Saturday, December 31, 2005

Up late and can't sleep

. . . so thought I'd sign on and post a few thoughts.

It's funny how you get attached to people you've never met.

Over the years I've been active online, I've developed some unique relationships with people from across the globe. A few have come and gone, much like face to face relationships. You meet, you exchange niceties, exchange information, maybe spend time together, but you eventually move on in your respective lives. Just another part of life's experiences.

Yet, I wonder about the individuals that I made a connection with on the 'net, no matter how brief. I wonder about Susan in New York who gave me a great recipe for Zuppe de Pesce that I still use and the person who introduced me to the writing of George Gissing. I wonder what happened to the guy who helped me through debugging my first internet virus. I wonder about the early members of TBF like Holger and Tobytook and Dawn. Do they still remember me as I remember them? I guess we were just ships passing in the night -- to see each other from a distance, perhaps exchange messages, but ultimately continue on our respective journeys, never to be seen or heard from again.

Sad, in a way, but still part of my totality, so I guess it's okay.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Post-Christmas notes

It's been a lovely Christmas - a nice blend of family, food and activity. We had Christmas eve dinner at my sister's and Christmas dinner at my house.

My sister (or more precisely her husband, since he does most of the cooking) normally doesn't 'do turkey'. She says it's too much work and bother. (She'd rather come to my house for turkey dinner because we love turkey and all the trimmings and have it at least two or three times a year.) Well, this year, she decided to try one of those pre-stuffed, de-boned frozen turkeys. It even comes with a package of pre-made frozen gravy. You just take it from the freezer, put it in a pan, stick it in the oven, roast for the designated time, and voila - turkey dinner. Well, it looked kind of like turkey - in a sort of rolled up, white/dark meat with brown stuff in the middle kind of way. It tasted kind of like turkey - in a didn't taste like chicken or duck sort of way. But, I'm sorry sis, it didn't seem like a real turkey dinner. I'm not ungrateful because there were plenty of other goodies, but next time stick with the duck and chicken.

On the 28th, we had family and friends over for a 'games night'. Nothing fancy, just simple food -- lasagna, salad, garlic bread, wine -- and good times. We played mah jong before dinner and board games after. We had such a good time, it was past midnight before I even looked at my watch. Playing cards and board games at family get-togethers is somewhat of a tradition in our family. I remember playing mass solitaire with my cousins - everyone yelling, laughing and flinging cards across the table. Absolute bedlam, but so much fun.

I've stuffed myself silly with turkey, wine and chocolates. As a means of preserving my self-esteem, I'll wait until the new year before stepping on the scales to survey the damage. Actually, it shouldn't be too bad because I've been trying to stay active and keep portions moderate. It's all the extras of wine, desserts and chocolates that will tell the tale.

Our Christmas day:
We get up early, put on some coffee and open our presents in front of the tree and fireplace. We do this in our housecoats and pjs (sans makeup - heaven help us if we ever get a high-maintenance person in the family). Sons don their Santa hats and nobody worries about how they look as we snap pictures of each other opening gifts. It seems that, over the years, we've all become more attuned to each other and the gifts now are truly a reflection of both giver and receiver. It's really a warm, wonderful part of our Christmas day. Later, we make breakfast and spend a leisurely day together while the turkey is roasting.

Other family members and guests arrive in the early evening and we have a traditional turkey dinner followed by conversation over coffee and dessert.


Roast turkey
Herbed Stuffing,
Giblet Gravy and Cranberry Sauce

Mandarin Salad with Toasted Almonds
Ambrosia Salad
Stir-fried Asparagus
Wild Rice with mushrooms
Orange-glazed Yams

Mango Mousse Cake
Assorted pastries

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Clearing out the trash

The past two days, I've been going through the house, room by room to do a general clean-up before getting out the Christmas stuff. Having just gotten back from vacation, it's been hard getting back in the swing of things.

We have a lot of books and paper in our house. Books, magazines and paper are piled on every conceivable counter, shelf and flat surface. Bookshelves are double-stacked and crammed to overflowing onto the floorspace in front. Papers and books march inexorably up the side of our front hallway stairs. Part of this comes from having avid readers in the house, part of it comes from having full-time college students who leave both completed work and works-in-progress everywhere, part of it comes from a spouse who doesn't know how to throw out, well, anything. So, it occurred to me that the house needs more than a simple tidying.

I started pulling out textbooks and manuals that haven't been looked at in years, magazines that are twenty years old, stuff on the tops of shelves and closets that haven't seen the light of day since I-can't-remember-when. Aha! We don't need that old desk either. Or that old foam mattress. What about the computer desk in the corner? It's just piled with old games and disks. It hasn't had an actual computer on it for at least five years. And what about those old drapery tracks? Admittedly, I went a bit nuts.

