Wednesday, June 30, 2010

By Their Boots Ye Shall Know Them

I promise I'll shut up about the G20 after this, which I wrote about here and here but finally, finally, as I suspected from all I read, the police provocateurs have been 'outed'. They are the much villified "Black Bloc" and used window smashing, fire starting, etc., to intimidate the genuine peaceful protestors.

Toronto is right now in the midst of a massive government / media propaganda fraud. As events unfold, it is becoming increasingly clear that the 'Black Bloc' are undercover police operatives engaged in purposeful provocations to eclipse and invalidate legitimate G20 citizen protest by starting a riot. Government agents have been caught doing this before in Canada

The undercover police were all wearing the same type of new police issue boot!

Read all about it here.

The public outcry is just beginning, there have also been reports of rape threats and inappropriate touching of a child by the police.

As Canada Day dawns I am ashamed of the scandal of the G20 which was funded to the tune of over a billion by us taxpayers. It is a sad, sad world when we cannot protest against the Theocorporatocracy that is trying to drown our voices even here in the supposedly "True North Strong and Free".

However, I am heartened that this police corruption is being exposed by We The People. What good will come of it I don't know. The police has the full force of the government behind them. We only have to look at the powerful lobbies, the true puppeteers, to see who will win this game.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Aging Students

Picture is of my school days.

One of the surest signs of aging I have are my daughters' friends. During my daughters' high school years I also worked at their school. So apart from their school friends coming in and out of our home I got to know them independently in my office at the school.

Now they're all oldish people on Facebook, some are bald even, I'm sure many can be nudging closer to - gasp - grandparenting as their kids hit their twenties.

But all the predictions we had about these kids are so not accurate. The ones we thought would have 6 kids, have none, the ones we thought would be wealthy lawyers are poets, the high school sweetheart marriages we predicted would break up within a year are still solid as a rock and the ones we worried about because of the intolerant world we live in are out and proud.

There's something heartbreakingly poignant about school photos isn't there? I look at the wonder and the hope on all those lovely young faces in my daughters' high school class pictures and think, oh please! come join us here at the other side. Intact. Survivors.

Free for the Taking

You know what matters?

I'll tell you what matters.

Facing away from the breathtaking sunset on my left tonight and looking east, and then north and south, I catch all points of the sky reflecting shyly, in these delicate shades of pink, the wildest colours of crimson, orange, purple in the west. And I stand in awe.

And think to myself: if more people were aware of this staggering beauty, maybe we could all just cop ourselves on a little more and treasure this one wild and precious life and its awesomeness.

I mean, if we only saw this sight once every, say, 25 years, we would be on our knees, right?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Anarchists and Terrorists and Boogey Men, Oh My!

We all want simple explanations of everything, don't we? Nothing too complex to give us a headache, to make us question the media spin which is being served morning, noon and night. I'm sure I'm not alone in that I get tired of it all. Tired of sorting out the chaff from the wheat, the lies from the truth.

Like the Ontario police forcing through last minute legislation for unheard of suspension of basic human rights and granting themselves the use of extraordinary measures in Toronto, spouting off about anarchists and terrorists. Who are they trying to intimidate with these words?

Why, ordinary protestors like me and you. What a deterrent to the subdued masses to see heads being crunched by batons, full body and private vehicle searches, people hauled off to jail, rubber bullets fired into crowds, sound cannons deafening those who dare to speak up for the rights of the downtrodden. Makes one think twice about going out with a placard, right?

Who are these anarchists, one might ask. Well, they're often plain clothes police themselves, stirring up the crowd, breaking windows, whipping up the hysteria, planting rocks and weapons.

A study has been made of this phenomenon by Naomi Archer, an indigenous rights activist.

