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In the Kitchen With Granny

Today I woke up and took a good look in the mirror; Fingers padding lightly across my skin, as I lean in to really see myself. I look into my tired blue eyes and know that I look like both of my grandmothers.  I have the round, kind face of my Granny Dorothy, and the body of my Granny Eileen. It’ll just have to do.

The two of them were as different as night and day. Granny Dorothy was an educated woman who married late in life to a sour, strict, everyone’s-going-to-burn-in-hell-baptist.  Her wits and grit kept the bills paid, and her sense of humour kept her alive. Had she been born today, she likely never would have married. She would have worked her way around the world. Alas, the 1930’s had other plans for her.

Granny Eileen on the other hand, was on husband number three when I came along. She’d raised six kids on her own. She was a resourceful woman with a heart of gold who didn’t take a lick of shit from anyone, especially her husband.

Both of these women taught me to make something from nothing.  Whether it was in the kitchen, or out in the world at large. They taught me how a woman could be both strong and kind.

Every year, I keep them close as I plant my garden, and every harvest season, as I take to the kitchen. These rituals keep me close to them. I’m a sentimental traditionalist when it comes to my kitchen. During the summer, I find myself preserving the same things with the same recipes that they did all those years ago.  I throw in a few more odds and ends, just because I find comfort in the routine of being in the kitchen during harvest season.

This morning I slipped on a jersey knit dress that put me in mind of Granny Dorothy. She knew what she was doing with those old house dresses. Simple, tidy, and most importantly when you’re preserving; cool. I listened to interviews with authors as I sterilized jars, peeled and chopped fruit, remembering how my Granny Eileen’s gnarled up hands seemed to be able to create anything.

During the summer months, I yearn for the slow, simple days of childhood summers. I recall the flavour of each stage of the harvest; radish, carrots, and beans snapped straight from the plant and tossed directly into our mouths.  No garden was immune to kids raiding it for a snack. We sucked on sour rhubarb stalks, and cringed at the bitterness of currents. We raided the ditches and gullies, picking raspberries and blackberries when we were lucky enough to find them. Each ripening carried back to the kitchens of our grannies where it was made into something wonderful.

 

Except pastry. I learned how not to make pastry from both of my Grandmothers. Kind of like how not to choose a mate. As it turns out, Granny Eileen  insisted that if I followed the recipe on the box of Tenderflake, my pastry would be just fine. She also lied. Years later my aunt laughted at me so hard tears streamed down her face; Granny used pre-made pastry and was full of shit. Granny Dorothy on the other hand was honest with me but produced pastry with a texture so fearsome that the dog wouldn’t even eat it.  From this I learned that sometimes we don’t always get what we need from family. Sometimes we have to reach out to become wiser and better.

 

The quiet stretches in my kitchen necessary for the process of preserving and canning gives me time to commune with the spirit of these two women. They are with me here in the steam and heat, and smell of cooked fruit. They are with me when I take a jar of something I preserved from the pantry and serve it to my family and friends. My grannies are always with me at my table.

 

 

 

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First Day of School for Parents of Intelligent Boys

backtoschool

You will cry, and they might cry,  but everyone will be fine.

Trust me, I know this.

He will be curious. His first report card will subtly let you know that he talks… A LOT.

He will be bored – because you taught him his ABC’s, and how to write and colour and explore. For this you will be rewarded with years of him finishing his work early and wiggling around in class, likely getting into things, and making you worry he’s going to end up in jail.

He won’t.

Your boy will comfort others who are struggling, and get away with all of the activity he can.

And all of this because you loved him like crazy before our world was ready to tame him.

Stay strong mom and dad. He will be just fine, and so will you.

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Knowledge is Power – Why Our Children Need to Learn about Their Bodies

kidsKnowledge is power.  When someone tries to deny another knowledge, they are denying them power: Power to make informed decisions, power to question, power to think independently, and power to live a full life.

If you’re not promoting knowledge, you’re promoting ignorance, and boy oh boy, isn’t that easy to take advantage of?

This morning I was reading a thread in a social media post where someone I presume to be a Christian conservative went on a rant about the evils of teaching sexual education to our children.

We live in a world where childhood sexual abuse is a reality. I know what it’s like, and it haunts you for years. Had we had the language and body awareness to speak about it, perhaps it would have stopped. Not only that, perhaps it would have stopped for the next generation as well.

If you are uncomfortable hearing a child talk about their body, perhaps it’s you who has the problem.

We live in a world where (primarily, but not exclusively) girls are raped on a regular basis.

You’re concerned about the words ‘anal intercourse’ being used in public schools? Well, I hate to put a kink in the rays of sunlight your almighty is shining down on you, but these girls are raped up the bum and taught that anal sex is not sex. You know why? It keeps their ‘virginity’ in tact so they can remain virtuous for their husbands. Yah.  Not to mention the health concerns that result from unprotected and non-consensual sex.

And Child-brides, it’s a real thing.

child brideLearning about our bodies gives children the opportunity to protect themselves, and the language to do that.

So don’t start trying to tell the world how damaging learning about the human body and sexuality is. We are humans who thirst, hunger, lust and need rest. Understanding these parts of our humanity only serve to make us better. Like a healthy diet and knowing how to balance our cravings at the dinner table, learning about sexuality helps us learn how to rejoice in our bodies instead of being ashamed.

