Sunday, 24 February 2013

The crotchety old battle of the sexes: it's no walk in the park.

Just when you thought it was safe to step out, look out. 

Apparently you can die laughing, too, but I took a chance and rode to the

"I only go out dancing to get laid"
comedy night and dance party

It.  Was.  Fabulous.
$8 advance tix, $12 at the door, and $3 beer!

Lots of great acts kept us in stitches
before our girl Shirl even took the stage.

She's hot, and she was brilliant, too.
I love the way she had all the guys in the audience singing 
"Men like to come on my face,
men like to come on my face.
Sometimes on my tits and sometimes on my ass
but they mostly come on my face."
It takes a special woman to make that kind of thing happen, don't you think?

There were pyjama people in flannel onesies, 
you know, those lovely head-to-toe jimjams babies wear... 
The pyjama peeps were hanging around all over the place,
singing, dancing, and manning the cams.

Looks like there was a lunatic on the dance floor, too.

Damned gin.

It was nearly one, and we were getting ready to leave,
 when two of the cutest pyjama-girls got on-stage and started taking off their onesies in a show of sorts.  
Even though I missed the narrative it was highly entertaining.

That girl Shirley Gnome sure knows how to throw a monumental party..

And this town has its share of monumental party-poopers, too.

To be fair, it is a bit of a prickly situation and it has arisen because the Vancouver Parks Board has decided to erect an enormous phallic obelisk right beside the Marker of Change memorial site, a feminist sanctuary in Thornton Park dedicated to all women murdered at the hands of men.

from the National Post
Has it really cum to this?
Who would have the balls to erect such a phallic symbol and stick it in the midst of the vulva embossed benches of this feminine enclave?

They could erect it by the sewage pumping station at the other end of the park,
but you know somebody will make a big stink about it.

Hey! I know where they can stick it!  Not that special place where the sun doesn't shine, but a special place where it does... the recently rebranded Dude Chilling Park.

With it's Dude Chilling.

With the addition of a great phallic monument, 
Dude Chilling Park will be dubbed Dude Chubbin' Park.

And the truth is that everyone would be better off if we were all chillin' and chubbin' instead of wasting so much time and effort fighting about matters of the crotch.  It's pathetic that there are still so many battles to be fought and won for gender equality here on earth, because really, we should be shifting our focus to providing for future generations rather than enforcing the protection of basic human rights for those of us already here.  Last week I was surprised to discover how many people question that we are all entitled to the most basic, fundamental human rights, but it makes sense, really, since there isn't much evidence that our society has any kind of real respect for the charter of rights and freedoms in the first place.

Where do we go from here?
Goodness only knows, but I'm going for a dino-ride. 

It may not solve all the world's problems, but it sure can't hurt.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Hey brother, can you spare a dime? What happens when change comes to the Downtown Eastside?

  You've got your standard Downtown Eastside..

and then you've got your gentrified.

AAAAAAAND that's the thing everybody's talking about, that special time when pusher comes to shove.
Here's a picture of what the CBC calls "the notorious Pigeon Park" as seen from Hastings St:

and from the other side, on Carrall St in front of Pidgin restaurant:  

In case you missed it, Pigeon park is that triangle of concrete just beyond the two red cars.
 It's not much of a place for flora and fauna, but it's very convenient to drug deals.  Normally it would be full of Vancouver's most prolific purveyors of all things illicit, but the police are there, so Pigeon Park is bare.

  This is a restaurant on the edge. The boys in blue aren't the only ones hanging around outside the front doors. 

heh heh  "feed the hungry eat the rich"
Pete McMartin sez they are being childish. They want it to be housing for the neighborhood's poor, not an up-scale restaurant. Pete says 

"According to a City of Vancouver study, the stock of low-income singles housing in the down-town core has increased in the last 20 years, to 12,126 units in 2013 from 11,371 units in 1993."  And he calls this "Miraculous."  Yes, it's miraculous that we should have added and an extra 1200 units of social housing in the very neighbourhoods where all of the services which they rely upon are situated.  How Godlike of us.

How do you TRUMP that?

