Monday, March 30, 2009

Home Remedies

When I was a little girl, whenever I was "under the weather" with a cold or flu bug, my father's remedy for everything was a cup of cocoa. He would use only Fry's cocoa. He put two tablespoons of cocoa into a mug, mixed in some sugar and then slowly mixed in the hot milk. No one could make cocoa the way my father did. He also made the best bacon and eggs and pancakes. And every Saturday he would bake a special chocolate cake with raspberry compote filling. He made the filling with raspberries that he grew in his garden.

It didn't matter what illness my brothers or I might have had -- rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, a broken bone -- the remedy was always food. I remember once I had a severe bout of tonsillitis, and my father gave me a sardine sandwich. What happened, you ask? Oh ... you don't want to know.

The family doctor was also a personal friend of ours, so he made house calls, and they always turned into social calls as well. I remember one year my mother was very ill with a cold, she called the family doctor, and he said he would pop around to see her. She had been too ill to sweep or tidy up, so she jumped out of bed to straighten the house before the doctor arrived. He caught her sweeping the floor, and scolded her. He said, "This house will still be here long after you're gone. Put the broom down and get back into bed." A couple of years later our town was struck by a tidal wave, and the house was washed out to sea. My mother phoned the doctor and said, "Oh, Chesley, the house is gone -- but I am still here..." She took great delight in pointing that out to him every time she saw him.

My father had a plum tree in the back yard, and every summer it was so laden with plums, he had to hold the branches up with two-by-fours. My favorite breakfast on a summer morning was a bowl of stewed plums and a piece of toast with sweet butter melting on it -- and a cup of cocoa. To me, plums will always taste like a summer morning.

I still occasionally use food for (*cough*) medicinal purposes. I don't care much for drinking, and drug addicts can keep their drugs. But a big bowl of Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream, covered with raspberries -- now, that's for me. I just happen to have one here right now, and as soon as I'm finished posting this, I'm going to dive in. Oh, I can't fool you -- I've already eaten it.

Have a great evening, everyone.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Déjà Vu

Some friends and I were having a conversation the other day about déjà vu -- what is it, how does it happen? The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of eeriness," "strangeness," or "weirdness," The "previous" experience is most frequently attributed to real life, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience "genuinely happened" in the past. ... Wikipedia

I know there are scientific explanations for déjà vu, and they're probably right, but they're really not much fun, are they? And then there is the theory from folks who believe in reincarnation, and that episodes of déjà vu are bits of memories from past lives. I'm not sure about that explanation either.

The conclusion that my friends and I arrived at is that bits of memories from our predecessors are stored in our DNA. Well, I know this sounds as silly as the other explanations, but could cellular memory actually be possible?

There is anectodal evidence that people who receive transplanted organs from transplant donors display a strange change in tastes, opinions, cravings, and other mild personality changes. This gives rise to the theory that the donated organ had some part of the donor's memory left within it. A woman named Claire Sylvia, who was a transplant recipient, wrote a book called "A Change of Heart". She had received a donated heart from an 18 year-old boy who had been in a motorcycle accident. Claire suddenly developed a craving for beer, chicken nuggets, and green peppers, all food she didn't enjoy prior to her heart transplant.

The mind and body are all one; they don't exist separate and apart from each other. I believe it is possible that memories are stored in the tissue in other parts of our bodies as well, not just in our brains. It's an interesting thought. If so, it could also be possible that memories are stored in our DNA. Will one of our descendants, years from now, have a déjà vu of something we experienced perhaps this very afternoon? They may be walking along a street you walked along today, and suddenly experience that familiar feeling, "I have done this before..."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Separated At Birth

I have been seeing the ads for the newly released movie "Monsters Versus Aliens", it occurs to me how much Ginormica looks like the absolutely adorable Gretchen Moll from "Life On Mars". The voice of Ginormica was done by Reese Witherspoon, but don't you think Gretchen would have been perfect for the part?

I'm so disappointed "Life on Mars" has been cancelled. It was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, but the final episode is next week. The ensemble cast was perfect, and their chemistry with each other was amazing. What were the idiots executives at ABC thinking? Maybe Ginormica should pay them a visit.

A Bowl Of Roses

Last week I told you about some of my mother's paintings, and I have been trying to figure out a way to get them into the computer so I could share them with you. I thought of taking them to work, where I have a scanner, and scanning them in, but it would mean removing them from the frames. I was afraid I would damage the paintings if I did that. And then I had a sudden brainwave -- as I occasionally do, about once a decade -- and decided to take photographs of them, and upload them that way. Sorry it's tilted, and it's not the best way to view them, but it gives you a bit of an idea, in any case. This is the painting of Salisbury Cathedral that my mother did when she was 16 years old. The art school was across the street from the Cathedral. When I went to Salisbury Cathedral, the art school was still there, and I could see students sitting in the windows, painting pictures of Salisbury Cathedral.

This second picture was painted by my mother -- just for me. Up until I was seven years old, I shared a bedroom with my brothers. It was like a dormitory, with the beds all lined up, but my brothers couldn't wait to get rid of me. So at the age of seven, I got my own bedroom. My mother decorated it for me -- all in girly stuff. I had beautiful curtains and a matching bedspread, a brand new bed and dressers, and a big round rag-rug that my mother made. To this day I still love rag-rugs. And then one evening my mother painted this picture to put on my bedroom wall. The roses were from her garden. I was sitting at the kitchen table watching her while she painted it, and I can still remember the sound of the brush tinkling in the glass as she swished it in the water and applied fresh pigment. The whole process had a rhythm to it. Dip the brush into the pigment, stroke the pigment onto the paper, clean the brush in the water, dip it into the pigment, apply the pigment onto the paper... The painting took about an hour to complete, and my mother and I sat in absolute silence while she concentrated on her work, the only sound the tinkling of the brush in the glass. I was mesmerized watching the painting come to life. To me, it was like magic.

Last summer I had the Munchkins staying with me for a few days, and we sat at the kitchen table doing some watercolor paintings. I did a little composition for them to paint, and I was amazed at how good they were. I think my mother would have been pleased.

The Real Villains

I watched an interesting and informative program on Dateline NBC last night, and I was shocked. The program was about debt collection, and particularly about debt collectors who are using illegal practices to collect money. Lots of money. Apparently in the currect recession, creditors are selling their delinquent accounts to debt collection agencies for pennies on the dollar. These collection agencies then go ahead and use any means they can to collect the full amount of the debt -- and put it in their own pockets. It's a very lucrative business, and they often work out of shabby offices and basement suites, using illegal debt collection practices such as threatening the debtor with jail. They often pose as lawyers or sheriffs, telling the debtors if they "don't pay right away, they will be picked up".

