Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The F word again?

Just had a run in with this:

"It offends the strong woman in me to explain to a girl that she has to be given something by a man for her to join"

Yeah -- you can imagine my take on that.

This is not supposed to be a blog about the F-word, and yet it keeps rearing it's UGLY UGLY head.



In other news, my daughters both told me they don't know how to mow the lawn. Ooops.


We had to put our daughter's cat down last week, I now have a lovely new rosebush in the garden under her window.


I still love bourbon, I had some bourbon cheesecake the other day after seeing a wonderful Degas exhibit at a small local gallery. I'm going to go with - I am strong enough to know more about baseball then the drunk behind me at the game, I can drink more beer than he can too (just in case you were wondering), and I'm strong enough to order bourbon cheesecake.


Oh yeah, and I mowed the lawn today - with the reel mower. (look it up, that's not a typo, that's a type of mower)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Feminism - my ass.

A couple of my friends have been blogging anew, and I feel a bit inspired. I also feel inspired by something that I haven't fully defined for myself, and I hope writing about it will help me evaluate my feelings a little more.

Feminism.

Strangely, this has always seemed a little like a dirty word to me - but not for ANY of the reasons that a person would initially think of when someone says something like that.

I'm not at all religious, well that's not quite correct because I have a totally individual view of religion and spirituality. I am horrendously offended by anyone who takes religion lightly - either take it seriously or don't take it, but religion is just not something you should be half-assed about. I consider myself to be very spiritual, I have a GREAT relationship with G-d, and I firmly believe in Spirit and G-d and a lot that goes with that. I also believe that Religion can serve a very powerful purpose in assisting people to build a strong and supportive relationship with their own spirituality. I am so unbelievably okay with people having a completely different spiritual path than me that it's almost comical - I seriously do not care if you blather on about Krishna or Jesus or the Equinox. Only two things are offensive to me - blatant hypocrisy (not accidental, but actually choosing to be a giant douche hypocrite) and proselytizing.

I'm in my 40's - so I'm not so old that feminism is an alien idea.

My mother worked. In fact, my grandmothers and my great-grandmothers worked. Women in my family have for many generations gone to college (or the equivalent). There is not a woman that I am related to that I would think of in any way as being weak or incapable of any task that she set her mind to.

I think it may be part of being "A Woman of the West" - a phrase I have found myself using a lot the past several years. You see, here, in Colorado, (before the Californication of our communities) we don't really judge people based on race, religion, gender, ancestry, etc. In fact, I really only remember people being genuinely looked down upon for a couple of things - not working hard, and judging others. Oh sure, there will be people who disagree - they are probably armed with tales of how they knew someone right here in Colorado who experienced discrimination because of some factor or other. So to be clear - in MY experience, growing up to become, and as the daughter of generations of, a "Woman of the West" - I experienced very little discrimination. My parents had friends of all different classes, faiths, colors, and even gay friends. I can't speak for my siblings, but it never occurred to me that the two gay guys on my dad's bowling team were anything but gay, it also didn't occur to me that it mattered or was actually any different. Eventually, I realized it was pretty cool that my dad hung out with gay guys and my mom had lesbian friends way before most of my other friends' parents would even acknowledge that homosexuality existed. (ps. My parents never spent one breath explaining it - it just was, much like there was just milk in the refrigerator or you had to vacuum carpet). We did grow up in a predominately white, middle class neighborhood - but my parents never batted an eye about going to eat at Daddy Bruce's barbecue or Patsy's Italian Inn or having beers at the Globeville Inn. Again, it just was.

So if Dad was out of town and some "manly" chore needed doing, my mother would either assign one of my brother's to it -- OR one of us girls -- or do it herself. Don't misunderstand, there was definite division of responsibilities in our house that ran along gender lines. Boys seldom did things like clean china closets and hang new drapes and girls seldom did things like wash out trash barrels or repair roofs. However, there was never any question about our capabilities. I have brothers who sew and cook and my sisters and I can work on cars and gut fish.

My mother was glamorous, and feminine, and very ladylike. She also drove race cars, welded, did some masonry projects, was an expert markswoman and angler. I guess we were lucky to grow up like that, but while we were growing up, it never occurred to us that it was any different than anyone else. My aunt's were bad ass - and feminine. The neighbor ladies shoveled snow and pushed cars out of ditches and cleaned and cooked game meat - and they were all lovely lady like women. Aside from one neighbor up the street - who constantly used her womanly wiles (how's that for old fashioned) to get men to do her bidding - I can't think of a single woman on our street that I thought was any different than my mom.

