Thursday, June 30, 2011


Thursdays have always seemed kind of like the lame duck of the week.  Not really the middle, not quite the weekend, they're really just there as a transition.  Rather like holding your breath through a tunnel to make it go faster.  (Unless you're my husband, who thinks it rather hilarious that he once tricked me into holding my breath and then slowed the car down to a crawl!  There's a valid reason I call him nasty names, really.)

When I moved here and started working, my new U.S. co-workers dubbed Thursdays as "Crabby Canadian Thursdays".  It stemmed from one memorable morning where I arrived un-caffeinated to the office and they mistook my complete inability to fathom the world around me as "crabby".  Despite my assurances to the contrary, and even explaining that I was too tired to even have the energy to be crabby, the title stuck.  So much so that upon gaining dual citizenship, I thus declared Thursdays to be "Crabby Can-Am Thursdays", throwing open the doors to include my millions of compatriots.

Thursdays are also the day that the man comes to the building complex where I work and exercises his Constitutionally mandated right to free speech.  By putting up a dozen gigantic posters of aborted fetuses.

You see, I work in a complex with a Planned Parenthood office.  And in this country there appears to be a relatively small but vociferous group of people who truly believe that Planned Parenthood is nothing but a place to get an abortion.  This makes Planned Parenthood the devil incarnate, rather than a valid option for women's health care.  (For my Canadian friends who may be reading this and not know, because of the way the medical system works here, Planned Parenthood is actually one of the foremost providers of women's health services because they are accessible to people without insurance.  I actually went to them for examinations and meds prior to being on a medical plan.)

At some point I'll likely go on a diatribe about women's issues and the like, but for now I'm going to focus on the signage.  

Years ago, when I worked in this same office, the Thursday morning free speech was a sandwich board and a man in a chair.  He's an older man, who sits and reads, waves to the people driving in and out of the complex, and essentially is just there, making his views and his presence known.

Fast-forward 4 years.  Thursday morning is now the same man in the chair, still reading and waving.  Only now there are two vehicles parked all day with gigantic posters attached to their roof and sides, grotesque pictorials comparing healthy fetuses to aborted fetuses.  The captioning on the pictures is inflammatory toward Planned Parenthood.  There's still the sandwich board, but it's been joined by several more.  Essentially one turns the corner on Thursday and is bombarded with graphic propaganda which is at best in poor taste and at worst, misleading.

And I'm not even going to Planned Parenthood (I just amused myself by abbreviating that to PP and decided that wouldn't work...but it's funny!).  I can't even imagine how someone feels arriving for an appointment - procedure or not - and seeing that.   In many cases, this is the only place a woman has to get health care.  I applaud men and women for taking responsibility for their health and reproduction, and this little old man and his signs are seeming to be in direct opposition to that.

That's why I get angry.  Regardless of anyone's personal stance on what a fetus is or isn't, or whether abortion of said fetus is ethical,  this weekly display provides condemnation without education.  It addresses the end result of a series of choices, without acknowledging the value that Planned Parenthood could play in that equation.  I'm a firm advocate of sexual education and informed decision-making, and if this weekly propaganda display turns away even one person from gaining correct knowledge and health services, then in my opinion it's not worth it.  

I guess in the overall scheme of things, Thursdays aren't really do mundane any longer.  They're still Crabby though.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Taming the Wilderness

I'd love to say that the topic of this post was about how I'd fulfilled the lifelong dream of hiking the rigorous West Coast Trail or even managing to tackle the more local Grouse Grind stairmaster to heaven.  Alas, you all know me and know I'm ecstatically happy to simply manage to make it from one room to the other in my house without injury.

So no, taming the wilderness is not quite the herculean task one would think.  Really, it's trying to get my overgrown yard under control.  (Yes, I know you really guessed that but I really wanted to learn how to do links on this blog thingy so figured I'd do a little Tourism BC promotion too.)

I love the idea of gardening.  I even like gardening for the most part.  In Canada when I lived in apartments, I was limited to container gardening, but considering my schedule there (and lack of attention to details like water and nutrients), it was a realistic goal.  And I did really well - I was pretty much set for decades with the bounty of oregano, thyme, sage, mint, and lemon balm.  Not to mention the few tomatoes and strawberries that managed to live through the rainy Spring/Summer in the Lower Mainland.

Here in the U.S., gardening is shared between a group of us.  There's the people who come to mow and edge the lawn.  (The decision to sell the lawnmower in a garage sale two years ago is one neither of us has ever regretted...and likely never will.)  Then there's the DH, Mr. Eggshells, who is proficient at the stuff way up high where I can't reach and for which I'm reminded that I'm not allowed to get on a ladder (spoilsport!).   He's the great conceptualizer and helps me get through the logistic from what I want to do through to actually being able to do it.   He's also chief weed killer, for reasons that are patently obvious to anyone who's ever met me and my propensity for accidents.  And then there's me, who heads outside with a plan of exactly what I want to do and how much I want to accomplish.  For better or worse, I have a...let's be kind shall we, and say "extremely optimistic" view of my capability and stamina.  

