Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Glottal Stop

I wonder how it'll all work out. I mean, we ARE a global village now. A global village that some of us are trashing. And it looks as though there is no way back. Some of our efforts are making things worse. When push comes to shove, will we share, or will it be everyone for themselves? How much do we ACTUALLY care that the staple food of India and China is becoming too expensive for the ordinary citizens of those countries? If it's them or us will we suddenly lose all our empathy?
It bothers me, it honestly bothers me.

On a more mundane note, Tracy Ullman's State of the Union is really growing on me. But there is a problem. Tracy's David Beckham is entertaining. Yes, that IS the problem, Tracy Ullman's Beckham has character, he has personality, Ullman is misleading me into thinking that the REAL DB does too.

On Friday, Canadian Karen goes to Cuba. I'm understandably worried that CK will succeed where Michael Moore failed, and be invited into Gitmo. At the very least, consult Cuban doctors CK, they are clearly more competent than any anywhere else in the world.

In the Guardian, Zoe Williams tries to awake the sleeping citizens of London from their enchanted dream. Boris Johnson, or as we like to call him, BJ, and his candidacy for Mayor has been an amusing little game, but seriously, it has to stop now before someone or some capital city gets hurt.
Le''s keep i' real, ai? ( What punctuation mark should be used to denote a glottal stop?)

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Boats, Bees, Baker

A few crazy days.
Friday night, drove down to Birch Bay, Homeland Security in good spirits and working efficiently. But Birch Bay was cold, teeth chatteringly cold.

Saturday was clear and sunny. We could see Mount Baker in all its gloriousness. It was warm...until it wasn't. I read a book, a brilliant, fascinating book by Canadian author Jane Urquhart whose prose was rich and seductive.

Monday. Off to a good start. Habitat programme in the rain. Said programme involves children pond dipping in the ditch, ditch which has started to resemble the great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo river, all set about by fever trees. Fun, nonetheless.
Then writers' group. East Vancouver, looking down over the city. Late return.

This morning, the return of Betty Bee. Somewhere in the last minute panic, I lost my stinger and the pollen wouldn't stick to the back of my knees. But overall a good first night - well, morning really. Worryingly, after the afternoon performance, a little boy came and said to me,
'Girls are better than boys,'
'Well, not better,' I said, 'in the play, Betty discovered that Darwin the Drone is important too,'
'No, not just bees,' he said, 'humans too, girls are better than boys...' I fear I can hear a whole family background in his utterances.

This evening, we said goodbye to our old house. Tomorrow it will belong to someone else. And this evening also, we said goodbye to my friend's boat. Tomorrow she too (the boat, not the friend), will belong to someone else. My friend sailed round the world on that boat, it was an honour to share her last evening aboard with her.

Friday, 25 April 2008


...the Border, be back Sunday.

Thursday, 24 April 2008


Whilst Kevin was collecting his new pot rack from Sears, (yeah, no, not THAT kind of pot rack) I snuck into Sportchek to check out their sale. And lo. Was this not a sign from the demi-god of shoe shopping? The boots I have been stopping myself from buying all winter were not only reduced, but there was only one pair left, and they were my size.
Who could not buy them on that basis I ask you?

As I was gloating over my acquisition, I chortled to read that Gwyneth Paltrow was being ridiculed for wearing seven inch heels. It seems she had to lean on someone to be able to teeter in them. I can't help wondering how tall she must be to start off with. If I wore seven inch heels I would be six foot one. So if I were to have a tall hair day at the same time, I would tower above the populace.

This comes after a post on the Urban Feminist website, about how women's attractiveness has frequently been linked with and judged on how uncomfortable their clothes are.
The F-Word site also talks about an event in New Jersey in which men wore high-heel shoes to better understand some women's issues.

I'm no Imelda Marcos, and I'm certainly no Carrie Bradshaw, but I do probably own more pairs of shoes than I need to.
But in the whole lot, I don't have a pair I can't walk in.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

St George's Day

On this St. George's Day - too early for roses to actually be in bloom - the following cheesed or pleased me...


