December 28, 2006
Hope Christmas and the holiday season have been all you've wanted them to be...and I miss you all.
December 25, 2006
December 23, 2006
As I listen to this incredible song on the day before Christmas Eve, many gifts still to wrap, I want to tell you about people found, people loved, people lost.
About 50 per cent of people in North America have experienced separation or divorce. I'm among them. That's not directly what this is about.
All I want to tell you about tonight is the people on the periphery who are lost as a result of that, people I'm thinking about.
When the marriage of two people breaks down, it's not just the husband and wife who break up, and it's not just their kids who are thrown into chaos. People take sides. It's human nature.
Brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, their kids you loved -- your nieces and nephews, children you tossed in the air and teased and who you wondered if you might say a speech at their wedding -- disappear from your life.
They almost become ghosts. You don't see them any more. You don't hear about them. Tanis, Derek; Kristopher, Jessica; Michael, Justin, Dylan, Darren; nephews and nieces once, stolen away.
Ryan, Barb; Ronnie, Janet; Cam & Sherilyn, their parents...your in-laws on your ex's side of the family...all gone. Like they never existed, but you know they did. You loved them for 20-25 years.
You loved their kids, you saw them every Christmas, every birthday, you got to know their families and feel warmth and love about them and for them, know their struggles, triumphs titillating their lives.
The couple above lived with my ex and I for a while before they got married. The guy on the left is my ex's brother, posing with his second wife and their first-born at my ex's family cottage.
The pic on the right is from a couple of years ago of the entire expanded clan. I haven't seen them or heard from them in about a year, maybe, although I think about them often and love them all.The pic on the left is of one of my sisters-in-law in the back, holding my then one-year-old daughter on the left and her daughter, Tanis, on the right.
The pic on the right is Tanis's wedding about a year ago, with my daughter and son on the far right. They were part of the wedding party.
I was invited by the mom to "sit at the back of the church so you can see your kids in the wedding party." She had to "hide me." I didn't go. Instead, I sent a cheque and a card to my niece and her husband.
The lad on top there with the blonde hair is my nephew Kristopher, whose pic I loved taking. Haven't seen him since 1996. The girl at the left on my lap there with my daughter is Jessica. Same deal.
Argh. Outta sight, not outta mind.
So what do you do with this? You need to accept it and allow yourself to still hold those people dear and close, but realize that they have to do what they have to do..and that you do too.
And that at special times like Christmas, you have to embrace the people you've always embraced, and to bring more into what you want to and have to embrace, and leave the past to what it is.
If Blogger had allowed me, I would have posted more pix of my close family (three sisters, two brothers, their spouses and kids). But here are my kids and a lovely woman who I want to embrace this Christmas.
Like the song says, it's time to say it: Goodbye. Goodbye.
Merry Christmas to you all.
December 22, 2006
For useless trivia buffs such as HE, the list on the shelf shown includes (closeups are below; from bottom to top, it's highly skillful and clever snaps of all the items from left to right):
*Two Canadian Football League footballs
*Two hockey pucks
*Two softballs from my slowpitch team
*Five baseball hats, most of them freebies of one sort or another (I rarely wear them)
*One air conditioner cover that I guess is supposed to be covering my air conditioner during the winter
*My bike helmet
*Two cans of stuff to spray on my leather shoes, which I never do
*One Odour Eaters powder canister
*My trusty wrench set
*A pair of weather-resistant running pants or something
*My baseball/softball glove
Here, as near as I could get it all in one picture without stepping outside to do so, is the closet in its entirety. Don't trip on anything on your into my living room.
Next in WW's painful revelation of self periodic series: the bedroom closet
December 20, 2006
Well, being so bereft of blogging topics, I did what anyone would do. I threw out some ideas to the general Christmas-weary populace in BlogWorld and you decided for me.
So for Dinahmow and Dmmgfmmmm to the 18th power, particularly, here is my Christmas tree and some of my other Christmas ornamenture (if that is even a word; if not, I just invented it).
I'm disappointed with the results from my Sony SureShot, but I don't think it's my camera's fault. I think it means I have to actually do what every male detests doing, and that is read the manual.
The lights on my Christmas tree don't show up, for example, although the severe lean to the tree does. I think I have to alter the position of the Xmas girlie at the top of the tree, but she might slap me in the face.
Anyway, I'll deal with that when Homo Escapeons comes over. In the meantime, this is me and Christmas.
I bought this tree, of course, when I split with my ex. It has served me well. I am still in hock for the billions of dollars worth of decorations that my daughter forced me to buy, however.
