Thursday, 30 April 2009


Displacement activity. I need to be getting on with writing something else, so here I am, blogging.

Alberta, next Province over from ours, has been getting up everyone's nose even more than usual. Primarily everyone else hates them because they are the Province where, if Dubya ever came to Canada, he'd live. Yep, then kinda attitudes. Then, the PM put our collective nose out of joint by referring to Canada as though it actually stopped at the border between Alberta and BC. Didn't go down well.

Last week, the Alberta Public Affairs Bureau managed to make an ad for the Province - a Province it must be pointed out, with absolutely no coastline - that featured children playing on a Northumberland beach.

This week, they have introduced a Bill in their legislative assembly, yeppers, they are allowed to have one, that will allow parents in their Province to withdraw kiddies from lessons where science is discussed - evolution of course - or homosexuality. This just beggars belief to me and I don't know where to begin. The upside is that the comments from Albertans on the CBC website seem to all express the same disbelief as mine, and shame of their Province.

Of course, the actual reporting isn't that great, it states that the controversial Bill 'will enshrine in Law...' which it won't of course, only an Act can enshrine in Law, (first year secondary school history lessons) but no doubt they'll pass the Bill.

Meanwhile, in BC, we now have six cases of swine 'flu, and thus the threat has been elevated to level five. In Superstore yesterday, a Chinese woman was wearing a facemask to shop.
No, please don't say it.
Yet again, a Canadian travel advisory was warning people that they shouldn't travel to Mexico. Ever since I've been here there have been travel advisories warning Canadians not to go to Mexico because they keep getting killed there. Fat lot of notice people take of government advice.

The doc on morning TV has told us for two mornings running that the whole swine 'flu thing has caused a problem for vaccine producers. Should they carry on producing vaccine for next winter's 'flu? (Blindly, since no-one ever knows what strain it'll be), or try to get something out there to deal with swine 'flu? What a dilemma.
People are being told to stay home from work if they are sick, and to go to their doc. But when my colleague's niece, just returned from Mexico, had a sore throat, the doc wouldn't allow her into the surgery. She had to go to Accident and Emergency.

Personally, I'm upping the daily portions of fruit and veggies just in case.
But what do I care anyway? Tomorrow I reprise my role as Betty the Dominatrix Bee, and bees have so many more things to contend with than just swine fever.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


So I think that is clearly settled then, wine DOES count towards your daily five portions. The Tame Pharmacist makes it a slam dunk, or whatever the equivalent is in a Sleepy Mansions acceptable sport. Maybe whatever the sport that has the slam dunk is acceptable, my supreme sports filter has me bamboozling myself now. I know it's not cricket and cricket doesn't count at chez Sleepy anyway. Help me Sleepy-wan Kenobi, what the hell do I mean?

Anyhoo, crikey, that was like trying to get yer jammie trousers on whilst drunk. Yesterday was Kevin's birthday and we sank a few portions of wine. Actually, I think we sank nine bottles between nine of us, including what was in the cooking, and bearing in mind that a couple of people were drinking beer, so we're all good. Didn't sleep too well, but worth it to make sure we get enough fruit and veggies.

Oh and there were two dogs. Real, woofing ones. Dogs sometimes put their moist noses in intimate places while you're eating, so in so many ways it really helps to have imbibed somewhat. The surreal aspect of the whole thing becomes totally comprehensible.

My task was the pudding, which I slaved over. Or, at least, I lined up in Dairy Queen, spelt the name 'Kevin' for someone whose first language wasn't necessarily English or any version thereof, and paid for the ice-cream cake. It was tough, but saved the guests from having to eat anything I'd cooked, although I can manage a good fruit salad, but with all the wine drinking, I feared people might overdose on fruit and veg.

