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Despite all my rage

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags: ,

I was tagged by my friend Julian (@saskajules) to post five photos for five consecutive days. Actually, the challenge didn’t say anything about consecutive days; it just said five days. We *assume* it means consecutive days. But really, one could post five photos during five arbitrarily chosen days.

IMG_8610 Most of the time when people say ‘random’, they mean ‘arbitrary’. “Random” basically means something that’s chosen or done or made without thought. In the field of statistics, it means there is an equal chance that each option will be selected. “Randomness” is a lack of predictability. Most of the time we mean “arbitrary”, which means a choice that’s made or something that is selected due to whimsy, or because of random selection (which means a non-predictable selection). In mathematics, it’s a quantity of unspecified value. This is a complete diversion from what I was going to say.

This is what I was going to say:

Look up. Break your attention from the road at your feet; stop looking at your hands. Look up. Pay attention to the vast space above you, and let your thoughts soar.

I’m going to challenge my friend Lori-Anne (@ladida83) to post five pictures for five *consecutive* days, and to tag someone new each day.

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The Whole Wide World

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags: ,

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I was tagged by my friend Julian (@saskajules) to post five photos for five days in a row.

Look there.IMG_7501

Look right there, in the palm of my hand. What do you see?

Nothing

Look again.

Just dirt, I guess.

There in the palm of my hand is promise. There is history. There is hope. What else do you see?

Nothing. There’s nothing there.

This is an invitation for you to see.

I’m going to tag my friend @SoupSimply to post five photos for five days, and to tag someone new in each post. I bet she’s going to post a lot of pictures of food. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST WEEK EVER.

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Believe it or not, walking on air

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Categories: Family, Just for You, The Nipper, Tags:

I was tagged by Julian (@saskajules) to post five pictures in five days.

IMG_8903.JPGToday is #TheNipper’s birthday party. He wanted to come to the giant warehouse full of trampolines. The WAREHOUSE full of TRAMPOLINES.

And because the parts of my brain that process fun are stuck in the 90s, I’m in love with the blacklights and the cheesy lasers and the whole dance club feel of the place. So who’s up for a drunken trampoline tweetup for my birthday? BLACKLIGHTS, TRAMPOLINES, and SHITTY DANCE MUSIC!! It can’t possibly get any more awesome.

WAIT.

SPARKLE PANTS.

Okay this is totally going to be a thing.

I tag my friend James (@_James_Park) to post five pictures for five days and to tag someone every day.

IMG_8912.JPG and my loot from @CBCSask’s tweetup is glowing.

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La Frileuse / Winter

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags:

IMG_8884.JPGI’ve been challenged to post five pictures in five days by Julian (@saskajules).

Jean-Antoine Houdon’s (not HODOR as I muttered under my breath as I read the tag) “La Frileuse/Winter”. This was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was in New York last week. I kind of love her. The curve of her thighs, the serene resolute look on her face. The fact that it’s bronze just made the subject even colder. At the time of its creation the Salon rejected it because they felt a partially draped figure was indecent (fully nude ones were not).

Incidentally, “la frileuse” means “the cautious”, I believe. She certainly looks that as she steps trepidatiously forward.

I quite love this piece.

I challenge my new work neighbour Annabel at @wheeliegoodcoffee to post five pictures in five days and nominate someone new every day.

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R-E-S whatever

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Categories: Family, The Captain, True Stories, Tags:

IMG_3476.JPGAnd then #TheTeen saunters in to the room with his hands jammed down his pockets and a scowl on his face in the best inadvertent impression of Reggie Mantle I’ve ever seen. Keep in mind this is after an evening of which the highlight was sitting down at the dinner table having provided the following instructions: “we are going to sit here, miserably, and be miserable. We are going to hate one another and stare pointedly at our bowls. Likely we won’t speak to one another at all. But we’re going to sit here miserably and have a miserable supper and it will be horrid and uncomfortable. But it will be quiet. Resentful, and quiet.”

“So where’s the money you said you were going to give me?” It asks.

