Thursday, 22 June 2017


Oskar Wilhelm Fischinger was a German-American abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter, notable for creating abstract musical animation many decades before the appearance of computer graphics and music videos.

I know this because Google has done a Doodle:

I clicked on it and made my own which is this:

Amazing! I love it!  It's really a 'riff'.

I will call it Flutterings ...  after the pigeons in George Square last week.

 Fischinger image Wikipedia.

Saturday, 17 June 2017


I was in the city centre of Glasgow today.  Absolutely buzzing!

Glasgow Art School's Final Year Show is on.  Here are some eye-catching textile dispalys; names to watch out for.

 Poppy Tuckley
 Katie Connell
Becky Moore

 A sculpture made of reeds.  It's a high heeled shoe... quite clever!

George Square had this crane hoisting a table full of folk.  People were queuing to be seated around the 22 seated 'bar' and were being served something fizzy in tall glasses.  Then once strapped in the whole 'table' was hoisted 100 feet into the air.

Well ... whatever turns you on....

 Apparently it's a pop-up restaurant:

"THE HIGH LIFE Sky restaurant ... is set to welcome first diners this weekend – Punters will be fastened into their seats as they hover above the city while enjoying a selection from some top restaurants." [ Sun newspaper].

The Victorian statues in George Square are oblivious of the sky hoist event...

Clive of India must be turning in his grave

Sunday, 11 June 2017


Cherries (really, any of the soft fruits) can sometimes gives me a problem in my old age living in the UK.  It comes  from growing up on what they call in Britain a "fruit farm'.  We had an orchard.  We grew apples and cherries (in the North Okanagan, British Columbia. It was too far north for peaches, apricots and pears but they were a-plenty in season.)

These seaonsal thoughts come about because I had a recent conversation where I was being 'enlightened' about cherries. I thought to myself "D'ya know... I could write a book about cherries!" 

In fact, it reminds me of  Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blizen's book Out of Africa where her opening line is:

"I had a farm in Africa..."

Yes, I would start the book

"We had an orchard." 

Maybe I should stick to painting ... like this one:  

However here is my treat to myself today:

The first of the season's cherries 'Giant Prime',  very fresh, which came from Spain (don't think about the air miles!). They are not Okanagan, but never mind ...  plus some roses from the garden and a glass of wine courtesy of Mairi.

And here is one of my favourite old photos (early 1970s).  It is our cherry stand on the Trans-Canada Highway. Plywood sides, cardboard containers holding 25 cents a pound fruit and wee new baby Kim in the weighing scales next to the area where we washed and patted dry the cherries before filling each box on the scales.   Would those be my mother's roses in the lower right triangle shape in the photo?  (People used to remark on those roses as much as the fruit, as I recall!)

Happy Days!

Saturday, 10 June 2017


The end of an eventful week. The election is over and we can all get back to normal... whatever that means.

Time to look on the bright side ... which means getting a laugh from the wee ones. i.e. the 2 Munchkins.
Harriet (4) and Ellie (2) were here this week for a few hours.  They are quite close and will stand up for each other if scolded by me.   They made me laugh:

Harriet must have been trying to get Ellie to do something without a lot of success and was getting exasperated:  "C'mon Ellie!  Make an effort!" in a Mummy tone of voice!

When we visited Alastair in New Jersey last month he was proudly showing us his new 'toy'.  It was a 3D printer.  He demonstrated the technology by printing us a house number from the plastic raw material which gets squirted out on to a platform located in a large printer box unit.

So Iain got them mounted today.

Talking of printers we both headed out to the local retail park to purchase a new printer.  It is one we are going to share. 

The young lady assistant was very helpful e.g. pointed out that I will now be able to print out images straight from my iPhone. 

While waiting for the card to process the purchase she asked, by way of conversation,  "Are you up to much today?"

I had to chuckle to myself as we live a very quiet life and I am sure most folk would answer along the lines of "We're going to do some more shopping" or whatever.  I just replied that we were heading home for a quiet afternoon in the garden.

However  I got thinking about that phrase.   I think I only ever use it in the  negative form, i.e. "I've not been up to much these days."  I don't think I have ever used it the other way around.  M-m-m-m ... but, yes, here is another way I would use it, also in the past tense:

"Been up to much lately?!

Pair of Mandarin Ducksy by Baresi Franco, Wikipedia


Friday, 9 June 2017


Iain and I were saddened to hear from Alice that Dick had died (May 23, 2017). He was a legend in his own lifetime.  We both have memories of him which I have grouped into several categories: photos, stories, poetry.

The images are high res and all are in my possession (UBC memorbilia and Christmas cards).

[1] Some photos ...

