Thursday, July 8, 2010

Out Spoken

I've been thinking about something that happened almost a month ago now. Still thinking about it. I did something that I don't often do, but I wouldn't say that it's out of character, probably not out of character at all for anyone who's known me for more than a year or two. (Or perhaps a month or two? I'm never sure just how transparent I am. Sometimes I'm convinced I'm clear as glass and everyone else can see the little fish swimming through my brain.) But still, it's not something I often do, so I'm still in the process of review.

My homeschool association has an online members forum. I've been with this group since it was a newborn, about 8 years, so I've come to know a lot of the people, and I've done quite a lot of volunteering for the organization. It's had its ups and downs. There was a big kerfuffle a couple years ago, and some screwy book-keeping, and a bunch of core people left over that. I'm not sorry. It was a shame that it happened the way it did, but the way things were headed was looking like a train-wreck. The handful of the membership pulled together and rebirthed the association over a very difficult six months, putting in hundreds of hours in the midst of their own busy lives, and taking a lot of flak over their decision to not air all the dirty laundry to their own advantage. I respected that a lot.`

Recently, during a discussion of another topic, this woman who resembles nothing more than a spy-mole for the ousted leadership, this unbelievably aggressive, passive, non-contributing, endlessly-complaining woman, attempted to reinflame old wounds and start the whole thing up again. She does this from time to time, propping up her personal agenda with her religious beliefs and the fact that she's a lawyer, and her stultifying barrages of text that bamboozle the laity. She can be quite intimidating, in such a very sweet, concerned, uber-Catholic kind of way.

It puts the exectutive in a difficult position, because of their liability. They need to make nice with everyone for the well-being of the organization as a whole, and to protect their own backsides.

But I'm not a member of the executive. I've gone a few rounds with this lady before, from time to time, when she starts squelching the membership with her particular brand of all-knowingness.

And I let her have it between the eyes.

Right there in front of God and everyone.

I told her that I didn't want to hear anymore complaining and backbiting, no more unfavourable comparisons of our group with other groups, no more whining about what everyone else wasn't doing while she wasn't willing to make so much as a phone-call to organize a field-trip, no more gossip, no more starting fires for her own amusement, no more "suggestions" about what the rest of us "should" be discussing if she wasn't willing to share useful information, no more grand-standing on her homeschool hobby-horse regarding funding. NO MORE.

And then I sat back and waited for the storm.

I was a little nervous, but not terribly. The worst that could happen was that they'd bump me off the forum, and honestly, if a venue gets taken over by that sort of person, what good is it anyway? But confrontation has never been my strong suit, and the tension wears a bit. I slept restlessly that night.

Messages began to trickle into my inbox, thanking me for taking her on. I was made aware of and sent snippets of other e-mail conversations regarding the forum exchange, the anger of other members that this woman would try to derail our group, people's plans on how to deal with her. But then I just went and did it, eh? Sometimes it's better to just lance the wound right away, I think.

A couple days later she re-posted, and apologized. Sort of. Close enough, anyway. A mercifully brief message, compared to the novels she usually inflicts on the rest of us.

People were astonished - behind the scenes, that is. On the forum, it was politely overlooked.

And then, the original discussion reignited, and we were getting input from all kinds of places, and all sorts of fresh ideas about how to best put some new life into our programming, new faces in old places, how to reduce the load on the few and inspire people to get involved themselves and make things happen. It was lovely.

It's all past now, at least as far as the forum is concerned But me? I'm still mulling.

It's not that I regret it. I don't enjoy that sort of thing, but it needed to be done. Bullying has to be addressed, even if the bully is spiritual person, or a lawyer, or a volunteer, or a gift-giver, or a relative, a homeschooler, a brilliant scholar... it doesn't matter. Bullying has to be addressed. And I think that with very aggressive people, like this woman, it has be addressed in the same format that it's perpetrated in. She did this publicly. I could have addressed it privately, but what kind of impression does that leave with the gentler souls who frequent the forum and read these public posts? No. It needed to be answered where it happened, right there.

Who am I to call people to task? Nobody particular, but somebody enough. I'm not perfect, I don't have it altogether, and goodness knows I've probably been the problem myself in the past and will be again in the future. But for now, at this point in my life, I was the one whose eyes and heart were open enough to recognize the potential danger and make myself a lightning rod.

The danger of silence has been a big lesson for me in the past decade. I took on a spiritual ideal of not complaining about bad treatment, and the prime bully in my life, the Dear Relative, took that leeway and did her best to take my children away from me. No one was well-served by that, not even her. Thankfully it all pulled together in the end, but it was horrible at the time, for me, for the kids, for Chive, for the extended family who didn't know what to believe. Maybe they still don't, but at least I told my story where it mattered.

And I swore, Never Again. I'm going to speak out. I'm going to take the chance of being wrong, or misunderstood, but I'm going to have a voice all the same.

So I told someone off on my homeschool forum. What an activist, huh? ;-)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bag Lady

Some of us are rather laissez-faire about parenting... especially in these teen years. I'm trying to reserve my reserves for where it counts, and let everything else slide, ya know?

But I took Poppy to a Writing Camp yesterday in the south of the province, and realized with horror as I helped her unload her stuff that she'd packed most everything in plastic garbage bags! I wanted to crawl under the car! And the worst part of it is... poor kid, there really weren't any other options. She needed to bring a bunch of bedding, and what on earth do you haul that sort of thing in, if you don't have a stash of hockey bags? That was a very Bad Mum moment. Eesh.

Lesson learned. This morning, as soon as I got up, I dumped out my fabric stash, rooted around for things that have been languishing there too long, and got to work. This is the end result: Two extra large, two just large, calico camping bags. Glorified pillow-cases, really, but they should do the trick. Tomorrow I'll go buy some cording to thread through the drawstring channels, and they'll be ready to take her stuff when I go to pick her up again at the end of the week.

Whew. Saved me arse!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oddments and Fragments on Canada Day*

*Or, as my kids still call it, "O'Canada's Day". Just about slays me. Can you tell they were raised kinda Irish-Catholic, back in the days?

First of all, I think everyone should have a look at this article about exercises for the pelvic floor. Just a good idea:

Just say no to Kegel's

Nextly, WHY IS IT that the announcers at our local, Northern Alberta rodeo affect the accents of someone from Oklahoma or some such place? If you want to be authentic around here, try to sound like you've been raised on kulbasa and perogies. CANADIAN kulbasa and perogies. ;-)

I'm here in my living room, sewing and reading and prowling the internet seeing whom I may devour, and listening to the rodeo happening across the road. The ambulance just came and took someone away. They "think" he's going to make it.

I can't stand watching most of the events. The damage happening to the human bodies involved absolutely horrifies me. I see these cowboys fifty years later, and it ain't pretty. Sometimes when I mention this, people tell me I should encourage bull-riding, since it's likely to result in business. I try to be polite.

And lastly, I splurged and ordered myself this set of popsicle molds:

I've been slowly trying to inch away from plastic in my kitchen. In the last couple weeks, since I started making popsicles regularly again, I've been noticing the plasticky taste. I don't know. It's probably not a huge deal when it's not something that's being cooked, but still. I just don't care for it. So since I needed a new set of molds anyway, and this almost ran me down in an internet search, and it's CANADIAN BRED AND BORN, I thought I'd give them a try.

If you're intrigued yourself, you can have a look here:

The Tickle Trunk

Happy O'Canada's Day!