2016…A Year of Transitiions

This has been an interesting year.  One filled with several challenges.  As I begin to finally settle into my new digs I am reflecting on some of the things that I’ve experienced and felt.  And I’m thinking about the things I am in the process of adjusting and / or changing.

One thing that is out…the microwave.

A microwave is a form of non-ionizing radiation. As a matter of contrast, ionizing radiation changes the electromagnetic nature of atoms, or ionizes them. … Your food is being zapped by high-frequency waves of heat, and some people argue that this radiation can be harmful to your health.     Feb 24, 2015 

I used to cook all the time without one.  Perhaps it’s time to revisit those habits.  Still, I have a panini maker that makes awesome sandwiches if I want something fast!  I’ve got my Ninja that makes awesome smoothies and shakes!  The appliances are old but in very good condition.  I’ve cleaned them to the point that they appear new.  They are about 30 years old.


I like to have a cold one and read a book.  I’ve read many books this year.  Taking the time to do the things I love to do.


These were two of the books I read this summer.  Gareth Wood is a friend.  I met him at my first writers’ group.  He is an excellent writer!  The other book that I read was ‘The Rainbow Comes and Goes’ by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt.

I’m actually reading a classic at the moment.  ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

As stated I moved and I’ve been here a couple of months now.



Moving day August 5, 2016.  A little windy that day but we got it done!  These were the first photos I took from my balcony!


And then I explored my new neighborhood.  I found fabulous trails in the ravine that borders our building!!!

It is beautiful!


And I was being my old silly self.  Sharing time with my daughter in her neck of the woods as well.  We would head up to Ucluelet over on Vancouver Island during the Labour Day weekend.



We enjoyed the beauty of the rain forest.  Some of the trees here are more than 800 years old!


We met Pinky, a female Humpback whale that’s been coming to Barkley Sound for the past 5 years to feed.



Sea lions waved at us as we passed by on a Zodiac during our Whale Watching expedition.


There were at least a hundred relaxing on the rocks.  Cormorants  and seagulls  occupied the other end of this little island.


We decided to head up to Long Beach.  It is absolutely spectacular up there.


The weather was fabulous.  And at night, I saw something I’ve not seen in ages.

Stars!  I saw billions of stars!



There is an aboriginal settlement that is 5,000 years old close by.


On our final day we woke to heavy fog.


My daughter prepares as we consider our final destination.





This lighthouse has stood here for more than 100 years.  The rocks in this area are unforgiving.  If you plan on sailing in this area…best to know what you’re doing.


Then it was back home.  This a photo of Vancouver from the ferry.




The Tragically Hip performed their last concert from Kingston, Ontario.  It was broadcast live across Canada.  Gord Downie, the lead singer, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.  I’m praying that a miracle happens.

He and his band have produced some of the most prolific music…ever!

We watched the concert here in New Westminster during the food truck festival.


Then it was back to work.   We are making a lot of changes and upgrading systems.


And I’m once again enjoying the awesome sunrises that occur during the autumns months on my drive in to work each day.


And the sunsets have been pretty spectacular as well.


The view outside my home is changing as well.  The trees are all ablaze.



Pumpkins are almost ready for picking.

That’s what I’ve been up to more or less.  I received the all clear regarding my health.  The heart is good and my body is cancer free and beginning the long journey back from the effects of treatment.

I still have back issues from the vehicle accident, however, I need to keep moving.  The alternative…well, we won’t go there.

This is our Thanksgiving weekend and I have so much to be thankful for.

I know I am blessed and need to say it more often.

I hope you enjoy the photos.



Take a Moment…Just Breathe!

I’ve not been posting very often these days…I know.

I’ve been transitioning in a big way.  Trying to correct some of my behaviors and inevitably some of the choices made as a result. I am seeking remedies to assist in getting back on track.

The last few years have been tough with regard to the health issues and yet I know that life can be like that.  There are no guarantees.

As stated previously, I sold my home of six years back in late April 2016. I then found my new residence.  For six weeks I bunked with my daughter.

I’ve been in the new place for just over two months.  I’m still settling in.  I had family members who were ill and found my free time spent  at the hospital.

This mindset that I’ve been experiencing is strange though.  I’m a bit loosey goosey.

With all the medical tests now out of the way the prognosis is clear.


Best that I get to it then.  The leaves on the trees outside my window have gone from lush green to yellow and gold.  Time to hunker down and finish up a book or two.



Human Touch

I met a friend for dinner this evening.  We met after work down at Kits Beach at The Boathouse Restaurant.  Jayne and I always have great discussions.

