Friday, January 28, 2011

Pet Peeves...

We all have them -- pet peeves. They are usually things that would cause no one else the slightest concern, but they can drive us completely over the edge. I started to think about this yesterday when I went for lunch with a friend of mine. This is someone I love dearly, and she often invites me for lunch, and just as often I decline. Why, you ask? Well, my lovely elegant friend has a habit -- every time we have lunch together -- of blowing her nose and then leaving the offending Kleenex on the table.  It's disgusting, and I have no way of telling her that I find it offending.  Am I crazy?  Would anyone else be put off their lunch?

Bad haircuts. If you pay $60.00 for a haircut -- plus tip -- shouldn't it be reasonable to ask that the left side of your hair be the same length as the right side? Is that asking too much? Or perhaps it might actually have, oh, I don't know, some style?  I have invested in a good pair of scissors, and I now cut my own hair. I can't count the number of times I have had to come home and even up the straggly bits that don't match. It's enough to make my tear out my hair.

Not paying attention.  The longest escalator in Vancouver is at the Granville Sky Train Station. It is one of the longest escalators in the world, and it is always packed with people exiting the Sky Train.  And invariably when I ride this escalator, there is a group of people clustered together at the top, chatting and looking at their phones.  Escalators can often be dangerous, and can cause nasty accidents to toes and other appendages.  Here's an idea -- when you reach the top of an escalator, keep moving.  There are people behind you.

Vancouver is known as a city of awnings. There is a reason for that.   It rains here -- a lot... It's possible to walk along any commercial street in Vancouver and not get rained on, as long as we stay underneath the awnings. The only problem is, all the folks with umbrellas are walking under the awnings, and all of us folks without umbrellas are trying to jostle for a position ... under the awnings.


Some of my other pet peeves are:  people who cut the crossword puzzles out of the newspapers in the coffee room;  people who cough all over the fresh produce in the supermarket; people who leave their dirty dishes on the table in the food court -- there are recycling and trash bins everywhere; throw out your garbage.

Oh, I'm not really as grumpy as I sound today. The past couple of weeks at work have been sort of ... trying.  But I prevailed and now it's Friday, it's pay day, and I have two days off to do nothing but sleep, shop, read, paint, sleep...  I might even have time to visit your blogs.  I have missed visiting you.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and do something fun, fun, fun...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The King's Speech...

This is a movie I haven't had the opportunity to see yet, but soon ... hopefully (Leslie?) Today it was nominated for 12 Academy Awards. That's not too shabby.

Best picture
Actor – Colin Firth
Supporting actor – Geoffrey Rush
Supporting actress – Helena Bonham Carter
Director – Tom Hooper
Original screenplay
Art direction
Costume design
Film editing
Sound mixing
Original score

King George VI was never meant to be King. His older brother, David, (King Edward VIII) abdicated the throne in order to marry a *gasp* divorced American woman. "Bertie", as George VI was known, became King by default. He hated the idea, and in fact he was terrified of it.

I recently read the biography of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. She was quite the gal. In her younger days she was very pretty, and regularly jaunted over to Paris to visit the nightclubs. She loved to party, and she loved her gin and tonics. The gin and tonics probably helped her to live to the ripe old age of 103.  But she was no shy, English rose.  She was tough and high-spirited; she was the strength behind the throne, and she helped Bertie overcome his stammer by arranging for him to be seen by a speech therapist. (My daughter, who is a speech therapist, has seen the movie and she says it's wonderful.)    Interestingly, sceenwriter David Seidler had suffered from a stammer when he was a child, and King George VI inspired him.  When Seidler wrote his screenplay, the Queen Mother asked him to delay publishing it until after her death.

I find the Royals interesting, and obviously Hollywood does too.  Helen Mirren won an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II.  Dame Mirren was also nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Charlotte in "The Madness of King George".  Cate Blanchett won two Oscars for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I (twice), and Emily Blunt was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Victoria.  Add Colin Firth to that list for his portrayal of King George VI, and my guess is he will win.

And yes, ladies, I have seen Colin Firth in person, and ... yes, he is even better looking than on the screen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stop And Smell The Roses...

For some strange reason which I have never been able to understand, I don't particularly care for roses. On an intellectual level, I know they are beautiful and they have a wonderful fragrance, but they just don't appeal to me. In my opinion, their beauty is formal and unwelcoming, and their fragrance is too sweet.  Certain roses do look beautiful growing in a garden, but even rose gardens seem to be rather reserved and -- formal.  I have never been overjoyed if someone were to give me a bouquet of roses.


