Monday, January 30, 2006


Some things are better left unsaid. As much as one of our basic needs is to socialize, to form friendships and share intimacies with these friends, I have to repeat, some things are better left unsaid. Some things need to be secrets and those secrets need to be kept.

Now normally the fundamental standard for things left unsaid is to avoid saying anything that will hurt another. That’s one reason for leaving things unsaid. But there are other reasons. Saying things that should be left unsaid can a) prejudice factual realities b) create in the listener a superego of self-importance, c) raise unrealistic expectations, or d) in the case of warped personalities, propagate devious behavior. Reasons important to keep in mind as you continue reading these thoughts.

It’s not as if Hub and I hadn’t discussed this. We have discussed it. And we concluded that, yes, even in open and honest relationships, occasionally some things are best left unsaid. We agreed that was true and we agreed that’s how it should be.

But this morning I am so bloody disappointed. I knew what Chinese Year it was, but because it is better to leave some things unsaid, I didn’t say a word. But not Hub.

This morning I heard him in the bedroom. "Gather round puppies, I have something important to tell you. It’s the Chinese Year of the Dog! Truly, it really is."

Yikes! How dumb was that?

So now this morning when I arranged D.O.G.'s (pronounced Dough-Gee's) breakfast with his usual variation of moist and dry food garnished with a bit of hamburger and two milk bones on the side, he wasn’t satisfied. Even kicked the dish which is something he normally only does when it’s empty. Wouldn’t touch it till I warmed it in the microwave for 20 seconds. What’s with that? Only thing different from previous mornings is some a-- told him it is The Year of the Dog!

Immediately after that, all dogs thumped their tails on the floor, and stared at us and paced about our feet in their usual determination that we should go for a walk. I conceded by going to the bedroom to get my joggers on. But Dough-Gee beat me and pulled them off the chair and shoved that at me. Something he has never done before. And then while I was struggling to get into them, he grabbed his squeak-ball which he likes to chase and catch but never squeaks (except accidentally), and began a most rapid, loud, unending succession of squeak-squeak-squeak. He was trying to tell us something and the interpretation was crystal clear.

Interpretation: "Woohoo! It’s The Year of the Dog and I am a Dog, It’s the Year of the Dog and I am a Dog!"

Now I don’t mean to complain but life is demanding enough with these three bossy canines without some a-- telling them it is The Year of the Dog! The only thing that could be worse was if there was a Chinese Year of the Cat. But thank goodness there isn’t. There's the year of the dog, followed by the pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep and monkey. There probably once was a Year of the Cat, but for obvious reasons, it was short-lived after someone told the cat.

I intended to say more but this discussion is forced to come to a sudden end. Dough-gee just grabbed the car keys off the bench and must have squeezed the instant start button in his mouth because, intentional or not, my car is now running. Obviously he is putting on the pressure to go to town. Evidence of my already stated point that the telling of things that should be left unsaid can propagate within a warped personality, devious behavior that had never been formerly contemplated.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Thoughts based on observation and real life rather than research

In my own working career, business administrators used one of two approaches to resolve problems with employees. There were ‘firings’ (i.e. abrupt dismissals after repeated warnings), but there was another fascinating bit of business that I never would have known about it if it hadn’t been explained to me by a boss that had gone to an Employee Management Seminar. Something trickily labeled ‘constructive discipline’.

First take is ‘constructive’ sounds good; goal-orientated in a positive way. And maybe from a boss perspective it is. But from an employee perspective ‘constructive discipline’ hardly makes any sense at all.

In fact it would make more sense if it were called ‘destructive discipline’ instead because this is a process that seeks to diminish a worker’s self-worth by reducing authority without explanation and deliberately replacing high-end tasks with menial and repetitive tasks. A skuzzy process intended to make workers feel uninvolved, unloved and unwanted.

And because the strategy is a form of intelligence operation, it is highly secretive. Only the boss and executive staff can know. No one ever tells the person that is being ‘constructively disciplined’. It’s a big secret that the employee is unaware of. An unexplained time-out or avoidance discipline that leaves an employee puzzled and often thinking – “Something is so wrong here. Why am I being treated like this?” And when the rejection starts to rot their soul, they are so bewildered that they ultimately resign (which is often the hoped for result). But if walking out the door is not an option for them, they hang in there, in utter misery, meekly hoping things will get better, determined to stick it out – one painful day at a time.

The other thing about ‘constructive discipline’ is that it is far too often applied to persons who least deserve it. Unwarranted, because these are not employees that are slackers, that take all their sick days and then some. And oftentimes they are not workers that are consistently late for work, or invariably fail to meet deadlines. These are most often good and loyal employees that slip into a temporary slump as we all do at one time or another. Employees that are just bloody burnt out, or employees that are dedicating too much time to taking up other’s slack. Employees frustrated by lack of training, or in the midst of some personal turmoil that affects their work for a time. But, don’t get me wrong here, it is not always the undeserving employee who is forced to endure the scourge of ‘constructive discipline’.

