Monday, 30 July 2007


.....we're off to Birch Bay again, this time with the crew, will be back Tuesday evening, don't wait up.

Please feel free to smoke me a kipper though.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Spieglein an der Wand

The Department of Health in Britain have put forward the view that all men over the age of 50 should be on medication to bring down cholesterol.

Last week however, we were told that new research was suggesting that lower cholesterol was a contraindication in cancer. So, put another way, low cholesterol can increase the risk of cancer, OR that taking statins can increase the risk. The increased risk didn't seem that great to me, but still, to say that all men over the age of 50 should be given statins is to say that they should be given a medication that may increase their risk of cancer. It would however, lower their risk of stroke or heart disease.

I don't have any problem with the idea of the 'nanny state', I feel that it goes hand-in-hand with the welfare state. But I do think that people should have more choice about how they want to die, or more to the point, of how I want to die.

Cancer seems more horrible than heart attack or the stroke that actually kills you. However it seems potentially less horrible - depending on the type of cancer - than stroke that doesn't kill you.

Now I am also focussed on a topic I've touched on many times before. Dementia. Kevin's aunt has now reached a stage where she has been hospitalised again and should be in her endgame, but her physical health has been good for most of her life, so she could continue to live in this state of fear and loathing where she is caught up in the nightmare of her own existence for who knows how long.
She has always been a woman who is full of fun and good humour and now, and now.... What dignity is there for her? I hate that we afford animals more mercy than those we love.

I watch myself ageing in the mirror and I watch with interest. Like the stepmother in Schneewittchen,
'Spieglein, Spieglein and der Wand, wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?' but unlike her, I'm not sure I care very much. Oh I share some of her concerns, about being side-lined because of no longer being young, in spite of my experience, skill, knowledge. But I don't blame the young for that.

And yet, that in itself worries me. Is it a symptom of a greater malaise? Will I stop worrying about equality and the environment, about democracy and freedom for all?

As I sit in the silver behemoth with the air conditioning letting someone else drive, I feel comfortable and safe.
But when I'm in the driving seat of our little red car, listening to the engine so that I know when to change gears, swearing and cursing at other drivers who drift across the lanes with their zombie stares as they talk into their cell phones, and when I walk, pissing and moaning about the lack of pavements, that's when I feel alive.

Friday, 27 July 2007


A fitful night's sleep from the heat despite the ceiling fan, and just before waking, a dream in which Sleepy and Crisp-e were doing stand-up in Guildford, but I couldn't get a ticket. Frustration.

We went to the downtown eastside of Vancouver to visit St. James's church. We found it and parked easily enough, but it was closed. A man was sleeping at the top of the few steps that led up to the front doors. On each of the doors across the front of the church was a sign asking those who sit or sleep on the church steps not to urinate, defecate or fix drugs. Seemed reasonable. We walked all around the church but none of the ways in were open. This also seemed reasonable in some ways, the ways that count.

We went to Granville Island, and first to Kids' World. Behind the building was a pond with ducks and geese and a wooden pirate ship. Just behind the prow was a hold, a four-sided box that went from the deck to the ground. Most children could climb out of the portholes below the deck, but a stocky child was stuck.
Standing, his head and shoulders were out of the hold, but he couldn't wriggle out of the portholes and he couldn't pull himself up and out of the hold. He was getting distressed.
I tried pulling him out, but he fell back. His nanna came over and looked down into the hold.
'He's too heavy,' she said.
I told him to brace his back against one side of the box and walk his feet up the opposite side, holding my hands, so that I would counterbalance his weight with mine.
He was worried about getting mud on the side of the box where other children might want to play. In the circumstances I told him not to worry.
This worked, and the boy was pulled out.
'You must be very strong,' said the nanna in a matter-of-fact voice, 'he is very heavy.' But she thanked me, and so did the kid.

Canadian drinking establishments have offended two of my children in the past two days.
Yesterday, in Steveston, Austen, Laurence and Kevin went into a pub with Teddy. They ordered drinks. Because Austen was driving, he had a soft drink, but the others had beer. Then, Austen was told to sit in the family area with Teddy. Laurence and Kevin however, were told they couldn't sit in the family area because they had drinks. No-one could explain this bizarre behaviour from the pub. Austen pointed out that it would be quite acceptable for him to be drinking in the middle of the afternoon with his son, but at that pub, he would have to have been separated either from his beer, or from his son.

This evening, Alex introduced me to Value Village. She had bought 'vintage' clothes from shops in Camden that had 'Value Village' labels on them. An item from VV priced at $5 was sold for £15.
I liked the idea that all these items were being recycled, even that there was some market for them overseas, I just didn't want to do the recycling myself.
When we got to the checkout, Alex had forgotten her purse. Hmmmm. So I had to pay.

On the way back home, we got a phone call telling us to go to Silver City - the cinema behind which is a diner, a restaurant and a bowling complex. We were to meet the others, all but Kevin, who was feeling unwell, there.
We waited and waited, but the others didn't appear, so I suggested to Alex that we went into the diner for a drink and sat on the patio.
Gung-ho. Until the manager asked to see her ID, which....she didn't have because she had left her purse at home. The manager said we could sit in the family area but that she would have to have a soft drink, although I could drink if I wished.
Alex was NOT amused.

When the others arrived, we zapped home and got her ID and then we were honour bound to go in and buy drinks while Austen, Sue, Laurence and the kids went to bowl.
A double Cosmopolitan seemed to end the annoyance though and the manager took it all with good humour.
I don't suppose he really wanted to turn our money down.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

My Girls

All good. Finally everyone slept and felt well, so we had a wonderful day out ending with a barbecue, a rainchecked one from yesterday.

In a way, these photos are history, family history. My children and grandchildren in my home here in Canada.

Tomorrow we venture into Vancouver.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


We're drinking Margueritas, not sipping you understand, drinking, because we're on holiday and the sun is shining. Also, we've eaten too much, far, far too much and everyone knows that alcohol cures stomach upsets. At least, my Aunt used to recommend different alcoholic drinks for different ailments. I remember that brandy was the cure for anything to do with stomachs, but then probably she didn't know about Margs.

Today is both St. James's day and Austen's birthday. We had planned to visit the Anglo-Catholic church of St. James in Vancouver today, but plans have had to be flexible.
In fact we have spent the last couple of days filling the fridge with food. The fridge is groaning. Jet lag has kicked in and sleeping patterns have been all over the place. At least my own has settled down.

The sales are on, aren't they great? Alex and I bought jumpers for $2.97 yesterday in Old Navy, and these were jumpers we might have bought at full price.

An article in today's Guardian points out that tourism to the US from Britain has declined dramatically since 2000.
The writer says that he can fully understand Brits avoiding the plastic tourist traps of Florida and Las Vegas, but there is a beautiful and amazing country out there to explore.
Usually I am fairly appalled by the comments, you worry about the readership of the Guardian when you read the abysmal standard of writing and thinking, but one very strong message came out from this one. People don't want to be treated like criminals trying to enter the US. And that's a very valid point.
There is no reason why visitors to the country have to be labelled 'aliens' and even from my own experience the self same forms and questions can be filled in and answered without tarring everyone with the same brush.

The behemoth. Austen and Sue have rented one. They were very careful to get one just big enough to seat everyone but not unnecessarily big. Thought was put into this. On almost every occasion, we can all get in it and when only a couple of us are going out we go in Kev's environmentally acceptable vehicle.
All of which actually makes me even more judgemental of people who drive this kind of vehicle almost empty, or who park in the 'small cars' spaces.

Summer is doing its stuff.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Arrivals. So much nicer than Departures. So bonding too. All the other people, I can easily cry to see almost anyone re-united.

A paper sign in front of me says 'Mrs Patel', I can't believe there aren't dozens of Mrs. Patels coming through. But when she arrives, a man hugs her, did Mr.Patel fear he may not recognise his wife? Had she been away so long?

Old ladies, I love seeing the old ladies, whether they are arriving to visit friends and rellies or whether they are coming back home, they are somebody's old ladies. Perhaps the depressing old ladies don't travel, or perhaps they constantly do, hopping from home to home, outstaying their welcome.

Then there are the people you recognise from way back, almost forgotten, but look, they haven't changed, well, maybe the hairstyle is different, and you can't even remember their names.
And of course they can't really be the people you knew, just types, people with similar mannerisms. That's all.

Even in the short time since I was last there, there have been improvements, newer boards, things have turned around a little. Timmie's is closed. But the big advertising poster for year round King Crab is still there, how could that be? We watch the men and women go out and do battle with the Bering sea to catch the crabs once a year, 'Deadliest Catch', a dangerous job.

The BA crew, the pilots in quasi-military uniform, catch the eye, make you turn and feel secure.

And then the first glimpse, way off, too far to really see, but a pace, a mannerism, and then as they draw closer, the moment is finally there. They are there.

Today, the jetlag, me too in a way, after two nights of very bad sleep. And Austen trying to get used to driving the hire car with our bizarre road rules and signs and oddly placed crossings. There is no handbrake. Today local stuff for local people. Canadian stuff, Costco, the Nature Park.
Alex to the bank, the Mall.

I can't believe they're here. In a very, very good way.

Monday, 23 July 2007


And they're here! Thanks for all the good thoughts !


What can I tell you? Nothing in my life matters right at this moment except the arrival of my family. We should be at the airport right now, pacing the Arrivals lounge, me making unreasonable Tim Horton's demands.

The sun has struggled through the clouds a couple of times today and it's warming up.

But.....this morning/early evening, depending on which side of the Atlantic you're on, the plane sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours. So now we don't have to go to the airport until 20.30. We have switched from tracking the BA website to the YVR one. (Vancouver airport for anyone whose life doesn't actually revolve around it).

I haven't slept much and my brain isn't functioning too well, but I'm guessing that I'm less tired than my lot who're still up in the air.

Hopefully, next time I blog, they'll be here.

Sunday, 22 July 2007


There's a unicorn in the picture, if you understand unicorn to mean having one horn.
One of the antelopes had lost one, apparently this is bloody and painful, but people came to the centre to see the unicorn and the centre helps conserve endangered species, so it was not in vain.

Foolishly, I hadn't really thought much about the strike by certain city workers in Vancouver. The garbage is apparently not going to be collected until it's resolved, but hey, everyone knows the drill with that one, after a while the army get called in and although it's not very nice work for them, we get to see our own military forces on the street, we bond with the lads and lasses who keep our country safe, then the binmen go back to work and all is well.

Except...the knuckleheads who run our Province, or the judiciary or someone, has ruled that garbage isn't an essential service and so the army can't be deployed to stop rubbish rotting in the streets and keep the citizens safe from disease and pestilence. And thus the binmen can strike for as long as they like with impunity.

Today has been last minute cleaning and tidying. The house gleams. It's also very neat. Actually, the house itself is generally fairly neat, but now, even Laurence's room is tidy.

This afternoon was our writers' group summer party at Raymond's house. In spite of the rain, we had a good time. I do like the 'pot luck' that we do here where everybody brings a dish and you get a wonderful array of different foods.

Tomorrow, at 18.30 if all goes according to plan, Austen, Sue, Alex, Holly and Teddy's plane will land and we'll be at the airport to meet them.
I'll take all the positive vibes I can get.

Saturday, 21 July 2007


July of course must be space month, and here in Canada, our sci-fi channel is called Space.
Today on Space, we were up in the Yukon where aliens had been frightening anyone who happened to be on the main highway one night, and then we were re-visiting Roswell. I believe the 'Incident' happened earlier on in July, but nonetheless, 60 years ago this month.

I find it fascinating how the pendulum swings back and forth on this. Was there, wasn't there? Definitely no, definitely yes.
'Swing up and bring me hope of life, swing down and plunge the surgeon's knife,'
The surgeon's knife did indeed seem to be a bone of contention. Or rather his (in this case) scissors. A real surgeon would never hold them like that. Hmmm....
All to play for, if they're out there, we'd better stop squabbling because it might be them against us.
If they're not out there then we'd better stop squabbling because we're all there is.

The last few days we've had good, solid rain. Obviously cooler. But I'll be happy if the weather does what it's supposed to and brightens up on Monday. Not that I want the heat back, no siree Bob, but I want Vancouver and Richmond to show their splendour. I want my family to have their breath taken even before they land, when they look down from the aeroplane and see the trees, the water, the mountains.

The horror of 'honour killings' stalks both of our lands. In Britain, three male relatives of a young woman who was tortured, sexually assaulted and brutally killed by them, have been put away and for a long time.

Good, it is a message that needs to be sent however many times it happens, but it shouldn't ever happen. It is not an acceptable cultural practice any more than female genital mutilation is. It is something brought in from an inferior culture, like a virus coming in on imported food or a plane.

And here, it goes on and on. Almost always the husband, or father, or in one case, the mother who gave the order for her daughter's throat to be cut in India from a telephone in Vancouver, or was it Surrey? I don't remember.