 Christmas card 1972

  Christmas card 1971

 Christmas card 1969  "Steck & Hagen Waddington in winter"

Christmas card 1971 "Mt Augusta St Elias Range"

[2] The stories ...

When Iain came to Vancouver from Scotland in 1966 he lived with Bob Cuthbert and mates on West 11th.   There were lots of stories of climbing, climbing with Dick and also of Dick's 'first ascents'.

Iain recalls the fellows lamenting at that time that there were only a few 'first ascents' left that could be done from Vancouver in a weekend!  

Around about 1968 or 1969 we visited Dick and family in Alberta.  On that occasion Dick told us a story about when he had had a confrontation with a grizzly.  He had a gun and used it.  Iain then asked Dick "Do you still carry a gun?"   "No. I lie down behind a log (or whatever) and play dead."

The next day we were sitting in the airport awaiting our flight east when a fellow sitting back to back with us got up and came around to say hello.  It was Ian Stirling (VOC).  He was getting on the same flight east.  We sat together in a 3 seater row and Ian told us stories of his work with polar bears and, yes, he had had also had an encounter with a grizzly bear.  And, yes, he echoed Dick's strategy (play dead behind a log) and ... was alive to tell the tale.  

[3] The poetry ...

I was in awe of Dick from my very first meeting of him in the VOC hut on a Thursday (in the period 1963-67).   I recall being impressed that he had written a book [Climber's Guide to the Coastal Ranges of British Columbia which came out in 1965].  I had never met anyone who had written a book and was very struck by the brain of the man!

Over the years he was back and forth to the house on West 4th.  One memory I have is being on the phone one night anxious about their return from a night 'adventure'.  Let's just say it involved a concrete structure ?North Shore (as opposed to a campus building)!

In 1966 I offered to be the VOC Journal Editor.  Either Dick offered or I asked (can't recall which) but we got talking about the fact that he wrote poetry. I was mightily impressed, again, with the brain of the man!... a very 'deep' person, I remember concluding.

And that is how his poems went into that 1965-66 VOC Journal.  Those were the days when one (by that I mean me) typed every page.

He eventually had a collection published in 2009 and this is my copy as given to Iain and I when we visited him on the Sunshine Coast around that date.  He signed it with a nod to "The Good Old Days"!

Thursday, 1 June 2017


There is a very pleasant BBC 4 minute video about Frances Chichester's single-handed sail around the world in 1966. He arrived back in the UK in July 1967. I went to see the boat several weeks later as I had just arrived in the UK.

Click on this link: 

50 years ago

Source of photos:

Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Iain and I spent a pleasant afternoon at Cameron House as guests at a celebratory dinner.  I am used to the host or possibly a group of guests being civil engineers but this occasion was different; some of the guests were from the nuclear industry.  Lots to talk about - nuclear energy, waste disposal, components of smoke alarms (!)

An anecdote came to mind ... and these chaps did not know the story.  It was told to me years ago ... a rather interesting Glasgow story about how the word 'isotopes'  came into use.

Isotopes and LIfe's Baggage

For some reason I have always remembered the meaning of the word, namely, 'atoms of an element which have the same atomic number but different atomic weight'. (I was obliged to study high school plus 1st and 2nd year university chemisty as part of the Nursing School at UBC in the early 1960s! And this is probably a good example of what a waste ... how irrelevant!.... it all was!)

But I digress ....  the anecdote:

A man called Fredrick Soddy moved to Glasgow in 1904 and was a lecturer in Physical Chemistry and Radioactivity at Glasgow University. His field was the chemistry of radioactive elements.

He found that a radioactive element may have more than one atomic mass though the chemical properties are identical  But he didn't have a name for this. 

At a dinner party in his father-in-law's house at 11 University Gardens he was talking to a fellow guest, Dr Margaret Todd, about this.

It was she who, over a glass of sherry, came up with suggestion of 'isotopes' from the Greek roots isos (ἴσος "equal") and topos (τόπος "place").

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of isotopes in 1921.

Sunday, 28 May 2017


Two wee gnomes in the garden.  Ellie (2) and Harriet (nearly 4).

Ellie is a very good speaker for 2 years old.  She makes us laugh.  I said to her "Ellie, you're a real blether!" [Scottish word for someone who talks a lot.]  

She replied "No I'm not!.  I'm a little girl!"  [pronounced gur-r-r-r-l   with a strong Scottish accent]

We bought a garden table with parasol. It has been wonderful for this spell of very hot, sunny weather.  Harriet has to test the winding mechanism.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Floral tributes and tea lights for the Manchester Terrorist Attack were being placed at the base of the Sir Walter Scott Monument in George Square, Glasgow today.  I happened to be in the city centre at noon en route to a concert in the Merchants Hall adjacent to George Square.
 There was an armed police presence in Queen Street Station as I came through.  The chap at the exit gate said that they are going to be around "for the next few days at least".

