A miracle and some other things

obviously photoshopped
2005-05-31— Posted by: allegra

But amusing nonetheless. You’d never see four bears together like this UNLESS there’s a very very big pile of food in front of them.

Getting to Makkah
2005-05-31— Posted by: allegra

Makkah is, as most of us know, a hard place to get into if you aren’t Muslim. Or is it? I checked with my co-worker, and apparently if you’re Ahmadi, Ismaili or Druse AND you make the mistake of letting the authorities know you are before you go, you can be refused entrance. These are sects of Islam considered apostate. I consider the Ahmadis to be like the Mennonites of the Muslim world, and the Ismailis to be pretty amazing; like the Jews, they have made a contribution to civilization that is disproportionate to their numbers. I know nothing about the Druse except that they are a minority in a minority wherever they live. Anyway the rules are applied so haphazardly that it’s hard to tell when it’s bureaucrats being crabby or real rules; and of course if you’re somebody’s relative you’re more likely to get passed in.

The other thing he told me is that Makkah is not off limits to non-Muslims. If you are a member of a construction crew for the ongoing infrastructure upgrades in Makkah, the authorities don’t care if you’re Muslim or not. As long as you don’t do anything actively stupid or disrespectful, and you get a long list, I’m sure, of what those activities might be, it isn’t an issue.

Floating mat of condoms
2005-05-31— Posted by: allegra

Whitley Streiber, well known whack job, has a note on his website about a mat of condoms floating around the Pacific that’s SO BIG you could land an airplane on it. Uh huh. I looked it up on the internet, and the first reference to it dates back to, get this, 1996, ha ha, and is on a website of dubious soundness when it comes to the information gold standard. So Streiber’s site referring to it as a possible catastrophe and then providing a link to purchase a book on catastrophes is just another example of how, when it comes to making money, maybe he isn’t a whack job; maybe he’s just a relentless opportunist with a well rounded millennial shtick. Carl Sagan is still dead, but if he was alive, he’d be shaking my head that I’m even looking at Streiber’s site.

Gardening with Pokey
2005-05-31— Posted by: allegra

Pokey continues to enjoy his freedom in an entertaining way. He used the utility pole in the left front corner of the property as a scratching post vigorously for the best part of five minutes yesterday. I told him he was a most excellent kitty and watched him wait for John; he was restlessly patrolling the front edge of the property waiting for his dinner to get home. All the while a crow was sitting on the utility line about two meters from the pole.

Pokey quite visibly came to the decision that this ongoing scolding (the crow went on and bloody on about it) had to stop; then he sprang up about a third the height of the pole, at which point the crow went Holy Crap and flew off. Good Pokey! I assured him. And went back to moss patrol. Another two wheelbarrow loads of moss, and I trimmed back the hawthorne and the rhodo in the front yard as well as top dressing a couple of parts of the front beds. Man, 40 litres of gardening soil is NOTHing. If we’re going to level this hellish lawn I’m going to need many cubic metres of dirt. And the back compost bin, which is like 4 cubic metres, is jammed to the gunwhales with the moss so far. Dunno what to do about it.

It is now too late in the season to do anything about the grapes, we’re just going to have to live with it until next year.

Neglected to mention that I found a pupa, which looked like a carved, oiled wooden peg, in the back yard while raking moss (what else) the other day. It was the same day I took all the pictures but I didn’t take a picture of it – closest I could find on the internet is posted here. It was so close to hatching that it MOVED in my hand when I picked it up, a totally science fiction moment during which I startled but didn’t drop it. I set it aside so other people could look at it but when I went to look for it yesterday morning it looked as though some enterprising crow had gotten to it. It was, given its size, very likely something I didn’t want in my garden anyway.

A sacrifice to science
2005-05-31— Posted by: allegra

Milagros Cerron is a year old, just. She has a condition she shares with a handful of other children across this planet, partly because her condition is rare and partly because the ones born with it don’t often get this far. Her name in English could be rendered Miracle Hill. Her irregularity makes her like a cross between a chicken and a mermaid; her legs and feet are fused. She faces 15 years of surgery to get her legs apart and her plumbing working through the correct number of taps. She’s running on the equivalent of half a kidney and has had a *lot* of urinary tract infections. Now she faces the first surgery, to separate her feet from her heels to about halfway up her calf. The parents aren’t talking to the media, and I think they are being wise.

Let us meditate on the life of Milagros. Oh my father, who has served the law all his life; oh my mother, who has served the nurturance of being likewise. Keep my mind steady while I think about this.

I have a number of reactions to a birth defect of this severity, and they don’t always play nice in the sandbox.

I think, what would I do if it were my child? And I think, I’d fight, but to a point. If I could see nothing in her quality of life but one painful operation after another, during which she’d be subject to GHAStly systemic infections and organ shutdowns and be the nexus of… Hey, let’s see. A media circus? The personal torment of my entire family? Human medical experimentation of an imperfect but well-intentioned kind?

So let me get this straight. I’m supposed to support the continued existence, in a state of suffering, of my child, despite the costs, so doctors have a child to operate on…. to practice new techniques on?

This is a painful dilemma, unless, of course, you take a Deist view of the situation, and agree to ‘prolong life’ and ‘trust God’s will’ as part of your contract with your exacting deity. Then you have no choice, and a lot of people will support you in your most commendable action for religious and ethical reasons. Embarrassing to mention, but there are bits of me, scattered here and there, which take this view, which will be trading slaps with the previous view pretty fast if they don’t conclude a truce, or at least get distracted with ice cream.

