Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Rain Tree

Christmas was wet, very wet, not a single flake of the snow that I had ordered. Actually, Christmas is still wet. We are heading towards a record-breakingly dry December, so natch, the weather gods had to try to avoid that and unleashed water from the sky.

We've had a very Downton Christmas, it must be said, but we can't even watch the Christmas Special until we've watched Series Two.
Great Doctor Who Christmas Special though.

There was no Midnight Mass in church this year, just a Mediaeval Christmas service which includes lots of Latin. Unfortunately, having studied Latin for many years at Grammar School, I understand it. Back door sexism. `Really, I don't care about the lack of Mass anymore. Instead, I drove to the airport to collect Kev's brother, flying in from Toronto.

I have eaten much good food, Kevin did us proud. Now I need the feeding frenzy to settle down.
Back to work tomorrow.
Redemption the day after.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Solstice

Solstice at 5.30 this morning. I led a Solstice Walk at 15.00. I enjoyed it, and did some meditation exercises with the people who came. They all seemed to enjoy the experience.

Kevin sent me this article. Seems as though Atheists get a raw deal.  I sent this article to my friend Raymond. His response was 'It's the cross we bear,' which I thought was chortle-worthy:)

And women continue to get a raw deal. Feminist Hugo Schwyzer explains how women suffer 'gaslighting' and why he disagrees with people who use it as a strategy whilst claiming to support women.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Tuesday Jelly

I keep thinking it's Tuesday. You know those dreams where you are struggling against jelly and you try and try to move forward but you don't get anywhere. Yes, that. I haven't even bought any cards, so that's not happening. Fortunately, we only do pressies for the kids and grandkids, and we've gone with green, by default, but we have. They have money and tokens. They seem happy enough.

Happy Chanukkah for anyone who Chanukkahs.
I have a number of people signed up for my Solstice walk on Thursday - Solstice. I'm looking forward to that.

The weekend at the Static was relaxing. Well, just a day for me because I had to come back up Saturday morning for work, but I did manage to swim and sleep and clear up a bit, no appreciable internet still but, whatever. Monday I cleaned back here, or let the energy flow as I see it.

Weather's gone warm again, that's not so good, but then even that's relative. 

I suppose, in a manner of speaking, I'm ready.
Bring it.






Thursday, 15 December 2011

Trudeau

One of the few Prime Minsters that Canadians actually seem to like, was Pierre Trudeau. His son, Justin, is now an MP and currently sporting some dashing and altogether rather embarrassingly awful facial hair. Post Movember I'm told.
But right now, he is a bit of a hero.

The greater embarrassment for Canada, far greater than Justin's beard, Celine Dion and Bryan Adams all rolled into one, is the fiasco of the Durban Climate Conference when Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol. In truth, we had a commitment to reducing emissions by 6% by next year, whereas emissions in this country had actually risen by 30%. Epic failure on that one.

Canada's so-called Environment minister,criticised another minister who took up this awful state of affairs with him in the House of Commons, but he had personally prohibited the other ministers from going. Trudeau, in parliament, called him a piece of shit.

Like a true Canadian, he then apologised.
But he was damned right.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Eclipse

I was awake and outside extremely early this morning, in the hope of seeing the lunar eclipse. The world was sparkling from the hardest frost I'd ever seen, beautiful in the darkness. The sky however, was overcast and there was no sign of any moon, eclipsed or non-eclipsed.

On the way to work, a slew of annoying ads on the radio. It seems to be compulosry to trot out jewellry and perfume ads during the lead up to Christmas, but the jewellry ones are, of course outdated and sexist. As for perfume, do people still buy it? I mean, it's not as though I don't own any, but one is rarely able to wear it these days.

Another radio ad, for some seller of holidays offers same for 'adults or couples'. I mean... have I missed something?

We've been watching 'Once Upon a Time', a series filmed in the posh part of Richmond, Steveston, although confusingly for those who live there, the area now frequently has the sign up that says 'Storybrooke'. Most enjoyable series. We have also been watching 'Grimm'. This, astonishingly, isn't filmed up here. The characters are named in German. I get the wolves, they are called Blutbad, or bloodbath, fair enough, the pigs are Bauerschwein, ok, the three little pigs - farmer pigs, ok, ish, but the rat wranglers, 'Reinigen'? 'To clean'? No, you've lost me I'm afraid. Still, mostly enjoying the programme.





Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cold Comfort

It's astonishing how people are willing to believe in a Mayan prophecy but not in climate change.

And on the subject of believing, from the Guardian...

"The UK government has been accused of being "extraordinarily naive" over tar sands information given to it by Canadian diplomats as part of a lobbying campaign, but which has since been contradicted.
Chris Davies, the MEP who is the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman in the European parliament, told me: "It is extraordinarily naive for ministers and officials to take the special pleading by Canada as though it were gospel truth, rather than what it is - an attempt to protect narrow financial interests."

Gaagh, how embarrassing. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Happy 25th


Happy Birthday Laurence, 25 today. We've been to Ricky's, we had an ice-cream cake from DQ. All good.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Frat Party

At the weekend, Kevin's frat Christmas party was at our house. People take it in turns to host and this year, well, we offered. Sounds like madness, doesn't it?

In fact, it was incredibly well-organised. The young whippersnapper frats in their best bib and tucker, shirt neatly tucked into trews, ties, nicely polished shoes, came and set up. All the food and drink was provided. The youngsters ran the bar, no-one drank too much, and at the end, the 'pledges' cleared up. It was a sort of rent-a-party. Totes civilised. Who knew?

Hmm, Kevin did, I must admit, this is how he had told me it would be, and it was.

My own part mainly took the form of dog-wrangling. As soon as strangers started arriving, Whisky became insane dog, but I put him in the car and took him for a walk. Er...a drive and then a walk. We have a place we go down by the river, which is normally deserted, but yesterday evening, at twilight, there were more cars driving past than I'd ever seen there before. Followed by a police car.

