Thursday, November 24, 2011

----------NOV 25 IS BUY NOTHING DAY -------

Buy Nothing Day!

Take yourself for a walk in the park instead of the mall.

Stay home and have a bubble bath.

Let the credit card cool down.

Think about what it would feel like to be


Or conversely, you could enjoy the "holiday experience"
Andy Borowitz describes in his column today.

November 25, 2011

In Positive Economic Sign, Walmart Customers Killing Each Other to Buy Shit

Pepper Spraying, Homicide Bullish Indicators, Economists Say

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) – In what economists are hailing as a clear sign of economic recovery, Walmart customers across the USA jammed into stores on Black Friday, sometimes killing each other to buy useless shit.

“We have been looking for evidence that the economy is on the mend,” said Davis Logsdon, chairman of the economics department at the University of Minnesota. “When people resort to homicide to buy a Blu-ray player, that is very, very good news indeed.”

Mr. Logsdon said he was “impressed” by the lengths to which some Walmart customers were going to grab coveted sale items: “They’re using tactics we usually associate with the UC-Davis police.”

With many customers using pepper spray and other weapons to get a shopping advantage, however, Mr. Logsdon advised Americans not to enter a Walmart unarmed.

“If you want to get your hands on a doorbuster, you’d better have a firearm,” he said. “Fortunately, Walmart is offering several great doorbusters on firearms.”

Walmart and other retailers’ decision to commence their Black Friday sales a day early carries with it an added benefit for consumers, he noted: “Now, Americans will be able to declare bankruptcy one day earlier.”

All in all, Dr. Logsdon said that the increased violence and mayhem at retail outlets across the country was “a testament to the greatness of the American consumer.”

“Egyptians risk their lives for new government,” he said. “Americans bravely do the same for new flat screens.”


Monday, November 14, 2011

No Need to Worry

“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.” ~ Dalai Lama

And closer to home, a reassuring word from the light of my life, "We've gone through this before. We can't let it scare us. We may very well feel better tomorrow."

Paradise is having someone who understands.

A Postcard from Paradise and Recuerda mi Corazon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marigolds in March

Dame Judi Dench is by far my favorite actress. She just gets more beautiful as the years roll by, which gives me hope. And finally a movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which has a cast with some character and dare I say depth?

Though I haven't been in a movie theatre since my youngest child was a teenager I'm setting my clock for March (when this movie will be released) and have told my husband that we have a date night coming up.

Reposted from As Time Goes By

(...of the British Empire, that is). Lilalia of Yum Yum Cafe reminded me of an upcoming film starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. According to an online synopsis, the movie ”...follows a group of British retirees who decide to 'outsource their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self.

“Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.”

“Marigold” is not due in theaters until next March. Meanwhile, here is a trailer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Red Hibiscus

Red hibiscus blooms
In winter window glowing
Scarlet borealis

Haiku My Heart Friday

recuerda mi corazon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"We Do"

Let me see. Last time I checked my own marriage of 46 years hadn't dissolved, crumbled, teetered, tottered or turned toes up because a same sex couple looked upon each other with the same love, tenderness and commitment that my dear sweet husband and I feel for each other.

I think it's time we grew up and let families live their lives in peace. Or as my old Mum would have said when someone got a little too interested in telling her how she should conduct her affairs, "You, you go tend to your own knittin' and I'll tend to mine."

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A Family Story Told and Retold...

My parents had three small children when the Great Depression hit. Their household also included my elderly grandfather and my uncle Lonnie, who was only nine years old when my grandmother died. Lonnie had come to live with mother and dad when they were newlyweds. The household shrank and expanded like a bellows as different relatives would come to stay for a month or year, or more. For a while the household included my Aunt Eva, her husband Paul and their two babies, Eddie and Pauline. This story from that time was told and retold as I was growing up in the 40s and 50s.

Paul had a job driving an ice wagon back in the days before electric refrigeration, when food was kept cold in an ice box, an insulated wooden cupboard - which held a large block of ice in one of the compartments. This ice was delivered door-to-door by the ice-man. The horse-drawn wagon was packed with 50 pound blocks of ice separated by layers of sawdust. The horse knew which houses bought ice and which ones didn't, Paul didn't even have to hold the reins.

