Yes or No?

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I live in Canada so news of the impending Scottish Referendum does not feature very heavily, if at all, over here. Even the BBC World News app I have on my iPhone doesn’t cover a huge amount of it so I find I get all my news from articles posted on Facebook by friends and family back home. The ‘Yes/No’ vote is due to happen next Thursday and from what I’ve been told things are heating up and getting just plain nasty.

I’ve tried to read as many articles and news reports as I can to try and get a better sense of both sides of the story but I just can’t. To me there really isn’t a ground-breaking reason why Scotland should separate and at the same time the ‘Better Together’ camp doesn’t seem to have a absolute reason why Scotland should not become independent except to say it would be bad all round.

What I have started to see is the ridiculous emotion behind the Yes camp; a bunch of bullies and troublemakers. Horror stories are flooding news articles of people tearing down posters, vandalizing voters homes and heckling canvasser’s. Some of the Yes voters are nothing short of selfish, arrogant, immature bullies who really don’t give a s**t about the actual benefit of independence; they just hate England and everything English. There is something pure Braveheart about the whole thing and I curse Mel Gibson for making that stupid movie! I have spoken to friends who have lived in Scotland for decades and they are being targeted just because they don’t have a Scottish accent. How pathetic. Is that really the driving force behind all this?

The Better Together camp is now panicking because the numbers (if you believe statistics) are very, very close. All of a sudden there is a possibility that the Yes camp might actually win. There is one possibility though – due to the nature of the Yes campaigners, the active destruction of anything No, there could be a surge of unheard No votes that could knock the whole thing down. Although afraid to visibly show their union support, voting day could potentially show Scotland exactly how it’s residents feel. Scotland has been a part of the union for over 300 years and to have it broken would be a sad day so I really, really, REALLY hope that if that happens, the men in charge know exactly what they are doing because there is no turning back. (If they tried, they would probably get the coldest shoulder ever from the rest of the country.)

I live in Canada but my home is Thurso, Scotland. It’s where my family, born and raised for over 500 years, have come from. Clan Sinclair have been in Scotland since 1160. I have family members who have made it their life’s work to better their community and country through good times and bad and all that could be rejected all because of an accent. I am proud of my family heritage and I will not have a die-hard Braveheart nutter tell me otherwise. I am also proud of my countries capital, I am proud of it’s accomplishments and it’s strengths. The UK has faced two world wars as a UNITED front, it has shown the rest of the world it works as a Union, not as a separate entity. Why destroy that?

Robin Williams Lives and will always Live

The Comedy Awards 2012 - Arrivals

This week the world lost one of it’s most beloved actors and comedians and the effects of his passing are like the ripples on a large pond. Everyday brings further outpourings of sadness but there is also an equal amount of celebration. Yes, Robin Williams has died in body but his spirit is alive and shining brighter than ever and because of this he will never truly die.

Robin Williams impacted so many people all over the world; he made us laugh uncontrollably, breathlessly, while tears streamed down our faces. He made us sit riveted to our chairs as he quietly delivered a powerful, heartfelt monologue. He made us feel happy, sad, shocked and stunned all while dealing with powerful demons threatening to destroy him. It will never cease to amaze me how someone battling those demons could bring such happiness and laughter to the world. It was a powerful gift, for which I am very grateful. I just hope we can all focus more on the happiness he left behind rather than what took him away but at the same time recognize the powerful force behind the comedian which darkened his mind at times.

His family asked the world not to linger on his cause of death but on the life he gave. He dedicated his life to making others laugh. His sparkling eyes always shined, brimming with glee as he told his stories but they also showed a seriousness to him which changed him completely when needed.

People, both regular and celebrity, have shared amazing stories about Robin and long may those stories last because they ensure his memory continues, making his light shine bright. His family can be lifted by the happiness he brought the world even though their loss is great. Spare some time to watch your favourite movie or comedy sketch. A favourite of mine is ‘A night at the Met’ – when I was expecting my first baby a friend recommended I watch his skit about childbirth: I was in stitches! I watch it sometimes when I need a little pick-me-up. A favourite movie of mine is ‘The Birdcage.’ Those were his gifts to me and I’m thankful.

So take it minute to say thank you for the laughter, thank you for the happiness, thank you for the kindness. Thank you for giving us a brightness to life even when you were battling your demons.

(If it starts raining a lot, then take it that God is crying with laughter right now thanks to the legend that is Robin Williams.)

