The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the category “Miscellaneous Rants”

Nomination for a Woman Who Made America

There has been some talk lately about the Women Who Make America, due to a special on PBS. My mom has called me about it (a few times) and my twitter feed went bananas the first time the special was on. One of the tweets stated something like the real women that make America are pretty busy just getting sh*t done, so have no time to pause and congratulate themselves as part of a television special. These are the people who just do it, everyday, without recognition or accolades, because it (whatever it is), just needs to get done. It got me thinking..

My grandfather had a rural postal route many moons ago. When he decided to retire from his post, practice was that he would name the person to take his route. He decided that his daughter, Barbara, would take the post. She was interested in the job, qualified and looking for just a position. Her dad named her as his successor. This was met with a hearty “no thank you, what are you thinking appointing a woman to this job?” and “we’ll take it from here.” Undeterred, he took the request up the chain of command. When he did not get the answers he wanted, he sought legal help. No one was going to deny his daughter a job based on her gender. When it was made known that he had an attorney and was ready to fight for his appointment, the postal service relented and Barbara was awarded the position. She was one of the first women to hold a rural postal route. She faithfully (and successfully) carried out her duties with the postal service her entire career. Barbara left us last year after Alzheimer’s Disease took over her once very active brain. She was an excellent seamstress, postal worker, mother, grandmother and drove bus for the company that she owned.

My grandfather would not consider himself a political person. Barbara would not have considered herself a feminist. They were just two people who wanted to treated fairly and treated others in the same fashion. Barbara would have been too busy delivering the mail on her rural route to notice that PBS was doing a program about how women’s roles have changed and the women that were so instrumental in changing them. By doing her job well for so many years, she opened doors to other, qualified women that wanted to work in various positions in the postal service. This may not be newsworthy to many, but it is newsworthy to me. It shows that the people who make the United States a place where people are treated fairly and justly are not necessarily elected to high office, attend Ivy League schools or the like. It shows that people who make it a priority to do the right thing move our country forward.

Barbara is my nomination for the list of Women that Make America.

My Two Week Political Binge

It’s Friday and I am hungover.  The political conventions are over and I am spinning with visions of PBS in my head.  I need coffee.  The last two weeks I have been watching speakers and checking facts and tweeting and explaining what all this is to my kids.  I know it’s all a big scripted show.  (Unless, of course, you are talking with an empty chair.  Sorry, low hanging fruit, I couldn’t resist.)  So, yes, it is a scripted, highly produced spectacular about how great each candidate is and their vision for the future of the United States.  And I love it.

Growing up my family kept up on current events.  Are my parents Republican or Democrat?  I honestly don’t know.  Mom, Dad , my brother and I would talk about current events – 80s happenings – and we almost never agreed.  We had a say, though.  My brother and I were expected to debate. We were expected to engage in the conversation and have an educated opinion.  We were also expected to be open-minded and listen to others’ point of view.  Mom and Dad have opinions.  Strong opinions.  My dad especially has a tendency to get on rants about this and that.  I asked him once who he voted for in an election.  Once is the key word.  His reply? “Its nobody else’s business for whom you vote.  The important thing is that you always vote.”  Then he went on about how the US is a great country, all the hopes of his family when they arrived in the US many moons ago, and how anybody in the US can do anything they put their mind to… you get the idea.  So, is he a Republican? Democrat? Libertarian? Communist? (j/k Dad, just wanted to see if you really read these posts) I don’t know.  We’ve always discussed multiple sides of an issue.  He and my mom would let us decide for ourselves.  At times this has not worked in their favor, mind you.

Back to my political hangover.

My kids have been asking what all the hubbub is about and why I am watching all this.  I explain that we Americans will be electing a new president in a few short months and that these two, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are asking for our votes.  President Obama is up for re-election and we get to decide whether we want for him to continue to be president for another four years or if we want Mitt Romney to be president instead.  Many questions from the kids.

