can of worms: ninjas vs pirates at a wedding

We all know the argument about who would win. So here's a different take on it.

Who would make a better best man?


or Ninja?

mom, sometimes I just don't feel fresh...

I was doing research for an upcoming photoshoot and stumbled across this little gem and HAD to share it. Enjoy!

horsey sense

I totally forgot about this until I stumbled on it on someone else's blog (I closed the window and can't cite it though - sorry!) In the meantime, turn up the speakers and giddyap!

bugs in the garden

a pictorial essay

(the thistle is the biggest bug of all. grrr!)


I just have to say a couple of words about pirateyme. My treasured friend pirateyme is often my muse. The conversations we tackle in real life and in our MSN messenger chats often inspire me. She presses me, challenges me, forces me to explain and explore my opinions and ideas. I hold her in the utmost respect, and I figured I ought to acknowledge the influence she has on me. I am nothing but grateful for having stumbled across her, even if we often don't see eye to eye, and sometimes piss each other off.

Cheers from me to you, pirateyme.


A few of my friends know this story, and so for those of you who have heard it already I'm sorry to bore you. However, since capital G God seems to be coming up frequently in conversations lately, I think it needs to be told.

Although my mother is Lutheran and my father was a devout born-again Pentecostal, my older sister and I attended a Catholic school. If you were to ask my mother why she sent us there, she will tell you because she felt we would somehow fare better morally, since she and my father were divorced.

First Communion, for anyone who wonders, and for lack of a better way of putting it, is the occasion on which you, the child, make a conscious choice to be accountable for your sins. Once you have learned the catechism and taken your first communion, you are thereafter responsible for clearing up your own debts to God. This is accomplished by going to Confession. When I was 6 or 7-ish, I remember preparing for First Communion alongside my classmates. Although I wasn't baptized and wasn't receiving the formal teaching of the catechism, I took the whole thing very seriously. In preparation for our first visit to the confessional, we were each handed a square of fabric and a grease pencil. We were instructed to make a mark on the fabric for each sin we committed in the week leading up to First Communion - each time we disobeyed our parents or teachers, fought with our siblings, fibbed, etc.

I was diligent in keeping tabs on my sins. By the end of the week my little scrap of fabric was almost completely black. As ashamed as I was, I had hope in my heart, because after First Communion I would have the means to be free from my sins. I was taking my relationship with God to the next level, and very excited about it, very excited at the prospect of confessing my sins and saying my rosaries and being absolved and one day being welcomed into God's great kingdom...

Now, I was pretty young, so some of my memory is fuzzy, but I have distinct recollections of being at the Basilica, rag in hand, dressed in my pretty brown dress with yellow and orange flowers. I remember the smell of beeswax and static electricity in the air, and feeling like I was surrounded by angels, literal and figuratively, all the pretty white dresses and ringlets and shiny, shiny shoes... I remember the rest of my classmates filing to the back of the church, and an enormous hand pressing down on my chest so that I would sit back down in the pew - not baptized, so no First Communion.

I was crushed. I remember feeling desperate, like a caged or drowning animal. I could barely breathe and a dense mass of terror welled up inside me. Why wasn't I up there with all of them? What had I done wrong? How could this be happening? Everything after that is hazy. Hands, hugs, congratulations flew around me, cards, and satin-lined velvet jewelry cases and white paper boxes with cotton batting containing sparkly crystal or milky opalescent new rosaries were opened and placed in eager outstretched hands, but not mine, which still contained a wadded ball of grease-pencil covered cloth, emperical evidence of my blackened soul.

Over the years my anger grew, and by the time I graduated high school, I was full of contempt and bitterness towards God, Christianity, and particularly Catholicism. Outside I was quite vocally opposed to organized religion, and was as bad for trying to turn Christians away from God as some Christians are at drawing you in. I know this hurt my father, and concerned most of my Christian extended family, but I didn't care - God and the devil were one and the same to me, and I simply didn't give a damn. Inside, I felt condemned. I was a sinner, a bad bad girl, and there was no hope for me. I tried to live a good life, and do the right thing, and of course when things went awry I felt I was just taking my punishment for being an unlovable loathesome little girl.

