Ode to Heiwajima Park Pool in Tokyo

I’ll never forget you; you gave me Athlete’s Foot.


Gimme Gimme Gimlet


This is a love story.  I admit in the past I’ve been linked to micro-brewed beer and seen in public with gin and tonics.  And I confess I’ve spent more than one crazy, impulsive weekend with a bottle (or 2) of tequila.

Like most people, I never committed myself to one particular drink.  Not until 10 years ago, that is, when I was introduced to a gin gimlet – and I’ve sworn my undying devotion ever since.

A cocktail made of gin and lime juice, the gimlet was first popularized in the 1920s, and is now enjoying a comeback for its slightly sweet and sharp flavour.  It’s a cool, elegant, citrus-flavoured drink that, thanks to the ratio of gin to mix, packs a bit of a punch.

My first time was on a hot summer night and I found myself powerless to resist.  I was initially taken with its looks.  A lovely shade of light green, it was visually appealing.  Looking closely at the glass I could see the tiniest bit of condensation, letting me know that its contents had been chilled. Ah, just my type.

I licked my lips and gave it a cool stare.  Then, feeling self conscious, I blushed.  I fiddled with my serviette as a mild panic set in.  What if I didn’t like it?  What if it didn’t agree with me?  Panic gave way to embarrassment. What rock had I been living under?  How had I never heard of this drink before?  My sudden shame of being such a late bloomer and lacking all experience with this libation gave me second thoughts.  I considered sending the gimlet back and forgetting the whole thing.  I wanted to retreat to the safety of my comfort zone with gin and tonics and micro-brewed beer.  But in a moment of clarity I looked up at the glass and saw a drop of condensation start to inch slowly down the outer rim.  I knew in that instant what I had to do.

I gently grasped the glass with my right hand and brought it to my lips.  A small sip passed over my tongue and a crescendo of flavour went straight to my heart.  It was perfect: not too tart, not too sweet, with a hint of lime.  I was giddy.  I was in love.

I try to recreate that first experience almost every time I go out for dinner or drinks.  Thanks to the resurgence of the gimlet’s popularity, it’s easy to get one, but I’ve learned that the quality of a gimlet is most often proportional to the profile of the establishment serving it.  In other words, if you’re in a restaurant or bar that’s less than upscale, you may be served something more appropriate for stripping your great-grandmother’s writing desk.

That’s why it’s smart to know how to mix a gimlet for yourself, so wherever you are, you can always be sure to have good love in a martini glass.  With that in mind, here is a recipe for an excellent gimlet:

  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 1 ounce of Rose’s lime cordial
  • juice of half a lime
  • shake with ice and strain into a martini glass
  • garnish with a lime wedge

2:1 is the ratio I’m fond of, but a bartender bible might preach that you use 3 parts gin, 1 part lime cordial, or even half and half.  Just set up a small gimlet test lab in your kitchen and find out for yourself what appeals to you.  Like any good relationship, it takes work, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Are You Ready For an Earthquake?

Kobe, Japan 1995Experts say we are overdue for a big earthquake, with a possible magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale. You know, the kind that makes people in Winnipeg ask, “What was that?” while the coast of British Columbia tumbles into the Pacific Ocean. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but with 3 tectonic plates — the North America, Pacific and Juan de Fuca — converging just off the coast of Vancouver Island, the threat of a subduction earthquake definitely exists.

Or does it? In 2006, researchers at Oregon State University discovered that the subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate is slowing and could eventually cease, thereby mitigating the potential for such a calamitous event.

But don’t start balancing your breakables on the edge of your shelves just yet. The same researchers say the movement of the plates could still produce an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 or 8.0.

So the question remains: Are you ready for the Big One? For those of you snickering, here is some sobering information on the damage a 7.0 or 8.0-scale earthquake could cause:

  • masonry-walled buildings and brick structures could collapse
  • bridge sections could collapse
  • soil liquefaction could break dykes and produce widespread flooding
  • landslides could be triggered
  • power, gas and water systems could be affected for days
  • thousands of people could be seriously injured or killed

Do like a good boy scout and be prepared. Knowing what areas of the Lower Mainland will suffer the most damage is the first step. Also knowing where to take cover indoors during an earthquake could save you from serious injury. Ultimately, having a plan and an emergency kit with plenty of water and non-perishable food will help you and your family ride out those first several days of chaos.

Sources for earthquake information given above: Discover Vancouver website and Science Daily website.

Chaos Theory

A view of Commercial Drive in my rear view mirrorI’ve never been fickle about my feelings for where I live.  The Commercial Drive area, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, was voted one of the top 10 places to live in North America by the Utne Reader, so I’m clearly not the first person to appreciate its charm.

The high street,  (known esoterically to local residents as The Drive), has shops, delis, cafes and restaurants that attract shoppers and diners from all over the city.  I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for 15 years.  I have a suite in an old character house, and despite the compromises of an 80+-year-old structure (few electrical sockets, the odd leak…), I revel in its charm: high ceilings, hardwood floors, a fireplace and a claw foot tub over 5 feet long (sigh!).

A few years ago my friends got busy buying condos and houses.  I stayed put, partly for economic reasons, but ultimately because I love this neighbourhood and knew that buying would mean having to skulk out to the suburbs where real estate is just a tiny bit more affordable.

But you know what they say about all good things (cue in violins).  The other day my neighbour told me she’d seen my landlord talking to a real estate agent in front of the house.  The market is hot, so for my landlord to sell is a no brainer.  I promptly left him 2 messages that haven’t been answered (he’s out of town).  I’ve spent the last few days quietly freaking out over the possibility of having to find a new place that may have a much higher rent, or worse, be in a different neighbourhood (dramatic crescendo!).

I’m not a natural worrywort and I’m not prone to suffering petty subjective anxieties, but man, I don’t want to think about leaving this area.

That said, who knows what the wind of change will blow in.  My worries may be completely unsubstantiated.  I try my best to think in terms of the proverbial glass being half full, so if a butterfly wants to flap its dainty little wings on a hillside in Japan, let it.  If I have to move, I can always come back.  With over 100 years under its belt, this neighbourhood isn’t going anywhere.