Monday, June 16, 2014

To Mr Social

It is a bitter sweet day. Tributes to fathers everywhere are flooding in to Face Book this Fathers' Day.  My Dad was THE BEST.
Consider yourself blessed if you too can say this.

Dad, Mom and I on my wedding day 1986
Rod and I got married wearing noses and glasses, tails (Rod + a top hat), jeans and sneakers
Dad and Mom played along for this shot

Thanks Dad for:
- letting my childhood self climb up on your lap and snuggle in when you were watching TV in front of the fire
- tucking me into bed so tight it was as if I was "shrink wrapped"
- tutoring me in the fine art of throwing and kicking a football
- trusting that I was resilient as my child self threw myself off of high bars, flipped of furniture, climbed trees and did God knows what else
- standing out in those cold Canadian winters watering the ice rink for us and the neighbourhood kids
- taking us out to your skating pond on the marsh by the lake; getting warmed by a fire afterwards over a hot chocolate
- instilling in me an abiding love of nature; helping me to see and hear that that this is where "God" resides
- silent early morning paddles - dipping our paddles so gently and quietly into water, as calm as glass, that nothing was disturbed; invisible, we witnessed nature arising
- teaching me to respect the water, how to canoe, emerge from an overturned one and challenge my swimming abilities and then have the confidence in me to let me go out on my own
- sailing us out to the "middle" of Lake Ontario so that we could swim off the boat
- instilling in me a love of the west through stories of your adventures on the road
- being a great listening ear and confidant; allowing me to return the favour for you in your old age
- encouraging me to hone my "gift" for art and believing in me and my ventures
- respecting that, having taught me well I could make my own decisions and was responsible for their outcome
- accepting that I'm not  "9 to fiver", can't be pinned down and need to be free above all else
- letting me go
- letting me come back
- letting me test myself
- being there through failures, disappointments and successes with wise words, consolation, encouragement and being in my cheering section - "it's not about how many times you get knocked down…"
- your sense of humour and love of fun; the glint in your eye
- your curiosity about everyone and everything
- your open-mindedness, idealism, and ability to see the best in everyone
- your love of kids, genuine interest in my friends and being young at heart, being our biggest, oldest and one of our best playmates
- having a kind heart and empathy and teaching me about kindness by example and showing me that a real man is kind and gentle
- being the great old philosopher/story teller - "you can catch more bees with honey"… and so many more adages
- for being the top graduate and originator of the Norm Thacker school of dressing
- sharing the story of you and Uncle Lou playing "disgruntled customer"; years later inviting me to take the bait and play along with just a glint in your eye and a shift in body language. How could I resist?! What fun it was!
- freely expressing gratitude for a beautiful sunny day and innumerable seemingly "mundane", but really miraculous things in life
- being passionate about life; never giving up
- greeting me at the door with "NAN'SA DARLIN'!!!'" to which I answered as usual (as if surprised to see you) "DAD!!!"and then enveloping me in the best, most reassuring hug ever when I needed to see "my Dad" in you just one more time
- entrusting me/us with your most precious gift and expressing your love for her so openly and often
- still being a presence in my life, a support and guide though you left this earthly plane 12 years ago

Thanks Dad for being not only my Dad but my "friend"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The mother to us all

Mom canoeing on her honeymoon
 Mothers Day seems to have lasted for weeks. We went up to Campbell River on the 29th (returned on May 5th) to celebrate 3 birthdays (actually 4, as our grand-nephew was born on the 25th) mine, my sister-in-law's and my grand-niece's, plus 4 Mothers for Mothers Day - my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, and a "chosen" family member.

