Pink Salmon Festival

Salmon Treats

Today Sandii and I wandered down to the Pink Salmon Festival.  Pink salmon have long needed peoples’ attention. They are the most numerous salmon species of the five in BC’s oceans, and they are much maligned, for reasons that are unclear to me.

Pinkies are smaller than the other species, under five pounds. Their flesh is milder and lighter than the other species’, and tastes more like a white fish, like halibut.  They are a little more like the Atlantic salmon that are grown in fish farms here, when those fish escape and get some real food and exercise in the wild (Although the government says they can’t exist in the wild so if you catch one, you really didn’t and shutupshutup lalalala, fish farming is totally sustainable and fine for the environment, there are no giant fish poo accretions around fish farms at allllll.)  Ahem.

Anyhow, several top chefs had created pink salmon recipes and for a donation, you could take a plate like the one you see above. It was all glorious.

It’s hard to get Pink salmon even in fish markets, because almost every other kind is better marketed and/or more exciting to catch. Springs, Sockeye and Coho are the money fish for commercial fishers and the popular ones for game fishers.  Chums and Pinks are the ones that get left behind, and very often, canned or turned into fertilizer.

What a waste! Fresh Pink cooked with lemon or a little brown sugar and soy sauce is absolutely glorious.   I hope the Pink Salmon Festival upped Pink’s image today. I’d like to be able to buy it fresh.

Blackberry Bliss

Today Rachel and Byron and I went blackberry picking down along the bushes at the beach at the foot of Macdonald. Rachel is a better blackberry picker than I am, as she managed, like, three times my haul. But that’s not important. No one fell into a tangle of blackberry bushes, so even if I didn’t get so many, it was really worth it.

Worth it for the experience and the company as well as the berries. There’s something meditative about blackberry picking. They ripen so fast, even a day can mean the difference between eye-stinging sour ones and the pure ambrosial bliss of a perfectly ripe one. A day, too, sometimes between ripe and moldy, in our  maritime summers.

When you pick, it is a delicate process. The best berries break from the stems easily, but not too easily. If one comes off too easily, you have to check it for mold, and even if it’s not moldy, it might have that vaguely carroty flavor that changes eating blackberries from wonderful to weird. If you have to pull too hard, leave the berry for someone else. It’s not ready yet. Experience teaches you what the perfect berry feels like, as you pick it.

And being able to chat to Rachel, picking alongside, and Byron, throwing rocks into the ocean, was just perfect as well.  Thanks, guys!

Charity Fail.

This is hard for me to admit, but I am not a truly charitable person. Oh, I give to the Food Bank. I donate my old stuff to charity. I shop at Value Village because a) I am cheap b) it benefits charities and c) it lessens my carbon footprint to buy what’s already been made once.  But when it comes to individuals begging on the street, I am  Judgey McJudgerson.

Part of this is that I have lived in this neighborhood for a long time. I know the guy panhandling outside Safeway spends his afternoons casing houses to grab bottles and grab whatever else he thinks he can resell that  he steals from their gardens and porches. The guy with the crutches outside the beer and wine store? I saw him walking without a limp an hour ago. He’s faking.

Part of me is ashamed that I don’t give people less fortunate  my hard-earned  money, but there’s an even bigger part of me that is not ashamed, because I am already using that money.

No, I don’t have any spare change. That’s my $1.99 slice of pizza and  that is my lunch. Three bucks in change? No, I don’t want to give it to someone on the street. I’m counting that money towards the grocery store  buy of rice, toilet paper, and ground beef. It’s not spare change.

For me, the worst is when people ask me for money when I’m doing car jockey stuff.  I recognize that there are people out there having  hard time. I recognize that I am not reasonable in my feelings about this.  But when I am doing my second job driving for the Co-op  (pays  for friends’ childrens’ education funds,  my retirement fund, etc.), I don’t think I ought to give to someone else what I earned fair and square. No.That money is earmarked.

And when a panhandler gets in my face and yells at me that he is sorry “your mother even spread her fucking legs”, I lose any latent desire to give money to those less fortunate. At all.

The Basement is a Foreign Country

The place I work has a half-subterranean level, housing a liquor store and a grocery store. But early in the summer, the grocery store left.  A Buy-Low, they wouldn’t compete with the new chichi  IGA (both stores are owned by the same company) that opened up two blocks away.

The IGA is Yuppie Central.  Staples like milk are 20% more expensive than at Buy-Low.  They have little guides in the cheese section to tell you about the cheeses. And everything is so crowded! Wheelchair users, who shopped at Buy-Low easily in the wide aisles, can’t fit their chairs into IGA.

So I was excited that a No Frills (Loblaws’ bargain chain) moved in downstairs.

It’s cheap! The aisles are wide. There aren’t many specialty foods, but it’s a No Frills. That means no guide to flower-scented chevre, and I am okay with that.

The best part: I have never shopped in a No Frills store. It’s like I am visiting a foreign country and learning about foods I have never seen before. I love it!

Battery Update

Last night after I posted, I called my dad to thank him for being a dad, and relayed my story about the dad-guy coming to my battery rescue.

Dad seemed taken aback at my fear of jump-starting cars, probably because I am so comfortable with other car-related stuff. After all, only one of his children talks about drive trains, and it’s not the Philosophy professor.

