November 11, 2009

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day -- Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Wake up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

November 10, 2009

A Penny Saved

I was standing waiting for the bus the other night. It was raining lightly and the streets were slick, and glowing with the reflections of lit buildings. I was waiting for the Number 10 Granville bus, which runs on its own time, not the schedule's, when I saw an imp on the other side of the street. I strained to see what it was. It saw me looking and started to cross over. As it neared I realized it was a tiny woman in really big clothes; a huge hoodie covered with an even bigger plaid jacket. Her pants and boots, while they seemed to fit her, were also enormous. Her crazy hair poked out from under the hoodie, and an enormous bag was slung over her shoulder. She looked like an Elf gone bad. She walked right up to me, looked up into my eyes and said --

You look so beautiful today.


She was obviously homeless, but she didn't ask me for any money. Her bag was full of cans and bottles -- a good day collecting. I asked if she lived around there and she looked at me like I was insane.

I'm homeless.

She had a squeaky voice that was just the right size for her tiny frame. I couldn't resist her. I reached into my purse, pulled out my wallet and started looking for coins.

I'll take it all.

Oh my god, I thought, I'm being mugged.

Just kidding.

WTF? She was playing with my mind. I had a fair bit of change on me; some toonies, some loonies, quarter, dimes, and nickels. I passed it down to her outstretched palm.

She turned and walked over to the curb. She had her back to me so I couldn't see what she was doing but I assumed she was counting the money. She had put her bag down and was using both hands to sort the change.

Mutter-fuck, mutter-shit, mutter-damn, mutter-cheap bitch.

Next thing I saw was a cascade of pennies flying through the air.

Don't need your fucking pennies.

I guess a penny only goes as far as it's flung these days.

November 9, 2009

Oh Dear Kit, What Were You Thinking?

Back at the end of October, my blogfriend Kit passed along an award that stands for integrity, commitment to excellence and stubborn optimism. I can attest to the stubborn part and I should probably be committed, but as for the rest... Perhaps this is where Kit is stubbornly optimistic.

Regardless, I'm honoured and I am now supposed to share my five obsessions.


I bought my first book when I was five, with money I had saved from my allowance. When I was 29 I moved from Toronto to Vancouver. I brought almost 50 boxes of books with me. Since then I have managed to pare my library down to about 30 boxes (I know this because the boyfriend and I just moved a couple of months ago). Bear in mind I haven't stopped buying them. I did invest in an eReader about a month ago but now I'm buying books in hardcover and pdf.


As a kid I loved dogs and they loved me. Somehow I knew about different breeds, even mix-breeds, and could identify dogs this way. This astonished my parents as they weren't particularly dog people. (We did have a Cock-a-Poo before there were such things. I thought Cock-a-Poo was a hilarious name -- two bad words in one -- so my parents started calling her a Spoodle.) I have continued to adore and be obsessive about dogs and breeds. Annually, I make the boyfriend sit through the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (did I mention he is a saint?) while I name the breeds and their more humourous characteristics. Best in Show rocks.

Paper and pens

Like all good obsessions this one also dates back to my childhood and is probably related to Obsession #1. Blank paper, lined paper, journals (OMG, don't get me started). Ball-point pens, gel pens, fountain pens. There is nothing like the perfect pen flowing across a perfect sheet of paper. The fluidity, the grace, the irrelevance that my penmanship is illegible. I love my computer, but I still have a romance with paper and pen.

Really old cheddar

My favorite is Balderson's, a robust, ancient cheddar that is so old slicing is more akin to crumbling. You know this is good cheese when their website is!

Actually I adore cheese in general. Blue, Brie, Rochefort, Camembert, Pecorino, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago. And of course along with this obsession is wine, but that's another blog.

Chin Hairs

Probably more info than I should be sharing, but I've sprouted a couple of chin hairs. Do I obsess about these? Do I constantly rub my chin feeling for stubble? Did I freak when my tweezers were confiscated by security at Vancouver International Airport? This is all I can really say about this now. I have to go check my chin in the mirror.

I am also to pass this award along to five other bloggers that I feel capture the spirit of the award. Here they are.

white rabbit

Check them out. They are fabulous.

November 5, 2009

It's a Great Day in Vancouver

I'm not much for celebrities and I don't get excited when I see them on the streets of Vancouver. (Ok, I did get Patrick Stewart's autograph but only because of Jean Luc Picard, and a friend got it for me without my knowing. Really!) But I do sometimes think it might be nice to see a show or concert yet rarely follow through as tickets are so expensive and almost everything has to be purchased through Ticketmaster. Paying an extra $10 for the privilege of ordering tickets on-line, when I'd be just as happy to walk over to the theatre, seems a bit ridiculous to me.

But today all that changed. Craig Ferguson is coming to Vancouver!!!

The boyfriend emailed to say he saw an ad. My Outlook at work has a little pop-up window that I can see new messages without really having to read them. I saw the words Craig Ferguson and Vancouver and bolted to Ticketmaster's website.

The first tickets to come up were Orchestra, Row H, seats 19 and 20. Not bad. But not good enough. I tried again. Orchestra, Row J, seats 13 and 14. Shit. So I just kept trying. The way Ticketmaster works is that while you are on line with them, with a certain selection of tickets, they are on hold until you either let them go or your time runs out (usually 3 minutes). So the game is to just keep trying and trying until you get (drum roll please) Orchestra, Row A, seats 16 and 17. We'll be in the front row! I'll be able to see Craig sweat and hear every nuance of that lovely Scotish accent. And I'll get to laugh and laugh (the man really cracks me up -- don't know why, just does).

