Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Oddities of Nature... Weird and Wonderful

Many of the wonders and oddities of nature have always fascinated me. One of the most amazing of these oddities is the human chimera. In simple terms, a human chimera is two people in one body. A good example of a chimera was a woman named Karen who was undergoing genetic testing for a kidney transplant.  The tests were conducted on her, her husband, and her three grown children. The results of the tests revealed that two of her three children were not her biological children, although she had given birth to them, and they were not the result of egg donors. After several months of further testing, it was discovered that the DNA from Karen's cheek was different from the DNA in other parts of her body. Karen was a human chimera and her body contained the genetic makeup of two distinct human beings. Chimerism happens with the fusing of two fraternal zygotes in the womb, and results in a person with more than one genetic identity. This happens very early in embryonic development, before stem cells have developed into various organs. People with one blue eye and one brown eye, for instance, may be an example of chimerism. Any of us may be a chimera, and unless we had some reason for DNA testing, we would never know. If you should happen to glance at a stranger looking back at you from the bathroom mirror, is it really you?

Another fascinating oddity of nature is the Anatolian shepherd dog. Anatolian shepherd dogs have been guarding sheep for thousands of years, and they have evolved with coloring to resemble the sheep they are protecting.  You can see in this photograph there are two Anatolian shepherd pups standing next to the sheep.  To a natural predator of sheep, this would be confusing.  From a distance it is very difficult to spot the dog, and just as difficult for a predator to plan an attack. The dogs would be able to hide in plain sight, and they are accepted by the flock as one of them.

One of the most incredible oddities of nature is Ophrys insectifera -- the fly orchid. It has evolved not only to resemble a fly, but it uses scent and female fly sexual pheromones to attract male flies, which pollinate the flowers as they attempt to mate with the fly on the orchid. There is also a Ophrys apifera, which is a bee orchid, and the insect on it looks exactly like a little, round, fat bumble bee.  These orchids require flies and bees in order to pollinate, so what better way than to entice them by using live bait?  Can you think of anything more amazing?

Nature is full of weird and wonderful things.  These are just three of them.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lost In The Sunset...

The sunset over English Bay this evening was so beautiful, I wanted to share it with you. We have been enjoying the most gorgeous summer here in Vancouver -- not too hot, not too cold, but just right -- with warm evenings and beautiful sea breezes.  The seagulls love summer evenings like this, and they soar through the air telling each other jokes, and laughing hysterically.  The crows pretend not to notice, but just cluck and chuckle.

I have been away from my computer for much of the past couple of weeks, so I haven't visited all of my favorite blogs lately, but I will be back soon.  I hope you don't forget about me...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster...

I just had the most wonderful visit with Phinnaeus and Marigold. They're great kids, and I love doing all sorts of things with them. We went to Cirque du Soleil Kooza, we saw "Despicable Me" and "Toy Story 3", we went swimming at Kitsilano Pool, and we went to see the exhibit of Impressionist painters' drawings at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was fun. They're great kids, and I love taking them out for lunch or dinner to somewhere nice where we can have a nice meal, relax and chat -- if only I could hear them.  Every place we went, loud music was blaring from the stereo speakers.  None of the customers in the restaurants could hear each other speak, so everyone had to shout in order to be heard over the music -- which eventually was turned up even louder because the conversation was drowning it out.


Yesterday we went to a lovely restaurant called Bellagio Cafe, across from the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was a perfect summer afternoon, the food was good, the service was good, and I couldn't hear a word Phinnaeus and Marigold were saying. All any of us could hear were the Gypsy Kings ay-yi-yiing...  I love the Gypsy Kings and I think they're wonderful, but not at 100 decibels in an enclosed space.  Marigold has a very soft, quiet voice, and she was completely inaudible over the din music.  I sometimes wonder what it must have been like to dine in a lovely Edwardian restaurant, where people had actual conversations, and soft music played in the background, from a live orchestra.  Folks could actually converse with each other, rather than shout at each other in order to be heard.  Is it just me, or do other people experience this as well?

