Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Big Drums

Uzume Taiko derives from the Japanese word for "big drum", and from the goddess of laughter, Ame No Uzume No Mikoto .
This goddess is known as the Heavenly Alarming Female who , according to legend, first began taiko drumming.
Heavenly Alarming Female...I like the ring of that. That's the kind of powerful happy goddess archetype a girl like me likes to identify with.
I liked this Canadian drumming group a lot. Jeff, me, Kim and baby Zoe heard Uzume Taiko in concert as part of last week's Cumberland Lantern Festival performances.
I missed the flamenco dancers on Monday alas, but I'm glad I didn't miss the Big Drums.
Uzume Taiko was loud, fun, energetic, and combined tradition drumming techniques with their own choreographies, mask work, martial arts and humour.
As well as big drums, gongs, and wooden flutes, this group can also play a mean musical trio with Frying Pans.
And Zoe, aged only eleven months, seemed very pleased with her very first Taiko drum concert. Kim was a little worried Zoe might be fussy, or the drumming might scare her, but on reflection she noted that, as daddy is a musician, Zoe's quite used to musical noise.
Actually, I've seen her with her own drum-sticks in hand...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Uncle Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Okay, rationally I know there are few, if any, Oompa Loompas involved in my family history (although we are as a whole rather on the short side), and as far as I know "Bucket" is not a name on my geneaology tree...

Nonetheless I am pleased to share with you a picture of my Great Uncle Charlie.

His claim to fame?

He owned a Chocolate Factory. :)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lantern Festival

So Happy Week of the Chinese New Year everyone!

Kim wrote a lovely and thoughtful post on our time at the Taiwanese Lantern Festival in Cumberland last weekend, so check it out if you like.

Me, I thought I'd post a few pictures of my favourite of the lanterns on display, and a picture of us all huddling under our brellies in the rain at the outdoor festivities.

I took a picture of my friend Tai in the rain too(oh boy, the girl does NOT like rain), but she was sticking her tongue out at the camera so, like a good friend, I am refraining from posting it here. Because there would be repercussions I'm sure.... :)

Yes, it Rained on Our Parade. Oh yes, it rained like billy-o! The chance of a paper lantern surviving the torrential onslaught of water pouring from the heavens seemed slim (fortunately the display was indoors), but nonetheless there was an enormous crowd that turned out to parade along with the Chines dragon and a lively band of drummers...down to the park we all went, wet as wet could be.

And then, the Giant Tap in the Sky turned itself off. It was a twenty minute gift from the gods.

Leaping into action as the weather broke, a troupe of amazing fire-spinners entertained the crowd with Fiery Hula-Hoops of Death, the ethereal Sky Lanterns were released into the suddenly clear and starry night sky, and great bursts of fireworks exploded over head. Gorgeous.

The show ended. Ten more seconds of clear skies.

And then, boom! The Tap turned itself on again. Perfect.

Well, except for my tragically sodden shoes. (Thanks for the dry socks, Kim!)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Would the Stale Beer Work, D'Ya Think?

I was lying on the floor on at the gym doing crunches, bored and trying to ignore the mutiny in my tummy muscles, when distraction and entertainment arrived in the form of three elderly people.
As they stretched and limbered up for their workout (I'm always impressed when folks in their eighties are gym rats), they began to chat about the good 'ol days back on their farms and dogs they used to have.
The talk turned to chicken-stealin' dogs:
Harold: "Yeah, an' then while I was up there, visitin' and having tea and cake with the lady of the house, that darn dawg of mine was around back getting after the chickens. Fifteen chickens he killed! And imagine my embarrassment at that!"
Betty: "Especially after you were eating her cake and all! What did you do?"
Harold: "Well, I, uh, paid for the chickens. And then she told me that the only way to cure a dog of stealin' chickens is to tie two dead chickens around the dog's neck and keep them there until the chickens are all rotting and stinky and there's nothing left of 'em. That's how it's done, they say. So that's what I tried."
Roy: "So, did it do the trick?"
Harold: "Nope. That dawg just kept eatin' chickens no matter what. But I hear it worked for some."
Betty: "Say, Roy, I just now had a fantastic idea! I think we should try hangin' a couple bottles of stale beer around your neck. Maybe that would cure you.'"
Roy: *snorts* " Yeah, well, I dunno about that...."
Heh, those three sure kept me entertained. As for the chicken trick, apparently people really do try that, but you'd think it would just make you not want to hang out with your dog.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rally Rant

We came .
We rallied.
We waved our signs.

But I'm not very sure that many people noticed.......

There was a red carpet out on the steps of the Legislature, but it wasn't for the thousands of people protesting nasty cuts to the child-care system in British Columbia, that's for sure.

One thing I learned this past Tuesday at one of the province-wide rallies: if it's not a Slow News Day, you probably aren't going to make a big splash on the evening news.

Way to get eclipsed by the Throne speech and Valentines Day lead-up articles!

Bah! Bah, I say!

Daycare fees are going up. (The hundred dollar a month gesture nicknamed The Beer & Popcorn Money Plan that Harper is replacing the old system with is dismally inadequate for most families who need childcare. It's about six hundred dollars a month for daycare 'round these parts...)

