Brains vs. brawn

An amazing feminist poem for today.

THE MUSHROOM HUNTERS

by Neil Gaiman

Science, as you know, my little one, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe.
It’s based on observation, on experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe the facts revealed.

In the old times, they say, the men came already fitted with brains
designed to follow flesh-beasts at a run,
to hurdle blindly into the unknown,
and then to find their way back home when lost
with a slain antelope to carry between them.
Or, on bad hunting days, nothing.

The women, who did not need to run down prey,
had brains that spotted landmarks and made paths between them
left at the thorn bush and across the scree
and look down in the bole of the half-fallen tree,
because sometimes there are mushrooms.

Before the flint club, or flint butcher’s tools,
The first tool of all was a sling for the baby
to keep our hands free
and something to put the berries and the mushrooms in,
the roots and the good leaves, the seeds and the crawlers.
Then a flint pestle to smash, to crush, to grind or break.

And sometimes men chased the beasts
into the deep woods,
and never came back.

Some mushrooms will kill you,
while some will show you gods
and some will feed the hunger in our bellies. Identify.
Others will kill us if we eat them raw,
and kill us again if we cook them once,
but if we boil them up in spring water, and pour the water away,
and then boil them once more, and pour the water away,
only then can we eat them safely. Observe.

Observe childbirth, measure the swell of bellies and the shape of breasts,
and through experience discover how to bring babies safely into the world.

Observe everything.

And the mushroom hunters walk the ways they walk
and watch the world, and see what they observe.
And some of them would thrive and lick their lips,
While others clutched their stomachs and expired.
So laws are made and handed down on what is safe. Formulate.

The tools we make to build our lives:
our clothes, our food, our path home…
all these things we base on observation,
on experiment, on measurement, on truth.

And science, you remember, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe,
based on observation, experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe these facts.

The race continues. An early scientist
drew beasts upon the walls of caves
to show her children, now all fat on mushrooms
and on berries, what would be safe to hunt.

The men go running on after beasts.

The scientists walk more slowly, over to the brow of the hill
and down to the water’s edge and past the place where the red clay runs.
They are carrying their babies in the slings they made,
freeing their hands to pick the mushrooms.

 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/04/26/the-mushroom-hunters-neil-gaiman/

Two introverts walk into a bar

… actually they don’t walk into the bar, because the bar is filled with people.  Unless of course the bar is empty – in which case, that would be ok.

I’m dating.

And it’s fun.  (stick with me, I’ll come back to the introvert thing)

Initially, I thought I should wait to date someone.  After all, I left my husband less than a year ago.  Actually, our relationship was over years before that and I really want to have someone to spend my life with.  I’m 52… waiting doesn’t seem like such a good option.

I actually found someone really nice through Match.com.  This is not an advertisement for Match.  I  have heard some horror stories about online dating.  Friends who have come across some really weird people.  And others who thought they connected with someone only to never hear from them again.

I was dreading going on a date.  Because obviously I would need to make small talk.  The introvert in me does NOT like doing this.

The great thing about Match was that I was able to clearly state what I was looking for in a partner.  Someone active, who loves to camp and be outside, will not think I’m weird when I hug a tree… I was also able to discover men in my area with similar interests and eliminate those that were not very active.

I was able to pick and choose who I communicated with.  Yes, I came across a few unusual men, but I was seemingly lucky (fortunate? wise?) to find someone who shares my love of the outdoors, has no plans to stop being active and even posted a picture of himself camping in the winter. Awesome!  After a few dates, I also discovered he is an introvert!  Like me!  He understands my dislike of groups.  Unlike my ex he does not force me into situations outside my comfort zone.

Was I consciously looking for someone very unlike my ex?  Maybe.  I know I was consciously looking for someone who looked nothing like him.  But when considering a personality type, I almost expected to find someone outgoing.  Someone who would again bring me out of my shell.  It seems I was wrong to seek out extroverts.  Dating an introvert allows me to be a more equal partner in this relationship.  It’s not all about my partner.  It’s about me.  In the past, focusing on my partner allowed me to stay in the background.  Now, I can shine.  I can do things I want to do, in the way I want to do them.

I am taking a deep breath of release and satisfaction.

My partner and I can do the things we like without talking to random people in elevators.  We can go whole minutes without talking on a hike or while making dinner.

My demons still linger in the background.  ‘Why would he want to be with you’, they yell.  I yell back, ‘because I am worthy!!’.

Top-10-Myths-about-introverts-that-simple-arent-true.