Bamboleo bambolea
porque mi vida yo la quiero vivir así
Bamboleo bambolea
porque mi vida yo la quiero vivir así

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You've Got A Friend In Me... Toy Story 3

Just when you think movies can't possibly get any better, along comes a movie that is absolutely perfect -- and wonderful. The Munchkins and I went to see Toy Story 3 today, and the only word I can use to describe it is enchanting.  And, whatever did we do without 3-D viewing?  It brings the audience right into the picture and makes us part of the action.

All the usual characters are back -- Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head -- and a few new ones, including Barbie and Ken, and a very wicked, evil, truly frightening baby doll known as Big Baby.

We have all had toys we've loved, and toys that were our companions.  When I was a little girl, I had two favorite toys -- a small piano just like Schroeder's in the Peanuts cartoons, and a life-sized doll with red hair, named Patty Kay.  My toy piano used to get "lost" quite frequently, and then would magically reappear after a couple of days. It took me years to realize where my piano disappeared on such a regular basis -- the top shelf of my mother's clothes closet. I played my little toy piano whenever I could, and to this day I still love pianos. My Patty Kay doll was my best friend when I was little, and she stayed with me until I was about 10, when I finally had outgrown her.  After seeing Toy Story 3, I realize how sad Patty Kay must have been when I discarded her. 

If you have ever owned a toy, or know anyone who has ever owned a toy, you will love Toy Story 3.  It's one of the most magical movies I have ever seen.  Be sure to watch it in 3-D; you'll get lost in the enchantment.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cirque du Soleil ... Kooza

In case anyone is wondering why you haven't seen me around the blogs lately, I have visitors for the next few days, and we've been very busy -- having fun! Yesterday we went to Cirque du Soleil "Kooza". I have seen a couple of Cirque du Soleil shows, but this is by far the best, and puts the "spectacular" back into "spectacle". I am usually a very polite spectator, and I clap graciously at all the right moments, but yesterday I heard someone hollering "whoo...! whoo...!" and I realized it was me.


What an amazing show.  It's colorful and exciting, and ... amazing. If you have a chance to see this performance, grab some kids and take them to see it. You'll all love it.

I surreptitiously taped one of the acts, it was so wonderful.  I know... I know... As my friend Susan says, people have been fried at the stake for less, but I wanted to share it with you. Oh, and that "whooing" you hear? That's me...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mission Impossible ... Doin' The Dance Of Joy...

Yesterday I went to Phinnaeus's concert, and it was wonderful. The theme of the concert was "Themes", which I thought was quite imaginative. They played the theme from "Mission Impossible", "The Muppet Show", "Wallace and Gromit", and various cartoons, including "The Flintstones". My two favorites were "Hawaii 5-0" and "Peter Gunn". The kids all did a fabulous job, but more importantly, they had fun.

The concert was in a perfect setting in a beautiful outdoor park. I was able to get some pictures and videos, but just as I was about to video Phinnaeus's solo, a woman -- complete with a video camera on a tripod -- plopped herself directly in front of me. *Nooooo....* I guess she didn't get the memo that traditionally those cameras are supposed to be used from further back, so they don't disrupt other folks' views. Oh, well... I happened to glance over and saw a little girl who was definitely enjoying the concert. I mean, she had moves...! Talk about the dance of joy. Watch out, Lady Gaga, there's someone close on your heels.

It's a beautiful summer day here. I hope you all go out, have fun, enjoy yourselves, and do the dance of joy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Colonel Mustard In The Study With A Rope...

We have all played that wonderful game of "Clue", wandering through the hallways of the Boddy Mansion, trying to find the clues as to who might have dispatched Mr. Boddy.

"Miss Scarlett in the billiard room with a knife..."

And most of us have watched at least one of the CSI television franchises about forensic detectives who use DNA and other evidence to solve cold cases. By the end of the hour, the detectives have solved the case using 21st century forensic technology, some of which has not yet been invented. But, what the heck, it's television and, like the game of "Clue", it's meant to be entertaining.  It's not real life.

