January 30, 2008


Blah. That's how I feel. I'm late on my work, unmotivated, and somewhat depressed. I'm also noticing the low level of activity/comments on my blog. I feel lonely tonight.

I'm going to have a glass of wine, a shower, and try to get some work done. This is turning out to be a catastrophe. I'm never taking a three month break again - I'm way too distracted to be able to produce anything.

Hopefully, I can turn things around.


The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 28, 2008

Poesie en prose....

This is just a little bit of embroidery on a well-known theme. I'm nowhere close to jumping off a bridge, worry not.

He used to keep me sated with his endearing hedgehog ways, his intelligent comments, his warm heart and his well-chosen words.

Silence feels akin to darkness and forgiveness only gives a limited sense of sensibility. Indifference or despair? I try not to ponder the question, and only to wish him well – true affection is such, or so they say, and so I struggle to forget my own need for reassurance to the benefit of patience.

Work beckons. Immersion in fetid business idioms will hopefully alleviate my own need to forget, my own need to taste the absolute. It was an Equal Music. It is enough to taste such perfection from time to time, not too much, or the soul could not sustain it.Such is what I tell myself, and yet I cannot help but feel my mind stretching across the universe in a secret caress which never reaches its goal.


The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 27, 2008

A lil Vid....

Not mine, but indeed, this is Rabinal, wherre I spent a part of the week. Enjoy!

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 26, 2008

First CSMeet in Antigua, an unlikely jam and those dang frijoles

So… I’m back from Antigua, and had an absolute blast. The people I met on the CS network are simply amazing. Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, Canada (coast to coast, with Nova Scotia and BC represented at the table), the UK, Poland and of course Guatemala all had representatives onsite, all wonderful and interesting and stimulating.

I’d love to say “Hey, I took some pics of Antigua, here’s a link”, but… I don’t. We arrived at night, left at night, mostly because some of us had to be back in Guate in the morning, yours truly, amongst others. Instead, I'm borrowing from Ryan Fox one of his pictures:But I had a great time, and plan on doing it again, if I can – it’s wonderful to at last meet some like-minded people.

Curious about what the CS Network is? Click here.

Oh, another little anecdote from the field:

In Rabinal, I met a bunch of Peace Corps volunteers, and we went out to lunch. Amusingly, we decided to test out a new place… that had a total band set up, with battery, keyboard and guitar. Turns out the owner is a one man band, and he was more than willing to jam.

So between a stock card count and a discussion about accounting systems, I actually jammed on the keyboard with a PC volunteer who missed his battery direly.

How cool is THAT?

Last but not least....

"Frijoles Volteados" - Refried Beans from Guatemala

Side Dishes & Condiments
Special Consideration:

Here, a recipe for the famous frijoles. I'm not a big fan, but maybe you will be...

· 3 cups (or two cans) cooked black, red, or pinto beans with liquid
· 1/3 cup chopped onion
· 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic
· ¼ cup chopped green pepper (optional)
· ½ teaspoon ground cumin

1) In a blender, crush (or puree) all the ingredients above except for the ground cumin.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan and add the pureed bean mixture from above and the ½ teaspoon ground cumin
3) Simmer all the ingredients uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the beans thicken (this will take about 10-15 minutes).
4) Place beans on a serving plate with rice and tortillas.
Or use in burritos etc.

*Option: mash beans with a potato masher or fork. Saute veggies in the oil & add the mashed beans & spices. Cook as directed.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 25, 2008

La Ferria....

So I've been awol again, because it's so difficult to resist the call of the field... Anyway, here's the deal: I have a few pictures to share, not as many as I'd like to, because I ran out of battery. (New set is here.)

There was a Feria (a fair) in Rabinal while I was there, and so I had a chance to take some pictures that were rather typical.

La Ferria, traditional dancing and masks

But mostly, it was hard work and long commutes between Salama and Rabinal - the drive was one hour in the morning, one in the evening, and many twists and turns that made my stomach churn a little.

It was great, though - the people I worked with were wonderfully helpful, and I'm happy to report I didn't have to survive on beans (frijol) and atoll (some sort of maize oatmeal), which is a good thing. As much as I adore the people, I'm still struggling with the food, for the first time in a long time. I do get fried plantains, though, and for that, I am incredibly grateful. (Thank you, Guatemala Solidarity Network for posting the photo.)

On another note, my ability to express myself in Spanish is increasing at mach 3 - something else for which I am beyond grateful: there is nothing more frustrating, than being able to understand what's going on, but not to be able to contribute to the discussion... particularly when the group actually *wants* your opinion.

Anyway, I'm not back in Guate, and this weekend I'm going to Antigua with the Couch Surfers, so stay tuned for more adventures !