Crooks will always find an opening for a new scam, and it seems that these thugs have turned the recession into a cottage industry. Hard-working, honest people who have gotten over their heads with debt -- for one reason or another -- are being scavanged. There was one couple in the NBC segment, who were convinced the police were on their way to pick them up, and they fled their home. The NBC investigation uncovered the fact that the so-called debt collectors were scam artists, currently out on bail for previous swindles they had committed. In other cases, legitimate collection agencies had hired people who were overstepping their boundaries -- a lot -- in their debt collection practices, and they were ultimately fired.

If you are in debt and are being hounded by debt collectors, you should inform yourself of your legal rights. Debt collectors are not allowed to:

● Make a charge or threat that has nothing to do with the collection of the debt;
● Make abusive calls in which they lose their temper and use profanity or other verbal abuse;
● Talk to your employer without your permission, unless it's to confirm your employment;
● Talk to you, your family or your employer in a way that will humiliate or distress anyone.
● Make frequent calls that constitute harassment. Unless you provide the reason, a collector should never call you more than once a day. Reasonable collection practices should not require that the collector call you more than once a week or every second week in order to determine if your financial situation has changed;
● Give you a document that is made to look like an official court document when it isn't.

In Canada the debt collection practices are governed by the Provinces and Territories, so you can check your Provincial legislation for the guidelines. In America, there is a document here where you can check your legal rights as a debtor. There are also lots of support groups, incuding several on-line.

I was shocked when I watched the program on Dateline NBC. The second part of the program will be aired on Sunday, March 29th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” ... William Shakespeare.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Changing Human Face

I have always been fascinated by the changing human face over the course of a person's lifetime. Here in Canada, we have the Queen's face on our $20 bill, and some of the earlier notes that are still in circulation look so different from the recent ones. I think the Queen's face has aged remarkably well. She has lived a healthy, active life. One of her hobbies is going for long hikes with her dogs. She has also been in a long-term relationship, and she is close to her children and grandchildren. All of these things are positive, affirmative life events. Sometimes, though, people lead difficult lives, and their life events show on their faces -- much like in the "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. In the story, an artist named Basil Hallward paints a picture of Dorian Gray while Dorian is still young and full of youthful beauty. Dorian loved the picture so much, he sold his soul in order to stay young and beautiful, and the picture would age instead.

I used to love drawing portraits of the human face, and I particularly enjoyed drawing portraits of people in their later years, whose faces were filled with wonderful expressive lines that reflected their life experiences. I am currently hooked on a reality television program called "The Real Housewives of Orange County", and the women all look like Barbie dolls. They're all very nice women and still attractive, but in a very artificial way. My favorite is Jeanna Keough, a former Playboy model who has gotten (*gasp*) chubby. She is the least artificial-looking one in the group, and probably the most real in her persona as well.

At each stage of life, the human face has its own beauty. Youth is not necessarily the most beautiful stage, except in the conventional sense. Anyone who attempts to recapture youth really doesn't look younger, they just look strange. Who knows what Cher might have looked like if she had let herself age gracefully. She was attractive as a young woman, but in my opinion she has managed to make herself look like Ozzy Osborne -- with trout lips.

The Queen will be 83 years old on April 21st. As you can see from the first picture to the last picture, her face has changed with each stage of her life, but at 83 years old, it is still possible to be beautiful. And besides, the most effective facelift is a smile...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Let's Play What If ... ?

I often think that, when God created me, he made me out of all the spare parts that were left over. When I was a very small child I developed a strange condition with the very exotic name "separation anxiety disorder". It is something I have learned to live with, but it never really goes away. Actually, it was actively fostered in me by my two older brothers. When our parents went out for a social evening with their friends, my two older brothers were charged with my care. Little did our parents know that, as soon as they left the house, chaos reigned. My older brothers' greatest delight in all the world was tormenting their little sister, and they could come up with ways to do this that would have made Vincent Price look like Little Bo Peep.

One of their favorite tricks was to put on an old record of my father's called "Ghost Riders in the Sky" by Vaughan Monroe. Then those two mangy little b*ggers sweet brothers of mine would lock themselves in the bathroom, giggling, and the record would play over ... and over ... and over ... and I would sit on the chesterfield, frozen in fear, visions of ghostly horses and their riders flying around the living room.

When my brothers got bored with that game, another of their favorites was to play "What if...?"

"What if gravity disappeared and we all floated out to space?" "What if the oceans suddenly rose, and we all drowned?"

"What if Mom and Dad never came home...?"

This last one terrified me more than anything. My blood would turn to ice at the thought of my parents, mangled in a car wreck somewhere, never coming home again. The very thought of it was enough to put me into a catatonic state for the rest of the evening. By this point, of course, my wretched brothers were full of glee, and off to the kitchen table for a rousing game of Checkers or Monopoly.

*sigh*

My brothers and I all laugh about it now, and they have now grown into mature, responsible men. They feel very bad about teasing their little sister this way, and they have no idea of some of the lasting effects it has had.

And just listening to this song still scares the tar out of me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My New Bicycle

Gosh, my previous post about my two brothers was supposed to be funny, but folks felt it sounded kind of sad, and it wasn't meant to be. Ah, well ... I guess any stories about my brothers can tend to sound -- strange. So I have taken it down, and instead let me tell you about my new bicycle. Yes. I bought it today and I rode it home from work. It's not brand new, it's second-hand, just in case I don't ride it all that much. But now that spring is here, Vancouver -- and especially Kitsilano -- is perfect for bike riding.

My new bike is a beach cruiser, and it even has a basket on the front that I can load up when I steal pick the daisies in the daisy fields in Jericho Park. I picked these daisies there one summer, and did a little painting of them. They're in a cranberry glass vase that belonged to my mother. I had never painted glass before this attempt, and I was quite pleased at how it turned out. I figured out the trick was not to try to paint the glass, but to paint what is behind it, or might be reflected in it. Not bad for a first attempt, don'tcha think? Well, it's a gorgeous spring evening here in Vancouver, the sun is still out (yes, sunshine in Vancouver...!) so I think I will go outside and ride my new bike for a while. If anyone asks who that is picking the flowers in Jericho Park, ssshhhh... don't tell anyone you know me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Island Getaway

Travel + Leisure Magazine and Condé Nast Traveler have voted Vancouver Island the best island to visit anywhere in Canada or the Continental United States. It is North America's largest Pacific island, and has also been voted one of the world's leading island destinations. And it's right at our back door. I was born and raised on Vancouver Island, close to the West Coast, and I spent much of my childhood playing on the beaches on both the West Coast and the East Coast.

