Friday, December 30, 2011

Know Any Guardian Angels...?

The Guardian Angel
Pietro Da Cortona

Do any of you folks believe in guardian angels?  I could certainly use one right about now.  I can't remember when I have ever felt so despondent.  For the past several years, I have been supportive of my family through many family problems.  I have assisted with what little financial support I can provide, I have assisted with resources, psychological support, time, effort, care, concern, and so much more.  I have always been the person that folks can call at 3:00 in the morning, and I will be available to help with whatever help is needed.  I sometimes feel like an eight-legged octopus trying to hang onto all the unravelling ends of everyone's lives.  And this Christmas season has been no different.  There has been stress, financial concern, psychological concern; I have been trying to keep everyone stress-free.  I just want everyone to be happy.  But, the realization came to me that it's all for nothing.  I can't make other people happy, and I can't solve their problems for them.  It is burning me out, and it's affecting my health and my job.

People often become so self-absorbed that they can't see beyond their own problems.  On my birthday a few days ago, only one family member phoned me to wish me a happy birthday.  All I want is for my family to actually care about me ~~ Johanna ~~ the person.  It is a very lonely feeling, and today I feel unbelievably sad.  Yet another family crisis has blown up, and yet again I was unable to hold the unravelling threads together.  And yet again I have become the unwilling brunt of the situation.  I am beginning to see a pattern of one individual using me as a tool to hurt another individual.  He uses me to push buttons and to cause trouble, which seems to be a trait of other individuals in his side of the family.  And there has been a pattern of it consistently since he came into our family.  And he's very clever at it.

Today I am feeling rather sad, heartsick, and very, very tired.  I am sorry to be such a downer, but I just needed to vent.  It's very difficult to go through life feeling as if one's family doesn't care, but that is how I feel.  I am not a valued member of my family.  I need to distance myself, because it's better to be alone than to be constantly embroiled in someone else's turmoil, year after year, after year.  If they don't like me, well ... they don't like me, and I can't change that.  I always feel I am never *good enough* and I think, "If I can just be a better person, if I just be nicer, if I just do nicer things, if I help them more, maybe then they will like me..."  But it doesn't work that way.  I get that now.  I get it.  I'm a nice person, I don't need to be a better person, or nicer, or more helpful.  I'm just fine the way I am, and if they don't like me, well, that's okay.  I can't change it.

Okay, I finally get it.

But, I could sure use a guardian angel right about now.  Or a hug.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I See ... A Rhinoceros ...!

If you ever had any doubt about Woody Allen's genius, please watch Midnight in Paris, and your doubts will be dispelled. It's a wonderful movie, but more than that, Woody Allen's casting of the movie is beyond brilliant. Who else but Adrian Brody could have played Salvador Dali?

Man Ray: "A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph!"
Luis Buñuel: "I see a film!"
Gil: "I see insurmountable problem!"
Salvador Dalí: "I see a rhinoceros!"

In Midnight in Paris, our protagonist, Gil, is a struggling writer who wants to live in Paris of the 1920s ~~ the era of bathtub gin, writers, musicians, artists, poets, and all that jazz. Woody Allen's movie is populated by all of those wonderful folks ~~ Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and so many more. Gil gets to know them on a personal level, and he learns the meaning and the struggle behind their work and their creativity, and we get to know them too. It's wonderful to see Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, sitting in her salon, and just above her on the wall is the famous portrait of her painted by Pablo Picasso, as she sits chatting with ~~ Pablo Picasso. I felt part of the Bohemian café society of the 1920s as they discussed poetry, art, literature...

I think we have all wondered what it would be like to live in a different era. For me, the Edwardian era is where I have always wanted to visit. I have a photo of my grandmother taken as a girl during the Edwardian era, and I have often thought I would love to travel back in time and visit with her. She lived in South Africa, and I would imagine her life to be very much like Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke's, also known as Isak Dinesen, the woman who wrote Out of Africa. My grandmother's parents owned a vineyard in the Paarl Valley, and she and her sisters lived a very interesting and rather privileged life.  I still own some of the china and linens my family used when they lived in South Africa, and they're beautiful.

