Monday, 31 August 2009

The Times They Have a-Changed

'k, so being a dog owner has changed since the sixties. Back when I were a lass, you got your dog with a ten bob donation to the RSPCA, you fed it either PAL (Prolongs Active Life) or Pedigree Chum ('the one dog-breeders recommend') or something else that contained Marylebone jelly, there were no injections, but you battled with fleas throughout the dog's life, and you de-wormed it once in a blue moon. You bathed it when it had fallen in some body of water that contained a significant smelly-mud content.
If it misbehaved, you said, 'Bad dog!' and if it did its business where it shouldn't, you had to rub their nose in it. Oh, and of course, they pooped on the pavement where it would lie until it became white.
Our dog, Spot, was such a dog, as, later, was Ben. (The dog, not the son, although that one did throw my mother).

Nowadays, you have to audition for a breeder to even sell you the pup, then you have to select from 30 or 40 different scientifically concocted foods, get it inoculated against a whole range of things, one of which (distemper) did actually exist back in the 60s, you have to clip its claws, defrag its ears, modulate the Heisenberg's condensers, oh, no, sorry, went off track there, clean its teeth, de-worm it weekly until it's old enough to only be done monthly, bathe it regularly with oatmeal dog shampoo (well, that may be just me to be fair), pick up its plopsies and put them in a bio-degradable plastic bag, give it 'crate training' and learn how to think like a dog, because you are the head of its pack.

I certainly shouldn't have been surprised about the last bit, since my sister has had dogs for many years and has done all that alpha-dog training bit.

Of course, although I sound like I'm making fun of it, I'm not, I know that thinking has improved and progressed, dogs are generally healthier, and small children less likely to go blind from playing in a park.

But then there are the slew of things that deserve to have fun made of them. I was nonplussed when someone at church showed up with a small poochie in a contraption that looked like a child's pushchair-cum-senior's shopping trolley. Wtf???? thought I,
In the pet store, there were little box-shaped handbags for carrying your accessory-dog à la Paris Hilton, numerous toys of every shape and size, sparkly things, bejewelled things, jackets, boots, special bags for taking your dog on an aeroplane as hand-luggage, oh, well that one's sensible I suppose, and dog life jackets.
'Pshaw!' I said to Kevin.
'What?' he said back,
'Life jackets for dogs!'
'Well ours is going to have to have one,'
'Dogs can swim,'
'So can you, but you can't get in the kayak without a life jacket. Same for a dog, if that boat tips over, he would be disorientated just the same as you would, the life preserver will bring him back up to the surface so that he can actually DO the doggie paddle,'
'Ah, yes, hmm...well, that does make sense.'

Tail between legs.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


Mesdames, Messieurs, je présente....Whisky.

So here's the story of the dog.

I needed a reason to peruse the pet section in Ikea, so we bought a dog.

Not really.
Kevin has wanted a dog for the longest time, but I didn't, so we didn't. Then at some point this summer, it hit me like a delayed thunderbolt, that Kevin REALLY wanted a dog, and that he hadn't pushed it because I hadn't wanted one, so that made me feel a whole lot of stuff, but the end result was that I realised, we should get a dog.
Is there a thread in there somewhere?
To me there is.

So we started looking. I would look at the local papers and he looked at the animal rescue centres' websites. He didn't have a clear idea of what type of dog he wanted, but we both knew which we didn't want, and the animal shelters were full of them - pit bulls and rottweilers.

We had narrowed it down more to dogs we didn't want.
Size - neither accessory nor Bugblatter beast.
No breed that had impaired breathing or the inability to lap water on its own. In fact, it seems the current trend here is to get crosses that give rise to breeds with strange new names, and which avoid problems that pedigree dogs frequently have.
Labradoodles, Maltipoos - which gets mis-spelt by the non-native English speakers to 'Multipoos'.

