Should update the blog

16 Jul

For my consistent readership of two.

Thank you, wee readership.

Oooh suddenly a bit of sun in the sky.  This will be good for the folks at the Folk Festival – all those mellow folks don’t need to be rained down upon.

I popped by there yesterday afternoon – not too crowded yet and this morning to hear Twin Bandit – a wee group of two.  One of those two I have known since she was in utero so, you know, I am old.  No matter.  I walked through the masses of things for sale – lots of folky type stuff – scarves and leather goods and what not – came upon an artist I like and he had small blocks of pictures of his paintings on sale at a reasonable price.  Little blocks of pictures of his pictures

Speaking of not working, I’m not really.  The summer just slowed down bing bang boom – without my really knowing it.  I chose part time work at UBC’s  ELI over what would have been more work at the downtown school.   then the downtown school (the school that FM’edme lest we forget) hired a bunch of other subs because their busy season is when I am not there.  In hindsight, I should have stayed at the DSTFM.  But uh well.  Now I have – wait for it – 1.5 hours a day for four days at the DSTFM.  Except for Monday, those hours are smack in the middle of the afternoon.  Sigh.  Better than . . . working at Staples probably.

So I had good run of six months making okay money working three different jobs at times.  And now oddly the summer, the busiest season, is slow.

We carry on.

There is much horror going on internationally of course – but I feel inadequate to address any of it.  I will leave that to the more adequate folks.

I will say that it does seem that the murders had barely stopped before analysis appeared.  There seems no space anymore to grieve the dead.

All my time, all of this amorphous time – I should write more!  Perhaps I will volunteer to care for injured donkeys.

Well, must shower.  M. and I – in search of a movie that doesn’t totally suck (difficult)are going to see I think a spy one with Ewan MacGregor.  So so reviews but it is long so we will get our money’s worth.  M lived in Turkey for four years and her hubby is from there – so I think of her.  Her in-laws are all fine which is a desperate relief.



6 Jun

No rain?  Just a little rain?  Yup, that will do.  No jacket needed – going to be a warm day.  Hurray.  Perfect for this, yes?

I head to the basement of my wee building (actually a mansion from 1911! divided into 12 suites) and to the bicycle/boiler room.  Bikes, bikes everywhere, even from people who don’t live here I am convinced.  Surely a fire trap.  No matter.  I wheel mine outside and right in front of my building is a cycling street- cars still allowed on most of it but baby, this is a cycling route.

If I’m working at the downtown school I got fired from (odd how that works) I ride down that road for about 10 minutes and then head on over the bridge.  Burrard Bridge – a beautiful bridge made dangerous by all of the bloody construction.  Car drivers are impatient, everyone’s honking and horning.

In the morning rush hour, the cycle lane has its own rush hour.  Everybody and their grand dog – many wearing the holy grail of the bike outfit.  If you are wearing a cycling costume then no question you are going around me.

Hmmm – 20 minutes – 25? depending on the lights – it is a pretty speedy ride up there to the downtown school that fired me.  (Karen!  What if a manager reads this?!?!?).  My legs are chronically tired and unstretched these days from seeming vast amounts of over cycling but there is nothing better than getting here on my own steam – saving money and time and a bus ride full of stopping and starting.

I get so in shape in the spring summer and start to lose the weight I pack on during the endless rainy days of winter.

Cycling on city streets here is dangerous – no real question about that – I’ve narrowly avoided a few accidents and have been really close to being car doored. Even mentioning it feels like tempting the fates.  Five years ago when I started cycling again (as an adult) riding in traffic scared the non-cycling pants off me.  The theory has to be (and I’ve heard this before) that you have to pretend that all of the cars are out to get you.  Stay alert.

Vancouver is amazing with its cycling lanes though – Hornby Street saves me from the disaster of Burrard Street.

Hills are a thing.  The hills always seems to be going up.  The odd going down makes it all worth it though maybe – maybe not.  Do you ever get used to hills?  I do not think so.  The subtle grades are a thing – easy to walk up but cycling?  Holy smokes that takes some gumption, for me anyway.

I’ve started doing my longer rides again – the North Shore one is full of Lions Gate Bridge and Causeway (up, up, up up and up) and then more up and up. I am looking for new routes to conquer as I take my hybrid bicycle and 50 year old self all around the town.

Vancouver is a cycling city.

Geez- I just berated Oprah’s weight loss obsession in a previous post (that did not, sadly, go viral in any way) but wowza I was packing on the pounds this winter.  I had starred out with a commitment to weight lift and swim and indoor cycle but that died out soon enough. Rotator cuff injury was my excuse.    My 50 year old body wanted weight in the middle and it got it.  We shall see what this summer season shall bring.

