Sunday, 31 August 2008


The cycles of life line up. My youngest son, Ben, is 18 today. Happy Birthday my darling.

My weekend so far - we have another day, thank-you Patricians of the past for giving us poor Proles a day off work - has been spent painting things blue, the bathroom, the toilet, the kitchen. The loo and bathroom are duck egg blue and the kitchen a Wedgewood. I am excessively obsessive about colour. Now there remains just one bedroom and then Laurence's flat.

On the way to church this morning, there was a dead skunk in the road. This is unusual, you normally smell the skunk rather than see the body. There seemed to be no smell. For the longest time after coming here, I had only ever seen dead raccoons, never a live one. But death is evidence of life.
In my dragons programme, which I am piloting this year, and have taught a couple of times, I ask the children what evidence we could have to prove that dragons exist. I hope for the answers scat, scales and bodies.

This is the time of year when Nature starts to power down. When death stalks us. I was thinking in church of how we anthropomorphise death. More than that, we personify death before we can anthropomorphise. Usually as a 'he'. Women bring humans from the spirit world into this one, and in some cultures, women also ease their parting, in others, men do this.

Terry Pratchett's Death always speaks in capital letters. He has a scythe and a sense of humour. And an apprentice. Markus Zusak's Death, in 'The Book Thief' has a soul, a deep sense of sorrow for the suffering of humans.
Perhaps it's that need for company on the lonely and unknown journey. The Ferryman.
The Chess player.

It's harsh. The last taboo. Long after we were able to talk about every aspect of sex, we still couldn't mention death and its causes.

The Montbretia is a herald for me, just as daffodils herald the spring, Montbretia heralds the autumn.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Coral Fungus

Why, Mr. McCain, you misogynistic old dog, you've quite made me sit up and take notice! I had no idea you even HAD women in your party - well, I realise that Condominium's name had been bandied about a touche, but, well, that was QUITE the canny move.
Yes, I know, not that my opinion counts.
But I didn't see that one coming.
(Of course I have been sulking rather since ....the whole Hillary thing.)

Oi! Bloke across the road! It's been raining all freaking week, only clearing halfway through the afternoon, and yet you have a double sprinkler going. What??? (Not to mention that what is mostly getting watered is the pavement THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO WALK ON YOU FREAK and the grass verge.)

Au Canada we have been having a bit of a listeria crisis. One of the really good names in cold meats have had to virtually napalm their factory, and ham and such like has been recalled. Even Timmie's uses their meat in sarnies.
Nine people have died.
A big old oops.
But here's the thing. Apparently, in order to ship stuff to the States it has to go through rigorous testing, but this is seen as the US being unreasonable, trying to stop us sending our disgusting old listeria-riddled meat to them.
Those bastards.

Meanwhile, here in BC, where we now have a carbon tax on petrol, the NDP, a party that have been likened to the socialist parties of Europe, and who some think virtually bankrupted the Province the last time they were in power, have been winning supporters by dissing the green policies of the ruling liberals.
I don't think they get it. Socialism. Disturbing.

Coral fungus. Spectacular. And yet....a little early. It seems that Russian people have been seen 'shrooming in the Park. Why Russians? I don't know, but I suspect they have iron stomachs from all those years behind the iron curtain, so a few suspect toadstools leave them unperturbed.
I can tell you which ones will definitely poison you, but I wouldn't like to make the call about which ones definitely won't.
Still, I'm also not sure how you can tell a Russian apart from anyone else just by looking.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Spider's Web

So lad is stuck in Blighty, the airline he flew in on has gone belly up. Which is sad, because I used to love seeing their blue aircraft come into YVR bringing friends and rellies to visit. (As I said on my comment to the BBC website in fact.) They e-mailed us. BA are offering lower priced flights to those stranded, but we'll have to see how that works.
All a bit shite really.

I was thinking about how different individuals affect others on my way home, grazing on blueberries.
There is Rob, who was my assistant for a short time last year and who then ran the summer programmes. He was in doing some clerical stuff last week and his presence is like having the sun shine inside. He's a teacher now and I think his pupils are privileged.

Our Japanese volunteers. We have three of them and they light up the room too. None of them speaks too much English, so they really concentrate when you speak to them, then in unison they all go,
'Ohhhhhhh,' all round eyes and round mouths and then, 'ahhhhhhhh!' rising at the end, like exhaling and then they all laugh at the same time and the sound tinkles somehow.

The picture's a spider's web. I'm not sure it's that clear when you save it as 'best for web'. Not really best for a spider's web.