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 19, 2008


So I've been gone a little. It wasn't my fault, it was for work, possibly the most fascinating part of my job. I attended a food distribution. (For pictures, click HERE.) I'm exhausted, but in truth, it was worth it, even if 24 hours later my back remembers the long hours of driving to, and from my destination.

Baha Verapaz - Chitomax 051

So now, at long last, I can really say something about Guatemala. For one, it's a country with a lot (and I mean it) of mountains. My poor body certainly remembers the pain of the road, the slight nausea at all the twists and turns, and the back pain for all the sitting.

Secondly, Guatemalans are wonderful, warm, pleasant people. I like them very much - not only is it a pleasure to work with them, but it feels almost like being with family. I feel constantly huge, though. Sometimes, I don't dare stand, for fear of insulting them with my freakish height.

Thirdly, it's amazing what being bathed in a language will do to you. My ability to express myself in spanish is increasing at Mach 3. I'd studied it in school as a teen, and not practiced it - but I'm amazed at what my long term memory retained. I hear words, and they make sense, even if I couldn't come up with them on my own.

Fourthly, God bless subtitles. Thanks to the spanish subtitles, everynight, I get a bit more vocabulary. All in all... life is good.

The Beaver
P.S. Congratulations to Lynn, from California, for being the first reader in six months to post on my guestmap.
P.S.2 Belated thanks to Forever Restless and Pine River Spirit for linking to me !

January 16, 2008

A forklift saved my life...

Ok, not my life, but I might have had to spend the night sleeping on a pile of CSB if it hadn't been for the forklift...

Here's the deal.

I'm afraid of heights. I've been steadily trying to vanquish this very irrational fear for the last 2 years, especially because occasionally, I have to climb on stacks of food.

Well... I did, and it was all well and good, until I had to go down the ladder. I froze. It hadn't happened to me in YEARS. They had to get the forklift to help me down, and I was a bit mortified.

The good news is... well, I have a sense of humor. Thank god. Otherwise, I'd have died of embarrassment.

On the upside, I now can see life from the point of view of a bag of rice.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 13, 2008

Chrismas in the sun

So I spent Christmas in the Carribean, on a very posh cruise this year. Yes, I owe you guys a million stories about it.

In the meantime, here's a million pictures: CLICK HERE

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 11, 2008

Reflections on First World Contemporary Art

This is much belated. I’ve been having trouble with chronicling my life recently, for reasons I won’t discuss here. But it looks like cath up is coming at me. So here goes. This blog will not be only about Guatemala. I’ll also be catching up on stories of the past month, as they bubble up in my mind. Poof.

While I was home, I spent an afternoon at the Modern art Museum of Montreal. It was... odd. Modern art always does that to me. Three artists were presenting. A Brazilian whose art is basically... err.. huge pictures of representations made of epheremeal material. That's the best way I can put it. There was a Raft of the Medusa, in chocolate sauce. Weird.

But anyway, what he had to say about his work was this: "The object in the picture seemed to satisfy an eternal longing for its own sublimation. A body, freed from infinit materiality, meeting its own spirit." This is a note he made on a series called Individuals, basically 60 sculptures made of plasticine, though he recycled the material, so one had to be destroyed for the creation of the next one to be possible. So I guess, in his case, the final work of art was the photograph. That was the original. The things the human mind can come up with. Maybe I should start making strange, very odd things with paper clips and quit my day job. Or maybe not.

There was also a German fellow called Tomas Hirschhorn who exposed a... gods, I don't even know how to describe it. A giant set that I guess would qualify as a sculpture, except it took a whole room. The darn thing (I didn't like it, it was grisly, disturbing, depressing) was an allegory for globalization, I guess. I still took notes on it, at the time, wanting to discuss them with you - then, well, life got in the way. But here they are.

So... the thing is called Jumbo Spoons and Big Cake, and the "big cake" is our society of excessive consumption, while the "jumbo spoons" represent 12 twentieth-century utopias that have failed, in the artist's view. Examples include Fashion, Rosa Luxemburg, Degenerate Art, Rolex, the Chicago Bulls, the Moon, Nietzche, China, Venice. You know, I think in theory, I agree with him. But the presentation itself was... yuck.

Anyway, he did say something that I liked : "I realized that I had to make the choice to be an artist because only as an artist could I be totally responsible for what I did. The decision to be an artist is the decision to be free. Freedom is the condition of responsibility."

I guess I liked it because it resonated with me. I feel the need to be free. I'm slowly learning to accept to take this responsibility.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 09, 2008

Ever heard of Couch Surfing?