She has studied the Miami Model* of this kind of warfare against peacefully protesting citizens and has come up with a 40 box checklist, amongst which are:

• Information warfare. This starts weeks before the event. Protesters are criminalized and dehumanized, and described as dangerous “anarchists” and “terrorists” the city needs to defend against.
“Often, a faux cache is found,” says Archer. “They are usually ordinary objects, like bike inner tubes, camping equipment, but the police make them out to look threatening. It lays the groundwork for police to be violent and it means there’s a reduced accountability of law enforcement.”
• Intimidation. Police start random searches of perceived protesters before any large rallies. They are asked where they are staying, why they are walking around. Police raid organizer’s homes or meeting places, “usually just before the summit, so there’s maximum chaos organizers have to deal with,” says Archer.
•“All this is meant to dissuade participants. The best way to make sure you don’t have a critical mass of people taking over the streets like in Seattle is to reduce the numbers at the outset.”
•This is usually made possible by last-minute city regulations, curtailing the right to protest. In Miami, the city commission passed a temporary ordinance forbidding groups of more than seven to congregate for more than 30 minutes without a permit.

Read more here:

And in case there's doubt about any of this:

More than 270 people were arrested in Miami during the summit seven years ago.

How many were convicted, in the end?

“None,” says lawyer Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, who was the president of the Miami chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union back then.


It will be most interesting to see how many Toronto protesters will be convicted.

And that's the real story.

*It refers to police tactics used in Miami seven years ago, during the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, and, more importantly, the protests erupting on the streets outside.

The G6 Summit.

It is extraordinary what I can see through my office window. In the water today, the seals bob up and grin and disappear under the water again.

Ah, there's lots of fish out there obviously.

Next, nearer the shore, there are the loons. Three of them hang out together all the time. I wonder at this arrangement they have made. Loons are normally in pairs. One must be a widow then, or a widower and the others include her in their soft shoe paddles around the bay. So she's not too lonely.

On the shore, the gulls congregate, grabbing at the leftovers washed in by the tide maintaining a respectful distance from the loons.

On my front lawn the robins gather around the feeder as the ravens (who aren't aware that they're so much bigger) await up in the trees on their leftovers.

On the deck are the blue jays hopping around just for the hell of it.

Pacing up and down at the sides of the house, ever watchful, are the juncoes, like security guards, pecking at the odd worm, seeming to march in step with each other.

And they all have their own sounds and allow each other the time to chirp and crawk.

Us pathetic humans could learn so much from all these accommodations. None of these birds get into conflict. Ever.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Democracy in Action - Canadian Version

I'm sure we're all sleeping better at night knowing that the police for the G8 & G20 Summits currently taking place in Ontario, Canada are doing their job in protecting Demz Wot Rulez Us from us heathens, peons and the Great Unwashed.

You see they've been given special powers.

My favourite bit is this:

'The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation. It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion.'— Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit

No, sorry, it is this:

The regulation also says that if someone has a dispute with an officer and it goes to court "the police officer's statement under oath is considered conclusive evidence under the Act."

Read more

All of this hoopla and police power is costing Canada 1 Billion Dollars.

Remember don't go out there with a peaceful placard of protest, police officers can say you were armed to the teeth and they had to shoot your legs off and they'd be believed.

And oh yeah, if they take a dislike to you they can just burst your ear drums with the sound cannon:

Read more about that here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Everything's Connected, Right?

I was contemplating yesterday's earthquake here in Canada in Quebec and Ontario and grateful that it wasn't worse.

I remembered the one I felt in 1985. I was working on the 8th floor of an office building in Toronto and it was the weirdest feeling - as if everything was so fragile, as if all could collapse around me, just like that. It was over in a minute probably, but I can still recall the feeling: as if solidity was just an illusion we all carried around.

And recently I had this thought, this curiosity, about the oil and not just the leaks, ALL the oil we're syphoning from the bowels of Mother Earth for the past century, billions and billions of barrels, what then happens to her displaced layers as a result of the removal of all this oil?

I've studied a tiny bit about geology and physics in my time and I marched forth upon the interwebz and found, well, zero, on this topic. Is it gasses or air that fill the vacuum created by the expelled oil? I can see water from the ocean filling the void - but that could be disruptive to the tides, right?

Could this displacement of oil cause the tetonic plates to shift?

Will earthquakes and tsunamis increase?

