Observations of My Idiotic World

I am an observer.  Always have been – always will be.  Truth is, I enjoy being an observer.  People will ask me where I get all my crazy stories, and the answer is simple.  Life supplies me with everything I need for a good story – all I have to do is observe it and report on it.

 

Marc and I recently went away on vacation to the incredibly diverse and beautiful country of Panama.  Pre-marital life for me was simple and simply about me.  I loved to travel and immerse myself in the culture of the country I was fortunate enough to visit.  I rode a camel across the Rajastan desert, I trekked in the mighty Himalayas, I camped my way across Africa and I cycled through much of this great Canadian countryside.  Then I met Marc, who I love to have by my side, but Marc has a much smaller comfort zone that I do when it comes to travel.  His idea of a great vacation takes him to an all inclusive resort with a great beach, great food and a great bed.  Marc’s Panama looks like this.  A beautiful oasis of comfort, extravagance and relaxation.

But, Panama has an incredible story and a surprisingly diverse countryside.  It is the link between not only the Atlantic Ocean (or more appropriately the Caribbean Sea) and the Pacific, it is also the bridge between Central and South America.  The land mass did not even exist 14,000 years ago, so this is new land.  It has rainforests and mountains within its small breadth, and the amazing skyscape in Panama City has all been built since the year 2000.  The Panamanian population are understandably proud, incredibly resilient and unbelievably friendly.  In Panama I met the three toed sloth, became acquainted with some incredible local people and was treated to a view of the rainforest from all sides.  This is my Panama.

But this post is not about Panama, or even really about travel.  While I was visiting Panama, and splitting my time between my Panama and Marc’s Panama, I realized that I was an outsider in both places.  I never fit in anywhere.  I expext to be an outsider when I an touring another country – that makes sense.  But back on the resort, among mostly fellow Canadians, I felt very much an outsider – definitely different than my fellow Canadians here.

Canadians have this international reputation for being uber polite.  We apologize when someone else bumps into us.  We confuse our American counterparts when they race to get to the door first, and when we win we just open the door for them allowing them first entry.  We overuse the trilogy of “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome” but it never loses its sincerity for us.  We are proud to be the peacekeepers as opposed to the fighting forces, and we generally shy away from confrontation, unless the topic is hockey related.   But boy oh boy – do not mess with our self assigned right to have a perfect winter escape to some place warm.  I observed some very frightening and confusing (for me) behavior from my Canadian compadres while sitting in a resort in Panama.

I guess the food did not meet the expectations, and the pool hours were too limiting for their schedules and the air conditioning was not to their standards.  It left me with this profound anger and embarrassment for being lumped with this group.  I was blessed with a chance to view a three toed sloth up close, and my fellow countrymen were complaining about waiting several minutes for a fresh towel.  I was allowed to walk through this inspiring swath of rainforest that had so many hues of green in it that I was in awe of the majesty of nature, while my fellow Canucks compared notes of why they would not return to Panama because the food was not up to their expectations or their AC units only kept the room at a unacceptable 25 degrees.  I was honoured to visit one of the wonders of the world that allows monstrous vessels to be “lifted” across a land mass that bridges two oceans, while Canadians spoke about the need to warn other “travellers” to strike Panama off their vacation lists because the water made them sick or because the Ocean was not blue enough.

It dawned on me that I should just accept that I am different and that I do not fit in.

But I was still angry.  Why are these polite Canadians so uncharacteristically anal?  How dare they bring these high expectations to a country that is still healing from the Noriega tyranny?  I was still embarrassed.  What happened to our polite and acquiescing nature?  Where was that ability to find the good in everything – a trait that defines us.  Where was that ability to laugh when the snow plough drove by just AFTER we finished shoveling several feet of snow off the driveway, but BEFORE we got the chance to back the car out..  Where was that Canadian resilience that we find every spring when the mosquitoes iinterpret our bare arms as an offer to donate endless quantities of blood.  And where was that empathy that we share when our pals forgot to add ice to the beer cooler?

I felt very alone on this trip to Panama.  I could not share horror stories with my fellow travelers, because I was honoured to be allowed to visit this impossibly beautiful country.  I could not offer complaints or criticism, I could only stand in wonder at how much Panama had to offer.  Panama was a lonesome vacation for me.

