Friday, December 28, 2007


Well, I barely made it through this Christmas in one piece. I've had better ones, and I've had worse ones, but this one was a real mixed bag.
But I shan't waste valuable time complaining.

Let it be said, however, that I may take a wee break from blogging for now, just to settle my head and soul.
I'll always read all your wonderful blogs, and leave pithy (I hope) little comments to let you know I'm hanging about.

All the best to everyone over the remainder of the holidays! And the very best to all in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Whimsical Wednesday.

Okay. I just made up 'Whimsical Wednesday'. And there's no guarantee that it'll happen every Wednesday.
In fact, it won't happen next Wednesday at all, what with it being Christmas and all.

But that's the whimsy part. It's when the whimsy strikes. And it may not be on Wednesday's either.

Just so we're all clear on this from the get go.

I'm reading one of my favorite authors at the moment, Robertson Davies. He was Canadian. But now he is dead. Which makes me sad because that means there will be no more of his wonderful books to read.

What I'm currently reading was written in the late forties and early fifties under the nom de plume, Samuel Marchbanks, who is a decided curmudgeon.

I wanted to share.

*Of Lumpism*

"I became involved in an argument about modern painting, a subject upon which I am spectacularly ill-informed; however, many of my friends can become heated, and even violent on the subject and I enjoy their wrangles. In a modest way, I am an artist myself, and I have some sympathy with Abstractionists, although I have gone beyond them in my own approach to art.

I am a Lumpist.
Two or three decades ago, is was quite fashionable to be a Cubist, and to draw everything in cubes; then there was a revolt by the Vorticists who drew everything in whirls; we now have the Abstractionists who paint everything in a very abstracted manner. But my own small works (done on my telephone pad) are composed of carefully shaded, strangely shaped lumps, with traces of Cubism, Vorticism and Abstraction in them for those who possess the seeing eye.

As a Lumpist, I stand alone."

The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks

The Three Musicians

Friday, December 14, 2007

Something for nothing.

The other day I went for dinner with a friend of mine.
She had gone to the washroom when the waitress walked by with a tray of fresh oysters to give to the man sitting behind me.

Leaning back in my chair, I asked him if he knew if they were still serving them. I had thought service had ended at 6:00 and it was just after that.

"They were serving them an hour ago when I ordered them." He replied, sourly.

I laughed, "You would have had a feast faster if you had run down to the beach and picked them yourself!"

"I'll try that next time." He chuckled.

My friend returned to the table and we began discussing dinner options. I mentioned to her that I would have liked some oysters, but they had stopped serving them.

Just as we concluded making our selections, the man behind me walked over with his plate of oysters, 4 left, and presented them to me. He said, "You might as well have these ones, they've brought my entree now and there's no room on my table."

Those oysters were delicious!

My friend laughed at me the rest of the evening. "This kind of thing happens to you all the time, doesn't it."

She's right. It does.

But I figure something has to make up for the tree on the car last month.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nothin' new.

Nothing of interest to expound upon here, my friends!
Just a note to say, "Hello!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

Strange memories.

Many years ago, I worked as a florist.
I designed many arrangements and as a bonus, I got to deliver them as well.

On one occasion, I was to deliver a 'Get Well' bouquet.
The house I pulled up in front of was old and odd and ramshackle. The yard had grown wild and was swallowing the house.

I climbed the rickety stairs, not sure what I was going to find, but the golden eyed cats that followed felt reassuring to me.

The door opened to an equally untamed looking old man. He had the look more of absent-minded untidy bachelor than anything else.
Looking surprised to see me, he graciously took the bouquet, explaining sotto voce that the flowers must be for his wife, Jenny, who was lying in the other room.

I commented on the beautiful cats that had gathered around his feet. By this time 4 of the sleek black beasts had emerged from the shadows and were lolling about.

"Ah!" He sounded excited. "Do you know what kind of cats they are?"
I shook my head.
"These are the beautiful Bombay cats, breed for their golden eyes. My wife loves them, and they're very gentle. Do you like cats? Do you have a minute?"

I said yes to both questions.

He vanished back into the dark house and re-emerged a moment later with a beautiful book about cats, to which he had already turned to the pages on the Bombays.

I don't remember much about the actual words he spoke, or the information he imparted. But I remember clearly the excitement and enjoyment he obviously was experiencing at sharing his love and knowledge with someone.

Eventually I had to leave. Work has a way of interfering in real life.

A month later the flower shop received an order for an 'In Sympathy' bouquet. I piled it into the van, checked the address and off I went.

It wasn't till I was almost in front of that same house that I realized what had happened.

Jenny must have died from her illness.
I felt so sad and sick.

The cats didn't come out from their shadows and no one answered the door.

I had to leave the bouquet on the front step.

I'll always wonder about that man.
How he coped.
If he coped.

I'll never forget how happy he was to share something of himself that day, though his wife must have surely been very ill at that point.

I wished that he had been home so I could have expressed my sorrow, patted the cats, said something. Thanked him.

And he's stayed in my memory all these years. Him, his 'beautiful Bombay cats' and his wife Jenny, to whom I delivered flowers to twice, but who I never, ever saw.

A Vase of Flowers
Paul Gaugin

Friday, November 23, 2007

On announcing what's better left unsaid.

This morning I saw a parked 1996 black Pontiac Sunfire with an air-freshener that read as follows:

"I my penis".
For once, I'm at a loss to describe accurately my series of thoughts on that statement. But I do have a series of questions regarding this bold announcement.