So apart from the devastation of the used expelled gaseous oil causing cataclysmic climate change, we have the void left by the extracted oil causing upheavals in the earth's crust?

I would love to be more educated on this topic.


My good friend Government Funded Blogger kindly directed me to
which confirms my speculation on the topic. My question would be: Why isn't it addressed more by governments?

Irrational Fear

Every time I read about an aircrash lately, I've been nodding to myself. I don't know what's wrong with me.

I've planned to go to Ireland in September/October and something is holding me back from actually booking the trip. My intuition has always been of a pretty high quality. It's an instinct that's non-comparitive I suppose and completely subjective. I'll give you a few examples:

When I saw this house I'm living in now I knew it was mine even though the vendors reneged on the original deal. I went around for months talking about the house and was totally unsurprised when of their own volition, the vendors contacted me again five months later. Same with Cara in the last few days. I saw her picture and knew she was mine. I could go on, you get the drift.

On the last flight I was on less than a month ago I was in total discomfort at every bounce of turbulence, every landing and takeoff (six in total on a kind of milk run across Canada). I had the thought that I would never fly again if I got out of this one alive.

I've been in that territory before and attended some bio-feedback classes to get a handle on it way back in the eighties.

My logical self knows it's more dangerous to drive my car but also kicks in to tell me that in this age of economic freefall cutbacks are possibly happening in the area of airplane maintenance and shaved back pilot wages. And I'm not even thinking about the alcoholic drug addicts in the control towers.

I kick myself for being so irrational but this isn't helping. I'm stuck in Silly Fartdom.

PS Another update on another airline today: passengers trapped and screaming. Great!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Introducing Cara*

When I want something, watch out.

In spite of the 25 other buyers lined up for this baby,
In spite of no hitch yet on Strawbella,
In spite of the banks being closed today (gawdluvusall - it is Orange Day here in Newfoundland)and buddy needing cash for the sale.
In spite of the rain that keeps pouring down non-stop.

Solstice smiled on me and said "Cara shall be yours."

I convinced buddy to hitch it to his truck and follow me the 90KM to my place and park it and stabilize it and show me how to operate the hitch widget and then call his buddies who will install my hitch and hook up my electrical connections.

She's some beautiful, I'll tell ya. It was love at first sight. She has a private little washroom, a stove, a fridge, a table that seats four and she sleeps four, cosy-like. Maybe Grannymar can spare a few Toyboys as crew?

*Cara is short for caravan which is carabhan in Irish and is also the Irish for 'friend'.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