The allocation of resources question could be raised, and just as swiftly dispensed with. Is this set of surgeries the best allocation of resources? On the other hand why bring up the notion of scarcity when life is so plentiful? (Bazillions of surgeries, flare up/die down media glare until she dies, money in the system diverted to save the one when the many are unvaccinated, waste and pomp, harumph harumph.) I figure my opinion aside, the people who live in Peru have laws which reflect their national character, and so I leave it to the people of Peru to deal with any legal, medical or financial implications, and that means allocation of resources. I imagine the Catholic Church has the religious aspect pretty much in a holy headlock. I would not contribute money towards keeping her alive; if the parents decide to sell the story and the state picks up the medical tab, I am not sure my contribution would be required and it would be insulting, like they can’t look after their own. I didn’t see anything about fundraising efforts.

When I was a kid I was an interested observer of the goings-on of a major teaching hospital. I remember thinking there are a lot of desperate folk willing to throw themselves under experimental knives. And why shouldn’t they? What is more human than hope? Brief pause while I refrain from taking a cheap shot that had something to do with plastic surgery.

There’s nothing wrong with being simple folk who believe that their prayers and a doctor’s skill will draw down God’s mercy. I must admit a shade of envy towards people who can think that way. It is amazing how, through the testimony of their own lives, people of faith can exert force on the world. Whether God is seen or unseen, looks like a rat or a man, makes cool sounds or is a still small voice within, followers of every path can find a way to shining communion with all that is. Frankly some find communion and dispense lightly with God. Some of us wonder what could be better than injecting heroin… keep your communion, pal. There are a lot of deities, and there’s certainly a roaring trade in interpreting their wishes on subjects of morality, behaviour and shoe wearing.

I know what I’d do. I look back at my ancestresses, who, crying, put down mermaid-tailed babies and walked away into the tall grass. I couldn’t do that, even if part of me says, even after 2,000 years of Christianity and fancy rhetoric, that putting that baby on the ground is the wisest thing to do. I believe it’s okay to be conflicted, but not okay to put that little girl down.

So I finish where I started. If she was mine, I’d fight. When I judged that fighting was no longer humane, I would face the moral responsibility and endure the recriminations of those who didn’t think I fought long or hard enough. I would acknowledge to myself from the very beginning that I would have few options and most would be bad. I would have to trust the doctors to an unprecedented extent. I’d have other issues to deal with as well as the simplest, which is that most of my free time would evaporate and there would likely be catastrophic financial consequences from my daughter’s medical condition – there’s always a drug the government won’t pay for, even though it’s the only thing that will get her through her next infection. I can see worrying a lot and reading medical textbooks. I can see arguing with the doctors if I could witness or attend the surgeries. I can see being considered either an angel or a complete pain in the ass at the hospital depending on who you talked to.

So I wish well to Milagros’ parents, who no doubt are being coached by somebody friendly what to do and not do about the media. I wish the surgeons and the surgical staff clean conditions, steady hands and good light. I offer a brief prayer for the sanity of the senior hospital administrators, who are probably going frikkin’ bananas, right about now. I hope the media behave themselves, and that Milagros pulls through. Who knows? Maybe she will walk for my 60th birthday. In the meantime the doctors will learn plenty, and that’s a good thing, right?






Wizard of Darkmoon

2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

I have been looking forward to the conflation of the Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of Oz since I first heard about, it must be ten years ago. It was a powerfully Oz experience, to be sure, but some of the correspondences between the music and the film are so apposite and bizarre that in the end it’s really hard to dismiss the entire thing as one big spooky coincidence. I enjoyed it.

Nothing much else to report except that Pokey, the big furry orange cat who lives with John downstairs, has been given outdoor rights. John’s had bad luck with both losing cats and outdoor cats getting injured, so he has been loath to let him out; however all of the inadvertent experiments to determine Pokey’s homing instincts in the last couple of years (one reported here) have ended well, and he certainly had a wonderful afternoon figuring out which doors open when you cry at them. He would immediately demand to go out again of course, but having won his freedom, he wanted to ensure it was still there.

Pokey made me screech with laughter yesterday. I was giving the front bed a good water in between stretches of moss patrol (I now have a better technique but it’s still backbreaking work) and there was a sidestream of water coming out with some force from the where the hose joins the tap. Pokey stepped directly into this jet and then cried for about thirty seconds before he discovered that all he had to do to make this untoward experience stop was back away.

John cannot understand why Pokey hasn’t climbed any trees. I suspect it’s because when we let him out on the leash in the old days he managed to hang himself really well a couple of times when one of us turned our backs on him for two seconds. He was never in any danger as his harness had three pressure points but he was sure one unhappy kitty when we fetched him down. (One time he hung himself on a tree right in front of me, it happened so fast; he was up there for about 20 seconds but he never went near that tree again, and we shortened the harness.) However I am sure he will figure out again that trees don’t bite and we’ll have the pleasure of performing the duty of the Pleasantville Fire Department soon.

snap yer dragons
2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

Boys ‘n’ Roses
2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

I quite like this picture. Note extremely tough minded roses in the foreground.

2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

It’s bad enough that unidentified critters of varying sizes are constantly having sex in my yard. But when they are this blatant…..

This is the yucca I mentioned earlier
2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

I was hoping it would straighten out and it looks like it will.

2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

Mom, can you help out? Catherine gave me this but I have no idea what it is. It sure likes being crowded in the front bed, though.

Grapes in the sun
2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

And to keep it biblical, I follow with a picture of grapes.

2005-05-30— Posted by: allegra

This represents a substantial fraction of the figs that set on this year.

a stuff

2005-05-29— Posted by: allegra

The stuff last night was quite wonderful. As always we went a little insane on the food quantity, but it was nice to sit down with the folks – everybody in the family except John, and Glen and Marilyn – and break in the new barbecue (the old one got left at Tom and Peggy’s because Paul got bored with hauling it back and forth from their place, because it’s too big to go in anything except the van, and blah blah blah).

Katie’s off at the non-boyfriend’s again.