Other times, ‘constructive discipline’ is applied when employees become so proficient in their own minds that they are unwilling to listen and learn. Or when the boss notices that despite a worker’s exceptional quality of work, they are equally efficient in another role – as a highly-infectious whimpering ball of negativity that infects the mood of the entire office.

In summation, the reason ‘constructive discipline’ is so distressing to workers is because it is like fighting an invisible enemy. Like a form of terrorism. How does a worker explain to a mediation board what is happening when they are so puzzled they can’t explain it? But from a bosses’ standpoint, this is the real cat’s meow. So easily justified to an adjudicating board by the simple statement. “Every job has its ups-and-downs – its pleasant tasks and unpleasant ones.”

I could go on and on but I think this is enough of a rant for today except for this final thought. When I started writing this I had nothing more in mind than a terse discussion about workplace discipline but at its conclusion, my mind is making other connections.

You may have to re-read this to see the parallels, but as my thoughts progressed I couldn’t help thinking that it is quite amazing that untold multitudes of people can apply a principle without even knowing about it or understanding it. I think on Tuesday voters decided to apply the theory of ‘constructive discipline’ to Paul Martin’s Liberal government.

And the other thought I had while writing this but it would take a blog or four to explore it – I wonder what kind of understanding people have of ‘constructive discipline’ that makes them think this form of discipline is an exemplary way to discipline a child?

There is much in these thoughts for discussion. If you live in the real world, I’m going to be quite puzzled if you don’t participate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


It started first thing Tuesday morning. An interview with a Liberal Leader who won his own constituency seat but expressed such ‘bitterness’ that federally, his party was defeated. The ‘bitterness’ part was not my assessment, that word was the assessment of the hostess of the interview. But I had to agree.

Now as far as him feeling disappointed and dismayed – that’s okay. It’s natural that he would feel that way especially if the Prime-Ministerial turn of events came as a total surprise. But at the same time, there was no excuse for the arrogant comments he made about his own wisdom versus the mental deficiency of most of the voting population. And it was just this attitude in his remarks that prompted the interview hostess’ reference to ‘his bitterness’. I couldn’t help but think how much more gracious it would have been for him to simply express gratefulness for local support, but he didn’t even go there.

Now another part of this interview hinted at this individual's aspirations to become the new Party leader. But if that is true, I think as a hopeful, he needs to be mindful that in a democracy all people have a voice, all people have a vote, and that means entitlement to their own interpretation of political perspectives, and their own choice of political affiliations. And this opportunity of choice, even if in opposition to his own, does not mean these voters are ninnies, as he would have us think.

And furthermore, when a person in a leadership role has the audacity to assume that he has a complete and replete understanding of everything and at the same time assumes that everyone else who thinks differently understands nothing, then that is undeniably contemptuous thinking on his part.

So what is good leadership material? The best leaders are those that demonstrate the ability to accept defeat graciously by saying (without bitterness, and without contempt), “The voters have spoken.”

But having said that, I want to conclude by reminding my readers that since neither you nor I are in cabinet positions or hopeful party leaders, or Prime Minister wanna-bees, we do not have to prove our worthiness and we can be as bitter or pleased as we want to.

Among ourselves we can slice it however we see it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


So tell me, how were you feeling yesterday? The reason I’m asking is because British psychologist, Dr. Cliff Arnall, has created a scientific formula to determine the most depressing day of the year. And this year that day was January 23rd.

Now if you’re already saying you didn’t need to know that, oh yes you did. You needed to know that because no matter how low, how blue, how depressed, you might have been on Monday, you are better today (despite the outcome of the election) and that is not wisdom from any mystical or astrological soothsaying. That is a fact.

And the other fact of the matter is you are not going to have another day as blue as Monday, January 23rd, until some time around the 23rd or 24th of January in 2007. So that has to be a cheery thought for your day.

Of course the other consideration, that I’d rather not mention, is all the old-hat stuff that plays into this perfect science. Things like proper rest, volunteering, healthy diet, exercise, etc. These are the things that the experts say could mess up your most depressing day and unwittingly shift it to a random occurrence on your birthday, graduation day, wedding day, or some otherwise festive occasion. So it’s your decision. You can choose to have your most depressing day when everyone else is having theirs, or you can choose to skip the rest, routine, exercise, etc. and have your most depressing day occur whenever.