An elderly Chinese lady wearing a coolie hat was clipping the grass verge with a pair of garden shears. There are no houses there, this was just a random piece of grass verge.
'Cars very fast,' she said.
'Yes,' I agreed, unable to think of anything less anodyne to say in the face of surreality.
But the dog came back calm.


Monday, 28 November 2011

Score


My friend has succeeded in having a sexist advert removed from TV. 
Volkswagen ran an ad that showed a woman in labour being taken to hospital by her male partner. But the paramedic who meets them, is stunned by the amazing car they arrive in and both men are soon engrossed in car worship and ignore the woman. 

My friend filled in the complaints form on VW’s website, pointing out that they had trivialised an event which claims thousands of women’s lives every year. The reply she got was anodyne and grammatically toe-curling. I made a complaint on the website, pointing out that it was also sexist towards men. This is an offensive stereotype that suggests that men are all puerile cretins who don’t care about human life. The e-form barfed back one sentence at me and said this had a syntax error. Kevin said this just meant their server is fracked and you couldn’t really tell whether it was rejecting or giving a receipt. 

Next, my friend e-mailed them again and said that their response was unsatisfactory and that unless they told her they were removing the ad, by a certain date, she would be informing certain newspapers and media. She then received a swift reply saying that the ads were being pulled and that it would take a few days to remove them from all networks.
Booyah. Result, and a good one.
Nicely done.

Scheduling at the Schloss is hectic and for various reasons, I have had to go to the Static on Sunday afternoon and stay over until Monday.
I called in at the Market. A smallish child was hoverin by the pepperdew peppers as I was making towards them.
 ‘Are they very hot?’ She asked.
‘No,’ said I, ‘not at all, they’re quite sweet really.’ Then there was a moment when the unspoken thing hung in the air and we looked at each other.
‘Ok,’ said I, ‘I am British, we have a different scale,’
‘They’d blow my head off, wouldn’t they?’ she asked,
‘No, no, but….’
‘Maybe too much for a seven year-old?’
‘Yep.’

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Abbey

The temperature goes down, it goes up, and now, hopefully, it's back down a touche, Hurrah. Except that the number of road traffic accidents has become horrific. I suppose that's not so much temperature as weather related.

So, on the recommendation of just about everyone back in Blighty, we've started watching Downton Abbey, and I must say, I am rather enjoying it. Thought provoking. And it really holds the key to the English, I wouldn't like to say the British necessarily, but certainly the English.

I find it difficult to appreciate the gravity of the Amish 'haircut attcks'. I know, I know. But to compound it, the leader of the breakaway haircutters is called Sam Mullet.

Mercury's going retrograde now for two weeks. I'll try to stay calm.




Sunday, 20 November 2011

Froideur

"I hear those sleigh bells ringing..." yep, already, outside of Superstore, the Sally Ann have stationed a Santa replete with bell.
Inside Superstore, an elderly lady was wearing a tiger-striped fun-fur hat with ears and dangly bits. I feel this is a stroke of genius, it makes seniors seem cute and lovable, which in fact many of them are. 

It's very cold right now, Janis cold. I actually had to put a coat and gloves on today - awesome.

Today, up at the crack of dawn to take Laurence to his forklift training, about a million miles away - a good fifty minute drive at any rate. We actually did watch day break and it was breathtakingly beautiful. Along Route 99, Bald Eagles were sitting in trees, enjoying the morning coldness.
Froideur.

Laurence now has a forklift licence. Good job laddie, made it well worth getting up at 6, driving across Surrey before the world was awake, and then down to chilly Washington State to rescue Kevin and Whisky.



Saturday, 19 November 2011

First Snow

Yesterday morning we awoke to snow. Not deep snow, but a fair covering. Whisky was keen to investigate.
Me too.
Gone by this morning.




Monday, 14 November 2011

Crow Flying Backwards

Wild weather at the weekend, rain, torrential rain, get-your-ark-ready rain, and wind. Still windy today, bringing-down-trees wind. And crows flying backwards wind. Backwards flying crow - why isn't there a yoga pose called that? Maybe there is.

Finished 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog'. Alison Anderson, (translator) I did you wrong. The book has been re-translated into US English. I found this out thanks to the function on Amazon.co.uk where you can read inside the book. I searched for 'dime store psychology', the original translation said, 'amateur psychology'. I rest my case. It was a great book.

I'm liking US Prime Suspect. I like Maria Bello's Jane Timony, she's like an updated Christine Cagney, I loved Cagney and Lacey, but I'm peeved that it is called Prime Suspect. It has nothing to do with the original series.

Today was an excellent day, my day off, and Kevin took a day off so that we could spend the day together on our wedding anniversary. And we have had a fab day, doing really quite ordinary things, but together.

And we started the day watching telly in bed - the much recommended Downton Abbey. Excellent.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Rhizomes

Misleading actually, it has been raining a fair bit. Apparently it's going to rain a fair bit more too.

The World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report for 2011 has just been published. The UK, USA and Canada are huddled together in 16th, 17th and 18th places respectively.
Sheer freaking disgrace for all three. And how is this disgrace being addressed? The usual lip service of course.

Yet two interesting pieces of research could inform us and allow a more spirited campaign to do something real about the situation. In June of this year, Science Daily summarised a study that showed how 'daily acts of subtle sexism' by both women and men, impact the lives of women. But when women were made aware of the 'unseen sexism', such as sexist language, they were more inclined to correct their behaviour, when men were made aware, they didn't see it per se as discriminatory, they needed an extra factor, such as empathy for women or certain women.

At the end of October, another study demonstrated a clear and strong link between the sexism exhibited by individuals and the extent of the gender gap in the society in which those individuals live. Jigsaw pieces falling into place? The subtle and often unseen sexism that is daily perpetuated by individuals, is self-reinforcing and reflected in the size of the gender gap.

Until we properly address what too many think of as 'pet peeves' and annoying whinges rather than the rhizomes of what become human rights issues, this gap will not close. And whilst men have privilege in those three western societies that should be shamefacedly shuffling their feet right now, the reality is that not all men benefit from that Patriarchy. The men who are important in our lives, lovers, sons, fathers, friends, are for the most part good men, good and supportive men who are also the losers in a system where a minority shit on the rest.
This is something that can be achieved by ordinary people for ordinary people.

