Friday, October 29, 2010

Yoga deal -$20 for 20 classes

Since Doom's iPhone incident we have yet to return to formal yoga classes. However I couldn't pass up this deal -$20 for 20 classes- and signed us both up. With the weather turning bitterly cold, I hope that will be a huge incentive to get us sweating and moving at Hot Yoga Lounge in Calgary. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jane Goodall made me cry

I came face to face with one of my heroes this weekend. When I was little, I wanted to work with wild animals particularly the endearing chimpanzees. Then I wanted to save the rainforests. Now, I'm in Calgary just trying to save useful waste from the garbage and making worm compost out of it instead. However there is a woman who fulfilled her childhood ambitions and beyond.  Dr. Jane Goodall is someone I have long admired and I went to see her give a serious, sometimes humorous account of her life's work in front of a sell-out crowd at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary. This sprightly but soft spoken woman pursued her dream to go into the jungles of Africa to study chimpanzees. She did this at the start of the new decade of the 60's when she was only twenty-six, and way back when single woman didn't do that sort of thing. A mix of her own determination, the belief of others in her, and the hand of fate gave her the opportunity to study our closest cousins without the usual requisite fancy university degrees.
Jane Goodall
She went on to observe that chimpanzees like us, display emotion; both good and bad, have the ability to fashion tools and pass their group's culture on from one generation to the next. In fact chimpanzees biologically, have more in common with humans than they do gorillas. Unfortunately, the one thing we have mastered that the other great apes don't share with us, is destroying theirs and our own habitat -yet we are supposed to be the most intelligent.

The venerable Dr. Jane Goodall is not a household name in some parts, but she should be. She is now seventy six years old and it would take way too long to list her achievements and talk about her tireless commitment to conservation issues. But do check out her Roots and Shoots program.

Jane Goodall talks to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show

Jane Goodall seems amazingly gracious and patient with her time. Nearly everyone in that auditorium bought something to be signed by her. When they ran out of books, people "fought" over tote bags and t-shirts. When they ran out of those, people willingly donated $5 towards the Jane Goodall Institute for a handout to have her signature. However, I wasn't one of them; I looked at the massive queue snaking out the main doors and resigned myself to leaving without ever meeting her.
Just as I was about to walk away, someone at the now empty stall announced they had discovered one more book -"In the shadow of man." I was momentarily stunned by this bit of luck then snapped it up. I went to the very back of the queue and shuffled along reading passages of her first journey to Gombe to study chimpanzees.

Jane Goodall had to have been signing various articles of paraphernalia and smiling for the camera for at least an hour and half by the time I rolled up to stand beside her. She has to be one of the most beautiful people I've ever encountered. Not only physically, but in spirit as well. It might have been with relief in her eyes when she looked at me, glad she was nearing the end of the line up, yet joking aside, she looked right at me, right into me and touched something that turned the emotional tap on. I'm welling up now thinking about her smile and her indescribable non-verbal communication. I know many people left that night feeling they had encountered someone very special; I want to say a saint, because for her amazing work alone and then the graciousness and kindness she showed that night she, in my mind,  had the aura of a saint.  And miraculously her writing was still legible after her innumerable nth signing.........

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The great worm escape

Tragedy has struck in the basement! I found (and counted) fourteen worms in various states of dessication curled-up on the concrete floor.  Some definitely were fresh escapees from the worm compost bin with their dead bodies still semi-soft. While others, that had managed to wiggle quite far away, could have been there for days, perhaps weeks and resembled hollow bits of twigs more than their former worm selves. I guess you gotta be prepared when you switch on all the lights - you never know what you might find in the basement.

Still I haven't attended to the worms in three days when I lifted the lid off the worm bin and found some were on the verge of making a trip out into the wider and scarier world of the basement. Unfortunately the lid does not fit snugly on the worm compost bin. There is a gap where the worms can either intentionally or not fall over the lip of the bin and out onto the cold hard floor. This tells me the worms are not happy and would rather be somewhere else than in the pile of compost-in-progress. I stuck my hand right into the bottom of the wet mushy heap. And wet it was. Too wet for the worms liking I think, so I've just spent a good half hour tearing up dry newspaper and cardboard to put into the bin, hoping this will take care of the problem. I gave the compost a good-turning over and found plenty of other fat very-much alive worms. As the worms play a big part in the cycle of nature I don't think they'll mind that I added their dead brothers and sisters back into the compost bin.....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don Cherry goes into the Dragons' Den Lair

Doom has some great friends and one in particular is Clark Robertson aka Don Cherry. Yep, that Don Cherry. (Actually, I try to avoid Canada's hockey mania and really no idea who the Don Cherry is).
Clark is a very successful comedian, Don Cherry impersonator and a lovely guy. He dropped everything and helped us move from our tiny noisy apartment to the quiet corner of the neighborhood back in August. If it wasn't for his outlandish Don Cherry van I'm not sure how we would have managed. And he is a wonderful ambassador for worm compost bins - he always talks about them to other people when I'm in their company. 
"Don Cherry"
Clark and his wife Darlene held a celebration on Wednesday when the episode of them bravely going before the wrath of CBC'c Dragons Den finally aired. Clark was sworn to secrecy about the outcome so Doom has been on tenterhooks for a long time. But wouldn't you know it, he had a comedy show up in Grand Prairie that night. Still I went to attend the packed premiere of the airing at the Deerfoot Inn. What a fun night! It was the first time I've seen Clark as Don Cherry and yes, he mentioned to others the gorgeous benefits of compost worms at our table. I'm not sure if the real Don Cherry knows anything about composting worms but kudos to Dragons' Den's Brett Wilson for stumping up the cash for Clark and Darlene. Never mind what Kevin O'Leary might think you made a great decision! 

