Friday, December 30, 2005

downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) Posted by Picasa

Inhale 2,3,4, exhale 2,3,4

Yoga saves my life. Extreme statement isn't it?

My sister introduced me to yoga in 1999, ashtanga yoga to be more specific. Yes, our mother had done yoga in the 70s from her little paperback book that mostly everyone used then, but yoga at that time seemed to belong to her and something that only adults did. It wasn't really geared for children like it is now with Yoga Kids and yoga games.

I'll never forget my first class at downward dog. It was a prep class that all beginners need to start in and I unrolled a borrowed mat in the far corner, as far away from the instructor as I could get. In all honesty, I was skeptical and when the chanting started, I became even more skeptical, thinking it was some kind of cult. As the instructor Diane moved us through the breath and postures I connected at some point and something clicked. I still believe that Diane could sense my newness and doubting, but by the end of savasana, the closing relaxation pose, I felt rejuvenated and alive, a part of something greater, and I could see that Diane was a true yogi.

Since that fateful day I have left yoga for months at a time and come back to it. I have practiced solely at home with music, without music. I have taught yoga to children, sometimes unsuccessfully and other times with great joy and connectedness. I have reached deep emotional levels as well as stretched my body to places I never imagined possible. Lately, I have been more faithful to yoga, a more aware student. I have learned to listen to my breath and my body and what it tells me. Sometimes a backbend comes with great ease and other times it seems like it's just the wrong day to do that particular pose. Each day is different.

An important moment was recognizing the healing aspect of yoga. Physically, I noticed an improvement with a minor, but chronic back and neck pain I had been experiencing (probably as a result of lugging many books to and from York). Emotionally, I experienced a release that made me realize that yoga meant more to me than stretching and strengthening. The year my grandmother died had been quite an emotional year since she had been quite ill and then recovered. D. and I spent some quality fun time with her in the summer. That fall she moved to Ottawa to live with her youngest daughter and died in hospital not long after her move. Of course I was quite sad, more so for my mother who suffered a lot, but I hadn't really cried or let go of whatever emotion I had been holding on to. At the end of one yoga class, I was deep in savasana when the emotion overwhelmed me and I started crying and was able to release the sadness I felt having lost someone who had been such an important part of my life as my grandmother had been. Yet, this also gave me some great peace to be able to grieve for her in a way that I hadn't yet.

Yoga has continued to heal me. Whenever my life gets a little hectic (as in catering season) I always try to make at least one yoga class in the week so I can rejuvenate myself. Furthermore, since I started running, I've found yoga to be essential in my recovery from the stress of running any long distances.

Six years later I'm still working at an ashtanga level one and apparently that's not unusual at all. We all work at different paces and levels. We all reach new peaks at different stages. That in itself has been a big lesson for me because the urge is to be competitive with yourself or with others in the classroom and that's not the intention of yoga. I keep going for the above mentioned reasons, but also because I know that in the next class I will learn something new and discover something in myself I hadn't seen before.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holiday. Literature. Wool. Fragments.

I hope everyone had a peaceful holiday. It doesn't feel over for me yet because I've no work scheduled and D. is home from work for a few days which has been really nice.

We had a lovely time with my sister and D's parents who drove all the way to whoville for Christmas. D. and I prepared (if I may do some bragging) a pretty amazing vegan dinner from recipes from the Artful Vegan. This is a really spectacular book for special occasions. It goes beyond simply cooking to putting a meal together that is thoughtful of texture, taste and appearance. Thus, the title of the book is appropriate.

I made my traditional Christmas crackers with suitable gifts for all (I think). I also included passages from "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas. When I was eleven or twelve, my grandmother gave me a simple copy with some beautiful linocut images throughout. Every time I've read it at Christmas I take something new from it. It's too long to ask everyone to endure me reading the entire poem, but I've always wanted to include it as part of our Christmas celebrations. Each passage was numbered and everyone had a passage to read in a particular order. It's not easy to read off the cuff like that, but I think it went fine. Perhaps it's time to get that wonderful recording of Dylan Thomas reading the poem. I'd like to include it as part of my Christmas tradition like watching the Grinch or It's a Wonderful Life as I do each year.


Yes, something new taken from rereading good literature. You'd never know I read at all judging from my grammar! However, when I journal or blog I let the grammar go out the window. I've spent so much of my life writing essays and correcting other people's writing as a teaching assistant that whew is it fun to write

in any

and with the intention of



might speak.

No, I don't speak like that. Why not break the line if I'm breaking rules?

Now back to literature...

Yes, reading Dylan Thomas and taking a new word or phrase from it and letting it roll around on my tongue and in my head for a few days. Each year I find some new pleasure from his story whether it be an image, a word, or sound.

The books i love have this effect on me.

I've just finished Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying". I read it for the first time about ten years ago and struggled with it. Perhaps I read it too fast. Recently, I had a conversation with a co-worker who is doing a part time degree in English Lit. and we eventually go around to Faulkner. He had taken a course on Faulkner's novels. At the same time my mother had just finished reading "As I Lay Dying" and had talked about her love for the book. These two events caused me to pick up my frayed copy again and start spending time in that world. And oh the words! Each character's voice with a slightly different lilt and tone, breadth of speech. What a stunning book! Every drama unfolding while Addie's body waits and rots.