McMartin is right, though. The protesters are using childish tactics. Like shouting at people, and shining flash-lights through the bulletproof windows into the patrons faces.  That's just plain old bad PR. Er...  chuckling at that 'feed the hungry' slogan was immature, too.  My bad. I own that. Gentrification is an issue all over the place, as it always is. This neighborhood is especially vulnerable to changes, and the low income residents here don't have anywhere else to go.

Carnegie Community Action Project
Pidgin Restaurant has stirred the pot because Pigeon Park is considered the heart of the Downtown Eastside, but no-one at the park will be eating there. Brandon Grosutti is doing all the right things, though, bless him.  He obviously has a high Social IQ.  He is working with the community, and doing what he can to enrich the lives of his less fortunate neighbours. He's cool. Never mind that the food at Pidgin looks 

The corner store that used to be there was dodgy at best, so on many levels it does look like an improvement to me, but I can understand why the poor souls who live in the hood might feel marginalised, and angry.  Their world is a scary place to live. There is no security in it. An up-scale restaurant, complete with plate-glass windows, sort of puts the people outside on the streets "under the glass," in a way.
Don't you think?

  It's ironic, isn't it? As Canadians, we identify as peace-keepers, and as defenders of human rights, and we figure the rest of the world really respects us. But social malaise is rampant here, our human rights record is even more questionable than the results of the last election, and when you introduce yourself as a Canadian, people mention either Celine Dion or the clubbing of baby seals. 
I'm not sure which holds less appeal.

It's an intractable problem, but not an impossible one. People adapt, don't they?  

Homeless folks have been known to ask for money, right? Save on Meats up there has been around for ages.  Business suffered for quite a while when the neighborhood was too intimidating for most people, but it's bustling now. Save on Meats is still a butcher, but it's also a great little deli counter with some of the tastiest sarnies in town.  When they opened after their renovations, some customers were concerned with how to best respond to the panhandlers outside the door, so management came up with an idea. You can buy burger tokens to give the homeless folks out there who are begging for donations, if you're that way inclined. 

This is just a little tiny example of the principle that there is always a solution. 

There are so many issues tied up in the homelessness and poverty on the Downtown Eastside that it's going to take a concerted and determined effort to address it all, but there are solutions. People hailed the new Woodwards building as a "symbol of diversity and Urban Renewal," with it's multi-purpose spaces.  That's definitely one kind of solution. What would happen if a percentage of all urban development had to include some form of affordable housing?

After all, aren't food, housing and education basic human rights?

Is the new Woodwards building a success, or is it gentrifuckincation?  The neighbourhood is definitely changing, in some ways for the better... 

and sometimes not so much.

Resilience means learning from what works (and what doesn't) and trying again.  
If we keep at it, we can solve the issues which plague us, if only out of sheer, dogged persistence. 

The Downtown Eastside has a 
special charm you've just gotta love,

but there has to be a place and space for change, growth, and renewal, too. 
We'll probably muddle through, somehow.  The best route to our destination isn't always clear, but it's obvious that when it comes to setting intention, it's important to be specific about you're asking for.  The people of the Downtown Eastside have been asking for change for quite a while now, but it's doubtful this is what they had in mind.

What are we going to do?
I just like to K.I.S.S. whenever I can, cause mum always said
"Keep it simple, stupid."

And as to what the future holds?

Guess we're just going to have to let it ride.

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Escape of all Things, Great and Small: Something to Crow About.

Saturday afternoon... two small boys... what to do... what to do...? 

 This is definitely not a Breakfast at Tiffany's moment.

It's lunch at mine, and it's not for the queasy or weak of stomach.  
It's not a happy mummy lunch, chocka blocka quinoa and kale, either.  Oh no, this is a different kind of beast altogether. We're talking hot dogs, ice cream floats and king worms.

Yes, king worms. 
The boy likes to grow them into beetles. They live about as long as a hamster, in case you were wondering.

I'm ok with bugs.  Really. 
They've been around long enough now that I'm used to them, you see.  The boy keeps a lizard and two frogs, and he has been on an eternal hunt for new and interesting critters since he could walk.  Did you know that tree frogs and geckos live a very, very long time? I'm here to testify that they do indeed, and I'm good with that.  There aren't enough frogs  out there, you see. And did you know that habit creates a little trench in the brain, a neural pathway of sorts? THAT means that even the most squeamish person will get used to crickets, worms, lizards and amphibians, given enough exposure, and voila.  I'm ok with creepy crawlies.

