I win the 2010 Academy Awards for Best Dressed Matron

best dressed matron 2010


Jeannie Kamins won the Best Dressed Matron Award at the Oscar Ceremonies this year. She was wearing the Rose Dress by the famous designer, Ralph. When asked how come we hadn’t seen her on the Red Carpet, she replied, “I know you probably missed me as I stepped out of my pink flocked limo on Sunday night, but unfortunately I arrived at the same time as J-Lo. Next year I will have to plan better. Notice that I am wearing the Hopeless Diamond and carrying the famous Scrappy Coco”.

Christmas card

As I sat on the porch with my 95 year old mother, watching the Christmas star plummet to earth, she suddenly said, “I have waited 75 years for the fall of Capitalism”. Of course my Commie friends are not as complacent as they watch their nest eggs get scrambled. I am just glad I can always fall back on my ART.

And then I think of the black knight on the white house horse who has finally brought us hope. And that old depression ditty spins round and round my brain. “Oh they preach Socialism, but they practice Fascism; just to preserve Capitalism for the bosses.”

Wishing you Peace on Earth and a better world tomorrow.


and from my sweetie, Henri too, all the best in the new year.

I Thee Wed

I was married in 1962, and when I married I thought it was forever. I was pre-the baby boomers. I believed it was ok to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen… well, not exactly. But I did believe that I would marry a man who would take care of me and bring in a good income. I would stay home with the babies and cook and clean my house.

We lasted 10 years, had 2 children and then we went our separate ways. About a year later I found Henri and we started to cohabit – but I was ruined for marriage. I didn’t believe anymore. I no longer believed in “forever and ever”.

Henri and I lived together for 17 years before we “tied the knot”. And that was only because we were living in Quebec and they would have taken our inheritance away as we had to prove that we were “as-good-ahs” married. Actually Frank, my son proposed, but that is another story.

The point of this ramble is that I went to a same-sex wedding and I had an epiphany. Marriage is relatively unimportant to me. “Been there, done that”.

But that was not true for Sam and Alijandro.

They were ecstatic. Their joy was contagious. Alejandros mother and brother flew up from Southern Mexico for the wedding and it was a dream come true. They could stand in the church. That edifice of sanctification of our mores and prove to the world that they were more than “as-good-ahs”. It also was a way to protect themselves from the vagaries of the state.

Here are a few photos.

They say their vows


The family

The Happy Couple

European Chafer Beetles


European Chafer – A New Pest in The Lower Mainland

The European Chafer, Rhizotrogus majalis, is a serious pest of turf in eastern North America. In 2001 it was found in New Westminster, British Columbia, in lawns and boulevards. It is probable this pest has been in B.C. for a few years, and has now spread beyond New Westminster. In fact, while doing a bit of gardening in our yard we had a rain of beetles falling on our heads.


The adult beetle (Figure 1} is tan coloured and resembles a smallish June beetle. The larvae, or grubs (Figures 2,3}, have a C -shaped body and brown head. Mature chafer grubs are smaller than mature June beetle grubs. A microscope is required to confidently identify the grubs.

Adult European Chafer Figure 1: Adult European Chafer.
Chafer Grubs Figure 2: Mature European Chafer grubs


The European chafer completes its life cycle in one year. The adult chafer beetles swarm in conspicuous mating flights on warm evenings in late June and early July. The beetles fly to tall objects, usually trees or other vertical structures to mate. The adult females then locate nearby lawns to lay their eggs in. The females deposit up to 50 eggs each.

Eggs hatch in late July or early August and the larvae or grubs begin feeding on roots until the ground freezes. In colder climates, the larvae migrate down below the frost-line to overwinter.

From April to mid-May, the larvae migrate close to the soil surface and feed on turf roots. From mid-May to early June, the larvae stop feeding and pupate (undergo metamorphosis), and the adult beetles emerge two weeks later.


