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Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Mein freakin' Gott! I've been mentioned on Evil Twin's site today, too. I'm marking the calendar! Banner Day!
What's better than being a Blog of Note? This is better. Thanks, Bill! Way to make my week.
Note to self: Perhaps I should think about, um, actually designing this site.
The "What was I thinking?" Files, Episode 2: The Fishing Trip. Not since the mid 1970s have I gone on a camping trip with my father and brothers. Tonight we set out for a tiny fishing lodge hidden deep, deep, deep within the forests of Northern British Columbia. A true child of nature, I have packed enough Kleenex, moist towelettes, bugfuck, sunscreen and wine gums to last a month in the bush. Oh, and I'm also bringing Tolkien. ["The body was partially devoured by wolverines, but from the untouched book at its side, it appears the victim was halfway through the chapter where Gandalf returns."] And sharing a cabin with Dad and the boys...the combined snoring should pull bark off the trees. Actually I'm looking forward to facing the dangers of the wilderness...and the only things assured of safety are the fish...haven't caught one in years. If I survive, expect this blog to resume on October 1st.
Monday, September 24, 2001
More sighing... Let me get this straight. Certain people in Canada are pissed off because the U.S. hasn't given them a great big "Thank you" for the donations they've sent for disaster relief, or the blood they've donated? How petty is that? First, I think it's kind of obvious that the U.S. gov't. is a tad preoccupied these days. But more to the point: if you only perform good deeds out of the expectation you'll be thanked profusely for them, then they're not good deeds at all. It's the utmost in hypocrisy, you whinging, brain-damaged make me sad for my otherwise good-hearted country.
Reply to the phone-in callers to some local radio show that's been boring through my cranium all morning [too busy to launch self outside office to put CD on, argh]:
Oh, yes, it's very easy to talk tough about sending Canadian troops overseas to kick bin Laden in the procreative area...especially if you're about 20 years past conscription age.
I'm spending a lot of extra time sighing these days.
Full and Irrevocable Citizen of the Year honours go to Fearless. Not only did she pack and pack and pack and pack, she also spent an entire day scrubbing walls at my old apartment. I'm not sure what sort of recompense would be suitable. I tried to give her a frying pan. Then I settled for pizza and beer. Now if only I can train her to finish an entire beer in under 6 hours, or at least not leave a half-full bottle for the cats to knock over....
Friday, September 21, 2001
Poetry Friday, and the first poem by a Jane:
I have been living
[Jane Mead]

I have been living
closer to the ocean than I thought--
in a rocky cove thick with seaweed.

It pulls me down when I go wading.
Sometimes, to get back to land
takes everything that I have in me.

Sometimes, to get back to land
is the worst thing a person can do.
Meanwhile, we are dreaming:

The body is innocent.
She has never hurt me.
What we love flutters in us.

As I listened to Bush's speech last night, I kept repeating the two lines from the Robert Graves poem I posted in August:

As the great ship raced madly towards the rocks
An unseen current slewed her into safety"

I'm praying for that current.
I'll try to post a poem a little later. In the face of world conflagration I bravely carry on defying copyright laws....
Thursday, September 20, 2001
A trivial observation, yes, but then I am the Trivia Empress. Throughout my life, whenever a disaster has struck somewhere in the world, the sick jokes usually follow within hours. It took less than a day for the first Challenger jokes back in 1986. And only a few days for the Bhopal jokes in 1984. Though this doesn't really rate as a "disaster"I think the first Princess Diana jokes were on the Net within minutes. Yet, though I trawl through the Internet daily, I have yet to see a single joke about the terrorist attacks of September 11th. By the way, this is just fine with me, and I don't care if I ever see or hear one. It's just extra proof of how devastating this terrorist action was to the greater part of the Internet world. Oh, and if you find some joke to contradict this? Keep it to yourself, pliz.
Question to self: Why do I subscribe to the "emode" newsletter? Do I enjoy coming in to work to read searching questions such as "How intimately do you know yourself?" "How do you handle life's little snags?" And what are my answers? Yes, I know myself quite intimately, and have in fact been purchasing undergarments and toiletries for myself for many years now. I know my favourite brand of toothpaste, how ice cream is like heroin to my body chemistry, and that although I consider myself to be a fairly refined person, trained in social niceties and expecting them from others, the world sees me for what I am: a foul-mouthed, earthy peasant who just happens to be widely read. Incidentally: a good memory should not be confused with intelligence. I have an undeserved reputation for wit, when all it is, really, is borrowing the bons mots of others and storing them indefinitely, bringing them out as the occasion demands.
And how do I handle "life's little snags"? Well, perhaps we should define snag: A flat tire? Snotty java jockey at Starbucks? Widespread terrorist attacks? Nah...don't bother defining them. No matter what degree of snag, I handle everything the same way: I eat Safeway.
Upshot: It's time to shitcan that stupit newsletter.
An exceptionally well-written reaction to the terrorist attack can be found through a link at Cacomixl. Thanks for posting, Jon.
Monday, September 17, 2001
Belated Poetry Friday: courtesy of Fearless, who found it:

James White

I love the cambric night snowing down First Avenue
and the heaven of being near things I know,
my apartment, the old rugs and chair, the moons
of my nails above which I write.