Personally I prefer the idea of all reaching out to each other and being depressed together. One specified and set-aside day for that kind of business. And now that we know when such a thing will occur, it seems to me that if ever a day needed stat-holiday status, the most depressing day of the year should definitely be out there front and center. Depression, like a bad cold, prefers being put to bed with a box of tissues near at hand, rather than being out and about.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I’ve only been to ‘High Tea’ on one occasion, and that was at the Grand Empress in Victoria, BC while holidaying there. But I have been to so many teas that surpassed the elegance of the Grand Empress. Many tea-times over the years with fine china, much linen and lace, fresh cut flowers, fresh scones from the oven, and plenty of farm butter and thick cream. Precious tea-times where I was greeted so warmly, treated with such appreciation, with all the protocol and calming bliss of any royal tea-party.

The hostess for these special events was Hub’s Mother. She treasured company. And she particularly enjoyed socializing over a tray of dainties and a fine cup of tea. And of course when Grandmother served tea, all were included, even the little ones. On days when the children were driving Hub and I crazy and ripping around the house like little heathens, their Grandmother would say, “Let them be. They’ll be fine. I’m serving tea very soon.”

And when tea was served, after the children had chosen a beautiful china cup and saucer from their Grandmother’s collection and she had poured them milk with the tiniest hint of tea, a most astonishing thing happened. My children immediately became models of good behavior. All horse-play immediately halted. There was an abrupt end to silliness, giddiness, and raucous behavior when tea was served. A transformation beyond comprehension suddenly happened.

When ‘tea’ was announced they climbed on their chairs, crossed their ankles, straightened their little backs, held heads high, feet and arms calm and still and then began softly spoken funny and delightful interchanges that mimicked adults in such a comical way. Stuff like – “How was your trip today?” “These biscuits are so delightful.” “May I please have a bit more tea?” “That is a beautiful cup.” And so they dallied over these special tea-times with displays of patience that I have never seen before or since.

Hub’s Mother honored tea time with her grandchildren in such a special way. So maybe it is not so surprising that since her passing YD has a passion for tea time and all its trappings. I can only think this passion has descended on YD by way of copied links in her DNA coupled with a wish to hold close forever the memory of special times with her dear Grandma. And so, in the past year or so, YD has begun feverishly collecting tiered platters, bone china, silver spoons, doilies, and lace and linen tablecloths.

As for me, I find this new passion fascinating. In fact, I find myself quite caught up in her passion and why wouldn’t I be after the last tea party where we shared light-hearted conversation amid the gracious delights of fancy bite-size sandwiches, cakes, wafers, chocolate truffles and other assorted morsels served on her special three-tiered platter?

So now I find myself browsing the net looking for recipes for Devonshire cream, Lemon Curd, Scones, and other things related historically to the proper form and substance of tea-time. But in my research I find that some of the tea traditions so fundamental to her Grandmother’s tea presentation are missing. Things like:

1. A fine hand-embroidered linen and lace-trimmed tablecloth (flawlessly pressed).
2. A centerpiece of fresh-cut flowers or a vigorously blooming house plant.
3. Special silver spoons with a variety of decorative handles that had a unique story behind each of them.
4. Always sandwich plates even if the only dainties are two kinds of store-bought cookies (though of course Gram always had a grand selection).
5. Loose tea leaves with a special little tea strainer. Grandma was right – leaves do make better tea.
6. A hostess with a steady warm smile uniformed in a lovely fresh ruffled apron as cheery and bright as the flowers in the center of the table.
7. Everything arranged and presented with the utmost care and attention. And just in case there wasn’t enough beauty in Grandma’s lace and china, she always had a few special photos within reach on a side-board. Or special cards, poems, inspirational thoughts, or letters from distant friends to share with guests.
8. Light-hearted, upbeat, conversations about only nature or things you love that can love you back.
9. And finally, a special little guest book for signatures and brief notations about the occasion.

Now the thought that occurred to me is this year for YD’s Birthday I would like to give her a special handmade scrapbook of ‘Tea-Time Protocol’ so I need to know if you have any other suggestions to add to the tea-time list. I might wrap her gift in a hand-made brilliantly flowered ruffled apron. Wonder if she’ll wear it. Who knows? More unexpected things have happened.

I was certainly surprised to find that she carries the silly multi-colored hat I made of yarn scraps with her at all times and always puts it on before entering a Tea House. She calls it her Tea Hat.

I laughed the day she went to an expensive Tea House that promised to be one of grand finesse and was carelessly served tea in a mug. “What’s with that?” she asked me later with such dismay. “I couldn’t believe such a thing could happen. Did they NOT notice that I was wearing my tea hat!”

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Hub went out on a job yesterday afternoon. And what was he doing? He was out in some distant neck of the woods trying to make snow. No kidding, that’s what he was doing.

I was amazed that he was contracted for such an occupation. I couldn’t help thinking that in this part of the country, ‘making snow’ is about as ridiculous as crocheting socks for table-legs or toques for hard-boiled eggs. But regardless of the specific purpose, someone needed snow so Hub was making snow.

