Book Hippo

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Turkey Dinner

Well, we had a great Christmas. I got some good presents, in fact, I will not have to take anything back, not that I ever have. I checked on some family on Facebook but did not phone.

This year, I bought a small turkey. A very small turkey. It cooked in four hours, about one hour less than we thought. I was asleep when David woke me up to tell me the turkey was done.

He made gravy and we had a good supper. The dressing was good, too. Now that it's over, I guess I have all the sales to look forward to now. As I got some money I will have some to spend.

Christmas meals for me have changed a lot since I was a child. Mom used to do all sorts of baking beforehand and we had tarts and shortbread and all sorts of things I just can't remember. She made a big turkey for seven people as my grandmother and grandfather would be with us, too.

It's not such a big deal now, with just me and David but still enjoyable, even if I can't bake very well. How do you make just enough tarts for two? Not impossible but a big bit of trouble.

Pumpkin pie was on our menu,, too, and even though I thought of making my own, I bought one instead. So now we are just going to relax for the rest of the evening and take up where we left off on Friday.

For my American and other readers, we wait for December 27th because the 26th is Boxing Day here.

Hope you had a safe and merry Christmas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Shopping

So I did my shopping early and had it all done, forgot to send out my cards, though, so I'm mailing them tomorrow. Back to shopping. I said I HAD it all done. I've undone it because I went to the Dollar Store and bought a lot of little chocolate and gingerbread snacks that were all wrapped up Christmassy-like.

Well, don't buy treaties early. I couldn't sleep one night and opened them all up and ate them. And I'm trying to lose weight. As an aside, I've just lost 1.5 pounds since last weight-in.

Now I have to buy all those treaties again and not eat them until December 25th. Still, I'm doing better than some people. My brother doesn't shop until December 24th. He spends a lot of fore-time deciding what to get and then just races around getting it all. I have  no idea who wraps at his house.

My last Christmas shopping idea is that I've stopped sending things through the mail. My brother doesn't bother with snail mail, the same for my sister's grandson and family. I've even begun wondering whether I should stop sending cards.

All the younger people send e-mails and digital cards and so many of my older friends are dying. My step-mom just died on October 4th and earlier years have seen other cousins and aunts passing. I have a smaller list and often the news included is someone has cancer. It's so sad. But I do like to keep in touch so I guess I'll exchange cards with the few that's left.

Good shopping and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thoughts On December

So it's December, the magical month. Unfortunately, some people feel sad at this time. Maybe they've not got any family to speak of or maybe someone in their family died around Christmas time.

I know someone like that and have decided to stop trying to get him to enjoy the Christmas spirit. Of course, I didn't know until this year that both his parent died at Christmas time. He'll only have to deal with one present from me this year.

One of the good things about living downtown is that, if you are alone, there are restaurants open on Christmas day to serve you turkey. These establishments are run by Muslims, who, of course, don't celebrate Christmas. They've found a good niche for themselves on that day as a lot of disenfranchised and lonely people come to their restaurants and stores to eat.

It's nice to go out on Christmas day and see large numbers of people enjoying themselves with other people. So if you want to hear a dis against Muslim, you won't get it here. I find they fit in well and are mostly peaceful.

By the way, while I'm on the subject, it's the Fundamentalists who are violent and crazy and that includes Christian fundamentalists who shoot abortionists and others who would be best dealt with through legal means. I mean, the way to deal with someone you curse as a murderer is to murder him? Nuts.

And we have lots of snow so I'm having fun walking around and I have some extra money this year so I'm buying things for myself. Not what I need, but what I want. Like cool shoes and a pendant. So far December has been good. I only hope the next 29 days are just as good.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wuthering Hearts

The book that really got me to thinking about being an author was Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I loved the poetry of the words and the plot, the tight timeline and characters.

I know what some of you are thinking. Characters? Aren't Heathcliffe and Catherine and the rest merely caricatures? Isn't the plot unrealistic? What about the legality of what Heathcliffe does to Hareton? It couldn't really happen, right?

Well, I  hear you, I hear you. I've been told these things to my face and had to face disgusted expressions on some people's faces when I tell them I've read the book over thirty times.

But I have come up with what I think is the real reason for the book. I know that when you take this novel in school, you read the notes that tell you that the book is about the nature of love. Hah!

I heartily disagree with this and think the book was written as a warning.

I think Emily Bronte, as a pastor's daughter, more than likely heard all sorts of domestic problems, like wife-beating and such. Stories about weak husbands and strong-minded women she probably heard before breakfast.

I think she looked at all these problems and came up with the reasons for them. Wuthering Heights, in my opinion, is a warning. She's educating people. Why do women marry abusive men? Emily Bronte thinks women are looking for 'heroes of romance' and suggest if they were more realistic about me they could avoid that fate.

Am I right? Well, I think so.

She also warns that nothing can divide a person from their happiness, it's you and you alone who make decisions to leave happiness. This is what Heathcliffe says to Catherine when she's dying. That she decided to leave, not Hell or anything else.

And how is the happiness resolved, when two parties are bending to please and be pleased, like when Hareton and Cathy go from enemies to friends. They have the same goals. Catherine and Heathcliffe were selfish and only looking after themselves.

Why does any of this matter? Well, I think it's still good to learn and realize these things today. There are still women who marry abusers, thinking they will changes and become princes. And there are still selfish people who destroy their own happiness.

So, when next you read Wuthering Heights, at least consider what I say and see if you can learn and take to heart any of the warnings and lessons in it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Snow Days

It snowed for one day this month but didn't stay on the ground. So we haven't really had snow this year yet. I like that but sometimes, I have to admit, I actually do like snow.

I know that as an adult, I'm supposed to hate snow but I don't drive so I'm not privy to all the trouble it causes on the road. I still like to watch it come down and I like the quiet it brings.

It's always described as a blanket and I think that's a great way to put it. As long as you have a good pair of boots, snow shouldn't affect you that much.

But ice is a different thing altogether. As I'm getting older, I find I've become afraid of ice. I once fractured my thigh bone by falling on ice, that was ten years ago. I'm even older now and getting to the point where I stay in on real icy days because of the danger.

But for the most part, this season is okay with me. It's Christmas and New Years and my birthday so I get a lot of holidays at this time. Okay, technically, my birthday is not a holiday, but it feels like one to me.

Anyway, except for the falling down bit, this season is good. For a while a few years back, I began to dislike this season but I've changed again and don't mind it now. I can hardly wait to be out in falling snow.

Maybe it's a second childhood.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Which Package Is Whole?

The whole package.

How many times have you heard that said about a woman. It means she has 1. A beautiful face 2. A gorgeous figure 3. Brains.

But wait. Is that all there is to a woman, just those three things? What about a heart? What about patience? Or bravery? And the thing is, these are what women say about women.

Men don't really care about face. All sorts of plain women have husbands who treasure them. Men don't care if their girlfriends or wives are chubby. Nope. It's all coming from women. And of course, men don't care if they're smarter than their women.

So why are women limiting each other to those three things? Maybe it's what they want for themselves that they think can make them successful. Like a supermodel or something.

Just to prove a point. Think of applying the term, the whole package, to a man. What traits would a male whole package have. I bet that he has a lot more leeway than three traits, two of them, luck of the draw, so to speak.

