Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Joining In

The world is changing. Not just because the trees are losing their leaves, the days are getting ever shorter and the temperature is (soon) cooling down - although all of that is exciting - but because Rome is burning.

I had to go down to the Ferry terminal to pick up Alex and Seth who were returning from Vancouver Island. There is a sign at the drop-off zone, warning you that you can be there for no more than three minutes and that it is strictly enforced. It isn't. A whole slew of cars were there for over twenty minutes and not a peep from anyone.

I have kind of come to accept the randomness of enforcement here, but in Britain, I expect more consistency. Thus I was rather disappointed to read that the minimum wage of £5.73 an hour is now going to be rigorously applied and those who don't pay the proper wage will be prosecuted.

I was shocked that this was not already the case.

But my faith was restored upon reading that the Dunkirk spirit still lives. It is a great and wondrous thing that the government has declared that everyone should cut down the amount of meat and dairy eaten, likewise foods of little nutritional value such as snack foods.
This was how the war was won.
This is how Rome will be dampened.
I for one, will be joining in.

And a big Happy Birthday to my dear friend Dawn!

Monday, 29 September 2008

View from Heaven

From one mountain to another. Today, I drove to Grouse and we set out our stall, in the most literal sense, for the Field Trip Fair. And we dressed up as witches.
Because of some freakishly freakish freak weather system, it was hotter up the mountain than down below. It was even hotter wearing black clothes on top of our regular ones, and hotter still wearing thick, green makeup.
You know the score.

There was a day - a disturbing, vile day - when 'Paki bashing' was de rigeur.
At the weekend, two young men, walking along Davie Street, hand-in-hand, were attacked by a group of Asians, not necessarily Pakistanis, more likely Indians, and yet amongst the 'paki-bashing' crowd, such a distinction is meaningless.
Davie Street is generally acknowledged as the main street in Vancouver where gay men .... might be seen walking hand-in-hand.
So a group of men who, in the past might have been the targets for bashing, shout homophobic abuse and attack another group of men.
And apparently the gay community is outraged. Surely the community per se should be outraged.

Saturday, 27 September 2008


There are just three words to describe today, 'perfect'. (x3).

We decided to make a trip to Whistler. We had a beautiful early autumn day, as we got closer to the mountains more of the trees were already into their coats of many colours.

We stopped at Squamish for lunch, and also at Whytecliff Park to just admire the splendour of it and scramble up some piles of rocks, and at Shannon Falls to do similar things.

When we got back to Vancouver, we went to the Memmphis Blues diner. Seth was in heaven with the Elvis Platter. All I offer is pictures.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Business as Usual

Yesterday saw the first school programme of the new school year. Quite typically it rained. A fitting start. For the duration of the rainfall, the birds all stopped singing and flying from tree to tree, but it was business as usual today.

I am pleased that Sir Ian McKellen is taking on homophobia in schools. Mayhem was the one school I worked where I saw more of this than anywhere else, but then it was also the school where staff and pupils alike were openly gay.
I think it's piss poor of the Graun to say that Sir Ian is 'best known for his role in Lord of the Rings'. Do me a favour. He wasn't knighted in 1990 because he would someday play Gandalf. He had long been a mainstay of British theatre and a household name.
Not worthy of yourself Graun.

Whilst the Churches of England and of Rome still tie themselves in knots and eat out their own insides to find reasons why women should not have full equality with men, the monarchy, an institution which may be seen to be even more arcane, may beat it. The law which gives male heirs to the throne precedence over female heirs has been challenged under both the Sex Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Act.
Giddy up!
Maybe in my lifetime I won't have to suffer the indignity of being routinely referred to as a guy anymore.

Note to Gordon Ramsey : the noun from which the adjective 'humble' comes is not 'humbleness', it is 'humility'. But then I'm not surprised you're not familiar with it.

That Japanese recognition thing works. Our Woman Friday was in at work, what with it being Friday and all. A Japanese woman came in to the Nature House and made a beeline for her. In very broken English she asked whether our person were Japanese. J said that she was 'sansei', which sounded like 'sunsei'. I asked Raymond what this meant and he said that it meant she was a third generation immigrant.
On the downside of Japanesity, our last volunteer left today to return to Japan. We are going to miss them all. We are already trying to work out how we can get more.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Curling Toes

The moon is on the wane. Is that important? It has to be.