Now I don’t have any idea what a snow-making machine looks like or even how it works. But Hub, who was working long into the night, called around midnight with a progress report. He told me that because of the mild temperatures the snow-making machine was making more slush then snow, and because of the winds, the bit of water that was successfully converting into snow was blowing away.

Then very early this morning, I awoke to the smell of fresh coffee and bacon frying. When I went to the kitchen, there was Hub at the table eating breakfast. And looking out the window, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yesterday the ground was bare. This morning the ground was covered with snow. The trees were covered with snow. The vehicles in the yard were covered with snow. Everything everywhere was covered with snow. It was all so unbelievable.

“My goodness,” I said, with a laugh, “you certainly made a lot of snow last night! Did you use the machine or did you talk to the big guy?”

“I made that snow with the snow machine,” he said with a grin of obvious self-satisfaction. “I talked to the big guy as well. Asked him if he wanted us to make snow through creationism or intelligent design. He voted for intelligent design and I’m assuming that meant generated by the snow-making machine. So that’s what we did.”

Monday, January 16, 2006


I’m concerned about the removal of so much of the play equipment now considered ‘unsafe’ from playgrounds. I worry that by doing this we might be creating a generation who will take foolhardy risks later in life having missed the opportunity as children to learn their own physical limitations. And in a similar manner, a new genre in Literature, surprisingly enough, has me thinking along the same lines. It is not easy to explain but let me give it a try.

Now the distinctive thing about humans is that we understand our mortal limitations, and because of this we seek mastery over fate through spirituality. And coupled with that we exercise caution. But now, it seems to me, like the stripping of playgrounds, we are stripping away the current generations’ personal quest for that understanding. We are handing them a new template that frees them from cautionary wisdom and the puzzling questions of purpose, values, and redemption.

And how are we doing it? With a new genre in movies and books. The genre of the dead narrator. The narrator that has died and is now in a place of all-seeing, all-knowing, all-wisdom, looking down from some perch enthralled and vastly entertained by what is going on in the living world.

It is a genre that has gained popularity at an overwhelming rate particularly with teens and adolescents. And what’s the harm in it? Well it seems to me, it could foster a generation of foolhardy risk-takers. A generation, like the kids in an ultra-safe playground, that no longer recognize their limitations. And the equal harm it does, is erase from one’s consciousness any need for reflective thinking and fostering of a spiritual concept. Despite all that, one might still say, ‘What’s the harm? This is just another take on the after-life notions of most religions.’

And in that I am forced to agree except for one critical thing. Within the dead-narrator concept, there is no Supreme Being (or if there is he is also dead) and thus no moral obligation for anyone to be the best they can be. “Desperate Housewives” is a prime example and there is certainly no moral obligations evident in that story. And these are tales that adapt a first-person narrator approach posturing as non-fictional autobio accounts of real-life drama.

But getting back to the greater reality of things, you and I understand full well that this whole dead-narrator business is nothing more than a creative writer’s imagination. But when I talk to young people who watch these shows, I have found to my amazement that they actually perceive life and death to be just that. And the addictive quality of the dead-narrator story is that it gives young people no reason to fear injury or their demise. In the event of a disaster all one has to do is grab their notions and mental assessments (no backpack required) and fly the unhappy scene. Vacate that physical vessel promptly before any pain strikes. Then they comfortably hover near the ceiling fan, still hanging out with friends but in a different dimension, and do a chuckling commentary on what a cryin’ shame it is that the battered body below on the stretcher will not be skiing on the weekend.

So when we present youth with this over-simplified interpretation of life and death, could such a concept lead to foolhardy recklessness? Many of us are of the opinion that violence on TV deadens sensitivity. But is this even more dangerous? In that, rather than desensitizing us to the woes of others it crushes our primeval instincts to preserve our own existence at all costs? When something is over-simplified there is nothing to contemplate. No need to contemplate caution. No need to contemplate limitations.

Young people tend to be reckless by their very nature. And the reckless ones lead lifestyles that ignore cautions that are so important. The hazards of drinking and driving and speeding and drugs. The danger of radical sports. Protection from aids. And even lesser concerns such as protection from disease through hand-washing and safe food preparation. Do we need to add more tonic to this kind of reckless mix?

But I can see why this new genre is so popular. It does mimic religion but in a far less demanding way. This is a belief that dispels so many fears without moral obligation. And it layers perceptions until they become solid beliefs that form safety barriers – the safest being a complete misunderstanding of our limitations. Is it a good thing for us to hide real and present dangers behind this façade?

Sunday, January 15, 2006


A couple months ago a friend who was examining my collection of knitted slippers showed me the lovely handmade socks he got for Christmas last year. “Do you knit socks?” he asked.