No Matter Where I Go, There I am.

~~~~~~~~click to embiggen~~~~~~~~
I have the most intense desire to travel these past few weeks. Nowhere off this island or involving planes.

I have this overwhelming urge to pack the laptop, abandon here and go there. To be more specific: anywhere.

I contacted a couple of far flung inns to no avail (I suspect the dog being a negative) and now I've made an appointment tomorrow to investigate buying a small wee hardtop trailer (or caravan which was what we called them way back in my murky childhood)to hitch to Strawbella and just beetle around this vast province to my heart's content and at minimum cost. And finish, really polish and finish, one of my novels and send it off.

I don't know where this sense of urgency is coming from. Or how long it will last. Or why I feel just getting away is the push I need to do this. But it pulses away underneath every task I'm doing at the moment, every tree I plant, every file I handle.

And the little trailer? B'y, she do be right cute altogether. I'm hoping she'll feel the same about me.

I'll keep ye posted.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Love Notes

I have a little shelf that holds little love notes, cards and postcards that are dated only in the current year. I've done this for years. I started out many, many years ago throwing them into a crystal bowl on a coffee table until I found this silvery note holder in a junk shop and I've been using it ever since. I keep the cards and notes on it for the calendar year and then recycle them at the beginning of the following year.

I haul it over to the table when I am having a down day and re-read everything again to myself. I am prone to depression periodically and unpredictably so these really help me to get my balance on a more even keel so I can shoo The Black Dog out of the room..

Who are they from, you might ask.

They're from my daughter. They're from friends and relatives who miss me and send me little cards and notes and maybe a CD or a book or a clipping from a newspaper or magazine I might enjoy.

But guess what? They're mainly from clients. Clients I've had for many, many years. Who toss a little love note into the envelope along with their cheque.

Imagine that.

Who sends love notes to their accountant?

Friday, June 18, 2010


off-put·ting   /ˈɔfˌpʊtɪŋ, ˈɒf-/ Show Spelled[awf-poot-ing, of-] Show IPA
provoking uneasiness, dislike, annoyance, or repugnance; disturbing or disagreeable.

I have these next-door neighbours. Next door here being a relative term as this couple are not within shouting distance but about 500 metres from my own house.

She irritates the hell out of me. And she did it again this morning as I picked up my messages off my voicemail from yesterday evening. There she was, as usual, parked at position 3.

"Call me NOW!" she says charmingly, "Where the heck are you? It is 9 o'clock in the Pee-Em at my house."

She uses 'heck' a lot. She never says please or thank you. Never mentions if it is an emergency health situation or whether she needs cat litter.

I invited her and her husband once here for a dinner party. Husband didn't even bother to show but she did. And insisted, just after dinner, that everyone walk the 500 metres to her house and admire her new floors. End of dinner party. End of invitations to her.

I call her back, bracing myself. Without preamble she says:

"I need your fax machine".

This has happened many times. It is never just about the fax machine though. It is an hour out of my life listening to her go on and on and on and on. About nothing. She never asks a question, never extends any kind of courtesy.

And I realize that the reason I dread contact with her is that she always wants something from me. Always. Pick her up something in town, fix her turbo stick, bring her up newspapers for her painting. And the white lie creeps up on top of me and I can't shrug it off.

"Elsie," I say, right easily, "I disconnected it. It's all scanning and PDFing now."

But she's not finished with me. There's a nasty edge to her voice as she responds:

"Well, heck then," she huffs,"You should change your voicemail, shouldn't you? You're still announcing your disconnected fax number on it along with your disconnected old cell phone number!"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Probably Just Me

But I can't take anyone under this kind of hattery seriously.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jesus Makes a Touchdown

File under "Yes, Virginia, there is a god."

A six-story statue of Jesus Christ was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving only a blackened steel skeleton and pieces of foam that were scooped up by curious onlookers Tuesday.

The "King of Kings" statue, one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along the Interstate 75 freeway in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.

The lightning strike set the statue ablaze around 11:15 p.m. Monday, Monroe police dispatchers said.

No Do Day

I kind of fell into today. I've been working like the hammers of hell (tax deadline for self-employed persons in Canada is June 15th each year) and sorting out some unexpected tax tangles of friends of friends along with undoing the near tragedies of 'false filings' which happens a lot to people. They think tax returns are: like, man it's so easy, technology just completes your return. AUTOMATICALLY.

I hate puncturing that balloon for them when they come to me, proudly, telling me they don't need no accountant for they have their own computer like, which does it all for them.
