Friday, November 29, 2013

Party Preparations

Putting on a party when you are single is a challenge. I decided to focus on preparing the space and had Vancouver Community College make the sandwiches. I am getting the cake from the Bon Ton, the only bakery in town (other than Patisserie Bordeaux). I got a big Diplomat cake; their specialty. But even though I got the food catered, I had to get it today and store it overnight and that meant having an empty fridge. All the prep is kind of fun. This party is a no-Costco zone.
I even tidied my closet.

The tank is ready and looking as good as a new garden can.

I'd had this red silk forever and I got inspired to just hang it on the wall with clear push pins you don't even notice. Then I hung my Buddha on top of the fabric. This is my entrance corridor.

This is more silk, but in the living room. It is less noticeable than the bright red, but I love having fabric on the walls. Hmmmm…. a peu de Versailles, maybe?

The fridge is jam packed with sandwiches.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Photos from

Got up, turned on my computer, everything normal and then CRASH. No more hard drive. In the past, this would have fried me. I would have had, for certain, a migraine. But not today. With automatic backing up and a spare computer (my laptop) I have been, for the most part, up and running.

I unplugged my machine and took the bus to the Apple store. To the genius bar where the stupefying young man had an apprentice learning from him and who said, "I am learning to be a genius." Humble.

The Apple diagnostic procedure and customer service is as other-worldly as the young man who helped me. I came home in minutes and my computer will have a new hard drive by the end of the weekend. Awesome. But thank God for this laptop. I got all my end-of-term marking done today.
Because Opus has ended my contract, I can de-list from the GST/HST registry starting in 2014 so I asked Opus if I could submit my last three columns in 2103 and invoice for them in order to keep my income low in 2014. Scott said "yes." So I am done. After over 28 years, I have written my last Opus column. Talk about end of an era.Talk about a luctravie contract!
Saturday morning I teach then I come home and get ready for a party here. My first at this address and I have invited 40+ people to my one bedroom space. But I think it is going to work. Thank God for Saint Caterer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm Having Thanksgiving with Billy

"Billy's making a penis with his vegetables!"

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

If I didn't know this wasn't Liberace, I would swear it was. This is a photo of a Betta that looks exactly like him; Liberace has the the same blue/salmon coloration. It is from a series of photographs of Bettas taken by Thai photographer Visarute Angkatavanich and you can see more of them  here.

My tank is on a timer. The lights automatically come on at 11:00 am and they turn off at 9:00 pm. I get up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 am and it kills me to have to wait until 11:00 each morning for the lights to go on. When they do, I am there looking at every plant and fish. I feel exactly like the little boy I remember being who, when he got his first guppy, spent all night in the kitchen waiting for her to give birth so I could see it.

My fish are the perfect contemplative focus for me when I come home from visiting Chris A. in the palliative care ward across the street.

Monday, November 25, 2013

And here I thought God made snow.

Once the physics is over, you can see God's Walt's team's work.

Friday, November 22, 2013


The fish went in today. Last night I had to take a dead guppy out of the holding tank and when I did, I also caught a healthy female so I put her in the tank and lived with horrid anxiety that she might die. I do not want to cause death.

But this morning, I was as happy/excited/relieved to see her swimming alone in the huge tank so I caught another female guppy in the holding tank and them together in Big Bertha. They swam together immediately. So then, a few more. Then a few more, and then to the store to get a couple of snail eaters and voila mes amis, c'est fini. But not really. The planing is like any new garden. In three months it will be what was envisioned when planted.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Loch Loranger Monster

Up at 5:30 to finish some marking and write my last monthly column, after 28 years, for Opus. Then, when the sun came up, a favourite moment of the day — turning the aquarium lights on and feeding the fish with Leon watching me. But pooey; dead female guppy and another female guppy swimming in a peculiar way and clearly not destined to live.

I went into emergency mode and did a big water change in my mid-size tank and I did a filter cleaning as well, just to be safe. And, I added a little salt to the water. Then I did the small tank. Then, when I was restoring some seasoned water into the tank, I saw the creature below in the tank into which I had bailed it out of my tank.
It's a dragonfly larva.

