Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

May 17, 2014

Hong Kong weather warning symbols

In honour of the blazing days we have been having here weather-wise: here are some fun weather views I’ve been appreciating.

First “the brief description of warning symbols” from the Hong Kong observatory can be seen here 

My favourite warning symbol is frost, but also enjoyed the multi-coloured rain warnings.

I was looking at various weather symbols and charts online and noticed one instance, where the warning for fog was simply FOG in large black letters.

Here is Barbara Edwards, the BBC’s first woman weather forecaster, clutching some weather symbols while doing a forecast for the BBC in 1974 and here she describes the experience in an interview. I love how people kept bothering her on her holidays! And that description of the cardboard and scribble job that preceded the rubber symbols arriving on the scene.


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February 26, 2012

Turbulent birds

The dry-sounding November windstorm blew into an epic wind event all day long. Vigorous and refreshing. It’s still gusting out there now, but the dial has been turned down on the worst of it.

Today at the Farmer’s Market the poor, tent-less vendors were grabbing and clutching their goods like you would a tumbling child. I bought some very tasty arugula and have found a source of local BC salmon, which I’d previously been hunting for. Very delicious supper. We are so lucky in these parts with the access to local and so much variety of fruits, veggies and great fish.

The birds were dipping and being sidelined by the wind. I was watching them trying to understand how they compensate because they still seem to level out. But they certainly experienced turbulence today the poor blighters.  Would we were so savvy as the birds when turbulent circumstances strike!

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May 31, 2011

In the process of ousting 32 slugs from my vegetable haven, it reminded me of a writer friend who recently began drawing intensely and described these epic 12 hr marathons drawing an egg. I scanned the soil today so intently, cm par cm for any sight of any sized or version of the blighters. The recent Peat Moss disaster helped matters enormously, it’s so much easier to see anything in peat moss compared to compost or clay.

And much did I see. I couldn’t believe the tribes of creatures who inhabit my little box there. Esp. impressive are the small fellas who can curl up in an instant ball. They look like wood lice but have to be something more complicated than wood lice. Weevils?

It was a very satisfying excavation, defending my stems and emerging beans and I bagged 32 of them away to a salty end. The guinea pigs are benefiting from the Community Garden as they get to scoff down much of last year’s carrots that have been left over winter by my fellow gardeners and now lie hurled into the compost patch smothered in seeded yellow kale. Into my bucket they go and Alfie-Cyril and his brother plough through them.

Today again the Mason Bees had a chat with me. At first nothing, but then as I stared at the soil they began warming up and then moved into quite curving soliloquies. My ears tune into them as I hunt the soil for the unwanted. It is quite gorgeous their chatter and travels quite an auditory distance once you tune it in. I wonder how they sound during the rain.

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August 30, 2010

It’s gone chilly. I briefly contemplated putting on the heat. The temp according to Environment Canada is 14 degrees. Overnight low will be 10 degrees.

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August 27, 2010

A weather event overnight ! It began with some stormy sounds while I was inside a kitchen working hard and singing loudly.

By this morning the worst headache (is that a myth that a close sky causes headaches?) woke me and outside mid November style visuals.

By night these days we are watering the garden in the pitch dark. Still you can make out the red of late ripened tomatoes and they taste great in the dark.

The seasonal shift is upon us and it’s rather thrilling to notice and record it.

I’m warming up for winter. Tropical storm Earl is also rolling in the wider atmosphere, and Hurricane Danielle fox trotting her way too.

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August 21, 2010

“Reading the weather preoccupied them all….”

(“The Young in One Another’s Arms”  Jane Rule P166 Arsenal Pulp Press)

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August 14, 2010

Latest wildfire count in BC is 1400 currently burning.

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August 7, 2010




Pagan prayers are working. Send your prayer requests and heathen mass offerings and I’ll get to work on them.

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June 7, 2010

I am thinking of renaming my community garden plot The Chipper. This is my 3rd or 4th year in this plot and I am still removing rubble constantly from it. It’s a heart breaker!

