September 30, 2005
Uh oh...

Someone has a great sense of the obvious.
Bringing back the memories
Relive your childhood and play virtual lite-brite.

The clown on the packaging still scares me, but Lite-Brite was fun.

Shan and the kids in August.
I've been at work this morning since the ungodly hour of 5am. I was supposed to be calling one of my vendors in Europe but the contact decided to take the afternoon off work without letting me know! So I came in for basically no good reason. Not very impressed at all.
I am falling asleep at my desk, and my mind is definitely elsewhere. Shan just left for the hospital about 5 minutes ago. And do you think I can find a florist that is reasonable? Ugh, I think I'll just bring some pretty flowers myself tonight!
September 29, 2005
It's not a tumour
Wasn't that line in Kindergarten Cop?

There is a moment before any non-emergency surgery that you feel truly alone. Even if you have a gaggle of support outside in the waiting room....there is that moment when you leave them. That time between leaving them and after being prepped, but just before the surgery.

For me, I remember that moment well. During my ulnar neuropathic surgery in 1995, I laid on that bed feeling utterly alone. The nurses were far off, and my family was several floors above me. The doctor was across the hall with the anesthesiologist talking shop. I was completely alone in my thoughts and I was scared.

My niece goes through that tomorrow morning. She has surgery to remove a ganglion on the top of her wrist. She found the small lump soon after she found out she was pregnant with Alex. Of course, at the time, nothing could be done until she gave birth and only then would she be put on a surgical waiting list.

In some ways, she was fortunate. It has only been 9 months waiting. But the cyst has grown. It is so large now that people often stop and stare when we go out. It has filled with fluid, and absessed to the point that she has little range of motion. Not too easy to live with when you're nursing an infant and running after a 3 year old ball of energy.

When she finally got into see the surgeon, he was understandably concerned and booked her into surgery as quickly as he could. The good news is this particular ganglion has not damaged the nerves. It will be a minor surgery, as far as these things go, but surgery none the less. She will also be only given local anaesthetic as she is still breastfeeding.

Shan has had surgery before, but that was emergency surgery. At the tender age of 14, she caught a linedrive on the baseball field with her face. Reconstructive procedures took place but she was very traumatized and has little memory of the actual incident or the immediate aftermath. Her biggest memory of the event was getting her puppy, Bailey. Yeah, we bribed her with a dog. But that's another story in itself.

Ganglions run in our family. My mom had one, and two of my brothers had them as well. Sometimes they go away, and well, sometimes they don't. Other times still, they cause major problems. As was the case in my situation. As I've mentioned before, my blessing in life is to have those rare 'I've never seen this happen before' experiences.

I noticed my ganglion in 1993 when I was the same age that Shannon is now. It was situated on the underside of my wrist and did impair movement. We tried several options prior to surgery - cortisone, aspiration, splinting, anti-inflammatories...even, I'm ashamed to say...smashing it (old wives' tale...don't let anyone ever tell you it's a good thing!). So I had my first surgery in 1994. It should have been simple, like what Shannon is facing tomorrow.

It wasn't. The doctor, from the best we can figure, hiccuped or something and damaged the nerve as he was attempting to separate the cyst. Over the next year, I lost complete use of my hand. By 1995, I had constant pain from the nerve damage and was put on medical leave from my job. You know the feeling when you hit your funny bone? Well, when the ulnar is damaged, that sensation is constant. Trust me, it is not funny.

It became obvious I had only one choice. To have major nerve reconstructive surgery. A muscle graft would be taken from my forearm and made into a sheath to protect the damaged nerve. At the time, it was a very new procedure and I was very lucky to be seen by the best hand surgeon in BC. It was a 6 hour operation, followed by 2 days in hospital while the graft 'took'. And while the surgeon was brilliant, he had the bedside manner of a wall. A very dull wall. His first words to me when I woke up were 'Well, you'll never have a pretty wrist again, and I am not sure what usage you'll get out of it, but it's done'.

Over the next 7 months, I made daily trips to the rehabilitation ward at the hospital to relearn how to use my wrist, my arm and my fingers. I met with other patients with varying degrees of disability ranging from strokes to severe injury while we struggled to re-train our fingers to tie shoes, cut food, brush our hair and many things most people take for granted. It was a test of character that I am very proud to have gone through. It taught me to be much more appreciative of our precious gift of health and life.

I sported an 8" incision running from my palm to my mid-forearm. I was extremely self-conscious for a very long time and became obsessed with wearing long sleeved shirts almost obsessively. My ex would refer to my arm as 'the claw', which most certainly did not help. He would later use my disability as a reason for why he felt the need to begin dating other people, while engaged to me.

It was a challenging time. I found strength that I never thought I had. I proved that doctor wrong and have full use of my hand now, and am even able to flex to almost full extension. I may have lost about 15% of my range of motion but considering what the expectation was, it is an accomplishment I've been always proud of.

Now, I see my niece getting ready for her operation tomorrow. She is very nervous, and apprehensive. She was just a young girl when I went through my experience, but she was old enough to remember it. Today, she confessed to my Mom that she was terrified that the doctor would slip with her too and she would have to go through what I did. Of course, when I spoke with her not long after, she kept a brave face and only admitted to being slightly apprehensive about being awake during the procedure.

I know she'll be fine. But at the same time, I don't envy her. I know she's going to have to go through this alone, and nothing anyone can say will help her. We can be there for her before and support her during her recovery, but the procedure itself will be on her own.
by writing. I started that course last week in memoir writing. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but lacked the confidence to do it.

I have been consumed in this last week. I can't stop writing. A Pandora's Box of stories. Plots. Memories. Words. Anything and everything.

I often wondered how people start writing. How they begin to make sense of the flurry of words and thoughts that run through their brains. And then I hesitate. Am I really good enough to write something someone would actually read?

I have some very good friends who are professional writers. Incredibly talented people who can put words together with such beauty, it amazes me. One friend of mine writes a column for a paper in Utah. I have travelled with her when she sees something, and quickly starts a story. Within minutes, a column is born and her deadlines met. Without even breaking a sweat. Or so it seems.

So back to that intimidation factor. I want to write. I would love for it to be professionally, but I have lot to learn. How does one begin?

This week, I ate up the first three chapters of my course. I have spent nearly $150 on books from Amazon. I have read and re-read every supplemental reading material the instructor has offered. I put pen to paper, and fingers to keyboard and have written pages and pages of random musings as they pop into my head. Sometimes, it's just a word. Other times, it's a pararaph or two, or even a page.

I found it was as if a door in my imagination opened. I couldn't stop. Fast and furious. Sometimes clear and coherent, others just all over the place. Memories. Stories. Everything came flashing back through my head. I have found as I lay down at night, it becomes even more intense. My notebook has become my constant companion.

In the vein of pushing myself, I have developed a few goals for the next few months. I must complete this course to my own satisfaction (and trust me when I say I have high standards for myself). I must write a few short stories that I would be proud enough to show someone. I must learn more about what it takes to become more accomplished.

