Monthly Archives: May 2010

Saturday in Val David and the Laurentians

It was another lovely, warm day — around 23 degrees and a soft breeze when I woke up at 6am, feeling rested and more settled – Day 3 and it always takes a while. I love weekends. One of my strategies as a freelancer and novelist is to always take the weekends off from writing. I learned the hard way that without a break, one does burn out. Today, Flavia took me around to the many Vente a Garage in the area and I swear Vancouverites would die if they saw the antiques, the furniture and the paintings up for offer here. I bought a tiny painting and a rouleau a pate made of ceramic with a beautiful stitch pattern – $5.00. I also bought a Bruno Pelletier CD and a Daniel Belanger CD!

Pressback chair - $40, and Check out the large 'clock-radio,

Ou suis je??

After a successful morning of retail therapy we went in search of decent produce, without a lot of luck. I thought the Quebecquois would be as fussy as the west coasters about their fresh food, but apparently not and that is a disappointment. They still package food as if plastic were not a problem and the lettuce all looks to be about a century old…a total bomb for someone like me who lives on salad.

Next stop, the most incredible St. Adolph – a lovely resort town on a curvy lake lined with cottages of every size and description — many for sale or for rent and all so charming.

Ah, the good life

It's All I Need

Quebec traditionally Catholic

We stopped and ate something sinfully fattening at a little cafe before heading back to the Residence for more food and a nap…not bad for a Saturday 🙂

Lake water is silky and cool

Yes. Those things are snowshoes!

La blue de Quebec


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Oil Spill and Creative Thinking – Hay, it just might work!

Why not fill up a municipal swimming pool with oil and water and check out the hay method — sometimes it is the simple things in life that work and it seems like BP could and should accept all the help it can get since the mud-slinging isn’t quite going as planned.
Check out the video sent to me by fellow writer, Diane Haynes: (If you are passionate about wildlife, Diane is the author of an amazing series of Wildlife Rescue Books).

Hay – Problem Solved – Oil Spill Clean – Up

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Is CBC Being Paid to Advertise the IPad or is there just nothing going on?

Okay, (warning: little rant)
I listen to various radio stations sometimes when I work and today I am listening to CBC Radio 1 in Montreal. All day they have been providing apple with free advertising about Ipad. Give me a break — it’s a computer, it’s flat, it’s sold out…
Everytime someone buys an IPad, the store staff can be heard cheering in the background and the excitement of the other suckers (I mean shoppers) can be heard in the background.

I am not a Luddite, but nor am I a sheep. Do I want to be fully controlled by Apple. I don’t want to be restricted to Apple programs. I kind of like open source – something that was explained to me once that makes total sense. So, to answer my own question: Uh, let me think.
Until I see how the whole touchscreen thing performs, I will wait and even then, I might not bite at all.
And apparently it sucks as a reader…

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Pelican Rescue – Oil Spill Update from Audubon

It was a grim week for coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, as what has now been assessed as the largest oil spill in U.S. history washed up on beaches and filtered into sensitive wetlands, including seven of Audubon’s Important Bird Areas. The USFWS tally of oiled birds rose to 400, as Audubon volunteers continued to help shuttle victims to rehabilitation centers. Other Audubon volunteers throughout the gulf region provided the information that will be needed to assess the spill’s impacts and plan for the region’s recovery by observing birds in their backyards and communities and submitting their findings to

But Thursday morning dawned somewhat brighter. There was news that efforts to plug the 37-day leak were promising though the proof will be in the final cementing and sealing. And President Obama provided a critical reprieve for another sensitive area by suspending plans for exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean — a decision that thousands of Audubon Activists helped to spur on. Many thanks to all of you who were among them your voices helped make a difference!

Meanwhile, the devastating toll of the oil spill continues — and the challenges of recovery grow with every gallon. As we all fervently hope that the gusher has spewed its last toxic plume, we must not lose sight of the inevitable long-term impacts on birds, wildlife, sensitive habitat and Gulf communities.

That is why Audubon is so grateful for our volunteers, and for your commitment to both the speedy rescue of the birds already suffering from contact with the oil, and the protection and restoration of Gulf habitat for those who have so far been spared. As the recovery effort moves forward over the months ahead, so will your opportunity to put your passion for wildlife into action.

Audubon continues to deploy volunteers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, and efforts to ramp up volunteer monitoring and other activities are expanding throughout the region. These efforts include students who helped Audubon’s Pascagoula River Audubon Center staff assess water quality to provide a pre-oil baseline measure in anticipation of possible oil impact. Watch the video of their work.

Audubon magazine photographer Kim Hubbard joined Audubon Mississippi and Louisiana staff in Louisiana this week, and her photos, along with blog posts from the rest of the team, tell a compelling story.

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The International Writer’s Residence at Val David

I flew into Montreal on Wednesday. May 26th, my birthday. I ate an fab gallette on Rue St. Catherine before catching the bus to Val David (about an hour out of the city and in the heart of the Laurentians. It has taken me a few days to get my bearings and I’m still not settled into any sort of a writing regime, but that’s okay – I’m exploring, speaking French whenever I can and gleaning information from Flavia, the lovely Toronto/Romanian host of the Residence, and an accomplished poet in her own right. There is a large Romanian population here and a pretty piece of property on the Riviere Nord with a little house where Montreal/Romanians picnic on the weekends.

Val David in the woods

My bright, pretty room

Writing Table

Residence at Val David

The actual village of Val David is a ten minute walk and does not disappoint — cafes, shops, antique stores and many artisans and creative types — as yet unexplored — today I bought a loaf of wonderful, fresh bread and a CD by Daniel Belanger because he sings slowly and I can understand him.