So why don't we do it?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Twenty-five Hour Day

The clocks have gone back. It's nice to have that extra hour in the morning, but also confusing, in spite of the fact that most of the clocks change automatically.

But then when I took Whisky for his teatime walk, the sun was already setting. The sky was clear and denim blue, kissed with pink at the treeline. The almost full moon was already visible and the colour of platinum.

This weekend we stayed in Canada. Yesterday I had a day of really interesting workshops at a not-particularly local college. Today I pottered, getting my energy channels cleared by doing routine taks that had needed doing for too long. Therapeutic, good. Good for me in any case.

Friday, 4 November 2011

First Frost

Although I don't like that I have to drive to work, there are mornings, like today, when it is compensated by the sheer, jaw-dropping beauty of the mountains and the fields, and the mist and sparkle. It makes the soul soar. Intense.

One of the local mountains had snow, Snowvember? We'll see.

This week's expression de la semaine (see what I did there?) 'not in your/my/her/his wheelhouse'. An odd expression.








Tuesday, 1 November 2011

November

November.

So, Greece, what a freaking mess, huh? 'Backstabbing, skullduggery and political intrigue...' Well I never. And the formerly rioting citizenry think they are being blackmailed into agreeing to their country being rescued by the EU. Difficult to find any wronged party in it all.

Yesterday I discovered I was eligible for a free flu jab on account of being on blood pressure meds. The pharmacist seemed happy to have a customer, even one getting something for nothing. He offered me a lollipop, I declined, natch.

The Brompton Mix have an agent. Rock and Roll lads, rock and roll.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Samhain

Quarter past six, standing in the dark, watching the film of cloud drift gently over the morning stars. The last morning of October. My routine blood tests were due this month, so that's where I was.
 And the day has turned into a spectacular one, clear skies, and wind that makes me feel part of everything and a strong need to recite,
'O wild, west wind, thou breath of Autumn's being...' and I did. Whisky was dead impressed, so were the trees and the birds. On the phone, later, Alex listened to my recitation and humoured me. Only seven hours between here and there this week, the veil is thinner than usual.


Brightest blessings for Samhain.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

At the Static

A weekend at the Static, yes, a weekend. I had Saturday off to make up for working an extra day earlier in the month. AND...a weekend when miraculously, we have internet. This hasn't happened since spring. Makes a difference. You think you want to step outside of the worldwide web, but only until you can't get back in.



I am reading a book that is very enjoyable apart from the sloppy translation that sends us back to the fifties. 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' is an amazing read, but the gendered language of French does not need to be translated so literally into the ungendered English language. Yes, I know I could probably read it in the original and be less annoyed, but I didn't want to wait three months to have a copy couriered by tortoise from France.



'Flavorwire' (sic) gives us ten U.S. sitcoms that moved women forward. Of course, they are just that, sitcoms, and there are other shows, such as Cagney and Lacey, that really did the business. There are even other sitcoms that showed women as able to think for themselves, such as 'Cybill' and that leads nus right back to Britcoms such as Ab Fab, Girl on Top and The Vicar of Dibley that did the same. There are still programs that get it almost right, Bones for example, but then when you look at this season's offerings,  sometimes women seem so peripheral to everything, you'd think we lived in a different realm, oh wait.....



And at least in the UK, that isn't going to get much better, since 'Bird's Eye View',  a festival that screens films by women, has had to be cancelled due to funding cuts.



British TV presenter, Eamonn Holmes (Irish, but works on British TV), ended an interview with a rape victim who had the presence of mind to deliberately leave evidence at the scene of the crime, the rapist's car, by saying to her, 'well I hope you take taxis now.' Yes, yet again, blame the victim Eamonn, well done, not. Sometimes you've just got to wonder how the person gets the job.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

After Dark

Monday night, Skytrain downtown. Walking to my friend's house, Vancouver after dark. City of tents outside the Art Gallery - Occupy Vancouver, the denizens high on something and righteous indignation.

Firefighters practising climbing a ladder while waiting for something to go wrong. Face it, they get called when something goes wrong, but meanwhile send the lads and lasses up high steps into the dark.

A pair of well-fed skunks amble along the pavement, snuffle in the undergrowth. They go undisturbed, people see the stripe, white against the darkness and skirt around them. Not fierce, this pair, they look fluffy and adorable, but when frightened, oh, no-one wants to go there.

Turning onto my friend's street, a dog approaches, on a lead, but with a bicycle's rear light attached to its collar, blinking red as the dog takes its owner for a walk, it too sniffing the foliage.

An ordinary evening in the city that never snores.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Colonel Who?

Who knew that Gadafi's first name wasn't 'Colonel'? Why didn't Noah Webster try to change the spelling of 'Colonel'?
Was Colonel Gadafi actually Fatima Whitbread?
I think we should be told.

When I took Whisky for his walk after I got home from work, three young men were quite openly smoking the stinkiest weed I'd ever smelt. Of course, even living in BC, my experience isn't extensive, but this did smell very strongly. That in itself doesn't warrant comment, but the fact was that each of them then got into a different car and drove off. Kevin had told me the same thing had happened yesterday. If it happens tomorrow, people will be informed.








Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bees, Birthday, Band

Finally the leaves.

On Saturday I went to a fundraising event for work. There was a great talk on native bees. I don't understand the passive-aggressive response of some women.
Just like when I used to play Betty Bee, many of the women whooped and clapped when the speaker described the envisceration of the male bees after mating. Alright, not really that passive. Why, in this society, will women still accept being addressed as though they don't exist, and yet they will revel in such detail? Again, when laid out like that, the two do seem to go together.

This has been a week of meetings. Just two, but every evening counts.

My sister's birthday today.

Last Friday, Ben's band played at Indig02, and reports were that it was an amazing gig. Still no video up on YouTube. Their next gig is playing for the after show party of Liam Gallagher's new band.
Rock and roll.










