Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me...

Today is my birthday, and I have always felt that it comes at a convenient time of the year, right between Christmas and the New Year.  It's a perfect time to make resolutions.  I have never been the type of person to look backwards, only forwards.  We can't change the past, and having regrets about anything is of no use whatsoever.  It's best to keep our cherished memories and jettison the regrets. To me, regrets are like weights that drag us down.  Lovely memories are like balloons that lift is up and make our spirits soar.  Most of us have so many blessings in our lives, and we fail to see them.  Instead of making New Year's resolutions, which most of us will break in the first month week of January, we should make a list of our blessings, however small.  We would find that the list is actually very long.  My experience has always been that, to cherish a blessing is to make it flourish; like watering a flower, it will grow and blossom.  Ignoring a blessing will make it shrivel and blow away like dust in the wind.  And then it becomes a regret.  Life is too beautiful for regrets.

Today I am going to buy myself a birthday present -- a new red coat that I have picked out.  It's time to retire the yellow rain slicker.  So, if you see someone looking very posh in a new red coat strolling along Broadway, please say hello.  It's me.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends.  This has been a busy year for me, but I will now be off work from Christmas until after the New Year.  Hooray...!

I hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Love, Jo

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Post Apocalyptic World...

If I had a dime for every time there was going to be an apocalypse, I would be living in a Shaughnessy mansion, complete with a swimming pool and my very own bowling alley.  Well, maybe not a bowling alley, but definitely a swimming pool.

When I was a little girl, our family lived next door to some folks who belonged to a particular religious group that constantly believed the end of the world was upon us.  They carried a sign on the roof of their car that said, "The End of the World is Near".  I lived in a state of anxiety mixed with terror all the time.  No reassurances from my Mom and Dad would ease my fears.  Finally, when I was seven years-old, my Dad had had enough, and we moved to another neighbourhood, and I was able to put that nonsense out of my mind.

How many people, I wonder, have been living in that state of fear and anxiety over the past couple of years, since the Mayan calendar was discovered to be ending on December 21, 2012.  People have been building underground bunkers, and other means of "survival" -- like the folks in "Blast from the Past".  They stayed there for 30 years and didn't realize that life was still going on as normal above them, until their son Adam decided to venture outside.

Adam: Say, mom?
Helen: Yes, dear?
Adam: I was wondering, you know, while I was up there and all, I was thinking, well you know, I was wondering if maybe I could meet a girl? I've been thinking about that a little. Just these last fifteen years or so.
Helen: Oh Adam, it would be wonderful if you could meet a girl. One who's not a mutant and hopefully comes from Pasadena. Nothing against Valley girls but in my day anyhow girls from Pasadena, I don't know, just always seemed a little bit nicer.

I guess you could officially now call this the post-apocalyptic world.  But, relax, have fun.  It's Christmas, a time for enjoyment.  However, do be careful.  Mutants do exist; I have met a few in my lifetime ... I think.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Grace McDonnell - Artist

The other night, Anderson Cooper interviewed the parents of Grace McDonnell, one of the children who died in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.  Anderson has been paying individual tribute to each of the victims, sharing with us some of their lives and who they were.  I was particularly taken with Grace's drawings and paintings.  She wanted to be an artist when she grew up, and I was gobsmacked at her talent for such a little six-year-old girl.  Look at this wonderful owl.  I just love it.  Look at the eyes, and the heart, and she has even drawn a belly-button.  Well, sure, owls can have belly-buttons, can't they? And the wonderful colors.  Grace's parents gave a copy of this painting to President Obama, and he said he would cherish it.  The soul of a beautiful little girl, taken too soon, lives in this painting.  I have not been able to get the images of those children out of my mind.  Grace's mother says the children are all together in Heaven now, and their teacher is looking after them.  What a beautiful, comforting thought.  Here are three more of her little paintings.  I love the fish.

I cannot imagine the pain and grief of losing a child this way.  When they start shooting six-year-olds, it's time for folks to put their guns away.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Charlie Brown Christmas...

This year, I am really looking forward to Christmas. For some strange reason, which I cannot explain, I have very good feelings about it.  Sometimes life does a paradigm shift and gives us new beginnings.  To me, that is the true meaning of Christmas.  The year winds down, the long dark, days begin to get brighter, I turn another year older (*sigh*), but it's all good.