Wild roses, on the other hand, are exquisitely beautiful. They grow with abandon, and they seem to say, "Stop and stay with us awhile. Let's hang out together and enjoy the sunshine."  I have never been able to pass wild roses without stopping for a few minutes.  When I was a little girl, there were wild rose bushes at the side of the road on my way to school.  I would stop and admire them, and time stood still. I still remember the warm spring mornings, and the joy the wild roses gave me.

I have lately been contemplating making a career change, as in downsizing.  Our company is going through a major reorganization, and I am hoping (hoping...!) I am one of the folks who is to be reorganized out the door.  There comes a time when we need to concentrate on ourselves.  Working full-time, I have no time for my hobbies and interests.  I love to paint, but I have no time -- or energy -- after working flat-out every day.  The clock doesn't stop for any of us -- the seasons speed past -- spring, summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, fall, winter... What do you think, folks? Should I take the leap, and once again stop and smell the roses?  Maybe I'll even do some paintings of them...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Guy In The Fancy Striped Vest...

I have a condition for which there is probably no cure, and there is no hope for me. It's a rare condition, and very few women suffer from it. It's probably chronic, but with the proper care, I can live symptom-free. My rare condition? I don't find George Clooney attractive. Oh, I can hear everyone gasping. "You don't find George Clooney attractive?"  No, I don't.  He's an okay actor, most of the time, if he can stop bobbing his head long enough... but other than that I can't see what all the fuss is about.  There was a scene in "The Seven Year Itch" where Marilyn Monroe says, "You think every girl's a dope. You think a girl goes to a party and there's some guy in a fancy striped vest strutting around giving you that I'm-so-handsome-you-can't-resist-me look. From this she's supposed to fall flat on her face. Well, she doesn't fall on her face."  George Clooney reminds me of the guy in the fancy striped vest.

It's sort of like rice pudding -- everyone says how delicious it is with all the lovely cinnamon and raisins, and I want to like it, but...

Mr. Clooney is a humanitarian, he has a great sense of humor ... His face is asymmetrically perfect ... I know, I know ... what am I missing?  Is there any cure for my condition?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Morgellons ... Real or Imaginary ...?

Singer Joni Mitchell has recently announced that she is suffering from Morgellons disease. This is probably one of the strangest diseases in existence. Symptoms of the disease are:

■ Fibers, threads or black stringy material in and on the skin
■ Skin rashes or sores that can cause intense itching
■ Crawling sensations on and under the skin, often compared to insects moving, stinging or biting
■Severe fatigue
■ Inability to concentrate and short-term memory loss
■ Behavioral changes
■ Joint pain
■ Vision changes

Stringy material in the skin?  Oh, yuck...

The Center for Disease Control is conducting an epidemiological investigation of the condition, otherwise known as an "unexplained dermopathy". Most doctors and psychiatrists regard it as a delusinal parasitosis. Either way, it's a really creepy disease, but I am personally skeptical that this is a true disease.  I think it is probably a manifestation of a psychosomatic disorder.  However, I am not a doctor so I am not qualified to make any judgment about Morgellons etiology. Adults and Children are equally affected by the disease, and it appears to be recorded as far back as the 1600s.

Has anyone else heard of this strange condition?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Ophelia Among the Flowers
Odilon Redon

Do you ever get the feeling that your life is spiralling out of control, and you can't do anything to stop it? It is the most terrifying feeling.  I am in a state of chronic worry and frustration.  I try to hide it -- but my get-up-and-go got up and went...  I am unable to sleep, and I feel as if I'm trapped in the middle of a hurricane that I am powerless to stop.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everyone happy.  I just want everyone to be happy...  My mother used to say, "Life is short, and we're dead a long time..."  Shouldn't we spend our time on earth being happy?  Why is that so difficult?

I live such a quiet, ordinary life. I am the most boring person I know. I love my routine, and I love having nice things around me.  Life is meant to be enjoyed ... isn't it?  Isn't it?

I just want everyone to be happy...!!!!

I do apologize, but I just needed to vent.  Thank you for listening.  I bought a LottoMax ticket today, and on Friday I am going to win $46,000,000.  It's my turn, don't you think?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cutting Away The Dead Wood...

