Friday 30 September 2011

The 40-Year-Old Tattoo Virgin

As you know, people often get tattoos to mark significant milestones or turning points in their lives. After several years of waffling, I made up my mind to celebrate my 40th birthday by finally getting a tattoo -- something Celtic or tribal perhaps? Or, what the hell, if all else fails -- a labrys!

But fate intervened. A few months before my 40th birthday, my job was abruptly downsized in government cuts. Without a healthy income, I went into strict survival mode, dramatically cutting back expenses and not spending any unnecessary money until I could find another job. A tattoo became a luxury I could not and would not spend money on.

So my 40th birthday came and went and I remained a tattoo virgin. Although I found another job in my field within a fairly short time, I never did get my once-planned tattoo because, as they say, "the moment had passed." And I've never had a serious hankering for a tat since.

Thus, ladies and gentlemen, I remain the non-ink-stained wretch you see here before you today.

Thursday 29 September 2011

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo? That is the Question.

Of course, not every lesbian is a fan of tats. For example, it was a point of pride with my girlfriend at the time, Big Bad Butch, that she did not have any tattoos. She ran with the bikers when she was young so it actually was quite a miracle that she remained uninked.

However, now that I was a card-carrying member of the Lesbian Nation, I started to seriously think about getting a tattoo.

But I could never really decide on a design that I felt was sufficiently unique. I didn't want to get anything that I would eventually regret, outgrow or even just get bored with in the future.

What to do? What to do?

I became an indecisive female Hamlet.

[Tomorrow's post: will Hamlet get off the pot?]

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Lesbians ♥ Tattoos

I never saw a woman with a tattoo until I started hanging out in Winnipeg's gay bars in the mid-1980s. Occasionally, old-school 1950s butches would show up with tattooed forearms like the men of their generation had. Younger dykes would have feminist tats on their biceps or shoulders -- woman power symbols (with or without fists), Amazon labryses (double-headed axes), stuff like that.

Lesbians led the way in popularizing tattoos for women. Long before it became a mainstream fashion, lesbians loved tats for their edgy, defiant, gender-bending vibe. When I first came out, getting a matching tattoo with your lover was a popular way to demonstrate "family ties" before our relationships had any legal status. Barbed wire and Celtic knotwork armbands circling a bicep were favourite lesbian choices at that time too. Eventually tribal tattoos were all the rage. And so on and so on.

[Tomorrow's post: will our heroine get a tattoo?]

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Saturday 24 September 2011

It's Hockey Night in Winnipeg!

Earlier this week, the resurrected Winnipeg Jets played their first home game in 15 years at the new MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg. The Jets triumphed in the preseason exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ecstatic Winnipeg fans were in a frenzy. Here's the scene as described by sports writer Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail:

"In 2011," the MTS Centre scoreboard read, "The NHL Returned to the Greatest Fans in the World."

And it certainly seemed so. They screamed throughout the warm-up and sang O Canada as if the players on the ice had just won Olympic gold.

And then they got really loud. A mere 37 seconds into . . . [the] game, Byfuglian levelled Columbus's Cody Bass with a single punch -- Bass likely unaware of Byfuglian's mood, given that the big Winnipeg defenceman had been formally charged only hours earlier by Minnesota police for allegedly being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol while operating his boat in late August.

Once the fighting penalties had been served, it was Byfuglian setting up Paul Postma for a point shot that became the reborn Jets first goal . . . of the new era.

*sigh* Oh yeah, baby, now that's sweet hockey. Very sweet indeed.

Welcome home, boys! All is right with the world again.

[Photo by Phil Hossack of the Winnipeg Free Press]

Friday 23 September 2011

Autumn Equinox: Hail Kukulkan!

Every spring and autumn equinox, the plumed serpent of light named Kukulkan makes an appearance at Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan site in Mexico. For about half an hour, sunlight strikes the staircase bannister of El Castillo pyramid in such a way as to create an undulating body for the snake deity whose carved head is found at the base of the stairs. Kukulkan appears only twice a year, when day and night, light and dark, are equal and in balance.

