Kenilworth Ivy

April 17. World 2,240,191. U.S. 699,706. Canada 32,814. Brazil has now passed Canada in total confirmed cases and Russia is closing in on Canada and will probably blow by Canada within the span of the next news cycle.

Tim Cook called me this morning from California.  That’ll be the last time that happens.  Today Tim was chuffed about me using images captured from visualizer and cropping them down and using them in my bloggy blogs to create some kind of visual thing to break up the monotonous words when it hasn’t been cleared by Apple Inc.

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“I paid you for the machine, Tim. I can do anything I want with it.”

“Au contraire,” Tim said. “We own the cloud and everything in it and if you’d bothered to read the fine print under “What’s inside the box” you’d know that we still own your machine and everything on it and we don’t give a damn about receipts or money or anything. We own everything.  How do you think we got to be the richest company on the planet?”

“Tim, I understand you’ve met President Trump. What do you think?”
“Bat shit crazy, Steve. Rook to king one.”

“I’m sorry, Tim. I think you missed it. Queen to bishop three, bishop takes queen, knight takes bishop. Checkmate.”

“Ahgg… ergg…. Looks like you’re right, Steve. I resign.”

I find it generally true. The smartest individuals can have curious gaps in their knowledge of the simplest things. Tim is like this. Thinks he’s a hot-damn chess dude. Not a clue and it’s surprising. You’d think there’d be more there and there just isn’t. I told him life’s too short for chess but he wouldn’t listen. He won’t be bugging me about the visualizer anymore so that’s good. Moving on to spring garden update.

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April 18. Kenilworth Ivy. Usually grown as annual. Dainty creeper that may appear uninvited in shadier parts of the garden, sometimes even sprouting in chinks of stone or brick wall…. Smooth leaves 1 inch wide or less, with three to seven toothlike lobes. Blooms mainly in spring with small lilac blue flowers carried singly on stalks a little longer than leaves.

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Lewisia. To 1 foot high, 10 inches wide. Rosettes of narrow, fleshy, evergreen leaves bear 10 inch stems topped by large, extremely showy clusters of 1 inch, white or pink flowers often striped with rose or red. Blooms from spring to early summer.

They’re right about Kenilworth Ivy.  Grows like a weed.  We’ve seen it growing wild not far from here.  “Kenilworth” is a suspiciously English-sounding name which meant of course that I was going to look into it.  Kenilworth Castle.  Of course there’s a castle and of course it’s “Kenilworth Castle” and of course it would be situated in Kenilworth, England.  Stands to reason.  At least something does.  Looks like some of it burned down or something.  I’ve never been to Kenilworth, England.  I think I flew over it once, but there’s not much to see in heavy cloud at 30,000 feet.

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April 22.  Yeah, the numbers for the planet.  The planet will certainly get to 3 million confirmed cases and the great United States will certainly pass 1 million.  There seems to be some dysfunction in the great United States.  Sorry about that overused word but I couldn’t think of anything else.  A madness is upon the land.

Great American madness.  Everything’s going great or things are in a situation where there’s room for improvement.  It depends on who has the mic.  I think the number of people in the great United States who don’t give a crap either way is trending to zero.  It’s all about trends.  Everybody’s looking for one and that includes around here.

I was also talking briefly on the phone yesterday afternoon to a lady who lives in Washington State.  That’s because she’s an American.  She has a friend up in woolly Canada and had arrived here for a visit as she has been doing recently, but this time it was not much more than twenty-four hours before the British Columbia/Washington State border was closed. That was a month ago.  She’s been here ever since.

“You’re an exile,” I said to her.

She laughed.

“You can’t go home again.”

She laughed again.

People from the State of Washington are wonderfully joyful people and always laugh at all my little jokes, especially ones with literary allusions in them.  And Debbie doesn’t play chess either.  It’s also nice that she’s with the person she likes so things are going along okay.

Talking to a real, live person from Washington was so uplifting I resorted to the extraordinary move of acquiring a bottle of “Kung Fu Girl” riesling from Charles Smith Wines in Washington because I’d heard it was tasty and I’d been meaning to try it.  It’s very nice with pad thai apparently.  Charles Smith Wines


Apologies to Stanley Kubrick and the Sunset Western Garden book.  Garden blooms by CS Nicol

When Jody Comes Home

JWR Opens Up

The site took rare advantage of an opportunity to re-visit the University Women’s Club of Vancouver in my old Shaughnessy hood on McRae there at “Hycroft”, courtesy of an invite from the Liberal Party of Canada.  The Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Vancouver Granville was taking a meet and greet with constituents in the lower ballroom of the venerable old institution, site of many weddings over the years.

The last time I’d been here was some years ago to attend a wedding.  It was a fine wedding with all the pomp you’d expect of a wedding at Hycroft and the marriage lasted one year.

Many are the memories of me tricycling around “The Crescent” when we lived close by before Dad had to go to jail and our family became destitute.  The Crecsent was lined with cars tonight but we found a spot not far from the venue and eased in our beautiful old car.

