Gravitational Waves

In 1916,  Albert Einstein pondered his general theory of relativity, suggesting gravity as a distortion of space and time triggered by the presence of matter. One hundred years later, scientists at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory ) proved Einstein right. Read link below –

It dawned on me – appreciating the magnitude of this week’s announcement, affirmation of Einstein’s theory – called for understanding what the fuss was about. With that in mind, I offer a short video explaining gravitational waves – – – –


Ask anyone,  I’m a very nice person. Polite, inclusive, open minded – one who genuinely accepts diversity. Mine is a mixed race family, I champion equality, civil rights and inclusion. A proud Canadian swaddled in multiculturalism and empathy, struggling with an onslaught of percolating dismay. Powerless to bottle fermenting resentment, hating myself for being offended.

Difficult to pin point or quantify, offense evolved over a number of years. Independent of stereotypes, profiling or judgement, offense was given infinite opportunity to dissolve. I made excuses for it, dismissed incidents as isolated, scolded myself for being a lousy human.

Feeling sorry for the five year old Chinese boy who flattened my toddler on the playground. The boy who attacked my two year old for no reason, then crossed arms, set his jaw, looked me in the eye and said “he’s only a whitey” – his father is black, never mind. The Chinese family who invited other son over to play after school, wouldn’t let me pick him up because the “driver” would deliver him, then found out they made him shower because they thought he was dirty. WTF? We laughed, I wasn’t offended, pissed maybe but willing to write it off.

Hardly of mind to judge an entire race by actions of a few, life went on. We told ourselves “cultural differences” accounted for inappropriate misunderstanding. 1997 saw sovereignty of Hong Kong revert from the UK to China, we understood the influx of foreign money. Busloads of real estate tourists, skittish to obtain safe financial haven accounted for Vancouver’s real estate boom. What began as a trickle, became a deluge. A blitzkrieg of foreign property investment culminating in Vancouver ‘s staggering housing costs. Unchecked, systematic obliteration of middle class housing in Vancouver.

On my block, three homes have been empty for 8-10 years. Gardeners appear, lights on timers go on and off, but nobody lives there. The scene plays out, block after block in any direction. Last year, investigations by a local paper reported something like 65% of homes sold in the last two years were registered to “house-wives” earning less than $50,000 a year – translation, multi million dollar home owners exempt from income tax. Not a day goes by without a mail box stuffed with flyers from Chinese real estate agents. ( pictured below, the 2 waiting for me today). Canada has two official languages, French and English – what a joke. Agents don’t even try to behave like Canadians. Chinese characters dominate advertising.

The other day a Chinese agent knocked on my door. She thrust a business card in my hand, saying in broken English “I buy your house”. I’m offended.

This week a Globe and Mail investigation revealed a litany of sordid, under-handed practices aimed at benefiting Chinese buyers. Reports of real estate agents listing their location rather than buyers address on Federal money laundering forms. Agents navigating loop-holes to flip properties several times (collecting multiple commissions ) before registering a sale. ( See link below ).

Hating myself for feeling grumpy, teetering on the brink of outright hostility, loathing myself for being a bitch – offended is putting it mildly. Truth be told, I’m offended because we could have avoided all this drama. Canadians are swell, unassuming and polite people willing to welcome with open arms. Had Chinese money bothered to bridle greed/panic long enough to realize a little effort in English goes a long way, I would applaud rather than fixate on offensive behavior. Offended stems from blatant disregard for those who call Vancouver home. Would it kill you to conduct yourself with a modicum of decency towards my home and native land?

2016-02-10 01.47.37

2016-02-10 01.48.25


Pluto’s Floating Hills

NASA’s New Horizons mission does it again – apparently Pluto has “floating hills”. February 4, 2016 NASA released images captured by New Horizons, 12 minutes before closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, at a distance of 16,000 kilometers.

Abundant hills measuring a few kilometers across, are thought to be “water ice”, floating on glaciers of dense nitrogen ice –

… likely miniature versions of the larger, jumbled mountains on Sputnik Planum’s western border. They are yet another example of Pluto’s fascinating and abundant geological activity.

Because water ice is less dense than nitrogen-dominated ice, scientists believe these water ice hills are floating in a sea of frozen nitrogen and move over time like icebergs in Earth’s Arctic Ocean.

The hills are likely fragments of the rugged uplands that have broken away and are being carried by the nitrogen glaciers into Sputnik Planum. ‘Chains’ of the drifting hills are formed along the flow paths of the glaciers.

When the hills enter the cellular terrain of central Sputnik Planum, they become subject to the convective motions of the nitrogen ice, and are pushed to the edges of the cells, where the hills cluster in groups …

View larger. | Hills of water ice on Pluto ‘float’ in a sea of frozen nitrogen and move over time like icebergs in Earth’s Arctic Ocean—another example of Pluto’s fascinating geological activity. Image via NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

View larger. | Hills of water ice on Pluto ‘float’ in a sea of frozen nitrogen. They’re thought to move slowly over time, somewhat like icebergs in Earth’s Arctic Ocean. For the scale here, notice the feature informally named Challenger Colles – honoring the crew of the lost Space Shuttle Challenger. It appears to be an especially large accumulation of these hills, measuring 37 by 22 miles (60 by 35 km). Image via NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.


