Monday, November 29, 2010

Is The Truth Out There...?

The Charnel House
Pablo Picasso

The Internet can be a dangerous place, but never more so than when it distributes false and fictitious information that people take as truth and fact. "The truth is out there...?" I don't think so. Most of us are able to discern fact from fiction, and of course we always have Snopes to debunk stupid rumours.  But there are conspiracy theories that take hold, and intelligent, well-read people actually buy into them.  The conspiracy theories sound plausible, they have even been "proven" and in any case, folks love a good ghost story.  Isn't it more fun to have shadowy people out there who are actually responsible for these things?  The truth isn't sexy.  It's more fun to believe that Diana was killed by the Royal family than by a drunk driver, or that JFK was killed by the (fill in the blanks with your choice) than by a crazy sniper with a good aim.  And it's more fun to believe that the shadowy "they" were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001, than a bunch of well-organized, well-funded, completely insane extremists who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the buildings.

The truth of what happened that day has been proven by no less than engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Albert Einstein's alma mater), and hundreds of books and papers have been published, including this one, describing exactly how the Towers fell, and what caused them to fall.  Here is one excerpt:  The claims that the jet fuel was not hot enough to melt the beams has also been disprovedFACT: Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F, not hot enough to melt steel (2750°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn't need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength—and that required exposure to much less heat. "Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°F," notes senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction. "And at 1800° it is probably at less than 10 percent." But jet fuel wasn't the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that PM consulted. He says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires, the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832°F. "The jet fuel was the ignition source," Williams tells PM. "It burned for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10 minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down."

I remember the Cold War, and the fear and anxiety that it produced in everyone in my generation. Part of our school curriculum was practicing survival techniques.  The anxiety stayed with us 24/7 and it was an underlying anxiety that took years -- decades -- to go away.  The ensuing anxiety spilled over into my personal life.  I lived in fear of one government or another starting a war that would end the world.  It was horrible.  And now it seems to be starting again in this generation -- fear and paranoia of the unknown.  And it is making me bloody angry.  The only thing to be really afraid of is ignorance.  The children of this generation have the right to live in the enlightenment of knowledge, not the shadow of ignorance.  The truth is in education.  The truth is in learning the scientific facts.  The real predators of the Internet are the people who perpetuate the ignorance the children read and believe to be the truth.  People love a good ghost story, but that is all these conspiracy theories are -- ghost stories.

The truth is out there...!  We owe it to the children to tell them the truth, not some hocus pocus nonsense.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

... But Long Enough To Cover The Subject ...

The Sea, Koktebel
Ivan Aivazovsky

This week I have been participating in one of the most interesting yet grueling tasks I have ever done. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with things, I have a recurring dream that I am in a tidal wave.  I was once in a tidal wave that devastated our town, and it was loud, frightening and lasted for a very long time.  One can feel completely helpless in a situation like that, because there is no way to reason with the forces of nature.  So, with the feeling that I had to completely re-wire my brain to "think outside the box", by Wednesday I was feeling overwhelmed and the waters came rushing at me.  I dreamt I was swimming in Hawaii and suddenly the water retreated.  That's not a good sign.  And then the dark, green water came back in full force, bubbling and churning.  Thank goodness I woke up in time.  Phew!

All week long I lived in dread of having to give my presentation at the end of our week-long meetings.  My head was vibrating with acronyms and business-speak.  New paradigms, sustainability, pulling information, forward-planning.  Goodness... But, apparently my presentation was very good.  Who knew!  As my friend Russell says, a speech should be like a women's skirt -- short enough to be interesting, but long enough to cover the subject.  Very good advice.

Today, the sun is shining through the clouds, the dreadful cold, snowy weather of the past week has gone, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with two very special little people -- well, not so little anymore -- who always make me laugh.

Tidal wave averted ... for now ...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. I hope you have a wonderful day -- eat lots of turkey and pumpkin pie, watch lots of football, and just enjoy your day.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Dark Side Of The Moon...

