Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holed up-again

We're in Fort Collins, Colorado. The I25 south of Denver is closed so we're waithing for better conditions before heading south again. Snow, snow, snow. We've driven on a lot of packed snow and ice but the storm around Colorado Springs is going to have to finish before we go on. We're safe and happy. Don't worry.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holed Up

Today, we're holed up at the Country Inn and Suites in Billings, Montana. Very pleasant. Hot tub, exercise room, free breakfast. Boring. We got as far as Roundup, Montana last night, drove in the rain for an hour first and this morning woke up to a world covered in a sheet of ice, dusted with a powdering of snow. Have you been to Roundup? We decided to limp the 70 km. into Billings this morning because none of the highway news was good and they were predicting up to a few feet of snow for Denver anyway, and we didn't want to spend two days in a rural motel, if you know what I mean. Billings could be Saskatoon or Brandon, except that every other business here seems to be a cracker box casino. I think we've seen about 50. Right now (evening of the 28th) the weather is clear and if the road reports are good tomorrow, we'll probably drive as far as Cheyenne, Wyoming and play Colorado by ear.
Anyway, we're safe and lazy, and we did call this a "vacation with a meaning," and we are finding out what that meaning is, I guess. I can't get on line with my clunky old laptop but this hotel has a courtesy computer for the guests.
Have a nice day everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Packing up

As most of you know by now, Agnes and I are in the final stages of preparing for three months in Carlsbad, New Mexico. We intend to spend a few days at the Temple Gardens Spa in Moose Jaw with Cynthia and James before driving for three days and arriving in Carlsbad on New Year’s Eve. While we’re away, a friend of friends will be sitting our house and cat.

Primarily, we’re going to New Mexico for a long vacation, although we have enrolled in the Service Opportunities for Older People program and will be doing some volunteer work while there. What that will be will be determined when we get there.

I’m also looking forward to spending three months in “AMERICA.” We talk about the USA a lot in Canada, and we have numerous stereotypical images in our minds when American subjects come up, and I’d like to dispel some of those. My suspicion is that they’re just as faulty as American assumptions about us. We’ll be worshipping with the Carlsbad Mennonite Church while there (at least that’s our intention) and so would hope also to learn something about what it means to be an Anabaptist in a nation at war in Iraq. (Come to think of it, Canada is at war in Afghanistan; what’s it like to be a Mennonite in Canada living with that fact?)

I just read a book to which I was prompted by the death of Augusto Pinochet. You can find a review I wrote at It was worth reading, especially if you are interested in human rights issues and/or Latin American politics.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Limericks, Haiku

Last month, the Rosthern Writiers' Group of which I am a member set themselves an assignment to write linericks and Haiku. Here is my offering in that regard. (Caution: The following material contains scenes which may be suggestive. Parental guidance is recommended. These scenes appear here bacause it is virtually mandatory that the limerick, particularly, verge on the nearly naughty.) Please request permission to reprint from


a misty dream of

feathery snow drifts silently

through shivering branches

Limerick #1

So where did you get the temerity

To question my right to prosperity?

I’ve worked like a horse

Since a young man, of course

(And I’ve practiced accounting dexterity.)

Limerick #2

A competitive dancer from Fripper

Was renowned for her delicate slipper

When a rival showed up

In pursuit of the cup

She said, “No sweat, I’m sure to outstripper.”

Limerick #3

A slender young woman from Rhiens

Fed only on yogourt and greens

When a friend said, “I’d beg

For so shapely a leg!”

She replied, “Well it’s all in the jeans!”

Limerick #4

It’s said when a pretty psychologist

Was harangued by a verbious morphologist

That she sneered, “All your words

Are quite ‘for the birds.’”

And now he’s a sad ornithologist.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Same Gender Marriage

I watched cpac for four hours last night to see what was being said about Stephen Harper's motion asking for MPs to decide whether or not to bring back the same-sex marriage question. What I found hard to understand was how few of the principals of any party were present for the debate. Jack Layton appeared for a few minutes while his wife was speaking against the motion, and the BLOQ had no need to be there, since they had already decided to vote against the motion, en masse. (Also true of the NDP; I'm not sure why they were there except possibly to try convincing a few more conservatives to vote against it.)
Notable was the lack of information on the part of the Conservative speakers. Backbenchers all, they gave roughly the same speech: 1. the traditional concept of marriage has served us well for millenia and should not be changed, 2. children do best in a family where they know both parents and where those parents are a man and a woman; children's rights have not been considered, 3. expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples will weaken the institution of marriage and affect family life negatively over time.
On the other side, several more prominent Liberals including Hedy Fry argued most emphatically that 1. children were central to the same-sex marriage legislation in that children of same-sex couples could now hold their heads up and be proud of their parentage, 2. a reinstatement of the old marriage definition would be illegal since it would mean that those same-sex couples already married would enjoy a right future gay and lesbian couples would not have, and 3. the broadening of the marriage definition does no harm, and is therefore the right thing to do in the interest of equality.
There were other points made. Conservative members either did not understand the points being made by Liberals and New Democrats, or they had been instructed not to acknowledge the questions put to them if they fell outside pre-approved categories. For instance, various Liberals and New Democrats pressed the Conservative speakers to assert firmly that they would table new legislation if the motion being discussed were to pass. Ken Epp (Edmonton-Sherwood Park) did finally answer this in the affirmative, but it appeared the other Tories were afraid to enter into any discussion on process through which the constitution would have to be changed or on the need to invoke the notwithstanding clause.
I'm pretty sure Harper never intended this motion to pass. Having presented it, however, he can say to his electors that he kept his promise to reintroduce it. He's an intelligent person and even if his backbenchers are clueless on the constitutional implications of reversing the definition of marriage, Harper isn't. He hoped to catch Stephane Dion off guard after only a few days in office as Liberal leader, I'm sure.
I expect we will have seen the last of this issue. Harper can truthfully say that he gave the House of Commons and opportunity to make an earlier mistake right, and they turned it down. What a lot of hokey! Does he think the citizenry just fell off the turnip truck? He may be right, if he's judging by the parade of backbenchers prominent in yesterday's debate!