And, if - big IF I am still as into things as I am feeling now by Christmas, I will enroll myself in a Writer's Conference in nearby Washington State.

I know I have much, much to learn and I am only in the infancy of this adventure. But I do know one thing. It feels so good to write.
An Ebay Classic

On Ebay.

The write-up made me laugh hard enough to nearly spit my drink all over my keyboard. Have a read - the person writing this has a great sense of humour. Not so much style. But humour, definitely.
Don't believe the hype
Everyone is jittery lately. The hurricanes in the Southern US seem to have taken a large toll on the psyche of many. Even those as far away as us in the Great White North seem to have been affected.

After Katrina hit, the stories about our own Typhoon Frieda came out. I mentioned in a previous entry that it had 'touched' us in 1962 and had a few people take issue with that. That storm of 1962 was one of the worst weather stories the West Coast has ever seen. Many homes destroyed, and power out for days on end. I'm compiling a bit of a story on that for a later date of what my family remembers.

When Katrina wreaked havoc through the Gulf Coast, many local people jumped in to help. Rescue teams, doctors, veterinarians and just regular people ran to help our southern neighbours. It was a proud time. Heart warming to see so many that just wanted to assist others in their time of need.

When Rita started becoming a reality, we began noticing here that people were getting a little more sensationalistic.

My own gas station had a sign that read 'Debit cards down due to Hurricane Rita'. I mean, I know it was a large hurricane, but last I checked, it didn't reach up to Canada!

The other night, at my parent's strata council meeting, someone stood up and asked what preparations were being made for their neighbourhood in the wake of Katrina?

Yesterday, I went out for lunch with some coworkers. They were talking about 'the storm'
in hurried voices.

'Did you hear it's supposed to hit tonight?'
'The rain and the wind are going to be harsh!'
'I hope we don't flood and lose all that product in the back of the yard'
'Did the guys get out there to dig some drainage ditches this morning so we can cope with the surge?'

I thought to myself "Did I miss something?" I am usually very informed with the news, both current and global.

When I came back to my desk, I checked the local news. And it was here. The first storm of the season, it read.

But closer reading forecasted about an inch of rain and winds up to 20 miles an hour.

Um, people, this is fall on the West Coast. It's October. It's what happens!

Last night, it began. It was just a heavy rainstorm, nothing more. There were a few more leaves on the roads this morning and of course, more accidents because people saw rainclouds and forgot how to drive.

People wonder why there wasn't more evacuations during Katrina. Sure, some people were truly trapped and I can understand that. But given the hype that is created over every weather event, or even every security issue, is it any wonder that people are fatigued?

Each and every time the media and the scaremongers whip up into a frenzy, and nothing happens, at least one more person will be turned off the next time something truly does occur.
September 28, 2005
If you read one post today,

Read this.

Nevermind the stories of New Orleans, and the big cities. This is small town Mississippi and it is beyond heartbreaking.

hat tip to Idgie.
I have debated blogging about this, but have decided that writing helps me see things straight. I know I have a great many friends who read this blog and are a fantastic source of support. What makes me hesitate is that I am still unsure who else reads this, and given that I had a troll email me privately last week, I have been 'turtle-ing' a bit.

I am angry. I don't get angry very often, but when I do, it's deep and burning and I don't let go of it easy. My tolerance level has been described as a 'long fuse, but a slow burn'.

When Todd revealed to me in not so many words that his situation with his family was not as he first led me to believe, I was not so much shocked and hurt as I was mad at this inability to be honest. From the day I met him, I told him I had trust issues. He knew that my experience had been very negative with men, in that each and every one I had ever given my heart to had issues with being faithful. He constantly reassured me that this was not the case. That he and his wife had split, and that he was working through her unfaithfulness as well. Damn my naivete that I believed him.

Fast forward to the end of August. He had his R&R, and emailed me to tell me that once in the US, he would call me to explain the situation further. I told him in no uncertain terms that no explanation was necessary. I would not be played a fool. He said in a subsequent email to give him the benefit of the doubt and that there was more to the story. But I heard no more.

Of course, his time at home is now done, and I had recently remarked to a friend that I suspected he would return to duty in Iraq, get over the jetlag and get lonely again.

Sure enough, that email arrived yesterday morning.
I'm sorry that I have been so distant. This trip home has forced me to
rethink my priorities and my mind is a blur. I am regretting extending into this
tour. You have always been there for me and I will always cherish you! I understand if you are angry.... for this I am truly sorry. I have to stop being so selfish and consider my family and also my friends. I think of you often... sorry it took so long to write. Hope all is well with you and I will write again soon. If you are to mad to write, please do not reply. I take words literally and I do not want to end our friendship that way. Love,

The bolding is my emphasis. Camels, straws, and broken backs flashed in my head.

If I am too mad? Dude, can't take the heat? Sorry, but you do not get off that easy.

I am not a confrontational person. I shrink from arguments as if phobic, and will find every opportunity I can not to deal with disagreements. I am a peacemaker by nature, and an introvert to boot. But this email made me seethe.

Then I decided. I may not be able to express verbally, but I do have an ability to write strongly. Words are my weapon of choice.

With cold fury in my heart, I wrote the following:

Yes, it has been a long time. Although not wholely unexpected. I was
quite sure that your trip home would open up a Pandora's Box of emotions.
I only hope that in time it will be a positive step.

Am I mad? No, not at you. If anything, my anger is directed at myself. I am mad at myself for wanting to believe in something that was not entirely true.

I am disappointed that you did not feel you could be honest with me. I talked
you through the decision of extending your tour, and now I feel as if I may have
done the wrong I did not understand the situation fully. For
that, I apologize. I should have stepped back when I started to realize I
didn't have the full picture.

It is now obvious to me that your dishonesty put me in a position of becoming the one thing I detest. The 'other woman'. I have been on her side and I know the exquisite pain that can cause. You also knew my misgivings on this, yet your failed to respect both me nor the other people in your life.

I only know of your life what you have chosen to tell me. And for what that
was, I enjoyed and cherished your friendship too. I believe I deserved that much respect, and even more, you deserve to respect yourself that much. You will never find the elusive happiness you so desperately seek if you are not honest with

You are a good person, and there is a lot to be proud of. But you need to work on accepting yourself for who you are, and not just how you wish others to see you.

I hope for your sake, as well as that of your young daughter, that you learn that.

And with that, I've said my peace. I can now properly bury the last year of my life and move on. Unfortunately, my trust issues run incredibly deep and it will be a very long time, if ever at all that I will believe in love again.

September 27, 2005
Happy Thoughts
I was going through some old emails and found this. Thought I'd post it here.

  1. At least 2 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
  2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
  3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
  4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.
  5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
  6. You mean the world to someone.
  7. If not for you, someone may not be living.
  8. You are special and unique.
  9. Someone that you don't even know exists, loves you.
  10. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
  11. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.
  12. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you believe in yourself, probably, sooner or later, you will get it.
  13. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.
  14. Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know.
  15. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.
September 26, 2005
Red Ensign Standard Volume XXVlll
The Last Amazon has done an amazing job of the latest Red Ensign Standard. It's been a bit of a hiatus for the group over the summer but the return of Autumn has seen many thought-provoking posts from the group.