“No,” I replied. “I prefer knitting slippers because they can be completed so quickly.”

Now almost immediately I wished I hadn’t had this conversation. Because this exchange got me wondering if I could, in fact, knit a pair of socks. And the wondering led to a further step. Although I have never contemplated knitting socks, (for cryin’ out loud I can buy 6 pairs for ten bucks), some invisible force grabbed hold of me when I was in town and led me to the Yarn shop and endorsed the purchase of some delicate wool yarn.

Now I am not a proficient knitter by a long shot. I’ve never learned to hold my work properly so that the yarn is threaded through the fingers to feed to the work automatically and the needles click as rapidly as the stitching of a sewing machine. But my knitting is very nice with an even tension even though each stitch is a separate struggle. And one would never know by looking at my slippers how knitting-challenged I truly am.

But nevertheless when I got home with my sock-specific yarn, there was nothing for it but to get out my thinnest needles and arduously set to work knitting socks. It took a few days but eventually I completed a lovely ribbed cuff and the upper portion of the first sock. But when I got to the instructions for turning the heel, it was Greek to me. Couldn’t understand a word of it. But I wasn’t about to start raveling it out now. So I fussed and fumed between pattern and process for a couple days. Eventually, unable to proceed, I searched the Web and found a similar pattern with understandable instructions on how to turn the heel and thus I continued.

So now the heel is finished and it is a mighty fine heel. The foot has progressed slowly but nicely and I am now about to start decreases to shape the toe. Not far to go now. And it is a beautiful sock. It doesn’t even look homemade. It looks like it was done by the Finest Knitting Mill in the land. But even that is not encouraging. It was so much work. And in order to have a pair, I’m going to have to do that same amount of work again. And as I told you previously, as Youngest Daughter so aptly said, a second sock to match the first seems quite redundant.

But that is not my only concern. If I finish these socks and give them to Hub he will treat them with such disrespect. Starting with putting them on his smelly feet. That is sacrilegious enough but then he will probably even wear them under his old work-boots that are partially separated from the soles when he is repairing sewers or digging ditches. And guaranteed, he will have holes in the heels before my knitting needles even cool down.

These concerns got me thinking about the people that craft rugs and hang them on the wall instead of putting them on the floor. And those that have coffee-table books that aren’t meant to be read. And those that have guest towels in the bathroom that aren’t meant to be used. Those that make apple jelly that will never be eaten. Apple jelly that will be stashed in the preserves cupboard. But before they stash that apple jelly (‘never to be seen again’ as Hub always says) they strategically place each of the jars upside-down on the kitchen counter for several weeks for all the neighbors to admire. The pretense being the jelly is only there temporarily to cool, but we all know better. It is there to advertise the effort gone into making it.

But getting back to my sock project, try as I might, I can’t face the arduous task of making another sock. Equally I can’t face the thought of another incomplete project in my craft bin. And another consideration –once I seal the toe on this first sock and remove the needles, how can I prove to anyone with absolute certainty that I actually knitted this sock? How then, do I advertise my skill and effort? These questions led to an obvious conclusion. I must bring the whole bothersome business to an immediate conclusion.

So I brought up my best wicker basket from the basement. Lined it with a bit of batting and a cover of rich burgundy satin. I dug out some knitting needles I never use and sprayed them with gold paint. Flashy gold paint. I used these to replace the old dull needles I had been working with. I arranged some balls of yarn in the basket. One attached to the incomplete sock, and another to artistically complement the colors of the basket, the basket lining, and my living-room décor. I even added a ceramic kitten in a playful pose.

It is now a delightful centerpiece for the dining-room table. And although there is only one sock that is very nearly completed, this project is now finished. The arrangement I just described to you is lovely to look at but it serves another more fundamental purpose. No one will ever ask again, “Do you knit socks?”

Although they may very well say, “Oh, I see you are a knitter of very fine socks.” And I’ll respond by saying, “You bet I am!”


P.S. Perhaps I should have been a politician. This exercise proves that I did what I set out to do even if I didn't come near the accomplishment of that which was fully expected.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Poor Mrs. Nearby. She never gets books for Christmas. But then I don’t either but this year that all changed. This year I got three books. And guess what? One has a brief greeting in the author’s hand addressed specifically to me. How neat is that?

Now Mrs. Nearby and I get quite involved in reading during the winter months. I loan her books to read and she loans me books to read. On Boxing Day she popped in for coffee with five old Charles Dicken’s books. I was so pleased. New books are nice; old books are special.

So while I scanned the titles of the special books Mrs. Nearby brought me, she sat caressing the fresh jackets of my new books. Then she asked pensively, wistfully, with a tone of sadness.

"Why do I never get books for gifts? When reading is my principle occupation and everyone knows it, why don’t I get books for Christmas? How come you got books and I never do?"

