Thursday 28 February 2013

Liebster Blog Award

Earlier this month, Shelly Chandler of Shelly Simplified nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award! Thanks so much, Shelly, you rock! Check out her blog of witchy wisdom and good book reading advice, everyone -- you'll enjoy it!

Warning: Now that I'm a total rebel and bad girl in my middle age, I'm not going to follow any of the award rules. But I am going to answer the questions which Shelly posed to her nominees:

1. Describe yourself in 5 words. Happy, optimistic, introverted, contemplative, crunchy.

2. What's your favourite way to relax? It's a toss-up between windsurfing and snowboarding. Yes, just checking to see if you're actually reading this.

3. Innie or outie? Innie, I'm proud to say.

4. Age of your first heartbreak? Six, when a girl at school uninvited me from her birthday party, the little bitch. But I'm over it now.

5. Your number 1 comfort food? Grilled cheese sandwiches.

6. Most quirky habit. Only one?

7. What are you saving for a rainy day? My sanity, with any luck.

8. Name something that made you laugh so hard you cried. The killer rabbit scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Also, the crucifixion scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian. Hmm, I detect a pattern.

9. Favourite perfume? I don't often wear perfume but when I do, it's Chanel No. 5 for me, baby. It's the only thing in common I have with Marilyn Monroe, apart from being a sex goddess of course.

10. Favourite book? Seriously, Watership Down by Richard Adams. I love those friggin' bunnies.

11. If you could be anyone from history, who would you be and why? Oooo, that's a toughie. Who was rich and talented and happy and never had any bad things happen to them? If you can come up with a name, THAT'S who I want to be!

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Japanese Bathrooms: Toto Washlets

Japanese Toto Washlets always have heated toilet seats that activate when you sit down. Then, on the wall or on an attached console arm on the toilet itself, there are assorted buttons that you push to make the toilet perform various functions.

The most common buttons activate a frontal water spray or a rear water spray for maximum cleanliness. You can customize the water pressure for those functions with another button. Deluxe models have a button for dispensing air freshener too. And the so-called "princess models" have a button that activates the sound effect of running water to drown out any unladylike bathroom noises you may make. We encountered the Toto Washlet's most ultra-deluxe feature only once on our trip, where simply walking into the bathroom stall causes sensors on the toilet to automatically raise the lid for you.

Oh, and of course after all that, there's a button to flush the toilet too. Sometimes that button is located on the floor so you just step on it. Deluxe Washlets flush automatically by themselves.

And let me tell you -- when we got home to our own North American toilets, we sure felt like we were being forced to slum it, LOL!

[Photos by Debra She Who Seeks]

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Japanese Bathrooms: Squat Toilets

As we discovered on our trip to Japan last year, Japanese bathrooms are very interesting places. Traditional squat toilets are still quite commonly found. Their basic design is the same, whether constructed of wood as this one in Takayama at the historic government offices of the Tokugawa Shogunate . . .

. . . or whether constructed of the finest porcelain and marble as this one in a ritzy Kyoto hotel:

Thank goodness, however, squat toilets are never the only option! At any given public bathroom, there is virtually always an equal or greater number of "western" toilets available. But of course the Japanese have improved on western design and made our style of toilet a million times better. Tomorrow I'll fill you in on the wonder and the glory that is a Japanese Toto Washlet.

[First photo by My Rare One; second photo by Debra She Who Seeks]

Monday 25 February 2013

How to Recognize a Real Unicorn

Unicorns are always happy and fun.

They make perfect role models.

Unicorns are 100% trustworthy. You never need to fear or doubt anything a unicorn says.

But that can't be said of some other creatures. Be very leery of fake unicorns. Certain unscrupulous characters will attempt to pass themselves off as the genuine article.

But a simple test will reveal the truth. Unicorns never have tuna breath.

Be safe out there, my friends.

Friday 22 February 2013

Edmonton Tarot: Death (XIII)

Interpretation: Drawing the Death card often scares the bejesus out of people because they assume it means that they or someone they love will die. But actually, this card rarely indicates physical death. Usually it just indicates the end of something significant -- a relationship, a job, a phase in one's life, an attitude, a belief system, etc. The change is final and irrevocable, though.

Image: Since the end of something usually means the beginning of something else, isn't death really a form of recycling? And speaking of recycling, the City of Edmonton has one of the best recycling programs in North America! There is extensive recycling of not only paper, cardboard, glass, plastics and metal but also electronics and environmentally sensitive waste. Organic waste is composted and returned as topsoil to our city parks and gardens.

[Photo by Debra She Who Seeks]

Thursday 21 February 2013

Sacred Bees of the Goddess, Part 2

As promised, here's some info about the ancient Bee Goddess jewelry pictured on my blog sidebar.

On the Greek island of Rhodes, archaeologists unearthed several small gold plaques embossed with a winged Bee Goddess and flowers. These jewelry fragments date from the 7th century BCE and are currently housed at the British Museum. The Goddess appears to be wearing a sphynx-like cap or headdress.

