March 3, 2010

true patriot love

Posted in shit happening tagged , , , at 4:28 am by ben

The patriotism is running high here in the great not-so-white north.   From sea to shining sea we are celebrating.  We love our country and without being gauche or in your face we’ve become a nation of red and white wearing, flag wavers.  I’m really digging it.

Canada tends to be a bit like the wallflower at a high school dance.  She is content to watch others in the spotlight, she applauds the prom queen without malice or petty jealousy and she’s pretty happy to be at the party even if her dance card isn’t full.  (“Dance card” is me showing my age… not that I am quite old enough to have ever had one.) When she does dance, she doesn’t need a partner (or she can choose one of the same sex) and she bops to her own beat even if it’s not quite as popular as what the other kids are doing.  These Olympics have made her the belle of the ball, it’s given her a little taste of the limelight and I think she likes it.

The furor is over the 2010 Winter Olympics.  We had high hopes of finally winning a gold medal on home soil and instead we broke the record for the most gold medals ever won in a winter Olympics.  This is huge for Canada, though in all sincerity we’re the kind of people who take pride in effort as well as achievements.  Our athletes and all of the people involved with the games did us proud.  It’s not just about winning, we’re not the type to brag (most of us anyway) but finally we are more than just a cold weather joke.  We’ve shown the world that we have what it takes to win and throw a wicked shindig.

It’s been said that we have no culture, that because we are a melting pot we don’t really know who we are.  I disagree.  We know exactly who we are, we are everyone from everywhere.  This is why we are tolerant.  This is why we don’t discriminate.  We aren’t a melting pot, we are multicultural and there is a difference.  Melting pot infers that we all must blend into one.  The only people who have been here forever are the First Nations, the rest of us came from somewhere else.  It would be hypocritical to expect immigrants to become us when we’re not exactly living in teepees and eating pemmican ourselves.  What makes us special is that in this country blending is not necessary, we don’t just appreciate individuality we embrace it.  From one end of this land to the other are entire communities and communities within communities celebrating their culture.  Vancouver has the largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco, the east coast is a bizarre and wonderful Celtic mix and there are little Italy’s, India’s, Poland’s, Ukraine’s etc. all over the place and my own town was founded by Swiss guides.  Our culture, our heritage is that of the immigrant.  We all strive to give our children a better life than we had, we share with our neighbors and help them out whenever they need a hand whether it’s building a barn or rebuilding Haiti.  We preach and practice compassion and a “live and let live” philosophy.  I am proud to live in a country where my freedom really means something, where my voice is heard and no religion or religious ideology (or idiocy) is forced down my throat.  I can choose my faith as I can choose to have an abortion, marry another woman and smoke weed… all at the same time if I want!

What ties us all together?  It’s a shared experience in a land where we can live free of persecution, full of hope and opportunity.

We believe that health care is a right not a privilege.  Our system (like our country and indeed those of us in it) is not without flaws but we’ll keep working on it until we get it right.  We are of hardy stock up here, perseverance is something we’ve gotten pretty good at.

Something is different in this country today, we might be walking a little taller, we might even be strutting a little, and dammit, we should be!  We rocked it, on and off the podium.  I think Canadians have always been proud of who and what we are, this whole Olympic thing just gives us a reason to shout it out.


October 9, 2008

bird brained

Posted in shit happening tagged , , at 4:08 am by ben


The maple leaf version of the giving of thanks is upon us this weekend and we will be heading (surprise!) to the lake for the festivities.  This is traditionally the final weekend we spend out there although we’ll continue to take day trips out to work on the cabin…at least until the depth of the snow prevents the drive.  

I am usually more than a little blase about the feast of the gobbler as I am not a fan of the foul fowl.  In fact I really hate turkey.  Yes, HATE.  I must admit I am not even a fan of the accoutrements that accompany the dinner., nana’s gummy creamed carrots, my aunt’s dry, heartburn inducing stuffing, mom’s lumpy mashed potatoes and my cousin’s bland gravy, a real family effort.  Several years ago my dad and I tried to convince everyone that roast beef (prime rib to be specific) should replace the big bird for all family functions.  This year however it was my aunt Eddie and cousin Barry who decided we should skip the roaster and dive into the deep fryer.  