One thing that isn't waning - in its quality - is Boston Legal. First episode of the final series and wham! Alan Shore's closing was stronger than ever. Brilliant, brilliant.

Two nights ago, a blue SUV in Vancouver knocked down and killed a man and hospitalised a woman. The driver has now given herself up. She didn't have a driver's licence. SO far, she hasn't been charged. But you know she will.
I want to know what happens to all the woman killers in Surrey who over-react when they have a row with their wife or mother.

Yesterday, Kevin was reading a report of a piece of research that shows that the pay gap between men and women is less pronounced between women and men who have egalitarian attitudes. Ergo, it is most pronounced between women and men who have what are euphemistically referred to as 'traditional' attitudes, it bigots. So if a man's goals are only money-oriented, then he must be a sexist arsehole in order to achieve his objectives.
Complex issues.

On TV, a presenter who is supposed to be testing and comparing items for a shopping programme keeps referring to the pestle from a pestle and mortar as a 'pes-tle'. My toes are now permanently curled.

What does the waning moon mean? I don't know, but I want to be more aware of it.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Road Rage

The rotten stinking website, tortured into submission by me, and which looked all peachy, doesn't look so peachy, it turns out, in wretched internet explorer. Ok, on the one hand, I don't know anyone who uses ie except at work, but still, piece of garbage.

Deep breath.

The weather was true perfection today, like the impossible meringue. Light and crisp. Outside the trees are, in every sense, hopping with birds, Juncos, Warblers, Brown Creepers, Downy Woodpeckers and Flickers and of course the ubiquitous chickadee.

Yesterday I indulged in a spot of road rage and ...it felt good.
You know my opinion of the standard of driving in Richmond, there is none, it is mostly machine operation.
I know you all think the driving in Britain is rubbish, but I challenge anyone to come here and drive, then go back home and you will think the driving there as choreographed, balletic.

I was turning left on a green light, so the equivalent of turning right in Britain. I was perfectly positioned to turn - a concept unknown in Richmond, road positioning? What's that?
Sadly, here, the pedestrian lights are green at the same time, but I waited while the HUMAN BEINGS crossed the road. Clearly this wasn't good enough. A testosterone-poisoned prat in an oversized truck, pulls up beside me and starts shouting at me, although since both our windows were up, I couldn't hear the abuse, just see the rage and venom. But I gave back. I simply vented all my spleen noiselessly on him. Even had he had his window open he wouldn't have heard since he had his bluetooth headset on. But I don't think he expected a woman to mouth off back at him and he stopped and drove off.
Pedestrians one, stupid prat, nil.

Felt good, felt damned good. But I bet he wouldn't have shouted at a man.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Alex and Seth

I took this photo this morning. How much time have I spent trying to catch a picture of a dragonfly? This one just held there while I took several.

A quarter of an hour before I left work for the airport, my friend turned up and gave me some hairclips with devil's horns attached. Naturally I couldn't not wear them. In Arrivals, no-one batted an eyelid.

On the board, just two flights were in, one from Hong Kong, one from London. I felt I could kinda tell the difference, in general, between one set of passengers and the other. But in Arrivals, you need that ability to tell more differences.
Oddly, passengers kept coming through who were clearly Italian. Italians look...well, Italian. They also speak Italian. Loudly. They kiss. A lot. There was no flight reported from there.

I looked around at those waiting. A Jewish man wearing a Kippah. A Sikh. Not all Sikhs by any means wear turbans here, but this one was. A card carrying member of the sisterhood of girls who do girls. A woman in khaki wearing devil's horns.

Then British passengers coming through. I could tell immediately. The Lads, the way they walk and carry themselves is different from the Frat Boys of North America. The middle-aged Brits, something guarded about their body-language. The elderly, somehow they dress differently.

Then on the monitor I saw Alex and Seth. There they were, finally, and I knew how long before they came out into the hall because I had been tracking people.

It has been over a year since Alex was here. Over that time, things have changed, packed up, been replaced. We've moved house. The car was wrecked when a man in a pickup truck drove into the back of it whilst I was stationery, waiting to turn left, so the car is different. The computer had died, and more recently, the camera.
In the old house, Alex had always had to sleep on the sofa or on a mattress in her brother's room. Now she has her own room.

But it's so, sooooo good to have her here.

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Time hangs like a voile curtain, separating me from tomorrow. Like a child on Christmas Eve, or the day before Christmas Eve, not quite near enough to feel the ripeness of the moment.