Mike said hey-o let’s beach today but I observed when I awoke after the single worst night’s sleep I’ve had in six months that there was absolutely no blue in the sky and decided to finish reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. Very interesting and very persuasive, although if I read the expression ‘pulse-pounding action’ in a blurb again I’m gonna hurl. Is the word exciting somehow no longer … exciting? I am in complete support of his (through a character) analysis of how the language and metaphors of fear have been altered to serve the political-legal-media complex, but other aspects of the book are disturbing. At one point in his appendix he notes, huffily, that nobody had to tell people to stop using horses when cars came into general usefulness (implication being that nobody will have to tell people to stop using cars when something superior comes along). I remember responding mentally, “And when colonial politics forced Chinese peasants to starve, nobody had to tell them about how they could eat babies to stay alive a week longer.” And I remember the Saudi proverb. “My father rode a camel. I drive an Audi. My son flies a jet plane. His son… will ride a camel.”

Sometimes the ‘better’ isn’t, much. And, worse to relate, sometimes there is no better.

So, Michael Crichton has made a wonderful case for global warming being an example of Lysenko-ism in science, where science is forced to serve political ends rather than being, to paraphrase Feynmann “What we do to figure out when we’re fooling ourselves.” Has he made a case for global climate change being a fraud? No. And now I have an understanding of why Mt. Kilimanjaro is losing its glacier, which I have to admit was troubling me (along with every other friiiiikkkkin thing that troubles me). Crichton, through a character, says it’s caused by deforestation at the base, which affects both air movement and moisture close to the mountain. I will investigate but I bet he’s right.

I have a lay person’s understanding of climate change. I am not NEARLY so worried about climate change as I am about the end of fossil fuels.

Crichton, in his jeremiad about how everybody has always been wrong about the end of the world, seems to be under the impression that technology will save us. I believe with a perfect faith that technology – freed from ideology beyond the simple search for truth and knowledge – could do just that, because whatever your ideology, unless you are freaking nutbar, a sociopath (the ones that aren’t ‘technically’ crazy) or childless, you want your grandchildren to at least have a world to live in (and I’m not slagging childless people, I envy them). But I don’t believe for one New York second that technology will do much else but serve really shopworn and actively dangerous ideologies as we nose our way into the future, and unless LARGE numbers of consumers in first world countries start rearranging their spending habits and their debt habits and their consumption and reallocation of existing entitlements, science will slide into one of three troughs – it will be serving the military – it will be serving large corporations avoiding social & political accountability – and it will be serving fundamentalist ideology (and I’m not going to name religions or political stripes). If it’s possible to have high tech dark ages, we’re smacking into as them fast as they graduate more lawyers than scientists in the US.

On one point, Crichton was bleakly correct. He says, through a character, that the biggest cause of environmental degradation is poverty. Then the character pops off about how billions of dollars fly around in litigation and taxes and legislation to prevent trivial events from occuring in North America while babies starve and children go blind and women are enslaved and poorly educated indigenous men are handed AK-47s and told to harass the ‘enemy’. (Yes, I’m paraphrasing more than somewhat).

I note that the Political Legal Media complex has been telling first worlders since the end of WWII that we have the RIGHT to be independent, to do what we like and go where we want; that we have the OBLIGATION to find ourselves; that all of the old structures are breaking down and good riddance; and that the most important thing in life is LOOKING GOOD and SPENDING MONEY. So busting up family ties and getting women out of the house when their kids are little to work in the salt mines (discreetly disguised as malls and office towers) and encouraging automobile ownership and getting ‘the biggest house you can afford’ and travel and ox carts full of debt to do it all has done an amazingly effective job of ensuring that everybody is too effing busy to pay attention. And the second you say hey waitaminute the media says “JLo!!!! did she have a bum lift??!!!!” and you settle down with ET and play channel roulette rather than follow the narrative of self improvement, which is HEY WAKE UP what we’re here for…. And I’m not talking Tony Robbins. I’m talking about all that old hard Stoic stuff that is SO dreadfully out of fashion, like not being in debt and not making messes for other people to clean up and to giving attention to cultivating your mind and body, and taking good care of the things and people that are entrusted to you, all that lame ass stuff that no self-respecting hipster gives the time of day to, cause it’s like so old and cranky-tired.

So I recommend the book, State of Fear – it was a good read and thought provoking. But I also recommend a few other things. Quit watching network TV. Spend more time with your family. Make eye contact. If you’re going to drink out of the milk jug, buy your own and label it. Reduce your commuting time if you can. It is better to give two dollars to a homeless person you can see than fifty to a charity that you can’t (and don’t worry about whether you’re ‘encouraging’ them. Between business, government, crappy childrearing, bad education and bad medicine, the homeless will be with us always anyway). Reduce your ecological footprint if you can. Get hobbies that are non-trivial – that produce things you can eat, or wear; or expend energy in ways that build the world. Don’t get into any sport more expensive than soccer. When you have to spend hundreds of dollars to play, thousands to compete and hundreds of thousands to compete internationally, it’s the wrong sport. Try to enjoy your hobbies locally. The only reliable information we have is our DNA, and even that appears to have been dictated by a God with an atrocious stammer. And remember in your most trying moments that in a billion years none of this crap will be remembered, let alone matter.

Is King Fahd dead or not

enough sleep
2005-05-28— Posted by: allegra

Darth gets his secret wish
2005-05-28— Posted by: allegra

Or as has passed into family lore…. “Wave your hands til the music stops, then turn around and bow.” Be prepared to laugh out loud at least once. (Yes, it’s a commercial, but I don’t care, it’s tasteful.)


Don’t know why I like this
2005-05-28— Posted by: allegra


Guy fixed a tripod in the back seat, jammed in a two gig memory card, set the camera to take a pic ever 30 seconds, and then drove for six hours. I have no idea why I like it, but I do.

