Monday, 30 May 2011

Hot and Cross

On Saturday, I spent all day in the Cathedral. This annoyed me and ultimately made me ill. It was too hot and it was airless and the seats were very hard, although that last one may not have contributed to the sore throat, fever and achyness, headache and fiery sinuses.

The morning's speaker was a woman from Kentucky, a very slick, polished speaker. The trouble was, what she was saying started my decline into anger, I feel.

She was speaking to us about parish finances.
On the one hand, she told us basically not to fret about the money we didn't have, 'the resources God hasn't given us', but to use wisely what we did have and to spend the time we save, praying and being nice to people. And you know what, if you say that in a smooth, Kentucky accent, it doesn't sound stupid for a few seconds, a bit like how Kenneth on 30 Rock can say bizarre things in an oh-so, 'this is really quite normal' way.

On the other hand, she told us we should be 'tithing'. Everyone should tithe.
'Wait!' I hear you cry, 'I remember this from history lessons, didn't they do that in the Middle Ages before taxes were formally introduced. And then taxes were formally introduced?'
Of course, good memory.
She (the very large woman from Kentucky who was dressed in bright yellow like the sun), explained to us how Jacob invented it. Mmm..interesting. She entirely left out the intervening four thousand years or however long it is since Jacob, during which time much of the world developed many systems based on the Christian Faith, which is now so deeply embedded no-one actually believes it's there, and one of those systems is taxation.

So then she showed us a little filmed sketch about a family going to a church where tithing isn't practised - ie most. The family had to fish out their dollar notes and credit cards at each stage. Oh my, how much easier would it be if we simply introduced a system of taxation, I mean tithing, was supposed to be the message. However to my now sore and cynical mind it said,
'Why are we going to church? Let's not bother, it's too much hassle, let's just go and do something that isn't so annoying.'

In the afternoon, which lasted over three hours, three hours during which time we were encouraged to go downstairs and finish off the food - the food being in fact, cakes leftover from first thing in the morning, because no lunch is provided, and unless you happened to be on the end of a row, it was nigh on impossible to get out anyway, we all wriggled around on our hard wooden chairs until close of play.

There were the Resolutions, this is really what we were there for, except one man, same as last year, wasted our time by trying to get us to 'direct' the Bishop to play nicely with the homophobes.
We didn't.
But one of the people who felt obliged to stand up and give her opinion on the subject told us that she's learnt from this morning's speaker that homosexual people hadn't been given the resources by God to have sex with the opposite gender, therefore they were not to blame. She actually said that, I promise you.

And the finances.
So, as well as running our own churches, which finances I can assure you are very tight, we have to contribute towards the pomp and circumstance that is the diocesan machinery. Part of that is paying for the event we were attending. Ok, so more foot shooting.

All well and good if you are being paid to be there, or could take time off in lieu, but the majority of us were simply giving up our own time for free, so aside from not providing lunch, and keeping us pinned in uncomfortable chairs, there was unnecessary time-wasting.

A man was there from the Lutheran church, 'observing'. A very dull man who simply told us what he'd seen, because we, obviously, didn't know what had happened. He actually made a joke about the word 'trenchant' because he'd been asked by the bish to make some trenchant observations, as though this was a most unusual word. Clearly he confused trenchant with banal.

Then, there was a woman whose job it was to thank everyone by name. Oh, not those of us who were there voluntarily, no, well, fortunately, but everyone who was there, just doing their job or receiving some kind of honorarium. I know, right?

I was pissed off by the end of it, when they stood up to sing another hymn I ran to the toilet and escaped, my head was pounding and I needed air and I was starting to question everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING.

Now of course, I am sacrificing my third day because it's the second day I've been ill.
And I'm grumpy as all get out.

Friday, 27 May 2011

After the Storm

And after the storm,
Run and run as the rains come
And I'll look up,
On my knees and out of luck, I'll look up.....

M (Bozo5) and I spent part of the afternoon sitting on a low wall in the sunshine, shooting the breeze. Certainly unplanned, we met at our friend Anne's house to go through some of her writing, but her daughter must have been delayed. I think maybe Anne arranged it like that, M and I have spent so many hours talking Oxygen levels, BP and heart rate (all meaning way more to him than to me) around a hospital bed, fearful, tearful, that just to sit on that wall, with the sun shining down on us, and Anne's old basement suite to our backs, was like taking a deep breath.

An Indian lady shuffled back and forth a couple of times, and the smell of skunk washed over us every so often.

They say that if you want to keep a friend, you shouldn't talk about religion or politics, and those are mostly what we did talk about for the whole time we were there. Maybe if you want to test a friendship - sometimes to destruction - those are exactly what you should talk about.

Politically, we probably have common idealogical ground, but to an outsider it would surely seem that as far as religion goes, we are at opposite ends, and yet when it comes down to it, very little separates our views.