And the snow in distant woods where animals
give silently all
and everything into dying - their fossils in spring,
the jonquil and pure bone.

I'm no more alone than usual
with this perfect history of snowing
so quietly without people.
I've left so many this year
who've felt too comfortable with my old design.
Because I want another life rinsed new in middle age,
the way a hard sickness changes a person.
The way snow changes the billboards
by my drugstore to read VANQUISH PAIN and

I don't want forgiveness from people,
only to be seen from another way,
like the back of a sculpture,
perhaps the nape of a neck or a open helpless palm,
some familiar form viewed from another direction.

I had taken Friday off to get ready for the big moving day on Saturday. Anyway, when I came in to work this morning I had a bunch of e-mails to sift through, three among which were "perspective" images of the World Trade Towers set in the comparatively puny Calgary skyline. Oh, thanks. Because, you know, I was really having so much difficulty understanding the enormity of the tragedy without those pictures. Now I get it. Thanks so much for enlightening me. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
Major, major, major snaps, props, and love from me to the following people:
  • Fearless who helped me put things into perspective and into boxes, and who devoted Friday and Saturday to getting my junk shifted from the fetid apartment to the unsuspecting condo;
  • My brothers, who travelled from Red Deer and Edmonton(!) to my place on Saturday, bringing a truck and covered trailer, as well as unlimited patience with their flighty sister;
  • Bryce, a.k.a. The Friendly Goon, for lending me moving materials, and also showing up on Saturday to load crappy furniture from my apartment into trucks, and then unload it at the new place, and then letting me play with Theo later on in the day;
  • The Old Faithfuls, Craig and Andy, beloved colleagues of yore, who also brought a truck and strong backs.
Between the seven of us, all the big junk got moved from my old place to the new in an hour and a half, one load only. Phew. Thanks so much. Somehow, beer and chicken wings and lunch at the local pub just don't seem to be sufficient thanks. Consider yourselves all invited for dinner as soon as I've unpacked.
No thanks at all go to the resident manager at my old apartment building, who is docking my security deposit to cover "replacement of tile floor." It's only the original tile from the 1960s. Forty years on, one would think it would need replacing anyway. But hey, I get to pay for it. They're also replacing the carpets, which were horribule when I moved into the place back in '92, repainting the dingy walls that were never painted fresh for me and, get this, replacing the original cheapo appliances I've been putting up with for nine years. We're talking an electric stove with two working burners and an oven with a bipolar element. Can you say "Small Claims Court?" I know I can if they try to deduct anything else from my security deposit. Do these jerks not know the meaning of "reasonable wear and tear"?
I know, I know. It's so very trivial in the face of the tragedies of the last week. I'll shut up about it now.

Thursday, September 13, 2001
Oh, for fuck's sake: Nostradamus didn't predict the terrorist attack. I can't believe how easily swayed people can be by a goddamned e-mail. People who are otherwise very intelligent. So I've devised another term to describe this sort of reaction to tragedy [i.e., sending around unsubstantiated rumours by e-mail]: "e-mongering." It may already have been coined, but I haven't heard it before, and I'm going to use it.
The best encapsulation of my current feelings, post-attack.
Although I must say, I find the heading "Terrorist Attack Cartoons" somewhat discordant.
In the end, hate caused this horror. Hate will not end it.
So I'm off, with my robust peasant health, and horse-sized veins, to donate blood, and later plasma and platelets. Getting an appointment has been nearly impossible -- which is heartening, of course. But it's my shame that I've let my regular donations slip over the last four years. I've got disgustingly healthy blood and plenty of it, and it costs nothing to give it. And I even like needles. What's stopping me?
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
On 9/11/01 10:35 AM, Laurie Valestuk wrote:
Hi Jane:
In case I die today or tomorrow in a fiery blaze from a plane falling from the sky: I love you.

From: Jane Farries
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 9:48 AM
To: Laurie Valestuk
Subject: Re: still alive

Oh, Laur. Thanks for the message. There are no words adequate from an insulated, pampered, naïve Canadian like me. Just know that in the face of such catastrophe and evil, I know there are truly good souls out there yet. Like yours. And I wish I could be with you more than ever.
Love you.