The beaches on the West Coast of Vancouver are wild and open to the Pacific Ocean and people come from all over the world to watch the storms and the magnificent waves breaking on the shore. Most of the area is still undeveloped, except for a few small towns along the Pacific Rim National Park. The town where I grew up is at the head of a fjord, and several years ago there was a huge tidal wave that went from Anchorage Alaska all the way down to Mexico and across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. My home town was particularly devastated, and as a result of this a Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was established.

I am thinking of taking a little trip over to the Island this weekend. It's a two hour ferry ride from Vancouver, and it's wonderful to clear the cobwebs away. And in a few weeks I have to do battle in my personal life, and I am a little bit frightened, but sometimes we just have to stare the enemy in the face, don't we?

I haven't decided yet if I will go south to Victoria, or northwest to Long Beach. Hmmmm... what a decision. I'll do a post tomorrow about southern Vancouver Island, and maybe you can make the decision for me.

Until then ... have a great afternoon, everyone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Rain and Duck L'Orange

You probably can't tell from looking at this picture, but the rain is just dripping off the trees outside my tree house. I like the rain. I'm used to it. Everyone born here on the We(s)t Coast of British Columbia is secretly born with duck feet. Oh, yes, we are. This is the rainforest and we have the tallest trees in the world. And we have duck feet.

Speaking of duck, I have been invited out for dinner tomorrow, to a restaurant that specializes in ... ta-da ... duck, one of my favorite dishes. I have a friend whom I have known since we were about 15 years old, and approximately once a decade we get together for a visit. My friend will be in town tomorrow, for one day, and has invited me for dinner. We haven't seen each other in almost eight years, so I wonder if we will recognize each other. Well, I guess all I have to do is start laughing, and I will be completely recognizable.

Duck L'Orange is one of those retro classic comfort foods that everyone loves. I made it one year for Thanksgiving dinner (don't ask me why...) and I was surprised at how good it was. Here's a typical recipe:

Ingredients
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, about 6 oranges, orange rinds reserved
1 (5-pound) duck, cleaned, with innards, wing tips and excess fat removed
2 oranges, zested
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Peychaud Bitters
1 1/2 cups duck or chicken stock
2 tablespoons arrowroot dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup Grand Marnier liqueur

Directions
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Roughly chop the orange rinds and place in the cleaned duck cavity. Place the stuffed duck on a baking rack over a baking sheet with 1/2-inch of water. Bake until skin turns golden brown and lightly crisps, about 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees and continue cooking until duck reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees, about 1 hour.

In a medium heavy saucepan combine the orange juice, zest and sugar over medium high heat and reduce to 3/4 cup. Add Peychaud Bitters to orange juice gastrique and set aside. Add hot duck stock to reduced orange gastrique and simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes to reduce. Add arrowroot mixture, to thicken.

Remove duck from roasting pan, and discard the fat from pan. Remove orange rinds from duck cavity. Let rest 10 minutes before carving. Add the Grand Marnier to roasting pan and place over 2 burners on medium high heat. Deglaze pan, scraping continuously with a large wooden spoon. Reduce for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the orange sauce in the pan into a gravy boat and serve with carved duck.

I'll be back to visit with everyone soon.

I Am Not A Good Friend

I have come to the conclusion that I am not a good friend. It's not that I don't mean to be -- I am just not very good at it, and I feel rather bad. More than anything, I hate to see anyone in pain. I immediately want to do whatever I can to help them. But I invariably seem to end up doing the wrong thing. I have a wonderful friend who lost a parent recently. No one ever knows what to expect when they lose a parent. It is probably one of the worst things anyone will ever go through, and as much as people don't think so, believe me it is. And it is made even more difficult when there is tension in the family. Instead of having some quiet time to grieve and deal with the loss, folks are bombarded with having to deal with nonsense from other family members.

Grief has different stages that all mourners will face, each at its own time and in its own pace. I have had to deal with the loss of both my parents, as well as other people in my life, and I know it is not an easy thing. Often we don't know how we are going to react, especially to our friends, who really do mean well. I guess it is just as frustrating as well, when one wants to help and cannot. One feels so helpless.

I wish I could have been a better friend ... and I hope my friend feels better soon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Brush With The Law

This is the face of a hardened criminal. Yes it is. Today I was telling a friend of mine about my brush with the law. When I was three or four years old, my mother decided she would give me little chores to do, and one of the chores was to take the garbage to the bin at the back of the garden. But I had a propensity to wander whenever I went outside. I would visit the neighbor's dogs, or stroll over to my friend Janie's house, or find some interesting tree to climb. Usually there was a trail of clothing behind me as well ... but that's a story for another day. Anyway, one particular afternoon my mother gave me a bag of potato peelings and asked me to take them to the garbage. On my way there, I saw something interesting in the neighbor's back yard -- I can't remember now what it was. Probably a stick or something. I climbed through the neighbor's fence to investigate my new-found object, and decided to leave my bag of potato peelings in the neighbor's garbage.

Later that night when I was in bed, Constable Bathingswaite of the local police force dropped by to tell my parents that the next door neighbors had called the police on me. I was summoned to the living room in my little white nightgown, my hair in a halo around my head, looking every inch the angel that I was.

*cough*

"Is this the criminal?" Constable Bathingswaite boomed. He terrified me, but he made me sit on his knee while he and my parents had a cup of coffee and a good laugh.

A few years later, I had a severe bout of tonsillitis which required my tonsils to be removed. This was done by surgery under a general anesthetic. Certain anesthetics that are used for surgeries of short duration also have the properties of being what are known as "truth serums". When I woke up from my operation, the nurse standing over me was none other than my wicked neighbor. She looked at me and said, "Do you know who I am?" and I said, "Yes, you're the bad lady who called the police on me!" I couldn't believe what I was saying, and even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I couldn't stop myself. The look of shock on her face is indelibly imprinted on my brain. To her credit, however, she made my hospital stay as comfortable as possible, stopping by my room several times a day with bowls of ice cream and rice pudding.