I thought I'd never read fiction again (that wasn't a screenplay), but here I am diving back into it.


Yesterday I went to the Romni wool sale. I've stopped buying wool for obvious ethical vegan reasons (if this isn't obvious to you click on the Peta link), but I did find this gorgeous cotton wool from Uruaguay called Manos del Uruguay. It's a non profit company that works to help rural women support themselves. If you're a knitter you'll love this cotton wool. It's soft like an alpaca wool, but it's a soft Peruvian cotton that is hand dyed.

I wanted to stock up for the year at Romni's once a year event, but I have to work within a budget here.


Yay! I won a gift certificate to Vegan Essentials. This is exciting. A local radio show Animal Voices had this great contest giving away all sorts of goodies prior to Christmas. I wanted to win the vegan body building calendar for a friend, but hey a gift certificate to one of my favorite and essential on line shopping sites is terrific.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Friday Nights!

If you ever watched CODCO in the 80s you'll know "Friday Night Girls." I think Rita and Mathilda were the two characters who wore their flannel nighties and dreamed of falling in love with RCMP officers ("course, the next thing you know, he's gettin' transferred up to Moncton, New Brunswick"). It was Rita and Mathilda's attitude towards Friday nights that seems relevant to me now, like you know it's Friday (in Rita and Mathilda's case) when you're home in you p.j's pretending to be somewhere you're not. In my case I know it's Friday night when I'm standing in someone's Rosedale foyer with a stack of coats weighing my arm down and someone else has the nerve to pile another coat onto me without asking, and I hand out a coat check tag with a phoney smile. "Friday Nights" (btw you should say this in a Newfoundland accent and kind of harmonize, but off key).

Teenagers, already with a sense of entitlement, pass off a coat check tag to me while still in mid conversation. The hand hovers waiting for me to take the tag without ever really acknowledging my presence, my existence. Sigh. Friday night. The teenage girls in their Holt Renfrew dresses, teetering in heels, not quite grown into or comfortable in their fully adult female outfits. The boys, awkward in their jackets and pressed shirts, shift nervously from foot to foot answering the questions coming at them from a parent's acquaintances also at the party.

A 40 something woman with a sparkling wrist, fishnet stockings and a 50's cocktail party dress, brings a cigarette to her lips and I feel like I've timewarped to one of my grandparents parties. This is what they must have been like, I think.

Oh the fur, oh the fur, oh the fur! Too many full length fur coats worn by the 40 something women. Even the caterer, who was also a guest, showed up in a full length fur, complete with hood (what's that an extra 15 animals on your head?). The complete disregard. Even if they know that coat contains fifty pelts, fifty lives, do they know the suffering and pain that animal may have experienced? I want to weep with each fur coat piled onto my arm. Then they head to the buffet table and load the rare roast beef onto their plates because they don't eat bread. Hasn't Atkins gone away yet?

Friday nights.

The good thing about all of this is that I did get to see some of my favorite people I work with. I know that I might not see many of these people for months. Estevan is going back to New Zealand forever. I haven't worked with Andy in months and I got to be on coat check with Ian and that made everything okay.

When Andy saw me he said, "oh it's that damn vegan" in a nice way, really. I said "yes, the damn vegan is back and nothing can stop her now." Ayla chimed in "vegans are saving the planet." I thought that was a great quote and told her I'd put it on my blog. She also said to say hello to redjane and wishes her a Merry Christmas.

So there's my night...coats, staff and a mild winter night. I walked home without a hat and felt the warm weather that reminded me of the B.C. coast...almost...almost.

D's parents arrived today and we're ready to celebrate Christmas together. I'm glad to have my sister here for it. did I mention that already? It's late. It's Friday night and it's a Merry Christmas from me to you.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Stressed much?

Catering has turned into seven and eight hour shifts plus travel time so things are getting a little hectic around here. Financially this is a good thing for me, but with Christmas arriving, there is also a fair amount of stress building with everything that I need to get baked, cleaned and fed (kitties and myself!).

Physically, I'm starting to feel the numerous trips up and down stairs in these homes that I cater in. Today I'll be working at an office party and I'm thrilled (despite the boredom that often accompanies the office event) because at least there will be no stairs to deal with.

To help alleviate some stress, I made a "to do" list. When I got to the second page...ugh...when I got to the second page I made myself accept that not everything will get done on the list and Christmas will still be lovely even if I don't get that fridge cleaned out.

Every year I've attempted to eliminate some of unnecessary stress. The Christmas present shopping has stopped. I think it's for kids mostly. I know and understand the impulse to get your loved ones gifts and have something to open at whatever time your Christmas tradition permits (Eve or Morning), but I've opted for baked goods to be given and have asked others to donate to one of my preferred charities such as Fauna and Farm Sanctuary or any cat shelter in any town or city. Ah, the joys of not running around adding to my credit card debt.

I'm sounding Grinchy aren't I? I'm not in a Grinch mood really. It's really just the stress speaking. This year we're not traveling out of Whoville which is a nice change. I'm really looking forward to the feast. No, there will be no roast beast since this house in Whoville is vegan. We have quite the menu planned. I'll have to post that later.

