Saturday morning

Well, it’s my first Saturday morning of my return to work.  It already feels like I’m living for the weekend again.

However, I’ve put a plan in place that I hope will make life easier for me, and create more ‘free’ time in my working-for-a-living life.

I love plans.  I love coming up with ideas to bring some kind of small change into my life.  Sometimes they’re big plans, like the ‘no shopping for a year’ plan, or wacky like the ‘eating no dessert for a year’ plan.

The first was very successful, the second — not so much.  Seems like I can avoid buying things, but not eating things.  What does that say about me?  Hmmm….

Anyway, what I’ve decided to do heading back into this work year is schedule everything.  This follows beautifully with my penchant  for making lists.  (I have them laying all over the house.  None is ever completely crossed off, and I’m forever picking them up and creating new lists out of all the things I didn’t get done on the others.)  Never mind that, though.

My new plan is a schedule of housekeeping chores — all the stuff I hate doing and continually put off until it’s a great big disaster and I’m stuck spending an entire weekend trying to get it all done.  This generally makes me really cranky.  So, to avoid having to use up my valuable weekend time doing stuff I don’t want to do I have doled it out during the week and now have set days on which I will dust, wash floors, do laundry, scrub toilets, etc., etc.

Now, I’m sure there are many out there who are going, Duh?!  Who doesn’t do that?  And why did it take this woman over 30 years to figure this out?  Let me just say, in my own defense, that sometimes, the obvious answer is a little over my head.  It’s like those jokes everybody else gets — I laugh along politely, in confusion, wondering what the hell is so funny.

I started my new plan this week, and so far it’s working beautifully.  Here I am with time to sit and blog on a Saturday morning!  Just like McDonald’s, I’m lovin’ it!  I feel no stress heading into my busy weekend.  I’m going for a much-needed haircut this afternoon, need to stop and pick up a few groceries for the barbecue I have planned for tomorrow and this evening we’re going out to Yuk Yuk’s with my brother and his wife.  And I feel entirely relaxed.  It’s wonderful.

Of course, I only worked one day this past week — yesterday.  We’ll see how my beautiful little plan holds up once I’m fully back in to the fray.

 

 

Feeling sorry for myself. . .

Today is the official last day of my summer holiday.  Sigh.  Huge sigh.

Such Big Plans
© KLarson 2011

 

The dappled days I dreamed of
Six weeks ago, weary from work
From stress and from a winter
So long and cold we despaired
To ever see an end to misery
And snow and wind and lethargy,
Are all gone now.
Scattered like dandelion fluff
On wild winds blowing
Wicked out of the West.

My aspirations of a summer
Spent lounging in a chair, book
And beer always within reach,
Seem, somehow to have hitched
A ride with the constant wind
And gone joy-riding with
High-scudding clouds somewhere
Far beyond my grasp.

There were other plans, too,
For novels and short stories and
Poetry all to be penned and
published.  All it needed
Was a vein to be opened
While days of leisure
Stretched out before me
Immeasurable and vast
and never-ending.

The truth is six weeks
Is barely enough time to squeeze
In obligations left too long.
Friendships, like gardens,
Need tending, and visits with family,
Planned deep in the heart of
Winter when summer
Hovered on the horizon
Like a saviour, take the
Lion’s share of mid-summer days.

So, bedroom walls will remain marred
And splotched, my new deck
A vision.  Sandpaper and caulk
And rust-remover, all still in the bag
I carried them home in, have no
Shelf-life.  I think.  Anyway, they
Will be there, I’m certain,
Next summer, when, like my eyes
My intentions are too big
For such a tiny treasure of a season.

Alberta Summer sky

Another form of child trafficking?

Okay, so we all know about ‘beauty pageants’ for teeny, tiny little girls.  Who doesn’t remember JonBenet-Ramsey?  According to a GH article I just read, called Toddlers in Tiaras, by Skip Hollandsworth, JonBenet would have been 21 this year had she not been murdered when she was 6 years old.  Her killer has never been found.  But JonBenet is not the reason I’m writing this, well not the complete reason, anyway.

The GH article is very good, read it if you can.  It’s a very good profile of one little girl and her ‘rise’ to stardom.  It’s carefully done so as not to come out to harshly against these beauty pageants and the little girls and their families who take part in them.  It does, however, point a finger at the potential damage these types of pageants can do to the girls.

Little girls, 3 and 4 years old, being taught how to wink and bat their eyes provocatively, how to shake and shimmy their little bodies while dressed up as Las Vegas show girls; basically, being taught how to use their sex to get attention, get prizes and earn money. If we despise grown women who act this way, why then is it okay for an industry to be built on encouraging little girls to behave like sex objects?