But…… I do know the answers – and most of it even makes sense.  What most Panamanians, and Cubans and Jamaicans may never understand is that we Canadians are very proud of our four seasons, but winter does tend to wear us down.  For many many Canadians, we work like demons 50 out of 52 weeks just for the luxury of two weeks of self indulgence on some warm beach.  Our normally polite and compliant nature is all good until you mess with their picture perfect plans.  This one or two weeks is their reward for a year worth of hard and honest work.  It is the holy grail and they deserve this reward.  For most Canadians, it is not about the three toes sloth or the multi-hued rainforest – it is about one week of self earned selfish self indulgence.  If the resort is the sole reason for coming to Panama, of course anything less that perfection will be a disappointment.  I think I understand it now.  The less-than-perfect winter reprieve is very much like a luke warm beer.  It can still be enjoyed, but somebody has got to say something about it.

I still feel like I don’t fit in.  I still feel different about Panama than many of my travel companions.  I can accept the annual straying from character of my countrymen, knowing that we do work really friggin’ hard for these few days off.   I can accept that Marc is one of those Canadians who just want to feel the warmth of a tropical beach, with unlimited arrays of great food and endless supplies of cold drinks – all paid for in advance from the proceeds of another year’s hard work.  I just hope that Marc can understand my need to shelter myself from the extravagant resort.  Okay – maybe I can handle a day or two on the beach – but then I need to be off to see the wonders this world has to offer.

 

 

 

Because I am a Girl……

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I love the “Because I am a girl” media campaign.  It is a campaign based on the slogan that Girls’s Rights are Human Rights and works to empower girls to break the cycle of poverty that affects so many families. … Continue reading

He Should Have Known Better

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So Marc, aka, the husband, was mentioning to me the other day that I can no longer consider my hair colour as sandy blonde.  That’s right ladies….. he said my hair was grey. The police, of course, have ruled it … Continue reading

Life Made Me What Way?

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That’s right.  One day, a very very very long time ago, I was a perfectly normal person.  Then I was influenced by friends, by family and by life.  Life made me this way. Life threw some pretty whacked out stuff … Continue reading

The Difference Between Can’t and Shouldn’t

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When Jake was first born, I used to subscribe to Parenting magazine and I would scour the web to learn how Marc and I could become perfect parents.   Back then I thought there was something I could learn from … Continue reading

The Sleeping Dilemna

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    About 250 days ago, I turned 50.  It’s not so bad, getting older, but there are certainly adjustments that need to be made and realities that need to be accepted.  I try to be accepting, but some days … Continue reading

Reflecting on 2014

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On August 4th of this year, Ethan and I were returning from a back country canoe trip that offered both a chance to revitalize and to connect with nature.  Paddling along a small river, I noticed that the water was … Continue reading

Man’s best friend? Says who?

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We have 2 four leggers in our household and they tend to provide a lot of comic relief around the house.  Marely (on the left) is a gorgeous lab/beagle cross. and Clyde is a good-natured lab/rottweiler cross.

Marley is all girl.  She is as moody as they come and she WILL get her way.  She has two personalities, and the speed at which she can change for our cuddly girl to our “crazy as a loon” girl leaves us always on guard.  She MiloTheMaskwill steal your heart with how cute she is, but she can also back you into a corner fearing for your socks.  When she hits those rangy moments, she is a dead ringer for Milo in Jim Carrey’s “The Mask”.

But the one who leaves us with years worth of stories has got to be Clyde.  Clyde is dog #4 in our household and even his first day with us was an eventful one.  And the stories just keep accumulating.

First and foremost Clyde loves his balls.  He is happiest when he has a ball in his mouth.tennis-2013-wimbledon-championships-day-nine-the-all-england-lawn-tennis-and-croquet-club-3-630x472  In fact, when I see him without a ball in his mouth, he just does not seems himself.   He is a good fetcher.  I would say that he is a great fetcher, but he has one quality that I am going to talk about a bit later that will explain the problem Clyde has with fetching.