To Facebook, or not to Facebook…and Instagram…and Twitter

It’s a question I keep asking myself and I haven’t yet come up with a definitive answer.

Social media is a giant. It’s a force that has taken over life as we know it and controls large parts of the human race. We love the idea of throwing ourselves out there, sharing photographs with strangers and telling the world what we think, yet at the same time we open ourselves up to scrutiny and possible backlash with our words and images. When it all began I’m sure the intentions were honorable; 10 years ago Facebook was a means of keeping in touch with friends, Twitter was a way of sharing your thoughts quickly. It all started nicely but now those little social fairies have morphed into controlled giants capable of producing scary outcomes even their handlers can’t manage. In recent years teenagers have used Facebook as a way of bringing Cyber Bullying to life. Twitter had produced wars between celebrities and normal folk alike. We now deal with Trolls and stalkers who spend hours going through random pages leaving horrible messages for unsuspecting innocent people. And then there is Instagram which some people like Kim Kardashian use religiously to define the word ‘Vanity’.

I know I’ve written about this before but it was brought to light again with the recent death of Robin Williams.  His daughter Zelda used her social media accounts to express her grief and gratitude for her father. However she has apparently received negative comments, and images, through Twitter causing her to delete the apps so she doesn’t have to deal with added pain during her time of grief. Who does shit like that? Who goes out of their way to purposefully cause someone added grief when they are already dealing with death, pain and sadness?

I have these apps: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Facebook helps me keep in touch with family and friends who live abroad. Twitter is near to useless for me and I think I will delete it (again). Instagram lets me keep up with tattoo artists I love and other hobbies I have an interest in. I find on FB I am more of a glorified stalker than anything else. I poke around spy on friends pages! I comment on photos or status updates but that’s about it. And I’m wondering if I really want that. I spend a scary amount of time trolling through the days statuses and comments and stories and I think, ‘is this right?!’

My Dad refuses to be on any social media. He views it as a Big Brother situation and I thinks he is not far off. He has a page on Facebook but that is because he works with the public and it’s a publicity thing he has been recommended to do (I asked for a friend request and I still haven’t been accepted!) I have friends who either never jumped on the social media bandwagon or who jumped off completely and in some ways I envy them! I wish I could but the one thing that keeps me logged on is being able to ‘see’ friends and family who live so far away.

Queen sang about it, and I long to do it…but I’m scared!

“I want to break free…”

Watching the birth of a DIY Dad

DIY Dad     It all started on Sunday night. Our basement loo (toilet) has always been a bit damp but we could not figure out where the seeping was coming from. We had removed various chunks of the wall thinking the problem was there but to no avail. It wasn’t until my husband started following the wet marks that it lead him to the floor, under the tiles and to the loo. Having lived with the problem for nearly 2 years, Hubby decided enough was enough and, after careful consultation from various YouTube videos, removed the loo. Not only did he find the problem (it had been replaced and never sealed) he discovered the previous owner was absolutely sh*te at DIY – and he’s done a lot!

Long story short, Hubby completely fixed the loo, re-sealed it and replaced it. But that wasn’t the end of it, oh no! There was more water coming from somewhere! This time is was the drainpipe leading from the kitchen down to the laundry room and it, too, had a slow but messy leak. I’ll never forget the look of slight dubiousness in Hubby’s eyes as he made the decision to cut all the old pip out and replace it but he did a marvelous job!  Oh, did he look proud of himself! He walked around the house with his chest out for a while afterwards. It is amazing how much one can learn from YouTube. Hubby must have watched at least 10 videos before launching into the job. His mecca is now Home Depot and he’s eyeing up power tools the way a woman might eye up a pair of shoes or a new handbag!

I think doing DIY is a right of passage for a man and if the job is done properly, true pride just flows from him.  I don’t know if the previous owner ever felt like that and if he did then he was very deluded. Unsealed pipes and unsealed loos aside he also saw fit to glue a bookcase to the dining room wall – WHO DOES THAT?! All it would have taken is 2 screws, already there and ready to go…but he glued it. WITH MIGHTY PUTTY! I now have to repair two walls and repaint them. He also silicone sealed a plastic dryer pipe to the vent when it specifically stated on the dryer not to due to danger or death. Didn’t family safety ever cross this guy’s mind? I know people might like to cut corners but when something says not to do something due to the fact it could kill your family, you would want to follow that instruction and do the job properly, no? Thanks to my DIY Hubby, we now have a very swanky, clean not to mention fire hazard free steel pipe.

