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  • It’s the most wonderful time of the year

    November 18th, 2011 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, Random Burbling, Save Us From Evil   1 Comment »  

    A lovely woman I know, let’s call her Kikki, has issued a challenge to Edmontonian’s to put away our “bah humbugs” and do more for others this holiday season. When I read her original challenge, I had to shake my head. Not because I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s just an odd concept to me to accept a “challenge” that my husband and I would consider parts of our daily lives.

    Years ago, hubs and I realized that we often have more than we need. We might not have a fancy car (our “youngest” vehicle is approaching 9 years old) or a big house (790 sq feet) but we have a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, and food on our table.

    Long ago we stepped away from traditional Christmas gift giving and started giving to charities rather than giving presents. We adopted families and organizations rather than attending parties or spending ridiculous amounts on items we’d likely never use.

    And we don’t stop at an arbitrarily defined “holiday season”. We realized that the need for support doesn’t end when Christmas wrapping paper goes into the trash. It exists all year long. So we do our best each and every month to make a difference, however small, in other’s lives.

    Somewhere along the way we’ve realized that “there but for the grace of go I…” and started trying to live our lives to honour the sentiment. Perhaps it’s because of the time I spent living in what are politely termed “developing countries” or the time my husband has spent Peacekeeping and Peacemaking across the globe; we’ve realized just how incredibly fortunate an act of chance – our births in Canada – have made us.

    As we get older, we’ve watched our “friends” pool decrease to the point where we’ve surrounded ourselves mainly with like minded individuals. Most of our friends and acquaintances are actively involved in non-profit organizations. They plan and deliver meals to the homeless. They run dog rescues. They raise funds for women’s rights organizations or to put books into school libraries for underprivileged children. They build schools in developing countries. They fund community centres and gather diapers for teen mothers. They pass out backpacks with supplies to homeless community members. These people we choose to spend time with do something amazing for others on a regular basis and their efforts need to be celebrated.

    We’re going to continue on our daily lives as if Kikki’s challenge doesn’t exist. Because for us it’s not a challenge; it’s simply the right thing to do. As 2011 draws to a close and 2012 looms before us, I’m asking everyone else to join us in making helping someone less fortunate than you something you do all year long. Stop using “it’s the reason for the season” as an excuse to only participate in giving once a year. Do something each and every month.

    Bah humbug!

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    Out of the frying pan and into the fire

    December 2nd, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil   1 Comment »  

    I’ll probably be reamed over the coals for this but from a competancy standpoint of view I think Gilles Duceppe is the best of the available options to have led the proposed coalition. Despite representing the separatist party, he strikes me as the most reasonable and moderate of the bunch. Having watched him in the House of Commons and in the English and French language debates over the years M. Duceppe has always impressed me when compared to his Liberal or NDP counterparts.

    Now this endorsement of M. Duceppe doesn’t mean that I necessarily want to see the current gov’t topple or the coalition succeed. Just that I’m disappointed that Dion has been selected defacto leader of this little group.

    Having lived and voted in the Maritimes, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta I’d like to think that my opinions have been formed after a broad range of exposure to the realities of life in multiple parts of the country. One thing I have always known is that while a great number of people might live in southern Ontario and in Quebec, what is best for those regions is often in direct conflict with the rest of the country. My greatest concern surrounding the proposed coalition is related to their planned bail out package for the auto industry. I’ve yet to be satisfied as to how bailing out this industry is in any way a national strategy. It seems to me to be pandering to a small section of the electorate while leaving the rest of the country to rot. Perhaps someone can explain to me how this package will benefit fishermen in the Maritimes or farmers in the prairies? How will it improve the lives of construction or telecommunications or IT workers outside of Ontario or Quebec?

    While possibly historic I can’t fathom how the proposed coalition can be good for Canada as a whole. My Canada includes the Maritimes and the west. I’m beginning to wonder if Dion or Layton can say the same.

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    Celebrating Christmas in the May?

    November 28th, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil, Those Who Volunteered   2 Comments »  

    A few days ago the government decided to send Griffins to support the Chinooks in Afghanistan.  The announcement was made on Nov. 26 – the day Drew left for Calgary.  Yep, that’s right.  He was home less than a week before heading out again.  He’s due back next week and the first group is heading over to Afghanistan on Monday. Luckily for me he’s not in the first group.  However, as it stands at the moment, he’ll be gone before Christmas – so I expect the house to be a complete mess for the next few days weeks months.