And you know that comment forced me to think about it. Why doesn’t she get books? Why don’t more people get books? And so then and there I went off in a tangent of all those pop-ups in my head about why people don’t buy books for gifts.

"Could it be because friends are doubtful about what kind of book to buy?
Maybe because when you wrap up a book, you wrap up an obligation—the obligation to read it.

Maybe giving a book suggests the receiver has too much leisure time.
Maybe your friends are clinical housekeepers that keep homes barren of books. And seeing the books you already have, they think the last thing you need is another book.

And as for Self-Help books, be thankful you don’t get them. That is another slippery slope. These are books that can easily be interpreted as criticisms of how you think or act. When I bought a friend a copy of my favorite cookbook, her son remarked, "One thing Mom knows how to do without a book is cook!" I was appalled that this was the interpretation cast on my gift."

After this rant, I was rather out of breath. "My God," my neighbor replied with astonishment. If that’s only the first quick rush into your head about why I never get books, I’d hate to see the whole list. But I do believe your right. But that still doesn’t explain why you got books for Christmas and I didn’t."

Poor Mrs. Nearby. No books for Christmas. So when she was leaving I asked her which one of my new books she would like to borrow cause I’ll be reading the special Dickens books she loaned me for a week or two.

Do you ever get books for Christmas? Or perhaps I should ask, how do you feel when you get books?

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Now let me first say that I am not a hard-baked Liberal or Conservative. Over the years I have voted both ways though of course not at the same time. And that brings me to today’s thoughts.

Canadians are in the midst of an election. Listening and analyzing each political platform. And what I’ve noticed is that the media commentators rutted in a Liberal mindset are vigorously shaking their heads and saying that Canada can definitely not afford the changes promised by the Conservatives. They don’t harp so much on the changes being bad – they more often justify opposition by saying they are too costly. Out of reach. They say we will be so broke. So in debt.

But without any particularly polished political intelligence, it seems to me that if we can find government leadership that leans less heavily on “We’ve Done NO Wrong” policies’ for secret kick-backs, missing money, fraudulent expenses, and illicit squandering, Canada would have a hefty increase in available money. Enough money to support any change of venue, be it Conservative or NDP or The Bloc or the Green Party.

Now I so often watch talk shows and wonder why the obvious question isn’t asked. What does this grand feat of a balanced budget mean? Is it possible for a fraudulently-run business to soundly-balance its books?

I suppose if one is liberal-minded enough, it’s possible.


Other related thoughts in a previous post about conspicuously stupid things.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Which is more painful? Childbirth or something jabbed deep under a fingernail? This morning I know and it isn’t childbirth. I know because yesterday I scraped some hard stuff off the baseboard by the dog’s dish and ended up with a foreign object lodged well out of sight under my thumb-nail. This morning it is infected, and I am writhing in pain.

Now normally I don’t discuss my physical ailments with anyone unless they are truly severe. But when there is no other cure, a bit of sympathy can go a long way toward making one feel better. And with a thumb-nail far too sore to jab other things under there to dislodge the irritant, I simply had to conclude it was best left alone. To throb. To swell. To hurt. Nothing for it except understanding and sympathy from an outside source. So I showed Hub my painful thumb.

Now life is better when you retire and more amusing when you live with someone with a good sense of humor. But since Christmas, Hub who is normally quite silly, is even sillier. In fact, I’m certain we haven’t shared a serious moment since Dec 25th. Whenever I want to be serious, need to be serious, Hub is silly and light-hearted. In a joking mood. He calls it ‘congeniality’, I call it ‘nonsense’. It can be so bloody irritating but perhaps he is not solely to blame. Maybe there is just something about the spirit of the season or the abnormally warm weather or super-charged ions in the air that have made him into an irritating ‘smart-ass’ for lack of a better term.

Anyway this morning, while close to tears because of the excruciating pain, I showed Hub my finger. I was comforted when he donned his glasses and closely examined the redness and painful swelling and then said with a truly sympathetic tone, “Awww. That looks really sore.”

Then he laughed, actually tipped back his chair and roared while holding up his stubby thumb and waving it in the air – a thumb that is missing both tip and fingernail since an industrial accident many years ago. Now this whole move was to ‘send a message’ as the politicians would say. Not a message of ‘sympathy’, but rather a message of ‘immunity’. I stared at him in disbelief. What could I say?

“You are horse’s ass,” I said. Get that thumb out of my face and sit on it or keep it under your chair or in your pocket until mine is better!”

Now I’ve told Hub again and again in the past. “If you continue to act so silly and suddenly develop a mental problem I will not recognize the symptoms. And by the time I realize that you have a brain tumor or brain disease you will be way too far gone for any medical help.”