Fast forward 20 years. I'm 27. I'm in Italy with a wonderful friend and companion. I swore to him, if I was in Italy, I had to see the Vatican, HAD to get to Rome, and so we took the train down from Vicenza and spent a day meandering around on foot. The statues, the fountains, the piazzas, the pigeons, the architecture, the people. The winding cobblestone alleys and the scooters and tiny cars and bicycles. Wine, gelato, espresso, olive oil and vinegar on dark green salads with deep red tomatoes. I was light-headed for most of the day, vibrating, a bundle of tension. I thought it might have been the wine, or the heat, or the excitement - as a foreigner, it's pretty hard not to be on sensory overload in a place like Rome. In retrospect, though, I know now that it was fear. That same feeling of terror I had had sitting in the pew while all my friends went to be absolved of their sins.

I procrastinated, shooting 2 rolls of film of the angels alit on pedestals along the Ponte Sant Angelo before continuing towards the dome set off on the horizon. As we took the last stretch up to the Vatican, after stopping to buy a pile of rosaries for everyone back home, I was weak in the knees. Passing into St. Peter's Square, I went stiff. I didn't belong there. Somewhere in the pit of my stomach I felt positive there was a bolt of lightening waiting to come and zap me from that place the moment I crossed the threshold. My dear travelling companion must have thought I was in a trance or something - I remember trembling and forging on through the crowds and forcing myself to take a deep breath and walk up the stairs and go INSIDE St. Peter's.

I began weeping. Not sobbing, not bawling, just silently weeping, huge free-flowing streams of tears running down my cheeks and making it impossible for me to operate my camera. The mosaics and paintings, the statuary, the enormous marble baptismal font, and the intricately carved details on the confessionals, and angels. Everywhere the cherubs and angels. I stopped directly under the apex, closed my eyes, and breathed deeply. I'm pretty sure it was at that exact moment that I had an epiphany, literally. In that moment, the church went silent and I swear I heard those angels singing, and something in me was lifted, some great burden I had carried all those years like a cement casing around my heart was cracked.

The tears stopped. The shaking stopped. A huge smile spread across my face. What I had realized, in that instance, was that although I had for years carried around an enormous amount of guilt, and huge emotional burden, the God, being God, could not, WOULD not, have sent me to hell for not carrying a membership to the Catholic Church, not even the Catholic God Himself. 20 years of my life had I spent feeling doomed, and flippantly denouncing the church and hating God. As I sat there with my beloved companion sharing a last late-afternoon glass of wine, I was flooded with memories of girls in white dresses with ringlets in their hair, and white paper boxes with cotton batting and opalesent rosaries, and that night when I closed my eyes, I saw nothing but angels.

When I returned home to Canada, I needed to verify something. Having a supressed memory resurface, for anoyone who hasn't experienced it, is pretty surreal. You remember the events, the details, the smells, the way you felt - but because it hasn't been a part of conscious memory for so long, you question if it's real or imagined. I went into the basement and dug out a box from the storage room. From beneath a pair of pink and purple dresses and the Raggedy Ann costume my Mom sewed for me when I was 8, and amidst an assortment of dolls, toy teacups, and other such memorabilia, I unearthed my music box, which had long since stopped playing music. I screwed the winder off the back, opened the lid, and carefully pried the music box dancer forward. The dancer's little stage came away from the edge with little effort, and there in a wad, was that damned piece of grease-pencilled cloth.

I shook my head and opened it up, feeling more than a little silly and random. In my mind's eye, I'm sure that cloth was about 18" square, at the very least, and blacker than soot. But there it was, not much bigger than a cocktail napkin and bearing 10, maybe 12 stripes. I put the music box dancer back up, screwed the winder back on, and wound it. I had forgotten it played, "Jesus Loves Me."

Later that night I burnt that rag. I had made peace with God, and peace within myself, and was able to let go of all the tension I held in regards to Christianity. I think that was the first time I truly experienced the beauty of forgiving. I forgave the owner of that massive hand that pressed me down in that pew, I forgave myself for the wrongs I had done, I forgave the neighbour's dog for pooping on my lawn... Forgiveness flowed from me and through me and I felt completely at peace for the first time in over 20 years.

