Around Vancouver, October 1 and 2.

The Pictures: The Zin coffee; the AnooYoo costumed chef; SpaBinge Organics; Sally Sue at the Absolute Spa;  the Terry Fox Memorial; Alma Lee; Alma and the film crew; Sulphur Hills; Anne Murray of Nature Canada.NB Trouble uploading picures, will try tomorrow.


Looking from the hotel balcony across the Bay to Point Grey, I pretend I can see the house where I lived in 1964-5, and where I wrote The Edible Woman on UBC exam booklets. Also the University, where I taught grammar to Engineering students at 8.30 am in a Quonset hut. Vancouver was very flat then; the tallest building was the Vancouver Hotel, where my first (unpublished) novel was – happily – rejected. Wasn’t fun then, however.

On to the present: The Year of the Flood Event was not the only adventure we had in Vancouver. Ashley Dunn had chosen all the Canadian hotels for their greenery, using the Green Pages (, and her pick for Vancouver was the Pacific Palisades, a perkily-decorated, dog-and-human-friendly four-key charmer whose Zin restaurant served – Yes! – organic shade-grown fair trade coffee, Caffé Vita. (http://www. I’m happy to report that the in-room snacks were organic as well, including a fun-time “massage bar” made of “lickable” chocolate – wonder what that does to the sheets? I was intending to eat it for lunch on the next plane just to test it out, but forgot, so ate my Nutty9 Hemp Bar left over from the UK instead:

( A delicious version of the Virtuous Bar, with carob topping.

Food items were again in the spotlight at the October 1 lunch in honour of the Vancouver Writers and Readers Festival, sponsored by the Bank of Nova Scotia Private Client Group. The menu was strictly God’s Gardener, and featured not only a mixed-grains salad with mushrooms, but bamboo bowls and plates and wooden cutlery (!) The chef, Georgia Camobell, got so far into the theme that she came in a pink AnooYoo Spa costume, complete with sunhat. Her blue-clad helper is Ingrid deHaan.

At the lunch was Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, who runs the Century-Plaza    Hotel and also the Absolute Spa chain, and who has developed a carefully thought-out line of organic and climate-friendly body-care products called Spa Binge. It carries certification logos for Recyclable, Vegan, Organic Trade, and CCIC Leaping Bunny (cruelty-free), and the whole manufacturing process is carbon neutralized by Zerofootprint ( Taken under Wendy’s wing, both Ashley and I were swept off, feebly protesting –well, not protesting at all – to the Absolute Spa, where each of us was given a facial and some extremities grooming – toes for Ashley, fingers for me. (“Why not fingers?” I asked Ashley. “I bite them,” she said. “??” said I. “The late planes, the last-minute schedule changes…” “The author getting a stinky review on your watch?” “Yeah,” she said, “It’s awful.”)

Picture us all pink and glowing, eating grapes in the Spa lounge, me filling young Ashley’s ears with old war stories from the fabled years of 60s and 70s publishing, my resplendent nails twinkling with Virtuous Nail Polish. Well, as virtuous as nail polish gets. I predict it won’t last long – the temptation to peel it is irresistible, nor is it compatible with gardening, so enjoy the spectacle while it walks the earth.  (You can see it clearly in the San Fran Mole Day Song rehearsal pic, coming soon.)

On October 2 I had some time off, so I prowled the streets in search of organic coffee. I was turned away from a pundit-filled boutique establishment that shall remain unnamed (“Crazy old bat,” went the thought balloon of the server – too bad, I would have liked to have eavesdropped on the pundits) so I asked my Iphone to lead me – which, after vaporizing a few of my emails, as is its habit, it did.  (It must have heard about me dropping my MacBook Air. These devices communicate.) I ended up at Tree (, where I had a pleasant latte and a Vegan Treat, and was tolerated.

Then it was out to Simon Fraser University with documentary-maker Ron Mann’s Vancouver film due, headed up by John Collins. I’d messed up the timing on a phoner with Reuters, but thanks to the glories of my Iphone I was able to do it in the car. Ron wanted to do a shoot at the Terry Fox Memorial statue – see the picture. Terry Fox is not only the inspiration for many run-for-hope events around the world, but he is also a Gardener Saint in The Year of the Flood: his Day commemorates not only fuel-free locomotion but the spirit of effort despite bad odds – so we talked about that a bit. My old friend Alma Lee, founder of the Vancouver Writers and Readers festival, came with me, and we reminisced about the early days of The Writers’ Union of Canada, when we’d put on something called The Eclectic Typewriter Circus, where some of us did odd things to raise money. (What changes?)

Then we went to Stanley Park to meet Anne Murray of Nature Canada to dodge the joggers, and to talk about birds, and beasts, and sealing wax, and whether politicians’ green ideas have wings. And whether the beautiful yellow sulphur hills across the bay leak into the water when it rains. Answer, anyone?

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