Why is President Obama only president for four years?  Wasn’t there a president that stayed in office for twelve years?  What if a president dies while in office?  What’s the difference who is president?  Who are you voting for, Mom?  Why aren’t there any little kids with Mitt Romney?  Do you think Sasha and Malia like living in the White House?  I bet they don’t want to move again.

I tried to be even.  I told them about term limits.  I told him about Republicans and Democrats as age appropriate and diplomatic as I could.  As my parents, I have strong political opinions.  However, I am not comfortable with my children becoming little parrots around school and town spouting off all my political points of view.  As they grow, I want for them to decide for themselves.  (I think so, anyway.)   Since Paul Ryan is from our native Wisconsin, I may have spent a little more time talking about where he grew up and how he is now a pretty big deal in Congress and will be the Vice President if Mitt Romney gets elected.  This led into the conversation about how a person can go into politics and what the qualifications are to run for Congress and President.  It was a nice talk.

So over the last day or so, during the Democratic Party’s National Convention, the conversation had turned to, “Mom, who are you voting for?”  I told them I wasn’t sure yet, (liar, liar), that both are smart, qualified candidates and that I was going to do some additional reading prior to making my decision (pants on fire).   Maybe not totally a lie.  True, both candidates are smart men.  True, both have been deemed worthy to represent their parties in the election and will be on the ballot. True, both are well-educated and have support of many people. False, I have not yet made a decision.

I turned the question to them.  I said, “You have seen some of the speeches and I told you about each candidate.  Who would you like to see get elected?”  Mid answered first.  “I would like to see Mitt Romney get elected and have a turn.  We are supposed to let people take turns, right?  And Obama has already been president.  Romney has been trying to be president for a really long time, according to the person on the TV.” Okay.  Taking turns is a nice sentiment.  Jaybird went next.  “I want Obama to stay President, because I don’t want his daughters to have to move into a different house again.  And the other guy he is always with (Joe Biden) is funny.”  Apparently she has internalized some issues about our relocation and has picked up on how Joe Biden can be quite entertaining.  I turned to Apprentice and asked the question.  He replied that he is not interested, as neither plays hockey and we live in Canada.  Alrighty, then.

Jaybird had the comment of the night, however, when she went on to ask, “Why are there no women running for President?  I want there to be a woman President.  That would be cool.”  I agreed.  That would be cool, I told her, I would like to see a woman get elected President also.

So how did I do presenting the candidates in an unbiased, diplomatic, age appropriate manner?  Not perfect, by any stretch, but perhaps somewhere between Fox News and MSNBC.

Get it together, woman!

I am having a bad week.  You know, not like a terrifyingly tragic life threatening week, but I just can’t seem to get my poop in a group, (as one Jess would say).

Monday was Tax Day, so naturally Sunday evening and Monday were a bit stressful.  I also had sore legs on Monday, (thankful for rest days when training), due to a run in  the Saturday AM, Soccer Coaches Clinic Saturday afternoon (who would’ve thought they would have the coaches running like MLS players for 3 hours?) and wrapping with a 29k run on Sunday morning.  I am tired again just typing it.  The usual laundry I do on Monday did not get quite done.

Then Tuesday came along and I had the opportunity to do some work in Apprentices’ class.  It is always fun to help out at school, but I gotta tell ya, it throws off my whole week’s rhythm.  So the laundry that was waiting from Monday did not quite get finished, and the cleaning that I usually do on Tuesday also did not 100% completed.  I know, at this point you are all “screw you, these are not problems”, but stay with me here.  Contributing to a perfect storm of scheduling difficulties, JB had a work thing into the evening on Tuesday (11pm, but who notices?) which meant that I was not able to meet my running buddies for the usual Tuesday evening run.  No problem, I thought, I will just run during the day on Tuesday.  As noted above, Tuesday was not the productive day I had hoped for, plus it poured all day, so the run did not happen.  Runners, you know how missing a workout totally screws with your head.  But I digress.