I think that my problem with the word "Feminism" is just this. Why is there even a need for such a word. Can't we enjoy our gender differences and still know that we are all capable of greatness in anything? I wish you could ask my kids or my family or my friends - I'm not just blowing some sort of lala sunshine here - I don't get it - I don't see the need.

My bigger problem is that the word makes people angry.

There is no reason for women to be posting things like 'Raising Daughters in a World that Devalues Them'. You know what devalues our daughters -- constantly fucking focusing on stupid shit like that. Society doesn't give a person their value - that comes from within and is cultivated in the way we treat them as they grow and develop. Stop looking for reasons to hate 'the other' person - and please, please, please stop hating hate. You just give it energy. Just fucking ignore the hate and move on. Don't give it any power or energy by butting up against it. No one ever won a fight with a bear by trying to fight it - they won by getting the fuck away from it and leaving it there wondering what happened. Stop teaching our daughters to feel that they need to "stand up for their rights" - you don't need to stand up for something you already have - just use it. Stop preaching at our sons that "women are their equals" - just fucking act equal - they'll follow along just fine. The only way a three year old boy would ever tell you his mommy "can't" do something is if he already heard it somewhere.

I am a woman, I expect men to hold the door open for me, to walk on the outside of the sidewalk, to stand up when I come to the table, to hold my chair for me, to assist me with my coat, and to make sure I'm safe. I also expect the men in my house to take care of manly chores - the lawn, the car, the structure of the house, the trash, the pest killing, etc.

I can and will change the oil in the car, fix the fence or the roof when needed, kill anything that needs killing, mow the lawn, gut fish, drive fast, drink whiskey, and cuss (probably more than my husband does) - and I might do any of the above wearing a skirt and heels.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Not because I'm a writer, but because of this new blog post from my friend Kim I am also going to challenge myself to post every day this month. For my own crazy reasons - not unlike my friend - working too much; kids; silly ass crazy family obligations -- this is a BIG challenge for me. Unlike Kim, my girls just out from my chest and do nothing to inspire me - however - the need to vent has occasionally been quite the muse for me; as is my incurable fascination with commenting on all that I observe in this silly corner of the world that I live in.

I have one wonderfully generous and mostly supportive and helpful husband - that drives me quite crazy at times. I work two jobs now; one in the not-for-profit world and one in the traditional for-profit small mom & pop (or in this case brother & brother) business world. I have three children in college, yes all at the same time; each of them with their own special challenges - #1, not doing fabulously, not because she isn't bright, but because she allows emotions to cripple her at times; #2 finishing up at a JC and looking for a 4 year school where he can finish up - and continue to play baseball - he keeps choosing locations far from my doorstep that I've never heard of - I don't like it; #3 is trying to make decisions about a place to live next year, playing rugby and regularly getting quite beat up by it - and I think, not being perfectly candid with me about all the aspects of her life - ugh, I hate that. I have four family members moving away -- breaking my heart in the process, even if I am happy for the opportunity and growth for them. I have five pets - three dogs, a cat, and a frog, who are constantly needing "extra" care -- trips to the veterinarian, special diets, special grooming, etc. -- and bless them, they've recarpeted the house in hair weekly for the last several months and it's just getting worse now that it's warming up. I have six relatives with special challenges right now (more on that later). I'm sure I could keep going with a little thought, but I have somewhere around 7,000 ants currently parading through my kitchen thinking that the cat's very expensive special kidney diet food is their own Del Coronado brunch buffet. I've put down grits, and now it's time to go vacuum the little bastards up.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are you kidding me?

This doesn't seem like a big deal to most of you. I however have been boycotting the news for years, I only read specific news articles that I go seek based on what I hear from the rest of the world is going on. For example, if everyone in the neighborhood is talking about the bat infestation, I will go look up several articles from several sources on the bat infestation.

I startled myself this morning, just casually reading the news. It only took a moment to remember why I don't read the news anymore, however, I kept clicking on various headlines that captured my attention.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
A parent is whining that their child was "grabbed" by the driver of his school bus and made to sit in the front row near the driver. A review of the video from the bus revealed that the student had been behaving uncontrollably and screaming in the back of the bus. At the next stop the driver called the student to the front of the bus and gently guided him to a seat near the driver.