On one of our expeditions to North Vancouver, we were taken by a small to medium sized dog with a pleasant temperament, the owner said it was a 'Shishon or Zuchon' - ie a cross between a Bichon Frisé and a Shit!Sue! - both breeds we would have avoided.

So I kept my eye on the local ads. Puppies go quickly. We rang up for some Wheaten Terriers, all gone.

On Thursday, I saw an ad for a litter of Zuchons. I rang, and they hadn't all gone. Friday I went to see them and picked one out, Saturday I picked our puppy up.

Let the games begin.

Friday, 28 August 2009

The Old Curiosity Shop

Dolores O'Riordan (not pictured here) has been on our radio a lot recently. She used to be with The Cranberries, but has now made a solo album. I can't say I was ever a fan, apart from that one song, Zombie.
But since she's been on the radio a lot recently, I have been trying to analyse what exactly it is about the southern Irish accent from around Cork that makes some of them so incomprehensible.
Dolores has one of those accents. She would pronounce 'Irish' as 'Oirish'.
At first I thought it was because they barely pronounce the consonants. Then the next time she spoke I realised that in fact, most of the vowel sounds were completely different from the way anyone else pronounces them.
So, just to recap, I've narrowed it down to just the vowels and the consonants.
Dolores did, I must say, do a superb 'unplugged' version of Zombie for CBC.

Ok, so as promised, the curious world of feminism according to Schnee.
Firstly, I have been reading books. Old books.

Alex got me to buy and to read 'The Awakening' by Kate Chopin. It seems so gentle and subtle, but the feminist message in it, of the awakening of a woman to how restricted her life is because women at the time were regarded as some sort of accessory to their husbands, and her casting off of this role, was so revolutionary that the book ended her writing career.

And I had meant for a long time to read Mary Wollstonecraft's 'Vindication of the Rights of Woman', which I have obtained from the Book Depository, but that's not it. I also have, and am reading, her 'Maria and the Wrongs of Woman', which is fiction, but with a very heavy feminist message. Bear in mind that she died in 1797. I think what I am finding the most fascinating about this book though, is the history, because it's not someone from our own age looking back and writing about the conditions, it's someone who was actually around at that time, so it's real. Dire, but real.

I was amazed at how the theme of the first book, The Awakening, was similar to the theme of the film, (500) Days of Summer, described here as 'a masterpiece of passive-aggressive misogyny.'

The National Lottery fund in Britain has awarded 400,000 pounds to a charity that combats homophobic bullying.
So who could possibly object to that?
Oh, well, the same bunch of self-righteous pricks who object to the EU trying to promote gender-neutral language. Why yes, Tories! (Bet you thought I was going to say Jeremy Clarkson huh?) Like Clarkson, they hate 'political correctness'.

So, again to recap, passive-aggressive misogyny has survived intact and the Tories may be the party of Britain's future, but they are still, ooh, to be fair, more not at all passive, just aggressive misogynists and homophobes.
Business as usual then.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Starfish and Coffee

That's the name of the photo, and of course of the Prince song, that my grandkids love the most. Doesn't everyone have a favourite Prince song?

One of the first things that made me laugh when I got here - along with the constantly amusing use of the word 'beaver' and the pronunciation of 'Gouda' - was the fact that there are speeches from the throne.

Now I sometimes assail Kevin with my wisdom from the throne too, but in general I feel this is an event that can only be shared with your partner and possibly your children when they are very small.

Stephen Harper has no such modesty, he shares his with the country, heck, it's probably even televised.
I shudder.

On the wall in my main floor throne room, I have a postcard with a loo brush on it, and the phrase, 'Memoiren einer Klobürste' who is saying, 'es war nicht alles scheisse'.
I know what you're thinking, must have been after the spelling reforms.
Anyroad, turns out the bog brush was right, because this time it wasn't all shit. BC have been told to clean up their act, quite literally. Our garbage needs to be reclaimed, and we're not going to be allowed to just dump it somewhere else.

