Monday, February 20, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Family Day 2017

It's Family Day here in Ontario (& several other Canadian provinces) -- a holiday which (as I have often complained in the past ;) )  the politicians made up about 10 years ago so that we could have a much-needed mid-winter break (OK, I can live with that... ;) ) -- but then slapped a label on it to demonstrate their "family-friendliness." And you know when they envisioned "Family Day," they weren't thinking about families that deviate from two parents (preferably one of each gender) and at least one kid. Certainly not "families of two," such as dh & me.

So I was grateful to one of my Facebook friends (whom we met through our pg loss support group) who posted this definition of "family" earlier this morning:


Much more inclusive, don't you think?  :)

I hope most if not all of you (at least those of you in North America) have a holiday today, & that it's a good one. :) 

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"The Lost City of Z" by David Grann

The Lost City of Z:  A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann had been languishing in my to-read pile for the last few years. I was finally prompted to pick it up when I learned about an upcoming movie adaptation (to be released in April) (and I love that, in the trailers I've seen, they pronounce "Z" as "Zed," in the British/Canadian fashion!).

I don't know why books like "The Lost City of Z" (and, for example, "Into the Silence" by Wade Davis, a few years back) fascinate me so much. I loved learning about North American explorers such as Samuel de Champlain and Pierre de la Verendrye and Alexander Mackenzie when I was in school -- and Daniel Boone was my childhood hero! -- so maybe it's the allure of discovering new worlds. (Or perhaps it's because I know it's something I would never, ever do myself, lol.)

"The Lost City of Z" tells the true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who made multiple trips to the Amazon jungle in the early part of the 20th century -- first to map the region for the Royal Geographic Society, and then to pursue his growing obsession with finding a lost city of untold riches. Some called it El Dorado;  Fawcett called it Z. Fawcett, along with his son Jack, disappeared into the jungle for the final time in 1925 in search of Z. The book also tells the stories of subsequent expeditions mounted to learn what happened to Fawcett -- including the author's personal journey to pick up the trail, more than 75 years later.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Having said that, I'm debating whether to see the movie. Be forewarned, this is not a book for the squeamish (it doesn't overly dwell on the "ick" factor -- but it's there...), and I can just imagine how it will translate onto film...! Reading about the bugs, snakes (like Indiana Jones, I HATE SNAKES), parasites, piranhas, cannibals (!) and other creatures that have made exploration of the Amazon so difficult was cringe-inducing (and reminded me why I haven't been camping in 40 years, let alone trekking into the Amazon).  Fawcett and his men (not to mention their poor horses and other animals) endured incredible hardship, and it's amazing to me that he returned not just once but several times over the years (he came to believe he was invincible). It was also sobering to read the author's descriptions of what's happened to the Amazon in the years since Fawcett first explored the area:  huge swaths of the jungle have been clearcut or burned in the name of commerce, altering the ecosystem, perhaps irreversably.

The ending was not quite what I expected, and still leaves many questions unanswered -- but it was satisfying in its own way.  (Kind of like life after infertility & loss, lol.) 

This was book #4 that I've read so far in 2017, bringing me to 17% of my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal for this year of 24 books.

Monday, February 13, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Things I am happy about today

Okay, I will admit I've been wallowing in my annual "I hate February" mode lately, perhaps a little too much. ;)  Time for some positivity!  Taking my cue from Mali, here are some things that are making me happy today: 

*  Aunt Flo is taking her leave after her latest visit (and good riddance, lol). (I suppose it's too much to hope that it might be for the last time??)
*  Watching America go gaga over our prime minister as he visited Washington today ;)  (and, more importantly, watching him more than hold his own in his public appearances with The Donald).
*  It's after 6 p.m. as I type this... and the sun is JUST starting to set -- i.e., it's staying lighter longer again. Progress! 
* There's even a bit of a sunset visible tonight :)  -- something we haven't really seen in a while.
*  We even saw some sun today, after snow all day yesterday.
*  (While I'm getting pretty tired of the snow, it WAS kind of pretty, watching it coming down yesterday.) (AND -- we don't have to shovel it!!)
* Living close enough to BIL & family that he can call us to come over for coffee (as he did last night after supper) -- and we can hop in the car and be there 15 minutes later. 
*  Being able to stop by to visit with SIL regularly as she recovers from surgery, and bring her the occasional treat from Starbucks or soup for lunch.
*  Chatting with an old friend on the phone today.
*  Looking forward to a trip to the mall tomorrow.
* Tomorrow is also Valentine's Day :) 

What's making you happy today?

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The best-laid plans...

Pretty much...!!  ;)
(A Facebook find from Intelligence is Sexy)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Now is the winter of our discontent