Kate muses -

Fifty years ago, school children in Canada could have told you what it
means to be a Canadian but the parameters have changed so radically that I
fear we are in danger of losing not only our place in the world but our
national will. Regionalism threatens all the ties that use to bind us. And
sorry, I cannot rally around our healthcare system and do not see waiting
patiently in line for years for a hip replacement or an MRI as a value that
I want to pass onto my children.

As someone currently on the endless list for a knee operation, I agree wholeheartedly.

Read the rest here. You'll be glad you did.
September 24, 2005
From Rebecca at Doxology, via Alicia at Fructus Ventris:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to it).
3. Find the 5th sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Speaking of which, my niece is cooking up her second baby now.

The story of Ms. Thang and how she came to be. And how her mother went from a 19-year old teenage mom to a grown woman in a blink. I wrote this last November, and it is a story that is still one that makes my heart beat a little faster. Lex, aka Skizzy was 2 months from his debut.

At the time, I was hoping to be at the birth. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be. Her quickness in delivery and my concern about missing work for a job that laid me off a month later prevented that. I did, however, get a camera phone picture of them cutting his cord. Next best thing, really.

If you want to play too, let me know so I can read your 23:5!
Wacky Fortunes
Your Fortune Is

Squirrel who runs up woman's leg not find nuts.
Memoir writing
I began my memoir writing course this week, and am thoroughly enjoying it. Because I have become the official 'keeper' of the oral and physical history of my family, I have long been interested in the idea of putting it together in a format that all could benefit from.

I have been intimidated though. Not confident enough in my writing skills, and overwhelmed by the thought of how to write it, where to start, what to say. My end goal isn't to make something publish worthy, but just something to give to the family members. It's their history too.

The first assignment is a stream of consciousness based on a single item. I chose my grandmother's ring. I wear it on my 3rd finger of my right hand.

Sometimes it’s heavy on my hand, and sometimes it I don’t feel it at all, but I never forget it’s there.

The ring that graces my right hand was placed on my grandmother’s left hand when she married in 1922. The night of their marriage was so full of apprehension and yet such promise. Her new husband had great visions for them. They knew their life in their Ireland was over. The civil war that tore apart their families gave them no choice but to leave immediately.

He had scraped together enough money for a plain gold band. There was no Catholic service. There was no time for Banns. Not even enough time to have the family gather. Only enough to see the priest and flip the coin that would decide their fate.

He looked at her with the sixpence in his hand. Head, Canada and Tails, Australia, my love?” Both boats were in port and ready to sail to their new home.

She was 20. She only had heard tale of the wildness that was Canada and she knew that whatever happened, she would never see her family again. But she loved him. And she knew that as long as she was by his side, it would be fine.

80 years later, the ring now rests on my hand. Given to me by my mother, when I could appreciate it with the honour it deserved.

I feel Nan’s presence through that ring. It guides me. Her courage, her strength, and her grace in the face of sheer adversity moves me in a way that nothing else could.

September 23, 2005
ReNewOrleans Bracelets

Bracelets for the Renew New Orleans foundation here. Thought they looked very funky, and for $5.00, why not?

As Rita bears down on Houston, I'm watching the news channels along with so many others.

Found a site that has live cameras of the highways here. The above picture is just outside the airport in Houston and shows that at least that area seems to be quiet.

Of course, the absolutely HORRID story of the 24 elderly people on the evacuation bus is heartbreaking. According to the article, "The explosions happened at 4 a.m. today after the bus' brakes caught on fire, reached passengers' oxygen tanks and set off an explosion". I don't even want to imagine the sheer panic that they would have had to endure knowing they were trapped.

There are some 'citizen journalist' blogs here, through the Houston Chronicle.

It is like one long nightmare for the people in the storm zones. The dead have still not been completely retreived in New Orleans and now it's happening again. I can only hope that this one, when it hits tonight (what was Mambo No 5 - a little bit of Rita all night long?) will be less violent than predicted.

On a Katrina note, I heard on the radio about a group of veterinary volunteers from BC that are currently in Lousiana helping get the rescued animals off their feet. The vet they spoke to sounded totally overwhelmed but inspired by the work they were doing. Their website, The Canadian Animal Assistance is here.

My friends were on their way to Belize tomorrow, through a 24 hour layover in Houston. This trip had been planned for ages, and obviously will now be dramatically changed. However, as luck would have it, they can't even get hold of Continental Airlines to make any arrangements. Continental's hub is Houston, and of course no one is there. Their not-so-helpful travel agent said they could buy 2 full-fare tickets again, and hope that it would be covered by insurance but no guarantees. Sure, shell out another $3500 on a maybe? So at this point, they have no idea whether they're going or not.

September 22, 2005
Turning 30 and 3/5ths
(Last year's was a shopping bag to um, celebrate my shopaholic tendancies. And of course, my nickname owed to my photographic endeavours).

Thank you so much for your kind birthday wishes!

Ok, still gonna milk it. I liked being 30 and a half. 35 scared me. 35 was when, if you're a single woman, everything starts rotting and dying off inside you. Have you read the small print of certain prescription products? 'Women over 35 at risk...'... to completely explode when they take this pill.

So last year, as I approached 35, I did it kicking and screaming. Hence, I decided to turn 30 1/2 instead. Much less assuming.

In the last 365 days, it has been a challenging time to say the least. Worst year? No, not at all but definitely up there on the negative side.

My health deterioriated. The pain is now a constant challenge. My struggle is not having it define me. Knowing that tomorrow might not be a better day, and a year from now might be even worse than I can even envision scares me, but I chose not to let it get me down. Many people live with chronic pain, and I will find that place soon that will allow me to as well.

I lost my job to restructuring after 10 years (well, 9.38 years but who's counting?). But it was a blessing. I needed a change, and I needed to be able to look after me. I decided that I was financially stable enough that I could take a contract job and just temp for a while until I found myself in a healthier situation. It may or may not have been a good decision but I'm still fine with it.

Of course, damaging my knee to the point I am not able to walk well definitely threw a wrench into that. Summer? What summer? Oh, the warmth I could feel from outside my windows while sitting on my couch.

My family struggled with health. My brother had his heart attack in March, my Aunt a stroke last December and my Mom's emphysema has worsened significantly. It has made me much more appreciative of every moment I can spend with them.

And lastly, the man who I stood beside for 13 months didn't turn out to be the person I believed him to be. I'm certainly not the first nor the last person who had someone deceive them, and as I said to him in my last communication, I have no regrets. I went into this with an open mind, and open heart. I chose to try to continue once he was deployed to Iraq and I don't regret that. I learned a lot through that experience. Much good came out of it and I only hope he finds whatever elusive happiness he is looking for, but it won't be with me.

Challenges, definitely. But looking back in time over the last few days, I couldn't help but think what a GOOD year it has been.

My grandnephew - Alexander James - came into our lives January 3. I didn't think I could love a child so completely as I loved his sister Hayley but was amazed at how my heart grew. That little boy is....well, perfect.