  • Hillary winning the Pennsylvania primary.
  • Hearing the song of the white-crowned sparrow and seeing it after Kris had just described the bird to me.
  • A Canadian company investing in recycling nappies in the UK into plastic cladding and roof tiles.
  • Irish playwright Frank McGuiness finishing translating the whole of Ibsen. God bless him, it took him 20 years.
  • An article sent by one of my fellow 'Dashers, about how trees are to be valued in London.


  • Mayhem not supporting its teachers by closing when one of the unions has called its first national strike since 1987.
  • A UK judge handing a two-year gaol sentence to a man convicted of raping a ten year-old girl. The same judge has a horrific roll-call of misogynistic sentencing.
  • Canadian Brenda Martin being wrongfully sentenced to five years imprisonment in Mexico.
  • Doesn't have too much of an impact on me, but since hockey affects everyone in Canada, ergo it must affect me, the unpopular appointment of the new Canucks' manager.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

And then...

...Earth Day.
Earth Day for Earthlings. A beautiful, sunny day, the sky the absolutely perfect blue, unless that is you prefer more of an Oxford blue.

There was a frost last night. On the edge of the park this morning, the grass was glazed with it, or rimed if you will, rimed with frost, hoar frost. The ditches were covered with jagged, fractured ice. I have discovered a way across the ditches, planks and trunks laid by someone. I am benefiting from someone else's toil.

At my writers' group last night, someone commented that they had read an article in one of the rags about Starbuck's pastries. I think the implication was that this was too trivial a subject to write about. But I don't think so. Much good comedy and writing is about seeming trivia. I can't see that there are dull topics - obviously apart from sport, that goes without saying - simply the way the topics are approached.
I have never found Starbuck's pastries to be inspiring, but it could be that very lack of inspiration that can provoke.

I loved the Guardian's way of presenting the findings that pregnancies that produce boys are more likely to occur after a period of high-calorie intake. What are little boys made of? Bananas, they answer.

I was also pleased to see that St. George's Day is rising in popularity. I suspect this has as much to do with Harry Potter as anything else, but it doesn't bode well for that other GB, no, not George Bush, Gordon Brown. Poor Mr. Brown. He seems like a very decent fellow, but he simply doesn't know when to hold the line.
Ah, Tony, I miss him.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Earth Weekend

On Friday evening, the weather became even more bizarre. It snowed, blizzard-like and lay on the ground. This picture is the blossom tree outside my front door.
We thought it would all have disappeared by morning, but not so.

And then the beginning - in Richmond at any rate - of the celebrations for Earth Day. I had to represent the Nature Park at King George Park, and I had planned to take the 'travelling pond'. Of course I was slightly put off Saturday morning, having to get water out of an icy pond to take with me. I scaled down my operation and took a smaller container.

Dear God it was cold. It felt Arctic. And the park was waterlogged. It was also very blowy and my canopy-tent thingie blew away. Add to that there were very few people there, either exhibitors or public. Further, there was a man dressed in...well, earthy clothes...strumming a guitar and making up the words to some lame song as he went along. It was like something out of a comedy series.
Mother Nature made her feelings VERY clear.

I was amazed to learn in church this morning however, that Earth Day has been celebrated on 22nd of April since 1970. I was horrified too. Why has it taken us until 2008 to go mainstream? If we had taken this guy, Gaylord Nelson, seriously back then - oh well, ok, I give you that it's almost impossible to take someone called Gaylord seriously - maybe we wouldn't be facing annihilation.

We had a version of the Creed that had been specifically written for Earth Day by Church leaders in Ottawa. It was a good feeling to know that the church is taking this seriously, seeing it as a problem for Christians and giving leadership.

