Thursday, November 30, 2006


Tomorrow is the first day of Advent and I just hung up the Advent Calendar. I started this family tradition twenty-nine years ago. It was easy for a while, when Martha was content with little trinkets from the toy store. Still, twenty-four little presents wrapped and ready by the thirtieth of November has been something of a challenge through the years. It was quite an expensive undertaking after a while when the fifty-cent toys were no longer acceptable. When Martha left for college I tried doing two advent calendars for a couple of years - one for her and one for the boys. That was even more of a problem because I had to make sure Martha's calendar was delivered to Hawaii before December 1. The boys have made it a little easier in recent years by specifying a preference for fewer 'novelty' items. That means no more cute little Pez dispensers or plastic reindeer pooping brown jellybeans. (Those reindeer were a great hit with a certain 'New York sophisticate' set by the way!) Ah, well. I have to keep doing this. Nothing was said pre-Advent last year and the boys later said they thought I had forgotten. They were so pleased when they saw it! Grown men, they looked like happy little boys grinning at their calendar.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Click on the Bottom Picture!

Our house is visible, barely...Looking to the left on the picture you'll see a house that's still being built. It appears to be a light brown colour. To its right is a dark grey house and to the right of that a light grey house. That's us. (We're the fourth easy-to-pick-out roof from the left.) This ugly weather has delayed our much-anticipated first meeting with Peter's brother. Victoria pretty much closed down today. I tuned in to local news in the morning to discover that the University was shut. All the schools were closed. Provincial Government offices were advising that they would be open but it didn't matter if employees came in or not.

Peter got up at five a.m. to make sure the hummingbird feeder wasn't frozen solid. He'll be doing that again tomorrow. Victoria is the year-round home of the Anna's Hummingbird, North America's only non-migratory species of hummingbird. We worry when the weather dips below freezing (fortunately it seldom does here), so when it does we keep a second batch of hummingbird nectar on the stove and a second feeder at hand to alternate with one that might freeze. There was a wee bird who spent most of today perched on an apple branch about a foot from the feeder. By the way, that tape is the only way to keep the feeder in place during a Southeaster. Ugly but effective.

Come Take it Away, Kimmy!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sure It's Pretty

But, who needs it? I hope this doesn't affect tomorrow's scheduled 'first-ever' meeting with Peter's newly-discovered brother!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ten Things

Maxine has posted an all-volunteer meme which sounds interesting. Given the lack of pressure and stress, I'm joining the game!

Ten Things I Would Never Do:
1. Marry again
2. Go to a doctor unless I felt death was imminent
3. Walk into a hospital
4. Go to any noisy gathering
5. Smoke
6. Take drugs, or even medication (unless I felt death was imminent)
7. Believe anything at all that hadn't been proven to my satisfaction
8. Betray a confidence
9. Cheat anyone
10. Despise anyone because of his race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. I do, however, retain the option to despise individuals on a case-by-case basis.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

November 22

November 22 is the first day of my seventh month as a blogger and the immediate family still hasn't discovered my dirty little secret. They really are thick, aren't they? I'm still getting away with my Spider Solitaire ruse. I keep the game running in the background and when I hear footsteps behind me I switch over from Blogger. Anyone care to bet how long I can keep this up? I'm not sitting in an isolated corner of the house.

Interesting Development

I don't know if any of you remember that I started a Hobson Family web page to record information about my family. Yesterday someone visited this blog and left a comment asking me to contact him because he is also a direct descendant of my great-grandfather. This chap lives in Ohio and has been doing genealogical research for five years. He apparently entered some data into Google and my page popped up in first position. It's nice to find a previously unknown branch of the family tree and the cousin (I presume he's a cousin or something like that) has already contributed details which I did not have. I love the computer age!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Peter and I were sitting at the table this morning, looking out the window and discussing the lives of birds. There was the usual assembly of crows in the trees, wings hanging to better shed the driving rain. Peter commented that even though they look miserable, captivity would be far less tolerable and the crows "wouldn't have it any other way...blah, blah, blah".

I guess you can infer that I tuned out his words around "blah, blah, blah". I sat there while he continued the conversation and I thought how a bird out in the elements resembles the biblical story of Adam and Eve ejected from the Garden of Eden.

"Blah, blah, blah" Peter continued...

I thought about a post on Rebecca's blog - she's got a poetry contest going - so I composed my entry and counted off the words on my fingers.

"Blah, blah, blah".

I tuned in to Peter again, listened for a few words and surmised where we were in the ongoing conversation... I inserted a reasonable response into the discussion and then turned my thoughts to the question "Do we occasionally dismiss a person as uninformed who is in fact merely uninterested or distracted?"

"Blah, blah, blah" Peter continued.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Maxine has pulled it off again! Just when I was starting to worry about my Christmas shopping list, she's come up with the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Remembrance Day - November 11

They called it Armistice Day in 1918. Now it's Veterans' Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth.