And no tears. Until on my way back, when I stopped at Shoppers' Drug Mart, that thing that happens so frequently, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of someone who reminded me of my friend and my heart dropped like a stone.

"There will come a time you'll see,
With no more tears,
And love will not break your heart,
But dismiss your fears,
Get over your hill and see,
What you find there
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Alex and the Pirates

Wild goose chase to get hold of Alex and wish her a happy birthday. I phoned her brother and sister-in-law's house and spoke to pirates. Pirates and a ballerina, but no Alex. I phoned her friends' house in London, but no-one seemed to be there.
Ah well.
In many ways it was worth it to speak to the pirates and the ballerina.

Happy Birthday my darling girl!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Quite an odd weekend really. Four days without Kevin and Whisky, four days of weird weather, and in the middle of it, going to see my friend in the nursing home where I see her every week, only this time, she was dead.
She was well protected though. From the walls, the Hindu god Shiva smiled beatifically at her, over her bed a First Nations catcher of dreams or spirits or bad vibes, and cedar at the window, I presume to heal her. Muslims were coming later to perform some kind of last rites type deal, and tomorrow there's a three hour requiem mass. Unless it turns out that Judaism is after all the one true religion, I think she's pretty much covered.

Tuesday evening the funeral rites began. The 'Wake' turned out to have little in common with an actual Wake. It was more of an audience. The deceased lay in her casket at the front of the room, and people spoke about her, then there were snacks, but Kevin and I ducked out at that point. I had feared this, feared my own inability to consign my friend to 'memory', read-only. And feared the unscripted bit, where people are invited to come up and speak. I've experienced this before, and people do feel they have to speak, even when they have nothing to say, nothing can go on indefinitely. But it was tolerable. The family had done an amazing job of organisation, truly amazing.

This morning was the Mass. The original e-mail had advertised 'Full Catholic Mass, 11.00 - 14.00.' (Probably didn't say 14.00, but hey, why not upgrade?) Thus, again, I feared, this time feared a three hour requiem mass. In fact the Mass was over in under an hour, and then snacks.
But I had forgotten the extent to which unreconstructed Catholicism batters innocence with patriarchy. I felt dirty, unclean. Everything was male, feudal. Lord, Lord, Lord. Male priest, male servers, ten (yes, ten) pale-skinned, reddish-bearded Apostles and Caucasian crucified Jesus. Mary, mid-brown haired, fair Mary, the token female.
The priest claimed to, but in truth did not know Anne. And he then 'reminded' us that only practising Catholics could take communion, which in any case was swift, the line being given just a wafer, no kneeling, no gentle words, no wine, just wafer, move, wafer, move.
The family are lovely people, they and my friend deserved better, but hey, that's what she signed them up for.

When I got back, I received an e-mail from someone I used to work with, informing me that a co-worker had died last night. A friend. Not a close friend like Anne, but a woman I liked and valued.

And it's raining again. It never rains, but it pours.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

21st May 2011

Today would have been my mum's 86th birthday.

Today my dear friend Anne died, aged 81.

I hope they'll hang out together.

Thank-you Michael for the photo.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Stray Bar

Yesterday, when I phoned the cable company to complain, a message informed me that 'an asiant would be available soon,' I listened twice to make sure I hadn't made it up.

Last week, on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, a small dog fell from the sky. It fell onto an Old Folks home, my weren't they surprised. It seems the dog had been taken by a bird of prey, presumably an eagle, I can't see that anything smaller could carry a dog, and then dropped. And before that, it had been either a stray, or horribly neglected. It's nails had grown round and into its pads and its teeth were decayed. Poor thing. Added to that the claw marks and broken ribs, and it definitely needs some TLC.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Pu-Pu and the Hat

Ye gods and little fishes, it has been a long and frustrating day, with a few twists of weird for flavouring.

The weather, for the ooh, third day in a row methinks, was glorious, a good-to-be-alive day, an oh-what-an-amazing-place-to-live day. Whisky and I had errands in Steveston, so I took him for a walk by the river whence Mount Baker can be seen in all its majesty.

After lunch however, things started to stall. Firstly, the internet was being flaky. Sometimes when this happens, a simple reboot will suffice. Sadly, the computer decided it didn't want to come to life again until Kevin had come home and sprinkled magic engineering dust on it and said abracadabra a few times. Hmmm...I really do him an injustice there, since that makes it sound easy. Anyway, resurrection did eventually take place.

In the park, Whisky saw his friends Toby and Newton, and another dog whose name is, I am told, Pu-Pu. Pu-Pu's owner was sitting on the grass wearing his 'should-have-gone-to Specsaver' glasses and one of those hats that look like a small umbrella that attaches to the head. In camouflage green.
Yesterday, there were 8 dogs and their owners, all speaking Cantonese, except moi of course, it made me wonder whether Whisky were the only dog who doesn't speak it, is he disadvantaged as dogs go?