One of the things I have been missing out on since being here, is granary bread, and it's not one of those things that someone can just bring out for you. We have a lot of approximations, but until recently, not the real thing, and it has to be the real thing because it doesn't disturb my tum.

But now, I have found the real McCoy in Save-On.

Yes, of course there's a minor aggravation involved.
Save-On is a lovely supermarket, but somewhere in its echelons it has an illiterate in a position whose main function is to provide wordage.
They had a 'tin vegetables' aisle. Whether it was because said functionary read my blog, or because customers were staying away from the tin veggies in their droves, we will never know, but the sign disappeared and was replaced with something containing the word canned or tinned.

So, the granary bread, is called such because the malted grains are allowed to start to germinate on the floor of the granary.
But Save-On are calling their bread 'grainery bread'. Yes, of course you don't recognise that word spellchecker, because there is no such word.
No, it's not the North American word for granary, it's simply a non-existent word.
I suppose it's up to me to tell them again.

What's going on in the world of feminism? I hear you ask.
Tell you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Pink Ashes

God bless the Prince of Wales.
Seriously, that came out of nowhere.

This, however, didn't.
One of my fave blogs, The F-Word, pointed me firmly in the direction of a post on a science blog that questions whether girls really like pink. And it's something I question myself. In some ways, I want it to be a non-issue, we have taken the step from wanting girls to be allowed to do 'boy stuff' as well if they want to, to saying, well, actually, we should value 'girlie' things as much as we value boy stuff, so if girls want to be fluffy and wear pink, we shouldn't think that's bad, we should realise it's as good as wearing blue.
But this is interesting, because she does make some valid points about how girls are simply swamped in pinkness from the get-go and are made to associate it with their femininity, and I can't pretend that it doesn't bug me when the 'ladies' version of anything, laptop, razor, mobile phone, mini-Cooper are always pink.
On t'other hand, I am sitting here typing this wearing pink.

And on the subject of pink...or rather, not pink at all, but sexist language again, which in my books is blue, I was reminded by a post on Sleepy's blog of how language determines how we think.
In Britain, until we suddenly were kicked in the breeches and were made to see how racist we were, everyone always used to refer to the corner shop as 'the Paki shop'.
In fact, long after we got with the programme, many kids of the more socio-economic D-E class, would refer to all Asians, and sometimes, the darker-skinned Italians, as Pakis.
And of course, the whole of Pakistan, without exception, is Muslim, ergo.....

In March of this year, the EU issued a booklet to member states, advising them that they should be using gender-neutral language, that for manning, they should be using staffing, for chairman, chairperson etc., all standard stuff.
But they also reminded people, that using titles such as Miss and Mrs. was discriminatory towards women and that what they should use is.......people's names! Yes, imagine that!
Three (male) Tory MEPs were furious, they demanded that the EU should not only withdraw the leaflet, but apologise for it.
Of course, it made them look like wankers too. And out-of-date even for wankers.

England won the Ashes. I forgot to mention that.
No, no, stay with me on this.
And of course, that's good, particularly because......
To put the English team off their stroke, in the middle of the play against Australia, the Aussies produced some kind of publication that dished the dirt on every man* in the English team.
Not really cricket what?
But England still won.
AND... a spokesperson for the English team afterwards pointed out that naturally the English had similar information on every man* in the Australian team, but that they'd of course, never publish it, because.... it wouldn't be cricket.

*When I was at school, one of our PE teachers who came for a term, had played for the English women's team, and English women's cricket continues to outplay every other country, so we got to play cricket for a term, but mostly, I have to confess, cricket to me means drinking Pimms whilst the sun gently sets to the sound of leather on willow, and I mean that in the real sense, not just the advertising sense.
And yes, I also guess that most of the countries England plays cricket against, involves women with rather restrictive dress codes, but c'mon, Australia, I mean, those women are FORMIDABLE!!!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sons and Others

Sunday. Huh. Still quiet. Dull headache. Blood of Christ, aliens, vampires.