A few years ago I required an RCMP record check for my job -- through the RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa -- and I was terrified they would find out about my criminal record brush with the law, but apparently they did not. I passed the record check, and I have gone straight ever since.

I Have A Naïve Question

I have a really, really stupid question, so please bear with me. It is a legitimate question that I thought perhaps some of you could answer. Let me start off right away by saying it is an "economic" question, not a "cultural" question -- so I would like to take that off the table right now. We in Canada and in the United States are all the children of immigrants. On my mother's side I am a first generation Canadian, and on my father's side I am second generation. Where I work, part of our process is assisting the Canadian government with the immigration surveillance program. People apply for immigration to Canada, either from their home countries, or from within Canada once they have arrived here. It is a meticulous process but it is fair and most people pass it. I'm sure the United States has a similar process. These are people who want to come here for a better life for themselves and their families, and they go through the due process.

Last night on ABC's 20/20 I watched a program about an American man in the United States who had worked hard, had a university education, married a woman he loved, had two children, the home of his dreams and had earned a good salary. The so-called "American Dream", right? But because of the recession, he had gone from earning $750,000 a year to delivering pizzas for $8.00 an hour plus tips. He was grateul for the pizza delivery job because it was honest work and it put bread on the table for his children. That is a story that seems to be repeating itself all over North American -- oh, yes, here in Canada too. I know a doctor here who has recently had to come out of retirement -- at the age of 70 -- because the recession wiped out everything he had.

Here is my question. If people who were born in North American, or who have come here through the legal process, are not able to get jobs, why are folks hiring illegal immigrants to do those very jobs? It may sound like a naïve question, and I know there are people who will jump in here and yell "discrimination". No, no, no, it's not about that, it's about people who live here who have lost their jobs, being squeezed out of the job market. Is there something I don't understand? I know one answer is "Well, illegal immigrants will do jobs no one else will do..." but I don't buy that. There is a whole other angle here. I believe these folks are being exploited. People are getting rich off hiring cheap labor.

Illegal immigrant workers are the invisible labor force in America's economy. Often performing jobs nobody else wants, usually for low pay, they are killed on construction crews: shot for cash as late-night store clerks, and crushed, impaled or electrocuted while working as landscapers. At a time when U.S. workplace deaths are generally declining, immigrant workers - many of them here illegally - are being killed on the job in ever greater numbers, especially the new wave of undocumented workers from Latin America and Asia. ... Business Net

Because these people are invisible, no compensation is made for their impoverished families. Often these folks are heavily indebted to the human traffickers who smuggled them into the country, and spend their lives paying off their debt, rather than having the opportunity to better themselves in their new country. They often live in fear -- in fear of the police, in fear of their employers and in fear of being deported. They don't have access to medical or dental care, or any of the other rights we all take for granted. They work and live in unacceptable slave labor conditions.

In 1999, four rusty old freighters arrived off B.C.’s coast, carrying 590 Chinese illegal immigrants. Among them, 134 children were travelling without parents or a legal guardian. Many of these children had families in China who were expecting them to work in Canada and the United States and send the money home. In 2006, six Korean women were found by RCMP officers, huddled in the bush near Osoyoos and the US border. These women stated that they were expecting to find work in restaurants and other service sectors in the United States and knew they would have to pay $3000 - $5000 to their human traffickers upon arrival. Can you imagine how long it would have taken them to pay that off?

There is big money to be made in human trafficking. I guess my naïve question is, why has this been allowed to happen?

Friday, March 20, 2009

The National Portrait Gallery of Canada

I was browsing through the National Portrait Gallery of Canada online, and I came across some absolutely beautiful portraits, and I wanted to share three of them with you. The first one is called "Ataguttak carrying baby Kalluk", and it was taken in August 1923 in Pond Inlet, Northwest Territories (Mittimatalik/Tununiq, Nunavut). I think it's a beautiful picture. Look at the expression on baby Kalluk's face. I'm not sure if Ataguttak is Kalluk's mother or older sister. I'm guessing she is the older sister, because she has not yet grown into her clothes, but she has a wise face. Her clothes are made of some sort of hide -- probably seal. And over her shoulder you can see the wilderness stretching off into the hazy distance. Ataguttak is not sure what to make of the photographer taking the picture. She doesn't know she is supposed to smile when her picture is taken, and that is what makes her expression so wonderful -- full of curiosity and a bit of uncertainty. I like to think as soon as the picture was taken that she went giggling on her way with Kalluk bouncing in the amautik on her shoulders. The photograph was taken by Lachlan T. Burwash (Canadian, 1874–1940) and it is a silver gelatin print.

This second image is a photograph of the famous and immensely talented pianist Glenn Gould. He had a very peculiar way of playing the paino, and he was almost distracting to watch. As he played, he often swayed his torso, almost always in a clockwise motion. He would occasionally make odd sounds as well. He was a child prodigy and developed these habits at an early age. This photograph captures the strangeness and the odd motions he made while he was playing. The photographer was the famous Yousuf Karsh (Canadian, 1908–2002) and it is also a silver gelatin print.

I'm sure you all recognize this fellow. You don't? Oh, sure you do. It's Donald Sutherland, also known as Keifer Sutherland's father. Keifer plays Jack Bauer on the TV series "24". And here's a bit of trivia for you that I'll bet you didn't know. Keifer Sutherland has a twin sister, and her name is Rachel. In case you don't remember Donald Sutherland he was in "M*A*S*H", "The Dirty Dozen" and "Klute", as well as "Ordinary People" with Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton. He can be deliciously wicked, and this photograph captures that element perfectly. The photographer was Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946–1989) and it too is a silver gelatin print.

For anyone who has never heard Glenn Gould play, here is a video of him playing Beethoven,Piano Concerto No. 1 Op 15 - I. The video is grainy, but the sound quality is good.



You can check out the other amazing photographs at the National Portrait Gallery of Canada.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gambie

Today would have been my mother's birthday. She was without a doubt the most interesting person I have ever met. Even as a very small child, I recognized that about her, and I was always in awe of her. To me she was kind of like royalty, and I often wondered how she could have given birth to a rather plain-Jane, uninspired child such as I was. In fact, I often thought my mother wondered the same thing. Mom was brilliant, extremely talented, extroverted, charming and very funny. She was always the center of attention wherever she was. She also had the worst temper I have ever known. There was no mistaking when she was angry. And she could also be extremely haughty. She considered herself a "cut above" everyone on the planet, but at the same time she was also very kind and warm-hearted. I remember during the "hippie era" our family was camping on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. A group of hippies had taken up residence on the beach, but the local residents didn't want them there, and refused to allow them to have water. My mother said, "I will not see another human being go without water", and she enlisted all of us to fill as many water jugs as we could and take them to the folks on the beach. My mother shamed the locals, who finally relented, and allowed the hippies to have water.