It's always this way when one of them is due to arrive. I anticipate, wanting every precious moment to be planned and perfect. Waiting for that first glimpse of them when they walk into Arrivals at YVR. Knowing that the poignant pleasure of that moment will be balanced by the bitterness of departure.

But first, before any of that can happen, she has to get herself to the airport. They have to get themselves to the airport. There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip and I take nothing for granted. This time last week, she realised that the packed up belongings, spread over seven different locations in London, somewhere contained the means of actually being allowed into this country. I had several days of anxiety until she found it.

Strange. I can see that in the grand scheme of things, my anxiety is trivial. My friend has been waiting to hear that her son has arrived at the relative safety of Kandahar from the front-line fighting. And he has. But THAT is anxiety.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


My house is gleaming. Not for long no doubt. The point of this picture isn't the gleam, it's the new, user-friendly bar stools. Today was a double Ikea day.

I went to fill up with petrol. The price has come down significantly over the past couple of days, plus I had a voucher from Superstore. I paid $14. The person in front of me paid $102. Big 'mini'van with two tiny people in it. They could both have fitted very comfortably into a smart car.

On the way back, I noticed that election boards have sprung up like yesterday's amanitas. If you see hoardings here, you're on the edge of a Reserve, only First Nations are allowed to put up advertising along the roads, but normal rules break down around election time it seems.
Almost the same colour-coding as in Britain, blue for the Tories, but red here is for liberal. Cheeky really.

On TV, an ad for the board game Monopoly. Seriously, do people still play board games? How does it happen? Who agrees to it? I mean we had board games as children, Monopoly and Cluedo on a Sunday afternoon, before 'The Golden Shot' came on TV. Now there is stuff to do on computers. Instead of sitting in front of the gas fire rolling dice with the other members of your family, you could be in your room with the global cyber community. I'm sure we only did it because we had nothing better to do.
Come to think of it, I didn't even subject my own kids to board games.

And then the Top Banana of Maple Leaf Foods. This I greatly admired. Maple Leaf Foods is the company that recently had the spot of unpleasantness involving people dying of Listeria. But fair do's, the company did what they had to do and then told us exactly what the problem had been, what they had done about it and what they had put in place to avoid anything similar in the future. When they reappear, Maple Leaf products are going to be the safest around.

Friday, 19 September 2008


Comfort food Friday evening. Mashed potato. Marmite. The weather is getting colder and we are forecast rain for the weekend.

What a bizarre week. Not particularly for me, although there have been some moments. But the financial markets, the gas prices, the amanitas suddenly appearing.

Amanita Muscaria. The great thing about having a blog, an online diary, is that you can find out easily when you wrote about the same thing last year. Well last year's entry about Amanitas was 6th October. They have just popped up everywhere this week.

This weekend will be the opposite of spring cleaning. Huh, no, that would be autumn dirtying. This weekend will be deep cleaning. For autumn. For Alex and Seth's arrival. For my sanity. I do find it therapeutic. The place is tidy enough, so the energy is flowing, thus it should be easy to get on with the scrubbing and sweeping.

Thank the Goddess it's Friday.

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Queen are beginning a tour after releasing a new album. I can't get my head round this.
Queen = Freddie Mercury.
For me.
I suppose.
Somehow, it just seems wrong.

I realised earlier on this week that I had engaged in a Canadian obsession - talking about the price of petrol. I was always amazed at how the price can change every ten minutes. Then there was the whole, 'Will it break a dollar a litre?' discourse. This week I noticed at our local petrol station - albeit not the one I actually use - it was over $1.50.

BC Canadians have to pay at least 20 cents more per litre than anywhere else in the country. Two cents of this can be accounted for by the Province's green tax, and if you were to speak to some of the more challenged citizens, you might be led to think the green tax accounted for the full twenty.

To be fair, a few cents' rise or fall doesn't very much affect our household in the normal run of things, we are winners in the green tax game. The extra tax we are paying in a year doesn't come close to the extra $100 we were given to ensure that the tax was fiscally neutral.

We do it to ourselves.
We let it happen.
And then we blame the government.