Pool’s open and I have a week of not much work. There is some hope next week from TSTFM but who really knows.  Might try a few laps this week – Saturday’s attempt didn’t really work out – the pool was too crowded, it was really windy, and my bathing suit top kept coming off basically (yup).  Hoping for more success this week.

I say, if I can cycle up a hill, so can you.  Used bicycles can be had for not much, and a new hybrid doesn’t have to be that much.  Get a helmet and a bell.  Then go cycle the hell out of the city.


A blatant attempt at going viral, Oprah edition

5 Jun

So, you all know Oprah?

Massively famous American woman who had a talk show for a few years and then bought a network which she filled with reality shows about dysfunctional semi-famous people and briefly a talk show with Rosie O’Donnell.  Remember Rosie’s show from 20 years ago?  She never could quite re-capture that.

Anyway, so there’s been a lot of yada yada about Oprah’s latest weight loss – 30 pounds on Weight Watchers.  Oprah has also basically bought Watch Watchers so all weight loss is good for the company.  I saw a piece that Good Morning America did on this and commented that for god’s sake couldn’t Oprah talk about something else.  For all Oprah’s talk of women being empowered and own your power and quack your own duck and you can do it, women of America, she has never ever stopped talking about weight loss.  Oprah, who is a brilliant woman and a woman who clawed her way out of poverty and violence, refuses to stop adding to the obsession women have with their weight.  Such is her brand.  Her brand has always seemed to say ‘women, you can go this deep but no deeper.’  Her magazine has the odd article about women temporarily removing themselves from their (my, our) self-obsession and middle class lives to help other people.   But it quickly scurries back to women advising women on how to get over petty jealousies, succeed at work (get that promotion!), put on that makeup properly dammit, look years (decades?  centuries?) younger, walk across (or maybe up and down if  you don’ t have enough time) the country and heal yourself from emotional trauma, and where to get a really, really cool bag and thing a ma jig.

Hey, now, there is often something very comforting about reading O Magazine on the beach.   About checking out Gail’s page to see what/who she is promoting, er writing about.  And sometimes the book suggestions are not terrible at all, although they tend toward being books about women who either walk across the country to recover from some emotional trauma or who have tried to walk across the country to heal some emotional trauma but couldn’t quite finish because they got a fungal infection and had to stay home for six months following the attempt but that is when they really really learned about themselves.

Now, now, some of her fiction suggestions I have enjoyed.  Also, as a bit of a side note, if ever I met Oprah (why on earth this would happen I have no idea), I would certainly pass out.  Oprah is brilliant brilliant.  I must emphasize that I fully realize that Oprah is far more brilliant than almost everyone I have ever known, except my psychiatrist who seems to be so smart that I don’t know how she keeps all of that smart in her brain and have children and many patients.  Amazing.  So please, I do think that Oprah is amazing.

Sorry back to the point – the point!  First though, Oprah does, I realize, give away countless millions of dollars to charity, starting schools, etc.  Amazing.  Although she has so so much money (all of the money) I am not sure if this even makes a dent in her wallet(s).

The point!  The point!  Women (me me me too) will obsess about their/our weight forever and ever amen because we of course have been conditioned to do so.  We will continue to see rail thin 30 year old women playing mothers of teenagers (I am looking at you, Bloodline Netflix series. No way was that woman old enough to be Danny’s kid’s mother.  Otherwise though it was an excellent series) and diet and weight loss programs, forever and ever.  The weight loss industrial complex is worth billions.  Weight Watchers knows this.  Oprah knows this. All of the conversation she creates about women walking across the country to heal their emotional trauma and women who make cupcakes to  help grandmothers in Burma, are nothing compared to her constant uplifting and worship of weight loss.  Obviously, being heavy can definitely be the result of emotional trauma and that should always be looked at.  But none of that is what Oprah is even trying to do anymore – it’s all weight loss (join Weigh Watchers!  I bought the company) all of the time.

I realize that Oprah will never really deepen the conversation – that is not her brand.  But it seems she is shallowing the waters even more.



Prayers for the old man

2 Jun

Dad is in the hospital in Ottawa and has been for more than two weeks.  He went in with diarrhea (oy), a fever, and weakness.  Turns out is is pneumonia and E-Coli, amongst other things.  Dad is almost 81 (or 83, depending on who knows what but we have never understood it) and since Oct. 2014 has lived in a beautiful assisted living home in Ottawa near my sister unit, her husband, and their daughter.  Five minutes away by car type thing.