Sadly for my Dad and those family members who fear for my mortal soul, making peace with God didn't bring me back to the church. In fact, it was what freed me to embrace taoist principles, while taoist principle allows me to embrace Christianity in a way that would not otherwise be possible. Because I harboured so much guilt and tension, and still have that tendency, I often refer to myself a a recovering non-card-carrying Catholic. That 'lifting' feeling that came to me in the Vatican is what I presume the desirable connection feels like, almost like a hum that resonates in perfect harmony with everyone and everything on and in and around the universe. I have learned to accept and respect the channels each person takes to experience that lifting where they are in touch with their spiritual self, whether that is through God, or god or Buddha or Allah, or the trees and leaves and flowers, or Zeus and Hera... I don't have an appropriate label or name, so I refer to it simply as the Powers That Be.

I don't think organized religion is required to experience that lifting, and I don't think any one religion has it all right, though most (barring cults and other weirdness as such) have a fairly similar mandate. I like the Ten Commandments myself - they are a great concise summary of how to behave - though it is my understanding that every religion has similar guidelines. I often disagree with people's interpretation of scripture, ritual, and tradition, regardless of which set of writings they ascribe to, and in the same token find people's ignorance and intolerance unbearable. That 'lifting' is what each of our spirits craves, and there are many paths. I personally have several channels that have and do get me to that 'lifting' including my children when they laugh so hard they can hardly breathe, doing yoga, taking pictures, listening to native drumming, singing Christmas Carols, my body fitting together like puzzle pieces with my husband's no matter how we flop into bed, inhaling that humid earthy smell just before a good rainfall, and feeling thunder rumble in the pit of my belly. I feel connected, and part of something greater than I have words to describe.

I told my sister about this last summer after my Daddy died. As his body coooled in a bed not 10 feet from me, my stepmom got on her knees and told me my Daddy was going to watch me burn in hell if I didn't accept Jesus into my heart right now. Although I had already accepted Jesus, on my *own* terms, and felt well-established on my own spiritual path, it threw me right back there, and I was 7 years old again, denied absolution, unworthy, bad. It tooks me weeks to shake it. My sister asked, "Why?" I said, "I guess I've just always wanted someone to tell me I'm a good girl." She was shocked, and had no idea I had carried that with me all my life.

My Dad would probably have liked to imagine that God Himself gave me this path to walk, parallel in virtue and nature, since I refuse to follow in his footsteps. I've also had to reassure my Stepmom (though I'm sure she doesn't believe me) that me and her God are OK. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong, but I like to believe that if I do have it all wrong, whoever it is who's in charge of things on Judgment day will at least give me a merit award. And a friend of mine said yesterday that she doesn't care to know if that 'lifting' is simply a neurological blip or not - it's much nicer to just experience and enjoy it without dismantling it. I kind of like that I was born before science had all the answers. Imagine how boring life would be without any wonder.

LWCA group formals

I'm just SO pumped about this set of pictures! I had to share a few.

soft, ordinary underbelly

American Beauty tops the list of my all-time favourite movies. Often, randomly throughout the day, I am reminded of this movie - it resonates with me on so many levels I can't even begin to unravel it. Blog du Babzy today reminded me of this movie, as she is trying to close the door on a self-described toxic relationship without hurting the guy.

I tried unsuccessfully to find a youtube clip of the scene where Angela says, "There's nothing worse than being ordinary...." and then later when Ricky Fitts tells her she's boring and ordinary. Ricky also taps into this ability to exploit a person's worst fear when he tells his homophobic father that he's been prostituting himself out to Lester Burnham for cash.

For the most part I'm pretty good at reading people and figuring out what makes them 'tick' which usually works to my benefit as tapping into it allows me to be very diplomatic and persuasive, and sensitive to the emotional needs of those around me, but it's a double edged sword and sometimes this ability becomes an instrument of torture.

I was explaining to Babzy that I prefer going into my cone of silence and avoiding confrontation because when cornered I have this tendency to hone in, with cruel accuracy, on the soft spot of the other person, easily picking up on and using the deepest recognizable insecurity against the person who won't get out of my face. It's difficult to control and I really have little or no warning when I am about to snap, when I cross over that line between, "No, really, I just have to go, please don't pressure me," and something that once said, I'll regret forever.