These pageants have become a “$5 billion industry”, according to  Hollandsworth’s article.  While I was reading it I couldn’t help making some comparisons and asking myself some questions.  They are:

1.  This sounds like prostitution, and

2. How is this different from the sex trafficking of children in countries such as India, Thailand, China, etc.?

In poor countries it is still a common practice for girl children to be sold into brothels, or to individuals involved in the sex trade, either because they are unwanted, or because the families cannot afford to keep them.  Sometimes, it is simply a way for the family to earn some extra money; it is seen as a respectable way of managing one’s daughters.  (I have no citations for any of this, it is mostly gleaned from radio and television documentaries I have listened to and watched over the years.)

My point, though, is:  how is what pageant parents are doing to these little girls — some as young as 3 months old! — any different?  They are trafficking in and exploiting the sex of their children.  They put blush and makeup on a two-year old to make her look like a mini showgirl, they alter a five-year old’s natural beauty with false eyelashes and long flowing wigs so that she looks like high-class call girl.  Then they put them out on a stage and tell them to ‘sell it’, ‘flaunt it’, ‘show it’ and ‘bring it’ all while admonishing them to smile, smile, smile.

Every day there are disturbing reports in the media about pedophile rings, about little girls being kidnapped and sexually assaulted. We hear constantly about the men who travel abroad to take their sick pleasure in the arms of children.   And alongside those reports are the ads for clothing and makeup and accessories that encourage the sexualization of our girls.  Did you know that you can buy a push up bra for an eight year old?  Have you gone in to PINK (a young girl’s division of Victoria’s Secret) and seen some of the skanky things you can buy for an eight or ten-year old?

Even the bigger box stores like Wal Mart, Sears, JCPenny, The Bay, cater to this ‘sexy’ attitude for very young girls.  Some say it has nothing to do with sex, only about being a girlie-girl, but I really don’t think being a girlie-girl means that at age 4 a child should be wearing heels and fish-nets.  And parents who buy this crap for their children and then justify it by saying  ‘it’s what they’re wearing” and “I want her to fit in” need to have their heads examined.  You want your daughter to look like a slut?!

And, I don’t buy that old argument of women and girls should be able to wear what ever they want without fear of becoming a victim of sexual predation or assault.  In a perfect, utopian world, where no one had any kind of mental problems and people of all sexual, racial, and religious orientation were treated absolutely equal, then, I guess that statement would hold.  But, in the world we live in, the one driven by image and sex, teaching your daughter to use her looks to get ahead in life is putting her own life in jeopardy.

Anyway, the way I see it these pageant parents are no better than the people who traffic in children for sex.  They are using their little bodies for social and economic gain.  They just sugar-coat their intentions by insisting that their baby girls love the pageant life.  Meanwhile, behind their own smiles are big, fat dollar signs.

(For another look at the world of toddler beauty pageants, one that is both hilarious and cynical, check out the movie Little Miss Sunshine.   It’s wonderful.)

I tried to post some images from Google featuring 6 year-old Eden Wood, a rising ‘star’ in the toddler beauty pageant circuit.  Unfortunately, the pictures wouldn’t appear on my post.  (Don’t know what I’m doing wrong.)  If you would like to check out what I’m talking about in the post you can go to:  edenwood.com, or, look her up on YouTube.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sigh, only two more days of holidays left.  I know I shouldn’t complain because I have had six weeks off, but. . .

. . . the thought of returning to work just makes me tired.

I had such high hopes and a ridiculously long list of things to do at the beginning of summer.  Here it is, nearly over, and I got but a fraction of my list checked off.

I did, however, have some great times and created some wonderful memories.  And that is infinitely more important than painting the guest bedrooms.

The time we spent at my sister’s place in Ontario was magical.  Having my son and his family there with us was a dream come true.  Watching my three little ones laugh and swim and run around chasing bugs was pure joy.  Hailey learned how to play UNO and became quite the little card shark!  Timothy discovered that swimming is fun and Ethan, well Ethan he just had us all at his beck and call (he is, after all, only 22 months old).  Well, and with a smile like his, who could resist doing what ever it was he wanted you to do?

The food was fabulous, the drinks refreshing — had my first beergarita — thanks Sis! — the weather absolutely gorgeous and the water cool, clean and blessedly near at hand.  We couldn’t have asked for a better vacation than the one we had at Pistol Lake this summer.

When we left Ontario it was to return home and do a quick one-night turn around before heading to Yahk, BC. to spend a week camping with Tim’s brother, Rick and his wife, Connie.  Two of my most favorite people in the world.  We arrived about 9 o’clock on the 9th with just enough light left to throw up the tent.

Again, we had a fantastic time.  The company was wonderful, and the weather was incredible.  My hubby spent a few hours widening and deepening the natural pool in the tiny river that flows along the edge of the campground (we had a lovely spot right on the river) and here we spent a few  ‘happy hours’ in an effort to escape the heat.

