It was a green Christmas here on the lower mainland this year. Yesterday Lucy and I too a long walk at the lake to clear our minds and burn some calories. It was beautiful there with the misty look that happens to the sky and surroundings on a cold day in December.
I took this picture of the cormorants that seem to sit on top of the water on the lake. They have been there for months now and they look like such a happy family.
Last night was our annual community dinner. We always go to the downtown east side, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada, to feed dinner to the people who have so little. Old men and women, young women, babies, the disabled, the mentally ill and those that just have no one to celebrate the holiday with lined up outside in the freezing cold for a little food and a little warmth and kindness.
After... you come home and sit down to a warm meal, good food and the company of your close friends and loved ones you can not help but be a little changed by it.... a little more grateful.
Well it is Christmas time and Miss Lucy made a visit today to the nursing home of a very brilliant gentleman we know. He is 96 years old, but smarter than you or I, but I am not sure if he is smarter than Lucy.
As you can see she got dressed in her Christmas finery for the visit.
Two years ago when I was in Quebec City on vacation I took a trip up the Saguenay to view the whales. While waiting for the boat I spotted this young man on the dock and snapped this picture. His jacket made me think about this country I live in.
I had forgotten this picture until I came across it the other day. It seems fitting that it should come up now because my partner and I have spent a great deal of time recently talking with people about this very issue.
Twenty years ago I would proudly have stated that Canada was indeed free and indeed the best place on earth to live. Today I am not so sure. Today we have a government system that punishes their MPs for voting the way their constituents want. Today we have thousands of people living on our streets for want of proper housing. Today we have young men and women dying in Afghanistan for a war that is not ours, can't be won and for people who don't want us there. Canada used to be a country of ordinary folks. Working men and women who took pleasure in raising their children and tending a small home. They were proud of the work they did and their only expectation was that they would earn a living decent wage to provide for their families. Today, especially here in British Columbia, many workers are living below the poverty line as government has torn up work contracts and privatized many industries that are now run by huge corporations whose only concern is the bottom line.The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger every day.
When I grew up voting was considered a privilege and a duty. Now we have government parties who are clones of each other - vying for votes where 52 % of the population in some areas are so disillusioned they don't see a reason to vote anymore. Today it is considered normal and expected that politicians will lie to us to get us to vote. It is considered normal for the politicians to base their policy on polling rather than on what is best for the country.
Strong and free.... I am not so sure anymore. I once heard that a country is only as strong as how well it treats it's weakest. How well are we treating our poor and elderly? How well are we treating our working families and our children? Are we doing the best we can?
Sunday morning brought beautiful sunshine, but wind and brutal cold. My partner and I dressed in layers of clothing, scarves, gloves and boots and with Lucy in tow headed out to the National Day of Mourning in Thornton Park. On December 6th, 1989 14 women were murdered by a lone gunman with a semi-automatic weapon at a college in Montreal. These women were ordinary women just trying to make their way in this world. They had done nothing to the gunman, Marc Lepine personally, but in his mind they represented everything that was wrong in his life.
Thornton Park has been set up as a memorial for these women and there are fourteen marble seats with the names of the women on them. We are all given a scarf with either a picture or a saying about this event to wear around our necks. Then everyone walks in a circle around these seats while a Choir is singing.
As I walked the circle shivering in the wind and fighting to keep my scarf around my neck I thought how the weather seemed fitting to remember these women who were murdered for nothing more than being women.
It was uncomfortable. My feet soon went numb from the cold and the skin on my face was freezing and stinging from the wind beating against it. It made me realize that many of my fellow sisters around the world are living under conditions where they are uncomfortable all the time. Women have long been considered a lessor being and as such their lives have never been given the value that they deserve. In many countries women are sold into slavery from birth, raped as part of a war strategy, killed because they are deemed to have little value and made slaves by their husbands family.
At the end of the memorial the scarves are hung from a line between two trees and as I left the park I looked back at these red and white scarves flapping around in the wind and wondered how long it was going to take and what it is going to take before the lives of women around the world are considered as valuable as the men.