Let’s start at day one.  I was hosting a little golf day for about a dozen of my friends and their respective significant others.  My significant other did not join us that day, as he was going to “LOOK” at a dog that might join our household.  I reminded him that we were having 20 people over for a BBQ after golf, so under no circumstances was he to actually bring a new dog into our house on this busy day.  A few of my friends beat me back to the house and it seemed they werDog-Pic-5e waiting in the front yard to see my reaction.  My reaction to what, you ask.  Yup.  Clyde, our new dog was running around our back yard.  It really was our first glimpse into the relationship Clyde has with balls.  Clyde was relentless in his ability to fetch.  He was proving to all of us that his endurance for the sport of fetch could even surpass the endurance of 22 of us to throw the ball for him.

It was a warm day, and another thing we had yet to learn about Clyde was his love of the water.  We had one of those ring top pools that stood 48″ tall.  After many many trips to the back fence chasing the ball, apparently Clyde was in the mood stock-photo-a-dog-lands-in-a-pool-of-water-big-splash-beautiful-landing-with-face-visible-141396904for a dip.  He bound over the ring top and “SPLASH” – jumped right into the flipping pool.  I had no idea if this mutt could swim, so I dove in after him to save him.   Turns out he was fine, but me – I needed a beer.  This dog, I thought, is crazy.

Day 1 we also learned that Clyde had no internal sensor to tell him when to quit.  His ability to self-regulate is non-existent.  He wore himself out to such an extent that he literally had to lay down to drink.  And…..my friends all got a real good laugh when they realized that he did not even have to put down his ball in order to lap up the wet stuff.  He was able to keep a firm grasp on the slobbery old tennis ball while quenching his thirst.  I was beginning to suspect that there was a lot left to learn about this guy.

And learn we did.  We learned that this obsession with tennis balls was going to be an expensive habit.  It started when one of the boys rolled his ball across the living room floor.  The ball hit the banister and rolled right through the balusters and on down the stairs.  Clyde, with no thought other than the shortest path to the ball, followed the exact path of the ball – RIGHT THROUGH THE BANISTER.  The banister is now replaced with solid wrought iron balusters – cost $1500.

One day we left for work, the kids left for school, and a tragic occurrence happened without our knowing it.  We can only guess.  My guess is that the tennis ball momentarily left Clyde’s mouth, when he then hit the ball with his front paw, and it rolled – under our new leather couch.free-vector-crazy-dog_097866_kzbqdg  Again, we can only guess at the length of time Clyde spent in complete oblivion to all else but the immediate problem of how to get that ball.  There would never have been any doubt in his mind that he would get that ball.  My guess, judging by the evidence left behind, is that it took Clyde a great deal of time to rip all the leather off the side panel and back panel of the couch.  It was good leather.  The couch is now replaced with a cloth couch that was chosen not for its style nor its colour – but simply because it is low enough to the ground that no tennis ball can roll under it.  The new couch cost $2200.

With Clyde’s need to cool himself down after hours of fetch, he seemed to adopt our ring top pool as his own personal cooling hole.  The initial worry about him drowning in the pool was quickly allayed as he learned how to pull himself out of the pool and over the edge.  Clyde with nary a regard for collateral damage, was oblivious to the small holes he left behind in the ring top.  Small holes that eventually called for a full replacement of the pool.  Our new solid sided pool cost us $649.

And the obsession with balls continued.  Clyde has taken down kids who were unfortunate enough to be in the straightest path between him and a tennis ball.  He has ripped out our baby gate to get to the mini sticks ball.  He has torn apart brand new soccer balls, eaten rugby balls, destroyed bouncy balls and ripped apart at least 100 tennis balls.   He has scratched solid wood chairs to bits to get a ball that went under it.   He can smell out a tennis ball a mile away and will got through forest and across busy highways to get to the prize.  His obsession with balls seems to grow stronger every day and we have taken drastic steps in our household to safely accommodate this obsession.

Now they say that dogs are mans best friends.  If Clyde was a person, I am pretty sure by now I would be beyond pissed at him.  But he offers loyalty without question.  He offers company no matter how poorly we are acting.  He leaves us with stories that will keep us laughing for years.  And our household would not be complete without him.