The Young Gardeners
Myles Birket Foster, R.W.S. (1825-1899)

My mother used to have a wonderful gardening term whenever she was referring to getting rid of the flotsam and jetsam in her life:  "Cut away the dead wood".  It's a wonderful term, and it can be applied to so many situations in our lives.  Without getting into the details, yesterday we had an exorcism, and we cut away a lot of dead wood.  Is that a mixed metaphor?  Oh, it probably is, but in this case it does apply.

Gathering Lilac
Myles Birket Foster

Often in life, things are not what they seem -- or even what they seem to seem, if that makes any sense.  Sometimes we want everything to be okay, so we ignore all the signs that it is not okay.  We all do it.  Our intuition is screaming at us, "This is not right!" but we ignore it because we don't want to listen.  We just want everything to be okay.  If I just do this, or if I just do that ... it will all be okay.

Been there ... done that ... got the tee shirt...

When we finally make the necessary changes, it's as if the sunlight has come back.  The darkness has been cast out.

In the 1970s there was a record album and book called "Free to be You and Me", with stories and songs by Marlo Thomas, Alan Alda, Rosey Grier, Cicely Tyson, Carol Channing, Michael Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross and many others. The concept was to teach children that they should be happy with their own identity, and that anyone can achieve anything.  I believe very strongly in that concept.  We are our own persons, and no one has the right to diminish that -- ever.  Fear and intimidation are the weapons of the weak.  Sooner or later they get found out for what they are.

It feels so good to cut away the dead wood...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Craigslist Free Stuff...! Who Knew...!

In the past couple of weeks or so I have been browsing through Craiglist, looking for this-and-that, and today I happened to stumble onto the "free" stuff. It's wonderful...! Who knew there were so many treasures out there, free for the taking. You just go and pick it up. Who knew...! For instance, did you know that for absolutely nothing -- free! -- you can have six laying hens?  Just go get them, and they're yours.

My personal favourite was the Free Crutches and Removable Cast. Both were used for about four days and are in perfect condition, very clean. Come and take them away. Unfortunately, I was too late, and they were already gone. Darn! And they were hardly used at all.  The cast was in mint condition and there wasn't a scuff mark on it.  But, someone had already beaten me to it. Can you blame them?  Who can resist a free removable cast.  That's the story of my life -- in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This has an interesting story to it, don't you think? Free decorative mask, brand new still in box, approximately 5" x 5". Santa probably left this little goodie under some unfortunate lucky person's Christmas tree.  It's brand new; in fact, it's probably never been taken out of the box.  If you can get past the nightmares it's sure to give you for weeks to come, you can pick this up for nothing!  Can you believe it?  I'll bet there's a rush on this item.

I have 2 boxes of wire hangers (and a few thicker coat hangers) that I need to get rid of. Probably close to 70 hangers. Looking to get rid of them today. I don't even want to know the story behind this one. Why would anyone have 70 hangers, and why would they need to get rid of them?  Perhaps "Mommie Dearest" is coming to visit... Okay, all together now ... "No wire hangers ever...!"

Depends. Partial package. Women's medium. Hate to throw them out when they are perfectly new and unused. There are 14 out of 18, I believe... Do we want to know why anyone would be giving away a partially used box of Depends, especially if they are perfectly new and unused? No, I don't think I want to know... No...

Bullet proof glass. 1 1/4 inch thick. approximately 30" x 50". Due to the large number of enquiries, first come first served. Pick up between 1 - 6 pm Thursday to Sunday. VERY HEAVY. Can be moved by three men, or two men and a dollie. Large number of enquiries?  That's sort of an unfortunate commentary on the current state of affairs in our city.  This item is located in East Vancouver.

Two Green spotted Puffer Fish for free. Currently in 30 gallon tank. Cannot share tank with other species as they are aggressive. Eats frozen brine shrimp and blood worms. Uses 1/4 cup marine salt per gallon of water. Adorable little creature, isn't he?  He looks a bit like Mr. Paquette, my grade 12 French teacher.  I wonder why they're getting rid of them.