You have not taught your child to respect authority, adults, their peers, rules, or just basic good behaviour in a moving vehicle, and you are going to be pissed when an adult that you have CHOSEN to have authority over your little brat handles it as they see fit.
If you don't like the way other people handle your stinking rude little brat, then you shouldn't put anyone else in charge of them... EVER. Of course for those of us who have dealt with the kiss and go lane at any school (or as Marie likes to call it, the stop, drop and roll lane), we know that if these parents drive their child to school, all those parents in the kiss and go lane will probably pay the price; it's clear the parents probably have no manners or courtesy or respect either. UGH

Also on the news page -- PETA has put up billboards of puppies trussed up like turkeys and asks "Kids: If you wouldn't eat your dog why eat a turkey?" -- well isn't that just a delightful expression of gratitude for the season, warms my heart that someone actually thinks my meat loving kids would eat crap that tastes bad because PETA is still a bunch of idiots.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We made it to fall break...

All three kids were deposited at their various institutions of higher learning in August, trips to Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco and the grocery stores all completed with relative ease. Technically the oldest didn't come home this summer, so she was simply moved from an apartment to a townhouse in July.

Side Note: Bed Bath & Beyond has an awesome program for those who are going to a school far from home (ahem, and that is in a city large enough to have a BB&B) - you can shop at your local store, and then, just as if you were registering for a wedding, they will scan all your products, look up the store closest to your university/college, and send the list to them. You drive your darling, his/her clothes, books, etc. to the new town, empty the car into the dorm room, then rock on over to BB&B and pick up the rest of the stuff at the local store!


The precious darlings were all of course asserting their adulthood and independence, the part you know you should be proud and happy about but that cuts to the core because they don't think they need you anymore. Let me just reiterate they don't THINK they need you anymore.

It didn't take long for the oldest to have a reason to come home, a very short time later the youngest needed things shipped to her (we have shipped 4 boxes to her as of this writing!), and only a couple weeks into the school year the boy messed up his elbow again -- Ulner Nerve Subluxation if you are really interested in the nitty gritty details, go google it, and maybe include the term 'post Tommy John surgery'. The boy needed to come home for his previous elbow surgeon to fix his elbow, he was home about a week. The oldest got a pretty bad strep infection that also infected her partially erupted wisdom teeth and begged Mommy to come and care for her, then a visit to the ER, then she came home to have us care for her, then she came home again to get the teeth extracted. Somewhere in the mix of the two older kiddos having their medical crises, the youngest began to finally feel homesick, thankfully this past weekend her brother had a fall break and a teammate from Flagstaff took him down to visit his sister. Oh we also lost the cat for a few days, thankfully we found it. Actually hoping for them to be independent for the next few weeks so that things are uneventful until Thanksgiving!