On the way back, a boy racer in a penis extension car with the windows down was driving too fast and erratically, as they usually do, yet incongruously, the music blaring from the stereo was Nessun Dorma.

But back to today, the day that kept on giving. I took Kevin and Whisky to the Static, and our usual 45 minute journey took two hours, a semi had ploughed into the median on the freeway, so we did a mighty long stretch in first gear. Gaagh.

On the way home, I arrived in Blaine just in time for the longest train I've ever seen to be rolling along the track that crosses the main road. It looked as though it comprised all the leftover bits and pieces that were lying around in the train yard at the end of the day.

Back on the 99 on the Canadian side, late night road works were going on, the smell of skunk, mixed with tarmac, as though a steamroller had mowed one down.

And so to bed.

Monday, 16 May 2011


According to Andre and Jeremy, who e-mail me regularly,thank-you lads, Uganda has caved to global pressure and abandoned its evil bill that would have allowed homosexuality to be seen as a crime, and one punishable by death. Excellent news.

I do have a fair amount of religion in my life. Religious arguments for life after death are unconvincing, and utterly dependent not on logic, but a sort of 'get out of gaol free' card known as Faith.
In short, the arguments don't work, you just have to believe it's so.
And there's a lot of motivation for believing that it is so. It's almost impossible to contemplate our own cessation, or that of people - and for some, animals, we love. And it is this that speaks to me at the moment. When I go and visit my friend Anne, I simply cannot believe that just because her body is giving up, that Anne will cease to be. The past two weeks, she has been ill again. Last week, mostly asleep, but whenever she did wake up, she was immediately Anne.

Ever wondered what happened to Zowie Bowie? Seriously, you never wondered? Well, according to a copy of The Week, that I recouped from Alex's recycling bin, he changed his name to Duncan Jones at the age of 18 and has been leading a perfectly normal life, well, granted he's a film director, but that aside, normal.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Monkeys, Zeitungen, Stupidity

Haha! At last! Blogger has been 'read only' for two days.

Yesterday, I spent a whole load of time sitting in the car in neutral and moving forward in no higher than first gear. In front of me, a sticker on the back of a car warned that said car contained little monkeys. I really would like to know whether any research has been done to find out if the whole 'baby on board' sticker phenomenon has made any difference at all to the way people drive. It just seems to me that anyone would drive as carefully as they could all the time, and if you're an arsehole driver, would this sticker suddenly transform you?

This week has seen the sudden rise to fame of a little known Orthodox Jewish newspaper, die Tzitung, by virtue of its having shown the now iconic picture of President Obama's inner circle watching the take-down of Osama bin Laden, with Hillary Clinton photoshopped out. The other amazing phenomenon is that the comments on the Jewish Techs' blog, where the story has been discussed, are so incredibly sane. One points out that this sect of Jews are 'our (their) crazies' - well we all have plenty of those, don't we? Another asks, why, if the picture of Ms. Clinton is so offensive, would they print the picture at all. Another points to another Orthodox Jewish newspaper, where a picture of Bibi Netanyahu's government, was printed with the faces of the two female ministers replaced with male faces. Quite bizarre.
Of course, the assumption is that Hillary's picture was omitted because merely showing a picture of a woman inflames the passions of men beyond endurance, and they shouldn't have to endure, natch, but my theory is that they couldn't show the horror on her face.

A 'for goodness' sake get over it' story also had mostly sane comments. Parents (white, privileged) at a school in the city of Burnaby, protested when the Principal wanted to add a clause to their anti-bullying policy, prohibiting bullying on grounds of homosexuality. One problem for them is that it marginalises heterosexuality.
'Heterosexuality cannot be marginalised,' says one commentator, since it is considered the norm and therefore dominant. Exactly.
But no-one's standing for this nonsense anyway. The students want the clause in, and say that the parents can butt out, they don't go to the school, and the Principal says he doesn't care how many people protest, he wants to be able to sleep at night knowing that he's done whatever he can to prevent discrimination.
Plus, do these parents want their kids not to be able to get on buses, as happened when the Little Flower Academy discriminated against a teacher in a same-sex relationship?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Give Us This Day.....

Our Daily Red.
Happy Birthday Sleepy, bottoms up to you!

So, we have a bit of bother at the Schloss. It involves Laurence, but I can't blog about it, though I'm fine to share details with anyone who e-mails.
Anyhoo, suffice to say, it has been and will continue to take up a fair amount of our time, energy, sleep, and peace of mind.
There have also been some rather odd coincidences, spooky stuff, however nothing so far that tops the 'Bruce' word verification when I commented on Raymond's blog when Anne was at death's door. (Bruce, Raymond, Anne and I were all part of the same writers' group and Bruce died).