*Did you claim that new truck?
Well duh!
*Did you claim just the capital cost allowance on it or the full value?
*How did you calculate your home office space?
You get the picture. It costs far more for them to get me to recalculate and file adjusted tax returns than it would have to get me to do it all from the get go. I should add: I don't mind. More money for my trip to Chile.

I was at cards last night when I had this thought seep into my head:
"Have a No Do Day tomorrow."
It sounded like anarchy to me. No Do? Moi?
Well here I am. No Doing.
Stan at Sentence First would have a ball with that word.
I got up late. I cooked home-made home fries with eggs and home-made bread toast. I had 3 cups of dark Italian roast. And savoured the newspaper all the way down to the Jumble.
I played Lexulous with four dear Lexy-buddies, two of whom are beating me.
I drifted onto FaceBook.
It is now 1.30pm and the whole FREE day yawns ahead of me. A friend dropped off 5 movies. I have knitting. I have a pile of luscious unread books. I have a fire going. What can I say? Summer in Newfoundland this year.
And absolutely no one is making demands on my time.
How perfect is this life?
Well, if it were any better there would be two of me to handle it (my beloved Granny would say that!).
No Do. Try it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tax on the Poor

I've no idea about other countries, but here in Canada this whole lottery business is completely out of control, both provincially and federally.

I am astonished that people buy these tickets and call it "fun". You might as well flush your hard-earned dollars down the toilet. I've seen friends throw a couple of fifties across the counter and get into a frenzy as they open the instant wins and carefully stow the "draw later" tickets away. I see them whoop to heaven when they win $50 and roll their eyes when I tell them they've spent $20/week for the last ten years to attain this huge prize. $5,200 to win $50! My logical mind makes me a huge spoilsport, right?

What would you do with all those millions if you won? I ask them curiously.

They would scatter it about on stuff for themselves, stuff for their kids. It's all about the stuff, you see.

There have been many protests here about these government run cash cows. No one can get a fix on the enormous profits they engender and on where it is spent. And of course powerful lobbies from the private sector are loud in their promotions of this type of "harmless" fun.

It is gambling of course, but no one wants to call it that. Gambling with odds that would not be allowed in Vegas or in our Native run casinos.

Gambling that targets the poorest of us with the big ads and ecstatic winners on TV. It is so easy to win and get that house and the 60" screen and the 100' swimming pool.

But the reality is far, far different for if you do win the odds are you're going to lose it all anyway as these did.

And the greatest sales of lottery ticket co-incide with the monthly welfare and pension cheque cashing.

The government distributes as winnings 48% of the total sales of these tickets and the other 52%? "Administration,"that handy catch-all and oh, erm, hospitals and, let's see, sports programmes.

And no one has won the following jackpot so it will be up to $95 million next week. Which means, oh, $1,340,000,000 kept by the government for administration, maybe as a downpayment on the billion dollar G20 summit. Notice how in these kinds of reports they invariably tell you about winners? CBC, the reporting agency, is government-run and could be a beneficiary of all this lottery largesse.

The $50 million Lotto Max jackpot is still up for grabs after no winning ticket was drawn Friday night for the grand prize.

However 15 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million each were won by ticket buyers in British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

With no big winner for a second straight week, the June 18 draw will offer prizes worth a record $95 million, including the $50 million jackpot and 45 prizes of $1 million.

The number of Maxmillions will include those not won in the June 11 draw in addition to those generated from new sales for next Friday's draw.

In February, two tickets split a $50 million Lotto Max draw — one in Quebec and the other in British Columbia. And Last November, Marie Fontaine of Pine Falls, Man., pocketed a $50 million Lotto Max prize.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Breed, Therefore I am

No matter what a woman has accomplished in her life, it seems that when she hits the status of grandmother, that then becomes her only definition.

Gawd, how irritated I get by these reports from various newspapers/media outlets:

Grandmother in car accident!
Grandma gets convicted of burglary!

A prefix always pops into my head when I read such drivel:

Grossly enfeebled by her biological status,
Grandmother placed fifth in the weekend's 10K Hamburg, Ont. road race.

But my favourite of all time has to be:
Grandmother of Eight Makes A Hole in One

This startled me until I realized she didn't puncture one of her grandchildren.

And it seems like it's only the female of the species who gets thus categorized. Ever seen the word grandfather in the headline of these kinds of news reports?

Perhaps grandfathers are models of propriety and virtue - and also non-golfers.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My Mother, Myself