This next gold pendant dates from 1800-1700 BCE. Skillfully crafted on the Greek island of Crete, it may have belonged to a Mellisae, a Bee Priestess of the Goddess-worshipping Minoan civilization. It is called the Mallia Bee Pendant because it was discovered at the palace of Mallia, east of the central grand palace of Knossos. The pendant depicts two bees framing a central drop of pollen or honey. It is now located at the Heraklion Museum in Crete.

This final photo from the internet shows a modern altar honouring the Divine Feminine, adorned with flowers, candles and a central motif based on the Mallia Bee Pendant. Isn't it lovely?

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Sacred Bees of the Goddess, Part 1

To paraphrase a recent inquiry from a new reader: "What's up with all this bee imagery on your blog?" The answer is that it relates to my spiritual name Debra She Who Seeks.

Bees have been sacred to the Divine Feminine for thousands of years in ancient civilizations from Babylon to Rome. In Greece, many Goddesses such as Rhea, Artemis, Cybele and Demeter were characterized as Bee Goddesses (among their other attributes). Their priestesses were called "melissae," which is Greek for "honeybees," because they served the Bee Goddess like female worker bees serve their Queen Bee.

That is the origin of the popular girls name Melissa. It means "honeybee" and connotes "priestess of the Goddess." The equivalent Hebrew name meaning the same thing is Debra, which is my given name. I have also seen Debra translated more conceptually as "she who seeks." After all, what does a female bee spend her time doing? She seeks flowers and pollen in order to make honey.

Debra She Who Seeks perfectly sums up my spiritual identity. My name honours the Divine Feminine and expresses my connection to the Goddess. And I have spent a lifetime seeking spiritual truth wherever I may find it. Like a honeybee, I have gone in turn to most of the flowers in the spiritual garden and gathered some wisdom teachings from each.

Tomorrow I'll discuss the two ancient pieces of Bee Goddess jewelry pictured on my sidebar.

[Note: This post is a condensed Coles Notes version of six older blog posts I wrote on this topic. Want to read the full version? Check out my archived posts dated December 14th to 19th, 2009.]

Tuesday 19 February 2013


A big thank you to Bev over at Black Ink Paperie for passing this Versatile Blogger Award on to me recently! I really appreciate it.

Now I'm supposed to list seven things about me. But here's where the vice-versatility comes in. BEV is who I want to talk about in this post.

Seriously, people, if you want to read a beautifully written, screamingly funny blog, go check out Black Ink Paperie. Every post is a delightfully quirky exposition on some off-beat topic or observation of life. The posts are concise and each word is a perfectly chosen gem.

As a final touch, Bev finds wonderful old black-and-white photos to illustrate her posts. For example, this enigmatic solitary dancer is one of my faves. I love every mysterious, gothic detail.

Monday 18 February 2013

Life of Pi

Have you read the novel Life of Pi by Canadian author Yann Martel? Or have you seen the film directed by Ang Lee that is currently in movie theatres?

Then you know the story is about an Indian youth named Pi Patel who is trapped in a lifeboat at sea with a ferocious tiger named Richard Parker.

The story explores the very best and highest expressions of human nature and the very worst as well.

What is the true meaning of good and evil? of human nature? of life? You know, the BIG questions of existence.

The novel won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2002. The film is currently nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

The film is beautifully shot and has many visually stunning scenes. Plus a lot of action due to, you know, the presence of a man-eating tiger.

However, I think the screenwriters chickened out a bit by softening the novel's full horror, which is simply hinted at and soft-pedaled in the film rather than being as unflinching as in the book.

But I still highly recommend both the book and the film. They will give you much to think about.

Friday 15 February 2013

Edmonton Tarot: The Hanged Man (XII)

Interpretation: The person who draws this card may be in a state of suspension between two sets of circumstances. The Hanged Man represents a period of limbo or delayed gratification. One must surrender any illusion of control and be content to wait out this period of unknowing or inaction. Sometimes the transition is between one set of attitudes or perceptions and a new way of understanding the world.

Image: The traditional image for this tarot card shows a man calmly hanging upside down by a single leg. Where would I find something like that in Edmonton? But one lovely summer morning in Gazebo Park in Old Strathcona, I ran across this young man suspended on one foot (albeit in an upright position) while honing his tightrope-walking skills. I put a nice tip in his busker's cap and he graciously agreed to pose for this photo.

I tried posting it upside down in order to mimick the traditional image more directly, but the photo just looked too odd. So I left the picture in its original orientation.

[Photo by Debra She Who Seeks]

Thursday 14 February 2013

WTF, Valentine?

I have always enjoyed Valentine's Day because I don't see it as restricted solely to romantic love. I think it's a great day to celebrate love and friendship generally. But I know that lots of people don't like Valentine's Day.

And for whatever reason, this year all the funny Valentine imagery that has crossed my path seems to come from the haters' camp. Do I detect a fine paw behind this?