I caught the larva and took it to Aquariums West to find out what it was. The egg must have been on a plant I put into the tank three months ago because I have added no plants since. From Aquariums West, I went for lunch with my friend Gilbert with whom I went to Mexico in 1974. Then I went to visit my friend Chris in Palliative Care at St. Paul's. Once back home, I finally ate and tidied up the mess from all the emergency water changing. The second guppy died and now number three is showing sings of being off. Ah well, I have a zillion babies growing in the small tank.

But I do not take these deaths lightly. I do not like to cause death of anything. I took the dragon fly to the store where it could hatch and fly. My tanks have a cover so it could not escape to fly. The deaths are distressing. I obsess on watching their progress, hoping for a miracle.

Watercolour & Dr. Who

Artist and filmmaker Richard Swarbrick has created “50 Years in Time and Space,” a stunning animation that captures some of the best moments in the history of Doctor Who.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Animating Still Photos

By manipulating still photos from the WWF archive we created these stunning slow motion shots. We have created a stand alone film by combining the 'parallax' shots from 2 existing films produced by AD Hoc Films for WWF.

Animation/compositing: Make Productions
Producer: Daniel Glynn-Ad Hoc Films
photographic credits:
Client: Ad Hoc Films for WWF
Music: Snow Patrol "What If This Storm Ends?" (Aaron Static Remix)

Here is a link to how it was made.

Girls Who Read

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I have always been fascinated by space. There is a newer trailer about this film with the title "In Saturn's Rings" on Vimeo that I cannot download. This version gives a hint of what is to come.
  1. Today I was so overwhelmed with responsibilities I could not stay focused on any single one of them. I felt like I was walking on the moon it took so much force to stick to the jobs at hand: marking many student assignments and re-working my lesson plan for tomorrow; organizing several meetings and enlisting more participants for my fundraising forPAL Vancouver; doing the bi-monthly aquarium tuneup with Costin; seeing the surgeon about the operation I am supposed to have; getting X-rays; visiting Chris in the hospital.
  2. I could barely stand the wait for Costin to get here because I thought my fish would be going into my new huge tank, but no! It will be another two weeks before the aquarium has gone through the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate cycle. Damnation, this wait is testing my maturity.
  3. I went to Dr. Mann, the Ear, Nose & Throat specialist my asthma doctor sent me to. That led to a CT scan and then I heard nothing. When I next saw my asthma doc, he asked me; "How was the surgery?" I had no idea what he was talking about. He called Dr. Mann. Dr. Mann called me and told me to come in to arrange for surgery for sub-cranial polyps. Today I went in and he tells me my polyps (plural) are actually a cyst and, therefore, assuredly benign. I bail on the surgery.
  4. My physio guy says he can do no more. He says it is likely arthritis in my hips and to see my doctor. I see my doctor. He says it is likely arthritis in my hips and to get some x-rays. I go to the x-ray department and have to wait. While I wait I decide that I do not want to know right now if it is arthritis because if it is, it can't be fixed. Ergo: no hope. So I bailed on the x-rays too.
  5. My play is not going to happen at a theatre next year. Pacific Theatre may offer me a development deal wherein they dramaturge the script with me. I would like that and I love that the pressure is off and I am closer again to being a retired (un-busy) person.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

American Thanksgiving

Dear Chris

The St. Joseph's Grade Eight Girls Field Hockey Team. Actually (back row; left to right) Chris, me as the coach, Steve, my ex and in front, Mel (left) and Eric. (It was Halloween.) Chris was the jock, Steve was the bad girl, Mel was the academic girl and Eric was the pious girl.

It's Sunday. Late Tuesday night my friend Chris went into the Palliative Care ward at St. Paul's. His only wish is to never be alone so I go for a few hours every day. Each day he has 20 - 30 visitors so he is happy. Every day has been different and today was difficult for everyone. I am either seeing rapid decline or the dramatic result of significant pain medication or both. Hence my absence from this blog and my acute awareness of the beauty and brevity of life.

Friday, November 15, 2013

F. You Aleck Baldwin


I made much of my living from technical writing. I am proud of my level of literacy and I have always loved, above all other writing, the Gettysburg Address. Not a word is wasted; every word is perfect and  at the Getty Museum in LA once, I saw many of Mr. Lincoln's hand written speeches that predated Gettysburg laid out chronologically in a case. In these speeches are lines that became part of the Gettysburg Address so you can see the speech evolve. The words move me like no others.

So with all the talk — ALL the talk — about Rob Ford, Mr. Lincoln is back in my mind and might do well in your mind too! These words demonstrate more beautifully that once politicians were eloquent thinkers, writers and orators.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Okay Seniors, let me hear you roar!