Childcare worker wages are going down. ( At the end of June my wage will be lower than when I joined this profession ten years ago. I knew this wasn't a high-paying profession when I went to college for it, but I didn't expect the future to be a few bucks from minimum wage and going backwards. Grrr!)

The waiting lists for getting in to most daycares are so long.... that your child may have to be a foetus when you sign up. (Yes, it's literally true, we've had unborn babes waiting to get into our centre and it doesn't necessarily mean they'll get a spot in time.)

The government is closing every Childcare Resource and Referral Centre in B.C. by the end of September-- people are losing their jobs and daycare providers are losing job training, lending libraries, and the people who keep an eye on licensing requirements and criminal-record checks and a whole lot of other important things.

Yeah, the whole fragile child-care system in B.C. is getting a little more dodgy, I'd say.

On the bright side, even if I got up early and trekked to the Parliament Buildings in Victoria for very little effect (and less a day's pay), at least the sun was shining and I had a nice walk around Beacon Hill Park to show for it.

Oh, and I got to see a whole lot of Mounties, parading politicians, and the Lieutenant Governor herself. Dang it, the red carpet was for them, wasn't it?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Brighid's Day

In Celtic tradition, the spirit of a sacred candle flame resides in the wick of the candle and not in the flame itself.

A sacred flame such as the one that is tended by the Irish Brigidine nuns of Kildare can be passed onto others because of this.

And on the eve of this past Brighid's Day (February 2) I was honoured to be part of a small gathering of women who received the gift of Brigid's Flame in a beautiful ceremony (candle-lit, of course)created by a good friend who recently visited the cathedral and shrine at Kildare and had the flame gifted to her by the sisters there.

My friend, not a Catholic at all, but a devout pagan, was thrilled by her experiences in Kildare. Brighid is one of those beloved saints/goddesses with tangled crossover links to pagan mythology, and my friend had also experienced a physical healing at one of Brighid's sacred wells on this trip--and any time you're able to avoid extensive dental surgery you are bound to be spiritually moved as well in my opinion!)

This is part of what she wrote in her invitation for us to come and share the flame:

Brighid's Holy Day will be celebrated this year in Kildare, Ireland, by devotees of both the Goddess Brighid and Saint Brighid from around the world.

For many She is one and the same, and a bridge between the worlds.

The year 2oo7 marks the centenary of the re-establishment of an order of Brigidine Sisters in Kildare. It was started in 1807 by Catholic Bishop Delaney, who in commemoration planted an oak tree which still stands today in Cill Dara(Church of the Oak). On Feb. 1st, 2006, the President of Ireland lit Brighid's Sacred Flame in the town square where it will continue to burn in perpetuity.

Last year I was blessed to have Brighid's flame passed on to me twice in Ireland. First of all by Mary, pictured below with her holy candle, and then by the Sisters of the Brigidine order who were responsible for rekindling Brighid's flame at a Peace Conference in 1993, re-invigorating this ancient link to pre-Christian Ireland that had been forced underground after the perpetual flame was extinguished by a Pope in the 1600's.

It is speculated that the flame may have originated up to 1000 years earlier, with the Goddess inspired Druidic priestesses that long preceeded the advent of Saint Brighid's egalitarian monastic order in the 5th century AD.

Well, after an evening full of singing, story-telling, poetry, chocolate cake and Irish lore, I am very happy my friend decided to create such a meaningful way to share a personal experience.

And I now have a beeswax candle with mystical links to ancient Ireland and a Brighid's cross hand-woven from reeds on my kitchen wall.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


This whole week has been shrouded in fog and mist like a Victorian melodrama.....

But, unlike a Victorian melodrama, this week's plot-line consisted mostly of serious back-to-back staff meetings, an allergy flare-up, cleaning out the garage and the like. Hence, I haven't written much.

However, last weekend (and this weekend too! ...but that's another post) redeemed the mundaneness in between by being full of friends and food...and er, fog. Fog can be a marvellous thing when you're out in nature and swathed in it.

We (Kim, Shawn, baby Zoe, Tai, Jeff, and I) took an icy-cold but briskly beautiful walk around the trails at the Airpark last Sunday morning.

Walking in the mist was like being in a watercolour painting. The colours were muted blues and greys and tawny-yellows and ran into one another. The sun hung watery and low with a strange pale light.

It was cold...really cold. And you can't wear your mittens when you're taking pictures....but it was gorgeous. Still, I'm glad we ran for the nearby coffee shop right after.

(Note to self: New drink to love called "London Fog", basically frothed and steamed milk mixed with Earl Grey tea. It wasn't on the menu but they made one for Kim when she asked for it.)

The day before Tai and Jeff and I were out and about buying salmon at Portuguese Joe's (apparently endorsed by Hollywood celebrities: mmm, famously-good fishies). I took some pictures down by the beach there too. I love the look of seagulls and docks in the mist.

But first we had lunch at Taco Del Mar .

Tai (pictured below shivering in her coat at Taco Del Mar ) proved conclusively that just because a restaurant has fake palm trees and surfing bric-a-brack on the walls doesn't mean you're going to find your inner Baja there. Brrrr!

No, the only antidote to the weather was to get my friend Tai to cook the most colourful dinner she could (pink salmon, bright dill and lemons, orange butternut squash, green beans) and serve it up in my colourful kitchen.