Our yoga class on Fri May 9th was filled with mothers and the mother energy is fierce in many of them. They honoured the "mother" of their class (absent that day), the woman who looks out for them all and keeps everyone informed; the connector and the nurturer. Session ended with a chant of gratitude and blessing for mothers of all traditions as we added in a different name with each round: Mary Ma, Tara Ma, Saraswati Ma… We silently added our own mothers names and those of the mothers we know.
Clover Point beach clean up

For days Face Book has been spilling over with pictures and tributes of love, appreciation, gratitude, sorrow and longing for Mothers alive and dead. Mothers lovingly cradle their babes in their arms and children in their laps revealing both the soft and fierce-heartedness of mothering; snuggle under the protective wing of a grown son; proudly stand up for their brood of adult children at rites of passage or simply enjoy a moment in time when maturity allowed friendship to break through between the generations.

I honour Mother Earth, the one who sustains us all, by participating in a Surfrider beach clean-up at Clover Point today. Bag in hand, knowing that people tend to stuff debris into nooks and crannies, I'm drawn to the rocky bluffs. The mountain goat climber in me enjoys getting a work out, navigating my way amongst the obstacle course of rock, boulder and driftwood. I poke into the spaces with a stick to clear spider webs so that I can retrieve bits of plastic, cans, snack food wrappers and…an object with a dull sheen - a delicate, broken rusted chain. As I draw it out with gentle care a tiny cameo dangles from it…and a clump of copper coloured hair.
Resting at the feet of the Buddha

I know this act.

It tugs at my heart.

In 2012 I scattered clippings of my mother's hair, along with hawaiian flowers collected from an altar at the end of one of Robert's dream workshops and scattered them into the wind off an oceanside cliff. A few days prior I'd set a clipping at the feet of a Buddha statue on the grounds of Kalani. Sheddings of my own hair reside under some rocks at Kehana beach; some of our DNA will always be a part of Hawaii.

Part of a soul rests here in this very special, sacred place.

I never noticed this rock carving at Clover Point before.
Respectfully I tuck the entangled item back into place, only deeper into the crevice away from prying eyes and poking sticks. As I withdraw my hand a small business sized card tumbles out - the kind found in flower shops everywhere, on it a deep red rose cradles the handwritten message…

"We miss you Mom. Love your children."

I send a silent prayer out for the mother with the copper coloured hair and those children missing her and to all those children missing their Mothers this day as I bury the card too, deep inside the protective outcropping of rocks, stones and driftwood so they may be held close to the heart of Mother Earth and hear her heartbeat.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Creatively United

On Saturday I Forest Gumped my way, to and through, the Creatively United For the Planet, festival.

"Nance look at the sign behind you." Candy said.
 I was talking about having found a context
for my workshop Flying - a Healing Meditation in Motion
I walked downtown intending to join up with the Earth Walk Parade, starting at Centennial Square, ending up at the festival grounds at St Ann's Academy but, my sister Face Timed me. I tucked into a storefront and sat down on the window ledge to get out of the noisy traffic flow around me. Our conversation included a very quick tour of the street scene and the exterior of the wool shop where I planned to spend "a few minutes to kill" before joining the procession. We chatted freely and easily. 30 minutes later, when we said our good byes, the parade that had started without me, was winding its way into the lawns of St Ann's.

Oh well, now I'm free for some serious window shopping at THE BEEHIVE. I indulge my senses of sight and touch, fondling every bit of yarn and knitted samples I can find. The colour and texture of the gem coloured balls of yarn tempt me. I gather a few up, dig into my wallet to find I've brought just enough cash for food and some entertainment OR few balls of yarn. Well, I'd had a sampling of JUMA'S most delicious creamy hummus the night before when I visited with Aidan's parents while he was setting up his food truck. Aidan is the owner/chef of Juma. His parents Jan and Jim who supply his truck with produce and chicken are former co-op mates of mine from 30 or so years ago. So, I was really geared up to sample some more of his fare. Food won out and my stomach and taste buds prodded me to head out with empty hands. I leave the Beehive for now but -  Tomorrow is another day - and I'll be back.