Happy Birthday Seth lad, looking forward to seeing you Monday.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Like a vampire entering a church, I had been invited into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and I entered its gloomy portals. What with having such an amazing sports filter, I thought I might not even be able to see the walls, sort of like that vampire being unable to see her reflection in a mirror. Well, I could and I couldn't. I could literally see them, but my eyes seemed to slide from them as though there were nothing there.
The toilets had an amazingly fierce flush though, and when I mentioned this to my friend Raymond, he blinded me with science by mentioning the Coriolis Effect.
Fortunately, the meeting we were at had nothing to do with sport, so I was troubled no further, although on the way back, Jo and I found ourselves inexplicably standing in the lobby of the Government of Canada offices instead of the car park.

The picture from this morning may not be great, but it was taken blind at seven - and clearly through the bugscreen. My trusty Kodak that I keep in my bag at all times, gave up the ghost on Saturday. It can still take pictures, but I can't see them during the taking thereof. It was loved, and yet abused. I loved it more as it became more dented and scraped, but causality is causality (unless you believe Hume, in which case it is nothing more than constantly conjoined contiguous events) and I was obliged to visit Best Buy where the staff won't try and sell you something you don't want because they're not on commission apparently. Indeed, they sold me what I did want and then a three year warranty. They told me this was free, but it turned out they reduced the price of the camera by the amount of the warranty. Sleight of cash register.

At eight thirty, Jo and I were standing in the car park outside the Nature House, contemplating a huge ghost moon in the sky.
Now I wonder if it was connected with Kat's Harvest Moon.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Like many people, we have HDTV. This means that the quality of picture on a handful of channels is almost as good as the picture on any cheapo TV set from the supermarket in Europe.
Something to do with the different systems.

The other rubbish thing about TV here is that it is largely seasonal in nature. It all finished with the spring, and it's all coming back for the autumn. Most of the time at Schloss Schnee, we watch recorded programmes and they don't record in HD. So, e being equal to mc Hammer and all that, one plus one makes TV worth watching in HD for a couple of weeks.

There's a downside.

The ads.
When you watch recorded stuff, you can just skip 'em. Watching them at the time scheduled, you get the ads.
At the moment, this is like watching twelve-year-olds fight. The Canadian political parties dissing each other. The American channels have ads for Governor elections, where the candidates diss each other. Is it grown-up stuff? Witty? Clever? Is it 'eck as like. You can seriously hear more intelligent slagging in the average classroom.

Still, things on the scheduling front are looking up. House is back, although I wish bloody Cuddy would get a backbone.
Bones went to London to parody the British, très amusant.
And sweeeeeeet - a new series of Jam and Jerusalem. Why the feck they couldn't show that during the summer, I don't know, it was made last year.

Laurence, Laurence mind, not me, received a card from Ottawa saying that they'd noticed he hadn't registered to vote. It said it in both languages. He can't register of course, not being a citizen, but, you know, details.

I, on the other hand, received an e-mail from 'Always' at Procter and Gamble. This is how it starts,

"Dear Schneewittchen,
Did you ever think your period could be a laughing matter?
Click on the links below to see acclaimed comediennes
Lucy Porter, Wendy Wason and Hils Barker talk about how
we deal with the 'time of the month'.

Your period has never been so funny – we guarantee it."

How cool is that? No? Seriously, no?
I can hardly wait for next month.

Sunday, 14 September 2008


I feel for any family that loses a child, but you have to wonder about a kid who would climb a pylon. I mean the things SMELL of electricity. You can hear it, it sings through the lines. 66,000 volts.

It feels like a time of astral activity. It feels as though there is a surge in the force. Or maybe it's not the force, maybe it's my own gravitational field. People around me - and I don't mean in any geographical sense - are experiencing blips. Sometimes major blips. I'm trying to centre myself to send out some electrical pulses of my own. Positive vibes, prayer.

The vicar talked about Time this morning. How there are two Greek words for time, Chronos and Kairos. The former is the time that flows, the background, the current and currency of time. Kairos is the moment, the turning moment of the pendulum, the moment when change happens. So the cross, in addition to all other symbolism, gives us the horizontal line, Chronos, intersected by the event , the vertical line, Kairos.

Perhaps my experience of Chronos is being disturbed, like the rumblings of deep seismic activity.
I'll mentally work on that visual.

In spite of her being a Republican, I SO want Sarah Palin to work out. I am willing her to be a real contender. But she does seem to be a complete and utter nutjob. Barking. On the other hand, a comment of Kat's on her blog a few days ago, made me think.

"I lived through the Reagan years and in no way do I think a 'pro life' President will take away a woman's right to choose. It just isn't going to happen."

