Friday, December 26, 2008


I've never been a Boxing Day shopper, or much of any kind of shopper, for that matter, unless all those coffee shop lattes count.  But today, I did want to buy some suet for the birds and get to the gym.  With most stores closed, the suet as I've seen it in my neighbor's garden, was not to be found.  A Safeway butcher kindly gave me a bag of fat, well laced with bits of blood, trimmed from the meat being packaged.  It was truly a labor of love to bring it home, let alone hang it outside.  I'm a vegetarian, not for health, but because I can't bear the thought of eating animal flesh.  Not a popular view, I know, and not one that I advocate for others, but there it is.  I don't know if any birds tried it out because I was gone most of the day after hanging it in a plastic container on a line that goes from the house to the little garage/shed where my bike waits quietly.  Most likely, tomorrow, I'll throw it out and go looking once more for the suet block.

It was tricky getting to the gym, but I made it.  It was much trickier coming home.  With many buses stuck, there were long waits at every stop.  I finally walked up the hill from Alma, along 10th.  Sometimes, the path was well packed but sometimes, it was slow going through deep, slippery slushy snow.  Every once in a while, there was a hedge leaning so far out over the hidden sidewalk, walking resembled a gym exercise, knees bent to 90 degrees.  And sometimes, there were tunnels formed by laden down branches.  I took a picture of the last one.  Those headlights at the end of the tunnel come from a car going up 10th, and that path is the sidewalk. 
This was taken yesterday.  Undisturbed snow on the garage/shed roof.
This was also taken yesterday.  Just snow on the hedge and a view of Black Jack's run around the yard that Bill continues to shovel faithfully.  Thanks, Bill!  The talk, as I traveled the buses, was that most people do not ever remember this much snow in Vancouver, or at least if there was as much, it lasted for only a couple of days.  I did hear some people mention the year 1971.  I wonder if we've beat that record yet.  I continue to wish for rain, but also count my lucky stars.  I'm warm, safe, well-fed and still able to get out and about, albeit a tad more slowly than usual.

And I am just about to begin the last chapter of Bel Canto.  I dread the ending, both because I am hopelessly in love with several of the characters, and because I fear Ann Patchett's brilliant descriptions will steal the luster from future reading.  Here is a description of a grandmother sharing a very special book with her grandsons: 
I was not allowed to even touch the page until I was ten, but still I washed my hands just for the privilege of looking.  She kept it wrapped in a quilt under the sofa in the living room where she slept.  She struggled to carry it but would let no one help her.  When she was certain the table was clean we would put the quilt with the book inside it on the table and slowly unfold the quilt.  Then she would sit down.  She was a small woman, and we stood beside her.  She was very particular about the light over the table.  It couldn't be too strong because she was afraid of fading the colors, and it couldn't be so weak that she felt the paintings could not be fully comprehended.  She wore white cotton gloves that were perfectly plain and saved for only this occasion and she turned the pages while we watched.  Can you imagine this?


  1. I was a vegetarian for years before I met David, and I remained vegetarian until it became clear that we were going to go through life together (a couple of years). We are not huge meat eaters now -- he eats less than he did and I eat more. Neither of us eats much in comparison to the 5-7 lbs we feed our dogs daily. I even stopped feeling guilty about it a couple of years ago, but it was a hard change to make. Kudos to you -- I am envious in some ways. But the turkey (organic free range) was very good last night.

    Enjoy the last chapter. I liked the ending after I recovered from the sadness. It made sense. I am going to finish Paul Quarrinton's The Ravine tonight so that I can move onto Miriam Toews newest. So much to read, so little time.

  2. No kudos deserved. I stopped eating meat pretty much as soon as I left home, and don't miss it at all. I cannot remember ever wanting it. I think you deserve more credit for being flexible. As for guilt, it's highly overrated, and I'm glad you don't indulge:) I would never impose my vegetarian diet on anyone, let alone dogs or cats, and I don't feel guilty about that. What I do worry about sometimes is the animals' quality of life and method of killing. Organic and free range make sense to me.

    I finished the book today. I was so prepared for the sadness, it was almost anticlimactic. Need to think about the idea of Gen and Roxanne marrying. It does make sense, but part of me resists.

    Did you enjoy The Ravine?

    I have two books here that I haven't read: Bay of Spirits by Farley Mowat and Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall. But, a part of me wants more fiction, and I don't want to be comparing an earlier novel of Ann Patchett's until I've had time to let Bel Canto go.

  3. One of my good friends describes herself as a facultative vegetarian. (In case it never came up before, a facultative anaerobe is a a primarily anaerobic organism that can also survive in the presence of oxygen). I like that attitude a lot.

    The Ravine is fine. It's funny and sweet and sad in all they ways that are typical or Quarrington, but it's underedited and sloppy as a result.

    I rarely read nonfiction -- I just love fiction way too much. We seem to have agreed on Bel Canto, so perhaps I can make other recommendations for you. A few months ago I read Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb and I was blown away. And Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses is my standard recommendation to anyone interested in knowing the kind of literature I like.

  4. Interesting. I hadn't come across the term, facultative. Yes, it's an attitude I would aspire to, but I'd have to be starving to test it fully:) Bill describes himself as a flexitarian, after seeing the term in a vegetarian cookbook by Mark Bittman. I like that attitude as well.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I stopped by a bookstore yesterday and bought All the Pretty Horses, Run and Sweetness in the Belly. Lots to look forward to!