But is this an insult? Probably not. It does prove, I think, that women limit themselves and tragically, limit each other. I had an inkling of that when I was in painting and any girl with a lot of talent but no 'female' instincts, like going out for lunch after an hour of painting, was not supported by the women in the school.

Women are afraid to step out of their safety zone, I think. They want to be assured that they will still be worth loving if they do something like mechanics. That's why, whenever I've found women in men's professions, like welding, it's because their boyfriend decided to teach them and bring them into the business.

All the women's lib screeching about wages and such doesn't make any impression on women who are more worried about being lovable. I'm just writing about this because I think women have some thinking to do. Instead of just doing what men do in a feminine way, maybe they should think about what makes a woman happy.

I'm not saying that a women can't work, just that most women are happy when they're taking care of somebody and they should make sure of their happiness before they go out and try to be successful.

Maybe then they'd have a more reasonable idea of what kind of traits a woman needs, not just what they think will make them able to compete with a man in a different way. The face to attract them. The body to make them helpless and the brains to outsmart them.

Not reasonable at all. It's time to decide who we are and what really make us happy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Shopping Addiction

I've been looking at online shopping. I'm always searching through my favorite site for the right size, the right price. The problem is, the bill comes every month. Now, I'm not unable to pay my rent or buy food but my credit card bill is a little high this month. Almost $200.00.

But I just like the stuff I get so much, the deals of 80% off, where I can get something that costs $300.00 for $39.99.

To be fair to myself, it's not just online shopping. I'm a voracious window shopper and if I find a great store, I go back time and time again. Like the coat store at Carlingwood Mall.
Twice a year, every year, after summer and after winter, they sell all sorts of expensive coats for about $20.00 or a little more.

That means people looking at me on the street think I have a lot of money. I like to tell them that people on limited incomes could go there and get great stuff. Some people don't even believe me. No, they think I have money.

I know so many stores where there are great deals to be had. There's jewelry store right downtown where they have sold sapphire bracelets (not to me) for $100.00.

Maybe that's why I like to shop. Why a lot of women like to shop. I tend to put that down to hunter/gathering when women searched through the landscape for good stuff for their families. So I'm just doing what I've evolved for, I guess.

Anyway, I don't intend for my window shopping/bargain hunting to stop anytime soon, but as soon as I pay this $200.00, I'm going to be more careful

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Date Game

My mother used to say that she always knew when her anniversary was coming around because of the television shows on Hiroshima started to appear. You see, she was married on August 6, 1954, the date, not the year they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

I always felt that this was probably the most unromantic way to remember a date. Not like being wed on the first day of spring so that ever after, when you see flowers starting to rise through the dirt you know your anniversary is coming.

It's funny, our family dates seem to hover around disasters and also celebratory dates.

My great-grandmother was born on November 11, 1868, the date, not the year of the Armistice. My mother was born on December 8, 1929, the date, not the year, of the killing of John Lennon.

This means that, I, too, think of these anniversaries whenever remembrances start to appear on WWI or John Lennon's murder.

I was born on Groundhog's Day.

Then there are the near misses. My brother was born near Thanksgiving (Canadian). My father died on September 10, 2010. Not quite, but still, whenever 9/11 shows appear on television, I know another anniversary of my father's death has come around.

My great-grandmother died on Christmas Eve.

I don't know how many families have the same 'date game' going on in their families but I've always found it interesting in mine that so many anniversaries are already marked on the calendar.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tech Boys

There is a fashion tone to every era in human history. It is usually set by whomever is running the show. In Queen Victoria's day, it was very feminine, with lots of lace and bows and a lot of propriety, also very feminine.

I was thinking about that the other day and began to wonder who was setting the standard today, and came up with something that surprised me.

Just look at what is happening today in fashion, plastic surgery, with big boobs a specialty. Lots of those plaid nerd pants. You see them on everyone. Boys used to get beat up for wearing them. Lots of gaming.

Sounds like adolescent boys are running things? Hmmm. What about all those teen-agers making so much money in tech? That's what I came up with. All those adolescentish boys are setting the tone of the world we live in today.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that, I guess. It seems like the dream of the sixties - to have youth run things - is coming true, with the exception that it is all about money now. Which is another thing a lot of people want now.

It's not like my grandparents, who wanted a house they owned with a yard but a mansion is what today's people want and  lots of cars and excitement. Yep, definitely adolescent boys.

I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable with it but it is lots of fun. Lots of games and toys for big people. I just wonder what will the next turn in society come and who will set the fashion in the future.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reading Shakespeare

One thing you have to remember when reading Shakespeare is that it was a different time. In Elizabethan times, the main teachings were of paranoid style of thinking. Everyone was out to get you in Elizabethan times, or so they taught everyone. So you can look for paranoia in Shakespeare or look at how he handles psychology and motivations and see how a paranoid audience would have thought about what he was saying.

Another thing, social ranking was everything. It dictated who walked into a room before whom and all the seating arrangements of a dinner party. Elizabethan people were supposed to stick up for their rank, too, but in a certain way. They also had to have self-control or decorum.

If an old man of inferior rank walked in before a young man of higher rank, the young man would say, for everyone to hear, "I'm very happy to let my aged friend in before me." Therefore letting everyone know that he understood his rank and was letting others know, while having the self-control and manners to let an older person take precedence.

This is another thing you can look for in Shakespeare and if you find a character who does not have self-control, you know that his audience would have seen that as very bad and unworthy. Hint: look for royal or high born people who lose it. The audience would have been scandalized.

I've got to read Shakespeare again myself, it's time to re-learn the Bard.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Feelings Of September

Strange, I can't remember many facts about September from when I was a child in White Rock, BC. I must have started school each year. I can remember going to school but actual September days are all fogged over.

Halloween memories are still there but for September, nothing. I can't even remember what the weather was like. Today I was thinking how I would like to be on the beach again, it's so sunny in Ottawa and the sun feels hot through the window, but was it hot enough when I was a child to go swimming? I just don't remember.

Sometimes I took  my dog down to the beach. Cindy loved to swim and fetch sticks that I would throw out into the ocean. So dogs could swim.

There's no way to swim outside in Ottawa in September.

It's like this start-of-school year month is a gear-up for everything else that goes on the rest of the year. Halloween, Remembrance Day and Christmas/New Years to name a few.
I find this month slow and at times, boring. The other night I had so little to do, I was trying to recall the Brady Bunch lyrics. You  have to be pretty bored to think up that.

If Mom were still alive, she'd say, "why don't you write?" But I'd already written.

The one thing that's still with me about September from my childhood, is that it feels new. It feels like a beginning. Like something possibly wonderful is going to happen at any moment.

I guess then the only thing I recall from Septembers of my childhood are the feelings about it. Which is nice enough.

My e-book, The Mountain City Bronzes is still available at the MuseItUp Bookstore

Friday, September 6, 2013

Manning Park and Other Places

I always loved camping so I'm sorry now that my knee won't let me hike through the woods anymore. As a child my family loved to go to Manning Park to the east of Hope. The only sad part of driving to this park is that you have to drive over the Hope slide. I couldn't pass over that place without wondering about all the people under me.

What were they thinking in those few minutes when they were suffocating to death after the mountainside came down on them? It is still a haunting thought to me.

