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Archive for November, 2012

Mistakes

A girlfriend of mine recently had an embarrassing, but probably very common, issue with her teenager.  She happens to read a number of parenting blogs, but commented to me that she had never seen any of the bloggers mention similar problems with their kids.  In fact, she commented that these bloggers seem to have, if not completely perfect families, certainly better-adjusted-than-average ones.  My friend wished out loud that she could find a blog that reflected her own, imperfect family, rather than the always-awesome ones she was reading about.

 

I cringed, a little guiltily.

 

A lot guiltily, actually.

 

While I do occasionally blog about mistakes we’ve made, I only write about the funny ones.  The ones that aren’t really my fault, and the ones that don’t make us look too bad.  The ones where people can relate, and aren’t too likely to judge us harshly.  You know.  The minor mistakes.  Not the total foul-ups that are more-or-less self-imposed, not the stupid stuff that, in hindsight, I kick myself for not dealing with/figuring out sooner.  Not the stuff where somebody suffered (unless it was unusually gross or funny), and certainly not when that happened as a result of our ignorance or neglect.

 

I didn’t write about neglecting a major wound on one of the dogs until, when we finally did go to the vet, we were informed it was badly infected, and she was in significant pain, and that the stitches might or might not even take.

 

I haven’t talked about how the goats’ feet are totally out of hand, and desperately need trimming, but how a combination of colicky baby, illness, sore back, crappy weather, and sheer lazy (emphasis on the latter; goat feet really only take a few minutes per goat) have left some of my girls limping.

 

Or how I’ve failed to socialize one of the doelings, who is now totally wild, and will probably have to be sold or culled, because she can’t be caught or handled.

 

I haven’t discussed how our delaying of the butchering last year left us with some extremely damaged roosters, plus a flock of very hassled hens missing all of their back feathers for the winter and the summer; nor have I mentioned the chilling or sunburn or other suffering the hens went through as a result.  (Though the hens are moulting, now, and the feathers seem to be filling back in, thankfully)

 

Don’t even get me started on the state of my house, the barn, or the level of cleanliness of my kid.  I will simply state that I have actually had to set a goal to put pants on every day for a week.  A goal.  To get dressed.  Not even to get dressed by 8 am, or to dress up nicely;  just to get out of pajamas sometime before I went back to bed.  For seven days in a row.

 

(I failed to meet that goal, I might add.  In my defense, we’ve all been completely wiped out by some stomach bug, and there’s not much point in wearing pants if you’re seated on the toilet holding a bucket between your knees while your significant other is banging down the door because he also needs both bucket and toilet, but I digress)

 

In the end, I am guessing that my friend’s bloggers are much like me:  selective sharers.  Folks who don’t really want the world to know all the warts and dirty laundry, even though they’re okay with sharing some.   I don’t imagine anyone has an overly rosy impression of us and our little disaster-farm out here, but maybe I’ve been a little coy about just how big a disaster it is, some days.  My apologies, in that case.

 

But don’t count on me to tell you the whole truth, all of the time.  A girl needs to hang on to a little dignity…

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Today being Remembrance Day, there are a lot of news stories, chain e-mails, facebook posts, and the like, all glorifying our veterans.  In particular, I saw a photo of a little boy, maybe 8 or 10, in a military-style uniform, saluting a casket in a military graveyard.  The caption says “Don’t worry, Dad, I’ll take care of Mom”.

 

This is sad, to me, on so many levels, though maybe not the intended one.  It is touching, and all, but if his father is a recent casualty, especially an American one, he probably died in a war that was not about freedom, or defending his country, or even defending innocents in another country.  Although thinly veiled under a guise of promoting democracy, most of the wars that the First World has taken an interest in are based on resources…mostly oil.

 

You see, First World folks, including myself, and, if you are reading this post on a home computer in a climate-controlled home, probably you too, use a disproportionate amount of all of the world’s resources, including oil.  We have central heating and air conditioning in our homes, drive car long distances to work, import food grown thousands of miles away out of season, and use and dispose of millions of tons of plastic stuff that we really don’t need, or maybe even want, but feel we have to acquire and replace in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses.

 

Peak oil is a certainty – sooner or later, we will have used up half of the oil that ever existed.  In fact, it is commonly believed that the global peak occurred around 2005.  Not that oil will run out anytime soon, but it will get more expensive, harder to find, and subject to more demand as there is less available.  People get all upset about mining the tar sands in Alberta, but then turn around and support a dirty wars in third-world Middle Eastern countries that are all about resource extraction and have a much greater environmental and civilian toll than the tar sands ever will.   Sometimes, these same folks drive gas-guzzling SUV’s and complain about the price of gas, without apparently recognizing the hypocrisy.   Or buy a new wardrobe a few times a year.  Or always have the latest iPhone.  Eat imported baby spinach and red peppers in January, and meat two meals a day.   Bulldoze trees and agricultural land to build 4,000 square foot houses on 1 and 2 acre lots with HOA agreements not to keep gardens or livestock.

 

I am no angel when it comes to resource use.  Canadians are some of the worst culprits on earth.  I have central heating, and commute 25 miles to work.  I eat imported oranges and bananas.  I have a child (first-world children are huge resource guzzlers).  I recognize this, and am working towards doing things differently, by buying second-hand, driving smaller vehicles, avoiding useless and unnecessary consumerism, growing food, and the like.  I would like to do so much more, but it will be a gradual process, because my corner of the world is not set up for truly low-resource lifestyles, and it can be costly and difficult to break out of that mold.

 

If people really wanted to honor our military and our veterans, we would do everything in our power not to embroil ourselves in pointless and unnecessary resource wars.  We would lobby for better public transportation, urban bike lanes, and higher fuel efficiency standards.  We would support local farmers, and eat the majority of our food in-season.  We would buy durable, rather than disposable, goods, and repair them when they broke down, rather than always having the newest gadget.  We would change our mindset and our consumption.  We would learn to scale back, rather than demand that our men and women in uniform sacrifice themselves for our greed and selfishness.   I do not recall the exact statistics, but I am sure I have read that if North Americans returned to the standard of living we had in the 1950’s, we could be independent of imported oil altogether.

 

There are fights that need to be fought, and we need the courageous men and women in uniform to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  I have nothing but respect for the selflessness of our serving and veteran military members.   Remembrance Day is about remembering our veterans, but it is also about remembering the horror of war, and the reasons to avoid it at all costs.  Let’s make sure that the sacrifices that are made are truly necessary, and not just to support our cushy lifestyles.

 

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