Wednesday, 12 October 2011

All Over the Map

See if you can do this, I readily admit I was pretty poor at Geography at school, but I think this is more politics than Geography, and it still took me a while.

During the course of my researches today, I discovered this little piece of distress. If you remind women that breast cancer is a disease that predominantly affects women, then they are less likely to donate to cancer research, if you make it more gender neutral by, ooh, disassociating it from the colour pink, then they are more inclined to donate. Yes, women hate being reminded that they are women. Either that, or secretly, they really do hate pink. The men who love them are far more forgiving though.


Monday, 10 October 2011

Harvest Thanksgiving

After a cool, wet spring, and then a cool, wet early summer, followed by six weeks of endless sunshine, the trees have been late changing colour, which they finally, now, have done, or I should say, are doing. There are some coral pinks and dark reds out there, even a few golds from the Cottonwoods, but it's a fairly lazy turn this year.  

I came up from the Static on Sunday morning because I was reading in church. There were a couple of typos in mine, and God seemed to be issuing decrees, commands and statues. Now, given that a fair proportion of our congregation probably do still think of God as an elderly gentleman, the random presentation of statues would be in keeping with the ageing process. And it made me wonder - because some of the other readers would simply have read what was written on the page - whether God's mysterious ways may indeed seem more geriatric than mystical. 

The Schloss's own harvest has been sparse this year. (The picture is not representative).
We have a number of late-ripening tomatoes, both red and yellow, a massive amount of parsley, and likewise of lavender. But we live in a place and time where my own lack of success in the garden has not impacted my family's ability to obtain food, and for this I thank my Goddesses.

I know we live in a privileged society where there is no cause for anyone to starve, and yet people still do go hungry because whilst we pay lip service to all people being equal, when push comes to shove, we don't really believe it. We like to blame, somewhere deep inside, we buy into the concept of the 'undeserving poor'.
We mentally point a finger at street people, drug addicts, people with mental health issues and reassure ourselves that we are righteous, we do the right things not to be like them, and thus condemn them through our disregard.

At this time of Harvest Thanksgiving, where is our concern for humanity, where is mine? When I think about the contempt for the Earth, for the Environment, for the health and welfare of the other travellers through space and time, I realise the importance of the long, dark, teatime of the soul. Because whilst we're feeding our faces, are we starving our souls?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Orb

Kevin says it's a raindrop on the lens, I say it's something supernatural or otherworldly. It totes wasn't the moon.

Driving to work is something I haven't had to do for a very long time. Actually, I can't remember ever having to drive to work, but there must have been a time. Mostly, I'm going in the opposite direction from the majority of the traffic, but Tuesday night I was forced to do a long stretch of the road in second because there had been an accident involving 'a police cruiser and a truck carrying cranberries'. So very specific to our area at this time of year.

Kev and Whisky are down at the Static, Kev having taken a couple of extra days off before the long weekend. Even I get this Saturday, in lieu of Monday, which is the Harvest Thanksgiving holiday.  Of course, some of the harvest was spilt on the slip road to the Queensborough bridge.
To whom do Atheists give thanks?
Hmmm....







Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Waxing Moon

October. Luvvly.

Saturday after work, I drove down to the Static and thence to see Kev's folks. Cousin from Spain was there. Apparently  peanut butter is in short supply there. And why shouldn't it be? Much as I like a bit of beurre d'arachide meself, I'm sure the Spanish have more exotic things to spread on their pan.

Sunday, one glorious day of rest, swimming toute seule, since it's way too cold for anyone else to be doing lengths outdoors. Again, apparently.

Yesterday, Vancouver for a seminar followed by an evening seminar. The evening one was excellent.

I feel that Facebook is getting bossy. It e-mailed me to tell me I was missing all sorts of updates from my friends. Rookie mistake. What they should have said was, 'In the time it takes for you to read this fatuous e-mail,you could have checked out your friends' status updates.'

Yeah, well, quod non erat demonstrandum.





Thursday, 29 September 2011

Casino Blah

Two mornings ago, a day when I had two classes arriving for a programme first thing, and another in the afternoon, there was a fatal motorcycle crash just outside the entrance to where I work. The police had a long stretch of road leading up to it cordoned off for most of the day, so I got to learn a new back way that I would never have thought existed. Live and learn. Except for the motorcyclist who was pronounced dead at the scene. The thought of that haunted me, someone's child, lover, parent, probably going to work first thing in the morning, and never returning.

Today, I had to go to collect my renewed Permanent Resident card from somewhere in the over-priced bowels of Vancouver. Actually, more like the appendix.
The young man at the counter asked me why I hadn't yet applied for citizenship, since I was illegible. Yep, he said that, he didn't say eligible, he said, illegible.
Remembering I was in Canada, I swallowed back the sharp reply, smiled sweetly, and said I was going to get onto it straight away. And I will, since Kevin keeps reminding me and it will make crossing the border easier still.

I went from there to YVR to update the information on my NEXUS card. The skytrain goes right into the airport, it's well thought out.
A German tourist who was trying to buy a ticket from the machine, asked me if I could split a $50 note. Again I swallowed back my sharp reply and simply told him I didn't have any cash. This was true, and I rarely have as much as $50 on me.

Coming back to Richmond, you have to change at the station that overlooks the Casino. This is the most painless train change I can imagine, you simply step across the platform and an electronic reader board tells you that the next train will arrive in 4 minutes. Done.
The Casino, sorry, Casino Resort, boasts all sorts of facilities, also increases the crime in the area by a factor of something like 500%.
There is some kind of entertainment place there where tired old celebs whose names we've all long since forgotten, come to earn their crust. Forthcoming attractions include Mitzi Gaynor and Matt Goss.
I rest my case.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Rain and Telly

Monday, and madre mia is it wet. Wet and blustery. And my day off. Whisky and I were scheduled for walkies but it was rained off. I have seen some quite astonishing driving today.