The slugs have mown the two budding leaves off my cucumber plant in it’s less than 12 hour lifespan. Meanwhile the Manhattan high potato plant right beside it that could afford a bit of a trim they turned their sniffer up at. I went around pressing the earth round my poor beleagured beans today, hoping some kind of pressure point tactic might have a chat to the old roots down there to charge skyward before the slugs are reborn.

I put two wee containers of beer in to drown the blighters, but my slugs are a very intellectual variety who may also be yeast proof. They are destroying my dreams of having one good year in this plot. Picture the scene all around me are thriving garden plots, year after year.

But in the only bit of uplifting news the alpine strawberry plant that is the very essence of a miracle, because it has thrived in this concrete  Chipper, had strawberries on it today. Edible ones. Yum. So the rain fell, I pressed the earth pointlessly, pleaded with the non appearing lettuces, grieved the gone cucumber and snaffled the berries, decided the rain was insufficient, lugged galloons of water across the road, left, not long after the rain absolutely lashed it down.

I am looking forward to greeting my ma’s vegetable tunnel in rural Ireland. I have these illusions I am going to be helpful in it. It’s a great thing delusion …


In a non gardening astonishing achievement today I managed to crash the car into a static dumpster. (Lest readers may think it was chasing me) and it is showing dent and abrasion. The combination of going backwards when there’s things beside me is not a sequence to be repeated. It’s over for me and car parks. It’s over for me and dumpsters too. But I’ve good potential for driving that buggy thing that bounces on Mars.

The only good thing was as soon as I crashed into the dumpster three cars in the area took off rapidly and i had a nice bit of space to carry on….

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May 31, 2010

Today another request! This time Eros! From a male friend could I read a paragraph of a love letter … which was a touching request. He and I don’t agree on much because he is full of youthful idealism, in contrast to my Beckettian acceptance of the awfulness of everything amen, so we often spar, however on this we agreed. The paragraphs were beautiful. Paced. Thought out. Painstakingly so. It was so moving. It was wonderful to see caution thrown to the wind over the more typical strategic cloaked murmurs.

I was rather lifted and moved by the romance of it all. “You’re such a sensualist”, he said critically, but I misheard it as “You’re such an essentialist.”

I like this accidental term essentialist.


On the ferry at the weekend it was rough and windy from Cortes to Quadra. I’d never been on a bumpy BC sailing before but I spent my childhood, being of the Sealink generation, back and forth on the vicious Irish sea. Sometimes it was sooo windy we’d have to pull ourselves along the rails outside on the boat and it wouldn’t be possible to get around the corners at the head of the ship. Your hair would be on end!

Between Nanaimo and Van on Sunday it was again windy, but nothing like as hard on the stomach as that Cortes ferry. I was pleading with my son to come out and run along the deck with me for the craic, but he was nervous at the prospect.  Given that sea air and fighting the wind is such a rare enough experience and it’s worth tackling nerves and I offered a few games of pac man in the arcade afterwards. Compared to the old Sealink winds of the 1970’s this was merely a bit of a breeze but we’d a hoot pulling through it.

The smell of boats has changed so much. There was almost a diesel or metal industrial smell that pervaded in the 70’s which would dissolve when everyone inevitably started puking their ring up. I recall if the sailing was rough, people had those bags to their noses and vomit would be the pervasive smell. I must look up and see whether things are just as rough between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire and Fishguard.

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May 21, 2010

Lovely rhapsody created by the wind up behind Nat Bailey Stadium last night. A tick, tick, clang on the flag pole, while the tarp was whipping it up. And a screen broadcast Japanese flag and adverts and green lights out to a completely empty baseball pitch. Are they advertising to the sparrows now? Targeting les nuages, tapping new overhead markets. I seemed to be the only one benefitting up there in the car park. A nice windy look out point during a storm.