I have a rather unimpressive roster of nasty things I've said to people who wouldn't leave me alone, mostly guys I didn't want to date or continue to date, ranging from diminutive penis or breast size, to low social status or income, to level of education or talent. And then some. Weight, speech impediment, physical deformity - it's all fair game when I'm in fight or flight mode. Whether I believe the horrible things I say are true or not is irrelevant - the point is to sting and repel. Of course, this is highly effective when I want someone to go away forever. Unfortunately, when I'm feeling cornered and need some space, I sometimes get more space than I want because it's impossible to un-speak my venom.

I'm not proud of this ability. In fact, I dislike it very much. It's very passive-aggresive. It's the evil side of being intuitive.


Painting creds to Pearlie Chung

Sagittarians are born adventurers. They like smashing spiders with their bare hands and trying to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night with the lights out. They would sooner sustain crippling injury than do anything the easy way.

Sagittarians love to entertain their friends, family, and total strangers. This often includes transvesticism. Nearly every Sagittarian was born into the wrong gender.

Sagittarians are loud and have no social graces. They seek to offend. Sagittarians usually have nicknames like Thunderpooper or Vomitus Maximus.

Animals and small children love Sagittarians. This is unfortunate since adults usually hate them. However, Sagittarians make excellent circus freaks and vagrants.

Sagittarians use interpretive dance to describe philosophical concepts.

Buttons and bumper stickers with rude sayings on them are a trademark of the Sagittarian. They throw food at expensive restaurants and ask lots of questions in the middle of church. Don't ever bring a Sagittarius home to meet your parents. He or she will tie up your mother and pants your dad.

Famous Sagittarians include the Geo Metro.

The holiday during which the sun is in Sagittarius is Thanksgiving. This is highly appropriate since everyone eats until they're sick and passes out while a bunch of cross-dressers and huge inflatable things wander through the streets of New York, the most Sagittarian town in the universe. The Shriners driving around in the tiny little cars are a very Sagittarian image. Even more so if there's a ridiculously busty woman stuffed into the car as well.

A Sagittarius is always a better Madonna than Madonna. Men can pull off sequins, and women can pull off construction helmets. The Sagittarius is incapable of being unhip.

Happy 25th Anniversary

June 26th would have been my Dad and Stepmom's 25th wedding anniversary.

a terrible day in the world of man-soaps

I'm always confounded what, exactly, makes a person snap. How do you get the *that* spot, where there is no walking away, and no turning back. Although I think it's silly that many sites and papers are listing pro-wrestler Chris Benoit's WWE titles like an obituary for a soap actor might read (doctor, his own son, a long lost triplet, twice resurrected) it doesn't make the double murder-suicide of him, his wife Nancy and son Daniel, discovered yesterday in their Fayetteville, GA home any less tragic.

What snapped, Mr. Benoit?

May their familes find strength.

Benoit’s 43-year-old wife was killed Friday in an upstairs family room, her feet and wrists were bound and there was blood under her head, indicating a possible struggle, Ballard said. Daniel was probably killed late Saturday or early Sunday, the body found in his bed, the district attorney said.
Benoit, 40, apparently hanged himself several hours and as long as a day later, Ballard said. His body was found in a downstairs weight room, his body found hanging from the pulley of a piece of exercise equipment.
A closed Bible was placed next to the bodies of the wife and son, authorities said. The prosecutor said he found it “bizarre” that the wrestler spread out the killings over a weekend and appeared to remain in the house for up to a day with the bodies.
Ballard said Benoit had sent two text messages to acquaintances, one saying that his wife and son were sick. The other, to a neighbor, said the door to the house was open and that the pets were outside. The prosecutor said the messages appeared to be an attempt to get someone to the home to find the bodies after his suicide.
The boy had old needle marks in his arms, Ballard said. He said he had been told the parents considered him undersized and had given him growth hormones.
“The boy was very small, even dwarfed,” Ballard said.

Toxicology test results may not be available for weeks or even months, Ballard said. As for whether steroids played a role in the crime, he said: “We don’t know yet. That’s one of the things we’ll be looking at.”

Am I reading that right? The BOY had needle marks? WTF?

can of worms: same-sex unions

"The majority of the world's Anglicans, particularly in Africa and Asia, believe gay relationships violate Scripture, while more liberal Anglicans support the acceptance of same-sex couples based on their interpretation of the Bible's teachings of equality and social justice."