He explained that car batteries are only 12 volts, (I knew this but I never really thought about it) and that I didn’t need to find the engine block (a trick when the cars these days seem made of plastic), that I could just go positive-positive, negative-negative, and be fine.

Since I once licked a nine-volt on a dare from a boyfriend (he wanted to hear what kind of noise I made, the sadist), I was reassured. Dad and I talked about cars and stuff for a half-hour last night, which is somewhat of a record for us.

And then this morning, David called from the Co-op. His voice was so full of trust as he explained where the car with the dead battery was.  In his mind, I had no battery issues at all. I told him, “I ‘m going to need someone to drive the jumped car out of downtown”, as casually as I could. Remembering the shriek and tingle of the nine-volt on my tongue. Not so bad, right? Riiiiight.

So Annika met me there, and said, “I’ll let you do it, since you know what you’re doing.” Ahaha, if she only knew!

But positive-positive, negative-negative worked. No mess, no fuss. And in two minutes, we were on our way, cables safely stowed and cars purring along.

So I guess I’m not afraid any more! Thanks, Dad!

Dad to the Rescue!


Here’s a secret: I am utterly terrified of jump-starting cars with dead batteries. I am sure I will fry myself to death on the batteries, or blow the cars up, or something.

I know. Dumb, right? My second job is dealing with our car Co-op’s fleet. I consider myself a confident, competent person. And mostly I am. I can change light bulbs, tires, oil, filters, wiper blades, and hubcaps. I can measure tire tread, even. But I can’t jump-start batteries.

The boss called and told me the one on the left had a dead battery. “But it’s okay. There’s a car there you can use to jump it with.”

“Ahahaha, no problem, then!” I hung up, determined to face my fear.

I got the cables out, read the instructions three times, told myself I was a strong, independent woman who didn’t have to be afraid of batteries, popped the hoods, and wished out loud that my dad was there.

Then I looked up. Standing at the front of the parkade was someone’s dad: He had to be. No one but a dad wears those knee-length khaki shorts or tube socks with orthopedic shoes. No one but a dad wears a big stiffened-canvas hat. The guy was wearing the Dad uniform!

I went over and asked for help.

“I don’t live here,” he said.

“That’s okay. I don’t need geographical help, I need jumper cable help.”

He laughed and came over to help me. We had the cables hooked up in a minute, and my dead car was running!

So, from the child who needed a dad for a minute, thank you, dad-guy from Medicine Hat, Alberta. I have been hoping all day that your son was chosen to be in the Olympics for speed skating today (why you were in town), because I could see how proud you are of him.

Worthy Cause Alert! (I know, I know, I am a link moron) is promoting ‘sociable guerrilla bagging’.  “What?” I hear you say.

They want to decrease the consumption of plastic bags at grocery stores, so they are encouraging people to get together and make simple shopping bags from recycled materials, and hand them out to people walking into supermarkets, so those people a) don’t take plastic bags away from the stores and b) think about carrying their own bags to the store instead of using plastic.  I think it’s such a cool idea I want to start sewing right now.

Too Much To Do.

At my brother’s wedding recently, my aunt castigated me for never calling her. It was the kind of passive-aggressive faux-mock that gets my hackles up like very little else does. I had the comeback, though. “If I had more than six hours altogether, I’d come see you.” She lives in Victoria. It’s hard to get there. Every time we speak, she reminds me that I have a bed if I want to have a holiday with her.  But I don’t have the time.

The thing is, this summer has been one of the busiest I can remember. Monday, Tuesday and Friday I car-jockey before I teach at 10AM. I’ll teach on and off til six, five days a week. And the weekends are for chores, mostly.

When I start tutoring again in late August, I don’t think I can keep on going, even though I’ll be teaching starting in the afternoons. I feel bad about it, but there comes a time when I have to accept that, even though I like to be busy, enough is enough.

Language Acquisition

One thing I love about teaching in summertime is that we offer a number of courses we don’t during term-time. As a result, I get to play around with lesson planning and I get a chance to build in pre-reading strategies and extension lessons to what the kids are reading.

For one thing, it makes me feel like they’re getting a better lesson than the usual reading program. For another, it lets me flex my actual teaching muscles, and I do like that.

Today, my biography class was studying Jane Goodall. Now, while they generally show me that human DNA is certainly 95% the same as chimpanzee DNA, letting them act like chimps for a half-hour wasn’t going to be instructive, as such.

We started talking about communication, and how it happens. They I had them work together on a list of  non-linguistic messages  (meaning, using no actual words), including things like “HELP!”, “water”,  “food”, “shelter”, “This is mine”, “Look at me”, “I’m hungry”,  and other basic-for-survival-in-a-group communication needs.

They really surprised me. At first, they kept looking to me for confirmation, so I buried my nose in a book, effectively excluding myself from the conversation. But when I was no longer in the equation, they had involved discussions on the difference between “water”and “drink”, and how to say “I” versus “mine”.

Of course, they also discussed how to say “make-up”,  “make me a sandwich”, and “you suck”, because they are my 10-and-11-year-old human primates, and language is, first of all,  about what one needs most.

New Baby!

I am so excited! Gen and Ryan have a brand-new baby daughter!

Welcome to the world, Gwynneth George! I can’t wait to meet you!

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