That’s just a few of the crazy DIY jobs that we have discovered. The really scary thing is the deck was built by him too…

A sex spreadsheet? Hahaha!

That was my first thought when I happened upon an article on Buzzfeed about a Reddit user who had posted a photo of a spreadsheet she had received from her husband. Did you read about this? Well, for those who didn’t catch this glorious nugget of entertainment I will explain.

The wife was about to go away on a 10 days business trip but before she left her husband emailed her a sex spreadsheet. A three column, dated spreadsheet which had cataloged their apparently dry sex life. It stated the date throughout a six week period, whether sex had been granted or not and if not, the reason behind it. Only 3 days out of the 28 recorded days had ‘Yes’ marked in the ‘Sex’ column. The ‘Excuse’ column contained things like, ‘I’ve been to the gym and I feel sweaty’, ‘I’m watching my show and don’t want to miss anything’, or my personal favourite, ‘(non verbal)’.

This post has been view over 1.5 million times! The world now knows about this and the reactions are both fabulous and ridiculous. Theories are now flying through the interweebs as strangers battle over this tasty tidbit of human silliness. Everything from being married to an Asexual partner to serious mental issues are being thrown into this ever growing ring. Both teams have supporters, each calling the other immature, selfish or just plain stupid. Personally I think it’s equal on both sides; who in their right mind makes a spreadsheet to catalog this sort of thing?! And who would post it on the internet to shame the poor sap for doing something so silly? You begin to wonder how it all came about (or not, pardon the pun.) Did the husband, now affectionately named Spreadsheet Guy, just walk up to his wife and say in a rough, monotone way, “Sex!”  Was there any romance, a gentle wooing of the wife to arouse her, even if she didn’t feel like it? Judging by the spreadsheet, me thinks definitely not! But then to feel so outraged and hurt that you think, “I’m posting this on a heavily used website and make people see what an ass my husband is, how dare he!”

Two things are very clear now: 1) The husband will never get sex from his wife ever again and 2) Can you say ‘Divorce’?!

Sex plays a HUGE role in a marriage whether people want to admit it or not. It connects a couple emotionally as well as physically and without that connection people can feel neglected and distant which apparently happened in this case. I’m sure there were women who read the article and cursed Reddit Wife for being so lucky to have sex readily available. But I have to wonder about what their life was like before they married; was the sex amazing and adventurous so it is now missed or was it OK to the point Spreadsheet Guy thought, ‘I’m sure she’ll get better with age.’ Maybe Reddit Wife thought, ‘He wants sex a lot, I’m sure he’ll calm down with age.’ Who knows, we can only speculate. Either way it looks like good old communication seemed to once again have been left out of the equation.

 

 

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Summer Holidays are stressful, right?!

Sidewalk chalk shouldn't be just for the sidewalk!

Sidewalk chalk shouldn’t be just for the sidewalk!

For many of my friends back in the UK the summer holidays are only just starting but here in ‘Tronno’, we’ve been at it for 3 weeks now. We get to have 8 weeks of attempting to keep kids active, interested and off each others backs! So far I think I’m doing OK but it’s still early days.

I am sure, like many parents, I desperately searched for activities to do, places to go and camps to enlist with before the holidays happened but as per usual, I left it too late! Parents sign their children up in March for camps! I always assumed camps where just made up things that you saw in kids movies but it’s a real thing! I suppose I did a version of camp…it was called Boarding School.

So here I am in one of the biggest cities in Canada and I have absolutely NO IDEA what to do with my kids! It isn’t as if there isn’t any choice; we have museums, parks, an aquarium, pools, galleries, beaches, you name it. What fills me with dread is the fact that every other kid in Toronto will be there too. I once did the Science Center during a holiday and I swore never again – chaos, tears, stress, even my poor children hated it and they usually love to learn things but they don’t like having to fight for something and they don’t enjoy being watched by impatient children who are attempting to telepathically will them off a toy/ride/game. They will happily fight and bicker with each other but not with other children so I always take that into consideration whenever we decided to go somewhere. Nine times out of ten we usually stay close to home and play and I will make each week a specialty week. For example, during March Break, I devoted a week to Science. We made Ooblek, Volcanoes and sun-catchers using glue and food coloring and the children loved it. With the summer holidays I have 8 weeks to plan for and the more I investigate, the more excited I become about doing things at home.