Kindness – ENOUGH ALREADY

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Ten months and ten days.  That is how long now the Cranch family has been focusing on kindness.  With less that two months to go, I have to say I am growing a little tired of all this kindness talk.  My kids no longer even blink when I offer them gems of advice like “If you change nothing….. nothing will change.”  The enthusiasm seems to be waning for acting on another one of my kindness whims.   314 days of kindness, with 314 pages written in my Acts of Kindness book, and I am finding myself struggling to find unique ways of chronicling yet another act of chivalry or A-OK moment.

I have grown tired of being sweet with my words.  I am ready to write freely with no thought as to how my words will be taken or if I am sending a “good” and “kind” message.  It seems like it is time for a good practical joke and to hell with the idea that someone might get hurt.  Bring it on monkey face.

Oh man — that felt good.

Oh yeah – well just punch him back.  And make sure he does not get up!!

Be sure to let the door slam on his ugly ass face.

Don’t get mad.  GET EVEN!!!

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Be nice ….. to yourself!

Be kind whenever possible – to me.

Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.  Some guy with acute hearing and 20/20 sight wrote that.

Ooohhhhh.  That was not nice, and I loved it.  cartoon_middle_finger_by_raulraygoza-d5cubri

To the person who left some colourful expletives etched into the frost on my car – may your hands freeze into a permanent “flipping of the bird”.

To the one who laughed out loud when I tripped on an electrical cord – I hope every lice ridden, germ carrying, mangy rat within a ten mile radius moves into your bedroom.

To the nasty teen who stole Halloween candy from a little kid, I hope you get a monstrous ooze infested, long long lasting zit right in the middle of your ugly mug.

I am on a roll now!

Forget about kindness unless I can spin it in my favour.

Me. Me. Me. Me.  it is all about ME.

Let me share a story.  A lady, who spent her whole life thinking of nobody but herself – a lady so selfish she truly believes others were put on this earth just to bring her joy – a lady so greedy that she attends church just to steal from the congregational offerings – a lady so self centred that she purposely seeks out ugly friends just to make herself look good – a lady so entitled that she invited Brad Pitt to her birthday dinner and when he did not show up, went viral on social media about the injustice – a lady— well you get the picture.  One day this lady bought a lottery ticket for her sick sister.  When the lottery ticket turned out to be the big winner, she took the prize for herself.  She used the money to buy  herself an extravagant lifestyle.  She sought fame through fortune.  She became a big socialite whom everybody adored.  One day, she threw the biggest party of the year – an event everybody wanted to attend.  extravagant_lifestyles_of_the_wealthy_elite_640_10And yes – she invited Brad Pitt, who was thrilled to send in an affirmative RSVP.  On the day of the event, with the party in full swing, she made a big scene of turning Brad away at the door.  Her guests applauded her, showered her with gifts and told glowing stories of her courage and strength. She lost all contact with her sick sister, who dies destitute.  She never offered a single dollar of her vast win to any charity.  She offered no acts of kindness.  She lived only for herself.

Now….. in this year of AOK moments, this lady would see the light and make a 180° turn for the better.  But in this anti-kindness blog, my lady friend will live happily ever after.  She lives a long and luxurious life where she is even able to freeze her DNA in a form that will allow her to regenerate once the technology is discovered.  She leaves her entire inheritance to her regenerated self so she can truly live happily ever after.   What fun.

______________________________________________________

Okay.

Seriously.

I think I am looking forward to Christmas this year.  Family gifts are well in hand – just a copy of my AOK book and a smile.  Stress will not be welcomed or even allowed at 12 Campbell Road.  Relaxation and the pursuit of joy will replace the societal pressures of baked goods and extravagant gifts.  Time well spent as opposed to money (not so well) spent will be the priority.   And after a year of kindness, 12 days of mischief just might be in store for us.   Add a splash of kindness and bring it on (monkey face).article-1380746-0BC69F2E00000578-804_634x395

 

 

 

 

Follow in Your Footsteps? Not a Chance!

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I have a dream.  My dream involves my children having such an immense respect for what I do that they want to follow in my prestigious footsteps.  I mean, who of right mind, would not want to share my life?  … Continue reading