Monday, January 30, 2006

So Much Love...My Fair Lady

PICT0078, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Our Fair City

PICT0071, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

A Personal Highlight!

PICT0103, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

At the Entrance to the Aquarium

PICT0083, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Ahh Welcome to Vancouver!

PICT0144, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

I Really Was This Close!!

PICT0115, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Some Great PIX From Some God Damn Good Times!

Hi Mum and Dad and Allister and Charly and...

And an especially grand Canadian "hail comrades" greeting to our favourite Fairfield three Charles and Courtney and Atticus. Great to get your message on the blog the other day...I hope your collective plans for general all pervading brilliance continue as scheduled! Greeting Atticus my good man! Go and give your Mum and Dad a big bear hug for me! Here are some pix from our recent trip to the aquarium. Much, much oh too much fun! Like four little kids one and all we had much fun with squeals of delight all around!

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Happy Australia Day Part 1

Everyone knows the answer is A right Allister??!! This is too funny

Happy Australia Day!!

Happy Australia Day Friends (or Invasion Day for the communist vegetarians in our know who you are...). I thought a happy bouncing kangaroo was the best symbol for such a wonderful Australian tradition. Where-ever you are in that wide brown land I hope you've got a cold one at hand, loads of sunscreen, some happy tunes playing on the radio and loads of other fine aussies in tow. Ahhh the last public holiday before the grind of work resumes. Mercifully the sun has at last returned here in Vancouver and Andrea and I were treated to the most spectacular sun-rise as we walked to work this morning (don't get too excited Mum, I haven't mended my slovenly ways! The sun rises at a very respectable 8am around these parts, very considerate of it!). The snow-capped mountains that ring the city were finally visible again, each quite lovely with a tinge of pink and yellow sun to set off a perfect morning. All is well in the world! Happy days and greetings to all!


Friday, January 13, 2006

He Only Eats What He's Caught...

Hi All,

Has been a very fun return to the workforce this week with much merriment and general bonhomie as Drew prepares to wed. I tell you there is surely nothing more festive and 'knees-up' exhilarating than a gay wedding - well not that I've experienced anyway. And truly the Canadians do it in style. With Drew and Dimitri due to be married this Saturday uber-funsters around the office planned a surprise 'bride-zilla' wedding party for these two fine lads on Wednesday night.

Shunning the due modesty and careful temperance typically demanded on a school night, the whole office party decamped to our manager's east van pad for red wine and 'games'. Now not to be too squeamish about it but the 'games' most often associated with the gay men I've known have rarely been fit for the standard office party - though in yet another reminder of the wonderfully progressive and enlightened nature of Canadians in general all in attendance seemed only too eager to embrace the virtues of cross dressing and leather. Hmmm there's surely something more significant in the alacrity with which so many men rush to embrace their more feminine side...probably a good PhD thesis in that.

Anyway, back to the party. As I mentioned the party was held at the Director of Medical Services' happy home...Heather is doubtless the most unusual medical manager in the whole of British Columbia having grown up as a runaway hippie in San Francisco before devoting herself to community nursing in some of the most impoverished parts of Canada and finally leading up HIV and Addiction services here in Vancouver. Everytime I drink with this woman I find myself more and more in love with her and not only because she offered me a job on the other side of the world after speaking to me for all of five minutes at a drug conference presentation! Apparently she decided that she liked me and that she wanted to work with me and so here I am a year and a half later. You can't fault that kind of simplicity in a manager's decision making and everything I've seen of her since only confirms this kind of no-nonsense let's get on with it mentality. Notwithstanding this crazy-brave instinct Heather is one of God's own proto-types, a unique individual in every sense and a great deal of fun. As I was soon to re-discover as the party games unfolded...