In her sermon, Margaret pointed us at Revelations and suggested that maybe we should start to look at the Bible there, with St. John's vision of the possible future if we break faith with God. Then we should work backwards towards Genesis, to see the world as it once was, new and full of hope.

One oft used quote from the New Testament is that we are to be 'wise stewards of our own inheritance.'
Well right now, we're not.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Stormy Weather

Cooper's hawk, creator of the nest.

Birds can have a sardonic sense of humour. I delivered my poo sample to the lab this morning before work. When I drove off, a bird dropped a triple load of ploppy on the windscreen. D'oh!

The weather has a strong sense of irony. This morning, despite the arctic feel outdoors, Alex Y and I presented our puppet show, 'Signs of Spring' and then talked about same. Then my eye was caught by the snow flying past the window.
Now we have hail. And thunder.

Our friends to the south have experienced earthquake tremors. Well, not quite correct, one good friend and the son of another to the south have felt them today.

I notice that in the Olympic spirit of friendship and co-operation, the Chinese, bless them, are sending a big old shipload of weapons to that nice Mr. Mugabe in Zimbabwe. How kind of them. The shadow foreign secretary in Britain is concerned that China may be seen in a poor light internationally because of this.
Yes, because it had such a spotless reputation beforehand.

It's Friday night. I've had my Indian food.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


I have a laisser-faire attitude towards Facebook. Over the past few days however, I have received two 'Friend Requests' from women I have never heard of. Young women, young women seeking either women or men. I smell ...well, let's not worry about what I smell, but something isn't quite kosher in the State of...well, not so much Denmark as Arizona and Illinois.

Alan Shore was on tip-top form on last night's Boston Legal, well, night before last to be honest. I felt exhausted after his closing argument, emotionally drained and yet completely satisfied. Hmmm, sounds a bit like, oh well, never mind. I also liked his referring to the President of Iran as 'I'm mad in a dinner jacket,' much better than my 'mad, bad jihad,' which is of course, good too.

The Nature Park was literally popping with birdlife today. Or pooping maybe, which was great because my friends Beth and Dave visited with their brand new daughter. Dave used to work for the RSPB, so knows a bit about the feathered friends, as does Beth, great for me on my quest to expand my own knowledge. I guess you could argue that it's a bit disappointing therefore that all I can manage is a not very good picture of an American Robin, but heh, robins count.

Which remind me, the rogue apostrophe has arrived here. Oh, let's be honest, it has probably been here for years, but I just looked up yesterday and there was a sign on a shop near Ikea, that announced that it sold 'Beds and Sofa's'. Sofa's what? I wanted to know. Sofa's dumb cousin the chaise lounge? What? What could a sofa possibly own and why is it not stated clearly?

Kevin read out to me yesterday that George Bush foresees greenhouse gas emissions from the US levelling off by 2025. It will be fecking irrelevant by then you complete and utter plonker. If it doesn't drop dramatically NOW, it'll be all over by then. There are amoebae that can understand that. There are muppets made out of cloth and foam that can understand that. Why is Vicky Pollard's less intelligent cousin running a bath let alone a country?

Good bloody grief.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Little Yellow Birds

We have weird weather forecasts for the weekend, maybe snow flurries, maybe just very cold rain and temperatures hovering around zero.
A couple of ads are annoying me. One is a parody of that film where Robert Redford or some old geezer wants to sleep with Demi Moore for a million dollars.
In the ad, some guy admires another's car and asks if he can borrow it for one night for a million dollars. No, says the car owner. Then the price of the car is revealed and it costs $20K. Ho-hum. I'm sure that's part of the humour, but to me it just makes the whole thing lame and not work. Can't remember what the other ad was.