The grubs are the damaging stage. They feed on all types of grass and, if numerous and food is scarce, may move into vegetable plantings to feed on corn, potatoes and other crops. European chafer grubs prefer to feed on fibrous roots, and can damage ornamental and nursery plants by reducing their fibrous root system. Most of the damage is done by the the third (final} instar grubs in the fall and early spring, but damage can be masked by the abundant moisture at these times. Drier weather can quickly result in the appearance of brown, dying patches. Considerable damage to turf can occur in the fall and winter from animals, especially skunks, and birds digging up the grass to feed on the larger grubs (Figure 4).
The adult beetles feed at dusk on the leaves of deciduous trees but, even when numerous, seldom cause significant damage.

Chafer Grubs Figure 3: European Chafer grubs in turf
Chafer damage Figure 4: Boulevard damage caused by skunks digging out grubs.


In the Spring or Fall, turf that has been damaged by white grubs will lift away from the soil easily because the roots have been eaten and they no longer anchor the turf to the soil. Often, raccoons and skunks will pull back the turf in search of a meal of grubs. This secondary damage is usually more extensive than that caused by the grubs.

Turf that has been severely damaged by birds or other animals may also be brown, wilted or tufted in appearance. Grubs will often be visible when the turf is pulled back. Damage is most severe in the fall and the spring when the grubs are increasing in size rapidly and feeding near the surface.

To confirm the presence of European chafer grubs in your lawn this spring or fall, do the following:

European Chafer - Chafer Monitoring

  1. Use a garden shovel or spade to cut three sides of a 12-inch square.
  2. Grasp the open edges and peel back the turf like a carpet, towards the attached side.
  3. Look for the white, C-shaped grubs (larvae) or cocoons (pupae) in the soil, and just underneath the turf roots.
  4. Repeat Steps 1 to 3 in at least five different sections of lawn.
  5. If you count five or more white grubs per square foot, consider applying a (non-toxic) biological treatment in the summer.
  6. If you are unsure of what you have found, place a grub inside a jar or plastic bag, and take it down to your local specialty garden centre for identification.


Healthy, vigorous, well-irrigated turf can withstand low levels of grub feeding.

Biological Treatment

A 2005 study commissioned by the Western Canada Turfgrass Association, the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, and several local municipalities, revealed that biological treatments could be very effective at controlling the European chafer population, when used in combination with healthy lawn care practices.

According to the study, the most effective biological control measure was the nematode (or roundworm) Heterorhabditis bacteriophora – a natively occurring species that has been used successfully in BC to control other pests. The H. bacteriophora nematode is a “cruiser” species that actively seeks out white grubs (such as the European chafer), and quickly destroys them from the inside-out.

Treatments are most effective if done in late July, after the European chafer eggs have hatched and when the young grubs are most vulnerable to nematode attack.

Book your nematode treatment in the spring, by doing one of the following:

  • Inquire at a specialty garden centre about ordering nematodes and applying them to your lawn in late July. “Nemasys G” is one of a few brand names to look for. Stratas may inquire about bulk purchase rates from wholesalers/distributors of these products; OR

  • Find a lawn contractors in your area by searching in the phone directory under “Lawn Maintenance”. Receive one or more quotes for the application of H. bacteriophora nematodes to your lawn in July

What is the long term solution? 

In order to prevent European chafer damage in the long-term, many residents are now considering the use of alternative ground covers – particularly on sites that are sunny and well-draining, and prone to yearly infestations.

Groundcovers can be selected to be aesthetically pleasing year-round and to require minimal maintenance. They may also be incorporated with foot paths to increase their aesthetic value. Mulch or paving stones can also be considered in high traffic areas.

Trifolium repens (Dutch White Clover) is one example of a low-growing plant that will form a green, durable ground cover that is easy to maintain. It also produces tiny white or pale pink flowers that may attract bees and other beneficial insects to your yard.

Some of the options of a turf yard. White clover mixed with grass and wildflowers.




Edit this entry.

Big Brother is Watching You!

They have come up with a new regulation that I will have to be accountable for. I am checking with the BC Civil Liberties Association, but at present I have no choice but to give the company more of your personal information. The new regulation is part of bill C-25. Check out the information below.

Big Brother is Watching You!

“New federal laws and regulations dealing with money laundering and anti-terrorist financing now in effect require real estate agents and brokers to collect and verify more personal information from buyers and sellers.

Real estate agents now must also track the source of funds received during the course of a real estate transaction, such as the deposit.