This is a new thing I’m trying. It’s come to my attention that I need to meet people, outside of work. I need to hang out with people who are closer to me in age. I need to have some fun.

I stumbled, through a discussion with a friend a while back, upon couch surfing.

"CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding. As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to create a better world, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it's about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!" This is how it is defined on Couch Surfing (dot) com.

Membership in the organization is free and is obtained simply by registering on the website. The core activity of the organization is exchange of accommodation. Acting as a host, a member offers the possibility of accommodation at his or her leisure; it is not required, but obviously it is encouraged. Acting as a surfer (guest), a traveller may search for and request accommodation at his or her destination. Accommodation is entirely consensual between the host and surfer, and the duration, nature, and terms of the surfer's stay are generally worked out in advance to the convenience of both parties. It is also expected to be free; no monetary exchange takes place except under certain circumstances (e.g. the surfer may compensate the host for food).

And so I decided to log on, fill out a profile. I don’t need a couch to sleep on, but community members are also people who are willing to meet you for coffee or whatever, if you are in their general area. So last night, I went out for drinks with Pampa, and met three other couch surfers. A bit younger than me, but not much. Certainly closer to me in mindset than the senior managers I work with. It was a blast. We laughed, shared life stories, debated on politics, love, life, values, and the way Oscar Wilde sees the world. Locals and foreigners mixed together and had fun, like a little family, until we parted ways and split the bill. It was grand.

Is it safe? I think so.

As Wikipedia puts it:

There are three methods to ensure security and trust, which are all visible on member profiles for potential hosts and surfers to see prior to arranging anything with each other:

  1. Personal references, which hosts and surfers could leave for each other at their option after having used the service.
  2. An optional credit card verification system, which allowed members to "lock in" their name and address by making a credit card payment and entering a code that CouchSurfing mails to the billing address. This also allows CS to recuperate some costs by requiring a fee for verification. For fairness the verification fee is based on a sliding scale, taking into account the Purchasing power parity and Human Development Index of the country of residence.
  3. A personal vouching system, whereby a member that had been vouched for — originally starting with the founders of the site — might in turn vouch for any number of other members he or she knew or had met through CouchSurfing, and trusts.

Also, the organization is registered with the IRS, and is listed as a non-profit. It does lend credence. Just have a look at wikipedia. It's quite detailed research.

For more information: www.couchsurfing.com

There are some contentions about Couch Surfing, and they have been heavily documented on Wikipedia and on www.opencouchsurfing.org. I don’t discount them, although since they aren't about safety, but rather about internal controls (yuck), as far as I’m concerned, last night, I met great people who were wonderfully open-minded and fun.

It was a breath of fresh air. God bless the couch surfers.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 01, 2008

2008: Back with a vengeance

So.... I've been AWOL for a while.... I'm so sorry everyone, it's only that at one point.... well I sort of got caught up in the world, and cut off from the Net simultaneaously.

I will make amends soon with many many stories and pictures, in the meantime, though.....

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Everyone, all the best, health, riches, love, friendships, eventful adventures, change and stability in reasonable proportions and overall peace and joy to all !

I leave you guys with an extract of Paul-Emile Borduas' Total Refusal:

Make way for magic! Make way for objective mysteries! Make way for love! Make way for necessities!
To this global refusal we contrast full responsibility.
The self-seeking act is fettered to its author; it is stillborn.
The passionate act breaks free, through its very dynamism.
We gladly take on full responsibility for tomorrow. Rational effort, once in its proper place, will be available again to disengage the present from the limbo of the past.
Passions shape the future spontaneously, unpredictably, necessarily.
The past is contingency of birth, it thus cannot be sacred. We are always quits with it.

For full text: http://www.artotheque.ca/image/refus-a.html

What is the Total Refusal? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refus_Global

Much love to you all!


BONNE ANNEE, tout le monde, je vous souhaite le meilleur, sante, prosperite, amour, amities, aventures palpitantes, changement et stabilite en proportion raisonnables, et surtout paix et joie a tous !

Je vous laisse mediter un extrait du Refus Global de Paul-Emile Borduas:


Au refus global nous opposons la responsabilité entière.

- - - - -L'action intéressée reste attachée à son auteur, elle est mort-née.
- - - - -Les actes passionnels nous fuient en raison de leur propre dynamisme.
- - - - -Nous prenons allègrement l'entière responsabilité de demain. L'effort rationnel, une fois retourné en arrière, il lui revient de dégager le présent des limbes du passé.
- - - - -Nos passions façonnent spontanément, imprévisiblement, nécessairement le futur.
- - - - -Le passé dut être accepté avec la naissance, il ne saurait être sacré. Nous sommes toujours quittes envers lui.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !