The White Dogs

Blaise Cendrars
Blaise Cendrars

It’s about that time again. Time to reiterate for all you stragglers who may not have gotten it an explanation for the existence of whatever exactly is going on here.  Spring is here and spring is a time of renewal.  That’s what the old man always said.

In a way that disclaimer ‘It’s Not About The Dogs’ isn’t true.  It is about the dogs, but the dogs in the poem, the samoyed dogs that were, or are, “climbing up” onto that ship in English Bay sometime about 1912.  The dogs in Blaise Cendrars’ poem “Vancouver”.  Right?  Were they real?

It doesn’t matter if the whole thing was fiction.  That the poet, Blaise Cendrars, the Frenchman, just imagined it.  Just imagined those “shape-shifting Samoyeds” as Mr. Colin Browne so eloquently put in in his introduction to a section in issue 3.23 / Spring 2014 of The Capilano Review devoted to Monsieur Cendrars, and whether or not he was ever actually in Vancouver.  Mr. Browne subsequently challenged me to a duel, but I just don’t have any time for that right now.

IMG_0385For back information on this controversy you may want to look into the archives August 2014.  Archives.  Imagine.

“We bump against the dark bulk of the ship and on the
Starboard quarter Samoyed dogs are climbing up
Flaxen in the gray-white-yellow
As if fog was being taken in freight”

There ain’t but one way to explain things and this here is it.  It’s 1912.  The dogs.  Climbing up.  Grimpent des chiens samoyèdes.  Cool.  Yes?  No?  As if fog was being taken in freight?  Fog?  As freight?  Anybody?  Dogs?  Woof?

IMG_0436So that was it.  The creative idea.  The confusing, perhaps a little, perhaps not, self-indulgent reason why this thing is called samoyeddogs and isn’t about the dogs.

Those creepy, cuddly, fluffy, white, dog hair-bearing quadrupeds that you can read about anywhere but here.  That’s them.  Altogether now:  “Samoyeddogs are climbing up, climbing up…”


Coming soon:  “The White Dog”.




Remember the character “Japonica” on “That’ll Be The Day” which ran I think on ABC?  Sitcom.  It was back in, what was it, 2006?  2007?  Tuesday nights 7:30.  Then it moved to Monday nights eight o’clock.  Then it got cancelled.  I think so.  I don’t have the exact details, but you can look it up.  I guess  half a season is better than no season at all.


This is Camellia japonica.  Around here we just call it “Japonica”.  Other than that there is no connection whatever to that TV show character.  I know where this is going.  Japonica was the one who looked a little funny, never got enough teddy bears, and kept complaining that he just wasn’t ready for spring.  “Japonica, why’s you always sittin there on that sofa?”

Then he’d hang up.  “This is the plant most gardeners have in mind when they speak of camellias,” somebody in the Sunset Western Garden Book, Seventh Edition, says.  I would say that is wrong.  This is the flower that lasts but a moment then is gone for another year.  The shrub sticks around, but not the flowers.  More than 3000 varieties of Camellia.  This has been one of them.

DSCN0773Japonica flowers and buds.  Perhaps they are in the crucible of time.  It’s the colour.  Depending on the strain the flowers can be pink, red, white or orange.  Some strains, like this one, bloom early.  Others not so early.  Now we know.


Japonica flowers courtesy M M H Nicol and C S Nicol.

Have yourself a happy St. Patrick’s Day too.




Fuzzy City Blues

You do your best but you just can’t get this camera to work.  Actually, it works fine but you just don’t know how to use it.  And then you just don’t know what to do and you cry.

January 13 2016 evening

And then the printer jambs and then you run out of paper and then you run out of time and this is the result.  Fuzzy city.  I was after the cloud, hit the switch, blasted away but I should have had the camera on the tripod.  The lonely cloud.  It liked it here and decided to hang around as long as possible.  The only cloud in town.

Sunrise on the Tantalus
Sunrise on the Tantalus

Tantalizing.  The “Tantalus” range in dawn glow from the upper deck.  An art print.  That’s “Alpha” over there.  Or maybe it’s over there.  “Serratus” we all know, is where?  And I forget the other one.  Fill out your card and drop it in the slot.  We’ll get this thing sorted out.  Let’s see.  It was “Alpha”, “Serratus” and and and…

I’m sharpening the steel tonight.  I’m lousy at it.  You know, with the sharpener thing?  What’s it called?  The steel round thing that’s been machined at the factory and it’s your knife sharpener?  No?  Wasn’t cheap, either.

I don’t know where this month went but I hope it keeps going.  Not a huge fan of winter these days.  Fact is I know what I’ve been doing.  I figured it out.  Hibernating.  Sure.  Like a bear.

You make the necessary cuts.  You cut and cut and cut again.  Until there’s nothing left.  They cooked the meat and called it dinner.

vp-us-lc-library-roof-ratIt’s how it works, but that does nothing to address the problem of the roof rat, or whatever it is, that keeps digging our spring bulbs out of their pots here on the upper deck and eating them.  Rattus rattus.  Exactly.  This rat’s gotta go.

It’s destroying spring and spring’s not even here yet.  I wish it was.  The roof rat comes by night.  We threw some netting over the pots but Master Rattus came back and dug into one that wasn’t covered.  That’s initiative for you.  I think there’s a trap on its way for this customer.