But my special Bad Taste Award goes to this boxed set of assorted dictators valentine cards --

Terrible. Just terrible. Makes me feel guilty for laughing.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Moby-Dick Update

I've had a couple of inquiries about whether I'm making headway with my New Year's Resolution to finish reading Moby-Dick. I'm pleased to say that yes, indeed, I have been applying myself to the task. I go whaling with the boys whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I started off at Chapter 87 where my reading had petered out in 2009. Now I'm up to Chapter 123! Queequeg has carved his tattoo replicas onto his custom-built coffin. Captain Ahab has finished making his special harpoon with which to kill the great white whale. The Pequod is hot on Moby-Dick's trail but is currently in the midst of a terrible typhoon.

Only 13 more chapters to go!

[Whaling in the bathroom art by Nadine Boughton]

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Everybody loves Mardi Gras, even you know who! But sometimes I wonder if all this shameless exposure of tits, tits and more tits in order to collect cheap beads hasn't gone too far. Maybe it's time to go back to the good old days --

Nah, just kiddin'!

Sunday 10 February 2013

Year of the Serpent

Gung hey fat choy, everyone! Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Serpent!

In Chinese mythology, serpents are often associated with goddesses and heroines. Serpents bless us with the powerful feminine yin energy of wisdom, mystery and sensuality. Well, that sounds promising, doesn't it? So what can we expect in a Serpent Year? According to Susan Levitt and Jean Tang in Taoist Astrology:

The year of the Serpent is a time of introspection, planning, and seeking answers. People will ponder and think before they act. Good taste and elegance will prevail in fashion, theatre, film, and all the arts. Serpent wisdom influences contributions in the sciences through new technological inventions and discoveries. But this is not an auspicious year for gambling, investing, or taking any financial risks because the calamities of the previous Dragon year can continue into Serpent year. Expect political extremes, scandals, and the exposing of secrets.

Don't forget to exchange a small coin with a friend today to ensure good luck and prosperity for the upcoming year! Click here for details of this fun little ritual.

Friday 8 February 2013

Edmonton Tarot: Strength (XI)

Interpretation: Strong and powerful emotions lie deep within ourselves. Using moral strength and self-control, we can channel those emotions into positive and creative activities. But if no control is exercised, such emotions can overwhelm us and be acted out in negative and destructive ways.

Image: The traditional image for this tarot card depicts a beautiful woman gently prying apart a lion's jaws. The closest I could come to that in Edmonton is this magnificent Fu Temple dog (lion) found at the entrance to the Chinese Garden in Louise McKinney Riverfront Park.

[Photo by Debra She Who Seeks]

Thursday 7 February 2013

There is Only One

Many actors have portrayed the iconic Mr. Darcy over the years but as far as I'm concerned, there is only one who is worthy to don the high-collared Regency coat and foppish cravat --

Yes, that's right. Colin Firth is the only Mr. Darcy for me. Long-time readers of this blog know that he has inexplicably captured my middle-aged lesbian heart and reduced me to a 5.9 on the Kinsey Scale instead of a perfect 6 (click here for details, if you must).

Her Royal Highness has her own opinion on this matter, of course. She much prefers another candidate --

Well, HRH . . . *shrug* . . . to each their own, I suppose. Just don't start up with that cosplay nonsense again . . . oh damn, too late.

[Painting of "Mr. Darcy Cat" by Tara Fly. Check out her fun website here!]

Wednesday 6 February 2013

First Editions? D'oh!

When Pride and Prejudice was originally published in 1813, it was printed as a set of three volumes. A mere 1500 copies of the novel were printed. Today, one of these first edition sets can (depending on its condition) fetch prices ranging from $78,000 to $220,000.

And the University of Alberta in Edmonton possesses one of these valuable sets! It is kept in the Rutherford Library's climate-controlled and security-protected Special Collection branch.

But here's the kicker! Until 25 years ago, no one at the university actually recognized these volumes' value or rarity and so the first edition copy was just sitting out on the regular library shelves, available for circulation like any other book. As an article in the Edmonton Journal recently reported:

You can still see [the] glued-in piece of lined paper where librarians stamped the due date. Miraculously, over all those years, no enthusiastic undergraduate nor absent-minded professor ever made a note in the margins, underlined a word, or damaged the spine.

Or, it goes without saying, ever stole it, sold it and kept the proceeds for themselves. Think of the student loans it could have paid off . . . or the monster blow-out frat parties it could have financed!

No one knows how the university came to own this valuable asset. Somebody probably just donated it early in the university's history when the library was trying to build its basic book collection.

[Photos by Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal]

Tomorrow: There is Only One.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Pride and Prejudice Bicentennial

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I'm going to be celebrating the book and its characters this week on my blog. Well, actually, one character in particular. You know who.

So, why don't we all get our dog-eared copies of this classic novel down from the bookshelf and start off our marathon reading session with that famous first line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Tomorrow: First Editions? D'oh!