My Rare One and I visited Chichen Itza in 2004 (but not on an equinox, alas). I climbed El Castillo's sacred staircase, a difficult task because of its extremely steep and shallow steps. I descended the stairs in the traditional manner -- sitting and bumming my way down each step! It's the safest method because it is so very easy to trip and fall all the way down if you walk upright. That's why an ambulance was tucked away in a nearby grove of trees, as we later noticed. In fact, I read recently that tourists are now no longer allowed to climb the pyramid, precisely because an elderly lady did have a fatal fall on the staircase.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Happy Hobbit Day!

Do you know what today is? Yes, you're right! September 22 is the shared birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, everyone's favourite hobbits from The Shire! Let the partying and fireworks begin!

And it's also now Hobbit Day! Every September 22 since 1978 has officially been declared Hobbit Day by the American Tolkien Society. In fact, this whole week is declared Tolkien Week in honour of the man who wrote The Lord of the Rings saga.

I love The Lord of the Rings, both the books and the movies. I first read the books 35 years ago when I was a young university student. I was so engrossed and thrilled by the story that when I was finished, I turned right around and read them all again a second time. Then about 10 years later, I read them for a third time. Someday, a fourth reading will be in order, I know. But now we also have Peter Jackson's magnificent movies to watch. Plus next year, we'll be able to see his film version of The Hobbit -- very exciting!

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Extreme Makeovers

This poem is by a contemporary American poet named Kenneth Pobo. I read it a few years ago on the Plum Ruby Review poetry site and thought it was absolutely right on! I hope you enjoy it too. It's getting more relevant with each passing day.

Extreme Makeovers
by Kenneth Pobo

In the early 70s I put
my hand in the hand of a
hippy Jesus who minced about
in flowers, a heavenly Donovan
with sad-puppy eyes.

The 80s Jesus farted
discreetly, bought a good suit,
worked for a company, carried
a briefcase, and said money
made his daddy happy.

The 90s Jesus reviled the poor,
fumed about gays
and lurid TV. Currently,

Jesus says his FATHER
is a Republican, and if you don't
like that, get fucked,
you won't be entering our kingdom,
we'll see to that. I miss

my silly hippy
and his lemon meringue backbone,
love wasn't an attack dog to him,
and when he held my hand
he meant it.

Monday 19 September 2011

Avast, ye swabs!

Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, matey! And I, Her Royal Highness the cat, be The Pirate Queen! Hand over yer gold and I'll spare yer miserable life, you poxy landlubber.

And that's not all there is to celebrate today, me hearties! This be the 3rd blogoversary of this scurvy rat-trap of a weblog so here's a round of grog for you all! If ye be not a follower already, curse ye and sign up now! We're feasting later on all the cake and rum ye can stuff into yerself . . . .

Oh, sorry, wrong cake. Here be the real one . . . .

Arrrrr, ain't she a beauty? (And just ignore the 4's on it -- pirates can't count, except it be gold doubloons.)

Friday 16 September 2011

Tats to the Rescue

My father served with the PPCLI -- Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. After arriving in England from Canada, the Princess Pats were shipped to the Mediterranean, participated in the invasion of Sicily and then fought their way up through Italy and Nazi-occupied Europe until the war ended.

At some point, Dad was shot during a firefight in an Italian barn. He fell behind a low wall or divider, with only one arm protruding into the open. Luckily his sleeves were rolled up. A buddy recognized his tats and carried him to safety.

And that's how those sweet and wholesome tattoos saved his life.

[Photo of PPCLI soldier at Ortona, Italy, 1943, found here].

Thursday 15 September 2011

What the Tats Said

My father chose very sweet and wholesome tattoos, as befitted a prairie boy straight off the farm. No naked women for him!

One tattoo said "Mother." On his other forearm, a second tat memorialized a sister who had died young of tuberculosis. Hearts and flowers surrounded each name.

A third tattoo said "Good Luck" in the midst of four-leaf clovers and a horseshoe. Not too hard to figure out why he got that one.

His fourth tattoo was somewhat patriotic in nature -- "Death Before Dishonour." I can see how that noble sentiment would have appealed to his teenage idealism.