The new regulations are part of Bill C-25 passed in 2007 that requires a number of industries, including real estate, to do more to help stop money laundering and terrorist financing. The regulations are enforced by the federal agency known as the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC.

“Real estate agents have had legal obligations under the federal government’s push to prevent criminal activity and terrorism since 2001, when Canada’s first comprehensive laws to combat money laundering and terrorist financing were introduced,” said Canadian Real Estate Association president Calvin Lindberg.

“In the first phase of compliance, real estate agents were required to report only suspicious transactions, or transactions involving more than $10,000 in cash,” he added. “Now, verified personal information must be kept of the buyer and seller for each and every real estate transaction in Canada. That personal information includes details such as occupation.”

Real estate agents are now required to ask for proof of the identity of all buyers or sellers involved in a Canadian real estate transaction — there were 559,325 MLS® transactions last year. If the client is a corporation, that information must include corporate documentation and the names of the corporation directors. Agents must also ascertain if a third party is involved in the transaction.

This also applies if a buyer or seller involved in a transaction is not represented by a real estate agent, but the other individual involved is represented. Those buying or selling privately will be asked by the agent representing the other party involved in the transaction to provide proof of identity as well, and that record must be kept by the real estate agent involved in the transaction.

Also under the new FINTRAC regulations, real estate agents dealing with clients they never meet must also verify personal information. The broker office involved can do this with a service agreement with an agent or “mandatary” (one given the mandate to act in the transaction) in the area where the client is located. That agent or mandatary must then meet the client,

verify the identification of the client, and

provide the information to the broker office

actually handling the real estate transaction.

“There are buyers, sellers or investors from other countries who rely on expertise here rather than visiting the property themselves,” the CREA president said. “They must now meet with an official agent of the Canadian broker, and provide proof of identity. This agreement will add to the business costs of the Canadian broker.”

In addition to verification of personal information, real estate agents must also complete a report on the receipt of all funds received during the real estate transaction, not just those of $10,000 or more.

In order to comply with these new federal regulations, real estate agents are required to keep this identification and receipt of funds information on file for five years and provide it to FINTRAC if requested. It is the individual broker office that will be responsible for the safe keeping of the information, and the brokerage that will have to respond to any FINTRAC information request.

The Night I Met Groucho

Beverly Hills HotelThe time I met Groucho I was at the Beverly Hills Hotel with my mother who was there for an AGM of the League of Women Voters. I sat through the meeting as one woman after another got up and described the good work they were doing. Political actions all over the world – helping orphans, resisting racism, job programs, homes for battered women, blankets for the homeless, Korean war orphans, etc. My mother was a homebody and not the kind of person who was an organizer or usually went to this kind of event. I was mesmerized. I wanted to be just like them.

Then the meeting was over and we poured from the room. It was crowded in the hall as we exited. I looked up and there he was! I was about 13 and had always loved Groucho. As he walked by us he put his hands in his armpits and flapped his arms like a chicken saying cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck… I was outraged. Here was this asshole ridiculing our good work because we were women. As if women did nothing but stand around and gossip.

This became one of the significant moments in my life (before I came out as a women’s libber) when I became aware of male chauvinism. I have never felt the same about Groucho and have never enjoyed his cruel sense of humour since.

“I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”

Buying a Heritage Home

Getting an Electrical Inspection to facilitate insurance access.

I went to the big Vancouver Real Estate Conference at Canada Place last month. Following the breakfast meeting we had the choice of lots of work shops that seem to have two perspectives – one to make me richer and one to tell us how to service our clients better. I know I missed out on wealth years ago when I spent 30 years as an artist, but it is never too late for service to your customers.

Most interesting to me was a workshop on buying an old house with outdated electrical systems. They covered knob and tube wiring among other problem systems. The speaker stated that the problem Ken and Morgan’s Housewith old wiring is most often not that it is dangerous, but that you cannot get insurance on your house. (A major biggie.)

Most insurance companies refuse to insure an older house that has aluminum or knob and tube wiring. Up until recently, the only option available was to have the outdated wiring removed (at considerable expense), even though the wiring might in fact be perfectly safe.