My friend M preached a GREAT sermon. She showed us how, when Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, give your undergarment to the person who is suing you for your overshirt and go the extra mile, he was showing us ways of challenging what is wrong, not accepting it. She told us that the word 'resistance' in the passage, is undertranslated, the Greek word means to stand against, and is used to denote the clash of two armies. So instead of fighting fire with fire, we should be more subversive.
The slap on the right cheek can only be a slap with the back of the right hand. When you face someone, to slap their right cheek, you would have to use your left hand. Jewish society of the time did not permit the use of the left hand. A slap with the back of the hand was from a person with higher status to someone lower, and couldn't be repeated, it would be meaningless, like repeating a joke. So, to turn the other cheek, is to show that you don't accept the slap. It's a way of standing up to the wrong.
The taking off of the undergarment in the presence of someone who has sued you for your coat, humiliates them so intensely, not you, that they would think twice before going down that route again.
The Roman military had rules that were so strictly adhered to, that if, as a civilian, you were told to carry the soldier's pack a mile, you would do just that, and the soldier would know absolutely, that you would drop that pack off at the one mile mark.
Mess with their heads.

My friend Andrea is the global relations co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada and is in Jerusalem at the moment.

Top line from tonight's 'True Blood', Lafayette - 'Just because Jesus and I agreed to see other people, doesn't mean we don't talk from time to time.'
Lafayette rocks.

This afternoon we went to see 'District 9'. It's very thought-provoking. It was also very headache inducing, or more....increasing, the cinema was packed, even in the middle of the afternoon, so we were in the front row. Now I remember why I never go to see films until everyone else has. Still, it was good, and nice that it was set in Jo'burg, and the actors were not big names, at least not over here.

Friday, 21 August 2009


Parting is NOT sweet sorrow, no, forget that sweet bit.
I miss Teddy's voice, Holly's smile, Ellie's havoc. All the little shoes have gone, as has Marmaduke, the most cuddled toy cat.
Shucks, Superstore offered fewer shopping opportunities.
But, they got back without incident, plane took off on time, landed early and they managed to get on an early train. Too early. Austen had pre-booked tickets for off-peak, but with three overtired small children and three large suitcases, he and Sue were unwilling to wait for over an hour. Plus, the train pulling in was a rare direct one.
Determined to pay the additional charges, they got on. The ticket inspector read the tickets very thoroughly. He looked at his watch. He re-read the tickets. Then he gave them back to him and went on his way. Excellent man. There should be a word to denote the opposite of a Jobsworth.

Meanwhile, back at the empty Schloss, Kev and I caught up on some TV viewing. We have been watching the new series 'Hung' with half attention, you know, so far it has been one of those programmes you can keep one eye on whilst doing something else. And then Rhea Perlman appeared. Watching Rhea Perlman is like watching someone with barely hidden devilment, you're just waiting for it to break out.

Can't wait to see District 9.

Germaine Greer, writing in the Graun, has highlighted another of those little problem areas for gender politics. The unhappy case of Caster Semenya, a gold-meadal winning athlete who is having to undergo tests to prove that she is a woman. In sport, which is the test of the physical, it must be that women compete with women and men with men, and therefore it has to be allowable that either can be called to prove their gender, in exactly the same way that sportspeople can and should be tested for performance enhancing drugs. But as ever, of course, Caster has been pilloried and poked at by anyone and everyone who think they have some right to demean her. To my mind, that alone proves she's a woman.

Plans are underway for next summer. My friend Dawn and I are going to Alaska and I am already looking forward to it. We have to decide whether we are going to go a few days early to visit Denali National Park and either before or after the trip, I'm hoping that Dawn will be able to spend some time here for the BC experience.

And I go back to work on the 14th September.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


Crazy times, and we have spent much of it on and north of the North Shore.
Monday we went to Whistler - the slow way, stopping at Whytecliffe Park and Shannon Falls, with lunch at Squamish.
Austen and Sue, and even Laurence, were just stunned by the beauty of the sea to sky highway, and Kevin and I were stunned by the progress on the pre-Olympic improvements. We didn't get back until ten.