    Today I get a phone call that began with “I just wanted to call and tell you  before you heard it on the news.” Never a good sign.  A necessary action none the less.  The call came in just before noon and at 1:30pm today the Edmonton Journal already had a story posted on their website indicating that 30 members of 408 TacHel are shipping out starting Monday. The good news is that Drew isn’t leaving Monday.  The bad news is he’s leaving just a few weeks later.

    After a year of playing hurry up and wait – no planned vacations and living day-to-day and week-to-week because you never knew if/when the call to go would come – it seems that time has begun moving far too quickly.

    I strikes me that we’re not ready and yet when it comes to the big things we’ve been ready for months. Still, silly thoughts run through your mind. The dogs need to go to the vet. Can he bring some “dirty civy” clothes with him? The garage isn’t finished. I don’t know how to mix the gas/oil blend for the snow blower. My exams are in two weeks. The house is a mess. He’s not packed. Pen? Paper? Camera? iPod? Laptop? Who’s going to go watch Gordon Lightfoot with me? The extra insulation isn’t in the roof yet. I need an eye exam – who will drive me if I need drops put in? Are our emergency contact people still willing to fill the role?

    Normally people shipping out have months to get themselves in order and some time off to spend with the family before they go. It looks like that won’t happen this time round. I don’t know the individual situations of the 30 crew who leave in three short days.  I do know that Drew doesn’t expect to have any time off work as he and a few other stragglers ramp up to leave.

    One thing that I do hope is that we’ll get some time together before he leaves – and I’ll get some time to myself once he’s gone.  It’s one thing to get used to someone being away for a short trip it’s completely different getting used to the idea that you’ll be “single” for a 6-9 month period. So, if you’re calling to get together for dinner or to drop by and chat, this might not be the best time.  Sure, we’re friends and all that, and yes, we do love to see you, but with an unknown time left before he leaves we’d certainly appreciate it if you understand if/when we say no to whatever you’d like to plan and choose instead to stay home.

    On the bright side – yes, there has to be a bright side at this stage or we’d all go crazy – we’ll be skipping Christmas until his return in the late spring. I no longer need to run around stores looking for the perfect non-charity oriented present.  I’ve already got a tonne of the charity related ones ready to go ;)   I can wait until the great boxing week sales and do all my shopping throughout the cold and dark winter.

    I don’t suppose I can get sympathy points on my final exams in 2 weeks considering the circumstances? Nah.  Didn’t think so. Guess it’s a good thing I registered for an extra class next semester. I’ll be even busier with school than normal and have lots to keep me occupied.

    Now please excuse me, I have to go take my phone off the hook.

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    #mumbai

    November 26th, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil, Where No Flan Has Gone Before   2 Comments »  

    From Tweetsgiving to terrorism. So go the days of our lives.

    This morning I woke up excited about the use of Twitter as a tool for advertising a charitable campaign. As the day wore on and news began to filter out of Mumbai, Twitter is once again proving it’s unique position in social media circles. News of the Mumbai attacks are reported to have begun surfacing on Twitter an hour before the first reports began appearing in mainstream media (such as CNN).

    Having spent little time outside of work in Mumbai, I can’t begin to express how heartbroken I was when I learned of the latest attacks.  While I don’t have a close of an emotional (or personal) connection to Mumbai as I do with Bangalore or Manila, I can’t help but cry at the thought of the suffering and terror now gripping the city.

    We didn’t stay at any of the hotels mentioned in the news, but we did take pictures of the Taj Mahal hotel when we were touring Mumbai and again when we were on our way to visit Elephanta.

    Learn more about the attacks:

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    Dona Nobis Pacem

    November 6th, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil, Those Who Volunteered   4 Comments »  

    Dona Nobis Pacem
    Dona Nobis Pacem

    For the past few years Mimi has sponsored the Blog Blast for Peace.  My past globes and comments are here and here. This year I take comfort from the symbolic repatriation of Canadian soldiers who fought and died in WWI. We should never forget the sacrifice of those who have gone before us and whose efforts have helped build the world we live in today.  With Remembrance Day just around the corner and the ranks of veterans who carry the memories forward growing thinner each year, it is especially important to acknowledge the message they have worked so hard to promote – Never Again.

    An odd message to appear on the blog of a soldier’s wife.  However, as I’m sure many past soldiers also believed, he and many current serving military members still hold fast to the belief that they fight so that future generations will not have to. The things we take for granted here – ample food, fresh drinking water, basic literacy skills, freedom to worship in a religion of choice, freedom of expression, etc. – are still lacking in so many places.  So much still needs to be done.