Schrodinger strikes again
2005-05-28— Posted by: allegra

King Fahd has become like Yasser Arafat. He’s dead, and he isn’t. Official Sa’udi news outlets say he’s clinging to life in a hospital in Riyadh, and unofficial ones say he’s been dead since Wednesday and they don’t want to announce it until the succession is clear. I find it really hard to believe he’s dead; he’s a Wahhabi and Muslim burial customs, which are frankly quite sensible, don’t have much to do with ‘lying in state’. The tradition is, you bury the dead person as fast as you may in a dignified fashion. This sometimes causes a culture clash because in North America six or seven days can go by between the death and the funeral/burial, longer if it’s a notable personage for whom many rich and prominent people must clear their daytimers. I think it much more likely that he’s on life support until the succession is secured. It all depends on how you define death, I suppose. Pic is of the king in happier times.

King Fahd supervised the expansion of the pilgrim facilities at Makkah and Madinah (preferred spelling in all the Sa’udi sites I’ve seen), set up a printing shop for the Quran in Madinah which has churned out 138 million copies of the Quran in 20 years, ensured that pilgrims coming on Haj actually get inoculated against various godawful diseases, and has tried, without much success, to reduce the death toll that is pretty much inevitable when you’re cooking with hot fat in a 400 tent long row and tip the fire over or get into a frenzy and stampede. However, just between 1990 and 1994, 1,700 people died on Haj (not of natural causes), at least according to a disgruntled Muslim Brit named Parveez Syed whose website was a vision of yellow and red.

These numbers jibe pretty well with my recollection. Interestingly, he claims that nobody got a penny in compensation for the dreadful fire in 1997, at which it was alleged that the rent a cops locked everybody into a compound. Between 1.5 and 2.0 million people visit the holy cities every year, with a big influx during the pilgrimage season. Anything to do with the royal family is therefore of concern to the entire Muslim world, because if there are any missteps with respect to how the pilgrimage is run it affects every Muslim on the planet (at least the ones who are allowed to go… my understanding is that there are sects of Muslims barred from attending because they are apostate; I’ll have to check with my coworkers about that one.)

I am about halfway through Rutherfurd’s London, and after the wine of Dunnett it is much like tap water.

In other news, we’re feeding Glen and Marilyn tonight. Glen said he’d bring his famous chuckwagon beans, which I am looking forward to… then we get to argue about what we watch on the big screen. I’m kinda hankering for something mindless.

Kira skipped breakfast; upon viewing the front end of the large mouse she deposited on the back welcome mat, I’m not surprised. Twas a big sucker.

Katie’s off at the non-boyfriend’s place – I am assuming she spent the night, her shoes aren’t here.

Paul looked as chipper as a man may coming off his last night shift and is looking forward to being diurnal again.

Keith’s job hunt continues. He told Katie to go apply at a couple of places but she’s not very happy about her chances. Of course, if she doesn’t apply she can be sure she won’t get it, and it’s a numbers game.

Sushi for dinner last night.

It was Berloody Hot in the house last night, couldn’t stand the weight of the covers.

Started reading the Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach last night and I’m really enjoying it. Both an account of a Buddhist monk who became a diamond merchant and an exegesis of the oldest printed book in the world (woodblock printed starting in the 8thC) which happens to be a Buddhist religious text, it is by turns a fascinating look at the work of the diamond trade and a brutally practical application of Buddhist principles in business. It has certainly got me thinking. (Sometimes dangerous and frequently ineffective, but o well.)

I must make confession…. I prefer the tea Paul bought at Stuporstore to the Darjeeling Extra Amazing Tea, although it does brew up a beautiful colour. Fact is, the 5 bucks a pound stuff that Paul picked up does not go bitter, no matter how long you leave it in the pot, but the fancy Darjeeling can’t be left in longer than about four minutes or it goes bitter like hell. So although I am very happy that Tom U brought me back tea from Darjeeling, I am publicly announcing that I prefer the cheap*ss stuff from the ‘store, and that my philistinic tendencies grow apace.

Rob of Nine has provided a video of Dark Side of the Moon hooked up to Wizard of Oz. This is a cultural experience I have been looking forward to for a while. He also put ‘a bunch of other stuff’ on it, and so I am waiting for Keith to achieve consciousness to watch it.

If I was smart, which I’m not, and motivated, ditto, I’d do yard work before it got too hot. I think I’ll tidy instead.

Hey mome, yes I want to go to the family reunion. Just as long as you know I’m planning to wear tie dyes all the way through. And… do you really want me to give a talk? I’m thinking possibly “In the World but not Of it” as a subject. Family History as Social Medicine is another possible topic. Can’t you just register me and I’ll cough up the money later????

seeing red

Mom, Dad!!!!!
2005-05-27— Posted by: allegra

Squee! http://www.astoundme.com/stencils.html

Mind you, some really good ones are missing.

If you have nothing better to do
2005-05-27— Posted by: allegra

Please email Judi McLeod at letters@canadafreepress.com and ask her what journalism awards she has won. I have cruised all over the internet and can’t find any mention of them. I figured if she was proud of the awards she’d cite them; but she’s not talking. I emailed her on 10th May and she never got back to me. Maybe she doesn’t want to brag. Anyway, I’ve started emailing journalism organizations, because I’m a perimenopausal whackjob with too much spare time, and there’s nothing like a feud to drive up the web traffic.

The latest thing on the canadafreepress.com site that had me sitting up is a lovely screed about somebody filing a class action suit (in New Westminster, natch) on behalf of the people of Canada against the banks for loaning out money they can’t account for or trace to an actual owner. This means that they are ‘creating money’ which is ‘ultra vires’. Actually what they are doing is creating credit, which roughly translated means “I believe”. The differences between banks and churches are numerous, but the whole faith thing is definitely a bridge between two staid chunks of architecture…..

