Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Mistresses of Mystery

Last year, I was introduced to the most amazing British mystery writer, Ariana Franklin. Her first novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series was called, not surprisingly, 'Mistress of the Art of Death'. These books are historical detective stories, much in the way of the wonderful Murdoch Mysteries by Maureen Jennings. The writing is flawless, the historical research impeccable and the plots skilfully woven. The author's speculation about what might have been possible in the way of forensics, gives a very satisfying dimension to the works.

Sadly, Ariana Franklin died last year, so this addiction needed to be replaced.

My next find - quite by chance, in the book shop at Heathrow, was another Brit, Scottish crime writer Denise Mina. I read 'The End of the Wasp Season'. Mina's detective novels are set in Glasgow and are as gritty as you would expect. But her characters are nonetheless sympathetic. Her detective, Alex Morrow has baggage, is flawed, but she is good at her job, dogged, determined. And all of this makes for compelling reading.

My most recent addiction is Canadian Author Louise Penny. And good gracious am I addicted. I was strangely drawn to the first of her Three Pines series 'Still Life', whilst standing at the checkout in Save-on Foods supermarket. I didn't read it straight away, but when I did, I was almost instantly drawn in. Her characters and imaginary village are so well portrayed that I felt as though I'd been there and knew the people. Her plots are also page-turningly intricate, like a carefully stitched appliqué.

In many ways, Louise Penny has replaced two well-loved authors for me. Her work also has the 'snuggle under the duvet with a bar of chocolate and a damned good read' factor that Maeve Binchy's writing had for me. Sadly, Maeve died in the past few days.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Three Fine Books

Three books that I have read and loved this year all have a backdrop of extremes of temperature. 

Hilary Mantel’s ‘Eight Months on Gazzah Street’ is based on the author’s own experience of living in Saudi Arabia. As the situation and the institutionalised misogyny entrap her more deeply, the feeling of powerlessness is heightened by the constant and inescapable heat, until like her, we are not sure what is real and what is imagined and we welcome the news that she and her husband have permission to return to England.

Heat and powerlessness haunt the women in 
Dipiki Rai’s ‘Someone Else’s Garden’. Probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve read, it takes us on a journey from the most abject poverty of the Indian countryside and a community where inhumanity towards women is just accepted, to a different impoverishment as one of the protagonists reaches the sprawling city. Yet here she finds a freedom and personal growth she’d never experienced. Throughout the book, she is supported by her spirituality, which gives the book a feeling of intimacy.

By contrast, in ‘The Seige’, by Helen Dunmore, it is the cold that creeps up on us and stalks us. I found Dunmore’s writing compelling. Life in Leningrad in the summer of 1941 seems harsh by modern standards, yet far worse than we can possibly imagine is to come. Somehow Dunmore gives us a taste of the harshness of it. She makes us glimpse shadows out of the corner of our eye, yet still it seems sudden when war is upon us. And the siege isn’t just the army of one formidable nation besieging the people of another, it is also the winter which pushes them to the limits of their endurance. They never lose their belief that the Red Army will break through, that the siege will end, and that the soul of their nation is shared in its greatest writing.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

All's Well that Ends Well

Last day of July - where did the month go?

My schedule changed in July - I've been working Monday to Friday as I will throughout August, and my day starts and ends earlier.

Tonight, in Superstore, I used my bolshie Brit powers for the greater good. At least it turned out that way.

I came up to the queue at the self service checkout and a woman was arguing with three members of staff and an Asian man was just standing quietly by  one of the checkouts.

'Oho,' thought I, 'entertainment!' but then I quickly realised it was annoying because they were blocking the checkout and it wasn't being used. So I struck up some comradely small talk with the two people in front of me. 'What's occurring?' I asked.
'Woman, grumble grumble, argument, grumble, grumble,' they vaguely said. So I went up to the member of staff nearest to us and said,
'Can these people use this checkout?'
'There's an argument.' she said,
'Yes, but the checkout's not being used, can these people use it?'
'The man is there,'
'But he's not using it.' So she shuffled around a bit and I went over to the man who was at the checkout but not using it.
'Scan your stuff,' I said. He just looked at me. 'Start scanning,' I said, 'scan your shopping,' so he did and the arguing woman moved away and the staff dispersed. I went back to the queue and the woman in front of me said,
'Good job, why didn't we do that?'
'Because you're not as bossy and unpleasant as me,'
'But you did it so nicely!' she said, with no detectable sarcasm,
'Really?' said I, 'I thought I was quite rude.'

