Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Lucky

Dh & I had our annual physicals with our family doctor today. Everything went well, and I was reminded just how lucky we are. 

First, we're both extremely lucky that we enjoy relatively good health (particularly since we're both now firmly into middle age -- and even seniors, by some definitions...!).

Second, we're very lucky that -- after our beloved family doctor of 29 years retired in 2014 -- we were able to find a new family doctor/practice quickly. Unfortunately, the new doctor left the clinic after just 9 months (!) -- but they quickly hired a replacement for him and asked if we'd like to sign on as patients with him. (Yes, please!) 

Turns out we like this guy even better. ;)  (Yes, we're lucky!) He's young, up-to-date, and has a great bedside manner -- spends most of each visit simply talking with us and encouraging us to tell him about our aches & pains, no matter how trivial they might seem. The catch being that the clinic where he works is just a five-minute drive... from our old house, on the other side of the city. It's now a 30-40 minute drive to see him from our current location -- but we think it's worth it. ;)  We decided to stay with him after we moved, mainly because we like him so much, but also because we know how lucky we are that we were able to find a new family doctor quite quickly after our old one retired.  We hear all the time about how there's a shortage of family doctors, in both urban and rural areas of Canada.

We're lucky that our doctor works out of a modern, well-run clinic that uses all the latest technology. We have rarely had to wait past the appointed time to see our doctor. If we need to see him on short notice and he is off that day, or fully booked, we can see one of the other doctors, if they have an opening. There is also a physician's assistant on staff -- a relatively new position in Canadian medical circles -- who can see and treat patients with uncomplicated concerns, such as colds, fevers, sprains and skin rashes. 

And we are so, so lucky that all we have to do is hand over our provincial health cards to see the doctor and receive treatment. No one has ever asked us how we plan to pay, because just about everything is covered through our government healthcare plan. It is not a perfect system, but I would not trade it for anything -- and I wish my American friends & relatives were as lucky as I am in this respect. 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Friday, March 16, 2018


Another Pinterest find. :)
I'm not sure about the "Or you don't" part --
but I love "blue and lonely section of hell." 

Thursday, March 15, 2018


I saw this on Pinterest.

My jaw literally dropped. 

I have spent the past 20 years trying to rebuild my shattered life, after it became clear the life dh & I had originally planned was simply not going to happen. 

And yes, it's a pretty good life, when all is said and done. I wouldn't say it's better (or worse). Just different.

But you cannot -- CANNOT!! -- tell me that God "took my daughter away from me" -- first, because I don't believe God (at least, the God I believe in) would ever be so incredibly cruel as to deliberately "take away" my daughter from me -- and second because I could never, ever believe God had "something much better" in mind for me than to let me be a parent to my daughter and watch her grow up.

I mean, seriously??!!  SERIOUSLY??!!

Stuff like this crap is what gives religion a bad name... :p 

Monday, March 12, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Is it spring yet??

Why did this weekend suck? Let me count the ways:

  • I was bored. I'm not often bored, but I was this weekend. 
  • My new family tree program has lots of great features -- but it's significantly slower than my old program. (Or maybe my 8-year-old laptop is too slow to handle it properly?) Anyway, I was trying to work on my genealogy research, and it was incredibly frustrating. 
  • The winter seems like it's never going to end. This weekend was mostly grey & chilly. (Which, granted, is better than the big dump of snow I know so many people elsewhere got over the last few days. But it still sucked.)  I am so incredibly tired of having to bundle up in a winter coat, gloves, etc., every time we walk out the door. 
  • Donald Trump is still president of the U.S. (Enough said?) 
  • And we are not immune to bad political choices here north of the border. The provincial conservative party has been a mess for the last while now... to explain everything that's happened over the past few weeks would take too long (and it's one of those "you can't make this stuff up" sort of situations...)(if you're interested, here's a timeline, & you can follow the links to related stories). Anyway, the party held a leadership convention this past weekend, using a complicated new voting system, which turned into a complete fiasco. It was a very close race, the results were challenged, and they delayed announcing the winner for so long they eventually had to boot people out of the venue, because they'd only booked it for the afternoon & the staff had to get ready for a wedding. (Seriously??!) The icing on the crapcake: by an extremely narrow margin, they gave the shaft to the competent, experienced woman candidate and elected a loudmouthed bully businessman who's prone to announcing grandiose schemes that never quite pan out. Where have we heard this before, right?  (What could go wrong??) He's not premier (yet -- election coming up in June), but it's still utterly depressing. 
  • It was Mother's Day in the U.K., and the posts & tweets from my friends across the pond reminded me of what's to come in about a month & a half's time. 
  • We were talking about train travel on a (non-ALI) online group I'm on... I was telling the others about how my mother used to take the train to come visit me, and how she loved to chat to all the people she'd meet along the way. Then I had a flashback 20 years (this time of year, too, late March): she came to visit me about a week after I'd called to tell her I was pregnant. Dh & I went to meet her train, and I think every person getting off with her came over to congratulate me while we waited to collect her luggage. I hadn't thought about that in a long time. The memory made me smile, and wince at the same time. 
  • Not one but TWO fertility clinics in the U.S. lost several thousand frozen embryos & eggs over the past few days. My heart goes out to those poor would-be parents whose hopes for a family may have been permanently dashed -- and who just saw the thousands of dollars they spent retrieving those eggs and keeping them frozen for potential future use, going straight down the drain. :(    
  • We switched back to Daylight Saving Time this weekend. I don't care which way the clock goes, spring or fall, even when I'm not working and don't have to get up early -- it's an adjustment, and I'm really not sure why we're still doing it.  :p  
  • And... it's spring break this week here!  (Just when you were relieved that Family Day was over...)  Which means hordes of parents & kids will be roaming the malls, the aisles of local stores, and the streets this coming week. (Family Day times 9, 10 if you count all the parents who took their kids out of school on Friday -- apparently it's the busiest day of the year at the airport...)  I'd love to hide out indefinitely, but I don't think I can do it for a whole week.  We have groceries to buy and errands to run -- and I have cabin fever bad enough as it is... 
And how was YOUR weekend??

(What do you do when you get the blues? How do you chase them away?)

(On the bright side, we did get to see Older Nephew's puppy on Friday night, which never failes to put a smile on my face. The sun did shine for a while on Sunday. And we had crock pot roast beef, potatos & carrots for dinner on Sunday. Yum!)

(ETA:  Feeling much better since I drafted this last night... but since I have nothing else ready for #MM, this is what's getting posted...!  lol) 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day -- for childless women too

It's International Women's Day, which was never much of a thing when I was younger, but has gained momentum as an event/day of note in recent years. I suspect this is largely due to two factors: (1) the latest wave of the women's movement, fuelled by #MeToo, etc., and (2) IWD-related marketing campaigns by corporations seeking goodwill from their female customers and prospects.

Jody Day of Gateway Women in the U.K. has a great post about IWD from the childless-not-by choice perspective, and I'd encourage you all to read it (& watch the embedded TEDTalk video too, if you haven't already seen it).

Of course, "Celebrating women means childless women too!"  I think most people would reflexively agree (as I did at first).

But does it, really?

Jody reminds us that as many as one in five (20%) of women do not have children (the majority not by choice) -- and yet "womanhood and motherhood are routinely conflated" -- in particular by employers (who seem to believe that "family-friendly" policies, by definition, mean "woman friendly");  by marketers, who routinely target "Mom" in their ad campaigns;  and by politicians, who love to talk about their "family values" and policies that benefit "hard-working families."

"It’s time that marketeers and social policy thinkers understood that not all women are mothers or grandmothers and that not everyone has a family poised to take care of them in old age," she writes.