“In my wallet,” I answer.

“You gonna give it to me?” It asks.

“We’ll see,” I say.

“Yeah whatever,” it says. It saunters off again. Then it slams something.

This is what you have to look forward to, all you people with adorable babies and balanced lives. THINGS that live in your house and eat all your food and slam and break your things and then say shit like “whatever” as they slouch off because unfair and reasons and hormones.

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I will survive

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Categories: Bad Mojo, Fuckocracy, Just Wrong, Tags: , , ,

I am a woman.

This probably won’t shock you. I am a woman, I am a feminist, I am a mother, I am a lover…I am many things. But I want to tell you about something I am not. I am not afraid. Oh sure, I have fear. I worry about my family, about the success of the industry I work in, about climate change and the loss of democracy in our country and the promulgation of hate and intolerance very lightly masked as “security”. I fear lingering illness. I have what I consider to be a healthy fear that the power and gas might go out some day in the depths of winter and without an alternate heat source in our house, we’ll be screwed.

Here’s what I don’t fear: I don’t fear men. I don’t fear women. I don’t fear people, unless they give me pause to do so. I don’t live with the constant fear that someone is going to rape me or abuse me or mistreat me or harass me. I don’t fear for my safety on a constant basis. I am not afraid to walk alone at night or any other time. I’m not reckless and I’m not foolish; I just don’t believe anyone ought to live in fear.

Why am I saying this? Because over the last few months I’ve noticed a recurring theme in some of the blogs and articles I’ve been reading. It’s a disturbing theme. Maybe I don’t understand it. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Here’s my understanding of it: it has to do with rape culture.

no_means_no_logo_smallWait. First let me define rape culture in this context. It means a society in which rape is so pervasive, so much a part of the culture of that society, that it’s considered to be pretty much a normal thing. That this crime of power (rape is not about sex) is trivialized, that the victims of rape are dismissed, blamed, or that the seriousness of this assault is otherwise undermined. People claim we (in “western society” – i.e. North American/Western European) live in a rape culture. There are certainly examples that we may: we have to warn our kids to never accept drinks from anyone when they’re out at a party, because that drink could be doped. We warn our kids to never put down their drink and then pick it up again for the same reason. We teach our kids about consent (seriously, we shouldn’t have to teach our kids what “consent” means. Seriously. This is sad.), about what ‘no’ means, about how easy it is to get in to a situation that can quickly get out of control.

When (not if; when) someone is sexually assaulted or raped, the first question most people ask is “what were you wearing” or “what did you do to provoke this?” and that’s bullshite. Victims are shamed and although support is better now than it was 20 years ago, there is still a HUGE divide between the way someone looks at you when you’ve been jumped in the park and mugged and when you’ve been forced to have sex against your will. In the first case, nobody ever asks you what you did to prompt the attack. Nobody calls you a whore or a slut or a stud. Nobody asks you “why didn’t you just scream?”. We should be ashamed that we think it’s okay to live this way. To treat others this way.

But here’s the problem I have: there is an argument that has surfaced a number of times that claims that women live in fear of rape. All the time. That we are all afraid of men, because even though most men will never commit ANY crime, much less rape or sexual assault, we live our lives with varying degrees of fear that sometime, some day, somewhere, a man is going to rape us.

First, men don’t have a monopoly on rape and sexual assault, so let’s just stop being sexist assholes here, okay? If you think there’s stigma associated with being a female rape victim, just think about how it works for males who’ve been sexually assaulted. If nobody believes a woman who says she’s been raped, I can assure you a man who makes the same claim has a far steeper hill to climb. Most rape and sexual assault against males is simply never reported.  I’m not saying anything about the numbers or what this means, and I’m not going to get in to the discussion about how males are the privileged gender in 99% of the world. I’m not even going to go there, so please don’t get all hot under the collar about men’s rights movements.