I loved Manning Park because of the various points of interest it had. One was the stone bowls. Made by the action of water, these rocks were hollowed out from the inside, making what seemed like bowls on their sides. One would think they would make perfect houses for hobbits, if such a creature existed.

The mountains of BC are great of course, and we spent our share of time in Manning Part climbing up hills, the smaller mountains. I never did ever climb a real mountain. I'm too afraid.

As a child, I always wanted to be the type of person who could do anything, but no, that's not me.

Another place I liked was Barkerville in BC. This is a tourist town but there is camping there, although I think there is a hotel, too. We bought real rock candy for a penny and saw a music hall show with the performers dressed as they would have been in the 1880s.

I later learned that my brother hated Barkerville. I didn't know this, we spent time in the town's cemetery and I thought he was enjoying himself.

The best thing that happened was when it rained so hard that a little bird flew under our awning of our tent to protect itself. Mother said that we should be quiet and no one make a move to touch it, that would be cruel. So we all waited for the rain to end and then the bird flew off.

That was the good part of those heavy canvas tents. They were good protection, even if they did weigh about twenty pounds.

So I'll have to live with my memories unless I can ever afford to go to Algonquin Park's Arowhon hotel. It costs about $1200.00 a week, not too bad for what you get, and that's all meals free and full use of all activities, canoes etc. It's something to look forward to.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weather Fashion

So it's hot. Real hot. I've been outside twice today and came back with sweat dripping down my face. I don't like the heat, it's so uncomfortable and I like the cold or cool weather.

I have a lot of reasons. One being, that I can wear nice clothes. In sweltering summer, if I wear nice clothes, they get ruined by sweat. In fall and spring, those clothes are warm and don't need to be washed as much.

Besides, at my age, I'm finding that I suffer in the heat. I've been to the emergency ward three times due to heat problems. I guess my old brain is cooked enough.

My other season that I find hard is the winter. Mostly because of the ice on the pavement. The cold isn't too bad but like summer, why bother wearing nice clothes when they're covered up with a heavy coat.

I'm waiting for an inventor to come up with clothes that will keep someone warm and be as thin as regular clothes. That will happen someday, like flying cars, but I don't know if I will be alive.

I would really like to wear nice stylish clothes all year round but for now I'll have to just use fall and spring for my fashion outlet.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Madeleine. I hated my name as a child. That is the fault of school yard bullies who would look at me and say "What kind of name is that?" Just because Madeleine is a French name and I grew up in a very English place. It made me feel like a freak.

On the other hand. I always liked it when someone else was named Madeleine. Like the book Madeleine. We read that in grade two and I felt the teacher was reading it just to me. Then there was Madeleine L'Engels. Madeleine Kahn. Remember her?

They made me feel I wasn't alone in the world. Of course when I moved out to Eastern Canada, I couldn't have picked a better place than Ottawa. Madeleines abound out here, so close to Quebec. I even have found a cousin named Madeleine McLaughlin.

I was so excited to be close to people who didn't think Madeleine was a freak name that I even suggested to other Madeleines that we form a group. So silly. These women didn't need a group.

But all these experiences have taught me how narrow and mean those kids were back then. Re-thinking it, I realize it wasn't everyone that picked on me, just a few.

Just one more Madeleine. Madeleine McCann. I urge everyone to say a prayer for this little girl to bring her home to her parents. I'll put up a link you can go to for her.

Now I like my name. I'm not a freak for being named Madeleine. I've learned everyone's name is beautiful. We're all beautiful. Except bullies.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Otzi The Iceman

I find history fascinating not just for what it does tell me but for what it doesn't. Take Otzi, the world's oldest 'cold case'. We know Otzi was murdered. In our terms, it makes him an 'innocent' victim, nobody deserves to be murdered, right?

I would argue that we don't know anything about the time he lived in. Maybe he was a hellraiser and their way of dealing with that was to kill. Maybe. This was way before the Jews came up with 'Thou shalt not kill'.

I'm just saying that we have no way to know whether Otzi was a good man or bad man, or whether those Judeo-Christian terms meant anything at all to the people who lived back then. Maybe Otzi was a magician and they feared him. Is that why they waited until they got him alone?

And speaking of alone, when does a man travel alone through this kind of terrain? Not trade, I would suppose because they'd have animals to carry their goods. Was he cast out? In a lot of tribes, the only people who are alone are those whom the tribe have disowned because they're bad.

On the other hand, Otzi was well dressed which might mean that he had some 'riches' of whatever that may have meant back then.

I know these are a lot of questions, but I think most authors ask questions like these, probably about everyone they think of. People on a plane when it flies over etc.

But for Otzi, it just makes him more fascinating as it makes the times he lived in more interesting. Will we ever know exactly what kind of society he came from, the rules and mores of the group? Probably not.

It's a great thing to think about and some author, somewhere, will surely write a fiction book about his life.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Old Friends

One thing I think about more often than not is old friends. Where are they? What happened with their lives?

On the face of it, it would seem simple: Use Facebook to find them. Well, that doesn't work with my friends. One was a Jehovah's Witness, she definitely won't be using Facebook. Anyway, I know she married and don't know her married name.

The other one was a good friend for years. Since grade seven. Her ethnic background was Ukrainian, her last name difficult to spell. Until you got used to it. We did all kinds of things together.

I'm sure I won't find her again. Mostly because her philosophy was, "Never look back." So she probably has put me out of her mind totally by now.

I guess my point is that it's not always easy to look back, even when you have all the tools (computer) to do it efficiently. And since all my friends were girls, there's the chance of marriage and name change as mentioned above.

So I guess I'll just have to keep them as memories, there was one more, a girl I knew in elementary school. Good memories and maybe I will see them again some day. If I ever go back to BC - a big maybe.

But forgive me if once in a while I go looking for them online just on the off chance that they're there.

Monday, July 15, 2013


I think something has happened to parenting. I'm talking about all the therapy little girls seem to need to feel beautiful. According to a commercial, all sorts of girls stop doing something they like because they don't like their body.

Now, if I had said to my Mom. "I'm not going to the beach because I hate my body." She would have said "Don't be silly. You look fine. Would you rather be like Miss Skinny Minny who can't even keep their bones warm."

What I'm saying is, when did parents let childish insecurities get in the way of their children's progress. The idea in the old days was to get the kid out having fun and they would forget their anguish. Well, I'm not saying that you shouldn't help your children through their fears, but why coddle them so much that they're afraid to live?

Besides, there's a lot of other things to build self-esteem on. Like learning the piano. And speaking of that, when did the blame for all this fall on show biz. Or fashion.

I have an opinion which I don't let out too much because I don't think many young women would appreciate it. Now, I have three nephews who have girlfriends and all three are raising children.

They are the most polite, the nicest kids. Their self-esteem is very high. Why? I'll give my opinion, in all three families, the parents can't wait to get up in the morning to be with their kids. They rush home from work to play with them. In two families, the women have chosen to stay home with their 'babies'.

To move on a bit. How many times do you see shows telling parents to get away from the kids for a romantic weekend. It makes me think that the difference and problem with self-esteem comes from the parents.

Your mother loves you the most, right? Well, suppose the person who loves you the most, doesn't want to be with you? How does that rate in a child's mind. "I'm not good enough, even my Mom doesn't want to be with me.' Maybe?