That's all.
I need to go and sulk now.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


It started because I wanted to have a gadget. Blogger had updated but I hadn't. I admired others' updating Bloglists. I wanted one. But with my old template, much tinkered with over time, I couldn't make it squeeze in. It refused to comply, it sank to the bottom of the page.
I sulked.
And I had long since been annoyed by my inability to vary the margins. In some ways, it was easier before they made everything easier. All you had to do was go into the html and potter. Pottering is still possible, even some tinkering, but not all.
So....I went for it. And no doubt I won't be able to leave it alone for long, but for now - that's how it is.

At work however, web tinkering is not going well. I don't know. It's a bottom dollar website, and so it's petulant. It stopped working for about two hours today, and then when it came back, the changes I'd made to one of the pages, looked ok on the interface you work on, but was all over the place when I brought it up as a user's webpage.

Hillary Clinton. My God. Whenever I see her on TV, she is being the consummate Statesperson.
Oh dear, the consummate Statesperson and they turned her down. Well, not all, not most even, but she's the one who got away.
I shake my head.

Last night, the first snow fell on Whistler. Lucky buggers. The morning weather guy said it was a fluke, but hey, I'd be up for fluke snow. Gimme that fluke snow anytime you like.

Kevin's project at work is having a few 'bumps' which he has to solve and there's a deadline, thus he has been doing some long hours this week. But, he has come home, backed up my pictures on the server, made me a caesar and a steak dinner.
Do I feel looked after?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


"Constitutional : noun a walk taken regularly to maintain good health." (OED)

My morning constitutional consists of walking to work. At the moment I feel that it is additionally maintaining my good health because the blueberries are ripe and just begging to be eaten.
Suffer the little blueberries to come unto me.

But the idea of a constitutional is that it's sole purpose is health, and there's an implication of desperation too. The bracing walk along the seafront, the only exercise of the gouty and portly.
Pooh Bear might take one, possibly even with Piglet in tow.
Thus the constitutional is an institution and a damn fine one.

T'other day, or, well, more - evening, no alcohol was involved you understand. Well, erm, not too much. Not excessive quantities. Anyway, a friend said, in relation to her single state, that one thing that worried her, was the idea she might die without someone knowing everything about her. She had had several meaningful relationships, even marriage once, but the depth of these had not been such that it was possible to say anyone had known the real her.

It gave me much thought. That side of a relationship had never occurred to me. I don't think I'd thought that that was important anyway, and maybe because, just like the Protestant Work Ethic or the Catholic Guilt (re-marketed from Jewish Guilt and then re-re-marketed as Protestant Guilt) it is part and parcel of belief in a God that She knows everything about everyone.

And we change as we grow older. So the person you might know at 18 may not be the person you know at 48.
WE are not immutable.
But it made me think and it carries on making me think.

A constitutional however, is no guard against the idiocy of people. A small religious community in BC, because of their cretinous refusal to have their children immunised against mumps, has caused an outbreak throughout the Lower Mainland. They believe they know God's mind and theirs doesn't want them to show they don't trust (probably him) by vaccinating their children.
My God isn't that small-minded.

Sunday, 24 August 2008


YVR was insane today, utterly, utterly insane. British Bank Holiday tomorrow and North American one next weekend, seemed like everyone was trying to get out of Dodge.

The reading in Church was about Moses and the general slaughter of small children. The Jews do seem to be prone to catching the attention of bad people. The vicar showed us how heroic and clever the women in the story were. The midwives who didn't follow orders to kill the baby boys and who made up some old nonsense about the Hebrews just popping them out so quickly there was hardly any time for them to catch 'em and dispatch 'em. Then Miriam, Moses' sister hiding and watching her brother. The Pharaoh's daughter who saved him, and Miriam's quick thinking in suggesting finding a wet nurse for him - his mother.

Women allowing life.
Midwives easing human life into the world. What a privilege. What a skill.

I couldn't help contrasting this particular round of little Jewish boy killing with the imminent crisis in India and China, where there will be too few women to go round. Different in a way, because it will come to be as a result of individual choice. The selection of boy children over girl, I see as pure misogyny. The killing of the sons of recently birthed women, I also see as partly misogyny. There can be no deeper sorrow than the loss of a child.
And the brutality involved in instructing those who help women bring that life into the world, to then take it is beyond imagining. The actions of a tyrant who doesn't care one jot about women, who thinks they don't matter.

But I was also thinking how long we've been hearing those stories. Who didn't have some big, fabric bound illustrated Bible stories book as a child, with a picture of Moses, little fat three-month-old white baby with light brown hair, lying in a fairly comfie looking wicker basket in the bullrushes, playing with his toes, while a black-haired beauty bathed (fully clothed of course) nearby?