My mother was born and raised in South Africa, educated in England, and married in Canada. She had three sisters, all of whom were very attractive and extremely competitive with each other. Being with them all together was like being in the center of a whirlwind, and my cousins and I would just look at each other and shake our heads.

My mother was a wonderful artist, and when she was 16 years old, studying art in England, she did a painting of Salisbury Cathedral. When I was a child, the painting hung in my bedroom, and every night I would look at it and imagine myself walking through the great doors and looking up at the stained glass windows. When my mother died, my daughter and I took a trip to England, and we visited Salisbury Cathedral. I walked inside, turned around and looked up at the beautiful stained glass windows and thought, "I have walked into my mother's painting. Wouldn't she get a kick out of that!" I still have the painting in my bedroom, and I still look at it every night.

One of my mother's favorite books -- which I still have -- was "Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" and she read from it every night. Often when something was going on in our lives, she would quote from Marcus Aurelius, and I remember one quote in particular that was her favorite.

"Love the art, poor as it may be, which thou hast learned, and be content with it; and pass through the rest of life like one who has entrusted to the gods with his whole soul all that he has, making thyself neither the tyrant nor the slave of any man."

In other words, be content with who you are.

She had another quote -- one of her originals -- that I use quite often too. Once when she was staying with me, she finished having a bath, and on her way to her bedroom she walked past the windows -- nekkid -- while the curtains were still open. I screamed and said, "Mom! The neighbors will see you!" and she laughed and said, "Well, tell them if they see anything they haven't seen before, they can shoot at it."

My Mom and I would go through stages where our relationship could be quite prickly, but it would never last for long, and we were great friends. Whenever I am feeling particularly lonely, the person I miss the most is my Mom. I think she would feel very sad to see the way certain things have turned out in my life. My Mom is one person who kind of liked me -- no matter what. "Happy Birthday, Mom. I sure as heck miss you."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just One More Heartbeat

This past week I was made aware three times of the presence of death, and how near it can be. First was the death of the father of a friend of mine. My friend's father had lived a full life, had been blessed by children and grandchildren who loved him. He made a graceful exit from this earth, surrounded by the people he loved. In a perfect world, that is how it should be, even though it is still difficult on the loved ones left behind. I think a person is fortunate if they can have a good life and a dignified death. That in itself is a blessing.

The second awareness of the presence of death was the lovely Natasha Richardson. That is a death that should not have happened. She was in the full bloom of life, with a husband, two children, a full life with so much to look forward to, and so much yet to give. A death like that doesn't make any sense to me. It simply should not have happened.

The third awareness I had of death was the child of a friend of mine. My friend's child was born with a congenital heart defect, and had not been expected to live past the age of two. He lived to be almost five, and his parents consider the extra three years they had with him a blessing. That's a death that should not have happened either. But when you really think about it, most deaths seem senseless. It's such an arbitrary thing. One day you're enjoying yourself on the ski slopes, the next day you're gone. Every day you leave your home in the morning, put the keys in the ignition of your car and pull out of the driveway, well, that could be your last. Somewhere in the backs of our minds, that nagging thought is always there.

What if...

"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live." ... Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

It's very true. We can only live our day to day lives as best we can. We work, we play, we sleep, we interact with other people. But do we appreciate that one day it will all be gone? Do we value the minutes and hours that have been given to us as the ultimate gift? I think most of us just take it all for granted -- until we see how capricious it is and how quickly it can all be taken away.

I do some of my best thinking in the shower (don't we all?) and the other day I was thinking about some of the people I have loved whom I have lost, and at the same time I thought about some of the people I have lost who have loved me. These are the things we should never take for granted. We should leap out of bed every day and welcome the new day -- one more beautiful day to savor everything in life. It can all be taken away in a heartbeat.

Natasha Richardson

When I read about Natasha Richardson's skiing accident yesterday, I felt just hearstick. Natasha Richardson is one of my favorite actresses. She looks as if she is as fabulous in real life as the parts she plays on the screen. She is married to the equally wonderful Liam Neeson, and they have two sons, aged 12 and 13. There has been no official word yet on her condition, but it looks critical. According to the reports, even in the best case scenario, it is doubtful she would ever be the same, should she recover. I hope the reports are not true, but if they are, I cannot imagine how this could happen. It can, in fact, happen -- to anyone; a day of enjoyment on the ski slopes can end in tragedy. It's just one of those awful accidents that happens, and who knows why. One moment you're having fun, enjoying yourself, the next moment your whole world has changed -- forever.

If you’re not familiar with Natasha Richardson's work, I would recommend you check out some of her movies. My favorite role of hers is as the needy and conniving Caroline Lane in “Maid in Manhattan”, an otherwise forgettable movie. Natasha Richardson was charming and funny, and easily outshone the star of the movie, Jennifer Lopez. And her performance was wonderful as Offred in the prescient “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the story of the Republic of Gilead, the country run by Evangelical zealots.

My heart goes out to her family -- her mother, Vanessa Redgrave and her sister, Joely Richardson, and of course her husband and children. I believe in the power of prayer, and perhaps everyone could say a little prayer for Natasha Richardson, and for all of the people in her life who love her. What they are going through right now must be just awful.

Addendum: Natasha Richardson has died. My condolences to her family and friends. It's just too sad. Such a lovely and talented woman.

A Needle In A Haystack...

I think all of you wonderful people brought me good luck yesterday. After I posted about what a crappy day I was having ... and ... I lost one of my favorite earrings, I retraced my steps. Et voila! I found my earring. If you know where I had lost it, you would say it was almost impossible to find it. I work across the street from a fairly good-sized mall. I had gone over there on my coffee break to buy a few things, and I had visited several stores. I retraced my steps from my desk, all through my building, along the sidewalk, across the street, through the mall corridors, through every store I visited. And there it was -- lying on the floor in front of the cashier's desk in the very last store in the mall.

My earring!

No one had stepped on it or taken it. It was lying there, waiting for me to retrieve it. It is now happily reunited with its partner -- and my ears.

