Monday, December 18, 2006

We Have Moved

Don't know how you got here, but if you want to view anymore of our blog, we're now at thanks, Dave and Tessa

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Iraq War : US Study Group

Tessa: Today the US Study Group report was released I think it's interesting that an elite panel comprised of Republican former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana has unanimously decided that the United States has to withdraw from its role in Iraq to a support position. Although no immediate plans for withdrawal have been outlined its clear that the political will to stay in this war is waning. Perhaps its very difficult for George W. to do an about face after his relentless and unethical commitment to an illegal war that has resulted in the slaughter of over 650,000 Iraquis and 2900 American soldiers to date. But with Bush family insider James Baker taking the lead, perhaps George W. can do the right thing for young American soldiers who are being slaughtered daily. Of course, the sectarian violence unleashed by the American invasion won't do anything for those Iraqis who are left to clean up the mess the US neo-cons created. It seems, that history, does in fact repeat itself afterall.


Tessa: My niece Taya, who is six, spelled the word intestine. I think that's brilliant.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The List of Irritations

Tessa: Sometimes I ask Dave what he loves about me. And because he is who he is, he almost always replies even though he's a bit tired of the whole thing. First he sighs and then with a look of deep weariness he goes down the list of my lovable attributes. He's a good guy. Other times, just to shake things up, I ask him what irritates him about me. And because he is also a wise man, he never answers. So secretly I have been collecting what turns out to be a rather long list of things that I know bug him about me. Here goes:

  1. I snore. Heavily. Consistently. Nightly. I often wake up in the middle of the night to find Dave jumping up and down trying to wake me from my heavy snore-filled slumber. I'm positive this irritates him.
  2. As noted in a previous blog, I am a sissy. I cross roads to avoid on-coming dogs, I never turn left on busy roads, like a true British Columbian I can't drive in anything less than perfect conditions. I am also afraid of scary movies and even not-so-scary movies.
  3. Cost estimates based on nothing: This is also another sensitive issue. Often, during conversations about how much something will cost, for example, our home beautification wish list, I will bravely offer up a cost estimate based on nothing. No research or experience goes into it I just pull a number right out of my head. This can be done with just about anything from car repairs, a new roof, the budget for a small start-up business or the cost of running a small country. When this happens, which is frequently, Dave just looks at me and asks how I arrived at my number. Actually, he doesn't even do that anymore. He looks at me and ignores me.
  4. I am a picky eater. I didn't know this before Dave but apparently this is what I am. Panagopoulis in a squeeze just won't cut it and why bother eating Milky Ways when the Swiss and the Belgians do so much better with chocolate.
  5. Dave says I'm noisy. Apparently he was going to complain about our neighbour''s noise but in light of my own noise making he feels he can't. My noise making allegedly consists of slamming kitchen doors shut, never being able to find my inside voice, and running into things and snoring loudly.
  6. He'll never admit this but he can't stand the amount of water I use to boil pasta. According to D. there should always be lots of water in the pot. I lean towards using less rather than more.
  7. I never put my shoes back in the cupboard neatly on the bench he built for just that very thing. I am working on this.
  8. Sometimes I poke him when he's sleeping because I think he's awake. It turns out that often he isn't so he thinks I'm trying to wake him up when all I'm trying to do is see if he is already awake and ready for nocturnal conversation.
  9. I sleep in the middle of the bed. This is true.
  10. I walk in the middle of the sidewalk. This is true.
  11. I can't drink and stay up all night like I originally advertised on Lavalife. The first year of our relationship I didn't sleep at all because I didn't want him to know that I snored. But since the time I snored when I was a awake and talking to him its all over. Which means bed at 9:00 pm if not earlier.
  12. He thinks that I don't think this bothers him but it does. I forget to brush my hair for weeks on end. I often have a big knot at the back of my head which I think is fashionably unkempt but he thinks looks like I never brush or wash my hair.
  13. Five minutes before we leave the house I run around vacuuming, washing the floors and doing the laundry while he waits outside the door. I didn't know I did this and am doing nothing to change this habit.
  14. I snore.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Tessa: Secrets. Every single one of us has one. Whether we like it or not it occupies a
small place inside of us that keeps us alone and separated from the world as though a
film exists between you and those closest to you. It's what makes us unknowable. Kim
Edwards in her debut novel The Memory Keeper's Daughter explores how a secret
insidiously weaves its way through the heart of a young family and how a generation
later it continues to shape the relationships affected by it.