I wondered if you could keep reading Winnie the Pooh, or Wind in the Willows like that, over a lifetime, interpreting and reinterpreting it. Hearing it week in and week out. Studying it at school a minimum of once a week over the 14 years you are there. Would it take on more significance or less?
Possibly Lord of the Rings.
Although I do of course have Pooh Bear in Latin, so that would be useful for the shamanistic side of things.

In the church, one of the ceiling fans rotates in the opposite direction to the others. Or maybe it doesn't. If you take your eyes away and look back, you can optically make it rotate in the same direction as the others, but at an odd angle. It rotates more slowly too. It's the one over the altar. It almost does the slowmo thing.

I know I won't be able to sleep, so I have over-the-counter medicated. Hopefully I'll be awakened at 4 to tell me the lad has arrived. I can never sleep naturally whilst they're in the air.

Saturday, 23 August 2008


Last Saturday gig of the season, and actually, it was more tolerable than any of the previous ones. The weather was bright but cool, I felt we were looked after, we were provided with a hot dog, ok, not entirely edible but it was the gesture that counted, and the duration was short. Now that I'm home and have ingested some fodder, I feel I'm rallying.

One of this week's tasks has been getting things ready for Laurence's trip to England. He flies out tomorrow. Not AS much of a magnus opus as getting myself and Kevin geared up, but still, bits and pieces here and there.

Ok, for the rest, I've been tagged by Kat, so I'll answer here and pass it on..

A - Attached or single - attached (to Ikea) No! Seriously I mean Kev:) Sorry dear x
B - Best Friend. Huh. Well, still Kev really, but I have several women friends that I feel close to.
C - Cake or Pie? Could live without either.
D - Day of choice. Yep, Saturday's pretty cool.
E - Essential item - duh, Ikea catalogue.
F - Flavour of ice-cream - isn't high on my list of essential foods either, but I guess something with praline and nuts.
G - Gummy bears or worms - yuk. Although I have to eat a gummy worm rolled in Nutella and cookie crumbs three times a day during the run up to Halloween (as a witch and pretending to be eating a real worm) and the only bit I like is the Nutella, although I remind myself that it's better than a real worm. (I imagine, I've never actually eaten one).
H - Hometown - I'm torn, but I guess I think of Portsmouth as that, I always loved the sea.
I - Indulgences - a bath! Love it! Since we got what I now know to be a European style bath, I can actually have one.
J - January or July - a toughie, I do love me some snow and the winter in general, but next year, my lovely grandchildren will be coming over in July, so then I'd have to pick that.
K - Kids - 4, 1 kid-in-law and 3 grandkids. Actually, all my kids are grand.
L - Last movie I saw at the cinema. Oh, sadly it was Indiana Jones I think, which sucked. We are going to have a second try to see the Dark Knight in Imax this week.
M - Middle name - Melanie.
N - Number of siblings - 1
O - Oranges or apples? - Hmmm...I'd have to day oranges.
P - Phobia or fear - claustro-
Q - Quote - At the moment it still has to be that wonderful line from Miriam Margolyes, 'Farting brings people together,'
R - Reason to smile - Austen, Susan, Laurence, Alex, Ben, Holly, Teddy and Ellie.
S - Season - Autumn. I love the whole of it, the lead up to it, every month as the world changes and then the lead into winter.
T - Tag. Dear oh dear. I'd like to say anyone who reads, just answer any of the questions you like in the comments, but I know that doesn't keep the thing going. Still, I'll stick with that and maybe the meme will find its own life force and take off. (Isn't that what a meme is supposed to do?)OR someone take it and pass it on, but change any of the questions to reflect your own peccadilloes, so long as you keep the letter.
U - Unknown fact about me - how can I possibly know the unknown?
V - Veggie or Oppressor of animals? - Huh? Well I eat them, but I try not to oppress them first.
W - Worst habit. - Er....well SOME people might say it's correcting their grammar, but I think that's quite endearing.
X - X-Ray specs or mind-reading powers? - Ok, I changed that one, the original question seemed a bit lame. Mind reading!
Y - Your favourite food - crikey. Indian, Chinese, Kev's cooking, Austen's cooking, Waitrose ready meals, M&S meal deals, blueberries, good chocolate, actually, I'm quite a picky eater.
Z - Zodiac - Virgo! I have my horoscope delivered every day to my Inbox and I always read it. And then forget it, but I love anything like that.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Half Past Full Moon

This sunflower has sprung up in the little guerilla garden on the trail to work.

