Wednesday 29 February 2012

Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office

Yesterday's post dealt with Canada's Parliament Hill cats. But the British also have a long history of parliamentary cats.

The home of Britain's Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, London is guarded at all times not only by the Police but also by the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. This tradition apparently stretches back for decades, if not centuries.

The current Chief Mouser is Larry, a young rescue cat from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. He has been on the job for about a year now. He stands nobly on guard against rats, mice and other vermin. Doesn't he look positively Churchillian in this official portrait?

Here's an action shot of Larry on patrol up and down the stairs of 10 Downing Street. He is a fierce mouser.

Sometimes Larry gets to meet famous people. But he remains unimpressed by them, as cats always do. Larry has been known to claw members of the press.

On the day of the Royal Wedding last April, Larry was decked out in a suitably patriotic bow to honour William and Kate.

A Chief Mouser usually serves several Prime Ministers over the years and stays at 10 Downing Street while different political administrations come and go. The cat is not a personal pet of the Prime Minister but is a career civil servant.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Parliament Hill Cats

The most famous feral cats in Canada live on Parliament Hill in our capital city of Ottawa, Ontario. At one time, cats were employed in the Parliament Buildings to keep down rodents but they were replaced in the mid-1950s by chemicals. Apparently the cats then went feral. Today a colony of descendants is still located on The Hill, fed and cared for by dedicated volunteers. The cats are also spayed and neutered. People are actively discouraged from dropping off new kitties.

When My Rare One and I were in Ottawa a couple of years ago, I was determined to see the cats' famous sanctuary hidden among the bushes and trees. But I wasn't sure where it was located. Just when I was about to give up my search, I saw a cat wandering down the public pathway and disappearing behind an ironwork fence. Bingo!

Volunteers have built tidy little cat condos with decks and balconies for the cats' comfort and protection during winter. Dry food and fresh water are left out for them (and also for thieving raccoons and squirrels).

The cats' story is printed on a bilingual French and English sign. A securely locked strongbox solicits donations too. The cats may live on Parliament Hill but they are not supported by the taxpayers of Canada.

I slipped the cats a twenty -- wouldn't you? Of course you would!

[The first photo is from the internet. All others are by Debra She Who Seeks. And just how the hell did I manage not to get any cats in the photos? They are elusive kitties indeed.]

Monday 27 February 2012

Red Book, Black Book, Pure Book, Dirty Book

If you know that this post's title is NOT a Dr. Seuss rhyme, then you play canasta!

My Rare One LOVES to play cards, especially canasta. She taught me how to play shortly after we first met. I like canasta too but MY GAWD it's a long game -- two hours to play a full four hands. So when My Rare One and I indulge in a little canasta after supper, we simply play one hand per evening so we only spend half an hour at a time doing it. We can wait four evenings to see who the winner is. We're not in any rush.

Friday 24 February 2012

Goddess Key Ring Winners

First of all, just let me say that I wish I could send a Goddess Key Ring to each and every one of you who entered! But having said that, I only have three key rings -- so by random draw, here are the three winners:

Brandi of Serendipity

Lyn of Witch Blog

(I will be in touch with each of you this weekend to obtain your mailing addresses.)

Blessed be everyone who entered!

Thursday 23 February 2012

Dear Photograph

Have you heard of or visited the really cool website called Dear Photograph? People take old photos back to the locations where they were originally shot, hold the photos to line up with the same landmarks as they appear today and then create a new photo of the result. The photos are submitted to Dear Photograph along with little letters, stories and explanations which are often quite poignant.

Favourite subjects frequently recreate childhood memories. Look how this person even matches up the old and new car in the current photo!

Using this technique, you can relive your glory years of high school again!

Another favourite topic recreates nostalgic memories of ancestors now dead and gone.

I like this photo of a sad old couch waiting on the curb for the garbage truck but with a memory of happier times.

Sometimes missing buildings and terrible events are remembered.

I think this is one of the most touching photos of all -- an older man, now alone, remembers when he and his wife used to sit and laugh on this same park bench . . . .

Want to visit the Dear Photograph site and see more great photos? Click here.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Don't Forget to Enter!