Oh well, all's well that ends well as it were.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

And Nasturtiums

Oh dear. The Olympics approach. And just as we were without snow when we had ours, Britain seems to be about to float away. What fun.

Here in Canada, things seem to be too hot, particularly on the east coast, and causing people to do atrocious things. There have been two shootings in Ontario recently, and yesterday on the news we witnessed the raw sorrow of the parents whose son was murdered on videocam, which was then broadcast on YouTube, and then chopped up and his bits and pieces sent across the country. The accused had pleaded not guilty, natch. Nauseating.

At the Schloss, all is not well. We have discovered mould growing in Laurence's flat, due to piss poor installation of the shower by previous owners. At present, walls, floor and shower have been ripped down, up and out. Decontamination continues and it's fortunate indeed that even on the west coast, we are currently suffering under the unrelenting sun.

We have two tomatoes on our plants. Not much I agree. Looks as though we might get some spuds this year. And nasturtiums.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Mid-July. July seems to be going so quickly. My schedule has changed for the summer and I'm working Monday to Friday instead of Tuesday to Saturday, and I'm starting earlier in the day. The days are hot now, after a June of rain, heat and sunshine, and trouble sleeping because of it.

Funny that we have these long evenings and no TV - but it makes it feel as though you can get something done after work, instead of just vegging.

Kevin has done a lot of work at the Static. He has made new steps to replace the old, rotten ones. We've reclaimed some space in the garden and Kevin has built a fence to define it. He's built a bedframe to replace the old-fashioned and much too high, divan set, made new bedside tables and he has laid new flooring.

Now, we discover new challenges in the house. The basement has problems and we are looking at how to approach it.

The pace of life hasn't altered.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

This and That

How time flies. I've just had a three-day weekend, after which I felt quite rested, whereas now, after one overly warm night and little sleep, I feel entirely bleugh. Tant pis.

I feel as though I'm running just to stand still. I'm not complaining, this time last year I had no job, and was getting precisely nowhere finding one.
Nil desperandum, new series of True Blood. That'll get us through the summer.

Alex has gone back. I'm missing her, but it's good to know that she's helping out with Austen and Sue's kids and in September she'll start teacher training.

And the rain is back, very up and down at the moment -which should be great for the tomatoes, and yet isn't so much, they seem to be huddling. Spuds, on t'other hand, are looking lusty.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


It's hot, well, at least, it has been sunny for about ten days now, two weekends, and the temperature is rising, has risen and is now holding steady. Ish.

Last weekend we took the kayaks out and I also went swimming - the outdoor pools were all open at the Static's park, which was a delight. Lovely. When the sun is out, the weekends seem more relaxing, we can sit in the patch of garden and drink Margaritas. We can eat outside. And we can eat just salads and be happy about it.

And TV is coming to an end for the summer. Yes, that time yet again, just like the days getting shorter or longer, it happens (here) every year and yet I never see it coming. Thank goodness for Scandinavia is all I can say, they seem to be producing some good police drama.

This coming weekend will be a long weekend for us, I'm looking forward to having an extra day off. But it's also going to mark a year since my friend Anne died. I still can't believe she's not coming back.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Quantum Theories

I love the theory of Quantum Politics. I also like the terms 'Romniverse' and Romneomics'.

I'm also loving the scale of the universe - hours of mind-boggling fun.

In local news, a woman fell to her death while supposedly strapped to a hang-gliding instructor. The instructor is currently being held by the police for obstructing the course of justice - he has allegedly swallowed the memory card that was in the video cam attached to the hang-glider. I can't begin to imagine the fear that woman must have felt as she knew she was falling out of the sky.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Eve

I have tomorrow off work, as does Kevin. He and Alex are cycling down to Birch Bay, I will be driving down with Whisky - the dog that is, not the drink. Although when we all get there, there will be drink involved, tomorrow being Kev's birthday. Alex has been planning, I have been ignoring more or less. I'm not much of a party-person myself, so it doesn't occur to me that other people like them - and of course, as I knew really, this is not the case.

April has been a whirlwind, what a contrast with last year, and yet there have been moments when I was reminded of visiting my friend Anne in the retirement home. I think it's the cherry blossom as much as anything.