Let me count the ways... (I know, I'm mixing my Shakespearean metaphors here...)
  • Aunt Flo is here. Again. :p  (Day 30, more or less right on schedule. At age 56!!!)
  • We had freezing rain on Tuesday (I'd rather have a blizzard, quite frankly :p ). Today there is actually some sun, but it is cold (-13C, -20C windchill when I got up this morning). And it looks like we may be getting more snow tomorrow.
  • I love our condo, and I love how our floor to ceiling windows let in so much natural light -- but damn, the floors near them get pretty cold...!  :p  (Laminate  in the main areas, ceramic tile in the kitchen, entryway and bathrooms.)  (Granted, even the carpeted floors near the windows in our old house could get pretty cold too sometimes...)
  • The leak in the sprinkler system in our front hall closet has been fixed for almost two weeks, but there's still a hole in the ceiling to be patched (and thus, all the stuff we removed from the closet remains on the floor of my spare bedroom/office). :p  Dh messaged the property manager earlier this week and asked him to arrange to have it fixed. He said he would, but so far, the hole remains.  
  • I am going stir crazy. :p
  • While I was happy to see my girlfriend on Monday night (and get out of the house, lol), I was sad to learn she is moving. Not right away, but eventually, probably within the year. Back to our mutual home province, where she still has lots of friends & family. She was widowed a few years ago, and her stepchildren don't have much to do with her (she has no children of her own), and the cost of living is lower there. We only saw each other a few times a year, since we live in different parts of this vast metropolitan area (albeit I've moved closer to her now), but I knew she was always game to meet me for lunch, an outing to a craft show or sometimes a matinee at the theatre. And she is one of the few people hereabouts who knew me from "back home." I will miss her. :(
  • Matching the gloominess of the weather, the political news from the U.S. is enormously depressing. Although sometimes you just have to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.  I saw an article yesterday speculating that Sarah Palin may be a candidate for ambassador to Canada!!! (Geez, America, what did we ever do to you to deserve THAT??!!) 
  • On a somewhat related note, I noticed earlier this week that someone had quietly unfriended me on Facebook.  I have been unfriended a couple of times before, but either the relationship was not that important to me or the circumstances were such that it didn't really bother me. Without getting too specific -- this time it does. :(  I don't know for sure why I was unfriended, but I am pretty certain it's related to our opposing political views. I haven't posted a lot directly that's politically inclined, but I have posted some items on specific issues that are important to me, related to freedom of the press, "fake news" and how to spot it, and the Women's March. I've also "liked" a lot of news articles from the New York Times and other such sources that may have turned up on people's news feeds. I only wish this person had simply "unfollowed" me -- they wouldn't have had to put up with any posts from me that they found offensive or contradictory to their views, and I never would have been the wiser. Dh has encouraged me to just send this person another friend request and see what happens. I may or may not. I'm not in a hurry -- I think a bit of a cooling off period will do both of us good -- I don't want any big confrontations. 
  • It's the Family Day long weekend here in Ontario. :p I know it's a long weekend (in February), but bah humbug. :p 
Thanks for reading/listening to me whine!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

#MicroblogMondays (on a Tuesday): Inspiration from Down Under

I'm late with my #MicroblogMondays post this week, but I have a good excuse. ;)  I went into the city last night with a girlfriend to attend the first lecture in this year's Unique Lives and Experiences series. (We also had dinner beforehand, along with some great conversation!) 

Our speaker was Julia Gillard, former (and first woman) prime minister of Australia. I don't know much about her politics, but I was predisposed to like her -- first, because I realized she is exactly my age;  second, she is an unapologetic feminist;  and third, she has suffered untold slings and arrows for being not only a woman but a childfree one at that (as I wrote here in 2010).  She told us that she & Barack Obama had joked about which of them made the most unlikely leader -- he, the first black/biracial leader of the United States, or she, an unmarried, childless, atheist woman as prime minister of Australia?

Gillard was an excellent speaker, moving away from the lectern and only referring to her notes when she had statistics to quote or a quotation she wanted to read. She spoke for almost an hour, and then answered questions from the audience for half an hour. I wish had taken notes! -- but here's some of what I remember she said:
  • Bias and misogynistic attitudes towards women are ingrained and pervasive (and she backed up her observations with statistics and academic studies).
  • Education is the key to greater success in life. Gillard loved school, and is emphatic about the role education (and free state university tuition) played in her own success. She's now the head of the Global Partnership for Education, and is passionate about educating girls, particularly in developing countries.
  • Women need to be bold, try new things and not hold themselves back.
  • Women must call out sexism and misogyny when & where they see it. (Gillard did so, memorably, in what's become known as "the misogyny speech," where she blasted the (male) leader of the opposition for hypocrisy. She had the audience groaning -- and gasping -- when she related some of the horribly sexist things that were said and written about her -- including, after the death of her father, that he had probably "died of shame."  She was also compared to a "barren cow" and reminded that infertile cows inevitable get slaughtered and turned into hamburger meat.)(I kid you not.)(!!!!!)
  • She said the most valuable political advice she received (which she encouraged the audience to do too), shortly after becoming prime minister, was to write down her purpose -- what she wanted to achieve during her time in office, what she wanted her leadership to stand for. She said she carried that increasingly dog-eared piece of paper with her in her purse every day and looked at it often. 
  • She encouraged women to carve out some quiet time regularly to think and rejuvenate themselves. (She would tell her staff she was going "into the Cone" -- as in the Cone of Silence -- a "Get Smart" reference that had those of us of a certain age chuckling).
  • She firmly believes in the value of quotas (in both the political and business worlds) as a way to level the playing field and uncover new talent that might otherwise be overlooked.
  • Being the "first woman" is an honour -- but even better would be to watch as the second, third, fourth and so on emerge and succeed. :)  
  • There is life after politics. :)  Gillard spoke with pride about her family, and how she had moved back to Adelaide to be closer to them (hmmm, this sounds familiar...), including her 89-year-old mother, sister, niece and nephew (she hosted his wedding in her back yard) -- and now a great-niece and nephew.
  • Most important, Gillard urged women to develop a strong sense of self/self worth. She worries about young women in particular, growing up under the influence of social media and deriving their self-worth from the opinions of others.
She left the stage to a standing ovation. :)

What women have inspired you lately?

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

Sunday, February 5, 2017