Friday, 29 January 2010

Picture it....

....YVR, the 18th February 2010, around 15.00 ish...maybe a bit, standing in International Arrivals with my medium cup of Tim Horton's coffee, double milk. I finish my coffee and move seamlessly through the multi-cultural crowd to throw my empty cup into the 'garbage only' side of the recycling bin.

Suddenly, I spot a familiar figure, I try to start a Mexican wave amongst the assembled throng, but they think I'm just a bit loony, so I shout something loudly in French to confirm it.

'Sleepy!' I shout, in slow motion, 'SLEEEPEEEY'.
I run forward, but then I trip over and end up full length on the arrivals carpet of shame. (Clearly my coffee has been spiked).

Anyhoo, hopefully minus the eejit bit, this'll be roughly the scenario next month.
As Sleepy would say, 'I've got my grin on!'

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Speaking the Lingo

Seth and the dog-child.

Fed up with hearing about inclusive language? Of course not,obviously.

Firstly, thinking back to the whole 'Ms' controversy, it seems that French women don't have an equivalent, and this doesn't make some of them happy. The only redeeming aspect is that the title, 'Madame' is generally used to all women after their mid-twenties, so why not just use it and nothing else ? Frankly, I think I'm tending ever more towards the, 'let's just get rid of titles' point of view.

Secundo, we've got the different levels. The 'in-yer-face' sexist lingo. 'You guys' falls into this category.
A term that is specific to one gender (I'm not a guy, guys don't breastfeed, a guys night out means women don't go), applied to both genders, straightforwardly sexist, - 101.
Then there are the made up feminised forms that have lesser status. Actor - gender free, actress, different, lower status meaning. (Which is why most women actors now don't use the term 'actress').
But there are some terms, like 'master' and 'fellow', that have come to have a male meaning attached to them, but in their original form, were gender-free.
'Fellow' - ORIGIN Old English, "a person who lays down money in a joint enterprise", from Old Norse, ‘property, money’.
And 'master' comes from the Latin, 'magister', meaning teacher. 'Salvete puellae!' our Latin teacher used to say, to which we would reply, in unison, 'Salve Magister!'.
The problem with 'Master' is twofold. Firstly, Latin was a gendered language in that gender was attached to words rather than the meanings of words. Thus, 'Nauta' and 'Poeta' (sailor and poet) were words in a feminine declension without having any particularly feminine meaning.
Magister was in a masculine declension, but had no masculine meaning attached.
But since 'Master' has had not just a male connotation, but a very dominant, patriarchal one, it is going to be difficult to reclaim.

Ok, had to get that out.

And sometimes, there's more than language. The other evening, I had to go to Shopper's Drug Mart late. So...late-night rush to the shops, what would you be wearing? And so was I - baggy jumper, jammie trousers, slippery shoes. Now recently, I have had the opportunity to observe a friend who is a pharmacist at work, and this isn't what she wears, thus I was surprised, and yet not, when a woman, whose sartorial choice made me believe she was a Muslim, came up to me and asked me where the aspirin was. We were standing fairly near the painkillers, to I looked along the shelf and pointed to it. But no, she wanted it for her child. I told her that I was pretty sure you weren't supposed to give aspirin to small children, and showed her the children's options, but tried to persuade her that at this point, she really needed to talk to the pharmacist.

Always happens, I must just have an aura of shop assistant about me.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Busy, Busy

I keep thnking it's Tuesday, and it turns out that it is.

Saturday, Anglican women's retreat, which may sound dull to some, but to me it's pure gold. Safe amongst the Feministi.

Sunday evening, Kevin's best friend, who, with his partner have become good friends of mine too, came to dinner and announced that they would be moving back to Ontario in the Spring. They're excited, we're pretty down about it. We want to be excited for them, but in fact, we feel dismal for ourselves.

Monday, Whisky's stitches came out, cone came off, and he had a bath. We have our happy little hound back.