I haven't done the things I had planned this month, yet I have done a lot, and having Alex here makes it all meaningful in any case. She never seems to stop, she has so many friends to see. My baby girl. Such a Gemini.

Because I've stopped listening to the crap eighties music channel on the radio and instead am tuning in to CBC, I seem to have more of a handle on what's actually happening in the country. Getting The Week, also gives me a handle on what's going on in Britain, and what Britain thinks is going on the rest of the world, so I'm pretty well informed.

The interesting thing in Canada this week has been the election in Alberta. Now this sounds utterly butterly dull. The Progressive Conservative party has been in power for 41 years, but all the polls were predicting a win for the Wild Rose party (Alberta's symbol), and to the extent that journos had not only written, but already published articles dissecting the crushing defeat of the Tories. And then the Tories won, by a significant margin. So this week, every journo and every pollster and every Albertan politician, has had to be on the radio eating crow or answering questions about how the crow tasted, or explaining why their party won or lost.
Interesting times.
And for once, even in Alberta.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Big Events

Sometimes, I forget to mention the big things because they are so much part of my daily life that I don't realise I haven't mentioned them -  like Alex being here for a couple of months, well, almost two months. I collected her from YVR just over a week ago. We both had some tears. She's been out and about, visiting friends, old haunts, shops and places, and it's great to have her here. I'd re-painted her bedroom, made it comfier. It's the only room she has that is just hers right now.

When I left work yesterday, as often happens on a Saturday, I went down to the Static in the States. The border guard looked at my visa waiver and told me to have a nice day,
'And become Canadian,' he shouted after me.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Small Print

At the end of this morning's field trip, I asked if there were any questions. One boy put his hand up and said, 'Why is there an ice-rink here?'
'Because we're in Canada,' said I.

Research in the British consumer magazine Which? has found that terms and conditions on some shopping websites are longer than Shakespeare's longest play. PayPal's are 36, 275 words, whilst Hamlet only runs to 30, 066. Hmmm...

A huge faux pas by Kuwait who accidentally played the spoof Kazakh national anthem from the film Borat when the Kazakh winner of a shooting event was standing on the podium. She had to listen to her country being described as having the cleanest prostitutes in the region. Not good - but accidental. Here in Canada, our athletes have to stand on the podium and listen to our ACTUAL national anthem call for true patriot love from all her sons. Officially sanctioned misogyny from a country that is constitutionally committed to gender equality.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Season of Mellow Blogfulness

Cripes, where do the time go?

The Easter weekend was exceedingly pleasant, four days off in a row. I painted Laurence's kitchen and I planted lots of plants in window and patio boxes. The weather was sunny and warm. The downside to that was that there were people actually playing tennis on the tennis courts, which meant I couldn't take the little dog in there and let him off his lead. Well, I probably could have done, but there would have been screaming and possibly blood.
In the dog park, there were off-lead children, so again, no doggie playfulness. Tears and screams.

Sunday was a day full of chocolate, which is of course, in keeping with the true meaning of Easter.
Today, I was outside, and for the time I was out, it was once more, sunny and warm. The skunk cabbage filled the air with the delicate fragrance of skunkiness, contrasting greatly with the delicate fragrance of the spring smell of Cottonwood. The frogs were croaking like good 'uns out in the bog. And then the rain came. It stopped the traffic, well, that and the fact that the Canucks had a hockey game, a home game. The slip roads onto the main roads into Vancouver were all choked.

But right now, whether it doth rain or shine, the Lower Mainland of BC is luminous with cherry blossom. Makes the heart soar. This is in stark contrast to things I have seen recently where people have described something as an 'eye-soar'. Yes. No meaning there then.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Til Death

I'm tired, but right now, good tired. I've had three field trips this week, that bit of my job is brilliant. But I can't believe it's nearly the end of March. It went so quickly, although as a money month, it seemed overly long.

French top banana Gerard Dépardieu is going to be playing Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a forthcoming docu-drama type film. He's doing this because he thinks DSK is a bit of a knob, well don't we all? GD however, thinks that his countryfolk in general are all a bunch of arrogant frogs.

Over in Deutschland, a bunny with no ears, Til, was going to make it big on showbiz. Sadly, its acting career was cut short at the press launch, when a camera op stepped on it and killed it.