Emily Carr's "Scorned as Timber Beloved of the Sky"

Emily Carr’s “Scorned as Timber Beloved of the Sky”

Rape is not about gender. Rape is about control, aggression, and domination. Let’s take the men vs. women argument right out of it. I hate…HATE the claim that women live in fear every day because of the thought they might become victims of sexual assault. It may be true for some women, and I guarantee you it isn’t true for many women. The fact that it may be true for anyone says that we have a very far way to go yet to get people to just stop being douches. As one friend said, “those of us who aren’t afraid can stand up for those of us who are”, and I think that’s beautiful. And right. And, shamefully, necessary. But I cannot support the statement or claim that all women are afraid of men all the time. That, quite frankly, is utter bullshit.

I have been sexually assaulted. I have been raped. I am not afraid of men. I am not afraid of women. I am not afraid.

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Why a Communications Strategy is imperative

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Categories: Bad Mojo, Children, hockey, Just Wrong, piss in your eye, Porblems, Sad, Something or other but True, The Captain, When There's Weather, Tags: , , , , , , ,

Man, that sounds boring.

Bear with me, okay?

Whether you are running a business, employed as a writer or PR or communications staff, or whether you’re running or managing a minor sports team, a dance troupe, or a non-profit, you need a communications strategy. This might be as simple as “I have everyone’s email and will always send out notifications to a Bcc: distribution list”. It could be as complex as having dozens of staff monitoring social media, radio, print and television media, and providing official statements from the government. The reason why you need to have a communications strategy is because a good communications strategy will solve most problems before they become problems.

“Give me an example!” You demand.

All right.

Our hockey team, 2011One of our kids has been playing hockey in our town for eleven years. Last year, when he was injured (he had a concussion), he didn’t play contact hockey, but he did work as a referee with our local hockey association. The local hockey association has our contact information. They have our boy listed on registries and in databases and God only knows what else. After that year that he took off of contact sports, we didn’t receive any registration information for the upcoming hockey season (that being this year).

I vaguely remembered at the end of the school year that that was usually when he used to get registration forms sent home from school, but I wasn’t concerned when we didn’t receive one, because in previous years we had received registration packages in the mail. This year, though, the registration package never came. Our kid received his reffing stuff from our provincial hockey association, and he received emails regarding his reffing clinics from our local hockey association. No registration information, though.

Over the summer, we travelled and worked on the farm, and then came home so The Teen could play football on his home team. As happens with football, once September rolled around, we began seeing kids have conflicts with hockey evaluations and the like, and this brought up the question, “do you want to play hockey this year?”

I’ve never been the world’s biggest hockey fan, but I love watching our kid play. I have never begrudged the expense (registration alone is over $1100 this year; never mind equipment) or the time (we’re booked from October – April). I have only a few times begrudged sitting in a rink for most of my spare time, but the up side is that I’ve watched our son go from having to ask his coach to lift him up into the players’ box to being an aggressive, enthusiastic defenceman. He’s never going to play in the major leagues. He’s never even going to play in the junior leagues. Now that he’s midget age, he really only has two, maybe three years left of the excellent instruction and opportunity provided him by Saskatchewan minor hockey. We discussed this, and he registered, and was pretty excited to play again. Last year he was utterly despondent that he couldn’t play.

We missed the September 1st registration deadline, but we’ve missed that in the past and it hasn’t been a problem. The Teen doesn’t do evaluations because he doesn’t want to play on the Tier 1 team. He’s played Tier 2 and Tier 3 hockey his whole life, and is happy as a clam doing so. He’s passionate about hockey, but not…intense. He knows he’s never going to the majors.

The Captain, 2010Monday morning he received an email from the local hockey association telling him that they won’t accept his registration because they have enough players registered for the AA and Tier 2 teams. He doesn’t get to play hockey at home. Where he’s played for eleven years. With his friends. In his hometown jersey.

I was incensed. Disgusted. Angry. Disappointed. I started calling hockey teams all over our hockey zone, trying to find one that wants a Midget defence man. I’m still waiting to hear back. Our local hockey association gave me absolutely no help or direction, other than to tell me there’s a non-contact recreational league in the city The Teen can sign up with (not interested. Testosterone. Hitting. Roar). This led me to the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, who told me that he’s eligible to play for any of the teams in a 160km radius of our home. He told me if we can’t find a team in that area (to which it is feasible to drive a few times a week), The Teen can play in the city, but will need special permission to do so. This communication took five minutes.