If you’re reading this and shaking your head, thinking I’m a bra burning feminist who serves the devil, rest assured, I love my bras. They protect my voluptuous and glorious breasts. And seriously, how can you know the divine if you’ve never experienced darkness?

If you get angry hearing that our children are learning how to protect a part of life that can be beautiful and is often violently taken from them, just sit with this question for a while; what are you so afraid of?

 

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Why Sex-Ed Belongs in Our Schools

knowledge-is-power-quote-22It’s true.

Religion has always been at best, a path on the road to spiritual awakening which encourages empathy, ethical living, and love. At it’s worst, it’s a bastardized tool wielded by the hands of power-hungry lunatics.

Spirituality belongs in school because we are all spiritual beings in human bodies. Religion belongs at home because of the long history of being used to gain power and dominate other human beings. It continues to be a  mess of misunderstood translation, twisted  cultural laws, and most importantly, something that you have the freedom to teach your children or not. At home.

Last night on the news two protestors on the sex-doesn’t-belong in school-side spoke to a reporter about their religious rights, and that it’s a parent’s job to teach kids about sex at home. First of all, if you wish to live by religious law, move. That’s right, go to a country that honours religious law unlike Canada’s secular law. It is because Canada enforces secular law that everyone is, on the surface, offered equal rights.

No? You don’t want to move to a country filled with fanatics willing to slit your throat in the street?  You don’t want to be a woman covered and bound as property to her father or husband? Then sit down and have a good think darling.

You see, sex education from a woman’s point of view is healthy. I must agree that  despite teaching about biology and the mechanics of it all, institutional education  lacks the more subtle, but just as important aspects of emotional intelligence, sexual ethics, and personal morals and values. Those things are indeed a parent’s job to discuss.

What I find very sad for both men and women is that culture within religion often perpetuates myths that can cause physical harm and psychological trauma. Most people who adhere to fundamentalist translation of holy scripture in any religious tradition value a woman’s virginity. What they don’t preach well to those young girls are the risks, health concerns and precautions to take when their protective male counterparts convince them that blow jobs and anal sex aren’t really sex. What they don’t preach well to boys  are the same things. They don’t have the knowledge to seek help when they are raped, molested or infected.

Consent? What is that when one gender is the property of another? And ‘God’ forbid there may be more than two genders. Gasp!

Regardless of gender and religion, every person in this country is entitled to knowledge and resources when it comes to a whole picture of health. That includes sexual health. Chances are you’ll have more experience with sexuality than with  calculus during your years of mature adulthood.

Chances are the irate, red-faced fathers on the news would go into convulsions explaining the transgressions of the flesh that their children face. The same goes for their mothers. Memory is a slippery trickster, remember, it was less than a hundred years ago that women were considered persons and successfully fought for the right to vote right here in the true north strong and free.

God does not belong in school. Spirituality does. Education does. If you are God-fearing, religious, or otherwise follow a moral code, it is your duty to help your children experience the beauty of spiritual living, including the real meaning of sexual desire, intimacy and relationships.

If you really care, may I suggest adjusting your priorities instead of talking smack. Instead of bowing down to the almighty dollar, be home to share a meal around the table. Spend time with your kids and get to know their friends. Teach your sons and daughters about personal respect, compassion and leadership.

Knowledge is power, especially for young women who still live in a world where rape and the onus for birth control weighs solely on their shoulders. Now, could that be the reason that men of certain religious and cultural traditions poo-poo public education, because it gives women power? Why yes, I think we have the winning answer right there darlings.

Knowing the risks and reality of sex does not take away from religious life. It never has and it never will. It only takes away power from power-hungry leaders and the weak.

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Inspiration Where & When You Least Expect It

"It'll come along when you least expect it. Work on you and it will work itself out." ~Tony Gaskins~
“It’ll come along when you least expect it. Work on you and it will work itself out.”
~Tony Gaskins~

Today someone I have never met in person left a message on my voicemail that absolutely made my day.

They were thanking me for one of my blog posts. Apparently we all like to feel like we’re not alone out here in the vast cosmos of, “Whiners, losers, potheads and boozers”, as my musician friend Dean would croon. In plainspeak, it’s nice to know that there are people out there who are good. G.O.O.D. Good as in they care about how they show up in the world every day.

When I most needed a little reassurance, it came by way of this very kind phone call. Thank you.

Another person who began their relationship with me on the wrong foot has turned into a mentor of sorts. Younger, male, and seemingly aloof, he took time out of his day to encourage my latest fitness project; getting my big ol’ hiney into my summer skirts.

Yet again, a make-work project became the cause of me rooting through my black-tie-appropriate dresses, and finding out that, TA-DAH!!! I’ve lost enough winter fluff to fit into a dress that made me look like a large black silk sausage at Christmas time.

Don’t get me wrong, I still need loving support and encouragement. For instance gentlemen, St. Patty’s day is coming gentlemen, and a lovely bouquet and bottle of Irish whiskey would not go unacknowledged should they magically appear on my desk Tuesday morning. You know, just in case you have a yen to spoil me a bit. But I digress…

I have Irish blood pumping through my very strong and determined veins, and I will not let a few feel-good moments distract me from my mission; continuing on in the world confident and determined to carry my own personal brand of excellence wherever I roam.  Even if it’s just to the gym or out on the trail. But you know me don’t you darlings? I will carry it much, much further than that.

Keep your chin up out there folks. You are fabulous. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

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Doing the Impossible

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