Glasgwegians know about terrorist attacks (Glasgow Airport 2007) so it is a topic that is on everyone's mind. Also IRA bomb threats were a feature of the 70s and 80s as well.

 A George Square resident ... pigeon.

Saturday, 20 May 2017


Avocados are getting a bad press these days. if "An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe in it." then a fruit (in this case) should not be held responsible for the behaviour of the people who eat it.

Or maybe that should be "A rose ... oops ... avocado by any other name would cost as much." 
Anyhow.... an article in an Australian newspaper May 15, 2017 by Jennifer Calfas was articulating something people of our generation have observed for long enough, namely, saving and spending habits of the younger generation.

Actually I notice it more when the occasion arises when I am thinking about spending a bit of money e.g. splashing out on something.  I (and other like me) have to fight the habit of a lifetime ... do I need? If I buy this, what else cannot be purchased? Deferment, i.e. putting it off until sometime in the future, was the default position.

Here is this millionaire talking about this generation's spending habits (not 1970s bathroom suites):

Millionaire to Millennials: Stop Buying Avocado Toast If You Want to Buy a Home

Spending on avocados — the pricey, popular superfruit beloved by young people — may be one of the reasons why some young people can't afford a house, according to Australian millionaire and property mogul Tim Gurner.

"When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn't buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each," Gurner told the Australian news show 60 Minutes.

Only 32% of home owners were first-time buyers in 2016, the lowest point since 1987, according to a study by NerdWallet. A recent study by HSBC found that American millennials have a homeownership rate of 35%, and in Australia only about 28% of millennials own their homes. Cost is often a major factor in millennials' decisions to buy — the study found that a lot of young homeowners got a financial boost from their parents when making their purchase."We're at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high," Gruner said. 

"They want to eat out every day, they want to travel to Europe every year. The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it, saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder."

Monday, 15 May 2017


I was treated to a Birthday meal out on Sunday.  Mairi, John and the 4 children all gathered at Pizza Express on the top of Byres Road, Glasgow,  I met up with them after a leisurely walk through the Botanic Gardens (which are celebrating their 200th centenary next weekend).

As someone who eats anything I often say to the person taking the order "You choose; something that is not so big that I cannot finish it."

Without hesitation he replied "Leggera pizza".  Never 'eard of it! 

Here is exactly what I had, i.e. photo taken from Pizza Express's website... 10/10!

'Leggera' mean 'light', i.e. it has a thinner base, is about 9 inches across, and is made with a hole in the middle. This is filled with a green salad and their own properly made salad dressing.  This is their goat's cheese and caramelized onion - delicious and just the right amount placed in front of me.  

Again I sing the praises of Italian cooking. They know about food; they know about eating. (Recently I have eaten at some quite smart places e.g. white linen, hotel or club and the dish served up was white food on white plate with a white sauce.  Oh dear....!

My birthday present was a meal for 2 with John or Mairi as taxi/chauffeur included. I am going to share it with Maggie.  She is up for it; it's come at a good time.

Sunday, 14 May 2017


Ellie (2) and Harriet (nearly 4) were with us for 2 hours this morning. We have had a welcome overnight rainfall after 2 weeks of solid blue skies and sunshine so it was a perfect morning to be out.  
Here are views of the garden with 2 Munchkins in amongst the plants.


A Fashion Statement

A stuck gondola?

 An artist without a paintbrush

Hosepipe Helpers

Friday, 12 May 2017


It's that time of year again... another birthday and this blog clocks up another year - 10years!

After my morning piano lesson (jump-lead session to charge the batteries - never fails!)  Iain and I headed off to catch the ferry to Dunoon to visit friends whose garden this is.  It looks out over the Clyde. Welcome cups of tea on the table under the parasol rounded off a birthday meal at Colintraive Hotel.

Another friend's garden with lots of nooks and crannies for wee ones to explore.

The same garden showing the pond with 'stainless steel' looking balls floating in it.  They are plastic and seem to be unaffected by weathering.

Lots of hours spent these days in our own garden.  The seedlings have germinated and grown lustily in the day-after-day sunshine. The wee bottle of red wine  is my neighbour's gift of a 4 pm pick-me-up.  (It used to be 5 pm but these days I cave in sooner!)

Another day, another treat:

Maggie and Brian and Iain and I went to the Citizen's Theatre Travels with my Aunt by Graheme Greene.

At the entrance the evening sun was shining through the windows on to the entrance foyer statues of Shakespeare and Robert Burns.  Basically they play  was 4 male actors 'narrating' the story. The productions was 'novel' by that I mean modern, quirky... all black and grey and white.