Suffice it to say, yesterday was not the best day for me, but today is much better -- and I have all of you to thank. It's amazing, when we are feeling a bit down, how much encouragement from other people will make us feel better. Thank you! I wish I had the time to visit all of your blogs, and I am making my way through the list. I think you are all fabulous beyond words! Here is a bouquet of spring tulips -- just for you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crappy Day

Do you ever go through those times in your life when just everything seems to go wrong -- no matter how hard you try? You mean well, but you just seem to p*ss almost everyone off? You really don't mean to ... but you do. And on top of that, you lose your favorite earring? Well, that seems to be my life right now, and I want to climb under a rock somewhere and pull it over me.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions. "

That will be engraved on my tombstone.

Oh, yes...

I'll be back, but for a while I just need to be alone. Somehow my spirit doesn't feel like blogging. But as my Mom used to say ... this too shall pass.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Two More Little Paintings

I regularly log onto other folks’ blogs and see their wonderful photographs and sometimes their little paintings that they have done. Often they will describe what process they used to get the effects they have. The photos and paintings are always fabulous, and the blog owners are usually proud of the results – and rightly so. I promised you two more of my little paintings, and these are two which I particularly like. This little painting is the first painting I ever did – ever. I had some pink geraniums and I liked the way they looked in the rain, so I tried to make the painting look rain-washed. But I am quite pleased with how the little clay pot turned out. I didn’t have any clay-colored pigments, so I mixed the clay myself using ultramarine blue, because it has an almost grainy texture to it, and cadmium red deep – et voila! – clay. It surprised me how well it looked when it was finished. I managed to even make the pot look aged. It’s a rather primitive little painting, but I love the clay pot, and the painting has a prominent place in my home.

The second painting is one of Phinnaeus at the beach, looking into a tide pool. It was painted during an art class, and the object of the exercise was a sepia-tone study in shadow and light. The woman who was sitting next to me in class was a heavy smoker, and her clothing reeked of cigarette smoke. I developed a blinding headache, and my vision became distorted. This little painting is the result of a whopping migraine headache. I rather like it, though, because it captures Phinnaeus's curiosity. I have another one that I did of Marigold in her little ballerina outfit, but the photograph program I have on my computer changed the colors, so I have to scan it in again.

This week, a friend has invited me to a gallery opening of some local artists. Maybe that will kick-start me into painting again.

Anyway, those are two more of my silly little paintings. I have nothing to post about, my life is really boring right now. Have a great evening, everyone.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Le Chocolat Noir

I have decided in my next life I am going to be a chocolatier. Isn't that a wonderful word? Chocolatier. Chocolate is the perfect example of onomatopoeia. The word sounds rich and sweet and creamy and -- chocolate. I will have a chocolate shop full of the world's best chocolate. I would have dark chocolate covered ginger, and mocha melties, and amaretto and champagne and cognac truffles. I would have dame blanche and crême fraîche and orangettes dipped in dark chocolate. And I would have hazelnut creams and maraschino cherries dipped in milk chocolate, and all sorts of fruit jellies -- apricot, mandarin orange, strawberry, raspberry -- all dipped in dark and milk chocolate.

Can you just imagine?

I am addicted to chocolate, and my favorite is Lindt dark chocolate orange burst. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. I have a co-worker who is even more addicted to chocolate than I am. For Lent every year she gives up chocolate. The other day I saw her eating some chocolate cookies, and I teased her, "You're going to be struck by lightning! Those are chocolate! Haven't you given up chocolate for Lent?"

"These are not chocolate", she said, "These are cocoa."

... Um ... okay

Well, I haven't given up chocolate for Lent, so I am off to have a cup of hot chocolate -- with marshmallows.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The First Martians

When I was a little girl, I had a brother who was very interested in astronomy. He read all kinds of books on the subject and then would tell me about what he had read. We would go outdoors and he would point out various constellations in the night sky. He would explain to me that some of the stars were so far away, by the time the light reached us and we were looking at them, they possibly did not exist anymore. We were looking at their ghosts. My brother also believed there was life on other planets, perhaps even in our very own Milky Way Galaxy in which our solar system is located. The thought of intelligent life on other planets fascinated him, and to this day he still believes they may even have visited us at some time. He said one of the earliest recorded accounts of this was in the Bible where, Elijah had apparently been taken up to Heaven in a “Chariot of Fire”, and there were eye witnesses to this.

I was as skeptical then as I am now, so as far as I am concerned, the jury is still out about whether we have been visited by life from other planets. I do believe, however, that in the very near future we will set foot on at least one other planet in our solar system. I believe we will colonize Mars, and there will be children of the human race born on Mars. They will not be of Earth, but indeed will be Martians. They will call Mars home, and Earth will be a distant planet. Did Mars cultivate life at another point in time? Perhaps. Was it intelligent life? Why not? No one knows for sure. There is some indication there was water on Mars at one time, and all the components for life. Perhaps they started out as microbes, much as we did, but the harsh environment could not sustain them.

The human race is still in its infancy, and yet in our baby steps, 12 men have already walked on the moon -- the earth's nearest satellite. That is phenomenal when you think that the Industrial Revolution began with the first steam engine less than 300 years ago. Where will we be 100 years from now? Will one of your descendants be the first Martian?

And ... We Have A Winner...!

Omigosh, this stuff never happens to me -- especially on Friday the 13th. Yesterday after work I decided to stop and pick up a New Yorker Magazine at my favorite magazine store. For some reason the lottery tickets looked -- enticing. I never buy lottery tickets. Ever. But today I bought a Scratch 'N Win, and ... yes, you guessed it ... I won. I'm not going to tell you how much it was, but it was one number -- followed by three zeros. Three! Okay, so the number was fairly low in the scale of one to ten, but still, it was followed by three zeros.

I am in desperate need of a new television set, so this raises the ante a little bit -- well -- a lot.

We have an ongoing lottery pool at work, and we keep hoping we'll be the winners that everyone reads about on the front page of the newspaper.

"BC office wins lottery -- no one shows up for work..."

Yesterday afternoon at almost 4:30, everyone had gone home for the day and I was the only person left in the office. The CEO came around the corner, stopped in his tracks, looked at me and said, "Oh, I see no one is here..."

*sigh*

Working in a large organization is sort of like school, isn't it? We walk through the halls and say "Hi" to certain people even though we don't otherwise know them. And wouldn't it be fun if we had recess? Here is my favorite commercial.