Had I received an email or a letter or a frigging carrier pigeon from our local hockey association at any time this summer that said “our numbers for midget hockey are too low to sustain three teams; if you have a player who’s interested, please contact us”, I’d have contacted them. If I’d have seen anything that said “Registration is now closed for midget hockey as both teams’ rosters are full”, I’d have been disappointed, and a little frustrated that we’d never been contacted earlier to register. And mad at myself for not having checked earlier. If at any time I’d have received an email or a phone call or a letter or a goddamned interpretive dance that made me think that this association in any way gave a fiddler’s fart about my kid and his opportunity to play hockey, I don’t think I’d have lost my cool.

But I did. I lost my cool. I sent a pretty vicious letter. I understand why the board made the decision they did – they had the opportunity to put together a AA team that draws kids from all over southern Saskatchewan, and that’s really exciting. They didn’t have the numbers for three teams. They decided to put together two larger teams. I get their decisions. I really do. I don’t *agree* with them, because their communication strategy is apparently “let’s not tell anybody anything and we’ll make decisions that could potentially mean that a bunch of kids don’t get to play hockey in town this year. And in fact, let’s send them terse emails and not give them any information about how to play anywhere else because who in God’s green earth would want to play hockey if they couldn’t play for our team?” Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe their communications strategy is “we don’t need a communications strategy because we’re a minor hockey association and everyone who needs to know something can just find that information on our website or ask a board member”. Which is great if you know that every year you have to phone up the board and say “hey, are you going to have enough teams for my kid to play this year?”

I’ve never had that question before. I always just assumed that the purpose of having a minor hockey association in your home town is to MAKE SURE that all the kids who want to play hockey in your town kind of get to play hockey in your town. But whatever. I’m not on the hockey board. I’ve never been invited to be a part of the hockey board. After what’s happened this week, I will never be invited TO be a part of the hockey board. And frankly, I’m a little worried that because I wrote a critical letter and then kind of sorta talked to some news folks about what had happened, that my kid will suffer in his hockey or his reffing or what have you. I HOPE that would never happen, but I don’t know about these things. I don’t grok politics. I don’t grok power struggles.

But I *do* grok communications strategies. And this, my friend, was a truly sad, and ultimately cruel situation. We received no communication from our local hockey board other than to be told they can’t provide an opportunity for our kid to play hockey on his home team, with his friends, for his first year of midget hockey. That was it.

Bad form, folks. Bad form. I’m truly sorry our boy won’t be part of your association this year. We have given you a lot of our time, money, and work over the last eleven years. And we will do so again, I hope. But this year, you let us down. You let us down HARD.

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It’s been….

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Categories: dreams, When There's Weather, Tags: ,

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I dreamt of you last night. We were in the garage in your home town, sitting on an old brown couch with a bunch of our friends. Your sister was there – in fact it was her I was visiting, dropping off some of your abandoned things and collecting some of my own. A few discs, my old books, a scarf.

Then you showed up with your lover. We weren’t expecting you home, your family and I, and it was uncomfortable. Mostly I just wanted to leave so that you could get on with your life but it had been so long since I’d seen your date that I thought it would be best if we at least had a few minutes to catch up.

IMG_7787.JPGI tried to be nice, accommodating. I tried to stay out of your way. On the surface it was because I knew you just didn’t want to be near me, but deep underneath all the bravado and posturing it was because seeing you hurt. I couldn’t look at you because it hurt so much. And we hadn’t even been lovers.

You kept glaring at me until finally it was too unbearable. I rose to leave and made my farewells. I quietly said goodbye to you, looking away. “I talked to a few people from your past, you know,” you said. Your voice was clipped, your mouth hard-set.

“Pardon?” These were the first words you’d spoken to me in so long. I wasn’t prepared.