That globe thingy in the middle, which cost about $9,000, used to have fake snow floating around in it, but I guess due to global warming it doesn't do that any more. What a shame.
And of course there's the obligatory Frosty the Snowman and Santa (on the right), who has no bum so I can put a candle in there to make him light up. It's really neato.
Being the alpha male (Santa), that's me up top. My daughter's stocking, of course, is the cute teddy bear. My son got left with the Frosty the Snowman. This reminds me...I still have to do all this shopping to fill them...argh.
Check out her Small Art website. Stuff on there's a steal.
December 17, 2006
Hmmm, he schemed, then beamed, then SCREAMED, his beady eyes popping out of their sockets, searching; his tiny male brain anguishing as he scoured it for a stroke of genius...
December 15, 2006
December 13, 2006
Right here, right now, we have the solution. And it's all about pumpkin seeds.
Get over those shivers of fear about shopping and spending hundreds of dollars, that bad feeling about baking til you drop, forgetting to send your cards by the deadline.
Here is yet another press release from yet another company proposing to solve all your holiday anxiety with the latest elixir that purports to make your life all fresh and new again.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — December 12, 2006
Toronto—Searching frantically for that "perfect gift" along with mounting bills, obligatory engagements, and endless loops of Christmas carols counting down the days… Stress now defines the holiday season.
What should be a time of comfort and joy has become an annual nightmare. But it doesn't have to be this way.
What if choosing the right foods could help eliminate stress and improve sleep? According to Toronto psychiatrist and sleep expert Dr. Craig Hudson, it is possible.
Dr. Hudson explains how the right combinations of proteins and carbohydrates digested at varying times of the day can make a huge difference in stress perception and quality of sleep.
With his research Dr. Hudson created Zenbev, a scientifically-derived formulation that combines simple ingredients for significant results.
Zenbev has garnered huge success in Europe, treating people suffering from sleep and stress problems like insomnia and anxiety.
Invented in 1997, this patented formula is now available in the Canadian market at fine health stores across the country.
Organic pumpkin seeds are the secret behind Zenbev's success. This all-natural beverage mix derived from pumpkin seeds provides a natural source of tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our bodies can only receive from food. It naturally enhances and regulates mood, emotion and sleep patterns.
Zenbev is unique because it is light-sensitive. Using Zenbev during the day causes tryptophan to metabolize into serotonin, which is scientifically proven to alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety.
In a night-time environment, tryptophan turns into melatonin which allows people to fall asleep naturally.
Using Zenbev over a period of time will not cause dependence or tolerance because the product works with your brain's natural sleep chemistry. Weight loss and an increased libido are other benefits.
Additional information on Zenbev is available at www.zenbev.com.
Are the holidays driving you nuts enough to try something like this?
December 12, 2006
December 9, 2006
Paris, December 4, 2006
Stephen, 32 years old, chose to declare his love with the help of the a brand new service provided by ApoteoSurprise, a French agency specializing in love declarations and original marriage proposals ( http://www.apoteosurprise.com/indexEN.htm ).
The young man's proposal and his picture were projected over 40 meters at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in a multicolored sparkling setting, while the two lovers were enjoying their candlelit dinner on board a cruise boat.
Virginia, 28 years old, burst into tears while the other passengers applauded. She then said "yes".
