15 January 2019

Jan 2019 is here and almost gone. What adventures will the year hold for each of us?

05 February 2018

Travel tip: Take a selfie with your luggage

This is one of those habits that just makes sense. 

Take a photo of your luggage before you let it disappear into that black void. The black void, we've all seen it, where you've placed your luggage onto the moving belt (wheels up, of course) and watched it make its way to the rubber curtains where it gently passes through to the other side. But just what is on the other side - does it drop into a big metal container and get whisked away. Does it travel down an amazing route where it is gently placed into a cargo vehicle? All I know is that it just disappears.

  • Yes it is tagged.  
  • Yes it is secure.  
  • Yes it is packed correctly.  
  • But every now and then it simply doesn't make its way to the other side. 
  • It missed a connection. 
  • It missed a flight (so what if your other bag, checked in at the very same time, made it to you).
  • It got caught up in some strange check and will be arriving on the next flight.
  • Its luggage tag dropped off. 

It doesn't matter. All you know is that you are standing on the other end, after a 1hr, 5 hour or 3 day trip, waiting for your bag to magically appear. Sometimes is arrives within minutes but more often or not you are cooling your heels, along with dozens of other passengers, praying that the carousel will just start. 

According to Wikipedia: A baggage carousel is a device, generally at an airport, that delivers checked luggage to the passengers at the baggage claim area at their final destination. Not all airports use these devices.

The red flashing light starts, oh good,  you silently pray, the bags should be arriving shortly. 
New energy is released into the room, everyone relaxes just for a moment and, then, the light goes off and the baggage carousel shuts off - but not beofre only one or two lonely bags (with their priority tags)  has tumbled its way down the ramp and onto the rotating shelf. 

You wait some more. 
Check your messages. 
Go grab a free cart (thank you Vancouver airport for having free carts).
And hear the hopeful sound of the carousel starting up. 

Bags start to tumble out.
Every now and then you wonder how a pair of underwear has made its way to the conveyor belt. And you are pleased that those aren't your undies.
Bags land on top of other bags, black, more black, does everyone has a black suitcase?
They keep coming.
You spy one of your bags.
Rescue it.
And wait. 
Finally no more. 
And you are left standing there wondering about your bag. 

You finally head over to the lost and found counter for the airline you came in on. 

And they start to ask the questions: luggage tag number, flight number, was your name on the bag, and so forth. If you are lucky they locate it on their system. If not, well then more questions, colour, type, size, and so forth. 

I don't know about you but often I'll have to think if I took the blue suitcase or was it the red one? And I'm not exactly sure how to describe it. Well yes it had wheels (don't they all now?) and it was a particular shade of blue.  

Now if you took a photo with it, you now just need to pull out your cell phone, go to the gallery and find that photo that clearly shows which bag never made it. Perfect. So much easier than trying describe some funky bag. 

Travel tip: Take a selfie with your luggage  

31 January 2018

Moon Hunting

It’s January 31, 2018. I’m sitting at my dining room table, looking out towards the backyard at the rooftops where I can see the morning frost is disappearing into the blackness of the roof tiles. It is just getting light. I was up multiple times this past night, well actually early this morning, and by early I mean 2:30 AM, trying to catch a glimpse of the full blood blue Moon. 

First I was a little too early, then I ignored my second chance by hitting the alarm clock (after my partner telling me that it didn’t look any different yet) and finally when I got up at 6:45 AM it was too late.  I could not find the moon anywhere. Perhaps it has already left my sight lines. I did try to find it.  If anyone were to see me, they might’ve noticed I was wearing no socks, pull-on shoes, my long quilted jacket that I got from Costco Canada and underneath my flannel black polkadot PJ top. I’m sure that I look like some sort of crazed middle-aged women, walking briskly down the street with my binoculars, wondering if I would spot the moon at the next intersection.

Now I was moon hunting. I turned back to the house. I even got in my SAAB and drove down to the waterfront hoping to glimpse it. No luck at Kits Beach but it did remind me how wonderfully still the morning air can be, that there are actually people out there jogging in the dark, or walking their dogs down to the water, and that I need to get more active in my daily living. So much for the moon hunting. I did have the right morning as I orginally thought it was Jan 31st evening which would have made it Feb 1st meaning I would have seen nada - nothing - nada!