From this article regarding the Anglican church's June 24th vote on blessing same-sex unions.

Based on their interpretation of the scripture.

A parable:

There was a young umpire who taught himself to call baseball from books that he borrowed from the library. There was an illustration in the book that showed a window just 'yea' big that he should superimpose over the pitcher's throw line in relation to the batter, lined up just so above the plate. There were also little guidelines for calling a runner safe at home, or out. Calling his first game, the young umpire, who repeatedly consulted his book, was repeatedly yelled at by the crowd. He got out his book and tried desperately to illustrate why he was correct, "See, sir? From where I am, the box is right about here..." But the irate crowd still yelled at him. "You must be blind! Are you stupid? I'm gonna kick your ass if you don't change your call on that one..." Defeated, the young umpire decided he didn't want to be an umpire anymore. It was too confusing, doing it by the book, only to be yelled at by people who saw it differently.

A few weeks later, he was walking past the diamond and stopped to watch an older umpire calling a game. The young man, walking back and forth, watched as the umpire called the game confidently, ignoring the enraged bullying of the crowd. The young man noted to himself that what the older umpire called often differed from what he would have called.

The young umpire approached the older umpire after the game and asked, "Please, sir - tell me - how do you know when it's a ball or a strike? Safe or out? Foul or in play?" The old umpire said, "Well, son - when I was your age, I did it by the book. I used to draw a little imaginary box in the air over the plate. I learned over time that the box wasn't the same for every batter and pitcher - some teams try have to try harder and some are just talented, sometimes I'm calling for the pros, and other times for handicapped kids... so now, it ain't nothin' till I call it."

(By the way, this is a parable because the umpires are both giraffes.)

MOM Magazine pre-launch party

Sunday the 24th of June marked the official 'coming out' of one of the exciting projects I'm working on right now: MOM Magazine. I want to congratulate the Big Cheese Tamara for throwing an awesome pre-launch party - everything from hors d'oeuvres to pole dancing! - as well as compliment the funny and warm writers and sales team she has on board with her for a job well done.

grad: Living Waters Christian Academy

My day:

  • left the house at 8:52 a.m.
  • grabbed a bottle fo water at the gas station at 9:00 a.m.
  • arrived at Chickakoo lake for family sessions at 9:42 a.m.

  • finish family sessions at 11:34 a.m. and head for LWCA

  • stopped to photograph cute cows on the way to LWCA at 11:42 a.m.

  • got off gravel road and onto smooth pavement and realized I had a popped tire at 11:47 a.m.
  • pull over, unload stuff in back of van, get spare tire out(which is more of a Timbit than a doughnut) and install it, throw blown tire in back, reload van, hit the road to LWCA again at 12:07 p.m.
  • 12:31 p.m. arrive at LWCA, photograph graduation ceremonies, head for WalMart at 2:12 p.m.

  • 2:46 p.m. end up at Canadian Tire after being told no chance at WalMart, and begging them to change my tire by 4:00 p.m. so I can make it to the new location for formals (changed due to construction) by 4:30 p.m.
  • 3:12 p.m. make alternate arrangements to get to formal session, drop the keys off at Crappy Tire, and the wonderful young punks (who probably got in BIG doodoo for it) agree to change my tire, tell me to come back in half an hour.
  • spend time wandering aimlessly around the strip mall, buying water and trying on sensible runners, return to pick up van which has new tire installed (and spare reattached to underside AND trashed rubber stashed in a bag in back of van since they figure it looks like a faulty tire and I should have warranty on it since it's only a month old) at 3:57 p.m.
  • run through Crappy Tire till to grab batteries and head off to acreage for formals at 4:06 p.m.
  • (I'm not making these times up - I watched the damn clock like a HAWK today...)
  • arrive at acreage and commence formals at 4:24 p.m.