This morning I have to wonder, maybe I should have sought help for Hub a long time ago. Do you think?

Sunday, January 08, 2006


It happened quite by chance that not so long ago a group of us were gathered around the kitchen table discussing the reasons Bloggers blog. Below are some of the reasons we came up with but of course there are more.

1. A way to socialize without having to dress up and go out
2. Writing practice for those who dream of writing
3. To create another environment to escape to when the first is in utter chaos
4. To magnify the excitement of one’s life or give sophistication to a mundane existence
5. Blogging is better than housework or yard work
6. A search for sympathy and understanding
7. To contribute, in some small way, to a better political or social order.
8. For historical posterity (for our children and grandchildren)
9. (Climbing on the couch) Psychologist sessions with a perceived but invisible cyber-therapist

Now as it turned out, on this particular day, our Wilderness-Bush-Man friend was part of the discussion group though I expect he wished he wasn’t. He yawned with disinterest and waited silently for our discussion to veer toward something more meaningful. His boredom was understandable because I’m quite certain WBM has never read a blog and being a full-time out-of-doors man, computers are of no interest to him either. So after waiting for an hour or more for us to move on to another subject, he ran out of patience and fairly shouted out.

“I know why people blog,” he said.

“To p - - - - - - t - - - - - -.”

I was amazed at his wisdom. Obviously, that’s it. A clear concise and simple answer to why all of us blog.

So your little Wheel-of-Fortune puzzle for today is to guess what he said. I will give you the answer in the comments section before I write my next post (or should I just add a few more letter clues to sustain the game?) And seeing as how I only have three readers, it is good that this isn’t one of those games that require four players. By the way, if you don’t want to play the game, I still would like to know why “you” blog.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Sometimes I have rigid opinions about how I think things should be. I’m forced to acknowledge that because on more than one occasion I have been labeled by friends or associates as “opinionated”. Now normally I don’t like being labeled any better than the next man or woman, but it seems to me that ‘opinionated’ is a label that seldom, if ever, is applied in a unthinking off-handed way. If people say I am “opinionated” then I accept that indeed I must be.

And though I don’t particularly relish such a criticism, I feel blessed that I am aware of it. Knowing that others see me as opinionated has made me strive to be more open to understanding opposing views.

But despite that, there remains a rigidity in some of my opinions that I cannot overcome. In my head and heart are some values that are so deep-rooted they leave me totally helpless. Forced to keep them, acknowledge them, preach them, live them, and support them. And the weirdest part of all this is I don’t even know where they came from.

One of the notions I have in my unscientific cache is my steadfast opposition to giving children only facts. I rigidly oppose the outright massacre of Easter Bunnies, tooth-fairies, angels, Santa Claus, elves and the legends that go with these famous creatures. My heart and soul must defend the right of these creatures to exist in the minds of children.

I feel life is too short to give children the hard facts on war, floods, starvation, forest fires, and all the other disturbing stuff I see on the news day in and day out. But our current social trend is that as parents we are obliged to do that. And then we are to follow that up with some kind of polished in-vogue ‘parental guidance’ intended to suspend any fears or doubts this information might kindle. Problem is, we have our own smug interpretation of our well-thought-out-explanations and it is very good. But ideas float around like invisible spirits. Despite the self-stroking we get from being ‘a totally honest parent’, there is a problem. We can’t assume that in a child’s mind, our interpretation is theirs. There is no scientific way to know that for a certainty.

Now in recent days, I have had my nose in a fascinating book. The book I have been reading is Charles Dickens’ book entitled “Hard Times”. And to my amazement the substance of this book (written way back in 1850 or 1860) is the damage we do to the consciousness of children by rearing them on a strict diet of facts.

If Dickens is not your cup of tea, you might change your mind if you just read Chapter I of this book. Dickens may not have been a scientist of Einstein’s caliber, but his works are honored by academics at all levels for his uncanny understanding of the timeless ingredients of our social order and how perspectives of human selfishness can warp and twist that social order.

Now I don’t want to get into a long rambling book review. May it just suffice to say that Dickens certainly proves in this work that children need a diet of fantasy for the sake of joy in their youth and sentiment, empathy, and nurturing skills as adults.

And in support of that, I remain strongly opinionated.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I looked out my window this morning in a moment of quiet meditation. All is the same, ever the same. This morning there is the same blanket of snow that we have had for several weeks now. There has been no fresh fall of flakes and only the heavy frost on the trees and the calendar near the window allow me to keep the January faith. The weather is as dull and repetitious as everyday life.

No doubt about it, this kind of weather is a drag. But I guess the old saying, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ is true because the unchanging weather has become too familiar. Each day when I look out the window I expect dreariness. But then this morning while looking I contemplated how the ground glimmered with silvery diamonds in mass profusion after the last snowfall. How impressed I was with the beauty of the fresh snow. But since then the sparkle has subsided. On New Year’s Day my once delightful diamond collection had considerably dulled. The lawn looked more like it was strewn with zircons that had been dipped too frequently in dishwater.