So, Happy Birthday for yesterday m'dear!
Now we have the aftermath.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


...just one tiny one. Wine...does it count towards your five portions a day? I mean, it's just grapes isn't it? And if so, then could you just drink five glasses a day? Hmmm...I think we should be told.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Friday Night, Ikea Morning

Best line on 30 Rock this week, Tracy Jordan - 'I'm a high-functioning alcoholic,' superb. It must be said, Tina Fey's writing rocks.

Yesterday evening, Gail and I walked the labyrinth at St. Paul's church in downtown Vancouver. I found it a wonderful thing to do on a Friday evening, I got to see Gail's new house and neighbourhood and we had a glass of wine when we got back. Most convivial.
Unlike the one at our church, St. Paul's labyrinth is inside, and is on a wooden floor, so you are asked to take your shoes off. The ambience was perfect for meditation - candles and gentle, evocative music. It was incredibly relaxing for me.

Coming back from Gail's, I followed an SUV, convinced the driver was completely drunk as he rolled from one lane to another, and drove down the middle at some point. The red lights at one of the intersections meant I had to draw up beside him and lo! Yes, you guessed correctly, on his phone. Twat.

This morning I had to go into town, and made a detour via Old Navy. I was taken by surprise by the entire Obama family standing just inside the doorway. Turned out they were only mannequins, but I assume the resemblance was deliberate.

Afterwards, we went to Dykea, we even had a legit reason for doing so, we needed a couple more dining room chairs. The Dykea dykes however, were not playing nicely. Kevin and I waited patiently for them to finish testing out all the ones we wanted to test, then just as we thought we were cleared for landing, they whisked away the ones we wanted to sit upon, so that they could try them out at a table.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

St. George and the Heron

St. George's day and St. George's College arrived at the Park twice today for programmes. They were a delight, and they arrive in a bus with a Knight's head on it. Class.

As I finished clearing up afterwards, I saw the heron, huge, with flapping pterodactyl flight, coming in low over the pond.

The photographers seem to have changed guard. Now the Japanese have arrived. They appear to have more respect for personal space than the previous crew, they don't stand outside our office windows like Paparazzi. remember those Second World War films with Japanese officers cracking the whip, where the soldier has trousers like jodhpurs and a peaked cap with a tea towel trailing down the back of the neck? Well they're back and frankly, when I catch sight of them standing there, it gives me a shiver.

Somewhere, in a boardroom in Switzerland, marketing people sit around wondering how to amuse our bouches with new and exotic chocolate flavours. Not so long ago we had Lindt Excellence with chilli. And it was good. Yesterday I found Lindt Excellence with Fleurs de sel and I thought, surely, they're having a laugh, they're messing with me, they're taking the piss they're...and then it was in my shopping trolley. And it was REALLY good.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Closed Minds and Hearts

On Friday, someone abandoned a dog at the Park. Tied him or her up to the railing and left. It wasn't obvious at first, because there are numerous signs saying that dogs are not allowed in the Park because it is environmentally sensitive, so quite possible a person could have tied up their dog and gone for a walk, odd, but possible.
By the time anyone realised what was going on, the dog had chewed through the lead it was tied with, and run off. I thought it was unbelievable enough when I found the abandoned guinea pig, but a dog....

Our church has been used as a homeless shelter during the extreme weather we have had this year. It is now the only designated homeless shelter in the city, the Sally-Anne, which was used only for men, is now to be just for transients. But the City refuses to build a shelter, because......the city councillors refuse to believe there is a problem. When invited to the church to see the homeless sleeping there during the snow, they wouldn't come. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Now we have to think onwards towards next winter.

My friend Margaret had a white chocolate 'Last Supper' that she'd been given. Somehow none of us wanted to eat one of the Apostles.

I received an e-mail from Ikea who are just increasing in awesomeness. They are now no longer even going to sell plastic bags, starting tomorrow, Earth Day. They rock so hard. More stores should follow suit.

Monday, 20 April 2009


I know it's the same bloody tree, but there's a bumble bee in it for heaven's sake!
And this afternoon has been full of heavenliness and nature. The sun is shining, the blossom is falling like snow and I watched a hummingbird collecting cattail fluff from the pond to line its nest. I've never seen that actually happening before.