My stomach's rumbling as I pass by Armeni Jewelers on Humbolt St but I'm drawn in for more sensory delights. The proprietor/designer/goldsmith pulls out and proudly displays for me, stunning, one of a kind creations that he, his wife and daughter have crafted. Such beauty and, yes, more temptation…but I only have cash (thankfully) and food's calling my name - Tomorrow is another day

I make a bee line to JUMA. The inaugural launch of the truck has been a wonderful success; they've sold out of Chicken Creole and hummus but there's Dhal. I'm not normally knocked out by dhal, I find it's usually too bland, but not Aidan's, his is delicately delicious. I can't resist the sticky rice with coconut cream and fresh organic apples, that was supposed to be dessert for Rod and end up gobbling up the whole thing, so I have to go back for another serving to take home.

Jan and Jim were my inspiration for Cosmo and Moonbeam. I don't know if they know this.
© Nance Thacker 1984

After touring tents full of displays: educating us on the impact we have on the earth - and how to minimize it; promoting social causes and offering the opportunity to sign many, many petitions; offering weekly delivery of organic produce; showing lifestyle options such as co-op living and co-housing, it's time to dance.

The thumping, driving beat world beat music selections by DJ Nils and DJ Joshua vibrates through the grounds and before I know it I'm jumping and gyrating with all the other hippie, shrubby and free-spirited folk that populate festivals such as this…potential embarrassment factor is ridiculously high so it's probably a good thing that Rod decided to stay home.

After this, I'm no near ready to go home and take in a showing of THE CLEAN BIN PROJECT  and participate in the discussion afterwards. The documentary follows a couple who challenge each other to live as garbage free as possible for a year which means: staying away from plastic wrap, extraneous packaging, and bags for meats and produce AND no shopping - no buying "stuff". The winner gets…applause.

The film and the impact of the whole conscious-earth festival has me wondering what can I do?
I already clear litter on my walks, wash and re-use plastic bags, get my coffee in re-usable containers or mugs. Then I realized that I'm carrying a "doggy bag" of food in containers that, though compostable, will get thrown out. Meals are so big nowadays that I'm ALWAYS taking home doggy bags. In fact, if there's not enough for a complete meal, I'll use the food as a base for a full meal the next night and supplement it with veggies, sauces etc. I've got perfectly great stainless steel containers, sitting at home on the shelf, that I'd bought just for this purpose. Time to start using them.

And time to start spreading the word, so here it is.

Check out the film to see the impact that our consumer culture has on our environment and discover small changes you can make that, compounded by the efforts of others, have the potential to create great change. You'll be inspired during the brainstorming discussion after the film. I've got to look into sites for disposing of soft plastic here in Victoria and though I live in an apartment, which doesn't have composting, there must be other options. Maybe vermiposting? Oooo, more pets to feed but they don't need to be walked.

I step out of the auditorium into the cool night. The festival's wound down so I pop my head in to say bye to Aidan and his crew who are amongst the last to break camp and then head down the road with my container of sticky rice dessert tucked under my arm.

I ran into 6 people that I know from different venues: art class, Spanish class, a dream student, the art centre receptionist, as well as Jan and Aidan. Ah, Victoria's starting to have that small town feel again.

Don't miss next year's 4th annual Creatively United for the Planet festival - great food, inspiration, creativity, entertainment and education all wrapped up in one location!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Livin' like a local

SUITCASE DIARIES: week 2 Costa Rica

Day 8 - Tues March 25 - I'm so proud of myself. Yesterday, inspired by Florencia's example, I arranged, with my broken Spanish, our ride to Tamarindo with Michael via a connection he has down at the beach. Much cheaper than the shuttle van service from the Villa and, by taking a short, direct route, he got us there in just over 1 hour. In Tamarindo Michael arranged a trip to the airport for Sunday with a "legit" taxi driver. He cautioned us that a "taxi" sign on a car's roof doesn't mean the driver is legit, insured or even a licensed driver. Michael took us right to the inner courtyard of Domus Kahuna. Great service!