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I mentioned that I’d been downtown shopping a couple of weeks ago and I had seen the ‘Free Hug’ people in front of the London Drugs at Granville & Georgia St.  I told her how I stood waiting for the light to change, my spirit feeling  considerably  lighter at the idea of a stranger willing  to put their arms around me and share a moment.  I told her that I simply opened my arms and was hugged first by the woman and then by the man.  hug 2

I was surprised she’d never heard of this.  It has been in Vancouver for quite some time now.

Just an act of kindness and a moment shared through human touch.

There is something so intrinsically beautiful and simple in this act. As we parted ways and I made my way home through the streets of Vancouver to the North Shore where my daughter lives, I got to thinking about the people that touch our lives on a daily basis.

I thought of the friends I have, the jobs I’ve held and those who have entered my life and left leaving lasting impressions.

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I thought of people from my past that I’d tried to please who seemingly caused me to bleed the energy from my soul and wondered why I had given this so freely?

Truth is I wanted, craved, desired, needed the basic interaction of human touch.  To feel genuine caring and to feel loved.

I think we all do.  And every once in a while getting that ‘Free Hug’ reminds me that I’m not alone and that I do belong to the collective known as the human race.


I Wish…


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We talk of the killings occurring  that are seemingly on a daily basis, and we don’t even live in the U.S.A.

The world at large seems to be in this state of extreme turmoil and stress.

This may sound simple.   It may sound half baked.

Why not try it though…just for good measure?

Let’s lay down our guns.  Remember what it is to really love unconditionally, then hold each other and say, “I’m sorry.”

Let’s tell each other we love each other, even if we don’t mean it.  Just try it. I dare you.

Maybe, just maybe, one life will be saved.

Maybe, just maybe, one person will learn to love again.

And maybe, just maybe, hope will creep gently back into our souls.

We have choices.  I choose love and forgiveness.

I hope you’ll join me.

Moving On…A New Chapter Somewhere in the Middle


I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has followed me over the years. This is my fifth year of blogging.  I began this venture to develop better writing skills.  For the first four years I pretty much powered through posting  as many as 3 to 4 per week.

I began posting on this site the day after having a heart procedure.  I’ve since run several 10 KM races, a few 14 KM ones and a 1/2 marathon. I was part of Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion  25th Anniversary Relay.  Upon believing that I’d in fact truly found myself I somehow managed to scatter myself to the four winds and am once again gathering the pieces of my person.

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Time to forge ahead.  I muscled through the cancer thing and am now grappling with the results from the car accident last year.

I moved last week.  I sold my condo to pay down a large portion of my debt that had accrued.  Last year was a tough one.  The accident combined with the building needing an emergency re-piping proved to be a costly year for me.

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I have found a new place, however, possession won’t happen until August 1, 2016…so….I’m bunking over at my daughter’s place in North Vancouver for the interim.

Friday was Canada Day.  At 8:00 pm I walked over to the Quay which is a few blocks away.  They have a night market on Friday evenings during the summer months.  That it was also Canada Day made it that much better.  Food trucks and kiosks were set up everywhere.

I opted for the Cabbage Roll & Pergoies.  Very tasty.  Wandering through the market place I stopped to admire many of the items on sale.  When I accidently popped a maple leaf balloon I purchased a little flag and bandana displaying our colours to make up for it.

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A band was playing music from the 1970’s so I wandered over to get my groove on.  As the sun began its imminent decent I made my way over to the pier to watch the fireworks happening across the pond.

They were awesome! The display went on for over 20 minutes.  It was closing in on 11:00 pm as the masses, myself included, took our leave.  At the end of the pier a small group of four began to sing ‘O Canada’.

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The result was that everyone joined in!  There we were , hundreds of us, singing our national anthem in unison.  Upon finishing we all broke out in applause.

Walking back to my daughter’s I ruminated on the events as of late. I need to get my health back on track and there is such a strong desire to find my focus and balance once more.

And I will.

Thanks again to all of you!


Guns, Guns & More Guns?

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I’ve voiced my opinion on the whole luv-a-affair Americans have with their guns a few times..

And I just don’t get it.

You claim to value life, yet mass shootings have become commonplace in your country.   After the Orlando shootings the reports that came out were poorly researched and  somewhat sensationalized as a ‘terrorist’ attack.

And despite the fact to the contrary it is still being sold as a terrorist attack.

The individual responsible was in fact an American.  Born and raised in New York with a license to carry a concealed weapon as he had been working as an armed security officer for some time.  Apparently a background check was done back in 2013.  I’m not sure what that entails but from what we have come to know he was an abusive individual with severe emotional issues.  Because he was of middle-eastern descent, it was assumed he was a ‘terrorist’.

New York_1 324The Occupy NY movement in Timesquare, Sept 2011, photo taken by N. Pilling

The tragedy that occurred has once again brought up the all too familiar issues surrounding gun control.

They cannot even get a bill struck down that will allow them to study gun violence!