His sister, Hayley - while always a close bond to my heart has grown into the most amazing child. We talk on the phone now that she has learned to dial my phone number. Ok, just autodial but still. She makes me laugh all the time. Lately, it's because she thinks I work at Canadian Tire. And there is no chance of changing her mind on that.

Their mother, my niece grew into a good friend and not just a relation. I don't have sisters, and I often wished I had that close bond sisters do. I guess I got my wish to some degree. She's like my little sister now and I am thankful every day that my brother 'grew me a friend' in Shan.

My best friend got engaged to her perfect match. Their relationship is what gives me hope. What gives me belief that there IS such a thing as a great love story. When they get married next April, it will be my highest honour to stand beside them.

My friend Teresa came to visit in July from San Francisco. We had a fantastic weekend - whalewatching, dancing, sightseeing and even a little Bard on The Beach. Without a doubt, the best part of the summer!

I found my writing gene. I always loved to write, but this year it has taken off. And going to see Isabel Allende gave me the inspiriation to work towards that. I have many many stories floating around in my head, and struggle to get them out, but I now have the confidence to actually try. Blogging began in earnest last November, and as Devon mentioned, it stretches those writing muscles. I make no claims to the most interesting, or the most thought-provoking blog out there - but I enjoy what I do.

Through blogging, I have met such wonderful, strong, witty, amazing people. I had not anticipated that, but it was one of the best benefits. Some have even become people I consider true friends, and that is definitely a highlight of my year.

So I'm now 36. 30 and 3/5ths. Last year was my growing year, I think. This year, I have good feelings going into it. I know it's going to be a good one.

With that, I'm now out to enjoy the day. It's a beautiful one.
September 21, 2005
The 80s called....

Ok, there is just something about the 80s that is deeply defining.

Oh, who am I kidding? Basically it's just that you can take the girl out of the 80s but you can't take the 80s out of the girl.

In my quest to recreate my youth, I bought tickets to see Foreigner in concert in November. Having this new casino with their cheesy aged bands performing just 15 minutes away from my house is a great novelty.

We're also seeing Loverboy in October.

A funny thing happened today. One of the long standing battles at my new job is the lack of teamwork and lack of understanding what everyone does. I never fully appreciated how important a good team was until I found out how difficult it is when you don't have it.

My previous job had what we called 'Company Days'. I think a couple of my former coworkers read this so they are likely smiling with the wry knowledge of how painful these days can be in terms of keeping everyone happy. One year we had a photo scavenger hunt, another time was cleaning up a public area and another time was a team building event involving little problem-solving games. We always grumbled and complained, although generally it was usually a positive experience. As our company grew, we often didn't interact with other departments and these times gave us an insight into what everyone else did.

My new job? That doesn't happen at all. I was looked at like an alien when I suggested some sort of bonding event. Not even anything crazy, but just something to get everyone talking. Considering two people must be separated by a forest of potted plants so they don't catch each other's eye, it is sorely lacking.

Today a few of my coworkers decided to take me out for lunch. I was touched by the offer, but insisted we invite the entire group and not just a select few.

The initial response? 'Oh, we can't talk to them.' So I did. I invited them and said it would be an honour if they joined us. Surprise when the response was overwhelmingly positive. So we all went to a local restaurant and apparently it was the biggest gathering of people (maybe 10 of us) they'd ever done.

We sat over lunch and laughed, talked and joked with each other. Seemingly and deceptively simple but considering the strong sense of division in the group, not inconsiderable.

Turns out another girl has the same 80s problem I do. She mentioned the concert but how she had no friends who wished to indulge. So I said I would. I bought the tickets as soon as I returned back to the office. We had never said more than hello to each other before today.

The whole afternoon, there was a marked change. The office was buzzing with conversation, instead of the deafening silence that usually permeates the air.

Hopefully, it lasts. I am now beginning to realize how important it was for my ex-company to foster the relationships it did. There were, of course, still politics and undercurrents as with any place but there at least was an attempt to keep us all informed and on the same page.

The best part, though, is that I found out this week that we are entitled to our birthday off as a statutory holiday. So tomorrow, I will be having a leisurely day running around visiting old friends and shopping. Gotta do the shopping!
September 19, 2005
Culinary Delights of the Seventies
When I was a little girl, my Mom had subscribed to the monthly recipe packages from Betty Crocker and McCalls. Once a month, a thick envelope would arrive and she would leave it for me to open when I came home from school. It was always a big treat to see the pictures of the recipes for me (yeah, I was easily amused!) and I would look forward to the arrival each month.

A little while ago, I inherited the big yellow box back from my Mom. I eagerly opened the dusty box and found, um, well - times have changed.

Here's the first few that I found. I scanned the ones that may not quite have been as, um, cutting edge as they were 30 years ago.

Usually, this would be when you throw the salad out.

I really have no words. "Um, honey, there's some motor oil in the fridge. Don't forget the sprig of greenery - it really takes the bitterness out."

I don't remember this on the Jenny Craig menu. Imagine coming home to prepare this delicacy. Anorexia might even sound inviting....

The apricot or the recipient? It works with any fruit really. Take one small piece of fruit and pour the brandy to the brim. Still more in the bottle? Oh, no one will notice if you take a sip. Or two. Or seven. Besides, the kids will sleep much better if they have desert...

Honey, where's the dog? Have you seen Rin Tin Tin? Yup, that's one way to stretch the budget!

There are quite a few more. I will post them over the next few days.
September 18, 2005

I bought one.

I caved.

I said I'd never buy an iPod.

But my Creative Zen that I bought in December was a little too big to take everywhere.

And this one was just way too cool. Colour screen and very sleek.

Besides, I needed to buy something for me for my birthday. No one else was going to.

Justification. It's not just a party trick.

Clarification - my birthday is actually on Thursday, the 22nd. I bought this to arrive on that day. I hope! Thank you so much though for your wishes - very much appreciated!
What country are you?

You're Bosnia-Herzegovina!

You've just been through a big tragedy. You weren't sure you were
going to make it at all. Now that you have, there's a lot to pick back up in your life,and not enough people are helping you. You just wanted a little more freedom, a chance to be away from those who thought poorly of you. Now it's time to build up some confidence, and it looks like you have a good chance at that. But you'll need a lot of therapy.

Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

September 17, 2005
It certainly wasn't this man's time. 16 days in his attic in New Orleans before being found yesterday. The 76 year old man had just run out of water the day before.

Whole story here.
Some people love meme's, some people hate 'em. I'm in the former...I always find them sort of fun to do and gives you a little something to write about you might not always think of.

This one has been borrowed from Monica.

1.What is your occupation?
Steel/Railroad Buyer

2. What are you listening to right now?
Boys of Summer - Don Henley

3. What was the last thing you ate?
Shreddies with warm milk

4. Do you wish on stars?
All the time. Sometimes they even come true.

5. if you were a crayon, what color would you be?