Back at the OK Corral, or Nature Park, the business of the day has been informing the public about Snow Geese. Not me, I don't have to do that, but Kris and Rich have had to have a public meeting. Snow Geese have been all descending on school playing fields and having a nice poo before flying off. The public are distraught. Not so distraught that they'd consider not walking their dogs on school grounds and letting them crap there, but you know.
The snow geese come here from Russia to overwinter, but their habits have changed in recent years. Instead of some of them going down to California, they have been staying in BC, and since two of their three local habitats have been all but destroyed, they are all coming to Richmond and frightening the horses, or whatever.
It seems like we humans have caused the problems for the birds, but far be it from us to actually put it right, no, we must shoot the creatures or harass them in some way.

Today, a dad at one of the programmes asked me how I had spotted a hummingbird up high in a tree that I'd pointed out to the children.
'I...just knew where it would be,' I said. On my way home I thought about that. Less than three years ago I'd never seen a hummingbird or a bald eagle, or a red-tailed hawk or even a towhee. Now I know where to look for them, what sort of sky I'm likely to find them in and what they sound like.
So, a handful down, several hundred to go. I'm going to move on to the yellow birds now, the yellow birds just keep on coming in waves, and they can't all be bloody finches.
Little yellow birds. Ho-hum.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


I decided that today was a good day for fitting in the blood tests that the doctor had decreed were long overdue, cholesterol, iron etc.
The cholesterol test requires that I fast for ten hours. Piece of piss, I thought.

Wrong! Missing my two cups of fully leaded first thing meant that the whole day went pear-shaped.
By eleven I was feeling quite woozy, by midday, like crawling back into bed, I rallied a tad after stuffing my face, but I was never able to get that caffeine hit, because if I drink coffee too late, I compromise the night's sleep. I spent the rest of the day with a drilling headache and no energy.

I wonder how the people who take the blood do it. I mean, people do manage it, and I can see how they find the vein, but how do they hit it so that the needle doesn't go right through? Yet somehow even junkies manage it.
At least I assume they do.

I have another test that I have to hand in on Friday. Until then I'm not allowed to eat raw broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips or turnips.
What a test of stamina and willpower.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Schloß Schneewittchen

I had something to pontificate about, but the day has slipped away in a haze of paint and soil and Ikea. In fact the whole weekend has pretty much gone thus, but we get ever nearer to having a home instead of a house with junk in it.

Still warm today. We sat on the balcony and had our coffee, whence this picture of the mountains through the tree.

Tomorrow we get the phone turned on. It's not that we use it much, but it feels odd not to have it - disconnected somehow.
Well, literally I suppose.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

High WIndows

From our bedroom window.

Today was supposed to be an anomalous 21º and it was certainly warm. I think I nearly fried my eyeballs painting into the sun at midday, but when vision had returned, I was rewarded by the sight of four bald eagles flying low in the sky over our complex. They were just wheeling and enjoying the air currents. Probably keeping an eye out for a birdie snack too, there were plenty of starlings around.

A pressing question, I would say of global importance, is when the hell are Snow Patrol going to release a new album? Well, soon apparently. They are back in the studio this month, although I have no idea how long it takes to record a new album and get it to me. Most likely longer than a week.

The new series of Earl, whilst less annoying than last in that he's no longer in gaol, is nonetheless going to wear me down if they are going to stick with the 'visions in a coma' theme. I mean, not that it isn't good, and amusing it's just that - well, you know, Life on Mars and the last series of the Sopranos and all that.

Back in Blighty, the Pompey branch of the Schneewittchen tree are having their Easter holiday. A strange and yet understandable concept. The French have been known to do this, time their Easter holidays outside of Easter, the British, well, probably never before.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Our House

Hummingbird. In a tree.

Well, despite my crowing about my walk to work, I narrowly missed death today or some causal connection with someone else's. I do have a road to cross - but...there is a crossing light. The light changes to a white person and I cross. But Gail rightly pointed out, I am one of only three people in Richmond who walk to work, and one of the other two is Kevin, so the denizens and mad drivers of same, have difficulty recognising that a red traffic light, coupled with a crossing light, means you have to stop.
Light went white, I started to cross, but only three cars had gone through after the traffic light had changed, so plenty more were expecting to. Fortunately, she saw me and stopped, which caused mass road rage and screaming horns at the intersection.
Oh Sleepy, where are thou when I need you?