I will have to make do with the memory of the full moon as it hovered over my head at 2:30 AM in the morning and it had that curious cloudy hazy ring around it and bright brilliance that reminds me how small we really are. 

As for that elusive red moon, I will look on Twitter when I get home. I know that sun eclipse this past summer, was a huge event\in Vancouver BC. This particular moon eclipse didn't have quite the same impact, however I love full moons and I am always amazed by how they hover in my life whether I'm gazing at it in a snow covered field in Finland, from a beach in New Zealand or over mountains in Chile.

I missed this rare occurrence. The next one is a long ways off and there’s a good chance that I will not be alive to view it. This just means that I need to be more aware of the stars and the moons right now. I need to take the opportunity to absorb the full moon when it happens on a monthly basis. In February there will be no full moon, because there were two moons in January. And I'll go searaching for the full moon on Twitter.

This is all about lack of preparation. It is just a lesson for me to think about what do I need to do to be prepared next time. By now you think I would be old enough to know that. The one wonderful aspect of life is that there is always a next time. Nature is full surprises, and there are discoveries to be made every day. So I'm not going to beat myself up but I will try to find the hidden lesson. Later.

This post needs some editing. But I’ve decided to put it on my blog anyway. I spend so much time thinking about how I can I do it, what if my writing style is not correct, concerned that I will not know how to deal with Blogger or WordPress or if I will even remember my passwords to get on to my site. 
I’m also wondering why we are driven to share. Most likely it is part of us just being part of the global tribe and doing what everyone else is doing in this part of the world. Maybe it’s a way we think that we can leave an impact. Or perhaps the digital litter that we are leaving behind is all that we are doing.

Now I am going off rambling and what I was really trying to do was finish off my quiche (part of my pantry cleanup project), think about reaching out to new fresh produce clients and everything else. So I will post this piece as it is and perhaps come back later to it and edit it. The post I will do, and after I've posted I will do something else more physical. Just 10 minutes but that’s all I need. Just 10 minutes.

16 November 2017

Still my favourite currency site for Travel


After years and years of travel, I still love the Oanda cheater charts for traveling. Check it out here: https://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/ Scroll down the page until you see the title "Traveler's Cheatsheet" and then you can customize and print out the chart. The other feature I really like is that you can select a rate that includes the typical credit card rate or ATM rate.  It gives you wiggle room and reminds you to factor in those extra costs.

I'm sure you are wondering why, when everyone has their own smartphone, one would need this?

Oh let me count the ways:
  • it is printed on paper meaning that I can tuck it anywhere
  • it is easy to read in bright sunlight
  • it never requires a battery recharge
  • I can easily share it with others 
  • it is light-weight and no one is ever going to steal it

Sniff coffee for your senses

The scent of coffee arouses all sorts of feelings. I adore the smell of it - it reaches deep into my soul and awakens my senses. Sometimes I wonder if I even need to drink it - maybe I should just try sniffing the freshly ground stuff - the way some people sniff glue, nail polish or other nasty items that can do serious damaged to your brain - sniff coffee instead.

At one stage Finns used to dominate in terms of coffee consumption. Prior to hitting 20, I often reached for a glass of milk before I reached for coffee. It took a long time for me to develop a liking for coffee - I certainly don't need it. I'm one of those people who wake up 110% - that jolt of coffee just gives me a nice buzz (as long as I don't abuse it as then I just get the jitters).

Finns, with a country less than 6 million people, still sits on top of the coffee ground mound as the country with the highest consumption - almost 10kg of coffee consumed per person.  Italy and Canada are at about the same with 3.4kg of coffee consumed.Yet the coffee culture in those three countries is so amazingly different.


I think I acquired my taste for coffee when I was working and living in Antwerpen, Belgium - it was those darn cute biscuits and chocolate that they gave you. And I must not forget the steamed milk.  Nothing as tacky (or polluting) as a take away cup in the early 90s. I am sure that by now they have adopted our terrible throwaway habits. They may have adopted our wasteful ways. From my last visit to Helsinki, I see that they also are adopting that annoy9inghabit of having a need to carry a cup of coffee or a bottle of water with them.

