Proud Gaggle of Misfits

I get schooled fairly regularly by my kid. She will quiz me on various Korean pop band members names, challenge me with various lines from The Outsiders, try her best to stump me with various characters from The Walking Dead. And most recently she has fully schooled us on all of the genders and sexualities that have been given names so that those who live them don’t feel nameless.

Her teacher actually explained these all to them and like every other time, we learned something from her.

No, not the names, or even the fact that there are technically more than 2 or 3 genders.

We learned how smart and loving our daughter is. How curious she is to understand other people. How open she is to knowing and loving them anyway. How supportive she can be when she understands and connects with an idea and how strong she can be when she believes everyone has the right to be just who they are and no one else.

I’m just a little bit proud of her.

We went to the pride parade again this year with a couple of her friends. It was a beautiful day full of colour and fun and music and people just being themselves. We wandered along the parade route once the festivities had passed and just enjoyed being a part of it all. No one was worrying about what people might be saying. No one was afraid to hold the hand of the person they loved.

When we were almost home I noticed two men crossing the street. They were holding each others hands lightly until they got to the median. When they had to cross the portion of the street with cars waiting to go, they let go of each others hands. What a sad, sad thing to witness after such a glorious day. How shitty it must be for them to have come from such a wonderful day full of acceptance and freedom to be yourself only to feel the pressure of strangers in cars and pretend like you are with your bro instead of your partner.

I didn’t bring this to McK’s attention. Giggling away in the backseat, oblivious to society’s ugly heaviness happening just feet away, I was not about to change their mood, or ruin their high from such a fun outing, by pointing this out.

No, instead I will just listen to their wild and wacky conversations, I will smile as she schools her pal on japanese rock lyrics, I will allow my heart to fill with pride of another kind, I will marvel at the little woman my little girl is becoming as she grows up and learns how to be so caring and thoughtful and aware.

We left rainbow coloured footprints on the streets of downtown this Sunday.

winnipeg pride parade

The leaders of tomorrow, ready to fight the injustices of the world!

Getting Behind Your Country

To say you are in love with your country is a statement not many would freely utter unless prompted.

But I love Canada. I love Manitoba. I love Winnipeg and all it’s quirky little personalities. Because yes, Winnipeg most definitely has a personality. It throws incredible weathery temper tantrums but when it is having a good day, we ALL get to bask in it. It has bumpy roads to nowhere but when you find one tucked away that not many others have been down you are treated to the spectacular beauty that it hides deep inside. It may not have mountains but if you get in a canoe and just paddle, you will soon find yourself in either the sweltering heat of the Amazon or the freezing cold of the Arctic ocean.

But I digress. Canada, as a whole, is often overlooked and underrated. I think that is why those who choose to live here get rather passionate when it comes to their undying support of the teams that reside within these beautiful (and un-walled) borders.

For me, there are 3 sports or events that have taken us to the international stage that have required my never ending and vocal support because when faced off against the rest of the world, the Big 4 or the mighty Americans, we have always been viewed as the underdogs, the automatic seconds, the chokers.

I’m talking the Olympics, tennis and NBA basketball.

I will be an instant fan of any Olympic sport that has a Canadian athlete participating in it and I will cheer like I have been following their story since they were 6 and their mom got them up in the morning to drive them to practice. I will tear up when they win and feel the heartbreak when they don’t and I will watch the medal counts like a hawk and mutter “ughhhh those Americans” when they sneak past us, which they inevitably do.

If you are a Canadian tennis player who has made it on to the scene, you will have our immediate and relentless support from the other side of our TV screen. Milos, Vasek, Genie, Aleks, Frank, heck even the veteran Daniel who, more often than not lately, is the last one remaining in a tournament left for us to cheer for. We desperately want to see you do good. And when Milos comes up against Djokovich or Murray, we cringe a little inside but do we whoop and hollar at every point he gets? Yes, yes we do.