In both the British and the most recent Canadian case, the police had been made aware of threats, of a history of violence. And here, the cry goes up.
Racism? Why do you do this? Do Canadians from other cultural backgrounds kill for 'honour'? Or is it in fact actually proscribed by the law of the land?
Oh yes.
So it isn't part of our culture, it's not something we can put up with. Racism? You cannot justify everything by crying foul. Not things that are against fundamental human decency.
How long would we have to go back in our history to find a time when women could be legally brutalised and killed by men because they did something those men didn't like?

Further back than 1947 that's for sure. Stop squabbling? Well some things are worth fighting for. And the aliens had better realise it.

Friday, 20 July 2007


On this day in 1969, apparently, man first walked on the moon. And at school, we were allowed to watch it. I remember, we were all in the hall at primary school, watching history on TV. I think it was unprecedented to watch TV at school then, but I may be wrong, we may have been assembled to watch the Queen or some such.

For those at Mayhem, and thus presumably Britain in general, today was the last day of term, the final day of the school year, whilst in our shops, all the 'back to school' displays are up.
It must have been getting close to the end back in 1969, who knows, but for Karen and me it was the end of an era, in September we'd be going to secondary school. I had left Portsmouth and wouldn't return for 32 years, but in the meantime I'd meet Di and Kerry and Eve and people who would be good friends.

And we've lived our lives since then, but what has happened to the space race? Why aren't we building on the moon? Why isn't there an international space programme putting someone on Mars? The thinking has all been left to science fiction.

Anyway, back to Earth and a couple of things that BC has got organised.
One is dogs. Now I didn't realise this until yesterday when I saw it on TV, but most municipalities have dog licences and wardens who can fine people if they can't show proof of having paid their $35. And the fines are huge.
Not only that, but the price of the licence goes up if the dog isn't neutered, and, you can't own more than two dogs.
I think that all of this is brilliant and yet bizarre, there is hardly any attempt to police the roads here, people are allowed to operate machines of death whilst talking on cell phones, having small children on their laps, they don't seem to go to gaol for drunken driving, it is just all quite extraordinary.

It has also only just occurred to me how well Canadians manage the school holidays. Although school breaks up at least a month earlier than in Britain, the city centres aren't packed with roaming packs of unpleasant youths all day long as back home.
Every Community Centre, Heritage site, Church, Mosque, Synagogue, Temple, all run summer schools, which pretty much not only wraps up school aged children all day, but university students too, for these are the squadrons who run all these programmes.

I find this all admirable, but again, odd. In Britain there would be no chance of having a programme run purely by university students, you'd have to have some qualified leader, some already overworked professional in charge.
At the Nature Park, we have two fantastic students running our summer programmes, and a team of high school pupils volunteering with them.
And why would secondary school pupils volunteer their time? Because it is part of what they HAVE to do. Somewhere along the line, to leave here or get good marks there, they have to have 'volunteer hours'.

Amazing, alien, amateurish. But still amazing.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Water Buffalo

Yesterday Holly went to the zoo, today, her nan went.
Today, I went as a second member of staff on the Seniors' tour to the Mountainview Conservation Centre in Langley. The place was more like a safari park than a zoo, each animal or set of animals had so much space in their enclosures that we couldn't actually see all of them. Ivan the Indian Rhino was hiding somewhere. This water buffalo came over to have a look at us.
Kris, ever the naturalist, asked some question about whether you could tell the sex from their horns. I pointed out that he had very large goolies hanging there for all to see.

There were some packs of dogs from Africa that were the most endangered mammal there, but they were being managed and bred here in BC. They looked quite soft and pretty, but it was pointed out that if a keeper stepped into their enclosure without the pack being enticed away first, they'd soon be food.

Fortunately, we had no medical emergencies. I think there was a possibility of that had we not been pulled around the many acres by a tractor whilst sitting on what looked like benches stuck on a trailer.

And I got home early. On the doorstep, a parcel, a picture by Teddy and Holly. Good timing methinks, I can get that on the wall before they arrive and a very worthy pic too.

On National Geographic, we're watching some Herpetologist searching for giant crocs. A couple of nights ago, a different herpetologist was looking for giant cobras. Everyone's into herps, everyone wants to find giants. Since Herpetology encompasses both reptiles and amphibians, I look forward to some enthusiast coming to take a gander at our giant bullfrogs at the Park.

Still, no-one's quite as good as Steve Irwin at this game. There are some good presenters on TV and I believe there are some bad - I remember Sleepy wanting to euthanase one of them - but Steve-O set the bar high.

And I learnt another animal related fact today. The American badger is a completely different animal from the European badger. Good old Brock. I was quite confused to see something that looked like a large Pekinese dog waddling across the TV screen but being called a badger. There was something terribly...un-badger-like about it.
This probably explains the distinct lack of badgers in American literature. At least...I assume there's a lack, I can't say I've read too much of it.

Oh, and that last picture - a condor. I think he was watching us.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Happy Birthday to my beloved granddaughter, 3 today. She went to the zoo, I've seen the pictures, though I'm not quite sure how her daddy managed to be there! I had to phone and leave a message at 8 this morning. But I'll be seeing her in five days' time!

The last couple of days, people have been bringing us in spiders to identify. Red ones, red and black ones, furry ones. In my entire life I never thought I would be involved in identifying spiders, I used to get the screaming habdabs when confronted with quite innocuous ones as a young whippersnapper.
I felt full of my own importance peering at a little reddish brown corpse through a big old Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass and carefully measuring the cephalathorax. I didn't manage to find out what it was of course, but I did venture a moderately informed opinion on what it wasn't.

It is bizarre that people will go into the nearest public facility with their questions.
A friend who works at the Firehall told me that a couple of weeks ago a man just wandered in and asked some medical question, the type you'd normally ask your pharmacist about. The fire chief told the guy to do just that.

Kris told me that a couple of years back, a member of the public came into the Nature House with a taped up box. They wanted her to identify the snakes in the box.
'Where d'you find them?' she asked,
'On a truck,'
' you know where the truck came in from?'
'Not sure, the States somewhere, maybe Texas....'
' you think it might contain some of the most deadly rattlesnakes in North America?'
'Don't know..'
'Well there's no way that box is being opened in this facility...'

Another thing that has happened the last couple of days is that I have been at work until 19.30. Yeah, quite reminds me of days at Mayhem. Except that I would have had plenty of time to do the work during my normal day, just that I've had to wait for the President of the Nature Park Society to come over from her day job to help me fill in a Grant Application.
Tonight we all but finished it. And designed a Halloween House.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Jeux sans frontiers

Space, the final might have been led to believe, the reality is that the final frontier is the City of Delta. I spent almost three-quarters of an hour there yesterday trying to find a friend's house that I'd been to several times before.

