Supply Chain Issues

Supply chain issues seem to be a fact of life these days. Whether it was the lack of flour and eggs in our grocery stores back in March 2020, the recent shortage of infant formula in the United States, or (my latest issue) having to wait up to two months for a backorder of my preferred brand of cat food — all these things make us stop and think, “Wait a minute. What’s going on here?”

I learned on my last visit to Galiano Island that freighters like to park themselves just off the northern tip of the island while waiting for an empty berth at the Port of Vancouver. English Bay always has a number of waiting freighters as well, but when the bay is full, those ships have to look elsewhere for a place to anchor and wait. Vancouver is Canada’s largest and busiest port, with 3000 ships arriving every year. That’s a lot of ships and an awful lot of waiting time.

But while on Galiano again last weekend, I was surprised to learn that often these ships are waiting for what seems like an awfully long time. The container ship in this next photo? It was sitting off the north end of the island for three weeks.

I can’t see any way that a three-week delay to offload a fully loaded container ship from Asia doesn’t add to our supply chain problems. Not to mention the cost of goods.

Or the seafarers stuck on board. Waiting.

Happy Canada Day!

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to celebrate our national holiday together. This year is the first in three years that we can gather in large crowds again. I went down to Canada Place this afternoon to have a look. It’s almost other-worldly to see so many people all together in one place.

Typically, on Canada Day, I post a photo of the Canadian flag. We call it the Maple Leaf, our flag, and we’re rather proud of it. Last year, however, I just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t the pandemic or the fact that we couldn’t celebrate together that made me reluctant to post about Canada Day.

No, it was because of the grief. And the horror.

The horror was learning, only a few weeks prior to Canada Day, that there were more than 200 unmarked graves at the former residential school at Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, near Kamloops, BC. In the year since, many more unmarked graves across Canada have been detected using ground-penetrating radar — and many more will be in the future.

Indigenous peoples have always known about these graves, but, sadly, it took other Canadians — those of us who chose to come to Canada or were brought here by others — a lot longer to accept that truth.

And that was the root of my grief. How is it our country went through an entire Truth and Reconciliation Commission and I still didn’t understand that children had died?

So that’s where I was a year ago. I wasn’t sure how or even if I should celebrate a country that exists because it colonized, exploited, and murdered other peoples.

A year on, our country is fumbling its way towards acknowledging the truth part of truth and reconciliation. And many communities across the country found ways to celebrate Canada Day while honouring that truth in our path towards reconciliation. Today’s festivities at Canada Place were planned with the Indigenous peoples of Vancouver on whose unceded and ancestral territory we live: the Squamish, the Musqueam, and the Tsleil-Waututh.

We have a long ways to go, but it’s a start.

I’ve been thinking today about that Canadian flag we’re all so proud of. It’s become a symbol of the so-called Freedom Convoy that occupied and terrorized Ottawa last winter for several weeks, and is trying to again this weekend. When I saw a car drive by me this morning with two small Canadian flags attached to each window, my initial reaction was to cringe. Because the flag in Canada has become a symbol of protest.

And so, this year again, I was wondering how to celebrate our flag and this day.

But then I listened to the Canada Day message of our Prime Minister. He made a point of talking about our Canadian flag, the Maple Leaf, and reminded us that it is more than a symbol. It is a promise: “a promise of opportunity, a promise of safety for those fleeing violence and war, and a promise of a better life.”

I thought about all those people who have come to Canada on the basis of the promise that they could be free. That includes the most recent refugees to arrive — from Ukraine, from Afghanistan, from Syria — as well as the many others that came before them, for generations.

A few years ago, I had the honour and privilege to witness 57 people from 18 countries take the oath of citizenship and become new Canadians, including a dear friend of mine. The citizenship judge had a lot to say, but these words I will remember forever:

Canada didn’t happy by accident.

Diversity is our strength.

If that judge’s words aren’t a much-needed antidote to current world events, I don’t know what is. And so I will once again proudly celebrate Canada Day, and our flag, while acknowledging that our country is a work-in-progress.

As all countries should be.

Through My Lens: Delphiniums

Summer has finally arrived in Vancouver. Better late than never, I say. We had our first hot stretch this past week and I tell you, it was glorious.