The Moon Woman
Jackson Pollock

I have been on the dark side of the moon for the past few days, and will continue to be here for the rest of the week while I am involved in a project at work.  I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't had a chance to visit all of my favourite blogs in the last little while.  But, I am improving the world, one step at a time...  well, perhaps... and perhaps not.

See you soon.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

That's One Billion (With A "B")

Princess Patricia
1886 – 1974
Granddaughter of Queen Victoria
Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry

With all the news lately of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton, there has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not the royalty is relevant any longer.  Personally, I would not like to see it dismantled, because it is a system that has worked for centuries, and who knows what we could get in its place.  If it ain't broke...  But more than that, it is a thread through time that connects all of us to our past.  How many of us can trace our lineage like that?  But in an odd way, we can.  Royalty has given us the Elizabethan era, the Victorian era, the Edwardian era, for example, each with its own achievements and culture.  And to give credit where it's due, some of these folks were amazing people, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, specifically.  Queen Elizabeth II is decades past the age when most people retire, and she still works relentlessly in public service.

If royalty did not exist, we would invent them.  The Kennedys, anyone?Observe what happened to Russia when the Bolsheviks assassinated the Romanovs and Russia became a communist country.  It didn't work;  in fact, it failed horribly.  However, the Commonwealth of Nations does seem to work.  It consists of 53 countries, and 1.7 billion (that is billion with a "b") people.  That's almost one-third of the world's population. The land area of the Commonwealth of Nations is approximately one-quarter of the earth's land mass.  It is a democratic and free association, of which the British Monarch is the symbolic Head of the Commonwealth, and a very active member.

When William becomes king, as monarch, he will inherit Windsor Castle which is 484,000 square feet and has 1000 rooms, Buckingham Palace which is 828,818 square feet and has 600 rooms, as well as Sandringham Castle, Balmoral Castle, Hollyrood House, Kensington Palace, St. James Palace, Clarence House, amongst other private homes. He will also inherit a huge responsibility, and he has no choice but to accept it.  When he gets married, his wedding will generate $1 billion dollars (that is billion with a "b") revenue towards the British economy.  His coronation will generate even more. And revenue generated by tax on royal properties and by Crown estates this year was $261 million dollars, so they are worth far more to the country than they cost it. The country receives around $4 million in tax per year from Prince Charles' Duchy of Cornwall.  Prince Charles was considered "dotty" 20 years ago when he converted the Duchy of Cornwall to an organic farm. Who knew he had been an environmentalist for decades and was ahead of his time?

Personally, I rather like the British royalty.  They're colourful, interesting, and often unpredictable.  Most of us are people-watchers by nature.  We love to gossip about celebrities.  So, I shudder to think who we would get in place of the royal family -- Sarah Palin and her two vacant daughters?  I'll keep Charlie and his two handsome sons, thank you very much.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Men And Women ... Vive la Différence

Morning News
Helen M. Turner

Time Magazine recently issued its list of the most powerful women of the past century.  If you scan the list, you will see that most of them started out from modest backgrounds, and whatever field of interest they developed, they all had the same intelligence, intellectual curiosity, strength and tenacity.

It has always been a misconception that women are the weaker sex.  They are not.  They are equal to men, just different -- and vive la différence.  We love men just the way they are.  For the most part, men are masculine and women are feminine, and we hope that never changes.  It's that difference that makes it all ... interesting.  But femininity does not equal to weakness.  Quite the opposite.  I work mostly with women, and in my experience women are extremely tough -- much more so than men.  Also in my experience there are two types of men -- those who respect women and love them, and those who are threatened by women, and try to demean them.  All women have experienced both these types of men.  In my opinion, there is nothing more masculine than a gentle man -- a gentleman. And there is nothing more feminine than a strong woman who knows her strengths, but still loves to be feminine. Coco Chanel, anyone?

Here is Time Magazine's list of most influential woman of the past century, and I wholeheartedly agree with the choices.