When I was a little girl, I used to sit in his lap and trace his tattoos. He would tell me how they had originally been solidly multicoloured -- red, yellow, green. But with the inferior dyes of that era, the colours soon faded out, leaving only the dark blue outlines.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Guard Duty

My dad always swore up, down and sideways that he was not drunk when he got his tattoos. He got four of them -- two on each forearm. That was the place where servicemen commonly got their tattoos, so the tats could be displayed when their sleeves were rolled up.

Unfortunately, Dad made the mistake of getting all four tattoos done at once. As a result, his arms were so excruciatingly sore afterwards that he could scarcely hold up his gun while on guard duty. But he dared not report to sick bay because the army classified tattoos as self-inflicted wounds -- a court martial offence.

So he held up his gun for hours, paying a painful price for over-enthusiastic tattooing.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

My Father's Tattoos

Unlike many people I've met over the years, I did not grow up with a negative view of tattoos as weird or ugly. That's because my father had tattoos and I grew up seeing inked skin as normal and commonplace.

Dad served with the Canadian Army during World War II. That's why he had tattoos -- many servicemen from that war did. He volunteered for the armed forces in 1942 when he was 18 years old. He got his tattoos not too long after that. I suspect getting tattooed was a way for many young men to demonstrate bravado and machismo during a very scary time when their survival was not guaranteed.

Monday 12 September 2011

Tattoo Chronicles

So how do you feel about tattoos? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Got any? I don't, but tattoos intrigue me. They always have. That's why I'm starting this new series dedicated to tats. As usual, these anecdotes and musings won't necessarily be posted consecutively or regularly but will appear in my usual meandering way. I'll discuss fascinating topics like lesbian tattoos old and new, the time I almost got a tattoo, my disastrous Mexican temporary tattoo and as a bonus I'll even throw in some tattoo haiku.

Tattoo Chronicles will start off by regaling you ALL THIS WEEK with the story of my father's tattoos.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Ten Years Ago Today

No words are needed.

No words suffice.

May all the victims who died rest in peace.

May all the survivors find peace and healing.

Friday 9 September 2011

And the Golden Buddha goes to . . .


Congrats, my girl! May the Buddha bring you an abundance of everything your heart desires! I'll send you an email privately to obtain your mailing address. The Golden Buddha will be on his way to you shortly.

Her Royal Highness says congrats too!

Thanks for entering, everyone! I appreciate your continued readership.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Nom Nom Nom in The Peg: Original Pancake House

Every time I'm back in Winnipeg, I try to make it to the Original Pancake House on Pembina Highway for a Baby German pancake. It's my favourite kind of pancake and I can't (*sob*) get one anywhere in Edmonton.

A Baby German pancake is baked in the oven. Brown, with slightly upturned edges, it has a denser texture than a griddle cake. And you don't eat it with syrup, oh no. You squeeze fresh, juicy lemon wedges all over it and then shake icing sugar on top. The thick sugar dissolves in the lemon juice and makes a creamy, delicious sauce. Mmmmm, heavenly!

The Original Pancake House was one of my old stomping grounds when I was a university student. It was a little shabby and rundown in those days. The owner obviously did not want to put a lot of money into upgrading or refreshing the decor. A skinny old geezer, he always sat on a hard wooden chair near the cash register at the entrance so he could keep his rheumy gimlet eyes on the waitresses and kitchen staff at the same time. He just sat there hour after hour, the undoubted king of his castle, barking out an occasional command.

After his death, the family extensively renovated the restaurant and added a beautiful solarium wing. No wonder it's one of Winnipeg's most enduringly popular brunch spots. I think they have a couple more locations now too. But I always return to the original Original.

And you know what? Even with all the changes, they still use the same brown coffee mugs they used in the 1970s! I suspect the old geezer's ghost likes that.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Just a Reminder . . .

Today is the last day to enter my Golden Buddha giveaway! Click here to enter, if you haven't already. Entries close at the stroke of midnight.

May the Buddha smile upon you!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

All Praise and Glory be to Ceiling Cat

This is how it started. A simple knock on the door.