We drove in to Creston one afternoon to buy cherries and peaches and fresh veggies at the market gardens.  Of course, you get taken at these places because they know us dopey tourists will pay anything for a taste of BC’s bounty.  But, you know that going in, so it’s not too bad. And the cherries were wonderful!  The peaches?  Not so much.  a little dry and mealy — I was very disappointed.  However, the cukes, tomatoes, peppers and onions were delicious and fresh.  They made a tasty marinated salad to go with our barbecued steaks.

Creston was very disappointing.  It’s really gone down hill since the last time we were there, about 4 years ago.  Nearly a third of all the stores on the main street were closed and it doesn’t appear that there’s much effort being made to spruce things up. As with all small tourist towns the prices are steep, but in Creston, they’re ridiculously so.

Connie and I wandered a bit while the guys checked out a pawn shop and then went for a beer (or two or three) and we found a lovely little book/gift/coffee shop/store called The Black Bear.  I bought my husband a book called “The Beer Belly Blues”  a very good book about the changes men go through as they age.  I wasn’t sure if he’d be offended or not, but he has had some struggles as he’s gotten older and I think this book is giving him some really good answers.

I also bought a CD by the artist Adele.  It’s called 21 and is amazing.  She has a smoky, powerful, soulful voice.  I highly recommend her.

Eventually, we hooked up with the guys and went for Chinese food.  I was ravenous by this time and I can’t believe how much I packed away — and I don’t even really care for Chinese food!  Then we headed back to Yahk, but stopped in to see a friend of Rick and Connie’s along the way.

He and his wife have built a B&B up in the mountains and are in the process of creating a mini-resort for campers.  They have a beautiful home and tons of ambition.  They’re in their seventies and still entrepreneuring!  Made me feel a little humble, I have to say.  But, back at camp a couple of beers and a few rounds of Crazy 8’s fixed that!

The next day we spent a late afternoon in Cranbrook (where Connie and I found yet another terrific bookstore, this one specializing in used books.  They also had a rather amazing and diverse collection of magazines.  We picked up a couple to help while away the hours spent in our lounge chairs back at camp.)  Then it was on to check out the casino at St. Eugene’s.

Quite a lovely place, as far as resorts and casinos go.  We played games for a while — I came out about $60 ahead.  Then we had a dinner, played  a little bit more and then headed for camp.  Unfortunately, we took the wrong turn and were headed towards Kimberly.  Tim was tired and stressed, Connie gets motion sickness from driving on too-wind-y roads, Rick and I in the back were arguing over which way we should have gone, and we were short on gas.  Great fun!  Luckily, we managed to get ourselves turned around before reaching Kimberly, made our way to only open gas station in Cranbrook, loaded up with coffees and Slurpees and hit the road back to Yahk.  Where we decided we weren’t leaving again until it was time to go home.

We made one other excursion, and that was to take the logging roads up behind Yahk to go find some waterfalls on Hawkins Creek.  We had a great time.  Got some beautiful photos, picked saskatoons that were as big as grapes, oohed and aahed over the scenery, and then, just when we’d given up hope of finding the falls, we stumbled across them.

Some very remote country back up in the hills, and there are all these little campgrounds in there with absolutely no amenities.  Other than an immaculately kept outhouse or two.  We came across a couple of campers, but saw no people.  They were probably off hiking or fishing, and all I could think of was “this is bear country, serious bear country, I’d be terrified to be up here on my own.”

I would not have made a good pioneer.

As with all holidays this one, too, had to end.  We packed up on the 15th and headed back to Lethbridge with Rick and Connie for a night.  There to get cleaned up and get a good night’s sleep before making the trek back to Bon Accord.  After supper I went and soaked in the tub for about an hour.  The smell of my hair when I got it wet was enough to make me gag.  Campfires are lovely when you’re around them, return to civilization, however. . .

So, now I’m back to real life.  A house to take care of, bills to pay, a job to return to.  I’ll start parceling my time out again in weekends and to-do lists.

Whenever I start feeling a little sorry for myself, I’ll remember that I had a great summer and I’ll be grateful that I did.

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Well . . . I’m back

Not lots of time to post much right now, just want to let everyone know I’m back from holiday.

We got back in to town on Tuesday night, and I’ve been playing catch-up for the past two days.

You know the drill — laundry, groceries, phone calls, bills — all the stuff you run away from when you go on vacation.

For the moment I’ll just say we had a fabulous time — more fun than I’ve had in ages, with tons of great memories to treasure and share.

I’ll be posting pics of our trip over the next few blogs — hope you enjoy them.

It’s good to be back on this space — can’t wait to check out what you all’ve been doing.  (That’s a brutal, but rather fun contraction!)