Girls Rule

This past weekend I was privileged enough to take part in a joint Scout/Girl Guide camp.  The girls in my daughter’s unit took first AND second place!  Beating out 24 other groups.

The camp was a Competition Camp.  Groups of Scouts (11-14) and Pathfinders (12-14) participated in a series of challenges such as tug of war, camp set up, scavenger hunt, fire building and my favourite, preparing a dinner for the leaders.  The camp is run entirely by Venturer Scouts.  The leaders camp in another field and are  only there  in case of an emergency.

I was told some scary things about the dinners.  Imagine, these kids had to come up with something they could cook, do the shopping, cook the dinner on a camp stove and serve it politely to the leaders.  The groups also had to bake something. Either using a camp oven or a box oven.  Often the food was under cooked or burned.  Food choices could include Kraft Dinner or pancakes.  My dinner, served by a scout troop, was burgers, devilled eggs, salad and yogurt parfait for dessert.  Their baked muffins did not turn out.  It actually wasn’t bad.

All participants including the leaders slept in tents for the weekend.  Yep, it was cold.  It went down to -1C overnight.  I burrowed into my down sleeping bag, covered my a wool blanket and wearing my down vest.  Camping in April in Ontario is a bit of a crap shoot.  Thankfully, the days were sunny and relatively warm.  It did not rain.

The weekend made me feel great.  So good to be outside in the trees.  I was so impressed by the attitude of the scouts and pathfinders.  They were so enthusiastic.  It was infectious.

It felt good to be anxiety free all weekend.

To forgive or not to forgive that is the question

I always thought that in order to move on with your life after someone did something terrible, you needed to forgive them.

I now realize that forgiving that person is not really necessary. Rather, I simply need to make peace with that person’s actions and move on. Ultimately it is all about me. After all it is my life.

So, it’s not necessary to forgive my ex for having a multi year affair or multiple affairs. I’ve reached the point where I really don’t care. I’ve moved on. I can move forward in my life without forgiving him for what he’s done. I was and am not responsible for his actions. He made the choice to seek solace outside our marriage. His choice.

I mourned the loss of my house, my security and the future we planned together.  I have the support of my amazing friends and someone who is teaching me how to love and be loved again.

I am over it and I can live the rest of my life without forgiving him.

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Oy Vey

I’m not jewish – I not any religion actually – but this expression seems to perfectly describe today’s topic.

Today is my mother’s birthday.

I don’t like my mother very much.  But, as a dutiful daughter I am taking her out to lunch.

My mother was, by her own admission a difficult child.  My grandmother was the spoiled baby daughter in her family.  My grandmother was ill prepared for managing a household and raising a child.  Then there were two more daughters and things got worse for my mom.  She was sent off to boarding school.  Quite a feat since this is Canada and boarding schools were few and far between (unless you were native – but that is another topic completely).  The boarding school was 3 hours away from her home – certainly not very conducive to weekend visits.

In her teen years, my mother partied, got pregnant, had a shotgun wedding and quickly found herself with 2 children by the time she was 20.  Given her virility, my dad got a vasectomy.

My childhood was marked with lots of parties.  Waking up in the morning and finding people passed out all over the house.

Alcohol was my parents’ drug of choice.  They would start drinking as soon as they walked in the door after work.  Drinking and driving was common.  I realize now that both my parents are alcoholics.  High functioning alcoholics, but alcoholics nonetheless.  When I introduced my ex to my parents he accepted the drink my father gave him. And the next drink and the next one.  By the fourth drink (rye and ginger) he came to the realization that he could not keep pace with my dad and learned to sip or alternate between soda and a ‘drink’.

My mother is very critical.  All in the guise of being helpful.  She points out when I gain weight but never when I lose weight.  I must not have oiled the truck since it has so much rust.  G (as a baby) is crying a lot is she ok? Is this a new recipe – it tastes funny.  Boys are so much easier to raise. I often confronted her on all her negative comments and was told that I was simply being too sensitive.

I’ve tried over the years to develop and maintain a relationship with my mother.  Even after she outright told me that she didn’t like my toddler daughter very much.  My daughter was always (and still is) very attached to me.  She didn’t want to go to her grandmother – ‘she smells [of smoke]’.  I’m sure G could sense her grandmother’s disdain for her.  On one visit my mother brought a gift for my son, but not for my daughter.

Still, today I shall take her out for lunch.  I’ve taken stronger meds so that her comments can float past me and disappear in the wind.

And when I get home I will be grateful for the love of my kids and my friends.

And I will hug a tree.