So we'll have family here and it will be lovely. Yesterday D. and I picked up two glorious trees (at least one was paid for by a generous catering tip, hurray), one for the upstairs and one for down. We'll decorate with my sister and I haven't done that in a long time. I'm looking forward to having a Christmas with her.

With a little more baking and a little more yoga I'll get through this week.


Friday, December 16, 2005


Svetlana Posted by Picasa

Name: Svetlana
Age: 17
Favorite Food: Vegan Butter/Earth Balance
Favorite Toy: Things no one else can see.
Favorite Place to Sleep: Fun fur, under the warm lamp on the island next to the stove (as in my picture), any sunny spot, a warm lap, especially S's, and anywhere the "Pipsqueak" (see Prima below) isn't. There are so many spots really.

D. adopted Svetlana from the Mont. SPCA when she was only weeks old and called her a "little 8 ball" because she was all black and had a little spot of white on her belly. She lived in the same location in Quebec for most of her life and lived with many cats, and was usually dominated by them so she was always a bit shy. However, her regal Principessa qualities have been there from the beginning.

When we got married and moved to Whoville, it was Svetlana's first move and she made the transition beautifully. She co-existed with my beloved Katie for a few years here in Whoville and when Katie died she had the place to herself and we watched her Principessa qualities really bloom. She even has a bowl that reads: "Bon Giorno Principessa." She really is the queen and her siamese leanings means she has quite the voice and can howl for as long as it takes to get you out of bed. Her shyness has pretty much diminished and she has no problem hopping up on the table in front of any dinner guest. Prima is usually not far behind since she hates to be left out of anything. If Svetlana is the focal point, Prima rushes right in to let you know she's there.

At 17 I can't believe how strong and alert Sve is. She's had some kidney troubles, but that's really it. Overall, she's a healthy senior.

Lately, we've been wondering about her cat voice that's emerged and her potential ethnic origins. Is she Latvian? She sounds so much like my mother's friend Mara.

Sve Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

cast of characters

prima Posted by Picasa

Name: PrimaVera
Age: 3 years
Favorite Food: Cowboy Cookout
Favorite Toy: Gray Mouse! and anything that resembles a string.
Favorite place to sleep: My chair of course and D's lap or S's pillow at night.

Prima was adopted in March of 2003 after the death of my beloved Katie. She came from abbey cats adoption with the name Prima Primavera attached. D. and I thought we'd change her name, but of course it stuck and we did actually pick her up on the first day of spring so we thought the name fit. She'll also respond to her nickname Chick.

She does give Svetlana (our 17 year old) a hard time, but they've done pretty well co-existing and I can't complain.

She loves to escape through the door up to my sister's apartment where the 4 other cats live. She doesn't really care about the cats, but does have plans to take over as top cat on the top floor.

Monday, December 12, 2005


from Human Resources was the film I completed this year. Through a friend, I saw someone I hadn't seen in years. We're all from SJ and we had actually lived in the same building in Mont. in the 80s. Once he found out that I had come to Whoville to study film he offered me the chance to make a film, something I hadn't done in a couple of years (there was the matter of a thesis for a while). The project was being realized through our local co-op LIFT (see Links). The intention was to make a film with a poet and the eventual screening would have the poet read live to the film.

Visually the film attempts to suggest the thematics of the poet's work. If her words are described as "polyvocal" then the film can be described as polyvisual.

The film also tries to capture what human resources might mean.

The screening went really well and the turn out was great. I suspect there was around 100 or more people. It was standing room only. Two films were projected on 8 and 16 mm that added another layer of sound. We were asked to not use sound for the screening, but could later lay down a sound track if we wish to for distribution. I found it odd at first to consider making a film without any sound at all, but I also found that this minor obstacle opened up the textures of the poet's sounds and rhythms of her words. She made a primitive cassette tape of her reading the poems that I found very useful to mimic her own pacing while trying to create some meaning with the visual text.

Hopefully a collection of all the 15 films will be brought together on dvd for distribution (that's part of the plan). The intention was to eventually do a proper studio recording of the poet reading the work and I can then go in and add any other layers of sound I would like to add, but honestly I liked the finished product the way it is. The single voice gives the audience enough to digest and I believe that the film stands well on its own that way.

As for more films? Let's see what the new year brings.

Technically (a funny word for me to even consider using since I'm about as techy as a whoville), the film marks the end of two film stocks, Kodachrome and b&w 35mm still slides. For those that don't know, Kodak ended production of super 8 Kodachrome film. So what's out there in the world is all that's left. I got the last two LIFT cartridges. When I decided to create an animated mid-section to the film I went to still slides (initially wanting to use the JK Optical Printer to do a 16mm print -- that's another aside that maybe I'll get into later when I actually complete something on the Optical Printer) and black and white was my choice. The lab technician asked if I wanted to buy extra film since they were no longer making black and white slide film. I couldn't see another application for it so I declined and besides buying the film created a budget for me that I didn't want to encourage). She also said that I would need to develop the film before September or else I'd be s.o.l. (my words not hers). So good bye to Kodachrome! Farewell B&W slide film.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

At long last a quiet moment to blog.

