War and Peace On Earth

Christmas is all about competition!  Whoever disagrees just doesn't understand my rules.

It's hard to say which piques my interest more - the frenzied price slashing between retailers, the people who demand attention with their elaborate light displays (I prefer a half assed effort), my own best and worst Christmas card judging event (poorly attended by all but by me) or, the contest to determine which sibling's gift to my parents will trump all others in the family canon.  Okay, it's that last one.

Through some longstanding failing, I continue to feel I must seek approval.  It's this defect that allows me to spend 8 or 9 bucks on a card as long as it gets the animosity rolling in the ranks.  It's usually an easy win with everyone getting to hear my mother repeat over and over who gave her the "most beautiful card" but on occasion, there can be added jeopardy.  

If one of my n'er do well brothers awakens from a stupor long enough to remember it's the holidays, things get more complicated.  This doesn't happen often but that's not to say I haven't been blindsided on occasion.

Once, after everyone had ponied up with cards and gifts, we were blown out of the water by my brother's genius move of crudely cutting a poem (about mothers) out of the newspaper, putting it in an envelope and easily sailing to a first place showing.  That was talked about for years and I'm nearly over it (I'm still not over it).

The threat this year comes from another brother who has managed after 40 years of saucing himself beyond the pale, to find his way out of the darkness of alcoholism.  We're very happy for his success because hitting rock bottom one more time would have left a wound too deep to recover from.  

The news ticker tells me that his evil plan for this year includes sending a box of chocolates along with a card proclaiming that these parents of ours are in fact the best parents ever!  Clearly, he's still not thinking straight but this move will have definite, immediate and major impact.  Him sending anything, including a box of dirt, would probably have the same import.

It's my definite view that the only thing my parents need, is to be institutionalized, but just the same, I've  sent them a large poinsettia to start and I'm currently narrowing the field on my final strike.  The flowers are a hit (I didn't know poinsettias came that big!) but I'm worried when those chocolates and that card arrive, my efforts will be for naught and he will have won.   

Since it is the season for giving, I'm arguing with myself about whether to give up my whiny dynamic "...but I've been here all along and he's so, so…prodigal!" or not.  It may be the best gift I give myself to just concede and let the glow of my neighbour's 10,000 watt light display keep me warm.

Who knew Christmas warfare could be such a tiring affair?  We all do.  I'm sure of it.


The Pick Stops Here or Breakfast of Champion Trippers

Every time I get a sandwich at the deli in the food court at work, after wrapping it, they stick those little party toothpicks through it and I think:  silly, what do they need those for?  They're stylish enough if you want to strike a pose with one in your teeth, sure, but otherwise?

After getting a breakfast sandwich this morning, I started back toward the office and tripped!  This sent my sandwich sliding several feet ahead.  As I sheepishly scooped it up, I was delighted to see it was intact.

Now I get it.


A Mother's Pride

My longstanding instinct when anyone asks how my mother is, is to say "crazy".  It's always been tough discerning antics from bonafide symptoms with that one.  I could say that anyone who's taken the time to have (and more or less raise) 9 children might be expected to be a little off her game but she did follow the rules printed in the manual:  be fruitful and multiply.

Mother has always had an interesting approach.  She once came home dismayed over the cost of replacing the side view mirror on her car without expressing any concern over who or what she'd sideswiped to lose the thing.  When I was a smoker, she'd cough at the mere sight of a pack of matches to register disapproval.

Her most recent habit is to call my sister hinting that if she was going to the store, but only if she was going!, she needs milk, or bread, or something.  My sister dutifully drops what she's doing and shows up with the requested item to be greeted with "I guess you never thought to bring dessert".  With a nun in the family, there must be paperwork she can start to put my sister on the road to sainthood.

It's never easy to tell which mother you'll get.  One day it's "I had such a good sleep" and another it's "I had a vision last night" and then you have to settle in.  Unsettling.

I pay little attention to the higher power my mother's always inciting but knowing she'd most likely be impressed with a call from Rome, I did just that to say hi and let her know I was at that moment looking up at the Papal apartment from St. Peter's Square.   She was truly amazed, with how clear the phone connection was.

For lasting impact, I bought her some jewellery in the Eternal City thinking this might hold some higher stead.  I could almost hear her pride-sinning to her friends  "My son bought it for me in Rome!".  Instead, she promptly lost the necklace and said "You can get me another one".

I wrote a travelogue of my recent vacation and emailed it to my sisters.  One of them printed it off and gave a copy to my mother.  Now this impressed her!  She even wrote me an old tyme letter to tell me:  "We were amazed, it is so well done.  Isn't it wonderful what people can do if given half a chance?"

There's no telling what's going on in that mind from minute to minute but I suppose I should just thank her for the 'half a chance'.



The revelation a few days ago about a cache of art found in a Munich apartment reminded me of a documentary I'd been wanting to see.

The Rape of Europa is about the systematic theft of art throughout Europe by the Nazis.  From plunder to recovery, the full on horror and beauty man is capable of is on display.

The film is a fascinating perspective I hadn't seen before on the war and gave me another way to say "Thank you for your service".

I couldn't get the YouTube link to work but if you search The Rape of Europa, there's a great trailer for the film there.


Yay! Winter!

Can anyone explain why we need 4 seasons?

Snow flurries this morning remind me of the only positive thing I can think of about winter - fewer shirts to iron!  Sweaters do all the heavy lifting!  Maybe they'd be willing to take in the patio furniture?    

Someone wake me when it's safe!


Fool Britannia!

A while back, I had the opportunity to shift focus and start work in a new area.  This meant I got to keep all my old material and fling it at a somewhat interested new audience.

I now sit across from and in front of a couple of cheeky and charming British women both of whom have accents I could and do listen to all day.

Not long after I pulled up stakes and joined this group, another of my team members remarked to the British contingent while I was away:

"Isn't it a coincidence that all the Brits ended up sitting near each other?" to which the question was raised "Who do you mean?"  "Well, you two and Dale.  You all ended up sitting together!"  "Dale's not British."  "Oh? I thought he was because of his accent."

My voice, if you've heard it, does not sound like I was raised in the United Kingdom.  This is largely because, I wasn't.  My voice has a simple east coast Canadian trying not to sound too much like the trash I came from tone to it.

I'm not sure what we can learn from my co-worker's aural error other than to put some stock in the fact that perhaps regular ear cleaning can help you understand the world around you.

In the meantime, I remain pleased to sit near good folk who have an excellent and intriguing command of the language, who still laugh at my tired old jokes and who are as charming as fuck.