When the horse stopped Paul would jump off the wagon seat, run to the back of the wagon, open the door, get a firm grip on a block of ice with a set of huge tongs, heft the block out, haul it around to the back porch and into the kitchen where he'd put it in the ice-box. Sometimes he'd have to chisel away the irregular edges with the ice pick he carried in his belt so the block would fit in the box. 50 pound blocks. Over and over. All day long. It was back-breaking work.

One day he slipped and hurt his back and couldn't lift the blocks. But jobs were scarce and he couldn't risk taking a day off. School had just let out for summer so Paul begged Lonnie to help him with the route. Little Lonnie, who at 14 years old, was five foot nothin' tall and still weighed only 85 lbs.

They struggled the blocks into the houses together for most of the day, but by the last hour Paul could barely crawl off the wagon. Lonnie was left to deal with blocks of ice that weighed 3/4s as much as he did - alone.

As they approached one of the last houses Paul said, "Lon, make sure you get a big block. This woman has a scale on her back porch, and if the block isn't 50 lbs she'll make you bring it back and get another one."

Lonnie surveyed the remaining blocks carefully and picked what looked like a big one. He grappled at it with the tongs and using every ounce of strength drug it out of the wagon.

"Did you get a big 'un?" Paul asked, from the front of the wagon.

Lonnie wiped his brow and picked the block up off the tailgate. "Oh, it's a big 'un all right!" Then he began the slow, stiff-legged walk toward the back of the house, with the ice-block in the only position he could manage, swinging on the tongs between his knees like a cross-wise pendulum, threatening to overbalance him at every step.

"Ice-man!" he yelled as he struggled up the steps, just as Paul had taught him.

"You ain't my rag'lar," the woman said, eyeing him suspiciously.

"No, Ma'm, he's in the wagon a 'cause he hurt his back."

"Well, I hope he told you I won't be cheated! Here - you sling that block on these scales. And don't you be a laying your dirty thumb on that scale or I'll slap you sideways to Satan!"

The dial gyrated wildly and gradually settled - at 49 lbs. Lonnie's heart sank.

"Do I LOOK like a fool?" She narrowed her eyes. "I pay for 50 lbs of ice, and by gum I'm gonna GIT 50 lbs of ice. You ain't cheating me! Git me a bigger block!"

He had no choice. He hauled the block down, wrestled it back to the truck, opened the door and shoved it back in.

"Not big enough?" Paul asked in dismay.

"Only 49 pounds." Lonnie wheezed.

Paul crept off the wagon seat groaning and holding his back. Together they searched through the blocks until they found one Paul was certain was big enough. He sweated as he helped Lonnie pull it out and leaned panting on the tailgate as Lonnie traversed the long path around the house again.

The block went on the scale. He held his breath. The woman watched the dial the way a hungry cat watches a mouse who is just one step from being too far from its burrow. The dial settled - 49.5 lbs.

"I do believe you take me for a fool! I will go to the office tomorrow and report you to your superiors! I PAY for 50 lbs of ice and I am going to GIT 50 lbs of ice!"

"No Ma'm, no Ma'm!" Lonnie was at the edge of panic. "It ain't no trouble a'tall. I'll get another block," and he started back to the wagon, with the tonged iceberg trying to tear his scrawny little arms out of their sockets.

"Not big enough," he gasped as he swung it up on the tailgate. "God Damn," he was nigh in tears, "Not God Damn big enough."

Paul didn't even scold Lonnie for swearing. "Get inside," he said. "Let's make sure we get the biggest one in the wagon."

Several minutes later they had separated out a massive block, and Lonnie was once more on his difficult journey to the back porch of this very particular customer.

He saw a gleam of satisfaction in the woman's eyes as she saw the block, and sure enough, when the dial settled down it read an astonishing 54 pounds. "Well that's more like it!" she crowed.

Lonnie felt a wave of righteous indignation come over him. He reached for the ice pick tucked into his belt and attacked the ice block.

"Here! Here! What do you think you're doing?" she shrieked, dodging flying ice.

Lonnie paused briefly to look at the dial and started chiseling again. Finally his pick fell silent. The dial read exactly 50 lbs. He grinned for the first time that afternoon.

"Lady," he said, holding out a trembling hand for his nickle payment. "You're paying for 50 pounds of ice, and 50 pounds of ice is ALL you're gonna GET!"