We watched the first episode of the US version of Prime Suspect. It has Maria Bello as Helen Mirren's character. Of course, Maria Bello is exceptionally good, but Helen Mirren she ain't. And I guess that Mirren's Jane Tennyson and Bello's Jane Timoney are quite different characters. The premiss of the US version seems to be a woman detective trying to be accepted in amongst a bunch of male detectives. Now, whilst inequality in the workplace due to gender are most certainly alive and kicking, the extent of the hostility in Prime Suspect, really does seem to be more a mark of the 70s. I dunno. Another police drama, but I think it's playing too heavily on the name. We'll see, I'll give it a few more episodes.

We also watched Bridesmaids, which I enjoyed, but I felt that rumours of the inherent feminism were rather over-hyped. Maya Rudolph's character's wedding was still being paid for by daddy, and I do mean daddy, not parents. It was fun, but it wasn't the sensation I'd been led to believe. Melissa McCarthy was undoubtedly the unintended star though.









Friday, 23 September 2011

The Schedule

Haven't taken any pics recently, although I am now getting used to my new routine, so here's a random picture of Mae West,
'I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.'

Ah, the Autumn TV scheduling. It hath commenced. And there are some new goodies. Zooey Deschanel's new comedy 'New Girl' was funny, as was Christina Applegate's and Amy Poehler's bloke's, (my, how many genitives can you get in one sentence?) whatever his name is, but the sitcom's called 'Up All Night'.

There was another thing that started, I forget its name, what it was about or who was in it, but it was shit, don't watch it.

Michael Tuesdays and Thursdays appeared dull at first, but picked up.

Harry's back, in 'Harry's Law', and just as awesome, only I don't like that they've moved to a bigger office. We don't like that, we discussed it.

New series of Modern Family - fab as ever. As for the rest, I feel it's my duty to watch and report.

As well as Justin Bieber forever lurking, as mentioned yesterday, every bus stop seems to have a rather creepy picture of Simon Cowell signalling the start of X-Factor over here. Quite unnecessary in my opinion. No-one needs that. 

And, out in the real world, rampant misogyny continues unabated. In India, girls are being denied heart surgery by their parents because they would rather spend the money on their boys. Also, scars from heart surgery might be detrimental to the girls' marriage prospects.
Oh, shucks. Perhaps those girls should go and become heart surgeons. 

Good freaking grief.

Herewith, a trailer for the film about the life of Women's Rights activist and author Alice Walker 'Beauty in Truth'.

At ease.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Lurking and Crawling

Here comes the rain again. It has that heaviness normally associated with November.
And as in November, the light from the shops draws you in from the gloom. In Shoppers' Drug Mart, life-sized cardboard Justin Bieber lurks and watches you.
Creepy.

The dumpster in the car park has a huge sign declaring that banned items are not allowed. Gaagh.

On the way home, two stretches along Route 91 westbound are crawled in second gear, still, not parked, like the eastbound stream. Made worse though by Bryan Adams on the radio, really, there's no call for that.

At home, Kevin is making the adjustments easier, sharing the work without my having to even say anything, like moving wordlessly into a different dance.

The mornings when I do the tours at the Nature Reserve, I'm finding out about hockey habits. We meet in the car park of Planet Ice. We use their loos.
Before the kids were back at school, small boys would arrive, lugging sports bags bigger than themselves. On Saturday, 'Coach Kim' teaches little girls to skate. Today, two teams of men, all ages, turned up. Yes, men play hockey on a Wednesday morning, I wonder if their other halves think they're at work.





Monday, 19 September 2011

Genie, Bottle, Go

Still trying to get that genie back into the bottle. She'll go eventually. Although it seems a bit harsh really, putting sentient other-dimensional beings into bottles.

So, we're on puppy poop watch again. Whisky ate 8 earplugs last week, all in one go. They are re-appearing gradually. Good thing they're bright orange.

Today is my day off, so I've spent it trying to do everything around the house and un-garden, oh and car, that I didn't do last week. I'm still not there yet, but I think I've broken the beast's back.

At the weekend, we had rain, glorious, thumping, pouring, rain. The ground no longer looks parched and at least at night and first thing in the morning, the temperatures have been lower. By this afternoon though, I could have done with wearing my cozzie.

And finally, finally, on Friday, I received a letter from the PR card people telling me I have an appointment on 29th September. Canadian border services seemed pretty pleased about that. The US border services seemed less happy. Not to do with me, but they seemed to be having problems. The computer system chose Friday at around 19.00 to reboot. This caused way more problems than can possibly be imagined. For example, this was the 'every three month' visit to secondary inspection to get my visa waiver re-done. And the big problem came when anyone went to pay. The credit card machine was down, the machine that gave you change wouldn't work, and in the middle of it all, the Cascades train arrived.

An absolutely brilliant commentary on some kind of North American food(ish) product called 'Slim Jims' (only for men).
Read it and weep :)







Thursday, 15 September 2011

Freedom is in Peril

Isn't it always?

Today I had the disconcerting experience of a very, very angry teacher calling me at the office and wondering why I wasn't standing beside her waiting to do the nature talk-and-walk. I can understand why she was angry, but there was nothing to tell me there had been a booking.  The offices are also about a quarter of an hour's drive from the Nature Reserve, but I got in the car and drove, hoping to goodness that the insane traffic jam that I'd witnessed on the opposite side of the road coming in, had cleared. It had. By the end the teacher was smiling, singing and generally in a much better mood. I never got to the bottom of the booking mystery however.

I'm also fairly astonished that people think there are still bears there (there were, but they were removed some years ago, because the encroaching road was stressing their habitat and thus behaviour), and yet they are still prepared to allow their students to wander round. Too much Yogi Bear I think. I'm not sure whether they think I'm the Park Ranger, and should there be any trouble I'll just whip out a picker-nic basket from my rucksack or simply that I have some secret knowledge that will keep the bears away. If I meet any, I'd have to rely on confusing them with Existential arguments the same as anyone else.

Still, I enjoyed my walk, enjoyed the class, who seemed none the worse for having waited over an hour, and enjoyed the rest of my day.






Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

Adjusting to my new schedule. Still adjusting I suppose. I had to go to the hairdresser's in the evening, instead of a Tuesday afternoon, but it was relaxing, nice, no-one else in.