Then I thought, what am I going to do with all this stuff? The solution came to me in a blinding flash! I remembered a coupon that came in the mail from a company that would "Remove your Junk". They even recycle the recyclables and donate stuff that's reusable. Much to my surprise, I actually 'found' the said coupon in my mail basket. I looked up their website and, as of today, booked a pick-up time for early next week. Now, all I have to do is get the junk ready.

Weird to do this just before Christmas, but it seems right - even a bit exhillarating. Liberating, in fact.

Friday, December 16, 2005

My father died one year ago.

It's probably no coincidence that I was away on vacation for the anniversary of his death - though at the time we booked our trip, it didn't enter my mind on a conscious level.

Now that Christmas is approaching, I'm still not in a festive mood. Not depressed by any means, but just not in the flow of making lists, decorating, etc. that I usually am. I'm one of those people who usually gets their shopping done by the first week of December, then sits back and enjoys the season. This year, I haven't even made a list!

I know I'll have to get cracking because my sons keep asking when the tree is going up. Now that their exams are over, they've even offered to go help me pick it out and bring it home. Funny. It doesn't matter how old they get, they still like the traditional Christmas they grew up with: presents in the morning, breakfast and coffee while we admire the tree, trying out new games or doodads we received, the smell of turkey roasting, the arrival of friends and relatives for the evening meal and pictures around the dinner table.

Nine more days. Writing about this has me a bit more motivated, but I wonder if it will ever be quite the same.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ever get the feeling you're not wanted somewhere? Or feel you've outstayed your welcome? That's how I feel. So despite my tendency to embrace all and blather on and on as if it matters, maybe it's time to pull in the reins. It's time to remind myself that not everyone is interested in my opinions. Hence, I shall try to keep my more personal scribblings in this space for those who find them.

This blogging business is still an experiment for me. I've kept personal journals on and off for years and I've shared some reviews and writing on my website (which is woefully out of date), but this is the first time I've tried free-form, stream of consciousness journalling in such a public manner.

There is, of course, the problem of revealing too much and leaving myself open to scorn, dislike or indifference. Should I care? No. Why bother? Well, over the years I've discovered and met some of the most interesting, intriguing and, at times, puzzling people on the 'net. I've also discovered that the only way to get beyond the banalities, in-jokes and raunchy humour is to put the real me out there for all to see. Those who respond, will respond. Those who don't, won't.

I'm not saying it's the way for everyone. For some people, the internet is a way to try on different personas or to act out the more outrageous parts of their personalities in an arena where it won't come back and bite them in the ass (at least most of the time). I'm not one of these people. Maybe it has to do with age. I've done and seen all the games-playing I want to see or do in my lifetime. I know it's inevitable in our society, but I prefer to avoid it if possible.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Grey Cup Sunday

For those of you who don't know , the Grey Cup is the Canadian Football League's (CFL's) championship game. It's the equivalent of the Super Bowl for the NFL.

This year, the Grey Cup is being held right here in Vancouver, right now as I write this. It's a big deal. Parties, parades and various events have been going on all week. I've been following the CFL since the 60s. So why am I not watching now?

Well, for one thing, our home team, the BC Lions, imploded last weekend and lost in the western semi-final. Not that they lost badly - the score was 28 -23, I think. Their season record wasn't terrible. It's the fact that they started the season with 11 wins and 0 losses, then ended up losing the last 7 out 8 games. Talk about falling apart! Anyways, when the hope of our hometown Lions playing the final at home blew away with the prairie winds of Edmonton, my interest in the Grey Cup blew away, too.

Now, I suppose, if I were a diehard fan, I'd watch no matter what teams are playing. But, it's hard to cheer for the western team that just beat us last weekend and I'm sure not going to cheer for a Montreal team coached by Don Matthews (but that's another story)!

In actuality, I'll probably tune in to see what's going on in the fourth quarter. Until then I'll just pass my time reading, blogging, shampooing my hair . . . until a REAL game starts: The Canucks and NHL hockey - it should be right about when the Grey Cup ends.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Myers-Briggs Typology: I'm an INFJ!

Further to examining the 'mother' issue in my previous post, I was steered to the Myers-Briggs typology test (click to open in new window). I was skeptical, at first, so took the test twice. Both returned the same results: INFJ

I proceeded to look up the meaning of the results and was stunned. Amazingly accurate!

For anyone interested, here are a few links that describe me frighteningly well:

INFJ Profile
Portrait of INFJ
Careers for INFJ

It's reassuring to know that, at least, I ended up in the right career path.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Okay, I've decided I really must address this issue of being motherly!

Today, I got a very nice pm from an online friend who spoke about how she views me as being 'motherly'. This isn't the first, or even second time, that someone has told me I'm maternal. So, what makes me seem so motherly?