Monday also was writers' group. An interesting conversation. The men in our group are ALL men I respect, and have a great deal of time for.
One of the women is writing a story about a woman in, I think, the fifties, who leaves her baby and husband and walks along the ice road until she arrives somewhere she isn't known.
Last night we were divided, men v women, the men all thought it completely unbelievable what the character had done, the women all thought it completely believable. Their reaction really made me think. On the way out, it occurred to me to wonder whether men in general, read books written by women. I mean, I have certainly borrowed a book written by a woman from one of the men in the group, but is this unusual? In the normal course of things would they read women writers?

Today, the church was open all day, a vigil to pray for Haiti. In the evening, a service, and I was asked to read a prayer in French, and in fact, to translate it. I would say that I 'interpreted' more than translated. When something is in poetic language, it's really all you can do, interpret the thoughts and images rather than render the exact words into the other language. But I like being in the church at night, and I like being there with candles and a small group of people.
It's odd.
My friend spoke about the people and places she visited in Haiti in November, and that made it real, but in general, even though, because of Canada's close ties with Haiti, it's on the TV all the time, I don't feel a great empathy. I don't want it to have happened, and I want the suffering of those people to be alleviated, but it doesn't touch my soul.
And yet one of the pieces of music that was played this evening was from Schindler's List, and even thinking very briefly about the Holocaust has me in tears, and thinking about it more than briefly is utterly unbearable, it can sink me into absolute despair.
So my prayers and my tears were for different things. I'm not sure it matters. I don't think either my tears or my prayers are of any great import.

And tomorrow's Wodin's day. Perhaps it'll bring some interesting-in-a-good-way news.

Friday, 22 January 2010


The eagles have landed. Ahead of time even - impressive. The dog is beside himself with canine energy - which is a definite improvement, but isn't enamouring him to Alex.

Today is 'Blog for Choice' day in the blogosphere. U.S. American bloggers are commemorating the landmark Roe v Wade case, decided on 22nd January 1973, which decision allowed American women the right to have an abortion for any reason up to the point where the foetus is viable.
Thirty seven years later, people are still trying to take reproductive rights away from individual women.
It is also the first day of the trial of the man who has confessed to murdering Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who upheld women's rights and improved their lives by providing legal, safe abortions.

And women have even fewer rights in Saudi Arabia - well, as we all know. But the case, reported by Feministing, of the Philippina woman who has been sentenced to 100 lashes for being raped, surely has to make the jaws of even the most hard line bigots drop. She couldn't be lashed whilst she was pregnant - which she was at the time of the rape and her subsequent imprisonment for being raped, but after miscarrying, she can now receive her punishment. Just to restate - FOR BEING RAPED.

My support for Choice, however, goes awry on reading the news story about the two young boys who tortured and humiliated two other young boys in the North of England. It doesn't bear thinking about, it is just so horrific and disgusting. No-one seems to ever challenge the right of every piece of human detritus to spawn.
My god.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Stolen Pic

Yes, this one, I shamelessly stole it from Facebook. What's she gonna do? Sue her own mother?
If all goes according to plan, she arrives in fourteen hours.

Whisky is making progress. Slow progress. It turns out his underbelly pain was not all caused by his....underbelly. The main part of it was caused by an extremely red raw rump. Which was caused by the squits, which were caused by the original painkillers. Fortunately, the fake morphine causes the opposite, so hopefully his little doggy bum will get better now.

Cam, in Modern Family and his spontaneously combusting flowers. I cried, and my ribs hurt.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


I keep thinking it's Tuesday. And it is.

At writers' group last night, my friend had written a piece about how the meaning of the word 'fuck' has changed, it has lost its impact, its currency and its meaning. She did it well.
Another friend wanted our input on her story outline. This was quite an interesting exercise because instead of taking it in turns to critique, we all just word-stormed her with thoughts, ideas, whatever came into our heads.
Free form.
I've a feeling there's a sani-towel called that.

My son tells me that not only is there a Wii game of Curling, but that they have it. I find the idea of Curling amusing, I find the idea of taking it seriously as funny. And yet, people do and so I should just shut up and giggle nervously in my own corner. I did like the film about it though. "Men with Brooms'.

On a not-at-all amusing note, this post, which I came to via Feministing, was a fantastic read and made some from-the-heart points about rape and other violence against individuals.