And getting used to the changes on Blogger, which seems to have undergone the sort of overhaul that small creatures in chrysalises go through.

Anyroad, I received a Keep Calm and Carry On birthday card, which I loved. 






Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Autumn Air


The clouds have come in and the temperature has dropped, not much, but enough to make a difference. With the nights drawing in, there is a definite autumnal feeling in the air. This evening we took Whisky for a long walk in and beyond the off-leash park and at dusk we saw this single cricket clinging to a blade of grass.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

11th September 2011


Full moon.
Hottest day of the year.
My 54th birthday.
We're sitting out on the balcony and there's a turkey in the oven.

This morning, I sat in bed with my coffee and waffles and read my greetings on Facebook and thought about how I enjoyed that tecnological progress has led us to this. Pleasant memories of opening paper envelopes on my birthday, but happy to be in a different world now.
A bumper sticker on a car in Blaine, Washington last week, proclaimed that Hatred is NOT a Family Value. And how true. How much the parties that call for a return to family values, in fact preach hatred. I'm not pretending I don't hate, because I do, everyone knows the things and kinds of people I hate, but I don't keep harping on about Family Values, nor do I believe there is any such thing.

Today, this time, this place, this headspace, good to be in. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

On the Boardwalk

A long weekend down at The Static, which was very pleasant indeed, then back on the boardwalk today. Not literally you understand, today I've been finding my way around and writing stuff, but I'll be presenting programmes soon enough, Monday in fact.

In the meantime..... a superb and concise post at The F-Word, about the same old arguments we get given for why Feminists are wrong. Lovely, I recognise them all.

And from 'Good Health', a post on how marriage affects women and men differently, women tend to put on weight and (some) men use this as an excuse for leaving their partners, and after the divorce, they put on the weight, but do not suffer the social stigma that women do. What-ho Jeeves, didn't see that one coming. Much.

The air has a pleasantly 'autumn is just around the corner' feel to it, although the days remain hot, and at present, getting hotter.

Whisky is coming to terms with being on his own during the day. Today, Kevin took pity on him and cycled home at lunchtime. This sounds easier than it is, since lunchtime doesn't always have much meaning at his job.

Ah well, it's nice to be back at work, and even though I now have to drive there, at least I'm going in the opposite direction to most of the traffic.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Presumption

No way! Seriously?! I haven't posted since Saturday? What the hell's wrong with me?
Well, actually, I have been interviewing for a job, which I have now been offered and accepted, start Tuesday. There is a weird irony to this, my friend Canadian Karen finishes work next week and long have we plotted world domination - or Ikea at least. But the universe has kept us from our megalomania. MY megalomania.

I was trying to think of a collective noun for writers. I like gang. Mostly because I fancy talking about 'my writing gang', but also because it makes us seem like some kind of bonded bunch of people who might come round your house and aggressively write.

In the same vein, posse. A posse of writers, who saddle up, sling their pens and notebooks over their shoulders and venture forth to root out poor writing in one-horse towns.

I'm also taken by a murder of writers. My writing group, sorry, gang, are like crows in that they are very intelligent and community-minded. We'll also eat almost anything and we squawk a lot.

From somewhere in the ether, the word 'presumption' came to me. I have no explanation or basis for this, simply that I like the sound, 'a presumption of writers'.

But maybe I'll settle for a platter. A platter of writers, we are after all, a veritable salad of writing styles, but we all fit perfectly together and complement each other.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Depths

I have been surprised by the improvement in Laurence's all round attitude and state of mind, as a result of his having given up smoking. To some extent it's because he finds he is able to sleep better. No amount of telling by us that nicotine is a stimulant made its way in, of course, discovery learning is always better.
And then there's the money he's now not spending. Again, a cliché until it becomes your own reality.

I was surprised to learn, and by surprised, I mean horrified, that amongst the US Republican party hopefuls for Presidential candidacy, are some so right wing loony, that Sarah Palin and Mit Romney won't join them. I loved Stewart Lawrance's description of a planned forum for expressing their hatred of humankind in general,

"DeMint's so-called "Freedom Forum" thus promises to be yet another white-hooded gathering of die-hard and highly vocal Republican homophobes."

Don't love the concept though.

And thus my learning curve of right-wing politics continues. Margaret Thatcher was right wing but from an ideological standpoint, whereas she couldn't meet with Sarah Palin, because she's a nutjob and is right-wing because she fundamentally doesn't believe in sharing. And in her turn, Palin is less crazy than Jim deMint et alia because she isn't homophobic enough. Please let it stop there.
How much lower can it go? I don't mean that as a challenge.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Enter Stage Left

It feels like the end of summer, even though that's a month away.

On Monday we had rain, pounding, torrential rain, the first rain of August. It watered the parched grass, and has left my front flower patch smelling of ambient lavender. Beautiful.

But it also beat some of the already autumnal coloured leaves from the trees, and now it seems as though they are patchy. On one side of the park, still summer, the other side sliding into the fall.

This evening, in spite of the lingering, residual heat from the day, as I brought Whisky back into the house after his evening doings, I felt that gentle reminder that September's on her way. Just something intangible in the air.

Yesterday, one of Canada's favourite politicians died. Jack Layton was a man whom everyone seemed to love, although none embraced his politics, he was a sparky, intelligent man who fought hard for gender rights. We knew he was ill, we didn't know how ill. He leaves a gaping hole in the political party that he led, with no obvious successor.

And as though to truly herald the autumn, it seems that Vancouver hosts an annual Zombie walk.
Well why not?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Pause

I have been reading a collection of essays by Alice Walker. I have already learnt several things from her interesting perspective on life, the universe and everything.

In one essay, she talks about the Pause, the turning moment, the silence after achievement. She puts forward some ideas about the feminine. This is different from the theory that femininity is a social construct, so it becomes important to differentiate between the feminine and femininity.

She talks about an Amazonian tribe called the Swa, who hold that women and men have different but equal roles. The men's role is to chop down trees for canoes and firewood, to kill animals when protein is needed, and to make war if necessary.

