welcome to contact Tricia at 604-842-3251 (please leave a message) or email growingtraditions(at)

The Great Farm Trek April 7

This from Andrew Rushmere who has curated a great  Sustainable Living Arts School learning party series and who has been on the front lines of the Save the UBC Farm Campaign over the last year. Please distribute this far and wide to all your Vancouver friends:

Save the Farm: Join the Trek!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

3:30 pm into the early evening

Come help celebrate the UBC Farm and its future! It has been a great year for the farm, in terms of recognition, awards and media attention. However, the future of the 24 hectare farm is still not clear, so it is time to come together to show our unified support for a bright future for the Farm. We

This is a celebratory, family-friendly event. We want thousands to join us as we trek from the UBC Student Union Building (SUB) via the Board of Governors meeting and then on to the UBC Farm.

  • For directions, Trek route, and parking instructions, please see: (you may have to refresh the page a few times to get the Trek banner). Also  on Facebook: Great Farm Trek 2009
  • If you can’t make it until after work, we will be shuttling late-comers by bus from parking areas near UBC Farm directly to the Trek crowd anytime between 3pm and 6pm. After 6pm, the crowds will be located at the UBC Farm for festivities.
  • Bring costumes, music, banners, posters, spirit, kids, moving art shows, farm love, floats, hot air balloons, circus performers, sandwich boards, party favours, whistles, bells, dancers, fire twirlers, clowns, bicycles, novelty cars, trapeze artists, scooters, painted school buses, TV Camera crews, and other sundry fun items.
  • Oh yes, bring snacks, water and weather-appropriate clothing. The event will happen rain or shine!

During the Trek we will have Vancouver’s own ever-wacky and danceable Carnival Band, the high-energy percussion ensemble known as Sambata, Papa Thom from the Shepherds pie tour 09 and much more! At the UBC farm there will be music (the soul-quakin’, boot-shakin’ bluegrass boys of the Agora String Band, and the hip hop alt country tom waits-sylin’ Blackberry Wood), food, addresses from David Suzuki and others, and a ceremonial planting.

Contact if you have questions.

We can’t wait to see you there!

I want yellow and blue wings

I am pulled into my back. Nubs of wings want to sprout.

It fucking hurts to grow wings out of this calcified chest cage.

Pushing, through flesh, wounded thin at the surface. Sap oozes, trickles down and pools, a little ocean, a salty bath for all the micro-organisms living in the small of my back.

The body absorbs.

The sea evaporates and is renewed,

one inch less.

Millions live, millions die. This goes on for a long time.

The  salt tang, the liquid pooling, the body absorbing,

water sliding, sap oozing, forming eddies.

Taste snaps me back:  this is a spiral pulling in on itself.

Something vital is being drained while I lie, face down in this cool, sunlit room. Rest does not follow this waiting.

There is a depth,

and a wide open sky,

a golden field stretching to horizons.

I need to walk it. On and on, through the day, sipping water, warmer than my breath, little laps to make it last.

Ahhhh, another blast in the middle of my mouth, stretching me thin into a wisp of cloud.

Vapour calls to vapour, clouds coalesce, densify

and rain over me,

my naked body, lying flat on a field of rape yellow, blue flax in my mind’s eye,

tongue out, waiting to receive.

Sneaky plans underway?

I heard from a couple of neighbours that they have “known” about the London Drugs expansion for a long time. The office of our MLA, Shane Simpson, says they’ve been aware of plans since 2007.

London Drugs corporate headquarters wouldn’t deny there were plans to expand, but emphasized there was nothing “in writing”.

There is no formal development application as of yet. I hope that global economic melt-down means that plans like this will also magically melt away. But the strategy to clear the block of long-term tenants like Tevere Deli is obviously going ahead. When their leases are up, the rent is raised beyond the point that existing businesses can afford.

New businesses have been offered short-term leases, and are all aware that some kind of future development is coming. Whether that’s London Drugs taking over the block all the way down the Bank of Montreal, or London Drugs paired with an IGA grocery isn’t clear because nothing about this process is transparent.

Why in a global recession would you want to get rid of a great, little business like Tevere Deli? Perhaps because once long-term tenants are gone, and new tenants’ short-term leases expire, the opposition to  upcoming development plans is crippled and the way is cleared for expansion.

I’ve put in a call to the city to find out more about our community planning process and will share that information here.

Ultimately we as residents and small businesses and folks who work at organizations in the neighbourhood have to ask ourselves where we want to live and work?  Do we want a neighborhood that supports small, local businesses? One in which small business compete and co-exist with franchises and mother corporations? Or do we give the place over completely, as so many other communities have?

There is a cost. Main streets can and do die. I grew up in suburbia. I spent my 20’s on Vancouver Island when the big boxes sprouted up on the highways, destroying the downtowns. I lived near Broadway and Commercial as the small businesses left and the chains moved in. None of these places felt more safe, welcoming or prosperous as a result of the changes.

It’s bizarre to me, at a time when the business pages every morning give yet more stunning examples of the fragility of globalization and its accompanying money scams, that any of us still believe turning the block over to corporations would promise salvation from “seediness.”