Hands over ears Sleepy. (Eyes I s'pose really). I wanted to add to my thoughts about Titus, that I had completely omitted to mention how utterly, utterly brilliant Russell Roberts was as Titus Andronicus. You rock Russell.

And 1,2,3, we're back in the room.
The week has been frenetic.
One thing that awes me is competence. I mean, often, it's not just competence, it's brilliance, but unless you know the field, then all you can tell is that they're competent.
Which rather makes me feel stupid for the first paragraph, but hey, I've seen a lot of Wagger-Dagger, much of it by the RSC.

This frenetic week, I have watched Kevin hook up a friend's electronics in the same way that I might sort out my books. He made it all seem so easy. He explained things that I dimly remembered from Physics lessons that I barely understood at the time, in a way that showed he was fully conversant with the ideas. And yesterday and today, I have watched and listened as he swung into action, called in as the engineer, to fix a problem on one of the huge machines they design and build.
And yes, I am awed.

At work, we now have two Japanese volunteers and are expecting two more. We got them originally to model good working practice to one of the French students, and as anticipated, they arrived, almost straight off the 'plane, one whose luggage had been lost, they were shown the task and they set to it like a lean, mean, bush-whacking machines.
Apologies for that Sleepy.
The young French woman, although perfectly nice, has been asked to leave. She lay on the ground while the Japanese girls did the job. (Sorry again.) Imagine being sacked from your volunteer job.

I discovered a new oddity on Wednesday.
I went to buy petrol. I pulled up in what seemed like the shortest queue. You may or may not remember, that Richmond is located in some kind of petroleum sales time-warp and we can't self-serve. Sorry.
'You're on the wrong side,' said the assistant,
'But the woman in front of me was on this side,' I said, 'duh,' I thought,
'But her gas cap was on this side,'
'And..why does this affect anything?'
'Your gas cap is on the other side,'
'So you need to go round the other side,'
'That's why the gas pump has that very long hose on it, so that you can reach either side of the car...'
I lost. She held all the cards. Well, apart from common sense.

In one of the cities near here, Surrey, another two women have been shot. A man shot and killed his wife and has hospitalised his daughter. He has been charged with second degree murder. Kevin pointed out that in Canada, to go out and buy a gun and have it in your home, is kinda...intent really. But hey, they were only women.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Titus Andronicus

To say the least, this is a very bloody play and gave much food for thought. One thing I learnt from it was that you don't execute the Queen of the Goth's daughter - no good will come of it.

The company were the same players as for The Tempest and thus a tight crew. The set, as always at Bard, was brilliant, just brilliant, everything is so cleverly thought out and used. Simple pieces are tools for the actors. The lighting was similarly superb, there was some evocative uses of shadow and illumination was integral to the set and to the piece.
Fight and play were perfectly choreographed and delivered by the two Goth brothers, one of whom was Kyle Rideout, whom we have seen so often now, turning in polished, thoughtful performances.

The Queen of Goths, played by Jennifer Lines, Ariel in The Tempest, was magnificent, just magnificent.

Director Kim Collier, in my opinion did a first class job. Creative Director Christopher Gaze is always one to encourage gender bending of characters, and in Titus, this was done with impact, making more powerful and creating extra layers. Firstly, it was the Queen's daughter who was killed by Titus's sons, giving even more emphasis to the motivation for all the subsequent atrocities, and then the Emperor's brother, Bassianus, was played as a woman, Bassiana, so that when her wife is raped and mutilated it once more strengthens the sense of outrage.

If there was a weak link, I would have to say it was the costume design. The designer was NOT Christine Rimer who dressed The Tempest so artfully. The designer for Titus really has a thing about showcasing her own suits, which are beautiful, and yet not suitable suits. The Goths were cleverly clothed, although to be fair, most of us could have come up with their outfits - just think Goth - but the Romans. Meh. Could do better.

The music wasn't anything special either, which is a shame. I'm really getting a sense of how it all fits together this year, of how every element has to be created by a magician.

Nonetheless, it was spellbinding, there were nothing BUT outstanding performances. Now I'm looking forward to Twelfth Night.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Ms. Margolyes

We have rain at last, ideal rain, rain that comes at night and just spatters during the day in between bursts of sunshine. Although today, the sunshine was a little late in coming.
Sunday evening we had even more ideal rain. Sitting on my friend's patio, after a hot, sunny day, there was a single roll of thunder - we never even saw the lightning, and then big, warm drops of rain. Pleasurable rain.

