Happy Birthday – I can’t Afford a Present…

This handsome fella is seven years old today!

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He nearly didn’t make it!

Seriously.

(If you have a weak stomach, leave NOW!)

Cane decided to give us (Second Born Son & me) a collective heart attack last week. SBS notice he was not feeling well. Vomiting and diarrhea. He then noticed that there seemed to be something coming out of his derriere. The photo he emailed me showed approximately THREE FEET OF FINE ROPE.

THREE FEET.

OF ROPE.

3 FT.

I immediately forward the pictures to our vet’s office. Then I call them. I use my calmest voice to tell the lovely assistant that I NEED them to look at the email I sent RIGHT FREAKIN’ NOW.

She puts me on hold. I can almost hear her eyes rolling. And then she gets back on the phone.

“Um, yah, we are going to need you to go to (the main clinic) as soon as you can. How soon can you be there?”

I’m standing outside my work which is 40 minutes away from home. Then I have to load up the dog, then I have to go the main clinic which is another 40 GOD-DAMN MINUTES IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION!

I am about to set a land speed record.

On my way home, I get a call from the lovely young assistant. She tells me she has taken the initiative to put together two quotes; one for the initial x-rays and examination, another for emergency surgery, ” in case we have to make decisions quickly.”

This is code for, “this is bad.” She tells me the cost for the surgery will be between $3,000-$4,000. I’m wondering what the black market rate is for kidneys, cuz I don’t have that kinda cheddar laying around. Who does?? Don’t answer that.

Once I get home, I’m met by the dog. It’s as bad as I envisioned. I pull into the garage and run inside to change before loading the dog, rope and son into the pickup truck.

Upon my return I’m horrified to see the rope is completely gone. It’s now wrapped around the base of the tires of my vehicle. It was pulled out as Cane ran around the vehicle.

THERE’S SEVEN FEET OF ROPE.

SEVEN FEET.

7 FT.

OF ROPE.

BASICALLY TWICE AS MUCH AS THERE WAS BEFORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am thrilled, horrified, fascinated, horrified, and panicked in a matter of seconds. Call to vet clinic confirms we should still come over in case there is any rope left in him (JAY-ZUS HOW MUCH MORE COULD THIS BEAST HOLD??)

Over we go. He’s not happy. He doesn’t care there’s a truck ride happening.

At the office they complete the examination. Cane is doing so well. They decide to do the x-ray. There’s nothing inside, they don’t think… whaaaaaaat? There was damage. It shouldn’t be permanent. Shouldn’t.

“How did he get into the rope?” they ask.

I have no clue.

“What kind of rope do you think it is?”

It looks like baler twine. We don’t have baler twine. What are you suggesting????????

$400+ later, we take Cane home. He’s happier, calmer (thanks to the sedative) and laying down in the back seat.

SBS and I look at each other, amazed at how a regular Wednesday turns into a freakin’ reality show.

Suffice it to say, there’s no new chew toy for Cane this year. He chomped down 7 ft of rope, so I think he’s good.

Happy Birthday Cane!

 

 

Shame On Us

The adult outrage against Greta Thunberg prompts this column. I dedicate it to her.

Her recent “How Dare You” speech at the UN National Assembly didn’t just get applause, but ridicule. How DARE this 16-year-old GIRL speak in such a manner? Within days social media was poisoned with memes of her outraged visage overlaid with mocking words pointing out her age, gender, her Aspergers or her appearance.

Shame on us.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in an environment where caring for flora and fauna was something to be proud of. When I had a home of my own, I wanted pets and to care for plants. We recycled, composted and had a barn pail for food scraps that went to our family farm for barn cats. We had less garbage with two small children than families on our street with only two people in them. I still have a laundry line. On days when it’s not conducive to hang wash outside, I have drying racks I my laundry room. I have switched to environmentally responsive dish soap and laundry soap. I have reduced my single use plastics to the point that I have carried numerous purchases from the grocery store to my vehicle because I left my reusable bag in the back seat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I’ve made choices that didn’t put the environment first. I’m trying more and more every day. I think that’s what we all need to do – try harder.