I’m no more a fan of cheque-cashing businesses or pawn shops than most of my neighbours. They exist to exploit the poor. And clearly in Vancouver, where so many of us move too because of its beauty, we like things shiny and new, apparently prosperous. But when we dismiss it all as “seedy” we also dismiss viable businesses with dingy signs that reflect what  a new Canadian without much start-up capital can achieve.

But it’s not our choice what businesses choose to expand, some say. Well, why not? We have community plans, even a “Visioning” committee for our neighbourhood through the city? Do we want more small businesses like Wheelhouse Seafoods where you can bump into a local farmer dropping the meat she raised herself, or more of London Drugs selling more cameras and small appliances, manufactured way outside of Canada?

I’m interested in creative ideas of how to express those choices, ideas and visions for our neighbourhood  like the carrotmob actions where a network of consumers  buy products in order to reward businesses who are making the most socially responsible decisions. I’m following the work of entrepreneurs like Toby Barazzuol of Eclipse Awards and the Strathcona Business Improvement Association in the Downtown Eastside who spends time meeting with arts groups, and building green rooves to grow food, as a way of revitalizing his neighbourhood for business and residents alike.

More ideas please!

London Drugs plans to swallow my neighbourhood

There is a London Drugs in my neighbourhood on E. Hastings St in the beautiful, crazily expensive, but ever more cash-strapped city (thanks Olympics!) of Vancouver, BC.

You can buy a vacuum there, a rubbermaid tote, toothpaste, contraceptives, drugs, computers, cameras, batteries, cosmetics, stationary, junk food, camping gear in summer, cookware, toasters, blenders, hallmark cards and holiday decor according to the season.

London Drugs is big on the street already, bigger than any other store.  But not big enough. They plan to take over most (or all?) of the block to the west. They want to  dominate Hastings, our main street in this little urban village of Hastings-Sunrise. Or maybe it’s an IGA coming in- the rumours are flying, in the absence of any clear consultation.

Tevere deli is gone already to my shock. I heard from another of my favourite shop-keepers that “it’s a done deal and that even the businesses didn’t know about it until too late.”

Are you mad yet?! It’s not over. The liquor store between Slocan and Kaslo is now privatized. Done again overnight with no public consultation. The landlord refused to sign the lease with the BC Liquor Store. Across the street a huge new mental health facility is being built (I’m fine with that, being a fan of all forms of health) with a massive NEW SHOPPERS DRUGMART.

We chose this neighbourhood  because we could walk here to buy groceries, stop at a cafe, get a key cut, visit the doctor,  go to school and greet people I recognize and who recognize me along the way.  Small businesses are key to what makes this neighbourhood great.

I love buying from shop-keepers who own the stores they work in.  I love that there is a mix of stores on this street; from independent dollar stores, to Donald’s and all the other fabulous green grocers, to Wheelhouse Seafoods who now sell a full range of non-medicated meat, to Le Petit Saigon– my favourite pho in Vancouver, to the Cake Master bakery/optometrist shop to GreenRoom Yoga, owned by my teacher Alix, who also lives in the neighbourhood.

It’s not perfect for sure. We could make it safer, we could encourage more of the kind of businesses and services we need. But I feel deeply lucky to live here where some small businesses are able to thrive.

This is when I would like some super-hero activists to sweep in and make this go away. The cost of “fighting a battle” is that we don’t get the time to create the peace. I’ve got ideas and energy for that right now! I don’t want to spend time beating back the corporate behemoth that wants to swallow my neighbourhood.

I don’t even know what to do but write this. But I mentioned this on Twitter and Barbara said “boycott ’em all. Picket them.” I mentioned it to my 6 year old  and he said “we got to tell everyone and get it in the newspaper.” (He learned a few lessons from the successful community fight to save Garibaldi school last year.)

I’m up for something fun and powerful. Any ideas, energy,  or previous rabble-rousing experience you’d like to share? Please also share any up to the minute information…lots of rumours are circulating about the plans for the block.

The View from Barcelona #1

This is a joint production of Harry and I, photos chosen by Harry. He also had final authority on the text.

We start the day at a cafe where Harry drinks his hot chocolate, usually from a bottle but sometimes in a glass. He is now a confirmed cacaolat maniac. Grammie and mom prefer cafe con leche.

Cacaolat maniac

We were very excited to see some of Gaudi’s buildings and designs in person after pouring over a Gaudi book that Brian (Harry’s dad) brought back from his trip to Barcelona last year. Gaudi was inspired by nature. He observed the curves, waves and arches that we see in trees, shells and bones.

Fractal Growth

Curved forms

Gaudi's Inspirations

This was on the roof of Casa Milà, also known as “La Pedrera” which means the quarry in Catalan. Catalan is the first language in Barcelona but everyone speaks Spanish too and many have a bit of English.
On the Roof

Harry ran these stairs fast as lightning to the bottom.


Each day before we got out, or after we come in, Harry does a bit of school work with grammie.

Guess what? Spiderman lives in Barcelona!
Spiderman lives in Barcelona!

That’s all for now- school’s out!
School's Out