When I was a teenager, I fell in love with the writings of W. Somerset Maugham.  There was no other writer -- except, perhaps, John Steinbeck -- who understood so much about the human condition.  One of my favourite Maugham quotes:  "It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."

Of course, he also said, "If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts".

January may bring some changes for me on the work front.  The irons are still in the fire...  But I am enjoying getting ready for Christmas.  I love buying things for people, and I'm having fun wrapping their gifts.

"Oh, I can hardly wait until they open that...  I'm sure they will love that....  I hope they enjoy that..."

When I was a little kid I could hardly wait to see what I was going to get for Christmas.  Now I enjoy with equal pleasure giving Christmas presents to other people.

Eight seven six more sleeps...!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Loss of Innocence...

Of all the images from the terrible incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, this picture haunts me the most.  It captures everything.

Sometimes there are no words.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Merry Kwanzukkahyule...

Two weeks from today it will be December 25th. What do we call it? The day before Boxing Day? Since it’s not politically correct to say Christmas anymore, will it actually be Christmas Day? How about Kwanzukkahyule? That pretty much covers all the bases without offending anyone, doesn’t it? Oh, wait … perhaps it offends the folks who actually celebrate Christmas. You know the ones. And yes, I am one of them. It has been a part of my culture my whole life. Is it offending anyone that I celebrate Christmas? Well, too bad.

Cultural genocide: The systematic destruction of traditions, values, language and/or other elements which make one group of people distinct from other groups.

If Christmas has been a large part of my culture, my parents culture, their parents culture, and so on, is it any less cultural genocide if we eradicate Christmas from our culture, so as not to offend people from other groups? We need to stop and think about what we are doing. We should all celebrate our cultures.

At work we are no longer allowed to have a Christmas party.  We have seasonal festivities, or a holiday celebration, or a winterfest.  In Vancouver we don't have a Christmas parade, we have a Santa Claus parade.

Bah humbug!

The very word "Christmas" conjures up wonderful memories for me -- Christmas tree lights, the smell of cinnamon, the memory of my Dad wearing his dress tartan tie, the anticipation of something special -- Christmas.  All of these things flash before my eyes when I hear the word Christmas.  The word "holiday" does nothing for me.  It sounds artificial and forced.  It is newspeak, just the way George Orwell predicted in his novel "1984".  It has happened.

"War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength."

"Christmas is holiday."

We have become victims to our own political correctness.

Bah, humbug!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find how many stupid ways not to say Christmas.  I need a laugh.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Life is What Happens...

Does anyone else ever feel like this? I saw this on Facebook today, and I thought, "Or my goodness, yes..." Or, as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans..." His life was cut short, 32 years ago today. We all have a limited amount of time on this earth. John Lennon was fortunate to have lived a good life in the time that he was here. He gave much, and he received much. He fulfilled at least some of his dreams.

In my case, I need to spend some time concentrating on moi. My bucket list is not very long, but that is all relative, isn't it? If we have only one thing in our list and we do not achieve it, 100% of nothing is still nothing.

My bucket list consists of a couple of things:  to finally leave my dead end job, and to go to art school. I will never be a great painter, or even a good one, but it will at least be something that I enjoy. An achievement is an achievement

As the clock ticks towards another birthday this month, I have to make some decisions about my bucket list.  As the L'Oreal ads say, I'm worth it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Take Five, Dave...

The first time I heard Take Five by Dave Brubeck, I was transported to another place far away from the Vancouver Island town where I grew up. I was transported to the land of cool, and I never wanted to leave that place. Ever. The magical combination of Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on saxophone, Joe Morello on drums and Eugene Wright on bass was, to me, the purest sound I had ever heard. While all my friends were listening to rock 'n roll, I was listening to Dave Brubeck, Cal Tjader, Charlie Mingus, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, and so many more.  What music these guys made.

Dave Brubeck died of heart failure today, in Norwalk, Connecticut, one day before his 92nd birthday. The birthday party that was planned for him tomorrow has been turned into a memorial instead.