The women's role is one of nurturing and conserving. They tell the men when to stop. They say when there are enough canoes, enough firewood and animal protein to eat, when to stop the war.
When Swa were brought to North America they perceived too much maleness, they asked when the women were going to tell the men to stop.

Walker goes on to say that after 30 intense years of Feminism, she despairs of 'the ease with which.... women have chosen to erase their gender in language, by calling themselves and each other 'guys'......What does being called 'guys' do to to young women? To little girls? Isn't the media responsible for making it 'cute' to be a guy, as if that was all the Women's Movement was about, turning us into neutered men, into 'guys'.....SO if you've turned in your breasts and ovaries for guyness, you've really lost out...'

She's right, but it's another interesting way of viewing it. She says this is something we should ponder in that pause.

But for now, I will pause and read the new Ikea catalogue, delivered to my almost doorstep on my return from The Static. There are people in our complex who have irritated me and don't deserve an Ikea catalogue, therefore I have taken two.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Different Day, Same Answers

Many churches seem to feel they must compete for the cheesiest quotes on their reader boards. I've driven past one a couple of times that claims, 'There are some questions Google can't answer!'
Well I beg to differ Our Saviour Lutheran. There is no question that Google can't answer, I know because I have tried plumbing in random strings of letters with a question mark at the end, and it always comes up with something.
The answer you get may be meaningless or incorrect, or just plain not what you wanted, but it always gives you something.

I've had a moderately busy week. I went back to New Westminster for another job search related workshop, and I've also been to the admin office of a women's shelter organisation that I'm going to be volunteering at - the office, not the shelter itself.

I'm going to be writing an article for LIB, a new UK feminist magazine, fab.

Not much else really, the weather continues to be sunny and warm, the grass and flowers at the front on the Schloss, continue to be parched.
Mustn't grumble.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Another Wheel Falls Off

Another wheel has fallen off my wagon. I swear it is because Mercury is retrograde, I have an intimate astral connection with Mercury. (Which reminds me of an excellent scene in 'Breaking Bad', ((fulminated mercury))but giddyup).

So, last week, re-entering Canada from the United States, my Permanent Resident card, which has expired, flagged their system, but this time, the man said - in a way that indicated that he really, really meant it - that I needed to talk to NEXUS about this. So I did, today. I went to the NEXUS office at YVR. This seems quite frenetic in comparison to the one I go to in the USA, but mainly it seems because no-one respected that it was NEXUS, and just dumped their arses down on the seats to wait for their flights.

The young woman behind the counter couldn't answer my query, but went and fetched a woman in uniform, who told me in no uncertain terms that henceforth, until my new PR card comes, I must get in the regular lane when coming back to Canada.
Crap.
This makes the whole thing irritating.

And that's without mentioning that the goalposts on the whole PR card renewal keep being moved further apart. Currently they are quoting 134 days from receipt of your application. I sent mine in in April. They are currently working on April, according to their website, but that is without the good auspices of Canada Post being taken into account, who can easily take several weeks to deliver something across the country.
No-one challenges either of these things, why? Because the people who could challenge, like me, are in the vulnerable position of potentially being further stymied. The UK passport office can turn around a passport in two weeks, guaranteed. Just saying....

On a better note, The Brompton Mix have another track up. Choose 'She's the One for Me'.

And Austen sent me this link to a very funny monologue by a U.S.American comedian David Sedaris, who lives in France with his partner. This particular one is amusing because Sedaris has the opportunity to be ridiculed by a fellow American who thinks he is 'a Froggie'.

Ten more days for Mercury to be retrograde and potentially another month for travelling back from the US to be miserable. And that's if I'm lucky.


Friday, 12 August 2011

Blackberries, Noise, Spain

Ooh cripes. Friday.

Today I learnt something that should have been crashingly obvious. Never put blackberries in your handbag. The fruit that is, not the mobile phone thingie.

Yesterday, being Thursday, was, as ever, the noisiest day of the week. The garbage trucks and the recycling trucks seem to circle round, which causes excessive dog barking, but yesterday, there was a very noisy council vehicle chopping and chipping a tree just across the road, at 8.30 in the morning. Oddly, and mercifully, the dog ignored that one.

Yesterday also, or maybe today, I'm not sure which midnight counts as, Austen and Alex rescued Ben from Gatwick, Austen having previously rescued him (presumably by credit card), from Spain. He had gone out there with his mates, then developed tonsillitis, and keeled over, feverish and throat almost swollen shut. None of them seemed to have been able to locate any medical help or even any proper painkillers, so in the end he contacted his sister, who contacted the sensible brother and Austen organised an early flight home.
Penicillin seems to be doing the trick now.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Equality Illusion

Two things set me thinking in more than a 'constantly-there-background-noise' kind of way about the illusion of equality.

Firstly, my daughter-in-law is reading Kat Banyard's book, 'The Equality Illusion'. This is a very readable book, but comes up with some interesting points that the reader may not have thought of.

When I spoke to Sue on Sunday, she mentioned the point that Banyard makes about how young children's clothes differ according to gender. Not only do the colourways scream gender difference, but even at the age of five, boys are being introduced to the corporate world through the use of logos on their clothing, whilst girls are kept firmly out of it by the lack of them.

Secondly, my friend M's son-in-law or outlaw or whatever, remarked to her that women and men have equality. Which seemed too dim to even comment on to some extent, and was probably said as a wind-up, and yet, does make one re-visit.

Equality, by it's very nature, is dependent on difference. Well, by definition really. 'Four equals four' is not a statement about equality, it's a statement about sameness. Four is the same as four. 'Two plus two equals four' is a statement about equality because an element of difference has been introduced.
Why do I mention this?
Because at a very basic level of misunderstanding, people will say, 'but women and men are different!' Yes indeedy, that's the point, they are different, but they should be equal.
They should have equality.

If you, for example, believe in God, you would have to believe that women and men are equal in the sight of God, but this does not mean they have Equality.