  • finish up formals (what an AMAZING group of young women and men!) at 6:08 p.m. and head for the dinner; realize I have forgotten my flash on a bloody fence beside a lamp post at the acreage and PANIC (though I did OK I think with the built-in flash - not perfect, but passable *sigh*)
  • finish dinner and presentations at 8:27 p.m.
  • make arrangements for me to pick up flash unit tomorrow from person attending aftergrad party at acreage at 8:28 p.m.
  • note big dark storm clouds and head out to acreage to save flash unit from rain storm at 8:29 p.m.
  • call sister to see how kids are doing, mention my gas light is on at 8:36 p.m.
  • retrieve flash unit at 8:59 p.m.
  • sputter (literally) on fumes into the gas station and fill tank at 9:22 p.m.
  • arrive home, safe and sound, new tire installed, flash unit in hand, gas tank full, and begin to transfer pictures to hard drive at 10:00 p.m.
  • get message from computer that my hard drive is full at 10:56 p.m.
  • install spare hard drive (I have one, yes) and finish uploading pictures at 11:05 p.m.
  • process pictures and decide to blog about my day at 1:04 a.m.
  • going to bed now, at 1:23 a.m.

eta: The cows were in love. See?

days are getting shorter already

Without further ado, the days are getting shorter again. The passage of summer solstice, the lightest day of the year, marks exactly 6 months until my birthday, the darkest day of the year.

Something to look forward to, hey?


happy solstice!

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

fun with tripods and electrical storms

Helluva good rain shower last night. Thought I'd try out capturing lightening. Not so great for a first attempt, but I'll know better for next time. Whee!

all's quiet on the blog front

This week is my hell week. Not much blogging to happen anytime soon...

Monday: missed putting my best friend back on the plane, spent the evening catching up on a few outstanding projects

Tuesday: after scrubbing the graffiti off my van (2nd time in two weeks it's been vandalized, and they raised my property taxes by HOW much?) I had to go to a meeting with my Mom and my baby sister, then pick up my big sister from the airport and drop her and her two dogs off at my Mom's house, where my grandmother is currently staying as well on an unannounced visit.

Wednesday: have Mads for the night, going to picnic in the park with grandmother, big sister, Mom, kids. Coming home to finish burning CDs for people and get the last of the prints ready for my clients who have been ever so patient. (This means you, Talli, Becka, and Mandy - I owe you guys BIG TIME!)

Thursday: squeezing in a client whose Mom is in from out of town, then cleaning the house up as much as possible before the weekend slaughters me.

Friday: attending a faculty event over dinner, then returning home to visit with my sister and some friends.

Saturday: doing 2 family sessions first thing in the morning, then heading over to cover a graduation (ceremonies, formals, and dinner) and after hitting a "Welcome to Canada" BBQ for a friend's fiance.

Sunday: covering the pre-launch party for MOM Magazine, one of the projects that I'm dedicating my summer to.

Oddly, Monday can't come soon enough, because it marks the end of Hope's stint of 'biting off too much' and the beginning of a somewhat leisurely summer.


Mother's Day Relay for Life Photobooth Event - UPDATE!

Check back regularly for updates - I am frantically trying to get the last couple of albums done - I will be uploading them tonight and tomorrow! And by random draw (my 3 year old picked from a hat) we have the winner of the Glam Session!!!

~drumroll please~

Everyone give a hand to Breanna!!!

Breanna, I'll be in touch shortly to arrange your session which includes hair, make-up and photo session!

UPDATE - Album is uploaded and ready for review!!! Check them out here!!!

prose: ode to Bill

Bill mows the lawn, changes the oil, fixes bikes, unplugs the toilet, and puts in new lightbulbs.

Bill makes pancakes and omelettes, mixes cocktails for company, buys groceries, and washes dishes and laundry.

Bill changed diapers, and still cleans up the girls when they pee on themselves. He wrestles with the boys and helps them with their homework. He plays games, makes jokes, reads bedtime stories, kisses owies, runs interference on sibling rivalry, and cuts the crusts off peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Bill is a wonderful (and kinda sexy) Daddy.

Happy Father's Day, Bill.


yer wife and egg donor

Cuban night Chez Walls

This was AMAZING food. Excellent recipes, and the flavours were perfectly complementary. On the menu was mojo chicken, brown rice with black beans, warm mango-avocado salsa, and mojitos:

Brown rice with black beans:

Prepare 1.5 - 2 cups of rice as directed. When cooked, add a 12oz can of black beans.