So in my opinion, I think you shouldn't have kids until you know that you want to spend so much time with them. All your time. Give them all sorts of attention. Do things with them, don't stick them in front of the TV. One of my nephews doesn't even have a television and no video games, they're always out hiking or mountain climbing.

So throw sticks at me if you want. Show biz is not to blame. Adults are.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Albanian Camping

I went to school with a myriad of ethic identities. There was African, Saudi Arabian and Iraqi to name a few. The person I remember most was the Albanian lady. I was fascinated by her tales of life in Albania, it's such a little known place that I couldn't help but be.

One of her best tales was the one about her camping. It seems all Albanian kids went to summer camps. There, they fished and swam, hiked and boated. They also learned how to use assault weapons.

She told me how they'd get up each morning and put their assault weapons together, then have breakfast and go for a morning hike. When they came back, it was off to the shooting range where they practiced killing Capitalists. Then lunch. Swimming. More shooting.

Supper followed by camp songs. Communist camp songs and before they went to bed, they'd take apart their weapons and clean them.

When I told my brother about this, he had a laughing fit. The image of children shooting at Capitalist was amusing to him. But it occurred to me that such a camp wouldn't be out of place in modern America.

Now I know that us Canadians don't really like handguns. But we do have a lot of rifles in the rural communities. But America is running a risk of being invaded. There's the terror threat from outside people plus the threat from home grown terrorists.

Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to teach young Americans, well, what the hell, Canadians, too, how to handle weapons safely, how to fire them, how to clean them. Mostly, how to be responsible. Because isn't the main problem with guns the people who aren't responsible and just use them as an inappropriate acting out prop.

We've just had a guy in Vancouver gunning a couple. Irresponsible.

Anyway, it's just a thought that maybe a fun way to learn responsible fire-arm handling wouldn't be amiss in a Capitalist country.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ape Awhile With Me

In the eighties and nineties, I became way interested in apes. Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans were the staple of my reading. I moved onto Gibbons and monkeys later. I think I became so captivated because apes have their own world. The women who observed them, (Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas) made their lives stories that I could relate to.

Who hasn't known a Mike, for instance, the small chimp who used his brains to become top banana? It was this slant on their lives which made me see that the whole world is a habitat for something.

Apes and monkeys mostly lived in trees. Branches were pathways of their lives. They probably knew every twig and leaf of their environment. To me, trees were something for shade or something to look at and watch. To them, it was their world. They conducted their business up there and came down to the ground sometimes.

I only say that because all this time later I'm reading that Jane Goodall's community of chimps will be extinct in twenty years and it makes me sad that all those personalities will be lost. Most people just say, 'well, it's just an animal' but it is more, it's part of all. I think Jane Goodall's observations of baby rearing among chimps may well have proved that babies do better the more attention they get.

There's also the idea that they may evolve into something else and they should have the chance to do so. That's nature and natural. So here's hoping that soon people will want to have apes and monkeys alive and pursuing their interests. Here's wishing that something can be done about the vanishing forests and animal lives.

Before that pathways all fall silent.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Inuit Drugs

I don't understand numbers all that well and they don't make me get emotional. Therefore, when someone gives me a number, say, ten thousand killed in earthquake, it often doesn't compute of affect me that much.

Now that's a terrible thing to admit but I will explain. If someone were to go into the area of the earthquake and talk to the people, who would tell their stories of a child disappeared, then I would get an image of sorrow and it would become immediate to me.

In the ninties, I had a neighbour who was an Inuit. He used to tell me that he'd made himself employed by started a translating service. Now that Nunavit was a territory run by Inuit people, there were a lot of Inuktitut speakers and all the reports were done in that language.

So he came to Ottawa, where he happily translated the reports into English and French and took reports to be sent to Nunavit and put them in Inuktitut. I asked was there much competition and he told me he was the only one doing this so had great job security. The government wasn't going away.

He told me other things, too. With great passion and upset he told me that when he goes back to the arctic how ten year old Inuit children would come up to him asking if he had any drugs he could sell them. This bothered him so much and he could be on the verge of tears when talking about it.

It made me see how communities of indigineous people have been affected by 'us'. The white people. Not me directly but the whole process of taking them away from their traditional values. I have heard it said that in the old days, no Inuit child would think of talking back or disobeying an elder. Benefits of civilization?

So maybe I shouldn't feel too bad that someone telling me 80% of Inuit are into drugs or some other such number doesn't make me sad or even get in my head. Not like my neighbour. I still think about what he said today and become as sad as him. Perhaps someday things will improve up there.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hot Weather

It's hot today. It was hot yesterday, and the day before. Good, right? Yeah, we have our fans on all the time and don't go out when the sun is high in the sky. It's great. Finally.

I do have to say, that I wouldn't like it if it was any hotter. Like in a tropical country. There are all sorts of strange and scary bugs that come out in tropical countries, and all sorts of diseases that we just don't have here in the north.

I've always considered myself lucky that I don't live anywhere near big, big snakes that eat people, squeezing them to death or biting them. There really isn't anything living in Canada in the category of 'creepy' that kills. Well, I know in Alberta and BC there are rattlesnakes but nowhere near any of the towns.

And of course there are bears, but bears aren't creepy. They're big and powerful and you can hear them a mile away. You don't stand a chance of stepping on them.

The worst things in Canada, I guess, are the plants. Even animals have trouble with them. I know cows will sometimes eat a plant that looks like a plant they like and keel over dead. It's something they warn you against eating when you go out into the forest. In fact, they don't want you eating anything at all if you don't know what it is.

I've always lived by that rule when I was out camping but it fooled my once when I was camping right by a huge blueberry patch without recognizing the berries. After I found out I was in that patch every day.

But still I never ate anything when I didn't know what it was. Another thing they have in Canada is leeches. They get on your body when you're swimming and if you want to get them off you have to light a match and hold it to their head. Otherwise they'll leave their jaw in your leg if you pull them off. The heat makes them let go.

So I guess I'm fortunate. No pythons or fire ants, nothing to give me nightmares. Only the weather when the snow is deep and you can't go more than four blocks without fearing frost bite. So when I go out in this nice, hot sun I'll think how good I have it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Everyday Hero

All is fresh outside today. We had a big thunderstorm last evening and now it's nice out. I think it won't last, we're due for rain all this week. I'm so glad that I'm in my apartment, so cozy.

It makes me think about all the people in the past who weren't so cozy and comfortable in the rain. Like soldiers of the first and second world wars who had to stay outside in the rain and fight and maybe die.

My grandfather was a soldier in WWI. He fought at Salonika which is a little reported battle. He never talked about it, except to say that he hated mules. The officers treated the mules better than the enlisted men, he used to say, and that was all he said.

I think some day I'd like to go to Salonika and see what it would have been like for my grandfather and the others who fought with him. It was his downfall in a way because he was bitten by a mosquitoe and contracted malaria. This weakened his heart. After the war his doctor told him that if he wanted to live, he had to move to either Alberta, Canada or Australia. As he had relatives in Alberta, he went there on a Soldiers Settlement, which meant he got free farmland.

One day him and granny came home to find the horses had broken into their house and were eating their straw mattress. They gave up farming and grandpa went to work for the railway as a Section Foreman.