Instead, grown adults are hurling insults at a child. Pointing the finger at Millennials. THEY are the ones who want new cell phones. THEY are the ones who are mass consumers. THEY should not be lecturing their elders about environmentalism because the older generation consumed milk out of glass bottles and diapered their babies in flannel nappies. Ok, I’ll concede that point…. But the kind of change needed isn’t limited to how we consume dairy products. It’s decades of abuse and neglect of resources that could only tolerate so much. Decades of cars with little if any emissions regulations. Decades of big businesses not being regulated for physical and air borne pollutants. Bucks before polar bears, right?

The semantics of “global warming” vs “climate change” makes me want to stab myself in the face. ToMAEto TomAto. Talk about fiddling while Rome is burning.

I did share a meme that listed a number of suggestions that people could try that would make a difference. Everything from laundry and shopping to reducing how much garbage we generate. Within hours I had a reply to this post.

“Some of these suggestions aren’t practical. JS (just saying)”

Really?!?

Fortunately I took a sober second thought and instead of ripping this “friend” a new one, I replied the common sense that was implied by the post.

“These are suggestions that we can draw from – even one or two can make a difference.”

DID I REALLY HAVE TO SAY THAT?

Yes. Yes I did.

Shame on US.

I get it. If you live in an apartment, you likely don’t have access to a laundry line. But you could pop up a drying rack. Just work with me here, ok?

Just try.

I’m Slipping…or Not.

Truthfully, I thought I was losing my ever-lovin’ mind.

It’s bad enough that I have glasses that help me when my eyes are tired, but to lose a pair? Come one. I’m 47, not 87.

With the chaos settling around the house, there have been a couple of things that have gone “missing” temporarily, then found, as we all learn where things are going to be stored. I’ve even had a couple of good purge days where I was able to be merciless and toss or repurpose items that were not living up to their full potential.

But the glasses were gone. I couldn’t tell how long they had been gone. I just knew that any time I wanted to drive at night, I really felt like I would do better if I was wearing them.

Finally over the weekend, I got serious about locating the glasses. Fortunately I had my prescription sunglasses, but the other pair were GONE. I looked in places that I thought they might be. I looked in places that I knew they wouldn’t be. It’s like I had them and then, suddenly, I didn’t.

Both The Big Guy and Second Born Son were aware that I was looking for these glasses. SBS immediately indicated he had no idea where they were, but if he found them, he’d let me know. TBG, however, was far more invested.

As anyone knows, when you are looking for something, have someone making “helpful” suggestions is, in fact, far from an aid in the objective. TBG asked if I checked my purse. I had. He asked if I looked in the Jeep. I had. He asked if I looked in any of the new handy drawers in the kitchen. Of course I had – that was the first round of searching. He tried his “Dad Voice” on me, lecturing me about keeping track of my things. I reminded him that I already had a father and TBG need to slow his roll. I added the eyebrow for emphasis. I’m pretty sure my eyebrow trumps his Dad voice.

It wasn’t until Sunday that all was revealed. Heading out the door to grab some groceries, I happened to look up to the very top shelf of the front door closet and there they were; on the highest point on the highest shelf, in an area that I cannot reach without a stool to stand on. Remember, I am not short. I immediately knew what happened.

This shelf is a favorite of TBG’s for when he wants to quickly clear the hall the table of any items that he deems to be clutter, junk or simply don’t belong to him. I grabbed the nearest chair, hiked up to grab my glasses, and set out to find the father of my children.

I found him, unsurprisingly, cuddling Roman in the garage. Apparently I had interrupted a nail clipping session. Whatever. I held out the glasses for him to see. He was genuinely happy to see I had found them. Then asked the obvious question.

“Where did you find them?”

As I relayed the location of the glasses case, I could see the penny drop. He didn’t initially recall putting them there, and even tried to suggest that perhaps I had put them there, but couldn’t row that boat because he KNOWS I hate things being put up there. I would NEVER put my glasses there. He doubled down and tried to suggest that I should just be happy that I found them.

I suggested that he needs to stop “helping” me.

Because it’s causing me my sanity.

If You Don’t Laugh, You Cry

So apparently that last post got some people worked up!