Take Five, Dave.  You've earned it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Toss of the Dice... or a Shot in the Arm

Several years ago I had a flu vaccination and became very ill.  I was unable to leave my apartment for three months and consequently I missed work. A lot.  I was very sick, and I felt generally miserable.  As hell.  Since that time, I have not risked having another flu shot.  As a result, starting tomorrow I will be required to wear a surgical mask at work.  I work for a health care facility, and the employer has mandated that anyone who is not vaccinated against the flu is required to wear a mask.  Well fine.  I'll save money on lipstick.  So there.

In all seriousness, I don't believe employers should have the authority to force employees to undergo any medical interventions they don't wish to undergo.  During the course of my day-to-day duties, I have no contact with patients and I am not in a situation where I would be infected by patients.  I work in administration.  In any case, the flu vaccine is proven to be only 60% effective, and it does have side effects, one of which is death.  Yes, I would say death is a pretty good deterrent to the flu, and considering the bad reaction I had to my last flu shot, that is not a chance I wish to take.  And that is my right.

On Friday evening we received a directive from our union, as follows: On the eve of the implementation of a new province-wide health care worker influenza control policy, BCGEU in conjunction with Health Sciences Association and HEU has negotiated an agreement with the Ministry of Health that clarifies the implementation and enforcement provisions of the policy. The unions and the ministry have agreed that in the first year (2012/2013), the enforcement components of the policy will be in abeyance and staff will not be disciplined. In the first year of policy implementation the ministry and the unions have also agreed they will focus on educational efforts and onsite influenza clinics to promote healthy workplaces. “The agreement reached today takes away the threat of discipline, and reverts to the practice of educating members about the value of vaccination,” said BCGEU President Darryl Walker.

BCGEU continues to encourage members to be vaccinated and to take advantage of on-site flu vaccine clinics and take other precautionary measures to protect vulnerable patients. The unions also recognize that individual health care workers have a right to make their own personal health decisions. If they choose not to be vaccinated for any number of factors – including experiences with bad side effects to vaccines, and fundamental, philosophical, or religious objections to vaccination – that is their right. During a flu outbreak, existing employer policies will continue. This includes relocating staff, wearing protective masks, or staying at home. The ministry and the unions have agreed to meet to discuss future policies.

So, I will wear the mask until told otherwise. If you're walking along Broadway in the hospital district, and you see a woman wearing a yellow rain slicker and a surgical mask, do stop and say hello. It's probably me.

UPDATE:  The employer's mandate has been overruled by the Union, and people who have opted out of being vaccinated are not required to wear masks unless there is a flu outbreak.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Three Vases of Flowers
Odilon Redon

Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".  Often the journey takes courage, but it's usually that first single step that takes the most courage.  And then when we have taken enough steps, we get to the point of no return -- we can't turn back, we can only keep going forward, and that's when the journey becomes easier.

For anyone who is about to embark on such a journey, please know that there are many people who are cheering you on.  Whether you realize it or not, they'll be with you every step of the way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Mull of Kintyre

Last night I passed up a chance to see Paul McCartney in Vancouver.  Silly me.  Silly, silly me.  I have never been a huge Beatles fan, however, always preferring the bad boy Rolling Stones instead.  So when the tickets to last night's show were offered to me, I declined, and I called my daughter and asked if she would like them.  But Christmas is coming up, and the price of the tickets was a bit steep, so ... she declined as well.  I should have taken them and gone to the concert anyway.

Did I mention, silly me?

Phinnaeus and a friend of his did go to the concert, however, and I'm very glad they did.  It's sort of a continuum that kids from his generation still enjoy the music of the ... um ... "older" generation.

My favourite song of Paul McCartney's is The Mull of Kintyre.  My dearest friend from school married a Scottish fellow and moved to Aberdeen, Scotland.  A few years ago I went back to visit her.  She and her husband took me on a tour of Scotland around the Aberdeen area.  One afternoon as we were driving along the North Sea coastline, The Mull of Kintyre began playing on the car radio.  The feeling was surreal.  Here I was, driving along the beautiful, rolling coastline of Scotland, listening to The Mull of Kintyre.  It was like the sound track of my life.  It was beautiful.