“Yeah. Chan told me all about how you treated him. I talked to Vin too, and Marie. I know your MO. You’re not as clever as you think you are.”

“I-”

“Don’t try to argue. That’ll just make you look even more pathetic. Just go. Leave me and my family alone. You’re a horrible person, and I’m sad I ever let you sucker me in to whatever that was.”

I opened my mouth; I was going to apologise, not argue. I knew you were right. I’d tried to apologise so many times, but some things can’t be fixed.

I woke knowing we are so far apart, even further than the distance between us. I woke with the sound of your voice resonant in my ears. Even though I knew I had done everything I could do, I woke thinking I should have done more.

What a shitty morning.

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Haze: a blog tour

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Categories: Books, Reviews, Tags: , , ,

HAZE-Cover

I know you remember when I did the blog tour for Aussie author Paula Weston’s Shadows. I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to read the next book in the series. Well. To be honest, I’ve just been waiting and waiting. I mean it SEEMS like a super long time, but really, it’s only been about a year. A VERY LONG REPHAIM-FREE YEAR.

HAZE-BlogButtonWhat happens when you can travel anywhere instantaneously? More importantly, what happens when you can’t? What do you do when you find out you’re not who you thought you were, that you can’t trust your own memories? And how do you know whose memories you *can* trust? These are some of the fundamental questions beneath Paula Weston’s Rephaim series – a mystery/romance about angels, demons, and an approaching war.

What did I love about Weston’s first book in this series? You know I have a soft spot for the angelic mythology. Some of this has to do with my involvement with “Kingdom Come”, a roleplaying game based in this mythos, but it’s also a folklore that’s always piqued my interest. (Which is probably one of many reasons I fell in love with the roleplaying game, to be honest.) Here’s what Weston does incredibly well: she presents a recognizable, but not overly “assplained” universe – which is to say, I never had the feeling that I was being coddled along, gently scooped up and spoon-fed a setting. Angels are real. Demons are real. There are…things…in between. Paula Weston set up a brilliant mystery in Shadows, with no spoon-feeding. This is a huge thing in YA novels – too many YA authors seem to think that everyone under the age of 20 is just a little soft in the head and can’t suss things out on their own. You won’t find any soft-headedness in Weston’s books.

I’m going to be honest. I prepared myself for disappointment with Haze. That’s a really horrid thing to say, but I didn’t know if Weston could match the pacing and narrative of Shadows.
I didn’t know if the mystery could be carried for an entire second book. I worried that the conflict between characters and within characters would become…old hat.

There is nothing old hat about Haze. I’m not even kidding – things are going DOWN with the Rephaim – the offspring of angels and humans. The more you learn about the history of the main character (Gaby), the more mystery unravels. Gaby as she tries to find clues about her brother Jude’s death a year after she woke up in hospital, close to death herself. She has solid leads and a solid companion…well. She has a COMPELLING companion (Rafael, who was Jude’s best friend) who’s helping her search.

Here’s what Weston continues to do well: the pacing. THE PACING. You know how when you’re learning how to write fiction, “they” tell you to think about the arc of your story? How quickly the action progresses and to make sure there are ebbs and flows, the wave motion of a narrative? Well, they do. Tell you that. And I think they learned it from Paula Weston. These stories are charged with sexual tension, psychological tension, physical conflict, and liberal doses of sarcasm and sparkling humour.

HAZE-BlogTourBanner

As the story of who Gaby Winters really is continues to confound her (and the rest of the Rephaim who claim to know her), as Hellions continue to attack, as Gaby continues to try to will her body to stop reacting so strongly to Rafa, there’s no time left to unwind. No time to take a breath. Not even when you can travel anywhere in the blink of an eye. IF you can travel anywhere in the blink of an eye.

The only thing I don’t like about this series so far is that I don’t get to read it for the first time, ever again. Unless someone pulls a treatment on me like they did on Gaby…maybe Paula Weston can hook me up with whoever did that?