We had planned to go south again on Monday evening, but those plans were changed for us and instead we went to the Capilano suspension bridge then on to Lynn Canyon - where there is another suspension bridge and more gratuitous beauty.

Today we had a last kayaking excursion to Deep Cove and ended staying the day. Tomorrow we'll be at YVR seeing Austen, Sue and the kids off. Deep sorrow. And I don't know where the time has gone, I truly don't.

I must get back to my random acts of feminism, only maybe less random and more guerilla-like.
Alex is in Vienna.
Ben is holed up in a garret in Woking. I keep reminding him he can come back.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


We went kayaking and rowing on Deer Lake today. Whilst I would have said I'd only ever done the Noddy version of kayaking anyway, I'd have been wrong, THIS was the Noddy version. Hell, we were even sharing the lake with pedalos.

This actually happened, this was actually said.

Young man working in the kayak rental hut, to Susan and me, with Austen back behind us.

'Which boat would you guys like?'
'We're not guys,'
'Isn't he with you?'
'We're not guys,'
'Is he with you?'
'Yes, but we're not guys,'

Seriously, I couldn't bear to ask. If we had one man with us, does that then make us men?

Later, the young woman working there,
'Do you guys...?'
'We're not guys,'
'No, but it's what I say,'
'It's sexist,'
'I know it's sexist,'
'Well then don't call us guys, if you know it's sexist, don't do it,'
'But it depends on your culture, some cultures are matriarchal, ours is patriarchal,'
'That's the point, that's the whole point, it's not SUPPOSED to be patriarchal, it's supposed to be egalitarian,'

Jesus H Christ, I mean JESUS H CHRIST!!!!!!

Meanwhile, we are told that the Liberal Democratic party in Britain, have produced a Manifesto for women, real women in fact. It's a good start, but the article on the F-Word's website, reminds us of key points agreed upon by the Women's Liberation Conference in 1978, and I think it is still a good starting point.

1. Equal pay for equal work.
2. Equal education and job opportunities.
3. Free contraception and abortion on demand.
4. Free 24-hour community-controlled childcare.
5. Legal and financial independence for women.
6. An end to discrimination against lesbians.
7. Freedom for all women from intimidation by the threat or use of male violence. An end to the laws, assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance and men’s aggression towards women.

And let's face it, the 'assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance' are all upheld by sexist language.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Salmon and Cucumber

Alex left today. We went for a last brunch at the Cucumber Café, an odd place. It's like a diner that's trying to be a restaurant. There are too many people whose job is to just be there. The décor is retro kitsch somehow. But the food is good, and the staff were polite, and hey, it's not that far away.
But I'll miss my girl.

When I came back from the airport, we all went back to the Aberdeen Mall to see the Terracotta Warriors and the dancing fountains. We had Beard Papa cream puffs and managed to buy nothing in the Daiso store, so score really.

Yesterday, plans went awry. We had planned a kayaking trip, but we woke up to torrential rain, so we re-planned it to Science World, however I had promised Alex a final morning outing to Steveston, and by the time we got back, we realised that by now, we would be the idiotic people in the endless queue, so we went to UBC instead.

I see that the missing merchant ship with Russian crew, may or may not have been sighted off the coast of West Africa. I'd feel more amused by this, were it not that my father was in the merchant navy, and I can imagine the worry to the families of the crew members.

I wonder if someone will find our missing salmon. Going on four-year spawning cycles, we were expecting ten million sockeye this year, but in fact only one million have returned. Not only have the fishers been told they can't catch them, but even the First Nations.
At least everyone's in the same boat (no, not intended) this time.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Mountain Climbing

...however, not by me.

Monday - Vancouver Aquarium, shopping.
Tuesday - Recycling, Ice Age movie for the kids; shopping for Alex and me, family event evening.
Wednesday - Grouse Mountain.