Many of my blogs should be "fragments of the week." I feel fragmented, pulled in many directions, a sense my interior world being in several places at once with no single focus. I suspect it's because of the catering season peaking and never really knowing how many days a week I'll be carrying the garment bag to a new part of whoville that I've never seen before, but oh my god it's gorgeous at night with a light snow dusting and sparse Christmas decorations.

Ironing a black shirt, I had a flash of the last ten years. I went to writing school and then waitressed. Then I went to film writing school and now I'm catering. Hmm, do you see a pattern? Ironing shirts, putting on the pleasant front, and crashing at the end of a busy week trying to find some semblance of who I really am, trying to find time to turn the scraps of paper, journal entries and blogger snippets into something more.

It feels like a new screenplay is waiting to be conceived. I yearn for it again. Yearn to find that story that needs to be told. After graduate school I feared, as most writers do I suppose, that maybe the inspiration would never come again, maybe the stories were used up, maybe I had put everything into that one feature screenplay. The labour had been a difficult one and there was the fear of a still birth, but I got through it and everyone came out healthy in the end (if you know my feature screenplay, "Sacred Space" you'll get even another layer of meaning from this. haha). It was difficult enough letting go of the characters and their lives, letting them breathe on their own. I denied the post-natal blues, but in retrospect they were there and I mustered through it with a little story editing, a little baking and a lot of running.

The film I made this past year pulled me back to the creative process and the reasons I love it. I'll post some images soon I hope. My super fantabulous editor J.K. just sent me some stills from the film. Coming soon...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

fragments of the week

too bad I lost the formatting on the scene. Yet another kink I have to work through in learning how to best manage the blog for my use.


These writing bits and scraps that I've compiled before, during and after writing my thesis screenplay need to be explored.


Remember that any similarity to any real people, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Fauxblog?


This last week has been a jumble.


I've been all over whoville working various events, in people's homes, in galleries, in department stores and in office parties. Whoville always has surprises for me in these pockets of town where intimate and public gatherings occur, people coming together for many reasons. Each situation truly is unique and I adjust my character accordingly. I don't know how actors do it, thus my great deal of respect for them (and not just because my sister is one).

One night in a gallery hosting a dinner event for the very posh elite of whoville for a good cause. Food and service is donated so that all money paid to attend the event goes directly to the charity. Yet...because it's the very posh elite there's a tension in the room for the staff because everything must be perfect (of course I feel that way for every event, but for some reason the wealthier the person the more anxiety is generated). I can't explain the atmosphere, but it is different. Why? I don't know. Please offer any explanations of your own. There is also the ridiculousness of the food presentation and content. It's hideous to serve foie gras and venison. I hate it. That is not too strong an emotion, I assure you. At least I come home to my safe veg*n home. Ahhh.

Last night I stood in my caterwaiter garb with a glass of wine in hand along with my fellow workers and toasted with the host of the party. He insisted that we share a drink with him and mark the private party that was about to begin. He was a very warm person and extremely kind. His guests, for the most part, were also casual and friendly with all of us. How nice it is to feel included and less like an indentured servent.

The next morning in another area of whoville I witnessed the love and friendship of a family simply having a brunch together. Honestly, I'm not sure if there was an event at all. It seemed mostly centred around the children, but in a very positive interactive way. The children were polite, nice and unspoilt in any way. The love between parents and children was so evident and everyone's behaviour reflected that love.


Early morning midweek a brilliant red cardinal in the backyard picking through our dried out raspberry bushes. From the kitchen window I watch him. It's perhaps the most beautiful thing I see that day. The cardinal's partner is also with him. The two flutter around the bushes, on the fence and into the neighbouring fruit tree. I move outside to watch and hardly notice the zero temperature weather even though I'm still in pjs.


I return from yoga to get ready for another shift only to discover that my youngest cat is playing with a mouse! My instinct is to find big sis' and bring her to the rescue. She tells me Prima has had the mouse since I left for yoga! Ah! It's a baby mouse, so tiny and fuzzy. Prima doesn't seem to have used her claws. I pull Prima away and the mouse stops to catch his/her breath. Sis places a napkin over baby mouse and gently scoops him/her up. We take her/him outside, open the napkin and look for any visible wounds. We both have a moment, wondering if we should keep the mouse as a pet and then snap back to reality. As if nothing else had happened, little mouse starts shuffling around and burrows about in the fall leaves doing his mousey things.

Later that hour...I respond to a kafuffle upstairs at sis's place. She's out shopping and I suspect that Rupert (see below) is up to his old tricks (or new tricks) terrorizing Ruggles. I march up the stairs and there's Ruggles with a tail hanging from his mouth. The battle is over and won, Ruggles victorious. When sis returns home we find the dead mouse on the carpet and oh-so-gingerly take him to the back yard to return to the earth.


D. has built me a beautiful desk. Swoon. It moved out of the workshop and into the house this week. It's a dream come true for me. It's a space of my own where I can put all my books and notes and spread out a little while I write.


I am completely moved by a friend's blog. Her honesty and ability to eloquently write about her emotions.

  • The End of it All

  • ***

    Trial run of one component of christmas eve dinner. Thanks to Retorte (blog) for her phyllo advice.
  • Retorte

  • ***


    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    what happened here and what happens next?