Wednesday I flirted once again with entering the professional world and interviewed for a job.  Still on the fence about that.  However, having to be all presentable threw me off yet again and I failed to get another run in on Wednesday.  So there I was, waiting for the kids to come out of school on Wednesday, having not run in 3 days, but totally ready for Girl’s soccer practice.  I felt like I was in the twilight zone.  As I relived the last few days in my head on Wednesday, I decided that I do not like being the fly, much prefer being the windshield.  So there.  After Modern Family and a Vodka Cranberry, I went to bed, determined that I would be the windshield on Thursday and get my shit together.

So today I come to you a satisfied woman.  I finished all the crap I started on Monday and Tuesday around the house.  I ran.  OMG, I ran.  For those of you that do not run, it is really tough to explain how running makes you feel.  It was a great run on a cool, cloudy day.  I had a nice steady pace for a 10k run around the neighborhood and simply felt GREAT afterward.  I had shaken this “meh” that had been plaguing me in the beginning of the week.

My point, and I do have one, is that when I feel like I have to get it together, I run.  Some may say that I am running away from all that I am responsible for.  I would argue, (successfully, I may add), that running helps me to focus.  While on my run today I mentally prepared the rotations for the girls in their first soccer game.  I (mentally) arranged dinner preparations for the rest of the week.  I (mentally) wrote this post.  Running clears my head, helps me to get things in order.  There are bumper stickers and such that say sweat is your fat cells crying.  For me, it is stress leaving my body, defeated.

My advice to anyone that is willing to listen, is when you are stressed, feel the need to just “get it together”, go for a walk.  Go run.  Get out there!

A Tavern Tale

This is a post about a bar.  Not just any bar, but a bar owned by a woman with a clear sense of purpose, outstanding character and a giving heart.  This bar has regular fundraisers for different causes.  They have had successful toy drives for children staying in homeless shelters, helped people (me) raise money for blood cancer research and have raised many thousands of dollars for breast cancer treatment and research.

One year they had a highly successful fundraiser for breast cancer research, raising a little over $7000 in three hours.  The owner had traditionally given the money to the Susan Komen for the Cure, though the events were not official Komen for the Cure events.  After this particular event, the owner excitedly called the Komen organization.  To her surprise, she was told repeatedly that they should not have had such an event without prior approval, though they would accept the money.  It took 2-3 months for them to pick up the check and did not bother to send a thank you note.

Komen for the Cure has had trouble playing nice the sandbox with other women’s charities, I have learned through reading articles today about their decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood.  While Komen is a private organization and certainly can do what they want with their money, in my opinion, this is bad form.  Planned Parenthood has practices that some in their organization may not agree with, but the end result is making a difference in women’s health.  Isn’t that the purpose of both organizations?

When the news first came out, I was really pissed about this whole thing.  Then, I went for my scheduled group run and mellowed out a bit.  Now, I just have a plan.  My mother is a breast cancer survivor and I have been trying to talk her into doing a Komen event.  No more.  We will do whatever event she wishes, (or none, it’s up to her).  I will not buy merchandise with the pink ribbon, (after all, reports show only 17% of the money actually went to cancer research).  I will concentrate efforts on those organizations in my community that play nice with others and make a real difference in the lives of those around me.  I hope you will as well.

And the bar?  Still doing fundraising for local charities. Still one my favorite places to hang out.  Thanks, B.B. and all those that frequent WP for all your good work.

Tents, Money and Property

It came down earlier this week that the Occupy protestors will be removed from Olympic Park on Friday.  The protestors have been there since October and it will be interesting to see how they will leave the park (if they leave) later this week.  A couple of things..  first, it is really cold out there.  Like, way below zero Celcius.  When the sun is out.  Are you crazy? Second, you lost me on this whole thing.  I love a good protest against “the man”, but this one has become about camping in parks and tents and frankly, I don’t get it.  I know there is injustice in the world.  Tens of millions of children will go without clean drinking water today.  They will not have food to eat nor medicine for life threatening illnesses.  Girls are not sent to school because, well, they are girls.  Millions of children are on their own today because they have been orphaned by AIDS.   But, where was I?  Oh yeah, the tents.  Death to Capitalism and all that.

