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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Adiós para ahora

I'm off to Mexico for a few weeks. I'll be working a bit and have my laptop so you'll see some posts and if I'm in a taunting mood (for you Canadians and wintery Americans), I'll post photos too. This photo is from the local bus last year - taken on the main street of La Manzanilla at rush hour.

Best to each of you.

In the words of famous Canadian, Jasper Friendly Bear,"Stay Calm, Be Brave, Wait for the Signs"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tagged by Seraphine - an honour!

The Disclaimer

As some of you know, I don't generally respond to being tagged. It feels a little like a chain letter sometime - guilt inducing. Don't let that put you off though. Just be sure that if you are tagged by me below, I really won't be concerned if you simply pass. (You will lose the lottery, get some awful illness and never be happy, but that's your choice, not mine...)

The Tag

Seraphine tagged me to tell eight random facts or habits about myself. In turn, I need to tag others (you'll know).
Eight random facts or habits about myself (all true... I swear).

1. I fell in love with an armed Israeli soldier while she searched my bags at the airport in Tel Aviv (she's not in above photo). While I waited for my flight, she found me and we spent two incredible hours together in a quiet corner of the airport. It wasn't her Uzi, but her eyes that got me.

2. I bump my head often and generally have little cuts and scrapes across it. I think it's because I can't see my head so I don't notice it. Others say I'm just spaced out.

3. When I was seven years old, I found an unexploded bomb in a field in France. I later led the Gendarme, the military police, my father and a small crowd to proudly point, "There!"

4. I swim three times a week and sit in the sauna afterwards for more time than I spent in the water.

5. One of my ancestors is Charles Lamb, the 18th century English poet. A melancholic tragic life, he lived with his equally depressed sister (some say they were VERY close). But he was a friend of Percy, Shelley, Coleridge and others. Hey, you can't have it all.

6. A few years back I went to church in Crathie Scotland with Prince Charles, Camilla and their children. Ask me about it...

7. I wake at 5:45 or 6:00 most mornings and do some stretching, meditating, sitting and coffee drinking before I face a single daily duty.

8. I took up trombone playing at 50. Most people think it is great that I can play it and are very pleased when I don't.

Remember, it's optional....

Unlikely Nomad
Andres Paz

The rules, should you decide to accept them:
1 - Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2 - People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.

3 - At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names (I only did five, will that bring harm to me?)

4 - Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Enjoy the moment

The very best wishes for Christmas and the holidays to my blogging friends - on at least 4 continents.

A little Steve Martin to bring it on...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Drumroll please...

Okay, I have made a decision to award two prizes for the amazing response to the haiku fest. Some of you sent multiple entries and some anonymous visitors cut loose. Overall, some silly, course, humourous, touching and beautiful work - you can decide which is which.

This is the box with your names in it (even Haggis, who I happen to know is a cat).

My daughter made this box for
me in her Grade 8 Waldorf School woodworking class and it's sitting on my new IKEA quilt cover. (These are important facts in the grand scheme somehow I'm sure...)

This is my hand reaching for two names.

These are the winners! Congratulations.

I have Susan's mail address and need Lukas to email me his - prizes guaranteed within weeks (and guaranteed not to be seized at the border).

That was fun. Now let's get Christmas over and roll into 2008.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Clickety Clack...

VIA train in Kingston, Ontario station (not my photo)

I love trains, but haven't been on one for a while, partly because most of them in BC have been eliminated and the track lines turned into hiking and biking trails.

I'm riding VIA Rail 641 and it's just pulling into Kingston station on the early morning run from Ottawa to Toronto. With the new track system and modern cars, they really don't go '
clickety-clack' any more. Sad...

As a child I traveled across Canada a few times by train with my family and have memories of swaying back and forth in a top bunk, sitting mesmerized with my nose pushed against the glass, a lurching stop after a drunk hit the emergency switch, seeing children waving ... and a very early memory of the partly frozen St. Lawrence River just below old Quebec City. Our dog traveled in the baggage car and I would stagger through vestibule after vestibule to get there to visit him (he was very appreciative).

Later in life I traveled a lot on trains when I wandered. Two special trips were the Acropolis Express from Athens to Austria (via Yugoslavia) and the Nairobi to Mombassa colonial era train in Kenya, which led to exotic beaches, spicy fragrances and a fine break from working in Sudan at the time.

