Sunday, February 28, 2010

I AM Canadian

I've been doing design work for Crime Writers of Canada. I had a lot of fun coming up with icons for Cool Canadian Crime. Then this week I was doing provincial icons for  Author Events. (BTW, if you sign up for the free subscription of CCC you get Author Events too.)

It turned out I only needed two provincial icons for the March issue, but I also needed one for out of the country. (We have a snowbird author who doesn't just sit on the beach in Florida she gets out and does readings and signings at local bookstores.) So I needed another image.

What is the image of Canadians abroad? A flag patch, of course.

There was a time when American travellers would sew Canadian flags to their packs because Canadians were more welcome around the world. I never sewed a flag to my pack, or shoulder or anything else. No point. When I had to sew patches (back when I was a Girl Guide) they didn't stay on long. However, I have experienced the difference it makes when you announce you're a Canadian abroad.

Canadians don't carry around the same political baggage that Americans do. We are known, rightly or not, as being more polite and more open to other cultures than our neighbours across the border.

Of course, sometimes you find someone who says there is no difference between Americans and Canadians. I only had that happen to me once. He was a rather nice looking fellow from Glasgow who, up until then, had been successfully flirting with me.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate the United States. I don't like everything the Americans do, but I don't like everything our government does either. But I am Canadian.

Fortunately I had my wits about me that day. I asked my attractive new friend how he'd like it if I said there was no difference between the Scots and the English. He apologized immediately and our international accord blossomed.

Unfortunately, ours was but a shipboard romance. In fact we met on a ferry so our romance was very short. On another cruise, this time out of Acapulco, I had another opportunity for cultural exchange.

A Canadian, a broad.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Can See Clearly... Now we have new windows

My new year's resolution to write a new post every week suffered its first setback. I think I have an acceptable excuse, however. We were having our windows replaced. The parts of the weekend when I wasn't getting over a stomach bug or watching the Olympics, was spent rallying the troops to clean up rooms so furniture could be moved away from the windows in time for our installation date.

Last summer we had to do a major clean up to paint and have the floors upstairs done. The year before, it was the ground floor painting and flooring. I will be happy to skip a couple of years before another major overhaul.

On the other hand, thanks our co-op's building improvement plan, I now have beautiful laminate floors and crystal clear, draught-free windows. Our labour cleaning, purging and painting would have had to be done eventually anyway.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some Olympic highlights to catch up on.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Damaged Heart: "It ain't the years, it's the mileage."

Some days I think my heart -- that is my metaphorical heart, not the organ pumping blood in my chest -- is held together with safety pins and duct tape.

Not that I don't feel very fortunate as well. I wouldn't trade the heartache or emotional scars for anything. The same events that had me cringing in a corner (literally) or beating my chest (figuratively) also delivered two beautiful children and built lasting relationships with my family and friends.

I'm all for celebrating love, but Valentine's Day can be an emotional minefield. Romance is tricky at the best of times and February 14th heaps expectation on top of it.  It has left me feeling torn about the whole affair.

I like the hearts and flowers. I also hate the hearts and flowers and constant reminder that my entire romantic history has thumbed its nose at "happily ever after". I never got sent roses until I told a friend I had never been sent roses. (Now he makes sure I get a virtual rose every Valentine's Day.)

My daughter was conceived on Valentine's Day -- the same day my Nana died. I didn't hear about it until the day after because we disconnected the phone. (Oops!) That kind of thing leaves you with mixed feelings.

Did you ever see Will and Grace -- the episode with the flashback to when Will comes out in the middle of almost having sex with Grace? That happened to me. I really wanted to be angry and kick his sorry butt. Then he started crying and I got all motherly and sucked up my own feelings of rejection and frustration.

The most romantic day of my life happened in the summer at camp. It was a combined Scouting/Guiding Camp for teens. I met this Ranger at the opening ceremonies, but he couldn't stay because he was working that weekend. He came back for the dance Saturday night. He walked across the crowded room, straight for me. We danced, walked and talked all evening. Then I never saw him again.

Then there were the men who neglected to tell me they were married...

Soap operas and romance novels have nothing on life.

So, one way or another, my heart has been drop-kicked, fallen from great heights, pummeled, and (metaphorically speaking of course) dragged behind trucks over rough roads. So, if I feel a bit jaded this Valentine's it's not because I'm getting old.

"It ain't the years, it's the mileage."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Tiger Cometh

The Year of the Golden Tiger starts February 14, 2010

The Tiger is one of the luckiest signs in the Chinese zodiac (of course, the Rabbit also tries to claim that privilege too). It will be an especially fortunate year for Rabbits, Horses and Dogs. Funnily enough, Tigers have to be careful in their own year and Snakes are warned to lie low (sorry I couldn't resist).

There are plenty of websites where you can get an in depth forecast for 2010 based on your animal sign. Here's a thumbnail version. (If you don't know your sign, just add 12 years to your birth year until you reach one of the years below.)

Rat (2008) - The tiger is a cat, you are a rodent, so you'll need to stay on your toes to prosper this year.

Ox (2009) - The Tiger and Ox are not a good combo, but this is a metal year -- the Ox's natural element -- and that should balance things out.

Tiger (2010) - Don't count blindly on your usual good luck. You can make great gains or suffer great disasters.

Rabbit (1999) - Tigers and Rabbits get along, but the speed of events may wear you out.

Dragon (2000) - Don't rock the boat this year. Go with the flow.

Snake (2001) - Not a good year, but you can lie low and let it slip by without too many hassles.

Horse (2002) - This is a great year for the Horse but caution is needed to prevent events from running away with you.

Goat/Sheep (2003) - Better year ahead than behind you. Keep charging forward.

Monkey (2004) - Evidently, the Tiger is the Monkey's nemesis. So don't grab the Tiger by the tail, unless you're prepared for the ride.

Chicken/Rooster (2005) - "Go placidly amidst the noise and haste" and wait for a better year with the Rabbit.

Dog (2006) - Woo-hoo! This is a great year for the dog (and I'm a dog). However, I won't say anything more lest I tempt fate.

Pig (Boar) (2007) - This could be a very good year for you. (But not as good as for the dog, sorry.)