Good.

To be fair, within half an hour, I heard from two male friends who expressed, a) horror that this had happened to me, b) support. Within a week I had much more support from both male and female readers. I completely understand why commenting on the post itself was not something they were comfortable with. It’s an uncomfortable topic, and for some, it was triggering. I feel for anyone who has gone through this as well. It’s not a fun club to be part of.

However, anyone who knows me knows I don’t do “victim” well. Never have. That doesn’t mean that I was born as a jaded little scrapper, it means that when faced with adversity/negativity, I tend to look for solutions or positivity. I have coworkers who are annoyed with my “glass half full” outlook. It means when life tees up my order of lemons, I’m looking how to deal with all that lemonade. Didn’t get the job? Wasn’t meant for me. Don’t have an overflowing bank account? I’ve got a great marriage, family and solid health. Think that’s schmaltzy? Ask someone who is sick how awesome being healthy is. “Getting through” is a powerful life skill.

I have also been reassured by some readers that there are still “good guys” out there. Yup. There are. Now those good guys need to get their back up when they see this happening. Don’t just be embarrassed for the woman. Don’t feel ashamed because a member of your gender has made it tough for the rest of you by looking like an asshole. Stand up and speak up. You have mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, daughters, granddaughters – again, I would suggest at some point in their lives, they too have had to deal with this. They just don’t post it on a blog. Ask them. Support them. Don’t question their actions, reactions or even their desire not to talk about it. That’s their Right. It doesn’t make them less brave for not sharing. They are brave for enduring it and continuing to live their lives as broken, glued together women. Sometimes it makes you stronger. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I have two mottos for my life: The Best Revenge Is To Live Well; and If You Don’t Laugh You’ll Cry. I’m still the same person I was two weeks ago. I don’t live this in my day to day existence. I will continue to have a bent sense of humor, and say things that might be painful in their truth, but I’m not going to a victim and I’m not to look the other way.

If my last post bothered you, then I hope you’ll do the same.

…and I promise the next post will be a little lighter…

The Best Kept Worst Secret

It’s been radio silence lately because the only thing that has motivated me to write is the 10th rate frat movie/soap opera that is the United States of America. But really, we all have the same opinion, so I can’t offer anything to this discussion.

It wasn’t until the shit-show that is Harvey Weinstein came to the fore that felt the need to formulate more than thoughts, and write. You might think I’m a little late to this “party” but the fact of the matter is, the only good to come out of this scandal is that the biggest Club in the world has finally lifted it collective head and said, “We’re not gonna take it any more.”

I’ve had more conversations with women about our shared experience of assault, abuse and embarrassment in the past two weeks than you can imagine. Social media is flooded with #metoo, which, when I posted it, felt empowering, and yet each time I saw a friend posting it, somehow it made me feel worse. There are too many of us.

Here’s heads up – I’m going to use language that may make you uncomfortable. I’m sorry if that’s the case. But I ask you to question why it makes you uncomfortable. If it’s because these types of things shouldn’t be discussed, I would suggest that thinking is part of the problem.

***

The first time I was exposed to this type of conduct was when I was a child. I can’t bring myself to write about that experience, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t dealt with properly and to this day, the emphasis has been on the “poor” offender.

***

Uglyness of Men reared it’s head when I was in Grade 9, and a Grade 12 student took a shine to me. He made it his mission to stalk me in hallways. For some reason my friends only thought it was creepy because he wasn’t ‘cute’. Apparently stalking is more palatable when you are attractive. He elevated his game to calling my home and not talking when I answered the phone. It wasn’t until I flat out told him he was a freak show  for his inappropriate conduct that he stopped his unsettling behaviour.

***

It continued when I was in Grade 12,  when a male guidance counsellor suggested, with a rather inappropriate look on his face, that I was “selling (myself) short by not going to university. (I’m) far too pretty to go to college.” I left his office immediately after.