On 9/11/01 10:52 AM, Laurie Valestuk wrote:
None of us are insulated. I think that's the real lesson.
It's hard not to let your heart harden with rage and hatred, but even if God is dead, which is clearly the case, it's important to dwell on love. That's what must be remembered.
Monday, September 10, 2001
"One Mat Service": Apparently, according to my subconscious, this is a disparaging term for less than perfectly comfortable accommodations when one is hosting a haughty abbess in one's condo, which is also home to three roommates, two of whom are nuns (and who invited the Mother Superior), the third of whom is a prostitute who keeps about 5 men-in-waiting in her room. Why "one mat"? Because, according to the sisters, in proper homes, one has a mat in front of the bathroom sink as well as the bathtub. Alas, I had only the tub mat. Luckily, we were distracted by the finches and dormice streaming through a hole in the brick wall, which brought both cats running. Vinnie the cat, for some inexplicable reason, was carrying a baguette in his mouth. And the prostitute's lads were doing the dishes in an assembly line in the kitchen, since, in their opinion, the new dishwasher "totally sucked." And when I phoned to my realtor to complain, mentioning that I'd bought the condo for myself, she said, "Oh, no, you just paid for your share of the condo. You know what prices in Calgary are like."
Luckily, I kept getting attacked by Godzilla, star of Exorcist IV: The Revisitation, who kept diving into the ocean to grab the submarine, so I knew it was only a nightmare.
Yeah, it's so self-indulgent to describe one's dreams. But this one was so clearly mad. "One mat service" -- how the hell did I come up with that?
If ever there were a weekend not to get sick, this last weekend was it. After all, a mere 5 days remain until the big furniture in my apartment gets moved to the new condo -- assuming everything works out, that is. I am aware that the final walk-through has not happened, and that there is the slight chance that the previous owner may have spray-painted "Death to Pigs" and "Helter Skelter" everywhere, which will stall the moving process somewhat.
Anyway, yeah. I found myself driving to Edmonton on Friday, knowing full well that I really didn't have the time to attend the family party scheduled for Saturday night, but feeling unequal to bailing at such a late date when I already said I'd be bringing the appetizers. And gallbladder implodes. It's been acting up lately thanks to my current neglect of my own health, but on Saturday it flared wildly and I was gone. I'm sure the current stress I've put myself under contributed the most to the flare-up. Anyway, picture a constantly nauseated and bilious me trying to concoct appealing appetizers for the family. Note: if I had been contagious with some virulent bogey, I would have bailed there and then, and not done any cooking. But the Inner Catholic was at the wheel, not letting me disappoint the ravening hordes through my own inattention to my health. Luckily, it is not difficult to make bruschetta, or the gruyère spread, or stuffed mushroom caps. And if one has enough club soda, one can bear up through almost anything.
And then I didn't get back to Calgary until 8:00 p.m. Sunday (slightly removed from the noon arrival I'd *promised* I'd achieve), enough time to pack a few boxes and then fall exhausted but sleepless into bed. This week's going to be, um, interesting.
Friday, September 07, 2001
In other news, I am fairly galloping through The Lord of the Rings, surprising myself somewhat. The Hobbit is such an insipid kiddie's book beside this breathless, paranoid masterpiece. I see vague parallels between Gandalf and Obi Wan Kenobi, Frodo and Luke Skywalker, Sauron and Darth Vader. Then I read another chapter and all my references change. Still, I am me, and will frequently get irritated at Tolkien's naming conventions. "Mithrandor!" "Erendil!" Yeah yeah yeah...okay, wizard, sword, got it. Now get on with it.
Poetry Friday strikes again!
Czeslaw Milosz

We wanted to confess our sins, but there were no takers.
White clouds refused to accept them, and the wind
Was too busy visiting sea after sea.
We did not succeed in interesting the animals.
Dogs, disappointed, expected an order,
A cat, as always immoral, was falling asleep.
A person seemingly very close
Did not care to hear of things long past.
Conversations with friends over vodka or coffee
Ought not be prolonged beyond the first sign of boredom.
It would be humiliating to pay by the hour
A man with a diploma, just for listening.
Churches. Perhaps churches. But to confess there what?
That we used to see ourselves as handsome and noble
Yet later in our place an ugly toad
Half-opens its thick eyelid
And one sees clearly: "That's me."