Photo today of sunset with the longliner coming in.

It was one of those moments. I was out walking Ansa after supper and she was running in that wonderful joyous way she has, big grin from ear to ear, looping around me to thank me and barrelling off again only to paddle for a while in the bay, then a gallop over a grassy crest to chase some sandpipers and back again to me.

I sit on a rock and look at the water.

And my mother pops into my head. A mother who died far too young.

She loved nature, she loved the sea, she loved dogs.

I thought: Oh she would have enjoyed this. The longliner coming in with a load of fish. The sunset just beginning to set up her easel. The dog in ecstasy, the tang of the ocean in our lungs. The heat of the day forcing the sudden growth spurt of the beach flowers to reds and purples.

And for the first time since she died, I thought: isn't this something to hug close to my heart from here on in:

I am my mother.

The Retiring Mind

Lately I've been reading, talking and listening a lot about retirement. The pros, the cons. Unexpected retirements (laid off, golden handshake, buyout, etc.). Retirement by choice.

Finances, cutting back, travel, counting pennies. Giving up the car. Travelling to relatives (usually adult children) or taking care of grandchildren, filling time, TV drones, fusspots, gamblers.

I absorb everything I glean on the topic. The moves to sunnier climes, the mistakes of the moves, the corrections of the moves.

And so on.

As to me? I share my experience:

Outwardly I give the appearance of being a fairly haphazard person. But I'm not underneath. Six years ago I put this current plan in place. I bought this house in Newfoundland having sold an investment property in Toronto at a gain and using those funds for a cash outright payment. I retained my Toronto house which was mortgaged to approximately 50% of its value. I had accrued a lot of debt in the running of my own business – some poor decisions about expansion and additional staffing. The overhead nearly killed me financially (and mentally). I down-scaled the business and moved it back into my home office where it originated. Growing a business can sometimes be a BAD thing. SMALL can be beautiful. A lesson I wish I'd learned at 50 and not at 59.

Over the years I slowly spent more time annually here until two years ago I decided to sell my Toronto house and use the funds to retire most of my debt – mainly my business debt and concentrate on building my life here.

I absolutely adore living here, in every sense of the word. I have an old house, a bit of a financial sinkhole at times with the needed improvements – all necessary – and 7-1/2 acres of land, much of it sustainable woodlot which heats my house in the winter. I have never regretted buying here. My feelings for this magical place grow deeper each passing year.

I downsized much of my contents and found that simple is very much agreeing with me. For example, there are simply a bed and a trunk in each bedroom, including mine. Once I have books and music I am a fairly contented person.

I still work at my business (software training, corporate and personal accounting) and have only retained my favourite clients but am hesitant to let it go completely. And ironically, without marketing, am gaining some clients in Newfoundland and could grow quite a business here.

My overhead is very low, I could get by with absolutely no frills on my pension. I eat out rarely. I rediscovered my joy in cooking and baking. My income from my company I use for travel and granddaughter and daughter endowments and maintenance of home and vehicle.

My dream would be to concentrate on my writing. Polish the 3 novels I have completed, edit the short story collection as per publisher request. Not feel so pressured at column deadlines in two publications I write for. But I am held back. Fear of poverty (although I have a little savings), fear of becoming demented in a bed in a Dickensian ward in an old folks' home, discarded, abandoned and alone waiting for death, having forgotten, in my dementia, to stockpile some serious outta-here drugs.

The biggest fear of course is FAILURE. What if I give up my main source of income and concentrate on my writing and it is all a huge bollox? Then I'm left with nothing. No work, no writing. Thumb twiddler of the year.

See where I'm coming from? Any insights?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Helen Thomas. Heroine in our Time.

I applaud you, Helen Thomas!

For she speaks the truth. Always. Fearlessly. Without reservation.

The only member of the White House press corps not in the thrall of a corporate master.

And now she's “retiring”.


For speaking the truth. Her truth, as she sees it along with millions of others'.

She said:

Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old superveteran of the White House press corps and a staunch liberal, has resigned days after a video was released in which she told an interviewer that Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine. Remember these people are occupied, and it's their land," and Israelis should "go home, to Poland and Germany."
I salute you, Helen Thomas, for speaking up in the press for over sixty-five years. In spite of the Bushes and all the other hawks who made your job so untenable. An honest job unlike the other corporate shills in the press room who dance to the tune of their puppeteers.

The US department of Disinformation is alive and well and forcing this fearless woman to apologise for speaking the truth.