I love this poem. Dedicated to C.D. with wishes for a happier tomorrow.

Say Not, the Struggle Nought Availeth
Say not, the struggle nought availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright.
Arthur Hugh Clough ( 1849)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go away, George

It's been a very interesting evening. I was thrilled to see one independent - Joe Lieberman - win in Connecticut. The Democrats took control of Congress. They may also gain control of the Senate. At the moment the Democrats and Republicans have each gained forty-nine senate seats. There are two races that haven't been called yet and if the Democrats can win them (they're currently leading in both) they will have control of the Senate. If the two remaining seats are shared between the Republicans and the Democrats, the Senate will be Republican because any tie in voting is broken by a deciding vote from the Vice-President.

The CNN coverage was entertaining. I love James Carville's comments. He's a somewhat odd fellow - my son calls him the 'brain alien' - but a brilliant strategist and commentator. Jeff Greenfield pointed out the weakness of many of the Republican candidates over moral turpitude issues. He mentioned one Republican campaign ad' from an incumbent who had admitted an affair and a lawsuit initiated by a lover accusing him of assault. I didn't hear it myself but Greenfield said that it started "I'm really sorry that I cheated on my wife, but I really didn't choke that woman..." Not the most effective campaign ad' I suspect! (Normally, it would seem inappropriate to mention the man's personal life, but these are the same people who think nothing of making moral judgments on others.)

It looks like it will be a while before the final numbers are settled. There will almost certainly be recounts in some of the closer contests. I'm very pleased though. These are the best election results in ten years. There's been very little cussing in this house tonight.

Happy Birthday, Tom!

Another birthday in our circle. Happy Birthday to Tom, of Random Thinking! Tom's a good fellow. I hope it's a good day.

Mid-term elections in the U.S.A.

My feeling toward the United States seems to parallel my relationship with my brother. When I was younger, I felt that my brother was an utterly perfect person. My admiration was complete and unquestioning. As I grew older I discovered that he actually had a few flaws. Older still, I found that I strongly disagreed with him from time to time. Still, the love and concern remained. My brother will always have my affection. That's the way I feel about the U.S.A. I've learned that it's less than perfect and I've come to grips with the fact that sometimes we're not going to get along. But they're still "family" and I'm not about to disown them.

The United States had 'conscription' for many years - mandatory military service for a good portion of their young male population. As a result, the young American navy men who visited Canadian ports from time to time represented a fair cross-section of American society. They were a nice bunch. My parents often invited sailors to come home for dinner with us and we found them to be genuinely decent, polite young people.

I was still unabashedly pro-American when I moved to Victoria and I recall a mildly anti-American comment from a new neighbour. I remember her open-mouthed gasp when I told her that if the baby we were expecting was a boy we were planning to name him Ronald Reagan Barr! (My husband joked "Why not Ronald McDonald Barr?")

Time passed and the Clinton presidency came and went. Clinton was imperfect perhaps, but he was an intelligent, likeable fellow. His vice-president, Al Gore, ran for president next and though he seemed a bit of a boy scout leader, he came from wonderful Southern Democrat stock. His father was everything I love in Americans - warm, witty, unaffected and competent. The opposition, on the other hand, was the governor from Texas, the governor who denied a stay of execution to Karla Faye Tucker (the first woman executed in the U.S. since the Civil War). I hated George Bush for that and I still hate him.

I've followed the U.S. elections with great interest all the way back to the Kennedy years. Election night is an event in my household. In November 2000 I stayed up half the night, believing that Gore HAD to win. Surely the people I admired so much couldn't elect a man like that horrible Texan.

On election night 2004 I was sure we would finally be seeing the end of Bush. Surely no one with a brain in his head would vote for that man. I set up our dining table with a festive buffet and settled in for a lovely evening. My sons joined me by the television set, nibbling food, sipping wine and alternately booing and cheering as the returns came in. Fairly early in the evening the crowd grew ugly. Well, I grew ugly. My language would have made those fine young American sailors blush. I went to bed disgusted, thinking those stupid Americans got what they deserved!

Once I cooled off I remembered, of course, that there were still fine Americans out there and the Bush crowd didn't represent the America I know and, yes, love.

So you can guess what I'll be doing tonight. It's mid-term election night. Unfortunately they're not replacing the president yet, but there's a good chance the Democrats can take control of Congress and that would be an improvement. In any event, I'll try to watch my language.

I suppose I should apologize now, for commenting on an election in another country, but they feel like family to me and I worry about them.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Birthday Ian!

I'm a little late to the party I'm afraid... Ian Hocking has now joined the senior citizen set!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm not feeling quite so special any more

Is this true? There's a mildly interesting op-ed piece ( here: We are all suspects now - Comment - Times Online) with a statement that took me aback. It says "statisticians say that eight out of ten people have a DNA “twin” somewhere in the world". Can that be right?