My friend, Sherry, passed away two years ago, and whenever I hear The Mull of Kintyre, I am back in Scotland with my friend, driving along the North Sea.  It is a very strong memory, and one of my fondest memories.

Apparently, Paul McCartney doesn't play The Mull of Kintyre very often at his concerts.  In fact, it is said he plays it about once a decade.  I don't know if that is true or not, but if I had gone to the concert, I certainly would have wanted to hear him play it.  Well, last night Paul McCartney and the wonderful local Delta Police Pipe Band played Mull of Kintyre, and thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I am able to watch it.  It is a beautiful tune, and it still makes me cry.  And it still takes me back to the beautiful drive along the North Sea in Scotland.

Smiles in the sunshine 
And tears in the rain 
Still take me back to where my memories remain 
Flickering embers growing higher and higher 
As they carry me back to the mull of kintyre 

Mull of kintyre 
Oh mist rolling in from the sea, 
My desire is always to be here 
Oh mull of kintyre 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'll Be Baaaaaaack...

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Have a wonderful time, and take the next four days to relax and enjoy.

I have been swamped at work the past couple of weeks so I haven't had time to blog, but to quote Arnie, "I'll be baaaaaaackl"

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers, Jo

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dance to the Jailhouse Rock


This video speaks for itself. If you're ever feeling blue, just watch this video and you will be completely filled with joie de vivre, with some left over to spare. Be sure to turn the volume up really loud, and dance along -- once you have stopped laughing, that is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Challenge for You ... Who Is This Man...?

This is just a bit of trivia to see if you are on your toes.  This is the most famous man you have probably never heard of, but you have heard him.  Who is he?  I have a gorgeous fairly nice candle set to award to the first person who can identify him.  No hints, no clues, but I know once you find out who he is, most of you will say, "Oh, right ...! of course...!"

Are you on your toes?  Let's see.

Answer:  This is William Lyman, the narrator of Frontline on PBS.  We have all heard him hundreds of times, he has the most recognizable voice and unrecognizable face.  The blogger known as My Journey got it right.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes...

Several years ago, when I first moved to Vancouver, I was riding on a city bus and I looked over at the woman sitting across from me.  She was old.  Very old.  At least 50.  And she was wearing sensible, old lady shoes.  I remember looking at her feet thinking how sad it was that she had to wear those ghastly things, and could no longer wear sexy shoes.  It occurred to me then that one day those feet and those shoes would be mine.  I would no longer sashay down Granville Street wearing six inch heels.  Sensible shoes with flat heels were in my future, and my blood ran cold at the thought of it.

How quickly time flies.

At last count -- this morning -- I have 27 pairs of shoes.  None of them have high heels.  And none of them are particularly comfortable.  At one time I could spend the whole day at work and then go for a two-hour stroll around the seawall, wearing high heel shoes.  No prob.  Comfortable?  Of course they were.  In fact, I walked around London and Paris wearing high heel shoes.  But I bought my very first pair of flat shoes in Paris.  They were beautiful, made of leather as soft as butter, with a white laticework thread through them and a little white bow just so. The moment I slipped them on, I felt like Audrey Hepburn.  However, the first thing I did when I stepped outside the shoe store was to step into a little pile of dog poop, which litters the sidewalks of Paris.  Just try to get that out of buttery leather latticework.  I did love those shoes, though, and I bought a purse to match them.

Well, thank goodness for sneakers, is all I can say.  Now I can be the little old lady in sensible shoes, and I look really, really cool just like everyone else.  There won't be a young lady sitting across from me thinking, "Look at that little old lady in her sensible shoes ... how sad."  Well, at least she won't be thinking that about my shoes.  I have discovered that my sneakers are the most comfortable and the lightest shoes for walking.  I can walk miles in them -- even around the sea wall.  Every once in a while I look at my other shoes, the little red ones, the little black patent ones with the bow, the little suede ones with the zipper, and I think, "One day I will wear these, just not today."  So, if one day you see a little old lady strolling along Broadway in a pair of battered Adidas shoes, please stop and say hello.  It's me.