    FADE IN:


    JEN (30) boards the ferry on foot. She smiles at the drivers who look at her with curiosity as they load onto the small car ferry.

    (in a whisper as the last car loads)
    We’re almost there.

    One of the WORKERS pulls a cable across the stern of the boat and then gives a nod to the driver.

    The ramp screeches as it tilts up and the ferry pulls away from the landing.

    Set your bag there, darlin’.

    Thank you.

    Jen rests her bag in the narrow passenger space.

    The Worker gives her a half smile and shuffles over to a car, leaning into the open window to casually converse with one of the drivers.

    Jen checks her watch.

    She steps into the open air and leans into the railing. She closes her eyes and inhales. This brings a warm smile to her face. The distance isn’t far. She can see the cars on the other side, waiting for their turn to cross. A log cabin sits atop the hill with a huge sign over the front porch. The sign is too far to read. Jen takes a seat inside the passenger area on the wooden stabilized to the wall.

    Sea sick yet?

    The friendly face pokes his head in the door.

    I use to ride it every day.

    You’re from ‘round here?

    The potter’s...

    Oh you’re her.
    He looks over his shoulder.

    It’s nice to be back.


    He signals to the driver.

    I’m meeting Glen Bridge on the other side.
    Do you know him?

    Yeah. Artsy guy. Didn’t he move away?

    It’s a reunion.

    A car HONKS. The Worker waves to the car. He winks at Jen and then saunters over to the driver’s window of another car. Jen watches him lean into the window. The car’s FEMALE PASSENGER looks in Jen’s direction. When Jen catches the Worker’s eye, he averts his gaze, looking to the bow instead while he continues his small talk with the driver.

    The afternoon clouds have accumulated.

    The ferry slows. Jen hoists her pack onto her back and guides herself along the railing to the front. With the ramp up she can’t see much of the landing, but she can make out a figure leaning against a parked car over to one side. No other parked cars are around minus the ones in line for the ferry.

    Jen waves at the figure. It doesn’t respond. She waves again. It gives a feeble salute.
    Jen walks over to the Worker.

    (putting his arm across)
    Whoa. We’re about to unload here.

    Would you recognize Glen's car?

    The Worker looks in the direction where she’s pointing, but the ferry has just pulled close enough to block out the site of the car.

    Step back now and wait over there.

    Jen tries to see up the hill. The ramp scrapes onto the pavement landing and the boat settles before the Worker releases the cable and signals the first car to go. He puts his hand up reminding Jen to wait. She watches the three rows of cars empty.

    With a grand swoop of his arm the Worker makes way for Jen to walk the plank up to the island.

    Good luck to ya.


    The other cars start to board.

    With a burst of excited energy, Jen hurries up the plank, but stops abruptly when she sees the empty lot. The parked car is now about to turn onto the main road. The signal flashes rapidly.
    Jen drops her backpack and rushes after the car waving. It pulls onto the main road. Jen keeps running, but the car doesn’t see her.

    She turns back to see the ferry pull away from the dock; the Worker leaning into another car window.

    Jen drags her backpack to a bench. She kicks it underneath the bench and plunks herself down.
    She checks her phone and then puts it away. She slumps against the bench. The ferry gets further from her, the waves roughly lapping up against it. The clouds look more ominous now.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    cats, cats, cats

    I've been neglecting the blog being too busy with cats. I'm looking after my sister's four cats. One is new to the family (a rescue of course) and his name is Ruggles (once I figure out how to get his picture up here I will post it!). Her other three cats (in order of their arrival in the house) are Chengo, Penny and Rupert. Poor Rupert is having BIG issues with Ruggles. He's trying to sort it out, but can't seem to figure out anything unless he's attacking Ruggles. Ruggles is the most passive cat I've ever met. He's a Persian so the unfortunate method of over breeding has made this cat into a display model. He lounges and doesn't really seem interested in doing much else. Enter Rupert. I now call Rupert "Mesmerino" because he can't stop staring at Ruggles and the stare alone sends Ruggles under the bed.

    Perhaps this is too much detail, but I've been living cats for the last few days while my sister is rehearsing a play in Montreal.

    I have my own two cats PrimaVera and Svetlana who live downstairs and can only hear the shenanigans going on up here.

    Did I mention that Rupert is also obsessed with food? He waits behind each cat until they finish their bowl and then moves in for the lick. He's the lickmaster 2000. There may be nothing in the bowl, but Rupert will finish off whatever he senses might have been there. Poor Rupert with all his issues.

    Up until now, Ruggles has been eating separately from the other cats in his own room with his own separate litter box and his own bed. We call it the Ruggles Reading Room because there is a massive book shelf overflowing with reading material. When Ruggles first moved in and my sister was keeping him behind a closed door from the other cats, we'd visit Ruggles to keep him company and inevitably pick up a book and start reading, thus the name. Anyway...this morning I fed Ruggles in the kitchen with the other cats because I could see him living his life separated from the rest and never really integrating. Hope sis doesn't mind. I'm sure she won't because I know she wants them all integrated as well. The feeding went okay. Penny took a swipe at Ruggles, which was unexpected, but he held his ground and his wet food. Rupert did wait a good foot behind Ruggles, looking from me to Ruggles, me to Ruggles. He knows that he's not supposed to be aggressive with Ruggles, but he just can't help himself. He's the baby after all and doesn't appreciate the new pecking order.