Two nights ago, I headed over to the Stanley Park Rose Garden because I knew the roses would be in full bloom. And they were. So beautiful.

But what really grabbed my attention were these delphiniums. I could not get over the vivid blues and purples.

Stunning.

Juneuary

I know, I know. I keep saying I won’t write about the weather. And then I do.

It’s just that … well, when you live in Vancouver and the weather is great, there is nowhere you’d rather be. But when you live in Vancouver and the weather is awful, there is literally anywhere you’d rather be.

Such has been the case these past few months as we endured the coldest spring in 77 years. That’s quite the record.

This month, we’ve been enjoying a typical “Juneuary.” Every June, a low pressure system moves in over the Lower Mainland and hangs around for most of the month. Cold days, colder nights, and rain, lots of rain. It’s been the wettest June in 30 years, and on June 9, the 26.3 mm of rain that fell made it the wettest June 9 since 1937.

We skipped Juneuary in 2019 and 2020, but it was back with a vengeance in 2021, although most of us quickly forgot about it as soon as the heat dome rolled in. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like we’ll have to endure one of those this summer.

The good news about the cool temperatures is that the unusually large snow pack is melting slowly. We don’t want — or need — any more flooding in this province.

And apparently summer temperatures are just around the corner. I cannot wait.

Here’s a photo of the barge that came ashore last November on the beach at the end of my street. It’s still here, seven months later — no longer an oddity, just an eyesore.

Not to mention a constant reminder that nothing is as it should be with our climate.

Through My Lens: Granada

Here’s a photo I quite like that didn’t make it into any of my posts about Spain last year. This is Granada, as seen from the Alhambra.

Through My Lens: Portico of La Madeleine

When I’m photographing my European churches, I’m always on the lookout for an unusual angle. Here’s one: from the portico at La Madeleine.

Through My Lens: Kinderdijk Ponies

Who of you needs to see a photo of some ponies? Or a windmill?

I took this photo while exploring the windmills at Kinderdijk with some friends a few years ago. It didn’t make it into my earlier post because most of the mill is hidden.

But I really do like the ponies.

Happy Easter!

Église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Paris, January 2011

The Beginning of the End?

Look who’s back!

Yesterday, Vancouver welcomed its first cruise ship in 891 days. Holland America’s Koningsdam stopped for a day at Canada Place, after spending Saturday in Victoria. If ever there was a sign that we are past the pandemic, I’m thinking this is it.

Except we’re not past it. Not really. A sixth wave is on its way and those of us who are immune-compromised or work in health care or have friends or family who are immune-compromised or work in health care or are not yet eligible for vaccines (think babies) know there are still lots of risks. There has been an awful lot of talk about how we have to learn how to live with Covid, which doesn’t seem to give much consideration to those still at high risk of dying of Covid.

That aside, tourism is a billion-dollar industry in Vancouver, and those of us who work in tourism and hospitality welcome the news that our city is once again a safe destination for anyone who wants to visit. The Port of Vancouver has offered shore power to cruise ships since 2009, which means that 60 percent of the ships that dock here can run on lower-emission electrical power while in port instead of their diesel-powered auxiliary engines.

While I was taking this photo, a so-called Freedom Rally was gathering behind me to protest vaccines. I’m not sure what their issue is at this point since all of BC’s remaining restrictions concerning Covid-19 were lifted last week.

As I watched the protestors for a moment, a young man walked past me, wearing a black sweatshirt with the word “Ukraine” in large blue and yellow letters. The irony of the moment made my head spin.

Through My Lens: La Madeleine

Today is Palm Sunday, and I’m posting a photo of Église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, commonly known as La Madeleine. You’re right, it doesn’t look much like a Christian church. That’s because the building was originally intended to be a temple to celebrate Napoleon’s army. After the fall of Napoleon, King Louis XVIII decided that it would instead become a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It was eventually consecrated in 1842. La Madeleine is located in the centre of Paris in the 8e arrondissement.

One interesting bit of trivia about La Madeleine: Frédéric Chopin’s funeral was held here in 1849, and he had requested that Mozart’s Requiem be sung. The Requiem has parts for female voices, but La Madeleine did not allow female members in its choir. Eventually, the church decided it would allow a mixed choir to sing at the service, but only if the women stood behind a black velvet curtain.