A funny story.  I can’t remember which occupy protest location this came from, (Vancouver? Calgary? Seattle?) but on Public Radio they interviewed a man about progress of the protest, a clash with police, their stance on fiscal policy, etc.  He went on about how capitalism takes advantage of those that do not have much, the growing gap between the “have’s” and the “have not’s” and how we should not be so self-centered and concerned about private property.  So far, I was with him, because let’s be honest, we (meaning our society) have some pretty f*cked up priorities.  I was ready for more, ready to pitch my tent (Okay, I don’t have one, but I was ready to sign on to the cause).  Then he continued to go on about how the police had confiscated his tent and he wanted it back.  Because, after all, it was HIS TENT, bought with HIS MONEY, and HIS PROPERTY.  No one else has the right to just take it!  Interesting.  So, if it were my tent that you needed and I were wealthy, (which I am not, so don’t get any ideas), and you took it, that is Okay, but because it is your tent and they are the police, its’ not?  You lost me. 

From where I am sitting, it seems that Adam Carolla may be right when he says this is all about envy and feeling underappreciated.  (be warned, his youtube rant is really good, but he drops the f bomb alot)  Just because some people have more stuff that you does not mean that you can pout in your tent in a camp somewhere downtown where you cannot afford to live because you are having trouble finding a job in a shitty economy.  The fact that the powers that be on Wall Street may be corrupt is not news, it is a constant filed under “duh”.  You have not uncovered anything new here.  

I have a piece of advice for whomever out there.  If you do not like your current situation, figure out a way to change it.  When you don’t like the way a company is run because they are homophobes or bigots or just plain jackwagons, start your own company with your own idea and create a culture of inclusion, acceptance and niceness.  Oh, yeah, and be sure you have a solid business plan to be profitable.

Fight fire with fire.  If you don’t like a businesses practices, like say, they won’t sell a Tshirt with a girl proclaiming herself a presidential candidate because it goes against your “family values” policy, yet will sell guns and ammo to whomever, don’t shop there.  If you agree that pizza is not a vegetable or that fast food should not be marketed to kids because it is making them fat, spend your money at a local grocery store.  If you think that pornography is degrading to women and should not be printed, don’t buy it.  Like it or not, its capitalism.  If you don’t like something, no one is forcing you to buy it.  The only reason there are so many fast food joints everywhere is because they are profitable.  Big box whatever stores are popping up everywhere because they are profitable.  If you don’t want to participate in their profitability, shop somewhere else, make your own food, go to a local farmer’s market.  You get the idea.

There is always a choice.  It may not be an easy one, but there is always a choice.

That felt good.  Prepare for more rants.  I have to refill my coffee.  Which, by the way, was organically grown in SE Asia on a sustainable farm, using fair wages, imported to an independent coffee roaster and sold by a locally-owned business.  Because that is my choice.

Holy Sh*t, its Christmas

I get grumpy this time of year.  So much is expected of Mothers this time of year – have you finished your shopping? Are you having the family over for the holidays? Did you bake your gazillion cookies yet? Have you sent out cards yet?  Did you write a Christmas letter?  How many parties will you be attending?  – bah humbug.  Whatever happened to the humble beginnings of the baby wrapped in swaddled in the manger?  Did He get gifts?  Wait.  Crap. 

Our tree is up.  I have begun the task of putting up our decorations for the holiday.  Let me be clear, I love Christmas.  It is one of the greatest stories ever told of love for humankind, (John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.)  It’s all this non-biblical stuff that gets on my nerves.  The shopping, the crowds, do I say Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays? nothing at all?

One small victory for me this year – the tree. For years past, JB has insisted that we go out and find a real tree and bring it home.  This sounds harmless enough, until you hear the process.  He will take almost a week researching tree farms.  The types of trees available, hours, cost, how they sang to each tree as it grew, all that.  Then, one day, he will proclaim that he has chosen the tree farm and it is time to get the tree.  We will bundle up, all 5 of us, and yes, we went through all of this when we had babies in tow or I happened to be pregnant, put our saw in the car and head out.  Due to it being in Wisconsin, it would usually be cold, cloudy and snowy, which makes children complain.  We would spend 15+ hours searching the tree lot, (Okay, perhaps I exaggerated), debate which one we like best, (for me, always the first one), cut it down, drag it to the place where they “shake” the tree, wrap the tree and then we load it on top of the car.