Captain Thomas Edward Larner

Long ago and far away
across the ocean
wild and wide,
the young men stormed
an alien shore
where many of them died.
Here and now
old men remember
the valor and the gore.
and the boyish faces
of their youth
that are young forever more

~~ William Bedford

My grandfather served in two wars, and he returned home and lived to be a very old man. But there was always something about him that was different, as if he had seen things no one should see.  What an awful sacrifice these folks make.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What Would Gambie Do...?

There was a poem that Gambie always used to recite whenever she was feeling troubled:

Never trouble trouble
Until trouble troubles you;
For you only make your trouble
Double-trouble when you do;
And your trouble, like a bubble
That you're troubling about
May be nothing but a cipher
With its rim rubbed out.

~ David Keppel (1849 - 1939)

There are no troubles too big that can't be solved.  Gambie would not want anyone to be troubled.  She also used to say, "This too shall pass".  And it will.  Have faith.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Good Luck to My American Friends

Good luck to all my American friends today. This presidential race has probably been the closest and the most contentious in a very long time. Shakespeare would have a field day with American politics -- it has everything that he loved, including tempests and tea pots.

"A politician…one that would circumvent God."  ~~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet -- Act V

M ay the best man win, and may there be no hanging chads.

The whole world is watching.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not Acts of God, But Acts of Man...

A Little Girl and Her Sheltie
Charles Burton Barber

When I was a little girl, I was afraid of everything.  I grew up during the Cold War -- an age of fear.  People were constantly afraid.  Every day, the news broadcasts led with the latest posturing between the U.S.S.R. and the Western nations.  There were "Commies" hiding under every bed, never mind bogeymen.  During the Cold War, each nation developed and tested the latest in ghastly weapons with the potential to wipe out all life on earth.  And as if that weren't enough, we were visited on a daily -- nightly -- basis by little grey men who astral-projected themselves down from UFOs hovering over our cities.  Livestock were mutilated, and people were abducted and had horrible experiments performed on them, usually involving long needles and other devices of torture.  Commies under the bed and aliens outside the bedroom window.  It was a scary time, I'll tell you.

And then it happened.  The unthinkable.  The world came within hours of blowing itself up, all over two opposing ideologies, Communism versus Capitalism. Two enemies of the Cold War played chicken with the lives of billions of people.  President Kennedy of the United States and Premier Kruschev of the U.S.S.R stared each other down for 13 days in October 1962.  Kruschev blinked first.  Kennedy prevailed.  The world once again was safe.  And I went from being frightened to being angry.  Very angry. P*ssed.  I had had enough fear.  It had seeped into my soul and my psyche and had created a long-standing anxiety that I still gives me difficulty to this day.  And whenever I think of it, I get angry.

Today, October 28, 2012, is the 50th anniversary of that stare-down.  During the years since then, we have had plenty of fear mongers, still trying to create anxiety in people.  And I'm still p*ssed.  Hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis are not acts of God.  God is not mad at us.  These things are not signs that the world is going to end on December 21st, they are simply acts of nature.  In the last 50 years since the world stepped back from the brink of annihilation, we have ticked along pretty much as we did before.  People go about their lives, for the most part just minding their own business, and getting along the best they can.  There are still countries where ideologies clash, leaders that still play silly buggers with each other, and innocent lives that are lost as a result.  But these are not acts of God.  They are acts of man.

I'm angry that I spent my childhood being afraid.  And for what?  Ideologies, philosophies, religions and political beliefs come and go.  People agree to disagree.  But I pray we never again come as close to complete obliteration of mankind as we did on those 13 days in October 1962.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Morning Silliness...

This made me laugh right out loud, and I wanted to share it with you. Oh, goodness, haven't we all been there...?

Have a great Monday, everyone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

High Heels and Pearls Are No Longer for the Kitchen

In my post yesterday I poked fun at Mitt Romney for his unfortunate remark about "binders full of women".  Mr. Romney probably meant his remark in a sincere, albeit misguided way and the resulting memes that spread through the Internet were just way too much fun.  Unfortunately, Romney is a Troglodyte and he needs to get into the 21st Century.  There are now more women in law schools and medical schools than there are men.  There are more registered women voters than there are men, and women are now scoring higher IQ scores than men.  This is not a trend.  This is what happens when more than 50% of the population is no longer subjugated and kept "in its place", and are no longer "bound" to their kitchens baking cookies, wearing high heels and pearls.  Well, they're now wearing their high heels and pearls in the boardroom.