I don't know when the decision came to leave Alberta and go to BC, maybe he didn't care anymore that he would die young if he did, but they ran a boarding house in Vancouver and he worked as a steward on the ships that go up the coast of BC, making extra money by playing the piano for the crowds. None of this was good for his heart and he died at about 74 years old. I miss him still.

But strangely, when I think of him, it's not as the man I knew but as the soldier I've only seen photos of. Fighting in the rain. Covered with lice. Drilling. This terrible part of his life which changed him in so many ways. Even when hunting for meat in Alberta, he would never actually shoot anything but hand his rifle over to his friend. After the war, he couldn't bring himself to kill. The war made him gentle. It gave him nightmares. It was something he had to survive every day for the rest of his life.

It made him an everyday hero.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Historically Voiceless

I love to read a good history book. My favorite characters in history are often ones whose names I can't even remember. Everyone knows that the winners write history so there are many people in history who don't have a voice.

Now if I were to say that white people going to the American southwest were not the first there you would automatically assume that I meant the Apaches were there first. Well, they were but there were others. Namely, black people who had escaped slavery. Many of them found their way into places where there were no white people. Some lived in Apacheria.

So little is known about these people that no one can tell you if they lived in groups or as loners wandering around. They probably lived by hunting, perhaps trading with the Mexicans and Apaches. Whatever happened to them is also not told.

All through American history you will find black individuals who escaped and were accepted by natives. One group of whites went to treat with a Sioux tribe and found themselves face to face with a black man in full Native dress. There was no taking him back to slavery, the whole tribe backed him.

Some blacks even became Chiefs and fought with distinction.

Another group of the voiceless were women. Again, the American west was the place where they stepped out of their roles and became themselves. One women took to dressing in animals skins, showing quite a bit of leg, mind you and rode like a man. Riding her horse by one general, I think Sherman, he remarked, "What was that?" So unlike a woman of the times was she.

Her name I can't remember but I would surely like to know what she thought about and how she came to live the way she did. She fought with men when she felt like it.

Not just white women were voiceless parts of history. An Apache tribe had a woman leader, a very wise woman, by all accounts, who kept them peaceful and non-combatant and counseled them how to get along with the whites and how to  make good. I have never read what became of this tribe. Whether they veered from that path after she died and now live the terrible life of a modern Apache, or whether they became productive people, at home with the system.

The last person I will mention is an Englishman, again in Apacheria. He went to the USA and found native life congenial, so one could find him living with a tribe and wearing native dress, happily hunting and doing whatever his tribe was up to. Six months later, one could find him in Tombstone, Arizona with his best white person clothes on, dining in a saloon and living 'American'. He went back and forth, however his fancy took him.

Someday I'm going to write about one of these people. At least I promise myself I will. They are fascinating, the thing that keeps me going back to history books. Humans are so interesting but for me, these faceless, nameless men and women make history a living thing.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Parrot

I love to visit my friends. They live outside of Ottawa and have a huge house and a pool. There's also three dogs plus one bird. The dogs are great, the bird, not so. It's a parrot and it attacks when it's not being paid enough attention. And when it's left alone upstairs when everyone's downstairs, it makes a sound like a child crying.

So one day we're all downstairs. The bird's crying and it so happens someone has backed into my friend's car and a cop is taking a report. Suddenly, he looks up. What's wrong with that child?

No, it's a bird. There's no child in the house.

He's not convinced and because he's worried that a child is being abused, he has probable cause. They let him in. He checks the whole downstairs. No child. He starts up the stairs.

Well, the bird cries because it's lonely. When it hears a whole troop of people, it stops. The cop sees the bird.

It's not making any noise.

They try to explain. Anyway, half an hour later, he's finally convinced there's no abused kid in the house, that the bird is a brat and he leaves. My friend is philosophical, Just doing his job, she says.

Anyone who owns a parrot knows about the quirky behavior of these birds. Wouldn't it be better to leave them in their jungle home?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I'd almost like to start this blog post with a psuedo-Yogism, It doesn't pay to buy. Well, Yogi didn't say that, I did. I think it every time I think of Gaston.

I decided one day, to visit the Rideau Center. It's a big shopping center of about 250 stores. It is on one side of Rideau Street and is connected to The Hudson's Bay Company by an overhead walkway. THBC is on the other side of the street, of course. The walkway is enclosed.

In the walkway, there are vendors. Some sell hats and scarfs, usually cashmire and wallets. Anyway, I was walking from THBC when a man stepped out from one of the stalls. He introduced himself as Gaston.

Now I had made a pledge not to buy anything and I knew Gaston was a salesman. I should have kept walking but he was so nice and amiable. I decided to stop but not buy.

What a personality. Well, Gaston convinced me to buy not one, but two kits I didn't need. Eighty dollars. I walked away regretting it immediately and worried what David, my room mate would say.

I walked home.

"What's that?" He asked.

"Some stuff I bought."

"How much did you spend."

Gulp. "Eighty dollars. And it's stuff I don't use."

"Take it back."

"But, you see, Gaston...he is such a good salesman."

"You have a weakness for those people. Give it to me. I'm taking it back."

He left and I felt some relief. An hour later he was back. He still had the bag which he put in front of me. Now there were three kits in it.

"Since when do you buy beauty products?" I asked


"A really good salesman? He can make you like him so that you buy things you wouldn't normally?"

"He actually is a good guy."

Right. So now I have three nail kits just waiting  to be used. I tried one, it was nice...sort of. Pretty good for something I don't use.

On the good side, I stopped feeling bad that exact day about my weakness for salesmen. Especially ones like Gaston who make you like them even when they're pushing you to buy something you don't want. He's a supersalesman. But I look for him whenever I'm at the Rideau Center just so I don't end up with more stuff. I turn and walk the other way.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hopefull Fashions For Spring

I think it's here. Spring, in all springly glory is melting the snow from several snowstorms. Trees are beginning to have buds. I am going out more for walks and best of all, stores trying to rid themselves of their winter stock are having sales.

I went to a shopping mall called Carlingwood the other day and a coat store was selling $200.00 coats for $37.00. I got two good quality winter coats for next year. The only think is, I'm on my diet and have lost about twenty pounds, so they might not fit. Well, one will fit because it has strings you can pull to make it fit better. I'm keeping them both, even if I do lose more weight, though, because they're a deal. They'll just be a bit big. Find with me.

I didn't know I would find any sales this year as Zellars went out of business in February. I was getting deals galore in the weeks leading up to their closing but they're gone now and so are the deals.

So I've been a bit worried about where I'll get my pants. Tops I can get anywhere but not as cheap as Zellars but that's okay, they're better made. But pants. Pants are so expensive if you're not at a discount store. Some brands are $100.00 a pop. Even $40.00 is more than I'm used to paying. What to do?

It has me thinking that maybe I'll go through with a plan I had in the ninties of last millenium. Making my own clothes. Back then, I came up with this plan because the fashions of the day were so horrible.

It began in the eighties with everyone wearing unisex army clothes. Battle jackets and boots. Some people even got married in combat boots. I never went along with that particular style but stuck to t-shirt and pants. I wish now I'd have dressed better when I was young but then, remember leg-warmers? Even dressing up back then made you look like an idiot.

