Skip to content

In this one way I’m addicted to getting my fix


Tying one on. A toilet flush valve flapper hangs on by a thread.

Yesterday evening I fixed a toilet — despite the fact that as a homeless person I don’t even own one (where would I keep it?).

The toilet belongs to whomever the McDonald’s restaurant in the historic Dick Building at 1490 West Broadway leases its ground floor retail space from.

The problem with the toilet was the flush valve, aka, the “flapper”. This is the hinged rubber piece that covers the drain hole at the bottom of the toilet tank and has to lift up in order to empty the tank and produce a flush and then drop back down again to seal the drain hole so that the tank can fill back up.

One of the flapper’s two “hinges” had broken, causing it to drop down sideways. Because it couldn’t squarely cover the drain hole, the tank couldn’t fill back up.

The toilet just made an endless gurgling sound which is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Read more…

Back to Granville Island for the fun of it


Monday evening, a spot of part-time work brought me back to Granville Island. Of course I brought my camera.

Of at least three entrances available, I used the official one, which is Anderson Street. This took me under the vaulting convergence of the Granville Street Bridge proper and its Hemlock Street on-ramp.

The effect of having the eight-lane bridge span 27.4 metres over my head, supported on massive concrete pillars, was as powerful as standing in a cathedral (I would imagine). But only I was gawking — some people can get used to anything apparently.


The English poet John Donne was right when he wrote of Granville Island:

“No man! It isn’t an island entire of itself; it is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”.

Or words to that effect. At least I think that was what he was writing about.

It’s certainly true of Granville Island, which is an island only because it says so over the Anderson Street entrance in big neon letters and because the government of Canada agrees and because “island” (which means, surrounded by water) is routinely listed as an acceptably synonym for “peninsula”, which doesn’t mean surrounded by water at all; it means: a piece of land bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland.

I won’t quibble. Granville island is an island that just happens to be permanently moored to the south bank of False Creek, okay? Read more…

Homeless counts are all the rage at this point in time


This year, Canadian cities seem to be counting on their homeless people more than ever before.

On March 24, the same day that the city of Vancouver, B.C. held its fourth stand-alone homeless count, the city of Montréal, Quebec, conducted its first-ever homeless count. The one night effort, dubbed I Count MTL 2015 Montréal Homelessness Survey, was conducted by the Douglas Mental Health University Institute Research Centre, in collaboration with the Québec YMCA and involved some 800 volunteers.

Two weeks ago, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, carried out a Point-in-Time (PiT) homeless count on Tuesday, May 12th.

The next day, on Wednesday, May 13, both Regina, Saskatchewan, and the city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, carried out first-time PiT homeless counts.

Regina’s homeless count was carried out under the auspices of the YMCA of Regina on behalf of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and Yellowknife’s count earlier the same day was coordinated by its Community Advisory Board on Homelessness.

A sentence from the Yellowknife CABH website explaining the count may also help explain why these so-called Point-in-Time counts are suddenly all the rage across Canada:

“In coming years, PiT Counts will be required for communities to be eligible to receive federal homelessness funding”.

In order for a Canadian municipality to qualify to receive monies over $200,000 under the federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy programs (either Designated Communities or Aboriginal Homelessness), the Canadian government is requiring that they have completed a Point-in-Time count of homelessness: the 10 largest municipalities in Canada by April 1, 2015 and the smaller ones by April 1, 2016.

Of Canada’s 10 largest municipalities, only four appear to have completed PiT counts: Montréal (March 24, 2015), Edmonton and Calgary (part of Alberta-wide count October 2014) and Vancouver (March 24), while Winnipeg, Manitoba, has been planning since 2014 to conduct a 2015 PiT count in order to qualify for HPS funding.

I may have missed it, but I’ve found no evidence of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, Ontario, counting their homeless population in 2015 (though they do a daily shelter census and they’re expecting HPS funding in 2015) or, for that matter, the other three Ontario municipalities in the top 10: Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton. Read more…

Visiting the island of kids, cars and Canada geese


The view west down Cartwright St. back towards Anderson St. under the Bridge.

Granville Island fairly hums with activity from dawn to dusk but I was honestly surprised by the complete absence of honking when I ventured down under the Granville Street Bridge to visit the peninsular shopping and tourist destination, early Saturday evening.

So many cars, so many people and so many Canada geese — yet the whole place seems to run as smoothly as a favourite old watch! Read more…

A cloud writ large


Earlier this week, I looked up into the southern sky over Alder Street and thought that I saw sky writing of a sort but I admit that my judgement may have been clouded by my imagination.

Skywriting is normally understood to be a process of using small aircraft to create giant-sized text messages of few characters high up in the sky where everyone can see them — airplanes as ballpoint pens, with the “ink” being white oil smoke.

What I saw looked more like a hand holding a long-bristled number 8 calligraphy brush (I never worked above a number 4 myself), with a hint of scroll but nothing to show what was being written on it.

Just as well. I probably couldn’t have read it anyways, given that it was definitely being written with a Chinese calligraphy brush.

My, those clouds do get around. Click the image to enlarge it.

Knot really an owl but don’t tell the crow


Thursday afternoon I was looking to catch a dumpster-diving crow in flight but instead it appears that I caught it trying to stare down a tree trunk that looked remarkably like a giant owl.

This was in an alley on the east side of Cambie Street, south of 16th Avenue. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to capture the crow as it made several dives into an open dumpster; always popping out empty-beaked.

Crows are impatient birds when it comes to results, so I expected it to give up on the dumpster and head for higher ground in search of fresh opportunity.

Crows are also lazy, or sparing of their effort, if you will.

A tall cedar fence was just a hop from the top of the dumpster and from there it was only a slightly bigger jump to the roof of a detached garage — an irresistible set of easy steps for a crow I thought and several more opportunities for me to try and photograph it in flight as it made the short hops.

The crow obligingly hopped and I snapped but I was just too slow. That left me waiting for one last chance when the crow finally flew away from the roof of the garage. I waited but the crow just stood there, perfectly still, as if it was looking at something. Read more…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 251 other followers