First. Why!?! WHY did this person find it necessary to relay this information to the world?

Second. Is penis some new 'werd' for something else? Am I so non courant that there's some other meaning for this word that I'm not aware of? Is this person (and honestly, it's uncertain if they be male or female) making a reference to some new thing?
Third. Does displaying this...this...this reference of self-adoration expected to bring in exclamations of congratulations? Because I'm telling ya, my response is to steer clear and shoot disgusted looks at the owner. Among other things.
That's all.
I remain perplexed and more than a little grossed out.

Monday, November 19, 2007

All's quiet over here.

After the drama of last weekend, I'm pleased to say that this week and end has been quiet. No trees falling, no crushed cars and no interviews.
Peace has returned.

Due to last weeks incident, I have been reflecting on my car luck ("carma"?). Out of 5 cars I've owned, all but one has suffered the slings and arrows.
One of my vehicles (an older Honda Prelude) was stolen 2 twice and broken into more times than I can count.
Some desperate person even peeled the passenger door away from the frame of the poor car to get in late one night.
All that effort for an ashtray. It was never recovered.

My current car also suffered. It, too, was stolen twice. The second time I actually heard it being stolen as I lay in my bed.
I had arrived home around 11:00pm and snuggled into my bed 20 minutes later preparing to sleep. I was surprised when I heard a car start up...sounded just like mine with that give-away fan belt screech.
"That's my car!" I thought. "No. That's silly. Must be another car with that same ailment."
"No. That really IS my car!"

I jumped out of bed, pulled on some shoes and went racing downstairs prepared to do battle. In retrospect, that was a bad idea but I didn't stop to think about it at the time. Someone was stealing MY car! car was gone.
The next day, I saw my upstairs neighbour and told him what had happened.
"Oh no." He said. "I saw your car peel out of the parking lot and thought it was you. I actually had to step out of the way so the car could get by. I couldn't see in!"

The same car also suffered from being rear-ended by a police officer. As it was pouring rain at the time (it was truly torrential) he opted not to get out of his vehicle, and instead I was forced to stand shivering in the rain in order to get his insurance/license information. And then he tried to blame me for stopping too short.
I mentioned that the large van pulling out in front of me rather forced my hand, but he remained unamused and appeared rather annoyed during the whole exchange.

So there you have it.

This may explain why I was able to take the car crushing tree of last week so calmly.
It's not like it's the first time something like that has happened!

Perhaps the Universe, in an effort to make up for it's past indiscretions and to balance things out a little, may consider presenting me with a new car? Preferably in silver? With the initials BMW emblazoned on the grill?
You know, the pendulum has to swing the other way too, sometimes!

Monday, November 12, 2007

It started out to be such a nice weekend.

My long weekend started out like any other. I traveled to the lovely town of Courtenay, BC where my friends and family reside. I had a great time with my Mom and Dad and Kimber and Spider Girl.

Then we went for a trip through an unusual art display born from George Sawchuck's imagination and created entirely by him, a few wooded acres and his chainsaw. It stood complete with 'shrunken heads' hanging from trees and wooden salmon floating in ponds.

And then?

And then a tree fell on my car.

And then the television crews showed up. (Two of them, as a matter of fact! Not to mention the newspaper reporter.)

The first windstorm of 2007 downed a huge tree that just happened to fall directly on to my car. (Well, truth be told, it's Whatshisface's car, but nonetheless.)

I had awoken to a cacophonous crash, then SpiderGirl shouting "TAI! TAI!! TAI!!!!!!!!!" I thought a tree had fallen through her house where I was a guest. But no.

It was a great huge tree falling across my car, instead.

I have to say, it's not the most pleasant way to wake up!

After much fussing and calls to the police, Hydro came and cut the offending tree away, leaving my car dented, damaged and ill equipped for travel.

The train seemed like a good idea, so I popped in to the train station to see if I could book a ticket for Tuesday afternoon. What providence! There was Ian from 'Or so I thought' and his lovely wife Wendy. Wendy, too, had to get back to Victoria and was catching the train.

After some discussion, my Mom and Dad decided to drive me the 300km (200+miles) from Courtenay to Victoria to ensure I got to work bright and early Tuesday morning. (Gee, thanks Mom and Dad.)

Once I returned home, my neighbour rushed over, "Was that YOU on t.v.? I just saw! Are you okay?"

I logged in to check my blog, and I saw that dear Josie from 'C'est La Vie' had sent a comment, "Were you just on tv??"

It seems I've had my 15 minutes of fame, and I didn't even get to see it! We have no cable, you see.

I hope my hair looked ok, I mean, it was pretty windy out. (Heh!)

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I had a huge long post about genetically modified organisms, 'pharming', and 'frankenfood' that I wanted to put up...but it's vanished most unexpectedly. (Lucky for you!)
Besides, my ignorance about biotechnology is vast and far reaching, and I would hate to demonstrate it in front of all of you fine people (I say that like I've never let it happen before!).

But hear me out here...there's one thing about GMO's that makes me nervous.

It makes me nervous that there isn't any labelling to tell me what I'm putting in my mouth. Shouldn't there at least be a label which would allow me to make an 'informed' purchase?

It's argued that even before Gregor Mendel we've been dabbling in genetics; we've always adjusted our food to better suit us so what's the problem with it now?

Well, I supposed that's true. To a degree.