While taking a romantic stroll through the tiny cobblestoned alleyways of the Montmartre district, you'll be taken by surprise by the unusual events which will prelude your poetic declaration of love...990 euros
Early in the morning while still in bed, you'll be woken by a singing quartet who'll offer your sweetheart a romantic dawn serenade before handing him/her a parchment...990 euros
While forming part of the audience during a circus performance, your sweetheart will be the involuntary victim of a knife throwing contest -- a prelude to your spectacular declaration of love...1590 euros
After sharing a romantic dinner on an amazingly magical river boat, you'll witness a great illusion show during which the magician will reveal your decla-ration of love...1590 euros
You'll share a pleasurable moment of relaxation in a steamy hammam which will leave your skin feeling as soft as satin, before your sweetheart discovers your voluptuous declaration of love amidst some flowers...1590 euros
While you dine in the city, your room will be transformed into a tiny little tender paradise filled with hundreds of balloons and cuddly toys as a prelude to the most affectionate declaration of love...1590 euros
After flying over the most famous fun park in the world in an ULM, your amazing declaration of love will float across the sky right in front of your sweetheart's dazzling eyes...1990 euros
After a crazy pursuit aboard Starsky and Hutch's ride, a car filled with gangsters will lift up on two wheels and reveal your explosive declaration of love...1990 euros
While enjoying a romantic dinner in one of the most romantic castles in France, an elegant fireworks display will be set off in the gardens along with an immense blazing red heart...2990 euros
While the two of you privately visit an adorable doll museum, one of the dolls will come to life before your sweetheart's very eyes and hand him/her your tender declaration of love... 2990 euros
You'll dine in private in a castle before visiting the gardens where you'll be surprised by a giant bottle of champagne revealing your declaration of love while hundreds of balloons are released into the air...2990 euros
In the heart of a castle perched high in the valley, you'll be savoring a delicious lunch when suddenly a giant banderol will glide across the sky thus revealing your incredible declaration of love...2990 euros
While dining in a futuristic restaurant, a cybernetic man will appear and reveal your surprising declaration of love on his incorporated TV screen...2990 euros
You'll be enjoying a leisurely ride in a horse-drawn carriage through a noble forest just beside the Château de Chantilly when two 18th century bandits -- which only a prince could fight off -- will try to ambush you...3990 euros
You'll be dining aboard a sumptuous private yacht as you cruise along the Seine River, when a shower of 1,000 roses will fall from the sky and cover your sweetheart with tender flowers...4490 euros
You'll share a romantic dinner in a thousand and one night's temple which sparkles with opu-lence and beauty before secretly climbing into a Jacuzzi lit up by candlelight...11900 euros
While delighting in a romantic lunch in a castle perched high on a hill, an aerial display team will appear from out of nowhere and draw a giant heart in the sky...15900 euros
December 7, 2006
December 5, 2006
These pictures were taken from a distance through my bedroom window of a woman I've seen for the last several months, a woman who looks Chinese, maybe about 50 or 55.
She rides around on a bike with paper bags hanging from the handle bars and goes through recycling containers and garbage bins (like the big blue one she's rummaging through above) in my apartment complex.
Her face is very weathered. I've seen her several times and she's seen me, but she never looks at me -- I've imagined that's because of some sense of lost pride -- and she always wears a mask.
There doesn't appear to be any embarrassment on her part. She doesn't try to hide what she's doing and is all business as she searches for bottles, cans and anything else she can salvage.
I have sometimes thought I should talk to her, or offer her help, or something, but I don't sense she wants any. Still, I somehow feel drawn to her and curious about her life.
The final picture below is a shot of her (bending down by her bike) and another woman, a resident here, walking by, carrying what very well could be a Christmas gift she plans on giving to someone on Dec. 25.
December 3, 2006
What hairy follicle-filled tales of close shaving disasters do you have to share?
December 2, 2006
And I'm still excluding some stuff. Like the art my mom has given me over the years -- a wooden picture carving, for example, of jazz musicians; a metal ship; a painting of a house on a mountain.
As I explained in the previous post, this stuff is all part of me, things I will never part with, things I always want around to remind me of different times and stages and experiences.
The painting that's shaped like a pipe is called Pipe Dreams 1984 by a Winnipeg artist named Jerry Bone. It was New Year's Eve 1983, a year after I got married, we were at a New Year's bash at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
It was of course all about George Orwell's 1984, cruise missile testing over Canada, the Cold War, acid rain, the brain and all kinds of other stuff. I dropped $1,000 on it in a bit of an alcohol-induced spending spree.
I love it.
BAH HUMBUG! I had a picture on here I inadvertently deleted of a cup shaped like a breast with a nipple on it. It was given to me by my sister, who had it given to her after she had a radical mastectomy (removal of both breasts due to cancer).
The pic of the shapely bottle opener lady on the left was a gift to me from Homo Escapeons, my dearest friend, when I split with my wife.
The weird stuff in the middle (if it comes out in the middle on Blogger) includes two decorative metal face thingies I picked up from India, along with an old 1903 British tour guide of India, which is sitting on top of a little music box I picked up in Syria.
The picture of the sunset over a lake on the right is a picture of Wallace Lake in northeastern Manitoba that I took in the 1980s. The cottage my ex's parents owned there is a place we often went to, but which I never go to now.
And it's a place I miss.
The wall hanging on the left is an obviously sexually graphic, really cool Kama Sutra-like image I also picked up in India.
And the sculpture on the right was done by my son when I enrolled him in an art class a few years ago...
Again, I'd love to see any such stuff from others, if they care to share their personal stuff...
November 30, 2006
A snow-storm and windchill temperatures of around -30C (while it's +17C a mere province away) can do that to you. I feel shut in, a bit shut down, knowing winter has grabbed us.
And won't likely let go until March at the earliest. For you Aussies, South Africans, Floridians, Mississippians and others living in southern climes, this means many things.