I find everything about the Edwardian era fascinating ~~ the clothes, the architecture, the culture; it was an innovative period of time politically and scientifically. Some of the most wonderful writers came out of the Edwardian era ~~ J. M. Barrie, G.K. Chesterton, Kenneth Grahame, E. M. Forster, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Beatrix Potter, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, P. G. Wodehouse, Kenneth Grahame, W. Somerset Maugham. During the Edwardian era, automobiles were invented, and the South Pole was reached for the first time by Roald Amundsen and then Robert F. Scott. My guilty pleasure is escaping every Sunday night to Downton Abbey, which is beginning its Season Two in January.  It transports me to the Edwardian era, in all its Edwardian glory.  I love it.  In Midnight in Paris, the young woman with whom Gil became enamored, longed to return to La Belle Époque, which overlapped between the Victorian era and the Edwardian era.  That was the period of my favourite artist, Odilon Redon.  Somehow, everything seemed more beautiful in those days.  If you could escape to another era, or another age, which one would you choose? Does it include a rhinoceros?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Money Can't Buy You Class

To my untrained eye, these two women look very much alike. They could be sisters, and in a way, they are. Both of them have chosen to air their laundry on live television ~~ and what laundry it is.  The woman on the left is Kim Richards from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and the woman on the right is Sonja Morgan from The Real Housewives of New York City.  The titles of the programs should be renamed as The Real Fishwives... because that is how they behave.  My mother used to say anyone who uses the word "class" doesn't have it, and in this case it is so true.  Money can't buy you happiness, and it certainly can't buy you class.  These women are loaded with money, and so lacking in class it's shocking.  I think that's why folks enjoy watching these shows.  No matter what our circumstances are, these women make us feel better, because they're so wonderfully trashy.

On a recent re-run episode, LuAnn de Lesseps, known as Countess de Lesseps, threw a lavish party on a yacht, because she had been dating her boyfriend, Jacques Azoulay for one year.  One whole year!  An anniversary party.  He looked a bit like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, but that's another story.  LuAnn's good friend, Sonja Morgan approves of LuAnn's new boyfriend. “He’s hot, he’s charming, he’s French, and if I know LuAnn, he’s good in bed!” Money can't buy you class. One of the guests on the yacht, Ramona Singer, announced to one and all that she thought she was pregnant. "My period is late, my period is late, and my boobs are like melons now!" *sigh*  She spent a great deal of time in the yacht's bathroom, doing a pregnancy test.  Well, isn't that what everyone does when their friend throws a one-year-dating anniversary party on a yacht?

Money can't buy you class.

I can't hardly wait until next season.  These women are so cheap, tacky, low-class, fabulous, they make me feel wonderful just being me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas To All My Wonderful Friends ~~ Near And Far

The past few weeks have been rather hectic for me, so I have been away from blogging more than I like. I hope to be back soon. But I want to take this opportunity to wish all of my wonderful friends ~~ near and far ~~ a fabulous Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. This is always a lovely time of year, when things start to wind down, we can take a deep breath, look back in retrospect at the past year, and look forward to the new year and spring. To me, spring begins when the sun goes around the Tropic of Capricorn and begins its journey back to the north, bringing more light. So, as of two days ago, the days began getting longer, and the nights shorter. It's all good.  And remember, there are 12 days of Christmas, so pace yourselves.  Have a wonderful time, and ((((((hugs)))))) to all of you.

"When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness."  ~Bob Hope

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love, Jo

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Before ... And After ... ?

Last night I watched Barbara Walters' special on the ten most fascinating people of 2011. I didn't agree with anyone on her list:
Steve Jobs, Simon Cowell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Eric Stonestreet, Derek Jeter, Donald Trump, Katy Perry, Pippa Middleton, Amanda Knox, Herman Cain, The Kardashians. Pippa Middleton? The Kardashians? Really? None of them fascinated me. I am, however, fascinated with the token male in the Kardashian family ~~ the once handsome Bruce Jenner. What in all that's wonderful has happened to his face? All evening I was trying to think of who he looked like, and then it came to me. He has managed to transform himself into Renee Richards, the tennis player and ophthalmologist, who was born Richard Raskind, and through sexual reassignment surgery, was transformed into a female.  To my eye, Bruce Jenner's face looks more female than male as well.

Why do folks do this to themselves? Does anyone remember what Kenny Rogers looked like before he had *work* done? His smokey eyes were his main sex appeal. His face suited his voice, sort of husky, deep, a bit mysterious, and very sexy.  Now?  Well, sex appeal is not the first thing that comes to mind when we see his face today.  He looks a bit like that creepy guy that all his friends try to set up with their wives' or girlfriends' friends.  "Hey, I know this really nice guy..."  Um ... no thanks.

Jane Fonda just keeps getting younger. This picture was taken four days ago, during her appearance on Piers Morgan's show.  Fortunately, she has a great plastic surgeon and has managed to stay looking like ~~ Jane Fonda. On December 21st, this woman will be 74 years old, which means in six years, she will be 80.  She is officially what is known as elderly, a senior.  But through the miracle of modern science, she looks pretty much the same as she did when she filmed "Klute".  Is this a good or a bad thing?  I don't know.  For me, the jury is still out on that one.  Are these folks disillusioning themselves?  Perhaps it's true that if people look younger on the outside, they feel younger on the inside too.  In the alternative, I know folks in their 30s and 40s who claim to feel old, and their attitude about life is old as well.  Perhaps age is just a number, and it's all about one's attitude towards life.  The most important thing is to stayed hooked-in; don't let life pass you by.