• Jane Addams (1860-1935)
• Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)
• Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
• Coco Chanel (1883-1971)
• Julia Child (1912-2004)
• Hillary Clinton (1947-Present)
• Marie Curie (1867-1934)
• Aretha Franklin (1942-Present)
• Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
• Estée Lauder (1908-2004)
• Madonna (1958-Present)
• Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
• Golda Meir (1898-1978)
• Angela Merkel (1954-Present)
• Sandra Day O'Connor (1930-Present)
• Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
• Jiang Qing (1914-1991)
• Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
• Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
• Gloria Steinem (1934-Present)
• Martha Stewart (1941-Present)
• Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
• Margaret Thatcher (1925-Present)
• Oprah Winfrey (1954-Present)
• Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best Of Luck To Wills and Kate...

Now that Kate has landed her prince, I think there will be the inevitable comparisons to Diana. The world was enamored of Diana from the moment she stepped into the spotlight. She was a superstar and she eclipsed everyone else in the royal family. But she was equally as fragile, and didn't know how to handle her celebrity. By the time she was 23 years old, she was the Princess of Wales - the wife of the future King - and the mother of two princes. That would be too much for any 23 year-old girl.  Kate, on the other hand, is well-educated and more mature.

I predict Wills and Kate will get married on July 1, 2011, the date which would have been Diana's 50th birthday. And do you realize that, when she and William get married, Kate will be only seven years younger than Diana was when she died? Imagine that.

They appear to be a nice young couple, and I wish them the best of luck.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Marilyn Monroe ... Chef...?

Who would ever have guessed that Norma Jean Baker was an accomplished chef? Well, in fact, Norma Jean was accomplished at many things including painting, writing poetry, cooking, acting, and inventing the persona, or alter ego, of Marilyn Monroe. In many ways, Marilyn Monroe was Norma Jean's undoing. If Norma Jean were on the scene today, she would eclipse almost everyone else out there.  She was amazing.  In 1999 two cookbooks in her personal effects sold through Christie's Auction House, one was “The New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” and the other was the 1953 edition of “Joy of Cooking”.  Both books were filled with her own recipes, including notations in the margins.

This is a photo of Marilyn's kitchen, circa 1961.  Who wouldn't love this kitchen today.  I love the copper range hood, and the well-used cutting board.  Look at the copper pots.  Those are the pots of a serious chef.  If you look above the range hood, you can see a pottery tea pot, identical to one you would find in everyone's home today.

There has recently been a new book published called "Fragments", and on page 180, in Marilyn's own handwriting, is a recipe for turkey stuffing. The writers for the New York Times described it: When we gingerly tossed everything together in our largest bowl (the recipe yielded more than 20 cups), we were amazed to discover one of the most handsome stuffings we’ve encountered. The odd elements, like the profusion of raisins and the chopped egg, suddenly made sense, becoming pleasant color contrasts. Moreover, the mixture was delicious, a nice balance of vegetables, meats and bold seasonings, just faintly, tonically sweet from the raisins. Even the texture was superior, a fluffy, damp blend that packed well into a chicken cavity and emerged loosely gelled. So ... with the Holiday Season coming up -- Thanksgiving in the U.S., and Christmas -- here is Marilyn Monroe's recipe for turkey stuffing.

Time: 2 hours
(No garlic)
A 10-ounce loaf sourdough bread
1/2 pound chicken or turkey livers or hearts
1/2 pound ground round or other beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chopped curly parsley
2 eggs, hard boiled, chopped
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts, pine nuts or roasted chestnuts, or a combination
2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano
2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt-free, garlic-free poultry seasoning (or 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon pepper.
1. Split the bread loaf in half and soak it in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Wring out excess water over a colander and shred into pieces.
2. Boil the livers or hearts for 8 minutes in salted water, then chop until no piece is larger than a coffee bean.
3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in the oil, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat, so no piece is larger than a pistachio.
4. In your largest mixing bowl, combine the sourdough, livers, ground beef, celery, onion, parsley, eggs, raisins, Parmesan and nuts, tossing gently with your hands to combine.
Whisk the rosemary, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper together in a bowl, scatter over the stuffing and toss again with your hands. Taste and adjust for salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use as a stuffing or to bake separately as dressing.

