Monday, December 30, 2013

Books: the year's best titles

I'm not kidding when I say the best titles, as that's exactly what I'm talking about. A few of these are books I've read, but truthfully, one of them is a book I've never even held in my hand (or, for those who prefer the world of e-life, downloaded).

I would have loved to include Words the Dog Knows, only it was published way back in 2008, so I can't really count it, even though I only got around to reading it this year. It's a fabulous title and a pretty darn good book inside as well.

I think a lot of authors were inspired to better titles after Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time came along (an excellent read, by the way, worth digging for).

Still, contenders for this year's Best Title include:

The Oil Man and the Sea -- not only for its delightful punniness, but for its timeliness and courage, speaking out about the precarious times we are experiencing in BC and exactly how much is at stake.

We Are Born with the Songs Inside Us -- it's hard to beat the sheer beauty of these words in combination. Besides, this book holds some good news for a change, as it's Katherine Gordon's gathering of hopeful words for the future of First Nations Peoples in our country.

Another book with a beautiful title and wonderful insides is Stephen Reid's A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden. A collection of Reid's writings from prison, it's a book you won't soon forget.

One that I still hope to get to is Milk Spills and One-Log Loads (and we think traffic is hazardous today), written by a fellow who began his career as a truck driver when he turned sixty. This guy's life sounds like one that won't be repeated unless something puts us back into horse-and-buggy mode.

And my list wouldn't be anywhere near complete without the inclusion of Douglas Coupland's latest, a title distinguished by its use of punctuation. Worst. Person. Ever. Despite the fact that not everybody likes this book, Coupland continues to hold appeal for me. Sometimes, with his irreverence and steady pointing out of the world's ridiculous ills, I think he's become my Kurt Vonnegut surrogate. The book was one of my Christmas presents, and I've purposely made it last to today, which happens to be the author's birthday, and he's turning the magic number, 42. (Er, no, bad arithmetic. Make that 52.)

Read any good titles -- or, for that matter, books -- lately?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013



The gifts have been opened, the mounds of glorious food consumed. All's well.

Time for a break. Time to slow down to recuperative mode. Time to be thankful. Time to enjoy the last few days of the year.

Here's to doing plenty of nothing for a while.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In darkness

It's the time of year when the darkness seems to want to take hold. Not only on the sky, but on life itself.

The light has been elusive, with today's sun finally rising at 8:01 and then setting again at 4:14. How many people spend their entire workday inside and miss the few hours of light? Go to work in the dark, come home in the dark, do it all over again the next day.

It hasn't helped the mood of things that government officials seemed to be running amok, out-Scrooging Scrooge with their meanness. Immigration services grabbed a man who'd spent the past 37 years of his life as a contributing community member on a small BC island. That story has at least seen a temporary resolution.

And though he's now apologized, when he was asked about child poverty, Minister of Industry James Moore remarked that it probably wasn't his "job" to feed his neighbour's children.

Another story -- and one that unfortunately still remains unresolved -- is that of Rodney Watson. He's the US war resister who's been in 'sanctuary' since September 18, 2009.

For being the season of supposed generosity, it's hard to see much of it in action.

Maybe with Saturday's Solstice, the light will be begin to return on more fronts than merely the sky.  

Monday, December 09, 2013


Freezing. The temperature on our little weather station is one that we don't see very often, especially not exactly zero-point-zero.

Only now it's even colder than it was. No one can pretend it isn't winter around here. It's been cold for about a week now, colder than I remember it being. Mind you, that may not mean anything, as I'm pretty good at blocking bad memories, cold being one of those conditions I like to avoid (and thus, forget).

When I put gas in my car the other day, I thought it might be a good idea to wash my windscreen. Only thing is, the squeegee wouldn't come out of the bucket where it's kept. The water had frozen around it, making a
veritable Popsicle of it.

Since then, the temp dropped further over the weekend, but has 'warmed up' today to a whopping -2 C (29 F). In fact, it's warmed sufficiently that we're getting a little bit of snow.

Pretty though that may be, I am hoping it doesn't decide to accumulate.

Looking to some facts from The Canadian Weather Trivia Calendar, I find that things certainly aren't as cold as they might be -- that on this day in 1906, it was so cold in Lethbridge, Alberta that the sheep "started eating the wool off each other's backs" and that the situation became so bad that ranchers had to make "them coats from sacks to help them survive." And yet, despite this, "About 25 sheep died a day." Temp that day was recorded as -32.2 C. According to my trusty conversion website, that's -32.96 in Fahrenheit. Yikes.

So yes, I will stay inside today, not too far from the cozy fire and write some more of those Christmas cards to friends around the world -- in places both colder and warmer than my thermometer tells me it is here.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Happymess is...

Not quite Santa's workshop, but a great place for cutting and pasting and getting a head start on Christmas. 

This is the time of year when my office gets taken over by stamps and stamp pads and little bits of paper. It's become an annual tradition to make cards with a good pal of mine. 

She and I started off on this adventure about five years ago, but then we only had about half-a-dozen stamps and a few samples of decorative papers. Since then our supplies have grown, but so has the diversity of the cards we make. 

Besides, making the cards is FUN. So, early though it may seem, we've already started enjoying Christmas in our own cut-and-paste happy-making way.