    So my life has been nothing but cats for the last few days. Sis returns today to give me a break for a few days and then it's back to cats, cats, cats on the weekend.

    You've got to love them all and be patient!

    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    Flu the Coop

    Have you been following the avian flu stories? The word pandemic is now included in almost every story I've encountered on the subject. The CBC site has the current stories and tips on what you can do. Watch out for those migratory birds! Time to drug those chickens to prevent avian flu from occurring. One tip even suggested that you thoroughly cook your eggs just to be safe. All of this (mis)information and yes I'll point my finger at the media, as it is often done in our society, because they stir up trouble, aim for the drama and cause panic.

    Now you know where I'm coming from and you know that I have one thing for you to consider...factory farming. Has anyone (outside of PETA of course) questioned the methods of chicken farming that occurs these days. Is no one concerned about the root of the problem, factory farming? If media questions factory farming then you're taking on big business and raise the question of ethics etc. Journalists really shouldn't stir the pot like that should they?

    A little background on my own discovery about how a chicken "farm" really functioned. When I was 15 I was in a greasy spoon with a friend and ordered chicken (looking back I can't even imagine me ever eating another animal). He was veg and handed me a pamphlet that described the life that a chicken, such as the one I had just ordered, might have lived. That moment changed my life. The more I read the more reasons I had for myself to be veg.

    So what does this have to do with avian flu? As I suggest above, what we need to question is how animals are raised. Chickens (after a brutal debeaking process) are sent to farms where they are housed by the thousands in tiny cages so that they can't go at each other (more than 50 chickens in an open environment upsets the natural pecking order of the birds). Usually a few chickens are housed in each cage. Eventually they lose their feathers from rubbing up against the metal caging and many can't walk or they hobble because their feet are messed up from being trapped in a cage. Deaths are high and it is not uncommon for a dead bird to remain in a cage for days before being removed. They often have open sores and live their entire lives out in this environment. Does such an environment not seem problematic to you? Does this not seem like a breeding ground for disease?

    Next time you see a news item on avian flu, keep track and notice if the method of factory farming is ever brought into question. Let me know when you find something because I really want to cheer and congratulate that reporter.

    By the way if you need a good book reference check out Erik Marcus' "Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating" (McBooks Press 1998). Click on my PETA link as well if you want to see their on going campaigns on this issue.


    Friday, November 25, 2005

    about the links

    Just a word about my links that are trying to include many of my interests.
    Animal rights issues are at the top of my list since it is probably the one thing in my life that I am most passionate about (outside of my signif. other). The treatment of animals in this world is unspeakably cruel and I made a conscious decision to stop being silent about it.

    Knitting is part of my roots and I love the knitty site. I've made the transition to synthetic fibers and cottons. I'm using up the rest of my wool now for gifts and then it's solely hemp, soy, recycled sari, cotton and poly fibres.

    Film can't be left out since it's what I want to do with the rest of my time or actually all of my time if I can. LIFT is a great local co-op where I made a film based on the text of a local poet, Rachel Zolf. Volatile Works is a Montreal co-op that is doing some great films that are being screened around the world. Check out their site. I'm a secret fan of Alan Brown's work (not so secret anymore I guess), but I don't want to exclude the other films coming out of this collective since they are all quite remarkable and unique.

    Welcome Winter.

    Winter arrived while I was in the living room knitting. The window rattle kept taking me out of the knit 5 purl 2 pattern. I pulled the curtain open and looked over my shoulder to see winter in full force, snow whipping across the street already accumulated to at least two centimeters. I let the curtain drop and went back to my partially knitted sock.

    Never a fan of winter, I've now become resigned to the fact that I made a choice to leave the B.C. coast and live here in winter. My only consolation is that it's never as cold as Montreal where my memories are almost all bitter.

    The cold air seeps through the knitted weave of my hat. Head down, hands in pockets, I run along the snowpacked sidewalk just because I can. At least I have running now so that when walking bores me I can go into a run and continue as long as I like. My hands slide free, my head is up, and my arms swing at an easy rhythm. Thank god for the sun.

    On the streetcar, the heater is pumped and I've unfortunately positioned myself standing over it, overheating. One place after the other, the Knit Cafe, It's Not a Deli, the Organic Boutique. Two voices behind me.
    One: "downward dog, I'm going to do some yoga".
    Two: "it's a conceptual piece, three pieces in one. Aliens. Where are ya' goin'?"
    One: "going to do some yoga? Downward dog."
    Two: "Listen to this."

    Self conscious of my yoga bag slung over my shoulder, I glance at the two figures. Their backs face me and now one is bobbing his head up and down. In a voice too loud he says, "It's prolific!" Is that taking a familiar word and giving it new meaning? I don't understand his reaction to the music that only he can hear, but he continues to say "prolific" and the daughter of the grammar teacher in me wants to say "that's not what prolific means."

    Fresh and then the park. The park has been transformed by the brilliantly clean snow. Two structural domes rest on the ground fenced in for protection while the entranceway pillars are reconstructed. Two more stops.