Yield: 20 cups, enough for one large turkey, 2 to 3 geese or 8 chickens.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The $69 Million Dollar Vase...

This vase sold at auction today for $69 million dollars. A brother and sister who were clearing out their parents home in North London discovered the vase, had it evaluated, and put it up for auction with Bainbridge Auction House in London. Helen Porter, of Bainbridges auctioneers, said: "They had no idea what they had. They were hopeful but they didn't dare believe until the hammer went down.  When it did, the sister had to go out of the room and have a breath of fresh air." Apparently the vase had been in their family since the 1930s. According to the experts at Bainbridge, it was fired in the imperials kilns of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty. The vase has delicate perforations on the outside which reveals another vase inside, and is decorated in the humorous fish motif. The buyers have remained anonymous, but they describe the cause as "the most beautiful thing they had seen outside China in decades".

Do you ever wonder what treasures you may have hidden inside your house? I bought this exquisite beautiful rather pretty vase at a garage sale on Vine Street for 57 cents.  I'm rather partial to it because it has a sunny, Van Gogh-ish look to it, don't you think?  Could it be...?  Ever hopeful, I checked the pottery stamp on the bottom, and there is a little crown with the words "Finest China.  Made in Japan".  If anyone recognizes that stamp, I would be willing to negotiate.  I know a crown on the pottery stamp indicates "royal".  Could it be an antique Japanese vase from the Muromachi dynasty?  Or perhaps Kamakura? Just think of the possibilities. And I'm willing to part with it for only ... oh ... $5.70.  Well, maybe not.  I actually rather like it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Secret Lives Of Others...

Bus Passengers
George Segal

Have you ever sat on a bus, or in an airport waiting room or a restaurant and looked around at the other people and wondered what they were thinking?  Everyone seems to be staring off into middle space, and I sometimes wonder what secret lives are going on behind their vacant stares.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to listen in? We all have rich interior lives, and perhaps only a small percentage of what we are actually thinking makes it to the outside world.  In that way, we never really know each other.  We are our own best-kept secrets.

Rush Hour
George Segal

We have all experienced the elevator syndrome.  Elevators are small, confined spaces, holding sometimes 15 people or more, everyone intruding on each other's personal space. Conversation is kept at a minimum because the enclosed space gives a feeling of personal intimacy that makes us feel uncomfortable. We don't wish to talk to the stranger who is standing three inches away. So instead, we look at the floor numbers, hoping the elevator will get to our destination quickly. What are we thinking about, and what is the stranger next to us thinking about? Perhaps they're remembering a book they read the night before, or wondering if they remembered to turn the stove off before they left home. Or maybe they're late for work, and they're wishing they could tell the boss to take the job and ...

Street Crossing
George Segal

One of my favorite things to do is to sit and have a coffee somewhere, and try to guess what folks are thinking. Sometimes I will see a couple having a conversation, and I will imagine what they are saying.  There was a wonderful scene in "Date Night" where Steve Carrell and Tina Fey were having dinner together.  They were choosing random couples in the restaurant and inventing what their conversations might be.  I laughed because I didn't realize other folks did that too.

Usually the secret lives of other people are much more interesting than their exterior lives.  I work with a woman who is the epitome of grace, good manners, refined deportment ... and yet quite frequently she comes out with some particularly sarcastic and offensive comments that completely bushwhack the people they're directed at.  I hear the comments, and I wonder who is the real person living behind the pleasant facade this woman shows the world.  What is the secret life going on inside that causes her to be this way, and which of these personalities is the real person?  We never really know, do we?

Do you have a secret life?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Extracurricular Activities Of Alexandra Rose...

