Archive for April, 2017

False Creek Church

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

I stepped out this morning just after sunrise. I walked slowly and carefully through the walkway. There was a very strong lingering smell of skunk. I would have liked to have seen one, but at least there was the reminder that there are creatures of the earth, going about, living their lives in the nighttime before we emerge in the daylight.

In this city of more than 600,000, I was alone as I ambled along the seawall. What a rarity. What a joy. How can we not look up? We don’t look up enough. The clouds were beyond description in their glory. The skyscrapers across the Creek, towering, shimmering pinnacles of glass, slipped into perspective beneath these incomparable acts of creation.

Geese rose in pairs behind me in the fields. Calling, calling. A cormorant with a brilliant red slash of colour along his beak, dove successfully for little fish that he gulped after each surface. I stood and watched the sun break cover from a humongous cumulus pile up and its beams hit me smack in the face. I needed that. I closed my eyes to it. Bless me, I am here. I heard a soft splash below me; a river otter slid up and down through the water, hugging the shoreline.

Two years ago, on March 24th, I waited to hear word of another granddaughter being born of my daughter in Texas. Waiting is anticipation, held back excitement, an undercurrent of nervous worry. Life skirting death to birth. While I waited, to calm myself, I looked up the website for The Cloud Appreciation Society. I scrolled through photos from all over the world of the most magnificent clouds: asperitas, mammatus, lenticularis, altocumulus, cirrus, crepuscular rays and shadows.

I decided to sign up right then and there. I’ve been a cloud watcher, a sky dreamer all my life. A few clicks later I had joined my tribe.

Diem Lexi Rojas was safely born and joined her family here on earth. A few weeks later my certificate arrived in the mail from England, and now hangs framed on my wall. It commemorates that morning’s vigil.

The Cloud Appreciation Society

We do hereby certify that

Diane Toulmin

joined this society on

24th March 2015

and will henceforth seek

to persuade all who’ll listen

of the wonder and

beauty of clouds

Member 38075 Number

I made my way back along the stone curve of the seawall, stopping periodically to stand in praise of the sky’s ever changing hymnal. When I can lift my eyes and feel myself a part of the great heavens, I am grateful for any time of solitude under God’s sky. I felt the slumbering giant of urbanity stirring behind me, and as if on cue, dog walkers with leash and coffee cup, neon joggers with sunglasses and headsets, began emerging from their human lairs.

Time to go home.

Good Life


……..for Diem, xo.

America Is Doing the Limbo

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

The United States of America has a new national dance. They have adopted the Trinidadian limbo! There’s a new party in town and everyone’s afraid of the bully. Dance, dance, dance. Do you know the limbo? It’s been going on for a while now and it’s set to be a marathon, lasting four whole years. This is what the limbo looks like. When the bully says dance, everyone falls in line and follows orders from his big forked tongue. The bar is continually lowered and it’s called progress to bend and bend and bend. Try not to break! But git’ under that pole that is lowering all the time. Nope. Can’t say the States have raised the bar in any which way.

I was reminded of something when I saw Trump wearing his red baseball cap at the rallies, his way of trying to pass himself off as an everyman. Appealing to the regular guys. “I’m one of you.” (“Shmucks!”) I worked at the big box store Chapters many years ago and we booksellers were hired for our book knowledge. The ability to sell your enthusiasm and promote the books you knew was of course paramount. But we were paid only minimum wage. Our employment was deemed retail sales, despite its specialized nature. We were given gold stars, pats on the back, and pitiful pay. But not a living wage. The big honcho came to a staff meeting one night. We were warned to be respectful. And not to bring up money with the man! Right away I noticed he’d dressed down for us. Ah, blue jeans just like us. But he couldn’t resist pairing them with his thousand dollar loafers. Woe is us, we have another world leader who thinks he’s smarter than everyone.

No one can say anything new about the new low, and about the anxiety that is gripping Americans, their neighbours on this continent, and the rest of the world. It’s all moving quickly now, as quickly as a slow motion car crash. Trump has surrounded himself with his choir: “Mad Dog” who likes to shoot people, men for whom black or brown is nigger, and woman is pussy. There’s the comedy team of Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer who take turns spreading and shoveling it. And we can’t forget the family. Gold-plated cut out dolls fashioned in his image, propped up and handed power. Whoopee!

Where did we go wrong…….

I have difficulty being in large crowds, but it was important for me to add my body to the number at the Women’s March on January 21st here in Vancouver. And there we were; the young, the old, all the colours of our rainbow, families with kids in strollers, wheelchairs pushed, those in costume banging drums, nasty women wearing pink pussy caps. We eyed each other. We nodded in solidarity. I read the signs….Sorry Canada. We fucked up. We’ll make it right in four years. My favourite….The Emperor has no clothes. That’s exactly what I felt on election night, horror when the numbers came in that Trump had been elected.

That first month a black misery gripped the collective mind. How did this happen? Which quickly became, We can’t let this happen. Fear and disbelief galvanized the sane into action. Has the world been slapped awake by the Trump family? No more complacency on this particular continent. Stand beside your brothers and sisters before they’re carted away.

A sadness overtook me, and a deep gloom in my soul. It seems like Leonard’s passing signified an ending and a beginning. I wrote what emails I could, signed petitions, and boycotted brands. I knew I suffered from T.I.A.D. like everyone else I knew. (If you haven’t been to your doctor yet, it’s called Trump Induced Anxiety Disorder.) I slept with a book beside my pillow and when I woke in the night I had only to reach up to the lamp and read a few pages for calm to diffuse my being. Ah, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben; What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World. So much more than a book about trees! More like a blueprint for a world that lives in a complex, mutually supportive symbiosis. Disparate organisms that thrive in a co-operative universe. Sophisticated, intelligent, highly evolved, adaptive….why can’t this be us?

Why can’t this be us?

Good life