But somehow I don't believe that Mendel foresaw us splicing fish gene's into soybeans. Or being able to create a 'suicide seed' that allows only one harvest with no viable seed for next year. (Which is certainly an effective way of cornering the market! Patent your hi-tech seed. Buy all other non-engineered competing seed companies. Make your seed 'terminate' after a single harvest. Et voila! A monopoly.)

And it's not to say that I would instantly argue that biotech is going to destroy our planet and gobble itself into nothing due to sheer greed.

I won't instantly argue that, but truth be told, I'm baffled as to how to truly educated myself on this subject.

Everyone involved in this has diametrically opposed views, and most of what's written about it scans more like propaganda than intelligent argument.

So I don't know.
What do you think?

Thursday, November 01, 2007


1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? Whathisface! He always makes me laugh.

2. What were you doing at 0800? Work! Work! Work!

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Work! Work! Work! (Okay, I lie. I was blogging.)

4. What happened to you in 2006? I quit my job and moved to a new city. How's that?

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? "Rhonda? Heloise? Miranda? Patricia?"

6. How many beverages did you have today? One cup of tea and one cup of apple juice and one cup of water.

7. What color is your hairbrush? Black and hairy.

8. What was the last thing you paid for? I was supposed to pay for that?

9.Where were you last night? Completely secured behind double locked doors. At home. Honest!

10. What color is your front door? White. And brown. I have two front doors. (see how nicely that ties into question # 9?)

11. Where do you keep your change? My change exists in my mind, waiting for the right moment to emerge, a butterfly from a shriveled cocoon. Did I misunderstand the question?

12. What’s the weather like today? Not raining. When you live in a 'rain-forest' there are only two types of weather. Raining and Not Raining. So it's fabulous today!

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? I once had Gorgonzola and pear flavored ice-cream. That rocked. Otherwise? Meh.

14. What excites you? Buckling into my seat on the plane, hearing the engines roar, and knowing that I'm about to embark on a grand adventure. This was Kimber's answer, but it was so good that I just had to use it. Thanks Kimber!

15. Do you want to cut your hair? Why, does it look that bad?

16. Are you over the age of 25? Yes, by a whole crazy decade!

17. Do you talk a lot? Me? Talk a lot? Like go on and on to anyone about anything? Or does this refer to blathering at strangers in line ups, or chatting with employees over the phone? Nah. Can hardly get a word out of me.

18. Do you watch the O.C.? The what? The Ocean Cartographer? The Other Chowder? The Ornery Child? These questions are tough.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? Yes! And...what? That's it? Checking up on me, eh?

20. Do you make up your own words? Are you referring to portmanteaus? Well, why didn't you just say so? I don't make up words, but I spell real ones wrong often enough to have them become words in their own right. 'Stuipd' comes to mind.

21. Are you a jealous person? No way!

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. No. I won't do it.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’. Sure is a lot of concern around the letters my friends names begin with. Must be some kind of psychosis.

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? Eh?

25. What does the last text message you received say? What's that? Text message you say?

26. Do you chew on your straw? Nope. Hay, but never straw.

27. Do you have curly hair? Nope.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to? I think I'm going to hop on a plane and head to Phoenix one of these days! I'd like to see a desert.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? There once was an evil bosslady name Agnes. She had bloody claws and flaming nostrils and could swallow a person's self esteem whole. And she was also very rude.

30. What was the last thing you ate? A Quaker Honey and Oats bar. Mmmmm.

31. Will you get married in the future? Yup.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? I just watched "Shallow Grave" last night, it was so sinister. Just great!

33. Is there anyone you like right now? What a weird question! There are so many people that I like right now. Is this question supposed to be directed to a person who normally hates the world or something?

34. When was the last time you did the dishes? Sunday? Monday? Hard to say, I try to block those incidences from my mind!

35. Are you currently depressed? Ha!

36. Did you cry today? No, why? Going to prescribe something?

37. Why did you answer and post this? 'Cus Kimber told me too! And besides, it's kinda fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallowe'en my ghoulish friends. Don't worry 'bout the things that go 'bump' in the's probably just me running into the furniture!
(Now there's a scary thought!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Five smells I love ~

1) The heavy, heady smell of rich earth after a summer rain.

2) The smell of wood smoke hanging over the valley of my old hometown. I always try to get back there for that in the fall. So bad for the environment, so delicious for my nose.

3) Oven roasted chicken.

4) Freesia and jasmine. But only the flowers. In my opinion, the perfumes just don't do the flowers justice.

5) Freshly laundered bed sheets. Just the smell of clean. I remember the smell of the sheets as they came off the outside line, but I haven't had that pleasure for such a long time.

Five sights I love ~

1) A new country, waiting to be explored.

2) My mom's smile.

3) A stack of new books, each more interesting looking than the last.

4) Distant blue mountains sparkling with fresh snow in the early morning sun.

5) Whatshisface in a tux.

Five tastes that I love ~

1) A thick, smelly blue cheese topped with a slice of kiwi and paired with a decadent red wine.

2) True French onion soup. Such a simple thing, but the depth of flavour that can be achieved with so few ingredients is amazing.

3) Taco del Mar's burrito's. Don't ask me why, I don't know. But sometimes they are the only thing that will do. It's a shame, because the nearest shop is a 3 hour drive north. Can't do THAT everyday! Which may explain the impact of the craving.

4) A hot cup of tea after a grueling day. Many years ago, after wandering the length and breadth of Ireland trying to find a place to lay our weary heads, Spider Girl and I found a place to stay. The kind man, after hearing our tale of woe, prepared us a cup of tea and some biscuits. That single, simple cup of tea almost had me bursting into tears, it was so welcoming and comforting.