And Deutschland may well have been less than happy with China. On FB this week, a picture of some product from China, had a display of several countries' flags on the packaging. Germany's flag had a swastika. Ouch.

Globally, 15% of drug users admit to having taken a mystery white powder without knowing what it was. Of those, a third said they had got said white powder from a stranger.

Outside, it continues to rain.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Moon, Venus, Jupiter

The weekend was two lengthening days of sun and beauty. Even the night sky was a sight to behold. A sliver of crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus to one side. The sun came with enough of a rise in temperature to allow the tomato seeds to germinate and the buds on the flowering cherry to threaten to open.
Today we have rain again, but the garden is glad of it. Next month's April showers will bring forth May flowers, although here, it could be May before March's flowers get their grin on.

 I have discovered the real and original use of a weblog. I had to fill in a form listing all the dates I was out of the country. It took some research, but the blog gave up its un-secrets.
It is a diary, so that's its purpose.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Still delightfully cold. Presumably it can't last. Also, my tomatoes are germinating very, very slowly. Mountains look divine though.

March's dark moon is the seed moon. Perhaps I should only just have planted.

I'm loving having 'The Week' again. I was reading about Germany's 'mini-jobs'. Seemed like a good idea at the time, and solved their unemployment problem, but has now created an underclass living on subsistence level incomes and benefits. In some ways, there is a similar situation here, caused by the strength of the unions. The law itself gives little protection and only basic rights, while people in so-called 'union jobs' get several times the same rate of pay as other workers, and benefits which are often misused. The system needs a shake-up, but then that's what Angela Merkel is finding in Germany. She is having to consider introducing a minimum wage, something Germany has held out against.
Another problem it is experiencing, as are many western countries, is the low birth rate. Measures are being put into place to encourage families to have more children, but no-one can forget that so did the Nazis.

Since I've had this netbook, it has seemed slow and lumbering. This past week, we have discovered that the old 'you get what you pay for' adage, sometimes overlaps with 'be careful what you wish for'. Early on, I upgraded my AVAST anti-virus, and bought a version which was going to give me super-duper security. And it did. By scanning everything all the time and THAT is why everything I did on the computer was so slow. Now I have the slimmed down version and the whole thing is less frustrating.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mothers and Dogs

Sunday was Mothering Sunday, but it had not registered on my radar, so I was surprised to hear the doorbell ring at nine o'clock. Whisky rushed downstairs barking madly. By the time I reached the door, there was no-one there, and Whisky slipped past me, bolted down the steps and trapped a woman who was trying to deliver an Azalea in a basket. She was shaking and trembling, and kept repeating how sorry she was, but that she was scared.
I'm appalled at how amused I was.

Monday morning we awoke to a hard frost, but it was sunny. Within the hour, the sky was covered with dark grey clouds, followed by hail and then sleet. Strange, but true.

The snowdrops are from our trip to England, here, there is just one tiny squill in the garden, the rest of the bulbs are just peeking a bit of foliage out of the ground, waiting for some sign that it's safe to come out.

The ignition mechanism on our furnace has given up. Naturally this isn't a piece you can just buy from Home Depot. Fortunately, we have a portable oil heater that keeps the whole house as warm as we like it, when set to half. I still wonder at people whose first reaction to feeling cold isn't to put on a jumper, it's to turn the heat up.
It's attitudes that sink us, and attitudes that raise us up.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Knee, the Snow

The past week at the Schloss has been dominated by two things. Laurence's knee and the weather.

Whilst still in Birch Bay last Sunday, Laurence rang to say he'd been in hospital. He had been to the cinema on Saturday, early evening. He'd gone to the toilet and slipped. As he fell, his kneecap was displaced and he was in great pain. The security people called an ambulance and then he was taken to the hospital where they popped his kneecap back in and gave him painkillers. Then they turned him out into the night to find his own way back home - which, to his credit, he did.

He was told to stay off work for the week, but he won't get paid. That's the way it works around here. There's a two-tier system and a hell of a lot of people are left to spin in the wind if something like this happens.
I contacted the cinema and they contacted their liability insurance. We'll see what happens.
On Friday he went to the medical clinic and saw my doctor. She told him he needed to be off for another week and that he would need physio. Whilst the swelling on the knee looks as though it has gone down, she could feel it still. 