Mojo Chicken with Mango Avacado Salsa. (Make sure you follow the directions closely!):

Chicken prep. ingredients:
1tsp cumin seeds (or cumin powder)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 red chili, stemmed
¼ tsp salt
2tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp fresh-squeezed orange juice (most can also use sour orange juice)
1½ tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 large boneless chicken breasts

For the Warm Salsa:
2 tbsp chicken drippings or olive oil
½ cup orange juice
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 tsp honey
2 tsp thick sweet soy sauce
4-5 tbsp of chilled, unsalted butter
½ firm but ripe mango, peeled, diced
½ ripe avocado, peeled, diced
freshly chopped herbs to taste (coriander, parsley, etc.)

To make the marinade: In a heavy medium-size skillet over a medium-high heat, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant (slightly darker in color), about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds, garlic, chili and salt into food processor (preferably a amll one) and grind into a coarse paste. Place into a medium bowl.

Heat the olive oil in the same skillet until very hot and pour over the paste. Stir to blend. Let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in the orange juice and lime juice. Pour the marinade into a rectangular or oval gratin dish and cool. Add the chicken to the marinade, turning to coat.

Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the chicken from the marinade. In a heavy skillet, over moderately high heat, brown the chicken on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).

Finish chicken in the oven (7-8 minutes). Cover with foil and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, whisk together the chicken drippings, orange juice, lime peel, honey and soy sauce in saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce (approximately 5-8 minutes). Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the pats of butter one at a time.

Combine the mango and avocado in medium bowl. Scatter the mango and avocado around the chicken, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs.

Serve with black beans and rice

Serves 4

Mojitos - the official recipe that Ernest Hemmingway enjoyed:

1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Juice from 1 lime (2 ounces)
4 mint leaves

1 sprig of mint
Havana Club white Rum (2 ounces)
2 ounces club soda

Place the mint leaves into a long mojito glass (often called a "collins" glass) and squeeze the juice from a cut lime over it. You'll want about two ounces of lime juice, so it may not require all of the juice from a single lime. Add the powdered sugar, then gently smash the mint into the lime juice and sugar with a muddler (a long wooden device pictured below, though you can also use the back of a fork or spoon if one isn't available *note from ticblog: we used a mortar and pestle*). Add ice (preferably crushed) then add the rum and stir, and top off with the club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig.

a little visitor

I was in the backyard and heard a 'peep peep' and out of the sky there came a wee visitor.

I ran inside to get my camera and take his picture before he flew away. As I got closer to get a better picture he tried to fly away, and I realized that he couldn't fly yet.

So I tried to pick him up (not sure what I was planning on doing with him yet) and he coasted off my hand and right into the recycling bin. There was no way he would have gotten out of there on his own, so I lifted out all the bottles and got him out of there. By that time he was quite docile, and was quite content to hang out on my hand. I figured I'd show the kids before figuring out what to do with him. There was a lot of cooing and oohing and aahing - "He's so cute!"

Kaelan tried to find some worms for him to eat, but he wasn't much interested. Gratefully it's a myth that all birds abandon their babies if they smell like humans - I didn't really feel much like hand-feeding worms to a baby chickadee indefinitely. The website I went to advised that we put him up in a tree near the place he fell out, and wait for him to call his parents. So I put some fluff in one of our birdfeeders and set him in there. He quickly hopped onto a branch and started scree'screeing for his parents, and within seconds, the Mommy bird had flown over to him and guided him back to their tree.

He coasted over to her and followed her up the woodpile, onto the bike spokes, and onto the treads.

Unfortunately, the baby bird wasn't able to follow Mommy from the bike tire to the fence and then to the tree, so I went over and lifted him from the bike tire onto the fence.

From there he hopped onto the branches and slowly, cautiously, started making his way back up the tree to his nest.

Nature works.

Way. Cool.

Then we bought some encyclopaedias from a Bulgarian door-to-door salesman.

The end.

insurance woes

I tried blogging about this yesterday but it came out all wrong, so here's my second attempt. I hope it makes more sense than the last try.

I have a friend who was literally hit by a bus a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like she is rightfully entitled to compensation for both the damage to her vehicle as well as some counselling, as she seems a bit on edge since it happened.