This works for almost everyone, except one colleague, who has waited all summer for the roofers to come. They were due Monday. Now she has to watch the weather forecast daily.

I love rain, there is poetry in it, there is calm and comfort in it. However, even I understand the need for balance, if only so that we can have food to eat.

I was amused to read on the Feedback page of New Scientist, that one reader opened the packaging of his new printer, to find a disclaimer. You know those warnings that say 'may contain peanuts'? (Even found, apparently on Sainsbury's peanuts), well this warning said, 'may contain products of Switzerland'.

According to the inestimable Miriam Margolyes, farting brings people together. Well, hmm.. She tells us that she farts a lot and I would think that SHE has the ability to bring people together. Miriam says she would do anything to cheer people up. So let's hope she's ok about me using her pic on my blog.

Saturday, 16 August 2008


Maritime Festival, day 2.
The sun today was scorching. And it scorched me. It chased me and I chased the shade. I put on sunscreen, then the cooling gel sunscreen that promptly pilled into disgusting little balls, then more other sunscreen. But all too little avail.

I thought I had killed a senior. No, I'm serious.
This frail-looking, elderly Jewish lady stopped at our stand and told me she worked with Dolly.
'I work with Dolly,' she said. Her English wasn't very good, so I thought she just wasn't using tenses. I smiled and nodded. Then she asked me how Dolly was. I hesitated. Then I said that I was sorry, but that Dolly had died. The woman looked at me and staggered. She actually staggered. I thought she was going to fall over. She didn't quite believe me, she kept asking more questions to check we were talking about the same person. I asked her if she needed to sit down. She almost did, but instead steadied herself on the chair. She was visibly shocked, but I was glad she was able to walk away.

At the end of the day I was sticky, tired, burnt and once again, mosquito-bitten. I also had a fair bit of pondwater on me. And honestly? I didn't feel it was worth it.

We are forecast one more day of intolerably hot weather then rain for a week. Gott sei Dank.

We just watched another new TV series called 'Greek'. It was dire, my dear God, it was dire. There has been a rash of new TV shows that are formulaic, somewhere there is a Stock, Aitken and Waterman of the TV world. I think it's God's way of telling us to buy smaller TV sets, because there's sod all to watch on them.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Ignoring Seagulls

Yeah, right, I've been at the Maritime Museum's Festival all day. It was predicted to be blisteringly hot, but fortunately, there was a breeze coming off the sea. Only - it's not really the sea, it's just the Fraser River again. Somewhere nearby there was a heronery, the herons kept flying over and landing on either side of us. I have been bitten by many mozzies.

We took the travelling pond. The last time we trotted this one out for an event was the day after it snowed in April. At least there were some water bugs today. And children came and happily poked around in the pond gunk. Tomorrow I get to do it all over again, but without the lad poking at me in French.

On the Business News this morning, it seems that we have been kidding ourselves up here in Canuckland. In spite of the huge increase in petrol prices, and our own self-perception of being green, our petrol consumption has actually risen slightly over the past year.
In the US on the other hand, consumption flatlined at first and then went down dramatically around November. Huh.

We have been watching the HBO series 'In Treatment'. It's pretty interesting. The Psychiatrist, played by Gabriel Byrne, has a number of patients and we follow their progress every week. But they treat him like shit. One of them throws the money in cash at him as though he were a prostitute. They all speak to him, not as though he were a highly skilled and trained professional, but as though he is in someway responsible for their problems. Reminded me of being a teacher really.

I felt like the mother of the prodigal son this morning. Youngest son has scraped through two of his A-levels in spite of very pro-actively putting no effort into the whole thing. Had he put a fraction of the effort into doing the work as he put into avoiding it, he would have excelled.
The one he didn't get, he refused to do the coursework for.
And yet I feel pleased, relieved that he got any grades at all. I was also pleased for my daughter, who worked hard for her A-levels, and got good grades, but really, doesn't she deserve more? And then the son here who hasn't ever had that option. Not even a shot at the glittering prize.
Wow it's tough.

The line-up in the photo amused me, like the heron was directing the gulls. The truth is, I think she was ignoring them. Those herons can certainly concentrate, it's not easy to ignore gulls.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


My friend Michael feels there should be more pictures of flowers on the blog, so here's some heather growing in the swamp.
Or maybe it was fewer.
Yes, I think he wanted fewer pictures of flowers. So here's a picture of some dead leaves.

I receive e-mails notifying me of vacant job positions in my area of expertise. Or in fact not my area of expertise but the one I happen to be working in anyway.
This is why I received an advert today for two vacancies for dog sled instructors.