At Salon of the rue des Moulins
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

I have known some characters in my life -- Vancouver is full of them -- and one of those characters was Alexandra Rose.  I remembered her today, so I thought I would share her story with you.  Alexandra Rose and I both worked for an affluent, prestigious law firm.  The clientele of the firm were upscale corporations and well-heeled private individuals.  The law firm was a very large, national company with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.  It was what is referred to as a silk-stocking firm, which in Alexandra Rose's case is arguably an apt description.

Alexandra Rose was one of four receptionists, and she was very good at her job.  She was intelligent, friendly, and well-liked by everyone.  She and I occasionally had coffee together in the break room, and she was always very pleasant.  Being a receptionist is a much under-rated occupation.  Receptionists have to be welcoming and hospitable, no matter how they are feeling, or how disagreeable the clients may be.  They have to know where everyone is at all times, and they have to know the core business of the organization.  Unfortunately, most receptionists are under-valued and under-paid, and Alexandra Rose was no exception.  So, in order to save money for university, Alexandra Rose had a second job after hours.  Alexander Rose was moonlighting as a "lady-of-the-night".  In other words, Alexandra Rose was a hooker.

A l'Elysee-Montmartre
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

One evening some friends from out of town were staying with me, and we decided to take a drive through the city.  My friends wanted to see downtown Vancouver at night.  As we drove along Georgia Street, we found ourselves in the "local stroll", where the working girls of the evening plied their trade.  And there on the corner of Georgia and Howe was Alexandra Rose, in full hooker regalia.  Just at that moment, the light turned red and our car stopped.  Alexandra Rose, hoping to solicit some business, sauntered over and tapped on the window.  My window.  She put her face up close to the window, and I stared at her, and she stared at me.  It was a moment of horror for both of us -- a tableau, frozen in time -- as she and I recognized each other, our faces inches apart through the glass.  It seemed to take hours for the light to turn green, but finally my friends and I drove away and Alexandra Rose strolled back to her place on the sidewalk.

The next day we both acted as if nothing had happened.  I did occasionally see Alexandra Rose "out and about" for the next few months after that, and I heard she eventually put herself through university and got  a degree.  I imagine she is successful in her life, and probably happily married to an equally successful man who has no idea of her previous occupation.  Or maybe he does, and he doesn't care.  Either way, I hope she is doing well.  She certainly earned it -- in a most unconventional way.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Community ... The Art Of Networking

Luncheon of the Boating Party
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

At one time, folks all lived in small communities and everyone knew each other. Even in large cities, people lived in specific areas and everyone worked, lived, and socialized within their own community. Everyone knew everyone else, people visited back and forth in each other's homes and there was a real sense of belonging. Even in my small town, I lived in a neighbourhood, and I knew all the people on Latham Road, Beaufort Street, Ian Avenue, Tebo Avenue...  They were my neighbours.  Since the advent of cars and jet planes, people have slowly become more polarized. Friends and even families lose touch with each other. We now come into each other's homes via the telephone or the internet. The more secluded we become in our day-to-day lives, the more isolated we become from each other. Usually the topic of conversation at work is who was booted off "Dancing With the Stars" the night before. Instead of interacting with each other, we are interacting with our TV sets, and we get together with friends less and less frequently. Soon we all become strangers.

The Dinner Party
Jules Grün

Yesterday on her blog Alane told the story of Anna* who was rebuilding her life. She did this by holding a soirée at her home, and inviting all the people -- friends and acquaintances -- she had known. Anna was very shy, and it took a lot of courage for her to do this, but she did it. Few of the people at Anna's soirée knew each other before that evening. Afterwards, however, I think some friendships were made, with Anna being the common denominator.