<PAUSE> Please know that I am well aware of my outward appearance. I don’t take myself for a raging beauty, nor do I think I’ve been hit with an “ugly stick”. I float somewhere around the middle – acceptable. Which is likely why I felt so uncomfortable that he commented on my appearance. I was never evaluated in such a way before. It’s also likely why I’m not comfortable with comments on my appearance in general. <PLAY>

***

Ironically, my issues where always with males who were older than me. Boys my age; I didn’t exist to them. Perhaps that was a blessing.

Now I’m dating someone a bit older than me, and we are going out for New Year’s Eve. His friend, a mutual acquaintance, corners me during Auld Lang Syne and kisses me after inappropriately asking if my date has kissed me yet during the course of our relationship. I try to defer the conversation in an attempt to seek out the guy I came with, and would like to be embracing. Just before he plants it on me, I see my date across the floor, looking for me. I’m treated to an alcohol flavored slobber. He thinks it’s funny.

***

Next, I’m a married woman around 23 years old, who is attending a Stag and Doe for a family member. I’m dressed for the summer evening wearing an A-line dress with a V neckline. Another relative slides up beside me and has a rather uncomfortable grip on my midsection. He then angles his head so it is directly beside mine and looks down.

“I can’t believe you just looked down my dress,” I exclaim loudly. This is enough for his head to snap back and the arm to retract. I continue, “I saw you do that! Who looks down his (family relation’s) dress?!” He now adopts a stance where it appears as thought I’m bat-shit crazy and he’s protecting himself from an unwarranted barrage from a hormonal female.

Three other people saw him do it, and heard me call him out, and said nothing, but shot daggers at him. While one individual thought the exchange was “embarrassing”, it was worth it given that the offender stayed as far away from me as the room would allow.

***

Now I work for an organization where part of my role is to mingle and develop relationships with patrons. There is a free bar and I have comfortable relationships with a number of the individual at this reception. One individual, who is obviously putting on a show for his friends, puts his arm around my waist as he introduces me to his group. While I’m not a fan of such physical contact at work, this is common practice by both male and female patrons and is largely interpreted by employees as gesture of friendship. This individual completes his praise of the evening, then pulls me in and gives me an open mouth kiss, which – in and of itself was disgusting, and was further traumatizing because of the food that was not completely masticated in his mouth. I pull away, make a gracious exit (because remember, I don’t want to embarrass HIM!) and advised my supervisor. He brushes it off and suggests I don’t go back to that party’s table for the rest of the evening.

As we drive home, my supervisor in the front passenger seat, and his supervisor driving the mini van. I attempt to block the evening’s events from my mind by reclining in the middle row of the van. Suddenly I’m drawn to the conversation in the front seat.

“Sarah had a problem tonight with (name has been removed to protect the guilty).” said Supervisor 1.

“What was it?” asked Supervisor 2, not at all concerned in his tone or word choice.

“(Name has been removed to protect the guilty) kissed her. On the mouth.” said S1.

S2 laughs. I am @#%*ING awake now!

“I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as she’s letting on,” he replies.

“Actually, it was worse because he had a mouth full of food,” I stated. The van jerks on the roadway as S2 didn’t think I was listen to him make a grade A chauvinistic asshole of himself. He then tried to downplay what he said, and generally smooth over the incident, saying sometimes people just drink too much and these things just “happen.”

“I didn’t think prostitution was part of the job description.” I finished. Apparently I was hormonal again, because the two of them stopped talking. Although two supervisors are aware of this incident, it is never brought up again, and the perpetrator is never spoken to.

Don’t worry – I left this position shortly thereafter, as I had applied for a promotion that was all but assured. Honestly, I had co-workers and patrons telling me I was going to get the promotion, how hard I’d worked for it, and how amazing I’d be in the new role. I did not, in fact, get the promotion. Apparently I had commitments at home that would prevent me from doing the job. He was referring to my kids. I should note that I had put in as many hours or more during my eight years with that organization as any other employee. When I left, they replaced me with two men. One, who is now in the role that I applied for, has children…..sorry, I forgot we were talking about straight sexual harassment, not gender prejudice in the workplace – that’s another post.