We never thought that dad would leave Winnipeg and the home he and my mom had lived in since 1967.  In the last few years of mom’s life when she was sick and isolated and scared she would have preferred to move to a retirement community, but he would not.  That sucked and he was quite selfish on that point but I shall move along here.  After mom passed at the end of 2013, dad quickly went downhill (er).  And so my sibling and her hubby amazingly got him out to Ottawa.

An adjustment period followed and at some points I think it seemed that my sister and hubby lived at the home themselves so often were they there.

Dad has his little place at a table for meals and apparently one of his table mates, a senior woman, has been missing him.  Sniffle.


I seem to be aware that often times seniors in hospital have a hard time, well, ‘bouncing back.’  And fair enough.  Seems dad is very weak (they took him off of a blood pressure medication which caused him to bottom out a bit.  He is now back on it) and not at all motivated to try to get back to the home.  His home now.  He is on a ‘rehab’ unit where they try to get him up and about a bit in an effort go get him back home.

My sister says he prefers the hospital food to the Manor’s which I can’t imagine – the Manor’s are homecooked and hospital food I think is pretty much the same Canada-wide.

My sister and her hubby do all of the leg work in our situation here with dad.  I blog and get vaguely hysterical at times – gah!  Too soon since mom died!

Dad and I aren’t bosom buddies – he was a difficult man to grow up with that is for sure.  I know that he has regrets about what happened – he has told my sister as much.

And now he is a helpless old man and that tears me the heck up.  He is still difficult as heck in a new way now but . . .

I haven’t seen him since mom’s funeral when he wasn’t nearly as down-hilly.  He could still walk then (albeit he fell an awful lot) and was basically him, emotionally broken, but him.  To see him now so many steps down the rung will be a shock no doubt.

In the end, he is one of my few remaining connections to the broken family from whence I came.

His own only sibling died about 13 years ago.  Of course he hadn’t seen his sibling in years as his entire family disowned him when he married my mom in 1960.  Messy messy cruelties.  He had never met his three nephews and their families – I met two of the wives once (they were visiting Vancouver) and I saw photos – bizarre to see features of my dad (and me) in their faces.  But they don’t care – have no desire for a relationship with he or me.  Fuckers.  Ooops, sorry about that.  But seriously people.


So there he is, hospitalized, weak, and unmotivated.

There is an expensive! private care home right near the beach near me. I often see workers wheeling these folks to the beach in the spring/summer (not winter, that would be cruel!).    That always makes me sniffle.

Old age.  Oy.

So perhaps a prayer for the old man, who to this day would call himself a Jewish atheist socialist.  Always seemed entertaining to me that Jesus himself was two of those three things.

23 May

Why I keep returning to a book that makes me so angry I am not sure.

Well, yeah, anger is a go to emotion for me – it developed long ago as a way to function I imagine and was perhaps present in the very fabric of my brain at the beginning of my time.  Don’t know.

But I digress.

I am always and always and always on the look out for community – I have had community at various points in my life, thank god.  Most memorable for me was way back in a year I did at SFU – I joined up with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) and that was really fun.  Cool people.  Not religious in the way you might think.  I am still friends with one or two of those people from way long ago.  One is now an atheist.  Wow, I was 23 years old and felt like I belonged with this great group of people.

I attended a Vineyard church for awhile (not a cult and becoming less cult-ish as time goes by) back in the 1990’s/early 2000’s and that too was often a great sense of community.  When I pop back now and again to visit, I see a few of the folks I knew then.  We still know each other’s name, that kind of thing.

I spent a few years attending a United Church near my home and for a time that had a small sense of community – the ministers (one retired after 12 years at the congregation and another came on for a very short amount of time) were very helpful during that time as my mom had been diagnosed with cancer, etc.  Later, when I was unemployed and bedridden with pneumonia, a minister came by my abode and handed me the $90 – receipt unseen – that I’d had to pay for some rather absurdly expensive antibiotics.  That kind of thing.

I now kind of attend a small Anglican gathering that meets at 5:30 on Sunday evenings.  It fancies itself a bit radical but I like the small-ness of it and the weekly eucharist.

A couple of my friends attend which is what got me going there.  It is fairly liberal in its way.

The wee church does ‘pop up’ Bible studies on a Sunday afternoon – five weeks or so.  The most recent is one on Acts and I attend because I intellectually like the study of text and because it gets me out of my own head.

Boredom fuels depression.  And depression fuels depression.  And it all is great food for anxiety and so I go.  It helps to get me out of my war zone of a head it does.

And yet – I don’t find in the Bible much that doesn’t make me angry.  There are glorious pieces of the book of course – places where it is clear that it is the ‘worst’ of society that are the goddamn best, to paraphrase.  Phew.  Those parts can hit me in a place as deep as grief – past defenses, past self-doubt/hatred, past any of that.  There be God.