Le Moulin de la Galette
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

I think about all the friends I have made over the years, since elementary school, and I keep in touch with most of them -- but usually by e-mail. I will often get an e-mail at work from my friend on Vancouver Island, or my friends here in Vancouver will send me e-mails. We chat back and forth, and sometimes we will go for dinner together or to a movie, or some other social event, but we rarely -- if ever -- visit each other's homes. For some reason, our communities have become fractured.  So, with the holiday season coming up, I have decided to host a soirée at my home, and invite all the people I have lost contact with over the past few months and years. Of course, my treehouse is so tiny, folks will have to sit in perches in the trees outside, and hopefully there will be no snow -- but everyone will be well-armed with a warm fireplace and some hot rum.

Staying connected is so important, because in the long run we are social animals, and we need the sense of community that other people provide us.  And yes, you're all invited...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can I Have Some Apps, Please...?

I have decided it's time I joined the 21st Century, and I'm going to buy a cell phone. No, I don't have one -- isn't that amazing? I have noticed that public pay phones have gone the way of the Dodo bird, and if I'm stranded somewhere ("Help, I've fallen and I can't get up...") there's no way for me to contact anyone.  Or, if I'm on the bus going to work, and the bus gets hit by a cement truck, and the trolley lines come down and the bus is surrounded by electricity, and I'm going to be late for work ... you see my dilemma.

I have no idea what sort of phone to get. One of my co-workers uses her phone for texting people while she works.  I look over, and she is typing on her computer keyboard and she's also typing on her phone.  How do people even do that?  Say you were arranging to meet someone for dinner while you were texting, but you were also sending an e-mail to the CEO of the company.  Later that evening, you walk into the Cactus Club Restaurant, and there's your boss sitting there with a big smile on his face.  Well ... could happen ...  I don't think I would want to take that chance.

And what, might I ask, is an "app"? Everyone always wants to show me their "apps". I went for dinner with my niece and her boyfriend, and he was so excited to show me the apps on his phone. It looked very impressive, but all I could see were a bunch of lovely coloured screens flashing past. If I buy a cell phone, can I have apps too? I would love some apps, especially some lovely brightly coloured ones.  Then I too could show people my apps. But best of all, I would love to be able to sit on the bus and use my telephone voice.  Wouldn't that be fun?  I could talk about the most mind-numbingly boring things, and everyone else would be forced to listen.  Well, probably not ... they would be too busy talking into their own cell phones -- or using their apps.

And in case you haven't seen it, here is a woman in 1928, outside the premier of Charlie Chaplin's film, "The Circus", talking on her cell phone. I had better get into the 20th 21st Century.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mothers-In-Law ... From H*ll ...

Daughters of the Revolution
Grant Wood

Raise your hands, those of you who have a mother-in-law. Now, raise your hands, those folks who are a mother-in-law.  Are you anything like your own mother-in-law?  Well, if you were, you probably wouldn't admit it, would you?  Unless, of course, your mother-in-law was one of those rare women, perfect and well-loved by her daughter/son-in-law.  Who are you kidding?

It seems to me that the worst mothers-in-law are the mothers of men boys males.  I know because my mother had two sons, and no one was good enough for either of them.  Not anyone...  My mother was a rather nice person whom everyone liked, but as soon as she walked into my brother and his wife's house, she transformed into a sniping, overly-critical, insensitive person that I didn't recognize.

"Those children don't look healthy.  I'll buy them some vitamins and they'll be much better..."

The children, of course, were as healthy as horses.

I know a woman who used to iron her adult son's blue jeans.  When he moved into an apartment of his own with a couple of his 22 year-old friends, his mother baked him casseroles and took them to his house, much to his embarrassment.  When he moved 2,670 miles to the other side of the country, and got married and started a family, his mother moved there too -- right . next . door.  Her daughter-in-law finally barred her from visiting their house.

I remember when I  got married and my daughter was about three months old, there was a very  heavy snowfall and our sidewalk was covered in deep snow.  I had to struggle carrying a squirming infant, trudging through the snow.  My mother-in-law called my husband and asked him if he would go to her place and shovel her sidewalk.  She had a husband and two grown sons living at home at the time, but my husband went and shovelled her sidewalk, and ours didn't get done.  I'll never forget the comment my father made when he heard of this.  I can't repeat it here, but I think you get the idea.