'Low Sunday' yesterday - the Sunday after Easter, only the grey army turn out for church. Oh, and me of course.

We have been greatly enjoying the new TV series based on the books - which I've always meant to read and never gotten around to - 'The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency'. Loving it!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Labyrinth and Regeneration

Labyrinth and Regeneration.

Yesterday evening was book group, and we had read a book called 'Regeneration', by Pat Barker. It was a fascinating book for several reasons. Firstly, it was one of those books that was based on a true story. A psychiatrist, in the early days of the science - during the First World War in fact, was treating some of the poets that you do at school when you do - yes, First World War poets. The patients were Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves.
The writing itself was interesting, because there was a slightly clipped tone to it, a succinctness, and yet not that impoverished style of some authors.
Something that was thought-provoking to me however, was the assertion on the front cover of the book, a quote from the Boston Globe, that it was a powerful piece of anti-war writing. No it wasn't. It gave us an account of just a few of the absolute horrors of that particular war, and one of the characters is against that particular war, but the author herself gives us no judgement, and the man who thinks the war is poorly managed, is nonetheless, determined to go back.
What was most compelling about the book, in my opinion, was the history of psychiatric treatment. It was also an easy, smooth read, lovely writing and an account of men's minds through the eyes of a woman.

This morning, for the first time, I walked the Labyrinth at our church. I was fascinated by this too, but hadn't known quite what to do, or to expect, so I was eager to attend the workshop.It was illuminating. And the experience of walking the Labyrinth, amazing. There were around twenty of us, and I would have expected that the more people walking at the same time, the less effective, but the opposite was true. It was like a metaphor for like, everyone lost in their own thoughts and looking down to follow the path, passing each other, aware of other people, in constant movement, at one moment on one side of the circle, then over the other side. You felt that you were part of a machine, and yet you felt you were entirely alone. I can't wait to do it again.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


The return of the heron. What a bruiser. He/she was at the Park all day, picking off some poor creatures from the pond. Late in the afternoon I noticed that someone had thrown up royally over the handrail on the bridge, until I realised that it was actually projectile poo ejected from the arsehole of the mighty heron.

Meanwhile, the forest part of the bog-forest is positively heaving with sexual activity. To young children, we euphemistically refer to this as 'boys looking for girlfriends' - it being always the male who has to advertise. This afternoon, I pointed out a Cooper's Hawk sitting in a tree. The children were easily able to see her.
Then another swooped down, 'Oh look,' said I, 'another hawk is going to perch on....ah....right, moving on....' Hawk sex doesn't look like much fun, just swift and brutal, but no doubt it does the job.

Nicolas Sarkozy has been mouthing off about all the other prefects. But here's the thing - he's an equal opportunities slagger. You might have expected him to have dealt with Angela Merkel in the usual way that women are dealt with - diss her clothes and sex appeal, but no! Sarko treats her just the same as all the boys. Nicely played Gaulois!

Watching 'Bones', I always thought David Boreanaz was quite tall, and in fact he is at 6'1". But next to Stephen Fry, he looked weedy. I love this show, but Fry's too good for it.

My friend R e-mailed me that the hockey team from her city were playing the hockey team from ours. She thought this might not have got through my sports' filter, and true, the finer details hadn't.
This morning however, even my filter was breached, since in the less than half hour that we watch the TV news in the morning, we had two goal by goal accounts of the match.
The Canucks won. Got it.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Secret Garden Walls

A friend of mine, who has studied some form of Buddhism in Japan, has shown me that one should observe the movement of the mind, not judge it. I find this a fascinating activity, quite engaging in fact, as I watch my own mind drift from subject to subject, in and out like a fish darting through seaweed.