I know I am lucky because I work from home so I have the time to be able to spend with my kids. Many parents don’t have that option and find sending their kids to camp the only choice until they have their vacation too. I dread to think how expensive it all becomes; a week long camp at Ripley’s Aquarium is close to $400 per child. I have a friend who just put both her kids, aged 5 & 7, into 4 separate camps; over $1,200 to cover just 2 weeks worth of the holidays.They are also planning to go on vacation for a week which was in the region of around $3,500 (flights, hotel, etc). I know having children is expensive but these days it seems just unrealistic at times. Having said that this sort of thing seems to apply to younger kids; the older they get, the more independent they become and the money once spent on camps is re-directed towards other ‘essentials’ teenagers ‘need’.

Today my kids have drawn life-size silhouettes of themselves on paper and are currently embellishing them with a ridiculous amount of tissue paper, sequins, and fuzzy balls. (I’m looking forward to that clean up later…) The point is, they have been occupied for over an hour with this. I’ve broken up 3 fights, all from the comfort of my desk chair, and they are learning (with some degree of stubbornness) the art of sharing. The TV is off, Jazz music is playing softly in the background and I’m sure once everything is done we will have some pretty spectacular pictures!

I live in the city so there are programs and camps all over the place so here is a question: Is it easier or harder to plan summer holidays if you live in the country vs the city? Working parents vs. stay at/work from home parents; how do the long holidays effect you?

Whatever you get up to this summer I hope you have an enjoyable holiday and get to enjoy some quality time with your children.

 

Growing old not so gracefully

I’m not that old! I’m in my 30’s so even I am surprised by how sensitive I have become recently to people not having good manners. A few things have happened this week that has left me to wonder if I am loosing my marbles or if I am just having a bad week.

It started at Home Hardware. I went looking for a new fuse for my brand new fairy lights. They worked the first time I switched them on, then stopped. A new fuse can sometimes fix the problem so off I went. Every time I have been in the store the staff there have been friendly…except this time. An older gentleman walked up to me and said, “can I help you?” I explained my problem and asked if he had fuses for fairy light plugs. The guy stared at me with a ‘what the hell are you on about?’ look and he didn’t say anything for so long I started to wonder if he had heard me at all. He then asked me to repeat what I had just said, which I did. He continued to look at me like I was an idiot. He then asked what the voltage was to which I replied I didn’t know and that’s when he scoffed at me, raised his eyes to the roof in a ‘bloody women shouldn’t be doing a mans work’ sort of way and then reprimanded me on how that piece of info was the most important part before huffing off to a rack. Suitably offended I didn’t follow him, I walked out the store. F**k you, thought I, the lights aren’t that important anyway! I know the voltage part is important but I genuinely didn’t know that piece of info.

My next venture was with the gas man. I have an automatic sprinkler in my garden to deter raccoons and squirrels from digging up my garden. I have it pointed towards the garden and you have to be within range to set it off so walking around it to get to the meter is easy if you are smart. Not this guy. I wasn’t aware of the altercation until I heard my garden gate forcefully slam shut. Knowing I had locked the gate the night before I was surprised to hear it so went out to investigate, my 3 year old son behind me. My gate was swinging in the wind…strange…then an angry voice from behind me exclaimed, “I just got wet checking your meter!” Turning around I saw the gas man, hands in the air, yelling at me. 

“Well, if you had let me know you were there I could have switched it off,” I replied, stunned at the outburst. My son looked up a me and asked, “why is that man shouting at you?” Hands still in the air the guy stormed off. You would have thought he had been hit with slime. I checked my gate to make sure it was still intact, which it was only a little looser than it had been before. Seriously?! All because you got wet? You wanna break my property? A call was put into the complaints department that afternoon.

Lastly, this morning, the city of Toronto pissed me off. Not the actual city, just the lovely individuals who work for it. We have a public footpath next to our house which need maintenance, grass cutting, tree trimming etc. Our house is also at the top of the dead end road. A white city truck pulled up and rather than parking opposite our house, where there are no driveways, they park right across my driveway, blocking both myself and my neighbors cars.  What though process goes through people’s head where they think, ‘hey we’ll just park here and block these people in.’ It happens all the time. Had I been able to find the individuals i would have politely asked them to move so I could get out but they were nowhere to be seen. 

Am I getting old and crotchety already or am I right to feel the way I feel? It kinda upsets me sometimes that the general public can’t be nice all the time! If this carries on I am going to be a very grumpy old woman by the time I’m 40…