So the question we keep hearing "How does it feel to have your next empty" -- we haven't noticed it too much yet.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Yesterday was my dad's 79th birthday. The occasion of his birthday generally falls near/during Labor Day weekend, which has made for some great celebrations on given years. I can't believe it's been 9 years, for his 70th birthday - we went on a "quick little day hike". We were planning on doing a hike we both knew well, subtle easy hike, not much elevation change, gentle groomed trail through the trees of Rocky Mountain National Park - when a friend told us he would like to join us, and his friend had told him about a different hike, sounded easy enough - 20 minutes up, 20 minutes back (we knew we wouldn't be quite that fast, the two of them were both 70 years old that year, and I can hike all day, always have, but I'm not fast, and I'm outta shape... So we started out on this trail, heading south, we headed south for a good ten minutes before we even began to climb at the first switchback in the trail. The grade was pretty easy still, and we hiked another good ten minutes before the next switchback... we knew we were planning on climbing to the top of this small mountain, and we should have realized twenty minutes in that we had not gained much in elevation and that this was in no way going to be "twenty minutes up, twenty minutes back" -- and that the information we gave to our families "We'll be back shortly after lunch" was now a bunch of BS. We didn't really think about it, we sipped on our extraordinarily small bottles of water and just chatted and talked on our way up the trail through the trees on the side of the mountain. With each switchback the trail became a bit steeper, and the distance between switchbacks shortened -- that is pretty standard for trails that traverse the sides of mountains. After about an hour we ran into some people, "hey how much further to the top?"; their reply "oh, not too much further, you're probably more than halfway there" -- they couldn't have been more incorrect. We hiked on a while longer, my dad was wheezing a bit with his asthma, not unusual though and I wasn't concerned, he was also mentioning that his new shoes were really bothering his left foot. We stopped at a stream (probably should have risked giardia and refilled our water bottles), and rested a few minutes for his foot and his asthma. We saw another group of hikers, "are we near the firewatch tower?"; and the reply "oh, it's wonderful, so worth the climb, it gets steeper now, but it's only a couple more switchbacks up" -- again, misinformed -- apparently descending this mountain plays with people's minds and they become delusional. We trudged on, a good couple of hours, maybe three hours into our one hour hike now. We were thinking, hmmm, they probably missed us at lunch, but we'll be back before dark, no worries - and besides, we've come this far, and we are almost there. That was probably about the time we ran across our first sign of cats in the area, a nice steaming pile of cat scat - oh and by cats, I don't mean the sweet adorable little cuddly ones that the old lady down the street has a dozen of... I mean Mountain Lions. And by steaming, I don't mean actually steaming, but I do mean still quite fresh, left there in the middle of the trail for us by a fellow forest dweller that probably was watching us right now. We are now clearly quite a ways up this mountain, and can see down to the bottom that we must be near the top, and it's becoming rockier, and the switchbacks are quite close together now, and we hike on, not mentioning the cats to my dad (who is both allergic and afraid of them), well look there, on that rock... that's a mountain lion, watching us... but he's not interested and we must be just around the corner from the top now. Another 4 or five switchbacks and a long stretch of trail, this has got to be the final stretch, and look there a cat leaving the trail and heading into the brush. How about we stop for a little rest and let him have plenty of space. Wow, good thing we are almost to the top, we are out of water. We have broken out of the trees now as well, so we've got to be close. Well that's a long enough rest, lets trudge on and make lots of noise to scare the cat off. It's nearing evening now by the way, probably why these cats are so active. Eventually, I would say at around 4:00 or 4:30 (2-3 hours into our twenty minute hike) we achieved our goal -- the firewatch tower! What an amazing view, we could see for miles in any direction, and beautiful up there overlooking the lakes and the park and the meadows. Well can't dawdle, we are out of water, have no asthma meds amongst us, even if we make it down the trail much faster than we made it up, we are racing daylight now... and of course there are those pesky cats that might get the munchies as it gets darker. Remember Dad's boots are hurting him, and we are descending now, well, even though physically going downhill is less demanding on out of shape/older folks, it is much more painful on sore feet. Dad can barely go a few hundred yards without stopping to give his aching foot a break -- damn those new hiking boots, he'll never wear them again. Still we moved along as quickly as we could, being particularly noisy anywhere that felt a little vulnerable to the cats. Now before you go jumping ahead thinking we had a bad encounter with the cats, we did not, that is not where this story is going. In fact, we are done with actual cat encounters at this point, although we don't know that for certain yet and we are a bit nervous about it. It's getting darker fast, it's late in the summer, and the sun is plummeting below the western horizon at breakneck speed. We turn a switchback to see a nice long trail stretched out in front of us and we are feeling pretty good about having covered a lot of the descent already, but it is getting pretty darn dusky - at least we don't feel as concerned about the cats down here. What is that, a guy running UP the trail, in the evening, what a dumb ass, who would start up in the near dark on this fucking long ass trail... oh it's my husband, come to check on us, very concerned because well, it's now well past "lunch time" and edging toward "dinner time", and in fact past dinner time for a lot of folks. It's about 7pm now. "Do you have any water?" we ask him, we've been without for hours now. "No", his answer. "Do you have a flashlight?", again he answers us with a 'no'. He agrees to stay with Dad and go at his pace, his foot is really bothering him now. They trade shoes in fact. Our friend and I now nearly jog out of the forest in an effort to get out before darkness completely takes over. We walk the last hundred yards or so in pitch black, sort of reading the trail by braille with our shuffling feet. As we exit the trailhead we are met by more friends, armed with lights and gun (in case of mountain lions or bears... amusing now of course). They head in to take light and more help to my husband and father. By nine thirty both the old guys are back on oxygen, have had some asthma meds, and we've all had plenty of water. In addition, we've had some beer and food - a great story in retrospect.