The house is about seven years old and neither of the previous occupants have attempted to change the original builders' paint colour, which was a sort of mushroom throughout. Oh yes, taupe is the new magnolia.
I'm sure it had a kind of drab elegance in its day.
With furniture removed we can see that previous owners have had several attempts to match the colour to cover up some botch up or another. And the paint is cheap though not cheerful, so it drinks up anything that goes on top of it. But it's fun to watch it change. I am loving what we have done already.

There is an evil toy however, yes, I did say evil toy. Long have I pined for a bathtub in which I can actually take a bath. The standard basic fitting here is a shallow trough. A relaxing soak is not a possibility.
And yet I have adapted, and come to realise that my previous bath habit, whilst allowing me to avoid therapy, is a bad one from an environmental point if view. So I stopped pining and resigned myself to showers and a distant promise that one day, when we had another house, we'd fit a new bath.
But the new house has a bath. It has a sloping back that you can lie against, it is not shallow, you can fill it so that it covers your body. In short, it is a real bath.
But there is more.
The bath has a powerful jacuzzi function, so you can lie in it and use even more electricity. Muahahahahaha.
Naturally I will use my toy wisely. And sparingly. It's almost, almost enough to just know it's there.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008


My new walk to work still sports only a few metres of pavement, but instead of walking along the side of a main road, I get to walk a trail, then a railway track, then another trail, all of which separates me from the mad motorists.

On Sunday, which seems so far behind us now, the body of Christ tasted a bit sweet, made me think perhaps they used a bun instead of bread. No reason why not I suppose, except that I thought that at the time which made me think of Eddie Izzard doing his bun sketch on one of the teaching videos we used to have for French.
'Bun,' he'd say, 'bun! You can't go into a shop and just ask for bun. I might think you mean all the buns in the shop, iced buns, hot-cross buns, all the buns and then I'd have to sell you all the buns and I'd have no buns left,' his voice rising in crescendo.
You had to hear Eddie Izzard doing it really.

Earlier in the week, Alex and I were checking the trails and a hawk swooped down quite near us. Then we realised there were two, and then, that one of them was taking twigs to a tree - then we saw the nest. It was a startling day, we had seen loads of hummingbirds, one hovering quite near us, its iridescent red throat startlingly beautiful.

This morning we found out that Laurence has passed his next belt test in Karate. Not because he told us, but because we read Facebook.
I guess that's just how it is these days.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Birds and Blossom

Cool. This tree is right outside my window. Expect more.

So...much has happened in my absence from the web. Pompey (the football team) are through to the finals of the FA cup. This is startling news. And Pompey (the city) had snow. And in April. And Boris Johnson, the most inept and startlingly stupid man on the planet may actually win the election to become mayor of London, against Red Ken, the only politician on the planet with integrity and who has done a brilliant job and made some bloody tough calls.
It's all quite insane.

Here in BC, more insane stuff. A Japanese student who had been snowboarding on Blackcomb, and missing for days, has been found. A woman came home to find that her three children's father had murdered them. How do you even comprehend that?

A friend from writers' group who is ill has been told he is iller. All I can think of to say are things that have become clichés, but that guy IS an inspiration. He just lives and deals and carries on, and he will talk about it, he neither ignores it nor wallows in it. One of those rare people that you realise enrich your life.

We moved into the new house on Sunday, now we live here. We have to go and do a final clean of the other house before completion, but our main focus is now on here. We have to start to create order out of chaos.
There are walls to be painted, light fixtures to change, our lives in boxes to sort and put away.
BUT....we have beds, we have sofas, we have food in the fridge and we have cable. And we have birds and blossom.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Normal Service

...will be resumed Monday - and since normal Monday service is no post due to writers' group, that could mean Tuesday. We'll see. I'll be without internet for a day. Please stay tuned.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Comfort Zone

The move continues. The old house is almost bare now, but the beds are still here and the TV and internet, the essentials of life.
Slowly, but surely our lives change venue. The comfortable things have gone, dismantled, displaced. The new creation begins.