    One: "'s the next stop."
    Two: "Yoga, eh?"
    One: "Yeah."

    The streetcar slows and I'm anxious to get past these two because I know they'll slow down my pace to get to class on time. I manage past them in the foyer. It's messy and slippery, but I toss off my shoes and step into the wet in my socked feet.

    Ahhh, breath.

    Two namaskaras later I realize that One is behind me in class and has no idea what a downward dog is. Last week NOW magazine had a free class pass add for Downward Dog and I suspect he's clipped the coupon and come to an advanced class. By the time we get to suri namaskara B, the teaching assistant is helping him from the class. Hopefully he's been refunded and can return for a beginner class.

    After yoga, the day has warmed up and I barely need my hat, but put it on anyway just because it's light and I like it. The useless gloves are stuffed into my pocket, freeing my hands to enjoy the sun light. I walk through the park and make my way home.

    Monday, November 21, 2005


    I thought I'd never get here! I'm having new problems accessing my blog and posting that's related to my browser, but you don't need to hear about that. I'll sort it out.

    Saturday we ("we" being my signif other and myself) went to see C.R.A.Z.Y. The Quebec film that has had huge success (for Canadian film). The film is beautifully crafted and there are some stunning cinematographic moments. The dialogue is excellent and true to each character; character's act subtext and never speak it. I didn't get the joual but my signif other did and thought it was great. It's a wonderful film. That said...yes, here comes the rest.

    That said, between the lovely moments of the film there are some problems that don't make the film less enjoyable, but rather makes me question the decisions made during the making of the film.

    Briefly, C.R.A.Z.Y. is a coming-of-age film in (I think Montreal) Quebec where we are invited into the intimacies of a working class family from the 60s to the 80s, predominately through the eyes of the main character Zac. Zac, almost not suriving his birth, but is born on December 25th, struggles with his identity spiritually and sexually. Nothing is summed up easily or neatly for the audience, but rather we are left with an understanding that there many ways to define "crazy".

    As I said there are some lovely moments such as Zac (the main character) singing Major Tom in his bedroom. My absolute favorite scene is between the father and mother in the bathroom getting ready for bed, brushing their teeth and discussing their son as a problem. This is a long quiet scene and I think one long take. The dialogue is brilliant. Even though the frame is static the moment is far from it. The strength of the characters and the actors portraying them make this scene quite breathtaking.

    The above mentioned scene is a startling contrast to the moments of pop cultural reference that at times borders on nostalgia. The representation of the different eras (60s, 70s) is done in a very pop cultural way that hold true to maintaining Zac's teen point of view. There are no political references of the eras, not even the cliche back ground t.v. and/or radio sound to tell us about changing government or current events of the time). This succeeds in so far as it keeps the film focused on what is relevant and important to Zac. There are some "how things change and stay the same" through the repetitions of the Christmas gathering, Zac's birthday, mass, the father singing the same song at family events. However, within this beautifully drawn child's world the pop cultural references become too detailed to the point of excess and eventually they began to pull me out of the film. One moment in particular was when we have a C.U. of a Double Bubble being torn in half. Zac tosses a half to his younger brother. I don't think this is a necessary detail to sustain the moment it gets, even metaphorically. We are already well aware of Zac's dualities and his struggle to let one identity emerge while being torn in two directions. What is positive about the cultural references is the masks Zac find to hide behind: Bruce Lee, Ziggy Stardust, Punk Rock. That is the point of these pop cultural moments, and for the most part the film succeeds.

    Having both local and universal appeal, this film has the ability to reach into all of us in an intimate way.

    Try and see this film if you can, it's worth it.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    who is whoville?

    For me "whoville" was a village of Fisher Price little people that was my playworld circa 1972 or 3? to 1979? In this world I had an entire community of characters that had their own identities, relationships, homes, jobs etc etc. There were main characters and sub-characters that got to participate in various journeys of my childhood world.

    The main house my father built for me that was double sided and open. It did not close up like the store bought Fisher Price house that was on the market at the time. While I still longed for this pre-fab house as seen in the sears catalogue, I loved the sturdy wooden house that was painted the same colours of our own home on the end of that village road in Grand Bay, N.B., which was white with green trim. My mother did the interior decorating using mac tac to tile the kitchen and small pieces of carpeting to warm the floors. She even drew picture frames on the walls.

    The house boat was also a main feature for me since it was entertaining in the bath. For some time I believe I had the A-frame house that was used more as a secondary home to the main family. I may have even housed the secondary characters in there.

    I can pretend that the pleasure I had in playing with these toys fulfilled me in other ways that my dysfunctional real home life didn't, but I'm not sure I would have played with them in any other way had my own home environment been more positive. I do recall that my whovilles (as I and the whole family called them) pretty much went about their daily lives in somewhat mundane ways such as, driving to work, sitting around the table having dinner, going for groceries etc. They lived much the same life as my own family did, but without the parental and sibling conflicts. Conflict that arose was more centred around search and rescues, trips to hospitals, and being saved from drowning while vacationing on the houseboat. This way I could use all of the pieces I had collected (the ambulance, police car, and rowboat attached to the larger boat).