We’d thought first to walk up from our residence down the hill several blocks but with the threat of rain, a threat we took seriously, the car it was.  I had my own, personal reasons for coming to a thing like this.  Not only had I voted for Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last federal election but I had never been to anything like this before in my life and I was curious.  And it was Hycroft.  In my old Shaughnessy.

I’d had invitations before to functions like this because I’m a pretty important person to the Liberal party.  I give and no donation is too small, which is a good attitude.  In a fit of reverie one lost night I’d thrown the party a fiver in hopes they’d call off their dogs and stop hectoring me for a donation.  It didn’t work but I guess that’s politics.

And politics can be good in minute doses infrequently, and in my case, very infrequently. And this was a case of that.  And she was with me.  My consort had attended that old Hycroft wedding and had also voted for Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last federal election.

It must be admitted we were also here because our MP was a pretty important person and one who had also recently experienced some pretty intense, career-altering events.  These events, as everyone knows, have been all over the news all over the country.  Jody Wilson-Raybould, until recently, was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the reason she was no longer in that fine position, to a lot of people, had some unseemliness attached to it.   A lot of controversy had erupted and, you guessed it, politics.

So it sounded like fun and we both had the evening off and it would be an opportunity to be in close proximity  to the very public person of The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville.

Even though the event is more than two weeks ago the Honourable Member’s saga won’t die.  It wasn’t dying before the event either.

It was a good-sized crowd.  There was wine and beer at the bar by donation and most people from what I could see were donating a fiver.  I didn’t see what brand of beer was on offer but the only wine label I could see was “Oculus”, a retail $135 a bottle red Bordeaux-style from Mission Hill in the Okanagan.  Everybody knows that.  We took two modestly filled glasses from the barkeep for a fiver each and were well pleased with our adventure.

Occupying seats against the wall near the grazing table it was scant minutes before a nice gentleman in his mid-forties, impeccably dressed in business caj and sitting to the right of my partner initiated conversation with her.  I wasn’t close enough to hear exactly what he was saying above the hubbub prior to the start of the show but it turned out he must have surveyed the cut of my Kitten’s jib and deemed her harmless and was sharing a few jokes with her.  Something about lobsters and surfing or something.

He was most pleasant, a largish white guy with french cuffs, monogrammed, and nice looking links on his sharp, blue stripe shirt under the dark blue jacket below which, right again, were blue jeans.  He’d introduced himself and we’d done the same but his name blew right past me and I didn’t catch it.

It developed that he was a member of the legal profession, had worked in Ottawa but was now back home working downtown.  I gathered he’d been a supporter of the federal Liberal Party for some time, but then, in reality, so had we with the one difference that up until tonight we had pretty much been closet liberals but not our  jovial friend.

I always wonder in a crowd if I’m going to run into somebody I know.  It happens, right? So it was gratifying to see Leslie Hurtig happen by.  Leslie and I are old friends and contacts from the book business.  These days she’s doing an excellent job as artistic director of the Vancouver Writers Festival.  We chatted a second, joking about marriages at Hycroft and other stuff.

The constituency president came to the podium and said a few words then a middle aged gentleman in a light grey suit took over and introduced Jody Wilson-Raybould to the assembled multitude to enthusiastic applause.  But not before mentioning that the event was being held on the land and traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Jody Gets down. Baldy guy unknown

She looks just like she does on TV and in the newspaper.  Exactly the same and her visage, as above, has been splashed all over everywhere these weeks.  Jody Wilson-Raybould comes across as a very solid, down-to-earth person but no less a polished professional at ease at centre stage.  She was relaxed.  One of the first things she said was the acknowledgment that we were on traditional territories meant a lot to her hearing it.

That revised my opinion somewhat that this statement regarding First Nations “traditional territories”  heard at the beginning of just about any event of any sort now was already in a state of tiresome cliché with barnacles of political correctness all over it.  The Honourable Member is First Nations herself.  I already knew that and that she’d done a lot of growing up here but she brought the message home somehow.

She said she’d been in politics five years and had been drawn to the idea of doing politics differently, which, as everyone knows, was a campaign concept from 2015.  Jody added that she was also drawn to an idea of, “non-partisanship to grapple with the serious problems we face.”  And that, “The last five weeks have been hard on me and my family.”

I don’t know why, but I felt myself choking up slightly because with those words Jody Wilson-Raybould  got choked up just very slightly herself for an instant.  I know it’s difficult to believe the hard-assed administrator of samoyeddogs.net has feelings but I was thinking here is a human being.  This is the person, not the TV and newspaper packaged semi-cardboard cut-out for consumption.

The member for Vancouver Granville said she’d been very proud to be the minister of justice and attorney general and proud to be the minister of veteran’s affairs.  There were a few more words.

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And that was more or less it.  We strode purposefully up the stairs and out into classic grey month of March twi-nite Vancouver rain.