6. How is the weather right now?
A little sunny, a little cloudy - just right

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
My friend Shelagh

8. How old are you today?
35 and 360 days

9. Favorite drinks?
Cranberry/Gingerale or Chai Almond Latte

10. Favorite sports to watch?
Hockey and (Box) Lacrosse

11. Have you ever dyed your hair?
Yup. No idea what my real hair colour is anymore but it's pretty grey, I'm sure.

12. Do you wear contacts?
No. Stigmatism prevents it.

13. Pets?
Molly the Wonder Collie

14. Favorite month?

15. Favorite food?
Italian and Greek

16. What was the last movie you watched?
at home: Crash
at the movies: 40 Year Old Virgin

17. Favorite day of the year?
Any day spent with friends

18. What do you do to vent anger?
Write or call my best friend

19. What was your favorite toy as a child?
Suzy Homemaker and her dollhouse

20. Fall or Spring?

21. Hugs or kisses?
Any but only from the right person

22. Cherry or Blueberry?

23. Favorite mythical animal/creature?

24. Greatest Pet Peeve?
drunk drivers

25. To be or not to be that is the question?
To be. To try. To live with no regrets.

26. Living arrangements?
Own. Just me and my pup.

27. When was the last time you cried?
Midweek - a disagreement at work. Hopefully it was discreet.

28.What brand of TP do you use?

29. Who is the friend you have had the longest?
Leigh and Fi - 1992. Although technically I've known Fi longer since we went to the same high school, but we all met when we started working for the same company in 1992.

30. What did you do last night?
Spent time with the kids, read Hayley a bedtime story and went to see '40 Year Old Virgin' with her Mom - my niece later. First time out in nearly 2 months!

31. Favorite smell?
A baby

32. What/Who inspires you?
Those that don't let adversity get them down.

33. What are you afraid of?
Spiders. It's getting worse and I've been known of late to even get in my car through the passenger side because I know there's one on the outside of driver's side.

34. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers?
Cheeseburgers. Or Mushroom burgers. Although I can't eat beef now.

35. Favorite car?
BMW Convertible.

36. Favorite dog breed?
Border collies (which Molly is).

37. Number of keys on your key ring? 6

38. How many years at your current job?
4 months

39. Favorite day of the week?
September 16, 2005
Marathon of Hope
When Terry Fox ran his Marathon of Hope across Canada, I was 10. I remember being fascinated with his trek and would return every pop bottle I could find to donate to the cancer fund.

Even at that young age, I knew what cancer was. My brother's best friend had died the year before at 18 years old of leukemia. Our neighbour - a wonderful old lady who would take me on a bus to the mall, a very precious treat in itself had been taken by lung cancer around the same time.

To think, 25 years after Terry Fox's dream, not only has cancer become beatable in many cases but he would have survived as well. The type of bone cancer he had is now considered one of the more treatable forms.

Of course, the Big C is still a big deal. But if we think how far we've gone in the last 25 years, I hope in the next 25 years, the babies being born today won't even know what it's like to lose their loved ones this way.

This weekend is the Terry Fox run. The following was part of an email I received today that I thought was a very worthwhile read.

While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.
Terry Fox's Letter Requesting Support For His Run
The night before my amputation, my former basketball coach brought me a magazine with an article on an amputee who ran in the New York Marathon. It was then I decided to meet this new challenge head on and not only overcome my disability, but conquer it in such a way that I could never look back and say it disabled me.

But I soon realized that that would only be half my quest, for as I went through the 16 months of the physically and emotionally draining ordeal of chemotherapy, I was rudely awakened by the feelings that surrounded and coursed through the cancer clinic. There were faces with the brave smiles, and the ones who had given up smiling. There were feelings of hopeful denial, and the feelings of despair. My quest would not be a selfish one. I could not leave knowing these faces and feelings would still exist, even though I would be set free from mine. Somewhere the hurting must stop... and I was determined to take myself to the limit for this cause.

From the beginning the going was extremely difficult, and I was facing chronic ailments foreign to runners with two legs in addition to the common physical strains felt by all dedicated athletes.

But these problems are now behind me, as I have either out-persisted or learned to deal with them. I feel strong not only physically, but more important, emotionally. Soon I will be adding one full mile a week, and coupled with weight training I have been doing, by next April I will be ready to achieve something that for me was once only a distant dream reserved for the world of miracles – to run across Canada to raise money for the fight against cancer.

The running I can do, even if I have to crawl every last mile.

We need your help. The people in cancer clinics all over the world need people who believe in miracles.

I am not a dreamer, and I am not saying that this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer. But I believe in miracles. I have to.

Terry Fox, October 1979

Favourite Terry Fox Quote:
“I don’t feel that this is unfair. That’s the thing about cancer. I’m not the only one, it happens all the time to people. I’m not special. This just intensifies what I did. It gives it more meaning. It’ll inspire more people. I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try.

When Terry Fox lost his battle, I remember feeling like I had lost someone I knew. I cut out every newspaper clipping and article I could find, and grieved as a young child will do. To know though, 2 generations later, that his name lives on and his dream is now bigger than he probably ever could have envisioned is an amazing testament to just how one person can make a difference.
September 14, 2005
Katrina roundups
I have been trying to put into words some of what I was thinking about the aftermath of Katrina, but so many have been much more eloquent than I. Then I found Kyra's post. She recently moved out of Louisiana and had hit the nail on the head with the 'The Whole Picture'.

From New Orleans, a couple of posts I found particularly eloquent:

Bobbysan writes of his days following the catastrophe (which was later picked up by the New York Press).

On the topic of casualty numbers, Sturtle puts it in perspective.

In the midst of the disaster, the tombs and caskets also were dislodged due to the high water table. From what I understand, people in N.O. are buried above ground because of it. It would be the same here too as my town doesn't have cemetaries for the same reason. Of course, our departed are usually buried in other towns or cremated.

This quote
, I thought particularly fitting:

New Orleans right now is, to me, like that boyfriend who broke up with you. You don't want to leave, but you kind of have to. You still hang out with his friends (Baton Rouge, Huston, Florida, St.Francisville), but eventually, when you can't stand to hear people talk about him any more, you want to start hanging out with people who don't know him so well (New York, California, Europe).
Reaping what you sow
The big news in Vancouver today is the deportation of Bahadur Singh Bhalru, a convicted street racer who was involved in the death of Irene Thorpe.

In November 2000, Ms Thorpe was struck and killed while walking down Marine Drive in Vancouver. I drove past her memorial every day for nearly 4 years and often thought of the tragedy that befell her and her family.

Mr. Bhalru
and another man, Mr. Khosa were street racing when Mr. Khosa lost control of his car at an excessive speed. I can only hope that their victim never knew what hit her.

They were arrested but never spent any time in jail. While convicted, they were sentenced to 2 years of house arrest. House arrest? For causing the death of another human being! Our justice system is notoriously weak and this is yet another example of that.

However, the crux of the story is that neither were Canadian citizens and were still on landed immigrant status when they committed their crime. Therefore, they rendered themselves ineligible for citizenship and were ordered deported. And today, just a hair short of 5 years after the event, the deportation is complete. My cynical mind does wonder, however, if we paid for the ticket.