    So what does all of this mean for the whoville blog? It will also contain characters, resolve conflicts, and use the tools provided to explore what is going on in my present world and is a place to explore the past as nostalgia.

    The Devil's Rain

    Ah yes The Devil's Rain.
    Judging from this photo you might think that this is an episode of Star Trek where they travel to a planet and disguise themselves as cowboys to go "unnoticed" by the townspeople. You're wondering where this lost episode is and why haven't you seen it. It's not what you think. This is from a great B movie The Devil's Rain (1975). Don't let the picture mislead you, this is a horror film, but I see it as a mixing of two genres: the horror genre and the western genre.

    I caught this on the drive in channel one evening and somewhat dismissed it after reading a rather dismissive review of it in my Terror on Tape (O'Neill) book. The stellar cast drew me in, Shatner, Borgnine, Ida Lupino. What are these actors doing in a B horror movie? I'll tell you in a future blog when I review it in more detail after I find it on video or dvd, rent it (or buy it) and watch it again to consider the dualities in the film that the cross genre and double meaning title, The Devil's Rain (read: Reign), permit that elevates this film to a level that needs to be considered more seriously in with the other greats of 1970s horror.

    More to come.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Catering season

    How to Survive the hors d'oeuvre Christmas Party Season.

    It's that time of year again! Our bread and butter season so-to-speak. Night after night you have to put on your catering personality and tray up those tiny delicacies and oh the shame of returning to the kitchen with a tray half full. This is the dangerous part when food disappears one canape at a time into your mouth. The staff will indulge. There is also the delicate matter of keeping what you really think to yourself and try not to let your face show it too.

    Now I don't really have to worry about the food since I'm vegan and ninety percent of what I serve is inedible. But for those of you out there who sneak around the corner and pop three or four crostinis down the hatch you need to be careful. One, two, wait was that five? Uh-oh you may have come from the gym, but you haven't had your dinner yet and your filling up on puff pastry stuffed with a soft creamy cheese and topped with colourful somethings. Also the buffet style dinner party is very dangerous. Not only have you snaked your way through prep but mid way through the dinner you get a dinner break yourself that is hastily eaten. So my advice is to limit yourself to one hors d'oeuvre of each variety since a simple taste is fine and after all isn't it far more pleasurable to foist the puff pastry treat upon a guest who has been a complete pain in the derriere? Let him or her gain the extra five pounds. As for the buffet...drink water or juice or have mint to get through the prep phase. Wait for your dinner and select small tastes of each dish and avoid the sauces all together. If you find that you can't change your ways there's always veganism, which is the best option for all these reasons and more!

    I should mention cocktails as well. Try to avoid testing the pre-mixed cocktail if you're not working the bar. Some pack a powerful punch and the sugar content in those concoctions might push you straight into an early New Year's hangover. Stick to water which is almost always plentiful and juice is a good option.

    Now for the guests and I'm not going to mince words here. Maintain your composure and keep acting. Keep the evil thoughts to yourself or to share later with colleagues or wait until you're well behind closed doors where the guests won't hear you.
    Here are some hints for approaching the guests with food. When a group is in conversation try to aim for the most likely candidate that will break the hors d'oeuvres ice and then others will follow or "give in" as they often claim. Older men are always a good place to start. They rarely refuse anything being of that generation that ate anything their wives put in front of them. Often they don't care to hear your spiel about what you offer and may even give you a blank stare when you say "endive with chevre and a port reduction." Women are a challenge. Generally, and I hate to say this but, the skinnier and younger they are the less they eat. Once again that older generation of women tend to give the tray a scrutinizing squint before helping themselves. The more botox and surgery in the room the less likely they are to even acknowledge your presence, sad but true. Don't despair aim for the man beside her because with a little encouragement he will go for it. My favourite is when the men tell these oh so "tailored" women how fantastic the food is and they should try it themselves. Does he not see the expression of disgust on her face? It is hard to read since the skin if often very taught. Just keep passing, hitting these people you are confident with and the food will go. You might even get lucky when passing sweets since women tend to give in and start eating. Aren't we a complex gender? Unfortunately, these events do tend to be generally gender divided in this way and the male and female behaviour is all too predictable.

    Good luck with your December parties. Keep your head up, your tray steady and the glasses full.


    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    The End of Nature

    Bill McKibbon's "The End of Nature".

    I'm reading that right now after having it recommended to me from a professor during my thesis defense.
    This is an interesting read that examines our imprint on nature, suggesting that nothing is untouched in the natural world and that what we view as nature has been and continues to be manipulated by humanity.

    So far so good. I'm recommending this book.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    fauxblog or not fauxblog

    My initial motivation for creating a blog was for the wrong reasons I created an alias and set out. After a nights sleep and feeling somewhat uncomfortable with my motives, I decided to start fresh and not really hide myself behind a fauxblog. Then again part of what I do and who I am is imagining characters and bringing them to life in some shape or form and wouldn't a blog be a perfect oppotunity to create someone else? This is nothing new. Who isn't someone else when it comes to the internet? Who hasn't created another persona that is either a side of themselves or becomes a side of themselves? How much do we really give away of personal selves in a public realm?

    On with it then...