Occasionally, though, there is a mystery in real life that is so bizarre, it sends up red flags, even to the most unsuspecting people.  Two relatively young married folks -- Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack -- die within five months of each other of exactly the same thing, acute pneumonia and severe anemia, both of which are relatively rare conditions in people their age.  Both are discovered in the same place in their home, by the same person.  What are the odds?  Something just doesn't feel right, and if I were a detective, my money would be on a suspicious third agent, either animal, mineral or vegetable.  I don't know much about either of these two people, but I think we have the makings of a CSI show here, or at least a good, rousing game of clue.  Stay tuned...

"Professor Plum in the conservatory with a candlestick..."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Me...? The Prime Minister of Canada...?

How many times have we seen someone and we’ve said, “I recognize the face, I just can’t place the name...” It has happened to all of us occasionally. Like fingerprints, no two faces are alike -- every face is slightly different. Almost from birth, babies are able to recognize faces, even subtle differences in faces. However, there is a small percentage of folks – about 2.5% -- who cannot recognize faces at all. This condition is called prosopagnosia and can be inherited, or can be caused by a brain injury. People with prosopagnosia often cannot recognize even their own face, but they often can identify people by touching their features.

Have you ever been told “You look just like such-and-such-a-person...?” Oh, goodness. I remember once my mother met one of my brother’s friends on the street, and had a long, chatty conversation with him. “How is your mother? How are you doing in school this year...?” The only problem was, it wasn’t my brother’s friend; it was a complete stranger, and he had no idea who my mother was. I was so embarrassed for my mother, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her, as she and I strolled merrily on our way.

Yesterday I went shopping after work, and it became an exercise in frustration because everywhere I went, no one had any of the items I needed. The Bay – my good old standby – has discontinued just about everything I like. So, by the end of my fruitless expedition, I was tired, my feet were sore, and I decided to take a taxi home. I strolled over to the Four Seasons Hotel taxi stand, and was immediately treated like a celebrity. Well, I know the folks there are polite, but this was ridiculous. They practically rolled the red carpet out for me. When the taxi rolled up, the doorman held the taxi door open for me and said, “Have a wonderful evening, Ms. Campbell...”

“Ms. Campbell...!?”

And then it dawned on me. They had mistaken me for Kim Campbell, who had once briefly been the Prime Minister of Canada. I don’t think I look anything like Kim Campbell, but I have been mistaken for her before, so I suppose there are enough facial recognition points in our faces for people – strangers – to think we look alike.

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever been mistaken for someone, or mistaken someone else?  Who do you look like?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Invisible Blogger...

For some reason lately, my boring-little blog has become invisible in the blogging world.  I think something strange has happened, and my posts are not visible on Google Reader anymore.  Anyway, I am going to take this opportunity to get outdoors, do some painting, go to the beach, get away from the computer for a while ...  I will be back to visit you.

In the meantime, here's a fun little quiz I borrowed from our friend Calvin at Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel. You can paste a sample of your writing into it, and find out which author your writing style is most like. I have never read anything by David Foster Wallace, but I think now I will.  Apparently I write like he does.  Interesting ... who knew!  Give it a try, and see who you write like.

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Have fun, everyone!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Theory of Six Degrees

The theory of Six Degrees of Separation is one that has always amazed me. It refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth. ...


I grew up in a small town on the edge of a forest and my friend Helen* lived on the other side of the creek from our house. We spent all our time at each other’s houses, playing hopscotch, skipping, swimming, playing with dolls and doing all the other things girls do. We went through elementary school together and we ate lunch together every day. We would often trade lunches, and I always looked forward to the days when Helen’s mother made her chocolate bar and banana sandwiches. They were delicious.

Helen and I grew apart as we got into high school and found we had different interests. Helen was very athletic and involved in basketball, where I was more involved with the school choir and arts. We went our separate ways and didn’t see each other again after graduation.  Helen became a teacher and moved to another city, and I got married. After my husband died, it was necessary for me to go back to work, so I became a legal assistant with a large law firm. I worked for a senior partner and his junior assistant, a young articling student named Paul*.