I love Craigslist. There are some amazing things for sale on there, and the free items are great. There are wheelchairs, a maternity bra, toilets, back issues of Cosmopolitan Magazine, egg cartons -- I suppose they would come in handy if you were to take the free laying hens. Someone is even giving away a free bunch of rocks. Can you imagine -- free rocks?  It's wonderful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christina Taylor-Green

Is this beautiful little girl the face of America today? As a Canadian, I have never been able to understand America's love affair with guns. In the ranking of murders by firearms, America is fourth in the world, behind South Africa, Colombia and Thailand, followed by the Philippines and Mexico. Great company to keep. Canada, sadly, is moving up the list and is now number 14. We always seem to emulate our American cousins. Americans quote the Second Amendment and say it's their constitutional right to "bear arms". In any case, from my understanding of it, the Second Amendment was not originally written in the context that it is taken today. And what about this little girl's right to a peaceful assembly. She was at a political rally on Saturday because she had been an "A" student in school, and she was rewarded for this by being invited to the rally. She had taken an interest in politics. Little did she know she would pay with her life.

After she died, her parents and her brother were permitted to spend some time with her to say goodbye. I cannot imagine something like this happening to either Marigold or Phinnaeus. It is beyond my imagination.

The young man who did this is now famous, his face plastered all over the news websites. Is there someone else out there plotting the same thing? Will this be the last time something like this happens? What do you think...?

Rest in peace, Christina. I hope there is a Heaven, and you're off chasing butterflies.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Two Equals One Pair...

Isn't it true that it's the small things in life that can drive us completely insane? Most of us have the strength and fortitude to deal with major crises ... but the small things can leave us whimpering in the corner.  "I know I left my keys right here; I could have sworn I had extra light bulbs; didn't I just pour a cup of coffee?" We get distracted sometimes, and these things happen. They're not great cause for anxiety, but they can niggle at us sometimes.  But there is one thing that can drive me over the edge into complete and total insanity: I put two socks into the dryer, and only one came out.  I have just spent the better part of an hour, looking for one sock.  It is nowhere to be found.  I am convinced that my dryer, and probably yours too, is really the entrance to a black hole into the universe -- to the Planet of the Socks.

There on the Planet of the Socks they hang out, enjoying a cocktail -- each of them having escaped from Planet Earth -- while their poor, cast-off mates think they're hiding in the lint trap. Eventually the left-behind sock suffers the humiliating fate of becoming a sock puppet, or worse -- a dust rag.

Today I had planned to shop for a new sofa, but all I will be thinking about is my lost sock.  I have looked everywhere.  Where is it?  I will become obsessed with it, and I will probably lose a couple of nights' sleep until I can put it out of my mind. Most of the time I can deal with the major things in my life. Every problem eventually has a solution.  The big things?  No problem ... It's the small things that can drive a person insane.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Man With The Golden Voice

By now everyone has heard the story of Ted Williams, "the man with the golden voice". Ever since his video went viral on YouTube, he has been on ABC Good Morning America, NBC's Today Show, and he has been reunited with his darling little 90 year-old mother, whom he has not spoken to in 20 years. He has been offered jobs and I understand he has already done a couple of voice-overs and advertisements.

I am a great believer in the concept of transgression and redemption. My favourite author, Somerset Maugham, wrote about human redemption, and many of his books informed my life. My favourite quote is by Maugham: “I sometimes think that the stars never shine more brightly than when reflected in the muddy waters of a wayside ditch.” ... So to that end, I hope Mr. Williams is successful, I really do. But is there anyone else except me who feels somehow that this story is not going to end well?

This fellow has had many chances in his life. In 1988 he was making $60,000 a year. That's pretty good money even in 2011. He made bad choices which caused him to fall on hard times. He has been involved in drugs, alcohol, robberies ... He has nine children, all of whom have tried to help him.

Are some folks just programmed to self-destruct? Is it perhaps a fear of success?  I see something behind this man's eyes that says he does not feel he is worthy of success.  I have a feeling he is going to do something to screw everything up again, and he will disappoint everyone who has helped him, but most of all he will disappoint himself.  I hope not.  Everyone deserves redemption.  Good luck, Mr. Williams.  The only person who can do it is you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Miracle Sunshine Vitamin

If you could take a magic pill that would make you feel wonderful, help with insomnia, depression, seasonal affective disorder, aches and pains, prevent many forms of heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases, and build strong bones, and it's really inexpensive, would you take it? Well, there is such a thing, and it's called Vitamin D. I have always been a strong advocate of Vitamin D, and lately it has been getting some very good publicity.  You can read a complete article here:  Preventing Vitamin D Deficiency

Of interest, lack of Vitamin D has been linked to multiple sclerosis and also rickets. One of my friends had both of these conditions in several of her family members, and it was found they were lacking in Vitamin D. According to the Mayo Clinic website, over the last few hundred years human lifestyles have changed. The industrial revolution resulted in more indoor work and less exposure to sunlight. Many societies around the world wore more clothing over the centuries, further reducing skin exposure to sunlight. These changes have brought with them a significant reduction in the natural production of Vitamin D and subsequent diseases. Nevertheless, Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you might expect. People who don’t get enough sun, especially people living in Canada and the northern half of the US, are especially at risk. Vitamin D deficiency also occurs even in sunny climates, possibly because people are staying indoors more, covering up when outside, or using sunscreens consistently these days to reduce skin cancer risk.