But I start with the resolve:  this time, I'm sure I'll get everything I've planned, done.  I will be SUPERWOMAN!  *cue super-heroine theme music*  All the chopped greenery will be deposited into the compost/garbage, all my tools put away and the yard looking awesome as a tribute to my tenacity and ruthless determination.  

I'm midway through a project of clearing ivy from our back fence.  It's growing completely up the trunk of  the 30? year old sumac tree and has worked its way over to the adjacent fence.  The fence is staggered slats and has lattice at the top.  The ivy has entwined around all of it in an orgy of fantastic green, threading its weedy way through in a pattern rivaled only by little old ladies at the dollar store at Christmas (don't kid yourself, they are worse than freaking ninjas!).  

There is also a separate growth of ivy in the back corner of the yard, an area populated by a very large (overgrown) tree-style bush.  The ivy actually waterfalls down with the bush leaves and flowers, and really, now that I think about it, I don't know if the bush/tree even has a trunk anymore.  It might just be an ivy-gnome in there holding it up.  This batch of ivy also has wrapped around the fence, and is slowly overtaking the alley easement and the neighbor's shed.  It has bitten a couple of the fence boards in half with its jagged, nasty teeth.  The only reason it hasn't eaten the community garbage can there is that the guy from the City empties it weekly and moves it closer to our gate each time in his haste to leave the area.  (Really, it's like a game now, to see how many weeks it takes him to completely cut off our access to the alley.  I also watch paint dry and mold grow on cheese for fun.)

So with my mighty bolt cutter style clipping shears, I attack the overgrowth with a ferocity of a rabid moose on PCP.  

DIE IVY!!!!  I will rip you to shreds with my bare hands, stomp on you and crush you beneath the iron heel of my...erm flip flop.   

That was my first mistake.  

First, when it comes to walking, I'm not a particularly stable person (look at that wide open opportunity there!).  While flip flops are super comfortable, they're not exactly the best for support for my body.  But I can ignore the little twinges in my back and feet that come with balancing on the uneven dirt and detritus.  What I didn't count on was the ivy's ability to become super monster ivy and suck my shoes and their corresponding feet in the the gaping maw of their vicious green mouths.  In the space of mere moments, it wound its way over and through my shoes and ate my feet whole.  Fortunately for me and unfortunately for it, I was working on that patch and managed to cut myself away from it.  

Then the second mistake.

Because I'm working this project in stages, I've given away my battle plan.  The ivy decided to fight back.  

It has silently watched my attacks of its brethren...cut the roots so the tendrils die on the vine and are easily pulled off the wooden fence.  It saw its comrades falling by the meter-lengths and has spent the last week or so mustering its defenses.  Once I'd finished cutting the next batch of roots, I started to pull the dying ivy strands from the fence.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Except...

Viciously and with malice aforethought, the ivy started belching huge plumes of ivy gas directly into my nose and mouth.  Little bits of dying ivy suicide bombers spewed like African killer bees from a cave and launched themselves into my eyes.  Blind, gasping for breath, I dropped the ivy pieces and tried desperately to move my feet which had been re-mummified in the ground ivy.  
Have I mentioned that at the time I moved to the U.S. I had already been diagnosed with allergies to every kind of environmental flora they test?  And that moving even just a few hours south meant that I spent my first few years here chronically inflamed from all the "new" environmental triggers?

I did manage to spend 45 minutes working on the yard, which is a happy, no doubt about it.  Of course it's not hard to be happy when you're all looped up on painkillers and Benedryl.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Discipline and habits

One of the biggest hindrances to writing for me is making myself sit down and write when I'm feeling uninspired.  It's so much easier to start surfing or facebooking or cleaning (yes, shocking to those of you who have seen my house, I do use cleaning as a diversion too!).  Yet everything I've read from successful authors states that discipline is the key...getting into the habit of writing daily.

The trouble I have with this is that my writing is not particularly a cumulative process.  Most of my writing is churned (like butter!) in my head and doesn't make it to paper/computer until it's basically complete.  Imagine Aphrodite springing fully formed from the ocean in a beautiful Hellenic vista and you'll get my drift...or distracted by the nudity.  

It becomes a case of discipline.  Whether I decide to focus on getting some writing in every day or to allocate specific time out of my day for the mental processing, what's needed is the habit to be formed.  "They" say it takes 3 weeks for a practice to become habit - and extrapolating that, presumably the same amount of time for negative behaviour to be changed and/or modified.

Now it comes to my attention (with a big whap upside the head) that this is the key to several other goals I'm trying to achieve.  Whether they be house projects, craft projects, schoolwork, or health results.  

And now that I've come to this epiphany, I just have to figure out how to implement it...