It means I have now started plugging my car in at night to keep the engine block from freezing so I can start my car in the morning.
It means shovelling snow and skin freezing in less than a minute.
And it means staying inside a lot and unavoidably becoming more introspective. That means thinking about me.
And what I have within these walls that I spend most of my time in, things that make me feel warm and secure and comfortable.
Here are a few of them:
This is my Marvin the Martian coffee cup. M the M is one of my favourite Bugs Bunny characters of all time. I don't drink coffee out of him, I use him to store things, as you can see, and to be just be there.
This is a cheap picture my son bought me for a birthday from a dollar store when he was about 8. It's the first present he ever gave me that he paid for. It's a brutal picture, but I hang it anyway so he can see that I value it, which I do.
For the same reason, but also because of the words on it, I hang the scroll thing labelled "Dad" (on the right) on the wall above my computer screen. It's a gift from my daughter.
The C's are my initials, given to me by a woman I was involved in a relationship with who had also bought herself her own initials. The MYO 244 is a vehicle licence plate I found in Bangalore and brought home from India in 1979.
The huge snake-charmer painting on the right I bought in India, also in 1979, for my mom.
She knew how much I loved it; she gave it back to me several years later.
And to the left here is a treasure trove of stuff that never leaves the top of my TV/sound system wall unit.
The clock my mom gave me; the "Beary Special Dad" teddy bear from my daughter; the bottle of Quebec maple syrup from my son.
Other items are there from different people, including an Alaskan bear, a vase, a black puppy dog from women past and present.
And this is only a small sample of the knicks and knacks of my life and my travels and "my stuff" that I keep not in a closet but there for me to see, all the time.
Blogger wouldn't let me download any more pix, so I might have to follow this up with a Part 2 unless I've put all of Blogworld (or at least the few visitors to my little part of the planet) to sleep by now.
And if I haven't done that, I'll say this: I've opened up a bit of my life to you...now what are some of the things you hold dear, knick-knacks, gifts you've received, keepsakes, etc., that adorn your home?
Things you want to have around you to remind you of this thought or that person or that time or that relationship...or whatever?
November 28, 2006
Essentially, yes...you need to take up meditative Yoga or become a professional contortionist.
And, contrary to the long-held belief by your mother and other such medical experts, the old "sit up straight at 90 degrees or you'll become the Hunchback of Notre Dame" warning is not valid.
No, what these back specialists are recommending now is that while blogging (or while doing anything else that requires sitting), that your back actually be at 135 degrees, which I believe could tear some of my stomach muscles.This is of particular interest to me (and probably only to me) because among my many surgeries, I have had a disc removed from my lower back, a sports injury that was the result of another sports injury.
I became familiar with such terms as lordosis (the kind of curve you have in your back) and other fancy names I can't remember. So I can vouch that you shouldn't slouch.
Here's an edited version of today's story...
By using a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Scottish and Canadian researchers have been able to show that sitting in an upright position places unnecessary strain on the back.
Sitting in this posture for hours at a time can lead to chronic back pain, say the researchers.
Lead author Dr. Waseem Amir Bashir, of the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta Hospital in Canada, says "sitting in a sound anatomic position is essential, since the strain put on the spine and its associated ligaments over time can lead to pain, deformity and chronic illness".
The researchers say the best position in which to sit at your desk is leaning slightly back, at about 135 degrees, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal.
Back pain is the most common cause of work-related disability in much of the developed world and is a leading cause of job-related absenteeism.
Dr. Bashir says man was not created to sit down for long hours, but somehow modern life requires the vast majority of the global population to do so and the search for the best sitting position was all the more important. (Hello, Blogworld!!!)
The patients were asked to adopt three different sitting positions: a slouching position, in which the body is hunched forward (e.g., hunched over a desk or slouched over in front of a video game console); an upright 90-degree sitting position; and a "relaxed" position where the patient reclines backward 135 degrees while the feet remain on the floor.
Measurements were taken of spinal angles and spinal disc height and movement across the different positions. Spinal disc movement occurs when weight-bearing strain is placed on the spine, causing the internal disk material to misalign.
The team saw that disc movement was most pronounced with a 90-degree upright sitting posture and was least pronounced with the 135-degree posture. The "slouch" position revealed a reduction in spinal disc height, signifying a high rate of wear and tear.
They advise patients to ward off future back problems by correcting their sitting posture and finding a chair that allows them to sit in an optimal position of 135 degrees.
And here, if only to wake you up with visual images, are a bunch of left-over neat illustrations I pulled off the Web...