I now get e-mails from an e-card company, and I thought it rather over the top that this week they have Osama bin Laden cards - until I saw the message, 'All I want is a job where my existence is as politely ignored as bin Laden's was in Pakistan'. Chortle.

The office where I got the oximeter rang up to ask for it back (I returned it bright and early last Friday), then they rang back and apologised for the previous message. It was someone else entirely they were supposed to ring. I'm guessing the results won't be waiting for me at the doc's tomorrow.

I've just read 'The Island' by Victoria Hislop. Interesting premiss, and horrifying. Until 1957, the island of Spinalonga, off the coast of Crete, was a leper colony, and the story follows the lives of two members of a family who develop leprosy and are exiled on diagnosis, leaving behind the people they love, with no hope of return.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Frightful Upstart

So, this morning, on the CBC news, so our equivalent of the BBC, the newscaster asks a young woman of 20 who has just been voted in as an MP, whether this made her frightful. Good grief. No shame, no shame.

Then Laurence showed me a You Tube video of his company, and the owners were being interviewed.
'This is a new, upstart company,' says the incompetent interviewer. I'd have slugged her for that. Well, not really, but I'd have wanted to.

Tonight, I have to sleep attached to an oximeter, this is a machine which will determine whether I have sleep apnoea. I figure it can only determine that if I can sleep while attached to it, otherwise, it'll be one long apnoea.
We'll see.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Fire

Yesterday evening, when Kevin took Whisky out for his pre-bedtime pee, he noticed what looked like a huge bonfire behind the houses opposite us. In a manner of speaking it was. From the upstairs window we could see that some buildings not too far from where we live, were on fire. The Fire Brigade were already there, and thereby hangs a tale, because they had warned that if these particular wooden-framed buildings went up, they had been built too high for their water cannons to reach.

And unlike in any TV programme, where person A rings person B and tells them to turn on the TV and lo! They are just in time to see the exact news item their friend wanted them to see, we turned on the local news just in time to miss the item, and then the cable provider went down, followed by the power across the street.

This morning, there were lumps of smouldering charcoal in the dog park, and more significantly, on the path that runs behind the houses - this path being on the edge of peat bog. This afternoon, Cambie Road, where the fire happened, was still blocked off and guarded by police vans. The scene of the fire was still smoking.

This evening, the larger pieces of charcoal debris had been trampled and spread about.
Ahead of us we could see Whisky's friend Peanut going for a drag. Other dogs walk, or saunter, sniffing everything around, Peanut, small, but not accessory small, and certainly not an overweight dog, simply lies down and refuses to move,so that she has to be dragged along.

Since I've lived in this city, there have been some remarkable and spectacular fires, one caused by a small plane, piloted by a man with a known heart condition, ploughing into a block of flats in the centre of Richmond. Another, caused by a small plane ploughing into some buildings behind Ikea. This one seems to have no small aeroplane involvement.

This morning I visited my friend Anne. She was waiting for the doctor to come, as she has had a bad and rather rough sounding cough since Easter. The male doctor arrived, sadly, as I suspected, one of my own countryfolk, and in spite of his North of England accent, was as condescending as only we southerners can be. My friend wanted to query the dosage of one of her meds. He went and fetched the report that came with her from the hospital. My friend and I were sitting in chairs facing each other and he was standing to the side, but between us. He opened the report and turned to me,
'Can she read this?' he asked,
'Better than I can,' I replied.
It reminded me of the old BBC radio programme for people with disabilities. It was called, 'Does he Take Sugar?' because that's the way people with disabilities are often treated.
To be fair to him, many of his patients there are...well, not all there, but still, my friend is sharp as a tack and could run rings around him with anything involving words.

Monday, 2 May 2011


...was yesterday. And a very good Beltane it was, warm and sunny enough to put my plants out, and since today it is raining, yet still warm, they look fairly happy for the time being.

The death of Osama bin Laden finds me oddly elated. I wonder who'll play him in the film? Probably Jake Gyllenhaal. This is quite the coup though, and I hope it'll go some way towards pacifying President Obama's detractors. Here is a President who doesn't waver when it comes to protecting his people, but who will honour the dead, giving a Muslim funeral service followed by burial within the time frame demanded by the dead man's faith.
I do feel (personally) let down by Pakistan though. They have not acted honourably in all of this and I don't think we should let them play in the Test Match until they've shown us how sorry they are. Maybe they could stand in the corner too.

Yesterday's sermon from visiting priest Lois, was very good. She talked about the importance of 'Doubting Thomas', who wanted proof. She emphasised how vital it was to question and to come out of our comfort zones, and she quoted Frederick Douglas, 'They want rain without thunder and lightning.' Lovely.
Personally, I like rain, but thunder and lightning are a great bonus.