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Ooooh those family dinners

I love a good holiday. The extra days off. The excuse to eat fattening food.

But

Those family dinners are downright painful.

‘Get rid of the toxic people in you life’. This is the advice I’ve read over and over again. Truly, I have enough demons in my head.  I don’t need my friends planting even more negative thoughts.

But

Then there’s my family. The chain smoking bigoted alcoholic parents.  They’ve lived a hard life.  Working long and hard for everything they had.  My younger years were great.  There is an incredible amount of freedom granted to kids of alcoholic parents.  I really should have no complaints.  I was well fed, well clothed, went to school and had friends.  My summers were spent with my grandparents at their cottage – even more freedom.  My brother and I were close.  My parents simply had a ‘hands off’ method of child rearing.  I made mistakes.  I learned from them.

But I digress.

Family dinners are now low key.  My mother often refusing to cook, orders questionable Chinese food and makes me pay.  My kids don’t want to go because they’ll smell smokey and my daughter knows that her grandmother doesn’t really like her.  (Because boys are so much easier to raise??? Thanks mom.)

It wasn’t always like this. I remember big family get together’s at my grandparents house on a lake. In the summer we would all gather together bringing food, swimming in the lake. In the winter the house was big enough to accommodate at least 30 people.  Cousins, aunts, and uncles would be dressed in their Easter or Christmas finest.  There would be sooo much food.  The volume was loud, with everyone wanting to make their opinion heard.   The extended family reconnected.  I miss those days.

This Easter I was faced with a new reality.  The divorced person reality.  My kids went off with their dad to spend time with his family.  The family I was part of for 30 years.  It was unbelievably hard.  Thankfully, a friend stepped up and took me to Ottawa for the weekend.   Even though it rained all weekend, I had a great time.  I had no time to let the demons tell me what a terrible person I am or how my in-laws no longer seem to care about me.

Again I am amazed to discover my wonderful, supportive friends.

If all else fails, plan a canoe trip

Today is a beautiful day!  The ice is slowly melting on the northern lakes.  Soon I’ll be able to drag my kayak out of the garage and get out on the water.

I needed to feel active.  So today I planned 3 backcountry canoe trips for this summer.  I love to plan.  I love to organize and I love to get people out of their climate controlled houses and into the wilderness.  Booking the trips definitely lifted my spirits, just the thought of hour after hour of paddling calms my soul.

One of my favourite trips is to Killarney Provincial Park.  The beautiful, white La Cloche mountains were the backdrop for many famous paintings.  The scenery is exquisite.  Last year, I took a group into Killarney.  We didn’t paddle much, only camping on Bell Lake for two nights.  It was a great trip even though it was only a few weeks after I confronted my husband and made the decision to leave him.  Surprisingly, I didn’t cry at all on that trip.  My camping partners were very supportive and allowed me to tell my story.  They, in turn, shared their stories.

The trees absorbed my sorrow and gave me strength.

This summer, we’ll be paddling a little deeper into the park and staying for another night.  I look forward to the long paddle and hopefully a hike up Silver Peak.

 

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My dogs are happy

Today is a blue day.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what triggered the darkness.  I just know that I woke early and started crying.  I’ve been crying on and off today.  I’ve tried to yell at my demons and a few times it’s worked, but most times, my demons yell back.  It’s been a struggle trying to be positive and tell myself that the things my demons are saying to me is not true.

Then I went for a walk with one of my dogs.  I was a little teary on the walk (thankfully there were not too many people on the trail during the day).  Then it occurred to me that my dog was having a great time and maybe I could be more like her.

These are some of the things I’ve learned from my dogs.

A good walk will cure anything.
Well maybe not everything but it will certainly make you feel better. For my dogs, a walk also means they can meet some of their fur friends – sniff some poles, have a big poo and smell the world.

If you are tired lie down and take a nap.
My dogs are always napping. They always look so relaxed.  I haven’t been able to simply stop and take a nap when I’m tired but I’m working on it

Eat with gusto like it is your last meal.
The thing about my anti depressants is that I never feel hungry. Good for weight loss but not for my incredible love of food and cooking. I’m jealous of my dogs.  If anything will get me to stop taking these drugs it is the ability to really really enjoy food again.

Always greet someone with a big smile.
My dogs are always happy to see me. Which of course is one of the reasons I have them. They jump up and down. They wag their tails. My little dog has even learned to smile. She bares her teeth in her version of a smile whenever I get home.
When I see someone I know. I greet them with a smile. Even if I feel crappy. This makes me feel better and hopefully makes the person I’m meeting feel good too.

jackrussell