So I thought when the nineties came around and there was no improvement to fashion, that I might learn how to design my own clothes. Just simple things. I bought a lot of fabric but never could afford the fees for the classes.

Then fashions got better. Now you see young girls wearing knee socks and looking good because of the type of skirts they wear. They're so cute and the fashions for older women are good, too. Heck, even men's fashions are improving, especially the shirts.

But now I'm losing weight and thinking I might be better off learning how to design pants so I can make some I can take in when I need to

Spring makes me so hopeful.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dancing Queen

I'm not much of a dancer. I  never dreamed of being a ballerina or tap dancer. Never asked for lessons at all.

One day, in grade four, my class went to gym class expecting another boring day of volleyball or other such exercises. Surprise, surprise. We were having a dance lesson for the next few classes.

Folk dancing. We had to practice our routine of the Hora, which I think is a Jewish dance and then there was the Dance Of The Seven Veils. The Hora went well and I found that I actually enjoyed dancing. I loved going around in a circle holding hands with all the other girls and kicking out our legs.

The Dance Of The Seven Veils was a bit of a challenge emotionally. The boys gym class got a hold of what we were doing, which was taking off seven veils one by one. I'm assuming that this is a middle eastern dance and it's incredibly sexy done by an adult.

It was traumatizing to have rows of boys cheering whenever we took a veil, really a scarf, out of our sweaty gym shorts. We protested. But back then it was boys will be boys and they got to stay and torment us. We adjusted after the teacher told us to ignore them.

It was all so silly. To think it threatening to have boy looking at us in our gym clothes. But I guess kids can be silly so it's okay.

Back to the point, if they had kept dancing classes in the physical education system, I might have learned how to dance. But these two dances were the end of teaching us 'culture'. I suppose I have a bunch of obstreperous boys to thank for my two left feet. I'm glad I enjoy walking.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dog Swim

Well, for now, the snow has stopped falling. The temperatures are rising. I'm hopeful that this time, unlike last time, spring will finally peek it's head up from the ground and lay claim to the land.

I've felt a bit sorry for dog walkers in the downtown. It must have been awful to have to dress up to take the dog out to look after the calls of nature. Trying to make one's way through 24 centimeters of the white stuff doesn't sound fun. Now the sidewalks are clear, it's looking like the dog-walking is becoming friendly. And of course, no more stuff that melts the snow of sidewalks but reacts harshly to dog's paws.

I used to take my dog, Cindy, to the beach when I was a girl. I still remember those as good times. When I see dogs out, I feel a bit sorry that there's no water park for dogs so they can swim. A lot of dogs love to swim.

Everybody has something they would do if they had a lot of money, with me, it's putting up a dog water park. I know, what about people? But people love their dogs and I think would love a park where their dogs can get wet and have a good time. I would have a pool and just a splashing area for the dogs.

Of course, it's all just a pipe dream. I would have to get permission from the city and then there's the sanitary stuff. It really is too bad that Ottawa is landlocked and has no ocean. Although, I have seen people at the beaches letting their dogs swim downstream of where the people swim. I don't see a problem with that.

Well, it'll have to stay a fond dream for the moment. I don't expect to be making lots of money soon. Cheers.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Journey To Belief

Religion can be a touchy subject. Many feel that it has been misused and I suppose that's true, but whether God exists or not has nothing to do with organized religion. I say this because I've met many atheists who point to discrepancies in the Bible as their reason for not believing in God.

As very young children, my family lived in eastern Canada, Quebec to be specific. There, under the influence of my father's relatives, we went to Catholic Church. Later, when we made the move to White Rock, BC, church was dropped, my mother and grandparents being atheists.

I don't know my grandfather's reason but my grandmother said that she didn't like religion as a child because they didn't like dancing. She loved dancing and when she got older, she would sneak out her window to go to gypsy camps and dance. This was in England around 1900.

Then WWI came and my grandmother used to meet the soldiers coming home all injured. She would give them coffee or write to their loved ones for them. She didn't see why God would let something like WWI happen at all. Any remaining faith disappeared from her heart.

That was my influence and for years I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of God. But when I got out to Ontario, I started to re-think it. There were studies of people sick in the hospital who, when prayed for, got better. Imagine. And then there's the thought that all that we see is just chance. Well, maybe. But it does seem to me that there's intelligent design somewhere in the mix.

But I don't go to organized church. One thing I took away from my mother was the ability to think things through myself. Jesus was born a man, right? Why? So I thought about it and decided that if Jesus had been known as a God people would have treated him well and not given him any problems.

So he was born a man so he could go through all the trials and tribulations that we do, but since he is born of God, he can tell us the most spiritual way to deal with those troubles. So it seems to me.

My belief in God came after lots of thoughts but I find it more satisfying than atheism which can't really do anything for the heart, because if we're not supposed to work on being good and spiritual to each other, than it's going to be a very dreary world to live in.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Viviane Bretanos

Another author with MuseItUp Publishing has released a new book. Unfortunately, she is quite sick and can do no promotion for herself. So I thought I'd do a blog for her. This is going to be in the words of others. Here is Viviane's bio of herself.

I was born in Reading UK in 1958. My father is English and my mother is French although there is a strong vein of Spanish on my maternal grandmother's side. I was educated at various schools before completing Sixth Form College at St Peter's Huntingdon. I somehow managed to collect A levels in English, French and History and I subsequently won a place at Sheffield University where I decided to read Classical

Civilization. Once there, however, I decided that I had had enough of the academic life; I found the student mentality rather false and having been brought up in student circles, rather boring.

Much to my mother's horror, I gave up my studies and went to London to begin a course as a Canine Beautician. In 1984, my first husband and I parted ways amicably and I decided to visit the Ionian island of Corfu to celebrate my new freedom. It proved to be a life-changing decision. I still remember to this day, sitting in a café-bar, overlooking the crystal clear azure sea and saying to my friend. "I never want to leave here". And here, I still am. I am now married again, to a Greek, Alexander {not the Great}, and I have two teenage children, 2 dogs and 4 cats and I absolutely love the life-style here. I would recommend it to anyone.

In 2005,I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer - for the SECOND time in 5 years. It is when you are faced with your own mortality that one begins to put one's life into perspective. Thankfully, God was yet again on my side and I am now in full remission.

But I decided that there was more to me than being a mother {although, I hasten to add, it is a worthy assignment.} I decided to finally get my head down and do what I'd always promised myself; I was going to finish a novel. I have been writing romance since my early teens, mostly for my own satisfaction and for my friends but now I really want to work at it. Writing has become my passion. I have always been a "Romantic", often accused of not living in the real world but who wants to do that? I like to call my work Romance with a quirky, humorous Brit twist and I am always striving to make my characters real, characters we can all relate to.

I still fly back to the UK at least twice a year - especially if Darren Hayes {my other passion} is performing but I have to say that my heart is now in Greece. I suppose with so much Mediterranean blood flowing through my veins, I didn't stand a chance against this magical Island. The imaginary island of Kuros, featured in my new release Dreamweek has been inspired by my beloved Corfu and I hope it will inspire you all to visit.

