Friday, 25 September 2015


Last evening, a friend and I were looking at photographs I had taken a week ago in Tofino.  First we looked at some of my favorites, those that I had flagged on my iPhoto program, and then we wandered through others, pausing to look as they caught our special attention.

Another person's seeing allows me to look more deeply into the images they have chosen- to appreciate what they have noticed, that I may have overlooked, and sometimes to understand the different ways in which we perceive beauty.

Joan asked me about my writing; what my process was.  Did I write it first on paper, in rough?  Did I sit comfortably on the couch in the living room?  Did I plan/have a specific idea of what I wanted to write?

No, none of the above.

I just start writing on the computer, typing my way, with only one finger.  I read it out-loud, again and again, to hear the cadence and my choice of words.  I am generally surprised by the trail these words take; by the circuitous route of my thoughts.

A few weeks ago I read Like Normal People  a beautiful book written by Karen Bender. Beginning in the mid 20s, it is a story about a mother, Ella, her daughters, Lena and Vivien and her granddaughter, Shelley.

It is particularly focused on the intense and often controlling relationship between Ella and Lena, her intellectually disabled first offspring.   Ella's caring and her almost undivided attention towards Lena, both encompass her life and give her life purpose.

The story unfolds through layered flashbacks in the space of one day in 1978, when Ella is now elderly and her mind has begun to wander.

 'Ella looked out the window and tried to imagine a future without herself.  The world would not need her any more than it had needed her before she was born.'  She envisioned  these three women sitting together, having lunch without her, 'stealing their lives beyond her.'  How then would she belong to them?

She wanted to come along too.

Her only recourse was to sit straight and clasp her hands like a person who was strong and independent.  To banish thoughts of her death.

David Suzuki, in Letters To My Grandchildren, muses about our existence in a different manner.  He recognizes that our individual existence is transitory.  We come into this world and we disappear from it...where did we come from? ..and where do we go?  He talks about people's attempts through time to live on, at least in people's memory: monuments built, art and music and literature created.  He talks too of religions making promises of something greater beyond this life.

For Suzuki, all life is a miracle and death a critical necessity.  As a geneticist, he argues that 'without death, there can be no change, no evolution,'  and continues that 'evolution is necessary to adapt to the constantly changing conditions of Earth.'

This intellectual understanding does not necessarily bring a comfortable acceptance of death.  Suzuki tells his grandchildren that he doesn't think about it much except 'to know that we're all going to go through it and that it will be a very lonely trip.'

Near the book's conclusion, before addressing each grandchild individually, David Suzuki talks to them as a family.  I believe this wisdom he shares is meant to embrace all of us, the universal family.

'When any of us is on our deathbed and reflects on the things that make us proud and happy, I am sure it will not be power or stuff, money or fame; it will be about people and the kind of world and values we leave behind.  I hope that at the end of my life, I will be like Dad- in no pain, with no fear of death, and with a mind that is still active.  I want you all to be there, not so you can grieve for me, but so I can tell you I did the best I could for your future.  I'm just one person, and I couldn't expect to save the future, but I'm like the hummingbird in the South American indigenous story, the one who carried a drop of water in its beak to put on a forest fire.  He did this over and over even though all the other animals laughed at him and said it wouldn't make any difference.  He kept trying because, as he said, "I'm doing the best I can." '

click on any photograph to get a larger image

Sunday, 20 September 2015

a photographer's dream

Tofino is a photographer's dream

       capturing landscapes on South Chesterman
                                           just before their disappearance with the tide

finely crushed shells decorate the sand

anemones cluster, forming abstract designs 

the colour and detail captivated me

I had never before seen them elongated

                  the fog enhances the morning's beauty 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

beat! beat! beat!

I'm sitting at the computer after a lovely birthday celebration at a friend's house. To me, B seems young at only 53, though he says he feels a huge difference from even 5 years ago.

A neighbour who has recently celebrated her 93rd year, says she can't remember when she was 80.

There is a beat! beat! beat! from across the road.  WHAT IS THIS?!  Oh, yes, our neighbours' son is half-way grown up now; he walks up the street with 'girls' on either side.  He used to go each Saturday, early, to the Oak Bay yard/dump with his dad, where he claimed all the electronics, no longer working, from the giveaway table.  Our old stereo lives in his room, with cumbersome, but excellent oversized speakers.

So, why am I surprised to hear loud, thumping music from across the street?  How has he grown to be a teenager while I seem not to have noticed the change?  His parents look the same.  Or do they?  And me?  If I'm not getting older, why do I keep making my garden smaller?  Why do I attempt to cover the circles under my eyes and add highlights to my greying hair?

And perhaps an obvious example of my aging self is that I fully, totally intended to write this blog entry about Tofino!  Brian and I returned last evening from 4 1/2 glorious days there.  I took 845 photographs.