One of my all-time favourite - and comforting - comedies, was the Aussie series, 'Kath and Kim'. There was something about the Australianess of it all, Kath saying, 'Look and me, look at me, look at muyyyy.'
And now it seems there is to be a US version of it. When they make their crappy versions of good shows, why the frell can't they call them something else?
This week we recorded and watched the new Tracy Ullman show, 'State of the Union'. It was billed as the same format as Little Britain. Was it heck as like. I love Ullman's work, and there was something hypnotically watchable about it, about her, but it didn't deliver the belly laugh that Little Britain does, nor the toe curling realisation that you're seeing your own worst habits writ large.

The Canucks are out of the playoffs. Shucks. Global warming I expect.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

French Toast

Sleepy sent me an article about the French being determined to save the semi-colon, and more power to them, it seems that only the Académie Française cares about language any more. Something else on the page caught my eye however, France has apparently been taken by storm by 'le scrapbooking'. Holy Carp I say. Why France, why? As far as I can tell, Britain hasn't succumbed, so why are you letting the side down?
Well, perhaps it's out of spite. I have been reading recently how the new Mrs. Sarko has been seducing the British. Well, good for her, perhaps there will be a bit of entente cordiale afoot.

In a gruesome mirroring of the feet that keep washing up on our coastal shorelines, Scottish police have been finding other body parts, a second hand has now been washed ashore. There's a pun in there somewhere, I know. They have a head in custody too, so their job may well be easier in the long run than that of the BC police, but I can't help thinking of mysterious porpoise deaths.
I'm not sure why.

My son and his family have recently bought a whole lamb. We discussed this, the lamb was ethically raised and slaughtered for them - sounds a bit Biblical so far - and within a couple of days of its demise, was on their table. I think there is a tremendous honesty to this, we go out and buy chunks of meat from the supermarket and often those animals have neither lived nor died in a particularly nice way. But I think I may have to work my way up through the fishes and birds first. Superstore have live seafood you can select and have dispatched for your table, and I can imagine, and have even eaten - in France - chickens that were killed in the same kitchen they were subsequently eaten in.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

April for Fools

Forgive me for I have sinned. It is two days since my last post.

Things are hectic, things are frantic, shuffling between the two houses. The sale is now definite, so we can move in fully whenever we want. I want it to be when we have internet access there. Can't manage without now.

At work, the spring programmes have begun and someone at the City has issued a works order for a septic field to be dug in the middle of all this.
In Britain, everything would have come to a full stop. No child would be allowed within a 100 metres of the ongoing work, it would be cordoned off and notices would be posted.
Here, we just weave the children in and out of the city trucks, concrete mixers, move orange cones out of the way, get them to leap across newly tamped tarmac, walk past heavy duty electrical cables and over freshly planted grass.
All in a day's work.

It's strange, this transition. Not knowing where things are, where things are going to be, the comfort zone disturbed. Time itself is disturbed. Where can I curl up and unwind?

On the news this morning, the presenters amused themselves by making up stories. Why do we need this? I have never understood the amusement value of the practical joke either. Putting someone out, inconveniencing them. How side-splitting.

And then the news that Stanley Park's 'Hollow Tree' is to be pulled down. It is a dead tree. Fascinating that it is so huge, local people have fond memories of being photographed inside it, cars, truck, all being pictured inside the hollow tree. But time and weather have taken their toll and now it leans over impossibly, threatening to brain or squash the public, drinking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in attempts to preserve it, mad old ladies making fervent cases for its preservation. Why do they feel the need to do this? To preserve the dead in the same form forever, like having a community that speaks Latin instead of allowing it to rule the Classics.
I get that it is history. But like history, it must move on, make way for the new.