Her Royal Highness is always open to discussions about Ceiling Cat. She's quite a spiritual little puss, actually.

The next thing I know, HRH had purchased an evangelical symbol of Ceiling Cat and insisted that I stick it on our car. As she explained to me, we've got to keep up with those fish-loving Christians and even those Darwinian scoffers whose fish symbols have evolved little feet for climbing out of the primordial ooze.

So now I'm driving around town sporting this damn thing on my car trunk, just to keep HRH happy. She really does believe in living her faith.

"As for me and my peeps, we will serve Ceiling Cat," she quotes piously from the LOLcat Bible while sanctimoniously licking her paw.

[Hey everyone, remember to enter my giveaway if you haven't yet -- click here to do so!]

Monday 5 September 2011

The White Collar Holler

Happy Labour Day, fellow wage slaves! Hey, ever notice that miners, farm workers, truckers and other blue collar types get all the great labour protest songs? But what about us modern white collar workers -- where are OUR songs, eh? I know of only one. And I proudly present it here today, brothers and sisters, in solidarity with our common struggle.

Although this recording is by the late, great Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers, the song was not written by him but by an ex-pat Canadian musician named Nigel Russell. He wrote other humorous songs too like Zen Gospel Singing and I'm Confused. Click here if you'd like to hear them -- it's worth your while!

[And click here if you haven't already entered my giveaway -- there's still time!]

Friday 2 September 2011

Where I'm From

I am from the cool and dark earthen cellar, the trap door with its heavy iron ring, from chrome-rimmed arborite and from insulbrick.

I am from lunch when the noon-day siren sounds and supper when the jigger comes home.

I am from the pink peonies on my brother's grave, the robin's nest in the lilac hedge with four sky-blue eggs and the sharp smell of creosote on a hot summer's day.

I am from hard work, hard lives and rage, from pioneer and immigrant, soldier and chamber maid.

I am from the Eaton's catalogue and squeezing nickels 'til the beaver shits, from hanging on past all endurance and then hanging on some more.

From whistling girls and crowing hens, from big rock candy mountain and you are my sunshine.

I am from a silver tinsel Christmas tree and St. Paul's junior choir practice on Thursday evenings.

I'm from across the tracks and across the ocean, from jello salads and Velveeta.

From the partially severed hand in the flour bag, my father's tattoos, patriotic bunting and "all white help."

I am from a cracked china bulldog, a bronze cherub blacksmith, a ring from Vimy Ridge and a Swiss music box.


Last month, Elly at Bugginword posted her version of this poem and I was very taken with it. The original poem was written by an American poet, George Ella Lyon, as a poetry workshop exercise. You can see the original poem and learn about its popularity as a poetry exercise here. If you want to try your own hand at writing a personal version, there's a handy-dandy template for the poem here.

Try it yourself -- it's amazing what images it can conjure up from the past!

[P.S. -- Have you entered my giveaway yet? Click here to do so!]

Thursday 1 September 2011

It's Giveaway Time!

This happy, fat, golden Buddha is all about abundance -- good living, lots of joy and no worries! He sits on a huge gold ingot festooned with jewels and emblazoned with dragon and phoenix imagery. He holds a smaller ingot in his hand and sports a diamond on his third eye. (Of course the diamond and all the other jewels are real! How can you even ask?) This charming statue is about 4 inches high and 5 inches wide. Unfortunately, the photo does not adequately capture how it gleams and shines and catches the light!

And because this blog now enjoys a super abundance of 300+ followers, I want to give this Golden Buddha to one of you! Here are the giveaway rules:

1. You must be an official follower to enter. Old, new or just signed up in order to enter the contest, it's all good! And it doesn't matter where you're from in the world, I'll mail the Golden Buddha anywhere.

2. In addition to being a follower, you must leave a comment on this post. If you leave a comment but don't want to be entered, just say so.

3. One entry per person (leaving 10 comments will still only result in 1 entry!)

4. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Savings Time on Wednesday, September 7, 2011.

5. The winner will be chosen by a random draw made on Thursday, September 8 and the results posted here on Friday, September 9.

Good luck, everyone, and thank you so much for following my blog!