Imagine going for a walk in one of the most beautiful cities in the world in mid November and walking without a coat to the bank and having to excuse yourself to the teller because sweat is running down your neck. It was sunny and hot in the sun today. I got a mild burn on the top of my head. IN NOVEMBER!

I am itching to see fish in my new huge tank. There are too many in my holding tank but until the water is tested on Tuesday, the tank is a no fish zone. The plants are looking great inside. I see growth and it looks beautiful but there is thick scum to be removed that has been secreted by the wood. (It was expected.)

I am having a party at the end of the month. I have not had a party for five or six years. I am having it catered and renting glasses. I wanted to impress people with my tarts but it would be too much work. I have invited fifty people to my one bedroom apartment. It will be tight.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From Japan - Design Capital of the World

The human imagination never ceases to amaze me.
Link to a film of how this movie was made.

Monday, November 11, 2013

We Could Be Heroes

You may not realize that cancer currently takes the lives of a quarter of all dogs and one out of every eight cats. In this video from Ontario Veterinary College, the dogs sing We Could Be Heroes to raise fund to fight canine cancer. If you donate to Pet Trust, Purina will match your donation.
  • Early into the film you will see three Pulis — 2 black ones and a white one (that may be a Comondor) — and each time I see them I cry because of Bela, my sadly departed best friend. He was a Puli and the best dog I have ever had.
  • Wait till the very end for a fabulous punchline … after the cat, after the logos...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Am Seriously Loving Puddles the Clown

Heaven: A Day With Nothing To Do

I've no idea what kind of tree this is, but it bears beautiful seed pods at this time of year.
I need lots of time alone so that I can have times like today. I started my day by walking the seawall and it was spectacular to be walking 13 kilometres without any pain at all. And it was wonderful to be doing the walk in a t-shirt and sweat shirt. I had to take my coat off because I was too hot and it is the middle of November.

There were huge schools of birds on the water and the ocean was flat calm. There was hardly anyone on the seawall but there was lots of birdsong. It was wonderful to be walking again.

Then I came home to a great lunch of leftovers.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dinner Party

My friends Patti, Annabel and Barry came for dinner. I enjoyed my usual relaxed pace making this meal:

  1. I got a non-pork pate and saucisson for an appetizer with gossip.
  2. The salad is beets and caramelized pecans and goat cheese with vinaigrette.
  3. Halibut wrapped in prosciutto (except for Annabel) on risotto with white asparagus and spinach puree as the main, with whole carrots and chanterelles.
  4. Apple tart and ice cream and more gossip.

Cooking the white asparagus is challenging. You have to get it out of the package, wash it, put it in boiling water for 3 minutes,  lift it out of the water, put it in ice water, lift it out of the ice water and dry it. Then you have to lift it into a butter mix. All that without breaking the very brittle vegetable. 

I tried the chanterelles a new way. Baking them in chicken stock and cream with shallots.

The risotto.

I've made the halibut dish before. It's marinaded in rosemary, thyme and salt, wrapped in prosciutto and baked then served on a bed of risotto with the asparagus in between. Carrots and chanterelles on the side.
Best tart yet!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


We did it. What an awesome day.

Costin got here about 10:00 and stayed until 3:45. He set up the hardware for the pump, filter and carbon dioxide pump and the put all the sand and gravel in the bottom. Then we went to Aquariums West to get the rest of the supplies — the rocks and plants. It was really fun choosing the plants. It was like a birthday or Christmas.

Costin will be coming every two weeks to do maintenance. He is an actor. I am ecstatic about that. For the next two weeks, no fish go in the tank. For two weeks, we let the plants take. Then shrimp and other algae eaters go in and then a few days later, my fist get their new home. Have I mentioned how excited I am? I though walking was fun. I thought baking was fun.

Costin setting up the tanks.

Doing the planting.

The new aquatic garden. What has not been installed yet, is all the grass that will cover the black sand you can see in this photo. Several of these plants will grow up to be the full height of the aquarium. What you see now is raw. In three months it will look like a long established aquatic paradise.

Seriously Excited

Click to enlarge.

I feel like a good boy on Christmas morning. "Good" because I am awake and all my presents are under the tree but I am not touching them, as instructed, until my parents (who like to sleep in) wake up.