5) A tiny piece of chocolate covered ginger. I'm not really a chocolate fan, but that combination does something for me. And as I have it so rarely (once a year, if that) that it takes on mystical properties!

Five sounds I love ~
1) My favorite sound occurred only in the winter when I was young, and I never hear it anymore. Early in the morning, when you know it had snowed piles, the sound of the snowplow chuffing away on the street outside my window let me know that others were out there, working to make my way safe. That seemed to me, burrowed deep in my warm blankets, the sweetest sound.

2) Sarah Vaughn singing "They Can't Take That Away". You can hear her smile as she sings. It's a sweet sad song. (LOL! It's playing on the radio station right now! Lucky me!)
3) The sound of all my friends in conversation around a delicious dinner.

4) A sax, a cello, a piano and drums. The gentle clap and low murmur of an appreciative audience. Wine glasses clinking. Call it a jazz club.

5) Silence. A deep, complete, make-you-hold-your-breath kind of nothing sound.

Five things I love to touch ~

1) Running my fingers backwards through my old cat Bentley's fur. He's gone now, but I'll never forget.
2) The feel of clean sheets in a newly made bed as I slid into sleep.

3) My steering wheel in the left hand and the stick shift in the right.

4) The keyboard under my fingers as a story spins itself out. It used to be the feeling of my favorite pen and crisp white paper...and that certainly still has it's place, but technology marches on, and I like how the keys feel smooth and firm under my finger tips.

5) My 'snooze' button.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I've been thinking about hummingbirds as of late. In fact, since Ian wrote a piece about birds recently, I can't get them out of my mind!

Yesterday evening, I saw 4 or 5 racing around, sipping what must be the very last bit of nectar just as autumn starts giving way to winter. They must be getting cold, and they must certainly be planning their southern get aways. Now's the time, little birds. Get while the getting is good!

Here's something I know about hummingbirds. You can almost tame them. And you can train them. And they aren't all that shy or timid at all.

The house that I grew up in is an old house. It has a huge kitchen, which is accessed by a windowed-in porch. My dad has always hung out bird feeders for as long as I can remember. Winter had peanut butter and seeds for the birds staying behind, and summer saw bright red sugar water to attract the hummingbirds. We could sit at our kitchen window and watch the little birds whip around in frenzied activity. Sometimes up to 10 or more would be hovering around our feeder, waiting for their opportunity. Sparring and showing off.

My dad decided one day to try an experiment. He would slowly move the feeder through the porch window until it was hanging from the inside kitchen window. Success! After a day or two, the hummingbirds would fly through the open porch window, through the porch and feed at the second, interior window.

Embolden by this success, dad decided to put the feeder on the kitchen table itself. It was snugged up against the window, so it wasn't too much further for them to go. We could sit (very still) at the table and have the hummingbirds feed while we sat there. Amazing!

Not one too let an opportunity like this to pass him by, my dad decided to step the experiment up a notch. Let's have the hummingbirds fly through the two sets of open windows; through the porch across the kitchen to the stove where the new spot for dinner was...wait for it! The FRYING PAN!

Yes, that's right. Placed on the stove, in a frying pan, sat the feeder. And wouldn't you know it, within an hour of the new placement, the little blighters were cheerfully sipping the sweetness from the feeder in the frying pan. They even used the rim as their perch to let dinner settle between sips.

My dad. He's got a lot of time on his hands.

I must then follow this up by saying that, as clever as the little birds are, they would occasionally get lost trying to get back outside. This meant we had to catch them and usher them out. I remember a hummingbird stabbing away at the living room ceiling looking for escape. I've held many hummingbirds now. So small and furiously fluttering.

My Dad would sometimes mark them (with a safe non-toxic food dye, of course) on their chest to see which ones came back.

They all did. Despite the ignominy of the frying pan.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And I shall wear purple.

A woman came into where I work today, a beautiful young woman. Some how the topic of ageing came up and she expressed her great fear of turning 32 (!).
She then went on to say that she had great anxiety around turning 30 as well, and she didn't know how she was going to make it.

Now, I guess I sort of underst...nah, scratch that. I don't get it at all. I'm a firm believer that you are as old as you feel, and frankly, I'm about 24. But a smarter, better, more ME 24. And I'm certainly more capable now than I ever was back then.

Without age you would never learn anything new.
You would remain not only in the same state physically (ok, maybe THAT'S not such a bad thing, though I believe I'm actually getting cuter with age) but you would stay in the same place intellectually and emotionally. And how backwards would that be?

Every time a new challenge came up, you would never be able to say to yourself, "Gee, I remember being in a similar position once years ago and I totally screwed it up. Let's try the other way this time."

You'd never learn anything of import, never experience anything new or learn to enjoy what was put in front of you. Your experiences would stay the same and you would learn nothing or very little from them because you wouldn't be able to put them all into perspective.
And with age (hopefully) comes a fuller understanding of the world and your place in it. Of course, I can only speak for myself I suppose. But it really seems to me that it's only getting better as I go.

And not to ever learn anything new. What a tragedy.

So I'm all for getting older.
At least till my knees give out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm so lucky.

Wolfgrrrl and I playing with scarves. (Safer than knives!)

Me, Blackcrag and Spider Girl on a beautiful beach in front of a roaring bonfire just a few short weeks ago.