And I love frogs.

No, not like that.  Don't be silly. 

"I'm ok with bugs," I said. "Just not on the kitchen table.  Not at lunch ti... OH MY GOD THERE ARE CRICKETS EVERYWHERE WHO LEFT THE CRICKET KEEPER OPEN?" Bugs used to make me feel all queasy and sick inside, but we attract what we fear, and I've lived in close quarters with so many of the wee pests now that I'm willing to hunt and trap them gently.  

And from their perspective, it was a clever diversion. The boys ate and flew the coop without further interference from me. 

 I was in a fowl mood. I had murder on my mind, but don't worry.  It's not really caws for concern...

I simply needed an escape.

(My little wheel suck is stuck in between us.  You can't see him, but he's there.)
 I dragged the boys across the Burrard St Bridge to see the movie "Escape From Planet Earth," 

...and then we met up with the man and headed home via False Creek.  

We stopped at the little green star in the map above.  It's a man-made island/peninsula/wildlife sanctuary, aka Heaven on Earth for small boys 

which holds a bit of appeal for grown-ups, too.

It was a super low tide, so the boys explored under all those rocks which are normally under water,

while we watched the crows gather in their raucous murders to head off to the communal roosting place at Still Creek.

What's that old saying about little boys? Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails?
It's true.  There's never a shortage of critters in my house...

and he is forever scouring the ground for some slimy new find.  Yes, creepy crawlies play a starring role in my life these days, but that's alright.  I don't have to look far for the silver lining in this situation. For years now, every few months, the boy would come running in, saying "Look mum! Look!!  I found a diamond!" and invariably he would hand me a piece of glass to treasure.

Last Mother's Day was different, however.  Last Mother's Day he came running in, hollering "Mum!  Mum!  I found a diamond!  I found a diamond!"  and this time he was right.

It's a solid carat, bless him and his love of bugs.

Often I wonder whether the Gods are having a laugh at my expense, but on that special day, I felt a great reprieve.  It was almost as though they took pity on me, patted me on the head, and said, "There, there, ye  poor daft thing. You may well be chasing crickets around your house for the next thirty years, but here's a pretty, sparkly distraction."

And sadly enough, for the most part it works. When it doesn't, I make the great escape on my bike, and before you know it, every little thing is quite alright again.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Random acts of kissing, and finding a partner in crime.

Riding home on Valentines Day, I was contemplating matters of the heart and dreaming of a kiss.

Did you know that this is random acts of kindness week?

By now you've probably heard that random acts of kindness generate a ripple effect, and you know kindness increases the serotonin (happiness) in your brain.  Dr McQuaid says happiness is being kind, that "serotonin levels are increased in both the giver and receiver of an act of kindness. In addition, anyone who witnesses an act of kindness also has an increase in serotonin levels. Kindness is a natural anti-depressant for the giver, receiver, and witness of human compassion."

It's true, too.  Have you ever tried it?  When you're down, the easiest way to feel good is to make someone else feel good. It's contagious, the pandemic with the power to save us.

(in smooth radio-announcer voice)
Last babblelog, on The Kissing Season bikesgonewild shared a perfect kiss:

His kiss was "secretly enhanced" by what he saw, and when you read the story you get some of that secret sauce, too.  You have to admit that's pretty cool. This time of year, it's reassuring to know that random acts of kissing will uplift the world around you.

But what do you do if you don't have someone to kiss? In China, you can hire a fake boyfriend to bring home to mum and dad. There are times when it's important to be single, independent.  Maybe you need to focus your full passion on an endeavour close to your heart, or maybe your heart needs healing, but certainly there are times when it's better to be alone than attached. For the most part, however, humans are social creatures who are happier attached than alone.

If you find yourself alone and wishing you had a kissing friend, well then it's time to go fishing.  When I was looking for the man, my favourite was Plenty of Fish, but there are all kinds of dating sites out there.  There are a LOT of people out there looking for love, too...  I did a general search for women in the Vancouver area 25-50 years of age, and found page after page after page of results on PoF

 Serious results.  Why, just look at Kuteepie, hiding somewhere near the bottom of the 23rd page!


