Sunday, November 27, 2011

Comic relief

I have been having very strange and vivid dreams lately. Last night, I dreamt that I was in a rocket ship in outer-space and that I went to an extra-terrestrial planet. This new planet was remarkably similar to earth and I began following a group of ring-tailed lemurs. I thought it was so remarkable that these space lemurs were so much like their earthling counterparts in morphology and feeding and behavior. There was one BIG difference in the space lemurs though... Get this- the space lemurs wore sweater vests. Nicely cable knitted sweater vests with high collars and large woody buttons down the front. They came in pink, blue, yellow and green. So, that is as far as my imagination goes. Space ships, extra-galactic travel, and ring-tailed lemurs in sweater vest.

I got a new Kindle and I have been watching my favorite funny youtube videos in bed. You've probably seen all of these before, as have I, but if you need a laugh check some out.

In dramatic series:

The dancing cat category:

And of course, the Whole Foods parking lot genre:

And, last the obscene gift section:

Have a chuckle. Its good for you!

PS Yes, I realize that the "dramatic lemur" is not a lemur, but that is how it is labeled.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Goodbye

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my grandpa, Fred LaFleur. He was born on in 1936 in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan, and is predeceased by his mother Alice (1937) and father Charles LaFleur (1975). Alice died the age of 39, after a brief and mysterious stay in the North Battleford Mental Hospital. Fred was one year old when his mother died, and was subsequently brought to Vancouver Island by his older sister, Florence, along with her one year old son, Claude. Fred and Claude shared a special brotherly relationship, and as children were referred to as "the rascals." In a recent hospital stay, Claude visited Grandpa and joked about the days when they would do odd jobs (weeding, collecting milk bottles, and castrating pigs!) to earn 25₵ to go to the movies.
Grandpa Fred (left) and Claude.

As a child, Fred lived with various family members and in different residential schools, and always longed for a family of his own. Fred met Patricia Brown in 1956, after a chance encounter, and agreed to drive the stranded girl and her sister home. They were stopped by police and Fred asked Patricia to hide his beer under her poodle skirt. She said "no way," but mustn't of minded too much because she married him, and they had 3 children together (Michael [my dad], Cindy, and Victoria). Grampa leaves behind three sisters (Marie, Irene, and Lorraine), my Grandma (Pat), Auntie Laurie, Mike and Donna, Cindy, Vicky and Terry, his grandchildren (Marni [and Ron!], Shane [and Mandy] and Casey) and great grandchildren (Caileen, Jesse, Hunter and Betty).

Grandpa and Grandma, 53 years ago, on their wedding day.
Fred and Claude started working in logging camps when they were 15, but the majority of my grandpa's career was spent driving cranes as a longshoreman. He worked hard and fulfilled his dream of having and taking care of his own family. Fred was Métis and was very proud of and interested in his heritage. He was involved in the Métis Association in Duncan and was happy that his grandchildren got financial help with education through Métis organizations.

Grandpa was exceedingly patient with children and I fondly remember him taking me on trips to Coombs, Transfer Beach, Fuller Lake and/or Chemainus. We'd go for ice cream or to search for critters, and he never minded waiting for me to catch the perfect tadpole or wee fish to bring home. I recently asked him if he remembered taking me to the lake and waiting for me to catch a small fish (in a cup). He got a wide crooked smile on his face and simply said "yup."

Grandpa and I at Transfer beach in Ladysmith.
During his recent hospital stays, the nurses commented on how he was a popular guy. His constant stream of visitors were a testament to what a great man my grandfather was. It saddens me to say that he is gone, but even more so, it saddens me that he was so uncharacteristically unhappy in the past few weeks. Cancer is a rat-bastard of a disease, and today, I am thankful that my sweet Grandpa Fred is no longer suffering.
Grandpa and Betty. Canadian Thanksgiving 2011.
Tonight, my heart is with my Grandma. Goodbye Grandpa. We love you.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Every time I go to San Francisco, I love it a wee bit more. Granted, its not America's finest, but it is awesome in a totally different way.  On Friday, I went to the California Academy of Science. Um, why didn't anyone tell how sweet this place is? Uh, they have dinosaurs, seahorses, and quite surprisingly, a number of exhibits focusing on the plants and animals of Madagascar. They also have a 4-story indoor rain forest and an amazing roof-top garden. Very sadly, I forgot my camera, but here a a few phone pics:

T. rex. Check out my tiny arms!
Aepyornis. You know, Madagascar's the giant extinct
elephant bird.

OMG, a tini-tiny Brookesia exarmata
chameleon. So cute!

Say what?!
In addition, Ron and I had some amazing Pizza at Tony's Pizzaria Napoletana, old-school cocktails and an extravagant dinner at Tadich (California's oldest restaurant). Hold on to your hats here, because there has been a REVOLUTION in food combinations. Garlic in Honey, for dipping bread. Best.thing.ever. Thanks, Tony.

Garlic in Honey, for dipping.
mmm, Pizza...
mmm, booze. 
We of course went to my non-spiritual-spiritual mecca, the Ferry Building, and saw a number of "occupy" camps.

Ferry Building camp.
Ferry Building sign.
On Saturday, as I was coming out of a shopping center, I was taken aback to be facing and surrounded by a wall  of riot police. Those f*&kers are scary! It turned out that my end-of-shopping coincided with an "occupy" protest. Is it just me, or is there an awful lot of enforcement at these "peaceful" demonstrations? Remember that whole Freedom of Assembly? Oh and the American Constitution with its Freedom of Speech? And  the American Convention of Human Rights?