Last night's SNL opener from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler was brilliant and worth watching. You have to sit through the ad for Regenerist first, but oh well, we're worth it.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Friday, Bloody Friday

At work, we have a Woman Friday, or a Friday woman, whatever, a lady who only comes in on a Friday. Her grandparents came over from Japan and were interned during the war. Last Friday, meeting our Japanese volunteers, she told us a story about visiting Japan a few years back. She went with a sister or cousin, and stayed with an aunt who had remained in Japan. She told us that her own Japanese isn't that good. Whenever they went out, when anyone asked them anything, before she let them answer, the aunt prefaced their utterances by explaining,
They're not retards, just Canadian.' I have told this story a couple of times, and Canadians don't really seem to appreciate it.

I think what really struck and stuck with me however, was the fact that the Aunt felt she had to say this because they looked Japanese

A while back, I remember Canadian Karen saying that some of her ESL students had patiently explained to her how you could tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese and Korean students, but it seemed a bit technical to me.

I said this to our woman Friday and she told me that it was just like how I, a British person, would be able to tell the difference between an English person, a Scot and a Welsh person.
'Erm, not just by looking at them,' I said. She was astonished. But then so was I.

Why does this bug me? I don't know, maybe because I don't know.

Friday night. I went to my friend's house and we ate and talked. A good evening, a convivial evening, a garlicky evening.
Blood cleansing garlic.

I came home and Kevin and I watched the first episode in a new vampire series. 'True Blood'. It was engaging. I enjoyed it. I wondered what happens if a vampire takes blood from someone who has had as much garlic as I have this evening. Would they choke? Fall down dead? Or would they not be able to come near enough to feed.
If the bread during communion turns into the body of Christ, does the wine turn into his blood? If you have the blood of Christ in your veins, can a vampire drink your blood? I can't imagine that would work.

Blood work. Bloody work. Bloody Hell.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

11th September 2008

Holly started school today, I have the pictures already and she looks adorable. But mainly it's my birthday. In many ways it started yesterday lunchtime, when I was summoned to the kitchen at work and everyone sang Happy Birthday To You and we had Dairy Queen cake and frappaccinos.
I have no idea how to spell that.
But I think it's c-a-k-e.

I took the day off in order to swan about. I like the verb 'to swan' - well, really I suppose it's 'to swan about', separable verb.
And the weather has played well, today has been glorious, azure sky, sunshine, warm. It was fabulous this afternoon just to sit out on the balcony and read one of my birthday books.

I did some of the things I did last year.

But before I went out, I watered the plants on the balcony and as I got to the last one, right at the end, I looked over and there was a man with a flower arrangement, trying to deliver them to Laurence's basement flat. I can understand the problem here, the front door of the house is on a different street from the address. Still, pretty lucky timing.
And it was beautiful and from Sleepy Mansions.

I had brunch at Havana and then spent much money at Ten Thousand Villages, two doors down. (Like last year, only without the Sleepy-one).

The eating and of course, drinking, continues this evening .

And thanks to all my friends and rellies for various Happy Birthday greetings, I really appreciate them.
I was thinking that Ecuador was the farthest afield, but I'm not sure, it must be underneath us somewhere.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Guinea Pigs

This morning, on the way to work, I found this guinea pig. She was just shivering at the side of the boardwalk, so I waited a while to check there were no obvious signs of communicable diseases (I have no idea whether you get rabid guinea pigs, but I was unwilling to take a chance) and then stroked her and finally picked her up squirming and took her into the Nature House. Yes, unwanted pets get dumped here, I'm not sure whether people realise they will die or whether they genuinely think they will become feral. In truth, if they don't die of shock or exposure, they'll be eaten by hawks or coyotes.

I took this picture of Canada Geese (I know it looks as though Canada Geese roam free while people are kept penned in cages) yesterday evening when we went to see the final (for us) play in the Bard on the Beach season. This was a production of Twelfth Night and I must admit I was dubious at first. The setting was pre-depression America and I was not sure I would enjoy this twenties presentation. There was also a lot of singing, something I dislike in a play or film - although rather oddly, I liked Grease - but there's always the possibility in Shakespeare's comedies, we certainly had to sing a lot of his songs in music lessons at primary school.