Job ads here always slay me (pun fully intended)because they ask for ridiculous qualifications for jobs that pay very little.
For example, to be a dog sled instructor, you have to work 40 hours a week, "weekends, day and night", and amongst other qualifications, skills and general god-like status, and believe you me there was a very long list, you need, "Some university, Credentials (certificates, licences, memberships, courses, etc.):
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certificate, Emergency Medical
Response Wilderness Certificate, Orienteering Training". You also had to supervise 5 - 10 people and for this you would be paid from $350 - 577 per week, so in effect, fuck all.

The bears seem to be out of control here at the moment. A couple of days ago a lady was hospitalised when a bear attacked her while she was working in her garden. She said she could feel it biting the back of her head.
Yesterday, a bear walked into someone's house in North Vancouver, had a look around and then hunkered off to mosey down a street 'where many children live'.
Oh Goldilocks, where are you now?
The bear was shot of course.
Naturally people don't want to be attacked by bears, because they know they are big, fierce, people-eating creatures, but they also don't want them to be shot because they are furry, cuddly creatures. Thus the signs on the bear-proof garbage cans in the mountains, 'A fed bear is a dead bear'.

In French-related news, I have a couple of communication dead zones. I never recognise the word when either of them say 'e-mailing', I always think they are telling me about someone called 'Ammeline'. This because apparently the French word 'le courriel' is not cool.
Likewise, I am trying to get the lad to be able to pronounce the words 'hungry' and 'angry' differently. Also, to not pronounce the word 'bite' in the same way as the French word (same spelling) for penis.

The Tali-tubbies have killed a woman who used to work for our city. Apparently the Press and Media in general are going to be hounding everyone for some comment. We are not to comment. Oh well maybe I can, since I don't actually work for the city, I just have a city e-mail and thus receive such instructions.
I won't hold my breath.
Although I may make some damning comment about the Tali-tubbies and their misogyny.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Approximately five minutes before I took this picture, I had explained to the owner of the hand - one of our French volunteers - about how in English the French are referred to as Frogs. He didn't seem to know, whereas I thought the whole planet knew that.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. No, that's not right, that's the first line of a Daphne du Maurier book.
Erm, last night I dreamt I was appearing in 'The Merchant of Venice' except that in the dream it wasn't called that, I only realised it when I woke up and recognised Portia's speech from it. In the dream I could only remember one speech, and I couldn't find a copy of the book to mug up from. Also, I thought my character was called Quentin rather than Portia. I don't think there's a future in it for me.

The second bedroom is now painted and Kevin has assembled the lovely bed which I bought from a well-known local furniture store.

Maybe tonight I'll dream of Manderley.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Zum Schloss

The morning weather guy promised that the sky would cloud over and it did. In fact it did more than that, it rained, but not very enthusiastic -ally, not like it really meant it.

The painting of Schloss Schneewittchen continues in earnest. Yeah, no, I don't know a bloke of that name.
My daughter's bedroom.
She and her beau are coming over in September - just for a visit for the moment, but I'm excited that they're coming.
And the bedroom painting seems like a piece of cake in comparison to the stairwell.
But enough of such scintillating stuff, good Lady, it's like watching paint dry.

So, I read on Sleepy's blog that the Olympics are on. Meh.
No, seriously, I did know that, I noticed that a tourist was already murdered.

Remember the Manic Street Preachers? Yeah, me too. Where are they now? Still around apparently, but mostly in Wales.

Pit Bull Terriers. Why? What is the point? A gang of four of them attacked a man in a nearby city and yet have somehow been allowed to live so far. What's that about? Any bear that attacks a human gets put down without question. Oh, whoops, we don't say 'put down' anymore, we say 'euthanised'. Huh.

Ah, squirrels. They love peanut butter - I wonder if they like marmite.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Further Tales of Ikea

What's the sense in having a blog, where those who care about such things can check up on your comings and goings and then forget to post on it?
Good point.
We crossed the border around tea-time Friday afternoon. We knew it could take a while because my visa waiver had run out. The border guard was friendly and just said,
'You know the drill folks.' I liked that. I'm trying to remember not to say 'guys' when I don't mean ...well, guys. I'm not a guy. So I was impressed.

Yesterday, as forecast, it rained, we even had one single roll of thunder. The rain keeps the riff-raff out of the pools, so I had several much more enjoyable swims.

I finished reading 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak. As pre-warned by Sleepy, it made me cry, big, sobbing crying.