I think the expression ‘Best of British Luck’ applies in this case. It’s like a 12 year old taking on a squad of Navy Seals with a plastic fork and an attitude. pOp, what do YOU think? Check the site – which, incidentally, you will find accords with many of your attitudes, being in part a collection of crabby jeremiads against the Liberals etc etc. I was glad to find out about lecornichon.qc.ca through that site anyway. As John always says, even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while, or in this case a pickle.

weird dream and nuclearity
2005-05-27— Posted by: allegra

Last night I dreamed I had done something to displease Paul, I have no idea what, and his response was to pull out a handgun, and without changing expression from a mask of contempt, chase me out of the house and shoot me on our front lawn.

I awoke with the uneasy feeling that I should probably do the dishes. I comforted myself by saying that the dream isn’t about Paul, it’s about me; at least I believe that he wouldn’t let me suffer for long. Dreams sure are weird.

My new coworker has loaned me Rutherfurd’s lengthy tome “London” but I’ve been too lazy to crack it open so far. More to the point, she has a beat up and beloved copy of the entire Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, which I’ve mean meaning to read in excess of 30 years and is supposed to be the best thing that was out there pre Dunnett, (Mary Renault fans will hate me)AND won the Nobel prize for literature back in 1928. Patricia has told me that she will loan it to me, but I have to cough up a dragon’s egg or somesuch as security. She told me it’s out of print, but it isn’t. Penguin re-issued it. It says something about the book that in the entire time I’ve been haunting used book stores I’ve seen one volume precisely once and it was at a crushing price.

Arnold Schwartzenegger had a hole dug in the middle of the road so he could look like he was helping to fill a pothole, and he uses the products of campaign donor companies in political ads. All of this sh”te was predicted in science fiction damned near 40 years ago. You voted for an actor, now you’re upset about being collateral damage in a photo-op? Boo hoo.

I have included a picture of a natural nuclear reactor which is upwind of where human beings evolved and which was active 1.7 million years ago.

No connection? Check this out…


Mother, you will recall I have been advancing this as a theory for a while. It’s not like I trust scientists or anything, but if the Chernobyl observations are a) accurate and b) there’s a causal relationship, and I’m not claiming either of these things, then it makes an interesting thought experiment….Where do humans come from, and what kicked the evolution up a notch? As Keith pondered, “Are we alREADy mutant freaks?” Dunno, but I look at the way North Carolina is represented on the web these days and I have to wonder (thinking of bestiality and cross burning stories, in particular).

I am seeing red
2005-05-27— Posted by: allegra


With all due respect, what the hell was this judge thinking? I hope the local Unitarians picket the living sh*t out of this guy. And the Wiccans, the ACLU, and the Americans for the Separation of Church and State. If he tried pulling this crap with two Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon parents he’d be pilloried. Good Goddess. Or as Wonkette noted, Blessed Be-yotch!

another beaut from le cornichon

Another beaut from Le Cornichon
2005-05-26— Posted by: allegra

Somebody REALLY knows how to photoshlep.

2005-05-26— Posted by: allegra

Yeah, not doing too bad these days. Did more yardwork after work yesterday – the moss raking activity will be another month, I fear – and then went for a walk with Katie and John. John is so civilized; he asked if it was a girls only walk or if he could tag along. I left it up to Katie as I didn’t really have a preference. We talked of many things, or rather, they did; I didn’t have enough breath coming back from Dinosaur Rock to do much more than grunt at appropriate intervals. Then Katie and I had a lovely long talk after lights out.

Discovered, in my cruise around the yard, that three of the four yucca filamentosae have set on flowers, but the third one, out front, somehow got ‘stuck’ and the flower stalk got all scrunched up inside itself. I freed it from the crud adhering to it from the last year but I fear it will now get sunburnt and die back. I will be watching anxiously. So I’ll probably only get one inflorescence in the front yard and one in the back. As I moved the sixth rakeful of moss into the back compost bin, I began to wonder about the place where Unca Dave and Paul dumped all the dirt that came out of ripping out the front bed last year (I had tulips and squill coming out at random in the yard next to the compost bin, it was quite funny). Hostas? Some other shade loving critters? The hosta Peggy gave to me at the same time I got the birch, which by rights should have died because I essentially dumped it out of the pot into the front corner of the yard under the walnut tree without even digging a hole for it, is doing magnificently, and the holly growing up next to it – birds planted it, I assume – after a couple of rough years is about a foot tall and looking pretty smug.

Years and years ago Catherine gave me a plant – I have no idea what it is, it’s native – and it has finally gotten big enough to set on wonderful magenta flowers. It seems to be happy in the front bed under the hawthorne tree. Which reminds me, I should trim the hawthorne a little, it’s looking somewhat untidy.

The yard looks better than it has in ages. There’s no garbage or brush lying anywhere (it got quite disgusting), and with all the rain and the lawncare it’s looking quite lush. Paul and I briefly contemplated taking down the cherry tree in the side yard abutting the alley but that will probably be in the five year plan, along with the dreaded replacement of the fence we just repainted. Well, it wasn’t a fix, we were just buying time until we had the money and energy for the post hole digging.

The baby birch tree in the front yard is growing at a stupendous rate – it’s nearly doubled in size since I got it at a church plant sale a couple of falls ago. The schizanthus (sp?) my mother gave me is now so overgrown I will have to dig it out, but I am entirely crappy at stuff like that. And I don’t want to touch the front peony, which is crowding the schizawhooie, which after SIX BLOODY YEARS set on a single bud. So did the middle one. Somebody is going to have to educate me about peonies – the first two years in the house the displays were quite showy.

Tom L has indicated that when the rhubarb leaves die back, he wants to separate out the plant and take some. It’s quite the nicest rhubarb, and that last pie was spectacular if I do say so, and the plant must be twenty years old so it should be able to withstand some amendment.

