Monday, July 31, 2006

Fun With Flipping Floaters

The weekend is over and for some reason I feel very tired even though I had a fairly relaxing time. On Friday I went for dinner with a friend I hadn't met yet. I am good friends with her son and she reads my blog...I had such a nice time talking with her. We had a good meal and laughed and shared stories and I felt like I had known her for a very long time. We probably wouldn't have met if it hadn't been for the internet...nice internet.

On Saturday I decided to embark on a project I shouldn't have even considered let alone embarked at. I replaced the burner on our barbecue. Sounds easy right? After battling with a can of degreaser, wrestling with rusted metal wing nuts and finally begging for compliance from a pair of metal venturi, I finished. Five hours after I started. I was covered in black grease. But the barbecue works. Then again, it worked before I started. Look what five hours of hard work will get you.

Yesterday we headed to Bowness Park to relax and read in the sun. (I am reading the most incredible book right now called "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss. It's probably some of the best writing I have read since Alistair MacLeod's "No Great Mischief" although of a different type.) We had been laying there in the hot sun for a few hours (me, basting in SPF 30 of course) when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, came this gale-force wind. In seconds the temperature dropped, the sky turned black and our mouths were filled with a fine grit. We, along with half the park, ran for our car, dodging falling tree branches as we went. Water Rescue trucks, with sirens blaring, headed to the water to rescue the floaters. It was like Armageddon...I kept waiting to see naked bodies floating up into the heavens (especially the family picnic to the right of our spot who prayed/sang loud enough that even the Muslims at the Islamic Centre barbecue felt shamed), but alas, it was just a summer storm.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Big People in Little Bodies...Revolt!!

One of my favourite things when I was a child was going to the public library. I bloomed under the potential of all those books and the knowledge that I would be taking at least some of them home. My Mum would often tell us we had a limit of say, five or ten items and I would spend the next hour agonizing on what books I was going to check out. Would it be too quick a read? Was it funny enough? Hard enough? Would I like it? I would read the description on the back and maybe the first few pages trying to extrapolate what the rest of the experience would feel like. Usually I ended up with five books and a list of another 50 I would have to get next time.

I still love going to the library. I still bring home too many books and end up with late fines. Just last week I returned James Gleick's Isaac Newton only half-finished. I really enjoyed it...but now I don't know what happened to Newton. I can only assume he died.

Last night I went to the library because I had a whole list of books I wanted to get and I managed to get a bunch of them. Unfortunately I stumbled across something while I was there that made me feel angry and a little sad. The library has a new "Kids Bag" program where parents can go in and grab a bag that contains five books and an audio-visual item. The bags are all lined up along one of the shelves and labeled according to gender and age. What the hell? What happened to choosing books with your child? What happened to the idea that kids are actually little people who have preferences, tastes and varying abilities? Can you imagine if I handed you a book and said "Here you go. I have no idea what this book is about but it's geared towards your generation and gender so you're bound to like it." How are you supposed to learn about yourself and develop a relationship with reading if you're just handed an arbitrarily assigned plastic bag of reading materials?

If parents don't have time to even pick out the books for their little ones I can bet they aren't reading to them either. Sometimes I wonder how we all ended up doing things so ass backwards and why nobody seems to notice.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I hope you choke on a roll...

I do not profess to know very much about the Middle East or how we're all going to solve it, but I do think I can safely say that it won't be with rockets. What a mess over there right now. What sadness and frustration to watch it all happen and know that it's very unlikely it will come to a peaceful resolution any time soon. I still can't believe to this day that the post-war Zionists and whoever enabled their little "utopia" to exist, couldn't foresee the instability it would bring to the region. I can't believe that last night on television I witnessed the President of the United States of America lean over towards Tony Blair and say, "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." What? First of all, the man obviously doesn't understand the idea of irony (put him in a room with Alanis Morissette and who knows what the hell would happen). Secondly, does he really think it's all that easy? Does he think he can just pick up the phone and tell Syria to stop Hezbollah? And why is he talking about international affairs while chewing on a bread roll? This is the man that many peoples hopes are riding on.

There will be no peace until the Israeli government realizes it is not perfect, it does not have sole claim to the Holy Land and that they have to negotiate. It won't end until Hezbollah and the Palestinians realize that launching rockets or blowing themselves up isn't getting them anywhere but dead. Both sides need to stop, take a deep breath, swallow their pride and meet in the middle. I'm afraid though that once again, as it has a thousand times throughout our history, hubris will conquer compromise.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ground Level

One of my Special Olympics Athletes, Bonnie, died last week in her sleep. I was so sad when I got the call because she was so sweet and I'm tired of people dying. I went to the service last night (the official Catholic funeral is going on right now but obviously I'm not there because I'm here writing) and I'm glad I went even though it was difficult. I had never actually been to a funeral home before and I didn't really know what to expect. The family was so sweet and very happy that I had come. I went with the intention of sharing some stories about Bonnie that maybe the family didn't know and telling them what a sweet, kind and special person she was. I left feeling like they had given me something instead. Every person in the room, despite the enormity of their loss, made a point of thanking me for working with Special Olympics. I felt a bit bad until I realized that obviously they wantedto thank me. I had given thought to what the program means to the athletes but to be honest I had never considered it from the perspective of their families. Obviously it means more to them than I realized.

Bonnie has two special needs brothers who were both there last night. I went into the viewing room and one of the brothers John came with me. As we stood there over the body of his dead sister he started to cry and said to me, "Bonnie likes puzzles. She won't be doing any more puzzles." "No, she won't." I replied. "Bonnie is never going to go bowling again." he continued. I guess that's the strange thing about death. It means something different to everyone but it never hurts any less.

Seeing her body was a weird experience for me. It was the first time I had ever really seen a dead body (except for the time I failed miserably at CPR but he was newly dead and I was too exhausted to really stop and look at him) and it was strange. I have become insanely addicted to "Six Feet Under" as of late and they do a lot of embalming on that show. It's a really strange idea I think. There was Bonnie, only it wasn't Bonnie, and she had been stuffed and sewn and glued. For what? Apparently, for a lot of people, it is psychologically healthy to be able to see the body before it is buried so they can fully understand that the person is gone. Me, I would rather keep their living image in my head than be face to face with the remnants of what is left after death. Again, it's all a very personal thing and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it.

I said all the right things when I was there, "She's in a better place." "Yes, you're right, she was an angel." "That's a good way to think of it...her father and her are together now." It made me want to bite off my own tongue because I don't believe a word of it. But who the hell am I to take away the comfort those beliefs obviously bring them? I may be an atheist but I'm not a sadist.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cowgirl Up...

Check out those boots!! Yee Haw!