And yet.  and yet.

So many passages in both old and new testaments are filled with god’s disappointment and rage and smiting of people who  just can’t get with god’s program.  So much of it seems so parochial and so of its time and place that has nothing whatsoever to do with what is happening now in life to anyone anywhere.  God, it seems, is constantly disappointed at best and enraged and smiting at worst.  In Acts – two folks who didn’t sell everything they owned to share with the group (an idea I like) were boom, dead.  And etc.

Seems God created humanity in order to be constantly disappointed with them.

Some swear this is not the message.  Things are metaphorical (which also makes sense) and really this smiting and disappointment, these rules and laws and etc. all actually make sense on a different level and what a relief.

And yet – the parochial nature of the entire bible is something I can’t get my head around.  This book, why?  The first portion is all rules and laws and men obsessed with virgins.  A couple of women do actually get named and are other than madonnas or whores but not many.  Not many make that particular cut.  David rapes Bathsheba and she gets blamed.  Hagar gets sex trafficked and she gets blamed.  So much sex all of the time the Old Testament.

Then there’s Jesus of course popping up in the New Testament.  Phew.  These laws don’t count anymore and we can stop wrestling with the Old Testament!  Phew.  Yet there is still smiting and anger and disappointment on the part of God towards the people.  And we again have to ferret out what the heck everything means and try to make it mean something today.

We twist and we turn and we pretzel, I think, in order to get that book to mean something that won’t make us absolutely crazy.  The place I attend has a pleasing interpretation of God coming to drastically turn the tables on a social order that placed so many people into an untouchable caste.  It is a political reading of the book and one that makes sense.  There is still belief in the Trinity and the working of the Holy Spirit and etc.  The eucharist is the centre piece which I also like – something always transcendent about the blood and body of Christ.  In that, there is peace I think.

And yet.  And yet.

If one takes the book literally, then one has given away all of their belongings and lives in community sharing everything.  There are no RRSP’s or retiring in Arizona.  Might be a mikvah or two.  Women’s heads are covered.  Jews are the chosen people (thanks, says half of me).  Celestial beings are all about and the unrepentant are, as we speak, perishing in eternity.    I am not being snarky here.  This is literal.

And if we are not literal (phew) then we are pretzeling it seems.

The book makes me angry and not in a good way.  Not in a way that transcends.  The book was written in a time and place for a time and place.  Messiahs were everywhere at the time of Jesus (really, it was kind of a thing).

Well then, why stick with it?  Why seek it out?  Why continue to read something that makes me so mad and really I have enough mad all ready.

I come back to the concept of community.  I am desperate for it.  And finding community in the city I live in a this time in history (dramatic a bit there) is just not easy.  And a Karen alone (I am working for the next four days for someone on holiday.  The school that removed me has unremoved me temporarily.  Yikes!  I will be tired, oh goodness.  But other than that it is not a great future scene) is an unhappy Karen.  I do try and join non-religious events – but that is not as easy as it sounds.  When I do work (thank you for the temporary unremoving, downtown school) I greatly enjoy the socializing amongst the staff although most folks are quite busy and the lunch hour quite short and the lunch room bizarrely tiny so much so that people are tripping over each other.  Nonetheless, I soak it all up.    Soak.  Soak.  Soak.

Soak!  Soak!!  Soak!!

Sorry, tangent.

For a time I attended a Buddhist meditation sitting near my abode.  The meditating was 40 minutes!!!!!!  I found it relaxing to sit in silence with others around but I don’t think I ever actually got to the meditating part.  If I focused on my breath I found that I actually ended up convinced that I wasn’t actually breathing.  After the meditating, there would be discussion of Buddha and the like.  Gack, I thought, I don’t want to exchange one book for another.

Anyway, these thoughts are all much deeper in my head (or somewhere, perhaps my bowels?  Maybe my thoughts are deep in my bowels?) than they may appear here.  I think that deep spiritual peace is not a black and white kind of a thing.

Now it is becoming clearer to me (thanks to the 50 minute hour) that I am black and white to the extreme – so I think I am being oddly literal about this and about metaphor.So perhaps for that reason too I don’t give it up completely.

All righty then, so ends my tangent.  My friend, G., crazy woman she, is going to swim in the might waters of Kitsilano Pool this morning (it is cloudy and about 14C).  I have been overcycling and I am not a fan of swimming in the cold (plus, I must try not to get sick as I have the aforementioned four days! of work).  We are going to meet for a wee chat before she dons her wet suit and heads forth into the wild waters of the pool.