We have just one NBA team here in Canada. They historically haven’t done too much to be memorable but in the last few years they have started to rise up and join the ranks of the big dogs. This year they made it through two rounds of playoff ball and in the last round, the deciding round, they fell to a giant. But what was so fantastic about that was that NO ONE outside of Canada had any faith that they would get to where they did. No one thought they could beat who they beat, game after game, night after night. They faltered, yes, and some will joke that hey, they’re Canadian, of course they choked. But while they were falling this entire country had their hands out to catch them and raise them back up to where they belonged.

So yes, I’ll be the one on the couch with damp eyes when our Olympic athletes take the podium in their red and white AND when they have to walk away with nothing. I’ll be the one on the couch with the damp eyes when our tennis players hoist the giant trophy in victory AND when they walk off the court first, proud but in defeat. I’ll be the one on the couch with damp eyes when our NBA team makes it to the semis when no one even gave them a second thought AND when they have to sit in their press conference and each fight over who’s fault it was that they lost because even if these kids weren’t born in Canada, they are Canadian now.

Oh Canada. The big little country that could.

our simple but beautiful flag

Oh Canada!

At My Nanny’s Table

I enjoy setting a nice table. Decor to match the theme. Fresh flowers somewhere in the room. The “nice” cutlery brought out. But I don’t even come CLOSE to how my nanny set the table. No one has.

The chairs, dark, old and somewhat rickety, padding added to make up for decades of bottoms firmly planted, all sitting snug to ensure everyone fit. And we all did.

First, a lightly padded layer on top of the table itself. Covered by a cotton table cloth of little design. It would be nothing fancy, no garish print or god forbid plastic of any kind.

The placemats were small and stiff and intended to more protect the wood of the table from the heat of the plate than a giant rectangle of plastic intended to catch the scraps of a messy eater because yes, the plates were always heated. The mats had printed images of hunting scenes from the 1920’s or castles with lush greens around them. We would always check to see which ones we were given and trade if the need arose.

The silverware, clean, shiny, laid out just right without being so abundant that it was confusing. The forks always seemed big and the dessert spoon and fork always sat at the top of the placemat. I can still see my Pipe sitting at the table when I would pop in randomly for lunch, cleaner and cloth in hand, shining up the silver piece by piece.

For the life of me I cannot recall what type of napkins there were but something tells me Nanny likely would have had cloth. I was a kid, I didn’t use napkins.

A short little vase sat in the centre of the table with some fresh flowers spilling out. Nothing ostentatious. Just some carnations, maybe lilacs from outside.

I don’t recall candles on the table. Only the one candle on the shelves behind the table that looked like it must be old fashioned because the holder part looked like a saucer and had the little finger hold so you could carry it and walk around. They only did that in the olden days.

Pepper came in a tiny pepper shaker and salt came in a wee dish with an even more wee spoon. I would get in trouble for playing with the doll size set, pouring the salt over itself.

If it was lamb there would be a mint sauce in a green glass dish with a spoon. If it was beef there would be horseradish in a clear glass dish with a spoon.

Everything came out on its own serving tray or bowl. Glass, china, silver. Nothing chintzy. You passed around and helped yourself and never would Nanny ever dare to provide you with a plate that already had food loaded on it. We chose how much of what item we each wanted. It was a family dinner, not a restaurant.

I remember there never being salad.

Pipe and one of us would clear the plates away and another one of us would help Nanny bring out the dessert. There would always, and I mean ALWAYS, be more than one option.

Most frequently, and if we were lucky, there would be treacle tart. Oh my god the treacle tart. There would, more often than not, be warm custard, perhaps a little cake that felt very heavy and very much not from a box, or little meringues with pineapple on top. She would sometimes do a pie with pastry from scratch and would moan about how the pastry didn’t work out, every time.

When we had all had our fill and my dad would announce that his sufficiency had been suffonsified, one of us would help Pipe clear away the remaining items from the table and create the long line of dishes to be done on the counter.

We would take the little orange contraption that both swept and collected the crumbs off the table and give it a whirl before placing it back on the little stand in the kitchen.

The table cloth got folded, same with the liner underneath. If there was left over food, we would go to the hall cupboard and rummage through bags full of twist ties, bags full of margarine containers, bags full of bags and find something to store everything in.

We made fun of Nanny for the twist ties. Every time.

