Friday, February 27, 2009

PEN Canada and Freedom to Read Week

It's Freedom to Read Week.
Why not support the right to read what you want, to say what you want and to write what you want- rights we take for granted in Canada-by joining PEN Canada.

What's PEN Canada?

Click here.
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Why every Canadian Writer needs a GST

Here is an article I wrote for PWAC Guelph about the GST number and why every writer needs one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mars and Venus and Sick Time

Why are men and women so different when it comes to illness? Why are big, burly, manly men felled like trees when a cold or flu hits, and women seem to be able to cope better? Why is it that most men turn into children when they're sick and women keep going?

  • Women are trained from an early age to nurture and take care of others...often to the exclusion of ourselves. I'm going to be having surgery later this year for "woman" issues, which may include a 6 week recovery period. My mother is already reminding me that the day she returned from hospital after having the same surgery, she walked down a big hill with me to take me to the park. Now, in my defense I was about 3-4...and this was back in the day when she had already spent a week in hospital, instead of the 2-3 days that I'll be there.
  • Women have to tough out a variety of things monthly, from bloating to mood swings to cramps that can double you over. We learn in our teens to suck it up and keep going, because it comes back month after month...It wasn't until I had a cycle that lasted over a month and featured passing blood clots the size of marbles that I went to the doctor about it...and only because I was going broke buying feminine products and had become anemic from loss of blood.
  • If momma doesn't do it, it often doesn't get done. That includes dishes, laundry, getting the kids to and from school, daycare, activities, and food preparation. It's often easier for us to do it than to re-do it later. Moms don't get sick days.
  • Most women have a higher tolerance for pain...otherwise there would be no child born in this world...and certainly no siblings to the first one.
I have sung opera choruses with a migraine so fierce that I almost fainted, I have hosted house guests three weeks after a car accident left me with a cracked leg and hip (that at the time of the visit was undiagnosed and I was walking on it) and severe whiplash, I have continued to function despite anemia so bad that it makes me weak and dizzy, I have sung concerts on crutches, on a cane and with my right arm in a sling, I have vaccuumed on crutches and for the last two weeks, I have kept the house going, sung at 2 funerals and 2 masses and kept my work humming along with pneumonia. When the wait at the ER was going to be 6 hours, I left and came home. I didn't feel well enough to stay, so I waited and called my doctor the next morning. One of the reasons I left was I was afraid that I would be admitted, and who would look after my daughter the next morning? My husband has spent the day there a few times this year and then come home and beached in the Lazyboy with a headache or a sick stomach.

I think women can be too independent. I know that I have pushed past my limit often, powered only by stubborn and determined. My body and I have an adversarial relationship, and it will often flatten me when I take inadequate care of myself. I'm teetering on the edge right now with the evil twins of anemia and pneumonia...but I'm still on deadline, I'm still a work from home mom...and the pancakes for tonight's dinner will not cook themselves and despite my best visualization, the dishes are not washing themselves. So I will make another pot of tea, take a break to play a game with my daughter, try to go to bed early and soldier on. As Helen Reddy said, "I am Strong. I am Invincible. I am Woman." (and I'm tired...)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stupid Cupid...

Charmian's blog on Valentine's Day has inspired me to my own true confession...

I hate Valentine's Day. I always have. My husband and I celebrate it on the day before or the day after. Why?

  • I was not a popular kid in school. I was the Charlie Brown of Wilder Penfield Elementary School. In retrospect, some of it was my own doing because I hadn't learned yet that being smart did not mean you had to tell the whole world all the time. I also have a loving, if somewhat overprotective mom who sent her only child to daycamp with a pillow to sit on...Anyway, I did not get a great deal of Valentines, although I painstakingly filled mine out each year, for each person in the class. (my mom's smart rule, which I will also be enforcing when my kid hits school)
  • In high school, I went to St. Mary's Catholic Girls' School. (Complete with kilt. To this day, I will not wear plaid) St. Jerome's Catholic Boys' School was across the road (literally). Some bright light somewhere thought it would be a good idea to allow the boys and girls to send flowers to each other on Valentine's Day in homeroom. I never got a flower. ever. Only 2 or 3 girls in class got a flower...and 25 of us were left feeling like a piece of crap. For someone with self-esteem issues to begin with, it was not a big boost to the ego, ya know.
  • I had two serious relationships break up on Valentine's Day. Enough said about THAT.
When my husband and I were first dating, I flat out refused to go out with him on Valentine's Day. I told him I would see him happily the day before...or the day after, but February 14 was verboten. We had a nicer dinner on the 13th, without the jacked up price of the 14th, at the same place we would have gone on the 14th.

We have continued this tradition through our 12 year relationship and 10 year marriage. Since our daughter arrived, Valentine's Day is a more of a big deal now that she's in pre-school. She got Valentines, and we made Valentines for everyone in her class (and I sent a couple of extras just in case) We went out for dinner en famille (on the 13th) and I made a nice dinner last night for a belated celebration. I did wear red on Valentine's Day, but I was working a booth for my friend at the Total Woman's Show and wanted to look presentable.

I would rather get a "just because" present on an ordinary day than a "duty" gift on a date on the calendar. We exchanged cards, gave my daughter a sugar rush and got on with our day. I don't need a fancy gift on February 14th to know my husband loves me. Bringing me a coffee from Tim Hortons on a night when I have to go out and it's been a challenging day tells me that far more eloquently than a heart shaped box of crappy chocolate ever could.

So begone Cupid. You bug me.

Friday, February 6, 2009


There are points in every marriage when it's all you can do not to kill your spouse...I am fortunate that I have a kind and caring spouse, with whom I share the same values and beliefs, same sense of humour, and a mutual tolerance and respect for the interests that we don't share...we get along pretty well most of the time. Every once in awhile, however...

  • 5 years ago he wrote an IOU in my birthday card...the week after he'd gone out and spent a ridiculous amount of money on computer junk that was still in the original packaging a year later...his rationale for it was that we were being paid in a few days and he would make good on it then. (I can hear the groans from the women from here, and I can see the puzzled expression of the men wondering what my point is...) His head did eventually grow back...and I was sent roses for Valentines Day (to the office) a few weeks later. He has never forgotten my birthday again.
  • He arrived home after Boxing Day shopping this year (his favorite thing) with a big grin on his face. He first pushed a grind and brew coffeemaker into the house...and followed it up with a robot vacuum-the kind that is supposed to clean the floors for you. He told me the vacuum was to "help me keep the house clean." He was smart enough to give me the coffeemaker first... And the vacuum? I have named it Spot and refuse to find out how to use it. If he wants to "help me keep the house clean" he can operate it...
  • And this week...he woke me first thing in the morning to tell me that he felt sick and that he'd seen blood in his stool. He's been having ongoing medical problems for the past year, and has had every test, scope, oscopy, xray and scan known to modern medicine and they have found nothing. After he insisted on a "show and tell" (before coffee...) I agreed that something looked off he went to the ER for what turned out to be the day. Our daughter was turning 4 the next day, and she was going to be taking pink and purple cupcakes to pre-school the next morning, and that night we were having the grandparents. I spent the day getting the house ready, baking, icing and decorating cupcakes, fielding calls from my mom and his parents and his work colleagues and refusing to think the worst...When he arrived home, he announced that the red in the stool had not been had been too much red licorice.
Sometimes, you just have to walk away...and pour a very large glass of white wine.