And one could point to all the indicators that women and men do not have equality, the Gender Pay Gap, the lack of females in political leadership, the paucity of acting roles for women on TV and in film, the existence of violence and sexual violence against women, the lower value given to anything female, I avoid the use of the word feminine, and the casual sexism that is not in fact inherent in the English language, but which is imported by those who may or may not even think about their words.

But underlying this inequality, is the notion of opportunity. Another frequently whined out mantra is, 'well there's nothing stopping women doing/achieving x, y, z, but they just don't want to.'
This, currently, is a load of old botox.

For example, just one example, for a woman to enter politics, she needs to have equal support at home over childcare and housework and she needs to have the same level of emotional support that a man in a similar position would have. She also needs to not encounter sexism in the political campaigning, such as that endured by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and she needs to not encounter sexism in her workplace, such as that suffered by our own Provincial politicians. And, that needs to be true for all women, so that every woman has the exact level of opportunity as a man, to make her bid.

But more than that, she needs to not have been brought up in a society that undervalued everything female, that imposed upon her the notion of 'femininity' and made her feel that she must conform to it or be less. And oh dear, the social construct of femininity, includes being soft and submissive. Damn, Catch 22 already in the game.
OR...she can go for the 'be like a man' option, which ensures that she may be one woman who makes it in, but thereafter, opportunity for women withers on the vine because.....she will undermine other women and a female way of going about things.

And then there's the confusion that goes back aways, that she has been brought up in a society that has laboured the point that the 'female way of going about things' is to whine and manipulate to get her own way, because of....Stockholm Syndrome, or Wartime Occupation syndrome, where the person in the dependent position has to survive by playing the role the kidnapper/occupying force wants them to and then subsequently comes to be emotionally attached to the dominant party.

The French Resistance, for example, were a courageous bunch of people in appalling circumstances, but not everyone can sacrifice their all to resist, because they were resisting on behalf of their people. The people had to find some way of enduring the occupation, and those who didn't, en masse, were frequently annihilated.

So, in years to come, and were lightyears not a measurement of distance, but of time, it might be those away, we may still have a Gender Pay Gap, we may still have fewer women in authority, but if we have equality of opportunity, then those will be because of true choices that women make, because they will not have been brainwashed at an early age to accept the lesser role, and they will not be disproportionately the victims of rape, enforced (even by economic factors) prostitution and trafficking, and they will not be marginalised and objectified through pornography, and when those things do happen, they will be taken seriously by society, and the perpetrators, not the victims, will be seen as deviants.

Wow, that was such a long sentence, it should probably have a German verb at the end.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Roughage

Panic on the streets of London, panic on the streets of Nottingham. Not nice, not nice at all, my girl is in Hackney, kept awake all night by helicopters and police sirens. There'll be a return to punk, you mark my words. If Britain has to be in the grip of Tory misrule, t'would be better were it in the grip of proper, strong Tory misrule, not this namby-pamby bunch of ne'er-do-wells.

So, medical details. This is what I have returned from the seventh circle of, if you don't like medical details, read no further, if you fear knowing my medical details, read no further.

It seems I have an internal pile, or haemorrhoid. Piles are easier to spell, and of course, a more common name in Britain. Throughout four pregnancies and in fact almost 54 years of walking upright on this earth (well, give or take the nine months at the beginning when I must have crawled or stayed relatively still), I had escaped this particular form of torture, thus I did not suspect piles nor did I know they could be internal. I'm relieved it turned out to be something so common and mundane, but horrified at the level of pain involved.

I'm fairly poor at being poorly. I expect whatever I have to be banished within a maximum of two days. I expect my immune system to kick in and kick...well, let's not say arse. So, eight days of being hors de combat, of which a good five were haunted by waves of white-knuckle, teeth-clenching spasms, has never been part of my action plan.
The whole thing was further complicated by my having returned from the States for a workshop - and that whole getting in and out of the States thing was fraught with the potential for unpleasantness, since my PR card has run out and, in spite of having applied in April, not yet been renewed - and thus abandoning Kevin with no car, whilst my condition deteriorated to a point of no return. No return by car to the States that is.

Kevin's holiday week was ruined, my....week was ruined, but at the last, I rallied, True Brit that I am, and drove, buttocks firmly clenched, so that Kevin could drive us both back and thence to the doctor. At that point, when the worst was over, I could finally be prescribed the level of drugs that would have made the whole experience less awful throughout.
But then, isn't that the irony? When you are truly, rock (oops!) bottom ill, you cannot either get to, nor sit in, a doctor's waiting room.

All of which puts me in mind of how eating habits have changed. Mine at least. I remember the frequent administration of Senokot and Syrup of Figs as a child, ex-lax as a teenager - we must have lacked the necessary fibre in our diets. My diet.
But since early adulthood, I don't recall ever using laxatives. The diet had improved, no shortage of roughage as it used to be called.

When Alex was here, she had us all adding Psyllium husk to our morning fruit or cereal. It can treat both constipation and diarrhoea, it can reduce cholesterol, it can help control blood sugar levels, it can choke you.
What?
Well, only if you fail to take enough liquid with it.

As Director Kevin Smith said in his autobiography (which Kevin has read, not I),
'If you don't have your anal health, you have nothing.'
Yes indeed.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Hors de Combat

Golly, the fifth of August and no posts yet.
Well, the blip in service has been due to a)Excruciating pain all week, for which I now have prescription painkillers and other unspeakable medications to make it all better and
b)Lack of interwebs, exacerbated by Kevin being down in the States, where there is ALMOST no interwebs.

My illness has pretty much shot his holiday week to pieces, but meh, what can you do?
At least I have been able to read a couple of books, but mostly I've just watched house buying/improving/fantasising shows on TV. And of course, as always when in bed and semi-delirious, one viewing of Maury, which hasn't in fact changed at all since the last time I was in Britain and ill. He still has people on who don't know who their baby's father is and have to test a whole slew of men whilst the audience just seem to randomly sling abuse.
I normally (when ill) also like to watch Judge Judy or Judge Marilyn, but all I could find was Judge Joe, who seemed to be a very weak substitute.
Ah well.