On Tuesday, it snowed. It snowed hard in that magical way that snow does. It stuck, and the parking lot of my work was transformed - in that magical way that snow transforms the world. By the end of the day it had gone, but the memory lingers. As magical memories do.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Circles in the Sand

Now where was I?
We came back, Kevin was ill, very ill, influenza ill. Unable to stand, feverish, aching, the whole shebang. And although he's now out of bed, he's still suffering.

While we were away, France dropped the title, 'Mademoiselle' because it is sexist and discriminates against women - fantastically done France!

Today, the New Statesman ran an article that stupidly asked the question, 'Is God Sexist?' and then didn't answer it, because the real question was, 'Is Religion Sexist?' because of course it is. A well-written article though.

Last night's full moon was astounding, it hung huge and gold in the sky. Couldn't get a good picture of it though. March's full moon - plough moon. You could have tilled a field by it.

Still pleasantly cold, it has been struggling to snow, at times cold and sunny. Frosty times.

Monday, 27 February 2012

This is England 2012

So that was England 2012. Alex says that ex-pats call it the thousand dollar cure. You think you want to go home. You go back for a couple of weeks and that cures you.

I must say, both of us were very taken by West Sussex. It is beautiful and it undulates.

The driving went well. I was surprised at how little trouble I had getting back into it, I was also surprised at how fast we drive over there. But we certainly needed a car, a little car, a little car with a ready-made dent in it.

We found new TV shows - not bad since we didn't watch much.

On the train on the way home, we watched 'Anonymous', a fictional account of Shakespeare's life. Vanessa Redgrave as the older Queen Elizabeth was an inspired choice, especially since her daughter was able to play the younger queen.

Back at YVR, we sat on the tarmac as the auxiliary power which pushes you to the gate, failed to come on. As soon as you're on the ground, it gets hot. People got up and stood in the aisles, in spite of being told not to. They made it hotter. When we did get off, we had to wait for an hour for our luggage, all pretty tiring. But oh well, we're back.
Work tomorrow.
No sweat.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Red Letter Day

Yesterday (Thursday) was an all-systems go, start to finish day. First thing we went to the Register Office in Portsmouth for our friends' wedding. The perfect wedding, since they had been married for some time, but needed the legalities done. So this was what it was, no rings or vows exchanged, just papers signed in front of witnesses.

The brides treated us to an amazing lunch at a very high end restaurant, my goodness are those waiting staff polite without being obsequious. Food - out of this world.

In the evening, fate had accorded us a rare treat - Ben's band were playing in Pompey. And my god were they amazing! just phenomenal, of course I'd seen them on YouTube, but live - just awesome.

Back to Pulborough for a rest, seeing a friend locally tomorrow:)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


The story so far.
Friday, took Whisky to Kev's parents' house, went to work, came home, my friend Yvonne picked us up and took us to the airport. Plane left on time, slept most of the way, sorted.

At Heathrow, not so sorted. Even the new, swishy terminal five was not working like the well-oiled machine it should have been. We waited ages for the shuttle train to take us to Arrivals. At baggage reclaim, and how is it this can happen? one bag came out almost straight away, the other, handed over at YVR at exactly the same time, took another half an hour or so.
Then Avis - who managed to rent us a car with a huge dent in it. If I'd wanted rent-a-wreck, I'd have done so straight off the bat.
Oh well.

Then we had difficulty finding Austen and Sue's new place, Google maps weren't as helpful as I usually find them, and the country lanes were dark, very dark. Luckily, navigating the narrow, windy, unlit roads and passing people coming in the opposite direction by a fraction of an inch, all came back to me.

West Sussex is lovely though. There's a tawny owl roosting in a tree next door. The countryside feels very comfortable and we're enjoying the walks and the ruined castles and such like. There's still snow on many of the fields and hills.
Oh, and Sainsburys, which, admittedly isn't confined to Sussex. Sainsburys has this awesome new scheme. They monitor their main competitor's prices daily on everything they sell, then they give you a money back coupon for the difference on any item that their competitor was selling more cheaply that day. Certainly keeps me coming back!

Tomorrow we'll re-connect with Portsmouth. Tally-ho!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Lego State

Washington State has passed a law to allow marriage equality. This should come to pass in the summer sometime. Naturally the bigot wheel has been rolled out. I can't even be bothered to look at their spew to be honest.