Another article which I came to via the same route, but which is something I have been banging on about for some time, is about how few women there are on late night TV. And she doesn't even mention the ads, but if you do watch with a critical eye, you will see the tokenism there too.

And tonight I have another meeting, less fun I imagine. No food, no wine, no joking about.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Snow has fallen on the mountains. I'll settle for that. I'm not personally interested in the Olympics, but I'm glad they're happening. The idea of them being compromised through lack of snow doesn't sit well.

Whisky has been very out of sorts since his surgery on Friday. He is in pain from the stitches and site of the wound, and he is understandably unhappy with the cone collar he has to wear to stop him from biting his stitches. We had little sleep on Friday night, so on Saturday morning, we went back to the vet.
She gave us some extra painkillers.
'They are a like morphine, but not morphine, synthetic,' she said, 'but they're ok for him, in fact I've taken them myself,' rrrriiiiight.
He's making progress, but he's far from his own little self yet and won't have his stitches out for another week.

A series that we are watching is 'Ancients behaving badly'. It's badly presented to be honest, stylised cartoons suggesting horrific torture really doesn't do it justice. Plus, one of the presenters is good, really good, the other can't even pronounce 'Genghis Khan'. BUT...the subject matter is fascinating. Last week was Caligula. Thanks to Robert Graves and the BBC, most of us are pretty au fait with Gaius Caligula. But THIS week - Attila the Hun. Now there's a name we know, but I didn't know much about him. Now I do.
Dear God.

Four days until Alex arrives.

Friday, 15 January 2010


It's hard to watch others suffer. It's even harder to watch someone who love in pain, even when that little someone is a pet. And it's hard to deal with the knowledge that you are responsible for that pain.

No-one is to blame for the earthquake that hit Haiti, even global warming doesn't account for earthquakes.
A group of teenagers, a school group from BC are there, and have been found alive. Their parents have asked that they should be put on the priority list for re-patriation. And of course they should, they're kids. But the parents' argument is that the kids have seen things that no human being should have to. Now this, to me, is downright insulting, The things that people are suffering and have suffered in Haiti are awful, truly awful, but the idea that no-one should see those things is just wrong. Those teenagers could gain so much from getting a real understanding of other people's suffering, that selfish feelings of entitlement have no currency when natural disasters happen.

On the radio yesterday, one of the Muslim leaders who issued a fatwa against the terrorists who attack westerners, was talking to a journo about why they had decided to issue it now. Then a second Muslim man came on, saying that there was no need to make these statements about Islam being peaceful because it was obvious.
The journo pointed out that someone wasn't getting it, since there were still terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims, then number two says that Islam has been peaceful for fifteen hundred years. Journo pointed out that this wasn't the case....
(Peace be upon him).

Here's someone I blame. The BC court have just over-ruled a local court who closed down a safe injection site in Vancouver. Seriously. What possible, POSSIBLE reason could anyone have for closing down a safe injection site? Utterly irresponsible behaviour by city officials, so it's a damn good thing that the BC court have overturned that tosspot ruling.

My friend is seriously pissed off with BA. Don't blame her. Not only are they more expensive than other airlines, and have made themselves even less attract a prospect by threatening strike action, but they now charge twenty squids for pre-booking a seat - free on Air Canada - AND...while my friend was away, they changed the number of bags you are allowed to have in the hold. So, you go with two bags, what the hell are you supposed to do with the other one when you return? Well, pat an additional forty squids for that it seems.
Someone needs their bottom smacked.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Surgeon's Knife

However often I refresh the Environment Canada website, it will not deliver me up any snow in the foreseeable future. Or promise me any.

I love that the Israeli police have actually arrested this nutjob, Goel Ratzon, self-styled messiah. He considers himself to be perfect and to have everything a woman wants.
Oh really.
Because we're all the same of course, all women want the same thing.
Whilst I am prepared to believe there must be some women who want what he has to offer, unkempt appearance, staring eyes, messiah complex, clinical insanity, sharing of sexual favours with other women, domination and squalor, I can't think of anyone I know who would be lining up.