Paul and I looked at arbours in two different places on Victoria Day Monday and I just didn’t feel like spending 250 bucks on anything, no matter how pretty it was. I was thinking 100 bucks for materials and doing it myself, but it’s rapidly becoming an issue; if I don’t get something up there soon it will be the same story as last year; the grapes will be on the ground and we won’t get a crop off at all, and they are damned nice seeded grapes. The vine must be fifty years old; Tom was startled how thick the trunk was.

The figs are SO BIG it defies belief. Up until this point we’d been doing it Paul’s way and topping & trimming the figs so that their nasty leaves – and dried fig leaves gum up works very well, thanks – didn’t get into the garage eaves. This year we did it Keith’s way – he trimmed off everything that was growing sideways as he couldn’t stand getting poked and prodded every time he ran a lawn mower past. As a result the parts of the trees that really catch the sun, sensing that there wasn’t going to be another chance, set on what must be at least three hundred figs, the largest of which is damned near eating size although nowhere near ripe. It’s not even the beginning of June!

I’m disappointed with the plum tree. Like the cherry it seems to have dropped all the fruit it set on; given how delicious the plums were last year (remember me rhapsodizing about plum duff?) this is very saddening, and we shall have to Do Something.

Mummy, do you remember the rose bush you savagely ripp’d from the front bed? The one that was all diseased and disgusting and set on three mingy buds and then looked like the horticultural equivalent of an absinthe addicted vagrant? You didn’t get all of it. Last year, a single stalk of non bud producing rose came up. You said this was root stock and I thought, ah, no blooms. Once again, my laziness has been my saving grace. I was too intimidated by the thorns and too admiring of the little plant’s enterprise to pull it out again, so I left it to some ‘future date’. THIS year, the flowering portion came up and – okay, I have to get up and count them, back in a sec – there are THIRTY FIVE buds including three blooms. This is leading me to believe that I should open a school called the Allegra Sloman Academy of Horticultural

canadian lord of the ring

You have to be Canadian to get this
2005-05-25— Posted by: allegra

Thanks to Brooke for the pic, and, like I said, this is a Canuck thing.

enough sleep
2005-05-25— Posted by: allegra

Finished the edging last night, and Keith finished mowing the lawn. My lawn looks better than at any point since I moved in. Then Katie and I went for a walk to 7-11 so I could get root beer, because I had a terrible craving (after I got so sweaty) for a root beer float. So I actually got something resembling enough exercise yesterday, slept like a bear and now feel, you know, chipper.

I think I’m going to buy a club for the car at lunch. I don’t trust the goddamned parking lot attendants now I have a later model car. Yes, Subaru gone and 2002 Echo in hand.

I light a candle for TomandPeggy’s Prius. It ‘was making a funny smell and the warning lights were on’. John’s comment. “How binary! Can’t the gauge at least tell you HOW wrong things are?”

John gave my dad a puzzle of a submarine chasing Argus aircraft. I intend to do it when next I am at the folks’ which should be early June.

Found this at a hideous right wing site
2005-05-25— Posted by: allegra

I emailed the soi-disant editrix to ask her precisely what journalizm awards she had won… after all, she called herself an award winning journalist … and she never responded. From this I must speculate that she actually won a journalists’ drinking contest and man, if she can do that, she can crawl with her head held high.


Have fun.
2005-05-24— Posted by: allegra


not enough sleep
2005-05-24— Posted by: allegra

Just got back from screenhead.com, where they have a link to something called Lunch. I couldn’t really understand what was happening – although it was funny – until the lead character ripped off his shirt. This one goes out to all my coworkers.

I am entirely blah. In fact, I am now getting the idea that I am no longer actually seeing anything in colour.

We have a new used car. The Subaru is gone and we have a 2002 Toyota Echo instead.

I am thinking about the Mary Prankster line “**** the next ten years and just go to sleep” as being my mantra for the day.

Coming to a compost heap near you
2005-05-24— Posted by: allegra

Haven’t posted a decent nature picture in ages, so herewith the beautiful Coprinus plicatilis, a relative of the shaggy mane. The biggest one is only the size of a dime. Leo was startled to open his compost bin (he lives in Kanata) and find these guys.

They are actually quite common throughout north America, but they deliquesce within hours, so it’s no surprise he hasn’t seen them. Aren’t they a lovely colour? Oh, and for all you mycophiles, I know I can’t make a positive identification without a spore print, but I spent a pleasant hour in the bath just now, poring over my Kibby’s Mushrooms and other Fungi, and it’s definitely da one, based on the description of where it grows and the finely pleated cap and the colour and the size.

tune that critter

enough sleep
2005-05-23— Posted by: allegra

The sun is bobbing in and out of visibility, the wind is blowing pretty hard, but it isn’t currently raining, thank heavens. May 24 weekend in this part of the world is almost invariably damp, but this weekend was REALLY wet. I just jumped – there was a bird strike against the front room window, but the bird appears to have recovered and flown off. I am very much enjoying not having to do anything aor go anywhere, and my laundry is all done.

The only thing I was thinking of doing today was making some food in advance of the working week. Sausage rolls come to mind.

I may also do some weeding – the ground is so wet the weeds practically leap out of the ground when you tug on them.

Tom and Peggy fed us dinner last night… Paul cooked up salmon on cherry wood charcoal again. Really really really good. I have had salmon a lot of ways, but barbecued over cherry wood charcoal is definitely my favourite. And Mike J was there with Agnes, and they brought brie (!!!) and shrimp skewers (!!!). (That was for my mother’s benefit). Once again we were damned near too stuffed to sing. Satya and John brought accordion and mandolin respectively. Next time I’m going to insist that we tune before we start singing.

return of winky

2005-05-22— Posted by: allegra

I’ll start with the best possible news: Winky, who has been seen twice on this blog, has returned to her home in East Vancouver. She was gone for about three or four days. Mike, the man who slaves to support her in the style to which she has become accustomed, was a VERY unhappy man when she disappeared, and so I yelped for joy when he held her up to the phone (purring loudly) upon her return. Keith and Kate were also very happy… Winky is a superior feline, very friendly and smart.