It has been five months since I wrote on this space. A couple of times a week I visit and ask myself if I want to start writing again. So much has happened in the last five months that I almost don't know where to begin or end. Some events have been life changing and others just plain fun!
My Aunt died on June 15th just ten days short of her 88th birthday. Two other 30 years + close friends left me since the beginning of the year. I have someone special in my life for the first time in 18 years! I sold almost everything I owned and put the rest in storage and moved to Burnaby with Miss Lucy to begin a new life. I helped my daughters move to a new place of their own to begin their own way in the world. I studied and passed my Life license and began work as a broker for a large company in the Vancouver city core.
I attended my first Pro Ball game in Seattle I went to my first Jewish wedding in Montreal in a large synagogue I shopped till I dropped in Montreal! Lucy has two people who adore her and dote on her every wish!
Most days I want to pinch myself to make sure that it is all real and I am still alive. So much has changed. What hasn't changed is Miss Lucy -she is still the sweetest dog of all!
I have not forgotten all the friends on here that have been so good to me over the years. The most faithful of all is my friend Lorelei over on Blogsdon who still faithfully has my link up on her site that clocks down the months since I last posted. I still take hundreds of photos when ever I can and will post some of them again in the next little while. I have discovered that starting my own business (as I am and independent broker) is a lot of work, but a wonderful and exciting challenge especially when there is someone who is so supportive of what you are trying to accomplish. So the question of if I should blog again or not is still up in the air... but check back now and then. Oh... and Lorelei... I am sure you owe me an e-mail.
I have been riding public transit alot lately and I like it. It saves me lots of time, I can read or write some notes while I am traveling and I can get off where I want and not worry about parking. I usually arrive at transit loaded down. I have a large purse. People who know me will tell you that I always have a purse large enough to carry absolutely everything I need should there be an earth quake and I need to survive for a week or two away from home. I also have my writing materials, date book, study books and sometimes the newspaper. I know this is a lot of stuff, but I really hate to waste time and what if I had to wait a half hour or so what would I do with myself? I can assure you that if I do not have a bunch of things to occupy my time I will be finding things and that usually means the nearest food fair with dire consequences to my diet plan. Oh yeah I always have my food note book with me as well. If it is raining or looks like it might rain then I will also have an umbrella with me. The transit station sells tickets on the main floor before you climb a flight or two or three depending on what station you are at to the deck where the train arrives. There is a very clever machine that gives you several options all laid out on a touch screen for easy picking. First you decide how many zones you are going and how many people you are paying for. Then you pick the ticket you want. Day pass or hourly. Then this little machine tells you how much money you owe and asks you how you want to pay. Cash or debit? I always pick cash as I do not trust these little machines too much. Why you may ask? Well I have seen these machines print out streams of tickets that people did not request and I always wonder how these people get their money back if they have paid by debit. Anyhow I digress.... Now after choosing cash you can pay with a dollar bill in this little slot that sucks in your five, ten or 20 dollar bill. As I always pay with cash and as I am always loaded down with stuff I always have the money in my hand. This way I do not have to put everything down and rummage around in my very large over stuffed (did I mention that I always over stuff my purse?) purse for my wallet so I can did through several compartments to find money. Everything seems to be going along well until that moment when I slip the dollar bill in the slot that sucks it up. I wait expectantly for the ticket to be printed only to have my bill spit back at me.... I patiently take the bill try to smooth out the wrinkles and turn it around and try again ....ttthhhhhttt! Out it comes again. About this time I begin to hear what I am convinced is my train coming down the tracks above me so I quickly dump everything on the dirty (and I do mean dirty) cement floor and bend over with my butt in the air digging through my enormously stuffed purse to find change! Finding it I stuff everything back in and begin the process of selecting the ticket all over again as I have of course taken too long and that very smart machine has timed out. I quickly punch in my choices again and begin dropping coins into the slot this time. I watch the money meter count down my fare and at last I am down to the last coin. With a sigh of relief I drop in the last 10 cents only to hear the last coin clunk into the return tray! WHAT!!!!! The machine won't take my last dime??? I stalwartly grab the dime out of the return and determinedly drop it back in the slot. Must be a mistake. Surely it will take it this time. I wait...listening to the coin make its way back to the coin return. Once more I drop all my stuff and grab my wallet which fortunately is still on top of my purse frantically search for a dime or two nickels or anything that damn machine will take. I drop a dime into the slot and finally hear the sweet sound of my ticket being punched out. I grab it and run up the stairs to try and catch the train, which is always just closing its doors to pull away. Exhausted I stand and wait for the next train silently cursing that clever machine one floor below.