    Two nights ago we bore witness to change in the Western world.  The first non-white President was elected in the United States of America.  This action has fostered great excitement and placed a huge weight upon Mr. Obama’s shoulders.  Let’s hope he is up to the challenge.

    There is still much that needs to change in the world.  While the US was willing to accept a non-white President, gay marriage bans were passed in California, Florida and Arizona.  People continue to be held back by the unwillingness of others to embrace love and change and to accept others for who they are, not who others think they should be.  Families are still struggling to make ends meet and curable or controllable disease still runs rampant in many parts of the world.  Women still struggle to be considered equal.

    We continue to hope.

     

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    Imagine

    November 4th, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil   3 Comments »  

    I am too young to have been around when Martin Luther King spoke of his dream. That said, I am very excited at the possibility that Obama might win the US election. Like all politics I don’t always agree with everything this politician believes in – I am most concerned with his take on Gay marriage; he doesn’t fully support it – but it’s nice to see the US shifting towards a Canadian way of thinking. Sadly, Canadians don’t really seem to understand our Conservatives vs. US Democrats. In many cases, their politics are very similar. We are not, and I don’t think we ever have been, similar to the Republicans in our thinking, politics, or beliefs. Hey, maybe the Americans are finally becoming more like us. Is that such a bad thing?

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    on your mark

    October 14th, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil   1 Comment »  

    I do so love my satellite dish and it’s time-shifting feature.  Less than 15 minutes before the polls close out east – although, I believe they’re already closed in Newfoundland – and I’ll soon be able to watch all the punditry and polling goodies I can handle.

    At the moment, I’m listening to George Stroumboulopoulos give a run down of his opinions of the 37 day election campaign.  Yes.  I’m willingly watching CBC with no Dr. Who or Torchwood in sight. Peter Mansbridge and company will soon be handed the reigns.

    CTV and Global don’t seem to be running coverage until 7pm.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this.  The Maritimes are often ignored by the “East”.

    I’m off to get my popcorn and beer ready.  Oh, and to call my mom.

    Happy election viewing everyone.

    Upperdate: *GRRRR*  Elections coverage is blacked out.  At exactly 5:30pm my TV went grey and a nice little message re: Elections Canada forbidding elections coverage in areas where polls aren’t closed is now being displayed on screen.  Someone please explain to me how Elections Canada can declare vote swapping/sharing (strategic voting by proxy) legal but learning of the results early is not.  Bah!  It’s not like this information isn’t going to be available on the Internet through non-Canadian housed blogs.

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    On voting

    October 13th, 2008 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, Save Us From Evil   1 Comment »  

    I’m looking forward to voting tomorrow and will be dragging my friends and neighbours along with me.  I can’t help myself.  I just think it’s really important to ensure every qualifying member of the public votes.  Then I can go home and happily plonk myself in front of the TV to rant and rave at the talking heads completing the election night coverage.  Of course with Drew in Montreal it won’t be nearly as much fun as it has been in previous years.  I was missing in ’06 so this is our second Federal election minus the popcorn throwing beer swilling peanut gallery.

    As for results, a good chunk of me would like to see the same results as were in place before Parliament was dissolved.  After reading all 4 party platforms and watching this weekends Dion/May shenanigans I’ve grave concerns about all of them.  I think it will be good for the country to have the Conservatives have a small minority government again. They did manage to get a surprising amount of work completed over the past 2.5 years. A minority ensures that they don’t go too far off the rails when completing their mandate.  Perhaps then, the sheep that make up some of the Canadian population will realize that the US Democratic Party has more in common (policy wise) with the Conservatives than they do with the Liberals.  And perhaps then some of the other parties will begin cleaning up their platforms and the junk hidden in their back closets to make themselves more palatable in future elections.

    Dion is certainly not someone I want to see lead the country (Hello Liberals – Get a new leader… perhaps one a little less divorced from day-to-day realities of the general population) and the Greens too should consider a new leader.  They’ve a number of excellent candidates in their party but May has failed in the most basic of leadership duties; Supporting her people and party values to the bitter end.  Abdicating her responsibility to the Green party and its candidates to crawl into bed with the Liberals and advocate strategic voting opens up a long line of questions regarding her values, loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness, etc. As for Layton, I have personal issues with Layton’s past actions that will ensure I’ll never vote for him.

    On the bright side none of these leaders are running in my riding.  I can vote my conscience.  I can place my X beside the name of the best, in my not so humble opinion, man or woman for the job.