In 1964 Dr. David Henry and his wife Nora make their way through a snowstorm to the
hospital as Nora's contractions come faster and faster. Unable to make it to the
hospital Dr. Henry, an orthopedic surgeon, delivers the children himself. The first
child, Paul is a healthy boy, The unexpected second child, Phoebe, is mongoloid. In a
split second decision that will irrevocably change the course of his and his family's
life he asks the attending nurse, Caroline Gill, who is in love with him, to take the
child to a home. She takes the child to the home and horrified by what she sees she
takes the child to another city and raises Phoebe as her own.

The fact that Dr. Henry sends his child to a home would not have been an uncommon
decision in 1964 and ultimately he believes he is acting out of love for his wife.
What he doesn't realize is that the lie that is created grows between them until
ultimtately their relationship falls apart many years later. From the moment the
children are born the lie and everything that is never said between them grows into
palpable silence and isolation. And still he cannot bring himself to tell her because
as the years pass the nature of his crime weaves itself into the very fabric of his
life and his relationships with his son and Nora. Their house is large, affluent and

The parallel story follows Caroline Gill and Phoebe's life as she struggles to find a
her place as a single mother with a challenged child in a brand new city. That we see
Phoebe grow up as a delightful young woman who's mother has fought tooth and nail to
allow her the opportunities of any child, makes it even more poignant because what we
see here is the fabric of a rich life. One full of challenges absolutely but
definitely rich.

This is, of course, not only what Nora Henry has been robbed of but what David Henry
and his son are robbed of as well. The Memory' Keepers Daughter is an auspicious
beginning for this debut novelist. Kim Edwards skillfully weaves the insidious nature
of this secret throughout her narrative without ever making the reader want to
abandon or dislike the characters. Dr. Henry makes a bad choice but her skill as a
storyteller allows us to see him as he is; a flawed man but also a good man.
Again, this is a great read. It's a tearjerker that makes you think as well as feel.

When Snow Comes to Town

Tessa: This morning when I left for work it was snowing and icy on the roads. All weekend it has been snowing in Vancouver. Big, heavy, fat snowflakes that look like diamonds have blanketed the city. Yesterday we took Reuben and went walking in the woods behind our house. If you paused a moment you could hear the trees creeking under the weight of the snow. When we entered the path that takes us to the soccer field, where we exercise our world cup skills, all the trees and branches had formed an arc over the path giving the impression that we were entering some kind of hidden snow cave. The contrast with the snow and the dark brown branches was startling.

We went home to drink some of our boiled water and we're going to settle in for the night when the power went down. So we sat in the dark with candles drinking wine waiting for life to resume its usual pace. Lately Vancouver feels like its on the brink of disaster, like we're just skirting the edge of something even bigger and more chaotic. People say hello at the grocery store as they're carting away litres of bottled water, hunkered down in snow boots, and down jackets. I like this feeling. It reminds me of snowstorms when I was little and we all got to stay home from school and eat grilled cheese sandwiches and watch TV. I'm hoping this continues for a few more days though I heard that the water resource people have removed the boil water advisory. Still I'm looking forward to going home later on the seabus where I'll talk to other commuters, a little comment here and there about the weather, the water, the power situation. It's nicer than silence and makes me hope that those big, fabulous, diamond flakes keeping pouring down from the sky.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Sister's Keeper and The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Tessa: I recently finished reading My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult and The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. Both of these books are coincidentally New York Times Bestseller's and both of them are tearjerkers. So if you're looking to give gifts this Christmas that are guarenteed to reduce friends and family members to tears then be sure to pick up a copy of either of these two and that should do the trick.