‘Former Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas authored an amendment that restricted funding for research into gun violence and its effects on public health. Dickey tells Steve Inskeep he now has deep regrets.’

For the entire interview the link is below.


Four days after the Orlando tragedy, they tried to again just have this clause removed.  They just want increased funding to study it!!!  It would seem the NRA has a stronghold, however, and it was shot down in a heartbeat.

Pun intended!

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Shops in New Westminster, BC  Canada step up to show their support during Pride, photo by N. Pilling

I just watched an interview with Chris W. Cox who is at the top of management in the NRA’s organization.  According to Mr. Cox, guns are not the problem. It is the ‘radical Islamic terrorists’ that are the problem.  It is the government that is the problem.  Americans have a God given right to defend themselves.   This phrase caught my attention.

Let me ask Mr. Cox this.  Should all of us not have the right to protect ourselves under the eyes of God?

Are we not, according to any number of religions around the world,  of one God?  Yes, the prerogatives of ‘God’ seems to have been lost in translation as well.

Chris Cox states that restricting the type of weapons Americans can purchase has been tried.  I find it really difficult to listen to this kind of rhetoric.

I live in Canada where we do have gun control.  I’d like to see it toughened up even more though.  I completely understand those that live in the rural regions of our country may very well require shot guns and some high powered rifles.  They come into contact with animals in the wild far more frequently, and if they have livestock then they need to be able to protect.

I get that totally.

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Timesquare, New York, NY  Sept 2011, photo by N. Pilling

What I don’t understand, will never understand is why any person living in an apparent civilized society needs to be in possession of military grade weapons that can mow down a room full of people in a few minutes.

When the 2nd Amendment was enshrined in your constitution back in the 1790’s, just six guns made worldwide in the 1700’s.

1717 – Charleville Musket/ Muzzle loading Musket – France
1720 – Blunderbus/ short ranged musket – Netherlands
1722 – Land Pattern Musket (Brown Bess) – Britain
1730 – Kentucky Rifle/ Muzzle loading Musket – U.S.
1750 – Sea Service Pistol (Flintlock Pistol) – Britain
1795 – Harpers Ferry / Springfield Model Musket – U.S

The other popular weapon of the day was the cross-bow, and while they were effective, guns provided a higher degree of accuracy.

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Taken in New Westminster, BC, Canada in support of Pride, photo by N. Pilling

‘The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.[8]

Well, it is safe to say that guns have evolved.  I have to wonder if the forefathers of America would have put this in place had they known the impact it has had on their country.

What I would like to know is why my American neighbors feel their rights are being infringed upon by being restricted from purchasing guns of this magnitude?   The ones of military grad.

If they want a gun, why can they not be content with a hand gun or a rifle?  Regular rounds…whatever that may be. Six or something like that?

It almost smacks of paranoia that Americans are falling over each other to add to their arsenal.

I feel a sadness for my neighbors as I don’t know what it is like to live in fear that I will be attacked or hurt at any given time on a daily basis.

Once again to the families and friends who lost there loved ones in this senseless act I offer my prayers and condolences.





The Taxman Cometh…

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It is that time of year.  The taxman cometh and taketh away this year.  He still wants close to $2,500 from me for my personal taxes!!!


Last year was a tough one and it is still biting at my heels.  I am supposed to pay by the 1st of June 2016.  I’m going to see if I can get a ‘deferral’ for a month or two.

Seems to be the thing to do these days.

There is a loop hole in our system with regard to property tax.  Not too sure if it is just for Vancouver residents or not.

If you own a place in Vancouver for example and you are over the age of 55 years of age and your taxes are up to date, you can defer paying your property taxes…indefinitely?

The Province will apparently pay on your behalf and then when your property is sold they will take their cut.  You must have at least 25% equity in your home as well.

I was made aware of this by a fellow I’ve worked with for years.  He and his wife have clear title on their home on West 23rd Ave. in Vancouver.  The assessment on their home was just under $3 million this year.  The taxes were in the $6,500.00 range.

That is a lot.  They’ve lived in their home for around twenty years.  They both have professional designations and work full-time.

18.  BC Place DT 2015

They’ve been deferring their taxes for a couple of years now since they lost the home owners grant as the property has been assessed as too high to claim it.

Were they to pay on a monthly basis to pay off their taxes it would be $542.00 approximately per month.

The City would no doubt charge interest.  Still for two people still working this is affordable considering they have clear title it is not a hardship at all.

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Vancouver approves plan for 12 new bike lanes

(Burrard Street Bridge will no longer appear as above)

I then decided to research this.

(The following is an excerpt for Vancity Buzz)

‘A property tax deferral program is the latest way Vancouver homeowners are taking advantage of their high-value homes to make a small fortune.