Then, when one of us had helped Pipe with the dishes, we would all sit in the living room, surrounded by the haze of a room full of smokers, port or sherry in tiny glasses lining the coffee table, the candy dish decimated by little fingers, and we would talk and play the alphabet game until it was time to go.

I’m very glad that there was so little in the way of technology back then. And while it is indeed an absolute way of life now, I will work to get back some of what we had when we sat at my Nanny’s table.

It was all very much just like my Nan. Fancy, but not overly so.

close to nannys

Close to Nan’s  – needs a table cloth!

 

 

Where the Words Came From

The first thing I actually remember writing that ever earned any accolades, was a poem. The Charleswood Legion held a contest on Remembrance Day and I entered a poem and I won.

That is not to say I hadn’t written anything noteworthy prior to that, but it is my first piece that I can recall being read by people other than myself, my teachers, or my parents.

My mum showed me a little newspaper that I had made when I was much younger. It’s adorable and likely factually accurate in the way any 6 year old’s newspaper would be.

The next thing I remember is another poem that I wrote in Grade 12 that my teacher took issue with and actually called my mum about. My mum, being the amazing author and wicked wordsmith that she is, marched down to the school and skewered that dude like a shrimp on the barbie.

Beyond that, I wrote in many an unfinished journal, left poems scattered about like leaves, and grew my fascination with books that stemmed from endless childhood summers spent competing in reading contests at the Charleswood Library.

Many moons later, when I was a nanny, I found a local parenting newspaper and decided it was lacking something. I wrote to the editor and pitched my idea. It wasn’t just parent’s that were scouring your publication for things to do with these kids. It was nannies and daycare workers and teachers. So I earned myself a lippy little column that I would now call cringe-worthy. It turned into more of a “don’t do this if you have a nanny because she’ll hate you and leave” column and was my venting place for all things parenting that I didn’t have the guts to say to the parents who had left their child in my care.

Beyond that, a few published pieces here and there and endless blogs to post my prose seemed to sum up my writing life. Random and rambling, unfocused and many times unread, the blogs were a creative outlet that had no clear direction and no clear meaning but at the time, selfishly served their purpose.

Till now. 

I still love words. I still love books. I find enough on the internet to drink in all the information I need. I read about things that I normally wouldn’t. I write about things that I normally wouldn’t. I appreciate well thought out pieces. I acknowledge beautifully written ideas. I share. And I take in.

I love the patience of written words. I love that the written word gifts people with time and the opportunity to take a moment, to think about their reply, to respond with thoughtful and useful information. I love that the written word gives you a moment to colour your thoughts, to say more than you could or ever would out loud.

And so I muddle on, piecing together thoughts, stringing together sentences that try to tell a story or prove a point or embrace an idea. That movie script, that novel, those first drafts? They may never see the light of day.

Write them anyway.

 

William Wordsworth

Or the screen!

Something In, Something Out

Last weekend we went to an antique store just outside of the city. It was not the typical antique store that we think of, filled to the rafters with things that look a little less like an antique and more like someones long-forgotten garage sale, where you spend most of the time searching out the hidden gem and wading through plastic-y odds and sods.

This place was different.

Bud, the owner, does his purchasing and selecting meticulously. He only buys what he would proudly want to place on his shelves. And the difference is measurable. Don’t get me wrong, the place has tons of items. But they are all there, visible, for you to pore over, run you finger across, stare at for a good long while. And they are all quality.

Bud also knows the full history of just about every single item in the joint. He knew when it was from, where it was from, what it was used for, if it still worked, when it last worked, what it needs to get it to work. He was a fountain.

It was superb.

So we came away with a box full of carefully wrapped goodies and found them new homes lickety split. The replacement of old items with our new old items was fairly simple as we purchased with these spots in mind. The best part? Convincing Pat that the items we took away did NOT need to find a new home.

One in, one out.

That is the rule he has for my shoes and my bags. Well guess what? If it applies there, it applies here.

So I happily took what we removed off our own shelves to make room for our new old items and placed them in my garage sale pile.

I have no doubt we will be regular visitors to the Lamplighter. Pat peppered Bud with endless questions and I think the level of fascination and  interest from Pat was equaled by the level of enthusiasm and pride from Bud who happily answered them all.