***

As recently as this year, my 46th on this planet, I’ve had inappropriate comments made to me. One of my favorites, “I know which window is for your bedroom”. Another, “I listen to you on the radio and loooove hearing your voice.” – please imagine a very creepy facial expression to that last one. Oh, and these are from the same person. I point out to him that these comments are rather uncalled for, and he’s going to get in trouble for saying them. He responds, “Oh you know what I mean.”

Yes, I’m afraid I do. That’s the point.

I don’t hold back now. I haven’t for a while – as this post attests. I own these incidents, not because – as the offenders would think – because it makes me look desirable and is flattering, but because this is how I learned how to draw my line in the sand. Now, after these many conversations, I’m going to be even more vocal about improper conduct. I am the mother of two sons. I have taught them that a woman will give it back to you if you try to mess with her. I have taught them that it is not a compliment to a woman or to a man to treat a woman like an object. Woman are not objects to be owned or mauled. We are not stupid. We’ve been putting up with bullshit for decades. If prostitution is the second oldest profession for women, then sexual predator is the oldest crime for men.

Saying nothing hasn’t helped. Silence is the key the offender uses to open the door to this crime, and it’s what he uses to lock it behind him when he’s done. She won’t say anything. She never has. If she does, she will be portrayed as emotional, hormonal, crazy, a slut, disgruntled, manipulating. There’s less of a chance she will say anything because history has proven that society won’t believe her, or worse, re-victimize her over and over again.

No more. If you think you are going to “grab ’em by the pussy” be prepared to get kicked in the balls.

 

 

 

I Get It Now

It seems self serving to say I’m not racist, but given the climate right now, I need to. But at the same time, I was naive.

Naive in that I don’t treat anyone different based on their gender, colour, or sexual preference. You judge others as you judge yourself. The first wake up call for me was when Trump was elected president. How could there be so many people who feel that he was the best option? God Bless the Electoral College.

Now, in the wake of the disaster that was the Charlottesville demonstrations, I get it. There is a segment of the American population that is feeling threatened. They see there has been a shift in society and they want things the way they used to be. Like 150 years ago. A demonstration to preserve a statue erected for General Robert Lee, one of the losing generals of the Civil War, was purported to be a stand for history, for the fabric of the American culture.

Except, that history was white washed.

There are countless web pages devoted to the “real” (fill in the blank general, politician, founding father). They were human, they were flawed, and many of them agreed to the accepted norm of the time; that owning another human was not just legal, but their God-given Right because they were born the whitest shade of pale.

The insult to the injury of these statues is that most were not erected at the end of the Civil War, in fact, the last monument, built in Arizona (not even a state during the war) was installed in 1975!?!?!? This was a conscious effort to remind African Americans that in spite of perceived advancements in their station in life (voting, non-segregated education, not being owned) the shade of the past was a literal and figurative presence.

The next realize for me was one it was pointed out that following World War II, there were no statues erected in Germany in honour of Adolf Hitler nor any of his evil cohorts. No schools are named after them. No bridges. No parks. The horror of the Nazis was erased from the country with only history books and the memories of the Holocaust survivors to give voice to the madness. That is why there was such shock when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Holocaust Memorial was opened; you had to see it to comprehend the nightmare.

Imagine being an African American child who walks to school every day, past the eternal monument giving tribute a man, who fought a war to separate your country, over his desire to own your ancestors, which he had the right to torture, rape and kill. Now imagine knowing that this same marker is a meeting place for racists TODAY, who still subscribe to such asinine theories as intellectual superiority based on skin colour.

Can you imagine that child’s frustration to open a history book and learn that not only is his community white-washed of any reality regarding what slavery was actually about, but also his education. White students beside him are taught the same thing, which perpetuates the Myth. White is good. White brought advancements. White is right.

We know differently now. Stories, movies, books, memories all tell of a different reality. This one involves fear, prejudice, assault, abuse, torture and a facing the reality that in the 21st Century that the first black man elected to the highest office in the land will be followed by another white man, who incites hate and fans the flames of the KKK and Neo-Nazis. Two steps forward, sixty years backward.

I turn my gaze to my own country. How easy it is to judge, but, those in glass houses…..