And Pol, me and Spider Girl...squished together in a booth on a lunch time romp.

My friends.
I am a lucky girl.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

It makes you think.

Since I was young, I've been fascinated with the functioning of the brain.

A book I read (I wish I could remember what it was called. I remember what the cover looked like. It was a very thick book, black with a drawn picture of synapses firing in reds, blues and yellows. I think it was simply called "The Brain". But that was a looong time ago!) at the age of 12 was instrumental in establishing a life long interest in the research, study, history and bizarre occurrences that happen within the hard casing of our skulls.

What really struck me at that age was how strange it was; such a contradiction/complication of the brain having written a book about itself in an effort to understand it's own workings. It seemed as peculiar to me as the liver involving itself in a conversation about it's functionality. And yet it's somehow enchanting.

Over the years, I've read many books about congenital brain problems (autism, savants) and about the difficulties that can arise after the brain suffers a traumatic incident (strokes, blows to the head). The most fascinating incidences, to me, are the ones that people can suffer after a serious accident or injury.
My own brain stumbles in trying to understand how cherished memories become non-existent, or how a man could forget how to read, yet still be able to write.

A book I've been reading recently (Jay Ingram's "The Burning House: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain") looks at a variety of brain injuries, and one of the most interesting/disturbing ones is the damage some people suffer after strokes.

One chapter explores an issue called 'neglect'.
The premise being that some people who suffer a stroke become unable to 'sense' the left side of the world. They 'neglect' it. A clock as viewed by a neglect patient may only have numbers from 12 to 6, the others are either simply don't exist or are all squished onto the right side of the clock face. When asked to pinpoint a dot on the centre of a horizontal line, inevitably it's placed far to right side.

The most dramatic examples are of those who are unable to even identify their own left body parts. When asked to identify their left leg, they are unable. When shown their own left hand they sometimes react with confusion, wondering whose hand it is. They are sometimes unwilling to believe it truly is theirs, even when told so.

This in itself is interesting, but what REALLY gets my neurons firing is the fact that these patients, while 'fine' in every other way, also don't seem to recognize that they even have this problem.
In fact, one of the 'symptoms' of this particular disorder seems to be a complete disinterest in it. Pointing out to some patients that they used to be aware of the left side brings about no reaction. Just doesn't seem to matter.

Now. Why would that be? When you have a broken leg, you understand that at one point your leg was whole.
Other head injuries causing blurred vision or memory loss is understood to (generally) be temporary and is worked towards recovery by the patient. Not so neglect patients. Interestingly, this issue doesn't really seemed to be explored in anything I've read, or if it is, it is seen only as a cursory problem to the 'larger' issue of the stroke/neglect itself.

Something else that draws me to this is type of 'medicine' is that so much brain knowledge is gained from patients who are awake and alert while their brains are literally being picked.
The brain itself doesn't have pain receptors, so once the skull is breached (using, what I hope is a powerful local anaesthetic), a patient is able to answer questions put to them by the surgeon and, I suppose, anyone else who's standing around wanting to know what's going on 'in there'.

So much of what we 'know' about the brain comes from those whose injuries have taken so much from them.
We certainly owe them our thanks.

And, while I'm on the topic, I think I'd like to recommend Oliver Sacks as a great author, if this subject interests you.
He, of "Awakenings" fame, has written many many books on neurology and brain science. I've found that he writes very clearly and allows for the average layperson to enjoy his books without dumbing them down.

So that's what gets my brain going!
I can feel new neural pathways being forged by the second.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hey, I gotta job for ya.

A few years ago I worked in a warehousing facility in Richmond, BC.
It was a big place. Almost 200, 000 square feet of space. We shipped and received fridges, stoves, washing machines, inflatable husbands* and numerous other products and oddities. (What the knitted breast cups * were for was anyone's guess!)
I pushed paper. A little here, a little there. And I had the pleasure of speaking to the irrate customers whose shipments got lost somewhere between the Strait of Malacca (can you say 'pirates') and the Port of Vancouver.

It was a stressful kind of job. It always amazed me the fuss some people would make when their shipment of 'bangle toys'* failed to show up, or their load of 'plastic ster hop'* was damaged. Some of them couldn't have been any more stressed out than if it had been a new heart for their Grandmother's transplant that had gone astray.

One day my boss came to me and said, "C'mon, I've got a job for you. Can you drive standard?"

Can I drive standard!?! You bet I can. With glee. With joy. But I didn't say that. I just said, "Yup."

Turns out, we had also started shipping exotic cars. (No, not illegally! I made sure that all the paperwork for customs was in order, that was the other part of my job. I didn't make friends with all the gun-toting agents 'cus I was scammer!)

Ferrari's, BMW's, Porsches and lovely Lamborghini's.

And my job? My job was to drive those beautiful gleaming cars through the tightly packed warehouse and into a space so small that the mirrors on the cars had to be bent inwards so they didn't scrap off.

Yeah, I drove them into the containers.And then?
Then I had to get out of those cars. Somehow.

Occasionally I could squeeze out the door (after a piece of cardboard had been slipped between the door and the edge of the container) but most times? Most times saw me slithering head first over the back seats and through the trunk. Much to the amusement of my boss and the warehouse employees. I had to kick of my shoes before I even got in the vehicle. Didn't need my 3 inches heels gouging unsightly holes in the buttery leather.
On one occasion, I had to clamber onto the rear bumper of a Navigator, over the roof and then inch along the window frame in my socked feet (thankfully the window was down) to get to the front of the vehicle to unhook the battery. Then I had to turn around and reverse the order to get out.
Containers are really tight spaces when you cram a Lincoln SUV in there.