Nothing violent happened that I saw, but yowzer, what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is going on in this country? Perhaps Garlic and Honey isn't the only revolution needed...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Worm food

I took a bit of a blogger's hiatus. I am back in San Diego now, but as I've mentioned, I spent the last couple of weeks at "home" on Vancouver Island trying to help my family deal with my Grandpa Fred's illness. He has terminal metastatic cancer and a number of tumors in his brain, along with everywhere else. If you've dealt with something like this you understand how horrible it can be. Knowing that your condition will only get worse and that you are going to die soon must be a miserable feeling. One morning shortly before I left, I went into my grandpa's hospital room and he was laying there all alone, crying. It absolutely broke my heart.

On the lighter side, I got a kick out of G-pa Fred over the last week or so because he's decided that the hospital and all of its employees are THE MAN. And he apparently hates THE MAN. Prior to this he has always been so gentle and agreeable and now he's not putting up with any shit and is certainly not going to be quiet about it. For example:

Nurse to Fred: "I'm coming."
Fred to Nurse: "So is Christmas."

Doctor to Nurse: "Your lips look a bit chapped."
Fred to doctor: "YOUR lips look chapped."

Grandma to Fred: "You didn't eat your broccoli."
Fred to Grandma: "What are you, some kind of dictator?"

Additionally, his vocabulary is now dominated by "bloody," "goddamned," "incompetent," oh, and "hungry." The steroids he's on make him super hungry, so he's a total food hound. Two weeks ago he could hardly swallow or speak and now he's gobbling down contraband cheeseburgers and getting pissed at the amount of time it takes for us to get him a slice of "brown cake." lol.

All of this is the cycle of life. But, I find it hard not to wonder why? Although I wish I could, I do not believe in an afterlife. So then what is the point? You work, you love, you laugh, you cry, and then inevitably you die. If you are lucky enough to have a partner you love dearly, you may eventually watch them wither away, as my poor grandma is doing now. How miserable.

Anyhow, given that I've been a deadbeat blogger, I've decided to blog every single day in December... I am looking forward to my December adventures, even if I am going to be worm food in 50 odd years.

A pic of Sam, for old time's sake.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What were you doing one year ago?

I haven't been feeling very bloggie lately. That and I haven't had wireless internet, which makes me feel even less bloggie. Anyhow, I'm here in Canada, trying to help my G-ma a bit as G-pa is not well. Cancer really is a rat bastard of a disease. Do what you can to not get it. People that say "you have to die someday" as an excuse to not take decent care of themselves have their heads up their arses. Blerg.

For some reason, I was just thinking, hmmm, what was I doing a year ago today? So I opened my old Madagascar journal. Here is what I was up to in Madagascar approximately and exactly one year ago...
                                                                    Nov 2, 2010. 6:36am. Tent.
said giant cockraoch
I sound like a broken record, but I am so very tired. I got up at 4:30 and was off to the forest by 5am. I chased ILove until 11:30am and then headed back to camp for lunch. After lunch I worked on my plants and then headed back out by 2pm. I chased the lemurs again until 5pm, when I was simply too tired to continue. I then came back to camp and unloaded my backpack, fetched water, caught chickens, showered, and got a few photos of an enormous hissing cockroach (9.5cm, not including antennae) and am now waiting to eat dinner. So tired. Am officially 2 days binge-free*. Yesterday and today I had breakfast (egg, cheese, toastie, coffee), snackie (two crackers, raisins), lunch (rice and beans, coffee), snackie (two crackers, raisins), and will soon have dinner. After, I will have a small amount of chocolate and two biscuits.

Nov 3, 2010. 7:41pm. Tent.
What a friggin day. Up at 4:30am and off to see where Akao slept, only to find them sleeping at Akao. Came back. Did data entry and then phenology at Vintany and ILove. Came back for lunch and did data entry. Went out to do phenology at Akao only to find that someone had taken all the nails out of my marked trees and left the tree tags scattered about. Radio receiver broke. Porky is near death. Boots on death bed. Food is disappearing from the communal box. A giant spider built a house on my pillow. Brutal. Brutal. Brutal.

Nov 4, 2010. 1:11pm. Camp.
chillin' with my chicken
I'm sitting in camp doing some data entry and just noticed that Bakira and Fiti are butchering Porky, who is/was my sick chicken. Poor thing is/was terribly sick and couldn't even stand. I looked at her before lunch and tried to give her some water, but she wouldn't drink. She had some sort of blockage in her gut. The staff and Felicien are going to eat Porky, but there is no way I am eating a sick animal.

Oh, I spilled gasoline all over myself a few minutes ago. Only in Madagascar would I refill a water bottle with gasoline, fill my generator and manage to douse my pants an foot in gasoline. And then do nothing about said spilled gasoline and start the generator anyhow. Just saying.

Nov 4, 2010. 8:41pm. Tent.
Another crazy day. Had a freakin SCORPION on my big toe. I was in the shower and about to finish up when I looked at my foot and saw it there all ready to sting. I can't remember, but apparently I screamed and somehow got it off of my foot without being stung. Close call. Too close. When we got back from the forest this afternoon, Olivier and some other dudes were here. In fact, they still are here. I must write about our visit, but am way too tired now… Night Ronman, you are my best friend and I love you.

*I think I had eaten about 7 chocolate bars, which would have been like six months worth. 

Alright, time to get some work done! Later gators.