Today's the last day to enter the Goddess Key Ring Giveaway. If you haven't entered yet but want to, click here!

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Mardi Gras Madness!

Hooray, today is Fat Tuesday -- Mardi Gras! But I don't want to celebrate it in the boring old Canadian way of eating a few pancakes. No, I want to celebrate it in the traditional Louisiana way. Gimme beads -- lots of beads!

And I'll do whatever I have to do to get them, too!

And cake! Gimme a big ol' King Cake with icing in the traditional Mardi Gras colours of gold, green and purple! Now, I've never actually seen a King Cake, much less eaten one. We don't have them here in the Great White North. In fact, I only learned of the existence of King Cakes a couple of years ago, thanks to the blogosphere. But I love the idea of them!

And I want my piece to have the Baby Jesus in it! Yes, I do.

It means I have to bring the next King Cake to the next party but I will gladly do so! I make no promises about my baking or decorating skills, though.

Laissez les bons temps rouler, tout le monde!

Monday 20 February 2012

Pube LOLs

Hey, don't never say this blog ain't classy.

Friday 17 February 2012

Goddess Key Ring Giveaway

In December, I gave out these cute little Goddess key rings as Winter Solstice gifts to the women of my drumming circle. A few more were given out at the January and February circles to those who hadn't attended in December. Now the remaining three will be giveaway prizes on this blog!

The Goddess pendant is shiny pewter and about 1.5" long. She has the sacred spirals of life at her breasts and womb. If you don't want to use this as a key ring, you can take the pendant off the ring and use it on a necklace.

Here are the giveaway rules:

1. You must be an official Follower to enter. Old, new or just signed up to enter the contest, it's all good. And it doesn't matter where you're from in the world, I'll mail the key chains 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 ten comments will still only result in one entry).

4. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) on Wednesday, February 22, 2012.

5. The three winners will be chosen by a random draw made on Thursday, February 23 and the results will be posted here on Friday, February 24.

Good luck, everyone!

Thursday 16 February 2012

Belgravia Arts Park Labyrinth

Time to visit another Edmonton labyrinth! This one is not far from the University of Alberta at the Belgravia Arts Park. It's a 7-circuit Cretan labyrinth made of inlaid bricks.

We had a heck of a time finding it in the park last summer because the overgrown grass hid the labyrinth from easy view. Nor was there any signage to indicate its presence. But My Rare One spotted a rock sitting all by itself in a corner of the park and sure enough, it proved to be the centre of the labyrinth.

Well, technically the rock is off-centre. It's sort of beside the centre of the labyrinth. I'm not sure why the labyrinth was designed this way but it is certainly unique in that regard.

Unlike a rock labyrinth on grass, a labyrinth made of inlaid bricks which are flush to the ground can be mowed easily with a conventional or riding lawn mower. Now all the City of Edmonton has to do is mow this one a bit more often so people know it's there!

Wednesday 15 February 2012

'Iao Valley Cats

Feral cats are unfortunately all too common in Maui. When we were visiting the beautiful 'Iao Valley park, we caught a glimpse of some roaming the countryside.

Later we stopped outside the park to get something to eat. Not too much was open except for this little take-out joint called the Nature Cafe. The place didn't really look all that promising but we figured we could get a plate of greasy fries or something there.

But we were SO guilty of judging a book by its cover . . . we ended up having wonderful gourmet sandwiches. I had brie and bacon with tomato and lettuce on focaccia bread. My Rare One had avocado and crab on focaccia.

Plus the owner/chef turned out to be a major cat lover. He is part of a local committee supporting the 'Iao Valley feral cats. Some of the cats are trusting enough to come and eat at the restaurant's back door.

The committee raises money to help feed and assist the strays. So we left a big tip for the 'Iao Valley cats.

[All photos by Debra She Who Seeks]

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Romance, Edmonton Style

Last year the online edition of the Edmonton Journal published these crazy valentines showcasing and satirizing our beloved city, so I saved them and now I send them on to you with a big sloppy Edmonton kiss! *mwah* Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Monday 13 February 2012

Brand Loyalties

When shopping, are you loyal to certain brand names for the simple reason that your Mom always used that product? And if she swore by it then goddammit, so do you? Here are the ones I always buy:

Robin Hood flour. My Mom used it for all her baking.