Mothers of men are not doing them any favours by over-mothering them.  They truly give their sons a false impression of what and who women are.  I heard a woman on The Joy Behar Show say something interesting tonight.  She said, "When I marry a man, I want to be his life partner and his equal..."  I think most women would agree with that.  No woman wants to marry a man who is really looking for a mother, or worse, a replacement for his mother.  Most women want to marry a man who is looking for a wife.

There is something a little bit creepy about a woman who wants to continue to wield power over her son, even after he has a home and family of his own.  It's sort of like the Oedipus complex in reverse, and the damage it does is devastating.  Everyone loses, and the person who loses most of all is the son, because he will never be able to see a woman except through his mother's eyes.  And unfortunately, his mother will make sure that no woman ever measures up to her. Ever.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chaos Rained ... Reigned ...

The Key
Jackson Pollock

Have you ever had one of those days, where you're certain the stars and planets are aligned just so, and chaos is reigning over your life?  And just when you think it can't get any worse ... it does?  Let me tell you about my day.  It started with a Pacific storm blowing through our city and dumping several inches of rain -- as if we could use any more.  Where does it all come from?  This morning as I was leaving for work, I slipped in a huge pile of wet, soggy, slippery leaves and ended up in a pool of water.  A very nice passerby helped me up, and I carried on to work.  When I got to the office, I was covered with mud all down the right side of my body, my canvas tote bag was full of water and leaves, and my leather gloves were ruined.  Oh, goodness...

My bag and gloves were not salvageable, so I tossed them into the garbage, but my wallet was okay, so I was able to retrieve it.  After working for a couple of hours, it became apparent that my pants were torn, and were quickly deteriorating.  It was a quiet day in the office, so folks suggested I should take the afternoon off and recover.  Okay...  Fine with me.

On my way home I decided to make a quick detour downtown to get a new tote bag and leather gloves.  I caught the bus, but just as we pulled away from the stop, someone threw up in the back seat, and the transit biohazard cleanup crew was called.  Well, I wasn't sticking around for that, so I got off the bus and hopped into a cab that was waiting at a taxi stand across the street.  I told the driver my destination -- a main intersection in downtown Vancouver -- but he ended up taking me six blocks out of my way.

"You're not anywhere near where I want to go!"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I got lost..."

We're in downtown Vancouver for crying out loud.  How could he get lost?  He's a taxi driver...!  *sigh*

Well, I eventually made my way back to my desination and found the perfect leather gloves and a new tote bag -- on sale.  By then I didn't feel like dealing with more buses, so I flagged a taxi home.  This was starting to get expensive, but I got the gloves and tote bag for a good price so I thought ... what the heck.  On the way home, I asked the driver to stop at a convenience store a couple of blocks from my house so I could pick up some clothes washing detergent to wash my muddied, soiled, wet, soggy clothes.  As I reached into my wallet to pay the clerk, I realized I didn't have my keys.  I was two blocks from home and I had no way to get into my apartment.  So near and yet so far...  Yes, my keys were in my tote bag ... back at the office ... in the garbage.  It was now 2:00 in the afternoon, and that garbage bin was not going to be a pretty sight.

The taxi driver took me the 14 blocks back to my office and waited for me as I rooted around retrieved my keys from underneath the coffee grounds and dozen or so disgusting discarded lunch remains in the trash.

Where are the transit biohazard folks when I need them?

Finally ... I was on my way home, feeling very fragile.  I gave the driver my address and I realized he was taking me several blocks past my house.  He was most apologetic for his error.

"I'll turn the meter off!  I'll turn the meter off!"

"Please do."

When I got home and locked the door behind me, I understood how people can very easily develop agoraphobia.  For just a moment I vowed never to step outside again.  Just as I was taking off my coat, the phone rang.  It was a wrong number.

"Is this Alcoholic's Anonymous?" a slurred voice enquired.

Not yet, but give me a few days...