I emailed Costin yesterday about our date to set up my aquarium today but got no answer. And I called him and left a message but no answer there either, so I was not convinced today would happen. But then, at about 10:30pm, an email arrived saying he'd be calling this morning. I am so ready!

The poster above is for a party I am having. (I took the dates and my address line out because this is the internet.) I am not a party person, but for some reason the muse has hit me. The party, in my mind, celebrates several things: My book becoming an official Canadian best seller (in 90 more sales), my play under consideration in two Canadian theatres and my 66th birthday — none of them shabby reasons. But the real reason, is my big new aquarium.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Resonant Chamber Animusic Video

Who Are These People?

Click on the image to enlarge it; see how many people visited this site today.

FUn With Photos

Friend Dana adapted one of the photos from my walk yesterday, one I really liked. He made it quite lovely.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

People Like Forsythe and Parov Stelar

I have a business related blog that gets, to my mind anyway, a lot of hits. It's three years old this month and has had 146,000 visitors. On average, it gets 200 visitors a day. And this blog for a few friends had 400 visitors today!!!

It has to be because of Forsythe's dancing to Parov Stelar. So here is Forsythe again, dancing to Brotherswing's Caravan Palace.

A walk in the Park

I did it. I walked the seawall. My physio said "Yes" to me trying and taking it easy and since it was a stunning day, I went for it. It was one of those Fall days where you are sweating in the sun and freezing in the shade. It was gorgeous in every way.

No News — Good News?

I am blessed with a Guardian Angel named Cindy. She stepped forward to act as an agent for my play. She has great faith in it and it was her pitch to Pacific Theatre that has me on pins and needles.  When I visited her in the summer, it was seeing a Beta in a fish tank at her house that got me back into having fish. So Cindy has had a great and positive influence in my life.

So I sent her photos of my new tank to thank her for her influence. She had no idea about my renewed passion for fish. and this is what she wrote back:
"FYI...will be sending an email every two weeks to Kaitlin and Ron re: Have they read Knock Knock?  Sent one last week and they hadn't read it yet.  Will keep knocking on that door...pun intended. :) I know in my bones that Knock Knock has a future...Looking forward to seeing it!"
Can you beat that? It moves me to be gifted with such faith by a virtual stranger.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Kid Again

I did not have a happy childhood. Enough said. But one of my earliest memories of joy was getting an aquarium. Partly, it was having my own “pets;” partly it was the private ecstasy of being alone with them in the dark of my bedroom after my parents had gone to bed. I would turn the aquarium light on and it would glow like a pod from space in a science fiction movie. I’d watch the fish with the same hypnotic and delicious meditative fascination as I watched flame flicker in the fire.

My fish took me to another world. I loved their elegant movements and their gorgeous colour. And I loved how they would come to the top or the front of the tank when I’d approach. They’d think I was going to feed them but it made me love them for acknowledging me. I felt we had a relationship of trust and love.

I think that is why I have taken so strongly to fish again. I am feeling all those joys again. But yesterday when Liberace was stressed, I was too. We’ve been through a lot together and I want him to enjoy his fine new sixty-gallon home. I was thrilled to see him relax later in the day.

What a treat it has been letting this passion flow.

Big Daddy

On the left in this photo, is the home of all my fish. I have no idea how many there are now (not including babies); there must be about twenty, some very small. But there are at least five babies left in this twelve-gallon tank.

In the little tank on the shelf are about thirty babies. I can take them back to Aquariums West for credit towards fish for my tank when they grow up. I love watching them grow more than anything else because the colours come in slowly. This tank is six gallons.
The dark tank — BIG DADDY — is at the back. It is a sixty-gallon monster and in that cabinet underneath is the filter and the carbon dioxide pump that feeds the plants. The top has four full-spectrum florescent bulbs that also help support the plants. I am not getting any new fish so my wet friends will love all the space. My large sofa givces you a sense of the scale of the tank. What you cannot see here, is its depth.
And this is the look I am going for. This is another tank that Costin, the designer I have hired, did for a tank the same size as mine. It will take three months after the planting to grow to a density like this but I have invested in all the materials and equipment to create something like this. Neat eh?!

Friday, November 1, 2013

This is what cool looks like.

Song: All Night. Music: Parov Stelar. Dancer: Forsythe
Check out six posts higher (Sun. Nov. 3) for more of Forsythe.