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    passage of time

    September 11th, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil, Those Who Volunteered   2 Comments »  

    I remember waking up that morning thinking it was just another day at work. I remember thinking it was a beautiful morning in Winnipeg and laughing along to Tom and Joe on the radio as I drove into work. I remember the shock of hearing the first plane had crashed into a tower while on Kenaston, a few feet from Scurfield. I remember driving into the parking lot and sitting in my car, waiting for more news.

    I remember walking into the office thinking it was a tragic accident and feeling heartbroken for the family members of those on the plane. I remember thinking that the damage to the office and resulting injuries would likely be minimal.

    I remember logging into my computer and starting my work day. I remember the commotion on the production floor when the second plane hit. I had barely sat down at my desk. I did not stay.

    I remember standing in the lunch room, glued to CNN, watching in disbelief as both towers collapsed. I don’t remember leaving there for hours.

    I remember the panic in the voices of US based co-workers. I remember learning we had offices in one of the towers.

    I remember customers calling – reaching out – just to hear another human voice on the line. I remember that we talked to each and every one of them, no matter how long it took.

    I remember the news that planes were being diverted and receiving a quick phone call from my hubby telling me he had no idea when he would be allowed to return home. I remember hearing that members of 402 Sqn at 17 Wing were guarding three planes on the base side of the airport. I remember he didn’t come home for three days and how sympathetic he was for the people forced to remain on the aircraft while he and his fellow soldiers patrolled the tarmac.

    Many forget that not every passenger on those diverted planes were allowed to disembark and find temporary housing in hotels, schools and people’s homes. I remember.

    I remember sitting in my living room reaching out via telephone for help making sense of what had happened. I remember feeling the world was slipping sideways. I remember talking to my dad – he who grew up during the blitz and had survived many an air raid and bombing in London during WWII – hoping for answers and gaining none.

    It has been seven years. Just as I have never forgotten Tiananmen, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Challenger disaster, I will never forget 9-11.

    May the tragic loss of life as a result of terrorist actions in New York on September 11, 2005 never be forgotten. Each life was special. Each loss devastating to friends, family and co-workers.

    Je me souviens. I remember.

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    stamp of approval

    September 8th, 2008 she Posted in Save Us From Evil   4 Comments »  

    Stephen Harper finally made it official and called a general election.  Anyone who didn’t see that one coming must be living under a rock.  With most of the previous mandate completed – for better or worse – and all parties spending far too much time posturing and not nearly enough time attempting to govern the country, it was time for an election.  Sure, some will complain that by calling this election, it plays havoc with the nice new piece of legislation surrounding mandated election dates.  Me, I’m not so sure the previous government should have held on that long.  These past few sessions have seen a lot accomplished.  This is especially interesting considering power has been balanced through the magic of a minority government.  More impressive is that minority’s longevity.  It’s lasted for over 2 years at this point.  I doubt it would have stood much longer.

    I see the election as a good thing.  I’m still waffling over who I’d like to see in power and to what degree.  For the moment, I think I’d be satisfied with another minority Conservative government.  It was oddly effective and I, for one, would like to see government continue to move forward.  Mistakes have been made but nothing yet on the scale of the previous Liberal scandals (imho).

    With the election call made I’ve begun to be bombarded with invitations to join virtual groups relating to the election or political parties.  Since I’m more of a “vote for a policy or local politician” type of girl, these “rah rah” Federal party invitations are getting on my nerves.  Even more annoying are the number of invites to groups I’ve had that are encouraging me to vote.

    I can imagine the potential power of nagging suggestion inherent in social networking software, such as Facebook, I just don’t know whether or not I subscribe to the concept that those who join groups advocating voting in the upcoming Federal election will actually take the time to get off their duff’s and vote when the day comes.

    Call me crazy; I like to vote.  I enjoy exercising my rights in a democratic society.  I especially enjoy the evening’s entertainment – where we gather around the TV and rant and rave about the election results.  I get to complain about the results because I voted.  I’ve voted in snow storms and in the middle of downpours.  I’ve voted when it’s bright and sunny outside.  When I’d rather be camping.  I’ve voted when it’s -40C and I’d rather have been snuggled safe at home under a blanket.  I even managed to vote in absentia for the last Federal election.  No mean feat considering I was 1/2 way around the world and knew more about the upcoming election than the official at the Canadian Consulate did.

    Don’t take it too hard when I don’t join your virtual group or forward all the “sky is falling” emails.  Don’t worry though.  You can always count on me to vote.

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