I see that the weather in Britain has become colder, even colder than here. I look forward to it.

A YouTube clip about Lego has me gobsmacked. It seems that real research has linked enhanced development in the thinking skills that are needed for science and engineering, in children who play with Lego.
The Lego company, according to Spokesperson Mads Nipper - has spent four years trying to find out how to market Lego to girls. You think I'm not going to say it, don't you?
But I'm afraid I am.
You make it pink and purple, you put the little people in short skirts, and you have them do girl friendly Lego activities such as keep house, visit the hairdresser's and, well, just generally hang about being girls. Of course I like arranging my house and going to the hairdressers, but I also like dinosaurs, sciencey things, splitting the atom, and other not-very-ladylike activities.

But, if you think about it, you don't really want girls going in to science and engineering, because there might not be enough to go round. Or it might become not cool, because girls like it.
Or something.

Good gracious. There are so many freaking layers of patriarchal oppression, tis difficult to know where to start.
And four freaking years to come up with what most people could groan and predict in five seconds.
Here's some free advice Lego, just market it to girls by simply putting girls in your ads, showing girls playing with it, by radically changing your mindset to the fact that girls like dinosaurs, aeroplanes and building things.

Monday, 30 January 2012


Yeah, no, not her.

So, one of the ongoing REALLY BIG QUESTIONS is, how to make Zombies interesting - except of course for those who find Zombies inherently interesting, not me, I don't, but lots of other people who I like, do.
Where was I?
Oh yes, 'The Fades'. My goodness, what a little gem of a TV series - BBC I think, but it was on our telly, and such a quirk that we found it. Since we rarely watch the telly as it happens, we are rarely channel surfing, but we did, once, and we found this. Awesome series. Never let up. Watch it and then we'll enter into dialogue about whether the Fades count as Zombies. Um, and not just the first episode,

Another unbelievably fab series is 'Call the Midwife'. It is about a group of midwives/district nurses operating out of an Anglican convent in the East End of London in 1957 - yes, the year of my birth. Utterly fascinating, and finally we are getting some programmes about women's work.

Ever thought of this ? - You know those questions you get where someone asks you who from history you would most like to meet? And you say, 'Eleanor of Aquitaine'. Well, I would. And what if we DID get to meet that person and it turned out that actually we WERE that person. That in a previous life, we were them. How would that work? Spookily, I feel.

So, that aside. Saturday evening, returned from work, straight down to the Static. Icy rain, dark, I cycle to the barely heated swimming pool. I swim, alone, every time the wind blows, the awning - the bubble - over the pool, shudders and icy water rains down through the holes in its roof. Enjoyable though. I put my jacket, trousers and trainers on over my cossie and towel, and cycle back through the icy rain, and realise I am racing a skunk. Who knew they could move like that? They always seem to amble along - waddle almost, but this one was really legging it. Important to outrun a skunk though.
You could argue - training for the zombies apocalypse.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Solar Flare

So, bit of confusion over the Year of the Dragon - thought it was yesterday, so did the rest of predominantly Chinese Richmond, but the Chinese astrologer in the local rag reckons it's 4th Feb. This is the same local rag that this week brought us the gem, 'We got a funnel!' Indeed.

Still, the year of the dragon appears to be heralded by severe solar storms raging out in the ...well, solar system. The Aurora Borealis is apparently so active that the lights can be seen down here. Not quite sure what you have to do to see them though. I've peered out at the night sky. There is a stunning sliver of crescent moon and a bright star, but no light show.

On Friday we awoke to really big snow, the sort that makes you think you've moved to Sleepy Hollow, but by the evening it had been mostly melted by the driving rain. And the rain is still driving, let me tell you.

It comes home to you how many channels on our TV are from the US when Obama is giving his State of the Union address. This evening I had to scroll through quite a few before finding an actual programme.

Amazon recommended me a bunch of books based on my recent purchases - according to them."Hokkaido Highway Blues : Hitchhiking Japan". Seriously, they got this from a bunch of British Field Guides and some random fiction?

Trinity Baptist church on Granville Street, Vancouver, has a sign outside that declares that God's favourite word is 'come'. Hmmm..Well I suppose God's name does get called a lot at that moment.