We enjoyed a siesta in our one bedroom apartment which we've been given for the duration of our stay.  There's a bedroom with AC, a balcony with a hammock that I've claimed as "mine", and a stove top ( which I never use during our stay :-). We've been upgraded from our bachelor suite due to scheduling complications. Originally we were going to be moved on Friday to a bachelor but I think Paulo took pity on the poor suffering gringo geezers. Either that or he wanted to keep us from infecting others - though we weren't infectious, we sure sounded like it; coughing and hacking.

I lay in the hammock, severely hearing compromised, hacking my lungs out. Separated from the cocoon that Flo and Jack provided us, a deep sense of vulnerability washes through me. I've never experienced illness in another country where I don't speak the language well, hear even worse and don't know what to do. Despite the application of my many healing techniques, things are not getting anywhere near better. I have to do something… I will have to see a medico soon. 

During our dinner at an outdoor patio a fine spray wafts into the dining area. Water for the plants? Nope, don't think so but I could be wrong. I gobble down my dish - yam stuffed with fish and a cerveza and then we walk on the beach and witness the sun setting so fast that steam should be coming off the water as it sinks into the sea.

Day 9 - Wed March 26 - We went to the very thorough, medico today. Diagnosis: throat and inner ear infection. I leave loaded down with drugs that I'd normally never take. But, here I say, "Never say never. Bring on the antibiotics, antihistamine, AND throw in that expectorant too. Let's blast this baby outta here". Best news since I got here is, since my equilibrium is good, my ears and lungs are clear I can go swimming, yea!

Our daily ritual has become: afternoon siesta and the ingestion of a pineapple, mango, banana, yogurt and fruit juice smoothy to soothe my raw throat ("Our" awesome blender is a godsend!) followed with a  beach walk around 3p.m., sunset worship and dinner out. Tonight we share a tasty grilled Mahi Mahi, veg and rice dinner. On our return "home" the delicious aqua blue waters of the little pool beckon me. Swimming underwater provides the only relief for my throbbing ears. I float under a starry sky peeking through the banana trees, thankful for this bliss!

Day 10 - Thurs March 27 - A light breeze provided us with a welcome cool night after some brutally hot days so I decided to sleep outside last night in the hammock under the stars. Crazy, throbbing drum rhythms and the shouts of ramped up revellers fill the night air from 10p.m. til 3a.m. finally driving me inside.

I arise early this morning and walk the beach, deserted (no wonder, I think all of Tamarindo was at that party) except for one lone yoga practitioner. When I feel better I'll follow her example. (This doesn't happen til my last morning here.)

Spinning their boards around in the waves, riding in while holding headstand, ducking through the pipe - the kids make surfing look like a piece of cake. I'm taking notes from a rare shady spot under a tree, psyching myself up for my own foray into the mix. Paolo has a connection with a surf shop and can rent me a board for $10 for the day. I won't have to go down with my ID and can pay by cash by giving his name, yea! He says the tides and times are promising for tomorrow. I've gotta give it a goand if I really like it I'll go again on Saturday.

Tonight we eat at a food court at the base of our street. Fish burger with fries and a coke for Rod and guac with salsa and a cerveza for me - cheap and delicious. Rod's ear became plugged on our way from the beach; we are now "speaking" to each other in a form of sign language. I get a mocha to go from Diego's stall and vow to return tomorrow for french toast to change up the daily routine, though appreciated, menu of gallo con pinto, huevos revueltos y pan tostado offered at Domus.

