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.