Why does Julian Assange think he's worthy of a TV prog? Good grief. Must be the solar storm messing with reality.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Big Snow

Well, biggish. We had snow on Friday evening. When I drove to work from Birch Bay on Saturday, the fields to either side of Route 99 were insanely beautiful. The evergreens were draped with sparkling white, and in one blanketed pasture, a bunch of dark-coloured llamas were kneeling down. Right at the tope of bare-branched deicduous tree, a bald eagle looked hunched into its feathers. Yet the eagles love the cold weather, they simply own the sky.
There was another sprinkling overnight on Saturday-Sunday, but when we got back to Richmond, there had clealry been more.
Very early this morning it started up again and the drive to work was through driving snow. If I didn't have the windscreen-wipers on all the time, then the snow froze as the blades cleared it. The roads hadn't yet been fully cleared, but at least people were driving at sensible speeds and with a good stopping distance in between.
For now, we are not due any more until tomorrow night, we'll see. Today, the top temperature has been -6.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Just Bleuch

My day off! So typical then that I felt suddenly so rough around midday and throughout the afternoon, that I thought I might be seriously ill.
I took my pulse and found I had none. Rather than assuming I had hit the wrong spot, I naturally wondered whether I was in fact dead and hadn't realised it.
This was probably more as a result of watching a British TV programme yesterday called 'The Fades', where people who couldn't find the way through to the afterlife, wandered around, unable to interact with the living world, and getting angrier and angrier about it.
I noticed that I was in fact able to interact so the chances were that wasn't what had happened. When I did find my pulse, it seemed to be a fairly normal 68.

Still, waves of nausea, feeling that I was going to faint and feeling hot and cold wrecked my day. I know several people who have had truly awful bouts of gastric flu in the last couple of weeks. This, I was not keen on.
I'm still hoping it won't develop, and I certainly feel much better than I did earlier, but haven't been able to face any actual food. I've drunk water and hot Marmite and lain around like a sickly heroine.
Feeling cold's a bit of a novelty.I think I could handle it without the nausea and faintness.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


Television's coming back. It has been away for about a month, and we had almost exhausted our saved-up British TV programmes and then the new episodes of things started to trickle in. This Sunday, it starts up in earnest and of course soon, so will the meetings.

This week we have had Noah-esque rain, although today was dry and by the end, clear. And thus, colder. In fact, when I left work this evening, the sky was an almost-dark blue, rather than black.

We've been watching a programme about the people who believe the Mayan prophecy about 2012. It seems that it has been downgraded to more of a 'something bad will happen sometime'. Yes. If we don't stop warming up our planet, the climate will change cataclysmically.
Apart from the man who thinks it will happen earlier. Say wha'?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year wherever you are.

We were down at the Static for New Year, a friend stayed over and we had a quiet but enjoyable evening, food, film, wine, sparkling wine and oddly timed fireworks. They seemed to go mad between nine and nine thirty and then nothing.
Today we returned and took the Christmas decs down, swept the floor of fir needles, put washing on.

Our Christmas period entertainment has been mostly Downton Abbey. England's obsession is our obsession. With just the two-hour Christmas special to go, we face the long, dark teatime of the soul until the next series appears.

Sometimes, the Christmas period seems interminable. Sometimes it's over in a blink of an eye.

I don't have any resolutions. I have things I want to do, to explore, to face head on, but nothing as specific as a resolution.

Today would be my friend Anne's birthday. I have been typing up some of the 'missing' chapters from her novel. I have the hard copy, but no electronic file. For one reason or another, I had to photocopy some of the pages. As I typed them up, I put them in the recycling. One morning over the past week, I awoke to a familiar, yet unplaceable scent. It came into my head that it was Anne's soap, yet I still couldn't say, 'oh yes, of course.' I went down to make the coffee. I was standing on the opposite side of the kitchen and suddenly, the pages of Anne's novel lifted up from the bin and fell down the stairs, as though they had been moved by a breath of wind. Of course, there were no windows open and there is no heating vent anywhere near the recycling bin. Coincidence I guess, at a time when my friend is very much in my thoughts.

I still find it unbelievable that she is no longer here. In the grand scheme of things, I hadn't known her that long, but we were good friends. When I think of friends that I don't see, or don't see very often, but whom I've known for almost my whole life,  it seems impossible that the world could continue without them being in it. At some point in my life, I guess I'll experience that - or they will.  And I can't imagine it, nor do I want to.

New Year.
Makes you think.