Their lawyers argued that they "made a 30-second mistake in [their] life for which [they've] paid a very big price."

Well, citizenship is a privilege not a right. They came to Canada and rather than make it a better place, have destroyed a family, taken a life and have yet to even understand why they were denied the right to live in this country. That 30-second 'mistake' caused someone to die, and that is just not acceptable. Bhalru arrogantly seems to miss the point completely on what it means to be a Canadian. Today, his tearful statement at the airport was heavy on the 'poor me's' and very light on the remorse he supposedly feels.

If I was to move to another country, I would expect to be living under their laws and their rules. I would not expect to have laws changed to accomodate me and I would endeavour to live within the laws of the land. When these two young men decided to use poor judgement and race, they chose to forsake their rights. They weren't thinking that night, I'm quite sure, how fortunate they were to have the opportunity to live in Canada - nor what they stood to lose. They should have.

For all those who struggle to come to Canada and to make their lives better by living here, it would have been a slap in the face to allow these convicted criminals to stay. Irene Thorpe didn't get a reprieve. She does not get an appeal. Her family does not get to see her ever again.

Some interesting discussions on the subject are in the Discover Vancouver forum.
Smoke clears
While the advisory still exists, with my particular area being some of the hardest hit, I am either developing an immunity to smoke or it's much better today. I only noticed a slightly scratchy throat and didn't have to puff once on my inhaler. I couldn't see the plumes of smoke today so that must be a good sign. It does however smell like a campfire, and I have the extremely strong urge for Smores.

On a very positive development, the orthopaedic surgeon's office called today. I have been moved up for the consult to December 6. While still a long way off considering my immobility, it is still much improved than March! My position at this present company will now end at the end of the year, so if all goes well, I may be able to have the surgery in January (I hope!) which would mean I will not need to be out of work long. My worry was trying to look for a new job while facing surgery - not exactly a great bargaining tool. But things always work out if you do't force them, so I will let things go and not get too worried about it.

So in honour of my upcoming 30 3/5 birthday next week, I have decided to make it a sort of "resolutionary" event.

Starting with the sentence, I've always wanted to....

Learn proper photography techniques - signed up for the course starting September 27.

Write the story of my family - signed up today for a beginner's course in creative writing

Go back to New York - am working on convincing my friend to go in January for a chick weekend before her wedding

Give my parents a scrapbook of all their years - started making notes for each page today and plan to have it done by Christmas

It's a start anyhow! But considering all the TV shows are coming back, I may get a little involved with that. I'm very much looking forward to all the new series.

I tried watching Bones, the new show with Kathy Reich's character Temperance Brennan but gave up after 15 minutes. After 2 minutes of over the top action and pitiful dialog, I was just about done but tried to give it the benefit of the doubt that it would improve. But by second commercial, I had gone back to NCIS.

Nip N' Tuck, one of my most favourite returns next Friday, September 23. That's probably the one I'm most looking forward to...since it's still another 8 months until Sopranos begins. With Six Feet Under now gone, there's a big void now for provocative, well written drama out there. I enjoy ER, CSI, and Law and Order, but they still fall short of the envelope-pushing drama of Nip N' Tuck.
September 13, 2005
Somethin's Burnin'

A couple of pictures from this morning's commute. Even though I was coughing and wheezing today, from what I've heard, it was not even comparable to other areas of the Lower Mainland.

My friend's fiance was sent home at 10 am after their building was filled with smoke and it was deemed too unsafe to work. And the Fraser Surrey Port was closed for business later in the day. And even schools in the area were closed.

Air quality is poor. People with breathing problems are being advised to stay indoors. I noticed it this morning - burning eyes and scratchy throat - and that was indoors. But the winds shifted this afternoon and I guess someone else got to feel it for a while.

The fire itself covers 200 hectares now (nearly 500 acres for those on imperial measures). 80 firefighters and 7 helicopters continue to battle the blaze, but it has gone undergroud causing difficulties. Consider a forest fire, but underneath the surface. Firefighters have the added danger of not knowing where it will pop up again.

There was a rumour today that the next plan was to flood the bog plain by opening up the dykes at the edge. I don't know how true that is but while novel, the thought of flooding is a little too fresh in the memory right now to make it a good plan in my mind.
Burning the bog
So the fire has grown. From approximately 23 hectares to 170 hectares.

It smells like a campfire, even inside the office. I can't stop coughing and hacking, but I'm not alone. Seems like what everyone is doing.

I took some amazing sunrise shots, with the sun looking like a bright red sphere through the smoke. However, now two hours later and the smoke getting thicker, I'd say it's not so cool any more. I want my blue sky back...I'd even settle for rain, if that's what it takes.

Cough. Hack. Wheeze.
September 12, 2005
Burns Bog
Tonight the Lower Mainland of Vancouver sits in a fog of smoke from a 20-hectare fire burning at, appropriately enough, Burns Bog.

The wafting of the smoke has permeated the city and ash has been found on cars nearly 20 kms away (including my own). It smells like one huge campfire.

I work not too far from where the fire is, and it was definitely noticeable in the air today. You couldn't help but have a scratchy throat and watery eyes. I took this picture while driving home from work.

A web poll at shows 75% of people have noticed the effects of this large fire, and it looks as if there is no end in sight. This is not just a forest fire, but the added bonus of being in a peat bog means the fire could smoulder for months.

Burns Bog is the largest undeveloped urban area in North America, at about 4,000 acres. It is home to many species of wildife from beaver to bear.

Late this afternoon, an advisory for air quality was issued. Because of my mother's emphysema, my parents decided to leave town for a few days. Although they had already planned a trip in the near future, the looks of this fire made them move the trip up a little bit. She's just getting on her feet after being so ill in early July and she just does not need another setback.

However, I have to admit there is something very cool about watching the Mars Bombers dropping retardant, and the helicopers dousing the flames with water. Certainly not a common sight in the urban zone.
Flowers in my hair
So I'm only 1/5 Hippie. I'm more Scottish and Irish than that!

I am 20% Hippie.
So Not a Hippie.

What? Am I a Republican? Why did I even bother taken this test?! I guess I’ll back to my George W. Bush fan club and tell them I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. At least I don’t stink, man.
Auction for Katrina
ArmyWifeToddlerMom is hosting an EBay auction with benefits going to the military members who have lost their possessions and loved ones in the aftermath of Katrina. Some of these men and women have spent their last year deployed overseas, and are now having to deal with the the devastation from afar.

Go check it out. There are some great one-of-a-kind items, including autographed books.
Where for art thou?
I've never read Shakespeare. All I know of the man and his works is what I've caught in the odd moment here and there. I went to a progressive high school that allowed us to read more cutting edge books - The Crysalids and The Day of The Triffids for example.

This year, I went with a friend (Hi T!) to Bard on The Beach for Love's Labour Lost. It made me almost want to read some of the classics - but of course, there's always so many other books to read that they tend to fall to the bottom of the list.

But according to this little test, I'm just a big ol' softie. Lies, I tell you, lies!