Anyway…the adventure continues and we're starting to get into our groove here. Livin' like the locals takes a lot of effort when you're not feeling well. It's a learning curve…


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring in Victoria - apologies to the rest of Canada

So we went for a walk on a spring day in Victoria

As we walk down almost any street in James Bay, this scene is repeated time and time again.
In the 1930's the local Japanese community donated money to the city of Victoria. 1,013 cherry trees were planted and a flowering-tree program was begun, and continues to this day. In Feb Pink plumb blossoms bloom, 8 varieties of cherries begin in late March with the White Goddess cherries, planted in 2002 peaking in May. (info from WESTWORLD magazine - In the Pink by Ryan Stuart)  

And, there are daffodils EVERYWHERE! Yes, even on the roof of this guy's garage. Some are in clusters gracing private and public gardens alike but they seem to grow wild throughout lawns and parklands. The first picture is a view of Beacon Hill Park. I omitted the pic of the guy walking to his car with a lovely yellow bouquet he'd just picked.

 Some other scenes of gardens we came upon on Monday as we walked from Ogden Point to Oak Bay Marina following the shoreline. Everyone was walking…with big grins on their faces, exclaiming, "What a glorious day!" We all know how lucky we have been this winter and spring as the rest of Canada has been experiencing a minor ice-age, buried in snow. Hell, most of us are from other parts of Canada and we don't forget where we've come from. I also know, from experience, that it is possible to endure 6 weeks of unrelenting rain and overcast skies that would depress even Princess Giselle (Amy Adam's version of Cinderella from ENCHANTED).

A lovely little beach we passed along the way. It was so warm and the beach so white, I felt like I was down south.

And today, Thursday, this guy must have felt like he was down south too because there he was swimming, without a wetsuit, in the ocean waters in front of the sea wall just a few blocks from our apartment. Not just dipping, swimming!

The turtles felt it too as they piled up on this log in Beacon Hill Park and craned their necks to cast their gazes upwards to the sun in thanks.

On my way back home there they were again, those amazing trees and…a song was wafting through the air. Seriously! Was there a radio on somewhere? I wasn't sure. As I gained on the woman with the walker in the picture. Yup, there it was. She was the songbird with the enchanting voice.

Ah, springtime in Victoria; there's no better place to be.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Feeling like S***, I do…

SUITCASE DIARIES: Costa Rica - week 1

I came down with a cold a few days before we left on our trip. Laryngitis set in. Maybe it's clearing out, yeah! Nope, it was just getting started. DAMN!

DAY ONE in Costa Rica - Mon Feb 17 - Not actually in Costa Rica; spent in transit. We arrived last night, getting in to Jack and Flo's at Villas Sol (See the villas on the hillside, we were in one of them.) Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste province in Costa Rica about 10 p.m.

Flight was brutal as I was hacking and coughing. I was the person everyone dreads to be on the same flight with, let alone sit next to. The pressure on my ears got worse with each flight - Victoria to Vancouver, Vancouver to Houston, Houston to Liberia. In an effort to clear my plugged ears I blew my nose so hard that it bled like a burst pipe. Poor woman sitting beside me on the last leg must have felt like she was cursed. So I arrived coughing, with laryngitis, pretty much deaf from plugged ears; holding a tissue under my nose with one hand, the fingers of my other hand pinching the bridge of my nose and juggling my bags.

I really hope this thing clears soon (It didn't. It lasted the whole trip and my ear is still plugged as I write this.) as my energy is low even for talking - English let alone Spanish.

NOTE: I end up being sick for the whole 2 weeks of our trip.
I'm grateful for the wisdom of David K Reynolds' CONSTRUCTIVE LIVING that I'd discovered in the '80's and utilized since then.
Paraphrasing one of his principles - "Feeling like S*** (my word), I do what needs to be done".
In this case what needs to be done is to get out there and take advantage of this opportunity to live the Pura Vida even though I feel like I'd rather stay in bed all day and be tended to by my kitty therapists. Disappointed in myself that I don't have my usual enthusiasm and energy; it is a reality I have to accept. I adopt this attitude - Just get out there and appreciate what happens and I was showered with simple delights.
(NOTE - The lack of photos is due to my lack of energy to take them - apologies.)