The past few days have swept by insanely.
Weatherwise, Monday it deluged, Tuesday it picked up, today it was perfect for the Grouse Grind, which Alex, Kevin and Sue did. Austen and I took the kids up the mountain in the cable car.
[Alex is an angel. I love her.] - Guest Blogger, PepCougar wrote that.

The kids loved the mountain, and that includes the bigger kids. They loved the Lumberjack show, which I deplore and find about as entertaining as watching paint dry. They also loved the Raptor show, as did I, but by the end of it, I was all patronised out.

I see from the BBC's website, that Brits have been misusing their consulates around the world. Although the BBC reports that people are ringing up asking for weather reports and advice on dealing with unruly children, I think this was my favourite,

"One caller asked: "I'm making jam - what ratio of fruit to sugar shall I use?" "

Aung San Suu Kyi has been found guilty of ..whatever or however you would describe not knowing that a stranger was swimming the lake to your house to warn you he had a vision of your impending death. She has been placed under further house arrest for three years. The world responds with horror .... except China, like the disagreeable neighbour it always is.
Shitty, predictable, both the verdict and China's reaction, but nonetheless, shitty.

Monday, 10 August 2009

More Mormonising

Once the world is on a theme, it just rolls.
Last night, we watched Jonathan Ross - we're behind the UK, but not YEARS behind as with Graham Norton.
Rossie had the frontman of The Killers, Brandon Flowers on. He let us know the bloke was a Mormon and then let that drop, but carried on baiting him. First up, Flowers was wearing a stupid-looking jacket with pheasant feathers on the shoulders. When matey said they were pheasant feathers, Rossie just had that playful smile around his mouth, but totally desisted from mentioning pheasant pluckers.
Apparently, The Killers spend more time in the UK than in the USA and Flowers likes salt and vinegar crisps, in a sandwich with hummus.
'Humous,' corrected Rossie. 'The chocolate in the US is shit,' he went on,
'No, I like it,' said the Mormon Killer.
'Yeah, but it's shit,'
'I think it's OK,'
'Yeah, but you're wrong,' said Rossie, at which point, Flowers admitted he did prefer Cadburys.
Jonathan Ross, on top form and nudging his way back into my good books.

I was pleased to learn that homophobia doesn't exist. I'm sure all members of the LGBT community will be equally pleased. Although.....maybe not so much, because it's not that it has CEASED to exist, just that we were all mistaken about it in the first place.
What nits we are.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Terracotta Warriors

Rain! Rain! Lovely, ground-thirst quenching rain.

Alex and Laurence had finished yesterday by going to the cinema to watch GI Joe. Laurence was determined to see this, Alex went as a favour to her brother. When I collected them, Laurence had thought the film was shit, Alex had enjoyed every minute.

On Friday evening, Austen and Kevin had gone to watch the BC Lions again, in the hope that they might win this time, and at the very least, by having me drive them to the skytrain station, they could both drink.
The Lions won, and this, apparently, put the crowd in a very happy and mellow mood. They all sang 'wimoweh'.
This may seem obvious, your team wins, you are happy, and yet, and yet.....Austen couldn't help contrasting it with the sometimes appalling crowd behaviour of fans at football games at home.

Anyhoo, back at the ranch, Sue, Alex and I hunkered down to watch the film 'Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona'. I have to say it was an incredible film. It reminded me of a French film, where the camera shows you the behaviour of people and the way they behave and you, the viewer, interprets. Fabulous scenery too. Not one for the action film fan, but if you like a movie that makes you think, this is a good one.

This afternoon, Alex and I went shopping, to see if we could find the same T-shirt as Ben's favourite one, that mysteriously disappeared whilst he was here. We didn't find one.
Alex also made me go to the Aberdeen Mall - the Sino-Japanese dominated mall, where we found that the terracotta warriors had moved in.