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January 5, 2010

#5 in the mixed media tea blends: dirty day blend

The dirty day blend. #5

Two tablespoons of Ahmad London Ceylan Earl Grey

One tablespoon of Twinnings Darjeeling pink tin leaves.

Well how do you think it would taste?


That’s how it tasted.

By the hot drop, let it sit, added another half pot of water, it was mightier, but still reserved in the way the dirty day outside was. Did you see how long it took to shift? It didn’t. It just stared at you with one eye cocked daring you to question it while you receive nothing but a grunt in response. That was the day, that was the blend.

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December 4, 2009

A dip in the temperature has sharpened the old mental faculty. The various weather events, as previously detailed in this unrolling blatheration, thrill me in their individual ways. I think my weather intrigue springs from being part of the Sealink Ferry generation. The wind in Mayo has it’s own patois. But the most informative snippet I ever heard about the weather came not from a scientist or a web based reading but from an Icelandic postwoman who I followed on her route in Reykjavik I think it was in 94 as research for a story I was trying to cultivate.

I recall her explaining to me that everybody thinks the weather is all kinds of things and usually terrible, but if you are out in it, she explained it’s really not bad at all. I think she was galloping along with a big bag at the time, me at her heels, eyes a-opened, listening intently for something, and probably not expecting to hear that. In my imagination I had concocted the world of Icelandic post women as something far beyond what the reality entailed.

Back in the sorting office, we gathered with the other women for their coffee break around flasks and during the chatter (quite a bit of why on earth are you interested in the post office) the conversation turned to music. We talked briefly of music incl Bjork (she’s very special) and I think we talked about low pay and much more. It was the weather reflection that stayed with me for I found that once I was indeed out in the weather and actually in it, paying attention to it, it was precisely as she’d described.

When I am looking at the weather I can find it vexing, but by getting underneath it, I have a whole other relationship with it. And that relationship includes moments of oppression, of marvel, wonder, despair and what if? I established this relationship in a country where it can be every season within fifteen minutes.

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November 22, 2009

The rain continues to slant in the light of the lamp posts day after day. Ceasing for periods of recess of approx 10 mins twice a day. Rivers have burst their banks in three countries to my knowledge at the same time. Vancouver Island around Duncan has floods to their doorknobs, Cork City has no drinking water, the 110 ft Christmas tree collided with the Shannon Bridge, roads in the West are completely impassable (Claremorris very flooded) and the army are out. In Cumbria the situation is equally drastic and other parts of England.

Historically our weather systems are in opposition. If it’s pouring there, not the case here. Somehow all the rain lined up in unison.

For our December forecast here on the West Coast, based on this wet pattern, the suggestion I read today is that when colder weather system moves in it, the likelihood of snow is high with these conditions. Here’s a link to the animated radar from Environment Canada (scroll down). And the more widescreen, tapestry of satellite radar — my preferred view for weather enlightenment. (click play, and speed it up for a remix version!)

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May 15, 2009


It usually takes an uncanny weather story to lift me from my bloggled somnolence.

This is the tale from today’s Graun about a gal nun that took to a cave for a number of years, hermit solidudette.

Here’s the para that sparked me up

I was ready to do a long retreat - three years in complete solitude.
Once we had a huge blizzard that raged for seven days and nights,
the snow covered the door and window and the whole cave
was in complete blackness. I thought: "This is it."
Looking back, I'm amazed I wasn't claustrophobic.
I felt perfectly calm and resigned. 
Then I heard a voice say, "Shovel out."
I used a saucepan lid and dug a tunnel out.
It took an hour or two and I did it three times 
but survived to tell the tale.
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September 27, 2008


Crikey, think I just alighted upon my true calling….though Environment Canada are so conservative in their assessments. We’ll be deluged with epic rain and their assessment will read “light drizzle”.

CANWARN is the Canadian Weather Amateur Radio Network.  These are amateurs supporting Environment Canada with eyeball reports of severe weather as it passes through their area.  Environment Canada can watch storms coming through on radar and satellite imagery, but they cannot see what is happening UNDER the clouds. 