DAY 2 - Tues Feb 18 - I slept in today and we lounged around the beach, walked the beach and collected some garbage (numerous plastic straws, plastic utensils, plastic bottles, bottle caps and plastic bags) and swam. Boy, the sun is soooo bright! Good thing I've got my sunglasses. My Vancouver Island adapted eyes can't handle the brilliance of it. (Lesson #1 - The brightness of the light should have been a clue. The sun in Costa Rica is brutally strong. In a place this far south, never say no to sunscreen no matter how much you hate it or you, like me, will be bursting blisters for days, wake up to puffy face and peel like a snake for the duration of your stay. My legs are still peeling as I write this.)

DAY 3 - Wed Feb 19 - I was able to get a good night's sleep for the first time in days. Takes a lot of energy to talk and so I'm not too social. Haven't been snorkeling but I swam in the ocean and the pool, putting my head under the water. "F*** it" I said. I discover that swimming underwater seems to equalize the pressure in my ear providing me with some temporary relief. Once again on dry land, I can't seem to clear my ear and it's driving me nuts. I think it's the congestion from my sinuses + ear wax that must have gotten lodged. I'm trying everything I know but may have to get it syringed out. (Wrong self-diagnosis. Unbeknown to me, I will later find out from the médico in Tamarindo that I have a throat and inner ear infection.)

We went zip lining. The guys taking us through the stations were a lot of fun. When asked if I was scared I said, "No. I'd like to do some tricks: wonder woman, upside down…" these were some of the ones Flo had told me about. He called me "una mujer loca" as he took me through the paces. We had a blast. The pressure in my head was pretty excruciating when I went upside down but well worth the ride.

Una mujer loca aka a flying squirrel.
 We walked into town tonight with Flo and Jack and met some friends at The Embassy a quirky cinema in Playa Hermosa and saw THE WOLF OF WALLSTREET with Spanish subtitles (I read the movie as much as I watched it - Spanish lesson + entertainment all at the same time!).
I love local independent movie houses and this was a real treat. For $6 you get the movie, a glass of wine or a cerveza (beer); for $1 extra get a popcorn too. We enjoy both seated on primary coloured retro plastic bar stools at the multicoloured, poured resin bar til the movie is ready to begin. We saunter into the theatre, plonk down into comfy seats and they start right into the movie. No trailers, no ads; awesome!

DAY 4 - Thurs Feb 20 - We started to watch the Women's gold medal Olympic hockey game on TV at Flo and Jack's but thought it would be fun to see it at a public venue with others. Got down to Villas Sol restaurant/bar and resumed watching it on the TV there. Before 20 mins were done the coverage got switched to…skiing, skating and now…golf?!? GOLF…WTF?!? Wandered over to Condo Vac in hopes of finding it there but nope. The coverage is the shits. Don't they know this is THE EVENT for  Canadians everywhere?
I write to an American born Canadian friend, "We found out that we lost, boo. The American part of you may not be so sad about this; it's win win whatever had happened for you, eh?"
A day later we find out that we'd in fact won in an incredible overturn of events which must have been crazy exciting to see. This discovery makes it seem even more unjust for the game to have been dropped, ack!!!

As I walk the beach later in the day the troop of howler monkeys, adults and tiny youths, which were earlier settled into the trees over the lounge chairs at Condo Vac (A surprisingly a number of unwary gringos had plonked down underneath them. I can only wonder who will be the first to be inadvertently peed on.) are travelling soundlessly, effortlessly through the trees to their evening resting place. One of the females has a tiny little babe clinging to her belly; the little tail curls over her back and tips to the sky giving it away. Brilliant! Only me and one other person witness their silent passage.

Tonight Flo, Jack, Rod and I meet at Aquasport Bar Restaurant on Playa Hermosa for night of entertainment - pop songs sung in Spanish by local duo one playing guitar, the other on drum box, while we sip cerveza con limón against the backdrop of the setting sun. Ah this is the Pura Vida.

