And finally, the butterflies

which were impossible to capture in flight, so here are a few still pictures.


In the jungle the mighty jungle,

the iguana sleeps tonight.

Pink flamingo and his partner were born in 1978. They can live to be 50 years old.

A parrot grooming himself.


No, this little guy is not a toy, but rather a poisonous dart frog.

And the gods watching over it all.




Victoria Butterfly Garden more here

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

I walk in expecting to see books.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Instead I find blankets,

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

and serving dishes. Yes, I’m going to read while my guests visit.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

and this little guy which I was tempted to buy. After all it had a built in screw driver.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

I passed by more dishes, ornaments, toss cushions, purses, greeting cards and paper products ( which made some sense in a book store), skin care products and then spotted diapers and wipes. Who can read with a baby in the house?

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Well maybe if you plunk them into one of these….

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Yes, there were books too. I made it to the till with my choices and ran into these counters.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Oh, and let’s not bypass these for that baby.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

And these for ourselves on a cold winter’s night.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

No, this is not Syria

Downtown Victoria, BC, next door to the Inner Harbor, the demolition crew provides grand entertainment for locals and tourists on a sunny Saturday. But why are they tearing down this old building?


No, this is not Syria

Customs House, which takes up an entire city block framed by Government, Wharf and Courtney streets, was built on the harbour between 1894 and 1898. It has been variously known as the Federal Building, Post Office and Customs House, the latter for its role in processing goods leaving and entering the country. Its important historical features include the façade’s sandstone walls, quarried from nearby islands in Georgia Strait.

It also has what might be considered an eminently forgettable element — the addition of a post office, built in 1952 in a drab post-war style. It’s this not so pretty bit that is being torn down before construction begins on a project that will incorporate the original building to become a commercial/condo complex.

A week later it looks like this:

No, this is not Syria

Graffiti outdone

For the last several years these walls have been covered with graffiti–the spray painted foul language kind. Every so often the building owners had the walls painted over, but within a few weeks the graffiti reappeared.

Then, last year, they hired a young girl to do her thing. Today, I noted happily that her street are was fresh and graffiti free.

Graffiti outdone

Graffiti outdone

Modern medicine’s greatest failure

Modern medicine’s greatest failure


“What?” I ask anxiously.

“The school just sent an email. Head lice. In four classes.”


“Yes. Will you help?”

This will make three times in as many months. We could solve the problem by shaving their heads, but I refrain from making that suggestion.

“Of course I’ll help.” Treatment is not something one can do alone and as she and her daughter are always cuddling, we’ll have to do both of them.

Step one: Buy wine.

Step two: Apply the treatment—kills the lice and nits in 58 seconds, they claim.

Step three: After 30 minutes comb the hair with the special lice comb provided. Small problem here. The comb does not catch all the nits. Stop combing and try to trap the nit between your thumb nail and finger and pull it down the strand of hair. Sometimes you succeed, but usually you don’t.

Modern medicine’s greatest failure

The process gives a whole new meaning to the expression “nitpicking.”

Step four: Open another bottle of wine.

Step five: Curse and question the whole scientific community. Why the “H E double L” hasn’t someone managed to eradicate these little devils?

The damn things have been around for hundreds of years.

“Since no verified fossils of lice have ever been found we can only speculate when they originated. We do know the ancient Egyptians and Greeks wrote of them and they were found on prehistoric American Indian mummies.” Penn State Department of Entomology

Step six: Strip the beds, throw all recently worn clothing and anything that might have been in contact with the infected heads in the wash, put brushes, combs, and hair accessories to soak in boiling water.

Step seven: Repeat the treatment process a second time 8 to 10 days later.

Any teacher can tell you that head lice find their way through every single elementary school. I was once principal of a K-9 school that hosted a head lice study (I do not remember agreeing to this) and it was a nightmare. Weeks and weeks of checking every single person’s head for lice and I don’t remember what all else—obviously the whole experience was one of those things one does not want to remember. And—big surprise—the study did not come up with any magic answers.

If you’ve never had to deal with head lice and nits (which stick around for days after the treatment), count yourself lucky.