And talking of moving in, my favourite programme, 'True Blood'. has a new vampire moving in. Perhaps rather a clichéd theme, but, according to AfterEllen, we're getting a lesbian vampire queen.
Who could want for more?

Tomorrow - the Aquarium.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Mum and Daughter Day

The family. The only one I don't recognise is me.

Today was designated as our mother and daughter day. Alex and I went to Havana for lunch, spent too much money at Ten Thousand Villages next door but one, and then trawled Ikea. All of which was greatly enjoyable.
I don't wish to diss the good work of Ten Thousand Villages at all, but I felt there was some kind of irony to their statement that 80% of the world's poverty is suffered by women, so 70% of the goods they sell is made by women.
The problem is that we already know that 80% of the world's work is done by women, so it would seem to me that the way to equalise the situation is to get men to do some of the work and then pay the women for it.

Late in the afternoon, when we had returned to the homestead, Mormons came to the front door. They proved to be inadequate sport.
Austen amused himself with them to start with, but then I thought,
'They've bloody well knocked on my front door, why shouldn't I get to be unpleasant to them? Alack and alas, I was not on form, and they turned out to be simply wooden robots with painted smiles.
'What is your church doing to combat misogyny and homophobia?' I asked. They looked confused. They asked what misogyny meant.
'Oh, we love women,' they said, 'women have a sacred task, to bear children.'
They probably wished they hadn't said that.
Then I moved on to homophobia. They didn't know what that meant either. Seriously, their brows wrinkled and after a few seconds said that they thought it meant homosexuality.
Having explained what homophobia was, I asked again what their church was doing to combat it.
They side-stepped the question, but assured me that they loved homosexuals (?!) but not the sin of homosexuality.
They probably wished they hadn't said that either.
I asked them if they thought Jesus considered homosexuality to be a sin.
Yes, they did think that.
I told them that the Jesus we knew from the Bible considered everyone to be equal.
'Ah...,'they said, 'but he did keep company with sinners,'
I asked them whether Jesus considered Gentiles to be sinners. Guess what? They had no idea what Gentiles meant.
I assured them that homophobia and misogyny were the sins, and hoped that they would meet the real Jesus at some point, but honestly, I felt that the whole thing had been pointless and that I had wasted ten minutes I'd never get back. I felt I should have had better sport with bigots who knocked at my door unsolicited, especially ones who dress in three-piece suits.

Last night, or maybe the night before, I dreamt I was preparing for a visit to my place of work, by Angela Merkel. Everything was ready, but the place was dirty, and however much I cleaned, the place stayed dirty. I'm sure there must be some significance.

In the Guardian, there is an excellent article by Tanya Gold, on how appallingly Harriet Harmon MP has been treated by the media over the past week. And true to form, the majority of comments are by complete trolls, many of the remarks being, wait for it, yes, misogynistic.

Friday, 7 August 2009


Mayne Island was quite spectacular - and educational.

We had to manage without plumbing (and TV). I don't know whether the island has mains water supply or whether it is just that the houses and cabins are so spread out that most of them have wells and sceptic tanks, but our friends' well had run dry - in their absence - and this had been helped along by the previous people who stayed, having had a freak toilet incident, which resulted in all the remaining water escaping. All the remaining bottled water had been used up, presumably flushing the loo.

We, being trained boy scouts and girl guides, had fetched water to flush with from the sea, used the bottled water we had brought, to wash hands and clean teeth only and we bathed by swimming. A grand time was had by all, especially the teenage one who played his guitar, smoked - whatever - and roasted marshmallows round the fire pit - which, given the lack of rain, we weren't even sure we should be using, but we had our trusty seawater on standby.

On the last day, we hired a double kayak for four hours and all took it in turns to go out and tame the waves. We saw beds of purple and silver starfish and scary-looking seaweed. The weather, which was supposed to have broken, was in fact sunny and warm and quite, quite perfect for kayaking.