Thursday, September 06, 2001
To Grant, Who Saved My Blogs: Thanks, yo.
We came, we bowled, we sucked: Last night's lawn bowling wrap-up went off without a hitch, not counting my abysmal habit of sending my bowls sailing blithely into neighbouring lanes. People liked the "Screamin' Bowls!" gift we brought, and we ended up with $10 gift certificates to Chapters, about enough to buy you 1/3rd of a hardcover, but still. I had been secretly bad-mouthing the skip on my team for the last while because he's such a competitive man and would get frustrated with us for not treating every game as though it were Game Seven Sudden Death Overtime. Come's lawn bowling. Then at the end of the evening the bugger gives me a bottle of wine and a thank-you card for being such a good sport throughout the season. So much for all my kvetching. Then there was a lovely band playing, David Thiaw and Domba, so plenty of African drums and irresistible tunes ensued...until the neighbourhood crank down the street shrieks his protests. What an old crab, we all say [guiltily, though, I know I'd have been irritable about the noise my own self], as the party ends.
More blog scrounging: If you don't regularly read Blather, you should -- he's the nearest thing the States have to Grant Hutchinson. Anyway, it was on Blather that I found the link to "Princess Diana - The Musical". Click on it and weep. See if you can stand to play "He's Such a Man" all the way through, without a shot of insulin. It's truly a test of strength.
Not My Archives! Hi Jane. Just the thought of you pining away for your old posts cajoled me into updating your blog template so that:
  1. All of your monthly archives exist once again, and;
  2. You now have a fancy, schmacy archive navigation menu to the left
No thanks are required. The simple continuation of your daily blatherment is payment enough. Enjoy. And happy anniversary, by the way.
Wednesday, September 05, 2001
Client Follies, Episode 38: A simple ad for a sophisticated office chair. Client changes my copy that refers to chair as "office equipment." Ad is sent via FTP to press. One day later, client phones me to say that "he's talked to someone creative" and this person says "the sales target for the chair should be positioned away from furniture and more towards equipment, to reconcile buyers to the higher price." So, asks client, can the ad be changed to the original wording? Oh, sure, we'll pull a 170-page magazine off the press to put in your revised ad. Sounds good.
Despite the absence of my archived blogs, I would like to note that I have passed my 1-year anniversary of blogging.
Tonight is supposed to be the Wrap-up Lawn Bowling Glitzerama, but it's raining like hell at present. I don't really care about the finals -- my team was buried in the standings -- but I do care about the gift exchange. My teammate Sue and I devised the Screaming Bowls Package: Habanero Hot Sauce, Suicide Chili Beans, and air freshener. The label Sue designed features a 1940s-era businessman leaping frantically in the air as sparks fly from his posterior. Yes, it's crude, typical of my earthy peasant humour, but originally it was worse: "Sweaty Bowls," featuring hot sauce, antiperspirant and a small towel. I won't describe the label, so count your blessings. Oh, well...if we don't get to unveil it tonight, there's always next week.
Tuesday, September 04, 2001
The Packing Chronicles: Well, I ended up having to buy a few more boxes. It's a frightening prospect. On the up side, I am getting rid of tons and tons of stuff. Anyone for a Salton Yogurt maker, circa 1976? Très circular, très cool.....
Howie's latest bike-to-pavement encounter makes me realize that the "H" in his name should probably be silent. Owie, indeed.
For someone who knows next to nothing about football, I end up seeing a fair amount of it. Really pretty good games, too. Yesterday I saw the Labour Day Classic, a.k.a. "The Battle of Alberta," where the Edmonton Eskimos battle the Calgary Stampeders. I was supposed to go with my brother, but he had some surgery to do [those patients! Their needs come before everyone else's!], so he sent my 9-year-old nephew, Nolan, to watch it with me.
I still don't have the first clue about football, but here are some of my overall impressions of the sport:
  1. The Stampeders' cheerleaders are buxom. Also completely lame. They even did the goddamn bird dance. Meanwhile the Eskimos have an actual cheerleading squad, with gymnasticky throwing-of-agile-females-high-into-air manoeuvres.
  2. The little diamond that appears and disappears beside the team name on the scoreboard indicates possession of the ball.
  3. The inflatable Thundersticks donated by Enmax are, yes, fun to hit together, but even more fun to fence with. Paradoxically, they are only fun when you yourself hold them; in the hands of anyone else they are an intolerable nuisance and should be banned.
  4. Women in their late 40s who opt for breast implants and who insist on wearing tube tops and shorty-shorts should refrain from drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade to excess, as there are impressionable youths and their aunties in the vicinity who do not need to see an exhibition of "mooning the bad call" and "flashing the cute RCMP officer."
  5. Football is a game with inexplicable rules, end of story, but hey, Edmonton won by one point with a field goal at 0:00, so life is good.