In 1903 Madame Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize in Physics.  In 1911 she won a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 1935, Madame Curie's daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their contributions to the field of medicine have been immeasurable.   Madame Curie was aware of the discrimination against women and she made a point of hiring women who also had suffered discrimination by the male science establishment. By doing so, she gave several of these brilliant women their start in physics. One was Marguerite Perey who began as a test tube washer and, a few years later, discovered the radioactive element Francium. Another woman she hired was Ellen Gleditsch, who was a radiochemist, and who established the half-life of radium.

During the 1940s, the actress Hedy Lamarr wasn't just a beautiful movie star. According to a new play, Frequency Hopping, she was also a shrewd inventor who devised a signal technology that millions of people use every day in their cell phones. During the Second World War, Lamarr realized that by transmitting radio signals along rapidly changing, or "hopping," frequencies, American radio-guided weapons would be far more resilient to detection and jamming. The sequence of frequencies would be known by both the transmitter and receiver ahead of time, but to the German detectors their message would seem like gibberish. "No jammer could detect it, no German code-breaker could decipher a completely random code," she says in the play. The technology, says Singer, was far ahead of its time. Although her ideas were at first ignored, the technology (which she and Antheil patented in 1942) was later used by the military—during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, for example—and more recently, it has been employed in wireless technologies like cell phones. It was eventually recognized in 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation honored Lamarr with a special Pioneer Award and she became the first woman to receive the Invention Convention's BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award. ~~ Scientific American

The use of x-ray diagnosis and treatment in medicine, and the invention of cellular phones – both invaluable contributions by women. What a loss that would have been to the world if those brilliant woman had been kept in the kitchen, or worse, kept on a shelf in binders. I wonder how many women in Mitt Romney's binders were actually more qualified than the men, to do the jobs for which they had applied. Probably more than Romney would care to admit. We can poke fun at Romney, we can even poke fun at Obama for picking up the binder gaffe and running with it.  The truth is, the world is full of brilliant women.  Step out of those binders, ladies (isn't *bind* a somehow fitting word?) -- literally and figuratively. The world needs your brilliance. And let's face it, could we possibly do any worse than the men? Who knows, we might even just do better than the men. And we promise not to put them in binders.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm Falling, oh, yes, I'm Falling...

It has occurred to me recently that I have reached the tender age where falling is probably very dangerous and possibly even fatal.  I remember when I was about eight or nine, the mother of one of my friends fell and hit her head on the side of a garbage can.   She brushed it off as nothing, until a few hours later she became very ill and lost consciousness.  She was rushed to hospital, but never regained consciousness and passed away a week later.  At the time, I thought she was very, very old.  She was 34.  Falls can be deadly at any age, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 230,000 workers are injured, some fatally, due to trips, slips and falls each year.  Even children can be injured or killed by falls.  The majority of falls, however, happen in the home.  The most common place for falls?  Your kitchen, bedroom or bathroom.

Last weekend I was watering the plants on my terrace.  Just as I was stepping over the sill, with a full watering can in my hand, my foot caught on the sill.  In what seemed like slow motion, I headed face-first towards the big, heavy Adirondack chairs.  I managed to twist to the side so I didn't hit head-on, and the arm of the chair left a distinct mark on my cheek, from my ear to my chin.  I landed on my right arm, still holding the full watering can in my left hand.  Not a drop of water spilled.  I managed to pull myself together, albeit a bit shaky, and carried on with my day.  For a couple of days I felt fine.  And then on Wednesday it hit me with a whammy.  I had injured myself much more seriously than I had realized, and my injuries were talking to me.  A lot.