There is a very Euro flavour here and most people speak only a few words of English, (I'm happy about that) and they understand me (I am even happier about that). This is a huge biking/kayaking,canoing centre and I wish I had someone to play outside with. Outside my windows, the Ravens scold and play reminding me of Dawson City. It is a good memory.

As the days go by and I fall into a routine, I will continue to report on this experience, but so far I recommend that those of you looking for a really peaceful place to write might want to consider and application. The beds are really comfy and even though it seems the house is in the middle of the woods, that is not the case at all.

There are bugs here, but apparently nobody else notices this!


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Thanks to your efforts, polar bears and other wildlife may be spared further harm from oil spills in the Arctic ocean.

Today the Obama administration announced that it will suspend Shell Oil’s exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer, a decision that reflects the concerns of millions of Americans that drilling in the sensitive Arctic Ocean is too risky.

To see a statement from Audubon Policy Director Mike Daulton, go to Audubon’s home page.

Audubon commends the Administrations pledge to proceed cautiously in the frontier areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off the coast of Alaska. Shell Oil was poised to start drilling in a matter of weeks, but the Administration has delayed issuing all permits to drill in the icy waters of the Arctic until 2011 to allow further study of proposed drilling technology and oil spill response capabilities. To learn more about the Arctic Ocean check out Audubon Alaska’s Arctic Atlas.

Thank you if you were one of those who took the time to send an emails to President Obama! There were many voices calling on the President to go slow in these sensitive areas and each one counted. We’ll need your help as we work to protect these waters that are so critical to birds and wildlife.

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Westjet My Fav Airline Wins Prestigious Award

Westjet announced today they have won the Airline Staff Service Excellence Award for North America at the 2010 Airline Staff Service Excellence Award, at the World Airline awards in Hamburg. Wow!!!

CEO Gregg Saretsky said, “Truly a momentous occasion for Westjet…” And he is right, as these are the only airline awards that are a truly, global independent passenger survey of airline standards.

Flying is Easy and Safe With Westjet. Keep on Truckin'

The competition:
Jet Blue
Virgin America

An impressive group to go up against!
Tomorrow I will be Westjetting my way to Montreal for a three week writer’s retreat in Val David!

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Lane Homes in Vancouver – Improving Density

Visit my Blog on Building a Lane Home in Vancouver – a step by guide

In the last year, we’ve been tossing around the idea of somehow changing our living arrangements to better suit our goals of smaller spaces, travelling and lesser carbon footprint. This afternoon, we spent a few hours with a company in Vancouver that specializes in the construction of “Lane or Coach Homes.” They take the project from start to completion, and build the homes off site so as to reduce the impact of turning one’s property into a full-blown work site.

I quite liked the idea, especially since we live in a neighbourhood where, at a guess, over three-quarters of the homes have basement suites and still it is difficult to find rental properties, We would be able to build a tasteful, minimalist lane house and rent it out (thereby covering the cost) and eventually move into it in time, rent out our main house and travel the world.

Choosing the Right Guys to Build Your House is Important

The name of the company we most like is: LaneCraft and they are quite new.

If we go ahead with this, I will be actively blogging and writing the experience and our journey will be on Youtube and everywhere else so that other’s like us can learn from the experience. In the meantime, if you have any comments, suggestions…let me know.

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Oil Spill Update – From Audubon (including Youtube vid)

One month after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, oil continues to spew into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is now being seen from Louisiana to Mississippi, and there are fears that the loop current will carry it up the Atlantic Coast. Read more.

While immediate impacts on birds and wildlife have not yet been as dramatic as many recall from oil spills like the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, fears of long term effects on birds, marine life, and Gulf coast communities are mounting—and Audubon president Frank Gill urged speedy Congressional authorization of necessary funding earlier this week (read statement). It’s clear that response and recovery will require long-term commitment—and that’s why we are so grateful to all of you who have volunteered to channel your concern, expertise and time into the recovery response.

This week, we continued to mobilize volunteers in the gulf coast states to help transport birds and provide other vital emergency services. We also engaged additional volunteers in bird and habitat monitoring activities. One of our Mississippi volunteer monitors put together a video report so that we could share his experience on a Mississippi barrier island with you.

YouTube Video

Be an advocate! The oil spill is a wake-up call about the need for sound energy policy that protects our natural resources, and your letters, comments and voice can be a powerful force for change.

* Urge President Obama to stop new oil drilling in the fragile Arctic Ocean. You can send a letter directly to the President at the Audubon Action Center.
* Meet with your Members of Congress while they are on Memorial Day recess. Let them know you want BP to be held accountable for the spill—and that you expect their leadership and support for policy that will encourage clean energy and prevent another spill.

Create healthy habitat for birds wherever you are. Many of the birds that migrate through the Gulf Coast nest and raise their young further north—and throughout the US.

* Audubon At Home offers many ways you can make your backyard bird friendly.
* Volunteer with your local Audubon Chapter.

Thank you for your continued support!

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Book Club – May – Ebenezer Le Page (Loved this book)

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by Gerald Basil Edwards. The best thing about Book Club is that every so often we get to read a book we normally would never come across. One of our ‘textettes’ read a review of this book in the London Book Review and decided to give it a shot. A slow start for me, but eventually I could not put it down. It was Edward’s first and only book and he wrote it very late in life and it was published posthumously. It’s set on Guernsey during the WW II when the Nazis occupied that island and when one reads the book, one is there.

A long, dense but very readable and engaging story. Recommended.

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