At work, a pair of hawks are building a nest in the pine trees at the front of the car park. Quite appropriate really, this is not far from the spot where cars park for their occupants to steam up the windows and do whatever it is they do in there until we call the RCMP.
The male hawk is in fact the one who builds the nest, the female watches haughtily from a leafless birch tree whilst he ferries twigs across to the nest. On the ground beneath them a backbone and tiny skeleton of a meal now consumed.

'Over the sooted, secret garden walls,
As in another Eden, cherry blossom falls...' I can't remember whose poem that is, but it's called 'London Spring' and we learnt it at school.
Here, the blossom on the flowering trees is just starting. Another of Vancouver's glorious moments is when the ornamental cherry trees flower, another Eden.

Half past eight, 20.30, only now am I closing the blinds, drawing the curtains, the last kiss of the sun on the mountains.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday began at 5.30 for me - there was a sunrise service for all the churches in the area at Gary Point. We had a seal join us. It was cold, windy and lashings of ..... rain. Afterwards we went back to our church, which was hosting this year, and had breakfast.

Yesterday evening, we had a service that started outside in the garden, where there was a sterling attempt to light the Paschal candle, but eventually it had to be relit inside the church, and we all held candles, which provided the only light for the first part of the service. There is something deeply spiritual about candles and chanting and bells and....stillness.

Kevin and I are not having our family Easter meal until tomorrow. Later today we will be visiting some friends and a couple of other friends will be there who are going back to England for keeps. I know they are happy about that decision, but Kevin and I will miss them.

One of our friends`wife died over this Eastertide. It was a short, sharp illness and really quite shocking in its suddenness. I keep thinking about that friend and wondering how such a loss can be endured.
There are times when prayer is all we have.
Hard times.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Good Friday

Maybe I did the same thing last Good Friday, but I'm not going to look, and that way, I'll know if my beliefs change and grow from year to year.

So here, if anyone's bothered, is my Credo. Yes, I know that's tautology, since credo means 'I believe'.

I believe in God who is neither male nor female, who embodies all perfections, but without an actual body and who may or may not be the Prime Mover, but if yes, then did no more than light the blue touchpaper and started evolution and such like.

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was an extraordinary Jew who was born of two earthly parents, whose mother was not married when she got pregnant, and who must have had her own very supportive parents who helped her through, and whose intended, Joseph, stepped up and did the right thing, even though he may not have been the biological father.

I believe that those parents and grandparents, somewhere along the line, realised they had a very special lad on their hands and the Jewish community in Galilee must have thought so too, because somehow, he was educated in their ways.

I believe that the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth were both extraordinary and ordinary in that they took a direction in which the Pharisees of the time were already headed, erasing the difference between the sacred and the profane and allowing ordinary Jewish people to have far more responsibility for their own rituals and care of their faith, Jesus pushed this further, right out amongst the people. He took the community's pre-existing strengths, such as community itself, caring for others, feeding others, teaching and sharing, and he preached about the underlying essence of it, he made those qualities the most important part of the faith.

I believe that Jesus was the son of God in the way that all of us are sons and daughters of that God.

I believe that he was charismatic and assembled an entourage of ordinary men and women. Very ordinary.

I believe he included the one more educated member of his group, Judas Iscariot, in his own plans to fulfil the prophecies of the Jews because he believed in the future of Judaism.

I believe that Pontius Pilate did not want to execute him, but he also had a prefecture to run. He had to do the dirty work of the Sadducees so that Passover would go smoothly without the feared disruption. I also believe that in telling them that he had written what he had written and that he wouldn't change, 'King of the Jews', he was saying something about the impact Jesus had made, even on the Romans.

I believe that crucifixion is a horrifying death and that Jesus could have avoided it.
I believe that his mother suffered appallingly.
I believe that the world was changed by that death and by the testimony of his followers, but I don't believe that God needed the death of a human to propitiate the sins of humanity.
I believe that the crucifixion focuses us on the teachings of Jesus and it is from these that we learn right from wrong.