By the way, the fellow who recommended the "twenty up and twenty back" hike in the first place... that would be STRAIGHT up through the fire cut, a whole different kind of hiking than any of us were prepared for, that's actually mountain climbing to be more accurate, and haha, I've seen the firecut now... you'd have to be in pretty killer shape and practice to make that in twenty minutes, either direction!

After Dad returns to Denver, he sees his doctor for his foot that is still bothering him a great deal. Turns out, it's broken. He made that whole hike on foot with two broken bones in it. Yeah, he's actually that badass - and at 70 years old no less. At 79 years old he still works every day, a somewhat physical job, and he camps most weekends in the summer. He's even been known to throw a raft on a river or play a round of golf (at altitude). With severe lung damage from having breathed some toxic acids about 20 years ago and a lifetime of asthma, I would still rank him as pretty badass!

Next year both those guys will be 80, I told them I'm taking them back up there. Of course it probably won't happen, they both require oxygen quite a bit of the time now when they are at altitude (this town is just over 8,000 feet above sea level and the firewatch tower is at 10,000 feet. According to the trail advisor where I just looked up that bit of information -- it's a moderate hike, 4.8 miles, 1.5 easy, 3.3 moderate to hard uphill. Estimated 2.5 hours up and 1.5 hours down. (that's 4 hours, we took 7 hours). Also, according the advisor that I just looked up, the tower was built in 1932, the same year both of those guys were born. Maybe we will figure out how to drag them back up there next summer... high country all terrain wheel chairs maybe.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Counting Down...

My last baby is starting to have boxes of beloved things (and new, hopefully to be beloved things) and bags of things ready to take far away to Arizona. As these preparations progress she is getting more and more excited, and as happy as I am for her, and as delighted as her excitement makes me -- every time I am alone here in the front room of our home with these boxes of her books and laundry supplies and plastic cups, I feel a tremendous wave of melancholy pass over and through me. I remember when she was a baby, and I would hear her wake in her crib, and I would be disappointed that my quiet mom time had come to an end because she was awake and would require my constant attention and have me running all around taking care of her, but then I would walk into her room, and she'd be standing there (hopefully still in the crib, as she was quite the little escape artist) with her HUGE blue eyes and that dark black shock of hair giving me her best betty boop/spanky smile, lighting up the entire space with her joy and I would forget all of my silliness and just revel in the wonderful blessing that being with her was. I remember when I would pick her up from elementary school, and she (now with glowing blonde streaks in her long, thick hair would run toward me, anxious to share every happy, exciting moment of her day - those bright blue eyes sparkling with that glow that filled up all the space, even when out doors, she shined more brightly than even the Colorado sun. I remember when she finally took a trip away from home without her dad and I, and on her return, so much excitement about all that she had seen, so many stories to tell, that beautiful radiant glow filling the space again.

I feel like I can't bear the idea of not being in the presence of that radiance for such a long time. I don't know how I will get through my days with only her voice on the end of the phone or a grainy image on my computer screen if I can get her to skype with me for more than 5 minutes. I felt a tremendous sense of loss each time my other children moved away for college also, but there was always that comfort that my darling Spanky would be there at home, wrapping me up in her joy and excitement, sharing her stories, her woes and concerns, her gossip about friends, her unbelievable curiosity about the world and her absolute enchantment when she learned new things. Now they are all away, and I just imagine these empty bedrooms, and nowhere to go, nowhere to "have to be", no excitement because I decided to surprise them with a favorite meal for no reason, or bought something silly that reminds me of them and brought it home. No end of the day, best and worst stories. It's in some ways as if I am losing all three of them at once to have her going - I thought that an empty nest would be hard to bear. I knew that when people talked about it, they meant that it was really hard for a mom like me - I had no idea I would feel so utterly heartbroken and lonely. I love my husband, and there is a certain anticipation of lovely times of just the two of us - but honestly, I'm afraid that without my children I don't have much to offer to anyone... I don't know who I will be, my identity feels at risk, my happiness feels doomed, and I want my mommy to help hold me up.

I must make these moments of celebration, moments of gratitude for all that is wonderful and amazing about this huge milestone in all of lives. And I am so grateful that my children have these opportunities, that they are capable to taking advantage of them, and that I have completed that part of my job as a parent, to prepare them for this, and to let them have this. I may need a little reminding now and then that it is about celebration and gratitude -- so if your reading this, and you are experiencing anything similar -- here is your reminder to be filled with gratitude and celebrate with gusto, now please remind me!