Paul was a very sweet young man and everyone liked him. He was dark, attractive and sort of self-effacing, but he was a very promising articling student. However, he had made one serious mistake in his personal life, which required a formal hearing before he could become a lawyer. When the hearing concluded, it was agreed that Paul could become a lawyer and practice law, but on the condition that he move to a law firm in another city.

In the meantime, Helen had been diagnosed with a medical condition that required surgery. The doctor who performed the surgery botched it, leaving Helen in chronic pain. Helen sued the doctor but she lost the lawsuit. And, by a strange turn of coincidence, the firm representing Helen's doctor was the same law firm where Paul now worked.

Helen was frustrated with the outcome of her case, and after exhausting all appeals she set out on a mission to take justice into her own hands. She drove to the law firm that had represented her doctor, with the intent to shoot the lawyer, and she accidentally shot Paul instead and killed him. She was on her way to shoot her doctor when she was captured. After a lengthy trial, Helen was found guilty of murder.

At the time this happened, I had not yet heard of the theory of six degrees of separation. Two people whom I had known at different times in my life, had their lives intersect with each other in a way that would turn out to be devastating for them both, and neither of them knew I was their one degree of separation.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pear Shape Or Apple Shape...? Can You Remember...?

Two Women Running on the Beach
Pablo Picasso

As if women didn't have enough reasons to worry about their weight, according to CNN, here is one more:

The more a woman weighs, the worse her memory, according to research released this week from Northwestern Medicine at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The effect is more pronounced in women who carry excess weight around their hips, known as pear shapes, than women who carry it around their waists, called apple shapes.  The reason pear-shaped women experienced more memory and brain function deterioration than apple-shaped women is likely related to the type of fat deposited around the hips versus the waist.

"We need to find out if one kind of fat is more detrimental than the other, and how it affects brain function," said Dr. Diana Kerwin, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of medicine and a physician at Northwestern Medicine. "The fat may contribute to the formation of plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease or a restricted blood flow to the brain."

"The study tells us if we have a woman in our office, and we know from her waist-to-hip ratio that she's carrying excess fat on her hips, we might be more aggressive with weight loss," Kerwin said. "We can't change where your fat is located, but having less of it is better." ... CNN

What about if you happen to be a little bit chubby all over? Does that mean you can remember some things and not others?  How on earth does where a person carries weight affect how their memory works ... unless both are related to a sedentary lifestyle.

I remember another "scientific study" about 20 years ago that concluded with the finding that women with larger breasts have smaller brains.  That caused quite a stir, and was eventually disproven.  I think the only conclusion one can reach from these studies is that -- once again -- women are being stereotyped according to body shape.

Oh, goodness... how silly.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Airing The Dirty Laundry...

When I was a really little girl, I used to love reading about movie stars. To me, they were like royalty. They lived in beautiful houses -- with swimming pools -- they wore gorgeous clothes and generally had perfect lives. Or so I thought. Any hint of impropriety was just that -- a hint. It was all part of the fantasy. Movie stars didn't live "normal" lives like the rest of us. They were never the noisy neighbors who got drunk and had fights, while the rest of the neighbors closed their curtains and pretended they couldn't hear them.

Or so we thought.

I'm not sure I like the new transparency that has been forced onto celebrities by the paparazzi and by sleazy media sites such as TMZ and Radar Online. But the genie is out of the bottle, and we are given a view into these folks private lives. Having said that, wouldn't you think they would want to present a better face to the world? Don't these people care that everyone can see their dirty laundry? Unfortunately, there is no such thing as privacy anymore. When Alex Baldwin or Mel Gibson leave repulsive and sickening messages on folks' voice mail, don't they realize it will go viral in a matter of minutes? When Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton, or any other bimbo du jour gets drunk or stoned, throws up and passes out -- on camera -- don't they realize that those pictures will be on the internet -- forever? No amount of cosmetics or plastic surgery can enhance a mug shot.

What are these people thinking?