Today it was lovely to spend the day in the sunshine with Miss Lucy. We went on several walks and took in a protest march for domestic workers. Even though some of you will not consider that relaxing for me it was lovely. I have been so busy recently that I did not even have time to keep up with my e-mail or anything else. In fact, two months has passed since I last had time to write anything on this blog. I cannot beleive how fast the time has gone by. I have studied and written two of the hardest exams I have ever done in my entire life allowing me to apply for my life insurance license. I agreed to contract with Canada Financial to hold my license and now am waiting for my criminal background check to come through. Next week I finally get to start learning about the real world of insurance instead of just the text book stuff. I expect to be very busy again in the next few weeks, but I have really missed everyone and I hope to be able to get some time to blog again.
I hope my fellow sisters around the world had a great Mother's Day.
Spring was in the air this week! Daylight savings kicked in on Sunday and the thought that we would finally have longer days and warmer weather tempered my angst over losing an hours sleep. I took this picture of the crocus raising their heads to the sun convinced that they must be right ....Spring was here!!Or at least just around the corner!
Or is it???? This is Monday morning from my front yard.....What happened?
I don't know about anyone else, but I know that I sleep much more soundly here in Delta knowing that the homeless man that I passed sleeping on the park bench, while on my way back from that ski trip to Whistler, is going to get a ticket he cannot pay and be told he has to move to another city!
Please excuse my sarcasm - it comes from reading the stupidity reported in the newspapers!
In true rat fashion, the year of the rat has scurried away taking our economic security with him. In his place comes the the spartan Ox. The Ox is a hard worker. Plodding day by day to accomplish his tasks he is undaunted by the enormity of the job before him. The ox does not have the ability to take short cuts. Instead he reminds us that diligence and focus with get the job done. The year of the ox is a time to get our houses in order. Pay off those bills - take that upgrading course we have been putting off. The ox represents honesty reminding us to get back to our roots and use integrity in all our dealings. In the Chinese Zodiak I am a Dragon. This year the Dragon will need to be strong and focused in order to reach their goals. I am also supposed to take my and time and consider all advice. That is a tough job for me. I am used to flying by the seat of my pants and making my own decisions with out consultation. I have never been someone who trusted enough to rely on others advice much. Instead I figured if I was going to blame someone for screwing up it might as well be me and not someone else. However, I think the zodiak may be right. This year may be the year I need to seek more consultation. Listen intently and accept some outside advice. For all my friends, Chinese or otherwise, I hope that the year of the Ox bring order to your lives. I hope that it instills in each of us a sense of responsibility for our neighbors around the world. I hope it sees us spending more wisely and ridding ourselves of the desire to have more and more things that we don't really need. I hope the slow pace of the ox allows us to meditate on what is really important in our lives and our world.
After watching a show on TV about the struggle that Trumpeter Swans have had and are still encountering to survive I had to post this picture I took about 4 years ago of one of the Swans on Lost Lagoon at Stanley Park.
I have not been unaware of the excitement around the inauguration of President Barak Obama this week. In this photo, sent to me by a friend, I was stunned by the incredible numbers of people who trekked to Washington and braved the cold to watch this historic occasion. Some of these people didn't make it close enough to even glimpse the President and First Lady in person. Yet there was jubilation on their faces and hope in their eyes.