With our resident office admin nazi in charge of the night's games, Heather was the first to volunteer for the 'America's next top model hat parade', even supplying her own race day favourite for the occasion. Now ordinarily at these kinds of office parties in Australia, everyone groans, the usual suspects head straight for the bar while the office funsters and serial pests argue about why the game is necessary in the first place. To my great surprise, here in Canada everyone erupts in good cheer at the first hint of competition, all the while doing their best to add somehow to the ensuing good cheer. You know I'm becoming rather fond of these Canadians, you'll go a long way to find a more congenial people - perhaps only the kiwis can match them for good humour and all around insouciance.

As we all struggled to somehow manufacture some manner of millinery magnificence (ahh you like it!!) out of paper plates, streamers and toilet rolls (not as easy as it sounds mind you), Cory the aforementioned master of ceremonies abruptly announced that the rules of the game were changing and that we were now required to break into three groups and dress one of our members in full bridal regalia - surely in order to provide Drew and Dimitri with further inspiration for the big day. I think this was one of those spur of the moment 'I think I've had too much champagne' rule changes, though I'd been earlier warned not to argue with Cory, particularly in light of the fact that earlier in the day she'd been haggling with provincial health bureaucrats about VCH's projected budget only to come away with a handsome increase in much needed project dollars. Understandably she was feeling pretty chuffed as were the two executive directors in attendance and so Cory rightfully enough had the run of the party - her choices, her rules! Best not to argue with a manager who's just screwed dollars out of the tightest of fiscal coffers (Cameron's rule for living number 417!).

Naturally enough this is where the cross dressing comes in - again we had no shortage of young men eager to play the bride as we all scurried around the house trying to find props and costumes that might suit the occasion. Heather was the first to suggest removing the curtains from the kitchen windows in an attempt to fashion some kind of bridal veil. Again I was pretty impressed with her improvisational elan though her long suffering husband appeared less impressed. He repaired to the kitchen to fill his wine glass, and being a touch parched myself with all the festivities, I decided to join him in a tipple, safely removed from the maddening scrum forming in the lounge-room.

Now Neil is about as different in mood and temperament from Heather as it is possible to imagine. I was curious to discover how the two fit together so well despite the apparent differences in personality. I'd not met Neil before so I introduced myself as we shared a glass of red. Heather soon joined us and I quickly discovered that each shares the same generous and sincere sense of humour, patently the source of their amiable companionship. Each shares a full-bodied laugh that is as infectious as any I've had the pleasure of sharing and I was soon guffawing along with them as Neil shared some of his recent hunting experiences. Upon confirming that I was vegetarian (the reason apparently that Heather has not had Andrea and I over for dinner) Neil couldn't help himself in going into some detail with his recent trip hunting up north. And it was here that I was treated to the line of the night.

By way of preface, Heather felt it necessary to warn me about Neil that 'he never eats anything bought, only what he's shot, or what he caught!'. Heather delivered this surely rehearsed line with such icy panache, such dead-eyed cool humour that I immediately erupted in the most hearty of thigh-slapping, belly aching, party-stopping effusions of laughter. Heather and Neil of course shared the joke as we each collapsed in hysterics. I swear I've not laughed so hard in many a moon. Neil kept the joke running as he added that he had a 'couple of caribou running around in the back yard, we can go out and fire off a few rounds if you like just for fun!'. Fearing my manhood might be impugned I wasn't quite sure how to respond. Heather answered for me adding that perhaps I'd prefer to see the ducks curing in the basement - the prize catch of a recent shooting trip. All this was delivered with much friendly good cheer as I politely demurred, noting that we vegetarians generally prefer our feathered friends breathing. Heather called me a pussy and refilled my wine glass instead. Comrades my sides are still aching from all the laughing. What fun.

A fantastic way to return to work and a wonderful way to get to know some of my colleagues a little better. It was the most bizarre work party I've ever been to - I can't wait for the next one!

