Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Word of the Year for 2008

I've been reading bits from here and there about what the Word of the Year might be.

Of those I've read about, I like staycation (a vacation that doesn't involve travel) and monumentous -- a great hybrid if ever there was one.

But my candidate -- at least for its arrival as a completely new word (I bet I'm not alone in this admission) is what happened to our Parliament: prorogue.

I'm also partial to the new significance that tossing one's shoes has taken on -- not just what you do when you walk in the door.

Happy Last Day of 2008.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Two more soldiers

...Roberge and Kruse. More names to be added to the list of Canadians killed while on duty in Afghanistan. There's a horrible double or maybe even triple irony in their deaths.

They'd noticed what appeared to be a device and called for help, so by rights, shouldn't have been killed by one.

Their deaths occurred while their comrade's body was being flown home to Canada. His corpse was on the same plane as Minister of Defence, Peter MacKay. During that long flight home, did MacKay have second thoughts about our role in Afghanistan?

And that soldier, riding in his flag-draped coffin, had one of the saddest names a fallen soldier could have, Freeman.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gettin' there

Heaps still to do, but heaps gettin' done.

Good wishes to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What next!

Last week, it was the mega-bailout for the American-based auto industry, today it's the appointment of 18 new senators. And all of this while Parliament is in suspended animation, a bunch of pyrogies waiting to be served.

What's Steve going to do next? Invade Pakistan?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

It's official. Winter began at 4:04 a.m. PST.

Looking outside, there's more than enough confirmation. And the weatherman says there's more on the way.

Please, I'm convinced already. Really.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Little Match Girl, 21st century version

Last night a homeless woman died on the streets of Vancouver. It sounds as though she died in the shopping cart where she kept her worldly goods. The city's shelters don't accept shopping carts -- at least they don't yet. A new shelter with new rules is supposed to be opening any day. Whoever she was (and I'm sure there'll be much more on this story), she won't be around to benefit from it.

Oh, and The Little Match Girl connection? Apparently, one of the last people to see her alive was a police officer. She asked the officer for a light for her candle -- the one she was using to keep warm.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter on the coast

First it's a normal December day...

and then it's not.

Yep, this is how winter arrives on the West Coast.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Where's Australia?

Now that I've had a chance to look through the Golden Globe nominees, I have to say I'm disappointed.

I can't help but think some of this has to do with the way the film appears to have been marketed -- as a romance, full stop.

But hey, Australia is a whole lot more than that. It's history and scenery and excitement and tension -- ingredients we don't usually get in a single film anymore. Its thematic fabric is even richer. Racial discrimination, overcoming enormous odds, respect for cultural traditions, the importance of following moral principle -- oh yes, the power of love is in there too, but it's certainly not the only element.

Yes, it's a romance, but then so was African Queen, only I don't think that film was pigeon-holed like this one is. Thankfully too, Australia doesn't go over the top with ridiculous sex scenes (the way that other film with Nicole Kidman, Cold Mountain, did).

My vote says there ought to at least be recognition for David Wenham's supporting role as Neil Fletcher. And I wouldn't mind something for Brandon Walters (Nullah) either.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An easy border crossing

For once. And am I ever grateful, as the only purpose of my trip was sending off my mother's Christmas cards.

Only a few cars lined up on either side. Heaps of construction mess though. I'm just not sure whether the fuss relates to Vancouver's Olympics in 2010 or if it's more about homeland security issues.

Whatever, I made it through easily. Exhale.

PS Don't you ever wonder about that 'common mother' bit? Just how common was she?

Monday, December 08, 2008


If John Lennon had lived longer, do you suppose more of the words of his song would have come true?

No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

The world could sure use him -- and more dreamers of his ilk. And now that I think of it, that December 8th in 1980 was a Monday night too.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

December 7 also has some history

And not just as the anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor.

Today is the day my dad was born. If he were still alive, he'd be turning 90.
In this photo, he is probably in his mid-20s.

We're having a nice dinner party for him anyway. Too bad he won't be able to join us.

Although who knows, maybe he will.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

December 6 in history

This morning's Globe and Mail contained this tidbit in its capsule report of news from 25 years ago today. It reported that the Ontario government had taken "...what Labour Minister Russell Ramsay called a step toward equality for working women." The piece went on to cite the fact that at that time, women "...made 63 per cent of what men make" and that the plan would examine whether "...women were being paid equally for doing similar jobs to men."

Not so long ago -- just last month in fact -- Steve Harper hinted that it might be time to re-examine the issue of pay equity for women. This was part of the package which threatened government workers' right to strike and which helped lead to the proposed coalition rescue.

Where this is also the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the day we honour the victims murdered in the massacre at L'Ecole Polytechnique, it all seems to make the day's significance resonate way too much.

Friday, December 05, 2008

An even sadder milestone

Today marks the day the 100th Canadian soldier has died in Afghanistan. If you're able to read the linked article, take a careful look at the grim statistics.

Of 2500 soldiers currently there, this toll of 100 represents one in 25 soldiers assigned there. Although we've sent more than 2500 in total over the past years, the number still strikes a chill. Only the Netherlands and Denmark show comparable numbers.

The painting I've posted bears no identification, but maybe that's appropriate -- as a kind of unknown soldier's portrayal of the tragedy that is war.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Saved from the worst day ever

At least this morning's news made it feel like the worst day -- when Governor General Michaelle Jean apparently caved in to Steve Harper and put a pause on the actions of Parliament.

I'll admit to admiring the technical term for it, prorogue, as it does seem to describe exactly what Ms. Jean did -- acted on behalf of the biggest rogue in town, Steve.

Stephen Hume's column in this morning's Vancouver Sun was all about leadership. He cited a Welsh proverb. "He who would lead, let him be a bridge." Too bad Steve doesn't seem to believe in bridges.

But I was saved from wallowing in sadness, as George asked me to join him for a walk-along on the golf course. Always a great way to kick off the cobwebs, spot some bridges, and breathe!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Russ Hiebert -- could he be Canada's Worst MP?

Yesterday, I was one of many who signed the petition in support of the proposed coalition government to replace the now-all-too-apparent agenda of Canada's Conservative Party.

The website suggested phoning the office of my local MP and letting him know my views.

When I called Russ Hiebert's office, I was greeted with a message informing me that office staff were on another call, and would I please leave a message.

Without mentioning the purpose of my call, I left my name and number, mentioned when I expected to be in -- and for good measure, left my number and name again.

No one from Hiebert's office has yet found the time to return my phone call -- and what is this now, 36 hours later?

Asleep at the switch? Or is he just too busy mustering more blasts against the left, the Quebecois and pretty well anyone who isn't in Harper's right-wing camp, wanting to trim back rights to gender equality and more?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Time for making cards

What a productive weekend! Brenna and I got a great start on our annual ritual -- the making of the Christmas cards. This all started a few years ago when Brenna heard about a stamping class at a local crafts shop. Little did we know what fun that workshop would lead to!