Last night Paul and Ana held their first wedding anniversary celebration on a chartered yacht in and around Stanley Park. It was an open bar! I’d be scared to do that with my friends, so I have to hand it to them. I have never actually heard Lilli Marlene done in polka tempo before. It absolutely peed sheets of rain, but it was plenty warm and congenial inside. Everything about the evening was perfect. Mind you, I kept thinking about how I’d do it differently, and I kept fixing Paul with a basilisk stare and saying things like You Know Our Twenty Fifth Anniversary is coming up. God, twenty-five years. Sounds, I don’t know, cosying up to decreptitude, dude. It was a lovely time anyway and a total class act, just like Paul and Ana. And all of their friends and relatives were complete sweethearts, including three kids (nieces and nephew to Paul) who live in Georgia (Kurtis 9, ? 7 and Faith 4). Faith made me laugh so hard I just about hurt myself. I had loaned her a pen so she could start to entertain herself. She laboriously wrote something out on her place-card and handed it to me to read. It was a very long assortment of consonants, with the letter U at the end. I owned as how I didn’t know what it said and asked her what it said and she widened her already enormous blue eyes and said, sweetly, “I can’t read.” Her sister and I killed ourselves laughing. I’m glad I spent some time talking to them, they were wonderful kids.

Cooked a big restaurant style breakfast this morning with the four of us. Very pleasant.

Hey Brooke, I dreamed about you last night. We were in an orbital station and you were trying to run along one wall and ‘fly a kite’ behind you. None of the rest of the dream involved lemming tarts, though.

walking panda

What the well dressed Venezuelan is wearing
2005-05-20— Posted by: allegra


The Venezuelans will be the first outside of Russia to make this baby under license. They bought several hundred thousand at almost $400 US a pop. Liberty is ‘spensive, y’know? Boy did the Americans yowl about this. But they just don’t make a gun this good, this cheap.

Chiba Park’s bipedal panda
2005-05-20— Posted by: allegra

This is Futa the lesser panda. He can stand on his hind legs for ten seconds at a time. Did you ever see an animal that looked more like something out of an anime? He’s apparently a star at the Japanese zoo where he’s incarcerated. I thank Sploid for providing the link to the pic.

I have little to report but a very great deal of happiness about the long weekend. John is off to Victoria/Courtenay, and so I have to feed Pokey.

Don’t all thank me at once for not posting a link to Saddam Hussein in his underwear. Here, however, is a link to Bush in court http://billmon.org/archives/001864.html – and don’t forget to read the commentary, it’s amusing in a very partisan kinda way.

I hate to say it, but the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Digest I just read was a major guilty pleasure. I especially like the Mina Harker character, and the expression on Quatermain’s face as he peers up her bloomers (she’s on a ladder above him) made me spew tea. What I don’t understand is how they got away with the quite in your face racism of the piece. I couldn’t tell whether it was a matter of parody or what… it was sort of post parody. The best thing about it was the Picture of Dorian Gray Paint by Numbers kit. Inspired. And Pollyanna turns up, as a character in a very disgusting school for wayward girls. Arab and Chinese characters speak in Arab and Chinese, untranslated – for pages! Given how racist the depictions are, I am at a loss as to how I could possibly get the dialogue translated. Hauling it into work doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Writers Group on Wednesday was fantastic. I read that piece from my blog a while back about Monumental Angst.

Well, it’s time to get up and get out.


No more mooses
2005-05-18— Posted by: allegra

Dang, I’m fresh out of moose. Didja like that last moose picture? I hope my American readers enjoy it. The Gov of Canada is apparently changing all of its advertising regarding tourism. RCMP uniforms, mooses, igloos and Celine Dion are STRICTLY VERBOTEN/ INTERDIT/ FORBIDDEN/ Y’all keep out now…..

2005-05-18— Posted by: allegra

This an orphan muskox. His name is Chance.

peeces of meeces

More meese
2005-05-17— Posted by: allegra

Athabaska Landing, 1898. Peachy Prouden hand raised two moose for his team. And thanks to the magic of the Alberta Archives, you can see them on my website. It’s amazing what you find when you ask Google for odd mooses.

Where are the moose?
2005-05-17— Posted by: allegra

It occurred to me that I have not posted any strange moose pictures in a while. This moose wandered around for a couple of days like this. I wish the Fish and Game people could remove MY spare tire with such ease….

enough sleep
2005-05-17— Posted by: allegra

Forgot to mention. Katie didn’t come home last night. In a panic, I called her at 5:15 and she was at Daxus’, of course. Fell asleep, she says. At least she had the sense to pick up the phone when I rang her and apologize for not calling. Yup, all in all, I have lots to be grumpy about, and I’m giving myself free rein… and I can’t even TALK about the stuff that’s making me grumpiest. Grr.

Looking for the Cat’s Eye Nebula
2005-05-17— Posted by: allegra

Mark Staves of Tupper Lake NY took this pic on May 10, 2005.

enough sleep
2005-05-17— Posted by: allegra

Astronomy Picture of the day today is quite nice… a panorama of Mars. Also the Titan pix are out… I didn’t like them as much. Mum told me last night that there are some cool aurora pix from the last Coronal Mass Ejection, but I don’t know where to find them so I’ll poke around for them later.

Later today I vote. Sigh.