Once, two BMW's were being shipped over from Germany. These two cars had been shipped over for a commercial so no one was allowed to see them as they weren't 'on the market' in Canada at that time. They were wrapped fender to fender in white plastic, with only a tiny hole opened on the driver's side to see through.

They even flew two men over from Germany to oversee the off loading. I thought they were going to flip when my boss brought me out and said, "She'll be offloading them."
"Ja? SHE vill do dis??" They gruffed unhappily.

Oh yeah.

Offloaded both of them and loaded them straight into a covered truck for them to drive away on their super secret project.

I considered it a perk of the job.

And why did I get to do it?

'Cus everyone else was too scared. Scared they'd hit something, scared they'd scratch the paint, scared of being in the container.

Or they were too big. Crawling out through a car trunk requires a smallish person. Which I was. At the time. Heh.

Lucky for me, I'm not scared of anything.


They had plenty of insurance.
*yes, those were real 'things' we shipped.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kept safe.

My pack was at my feet and I was happily reading, whiling away the time in a tiny semi-abandoned train station on the border of Hungary and Croatia.

A loud male voice startled me out of my book; when I looked up a uniformed man was staring down at me.

Seemed to me he wanted to see my ticket or maybe my passport. I produced both quickly. It was, after all, about 10 days after the attacks on New York, so it seemed to me that the extra precautions were understandable.

He looked quickly at both, then spoke to me in a rattle of Hungarian. My last name is Hungarian so I suppose he was hoping that I would understand.

Not a word registered.

He sat down beside me.
Slowly slowly we started communicating. Mostly by me drawing in my notebook. A really poor map of my travels to date seemed to interest him, as well as my hand drawn map of North America in which I had pin pointed where I lived. Then suddenly he spoke again and finished his sentence with a loud, "BOOM!"
He grabbed my book and drew out the Twin Towers and airplanes and looked expectantly at me. "Boom!" He repeated.

I could only shake my head and look sad, but that seemed to satisfy him.

Around this time I was starting to get hungry (hungry in Hungary!), so I motioned eating and drinking. He understood.
Picking up my bag, he motioned for me to follow him. Out into the dark and deserted night we went.

On the other side of this little train station was a wee cafe. He bought me a sandwich and a beer and kept me company as I ate.

Another security guard had come up and they had a quick conversation, presumably about me from the glances, and satisfied, the other fellow moved on.

Before I was done my repast though, a small knot of old men who had been sitting in the corner smoking and drinking motioned 'my' guard over to their table. There was lots of loud words exchanged and much gesticulating.

The guard came back to me hurriedly and picked up my pack and hustled me out of there very quickly.

Back to my wooden bench, pack at my feet.

This guard continued to sit with me the entire time I waited for my train that night. He helped me with my pack when the train arrived, spoke to the porter on my behalf, helped me on the train and got me settled in.

There was a mix up with my ticket, seems I hadn't paid enough to get to Venice, but my guard helped me straighten it out with a minimum fuss and cost.

I rode the night train through Croatia and Slovenia. Every few hours guards armed with machine guns would yell and bang on the doors. "Passporto! Passporto!".

Until I returned from my trip I didn't understand why I was removed from that smoky little cafe so quickly.

Then a friend, a recent immigrant from Croatia, explained that a single woman, alone in a dark cafe must be up to no good. The old men were suspicious of me and wanted me out of their cafe.


In retrospect, my travel tale could have ended very differently and much less pleasantly. My 'guard' may not have been legitimate. Being robbed by a uniformed 'official' is a tale that many travellers have told. That and worse.
To be honest, I hadn't considered that possibility until just now. Hmmm. Seems fortune was with me that night!
Thanks LGS, you inspired me with your own travel tale!

(oh, and unfortunately that picture isn't mine. But it IS a Hungarian train station!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just another day in Victoria, BC.

Gargoyles...not just in Paris anymore! This fellow was frowning down from an old bank building.

The view from the inner harbour in Victoria. This is the view from very near the famous "Empress Hotel".

The view from the Malahat. This is from the very top of the Malahat...driven to travel from Victoria to places north on Vancouver Island. In this case, it was for me to get to Nanaimo to visit my darling friends!

Oh look! Me fixing my car!

Ah, Darth Fiddler. Every city needs one.

A Dragon in silhouette.

And tonight...Weird AL!!
I'm so excited. Hope he does "White and Nerdy". I'm thinking about making that my personal theme song!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I just read a book that described exactly what resides in my most horrific nightmares.

Alexia sine agraphia: the inability to recognize the printed word.

Howard Engels' book, "The Man Who Forgot How to Read", is a short memoir with a view into a published authors trip into a very dark world.

One morning he discovered that, due to an unnoticed stroke in the night, he was no longer able to recognize words.
He describes that mornings Globe and Mail looking as though it had been translated into Serbo-Croatian.

A self described 'omnivorous' reader.
Unable to read.
Interestingly, he retained the ability to write.
But he couldn't read his own words either.

Now, I recognize that in the larger scheme of things, simply not being able to read isn't truly 'the end'.
But for me it would be close.

I recommend this book.
Though Engel is a cheery, 'make the best of it' sort of fellow, you can't help but feel his constant sliver of fear that he may have read his last word.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


This is my favorite time of day and my very favorite part of the week.