In fact, I thought it brilliant! I really think this was how it must have been in Shakespeare's time, every word was acted, played with, given expression and comedically represented. It was poetry in motion, polished, choreographed and the audience just rolled about with laughter at every facial expression, every movement and every stop. What a treat, the costumes were superb, the set well constructed and used, (the same set as for Lear) and there was no weak link in the company. I thoroughly, THOROUGHLY enjoyed every moment.

Copies of New Scientist have now made their way into the staff toilet at work (made their way in the sense that I put some in there) and this morning I was reading a short article about how we still marvel at the work of Pythagoras, some 25 centuries after his death and it wondered whether the work of anyone alive today will inspire people far into the future.
Well, we're just eight years shy of four hundred years since Shakespeare's death and yet his work can still keep audiences in stitches.

Pythagoras was probably considered a bit of a beardie-weirdie even in his own time, but he was very learned and had absorbed philosophy from many different cultures on his travels (and his travels were not all from choice it must be said).
Shakespeare, we are oft told, was churning out the equivalent of soaps. So maybe generations of the future will value reality TV - we may of course be able to ask them soon as the Large Hadron Collider at Cern comes on line, and time travel from the future to 2008 onwards becomes possible - but I'm thinking it'll be Colin and Justin who'll stand the test of time.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


Let me say first thing, 'Happy Birthday Gail for yesterday!' and sorry that I forgot. All I will add is that DQ cake is the kind of cake that even I like, (ie contains no actual cake:)

Didn't sleep worth a damn last night, I was outside at 2.30, sitting on the front steps, plotting my revenge on ... well, anyone who had annoyed me, which at that time, and with no sleep, was just the man next door who goes out and smokes on his balcony so that it drifts onto mine, or at the back of the house, where it creeps into my kitchen.
Sadly, my only legally available revenge is Sleepy, who will come over at some point and outsmoke him. And that will smoke him out. There is a seat already there for her.
Ha!! Be afraid, be very afraid next-door-neighbour!

Sitting on the doorstep at 2.30 was cold because there was a mighty wind blowing out there, and it had nothing to do with comestibles consumed earlier, but the wind calmed me, blew away my irritations and I was able to go back to bed and eventually sleep.

Our house is on a corner, a crossroads; and at right angles to the man who waters the pavement and grass verges, is the man who gardens. He gardens everything. I'm not even 100% convinced that he IS a man, I'm pretty sure he's German and I've met plenty of German women who look like him. He must be some kind of foreign anyway, a Canadian would never have quite such a huge maple leaf flag flying from their property.

At first, I thought he was an actual gardener, he seemed to be all around the place watering and weeding. He's highly tanned, in a reddish kind of way and his hair is the colour of straw. He always wears a vest, which is how I can see that he has boobage.
Then, I realised that although he was ubiquitous in his horticultural endeavours, more often, he was just toiling away in the gardens of the one house.

Now, he has gardened a verge too far and I am waiting to see if anything descends upon him from the Council. He has dug up parts of two of the grass verges in front of his house, partitioned them off with stone edging and has planted flowers.

In many ways, I can admire his obsession, until it impinges on me of course, I can't help being fascinated by it.
But it is mental.

Sunday, 7 September 2008


Blink and another weekend has gone. Flown past without stopping, with nothing to show for it but one painted bathroom and friends visited. Actually, that's quite a lot to show for it really.
Still, I could do with a weekend to get over the weekend.

So our PM, Stephen Harper, has announced a general election for next month. In the run up to the announcement you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone in the country worships him, since he has been on TV ads simpering about how being a father comes first in his life (Family Values, conservative standby) followed by ordinary Canadians saying what a great job he's been doing.

Stephen meanwhile, thinks the upcoming election will be tight and tough. See, here's where I smell disingenuity (the word should be disingenuousness, but I'm making up my own words now and pretending they're pukka). I think he know that in this three-party system, which in truth is a two-party system, because the socialist-ish party is about as likely to win as the liberal party in Britain, the other party have made a peculiar leadership choice so that electing them would be like electing Mr. Blobby. Which....of course could happen. But I think the PM feels pretty confident.

In other Canadian news, the listeria outbreak has been tracked down to dirty slicing blades, see that's what happens when the instruction 'clean it up' just means 'give it a bit of a tidy round'.
Here in BC, workers at a mushroom farm were overcome by noxious fumes. Hmm...them's some mushrooms lads.

Friday, 5 September 2008


Deep breath.