Unsurprisingly, Haiti has been on the news all day, and all day yesterday. And equally unsurprisingly, you don't have to look far to find miserable gits who think the Haitians undeserving. Some, indeed, think they asked for it, probably the same wankers who considered AIDS to be a 'gay plague'.
At one and the same time, the psycho-pathology of these people is fascinating in the way that a cobra is fascinating, and provokes a horror that makes you want to back off sharply in case they have some way of sucking you inside their twisted, barbaric brains.

On the subject of twisted, barbaric, psychotic brains, although I have now finished Hilary Mantel's Booker prize winning novel, 'Wolf Hall', I still keep thinking about it. I admire the way she showed the horror that was the man, Thomas More, whilst also painting him as a man, for whom, even whilst despising for his barbarism, Cromwell couldn't bring himself to wish the worst kind of death.
The worst kind of death at the time for a woman was being burned alive, for a man, being hung, drawn, and quartered. Somehow More managed to make even the worst worse for his victims.

Intolerably sad, profound,
St. Giles's bells are ringing round,
Swing up and bring me hope of life,
Swing down, and plunge the surgeon's knife.....

From, 'Before the Anaesthetic' by Sir John Betjeman

Tomorrow, my little puppy gets his own surgery. I think I anthropomorphise more than I should, but I don't like the idea of him being away all day and anaesthetised.
In general, and in spite of the fact that the surgery will quite literally be done by women, I don't buy into the myth that women castrate men, it's more often men who castrate other men,
But in the case of Mr. Ratzon, I'd make an exception.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But in fact, of course they do - or did, otherwise it wouldn't be funny. Everyone expected the Spanish Inquisition, anyone at all within the gravity well of Spain.
Bizarre behaviour really, rather horrid too.

Last week, a woman I'd never heard of died. But I don't know why I'd never heard of her, she seems like quite an incredible human being to me.
But I have heard a lot about her since she died.

Mary Daly.

Here is Sister Joan Chittister's blog post about her from the National Catholic Reporter.
Sr. Joan says that Mary Daly posed two questions that are at the heart of contemporary Christianity, hell they were at the heart of it even in the days of the Inquisition, but no-one would have dreamt of acknowledging it then, and most wouldn't now.

The idea of a male God, is that consistent with the idea of God as pure spirit?
A church which is patriarchal and therefore inauthentic, can it survive in its present form?

Sr. Joan goes on to say,
"Women need to thank Daly for bearing the rejection that too often comes to those who say a new insight first and say it consistently and say it in the face of the very system in which they themselves have been raised." Amen to that, oh yes, those of us who challenge and challenge consistently know that only too well.

And she says,
"In later years, Daly refused to accept men in some of her classes, forcing men to experience the exclusion that women had endured for centuries. As a result, she lost her tenured position at a Catholic college for allegedly failing to offer equal service to all students, both men and women. But at the same time, no one else in Catholic colleges — or elsewhere — lost their jobs for excluding women from access to theology degrees or various medical specialities, among others, on the grounds that women, as women, were unfit for such programs."
Amen again.

May she rest in peace, or, if it turns out that things need changing, may she continue to rage. I tend to think that others are finding out she was right.

And by the by, Simone de Beauvoir is stellar.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Creepy tree, right?

Can't you artificially create a shortage of something by stockpiling? Well on the North Shore mountains, specifically Cypress Bowl, it seems they're rather short of snow - somewhat worrying since the Nordic ski events are supposed to be taking place there, but they, 'they' say it's ok, because they have some snow stockpiled. Imagine that, stockpiling snow.

I was amused to read, via Feministing, that States in the USA that have actual bans on same-sex marriage, have higher divorce rates. It's like - I know this means something, something that makes me want to guffaw, but...I can't quite get it, like something I can almost see out of the corner of my eye.
Oh, I've just found a good post on that.

Yesterday evening, I took the new skytrain line to downtown and it was brilliant! Considering all the freaking hassle of driving down there and finding and paying for parking, it was seriously stress-free, didn't cost much more than what I normally pay for parking and you got to walk to and from the station.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Mysteries and Mistakes

Thank-you BBC via Kev for this astounding picture.

Ok, so it turns out last night was NOT the new moon - it's actually next week. That explains a lot.