To my loyal fan base of three – comments are always welcome on my posts.  Be not scared away by my tone.  I am mostly all bark.

Bark bark.







6 May


Above is a picture I took in Vinales in Cuba back in 2008.  It was so so dry there and hot.  Hot and dry.  The tobacco farmers used some turn of the century methods to farm – I wonder if this will be changing now that the U.S. situation is changing there.

Photos.  I have awakened to photos – taking them and looking at the work of others.  I have long liked looking at photos and yet and still it seems awakened somehow.

I have been thinking about how my life gets so wrapped up in one thing and tunnel visioned – the downtown school and my issues there of late, for example.  It does make sense this wrapped up-ness because there goes my income, such as it was, and also any work place socializing.  Up in smoke really.  Gone, not to come back.  I have been down this road more times than I can count actually, more often than most I know.

I keep forgetting that the world is bigger than that.  Seems obvious, yes?  Of course the world is bigger than that.  When I was in high school a century ago, I would get all wrapped up and stressed about a social studies assignment.  “Remember, Karen,” said Mr. George, my hot social studies and homeroom teacher, “One billion people in China don’t care.”


I find that extremely comforting really.  Photographs really tell stories of the world, yes?    My desire to learn more and more that is outside my tunnel vision is huge.  But I get wrapped up and nihilistic and lonely and hopeless.  That’s a fact that is.

But then – like London.  Let’s say London.  I could go there again and get wrapped up in the architecture, the museums, the bookshops, the Queen and all the rest of it.  And my tunnel back here – the one with cycles that I keep repeating and repeating – that would be smaller, yes?

The geographic cure in a way.

I realize that I have never been settled into a work situation – a situation where I felt safe, secure, like a layoff wasn’t imminent or like in a factory really, I wasn’t going to be replaced because  I couldn’t make the donut holes fast enough or the donuts didn’t evaluate me in a universally positive way.

I love chit chat and the blah blah that goes into a teachers’ lunchroom/breakroom/prep room.  Teachers squished in there, most with interests that make them happier than teaching but alas, they gotta eat, right?  Smart folks generally.  I need that, that slice of life, people around, people interacting.  I would get that from classes sometimes too – my most recent class (‘get out, you are not a 5/5 teacher all of the time and we can’t have that.   Pack your lunch pail and go.’)., a higher level (two students still insisted I spoke too fast, did not explain well.  If this downtown school doesn’t get an average of 5/5 or 4.72/5 then the multi national owner will descend with a hammer, I guess) and I got along just so well.  Bing bang boom.  I had them writing essays and reading newspaper articles out of The New York Times.  We discussed issues.  Way hipper and smarter than I will ever be, these young folks were lawyers and engineers and university students from different parts of the world.  That class flowed and we did more and more challenging work.  Uh yes, I thought, I’ve found my groove again and maybe I can keep the class through the summer when numbers are high and this will be like a real part-time job and I can save a bit of money and –


This week all I have had is a bit of tutoring with my lovely tutees but other than that I have been wondering the streets or binge watching, ‘Web Therapy’ (funny,  you should watch it).


It also turned out to be the week that a friend decided to tell me some stuff that well, fair enough, people have to say what they have to say.

Meh, life.  The world is giant and big, even.  It is a giant and big world.

Interacting with other people – interacting, not just observing the interaction (earlier this evening a guy and a  girl on Kitsilano Beach were balancing each other in some pretty amazing positions.  She supported him with just her outstretched legs at one point!  A remarkable world).  The relentless thrum of my brain and then I am at my student S’s last night and she needs to prepare for provincial exams and boom, I am out of my head and back in the land of the living.

Tomorrow late afternoon is D., who is also preparing for provincials.  It will be the first time she will be writing them – she is doing hers in June, three full days for goodness sakes.

Oh and on Saturday I am doing a 2.5 hour food tour of Gastown for only $15! ($59 for most folks).  This will be fun and interesting I think.  Not sure about the fish or beer but the tortellini, ice cream, and maple syrup will be divine no doubt.  Yay for Meetup.


Doing the same thing over and over

30 Apr

And expecting a different result is a definition of insanity – so said whoever is the latest person that that quote is attributed to.

As the joke goes, if there were a picture beside that quote it would be this one:


Caption:  person who does the same thing over and over and expects a different result.

I wasn’t able to see this with any sense of humour yesterday – golly no (remember how I am trying to incorporate the word golly more into my vocabulary.)

My experience in the ESL industry: “You are great!  What a great teacher you are!  We want to keep you forever.”

“You are the anti-Christ!  Depart from us!”

And that, well that says it all.





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