When I moved to Vancouver in the early 90s, Starbucks was the big news - there was even two Starbucks kitty cornered to each other.  I was a big fan of Starbucks until I started to notice their desire for world dominance - that is when I started to back away. There is one minor incident that I recall: I was in San Francisco in the Castro section of town visiting my Dutch-Canadian friend Johannes. A local independent coffee shop had put up a notice stating that their landlord was kicking them out after being their for a decade or so. Why - well it seems that a up and coming corporate group provided a nice signing on bonus if they would lease the space to them versus the local coffee shop. That was when I started seeking out the alternative to Starbucks.

From a money viewpoint coffee was an expensive habit! I started to back away when I realized how much my one latte per day was costing me - enough for a yearly vacation! 

Even Queen Street West in Toronto seemed to lose their charming coffee spots but it seems to be returning back to the 'hood as I have seen hopeful signs in 2017.  Vancouver has an excellent coffee scene. And I've got a lot pleasure from seeing a long lost cousin open up a coffee roasting house and shop in Portland. 

#coffee #helsinki #starbucks

Building a successful photo blog - tips

Oh I hope this is worth the 45 minutes I'm going to listen to this #hangoutonair with David Hobby, Patrick Smith and Alain-Christina Seraphin. My mind is a bit like a sieve(I wrote this post in 2012 and have just got around to posting it) so I'm going to jot down highlights so that I can come back and review. I just checked the link and I'm glad that I did as it is long dead however I did find David Hobby here.

The first 8 minutes the guys chat about how they got involved. David has been exposing (not in the way you think, please and thank you) himself since 1996. In 2006 he was on flickr which he thinks is a decent community gathering place - now you have twitter, goggle plus, and much more. It becomes a vortex for you and gives you ideas - so keep exploring. 

Posting regularly: Patrick does it on and off; David suggests you don't want to post 5x a day as you aren't going to be able to keep it up. Go for consistency - Go for quality. Take some time to think ahead about what you want to blog - don't do it on the fly. (Coming up to 8 minutes)

For Patrick it is a visual diary - he tries to post once a week. Uses it for searching out his own work. The more I post, the more hits he gets. David has a lot of followers so he is much more regular in his postings.

I'm hoping to find their sites fairly quickly so I can check them out. Here is one site that is still up and running (the video I'm watching was posted July 17, 2012) Strobist It looks like a cool site as it is the entry point to all kinds of educational pieces on photography and lighting. Oh cool, it looks like he has some training videos on www.Lynda.com which I am currently a paying member of. I am no longer a paying member of Lynda and Strobist still offers some great info. 

Meeting people in real life: David has participated in meet ups and Patrick has bumped into people at places like camera stores. Both of them have had gear swaps which sounds kind of cool as you can try out gear with a virtual friend and find out if you like the equipment. (coming up to 13:30)

Oh dear I'm now at the 23:01 as I went off to check out David Hobby's blog site, twitter feed and I'm listening to the tail end of the RSS reader and someone doing scrapping. So I need to come back and listen to that.

And thankfully Patrick listed his blog.  Some great photos - he is a pro. And he continues as the photos are current as of 2017.

Now at 28:00 - they are talking about cameras - I'm still stuck in the world of point and shoot. My fav is my Panasonic Lumix.

Oh good question - how many blogs do you have?? They have anywhere from a 1/2 dozen to a dozen. So I'm not totally out to lunch - but they suggest you put the energy into one or two. That is SO SO true.

Oh but hang on now I'm suppose to own a niche - ie. a cancer blog or a blog with a very specific type of cancer (right now I'm reading a book called Anti Cancer - all I know if that I will continue to believe that I am a healthy, strong person with no diseases).

Advertising revenue: Started with AdSense then processed into Amazon affiliates (2006) and then someone called me and asked me to be their only advertiser - I had to learn fast - so that is where he is now. The bigger problem is writing about something that your friends and others want to read.

These guys are way ahead of me. I'm a casual blogger and this is my first virtual hangout even if I joined in and watched in 2012. It would be cool to do one of David's seminar.

25 May 2017

The warmth of Italy

I'm still in love with Sicily and at this very moment I would love to be there. Mind you Vancouver, BC has just had spring arrive in full force so perhaps I will stay put for a few more weeks. Checkout this bike - it is simple, charming and uncomplicated. The way I think life should be.

22 January 2015

The wonders of nature in the Galapagos Islands.