I don't know about anyone else, but I prefer not to see people -- anyone -- descending into dissoluteness. It should be kept private, whether it's the neighbors or the previous year's Oscar winners. If I hear one more news story about Lindsay Lohan's addictions, bad behaviour and jail sentence, or Mel Gibson's dirty laundry and foul mouth, I think I will throw a shoe through my television set. And then I'll probably get arrested for violence.

Watch for my mug shot.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's Your Name...?

For the first few years that I was blogging, I always responded personally to everyone's comment on my blog. But in recent months I have stopped doing that, because I was never sure if anyone checked back to read my responses to them. It seems to be sort of a mixture of folks who respond, and those who don't. I prefer an interactive sort of exchange, and I miss doing that. So, I will probably resume the practice of responding to those wonderful folks who do take the time to post a comment on my boring-little-blog.

Having said that, there is one thing I would like to know. "What is your name?" I would prefer to address people by their names, rather than -- say -- "Lollipops and Roses", or "Fear of Clowns", or "Terrific in Timbuktu", or whatever your blog title might be.

If you scroll down my blog -- way down there on my sidebar -- you will see I have added as many names as I know to all of your blog titles. Maybe you don't want folks to know your real name, and I understand that.  But if you don't have a problem with it, I would love to know your name -- first names only.  I have found over the course of blogging that I have gotten to know some of you very well.  Your "voices" are all definitely very different.  Blogging can be very personal and at the same time it can be almost detached.   It's a strange dichotomy.  We become close friends with people whom we may not recognize if we were to pass them on the street.  We see people come and go, we watch new bloggers blossom, while others die on the vine -- sometimes literally -- and we always feel a sense of connection.  We find ourselves caring about the things that happen in their lives, with their jobs, their families, their hobbies, their health -- all the while not knowing most of their names.  So, if you feel comfortable telling me your name, I would love to able to address you by your name when I respond to your comments.  It doesn't have to be your real name.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

   ... William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Monday, July 12, 2010

Like A Duck Out Of Water...

This is my most recent drawing, my little wooden duck. It's done with pastels, charcoal and Conté crayon.  I collect ducks. Yes, I do. I love ducks. I have a brass duck, two wooden ducks, a wooden goose and two brass geese. I love the way a wooden duck looks sitting on a bookcase, amongst the books. Ducks just seem to be so -- Canadian -- somehow. So this little duck is from my collection, and I decided to attempt a drawing of him. I was quite happy with how he turned out.

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

... Ogden Nash

This drawing thing is starting to become a habit. I just might have to give up my day job. :-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

C'est Fini ... My Antique Coffee Pot ...

Well, here it is -- the finished product -- the drawing of my little battered, antique coffee pot. This little pot has been through the wars, and almost did not survive. My mother and my sister-in-law made coffee in it one day, and sat chatting while it boiled dry and scorched. But I saved it and brought it back to life. For some strange reason it is one of my little treasures, and has a place of honor in my kitchen.

I had so much fun drawing it, I'm looking around for more items to draw. It's really the simple, everyday things in our lives that touch a chord with me. I'll never paint the grand masterpiece, but I enjoy sketching little found objects. This was done with colored pencil, pastel and charcoal. I rather like it.

Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Joys Of Stumping...

Just in case you're wondering where I have been lately -- and you probably aren't -- I have been doing some stumping. What is that, you ask?   Stumping is a technique of "blending or rubbing in deposits of dry colour from chalk, charcoal or pastel, using a roll of leather or paper known as a stump. Approximately a finger's length and diameter, with a stubby conical or domed point at either end, the stump duplicates the action of a fingertip but allows more control." Well, here is the start of my latest effort.  I have a wonderful little enamel coffee pot that is so old, the dinosaurs made coffee in it, and I have always wanted to draw it.  I go through phases where I don't draw for weeks, months, years, and then I get motivated again.  The beautiful sea breezes are blowing through my tree house, the seagulls are squawking ... "mine! mine! mine!" ... and it's a perfect day for drawing.  I'll be back to show you the finished product.