I’m voting against STV. It’s not a substantial enough improvement over the current situation and it’s too subject to jiggery pokery after the election. Give me a paper ballot I can count, thanks! After watching stolen elections elsewhere in North America, I’ll take my chances with the sitch we have. Also, if nobody can explain it so that it makes sense to somebody with a high school education, I ain’t going there.

pie and totem poles

Pie and totem poles
2005-05-16— Posted by: allegra

I made two pies yesterday in preparation to go to Tom and Peggy’s. On sober consideration, I took the grown in my backyard rhubarb pie only, and left the rhubarb apple at home. Just as well… when I got there, custard and cake and whipped cream were on offer. Needless to say I was goshdarned near too full to sing for my supper afterwards. But I made a valiant attempt.

Paul bought a cell phone on Friday to replace the one which is dying, and he’s so annoyed with it that he’s thinking of taking it back. The phone he had (which is the same model as mine, an ancient Audiovox) was totally intuitive about everything and has a proper menu structure. This thing – sigh. Paul’s been messing with it for days and it’s like wrestling with a small, clever, shiny alligator. Now I am JUST DREADING replacing my phone, if this is the kind of thing that’s out there. (This is the same phone Katie carried for a year, so you can tell it was made the way mil-spec stuff is SUPPOSED to be made.) Mind you, all I will want is a low end phone, so maybe I will get both a deal and something that actually is understandable to somebody born before 1985.

And yes James, before you ask, we stuck with Telus, because we don’t want to lose our phone numbers.

Cruised by the discount theatre on the way back from picking Katie up last night, and saw that MONSTER-IN-LAW, KICKING AND SCREAMING, and HOUSE OF WAX were all playing. I shuddered so hard I nearly crashed into the Starbucks. It’s hard to think of a triple bill I’d less like to see.

It absolutely poured rain here for the best part of 24 hours; I’m very glad, as we needed it.

Parts of our lawn look very science fictiony. The moss killer is doing its thing, and we have a lot of moss; all the mossy bits are greeny black and smell weird.

We (the family, less John) went to the Museum of Anthropology yesterday. I wasn’t too interested in the totem poles; I was much more interested in the research section, which is irresistably reminiscent of the garage sale of a wealthy eccentric. It’s definitely worth the money. Next time I go will be on a Tuesday night when it’s free (5 til 9 pm). Katie fell in love with the mammoth yellow cedar Bill Reid sculpture of the raven sitting on the clamshell, so I bought her a little card of it. For me I got a soft cover about the edible plants of coastal BC, with all their uses by the local First Nations. The gift shop had a lower kitsch to beauty ratio of any ‘tourist trap’ I’ve ever seen with the exception of the Art Gallery of Vancouver. Must fly; it’s 6:51 and I haven’t negotiated with Paul whether I’m getting a ride in or not.

poems et cetera

RESONANCE                   April 7, 1990 23:55

candescent plasma overturned over
investment and reaving, no stasis
or balance or equi
in sigh
the properties of fluids, solids,
exhalations and inspirations, musing
and being 'mused' for a tricky
a perfect ream.  picture a woman
ankle deep in crumpled paper
every pencil gnawed down 
to a nubbin, knowing
and incapable of

chew the the's down. eliminate the a's
and hoe your own flesh for the enemy
adverb, the unnecessary

give entrance to the doorwarden, who
is locked out.  who is.  pat yourself down for keys
headshake and graphic shrug, the empty
pockets of the universal colloquial

I don't have them.  They went missing.

I lost them.  Someone (there's a thought)
has stolen them.

They are not necessary.  There is 
another ingress.  This way to the egress,
but I am already out.  

reagent of the crenellation.  

Fortress Idea.

My arquebus does not fit through the slot.

But do I have to?  I address you:

Come back.  I am the one who leaves.  Depart.
I have no choice but to stay.  I am stuck in this
<    >, this [        ], this horrific 
which can be anything but your presence,
saving your presence.  your candescence.

I was living in Toronto when I wrote this. At least I kept track of when.



It is a catalogue I speak of, love’s most
pressing substitute dismantled and contained.
Membrane, pelt and tendon form
a plain text read with sober mind
by a surgeon, translated in life to
sculpture and dance, ink and silken billows.

He arrives in cotton, sober as a butler
. hair shorn to show the bones .
appearance is useful and trivial by turns.

Words fail, misunderstandings riot in the cracks
I reach through them to the motion that swings
through his calves, through his back
appalling and perfect
withdraw amid caution and confusion
plunge forward.

It is this sensation I sought, somewhere
between the stifled laugh and the attunement
dwelling in his arms.

I will not cede to youth the rights
of desire and requital.

I find, among
uncounted pauses, during which I summon
from the steam and garlic of another meal
a kiss, perhaps the warmth retained by a coat
or smile’s imprint, all teeth and merriment
a buoyancy unlinked to the joke.

It is dormant adolescence I recite
oppressed but not effaced by setback
and denial. Lust is as strong
as the death occluded by these
moments, for which heaven’s a mere gloss.

To spare his feelings, I won’t name the person I wrote this for. He’s still ridiculously hot. And smart. And nice.

2005-05-15— Posted by: allegra

I don’t normally buy clothes for John, but an XL black silk shirt covered in multicoloured frogs for 5 bucks? Perfect for cons, and packs like a dream? It’s verra nice. (2019 says – his future housemate Juliana ended up with it)

Paul and I are very clean at the moment. There’s something about being completely clean and just having changed the sheets that makes domesticity a beautiful thing.

Earlier we swept the driveway, did the edging on the walkways and policed up the cut branches so the back yard doesn’t look quite so ratty. The lawn guys have already started and Paul’s raked at least two cubic metres of moss up over the last couple of days.

Katie’s at her non BF’s.

Keith is reading the latest SIP. (That’s Strangers in Paradise, and Brooke, hate to tell you, but I am actually pointing you at your next addiction.)

Paul had such a good time last night that we are thinking of instituting a once-a-month version of the Friday Night Veg-in, which was an institution when I was growing up. Goodness knows there are a lot of really watchable movies out there.