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One problem with sleeping outside in the cold is that you have to get up

All that glitters sometimes just rhymes with gold. A frosted fence in an alley off Hemlock St. and West Broadway Ave. at 7:31 a.m.

Since I woke up in my parkade sleeping spot at 6:45 a.m. this morning (December 6th) and left the comfort of my sleeping bag, the temperature in Vancouver has risen a whole five degrees Celsius—from minus one to plus four (as of 2:20 p.m.).

People have expressed concern on social media about my sleeping outside in the Fairview neighbourhood since the overnight temperatures have dropped to near-zero; particularly as none of the emergency shelters, or warming centres are located anywhere on the West Side of the city.

A frosted car at Birch Street at 7:26 a.m.

However, rest assured that so far, I and every Fairview homeless person I have spoken to (with one notable exception) have been just fine sleeping outside these last few days.

And the one sleepless peer that I found explained that it was crystal meth and not the cold that was keeping him up at night.

When I quizzed this friend of mine about the merits versus the hazards of going all night zapped on meth, he readily admitted that the cheap drug only kept him wide awake. It did nothing to protect him from the freezing overnight temperatures the way that, say, a decent sleeping bag or blankets protects those of us who prefer to sleep at night.

“You have to stay on top of that,” he said—meaning that he had to remember to bundle up against the cold, despite the tendency of meth to make you oblivious to your surroundings.

And finally, after staying awake on meth for three days, even this fellow was off to find himself a spot to sleep—for about a day! Read more…

Do you like your 21st century green eggs and ham?

In Dr. Seuss’s seminal ode to picky eaters, the protagonist—after many stubborn declarations of dislike—finally comes around in the end and declares:

“I do so like green eggs and ham!
Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am.”

When Seuss (a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel) wrote Green Eggs and Ham in 1960 it was pure fantasy, if not science fiction—the object of the tale being both nonexistent and beyond the food technology of the times.

Now, however, everything is turning green.

A person can live in the comfort of their green, energy-efficient home—paid for by the dividends of their green, sustainable investments—while using electricity from green, renewable energy sources (such as windmills and solar power) to both charge their green, electric vehicle and, yes, cook their green eggs and ham.

Of course, by “green” eggs and ham I mean the many brands of environmentally-friendly, 100-percent plant-based vegan eggs and vegan ham that are now available in stores.

Oh. You didn’t actually think that the “green eggs and ham” in Dr. Seuss’s story were literally green, did you?

Read more…

Things went downhill Monday—but in a good way

A bit of a mixed message seen at 7:39 p.m. in the alley of the 1600 block on the south side of West Broadway.

Monday evening (November 19th) I took a quick ride from Fairview, down to the Kitsilano neighbourhood and I do mean down. It’s at least 11.5 metres closer to sea level where I was going on 1st Avenue than where I started from in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue.

So, while the 1.8 kilometre trip there was no effort at all, the trip back involved some huffing and puffing on my part, thanks as much to my loaded bike trailer as my deplorable fitness level. (and actually, the hard slog was really only between 1st and 5th.)

The reason I made the trip was in order to pick up some honest-to-goodness home-cooked food that a nice person on Twitter offered me and it was well worth a bit of hill-climbing. As the homeless friend I shared it with agreed, the food (spaghetti in tomato sauce with beef shanks) was delicious!

And because I haven’t been binning (or anything else) in that part of Kits for a few years I kept my eyes open for things to photograph along the way.

However, of the five photos I took, the two most interesting were taken in Fairview—both only blocks from my starting point. Read more…

CN Rail caught putting homeless between a rock and a hard place

A CN Rail front-end loader dropping boulders on a former homeless campsite.—Francis Mathers

Last Wednesday afternoon (November 7) at least two homeless people were evicted from their encampment on a tiny patch of waste land alongside an unnamed, foot and bike path. on the south side of the 700 block of Terminal Avenue,

At 3:16 p.m. my friend Francis watched and photographed as a front-end loader operator methodically deposited boulders on the bed of gravel that had been spread over the small triangular patch that had served as the pair’s makeshift home for something like five months.

Homeless woman standing by fence on north side of CN Rail’s main yard, among all the possessions she and a friend rescued from their dismantled campsite a few metres east.—Francis Mathers

At the same time, a woman could been seen a few metres east, standing among the jumbled pile of possessions she and a man had rescued hours earlier, before workers (abetted by CN police) had stepped in and dismantled the campsite. Read more…

The flowers of war and the many colours of remembrance

Canadian poppies clockwise: original flocked paper version (1922), poppy with the green centre I grew up with (1973), poppy I’m wearing (2018) and the Royal Canadian Legion’s new digital poppy at—Canadian War Museum/Royal Canadian Legion

Red, white, blue, purple and black poppies, white daisies, blue cornflowers, chrysanthemums and forget-me-nots—war remembrance flowers have come in many varieties and almost every colour—including the rainbow, if at least one academic has their way.

The United Kingdom and many of the former colonies of the UK, including here in Canada, Australia and the United States, have chosen, since the early 1920s, to use the red poppy as the national symbol of remembrance for the casualties of all wars since the First World War. However, no two countries use the same style of red remembrance poppy.

Read more…

Morning encounter to crow about

A crow gives vent while sitting less than a metre from me on a fence post at 9:41 a.m.

This morning (November 7th) in the 2800 block of Heather Street—as I approached the intersection of the alley on the south side of 12th avenue—I unexpectedly found myself playing hopscotch with a crow.

This crow, I realized, was landing beside me on my left, then waiting for me to ride my bike a few metres. Then it would take wing and catch up and land beside me; let me ride a few metres and so on.

This went on for half of the 2800 block of Heather Street and when I turned east into the alley on the south side of the 600 block of 12th Avenue…the crow followed me. Read more…