Magic baking powder. I just bought a new container in December when I made cornbread.

Jergens hand lotion -- but only the original cherry and almond scent will do! I've been rubbing this into my hide for over 50 years. I wonder how many vats I've gone through by now?

S.O.S. steel wool scouring pads -- nothing cleans pots and pans better! And they still have that distinctive blue soap in them after all these years. You don't argue with success.

Kleenex and only Kleenex. Any other brand is just sandpaper. Case closed.

Sunlight dish washing liquid. Oh, that distinctive yellow bottle and yellow soap!

Using these products is always evocative and nostalgic for me -- a direct link to my childhood memories.

What brands fall into that category for you?

Friday 10 February 2012

Goddess Toast

Unlike other deities who are needy attention whores, the Great Goddess manifests Herself on foodstuffs much, much more rarely. The only occurrence of which I'm aware and about which I previously blogged is when She chose to manifest Her Sacred Yoni (Vulva) on a pancake (click here, all ye faithful).

But behold! The Great Goddess Bast will not be outdone by that upstart Jesus. She too has just manifested Herself on a lowly piece of toast. Cast your eyes upon Her feline magnificence and sing Her praises forever!

Wait, what? Oh, sorry. I've just been advised that this image is, in fact, a cat named Henry, who was the late, beloved feline companion of Blueberry of Texas Oasis. Still, though . . . a pretty impressive manifestation, I'd say. You will always rock, Henry.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Jesus Toast

I have previously blogged about my fascination with Divine Manifestations on various foodstuffs, including the time Jesus Christ appeared at a Tim Hortons donut shop here in Canada. (Click here and here for the details, if you're so inclined.) But the following short video is the best examination of the phenomenon that I've ever seen.

Bless you, Jane of Jane's Jewels, for finding this video first and helping to enlighten the world.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

My Mexican Tattoo, Part 3

temporary tattoo
proves to be indelible:
my Mexican souvenir

© Debra She Who Seeks 2006

This haiku of mine was originally published in rain song, Haiku Canada's 2006 Members' Anthology.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

My Mexican Tattoo, Part 2

Shortly after we returned home from Mexico, I woke up one morning with a burning and itchy sensation on my arm. My howling wolf tattoo, which the night before had been almost faded out, was now a raised angry red welt!

What . . . the . . . FUCK???

I don't have a photo of how awful it looked but its general appearance was similar to the welts on this poor bastard --

It took two doctors and a dermatologist to find the correct ointment to make the welt go down and the itchiness stop. I learned that my skin's reaction is called "allergic contact dermatitis." It was caused by a black dye that had been added to the henna to make the tattoo darker and longer lasting. In Canada, the United States and Europe, this particular dye has been banned from use for many years. But in unregulated developing countries like Mexico, it is still commonly used.

The pink welt of my temporary tattoo lasted for a couple of months before it was completely gone.

Live and learn, my friends. Live and learn.

Tomorrow: I turn my pain into poetry.

Monday 6 February 2012

My Mexican Tattoo, Part 1

In 2004, My Rare One and I went to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico and stayed with friends at a nice all-inclusive resort. Near the pool area, a number of craftspeople offered various goods and services for sale. One young guy was doing henna tattoos. I thought, "Hey, why not, it's only temporary!" And it would be fun later to freak out My Rare One and our friends with it, hee hee!

So I picked a stylized howling wolf design and he painted it on my arm, using a template and a long-nosed bottle of black ink. After about half an hour, the top layer of paint dried, came off and there was my lovely wolf underneath on my skin! Here's an actual photo of me with my henna tattoo --

And yes, everyone was suitably freaked out because they did think this silly tattoo was real at first. We had lots of laughs because of it so it was $20 well spent. By the time we went home, the tattoo was fading nicely and I figured it would be gone within a week or so.

Tomorrow: disaster strikes!!!!

[Photo by My Rare One]

Sunday 5 February 2012

Super Sunday

Enjoy the game, football fans! Everyone else, enjoy the commercials! And have some snacks, willya?