Have a great weekend, everyone. I'm off to do some shopping.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Volunteering

My next door neighbor and I went out for a casual dinner the other night, and she told me about a wonderful organization here in Vancouver called Volunteer Grandparents. I had not heard of it before, but my neighbor "B" knows about all the volunteering organizations. And what a fabulous idea.

When my daughter was small, I used to love doing things with the kids -- bike riding, ice skating, swimming, going to the beach, playing in the park, going to movies, museums, art galleries, children's theatre and concerts -- and so much more. I was like the Pied Piper, I had a stream of little kids following behind me as we set out on one of our adventures. It was always tons of fun.

When my own grandchildren came along, I could hardly wait until they were old enough to do all these things. I see advertisements on TV for kid things like Ice Capades, movies, children's concerts and ballet, etc. Just recently the play "Annie" was here and I thought, "Gosh, I wonder if a little girl would like to go to that with me." And of course this weekend is the wonderful St. Patrick's Day parade here in Vancouver, and in a couple of weeks the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be presenting "Peter Pan" at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Doesn't that sound fabulous?

Volunteer Grandparents brings together grandparents with children who do not have the immediate presence of grandparents in their every day lives. The intention is to create a mutually beneficial relationship which resembles an extended family. The emphasis is on the creation of long term extended family relationships. The program has been providing children and adults with the opportunity to be an important member of a family, enabling them to share time, love, skills and life experiences, while offering families support, love and wisdom.

I love my own little grandchildren with all my heart, and I know they love me too, but somehow my relationship with them seems to have morphed into my being their babysitter -- sort of on an as-needed basis. I am not really a part of their lives, and they are not a part of mine. It's just the way it is, and I have accepted it, although I don't care for it. When I was a little girl, I would have loved to have had a closer relationship with my grandparents, but it was not to be. One of my cherished memories was of my grandfather holding my hand, walking along the waterfront with me, explaining the waterline on ships. He was a Captain in the British Army, and most of the time he scared the tar out of me, but on that day I felt very special. My daughter had a very special relationship with her grandmother as well, one that both of them cherished. My mother adored her granddaughter -- she was her pride and joy -- but sadly my mother was not able to be an active part of her other grandchildren's lives.

None of us escapes this life alive. And at some point most of the grownups seem to get into a game of "silly buggers" with each other, and it is usually over the most minuscule things. Often no one is to blame -- it just happens, and the gap widens as the years go on. But the children should not be involved. They should be free to enjoy their childhoods with all the love they can get, from as many people as they have in their lives who love them unconditionally. Go and hug your grandchildren, or your grandparents. It all goes by very quickly.

And I hope everyone gets outdoors this weekend and has some fun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No...! Say It Isn't So...!

I can't believe it! I'm in shock. ABC in all its stupidity has cancelled "Life On Mars" -- the best show on television in more than a decade. Everything about it was perfect. It had a perfect cast, perfect writers, perfect premise. The chemistry between Harvey Keitel and Jason O'Mara was incredible. The chemistry between Jason O'Mara and Grechen Mol was incredible.

Oh, goodness...

"Life On Mars" was a dark comedy about a police detective who gets hit by a car in 2008 and wakes up in 1973. Anyone who actually lived in 1973 would love the references to pop culture of the day, all of it with tongue in cheek. The soundtrack was so ... well ... 1973, and check out Harvey Keitel's white shoes.

Who couldn't love "Life On Mars"? Well, obviously the 12 year-old children folks who run the programming at ABC didn't love it. They didn't even give it a chance.

In last night's episode, Sam infiltrates a "swingers club" under the psueodnym "Tom Cruise". He introduces two other police officers as "George and Laura Bush".

It's a great show and I'm going to miss them all, including Sam and "the Lute" and all the rest of them. Just don't ask me to watch "Dancing With The Stars".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Wind In My Sails

I have completely run out of ideas to blog about, so I thought I would post some of my funny little paintings. Some of you may have seen them before. A few weeks ago my blog was chosen by Blogger as a "blog of note", which completely shocked the h*ll out of me, because I always refer to this as my boring-little-blog. And then recently someone I know personally has been coming on and posting anonymous comments that were a bit unnecessarily derogatory, and I felt rather deflated because there was no reason for it. None. Ever since then, I really have not had one inspiring idea to post on my blog. Our blogging friend XUP did a very interesting post today -- about blogging. She asked the question, "How much do you censor yourself on your blog? I’m sure most of us try to be at least a bit sensitive/pc so we don’t offend, but how much do you censor because of the specific people you know are reading your blog?"

That's a very interesting question, and I wonder about that too. How many of you have friends, family or co-workers that you prefer would not read your blog? I don't like the idea of censorship, either in "real" life or on the blogs because I have had to do that too much in my life. I think it's very important for everyone to be who (whom?) we are.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.


If we try to tailor ourselves to what we think other people are going to like, or approve of, or whatever ... we just end up with a poor imitation of ourselves. And so in the past few days I feel I have not been myself. I feel I need to regroup a little bit, get my centre or my set-point back, so to speak. So in the meantime, you're stuck with looking at a couple of my boring little drawings here on my boring-little-blog. I'll post some more of them in a couple of days. Oh, I know, I know ... you can hardly wait.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's The Law...!

If you're planning to travel anywhere this spring or summer, it's a good idea to learn some of the laws in other countries. Here are some very important laws to keep in mind:

1. It’s illegal to kiss on a railway in France.
2. Patrons are not expected to pay for food at an inn in Denmark unless they are full.
3. In Atlanta, Georgia, it is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp.
4. Don’t imitate any animals in Miami; it’s illegal.
5. It’s illegal to shout offensive words in public in Mexico.
6. Beware when collecting stones or shells from nationally protected beaches. You can be caught at the airport for smuggling or removing archaeologically valuable treasures.
7. Taxi drivers in Finland must pay royalties on music if they play songs for paying customers.
8. It’s illegal to sing in public in Florida if you’re wearing a swimsuit.
9. If you’re driving in Utah, be aware that birds always have the right of way on highways.
10. A man may not stand up to go to the washroom after 10:00 p.m. in Switzerland.
11. Failure to flush a public toilet in Singapore after use may result in a fine.
12. In Logan County, Colorado, it's illegal for a man to kiss a woman while she's asleep.
13. A man may be arrested for wearing a skirt in Italy.
14. Taxis in Queensland, Australia, are required to carry a bale of hay. This is a throwback to the days of horse travel.
15. If you’re visiting a Canadian destination, be aware that you aren’t allowed to pay for a fifty cent item with only pennies.
16. It’s illegal to be drunk and in possession of a cow in Scotland.
17. Wearing combat or camouflaged clothing is illegal in Barbados.
18. A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting in New York City.
19. In Florida, having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal.
20. In South Africa, young people in bathing suits must not sit closer than 30 cm together.
21. Anyone found breaking an egg at the sharp end in England will be sentenced to 24 hours in the stocks.
22. Unmarried women who parachute on Sunday can be arrested in Florida.
23. Water guns may not be used in New Year’s celebrations in Cambodia.
24. A pregnant woman visiting the UK can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even in a police officer’s hat if she requests.
25. It’s illegal to drive a camel on a highway in Nevada.

