The Mall in Mexico (Puerto Vallarta)

Stores? Of course. Our favorite is the Liverpool department store. Click here

Decorations? Of course:


And fun for the kids!

There is also a “jumping place” ie trampoline area that the munchkin particularly loves. For more about the mall click here






Only in Canada – Chocolate Poutine

A visit to our favorite chocolate shop and this is what we see.

I was tempted to try one, but my husband had already ordered us our favorite dipped cones … so next time, poutine it is!

Who knew a book about math could be so entertaining?

Who knew a book about math could be so entertaining. Thank you to my Venezuelan friend who introduced me to this book. Originally written in Portuguese, she received a Spanish translation and here it is in English.



May 6 was the National Day of Mathematics in Brazil. This day was chosen because it was the birthday of Julio Cesar de Mello e Souza, a maths teacher from Rio de Janeiro, who was also the author of Brazil’s most famous literary hoax, O Homem que Calculava (The Man Who Counted), which is also one of the most successful books ever written in Brazil.

It’s a hoax because when the book was first published in 1932, it was said to be the work of an Arabian author, Malba Tahan.  

Melle e Souza created Tahan because he realized that it was easier to get published in Brazil, during the 1930s, if you used a foreign pseudonym. Apparently Brazilian publishers didn’t have much faith in local authors.

Mello e Souza created an elaborate history for Malba Tahan. Born in 1885 near Mecca, he had travelled all over the world, including – bizarrely – a 12-year stint in Manchester where his father was a successful wine salesman. Malba Tahan had died fighting for the liberty of a group of Bedouins in the desert.
When Mello e Souza began writing as Malba Tahan, only the proprietor of the newspaper that printed the stories was in on the joke. For several years no-one knew that the famous Arab author was actually a local maths teacher whose other passion was collecting porcelain frogs. When eventually Malba Tahan was outed as humble Julio Cesar de Mello e Souza, however, he was famous enough for it not to matter.

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.