You say, 'not having eagle-enough eyes,' I say, 'translocation.'
Mystery or mistake?

Thursday, just before twilight, twig-light, Twiglet, er anyway, I was throwing the ball for Whisky, on the tennis courts, when it suddenly disappeared, er, the ball that is, not the tennis court. I threw it, he ran after it, but he couldn't find it. I went over to where I`d thrown it and nor could I. The fencing around the tennis courts are too high to throw the ball over. It hadn`t gone underneath the fencing, and it`s bright pink, so very visible. I let us out and we walked round the outside, no sign. No other dogs or even people had gone past, complete mystery.
When I took him for his walk yesterday morning, I expected to find it, but no sign. We walked across the park, outside of the courts, quartering it, still no sign.
At lunchtime, I took another ball with us, but then walking back across the park, the same way we`d gone earlier, there it was, and accompanied by a golf ball. Mistake or mystery? I prefer mystery.

Definitely a mistake - I went to the dentist, expecting to come out with my tooth fully repaired, but what I have is a temporary crown and a very sore mouth. I mean VERY sore, couldn't concentrate on anything but the pain as soon as the injection started to fade. Luckily, I had some useful pink pills that someone gave me for a different pain, they have come in seriously handuy.

So maybe that was the message from the moon - thought it would be resolved today, won't be until next week.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Vortex

Two of my lads, last month. Breaking their mother's heart.

Tomorrow is the new moon, but it doesn't look the way you expect it to.

My days and evenings are now taken up with the trivia of my life. The lists - micro-cleaning, watering - yes watering, in spite of the recent rain, the balcony boxes remain bone dry, the bulbs will not sprout; listen to the news in French, in German, read something in Spanish, improve the shining hour, walk the dog.
Time somehow fills itself.

The BIG questions need to be answered.
Why, when Graham Norton has Hollywood stars on, are they like corpses? They sit there, hardly joining in, letting Graham do all the work.
'You're great,' says Mickey Rourke, 'you make us feel so relaxed.
Too relaxed bozo.
I loved you in 'The Wrestler', superb performance, professional, skilful, well-crafted, but why is your hair hanging in greasy strands across your face? And just get inflamed by Jessica Biel from the other end of the sofa, if you must at all, don't keep pawing her.
And that other woman, the one who couldn't pronounce 'Greenland', she didn't want to sit on your lap.
Oh Mickey.

I sit down to watch TV5 while eating my lunch, and nearly get sucked in to Maury. Maury has a psychic detective, how can I resist a psychic detective? But I stay strong, I've been here before, your whole life can disappear into the telly before you can say, 'Anne Robinson.'

The dog walking has a gentle etiquette. The Chinese people always observe the etiquette, allow the dogs to approach, sniff, each owner reminds their own dog of their expectations, then the socialising is over and the dogs, through their owners' mouths, say goodbye. It works even if one of you doesn't speak English.
The Anglos are a bit more random, they may or may not do the dog dance.

God save the Queen.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Rossi and Rossie

Portia di Rossi - awesome in 'Better off Ted'.

Decs came down yesterday - natch, although even had it not been twelfth night, I'd have done it to spite Vanoc.
VANOC. They told us we should all leave our Christmas lights up until after the Olympics. What? And provoke the ire of the Celtic gods? I don't think so.

My Epiphany? Since Epiphany it is. Na, still working on it. Sometimes an epiphany doesn't come along just like that, sometimes it has to mull and brew and stew and then mature a while.

So, the Jonathon Ross show is on a short cycle and we were back to the one with Tom Cruise and Stephen Fry last night. Tom Cruise's sheer, utter 'wtf?' expression when Rossie asks him whether he wafts the duvet or locks it down when he farts in bed. Classic. Fecking classic.

I am SO jealous of the snow in the UK. Still, on the other hand, I wouldn't have been able to get out of the country, and then I'd have missed Food probably, from the sound of the news reports on telly.
Of course, as ever, the reportage is all south-centric.
'They don't have many snow ploughs in the UK,' no, wrong, we don't have many in the south, just a lad on the back of a truck, sitting on a pile of sand. But up north - oh, they have 'em. Well, more than one anyway, oh yes, they have snow ploughs.