Plenty of Fish is sooo much fun. My profile was terminally earnest, all sunshine and lollipops:
I even listed all of my favourite bloody things, 
like a singing and dancing Maria Von Poppins for the new millennium.

 I used restraint and refrained from all the obvious cheese cake photos:

Dunno what I was thinking. It was a clear misrepresentation of WHO I AM, but whatev's. It worked.

It's dead simple to post a profile, and PoF is free, though you know Google and Marcus will market to you. Despite my death-by-vanilla profile, I managed to meet great guys, plenty of them.
On-line dating is easy, and it's fun.  Just be yourself.  Let the fish out there know: "This is who I am this is what I like and this is what I'm looking for." Add a selection of your best photographs, and presto, you're ready. Dive into that chocka blocka webtastic fishbowl.

Your best chance of success?  We're visual creatures.

A good picture will get you more clicks than anything else..  Don't have a good picture?  Take one, or better yet, get a friend to take some and then use the best of the best.  Edit all the rest!  One Meh photo will do more harm than six great  ones do good. And while you're editing, make sure you edit your words carefully, too.  Poison-filled rants rarely make a good first impression.  This is an opportunity to connect with all kinds of different people. Talk about what you're passionate about, what you love most, what you dream of doing.  Write about the person you are looking for. Make a wish!

Then post it and be open minded. Just like in the real world, you will find your share of fruit-cakes thrown into the mix, but the nice thing about internet dating-particularly as a woman - is that you get to screen people with anonymity and relative security before you meet.  Or not.  It's really up to you in the end, just like in the real world.

When I tell people about Plenty of Fish, and how much fun I had using it, how many cool friends I made,

 and how I met the man, people inevitably say "Oh, my friend tried it last year. She said that there are just so many creeps and liars on there," and maybe for her it was true. That's sad for her, but I know from experience that there are a lot of good people out there, too.

Do you have trouble discerning who's who? I find words help a lot.  Writing and speaking words are wonderful ways to suss out whether or not the person you're talking to is straight up, slightly bent, or completely loopy. It's pretty simple to weed out most of the weird-o's.

One of the things which makes on-line dating so appealing is the sheer numbers of people. Plus it's like home shopping. If it doesn't work out with one fish, you can just return it, comforted by the thought that there are always plenty more where that one came from.

I talked to hundreds of men before I found someone I felt like kissing, though. I had a perfect first kiss on the best first date EVER in the history of dating.  It so happened that I happened upon a profile which both claimed to like fishing, and also claimed to be absolute shite at it.  That didn't fool me, though. I've spent time in Haida Gwaii, and when I was there, I learned the fisherman's motto:  "I fish, therefore I lie."  I set the man on PoF straight, and told him he really should get with the program and forget about the truth.

Well that was it. Two days later I was inundated with a torrent of words which he had found time to write while he was hanging around airports, moving from Australia to North Africa,  where he was just hired as the  Managing Director of a satellite news service.  The thing I remember most vividly from his first message was "How can you call yourself a writer and then leave a lousy two line message?"

I might have run then, but as mum is fond of saying, I am not the sharpest tack in the box. And besides, the heart wants what the heart wants. After three years on my own, not even remotely interested in any of the fish, all of a sudden I fall for a man living on the opposite side of the planet in a country I would never choose for my son.

Go figure.

After an intense three month courtship, during which we exchanged enormous volumes of mail and spoke to one another on Skype at least once a day, he invited me to join him in Manhattan under a blue moon eclipse on New Year's Eve.

When our lips met, our passion was fuelled by of months of yearning, of longing and of anticipation, and I nearly passed out from pleasure.  I've never known a more poignant kiss, and I've never had a more exciting first date, and yet as wonderful as it was,  it pales in comparison with my happiness today.

First I found the best first date on Plenty of Fish, and the best first kiss.  Then I found love, and now I know joy.  I'm pretty sure the man was kissed by Cupid, because he has a perfect heart-shaped birthmark on his face, and a tender lover's heart.

And I have a secret.  The rest of you peeps only get to celebrate Valentines day once a year, so for you it's already over.  For me?  Every day is Valentines Day, and I try to practice random acts of kissing to spread the joy.  If you have a partner, please be kind. Help me save the world, one kiss at a time...

if you're on your own, maybe it's time to do a little fishing...