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do Animals Play...?

Evocation of Butterflies
Odilon Redon

Yesterday evening I watched a butterfly outside my treehouse, dancing on the wind for at least an hour.  It swooped and fluttered back and forth through the trees, and not once during the whole time did it settle on anything, but rather just sailed through the air with butterfly joy.  Earlier in the afternoon I watched a seagull at Kitsilano Beach, as it swam and bobbed in the water -- all alone.  He was obviously having fun, and I thought I heard him chuckling as he rode the surf.

I do believe animals enjoy a beautiful idyllic day as much as we do.  In the summer, the seagulls can clearly be heard telling jokes to each other, and laughing heartily as they soar through the air, chasing each other.  Their joie de vivre is unmistakable and very real.

The little butterfly last night was having a wonderful time, and as I watched him I was reminded of the poem by Wordsworth that we learned in grade eight.

I've watched you now a full half-hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

To a Butterfly ... William Wordsworth

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some Things I Have Learned Today...

Today I learned ... if you and the other women in the office are going to chat about how handsome the new, young, resident doctor is, make sure he is not standing right behind you.

I learned if you receive a group e-mail stating a new policy whereby employees cannot wear sandals to work due to safety reasons, and you reply saying, "Well, that's just silly... we work in an office...", make sure you don't hit "reply all". *Oops* It seems that everyone agreed with me, and today everyone is wearing sandals.

And last, but not least, I learned that if you've had a rough day and want a good night's sleep, don't eat baked beans for dinner. They're delicious, they're nutritious, but ...

Have a fabulous day, everyone.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

And They Flew Through The Air With The Greatest Of Ease...

Summer has finally arrived here in British Columbia, and during the summer there is no more beautiful place to be than at Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island.  I was fortunate to spend my summers growing up there.  Sproat Lake has over 200 miles of shoreline, and is known for its warm water.  We used to swim in Sproat Lake from Easter weekend until Thanksgiving day.  My friend Fae's parents had property on the lake and their family lived there all year round.  At the first hint of spring, Bonnie, Fae, Sherry, Ann and I would go swimming.

I remember one year when we were about 14 or 15 years old, we were lying on the dock leading to the boathouse, and the two boys next door, Doug and Gordon, and their friends Randy, Gary and Bill decided to start showing off by jumping off the roof of their boathouse.  Of course, we all pretended not to notice, lying there completely insoucient and nonchalant.  We were far too mature to notice the antics of silly boys.  However, one by one, as the boys jumped off the boathouse, they lost their bathing trunks in mid air.  It was like a perfectly choreographed ballet, and the shrieks of the girls could be heard echoing across 200 miles of shoreline.  The loons took up the cacophony for what seemed like ten minutes, while the boys picked up their bathing suits and ran into the boathouse.

Whenever we get together, someone always says, "Remember that time...?"  That was when we discovered that men, bless their souls, really are funny -- even when they're trying not to be.

I have a feeling it's going to be a beautiful summer.  Go out and make some memories.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ordinary Objects...

Well, I take it all back. Pencil sketches can be masterpieces. At the Vancouver Art Gallery on Thursday I saw an exhibit of the most wonderful pencil, charcoal, pastel and conte crayon drawings done by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Seurat, Redon, and so many more of the Impressionist painters. I was gobsmacked at the simplicity and beauty of them, particularly the charcoal sketches. I have never worked in charcoal before, so I bought myself some pencils, and decided to give it a try. I did a little video of the work in progress:

And here is the finished product, which is embarrassingly bad, but I learned a lot of things as I went along, one of which is "less is more".  Too much charcoal is not necessarily better than not enough...  But, it's a start, and it's a lot of fun.  Just don't expect to see my work on the wall of an art gallery any time soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The "Jo" Proust Questionnaire...