I know another woman, we'll refer to her as the, "Bubblehead." Just last week she was regaling me with fond memories of a trip she took with her insurance settlement a few years back after being rear-ended. Although she readily acknowledges that the road conditions were bad and that she was probably at fault for cutting across two lane, she is nevertheless quite proud that she managed to get such a great amount, especially since, she claims, "I wasn't even sure if I had soft tissue damage or had just slept funny...*insert giggling here*"

What I don't understand, is how the people who genuinely need to use the insurance they have paid for with due diligence, are honest enough to not claim when they have no need, and when they ~do~ make a claim, they are put through the wringer for it while the collective population of "Bubbleheads" manage to rub their neck a few times and walk out with a bloody fortune.

I've been harrassing my friend that got hit by the bus to seek counselling, but she explained to me why she just didn't have it in her to try and prove her 'need' for it. Frankly, I feel her pain and can understand her reluctance. It isn't right. And if the people who NEED to use insurance don't fight for their right to use it, where does that leave us? I mean, I am one of those people who would sooner pay out of pocket, than be considered one of 'them' - the insurance-claim junkies who, whether successful in their fraud or not, make it hard for the rest of us to use our insurance.

Chaps my ass, I tell ya.

death from circumcision

Just sayin'...

"Ontario infant dies after circumcision"

Mark Brennae, CanWest News Service

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2007

OTTAWA -- A one-week-old Ontario infant died from complications after undergoing a circumcision in a provincial hospital. read complete article

coroner's report on intactivism site

Thanks to D for giving me the heads-up on this one.

thoughts on internettiquette

Carold blogged on this topic, and it got me to thinkin'... is it that there is some unspoken set of rules that people don't follow when they post online, or do they lack common decency, period?

I've had some pretty heated arguments and debates in my time, both online and in person, and as a rule, my intention is always to get my point across and 'challenge' other points of view without being rude, belittling, accusatory, or disrespectful. I use strong and sometimes colourful language, and can get very sarcastic, but never is it my intention to launch a personal attack on any one person. That, to me, is just the art of effective conversation which can include anything and everything from negotiation and debate to Sunday dinner with the inlaws.

Once you make it personal, then it isn't about the almighty "WE" vs "THEY" - it's about you vs me. The conversation quickly deteriorates, feelings are hurt, the lines of communication become completely shut down by emotional responses. Instead of discussing the topic at hand, they end up discussing why either themselves or the other person is bad or wrong or whatever. It always ends badly. The second the conversation makes that switch from, "How could someone" to "How could YOU" it's over.

The world wide web is a strange kind of place when it comes to communicating anyways. We are often reduced to being read, both literally and figuratively, in black and white. We are missing hand gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice - all those body language type things that happen in face-to-face conversation that clue us in to the underlying emotions and the things that would be our cue to pursue or drop the subject, change our own tone of voice, or clarify. Although yes, many people lack the skill to effectively read people regardless of the medium they use to communicate. I have personally found the internet has lead to many a misunderstanding because we are missing the human element too much.

I also find that lots of normally 'quiet' people come into their own on the internet. People who, in real life, are mousy and shy are suddenly brave enough to speak up. It's a life-changing event for them to feel safe enough to actually voice their opinion. But some quiet folks aren't just shy - they are cowards, full of vitriol and venom, who would never have the balls to say half of what they do online if they were standing face to face with a real live person. They use the internet as a place to bully, belittle, and abuse others. They feel like no one can touch them in the safety of their own living room, and hurt feelings are merely the collateral damage of their new-found bravery.

I have adopted wholeheartedly the practice of assuming that behind every online persona I bump into, there is a real live person with real live feelings. If I decide I want to challenge them, I will approach gently, nudge a bit, and guage the safety of paddling off into unknown territory before going in with the big guns. I think it's entirely possible to get up in someone's face, give them a new perspective, and learn something about myself and the person I'm talking to, without being snide or sensationalist, or overstepping the boundaries of common decency.

Why, oh why, don't they teach this stuff anymore? Maybe I'll enroll Serejane in Geisha school.

an exercise in determining perspective: pretty

Pretty to look at?

Or pretty ignorant?

This is what we arrived home to today.

I'm pretty pissed.

I'm pretty sure karma has something extra special in store for the person who committed this random act of violence.