At first I thought it was just a bruise, but there was nothing there.  It was deep inside, and it hurt to cough, sneeze ... breathe.  I couldn't sit up and I couldn't lie down.  Going to the bathroom ... well, we won't even go there.  That's when I discovered that a heating pad and drugs -- lots and lots of drugs -- were my friend.  The nurses where I work gave me some very special over-the-counter pain killers.  I was immobile -- and stoned.  But not in pain.  At least, not until the drugs wore off.  My philosophy has always been that if something lasts for more than three or four days, it's time to see a doctor.  Thankfully, this morning I got out of bed, went to put my slippers on and felt something go *pop* in my back.  And then the pain was gone.  I am now pain-free and drug-free.

This has been quite the summer for being wounded in my home.  I was stung four times by wasps, I burned my hand on the convection oven, I stubbed my toe on my heavy leather chesterfield, and I tripped and went flying on my balcony.

By very, very careful out there.  Home can be a dangerous place.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Fog...

The fog comes
 on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

~~ Carl Sandburg

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving...

This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. It is traditionally held on the second Monday in October, and is meant to be a holiday to give thanks for the end of the harvest season. It corresponds with the English and European Harvest Festivals, and tables are decorated with cornucopias, pumpkins, corn, wheat sheaves, and other harvest bounty. Much like our American friends to the south, we eat a traditional dinner of roast turkey with all the trimmings, similar to Christmas dinner.


My favourite part of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner has always been Brussels sprouts. Ever since I can remember, I have loved Brussels sprouts. I sometimes eat them for a TV snack. If you were to place a slice of chocolate cake and a bowl of Brussels sprouts before me and ask me to choose, there would be no question. My choice would always be the Brussels sprouts. Am I insane? Well, yes, probably.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper them, perhaps some butter, et voila! a dish fit for a king ... or me.  Forget about dessert, just give me a second helping of Brussels spouts.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Separated at Birth ... Prince Harry and His Cat

On occasion, people have called me ... insane ... and they're probably right.  I sometimes see things other people don't see.  My friend Carla had a photo of this stray ginger cat on her blog, and I laughed out loud when I saw him.  If that were my cat, I would name him Prince Harry ... a prince of a cat, lord of the alleyways, the master of mice.  And he's almost as cute as Harry.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Is Arson Illegal? ... Kidding, Kidding ... (Or am I...?)

The neighbourhood where I live is a quiet residential district in Vancouver called Kitsilano, or "Kits". The population of Kits is approximately 50,000, and the area is made up of mainly early 20th Century Arts and Crafts bungalows and beautiful heritage houses like the one in this photo. It’s a lovely, unique neighbourhood with great shopping and beautiful beaches. I have lived in Kits for several years, and in my current apartment for over 14 years.


The house next door to mine is an old turn-of-the-century house that has been renovated into separate apartments, and the owner, Mr. Robert Helgason of Port Moody, B.C., rents only to university students. It's like living next door to a fraternity house. Last night there was yet another keg party going on, and this time I took a video of the festivities. It was dark, so you aren't able to see much, but you can hear it. Oh, goodness, you can hear it

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to offer me some suggestions -- any suggestions -- as to how I can get rid of these folks once and for all. Perhaps the sound of bagpipes at 4:00 in the morning might do the trick. Or I would be happy to send them some of my wasps.  My friend Russell suggested lobbing a stink bomb into the middle of the mob.  I rather like that suggestion.  Anything to get rid of these noisy neighbours.

This video was taken from my bedroom window last night as I was trying to sleep.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm In Love...!

Is it possible to be in love with a vacuum cleaner?  I have discovered this wonderful machine called a Dirt Devil cordless, rechargable all surface vacuum, and now all I want to do is vacuum.  Anyone who knows me, knows that housecleaning is not on the list of my top ten favourite things to do.  It's not even on the top 100.  I like having a clean house, and I feel more relaxed when things are organized rather than topsy turvy.  But doing it?  That's a whole other story.  And way down on the bottom of the list is vacuuming.  I detest vacuuming.  Vacuums are heavy, they're noisy, they're dirty, and they always have awkward cords that get in the way.  The other day I decided I needed a new vacuum cleaner, so  I typed "cordless vacuum cleaners" into Google, and up popped this little Dirt Devil.  Where has it been all my life?  It's lightweight, it has a ball pivot just like the much more expensive Dyson, it lies flat to go under bookcases and furniture, it cleans really well, and -- ta-da -- there is no cord.  You just plug it into a charger and in a few hours it's ready to go.  In the past few years I have spent so much money trying to find the perfect vacuum cleaner, and each was as bad as the last -- heavy, noisy, clumsy and with a ratty cord that never ... quite ... reached ... that farthest corner of the living room.