I believe that through Baptism and through the act of communion from the Last Supper, John the Baptist and Jesus, gave us all the opportunity to be part of the faith. Baptism replaced circumcision as the covenant of faith and the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine passes the responsibility for continuing the faith to us all.

I believe that Christian Faith is strengthened by acknowledging the ordinariness of Jesus rather than the supernatural and that we make ourselves ridiculous when we get too far away from that.

But hey, that's just me.

Thursday, 9 April 2009


Maundy Thursday - best Thursday of the year, it's like a Friday. Fab.
I must have missed the Queen distributing the Maundy Money, or maybe it's just not news anymore.

I'm looking forward to just not having to get up, and eating turkey and drinking wine. Oh, and going to my place(s) of womanly worship several times.

Kevin investigated the French netbook mystery and discovered that in fact, the OS had been set as French. Future shop exchanged it and all is now well.

So, to counteract Sienna Miller undermining other women, here's Jo Brand being...well, Jo Brand.
Loving it.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Coolness and Hotheads

We're planning for the summer at Schloss Schneewittchen. Austen, Sue and the grandkids have now booked their tickets and will be arriving as soon as term finishes at the end of July.
This is cause for extreme levels of excitement.
And like I said, planning.

We have had sunshine and warm temperatures and it has been fine. The hummingbirds have been aggressively buzzing each other, the males are feisty little fellas who protect their territory like Napoleon defending Paris - only more successfully.
The photographers, they of the $10K cameras, have also almost come to blows today. It's weird and a little creepy. They all line up with their big old pointy lensed penis extensions trained on the bird-feeding area, those are the ones who came to blows (almost) today, but then there are others who look as though they are focussed on our office windows, due to the fact that the hummingbird feeders are outside our windows, as is a white currant bush in flower - much visited by said birds.
I feel paparazzi-ed.

One of my other lads, the one who lives here, has bought a new notebook. Very nice it is too, and a bloody good price. The particular one was in Future Shop for one price for the black or white version, but $30 more for the red.
'If you want the red,' said I to he, deliberately whilst the salesperson was still in earshot, 'we'll have to get it at Best Buy, it's the same price as the other colours there,'
Without missing a heartbeat, the salesperson was back at my side offering to sell it at the same price.
Now however, my boy has pressed something on installation (Canada: French instead of Canada : English) and the OS is now showing up in French. Now I always felt I spoke French until I had to plough through Windows' French. Still, on the other hand, I've more or less had to learn Windows' English as a separate language. I've changed everything offered to me as a language change and yet it remains stubbornly French.
Ah well.
That'll learn him.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Iron in the Soul

Must have some iron in the soul.
Been listening to Metallica, and there is something very stirring about 'Unforgiven'. Oh well, just Metallica in general then.
I passed over Nirvana, just not in the mood for deep and meaningful.
Currently I have Pink playing, so there's a certain amount of difficulty typing.

Last Sunday, in church, we had the return of the 'The Bible never claimed to be a Science textbook' priest. Passion Sunday. He hit the Krazy Kristians - the ones who could just as easily be Muslim Fundamentalists. [Generally they don't listen to the teachings of Jesus, just use the 'Jesus-code'. The Jesus-code ignores all real meaning and uses catchphrases containing the word 'Jesus' to justify anything they do. They don't see that Jesus was a Jew and that Christianity is really Judaism-lite.] All in square brackets is my opinion, not his.

Anyhoo...the iron in the soul...he was setting up a visualisation of Palm Sunday (tomorrow) the Roman army approaching Jerusalem from the west, coming as a show of force to quell any Passover misbehaviour that might occur. And from the East, this raggle-taggle bunch of lowly-born (apart from Judas Iscariot) Jewish men and women, with one riding on an ass. At the end of the week, the ones from the west would have killed the leader of the ones from the east, and set in motion a world-changing set of events.
A potent visual.
But I keep thinking about that disciplined, uniformed Roman army, marching in formation. Must be from watching too many films.
In spite of what the Romans brought to their prefectures, crucifixion was an evil way of executing someone.