To solve this problem, Brian Cook (the presenter), formed a new company called “PowerCheck Home Electrical Safety Inspections”. He approachedLinda’s house BCAA and proposed that they support an inspection that assesses any risk posed by the knob and tube (and other old wiring) to get them to accept the assessment for insurance purposes. BCAA agreed to insure heritage property with this inspection.

According to PowerCheck, (providing there has been no tampering), about 95 per cent of all knob and tube wiring is fine. In such cases, PowerCheck prepares a list of “Corrective Actions”. Once the corrective actions have been remidied, the home is automatically re-rated at a respective lower risk rating.

The insurance companies will automatically give you insurance (at a premium rate) when you buy using PowerCheck with an agreement that once you bring the risk down you will have your insurance lowered.

For more information check out http://www.powercheck.ca or call (604) 684-3630Red house in snow

Vegetables Here I Come



My life has been transformed. I have been reading about plant protein verses animal protein. The book is called The China Study by Colin Campbell. I wont go into the details, but he says that by eating a whole food, plant protein diet most of the diseases of affluence can be avoided and/or cured. This includes heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc. Over the past few weeks I have gotten my blood suger to be normal and have reduced my medications. Give me a call if you are interested in the details. I have become a Vegan.



Here are a couple of recipe for Indian food without milk or meat.

Aloo Gobi (potato’s and cauliflower)

Ginger, Garlic
Turmeric 1/2 Tsp.
Cumin Powder 2 Tsp.
Coriander Powder 2 Tsp.
Red Chili Powder 2 tsp.
Garam Masala 1 Tsp.
Cilantro Few sprigs for Garnishing.
Oil 1 Tbsp.

Wash & drain cauliflower florets. Dice potatoes.Heat Oil,
add Onions & fry till translucent. Add ginger, garlic, stir,
Mix in Potatoes , cover to cook.When the Potatoes are half
done , add the florets, turmeric. Cover to Cook. Open
after a few minutes, add all the dry powders & mix.
Garnish with Cilantro leaves and salt to taste.

Sag Paneer

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
pinch of cumin seed
2 cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon each fresh ginger and garlic
1 small fresh tomato, sliced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound fresh spinach, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
fresh cilantro leaves
Diced firm tofu.

Heat oil in saucepan and saute chopped onion until light
brown. Add cumin seed, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay
leaves, cloves, ginger, garlic, sliced tomato and black
pepper and saute about 30 seconds. Add chopped spinach
stirring until it begins to change color. When it goes dark
green add salt, cumin, turmeric, coriander powder and
garam masala. Mix well with spinach. cilantro and tofu
cubes. Cook it well, stirring so it doesn’t scorch.

Serve above with rice mixed with peas.

First Meeting to Co-Buy


Congratulations! When you buy together it is time for Champagne!

I have been talking about buying together with other people for a long time. Things have not worked too well as various people have tried to get this happening. People wanted to live in different places, had different amounts to put down etc. I now have a client who is quite serious about finding a place that satisfies her needs, but to make it happen she will have to move out of town or buy with other people – thanks to the expenses of the city.

We have decided that the best way to move ahead would be to meet with people who have shown interest in co-buying in the past and see what their needs might be. If it would work for several people to buy together and the needs of several people could dovetail then we could go ahead and find a multiple unit building.

Needless to say, this form of buying does have other problems, but the benefits might override the handicaps. After all, buying together might be no more problematic than dealing with a strata council. In any case, all will be discussed at our meeting.

Our first meeting will be on Wednesday, January 23rd at my house, 741 East 28th Ave. and you are invited to come and see if this option can work for you. Feel free to bring anyone else you might find whom you think will be interested. I am also sending this out to others who might know someone who might like to buy with others. You might not like the original plan, but may find someone whom you could enjoy sharing a property with for the future. Take a chance. Join us at 7:30. You have nothing to lose.


  • January 23, 7:30
  • 741 East 28th Ave
  • Vancouver, V5V 2N6
  • 604-760-7342

Buying with Others

Joint Ownership

in the context of residential property joint ownership is where more than one person owns a property together. There are forms of joint ownership that have specific legal grounding. There are two main types, joint tenants and tenants in common.