Why I hate Facebook, but can’t leave


Why I hate Facebook, but can’t leave

Disregarding the furor over Cambridge Analytics for a moment, let’s look at the reasons to hate Facebook.

Trying to find a post I saw recently is next to impossible, even if I remember the name of the person who posted it. Checking his or her timeline doesn’t always bring up the particular post. So I switch from my computer to my phone where I first saw the post. Not only is it not there, the current posts on my phone do not match the current posts on my computer. What the…?

Reruns are only good when it’s Buffy or The Big Bang Theory. When a post’s original date is March1, why am I seeing it again on March 10? And no, it’s not from someone who reposted it.

More annoyances:

Strangers: Posts from people I don’t know, have never heard of.

Headlines: One screams “Meghan’s rare fashion faux pas revealed.” I click out of curiosity only to learn that she forgot to remove the loose cross-stitching that holds the vent of a coat while being transported. Oh no, stop the world, I need to get off.

Expert advice: Without the name of the author or their credentials to substantiate the validity of their material I’m supposed to take it for gospel truth. “14 things to never eat again” “8 exercises you’re not doing correctly” And I’m supposed to believe this because…?

Opinions: Another post tells me women over 53 should not wear jeans. As if! “Chicklet, I’ll be wearing jeans when I’m 90.”

Click bait: 21 ways to…. and I have to click 21 times? No thanks.

Ads: Arrrgh! Just because I looked up a dress on the Guess website does not mean I want to see it another 374 times.

Bad news and more bad news: Pollution, Trump, Putin, pollution, Trump, Putin….

And that’s not even getting into the heavy duty stuff like bots and election manipulation and surveys such as this:

Facebook wanted to know in a survey if an adult asking a 14-year-old for nude photos was acceptable. The questionnaire gave multiple response options, like “This content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it.” One option that was absent: inform the authorities. Facebook’s product VP Guy Rosen called the question a “mistake.” More.

Why don’t I just close my account?

Because there are good things happening too.

Many of my friends post the most amazing stuff. Great pictures of their travels or their professional photography, news of life in Churchill, Manitoba, for example, and what they saw in DC at the March for Our Lives. Information that I would dearly miss without Facebook.

I love the posts from sites like AJ+ One of women on TV in Afghanistan talking about women’s rights or of another Afghani woman writing a university entrance exam while nursing her baby are two examples I saw recently.

And how would a modern labor movement organize something as expansive and coordinated as a state-wide strike? Well, it turns out the answer is Facebook. Over 24,000 teachers and public employees joined a private Facebook group that became the headquarters, forum, and meme factory for the massive teachers’ strike in West Virginia. That strike shuttered every public school in the state for nine days, until the teachers’ demands were met.

And how would the March for Our Lives fared without social media?

And how would I keep in touch with friends and family all over the world or keep tabs on my new heroes, Emma, David, Cameron et al without Facebook?

Still when I read articles like this, I worry that I’m not being cautious enough and should close my account.

Are you on Facebook? Have you closed your account? How worried do you think we should be?

New is not necessarily better

Remember Easy Bake ovens?


New is not necessarily better

The original toy used an ordinary incandescent light bulb as a heat source. Betty Crocker, the company behind the cake mixes sold for the toy, had flavors like German Chocolate to Rainbow Chip even back in the day.

My daughter begged for one when she was about seven and played with hers–unsupervised, yes, unsupervised for what harm could a light bulb do?–for hours on end, generously sharing her goodies with the family.

My granddaughter also dreamed of owning an Easy Bake Oven so of course indulging grandparents bought her one for her birthday–a rather cumbersome affair that looks nothing like an oven.

New is not necessarily better

Unfortunately, this model is electric, must be plugged in and warmed up for 20 minutes. The baker has to slide the pan into a slot, ensure that it is centered and wait 9 minutes while the cake or cookies bake, push the tray a little further along into the cooling area and then engage in the delicate maneuver of removing the bake goods from the slot on the other side of the oven.

Now, my granddaughter is bright, but this cannot be accomplished on her own. With the amount of supervision required we might as well bake a “real” cake.

Give me the good old oven any day.