Comedians as Movers?
Careful with my plants!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nenshi attends Calgary Business Hall of Fame Gala Dinner (Doom does too)

Calgary's New Mayor -Naheed Nenshi

Doom was lucky enough to rub shoulders last night with Calgary’s new Mayor. This was Naheed Nenshi's first public outing as Mayor-elect. (Actually it was more like Doom got to rub eyeballs with Nenshi as people swamped the guy). They were attending the 7th Annual Calgary Business Hall of Fame Gala Dinner. (Who knew they had such things?). However unlike Nenshi, Doom didn't get to enjoy the the Roast beef tenderloin because he was there to help behind the scenes. (Comedy doesn't always pay the bills and what if some of these business people are vegetarians?).
By all accounts there was a lot of money floating around and it sounded like this young man without a mustache wouldn't have been the attendee's first choice for Mayor. However CBC’s Peter Mansbridge was emceeing the event and reportedly used many superlatives to introduce Nenshi. He also made mention of the extraordinary turnout for the election, which has made headlines across Canada.
Serendipitously, the timing of the Business Gala Dinner presented an opportunity for Mansbridge to interview Nenshi for his One on One program. I'll be keen to watch that interview this weekend....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Well done Naheed !

Was anyone else gripped by the Calgary election news on Monday night? As I don't have cable TV, I kept track of the changing numbers on the Internet as the purple revolution swept through Calgary for Naheed Nenshi to become our new Mayor. I felt there was a touch of Obama-mania '08 happening; a young progressive non-white male using social media to get the vote in a town not known for its liberal ways. Can I say he got my vote? Actually he didn't, as I haven't resided in Calgary for six months so wasn't entitled to vote. Bummer -but there are other ways to participate and here I am.
I did accompany Doom to the polling station and tried to have a conversation with the keen young man outside that was directing people to the right booth. Happily, we were constantly interrupted as a steady stream of voters came in to have their say. And well done Calgary; 53% of eligible voters turned out, astounding for a municipal election.
Now lets keep our fingers crossed and our ears and eyes peeled that Nenshi can move Calgary forward.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicks in the city? Hot button issue for the Calgary Mayoral Election?

Only three days to go before people in their tens of thousands line up to vote for the next Aldermen and Mayor of Calgary.  I do hope there is a huge turn out because although the democratic process isn't perfect at least we have one and it tends to work better when it's reciprocal. (People run; lots and lots of people have their say). 
The fact that this is a local election should be an impetus to vote even more than in a general election; who sits around the table at the city council directly shapes what kind of place we live in by all the little by-laws they come up with. (Aldermen have as much say as the mayor but without all the hype and prestige so don’t forget to vote for them too).

Take for example the by-law on the ban of back yard chickens here in Calgary. I personally would love to have a couple of hens running around on all that grass in my yard that is doing nothing other than being sprayed every so often by my landlord to get rid of the weeds. The chickens would take care of the weeds and yes, the grass as well but at least I would have some fresh eggs to show for all that scratching around. From personal experience of living with urban hens (aka chooks) in New Zealand and Victoria, their happy clucking is not that intrusive. (Note hens not roosters). I’ve had neighbours with noisier kids and nobody has instituted a by-law to ban them. Yet.....
If it wasn’t for my worms the hens would also be great way to cut down on the garbage we produce as they love to gobble up food scraps and their poo, once composted, is fantastic fertiliser.
Now why bring this up as an issue when surely there are more important things to consider when voting for our city representatives? Well perhaps there are however, there is something very basic but fundamental that all we humans need to survive and that is food. I don’t need to go on about obesity, diabetes, pollution from industrial farms to say there is a real disconnect between what goes into our mouths and the effect on our health and environment in the vast majority of the population. Backyard chickens would be a very obvious step to bridge this gap. Hey, they do it in Vancouver ! (Actually they also do it in London UK; my friend has got her first backyard chickens: Daisy, Maisy and Sparky).

And this was the issue that got me interested in who was running for mayor back in June. I had not long been in Calgary and was probably unpacking in our tiny flat or something like that when I was half listening to Q on CBC radio hosted by by that delectable voice of Jian Ghomeshi when the words Chickens and Calgary were mentioned in the same sentence. 

My ears perked up and I tuned in. It turned out to be a debate between Paul Hughes (for) and Ric McIver (against) allowing back-yard chickens in Calgary. It got my blood boiling and I googled these candidates.  I found out that as an Alderman, McIver had voted against a by-law that would phase in a ban on cosmetic pesticide use. So I gather he thinks it’s okay to spray toxic chemicals willy-nilly but he’s against people eating their own nutritious eggs. Hmmm.
As for Paul Hughes, he was way too progressive for a town like Calgary and wasn’t willing to “waste” tons of money in promotion and never got rated in the polls. So he dropped out.
So who now will stand up for the backyard chicken? Ric’s out. What about Barb? I really don’t know. As for Naheed, I turned to that well of useful information about people, Facebook and  was surprised to discover on his discussion page there are quite a few people asking this very question. He has yet to respond.

C’mon Naheed. We need to know by Monday.