But wait, this morning, there is something new on my lawn. Something new and thrilling even though there has been no change in the weather. There are no diamonds. The diamonds are gone, but look. I now have a collection of precious gems. Today, when the sun came out, the ice prisms on the lawn caught those rays of sun and right now they are sparkling in mass profusion with brilliant colors of crimson, magenta, aquamarine, amber, and violet. I am quite pleased. Indeed, I am.

It seems to me, that in a last ditch effort to live up to their namesake of ‘being forever’, my snowflake-diamonds have embraced each familiar other so tightly with their feathery snowflake arms through mid-day warmth and the cool of the night, that the ground is now covered with solidified prisms of ice.

So why this bit of fantasy? I just thought this small rant might compel all of us to find value in what we have by looking at the same-old, same-old in a different light. Or perhaps it might compel us to give more hugs to those with whom we are familiar. Seemed to me like a good way to start a New Year.


I never get sappy gifts for Christmas but this year I got a couple of them. Now it seems that “Sappy” has a broad range of meanings from ‘overly sentimental’ to ‘rather foolish’ so that seems like the best way to describe them.

The overly sentimental one was hearing angels sing. The other rather foolish, but still delightful one was on Christmas morn, at six a.m., while the oven was preheating for the big bird, Hub (who is not a dancer, always grumbles if asked to dance or forced to dance) cranked up the volume on the Holiday Music Channel and danced with me to the sweet strains of “Pretty Papers, Pretty Ribbons” sung by Roy Orbison. So those were my two sappy gifts.

Now to switch from ‘sappy’ to ‘practical’ I must tell you about the turkey, a subject that is pretty much worn out in my mind. But nevertheless, I’m going to go through this one more time as a kind of self-therapy.

This year, two weeks before Christmas, I bought a turkey in plastic wrap labeled “Fresh Turkey”. I would normally never consider buying one of these but a) I didn’t want to make another dreaded trip to town if I could possibly avoid it, and b) there were no frozen turkeys available that day.

Now, usually one buys a turkey a few days before Christmas so a frozen turkey is far more appealing than a ‘fresh’ one. After all, during any cooking delay a frozen turkey can safely remain frozen, but what do you do with a fresh turkey?

But that was not my first concern. My first concern was how can a turkey remain fresh if it takes three days to slaughter it, process it, and parcel it, and ship it on the first leg of its journey from the Turkey Farm to the City. And from there, it goes without saying, it would take another three days because that’s how long my mail takes from that self-same city and no turkey is going to be skittled around faster than the Queen’s Mail! By now isn't that fresh turkey getting a mite stale?

And despite the ‘use before’ date, that doesn’t tell me anything about ‘fresh’. ‘Use Before’ dates are so exaggerated that all they tell you is when the warranty kicks in for serious botulism. (And how many shops exaggerate them further by sticking another date over the original one?)

Anyway I bought a ‘fresh’ turkey that day, brought it home and tossed it in the freezer. But all the while I was thinking that my freezer has no instant, quick-freeze benefit as there would be in a commercial freezer. So a bird that size could languish for hours, maybe even days, before freezing through and through. And I had other suspicions that caused me additional foreboding. If this bird was not previously put on temporary life-support than it probably was secretly frozen sometime in its unknown past and was now being frozen a second time. Pretty dire thought.

And then we come to the experts’ rule about thawing a frozen turkey in the fridge. What a bunch of crap that is? I did that only once in my lifetime and that turkey tasted a whole lot less than fresh. And, of course it would, it took four days or longer to thaw. Since then, I insist on quick-thawing in a tub of cold water. The Granddaddy of all turkeys will thaw in 24 hours that way. Now back to my story.

So the day before Christmas I put the bird in a bath of water to thaw it quickly and prevent further deterioration though at this point I was thinking further deterioration was not possible. And I vowed to get that bird in the oven the minute it was thawed sufficiently to stuff. It was thawed by early morn so at the last minute I phoned my guests to say that Turkey Supper had now been rescheduled to Turkey Dinner. But doubts and misgivings remained during the entire process. I found myself scheming for the whole of the cooking time how I would resurrect dinner with other alternatives if the turkey turned out as disgusting as I suspected it might be.

But come dinner – what a pleasant surprise? The turkey was golden, sweet – white meat firm and moist. Absolutely lovely. Of all the things on the groaning board – mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, turkey, veggie lasagna, perogies, cabbage rolls, Greek salad, the turkey got the most complements with the veggie lasagna coming in second.

So how was your turkey this year? Fresh or frozen? Did you get any sappy gifts?