It's the Saturday morning of a l-o-o-o-ng weekends.
The sun is (trying) to shine, I've got a fresh cup of coffee in front of me and several interesting books waiting to be read.  

And that's not to mention a Fall Fair to attend and a few local farmers markets as well...3 glorious days stretch ahead, filled with possibility.

Does it get any better than this?
I hope everyone has such a wonderful time ahead of them!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"...the Iraq, everywhere like, such as."

Geez, I almost feel sorry for her.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


You either love it or you hate it, I've heard it said.

Having an available 'database' to which you can voluntarily add all your vital (and not so vital) statistics seems a pretty good idea.
You can find people, people can find you.
Your 'profile' can outline everything about you, or very little, depending on how you feel.
Social status and general interests to education, work experience and sexual orientation.

I do have an account, but I can't say I love Facebook.

On the one hand, it is nice to be able to find people who you've 'lost touch' with over the years for one reason or another.
I found one of my old roommates from years ago (or rather, she found me) and I was happy to have some other old friends who had gotten lost in the shuffle find their way back into my life.
But other people have tracked me down as well, and I'm not always so pleased about that.
For instance, an old boyfriend of mine contacted me through this network recently.

What I can't figure out is why.
We didn't part particularly amicably.
Also? It was almost 17 years ago that we dated.
I only reflected on him occasionally over the years, and that was to chastise myself for being such a fool.

So why did HE feel the need to look me up? Why did he need to contact me? And, even stranger, to contact Whatsisface and say to him, "I'm Tai's ex-boyfriend. I don't mean any harm."

Maybe he remembers that 3 months of our lives differently from me, after all 17 years have elapsed. Hmm, nah, it ended poorly. Surely he didn't forget that!

Other people, too, have contacted me and I find their interest in writing to me just as odd.
People I never spoke to in school are sending me 'friend requests'.
Others with whom I had but a passing acquaintance (as in, 'I passed them in the hall at school') seem eager to share with me their life stories.
I don't get it! It baffles me.

Some folks are left in the past for good reason, and I'd rather like them to stay there, thanks very much.
Surely others would like me to stay in their past, too, and I will happily stay there.
Far be it for me to intrude on their present lives, especially if I barely knew them then, and don't know them at all now.
(Though if everyone thought like me, Facebook would surely be a flop instead of the amazing success it is.)
Could just be I'm a misanthrope.

But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if my distaste for the whole thing is derived from my feeling that I haven't really done all that much to tell anyone about.
No cure for cancer, no space walks and no lotto wins here.

My life HAS been interesting and wonderful in it's own way, but it seems odd to me to pull out these individual incidences and dog and pony them for people who I probably wouldn't recognize in the street.
Seems too much an accounting of my life for people that I don't know.

And, it seems like way too much obligation to me.
When these veritable strangers contact me, my inner 'nice girl' requires that I politely accept their 'friend request' and say 'yes'. But all I really want to do is holler "NONONO, I don't want to be your friend. I wasn't then and I don't want to be now."
They tell me about their children, and enquire about mine (I don't have any), tell me about their camping trip (I don't like camping) and ask if I'll join a group (no) they've set up.
I'm a wretch and I don't care.

So I think I'm going to take myself off Facebook.
I just can't handle any more "friends".

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Overheard in the Police Station. *

Police Officer (PO): "Hi, can I help you?"

Older man (OM) with a soft English accent: "Well, it's a bit silly I suppose. Sorry to trouble you. I've come in because of my wife, you see. She asked me to come down else she won't be able to sleep."

PO: "Yes? What can we do?"

OM: "It's about that boy in the paper this morning. The boy they found? The murder?"

PO: "Yes?"

OM: "Well, it's just that my son has been missing for a few months now. My wife sent me down to see if it...if this might be him."

PO: "What is your sons name, sir?"

OM: "Dale M-."

PO: "Let me check for you."

OM: "Thank you. My wife just gets so worried. She wanted me to ask."

PO: "Well, sir, that's not the name of the man we found."

OM: "Oh. Well, that's a relief. My wife will feel better about that. Of course, it's terribly hard on her, you see. He's been missing for some time and you always have to wonder.

PO: "I understand, sir. Is there anything else we can do for you?"

OM: "Oh no. That's just fine. Sorry to hear about that other boy though. Blow to his parents."

PO: "Yes sir."

OM: "Right, I'll be off. Won't take up any more of your time."

*I was there to fill out an application for a criminal record check for some volunteer work I'm doing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bits from the Island

I've been working and working and moving and cleaning and volunteering and tidying and weeding.


I'm beat.

My job started on Monday. It's a short walk from our new place which is wonderful, but OH the filing!

Oddly, I don't mind filing. There's something to be said for a job that allows you to put pieces of paper into alphabetical order and see a sort of accomplishment at the end.

My co-workers gasp at the tremendous piles of paper in front of me (stuff going back 4 years!) and wonder at how I keep my sanity. "Oh, you must be so bored, poor thing!" I nod and smile, back bent to my task.

What they don't know is that I actually like it.

They don't understand that the repetitive task allows me time to think my own thoughts and escape in to my own worlds. Of which there are a great many marvelous and varied creations to keep me occupied.

In other news.
Our neighbours mowed our lawn the other day, which was nice of them.
It was looking rather weed infested (honestly? I don't think there ARE any bits of grass in that poor lawn. I suspect it's 50% dandelion, 30% morning glory and 20% rock) and nasty. And with no trees or plant (besides a rather ill looking Chestnut tree growing much too close to the house) it's in definite need of some tender loving care.