What of the pain of a Japanese child, separated from family and placed in housing in B.C. during the Second World War? What of the ongoing profound injustices done to aboriginals from the time the first European settlers stepped on dry land – not the least of which involved church and residential schools. Just two samples of wrongs that didn’t make into my history book, not sure about yours. Don’t understand why the Aboriginal Community is outraged? Because we still aren’t teaching what happened, so we can stop perpetuating our own Myth.

Many feel the reparations the Federal Government has attempted are a waste of time; after all, why should we make amends, WE weren’t the ones who offended. But actually, we are. As long as we force these minority groups to feel the white washing of the past lives on today, we continue to injury them. We need to see history for what it was. – a one-sided account. Recognize the imbalance and injustice, and fix it so that they are not bleeding today from the wounds of our forefathers. We need to own the mistakes of the past to not repeat them. I think that’s someone elses’ quote, but since we are talking about appropriation here….

I seriously debated writing this column on this topic, not because I’m worried about backlash, frankly, I don’t give a shit. If you don’t agree with my position, and identify with the morons who showed up with torches, chants and starched and ironed golf shirts on Friday night, keep rolling pal, ain’t nothing for you here.

But I was given pause because there is already so much talk about this topic. I feel we need action. I have family and loved ones who are Gay, Jewish, Black. The chants from Virginia felt like stabs into everyone of my people’s souls.

That’s when I realized, it might be the first step to actually do more with my white privilege than to yell at a TV screen. We’ve had several talks around the dinner table about what this all means and what our role in this humanity can be. We won’t be standing by in tense silence when there is a slur, a sign, a posting. We will not be ok thinking that we are the silent majority, and that most of “us” don’t think that way. Even one person spewing this kind of filth is one too many. We must speak up. We must push back.

Trump felt justified in saying that, and I’m paraphrasing here, “two wrongs don’t make a right” with regard to the riots in the Charlottesville park. Hmmm. If we were talking about a shoving match in the kitchen about the last cookie in the jar, I’d be onboard with it. But we are talking about the exact opposite extreme – an attach on humanity, and you cannot judge the motives of Anti-protests trying to stop hate with force, using the same stick as the Protesters who came to the park chanting Nazi slogans and instilling fear in anyone who wasn’t one of “them”. If the suggestion is that Good lowers itself when it fights Evil, then why the Hell did we have World War II? The Allies should have stood back and said, “Gosh, Mr. Hitler, we’d really like it if you pull your armies back from Western Europe, and when you are done, COULD YOU STOP PUSHING PEOPLE INTO GAS CHAMBERS?”

I think we all know what that response would have been.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~ used by lots of white guys

3 Years

Hard to believe it’s been three years.

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In some ways, we talk about you enough that it seems like you are still here. In others, it’s downright painful to see how much you’ve missed. Like yesterday. I know how proud you would have been about First Born Son’s graduation. You would have loved how he dominated his course. How he landed a job months before he graduated. How he bought a truck that you would have fallen in love with.

You would be delighted to see the growth in Second Born Son; literally and figuratively. He’s taller than his father and will soon look down on his brother. He is making decisions about his life that would astound you, as it does us. He reminds us of you.

In some ways, year three has been a bit easier. We don’t look at holidays like the top of the big hill on a roller coaster; unavoidable and rather unsettling. We’ve got some new ways of doing things. Little Sister is living at your home with her family. They are doing amazing things with the property, including looking at organic farming down the road. I can hear you saying they are crazy and then in the same breath, saying that’s what you would have liked to have done. Mom is settled in a new home. It’s perfect for her. She’s walking, close to the library and doesn’t have to weed gardens, so she’s got it made.

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But there are STILL days when a certain song comes on, and you never know which song that will be, that you find you stop singing along because you can’t breathe. Tears and a tight throat prevent you from enjoying it. Instantly transported to a time when you were dancing it it in the family room.

The hard days are farther apart. But they’re not gone. In a way, we don’t want them to be, because they remind us of you. I’ve heard that there is a need to grieve. “You need to grieve.” “You still haven’t grieved.” I don’t know what that means. I do know that being at your grave isn’t where I feel closest to you.

Know that we are missing you, remembering you, and hoping you are having fun with all the dogs in heaven.