There is just something magical about exploring Islands. I did a 7 day tour on a small boat with several American families (identified by the fact that each and every one of then had a small patch at the side of their necks - I guess they were all concerned about motion sickness. They talked about the side effects - frankly I won't use them unless I knew that I suffered from motion sickness). The best part was getting onto the various islands and seeing the animals, the reptiles, the birds, the insects and the flora and fauna. https://flic.kr/s/aHsjzKZAwF

Check out more images here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjzKZAwF

02 December 2014

Item disposed of according to Canada Post Corporation Act

How does this happen? I called Canada Post 1.800.267.1177 and actually, after a few push this button, push that button I got a real person.  He didn't know what happened but managed to get me a new tracking number - new revised date is Dec 8th - I'm a Venture 1 customer and really do I need to do this much work to get a parcel returned (and will it be returned undamaged - I'm beginning to suspect it will have been opened)? And do I get reimbursed for my postage (can't even remember how much it was at this stage). And just where do these items get disposed to?

25 November 2014

Tom Jones in Toronto

While there are construction cranes everywhere and the fast buildings of condo towers - especially down by the Ontario Food Terminal is mind blowing - I love finding spots like the Tom Jones restaurant and PJ OBrien's.  It is like the are bearing up to their inevitable tear down refusing to budge and allowing us to have their visual rough beauty.

24 November 2014

Babies grow fast Canada Post

Hello - it has been over 2 months since I put this package in the care of Canada Post. It was dropped off at Canada Post in BC and has been in your internal system since that date. Please tell me when I can expect to see my package again.

Am I going to receive a package that has been opened with items missing because your machinery malfunctioned? Is there internal stealing going on? Is that why this package is gone missing? If your system of tracking packages off kilter?

Perhaps it would have been better if your crew wasn't so quick to return a package from New Brunswick all the way back to Vancouver without allowing a little extra time for that person to pick it up. I would like to know how long it sat at the NB post office before it was returned to me.  The baby, who this gift is aimed for, will be 3 months older or maybe even 4 months older before they receive it. Do you have any idea of how quickly babies grow and how quickly certain things outgrow them?

You are putting yourself in the package delivery system. Seriously this is what a Canadian can expect?

On 07/11/2014 7:13 AM, SACQBC1@CANADAPOST.CA wrote:

Dear Customer,

We have been assigned to continue the investigation you initiated for the item mentioned below. 

Service Ticket Number: 112312xxx
Tracking Number: 010080400027xxxx
Submitted: 2014/11/03
*Expected Resolution Date: 2014/11/27

We understand that the item is important to you and apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.  In rare cases, a delivery scan is entered into our system before the item is delivered.

As part of the investigation, we will contact the addressee to confirm delivery.  If you become aware that the item is delivered, please let us know by replying to this e-mail.

We will continue to monitor the status of your item and will be contacting you as soon as  further information becomes available.  You may also wish to monitor the status of your item online at www.canadapost.ca.  Should the outcome of our inquiry remain inconclusive by the *Expected Resolution Date, we will contact you again to confirm next steps. 

Canada Post Customer Service Team


02 July 2014

Getting to and from Mayne Island in Vancouver BC

Flash back to July 2014.  Check out the the photos by clicking onto the read more button below. Girlfriends and I had just returned from a four day weekend on Mayne island off the coast of Vancouver.  We were lucky enough to get on a BC ferry where Mayne Island was the first stop. It's been a long time since I have been on one of the BC ferries and sometimes the journey can take a long time.  BC ferries now have terminals where you can insert your credit card and get your one-way ticket.  For some reason they  will not actually sell you a return ticket to the Island which I found interesting. Not sure if that is still the case in 2017. Maybe I'll try to get to one of the island this year and find out what the differences are. 

Renewing my Canadian passport

I have some exotic travel up and coming and remembered, again, that I need to renew my passport.  I do say that everything is much easier when you can have easy access to information. All the info you could want or need is on the Canadian Passport site.  http://www.passport.gc.ca/index.aspx?lang=eng

I've got the photos taken now I just need to actually fill in the paperwork and submit it. As soon as I find it in the mess of my office. Oh dear.

Update: Wow, I stopped in at a local BCAA office and was given a simplified passport application form to fill out.  It took about ten minutes, did not require me to get anyone's signature but I did have to mail in my current passport - and then, voila, less then 10 days later my 10 year Canadian passport arrived. How fabulous! Plus they returned my now expired passport which I will keep. They are small treasure books of past travel.