I love my little cordless Dirt Devil.

Now, if you will excuse me, I see a little spot under the TV that needs to be vacuumed.

Monday, September 24, 2012


My Family, Edmund Tarbell, 1914

Is there a nice family out there who would like to adopt me? I'm housebroken, I'm clean and I don't bite -- well, hardly ever. And I'm so tired of the drama. I believe it is possible to go through life without constant anger, yelling, slamming down the telephone ... drama.  It just goes on year after year after year...  It can wear a person down, and the constant bickering can make a person feel anxious.  One gets tired of feeling inferior, not "as good as".  My mother used to say, "Life is short, and you're dead a long time..."  It's true, we only have today.  We need to enjoy it.  There are folks out there who go through life without any stress, tension or drama.  I want to be one of them.  All I would like is some serenity.  I don't think that is too much to ask.  Just serenity.  No more drama.  It's so tiresome.  Enough, already.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Imaginary Friends...

When I was a little girl, I had an imaginary friend named Patty Kaye.  I grew up in a house with two older brothers, and I very much wanted a sister.  Patty Kaye filled the bill perfectly.  She and I did everything and went everywhere together.  For my fourth birthday party I insisted there should be a place setting for Patty Kaye, because I knew she would be very upset if I didn't include her in the festivities.  And believe me, you didn't want to upset Patty Kaye.  She could be very mean when she was angry.  But she was my constant companion, and was always with me.  I can't quite remember when Patty Kaye left me, perhaps I left her, and I have a feeling that if I listen very closely, I can still feel her presence.  Perhaps she was my guardian angel, or perhaps she was just the lonely spirit of a child who had passed on, and needed to still feel connected to this world.

Almost universally, all children have an imaginary friend.  They usually come to visit the children at around the age of three and they leave at around the age of six or seven.  My daughter had an imaginary friend named Katy.  She even introduced Katy to my mother, who managed to have a long conversation with her one day, and they all had a wonderful tea party.  Phinnaeus had two imaginary friends -- Bum and Bacon -- and they were like a comedy team.  Bum and Bacon used to wrestle with each other, and generally caused a lot of mayhem.  Phinnaeus was always trying to break them up, and he actually became quite exasperated with them at one point.  He would be sitting with us at the dinner table, or in the living room, and he would hear their commotion, and would get up and go into the bedroom to referee some sort of melee that was taking place.  I think he was relieved when they finally took their leave.  I don't know if Marigold had an imaginary friend, she never told us, but I'm sure she did. I certainly hope she did. Imaginary friends are a very important part of every child's life and are very real.  To many children they are indistinguishable from real people. Imaginary companions are an integral part of many children's lives. They provide comfort in times of stress, companionship when they're lonely, someone to boss around when they feel powerless, and someone to blame for the broken lamp in the living room. Most important, an imaginary companion is a tool young children use to help them make sense of the adult world. Kutner, Lawrence. Insights for Parents: Midnight Monsters and Imaginary Companions.

I believe imaginary friends are real spirits. I have always been able to sense the presence of spirits.  Sometimes it's comforting, and sometimes it can be disconcerting.  I remember Patty Kaye was my closest companion, and she could read my thoughts.  She knew what I was going to do before I did it.  She steered me away from danger and kept me out of trouble many times.  At other times she led me astray -- far astray.  I was once arrested, at the age of four -- for something Patty Kaye did.  My mother asked me to take the garbage out to the compost at the back of the garden.  The garbage was filled with potato peelings, and Patty Kaye decided it would be more fun to dump them over the neighbour's fence.  I couldn't stop her.  The neighbours called the police.  Constable Brooksbank marched into our living room, took one look at me and bellowed, "Is this the criminal?"

"No," I said, "Patty Kaye did it, but she's hiding."

Patty Kaye still occasionally gets me into trouble, and if I listen very closely, I can hear her giggling.

Who was your imaginary friend?  I'll bet he or she is still with you.