He told us next time we should call ahead so they know we’re coming. He would put out some special things for us.

Now THAT’S service.

 

You can find Bud and all of his amazing wares at the Lamplighter, Hwy 15 (Dugald Road) just before the turnoff to Oakbank. 

The Almighty Girl

I talk pretty regularly to McK about the things she enjoys, what she loves, what she is currently obsessed with and what she might want to be when she is older. Last week it was an author. This week it is a producer. Next week? Who knows.

I have never told her that she may make less, or have to work that much harder, simply because she is a girl. I have never told her because, knowing her, she would find that to be a ludicrous statement.

I certainly haven’t told her that if she enters a male-dominated field, like technology, not only will she get paid less, but she is more likely to be harassed and pushed out than many other fields. The GamerGate situation is one that leaves you feeling pretty hopeless for women in tech yet it is a topic I will likely have to broach with my 12 year old.

I’m not sure how to tell her about that.

How do you tell a 12 year old girl that simply because she loves video games and is amazing at them and might entertain working in that field, that she will be subject to potential ridicule, abuse, threats and constant intrusions into her life and the lives of her friends and family, just because she is a girl who can do what boys can, and do it better.

I know there are champions, both male and female, fighting the good fight for equality in those situations. And I can only hope that the boys she is in school with now, who grow up playing these games alongside her, will understand and promote that the tech sector is for everyone. I can only hope that if she chooses a field like tech, that by then the allies outweigh the bullies.

But more visible than that, and more talked about, is the equality in pay in virtually every professional field. I read an article today that detailed the fight that the US women’s national soccer team has taken on. I can only imagine the Canadian women’s team has it even worse.

“The World Cup pay skews so dramatically, the men earned $9 million for losing in their round of 16 in 2014, while the women earned $2 million for winning the entire tournament.”

Billie Jean King fought for equal pay at the US Open and in 1973, she got it. Venus Williams fought for equal pay at Wimbledon and in 2007, she got it.

The recent stories prompted by the Erin Andrews lawsuit. The Ghomeshi verdict. The comments on articles and tweets. They don’t give a gal much hope.

But I will continue to tell my girl, as I often do, that she can be and do anything she wants to. I will continue to foster and support her endeavors and her dreams. And I will continue to hope that the more Billie’s and Venus’ we have out there, the more USWNT voices that aren’t afraid to shout out loud, the less explaining I’ll have to do to my daughter.

Run The World

International Women’s Day.

Just one day a year on a calendar.

But it is everyday in my world.

I am surrounded by powerful, emphatic, brilliant, loving women every day and while I do not think I need a day to be told to remember that, it is certainly nice to have one.

When I follow the replies on certain tweets, our day becomes important.

When I read comments on certain articles, our day becomes important.

When I see the reaction to female refs and female coaches in male sports, our day becomes important.

When I hear the questions asked of women after winning championships, our day becomes important.

When I watch women pick apart other women, compare themselves endlessly, and view each other as competition rather than support, our day becomes important.

But then I talk to my 12 year old. The one who wants to be a million different things (currently an author), some in male dominated industries, who can slay zombies with the best of ’em, who rivals just about any of the male characters on Big Bang Theory in her love of ComicCon, and I think, maybe, just maybe, it’ll be OK for her.

And it is not because she loves to do things typically successfully executed by men.

At 12, she does not yet feel the pressure to be someone she is not. She sees both men and women excelling in the things she loves to spend her time doing. Her favourite YouTubers, her favourite authors, her favourite animes, her favourite bands. Life has been equal for her thus far. And that has built a girl who is a dreamer. A girl who thinks she can be and do any damn thing she wants to. A girl who does not yet see that the world is unfair to women (with the exception of periods, she’s pretty pissed that we have to suffer and the boys don’t!).

So I know things are still unfair and unequal, but I will always feel there is hope. There has to be an expectation set forth by our strong girls. The boys in her class are starting to learn that not only can girls do whatever they want, but that there is a solid chance they will be better than the boys at it. One step at a time.

Who runs the world?

Girls.

 

c3507fad61007fc9b45a50515235ed03

My girl, my dreamer, she can do anything she wants to!