30 June 2014

What happens when you don't empty to compost

Nothing better than staring our morning off then opening up the back
door and finding your compost has been cheerily spread about.
Even Sophie decided it wasn't worth checking out the compost.

12 June 2014

Sakura Gala Opening

My friend Judy emailed me from Toronto and suggested that we check out this Asian event.  

This was a very fun evening of pink cocktails, boutique beers, tidbits of food.

04 June 2014

Breathing and the Calgary Flood

Isn't this something we take for granted - breathing. Yet is is so essential. I was in Calgary last year after the flooding and I stayed downtown at the Sheraton Hotel. They had this great amazing rate on the hotel room but the $40 parking put me off somewhat. Too much oil expense report money in that town. I didn't realize how close the hotel was to the river that had overflown. So I went out exploring with my camera when I came across this very tempting staircase that screamed "grouse grind" Calgary-style to me.  The staircase wasn't as extreme as our natural version in Vancouver but I rarely Grind these days.

Starting June 28, 2010 hikers will pay $10—instead of the current $5—if they want to take the Skyride down the mountain after hiking up. “By adjusting the single download price (for the first time in 13 years) hopefully we will cause inexperienced hikers to reconsider how they access the mountain,” the Grouse Mountain Web site stated. 

Now if that isn't mumble jumble I don't know what is. I do know that I used to hike it regularly (barely breaking the 1 hour mark if you must know) and then would have food and drink at top. Ever since the up-charge I haven't been back with my lot. Part of it was the doubling of the cost (it is $40 if you want to go both up and down in 2014 prices).  

To see my photos which are hosted on SmugMug please check out this link:

Like the lightbox version instead then try this link:

If the link is broken please let me know - maybe you could stand on a tall building and call my name out or you could just comment and tell me the After the Flood link is dead.

Don't forget: Every minute is just a minute. Once lived it is gone forever. 

Rant: Keep Vancouver beautiful

There are just so many beautiful flowers (if you click on that beautiful flowers you will be taken to a Flickr album that showcases those flowers) in Vancouver. Just a casual walk around a few blocks can give you sensory overload. It is beautiful and I want to keep it that way. So my rant today....

I was working my office and happened to glance out the window when I saw a young guy, maybe in his 30s, casually toss an empty cup from his car to the ground. I watched it slid underneath his vehicle. And for whatever reason I just thought, that is so wrong what are you doing? This is a residential street. And forget if it was residential or commercial or anywhere for that matter. Your garbage is your garbage. Please, what were you thinking tossing it out casually onto the street? Perhaps you thought the next person who walked by pick up your garbage or maybe you just think that the planet is one big garbage pail. To my amazement, I got up my computer, went down tmy staircase through my front door and then went through the gate out onto the sidewalk and very casually I shout out that it seems the cup have rolled underneath his car. And I walked away up, towards my own car which was parked several houses down from where I live. I was pretending I was on a mission. He grumbled a little bit and I didn’t say anything else. He looked like a nice enough guy dressed in some sports gear, more like somebody off to play rugby or football. I came back to my place and didn’t say anything else but went to work on some flowers that were on my staircase. A short while after, I looked across and he was no longer at his vehicle and the cup that had rolled underneath his car was gone. I’m grateful that he decide to pick it up because he could’ve been a total jerk about it but also astonished that he would do it in the first place. But he knows maybe the cup is still there, and he just moved it to another part of the street to be a jerk. I hope not that’s my rant for the day. Please don’t toss your garbage out. Better yet bring your own cup stop buying all the waste. Yes I know it’s convenient, but be kind to yourself and be kind to the planet.

05 May 2014

FUSE Vancouver 2014

Several times a year the Vancouver Art Gallery hosts Fuse - a late night gathering that is a brilliant way to spend a few hours enjoying art, being art, handing out and taking advantage of what this city gives you. The cost is reasonable - around $17 (Free if you are a member) - and better than the cost of a movie with popcorn.
We stopped it at FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Sandy became part of the art by sitting in the chair. Watching herself on the video monitor. Moving into another room and lounging. Is this street art in a formal setting or is this live art enjoyed for the moment we are there?