I guess the moral of the story is, if you're going to have some work done, make sure you find a plastic surgeon who has a *before* photograph of you on the wall beside the operating table.  Otherwise, you might end up looking like Kenny Rogers, or, like the unfortunate Bruce Jenner, you might end up looking like Renee Richards.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster...

Last Saturday evening, I found this sign on my door. You know that straw ~~ the one that broke the camel's back? This was it. Since 2004, I have had to endure noisy neighbours. The fellow who renovated the house next door, into three separate apartments, rents only to kids from UBC and other local colleges. To give you an idea as to how young they are, the girl in question was turning 19 and she and about 50 or 60 of her closest 19 year-old friends were planning to celebrate.  She was excited because now she would legally be able to drink.  And drink they did.  Do you know what happens to 19 year-old kids when they drink?  Picture it, a group of kids are away from home for the first time.  Their parents live in Winnipeg or Prince George, or in this case, Oregon.  They are supplied with copious amounts of liquor.  They're 19.  *sigh*  During the party in question last Saturday night, I finally had to tell them to shut things down ~~ at around 2:00 in the morning ~~ or I was going to call the police.

This is a photograph, taken from my bedroom window, of the remnants of a party held next door one night last August. It's just one corner of the yard. It's disgusting, and the noise was even worse.  I have had an ongoing battle with the owner of the house, and it was brought to my attention recently that one of the three suites in the renovated house is an illegal suite. The owner has registered the house with the City Planning Department as a duplex, claiming the basement suite is actually part of the main floor.  However, the house is in fact a triplex.  He has also repeatedly denied that his tenants make any noise.  This note is the smoking gun that I needed to make my case.  Not only are they admitting to the noise, but they are also admitting they live in the basement suite.

The owner of the house lives in a McMansion in Port Moody far away from our neighbourhood.  He has nine tenants living in the house next door, and another nine tenants in the house next door to that.  He charges each tenant $700 a month.  That is $12,800 a month he is collecting from a bunch of 19 year-old kids, and then he lets them loose on our neighbourhood.  Long story short, my contact at the City Planning Department has informed me that the next time the owner's tenants have a loud party, both the owner and his tenants are going to be fined $250.  And they will be fined $250 for each and every party thereafter.
Do I feel bad?  Nope.  I may be blonde, but I'm not dumb.  I am very resourceful, and a force to be reckoned with when I'm angry.  I'm like the Incredible Hulk ~~ "Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."  Maybe this weekend I will get some long overdue sleep.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Are You Still There...?

Woman in an Orchard, Spring Sunshine in a Field, Eragny
Camille Pissarro, 1887

Isn't this a lovely painting? It feels like spring. In just 18 days, at 5:30 a.m., the sun will swing around the Tropic of Capricorn, and will return to the northern hemisphere, bringing its warmth and light. I can hardly wait. In Ancient Rome the winter solstice festival of Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for seven days. It was held to honour Saturn, the father of the gods, and traditionally, everything was reversed. Businesses, schools and courts were closed, and grudges and quarrels were forgotten. Slaves were served by their masters, and wars were put on hold. Wouldn't it be lovely if everything could stay that way?

I can hardly wait for the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer to return.  This particular fall season seems to have brought out the craziness in everyone ~~ the Occupy movement, the politically correct police, the silliness of the American presidential candidacies, concerns about the Enbridge pipeline in British Columbia.  It has felt rather claustophobic, to say the least.  Folks all seem to be so serious, and so angry.  I have been trying to spend time away from my computer, just to avoid reading about all the nonsense.

The Occupy movement has been particularly annoying.  I don't think anyone disagrees with their platform ~~ whatever that is.  Most people are concerned about unemployment, poverty, the environment, and more.  But the Occupy movement shot themselves in the foot the instant they gathered.  It was as if they said, "Okay, let's organize, and then figure out a way to really irritate the folks we're trying to reach.  Oh, I know, we'll set up shantytowns in the middle of every city, we'll smoke lots of weed, play bongo drums, urinate and defecate in parks, and generally act like blithering idiots.  Everyone will listen to our message if we do that, and everyone will be on our side."


There's something about the shorter days and the lessening of the light that seems to bring out the seriousness in folks.  Bring back the light, bring back the sunshine.  Bring back summer!