When we got back around lunchtime today, there was a message from Gail on the answerphone. She would be in Ikea, so having phoned and ascertained that she had already gone, I decided to just schlepp over there and try to find her.
This gave me a whole new perspective. I had to look at the people instead of the lovely Ikea stuff.
First off, I tried to peer surreptitiously into the kiddie play area. That doesn't quite work. You can't peer and be surreptitious. I just felt suspicious.
But then I was able to scan the cafeteria. Or do I mean scrutinise? Yes, I did scrutinise it.

Then I went backwards round the store, well, at least I was walking forwards but going against the flow. There were a couple more opportunities for being creepy, when I saw someone who looked about Gail's height and with Gail-like hair, but with her back to me. Both times I kind of hovered until she turned round.

The potential for people-watching in Ikea on a Sunday is enormous. The way people inspect and prod things, allow their children to throw things around and just generally run around annoying the shoppers - when there is in fact a supervised play area. When a man dropped a glass and it shattered, I was more amused than concerned when some father who had allowed his toddler to just wander around in the glass and china section, suddenly had to stop him running hell for leather towards the broken tumbler. And the child was called Angus. Seriously, toddler called Angus. There are some names children should be sheltered from until they get older.

I never did find Gail, but I was able to get a couple of things we were unable to find last week.
Ikea, so wonderful to come home to.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Long Days

Wednesday - traditionally hump day - was a long day. Work, home, wine-bottling, chemist, work. And the heat still.

I was behind a car with the number plate 'Aaryan' (sic). That was seriously creepy, the more so because I compromised my driving by craning to see if it were being driven by a Nazi.

Thursday - traditionally almost the weekend day - was a long day. And the heat still.
I sat at my computer all freaking day-long, wrestling with an online chore that had to be completed in one single sitting. And yet it had bugs. Finally when I thought it was done and submitted it, at that point, at THAT POINT, it tells me that the long section I'd spent all day on was twice as long as the slot would allow. It took me all afternoon to précis it down to 4,000 characters (including spaces).
Another useful skill learnt at school.

In the toilet at work, I was re-reading an article in New Scientist about research being done into underwater decomposition of bodies off the coast of BC. Apparently on land or freshwater, the head decomposes first. Under seawater it is the last to go.

I wish the online newspapers would all stop torturing me with reviews of Hamlet at Stratford, with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart.

Last night, washing my hands in the downstairs loo, the right hand tap turned on on its own. I thought I must have imagined it, but when I touched it, I realised it was indeed on. How odd.

Bluenotes e-mailed me to tell me their jeans are on offer, buy one, buy another half price. Don't they know me? Don't they know I don't even wear jeans? But all is well, because Ikea e-mailed to tell me their new catalogue is ready. I really would think that some high up in the company would personally leave one on my doorstep, given my level of ... let us say...participation.
On the other hand, Porsche, with whom I have nor ever have had, any level of participation, keep delivering me some kind of brochure.
They're having a laugh, surely.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

La vie au Canada

Elle continue, et aujourd'hui, pour la plupart, en français.

Two French students arrived today, to volunteer at the Park, ou bien, au parc. So...I was able to fill them in on what Canada has been doing to the French language. (Mainly, refusing to speak it).

Meanwhile, another foot has washed ashore, this time in Washington State, our neighbour to the south. Some people will go to great lengths to avoid the Border guard.

The man who decapitated a fellow passenger on a greyhound bus has been upgraded from 'suspect' to 'accused'. J'accuse.

The temperature hit 32 at YVR today, this isn't even funny. Brains have turned to mush and skins to hide. Tomorrow it's predicted to get even hotter.

Ikea rocks. Well, everyone knows this, but in the interests of green measures, it has set its AC to a sensible level, just enough so that when you go inside the store it is comfortable to come into and a refuge from the heat, but you don't get that Siberian blast you do in some shops and thus when you finally HAVE to leave, you don't fall over instantly from heatshock.

We are watching the latest (to us) series of Dr. Who. We both sit there saying to the TV set, 'He's so good, he's SO good.' David Tennant that is, but then everyone knows that too.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Up the Ladder

I wouldn't say I was scared of heights, I don't get that head-swimming thing or the panic that goes with claustrophobia. But when I'm up the ladder, even though I've seen all the fixtures clunk into place, I do have a kind of fear. It's like the fear when you're in the 'plane and you suddenly realise you simply don't get how it flies. So you have to kid yourself, put it to the back of your mind. After all, there is a floor and a ceiling, it's like being in a long thin room. Don't think that it's flying.