For me, whenever I take Vitamin D, I have the same feeling as if I had been outdoors on a sunny day. You know that feeling? Ahhhhh... a little ray of sunshine. Here in Vancouver, our sunshine usually comes in liquid form ... *sigh* This means the sun is only strong enough between May and September to give us sufficient Vitamin D.  When I take Vitamin D, I immediately have a feeling of well-being.  It's the next best thing to a stroll on the beach in Waikiki or the South Pacific.

I'm walking on sunshine, woooah
I'm walking on sunshine, woooah
I'm walking on sunshine, woooah
and don't it feel good!!

Hey , alright now
and don't it feel good!!
hey yeh

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wormholes and Angels...

As human beings, we all suffer from the same condition -- the human condition. We are human, with all the wonder, beauty, faults and frailties that make us human. Over the past year, as I have visited your blogs, I have seen so many of you enjoying the highs and enduring the lows that being human entails -- illness, divorce, job loss, and also career changes, engagements, births, reunions -- some sad and some wonderful things. The one thing I have observed is that the more different we are, the more we are all the same. As a community, we have felt each other's pain and joy, and often we have been asked to pray for each other. I believe in the power of prayer. It is a very strong force in the universe, and I have seen it work.

I have always been the eternal optimist.  I have always believed that problems are sort of like wormholes in the universe; we go into them in one place, and come out of them at the other side in a better place.  Problems are God's ways of telling us that something needs to change -- for the better.  Often the solution is obvious, and often we have to struggle with it.  The worst thing we can do is nothing.  Any solution is better than nothing.  Often the very act of beginning to solve a problem has a way of making us feel better.  We are doing something positive; we are moving forwards through the wormhole.

Without getting into specifics, someone I know is going through a difficult time at the moment.  This person is entering a wormhole and will eventually end up at a much better place in the universe, but in the meantime it is going to be a difficult journey.  I believe very strongly in angels, and sometimes angels will intercept in our lives in ways that seem strange at the time, but in hindsight we realize the purpose of it.  And I know the angels will guide this person through the wormhole and safely out the other side, to a much better place in the universe.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Is Time Travel Possible...?

Ever since I read H.G. Wells "The Time Machine" as a child, I have been fascinated with the concept of time travel. Imagine that we could move forward in time and see the future. Could we change it? Would we be able to read the winning numbers in the $50,000,000 dollar lottery, and choose the winning ticket?  If we had the ability to change anything in our futures, what would we change?  Or, in the alternative, if we could travel back in time and change events that have affected where we are today, would we change any of it, given the hindsight we have now?  Often the turning points of our lives are not in the major decisions we make, but in the small ones.  Would we recognize which decisions have made the most impact on our lives?

In a sense we are all time travellers, moving through space and time in our own time machines. The decisions and choices we make today have a direct effect on our futures. We do have the ability today to change the future.  Our parents told us this when we were growing up, and most of the time our reaction was, "Yah, yah ... okay ..." But as we got older, the reality of it began to take hold.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda ...

I have made some good decisions in my life, and I have made some bad ones, as we all have.  What I have learned -- I hope -- is to gain knowledge from my experiences, and to stop making the bad decisions.  All of us know instinctively, when choices are put before us, which ones will be the bad choices, the choices that will negatively affect the future.  In that way, we are able to travel forwards in time and see how we can change the future.  Often if we make the wrong decision, we unfortunately end up in the future looking back at that decision, wishing we had not made it.  We can mitigate the consequences, but by then it is usually too late.  Somehow it's always the bad decisions that seem to loom larger than the good ones.  The good decisions we make are the foundations of our lives, and those are the ones on which we should concentrate -- both in the past and the future.

Today is the start of a new year and a new decade.  It's the perfect day to climb into our time machines and travel forward into the future, and to do everything we possibly can to make it a good future.