You scored 0 evilness, 72 romance, 36 tragic, and 27 comic!

Philosophical procrastinator, Hamlet is among the greatest tragic
characters ever created. In dispair over his father's murder and his
mother's marriage to his uncle, Hamlet discovers that his new
stepfather and uncle is his father's killer. But Hamlet thinks about
revenge too long, which costs him his life.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on evilness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on romance
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 15% on tragic
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on comic

Link: The Shakespeare Character Test written by mandi_g on Ok Cupid
Stay Gold, Pony Boy
Coppola is bringing out an extended version of The Outsiders.

22 minutes longer. 22 minutes more of the golden years of Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon and even Diane Lane. But has it really been 23 years?

It's out September 20. Just in time for my birthday too.
Red Green would be proud
Passengers subdue an unruly man on a plane with duct tape.

Something tells me Red Green is smiling somewhere about it. Let's just hope we don't get all swabbed for adhesive from now on in the security checks.
Painful news
Hearing the news today that Baby Susan passed away, the premature baby girl born 3 months after her mother suffered an illness that rendered her braindead, after 5 weeks made my heart break.

My heart goes out to the Torres family. While their time with their daughter was so painfully brief, I can only feel that it was a blessing they were able meet her and spend a few weeks with their daughter in what was obviously a most horrific time.

Michelle Malkin has more here.
September 11, 2005
4 years
4 years since the world changed forever. 4 years since nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, including 26 Canadians. Our innocence shaken and lost.

My first words spoken that morning will never leave me. I called my mother and said 'The world's gone mad!' I don't even use that word in that context - mad - but I couldn't find the right ones to say.

It's easy to become complacent. Numbers fade the stories of the people. The pain we all felt as we waited in those days following September 11. Knowing people were trapped, knowing so many were so severely injured. Many lost their lives that day, but countless more were wounded - physically and emotionally. The children who will never know their parents. The families forever scarred by their missing loved ones.

There are many tributes out there today and I could do no better justice to the memory except to point out a couple that I thought were particularly moving.

Blackfive has a poem you should all read - The Day We Became One People.

Girl on The Right gets to the point in a selection of pictures you need to see.

A emotional slideshow of the scenes from that day is here.

Michelle Malkin has a fantastic dont-miss roundup of posts and pictures.

Vancouver remembers.

I remember.

Photography has always been a passion of mine, but one I know very little about. I take literally thousands of shots, where ever I go and am highly critical of the results. Ms Thang has probably had about 4,000 pictures taken and she now just rolls her eyes at the site of my camera. I'm sure Little Dude will learn to do the same but at the moment , he is just a big ham.

My cousin was an award-winning photographer, and her work was breathtaking. I always envied that. When she passed on, I inherited her camera and accessories, but they sit in a closet as I'm too intimidated to even begin to try an SLR. So I work with my 7.0MP digital camera and it does most of what I want to do, although I know there is much much more.

I decided to bite the bullet and signed up for a photography course starting September 27. It's not a long course, but includes 2 outdoor field trips and a little trainer on Photoshop. In my wildest dreams, I would love to be a professional but I know the competition is extremely fierce and well, I have no illusions I am just one of many. But it's something I enjoy deeply, all the same.

The pictures below are some of my favourites over the years:

Tall Ship Festival, Steveston BC 2003

Sunrise in Avignon, France 1997

Wild zebras, Pilanesburg, South Africa 1998 (Up until this point, I would never have believed zebras could really be camoflauged!)

Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver - 2003 from a Cessna
September 10, 2005
Nature's Beauty
Last night was the most beautiful sunset I'd seen in a long while. Considering the windstorm we had the night before, it was an amazing sight.

The windstorm the night before caused quite a lot of excitement, as a gust took my front fence down. The area I live in gets the wind stronger than most places because it's right on the water, and my house is one of the first the wind hits coming off the water after 30km. We often lose branches and trees in this area every fall, and the low growl of the wind is a common sound in the autumn.

But hearing my fence catch the wind and fall over was a bit shocking. A neighbour and I tried to shore it up, but during the night the continued gusts were too much. I had to climb over the 4 ft., which was at a 45 deg. angle to get to my car for work in the morning. And considering my lack of gracefulness with this knee, I am just hoping no neighbour happened to be watching out the window!

Still really feeling ill and am still on liquid diet. This is now over 2 weeks of naught but broth and juice. Although the last couple days, I've been wild and crazy adding buttermilk biscuits to the mix. Ooooh, hold me back! Unfortunately, things have not settled which lead me to the thought that I should just start eating all the bad things - chocolate and the like, as this seems to be some sort of free calorie week.

And I figure the fact I'm saving so much money by not being able to go out and drive anywhere, I may just have to splurge on something nice.
September 08, 2005
What Saint Are You?
Noted this on Rebecca's site and thought it was a good time-waster. Oh, that's probably not too saintlike is it?

You are Saint Francis of Assisi! You don't care
what you look like (or smell like) as long as
you can live simply and help the poor. You
should be receiving your stigmata any day now.

Which Saint Are You?
brought to you by

Having a bit of relapse again so posting will be light for a while.
September 06, 2005
Critical Mass
I went back to work today. It was a little strange...people acted a bit odd, and I wonder if honesty wasn't the best policy. Should I have just stuck with the 'flu' instead of telling them the truth - that diverticular disease decided to rise it's ugly head again?

One girl, the one I usually have lunch with seemed all shy and when I confronted her, she admitted she didn't want to have lunch because she felt bad I can't eat. I told her I would feel much worse if people started treating me differently. I guess it's just frustrating. I am not hiding what's wrong with me, although it's not a great conversation starter. I do try to keep it honest, yet discreet. But, truly, I think half the problem with Crohn's, DD, colitis and the like, is that it's one of those taboo topics. No one wants to hear about it and well, I don't like it much either, but I'd rather have something out in the open than questionable.

I am feeling a lot better, although still very tired. It will take time. This bout was nearly as bad as my week-long hospitalization in 2003 and it scares me, if I stop to think about it, that I will not get better. That this is with me for the long haul and will eventually require much more drastic measures. But I try not to stop to think about it...the time will come and I will deal with it then.

I am worried very much though about whether this hinders my chance at a full-time position at this place. The thought was bantied around, and they seemed pleased with my work, but given that they now know I have health problems, what is the chance now? But on the other hand, it is not optimal. The communication between departments is abyssmal and I am often left frustrated and annoyed. So I will just have to let the chips fall where they may.

As far as current news goes, I am at critical mass. I cannot, after nearly a full week of at least 12 hours a day, watching TV, live feeds and listening to scanners take more. I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until I found myself watching stupid insipid comedies like 'Keeping Up Appearances' just to keep my mind straight. I've also read a 1200-page book in the last day and a half and am finding much relief in sticking my nose of a swashbuckling, 18th century adventure novel.

For me, the focus on the pets was almost too much. I was shocked at the children's stories, the tragedies of the families and so on, but seeing those near-starved pups dying on TV broke my heart. I have hugged Molly far too often these last few days, and promised never to leave her....even if she does drive me absolutely insane at times.