Ambleside Park

Crossing Lion’s Gate Bridge from Vancouver takes you to West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park. By day, pulsating to melodies of dog walks and recreational pursuits. At night ethereal songs of darkness resonate across abandoned walkways.

Lion’s Gate bridge from Ambleside

Photo credits to my husband, linked above.


Encounter With 2013 TX68

October 6, 2013 scientists at Catalina Sky Survey noticed an anomaly approaching Earth on the night side of our planet. For three days asteroid 2013 TX68 basked in feverish observation. Barely time to estimate diameter of 38 meters, woefully short of establishing accurate orbital projections. Three days after raising eyebrows, tracking ground to a halt when 2013 TX68 passed into Earth’s daytime sky.

A few days ago NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced March 5, 2016 dawns with a return engagement – a fly-by of indeterminate distance. Uncertain trajectory, the result of brief observation comes with assurances TX68 won’t raise a ruckus. Closest estimates place TX68 at 17,000 kilometers, well within orbital distance of many communication satellites. A far cry from the high range of 14 million kilometers. Blood pressure needn’t rise, science assures we have nothing to worry about – at least not this visit. On September 28, 2017 TX68 returns with an “elevated” dash of concern. As of today, no chance on this lap increases to a 1 in 250 million gamble in 2017 – about the same probability of being killed by a falling coconut,


Home Without Punctuation

Above the cacophony of a whirlwind trip to Saskatchewan, home finds me pondering an unexpected gift. One uninterrupted day, spent not with an 80 year old blind woman, but with Margaret – poet, author, artist and philosopher, who happens to be my mother. Her poem Case Histories languished in faded mimeograph purple, forty years of solitary card-board box confinement. A sheet of yellowing paper atop hundreds of short stories, poems and drawings. “Read it to me” she said, “I wrote it without punctuation”.

Case Histories


I cant stand this too splendid too pale believe me Ill leave him I mean it all this marble this alabaster these pearls these sly opals winking weak colors through their milk the food we eat pale splendid food white asparagus tips bleached almonds blanched endive shoots seedless grapes fiddlehead ferns like pale green fetuses on porcelain plates ugh he would faint if he knew how I feel he is so pale and splendid he wont give it a thought his fine chalky hands his long slender back his high arched nose his buttercup hair did you know his hair is thinning what a joke mine is black and thick as ever funny it shames me I tie it up in this snood cant do a thing with my red ladyapple cheeks I frighten him he would like to coop me up my crystal case take me out every six months for that butterfly brush he calls a kiss he is the sick one strokes that fool milk eyed steed leans dreaming against its flank splendid pale

and so I do not think I will ever have a child what will I do what will I do my mother had a trick with a needle prick prick prick snow ebony blood and presto she had me Ive tried it nothing so far I hate embroidary

not a little girl I want a little boy nut brown hair russet skin dark merry eyes blunt hands sturdy legs blustery laugh yes yes yes I know where this comes from what of it

in my dreams Im in the forest the cottage glows with lamplight Im cooking vegetables decent turnips in an iron pot roasted potatoes chickpeas gravy a haunch of venison all juice blackberry wine mulled cloves cinnamon nutmeg the little men come in hooded happy I bend for their rough kiss beards tickle breath warm innocent they open their pockets rubies garnets sardonyx  hematite cairngorm all still in the matrix all unpolished all glinting

oh doctor I was rich the night dark as amethyst the firelight like toast no sign of the witch no sign of the prince

Margaret waits til I finish then asks me to keep her writing when she’s gone. “I know you’re the one person who’ll appreciate it”.  I’ll make sure nothing happens to it, but believe me – my appreciation has company.

Notes Flies Away

Tomorrow afternoon notes boards a plane for Saskatchewan. Battleford Saskatchewan to be precise, home to my mother and marginally older sister. Growing up we were “the sisters” – born 10 months apart in the same year, two people who couldn’t have been more different. Family is complicated, two sisters born the same year, thrust into one whether they liked it or not proved excruciating. Leaving home eradicated “the sisters”, forget drifting apart – we bolted in opposite directions. Decades passed, barely speaking to each other, years of judgement and mistrust with sporadic sprinklings of obligatory niceties.

Can’t say why I dialed her number, we hadn’t spoken in several years. All I knew was suddenly it mattered. Suggestion I was about to meet my best friend would have produced a “shut the f**k up”. We had nothing in common, let alone hope of setting assumptions aside long enough to hear each others voice – couldn’t have been more mistaken if I tried. Our lives changed that day, we heard each other for the first time and liked what we saw.

I fly away with giddy anticipation, tomorrow promises precious time with my curiously peculiar sister. We’ll dance, call bullshit and howl at the moon. She’ll indulge my affinity for the stars, and I hers for wine and sewing dance costumes. We’ll bemoan lost time and embrace whatever trouble our proximity evokes. We won’t squander our time together, although I must remember to apologize in advance to her infinitely patient husband. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, know I’m well and having the time of my life.