This train has high-speed i
nternet, so my nose is pressed against my email. Better sign off and have look outside. I lived in Kingston for the 10th grade year of my life and I'm hoping to see a girl named Susan waving at the train as it goes by. She was shy, I was shy. At a class party at the lake she swam to me under water, and pulled my face to hers for a long, wet (of course) kiss. She can't possibly be as old as me now, can she?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Descending into the darkest week...(not my mood)

Let us spray! (Graffiti artist Banksy at work in Bethlehem this week)

I'll be travelling till the 18
th, to Amnesty volunteer work in Ottawa for a few days, then a visit to friends in the Toronto area. It's a busy time and I'll be taking earning-a-living work along to do on planes, trains and late night hotel desks.

I think to make the week interesting, we just might need a little contest - in fact, another haiku contest. Here are the rules (which you're welcome to break as always).

1. Write a haiku that has a seasonal connection...winter, Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever...

2. Aim for this form: first line 5 syllables, second line 7 syllables and third line 5 again.

The exciting thing is there will be a prize - to a winner drawn at random at the end of the week.

To start things off...

Dark sky falls early
Cloak of winter grey silence
Rise from weight of light

Fat man in fast sled
Driven by expectation
Eat those cookies eat

Have fun.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The afternoon was just write...

One of Evelyn's paintings in the cafe (36 by 36)

Our ad on the door...

How could you not?

Our local Amnesty Write for Rights event yesterday was fun, at least my shift in the Kootenay Baker (there were two other locations also). Lots of people came in from the cold for a warm drink and to sign a card or write a letter.

My shift partners were sisters Helene and Sarah - who would brighten up any mid-winter day. And the paintings on the wall this month (Evelyn Kirkaldy) are stunning acrylics, filled with light and colour (and lots of paint).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tasers and public safety

Marie Cisowski sits behind a photograph of her son Robert.

I've just sent an email to Stockwell Day, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, expressing my concern about the continuing use of Tasers in Canada. I did it by going to
this link . For my American friends, here's a link to information on taser use in the US. Since 2001 more than 280 individuals in the US have died after being struck by police Tasers.

Over the past two months in Canada, at least four people have died following use of a Taser by police. Many people around the world have watched the
video footage of poor Robert Dziekanski, who died when tasered by police in the Vancouver International Airport after a night of confusion and a lack of assistance. (This video is somewhat disturbing...)

I am concerned that the device continues to be deployed even though, unlike most police equipment, the safety parameters of Tasers have yet to be independently established.

Consider joining me in calling for a moratorium on the use of Tasers and similar devices by law enforcement officials until there has been independent and comprehensive study of their use and effects. Click on the
link to let Stockwell Day know what you think.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Human Writes...

Baker Street, Nelson BC

December 10th is Human Rights Day, the 59th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which incidentally was primarily written by a Canadian, John Humphrey. He had support from Eleanor Roosevelt, and this document is the standard many of us work for worldwide.

In Canada, Amnesty International takes part in a Global Writeathon around this time each year. This year in Nelson, a bunch of us will set up in three coffee shops and get locals to write letters and cards on behalf of various individuals and groups we're working for. Hey, before anyone thinks this is just to feel good or for fun, Amnesty has monitored its Urgent Action letter-writing for years, and knows that in about 30% of the cases, letter campaigns contribute to a positive outcome.

If you're in Nelson this Saturday, drop into Oso Negro, The Kootenay Baker Cafe Co-op or the Vienna Cafe between 2:00 and 5:00. Sip a hot drink and send a hot message off to some thug, dictator or American President (Guantanamo Bay in his case).

Wish I could provide airfare for those of you who can't make it because you live elsewhere in the world - you could always go here and write something anyhow. No pressure of course...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tis the season...to do less

- by UK guerilla artist, Banksy (There is always hope)

Is it only me or do others feel a slight tensing out there in blogging world? I have a theory...

Along with family, friends, time off, and a relentless sense that all is supposed to be merry - there is a lot of seasonal stress. Financial stress, expectations stress, family-dynamics stress, throat-tightening memories stress, pleasing-others stress and so on...

Maybe there's also blogger stress. So many friends' blogs to visit. So many posts to put up... and so little time. It becomes one more brick on the load.

My message to each of you for December 2007. Give yourself permission to do less. Blog if you wish - but take a break if you'd like. Visit my blog if you can - see you in January if that works better for you.

Apropos to not much (although Christmas is supposed to be connected to the big guy), here's a quote that I like.

"If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever." - W. Allen

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