I did (thankfully) see plenty of inclusive tributes to women on my social media feeds. But after reading Jody's article, I couldn't help but notice how many of my friends were posting tributes to & photos of their daughters (as well as their mothers) -- and how many references there were to "raising the next generation." I even heard (via my CNBC friends & sites) about IWD events where motherhood and support for mothers was the main topic of discussion. Ugh.

As someone said in a Facebook comment on Jody's story, "On a day like today I expected a much wider scope -- it's International Women's Day not International Mothers' Day.'"

IWD is a day when (unlike Mother's Day) I would expect to feel solidarity with all ALL my global sisters.  I hope that, as IWD continues to grow in prominence, it doesn't become another "holiday" where (along with Mother's Day, Father's Day and now Family Day) my "otherness" gets rubbed in my face.  Let's keep IWD focused on the progress and achievements and common interests that bring ALL women together, regardless of their childbearing status.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Educated" by Tara Westover

You all know that I love me a good memoir -- and I was intrigued when I saw "Educated" by Tara Westover at the local mega-bookstore on Saturday night.  I'd heard nothing about this book before then, but the blurb on the inside flap & praise on the back cover intrigued me (plus, it was on sale, lol), so I bought it. 

While sometimes I dither when I buy a new book (do I want to get into this one now? should I read that other one first?), I dived right in.  By the time I went to bed a few hours later, I was almost 2/3 of the way through. I picked it up again yesterday afternoon and finished it later that evening. (I probably would have finished it sooner than I did, but we went to a movie on Sunday afternoon, and then it was time for the Oscars. ;)  )

Westover grew up on an isolated mountain property in southern Idaho, the youngest of seven children. Her family was Mormon, in a largely Mormon community -- but her father's bizarre beliefs about the Illuminati, the evils of government and the need to prepare for the imminent end of the world set her family apart from the mainstream. Guns, ammunition and gasoline tanks were stashed all over the property. Westover helped her mother can endless jars of peaches in preparation for the coming end times and (like all her siblings) slept with a "head for the hills" bag, ready to run from evil government agents at a moment's notice. She did not have a birth certificate, was not immunized, never saw a doctor and never attended school. Her education consisted mostly of reading texts by the Founding Fathers of the United States and Mormon prophets. She spent most of her younger years helping her mother (a midwife and homeopathic healer) deliver babies (ALI note & caveat: there are some disturbing stories about semi-disastrous deliveries and prematurely born infants) and brew up essential oils and herbal remedies.

Later, as a teenager, she worked with her brothers in her father's junkyard.  Scant attention was paid to workplace safety, and many of the Westovers (including Tara herself) endured some horrific injuries and accidents as a result (which were ultimately chalked up to "God's will" and tended to by her mother).  As she grew older, her father became increasingly radical in his beliefs (and likely mentally ill), while one of her brothers grew increasingly violent -- towards Tara, as well as others. Her parents made excuses for him and tried to convince Tara that it was all in her imagination.

Encouraged by one of her other brothers, Westover taught herself enough to pass the ACT (a standardized college admissions test, similar to the SAT) and was accepted to Brigham Young University in Utah when she was just 17. To say she was unprepared for the challenges she would face there -- academic and otherwise -- is an understatement.  (Prime example: She stunned her professor and classmates when she asked what the word "Holocaust" meant.)  Gradually, she found her academic groove ("read the textbook" turned out to be excellent advice).  Her hunger to learn and to explore the world took her from BYU to Cambridge, Harvard, and back to Cambridge again, where she eventually earned her PhD in history.

Inevitably, Westover's education and growing sense of self drove a wedge between her and her family.  She began to ask herself: what do we owe to our families? to society? What do we owe to ourselves? And what do we do when those obligations come into conflict with each other?  (These questions ultimately formed the basis of her PhD thesis, as well as this book.)

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads. It was intense and powerful, at times disturbing, and beautifully written. Ultimately, it was a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

I will be thinking about it for a long, long time.

This was book #4 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 17% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am -- so far! ;)  -- on track to meet my goal.  :)