My father would be happy to eat fried food every day, he lives for (and will probably die by) the highest fat content he can possibly squeeze into a meal.  He bought a propane turkey deep fryer several years ago but he had zero interest in using it for its intended purpose.  He just wanted his own portable deep fryer.  Many times he has tried to convince, coerce and badger us into partaking of his hot oil cooked concoctions but a little goes a long way and it’s a huge pain in the ass to heat up all of that fat to cook a meal for just the four of us.  One afternoon out at the lake he had a brainstorm, “We should do a big deep fry out here!” he exclaimed excitedly “We could do fish and chips and mushrooms and onion rings and and and…” on and on he went in a Bubba Gump shrimp sort of ramble.  The rest of the family got into it, my aunt said she had some halibut in her freezer, Heiny was into chicken fingers, Trixie started talking about battered mushrooms and it…erm…mushroomed from there.  

I made a beer batter for the fish, shrooms, onion rings and zucchini sticks, and I used spiced flour and eggs to make a delicious crispy coating on the chicken…the kids said they were the best chicken fingers ever and kids know chicken fingers!  I made some honey mustard sauce and my own tartar sauce and it was all quite delicious albeit more than a little heavy.

Eddie and Barry figured the big fry would be the perfect meal to celebrate thanks this year and while I thought it would be a very long time before I was up for such a slick supper again if it gets me out of having to dine on dinde (french for turkey) count me in!  I did insist that we have some salads and some non-fried veggies to go with the meal.  I am quite certain nobody will eat them but I will feel better if at least they are available.  

Saturday will be the day for the revelry.  We’ll have 15-20 people joining us, my parents will make breakfast (bacon eggs and pancakes cooked on a griddle over the fire) and after we eat the games will begin.  We will commence with the opening ceremonies of the second annual Thanksgiving Special Olympics!  Since cousin Barry won most of the events last year I think we’ll have him parade around as some kind of outgoing princess.  We probably should be official and sing O Canada but I think something silly would be more appropriate….The Wheels on The Bus or Camp Grenada or I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts maybe

So far we have quite a few events in our line-up…

There will be a scavenger hunt where each team will have to find something that begins with every letter of the alphabet.  

Kayla wants to do a Project Runway challenge where each team picks a model and has to make an outfit for them out of nature.  The most creative use of materials wins.  I hope there is no poison ivy on the island.

The egg toss and the race with a quarter between the knees were such hits last year that we will be doing them again.

We’ll also have a dress-up relay where people will have to put on gloves, pantyhose (over their clothes), a bra, a dress, a hat and high heels then race around a predetermined route, take off all of the items and the next person will go.  We are calling it the Drag Strip.

Each person will be given three crackers and a piece of bubble gum, the first person to eat all of the crackers and then blow a bubble will win.

Dani…formerly Zelle suggested Teabagging where (unlike the other teabagging) you toss the tea bag for distance much like a hammer throw.

 Yesterday I found a site that had a game called Cornholing where you toss ears of corn through holes in a piece of plywood…which really is not that different from the other cornholing.

I can’t wait for the kids to go to school next week and tell everyone what fun they had teabagging and cornholing.

If anyone else has any more silly event ideas I’d love to hear them, we’ll have all day to play games before and after our feast of gratitude (we’ll need to move after that dinner or we might just coagulate)…and we might need to drink a fair bit too to keep our blood from icing up.  It’s supposed to be sunny and cold all weekend with a nighttime temperature of -6C (21F)…that is below freezing and there is no heat in the bus.  I think this will be our last camping weekend until the cabin is finished.  We know when to say when and that’s just before hypothermia sets in.

When we come home I’ll let you know what I am most thankful for, that we didn’t freeze to death or that we didn’t have coronaries…that is providing neither has transpired.