Ms. Thang had her first day at (pre)-school today. The first day without her mom or any family around her and well, she did just fine. The rest of us, we're not sure of though. I think the whole family held their breath for the 2 hours she was there. But she came out, pleased as all can be, for painting a picture all by herself. She didn't even seem to realize no one was there but her!

And with that, I'm back to my book.
September 04, 2005
Sean Penn
Looks like Penn's attempt at heroism got off to a less than stellar start.

Precisely why entertainers should entertain, and let the professional emergency workers do what they do best. Last thing you need is energy spent on someone ill-prepared and trying to play hero when it could be spent helping those that truly need it.

Photos and more here. (And why is he wearing a white bullet proof vest?)
A moment of happiness when everything else seems so upturned.

What else are big sisters for?

Little Dude has mastered the art of crawling now. There is no stopping him, either.

Two weeks in a motorhome - or as Ms Thang calls it, Bumpa's Bus - has been an adventure. They drove all through BC and Alberta.

At one point, as they were entering the Rockies, Hayley exclaimed 'Bumpa, I didn't KNOW you could make mountains that big!' Everything seem different through a little one's eyes.
Yesterday I was finally able to leave the house for the first time in over a week. Or at least to somewhere that didn't involve a hospital or a doctor of some sort.

After 14 hours of watching news a day, it was a welcome few hours.

I went to my brother's for dinner, now that they're back from their holiday. But it was a solemn meal. So much in the world and in our local scene has really taken a toll.

My sister-in-law's nephew in Mobile is still without power and telephone, one week later. We are thankful he has food and a roof over his head, but he is far from fine. The strain on my sister-in-law's face was palpable.

My niece's husband talked about a local radio station that instead of giving away prize tickets is now auctioning them off for Hurricane Katrina.

My younger niece, who is already a very sensitive person had a terrible shock when she went to work yesterday. Someone had been found dead at her place of work.

We spoke of the emergency workers, and specifically the police officers in New Orleans. With my brother being a police officer, these stories take a special meaning. We admired them for what must be above and beyond the most horrific circumstances, while the media focuses on the negative of their job. The looting and those that chose to turn in their badges. But those are such a few and don't speak for the many, many others that are there. That are giving everything they have, and likely haven't seen their families in days.

We all talked about having nightmares this week and not being able to sleep. We talked about our plans if a catastrophe were to hit here. Especially considering last night's local news showed my street when they were talking about the first place to go if something were to happen here.

My sister-in-law said 'Sue, you don't just get in your car and come here. Don't wait.' Then we realized that's not a great plan either, considering to get there involves a tunnel or a bridge.

It was good, in a lot of ways, to get together and just be thankful that we can.
September 02, 2005
Getting one's head around the Katrina disaster is bad enough from a remote perspective, but anyone who has ever been involved in logistics knows, the sad fact is response takes time. I've been in Logistics and Purchasing for far too long, and my mind just thinks in terms of lead times and supply chain. Trust me, if there was some way to just click your heels together three times, and just have everything in place, it would have been done.

Here's a great post touching on the topics of logistics that are involved here. Not only is it extremely difficult to have a large enough response in place quickly, the danger is balancing all this in such a way not to deterioriate an already difficult situation by burdening the local area. Imagine in all this tragedy having thousands upon thousands of helpers descend into the scene, without proper backup. These people also need to eat, they also need to have a place to do their 'business'. Yes, people are dying and that is what makes this just so incredibly heart wrenching but I have to believe that absolutely everything that can be done is being done, and as quickly as possible. We see only such a small snippet of things on the news - no one would ever want to watch hours of the planning sessions, paperwork, requisitioning, vendor placements that are definitely occurring. It's a reality that with anything of this magnitude that there is an administration aspect too.

Since there is much in the news and other blogs about response, I would like to highlight some of the local stories.

The Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue arrived in Louisiana and has a little bit of a mini-blog happening here. They report from St. Bernard's Parish that "e want to assure everyone back home that we are safe, and in good spirits. It's a dangerous situation, but that's why we were deployed here, and that's what we train for ..."

Canada is also sending three warships and a coast guard vessel, leaving Tuesday.

The Canadian Red Cross is on it's way. And even more agencies and organizations that are on their way are listed here.

This will be an excruciatingly long process. The most articulate planning could never have foreseen this and I think that any armchair commenting about what's going wrong is just far too early. There will be plenty of time for much assistance and labour required in the rebuilding, but for now, it should be left to the experts to get things stablized.

Part of it is a 'Chicken Little' situation in that there have been so many warnings before that did not come to fruition.

But seriously, last weekend, when the reports started saying this hurricane had the ability to obliterate the coast, with all the sensationalism in the news, who really believed it? We all have a strong sense of 'It won't happen to me'. Unfortunately, for the people of the Gulf Coast, it did.
September 01, 2005
Wake Me Up When September Ends

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A Moment Of Levity
Best "Out-of-Office" Automated E-Mail Replies

1. I am currently out at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Be prepared for my mood.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. I will be unable to delete all the unread, worthless e-mails you send me until I return from holiday on 4 April. Please be patient and your e-mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

4. Thank you for your e-mail. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first ten words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

5. The e-mail server is unable to verify your server connection and is unable to deliver this message. Please restart your computer and try sending again. (The beauty of this is that when you return, you can see how many in-duh-viduals did this over and over).

6. Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

7. I've run away to join a different circus.


8. I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as 'Margaret' instead of 'Steve.'
As the descent into chaos turns to a steeper drop in New Orleans, reports of gunfire at the Superdome causing suspension of rescue efforts and even sniper fire at hospitals?

Even the bloody Tamil Tigers put their guns down when the tsunami hit!

Those people, if they can ever get their hands on them (and assuming they aren't killed themselves) need to be prosecuted for 1st degree murder or whatever the highest legal ramification is. For every moment, police and National Guard must spend on keeping control is one moment not spent on saving someone else.

I wrote back last December, after the tsunami, what the response would be like if such a thing occurred here. I asked what we would think of mass funeral pyres and I'm deeply disturbed to think that it is far too likely that we will be hearing of that far too soon.

As far as planning goes, there's only so much planning that can be done. Sadly, every attempt at trying to plan and excercise is trumped by the wildcard of human behaviour. There is always the feeling that the worst case fears are never realized and when they are, it goes beyond comprehension.

The living conditions in the Superdome are beyond the worst possible.

Senior Thinking has a post up about the numbers we are likely looking at and it's sobering.

Ravishing Light talks about the City the Damned Call Home.

And now no mail? Through rain, through sleet, through snow, but not so much flood and hurricane.

WWLTV has a breaking news thread that has been very informative too.

In positive news, we heard last night from our family member in Mobile. His cell phone wasn't accepting calls so it was getting very nerve wracking, but knowing that so many people are in the same boat, we could do nothing more than wait. However, late last night, a text message that simply said 'We are ok. No phone, no electric, but no flood. Will call when can. Helping out where needed.'


Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
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  • The WeatherPixie