A note of caution before readers get to ecstatic and race off to sign up:


CANWARN members are not storm chasers.  Rather than chasing the weather, we wait for the weather to come to us! 

I am co-operating fully with the later instruction, merely keep my close encounters to ruminating on the radars of places I’ve never been. I wish this font would be similarly co-operative.

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June 23, 2008


Prepare for flurry of weather centric posts …

In a round up of weather related worrying and reading I came across this article headlined Expert: Scientific reasons behind year’s weather. The second paragraph read

At least one Iowa City resident said she thinks the weather in Iowa this year, along with the seemingly apocalyptic flurry of earthquakes, deadly tornados and other natural disasters around the globe might be a sign from above.

“I think the end is near,” Linda Lewis said Friday.

I should point out the Mrs Lewis is not the expert in the article, but I was comforted to see another weather wonderer who relies on absolutely no science for her wondering.  I’ve questioned whether it’s resolvable being entirely illiterate in science and concurrently obsessed with the weather.

I’ve muttered my way through some hardware shop discussions with perplexed employees as I complain about the selection of barometers they stock, whilst not being entirely clear what barometers actually do. I’ll ask do they measure air pressure without really having a clue what the purpose of measuring air pressure is, but since it matters to weather people, so it too  matters abstractly to me.


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June 22, 2008

Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century

From Johann Hari’s piece in The Independent:

Ten years ago, the village began to die. First, many of the trees turned a strange brownish-yellow colour and rotted. Then the rice paddies stopped growing and festered in the water. Then the fish floated to the surface of the rivers, gasping. Then many of the animals began to die. Then many of the children began to die.

The waters flowing through Munshigonj – which had once been sweet and clear and teeming with life – had turned salty and dead.

Read the rest here.

Meanwhile on this side of the water they’re decking it out over whether or not to implement a carbon tax federally and some are hiccuping over the already introduced Provincial tax on petrol. Now lads, a bit closer to home, this might help you make up your minds…

The researchers say sea levels could be expected to rise by four to six meters by 2100 as part of a long-term trend towards five to ten meters. A six meter rise in sea level would put 91 per cent of Richmond, and 76 per cent of Delta underwater; the entire airport and ferry terminal at Tsawwassen would be lost to the sea; and the current erosion counter-measures around Point Grey and North Vancouver would be overwhelmed, threatening to plunge much of UBC into the ocean.

Read more here

Curiously there’s been recent, slightly rabid muttery protests about the introduction of a new bus route in our area! A bus, God help us.

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December 24, 2007

George Eliot fogged in throat and head

In keeping with my curiosity for all things literary and meteorological here is George Eliot or Pollian as she signs the letter beleaguered by fog  on 13 November 1852..

“O this hideous fog!  Let me grumble for I have had headache the last three days and there seems little prospect of anything else in such an atmosphere. I am ready to vow that I will not live in the Strand again after Christmas. If I were not choked by the fog, the time would trot pleasantly withal, but of what use are brains and friends when one lives in a light such as might be got in the chimney?…”

 From a letter to The Brays. (Selections from George Eliot’s Letters edited by Gordon S  Haight published by Yale Univ Press).

Meteorological-chondria perhaps. I had no idea fog could give a headache and choke you. All Dickensian induced romance on fog is henceforth abruptly dumped. Though Pollian might these days have benefitted from the lack of light according to the new thinking on the dangers of light pollution.

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December 16, 2007

May 29th 1835

From Eugenie De Guerin’s journal: (pardon the accent omissions)

 “Never did a storm last so long, it is raging yet. For the last three days the thunder and rain have held their revels. All the trees bend under the deluge: it is cruel to see them look so wearied and faint amidst the bright triumph of May…”

 May! Jaysus! A three-day storm in May? Crikey. A nice meteorological nugget to ponder from 1835 as we brace for global warming.

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