This year I talked him into allowing – gasp! – a fake tree.  I am simply giddy with excitement as I put it up, not a single needle or drop of sap on the floor.  And the best part?  I can put it back in the box on December 27.

Yes, the decorations are up and I am little cranky.  Don’t worry, someone will find me under the mistletoe and I will forget why I got cranky to begin with.  Now, I have the get to the mall.

A Bedtime Story

It’s Sunday evening.  I have checked through the kid’s school agendas, signed off on their homework (or lack thereof) and sent them off to read for a bit.  This goes off with the usual fussing.  “I’ve already read the book my teacher game me.  Why can’t I pick my owwwnnn books?”  “How long? But that’s FOREVER!” “Oh, whatever, I get dessert later, right?”

The kids are highly compliant (not).  After they run out of excuses, I start the timer.  Well, I really just make a note of the time and then estimate the time they need to read, plus ten minutes.  A little parenting tip – don’t put clocks in rooms where your kids read or practice piano.

Their reading time is complete and I have cleaned up from dinner.  I tell the kids that they may watch some  television or play their video games for a little bit before they are off to bed.  We are in agreement with the terms for the evening.  I don’t know about other households, because I can only speak with authority about the house I was raised in, (no negotiation), and the house I am currently in charge of, (court seems to always be in session).  Are other parents constantly negotiating with their children? Or, have they beat them into submission?  Let me rephrase that…  are other kids compliant?

Back to the story.  I give the fifteen minute warning.  “Fifteen minutes to bed!”  All show their understanding with the usual grunt or nod.  Ten minutes later I give the five-minute warning.  This is where everything goes to hell in a hand basket.  Suddenly, the boys want another course of dinner and dessert.  The Girl wants to talk about things going on at school, guides, whatever.  And apparently this is a conversation with life or death implications.

I remind the boys that they have already gone through two – four course meals today, both with dessert, and there will be no additional snacks this evening.  I have a talk with the Girl about the upcoming week, ending with a little pep talk.  The day is won and it is time for children in my house to go to bed.  Or one would think.

I hear the kids going upstairs.  “Stop it!”

“You stop it!”

“BOYS!” scolds the Girl.  I see the shadow of a Webkin flying across the hall, but I am on my way to the garage to remind my husband that he should come in from whatever he is doing to tuck in his lovely children.  They proceed upstairs without further incident, though I hear grumbling from all parties involved.

I come upstairs a couple of minutes later to find their bathroom counter flooded with water.  “What happened here?” I ask the Apprentice, the only person in the bathroom.  The other two swoop in, telling wild stories of aliens and animals and finally, how their brother spilled water everywhere.  “Okay, fine.  I will clean it up,” I inform them, “Has everyone brushed their teeth?  Ready for bed?”  Silence.  Harrumph.

All the cubs are tucked into bed and I head downstairs to the kitchen.  JB is eating some dinner and I pour myself a bottle glass of wine.  As I take my first gulp sip, I hear one boy yell at another.  I go upstairs to see what is amiss, and find that the yeller is pretending to be asleep as the other starts to tell me about this grave injustice that he must share a bedroom with his brother.  There are stuffy’s everywhere, (I hate stuffys), suggesting something of trench warfare. I sigh, tuck them both in again and remind them that I love them, though I would love them more if they would get a decent night’s sleep.  Starting exactly now.

All crises resolved, I return to the family room to check on football scores and The Amazing Race.  A whole two minutes goes by before we hear footsteps.  The Girl appears, telling us that she is having trouble sleeping.  She states that she has a lot on her mind. I instruct her to sit with her father.  After a few minutes of cuddling, she is back up the stairs to bed.  I check again in about five.

All is quiet.  The End.  Anyone want to come over next Sunday?

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