DAY 5 - Fri Feb 21 - Kayaking with Flo and Jack - we explore the bay; witness a short, tremendous flurry of fish stirring up the water all around us; pick up some garbage floating in the water and explore a small beach in front of the future site of another development. The water is warm and inviting but I have to get back for my massage on the beach with Maria. Life is tough.

Maria begins by massaging my feet with a mix of sand and oil and for the next hour I am hers. Though not a trained RMT, her treatment is a "folk" art and she is skilled with great hands. I'm thrilled that we can talk in broken English and Spanish. She looks tired, has had the cold herself and works long hours. She needs some TLC so I offer her a lomi back treatment which she readily accepts. The table is high and there is sand everywhere but somehow I slip into a rhythm, enough for her to get a feel for the modality. She looks blissful as she declares, "It is very spiritual". Success! I smile. It's as good to give treatment as to receive and I have missed giving.

Guests of Flo and Jack's join us for one of Jack's fabulous dinners. We eat on the patio. A lively and stimulating conversation is had regarding the book WE THE ARCTURIANS a book I'd bought for Flo and took to Costa Rica for her. I'd only scanned through it but in an interesting bit of synchronicity: I'd forgotten to add this last night as I was writing and then this morning I get an e-mail from Amazon, a new recommendation…CONNECTING WITH THE ARCTURIANS.

With our host Flo after a day on the beach
and a massage by Maria
DAY 6 - Sat Feb 22 - Went on a boat trip with SEA OF LIFE PAPAGAYO - our host, Michael and his crew mate Armando show us their method of fishing and we catch lots of small groupers, red snappers and one eel. It's a small boat and we share this adventure with Betty and Chris, friends of Flo and Jack's.

I was awestruck as manta rays leap out of the water and land with an audible smack like pancakes. I snorkelled in a secluded spot amongst coral and rock formations, swimming amongst schools of brightly coloured, salt water fish. We are taken to a white sand beach and explore the caves.

The tide is coming in sending walls of waves crashing through one cave. I walk into progressively deeper depths, let myself get sucked out towards the cave's mouth and wait with excited anticipation for the next big wave to wash me back in. Like a kid, "just one more" I shout after each exhilarating ride.  Bonus, nature provides the best neti pot ever; afterwards an endless quantity of snot pours out of me. "I'm cured!"…well maybe not everything but my sinuses are for sure!

As we motor home in high spirits we dig into skewers of chicken, rice and veggies. This private boat trip is so much better than the many overcrowded "booze cruises" that are popular down here. Disembarking is rather dramatic as rogue waves arise from nowhere, crashing over the bow, tossing the small boat around and threatening to capsize us. Michael shouts, "Get out now!" when safe moments arise. We jump into chest high water and get clear as fast as we can. His boat is swamped but they manage to get into calmer waters, bail it out and returns when the waves have subsided with the gear that we had to abandon when we jumped ship. He checks to make sure we are all unharmed and then we say our goodbyes.

The night is capped off with a walk along the beach to a local pizza place for pizza and…of course, a cerveza con limón.

DAY 7 - Sun Feb 23 - We wake up to coverage of the men's Olympic gold medal hockey game and cheer as our team wins gold. The day is for lounging in the pool, on the beach and chill in' before we head out to Tamarindo tomorrow morning.

Down at the beach a representative from Villas Sol helps me contact Michael and arrange a ride with him to Tamarindo for the next morning - yet another service that he offers and for a much more reasonable price than the shuttles that come into the resort.

Coffee and baked sweets are offered daily from 4 - 5 p.m. at Villas Sol and we go down today, as we have many days this week. I've loved watching the cheeky, sneaky, hoodlum Magpie Jays fly off with whole muffins and buns, treats they've stolen from the bread baskets at the serving area. Another, wearing his trademark black necklace, bats his long eyelashes and tosses his feather tufted head back as he brazenly devours packets of sugar looking like an addict with his beak covered in the snowy stuff.