At first, I didn't think too much of it. Now, I'm wondering why I come across this way. It's certainly not intentional on my part. Not that I mind being thought of as motherly - just a bit disconcerting when people keep mentioning it. I can't help the fact that I am a mother, but not to everyone!

I've racked my brain over this because even when raising my own, now adult children, I never talked down to them. I never used cutesy-poo babytalk or dumbed-down language. I spoke to them in a rather adult manner from a very young age. If they didn't understand, I'd explain. So, it can't be in my manner of speech or writing. With the exception of parental discipline and teaching responsibiIities, I treated my children the way I would treat anyone else. (Gawd, I hope I don't come across as a teacher and disciplinarian to others. If I do, someone tell me quick and I'll go out and buy a gag.) Ack, I'm no further ahead with this!

And it's not like I had a role model to copy. My own mother died when I was very young and I have no conscious recollection of her. The closest mother figure I had was my grandmother. But I don't think I'm anything like her.

When I became a mother, I just wanted to do a good job and not produce screwed up adults. So my approach was pretty simple: be supportive, treat them with kindness and respect, teach them to treat others the same way, get them to think for themselves and find a way to contribute something positive to the world. This is my 'goody-two-shoes' approach, I guess. I know this kind of positiveness makes certain people gag, but I can't help it. Even my own son tells me I'm naive at times - though he's the true idealist in the family!

Sheesh, this hasn't gone the way I expected and now I've rambled on and ended up talking about my kids. I'm no further ahead figuring out why I seem so motherly to perfect strangers.

Maybe someone who comes upon this and/or knows me can enlighten me. Because I don't really get it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I've been spending the last hour looking for bloggers that are within at least a decade of my own age. Why, you might ask.

Generally, I like the internet because there's a certain anonymity when it comes to age. You can learn a lot about people without the prejudice of age. I have absolutely no problems conversing with younger people and enjoy the vitality and enthusiasm, but sometimes it's good to hear from those with similar life experiences or who have gone through the same life passages.

It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I finally resorted to clicking on similar interests of things I thought might actually return some people close to my age. I went through favourite movies that I thought would appeal to an older demographic - no luck. I went through books the same way - no luck. I went through music and, voila, hit upon Gordon Lightfoot! (I also found a lot of Canadians, but that's okay.) I followed a few more links and lo and behold, people my age. One blogger was even kind enough to list a bunch of these folks as a 'sub-group' of links.

Now, I just need to work my way through and follow the links where they may lead. After only two days blogging, all I can think is, "Why didn't I think of doing this before?" It's so much easier than maintaining and updating a website.

Top 10s

While perusing someone else's site, I ran across a bunch of top 10 lists. Naturally, I started thinking about what would go on my own top 10s.

So here are a few lists with the proviso that they are subject to constant flux, as is my brain:

Most memorable childhood books:

  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S Lewis
  • The Secret Garden - Frances Burnett
  • A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain
  • Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
  • Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne
  • The House at Pooh Corner - A. A. Milne
  • Legends of Vancouver - Pauline Johnson
  • Sue Barton Nurse; series of about 6 books - Helen Dore Boylston
  • Pippi Longstockings - Astrid Lindgren
  • Heidi - Johanna Spyri
Sci-fi and Fantasy books:
  • The Foundation Series - Isaac Asimov
  • Dune - Frank Herbert
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter Miller Jr.
  • Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
  • The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
  • The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Once and Future King - T. H. White
  • The Hobbit - J. R. Tolkein

  • Jaws
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • The Joy Luck Club
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Glory
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Das Boot
  • The Princess Bride
  • Gone With the Wind
  • A Fish Called Wanda
Favourite foods/snacks:
  • Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts
  • Linguine with white clam sauce
  • Sushi - in particular, Uni
  • Salmon - poached, oriental style, drizzled with a ginger-green onion-soy-oil mix
  • Grand Marnier souffle
  • Winter melon soup
  • Rocky Road ice-cream
  • My grandmother's steamed lemon chicken with garlic and black bean
  • Roast turkey with mushroom/giblet gravy
  • Creme brulee

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What's wrong with a bit of idealism?

naive: Marked by or showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile or worldly experience

I've been insulted and called various unflattering things in my life, as one does if you've been around long enough and choose to participate in society. But two terms that have been used in a disparaging way towards me have always been a puzzlement: 'naive' and 'idealistic'. The first because I know I'm not naive, and the second because I don't see idealism as being negative. Actually, these two terms often seem to go together. For example, "You're too naive and idealistic." Or, "How can you be so naive? It'll never work. You're too idealistic." (Other terms that get thrown my way are Pollyanna, goody-two-shoes, soft-headed, do-gooder, etc., etc.)