So while it might be a great day in America, it is also a great day for me.

(actually January 22nd is the day)

November 4, 2009

It's All in My Jeans

I've had a long love affair with denim. Ever since my mother wouldn't let me wear jeans to school even though everyone else was, I realized their cachet. I took to carrying them in my backpack, changing in the washroom before class (also applying mascara, eye shadow and blush which were also verboten), then changing back into my frilly frock at day's end.

Once I was no longer under my parents' rules I wore jeans at every opportunity. And still do today. I'm fortunate that I can wear them to work (not every day as I do like wearing other things, but at least twice a week). I don't know what it is about them but I can't resist them. I'm sure I have pants that are more comfortable and more attractive, but if I was only allowed two pieces of clothing on that cliched deserted island, one piece would be my jeans (the other might be my cozy Eddie Bauer sweater -- nobody said the island had to be in the tropics, did they?)

But I have a problem. Like finding the beautiful backpack, finding the perfect pair of jeans is a mission. I keep buying them, thinking they look great in the changeroom, only to wear them once or twice and realize "what was I thinking?" See my problem is my bum. I don't have much junk in my trunk, an ample asset, a hefty hiney, a round mound, a bodacious booty, or a badonkadonk.

I have a treasure butt (possibly a gem, but hidden like treasure). It's small, it's kinda flat -- ok, it's a white girl butt -- but, I still want a pair of jeans that don't flatten it even more.

I don't want jeans that gap at the back so that people can check out my granny gaunch or jeans that have a little pooch in the front. I don't want jeans that are so short in the rise that I have to constantly tug them up or refrain from bending over (these would also mean the granny gaunch has to be replaced with something made out of dental floss). I don't want jeans that you have to wash after one wearing because they stretch into something resembling a pair of baggy sweatpants.

I need help. I've decided I'm willing to spend considerable dollars for the perfect pair. I wear them all the time -- this an investment, like a good, classic pair of boots, right?

I found this quiz to point me in the right direction.

And this is what I came up with:

You’re Seven jeans!

Your warmth and kindness are the cornerstones of your personality. Longtime friends will add that you are a very loyal and caring person with a penchant for classic styles and sentiments. These enviable qualities make you a perfect pairing with clean-cut Seven jeans, a trusted beacon of classic style.

Now this is all very good, I like that my friends think I'm loyal and caring. But will they think my butt looks good in these jeans?

November 3, 2009

80th Anniversary as Persons

This was sent to me as an email today. I noticed on my calendar that today is Election Day in the US. I thought I'd share it.

This is the story of women who were ground-breakers. These brave women from the early 1900s made all the difference in the lives we live today. Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote. The women were innocent and defenseless, but when, in North America, women picketed in front of the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote, they were jailed. And by the end of the first night in jail, those women were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

(Lucy Burns)

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gaspingfor air.

(Dora Lewis)

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women. Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. All women who have every voted, have ever owned property, have ever enjoyed equal rights need to remember that women’s rights had to be fought for. Do our daughters and our sisters know the price that was paid to earn rights for women here, in North America?

November 2, 2009

When You are Engulfed in Vancouver

“I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.”

David Sedaris was in Vancouver last night. He is on tour, lightly promoting When You are Engulfed in Flames. But really he just popped by to read a little and make us laugh alot. God he's a funny man. It's one thing to be funny in writing. Which he is. But when writing something, you can tweek and play with it until the words elicit the intended response. But to be funny in person, and to make it appear to be spontaneous? Well that's an entirely different talent. He's got this amazing delivery, pausing at just the right moment, dropping his voice just a touch, staring into nothing, and then dropping the bomb.

But back to his writing. What I found truly amazing (if not somewhat unbelievable) were the diary exceprts he read. How can someone be that witty in their personal diary? Now he did say that most days were just mundane ramblings, but the days he read us? Brilliant. Like his recollection of his stop in Pittsburgh and the people that picked him up from the airport. The woman and man (let's call them Sally and Bob) worked for the literary foundation where Sedaris was giving a reading and Bob was wearing a jacket with a green sweater underneath and talking about remodelling their kitchen. Once Sedaris and Sally were alone he asked how long Bob and his boyfriend had been together. Sally said Bob didn't have a boyfriend. Sedaris then said well does he live with his parents then? Sally said no, he was married with two children. And Sedaris said, BUT HE'S GAY!!! And on it went. I know it's not as funny when I write it. That's why my name isn't David Sedaris (and for other obvious reasons). But trust me, it was funny.

My favorite moment was during Question and Answer when a tiny voice asked what a teabagger was? Much to Sedaris's credit, he didn't spit the water he had just sipped into the audience but swallowed and answered the question. During his diary reads he had made reference to the Tea Party March of September 12th, calling the marchers "teabaggers". He explained to the tiny voice what the March was about and who the marchers were. In his explanation he remained realtively unbiased (even though we all knew on which side his opinions lay) until he finished up with, "Of course, there is also another definition of a teabagger." And on that note the evening drew to a close. (I'm sure the tiny voice is still wondering what's so damn funny about a nice cup of tea.)

Cream Puffs Anyone?

You've got to be kidding me? A whole store dedicated to "fresh and natural cream puffs"? The website says they offer a sublime cream puff experience and that each fist-sized puff has only 220 calories. What exactly is a "sublime cream puff experience"?