Viviane has a new book, like I said, A Little Crushed, because she's very sick and in radiation for her third cancer, she can't do any promo herself. I'm just helping her out a little. Really five star reviews all the way.
Age-old tale of student/teacher attraction is told with intelligence and depth. A Little Crushed


Friday, February 22, 2013

February Shopping

February is almost over. This year, I'm glad of that, even if February is my favorite month. That's because my birthday is on Ground Hog's Day at the start of the month.

I do a little thing each year to celebrate my day. I spend money to buy myself things I want, not need. I just came home from shopping for books. I got the Canadian Writer's Market and another writing book plus a language book of Russian for fun.

Earlier this month, I went to another mall and bought a Silurian era ammonite fossil. I was quite thrilled to find a place one could buy fossils. They're mostly from Morocco. I also got some sandals for summer.

But I've finished spending money for a while, as I'm on a medically supervised diet, I don't eat out anymore, so there's no more money gone on subs and steaks. And I've given up scratch and wins as a waste of money. So I have plenty to spend on myself in February.

March is time to save. I want to get some money to go somewhere in April. There is a place in Ontario named Grisby where the birds come and soar on the down drafts off the Niagara Escarpment. I've planned to go 'some day' but for the last couple of years we either didn't have the money or the time. So I'm hoping for this year.

At least I'll have something to read on the way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

History Speaking

So I'm reading The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Egypt. Great book. So much I didn't know but it makes me think about how one goes about writing historical fiction. Because the fiction writer can't say, 'I don't know' to their readers like an historian can.

When there is no evidence in the archaeological record, the historian leaves a blank. The fiction writer must fill it in. Here's an example. No one knows why Menes decided to unify the land and make it Egypt.

As a fiction writer, I would write that other peoples had their eye on the fertile Nile delta and all the rich farmland made by the inundations. So Menes had to protect it for the people who already lived there. He did this by unifying them under his rule so he could co-ordinate the protection of the resource.

Now I have no way of knowing if that is true or anywhere near true but no one else does either and if you can  make a good story with it, why not? You'd have to square it with facts that are known, like, Menes didn't really care about the 'average' guy. He wanted power for himself.

So maybe he's one of these self-centered guys who has charisma and people flock to his standard, maybe he lies to them, but that's part of the story, too.

The great thing about historical fiction is that people never really change. There'll always be greed and kindness and war and peace. So it's not impossible to construct a believable story from history, even history as ancient as Egypt.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Leonardo Re-thunk

So I watched another tv show about how Leonardo da Vinci was an isolated genius, a towering intellect whose creativity and inventions stump people. How did he do it?

Wrong, wrong and more wrong. Leonardo stood on the shoulders of others. People mention his flying machines. Well, people have always been interested in flight. About 300 years before Leonardo, there was Eilmer, also known as Oliver a monk at Malmesbury who strapped some wing-like gizmo onto his back and jumped off the tower.

He did fly for some yards before crashing and breaking both his legs. He could never walk again but he did fly. Leonardo most probably did know about him.

As for his other inventions and ideas. A good book has been written by Gavin Menzies which claimed that the Chinese treasure ships actually landed in Europe, too, and he notices in his book, that Leonardo's best work is done right after that.

Some of Leonardo's ideas are known to the Chinese who tried them before him. Did Leonardo da Vinci meet the Chinese travelers? Was he enthralled with their ideas, so radically different from what he was used to? Possibly.

I think that history needs to change it's opinion of Leonardo. Genius: yes. Lone inventor who invents all his own ideas: no.

Leonardo was a man of his time and was well read enough to know all about previous inventors and what they achieved. He improved on every idea he came across, found a better way to make it work, but he did not do it all in a vacuum.

He wasn't any more ahead of his time than any of the other 'crazy' inventors back in the Dark, Middle or Renaissance ages.

But go ahead, admire the guy. He was what he was and did a lot. Mostly mechanical toys and objects for his patrons parties. And he cast his giant horse in one go. It's still unknown how he did it.

These days I guess you'd call him the go-to guy and he's still the greatest genius the world has ever known.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Building A Toilet

Funny the things one does as a child. Before I started school,  my best friend was Randy Peterson. He lived almost at the top of the hill.

One day we went into a place called by kids, 'The Gulley'. It was a chasm running close to where I lived. It had a creek running through it and a clay falls, where a kid could take some clay right out from under a waterfall and make stuff with it.

Well, Randy and I went down there once and as happened from time to time, someone had dumped their garbage. A toilet seat. So Randy suggested making a toilet. We dug a hole and built something like a blind around it so noone could see in and put the toilet seat on the hole.

Then Randy said we should each use it. He went it and then I went in. I was worried Randy would peek at me but I don't think he did.

And so we left our toilet to anyone who wanted to use it. The next time I was down in the Gulley, there was no sign of it.

When we left The Gulley and went to Randy's house, he gave me a dead mouse because he liked me. I took it home and tried to entice my cat to play with it but my dad saw what I was doing and threw the mouse out. He said Kitty would get sick playing with it.

I thought I would be friends with Randy for a long time but as soon as we started school he stopped talking to girls completely. I was devastated. It was years before he would deign to talk to girls because back then boys were always saying how much they disliked girls and mock attacking them.

So much has changed. Now little boys will actually say they like girls and both sexes play quite nicely together, thank you. It's a good sign. No more girl's sandbox and boy's sandbox, they play in one sandbox, great strides.

Anyway, I never spoke to Randy again, except once, when I was with my friend Karen Burns at my neighbour's house and we wrestled with him. He much preferred Karen because she deliberately lost to him and we were older then and at the stage of boys being interested in girls so she was the big favorite. I was definately out.

But no worries. He got into drugs as so many other kids did back then in White Rock and became paranoid, I have no idea how he ended up.

But I still look back with fondness at our toilet making and have a giggle.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dead Loss

I was never good at gym in school. When I was born, one of my feet was turned in and I had to wear shoes with a metal bar screwed on the bottom to correct it. Actually, I learned how to walk in them quite well and it never stopped me from doing anything.

Also, and I didn't find this out until I was in my forties, my feet, tested on a computer thingy used for foot health, are so unusual, that I'm the only one who has a gait like I do. This means, when you see one of those foot commercials which tell you your number so you can buy a insole, my number isn't there, it's totally unique.

There are a lot of people these days who want to be unique but in my case, my uniqueness has caused me quite a bit of trouble.

One thing, I couldn't run in gym. And I couldn't breath either because I had allergies which caused me pain. The one reason I couldn't stand gym was because exercise people always push you beyond what you can do. It was torture. I was in pain every minute of running with the gym teacher yelling, "get your second wind." It never happened.

Another thing. I didn't like games too much. In soccer, someone would kick a ball to you. Suddenly, all the attention was on you. I wasn't one for liking attention so I would kick the ball in the ditch.

You've heard of musicians and artists complaining that they were always picked last for a team. So was I, but I understood the reason. No one wants a team member who deliberately throws the game in order to stop the ball from coming at them. So I've never complained about it, in my case.

The one time I did like gym was when they decided to teach us a couple of folk dances. I'd never danced until then and found that I actually like it. We learned the Hora? I don't know the spelling. I think it's a Jewish dance but I'm not sure.

Then there was the Dance Of The Seven Veils. Really? No breasts, no hips children? The strangest part was that the boys used to sneak into the gym to watch us dance this. As if we were anything to see with our bulky gym shorts and sweaty t-shirts along with our sneakers. Boys will be boys, I guess.