We were all, however, on our return to the mainland, glad to be able to shower and wash our clothes, not to mention flush the toilet.
Odd how, all together in the cabin, and under drought conditions, able to easily adopt the Aussie, 'if it's yellow, let it mellow' philosophy of water conservation, but on our return, unable to extend the same at home. Difficult in any case, when across the road, people are still gratuitously watering the pavement.

Yesterday evening, our last supper before Ben's departure, we all went to Memphis Blues Diner on the Drive and sampled the Priscilla Platter. All, that is, bar Alex, who had generously stayed behind to sit on the kids.

And so my boy has returned to the UK today. A difficult parting.
Today has been spent washing clothes, tidying and getting Ben ready for departure. Afterwards, Alex and I mooched disconsolately round Steveston, then I took Kevin and Austen to the Skytrain station - thence to go to watch another BC Lions game.
The next adventure starts soon.
And I have just one more week with Alex.

Monday, 3 August 2009


Time Flies.

I am vexed, very vexed. We have suffered at the hands of vandals and this leaves me low.
Last night I noticed that four of our solar lights had been stolen from the front garden. Not the wizard's balls, and in fact the ones taken were just cheapies, but there was a sense of violation. Then this morning, more had been vandalised, the tops containing the solar cells and bulbs had gone. And this time, the vandals had come up the steps to get them. It makes me feel violent, and visualise blood and gore and guts and veins in m'teeth. Not sure where that's a quote from.

Whilst in my violent frame of mind, Ben made me watch 'Bronson', the story of Britain's most violent prisoner. It made me realise that you really do have to use violence to overcome violence and that some people are just wrong 'uns. Also, although I've always been against capital punishment, it made me think that some people just need to be put down like rabid pit bulls.

We missed Pride. This year we were determined to go, it's the biggest family street party in a city of many family parties. Alex and Ben were there and had a brilliant time.
I had been up and off to church early to make sure all went according to plan, if not smoothly. It did, but I was a bit languid afterwards, and lacked the motivation to do much. I think I would have missed most of it in any case by the time I got back.

Tomorrow, we're away to Mayne Island to stay in our friend's cabin. At present, with no rain for days, weeks, months, the well is dry, and the toilet broken. Fun all the way. It is supposed to be an incredible place though.
Watch this space.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Vicars and Dicks

Alex and Susie.

So, overheated life continues, but the ac is on top of things again now. I'm having difficulty remembering what I did today, but not because of overindulgence, more due to a confusing vicaring emergency.
Our vicar is on holiday and I am her warden. When she asked me to be her warden and I asked,
'Well, what does it entail?' she replied,
'Oh, nothing really, just see things in the same way I do,' and, in fact, I do see things the same way she does. I think she understated the job spec though.
The stand-in vicar for tomorrow, has had some kind of non-specific emergency, which I hope doesn't involve life or limb, she is a very nice lady, but at 20.30 on a Saturday, eh...seems like even priests and the elderly are out.
Oh, did I mention it's my job to authorise ..... anything that needs authorising, and to organise .... whatever needs organising. Fortunately, the secky is on the ball, and she organised me to organise...the other people.

Enough of this confusion.
Last night we went to see Richard the Second - and it was good, but for the fact that the cast had decided amongst themselves to pronounce the name 'Hereford' as 'Herford'. For some reason, they didn't think to ask the English Creative Director how to say it.
Now my take on this is that, whilst they may pronounce other words differently, the names of people and places need to be correctly said. It is ridiculous to have characters repeatedly proclaiming their love for England and yet clearly unfamiliar with the parts of that country.
But Austen has a different take on this. He pointed out, that for a bunch of Shakespearean actors, it's odd that none of them noticed that they were interfering with the iambic pentameter. Good point.
Nonetheless, it was well done, well performed and now I am anxious to see Henry the fourth, but will have to wait until next year.

And whilst on the Henries, I was amused to read in Pep's blog about the celebration of Henry the Eighth's coronation, that the denizens of Pompey processed along the road chanting 'Henners, Henners!' this tickled me in a toe-curling kind of way.