* Joint tenants: neither party can sell without the other’s agreement. If one party dies, the other automatically inherits the other’s share. This is ideally suited to married couples or partners buying together who are in a long-term relationship.
* Tenants-in-common: each party can dispose of his or her share, either whilst alive or through a will. This is more appropriate for friends buying a property together, where they do not intend to live together as a couple.

(I recommend that you hold the property as ‘tenants in common’ so that if one of the owners were to die, their share in the property passes to their estate.)
If the joint ownership of the property involves a mortgage, then the mortgage will be on the basis of ‘joint and several liability’. This means that each buyer is liable to repay the whole of the mortgage if the others are unable or unwilling to do so.

A lender will make the offer of mortgage on the basis of the joint incomes of all applicants but ultimately it is up to the borrowers as a group to determine how they divide the monthly repayments on their joint mortgage. For example, if one applicant earns more than another, they might have a bigger share of the mortgage (and potentially, the property itself).

In fact, as long as all applicants are comfortable with the repayments, even if they have varying incomes they can agree to split repayments equally giving each of them a straightforward equal share in the mortgage.

Of course, the situation can be complicated where applicants have different deposit amounts. Even with different deposit amounts, it is possible to have equal ownership overall once the mortgage is taken into account. This is because the mortgage can be divided according to how the borrowers choose, and they can choose to divide the monthly mortgage payment so as to ‘even out’ the differences in deposit.

Because buying with others is a complicated process a proper legal agreement between the buyers is of great importance. It sets out the responsibilities one owes to the others and is there for the protection of all the owners.

Key points of a legal agreement for buying together.

1. The share each owner has in the property.
2. The percentage of the mortgage for which each owner is responsible.
3. In the event of one or more owners wishing to sell it specifies that they must first offer their share to the remaining owners, at the current market valuation:
* If the other owner/s wish to buy, they apply to the lender to take over the share of the departing person and if they are successful, the person selling their share is removed from the mortgage.
* If the remaining owners do not wish to purchase, either singly or together, or the lender will not increase the lending to enable them to do so, then the share may be offered on the open market.
* If no purchaser for the share can be found within a period of four months then the seller can require that the whole property is sold, each owner receiving their share of the remaining equity.
4. In the event that an owner wishes to vacate the property but retain their stake in it, he or she may rent out their part.
5. All owners agree to put in place and maintain life and critical illness insurance to the value of their share of the mortgage. Where an owner is unable to obtain cover due to medical reasons, he/she must advise the other co-owners. They may proceed at their discretion.
6. All owners undertake to put in place and maintain Accident, Sickness and Unemployment protection cover, sufficient to cover their share of the mortgage payments..
7. In the event of the death of one of the owners, his/her estate will be required to meet the cost of the deceased’s share of the monthly mortgage payment until redeemed (policy will be payable to the estate/beneficiaries). Their estate must offer their interest in the property, firstly to the other owners at the current market rate and, if they are not willing/able to purchase, then the estate may seek another purchaser – or indeed rent until a purchaser can be found.
8. In the event of a successful claim for critical illness being paid, the policy holder agrees to use the funds received to repay their share of the mortgage.
9. If one of the owners deliberately goes into default by absenting themselves without making arrangements to maintain their share of the mortgage – subject to a time-limit of two months, then the remaining owners can rent the absent party’s space (paying his/her share of the mortgage and retaining any profit for the aggravation) or purchase or sell his/her share of the property at the current market rate. Any residual monies, after deduction of reasonable expenses, will be placed, where possible, in the bank account of the absconder.
10. If one of the owners is in breach of the Agreement by failing to make their share of either the mortgage repayments or insurance premiums, then the other owner/s either singly or together can require that person to remedy the situation and should they fail to comply within a period of two months from the onset of the default, force the sale of the share of the defaulting owner as if they had absented themselves.
11. The owners will open a joint bank account or designate an account for the purpose of the payment of mortgage repayments and any insurance premiums. Each owner is responsible for making a timely payment into the account to cover his/her share of the above payments. Please note that it is not compulsory to open a joint account and a designated account of one of the applicants may be used until one is open.