"An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so." ... Mohandas Gandhi.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Thief Of Time

This week is "Phinnaeus's" band concert, and he's playing a solo. He was very excited about it, and he invited me -- twice -- to go and watch his performance. Unfortunately I am not allowed permitted able to attend, so I will have to miss it.

"...Time once lost, is lost forever..."

Phinnaeus is one of those people with "inner cool". He just doesn't know he's a cool dude -- but he is. I recognize it, and one day he will too. But then, of course, he'll be too cool to admit it.

I know his concert will be wonderful, but even more importantly, he will have a fabulous time.

"Knock 'em out, Phinnaeus! Be cool!"

It's Not Just A Bad Haircut

Anne Hathaway was recently nominated for an Oscar for her performance in "Rachel Getting Married". It is the story of a young woman battling addictions. A few years ago Sandra Bullock played a similar role in "28 Days". The makeup artists gave both of these beautiful women the same "look" to appear dissipated and beaten by their addictions. Their hair looked as if it had been cut by hedge-trimming shears, and they were pale and wan. I guess it would be easy if we could recognize people who are having difficulties with addictions, just by looking at them, but we can't. They are just like us, and there but for the grace of God goes any one of us.

I feel desperately sorry for people who have fallen into the trap of addictions. I think it would be very easy to do. When I was in high school, I had two close friends whose mothers had problems with alcohol. My friends' mothers looked just like all the other mothers, except they were not. They were altered by substance abuse. Who knows what caused it. Bad marriages, perhaps. Disappointment in life. Boredom. Who ever knows...

Neither of my friends could invite school mates home after school. They could never explain their mothers' bizarre behavior, and they were always ashamed.

I have had friends who have battled alcoholism or substance abuse and have managed to pull themselves out of it. One friend of mine just celebrated a milestone "birthday" of sobriety, and I was honored to be invited to her "cake celebration". I knew her "when" and I loved her then, as I still love her now. Just after she attained her sobriety, she paid me a visit to make amends for any of the things she had done to hurt me while she was drunk. I knew it was important to her, so I didn't have the heart to tell her that even while she was drunk, she had never done anything to hurt me. But some people can be very hurtful while under the influence of substance abuse, and often they're not aware of it until much later. Long-term alcohol use is one of the main causes of paranoia, which causes unusual behavior on the part of the addict.

"I said what!? I did what!? Oh, Gawd, why did I do that!?"

I think it's very important not to be judgmental of people who, for whatever reason, have become addicted to either drugs or alcohol -- at least until we walk in their shoes. It can happen to anyone. And it's not an easy thing to beat. Some people never do, while others are able to quit cold turkey. And alcohol withdrawal is second only to heroin withdrawal in its severity.

But don't look for their bad haircuts to try and recognize them. They're you and me -- they're us.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good Golly, Miss Dolly

I love Dolly Parton. She has lived her life the way she wants to live it, she's not afraid to be who she is, and she makes no apologies. One of my favorite Dolly Parton quotes is “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” That is a lesson we could all learn -- early in our lives.

Dolly was interviewed on Larry King Live the other night, and she said that during her lifetime, since she was age seven, she has written 3,000 songs. Many of them have been recorded by other artists, so often we don't know the song has been written by Dolly Parton. “I Will Always Love You” made famous by Whitney Houston, is one of them. Dolly recorded the song as well, and her version is different from Whitney's, and quite sweet.

Dolly is an amazing person, and I think she is what most people would refer to -- in a complimentary way -- as a great broad. She never takes herself seriously, but just has fun with life. How can you not love someone who said, “I was the first woman to burn my bra - it took the fire department four days to put it out.” But she has way more going for her than the teeth-gritting, feminist “women of a certain age”, who over the past few decades have made everything so deadly-serious. I wish they could all take a page from Dolly's playbook, and lighten up.

“When I'm inspired, I get excited because I can't wait to see what I'll come up with next.” ... Dolly Parton.

Here is one of my favorite Dolly Parton songs, written -- believe it or not -- by the Bee Gees. I hope everyone finds their Islands in the Stream...


Friday, March 6, 2009

Update On The Monster, Killer, Horror Bolt and Lock

Update: I know you have all been anxiously waiting to hear the status of the monster, killer, horror bolt and lock. The points on the bolt have now been filed to razor blade sharpness. Instead of cutting like a knife, they now slice like a razor. *sigh* There are seven other points on the bolt, and they have all been filed down to the precision of a surgical instrument. I know, I know, someone meant well, but what is that saying --- the road to h*ll is paved with good intentions. Oh, yes, I should know that by now... Oh, goodness, yes...

Unfortunately I don't have very big hands. My pinky ring is a size 2-1/2 -- believe it or not -- so when I slide the bolt, my hand gets sliced. The bolt sticks, and it's almost impossible to open it without forcing it. It's even more difficult to close it once it's open. One of the residents in our building -- of the male persuasion -- is putting forward a motion to the council to have the bolt removed. It seems I am not the only one whose hand has been sliced. After the eighth time it happened, I thought perhaps I should complain bring it to someone's attention.

I don't want to sound sexist, but some things do fall under the bailiwick of male expertise, and this bolt and lock is definitely a guy thing. I hope the women on the council will let the men deal with it, once and for all. Either that, or hire Mag Ruffman the "Tool Girl". She would fix it. It's a garbage shed, folks... There is nothing of value in there. If anyone wants my old, used coffee grounds, egg shells and Kleenex, they're welcome to them. Bottles, metal, newspapers and cardboard items are placed in the blue recycling bins -- unlocked -- so what is the point in locking up unrecyclable garbage?

Sometimes I just don't know...