Rammstein now, 'Eins, hier kommt die Sonne......' I love their ability to just sing the most mundane lyrics in German and it stirs....something.....

Friday, 3 April 2009

Flora, Madge, Chelle.

Crikey, is it Friday already? How'd that happen? It seemed as though it had been Wednesday all week, then suddenly, bingo, Friday.
Mustn't grumble.

The weather - constant preoccupation - is now brightening up and we're promised a warm and sunny weekend. Monday, the temperature is set to reach 18º.

I was very happy to hear that this season I will be fashionable, since the style will be 'crumpled chic'.
I must say, that reminded me a bit of Colin and Justin's 'Home Heist' in which the first thing they have to do before designing anything, is to give it a name. Once you have named your design, it just creates itself.

My storytelling must now be rather convincing. During the 'Signs of Spring' programme, I tell of Flora, the Explorer, who stops under a fictional 'Bunjeebap Tree' whose sap is green and sparkly. I produce a small bottle filled with water sparkles. Three times this week I have been asked by adults on the trip if the sap is real. I'm sure there must be a more profitable outlet for my newly found lying skills.
Politics perhaps.

Presumably, Michelle Obama will now have to be executed for High Treason. I believe that Capital Punishment is still technically legal in the UK, but only for High Treason. I also believe that High Treason encompasses the wearing of the Union Flag as knickers, and interfering with the persons of the Royal Family. Hugging the Queen must be in there somewhere. Ah well, sayonara Mrs. O, you never did quite make it in the fashion stakes.

Couldn't Madonna just shell out for some head shrinkage instead of annoying the government of Malawi? I kind of do admire her for her bizarre adoption attempts, but I most certainly don't get her.
But then I'm sure that doesn't really bother her.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Grocer

From blustery to Wellie weather. And everyone else around here got snow mixed in with their cold, pounding rain. I try to be even more hyper whilst trying to deliver a programme entitled 'Signs of Spring' because it's hard not to notice a lack of springfulness.

As I came back from the hairdresser's, through Zellers, my eye rested for a moment on a flimsy, black, buttonless jacket. It felt like voile. Then I noticed a label on it that said, 'This garment is not a swimsuit'. How useful, I thought, and how could anyone EVER think it was.
I felt it was in the same class of 'duh!' statements as the one they show as 'Bones' begins, 'May contain graphic, forensic content'. I should bloody well hope so.

My history reading has now gotten me to times I actually remember, and yet remember the surface of. The days of constant swapping back and forth between Labour and Tory parties in power, Wilson and Heath. And then there was the scandalous leader of the Liberal Party, Jeremy Thorpe, a 'notorious homosexual'. Well, clearly not that notorious, I seem to remember it coming as a bit of a shock. Then Jim Callaghan, ex-pupil of Mayhem, long before it was Mayhem of course, in those days it was Northern Grammar. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

My least favourite of all these was Ted Heath. A Tory, so he didn't score very highly with me politically, but that wasn't it. If he was a character in a play, he would be an unsympathetic character. And it seems it wasn't just me, Andrew Marr portrays him as exactly that. A Premier that no-one particularly liked. He describes him as friendless.
Yet he was friendless because he was the first to occupy such a position who wasn't part of the Old Boys' network. He wasn't from an upper middle class background, he broke through the barriers.
Hmmm....interesting, never thought of any of them in that way.

And then....I remember this happening, but in a million years wouldn't have seen how amazing it was. In a government driven by anti-immigration public feeling, with Enoch Powell constantly rotweilering him and with a recently introduced piece of immigration legislation that was basically colour-biased, against all criticism, when Idi Amin came to power in Uganda, Ted Heath had 28,000 Ugandan Asians airlifted out of Uganda and brought to Britain.
Hell I hate it when you find out the people you dislike are just human.