I'm really enjoying this new house of ours, despite the lawn. The kitchen is taking some getting used to as the stove and the fridge are in a different room from the sink and counter space. Odd, no?
But interesting and lovely.

Anything else?
Nope. Not at the moment!
Hope all is well everywhere else!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Meme time!

Big Brother decided I didn't have enough to do in my day what with moving and trying to find a new job, so he tagged me. That's okay, a little aided procrastination never hurt anyone!
Good vibrations...I need to formulate a list of 5 things that take me to my happy place.
It's tough!
So many things give me pleasure.

Well, here's 5. But believe me, they are just the top of a very long list.

Driving. Driving is one of my ways of sorting my head out, clearing out the cobwebs and letting go of problems that have been plaguing me.
When I drive, all my attention is on the road, on surrounding traffic and on the scenes flying. It's about being in the 'now'.
I drive standard, and shifting through the gears on a stretch of open road, windows wide open and music playing wipes away anything that was cause for concern very quickly.
And speaking of music...

Jazz. I love jazz.
I love old jazz. I adore live jazz and new jazz and funky jazz and soulful jazz. It's the music that so easily reflects my moods. How to describe my love of it. Words seem inadequate. Jazz can make me joyful and then break my heart. It kept me company when I was alone and it weaves it's happy magic when I'm with friends. It's a language I understand.

Books. Ah, books. A day without reading is time without oxygen. It's that important to me.

Friends. I'm one of the luckiest people I know when it comes to friends.
I have had my closest friends by my side since I was 11 years old. Nothing in my life is true or real until they know about it. The bad things in my life were eased and softened by my friendships. They give what they have freely and expect nothing in return.
I can't say enough about how my life is made so much better by those 3 being in it.

My mom. I just love spending time with my mom.
I've written about how important she is to me before, so those of you who have read my blog will know.
I want to write about her, but what comes out seems to me be too saccharine. And while she is very sweet, she's also very strong and independent.
She's pulled our family through some incredibly hard times and been through some things that might make other people crumble, yet she retains a warmth and genuine concern for others happiness.
My mom is my reminder that you can go through hell and still be able to love unconditionally. (Damn, this was supposed to make me HAPPY, not make me cry!!)

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Union Club.

This evening I spent some time at the club Whatshisface and I recently joined.

It's one of those elite and snotty clubs that boasts memberships of political representatives and parliamentary movers and shakers.

It was 'Ladies Night' this evening.
An evening not as risque as the title might imply.
No, nothing lascivious going on. It is simply a weekly occasion for the wives of the elect to sit together and play bridge in the 'Card Room' or have a cocktail on the patio overlooking the harbour.

The only "Chip 'n' Dales" I saw were the desks.

And anyway, they wouldn't have made it past the doormen. Dress code in effect. Sparkly thongs are NOT approved.

The 'Reading Room' is one of the largest and most well appointed rooms I've ever seen dedicated to the sublime art of reading alone. Elegant leather couches, giant palms and a collection of daily newspapers from around the world all centered around a grand fireplace.
My dinner guest was a lovely woman. Someone I don't really know all that well, but would like too know better. Being relatively new to a city, finding companionable people is pretty important.

Boy, does she know how to swear.
I have to admit that I've been know to cuss. (Hey, you. Stop rolling your eyes!)

However, when I'm in a place that is designed to hold elderly women and their old friends, I try really hard to 'fit in'. To belong.

To not scare anyone.

And speaking of being scared, I have to admit I found the place intimidating at first. Lots of liveried help. Obsequiousness seemed to be a job requirement.

Takes some getting used to.

But part of me felt like I was being a snot because I looked around guiltily every time she cursed though the rest of me thought, "What the hell do I care?"
So what is the point of this post?

Well, mostly it's to say that I had a nice time, not sure if I fit in and I feel bad that I care how my friend expressed herself.

And boy-howdy, good thing there weren't any strippers. It might have become truly rowdy...some of those ladies were hitting the tea pretty hard.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Theft 101

Along with everything else going on in my life, I'm moving! Not far (a mere 3 blocks) but into an abode that is charming and old and unique and completely renovated.
Spider Girl took some pictures last weekend, for which I'm grateful, as I took pictures too but I seem to have lost the cord to my camera and so can't post them.

Thus the title.

I'm stealing the pictures she took and posted on her blog and directly applying them to mine. Seems fair, no? Her pics, my house?

And anyway, I served her a bbq'd steak to die for last weekend so it's entirely fair, right!?


The house was built in 1914 and, as of late, was vastly abused by the onslaught of tenants that just didn't give a damn.

The bathroom was demolished (completely unusable I've heard), the rooms had been spray paint 'tagged' and the yard was a catastrophe (still kinda is, but I'm working on that!).

Since we've started moving in, all the neighbours have poked their heads out their doors and cautiously asked, "Are you moving in? How many of you are there?"

The look of relief on their faces is interesting and disturbing all at the same time.

I mean, how bad could it have been?

Well, if the mail is any indication, there have been a multitude of folks coming and going. Ben Fudge, for instance.

He was sent mail to our new house.

And Guangdao Yang too.

Not to mention a whole host of others.

I cordially put "MOVED" on the mail and dump it back in the mailbox.

Hope they get it.

So, anyway.

New house.

Hope the ghosts are friendly!