I hope all is well!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rain Ahhhhh

OK I know I'm only making this worse for myself - my obsessive attachment to the weather network website ever hopeful that the sunshine icon may yet appear in the forecast page. Alas no...honestly we have now had one month of rain! Daily downpours have become as reliable as Oprah at 230 or that damn alarm at 7am. I've also begun noticing exotic creatures travelling in pairs behind some poor bedraggled ancient around our fair city. Soon the arc will be upon us! Locals here shrug their shoulders and mention the foolishness of building a city in the middle of a rain forest (with the emphasis now on rain with much of the original forest logged out). I'm trying to keep an open mind about this, yet it doesn't help with news from home of yet another sunny day with light winds and 32 degrees. Just you wait, I will have my revenge in August when I finally get to celebrate a birthday in the sunshine. Patience Cameron!

With much love!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Chai Tea for Two

Hi Dell!

glad to hear you have recovered sufficiently from your NYE exertions - hope the heat has subsided a little! Andrea and I are missing you and hoops and brookie very much. Our lounge boogie was really for our ladies. We have put together a mix CD with all our fave dell inspired rock and roll moments on it - we'll pop it in the mail with some other goodies in the next couple of days. Meanwhile print off the chai recipe that follows and indulge in some restorative lovin'. Miss you!

CHAI FOR TWO (Rashpal's sure fire keep your neighbours happy never-fail masterpiece)

Place four cups of hot water into large saucepan over moderate heat. ADD

2-3 cloves
3-4 large cardomom pods (split pods to release more flavour)
1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon of ajwain seeds (can be a little hard to find so don't be walking all over town to find them - tea will be just fine without them!)
Small piece of fresh cinnamon (about half a quill/stem to taste)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger (more to taste)
2 regular black tea bags (apparently orange pekoe is the best Indian tea)

Bring mix to a light boil and allow to simmer for 15-20 mins (if you have the patience) or boil more rapidly for 5-10 mins if you're in a hurry.

Next add 2-3 cups milk/soy to taste and 4-6 teaspoons brown sugar again to taste.

Strain, serve with tasty biscuit treat. Drink tea and eat and talk with best friends around - happy days!

I've been experimenting with all the various spices in different quantities and measures to get the tea just right - half the fun really. Hard to go wrong so I hope you enjoy it!

Much love,


Monday, January 02, 2006

such rock and roll hair!

DSC00412, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Surely the Luckiest Man in all Christendom

DSC00419, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

...dancing at the disco, bumper to bumper

DSC00413, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

pink peppercorns, red wine and the wolf parade!

Happy New Year All!

Andrea and I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's, no matter what that night may have entailed - from a night in on the couch with your nearest and dearest to one of those parties that starts on Friday and finally ends sometime after lunch on the following Tuesday. I hope it did the business!

In keeping with the winter chill outside Andrea and I decided to stay in, turn the stereo up, let the red wine flow and finally experiment with the lentil, goat's cheese and pink peppercorns masterpiece that we savoured in the Barbarcan with two of God's own favourites in London in March (greetings Pats and Sarah!!). Andrea put in the hard work in the kitchen preparing the lentils whilst I tended to the soundtrack...

...after popping out for more red wine after dinner (strangely for a Duff I had erred in thinking that one bottle would suffice for the night - what a foolish error!), Andrea had finished her infamous lemon and lime tart. Now the tart is to blame for the mayhem that followed (the extra bottle of wine may have played its part, but who can say...), sugared up with the best shortbread pastry this side of Lindeman Avenue, Maroochydore and with enough red wine to keep our spirits high we notched the volume up a little higher and decided that a good old fashioned lounge room boogie was in order.

For reasons best left for another day, the fabulous personage of Dell Stewart was mentioned at one point (absent friends alas) which only inspired some rock and roll madness in homage to the queen of dirty sneakers, hair tossing and tight jeans herself! Well as you can see from the photos happy days with the yeah, yeah, yeahs, the arcade fire and wolf parade providing the requisite rock and roll (ain't noise pollution!).

Now thankfully for the hangover, we are not as light on our feet as we once were, so with breath evading us we let the neighbours have some peace some time after midnight. We put the redwine aside, sloughed down a couple of pints of water to ward off the New Year's day blues and retired to the couch for an old Jimmy Stewart film.

Some folks have all the luck - a magic night!

Happy New Year and much love!