Firstly, and you might think logically, the roads are all numbered. You might think that, and you'd be wrong. The streets are numbered and the avenues that cross them are numbered. have a two way numbering system going on. have streets off of other streets that are numbered with an A or a B. Confused? Oh no, that's by no means the last word.

Let us consider the hypothetical street 714a. 714a is a street off 714, but not directly. To get to it, you have to go down 697 Avenue. Ok, so you're pootling down 714, turn off on 697 to get to 714a, but then you discover that you've come to the end of 714a and you haven't seen your friend's house number. What's going on? Well, there are six or seven more sections of 714a and none of them are joined in any way to the section you went down.
And not only that, but if say, your friend's HOUSE number is 6923, then you expect their neighbours to live in 6922 and 6924, or at worst, 6921 and 6925. You might think that, but like I said, you'd be dead wrong.

And rumour has it, well more than rumour, that the police won't attend domestics at these addresses for the self-same bloody reasons.


This morning the temperature was unusually tolerable and shortly after waking, rain was pattering on the skylight and the windows and as I walked to work, although it still felt warm out, it was also, obviously wet.
The roads looked as though someone had washed them with soap suds, white foam making its way down from the camber.
The parched trails in the park were now softened.

By close of play, the sun was shining again.

I generally keep quiet about Harry Potter, due to the fact that I always thought I was the only non-fan in this quadrant of the galaxy. However it seems not. Nicholas Lezard makes some pretty damning comments about the standard of writing contained within the pages of the books and this, together with the derivative nature of the subject matter, is pretty much the point in my opinion.

"A nine-year-old might feel quite pleased with the writing in the Harry Potter books. It's pretty embarrassing coming from an adult," says Lezard. God bless ye Nick, it needed saying.

Sleepy says she's fed up with Victoria Beckham, frankly I'm fed up with Mr. Posh.
No, he hasn't been stalking me or anything, but I'm not in charge of him. Just because he speaks roughly the same version of English as me - very roughly - we are not joined at the hip.
More than that, his presence on the same land mass as myself has no impact on my life bar the fact that people keep asking me what I think. I think nothing, he is no-one, the only opinion I have is that he isn't attractive and the game he plays IS called football. (That's not an opinion, that's a fact.)

Oh and here's something else I don't have (much) of an opinion on. Conrad Black. I understand that he's an evil, swaggering toad, who has turned his back on Canada and now is trying to turn his back on Britain. The justice system of one country or another will deal with him so that I don't need to worry about him. The only slight bugette I have with the whole thing, is that my understanding is that his crimes are all money related whereas I keep reading stories about men murdering or violating women getting away with far shorter sentences than CB.

Justice, the final frontier.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Fever Pitch

Here's a conundrum to kick off with. What could be more sinister than being erased from history? We were watching a Discovery Channel programme about a woman Pharaoh who had been pretty much been written out, but at some point, the presenter pondered who could have erased her from history or something more sinister. So if you can think of anything, let me know.

Do you have an evil side that can be used for the Good? I do. I have to curb my need to correct people's English grammar and sometimes pronunciation, not when it's based on accent, but when it's based on a mishearing of a word, laziness or incorrect stress.
MOST of the time I succeed, not always.
I can't take 'artic' for 'Arctic' for example, that's pure negligence.
'Forsithia' for Forsythia is because you've only ever seen the word written down.
Emphasising the adjective before the noun it's describing is because you haven't got to that page in your English text book or you don't listen to the BBC enough.

But both Kevin and my friend Ree are prepared to let me loose on their reviews and reports. I get to criticise, underline, suggest, edit, insert comment boxes and they don't hate me afterwards. Well, they might, but they let me do more and that's what counts. These are technical things that I don't even really understand, and in some ways that's easier, because I don't get sidetracked by the content.

Excitement is at fever pitch now on both sides of the Atlantic. Austen and Sue are making last minute arrangements, Marks and Spencer are working flat out to get my order to Portsmouth, Alex is frantically touring the entire country, lest any part of it remain unvisited and here I am like a kid who has opened almost all the little windows on a six month Advent calendar.
Which reminds me, I can't remember ever seeing anyone wearing a dog collar outside of a church here. Why is that?

We saw another great film yesterday, one that we had rented, 'Driving Lessons' with Julie Walters, another of Britain's great middle-aged women actors. This was a wonderful film from start to finish.

So, who could fail to be fascinated by the story of Bin Laden's 27 year-old son being outraged by publicity over his marriage to a 51-year-old, five times divorced grandmother from Moulton in Cheshire. Seriously, you couldn't make this stuff up.
I just hope to god she isn't going to cost the British taxpayer money by going to live in one of those places whence she'll have to be airlifted out in a couple of years because he treats her so shockingly and she can't get reasonable and free treatment for her MS.
Frankly, I think there should be a reality show in there somewhere, 'Growing up Gotti ' be damned, 'Living with the Ladens' bring it on!

Saturday, 14 July 2007


Have I mentioned how hot it is? Oh yes, I think I may have.

Seven hours out in it today, luckily we did have a canopy and our dragons to keep us from complete frazzle.
The City Celebration was nowhere near as busy as the Salmonfest, which was a shame in many ways because there was a lot there for people to do and it was quite literally in the City Centre, turns out we have a running track there and that was where the event was.
I truly hadn't realised this was what was meant by 'the oval'. Obviously in Britain 'The Oval' is 'The Cricket Ground' but here I've only heard the expression in relation to skating. 2010, we have the Olympic skating in Richmond, so a multi-million dollar, or billion dollar or whatever, skating oval is being built.

Our dragons looked superb. We had a steady stream of kids coming to colour in scales to stick onto them. But it was bloody tiring. AND I ended up covered in sparkles, sparkles I couldn't even get off in the shower.

Anyroad. When I got back and had showered, couldn't not really, Kevin and I went out to eat at Big River, the diner opposite the cinema and then went to see the Transformers movie. This was something Kevin wanted to see and I had absolutely no interest in. I tell you this to prove that I was not pre-disposed to enjoy it.
Well it was brilliant, utterly brilliant. It's great seeing that kind of film on the big screen, but the effects were amazing, there was also some just fantastic cinematography. The dialogue, the acting, the humour, superb. Well worth seeing.

Who'd have thought?

Friday, 13 July 2007

Red, White and a little Blue

Here's the thing, if you had one of those white Ford Transit type vans with the totally enclosed back space, and you were parked in a public car park, why would you engage in sexual activity in the front?
It's ok, the question's rhetorical, I know the answer.

The heat is on again. We were promised lower temperatures and not just for one afternoon.'s back, beating down.

The weekend to come promises little rest. My dragons and I will be spending Saturday at the City Centre Celebration. I have no idea why we have to celebrate quite so much. Every week we are 'invited' to some fest or another. Mostly we have to tell them to sod off.
We get no benefit as an organisation from any of this, the idea is to raise our profile and yet wave after wave of kid already recognises us from the school programmes.

Back at Schloß Schnee, Kevin is writing an account of some of the projects he has worked on for his professional organisation. Just like me, he is having to 'learn the code'.
One of the most frustrating projects in his career needs the most encoding.
When the company he works for was first taken over by a Dutch firm, there was an office in California and an office here in Richmond.
The Dutch firm looked to rationalise and there were severe cuts made in the Canadian office. I remember his office at this point and it was a few good engineers working in what looked like a makeshift office connected to an equally makeshift lab.

The project, a collaboration between both teams, limped along, hamstrung by the distance and lack of communication. The small electronics team in Canada were being jerked around by the monster mechanical team in the States.

Then along came a Brit to sort it all out. He actually lived in California, still does in fact. But having seen both offices and looked at the expertise in both, he simply said to the Dutch,
'You're cutting back the wrong one, close the American office.'
Simple as that.
Before Kevin knew it, he was off the project that was becalmed, beset by huge problems, and going nowhere, and was part of a growing and flourishing company.
But it's difficult to account for that in professional terms. Should you try to weather the storm or cut and run? When do you reach the point where you have to jump ship?

My friend Dawn, as you know in Bangladesh, has contributed to a blog being published by one of her colleagues. I will link to it while she is out there. In her own most recent e-mail, Dawn had mentioned eating a western chicken dish as a refreshing change from the Asian food. My first reaction was, fancy anyone needing a change from Indian food, but then I thought again, and wondered how long even I would be able to eat it without respite. I think I've certainly managed a week, but then only dinners.

Interestingly, L'Oréal, they of the expensive end of the inexpensive cosmetics and hair products market, have been fined and in the case of one senior exec, given a suspended gaol term, for using representatives to promote their product who were specifically aged 18-22, UK size 10-14 and 'BBR', ie bleu, blanc, rouge, the colours of the French flag.
No, sorry, they haven't been punished for all of that, just the French flag bit. Uha. Why is that bad? Because apparently French flag colours means the person is white.
See to me, it just means French, and it seems more reasonable for a French company to promote their product in France using French people than it does to specify age and size.
And we're just talking about people who demonstrate their products in supermarkets, I'm surprised they even register on anyone's radar, they certainly don't on mine, oh well except for the woman in ours who dems everything and seems to have very few teeth but talks a lot.

Still, she is white.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Marie Antoinette

Having sweated like a ...sweaty thing all day long, the sky has now clouded over somewhat and the temperature has become more bearable.

Luckily, our local rag, whose job it is, nay DUTY to inform us what manner of weather we're enduring, today ran the headline, 'Heatwave!' followed by an article confirming that we are indeed having a heatwave, but without then adding,
'a tropical heatwave, the temperature's rising, it's hardly surprising, we're having a heatwave,' which, in fact, IS surprising because that's about the standard of their journalism.
At the end of the revelation, they remind people not to lock their pets in their cars.
And honestly - it probably needed saying.

Today I made dragon books - well, to be honest, our receptionist did the making, I just primped and fluffed the writing and illustrating a bit more. Tomorrow I collect our dragons, and I'm excited. Now I need the much needed rain to not actually arrive on Saturday. However, if it does, then it'll be payback for a little bit of astonished sarcasm I couldn't help on the phone t'other day.

A school phoned and enquired about booking a Park Interpreter for a tour. I gave her the details. She seemed surprised to learn that there would be a charge. She then more or less said that they'd bring the kids to the Park anyway, but not have the tour.
Fair enough.
But she'd need the picnic tables.
'Well,' I said, 'they are there for public use and our own summer schools who of course have priority, plus, there is some Park management going on in that area next week,'
'What does that mean?' she asked,
'Dead and dying trees which may be a hazard to the public will be being chopped down,'
'But we need that shelter in case it rains,'
'Well all I can do for you is the opposite of whatever a rain dance is,' I said.

In potentially horrifying news, U.S.TV are now planning to take another British sacred cow and suck all the humour out of it before sticking its original label back on and releasing it on an unsuspecting but desperate public.
At least this time, they can't possibly, POSSIBLY call it 'Little Britain'.

Hosanna! Green Wing, the formidably funny Britcom, is having a rerun on BBC Canada. Having a low boredom threshold means I tend not to be able to watch things more than once, but Green Wing, that I am happy to watch again.

And so to Marie Antoinette. We were sitting around talking one lunchtime, and Kris suddenly said,
'I wonder what happened to Marie Antoinette's children.' And then we both forgot to look it up, and so it continued, we'd think of it, then forget.
Until today, today I remembered to look them up and of course by doing so, read about the woman herself and decided that maybe she was a very much maligned woman.
Unpopular mostly for being Austrian, set up by some con artist so that the public believed her guilty of something she didn't do and finally executed just for being an aristocrat while the hoy palloy cheered.
THAT is the real meaning of the word 'racaille'. Rabble.

In her final months, and after the execution of her husband, Louis Vuitton, I'm just kidding, Louis XVI, she was imprisoned with her children. After her death, her son languished in gaol until he died of TB, but her daughter, later Duchesse d'Angoulême, lived on and exercised some influence during the reigns of her Louis XVIII and Charles X, her uncles.

So now I wish the same for Marie Antoinette as I wish for Anne Boleyn, that they could somehow, by some miracle, have known before they died an untimely and unjust death, that their daughters would survive and be great women.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007


Although I realise that ferns do not yield up blueberries, the picture makes me feel a modicum cooler.

This morning as I went into the Nature House, I noticed the first ripe blueberries of the season. They didn't taste very sweet, but it was a thrill to see them. This evening I bought the first punnet of the season. Oh, no, not true, I got them free for spending over $150.

The temperature is now stupidly hot, and I mean STOOPIDLY. Getting in to the car - stifling, standing out in the car park - suffocating. In the house - wall of heat. No hiding place, especially if you're in downtown Vancouver, since they've been told to turn off their a/cs.

I went round to visit my dragon today, the one that's being made. It is brilliant. I had been told that this woman was an amazing artist, but until she showed me round her house and I was able to see her work for myself, I had no idea how good. Her work is just brilliant, beyond brilliant, it needs to be seen.

So it turns out that men and women talk the same amount. A 'noted neuropsychiatrist' had previously 'found' that while women utter around 20,00 words a day, men only spoke about 7,000. In the case of said neuropsychiatrist, clearly 7,000 words of bullshit.
Researchers at the University of Arizona somehow persuaded 400 people to wear a device that automatically digitally recorded all of their conversations over a period of time and the study itself went on for six years. Pretty thorough then. The result was that there was no significant difference.
Next stereotype please....

I can't help wondering whether the premier of Pakistan is feeling a little sheepish about certain remarks he made about Salman Rushdie, now that he and the nation's Pres have been pretty publicly spanked by Al-Q.

The Guardian reports that an increase in the wearing of pants in the Middle Ages increased literacy. I'm not totally sure I follow the argument, more underwear = more rags = more paper = greater literacy. Yeah see, I'm not sure how paper per se increases literacy, I would have thought some actual teaching may have to be involved.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Queer as Volk

'We welcome and support diversity.'
I'm writing a grant application at work at the moment. I have to show that our programs are available to all irrespective of religion, gender, physical ability, age and sexual orientation.
I could cover the rest, although age was a tricky one, difficult to show that programs for Kindergarten kids are available to all irrespective of age, but whatever, no, the impossible one was sexual orientation. Ergo the lame statement, from the heart, but lame. Oh and when I say from the heart, there's some diversity I don't welcome. The badly behaved can bugger off and find another Nature Park.

Oh, and on the subject of intolerance and gay matters, on the website/blog 'Queerty' that Sleepy alerted me to, I was less happy than they to notice that Shannon Doherty is about to annoy us all on the small screen again. I can't help it, I just find myself disliking her. Queerty refers to her as 'the dastardly Ms.D' but we all know that dastardly is a term of endearment. They like her secretly.

I'm horrified to have stumbled upon the Italian for 'a great piece of pussy', I never wanted to know that, and unlike most other new items of vocabulary in whatever target language, natch, this one won't go away, like that annoying song that's stuck in your head, Sleepy got me the other day by mentioning 'all around my hat, I will wear the green willow.'
And FYI (*narrows eyes* and you know who you are) Folk Music is god's way of telling us you can buy earplugs from all good chemists.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Silvio Sodding Berlusconi, what is he on? Describing Mrs. Thatcher as una bella gnocca is bang out of order!
Perish the thought.

Lesbians on last night's Doctor Who btw *you know who you are*. Completely matter-of-fact, but then that's Russell T. Davies for you, it's all part of life.

Did I mention it's frackin' hot? I feel like meat on a barbecue. Sizzling, but not in a good way. The sun creme's not doing it.
And then the lunacy of the lettuce leaf. In the summer, when you're most likely to eat salad, the humble lettuce leaf only lasts a couple of days even in the fridge. In the winter, when you want stomach filling root veggies, your lettuce will last a couple of weeks. What's that about?

That weird thing's going on again.
Sleepy's catching up on one of Kev's and my favourite series, Shameless. But we've run out. I brought back series 1 & 2 on DVD last year. Showcase (by coincidence previously THE showcase for gay TV) have been showing intermittent episodes. But tonight, tonight meine Damen und Herren, they are showing the third series.
Oh yes.
All around my hat I will wear the pink will-ow....

Monday, 9 July 2007

Hunting Dragons

Soporific - the late afternoon heat and the smell of cedar as I drove across the bridge towards Karen's.

Today I've been hunting dragons. Or creating them. I overstate my case, I'm not doing the creating, just the imagining.

On Saturday, we have another Special Event, the 'City Centre Celebration'. I have decided to go with dragons. We're as likely to have dragons in the Park as anywhere else.
I have an artist who is going to create them for me and I took her to buy plastic cardboard - that's how i think of it, corrugated cardboard only made of plastic. I've written my dragon stuff, suggesting that they must be reptiles and why. We're having a Chinese dragon and a Western dragon, which seems representative, the City is half and half. The children will colour in scales and stick them on. That's my plan. I should probably get some sparkles.
Who am I kidding? In my cupboard I have an entire bucket labelled 'sparkles'.
One of my colleagues brought me in a book to look at, it informed me about Dragonology. A beautiful book, the kind of book you want to hold in your hands and turn over. A book to run your fingertips over. A book to gaze at.

My friend Dawn has arrived safely in Bangladesh, for which I give thanks.
I am quoting from her e-mail,
"We've been moving all day long--three generous meals of wonderful new tasting
foods (I've been careful what I eat), sight-seeing, and shopping. The sights
and sounds in this busy, hospitable city are like pages of geography books
jumping off the page and coming to life! It's been a wonderful day! I have
seen a Hindu temple for the god of strength, toured the University of Dhaka,
stopped at a memorial for the celebrated Day of Language, and walked around a mausoleum."

I was surprised but relieved to hear from her so soon.

This evening, coming back from Karen's, the sun had sunk enough for the air to be bearable and the sky tinged with coral.
As I drove home, catching the sun sinking behind the mountains in my driving mirror gave me goosebumps.

Sunday, 8 July 2007


Two of my father-in-law's Martinis would drop a rhino in its tracks and I drank two pretty quickly after arriving in Birch Bay on Friday evening. A couple of hours later when Kevin's parents had gone, I discovered how drunken rhinos must feel when they try to swim.

The border crossing wasn't as awful as anticipated, we were through in 40 minutes, a reasonable time for a Friday afternoon. But here's the thing. Canadians go south because there are a number of RV parks down there, people have weekend places just across the border. Many things are cheaper to buy in Washington than in BC, but we're only allowed to bring back a certain dollar value, depending on how long we've been down, it's not like crossing to mainland Europe from Britain, or rather it's more like it was in the old days.
But every time we've gone to the States recently, there have been far longer queues coming north into Canada, same when we have come back, more weekenders returning to the US than to Canada. So what the hell are they all coming north for? Things are more expensive for them, there aren't any cheap places to park RVs, although there are campsites.

This weekend, my son Laurence was able to come with us which was brilliant. He'd worked nights all week in order to be able to do so, and nights means working the drive-through. The pissed, stoned and downright dysfunctional use the drive-through at Wendy's at night.
So he'd deserved his weekend.
Now, having said to Sleepy that the majority of people at the RV park are Canadians, Laurence seems to have the ability to unwittingly flush out the fascists. He has been with us twice to this site and both times when he has been in the pool on his own, he's come back and told us that some George Bush supporter has started talking to him.
I'm not sure why this is, but I feel it may have something to do with his skinhead haircut and tattoos. He does look as though he's straight off the set of Romper Stomper.

We have to take our own entertainment with us. The TV gets about three stations since there's no cable installed. We have been watching the First series of Boston Legal on DVD, but we've finished that. So we usually take a couple of movies. This time, on someone else's recommendation, we had 'Music and Lyrics'.
Forget it, its an airline movie, it didn't engage any of us and it droned on.

It was hot, but it was nice to sit out and eat and drink until nightfall. The hummingbirds have gone now, we missed the thrummmm, thwack of their manoeuvring.

So, my friend Dawn has now left for Bangladesh. I hope I'll be able to pass on some of her experiences if she manages to get online at all. The monsoons have been pretty overwhelming there this year and Dawn is part of a team that will be looking at the impact of flooding.
Annoyingly, my e-mail has been misbehaving. It tells me there's an e-mail from someone and delivers a different e-mail. Bloody annoying. Dawn's last message to me before she left contains a repeat of an e-mail from another friend, although Kevin thinks he may be able to find the real one on the computer itself.
It seems that Thunderbird is having difficulty recognising borders.
I look forward to the day when that is true for weekenders going north and south.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Off Again

Bizy, b bak soon.
Expecting a looooong wait at the border.

Thursday, 5 July 2007


Huh. Red-winged blackbird in a bed of cattails. I have received differing opinions on whether cattails and bullrushes are the same thing. Moses in the cattails, hmm, doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

During the sweaty, searing heat of this afternoon, I managed to find myself, by virtue of having taken the wrong exit from Tim Horton's, on South East Marine Drive. This was a mistake I regretted for half an hour of smelly, noisy, blood-pressure raising hell. least my coffee was still hot by the time I got back to work.

I walked into the kitchen.
'Janis! Can you tell us of something that works to get the attention of the children?' asked Rob who seemed to be having a meeting with his summer volunteers.
'So is this my professional opinion you want to hear based on years of secondary school teaching?' I asked,
'Shout at them in German, that always works.'
Well it does! AND I was hot and bothered.

I went back to my office and hoiked out my expensive sun screen, the one which claimed it would cool me down as I applied it and I would look forward to doing so. Having purchased it, I then read the whole of the blurb on the back and it said, 'Do not smoke while using this product.'
I don't smoke, but it worried me nonetheless.
But at that point I was so hot I was indeed looking forward to applying it. And it did cool me down, yep, it lived up to its promise, for about a minute. It also made my eyes water and all the previous gunk I'd been wearing turned to nasty little grey specs. Huh.

Kris and I were putting in an appearance at an evening event, 'Richmond Walks.' Worryingly, as the two of us approached where the event was set up, but seeing no sign of a table for us, a woman I'd never met before came up and proffered a hand,
'Janis!' she said. Well, I was wearing my name tag. 'You're our star,' she said, 'we've put your quote on our cover.'
'Ok,' said I, having no idea what she was talking about and hoping she'd mistaken me for someone else.
But no, well, sort of. My quote WAS on the cover of an insert in the Richmond Review, but somehow I now had an Indian name. Jania. Jania says.... and then the most puke-making part of what I had written, the bit tacked onto the end, the bit where Peter had stood over me waiting for me to pen something that he was supposed to have sent in an hour ago and said,
'They want something encouraging, something rallying...'
Woefully, I complied.

Inside, my piece had been shortened to about two sentences, and the bit where I encouraged Richmond City to actually provide some pavements if they want people to walk was of course, nowhere in sight.
And of course the picture.
But it was born out today when I was sitting in the traffic and the heat and a young woman with a pushchair was having to walk in the cycle lane because there was no pavement.

Oh well.

When Kris and I were packing up our stuff, to our right, a man with a two-handed kite seemed to actually be flying. But then we realised he was standing on a massive skateboard with enormous wheels.
Heat plays some odd tricks.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007


Dear Lord it's hot. Summer here can be quite relentless once it sets in and I feel it may have indeed set in.

An Indian man in the Nature House told me yesterday that he knew I was English because I said, 'indeed.' His brother had been educated at and subsequently settled in Oxford. The man had noticed that whereas he himself said,
'Thanks a lot,' his brother (and by extension myself) would say,
'Thank-you very much indeed.'
'Indeed,' said I. Always useful to know. Later a Chinese woman informed me that I was English,
'Indeed?' I said again for emphasis,
'Yes, my sister live in England,' she said.
'Whereabouts?' I asked,
'I don't know,' she said, 'that place with Buckingham Palace.'
'Ah, indeed.'

I drove to downtown Vancouver in the heat of the midday sun. Well, not entirely, it was more like 14.00 hrs. I had given myself as much time as possible to get stuck in traffic, find the elusive parking and then to find the place.
My plan was to drive past the place and then circle around and around, ever widening until I found either a multi-storey or somewhere on a side-street.

But it turned out that Hornby Street was the one road that has multitudinous parking meters. I was able to park virtually opposite the address I had to go to.
I had also left enough time to be kicking my heels for a couple of hours inside the place. I had taken reading material and water. And I had taken every piece of paper we had that proved anything about Laurence since number four on the list of documents you MUST BRING was his driver's licence.
We were out of the building five minutes before the scheduled time of our appointment and driver's licences were not mentioned.

Now I have to shower and go back to work for an evening meeting. In order to do this I have to miss pub night with Kevin's co-workers and the visiting Dutchmen.
Anyway, I noticed this piece from a British Muslim, Asim Siddiqui who says what needs to be said. The thing that always astounds me with the Guardian's 'comment is free' articles is the sheer twattery that comes from some of the commentators. Just some mind, most seem .... not insane.

Well, must go back to work. What is an evening for after all?
To my Americans, the ones I love that is, not the nitwit in charge, I hope you enjoy your Independence Day, even those of you who have to work.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Flying Beaver

I don't believe this is actually a flying beaver, but it could be because this much better picture shows the real thing and it looks just like the ones that we were seeing continually taking off and landing yesterday when we went for a walk along the dyke.
As if that weren't enough, they're flown by bush pilots. Gotta love this country.
We went to the Flying Beaver pub for supper which actually had a, mooring, whatever, just outside of the bar.

On t'other hand, whilst having NO shame when talking about beavers, dykes and bush, I keep forgetting that Canadians don't like to call a spade a spade.
On TV, the warning 'may contain...' actually means 'contains' and today I discovered that 'we don't recommend' means 'we won't take you.' Hmmmm..... The problem is, you never know when someone does mean it.
I had a programme that I gave for a four year old's birthday party today. I felt it didn't go very well. The parents of all the children came up afterwards and told me what a great job I'd done. But what does that mean? Seriously, I honestly don't know.

Give me a bloody shovel any day.