I am reading the Booker prize winner for 2009, 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel.It is INCREDIBLE. I am having to ration myself so that it lasts as long as possible.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Delia and David

The leader of the British Tory party, David Cameron, who will most likely be Britain's next premier, wants to have all-women short lists for the next elections. The party faithful are not on board with this it seems. Women, can be SUCH an embarrassment.
Recently, they tried to de-select a candidate because she had had an extra-marital affair. I know! I did too! Thought that was a pre-requisite for being a Tory MP that is.

Now positive discrimination along the lines that Cameron wants, is a hot potato, even amongst feminists, but in this case, I'd have to go with Cameron. The Daily Mirror, have produced a calendar of Tory racist, sexist, homophobic and generally shocking-taste indiscretions of 2009, and guess what? Apart from the one where a Tory MP resigns after suffering sexual discrimination for three years, they're ALL committed by Tory men! Oh, I suppose if you think about it, in all likelihood, that one was committed by men too.

Now another British icon is Delia Smith. I've never seen her on TV here, so she may not be well known this side of the pond. And to be fair, watching her on TV is like watching paint dry. As TV chefs go, she lacks charisma, even if you are not a fan of the charms of Jamie and Nigella. But in terms of cooking, hers are the recipes everyone turns to.
Delia's Christmas Book is the Christmas Bible it seems, and I admit, that on the rare occasions that I want to cook something, I look up Delia online, as in fact I did last weekend, and discovered that I was making something from...her Christmas Book.
And whilst I am always singing the praises of reading electronically, the fact is, if you are a slow, clumsy cook like me, you bloody well need a book, the laptop keeps going to screensaver whilst you fiddle-faddle about.

Then there is the 'NotDelia' website, another useful site for finding out tips like - how to make self raising flour if the country you live in doesn't sell it.

Oh, and Delia owns or part owns or something, Norwich football team - hence the footie scarf. I dunno, I just thought such sartorial...quirkiness, needed explaining.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Almost Done that we celebrated Epiphany in church today, so Christmas must be almost over.

Yesterday was the 80th birthday of a good friend, Anne, and there was a party for her at her son's house. A very nice event at the beginning of the new year and to celebrate our friend's life so far.

And then we have that age old problem. Are we in a new decade or does that really start next year? Since the counting of time, unlike the birth of my friend Anne, well and my other friend, the Tame Pharmacist - not turning eighty, but fifty - didn't commence with year zero, ten really ends the decade. But we're all anxious for new beginnings, so I think most people would go for it being a new decade.

So..the Irish blasphemy law. WHAT? How, I ask, can you possibly judge this? Because I'm fairly sure that my idea of what is blasphemous would not match up with theirs. And then, why should blasphemy be illegal anyway? Well, according to Irish law makers, because their constitution only protects Christians. That makes no sense to me...unless somewhere, someone is confusing blasphemy with religious hatred, and I would think that THAT is pretty much covered under the law.

But an Irish atheist organisation, known, oddly, as 'Atheist Ireland', are contesting it, as well they might.
The law was passed in July, and became law on the first of January. I feel the timing on this one is very poor, given the recent massive exeunt from the Catholic church, although to be fair, it's more like 400 years out of date.

When Rushdie published 'Satanic Verses', a fatwa was issued. So, is the Christian equivalent of a fatwa €25K? Interesting, since in history, Popes and papish representatives have sold pardons and prayers for filthy lucre, not to mention that just attending the burning of a heretic could get your time in purgatory reduced by up to 40 days. All fairly dodgy renditions of the Deity's intentions.

Oh, the picture? A bit of papal bull.

Friday, 1 January 2010

First of January

The first of January two thousand and ten. Or twenty ten, depending on which you decide sounds better.

Resolutions? None yet.

Highlights ? The spring, the summer, the autumn, the winter, my family, my friends.

The future ? I'm looking forward to Alex arriving and to going to Alaska with Dawn and to the wedding of two very dear friends later in the year.

Advice? Watch 'Better off Ted'. It's funny.
Oh, and if you're travelling to Ireland, don't blaspheme, or you'll be fined 25,000 Euros.