I'm one of those people who think, on the one hand, that the world is going to hell and that we'll probably nuke ourselves out of existence. But, on the other hand, still care about the environment and insist on recycling.

How do I know I'm not a naive? Let's just say I've seen and dealt with more than the usual middle-class western norm. I've looked after people in rundown housing with no bathroom so they have to use a bucket for a toilet, but were too sick to empty it in the communal BR so it sits smelly and fly-gathering for days; I've had to call police to kick in the apartment door of a junkie mother who was passed out on the floor while her newborn was wailing in the background; I've looked after people suffering terminal illnesses and no one else around to comfort them; I've talked with children who I know have been beaten by their parents, but there's no proof and they won't tell. I've seen horrible things happen to good people all the time. I am not naive to what goes on in the world around me.

So why am I accused of being naive? Well, apparently, because I'm too idealistic. And why am I idealistic?. Because
I've also seen how a simple, kind act or word can make a difference. I realise that shitty things happen in life, but believe we can all do something to make things better for others. We can all do our part in not making things worse and taking action, no matter how small, to do something positive. I'm not necessarily talking about earth-shattering, global-changing action, though it could be. I'm talking about the day to day way we live our lives and choose to act and react to those around us. We can choose to act like a$$holes or not. We can choose to be kind or not. I believe in not passing the buck and looking at our own actions before condemning others. So what if someone else is being a pain in the ass? It doesn't follow that you have to be one in reaction to him.

I believe in the ripple effect. Everytime you interact with someone, you've affected them in some way. They, in turn, will go off and interact with someone else. You can choose to be positive or negative. I don't pretend to be some kind of Mother Theresa and heaven knows I have my bitchy, snarly days. As my profile mentions, I see myself as having a good dose of pessimism. But it doesn't stop me from being idealistic in the sense that I want to make the world better rather than worse.

Well, this is about as messy and disjointed a piece as I've written in awhile. I'm going to consider it what Anne Lamott calls a 'shitty first draft' and leave it at that.

Battlestar Galactica Redux

Last night I started watching my son's DVD box set of Battlestar Galactica - Season One. He'd been bugging me to watch it ever since he got it and I always had some excuse or another. Since I didn't have much else to do and it was still a bit early to head to bed, I thought, why not. So I popped in the first disc. Big mistake.

Not that it was a mistake to watch it - a mistake to start watching so late in the evening. I was hooked. You see, like many people, I had seen the original series with Lorne Greene, Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch. It was a fun, popcorn spaceadventure series. Fun at the time, but not entirely memorable (to me, memorable would be the series "V").

I'd read good reviews of the new Battlestar and my son waxed poetic about it, so I was expecting better, but what it delivered far exceeded my expectations. It is superior to the original in almost every aspect - acting, writing, graphics, sound, storyline, everything. It also didn't hurt that the series is filmed around here and I recognized numerous landmarks. **I've since learned that the actress who plays Starbuck is a frequent customer where my son works.**

To make a long story short. I watched until the wee hours - having to put on headphones so as not to wake up dh (because you've got to hear all the great sound effects at proper volume) - and still have several discs to go and I can hardly wait.

Problem is I'm in a quandary today about what to do. There's a hockey game and football game I want to watch as well as a trip to the recycling depot and other mundane chores to do. Oh well, I guess it'll be another late night with Adama and the gang with my headphones.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

To blog or not to blog . . .and a welcome of sorts.

Ramblings of a dichotomous mind:

What a dilemma. Everyone's doing it. Why not me? - But do I really want to be just one of the masses climbing onto a bandwagon that maybe's already passed? That would be just like me. Last one in on the latest fads. - Nah. Not worth it really. I have a website already, albeit not updated in months. - But I really want a place to just jot down my 300 words a day without having to take out pen and journal. - Lazy, that's what I am. - I like reading other people's blogs, but do I want people to read my inner thoughts? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it's probably therapeutic in some way, but no, because inner thoughts should be inner thoughts shouldn't they? - But just think of all the people I could tell off and they wouldn't even know it. - Yeah, but then what would be the point? I could send them an anonymous email and they'd never know. - Crap, I write stuff all the time anyways, why not blog too? - That's true I do write crap all the time. - No, no - write all the time, not necessarily crap, although it might be crap.

Okay, that's it then. I'll blog - crap or not crap - some or all of the time.
So, welcome to those of you who stumble upon my blog accidentally and to those who come as invitees (though I'm not too sure who those might be yet).

Oh, and if you're wondering about the title:

A globular fruit with many seeds and juicy red pulp in a tough brownish-red rind.
An endangered large feline having a tawny coat with black stripes. A fierce or audacious person.

I'll let you interpret it as you wish.