A cyclist passed me as I was walking home across the King George's park this evening. He stopped ahead of me and circled back.
'Your husband's a very lucky man,' he said. Ok, so maybe the really creepy people mean it. But perhaps I shouldn't have thought of that guy as creepy. He said what he wanted to say and cycled off.

My son Laurence lost his Permanent Resident's card a while back and he can't get back into the country if he leaves without it.
We applied for a new one. A right bloody kerfuffle that was and no mistake. At the end of last week, an orange coloured letter arrived informing him that he has an appointment in downtown Vancouver tomorrow to pick up his card. Great, so I have to once again drive downtown in the middle of the afternoon and find somewhere to park. My joy knows no bounds. And then no guarantee that we'll get it. Contained in the orange letter - from a government department don't forget - is a spelling mistake and a Catch-22.
Laurence has to bring his driver's licence. Well he can't drive so he doesn't have one. He can't even take a test if he wanted to without his PR card.
I can see this getting stupidly Kafkaesque, unless of course..... no, it's too much to hope that they may not mean it, I mean Sod's law dictates that this is the one time that what they say, however stupid, is what they mean.

We'll see.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Casting Stones

Although it was tough for me to think of Tony stepping down, I was also excited that Gordon would be stepping up and so I like to read the words 'Prime Minister Gordon Brown' in articles.

The handover has also given Tony the chance to now say some things that need to be said.
In an article in yesterday's Observer, Tony is quoted as having launched a powerful attack on British Muslims who claim to be oppressed by Britain, he says their claims are absurd and he is right, absolutely spot on.

"'The idea that as a Muslim in this country that you don't have the freedom to express your religion or your views, I mean you've got far more freedom in this country than you do in most Muslim countries,........ your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified.' "
He goes on to criticise the views of some so-called civil liberty campaigners by asking how they can possibly claim that Muslims in Afghanistan for example are being oppressed by the West when under the Taliban, teachers were executed for teaching girls in schools.

Exactly Tony, exactly.

Avocado and bacon compliment each other so well, I'd say they were made for each other were it not for the fact that avocado and coriander were also made for each other. Important to remember really.

I was rather surprised to see that the Pope, or more accurately his publishing house, the Vatican, has issued 'Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road,' which reminds the faithful that 'thou shalt not kill.'
I did however, begin to see where they were going with this, 'Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination or an occasion for sin.' Well quite.
I wonder if the Tony Sopranos of this world will pay heed. Probably not, they don't pay much heed to any of the other general rules of the Catholic road like, 'don't kill people just because your pasta wasn't al dente,' and such like.
I have been wondering what the Latin for car is though.

Absurdity is not confined to Islamists and Catholics with big cars mind you.
At the same time that Perez Hilton's cheap namesake was whingeing and whining about being given a 45 DAY sentence for violating her suspension for drunken driving by going out and driving whilst drunk, both parents of a now 21-year-old young man are starting a gaol term of 27 MONTHS, for displaying good parenting skills five years ago.
They wanted their then sixteen year old son to celebrate his birthday at home and took away the car keys of his guests, saying they could sleep over. Since they knew the youngsters would buy and consume alcohol anyway, but they had removed the possibilities both of them being drunk and disorderly around town and of driving whilst under the influence, they bought alcohol for consumption at the family home.

Tell me how this makes sense.

Austen and I were discussing this article earlier and we could not see any justification whatsoever for taking both parents, depriving them of their children and livelihoods and of making them a burden on the state for over two years for something that seems like good parenting.

In the same article, the absurdity of another case was highlighted. A seventeen-year-old young man (at the time of the 'offence') was serving a ten year sentence for having consensual oral sex with a girl of fifteen. Had he had full penetrative sex with her, he would have received only a twelve monther for a misdemeanour.
Consensual oral sex is apparently classified as 'aggravated child molestation'. Give me a break. This makes a mockery of actual child molestation.
The original charge has now been amended to misdemeanour, but the State of Georgia has appealed, and the young man, now 21, is still in prison.
Tell me how this makes sense.
And tell me who the fuck is so up their own backside that they tell the police about these 'offences'.

Whoever it is that has done this is the real offender, as are the States of Georgia and Virginia.

Sunday, 1 July 2007


So from Dawn til dusk, well alright, not quite but it seems like it since I got up at 6.30 on a Sunday to be on duty at Salmonfest, I have been cutting out and stapling dragonfly hats.

Steveston is a beautiful and expensive waterfront part of Richmond, they like to think of themselves as a village, but that's only because, in spite of being Brit ex-pat central, they obviously don't know what a village is. Still, that notwithstanding, it is a lovely part of the city. (Oh and technically they don't know what a city is either.)

Anyway, I digress, once a year they have this salmon festival called, rather unoriginally, Salmonfest. Steveston is blocked off, so you have to get in there with your stuff to set up before 8.30, then approximately 75,000 people descend on it and pay over the odds for a salmon dinner. A great many kids came to our stand and made dragonfly hats.

When Lori and I did 'Science Jam' earlier in the year, I was literally astonished that kids were willing to come and colour in and wear, fairly lame cardboard hats. This time I was expecting them to want to do it, but I was still surprised at how many. I had, admittedly, designed quite a cool hat, so cool it couldn't sodding well be cut out easily in stacks on a band saw as usually happens. But we got through hundreds and hundreds. Towards the end of the day I was cutting out the damn things freehand and non-stop.

I'm trying to justify how for the next event, I can get away with Chinese dragon hats. Usually we stick strictly to animals we have in the park. I'm thinking I need to find a Chinese dragon in the coyote tunnel. But then I might just confuse things further, I labour constantly to get kids to understand that a taxidermy specimen is real, but dead. I say this all the time,
'Yes, it is real, but dead.' What I want to say is,
'You're real now, but if you died, you'd still be real, just dead,' but I don't. I'm not supposed to scare the children except at Halloween, really, I think we should get back to the brothers Grimm and their excellent story-telling.
At least their tales were gruesome and NOT real.
Yet again, today, a dad went off, ' to get money from mom,' leaving two small children colouring in on their own at our tables, but I'm sure that there weren't any bad people among the 75,000 who turned out.

Anyway, I'm kind of missing the point of today, it wasn't just Princess Diana's birthday, although I'd be happy if my children were to organise a concert at Wembley for my birthday - don't forget children, my birthday is Patriot's Day, you might get sponsorship for that - and that Princess Di died in 1997 as a continuation from yesterday's post, no, today is Canada day and people even dyed their dog's fur with red dye in the shape of a maple leaf. But since Canada Day was on a Sunday, we get tomorrow as our Bank Holiday.
Thank goodness. I'm needing a lie-in.