Because, you know, the US and many other countries including Canada, does not want to address the appalling situation of Palestine and its relentless and continuing ethnic annihilation by Israel.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Oil Spoil

Their only crime was
To live unfettered.
Free on the water,
Soaring in the air,
Unprotected from those
Who would deny and
Dement. Destroy. Damn.
Deaden. Debase. Discard.

I too was turning away, sickened to weeping by this crime against the world and its helpless creatures.

I will no longer turn away. I want these images burned into my very being. I want those callous bastards brought to justice and those evil politicians who collude with them.

Turning away has enabled the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Israeli death squads in Gaza and on relief ships.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Affecting Newfoundland Birds

The far-reaching oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is affecting one of my favourite places in the world - Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland - where I spent my last few birthdays with my family. Cape St. Mary's in the spring hosts millions of sea-birds that winter in the Gulf of Mexico, the most famous being the gannets. I've written about them here.

Bill Montevecchi is a bird researcher and professor at Memorial University in St. John's. (CBC)Montevecchi and other bird scientists are planning to attach satellite tags to some birds in Newfoundland this summer in order to track them and see how they fare when they return to the Gulf next fall.

"You know, we can feel the long reach of that oil spill in Louisiana, Gulf of Mexico, here in Eastern Canada. What we do know is that some of our gannets are being oiled and the birds I've seen [pictures of from the Gulf of Mexico] are so heavily oiled that they are going to sink in a day or two."

"It seems to me it's just responsible to find out what's happening to our birds that are going back there from eastern Canada."

He worries birds that head south from Canada will land in oily water in the Gulf and die.

"The birds I've seen already, the most humane thing to do would be euthanasia. They are so covered with oil there is no way they are going to survive. It's a total assault on their body. It shuts down their oil glands. They ingest it. You can clean them on the outside but they are dying on the inside," said Montevecchi.

He said there is also fear that the oil spill in the Gulf may harm marine mammals, such as humpback whales, that come to Eastern Canada annually.

Read more here

My heart is breaking.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Time Warp

I've had a few health issues in the last wee while. Minor, I should hasten to add.

It was time to find a local doctor.

I asked my friends and had various recommendations – but some of their doctors were full to the maximum and I've always had to feel that personal 'click' with a doctor. Simpatico, empathy, humanity, compassion, you name it.

About five summers ago I had taken a neighbour child to her family doctor when she fell ill and her grandparents had gone to town leaving her in my care.

I was blown away by this doctor and asked at the time, if he could take me on. He regretfully told me he didn't have room for an additional patient.

In the last few months I've had several calls from his wife who was on the same page of protest and activism as I was when it came to getting high speed for our area and had read my columns in the paper on this topic.

Yesterday I called her and asked her if I could get in with her husband, the doctor I had liked so much 5 years ago.

No problem at all, you're in, she said. Today was my first appointment.

I was greeted warmly at the door as before and led into this extraordinary light filled clinic overlooking their lavish gardens which has a wooden hand-carved roll-top desk, wooden cabinets, wooden examining table and floor to ceiling medical books.

The doctor and I then proceeded to talk Newfoundland history, motorbikes, the never ending trips one can take in this magical province, archaeology, family history, organic gardening, how you build your own cabin. That took 45 minutes. He then extracted medical history from me and examined me while discussing family diseases and our adult children.

We then surveyed a map of Newfoundland and he pointed out places I should visit where, long before Cris Columbus sailed for America, a whaling station was established in Northern Newfoundland and a dig has discovered the bones of the boats and the whales perfectly preserved in sub-zero temperatures.

My mouth must have been hanging open when he handed me scrips for 2 prescriptions and a requisition for my local clinic to get some blood work on me and a further requisition for a specialist appointment.

“Oh you're surprised at the time I took,” he said. “I do this with everyone. I only see 20 patients a day. I believe in personal service. I am not running a factory. My computer is in the basement where it should be. I simply love my work.”

I pinched myself all the way out to my car.

People: this is a real doctor in a real world. I am still gob-smacked.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

British Ingenuity at its Finest

Nothing stops these people from the small village of Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset in the U.K. from having their very own library!

Yes, it's in an old phone booth. Who'd have thunk it!

I absolutely adore it!