But up the ladder, you have to find a new comfort zone. And then you have to paint from it. To move, you have to grip the rungs with your feet like a monkey, and each movement is a small ballet. But it is scary because it's counter-intuitive, it feels like that latch shouldn't hold and you have to think about where each part of your body is, and it's hot, insanely hot. Sweat drips off you. Up the ladder is physically and mentally challenging.

But when you get down the ladder and it's all done, your walls transformed, then it was worth it. And now, instead of cream of mushroom, I have drifting snow.

Everyone in Richmond was painting their homes today. The paint counter in Home Depot was jumping. Oh yes dear reader, the only off-the-shelf colour here is white, anything else must be mixed and shaken.
Fortunately for them, I was there to advise.
One man was surprised to find that his paint didn't look the same colour as the chip, but I told him not to worry, it would when it was dry. I was able to shake my head with another lady when 'Princess Pink' arrived for a different customer. And of course to tut tut when an assistant seemed too clumsy.
And I offer this service free.

Sunday, 3 August 2008


For two days now I have painted and the first coat is now on the stairway from the ground to first floor and the landing.

The good thing about painting is that it leaves you much time to think, and the bad thing about painting is that it leaves you much time to think and then I get distracted.

I was thinking about a couple of poems by RS Thomas that Austen had sent me. Then I remembered that I have a book that has a section of his poems. I had to stop painting and go and seek it out. A short blurb about his life painted a picture of a reclusive Welsh clergyman, spitting tacks about the English, the only acceptable ones the intellectuals.

Interesting. I am English with Welsh blood, and some of his more metaphysical poems are very powerful. So in the end, I have to suspend judgement, accept him as he is. A man with no beard.

I feel equally conflicted by the insanity that has spewed forth from the Lambeth Conference. In particular I can't cope with this,
"Rowan Williams said practices in certain US and Canadian dioceses were threatening the unity of the Anglican communion." What irony. The Anglican church, the Conservative Party at Prayer are the progressives in North America, well that's to be proud of, but the rest of them, the actual Church of England, good, bloody grief, have they lost sight of the little Jewish fella or what?
Dr. Williams you will remember has a beard that makes him look like Satan.

Solzhenistyn has died. Who knew he was still alive? I had a phase of reading all his work too. And great and deep it was. An uncompromising writer with an uncompromising beard. A man who left his mark, in a good way.

Today, my thought for the day for me is 'as we forgive those who trespass against us.'
That brings me back to RS Thomas really. The forgiving others who have severely done us wrong is waaay more difficult than asking for forgiveness. Thomas shows us a God eternally listening to our prayers and petitions.
Made God in our own image? Well, I'm finding it difficult to forgive, but I'm struggling to get there.
On the other hand, my God, like me, has no beard, maybe a few post menopausal whiskers.

Friday, 1 August 2008


When something like that happens, the reaction as reported in the Press, always seems so trite. He was a wonderful young man. He will be greatly missed.
The truth is, to his friends and family, the news that their son, their friend was the one, the one from the story that shocked the world. And that news will explode in slow motion, like the old newsreel of the nuclear mushroom.

And the fingers are already being pointed. The 'suspect' is an immigrant. Well, maybe he was a wrong 'un right from the start, perhaps he had something in his brain that was ticking down the seconds until the moment when he ripped and hacked another's life from him.
But Canada needs to think on how she treats her immigrants. Making the notion of assimilation a question on the immigration form doesn't address the problem.

At least Canada gets that she needs immigration.
On the one hand, maybe we wouldn't be in the mess that we are now were there fewer people on the planet, but that's not a given. There are solutions and the more people we have working on the problem, the more likely we are to find them.
But every country needs to maintain a population level to maintain their economy, unless we suddenly develop really good AI. So we, and many, many others, need immigrants, and that's not an easy statement coming from someone who grew up with the rantings of Enoch Powell ringing in their ears.

Last night we watched the film, 'Becoming Jane', about Jane Austen. It was a nice little film. At the end the credits said that Jane Austen had written the six of the greatest novels ever written in the English language.
Well, like many others, I had a Jane Austen phase and devoured her work. I'm not sure whether they were the greatest, but they were exceedingly good. But for the life of me, I could only remember five. It bugged me, and then, just as I was about to look up the sixth, I remembered the first one we read at school, 'Northanger Abbey'.

One of the blogs I read, 'The Urban Feminist', pointed out an interesting rule, an observation of Alison Bechdel of 'Dykes to Watch out for'. When watching a movie, she checks the following :-

"1. Does it have at least two women in it,

2. Who [at some point] talk to each other,

3. About something besides a man."

Mmmmmm. Food for thought.