The B.C. program allows residents aged 55 and older, widows, and people with disabilities to defer paying their property taxes until the sale of their home, while only paying a 0.85% interest rate. When implemented in the 1970s, it suited both the common retiring age and the stagnant real estate market at the time, but is now being taken advantage of by wealthy homeowners.

The purpose of the program is a sound one, says NDP MLA David Eby, a critic of the B.C. Liberal’s affordable housing legislation. It is supposed to ensure that seniors and others on fixed incomes aren’t forced out of their homes due to property tax increases when their home value grows. But, the program was designed in the 1970s for the realities of the 1970s real estate market, which is very different than it is now in 2016, adds Eby.

There are over $130 million in deferred property taxes each year, income for the various districts and municipalities that could be used to build roads, fund school boards, maintain parks, and pay local police and fire authorities. While many use the program responsibly – half of B.C. seniors live on $24,000 per year or less and more than 50,000 seniors are living on $20,000 or less, according to Seniors Advocate B.C. – changes in the common age of retirement means many over 55 are still making generous incomes.

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Commission, adults aged 55 to 64 made the highest average personal income of all age categories in 2011. More than half of this group own their homes mortgage-free, and there’s no shortage of them in Canada: what are called “pre-seniors” make up 13.1% of the country’s total population.

With the aging population – the number of people over age 55 by 2038 are projected to equal the populations of Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan combined – the amount of money lost each year due to the property tax deferral program will only continue to grow.

While Eby says there are flaws with the program itself, most notably that it is not at all based on proven financial need, he blames the province’s inaction toward affordable housing as the reason why the program is being taken advantage of.

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I now live in New Westminster which is approximately a 10 to 15 minute drive away and I’m fine with this.  I’ve come to love New Westminster.

Currently, however, there are nineteen schools on the chopping block in the Vancouver area, mainly on the East side.  Yes.  They want to shut down schools!

Education issues have been a problem for a long time in Vancouver.  Part of the problem arose back in 1996-1997.  There used to be boundaries set up.  You live within an area and these are the schools you could attend.

The first wave of Chinese immigrants came through and were not happy with the choices they were offered. The west side of Vancouver, which has always been more affluent, had better schools.

So the boundaries were lifted.


It did not take long for the waiting lists to fill up at the schools located on the west side.

The demographics were changing rapidly.  Housing was being built at breakneck speeds and still is.  Back then, however, they were ripping down the quaint and beautiful homes from the 1950’s to the 1970’s and replacing them with boxes.  They all looked the same after a time.  Very little in the way of a yard with a pinkish hue painted over a flyash concrete base.  The homes were slapped together fast.  Concrete base, wood framing, insulation, plywood then a layer of flyash concrete.

Then the condo towers began to go up.  The downtown core of Vancouver was dotted with cranes at any given time.  And the buildings were becoming higher.  Where we once had a height restriction because of the mountain view the rule was relaxed and once that happened the views soon began to disappear.

The wave of immigrants soon became a tsunami.  Foreign investment continued pushing house prices up.  And those investing found every loop hole when it came to not having to pay taxes necessary to keep our infrastructure intact for things such as health care (hospitals, etc.), education, parks & recreation, and ongoing maintenance and updates on roads, bridges, sewers, etc.

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Let’s not forget the funding for all the sweet pensions handed out way back in the day as well.

Without a steady tax base coming in we began to feel the effects on the lack of available services.

Yet no one in government would admit or consider the road they had pushed us toward.  They denied that the rise in housing costs was due to foreign investment.

Just recently they are finally admitting that something needs to be done.

This shouldn’t be an issue.  Running a government body should be based on two things.  Accountability and acting in the best interests of the electorate.

This is what we take in.  This is how it is spent.

These are the short terms goals and these are the long term necessities.  And this is how we will set up the budget to:

  1. Maintain our current infrastructure
  2. To upgrade or replace our current infrastructure
  3. To provide decent and affordable housing to city residents/citizens.
  4. To maintain all levels of education and ensuring it accessible.
  5. To ensure health care is available.
  6. To ensure that transit and utilities are available at a reasonable cost.

Everything has increased.  Its nuts.  Crazy!

So many things have been privatized over the years.  Government has sold us out on so many things and continues to do so.


Public transit, BC Hydro, BC Ferries, just to name a few.  And now they want to demolish and sell off the property for several schools.  They want to demolish the Georgia Viaduct and put in more bike lanes and sell off the property to Concord.

This saddens me to no end.

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Meanwhile I’ll call Canada Revenue Services and see if they will give me an extension on paying my tax bill.

We wait in anticipation for the proverbial bubble to burst.  Somehow when that happens, it will be those of us who live here that will pay the price.

And for those who have deferred their taxes, will they still have a home to cover the cost of what they owe the government?

I hope so.