And let me just say that Paula Weston is a COMPLETE TEASE because the ‘read-ahead’ chapters of the third book in the series (Shimmer) have left me with absolutely no doubt about the third book. I’m going to encourage you to check out the walkthrough that Weston provides on the first leg of this blog tour, of some of the places that inspired scenes in her books. Follow Tundra’s blog tour, and sign up for the prize.

You can find Shadows and Haze at your favourite independent retailer; librarians and teachers can contact Tundra’s sales reps for class sets.

ShadowsBadges-DAISY

Post-Script – I took the “Which Rephaim Character Are You” Quiz that Paula Weston put together, and it turns out I’m Daisy. I could tell you what that means, but it’s going to be way more fun for you to read the books and meet Daisy and see if you agree. I mean, you know ME, right? Which of the Rephaim do YOU think I am most like?

 

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Barbecue Sauce

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Categories: Recipes, Tags: ,

CameraAwesomePhoto
BBQ Pulled Pork

A badly out of focus and exceedingly poorly lit photo of the BBQ pulled pork I just made with this BBQ sauce recipe.

Here’s the thing.

I’m not one of those people who has more recipe books than toothpicks. I have one shelf of recipe books, and most of them are from my mother and my grandmothers and my great-grandmother. In fact, all but one are “generational” recipe books. I have my mother’s entire collection of those coil-bound recipe books that were super popular in the 80s, but I rarely use them. I don’t like them much, because 90% of the recipes in them go like this:

Open a tin of stuff.
Add another tin of stuff.
Add some more tins of stuff.
Put some fake cheese in that.
Bake that shit.

I don’t have a lot of tins of stuff. I don’t use tinned vegetables or mushrooms because they taste like tin. I do use tinned soups from time to time, and tinned tomatoes (which are FRUIT, people. They’re fruit).

Probably the only reason I’m even keeping those is because Mum thought they were gold. I’ll most likely end up giving them to The Boys when The Boys leave home (an event I am already Very Concerned About, even though it’s a few years off yet).

The other thing about recipes is that I don’t usually follow them. I mean, I glance at them, and get the general GIST of things. But I don’t…really…pay close attention to that stuff. Unless I’m baking an angel cake or something.

Anyways. I accidentally made the best BBQ sauce on the face of the planet today. Since some of you asked what I did, I’m’a write it down for one’a’them…whattayacallems…posterities.

Saute some onions (I don’t know how many. Depends on how much you like onions, I guess. I like onions a lot, but the boys in my family are not fond of the allium family. Unless it’s garlic bread. They often like garlic bread. They’ll learn; they’re still in the prototype stage for the most part) in bacon fat. I suppose you could use some other kind of fat or oil, but why? God invented pigs so that we could cook things in their fat. It is so true. I’m sure it mentions this somewhere in Deuteronomy.

In a different sauce pan, simmer tomato paste mixed with an equal amount of water or stock. Add a shitload of spices. Here’s what I added: 1/4c honey or brown sugar  cayenne & chili pepper (in roughly the same amounts – about a tablespoon), turmeric, salt, and tabasco. Add a wee bit of cinnamon and allspice. And celery seed. You want celery seed all up in that shit. And a dash of cider vinegar. And some ginger.

Add some water to the gloriously sautéing onions (just enough to cover them), worcestershire sauce (I dunno, like, about half the amount of water you’ve just tossed in there), and some brown sugar. Uh. I dunno, a couple of tablespoons maybe? Also add about a cup or so of whatever your favourite kind of vinegar is. Stir that up and while it’s simmering, throw in some lemon juice, some more salt, and I’m forgetting what else already. OH YEAH. Dry mustard and cumin.

After the onion mixture has simmered for a few minutes, toss in the simmering tomato mixture. EVERYTHING simmers. Everything. If you’re not simmering, you’re doing something wrong. In fact, after you’ve mixed the simmering tomatoes in with the simmering onions, you’re going to want to simmer THAT shit for a while.

It’ll be done when you’re ready for it to be done. I suppose you could bottle this up, but why? Just eat it. Seriously. Just get a spoon and eat it. It’s the true way of things.

 

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