I'll start with My Sister's Keeper. Although Jodi Picoult has written several novels, I had never actually heard of her but a friend lent it to me urging me to read it so we could discuss it afterwards. Admittedly I had a hard time putting this book down. The story is about two sisters Anna and Kate. At the age of two Kate is diagnosed with leukemia. Through preimplantation genetic diagnosis Anna is conceived as a perfect bone marrow match for her sister and until the age of thirteen unquestioningly allows herself to be subjected to countless transfusions, surgeries and shots. But by thirteen Anna begins to question the trauma of these endless rounds of hospital procedures. When Anna's parents offer her kidney for transplant to Kate Anna initiates legal action against her parents for medical guardianship over her own body. It's clear that although a hospital would never compromise a healthy child to save a dying child, Anna's permission is never asked. Her parents take it for granted that she will subject herself to procedure after procedure for Kate.

At the heart of this narrative is the issue of medical technology and this is a topic that Picoult navigates her way around very well. Having been a parent of a very sick child she is able to draw the reader into the emotionally charged and tortured journey that families of very sick children are forced to make. The choices clearly aren't easy and when Anna's mother pushes the envelope in favour of her dying daughter she at times appears monstrously one-sided and blind to Anna's needs as a human being. In the end Anna was conceived as a donor to save her sister's life. What her mother neglects to understand is that her daughter is a human being first.

The premise of this story is timely, as the long term implications of stem cell research unfolds in the American political arena. But like all issues, we as a society, are increasingly blindsided by ethical implications of medical technology. This book certainly has its weaknesses, namely the uneven and sometimes ludicrous characterizations of Campbell Anna's lawyer, and the fact that Anna and Kate's mother after years of being a stay at home mom returns to court to handle her own case against her daughter. Perhaps this is done to add levity to an emotionally charged topic that stands at the centre of this narrative. Overall, however, this is a riveting book that is sure to generate debate and yes, tears.

Next book review: The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The greatest people

Dave: I've realized over the past two weeks of rain, wind and cold; that the nicest people you'll meet are the people you meet walking out in this kind of weather. Most will be walking a dog, but not all. They'll all peek out through layers of clothes to smile and say hello. So if you want to meet some really nice people, go for a walk in the rain... but don't complain, because no one else is.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

YouTube: How Love Grows

Tessa: I'm not sure what happened to our date nights but they are definitely changing from Dave and I staring wildly, passionately and intently into each other's eyes to each of us staring with all of the above adverbs into our dog Reuben's eyes to staring eight hours straight into the eyes of YouTube. But what the hell, this is how we found these videos so if you're in need of a laugh go directly to these links. We'll see you in six hours. Ant & Dec interview David Beckham, Ant & Dec interview Victoria Beckham and Ant & Dec interview George Clooney.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My new girlfriend: Photoshop

Dave: Okay, so Tessa thinks I'm more interested in Photoshop than her. I can tell by all the glares, cupboards banging and the familiar loud groaning from the other room. The thing is is that I've discovered photoshop, and love it. I can't drag my sorry ass away from it. I've spent roughly eight hours going over the 250 photos I took of our friends wedding. Now I want to buy a scanner and printer and start going through the millions of other photographs I've taken over the years. I've always been a "film" buff but it was getting expensive and some of the jobs I was getting required digital, so I bought a Nikon D70. It's an amazing camera, and with digital and photoshop together the sky's the limit.... and that sky can be any color you want it to be. I still think of photography as a true art form, with the skill coming from composition and lighting. Photoshop is just a fun tool to add to the process, not replace it. My true passion still lies in taking black and white photos, using a nice high grain film with a #25 red filter.

I'm starting to feel that this whole blog adventure Tessa and I have set out on has become somewhat of a creative outlet that keeps expanding and growing. The more we create and learn the more we want to keep going with it. I even went to a Documentary film info session last night. I'm thinking of taking the course through Langara college. It's yet another avenue I want to dive into and explore. Final cut pro sounds like an amazing editing program that I'm hungry to learn. I want to start making short films, editing them, and posting them here. The wheels are turning.

I know Tessa will think I'll be sneaking out of bed, in the middle of the night, to do even more projects. But the fact is is that I'll be looking at the millions of pictures I've taken of her... admiring her long blonde, black or even blue hair.