My favorite day in school was the day I was able to quit gym. I think I had to take it until grade ten and then it was an elective, so I have never again gone to gym.

I still don't like exercise, it's the same old thing, the yelling coach pushing you, plus, for me, the pain in my feet, but I do like to walk and swim so I'm not a complete loss, but I do wish, for other kids like me, that they could change how physical education.

If they could teach them how their body works when it's exercising or have other things like yoga, so that they could find for themselves what is good for them, I think it would benefit society.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


It's funny what you don't notice as a child. I never knew my father didn't like Kitty or that Kitty didn't like him back. After I was grown and long after Kitty was no more, my father told me of how Kitty liked to dig his claws into my Dad's hand, just for fun, it seems.

Well, I loved Kitty. To this day, my heart has a special place for Orange tabbies. I liked when I was a child to come home and see Kitty sleeping under his favorite rose bush. It had about an inch worth of cat hair as a nest because he'd been using it forever.

I always considered him a clever cat because he knew how to get inside, his method was to leap up and hook his claws into the bottom of the window pane on the door. Whenever I heard a bang, I knew Kitty wanted to come in and I would see his face in the glass. Then I'd open the door and unhook him and bring him in.

We had him neutered because our previous cat had died from fighting, we think. He came in one day, all torn up and bleeding, then curled up and before we knew it, had bleed to death of an internal hemorrhage. Looking back, I don't think it could have been caused by another cat, maybe he was kicked, but it must have been for his propensity to look for fights. So we un-maled Kitty.

He never held it against us, (except Dad, maybe) and was a loving cat and loved to play with butterflies by batting at them with his paws.

It was sad at the end, though, when he couldn't hold his bathroom and kept defecating in our downstairs shower. And he needed lots of love then. He would come up to me and want to be held and stroked. He wanted our company.

His only downside was that now the dog could 'get' him, meaning he wasn't fast enough to run away. When we first brought our puppy dog home, she wanted to play with Kitty but he scratched her and from then on, it was war.

So the dog, who was getting old, too, and had kidney problems caught him a couple of times. That's when my mom decided to have them put down. She thought that they wouldn't really enjoy life anymore and also thought that since they'd always been fighting, they should be put down together. It would be strange to have one and not the other.

So one day in 1978, they were taken to the vets and helped into the afterlife.
R.I.P. Kitty.  R.I.P. Cindy. I hope they rest easy now and are waiting for me when I die. I don't mean to be morbid here but I would like to see them again. Someday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cold Days

It's brrrrry outside, so cold that my room mate won't let me walk anywhere but drives me. I don't mind, there is a lot of ice on the sidewalk and I don't like the idea of falling. About ten years ago, I fell and fractured my leg so I'm not an enthusiastic walker in winter ice conditions.

On the other hand, in about two weeks, on Groundhog's Day, I'm having my fifty-fifth birthday. I can hardly believe that I'm the same person who lived by the Pacific Ocean and spent my free time turning over rocks to find the baby crabs.

Because of my diet, I'm not going to have a cake or pie but I might buy one single blackberry tart that they sell in the grocery store we shop at. David, my room mate, will buy a big cupcake as he doesn't like fruit. So we will have a celebration, we just have to something other than our birthday Chinese meal.

For years every birthday for both of us we've gotten Chinese food for our birthday meals. I need something different this time, something healthy and weight efficient, so I'm doing a lot of thinking about what to have. I don't know if anybody else has had this problem of needing to find a special diet-friendly celebration supper but I guess it's probably common.

The problem with dieting for people in the city is that their isn't anything to do that's beautiful. There's no walk to the waterfall, something that would interest a person. For me, gyms are boring, so there is virtually nothing to do for exercise.

When I was young and went to Algonquin Park, I found walking half-a-kilometer to a designated toilet and washing my laundry in the lake or just walking up and down to get water to cook, great exercise. Exercise without thinking about it.

I'll just get it done with the food thing and then, after that, I'll be happy to wait for spring and look forward to the melt and all the fun things that come with sunshine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Strange Canadian Prime Ministers

It's funny, but I find young Canadians don't know anything about their own Prime Ministers. They may know that John A. McDonald was the founder of Canada but they don't know much about the man.

He had a drinking problem and would sometimes sleep off his drunks when Parliament was in full session but all of his party and even of the opposition party considered him a great guy. He was really concerned about them and would ask after their health.

Strange as it may seem, many in this country don't know but I've met some Americans who do. I don't think that's typical but it does show that he's interesting to others, too.

My all time favorite Canadian Prime Minister is William Lyon McKenzie King. He was a very unusual man who never cut the apron strings and always asked his mother's advice on everything, even after she was dead.

Yes, he had seances to call his beloved mother back to talk to him. His dog attended the seances, too. He was quite attached to Pat, the dog, and also prayed with his dog every night, holding his little paw in his hand.

It is thought that William Lyon McKenzie King never had sex at all. Odd.

I'm sure that other countries have had their fair share of unusual characters in their highest office. I just wanted to write a bit about these two, who never cease to fascinate me. Leave a comment if you like and tell me about your favorite public leader who is a bit odd.

I've written a short story called Nealla's Dream. You can read it at Front Row Lit

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dionne Quntuplets

I wonder how it is that so much that appears to be happy is anything but. So easy to mistake what people do to survive as a positive.

This brings me to a photo, any photo, that I've seen of the Dionne Quintuplets. They were born in Callander, Ontario sometime in the nineteen thirties. There was no fertility drugs back then, they were natural quints.

In fact, there were six of them, three sets of twins, but the mother passed one of the babies while it was still a fetus. So she 'only' had five baby girls. They were a French-Canadian Catholic family at a time when most Canadians viewed them with suspicion.

Once it hit the newspapers that quints had been born, people started demanding that the 'special' babies be taken away from their disgusting parents. After all, they already had six children and what kind of animal was Mr. Dionne to keep getting his wife with child?

The Ontario government bent to the pressure and removed them. Built a whole hospital for them where they were cared for to the exact specifications of 'experts' who said they must be kept thin and never let outside. Very contrary to the Dionne parents who wanted chubby, active kids. But never mind, they didn't have any control over their girls.

And they were put on view. Every day hundreds of people came to Callander to see the babies. They filed by and interest never abated. As toddlers they were finally let outside to play. People watched from behind a screen, thinking the girls couldn't know they were there.

Later, when the girls grew, they wrote a book and said, they did know people were there.

But the girls grew out of cuddly toddler stage and the Dionne parents became the focus of French-Canadian interest to help them fight the prejudice against them. The parents finally got their girls back.

But by then, the quints had nothing in common with the rest of the family and as they grew up, found that because they'd been so isolated, they had no idea how to cope with simple things like money.

Then one died and it came out that all of them were epileptic but it had been kept quiet due to shame of the condition then. Another died...alone. They didn't know how to make friends, only had each other.

The last three won a four million dollar settlement but soon another one died. And then another. There's only one left now. And thank goodness it's the one who has children so she has someone for her.

It's a tragic story but what is the real tragedy? Is it that I feel joy whenever I see the photos of those sweet, magic little girls? I just don't know