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Morning's Conversation

A One Act Play:

Characters: Him and Her

Curtain rises on a living room in an urban condo. Him and Her are slumped in their respective easy chair/rockers. The floor needs sweeping. The dust is thick. There's a tumbleweed of cat hair rolling across the floor. The digital clock says Saturday Nov 5. It is apparent from their demeanor that they have been unable to do much of anything in days.

There's a white board on the wall with a list:

Wednesday Nov 2:

Doctor's appt
Grocery shopping

Sweep and mop

Clean bathroom
Cook for weekend

Him: That housekeeper didn't show up again this morning.

Her: She's not very reliable. I'm thinking of firing her.

Him: I know we said we hated having a housekeeper underfoot and the agency promised to find someone we'd hardly notice, but this is ridiculous.

Her: I can never tell she's been here.

Him: Has she ever been here? It's so hard to get good help anymore. (sighs)

Her: Well, even if we don't fire her, I'm seriously considering cutting her wages, or at least reducing her benefits.

Him: It's probably union interference. Maybe she's working to rule?

Her: I'll bet she's downtown with that "Occupy" crowd, sleeping in a tent, protesting against the 1%.

Him: I'm so upset about it I'm taking to my unmade bed.

Her: I'll sit here and have the vapours. I haven't had a good fit of the vapours in ever so long and it's something I can do without leaving my chair.

Him: Shuffles out of room.

Her: Rock, rock, rock.

Curtain falls

Friday, November 04, 2011

Our 31st KIVA Loan

This month we are pleased to be able to extend a small loan to Elizabeth Onyabidi of Kitale, Kenya through

Elizabeth is 40 years old, married, and has five children between the ages of 8 and 17. She has been in farming for 11 years, producing and selling vegetables, tomatoes and bananas at the local market.

Since you all know that I have chicken envy I wanted to support Elizabeth, who has requested a loan of 40,000 KES ($422.00 Canadian dollars) to purchase poultry birds so she can venture into poultry farming. She has big plans to have a farm running with 2000 birds in two years. She says there is a ready market for both birds and eggs, and the business will generate more income to help provide for her family’s basic needs.

She is aware of the main pitfall of the business – animal diseases – but despite this challenge, she remains focused on achieving success and repaying the loan.

I hope she also keeps an eye on the poultry farmers other challenges, neighbourhood dogs, cats, snakes and various wildlife. In the south it was skunks and raccoons, I'm sure a poultry farmer in Kenya has similar poultry thieves. :)

Good luck Elizabeth, I'll enjoy getting your monthly reports and wish you all the best!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Leaf Treader

I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn-tired
God knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired.
Perhaps I have put forth too much strength or been too fierce from fear.
I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year.

All summer long they were over head, more lifted up than I.
To come to their final place in earth they had to pass me by.
All summer long I thought I heard them whispering under their breath.
And when they came it seemed with a will to carry me with them to death.

They spoke to the fugitive in my heart as if it were leaf to leaf.
They tapped at my eyelids and touched my lips with an invitation to grief.
But it was no reason I had to go because they had to go.
Now up to my knee to keep on top another year of snow.

~ Robert Frost

The weatherman predicts our first "sticking" snow will begin in the night. It may have already begun, I haven't gone to the big set of patio doors in the dining room and looked out across the lawn and parking area, where falling snow would be visible in the glow of the street lights.

Having grown up in the southern US, where snow was a distinct oddity, and "winter" was six weeks of sweater weather, Calgary's snow and interminable winters filled me with dismay the first several years I lived here. I've grown more sanguine about it over the past 40+ years. Calgary wears a mantle of snow comfortably, as easily as a shawl tossed around the shoulders as you nip outside for the morning paper.

But there's something else. The years are so much more compact than they once were. When you are six it's 100 years between Christmases, by the time you're drawing a pension the seasons fly past so quickly it's easy to blink and miss one entirely. You look at the leaves swirling and gathering in drifts and you understand what they have been saying all summer. It's not a threat, but a promise, "You're one of us. Watch and learn."

I wonder how old Robert Frost was when he wrote A Leaf Treader? It's the work of a man who was old enough to recognize that our existence is as the cycling of leaves. We can resist all we like, but no amount of force or fierceness of fear will keep us from the same cycle of nature that the leaves endure season after season. They fall and, if left undisturbed, sink deep and deeper becoming fodder for new generations of leaves, or for grass or mushrooms. Not such a bad thing, once you get over the fear.

The snow has started. I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of this year. It will be a long time until spring, but not as long as it once was.