Sometimes I can hear Dexter's voice in my head, but it isn't telling me to murder bad people. It's just... when you get introspective, it's like you're looking out through the windows of your body, seeing the world from further away. And then the thoughts which normally flow in voiceless form through your head, become actual words and you realise that Dexter is muttering them.

Ok, now I've made myself sound like a serial killer, but in truth, I feel like a stranger in a foreign landscape and no, not because I'm a Brit living in Canada, no, because of the website again, if only Kafka had had to maintain a website, he wouldn't have thought about turning into a bug. But it's like being the only person who doesn't speak the language, and at the same time having to run a business.

An irrelevant aside, but yesterday, in Ikea, I swear two people were speaking Klingon.

The blog is free and it does more things than I even need, so if I ever want to do them, there they are, waiting.
The website at work is cheap and impenetrable. It doesn't do the things I want to do. I change the font, but it refuses to change. I try to put in a picture and it won't upload. Somehow it chokes itself on its own code.
There's no-one to ask, literally no-one. It's like being a pirate and not able to navigate your ship. You can't flag down the Navy and ask for tips. The society I work for runs alongside the city, but to be able to have any autonomy we have to avoid their website and thus their techies.

I open up the html view and prod. I think I know what's what until I don't. I see whole pages of code that have no meaning, none at all, I wonder, if I delete them would it make any difference at all, so I do, and it doesn't.

Pucker organisations spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on their websites. They have actual web designers and whatnot.
Our organisation just has me and my UK teaching level ICT, prodding and poking at it between programmes in a dark corner by the snake tank.

Fortunately, no-one reads it anyway.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

What She Wants

I don't want to stay maudlin.
Yesterday, there were phone calls, tearful, wobbly-voiced.
Now there is disbelief.

A year ago, our friend told us that the disease had returned and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. We were shocked then, but probably didn't believe there would actually be a time when he wasn't there.
When we knew it would happen within a month, and watched this already slim man grow thinner and thinner and look ever older, and then knew it would be within a few days, then that he had gone into hospital for the last time and wouldn't come out, he was still there, still alive, and then - he wasn't.
And that's the same whenever someone dies. The disbelief that it could actually happen, the finality.
I couldn't say how often still I think I'll just ring my mum and tell her something.

Yesterday, we asked each other whether we should we still meet on Monday and no-one seemed to think we shouldn't. We ended with that cliché, 'It's what he'd want,' and then both added that we HATE when people say that, like anyone knows what someone else would want.

And yet, and yet, it IS what he would want and there are some friends and rellies that you know well enough to be able to make that claim.
I could say, for example,
'We should have the most debauched party ever and get totally mashed, it's what she'd want,' about Sleepy and feel pretty sure that'd be true.

So what about me? Well, there are a few people who'd get it right.
'Let's put her in a biodegradable box made out of recycled material, it's what she'd want,' CORRECT!!
'Let's have a full requiem mass ...in Latin, it's what she'd want,' YES!!!!I'd love that!! Cool. Throw in some Winnie Illi Pu too.
'She was British, let's play some Beatles,' WRONG!!
'Oasis?' NOPE
'Snow Patrol?' spot on, should've asked Kev in the first place.
'Let's avoid black, get everyone to wear the colours she loved, peacock blue, jade, coral, gold, apricot,' WRONG. These are my decorating colours, we've already established we're having a requiem mass, ergo, black please.
'Let's get a medium in, see if we can contact her,' sounds really bad taste? WRONG! SHE would totally be up for that.
'She wouldn't want flowers,' Oh yes she would!! She LOVES flowers. If you didn't give me flowers when I was alive, now's your big chance, last chance really.
'Let's have a big cake.' Well fine, since I'm not going to be eating it, go ahead, but if anyone wants to remember me through food, go for marmite, mashed potatoes, custard, aubergine, curry...just, not all mixed together.

Poor taste? Sorry. But Bruce did have a great sense of humour. I think he'd have smiled.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


Not much to say really.
Our friend Bruce is now at the end of his endgame. Perhaps by now, it is over even. Soon though.
He chose to be completely open about the stages of his dying over the past year, and it has been such a privilege for those of us, his friends, that he shared ...not his experience with us, that would be ridiculous to say, we haven't suffered the gradual takeover of the body as he has, but his experience of the experience.
Not long ago, he said it was like being pecked to death by a thousand chickens coming at him from all directions.
It's such a loss, such a great loss.

And Bruce mate, I know you don't believe, but we WILL see you again.
Peace be with you.