Wise words from Robert J. Sawyer

I have refrained from talking politics or the current world situation on my blog, but feel compelled to share this with Mr. Sawyer’s permission.


 never got to work at the ROM, but my novel Calculating God was set there, and, as part of the Museum’s celebration of its 100th birthday, they put a placard in the sidewalk our front of the Planetarium commemorating that fact.

I am privileged to count Rob a friend. I first met him a number of years ago when I attended one of his writing courses at the Banff Centre (School of the Arts in Banff, Alberta, Canada).

Rob is a renowned science fiction author who has won numerous awards . But, if you’ve read his novel QUANTUM NIGHT  (published before Trump was elected), you will know just how politically astute he is.

Quantum Night

Recently Rob posted this on Facebook. 

An old friend asked, “Robert, are you now becoming political?”

My Response. Of course I’m political. I’m an engaged citizen and the world is in crisis. I always have been political, but who ISN’T political these days?

The United States fought a war over taxation without representation; any citizen who just goes along with whatever the government is doing without engaging in the discussion and participating at the ballot box is giving up the WHOLE POINT of democracy.

In Canada (and other parliamentary democracies), we have something beautiful: “Official Opposition.” The notion, enshrined in our laws, that it is fully patriotic and righteous to oppose the current government is something deeply precious.

Support of the government is fine, too, as long as it’s carefully considered support, not just keeping one’s head down and trying to ignore what’s going on.

Note: Rob has dual citizenship.

Rob’s latest book:

The Oppenheimer Alternative Kindle Edition







Tacos de birria – Canadian style

One of our favorite breakfasts in Mexico can be found at the taco stand a couple of blocks down the street. Tacos de birria: Shredded meat served with onions (cooked or raw), broth from the meat if you like, and your choice of hot sauce (the red one) or salsa suave (the green one made from avocado).

Well, we’re back in Canada and found these treats at our favorite coffee shop, La Roux Patisserie, in China Town, Victoria, BC. I know,> A french pastry shop in China Town!? But, hey, you can’t argue when everything is so tasty.. https://laroux.ca/



Churros on the street corner – Mexico

On our way home from dinner, we stop at the corner for churros. Our timing is perfect as the chef is just starting to heat the oil.

The batter:

I won’t presume to recommend a recipe. There are many on the Internet, but I have no idea which might be close to this original.


Using the pastry funnel to put the batter into the oil. :




The finished product: To be dipped in a large shallow bowl holding a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and (the chef’s secret ingredient) chocolate powder.


By the time the chef wraps our churros in a large sheet of brown paper a long line up has formed behind us.

These treats are definitely worth the wait.





Coronavirus and Fluevog shoes

Fluevog designs ‘The Dr. Henry’shoe inspired by B.C.’s provincial health officer

Vancouver shoe designer John Fluevog says pre-sale of new pink heel set to begin next week

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is adding another title to her long list of credentials — shoe muse.

John Fluevog Shoes is launching a limited edition shoe called “The Dr. Henry,” inspired by the public health official.

The Vancouver designer says the pink-heeled tribute was made with Henry’s blessing, and all proceeds from a pre-sale set to begin next week will be donated to Food Banks B.C. to support the fight against COVID-19

Henry has gained legions of fans for her calm, compassionate and candid demeanour — as well as her fashion sense — during frequent news appearances to keep the public apprised of the latest developments in the pandemic.

Fluevog counts himself among this following, and apparently the feelings are reciprocated, as Henry is an “avid Fluevoger.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, who admits she is an avid Fluevog shoe-lover at a COVID-19 news announcement in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“At times like these, we’re so fortunate to have someone who is calm and comforting but direct and positive and realistic, informing and educating us day to day,” Fluevog said in a statement.

“We always like to find ways to help and to highlight those who are doing good in our world. To hear about and see that our admiration for Dr. Henry was mutual was just a beautiful cherry on top of an already great idea sundae.”

The two-tone pink heel features patent leather accents, interlacing and a buckle, as well as some wise words from its namesake.

Fluevog says the inside of the shoe will be stamped with a reminder from Henry to “be kind, be calm and be safe.”

Tinacos – aka water tanks – Mexico

Virtually every building in our area of Mexico has a Tinaco or water tank on the roof. Water is pumped up to the Tinaco and gravity feeds the water to your taps. If you want more than a drizzle in your shower, you add a water pressure tank to the system.

Modern tinacos look like this.



You sometimes see a cement tinaco on the roof of an old building. They can be as much as 100 years old.

I wonder if the modern ones will last as long?



The Bookish Life of Nina Hill = Abbi Waxman

An absolutely delightful romp through the typical and, in this instance, the not so typical journey to “happily ever after.”

Waxman had me anxious to turn the page to see what Nina would do next and in many instances, laughing out loud. Nina and her world is full of wonderful adventure and quirky characters – the kind you would like to call friends.


Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.



A Girl Like That – Tanaz Bhathena


Born in Mumbai, living in Jeddah, Zarin dares to defy the constraints placed on her by both family and society–and her peers with dire consequences. A powerful, well-written novel that raises the reader’s awareness of the world millions of girls and women live in–the limitations and dangers they face often insurmountable.

Author Tanaz Bhathena, who was born in Mumbai and raised in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Toronto, writes, “My own story is different from Zarin’s and Mishal’s. Yet it does not make their stories any less true, nor does it diminish the reality of living in a world that still defines girls in various ways without letting them define themselves.”


Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.
This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers; tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion; and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.