One of my favorite magazines is Vanity Fair, and the first section I always read is the Proust Questionnaire.  It's fun to find out about people -- not what is their favorite color, or what kind of dog do they have -- but the really concrete things in their psyches.  People are so complex, and so different from one another in many aspects, and so similar in many others.  Often when I read the Proust Questionnaire, I am amazed at how similar I am to the particular individual being interviewed.  So, for absolutely no reason whatever except that it's fun, here is the "Jo" interview of the Proust Questionnaire.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A beautiful summer day, great company, beside the ocean or a lake.

What is your greatest fear?
Not leaving my mark in the world, and being forgotten.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What is your most marked characteristic?
My laugh.

What is your greatest extravagance?

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

On what occasion do you lie?
To spare someone's feelings.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
He knows.

When and where were you happiest?
Right now.

Which talent would you most like to have?
To play the piano.

What is your most treasured possession?
My father's books.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

What is your favorite occupation?

What is your most marked characteristic?
I don't suffer fools gladly.

What do you most value in your friends.

Which living person do you most admire?
My friend Lulu.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction.
Doc in Cannery Row.

Who are your heroes in real life.

What is it that you most dislike.

What is your greatest regret?
Not going to university.

How would you like to die?
Being hit by a bus at the age of 100 while riding my bike.

What is your motto?
"Lighten up..."

Now ... if you would like to do the Proust Questionnaire too, I would love to hear your answers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Marital Discord

What do you say to a couple who fights like cats and dogs all the time, phones you and drags you into the situation to the point where it makes you physically ill, and then says, "I'm done with this conversation..." and slams the phone down on you.  And all you were doing on a Thursday evening was -- oh, I don't know -- sleeping, reading, or otherwise sitting in your own home minding your own business...? How do you deal with people like that? I have been going through a rough couple of weeks, trying to deal with the death of my close friend, and it has been more difficult than I would have imagined.

I don't understand marriage, and I don't understand marital discord. I think that is why God created marriage counsellors.  I lead a very simple life, I go to work, I come home, I blog, I read, I draw and paint. I enjoy time with my friends. I try to keep some semblance of normalcy, calmness and serenity in my life. It's actually very easy to do. I cannot be responsible, however, for other people's state of mind, or how they live their lives. I cannot help other people in that regard, because let's face it, people never listen to me anyway, so why ask for my advice? But I draw the line at becoming a lightning rod for other people's problems.  I have had enough of that.

My plan this week was to take four days off, get my sense of balance back after the past couple of weeks, and find my centre again. Nice try...  As Dorothy Parker said, "What fresh hell is this...?"


My advice to anyone who is in a bad relationship, "Get out of it... If you don't want to get out of it, then get professional help for whatever is making the relationship turn sour. Life is too short to be so miserable and unhappy all the time.  But, please, leave me out of your turmoil, because you never listen to my advice or suggestions anyway.  It always follows the same routine, doesn't it?  All it has done is upset me.  Again... For the 100th time... Thanks."

"How am I?  Oh, just great ... swell ... thanks for asking..."

Sketches ... And A Give-Away

Today is Canada Day, and I have four days off work, in which to unwind and "unlax" as my mother used to say. I have hauled out my art supplies and plan to do some sketching. One of my most treasured items is a book called "1000 Years of Drawing" with wonderful sketches in it by everyone from Albrect Altdorfer to Willem van der Velde, the Younger. And yes, there are some sketches by the artist who did the two drawings on this post as well. Can you guess who it is?  Some of you undoubtedly will recognize the simplicity and beauty of the lines.  I never take part in give-aways, but just to make it interesting, I have a small gift of one of my pencil sketches to anyone who can guess the artist of these two sketches.  Now, don't all rush...

I have always enjoyed sketching more than any other type of art form, it is my first love, and to me it is the purest way of creating art. Sketches are never considered masterpieces, and in any case I would never be a good enough artist to create a masterpiece. But I always enjoy the results of my pencil sketches, and my favorite piece that I have done recently is the salt and pepper shaker on my sidebar. And strangley enough, I get a lot of requests from folks for a copy of that little picture. Go figure... As for my give-away ... I haven't drawn it yet. It will be a Jo original, but it won't be nearly as good as these two sketches. Aren't they wonderful? Can you guess who did them?