THE HIGHLIGHT was, of course, spending time with our Ontario-based, long-time friends Flo and Jack. Such great company: awesomely delicious food provided by chef Jack (I gladly, gratefully do the dishes and clean up afterwards - a small return for such a great favour.); morning Spanish lessons; spiritual and philosophical discussions on the patio and evening cribbage for the guys. On the mornings that I feel up for it, we do yoga on the patio which gives me an opportunity to give something from my heart in return for their kindness.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tide Lines - A Story of 3 Guys, Surfing, Sailing & Garbage

If you have them, use them more than once.
Just wash and dry them
I've always wanted to attend a film festival showing but never had any luck securing tickets for TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) so I was very excited last night to see the documentary TIDE LINES, one of the Victoria Film Festival's  selections playing at the Vic Theatre.

There's a kind of buzz at this kind of event. It was recommended that we get to the theatre 30 mins before the viewing and take our seats. We were not inundated with commercials, nor were there promos for yet more GCI filled superhero action movies, instead I actually enjoyed watching the trailers for other indie, character driven VFF offerings. Too bad that I can't see them all, maybe next time.

What drew me to this movie was the story of 3 young men; 2 brothers and their friend who decide to sail around the world for 3 years in order to surf remote beaches world-wide. They really couldn't call themselves sailors by any stretch of the imagination but they were dreamers with a mission to show people that they could follow their dreams too.

They met challenges that the sea threw at them, remained friends at the end of it all and took their parents, girlfriends and others for stretches along the way.

But the film is about much more than that.

As surfing dudes they have a love and respect for the ocean and were concerned at the amount of debris that landed on the west coast, windward shore of Vancouver Island all the way across the ocean from the disaster in Japan. They got to wondering how this garbage travelled, where our garbage was landing and if other beaches were affected. And, this is the real story.

They learned how gyres (major ocean systems of rotating currents) can carry debris (mainly plastic) and deposit it on remote foreign shores thousands of miles away from the source. They travelled through, and documented debris they collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (from Wiki…also described as the Pacific trash vortex, is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N.[1]This area is said to be the size of Texas but, contrary to popular misconception, is not visible from satellite photography nor to the casual boater or diver in the area as it is composed of often microscopic particles suspended in significantly higher concentrations than average, in the upper water column. Fish eat the stuff and we eat the fish; it becomes part of the food chain.

They took part in a turtle release program on one beach and were told how dangerous plastic bags were to the massive turtles who mistake them for jelly fish (their main source of food) and ingest them to tragic effects.

On a positive note, they saw how communities, finally seeing the damage that has been done to beaches over years of thoughtless discarding of disposable objects are cleaning up their beaches and coming up with creative ways to recycle tons of plastic waste.

The young sailors began talking to schools and communities about their discoveries, collected and documented garbage themselves and led beach clean ups wherever they could - one in a Victoria community not far from where I live.

I wrote in previous posts about my concern about the debris my sister Candy and I were finding along the shores of Lake Ontario in Burlington and in my neighbourhood parks and of our efforts to clean it up bit by bit…THIS ACT IS NEEDED MORE THAN EVER and in A WALK IN THE PARK .

During the Q & A I found out about SURFRIDER, an organization that states "Our mission is the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network." And, that there is a south Vancouver Island group that meets once a month, does once monthly cleanups at beaches in the region and one remote beach cleanup weekend a year.

I'm very excited to hear about this group and will definitely check them out in March but til then I'll just comb the beaches and the parks picking up my 3 (or more) items per walk or if a bag comes my way, fill it. If you see me say, "hi" or better still join me anytime.

Great idea for teachers: you can request a screening of Tide Lines and afterwards organize a beach and or park clean up!