As a Canadian watching the occasion and listening to a very different speech than that of former President Bush - it gave me hope. Hope that I would on feel that my brothers to the south were once again my friends. Hope that there would be reconciliation around the world that the Amercians that I know and love will again feel proud that they are reaching out and trying to bring peace through their actions and words instead of sowing discontent and malice with words and actions of aggression. However, it was the actions of the new President that has begun to renew my faith in mankind. In his first week President Obama has closed Gitmo, shut down the CIA's network of secret overseas prisons and order the cessation of torture interrogation techniques. He also invoked the Geneva Convention for the treatment of the prisoners left at Gitmo and has allowed the international Red Cross access to the inmates.
For eight years I have watch my American friends struggle with the pain of feeling like they had lost the moral high ground that their country was founded on. Finally they can lift their heads and move forward with pride once again.
As a Canadian President Obama's actions this week have given me hope for a more peaceful world and better cross border relations. However, after the things I have seen and the pain that has been brought to fellow Canadians such as Maher Arar over the last eight years I am cautious. I will wait, with hope in my heart, for more good things from this new president.
Congratulations America - I think - I HOPE - you may be on to better times!
The past week has been busy and filled with emotion. I went to Lou's memorial service yesterday and woke up this morning thinking about life. Strangely not about death. I mean after all death is pretty clear. Death is final. Death is something that comes to all of us sooner or later. Death is clear. There are no second chances. No - Oops I will get better at this! Death is the end. It is the ultimate pink slip! It is life that I have so much difficulty with. It is life that seems unfair. It is life that sees some people suffer enormously while others seem to breeze through everything. It is life that sees some people live in abject poverty no matter how hard they struggle while others seem to never struggle for finances. It is life that sees some people drink, smoke, eat fatty foods to excess and never exercise yet live to be 99 while people who practice disciplined lives die of heart attacks at 50! Life! I just can't figure it all out sometimes. So... I did what I usually do when I am mentally restless. I took my camera and went on a foggy early morning walk. I didn't get any answers, but I did find some beauty even in the midst of the gray and black.
A merchant in the Punjabi Market setting up his produce stall
It is very foggy here in Vancouver and the surrounding areas. Check out Kat Kam to see how foggy it is. We have not seen blue sky for what seems like weeks and we are told this fog will last at least five more days so I thought a bright yellow airplane in a very blue sky might lift the spirits. Happy Friday! - Check out this weeks other SkyWatch Pictures
Luella Margaret Dalgliesh April 18, 1938 - January 10, 2009 It seems to me that the good people in this world leave it far too soon. Lou, my daughters Aunt, left us this past week after battling cancer for nearly two years. Lou faced cancer the same way she faced life - with grace & optimism. My fondest memory of Lou is the day she drove me to the hospital to deliver my second daughter. The morning of November 30th, my husband left for work and as luck would have it not fifteen minutes later I had my first labor pain. This being my second child I was confident (cocky actually)that I had many hours to go so I took my time to dress and feed my first born before calling Lou. By now of course rush hour traffic, something I had forgotten to factor in, was in full force. Despite this Lou hurried from her home in Richmond to my house in New Westminster where I greeted her with fresh coffee and toast! Lou was horrified... she kept urging me to hurry. Don't worry I assured her the pains are still about 15 minutes apart - lots of time. The walk from the apartment to the car sped up my labor pains and I had no sooner strapped on my seat belt than the contractions began in earnest and were now arriving less than 5 minutes apart. Every time I had a contraction I would push my foot into the floor board and Lou would begin to panic and inform me in no uncertain terms that I could not under any circumstances have a baby in her car!!! This all struck me as hilarious and it sent me into peals of laughter to which she would yell "Don't laugh! You will make the baby come faster"! Of course this only made me laugh all the harder. Nearing the hospital she got more rattled and went in the wrong direction of the hospital adding further to her panic. Ultimately I did make it to the hospital in time and delivered my daughter almost immediately giving Lou nightmares for weeks and swearing to never drive me anywhere again. The story soon became a family favorite.
I am so happy my daughters got to know this very special person. I will love and remember her always.