Posted by Somebody's Mother on 4:35 p.m.
Anglophones: The Invisible Voters of Quebec

About two weeks ago, I received a phone call from a nice lady who was working for one of our local candidates. She asked me who I was voting for.
“I’m sorry but I never discuss my vote.”
“All right, then, but I hope you make the right decision.”
“I’m sure I will.”
As I hung up the phone, I thought, “I just lied.” Even now, I’m not sure that I made the right decision last Monday because, apart from the debates that I watched before the election, very few of the candidates vied for my vote or working to tell me, an English-speaking Quebec voter, why I should vote for him…except for Mr. Harper.
For the past few weeks, Mr. Harper’s television commercials exhorted me to “stand up for Canada.” These commercials reminded me many times of the Liberal Party’s wrongdoings and repeatedly urged me to trust Mr. Harper as a leader. Sure thing, that is what I’d expect - but what about the Liberals? What about the New Democratic Party? For that matter, what about the Bloc? Where were they?
During the debate, Mr. Layton urged us not to vote strategically but it is more than evident and not surprising that our federal candidates campaigned very strategically. Anglophone Quebeckers were unimportant and were to be sacrificed for more significant constituencies in Ontario and British Columbia.
As a television watcher, I suppose that I should be grateful. I was spared all the cheesy advertisements, the sincere appeals to patriotism and the promises of a better tomorrow but as a voter, I still feel hurt. I feel inferior. Harper loves us but nobody else does. You’d think that even Mr. Duceppe would have tried to convince us that his vision of a sovereign Quebec was a really, really good one but he probably knew better. He assumed that there was no chance Anglophones would buy that one.
The Liberals probably thought that we would vote Liberal because Mr. Martin is one of us, a Quebecker so why bother convincing us of what we already know. As for Mr. Layton, the NDP have long given up on us. You didn’t see so much as a poster in Lennoxville, a university town that could be ripe for a few votes from the stereotypical university leftie. They seem to have some sort of misguided thinking that Quebeckers are allergic to the NDP. On the other hand, you have to hand it to the Green Party. At least, they weren’t so cheap as to count the cost of a few posters.
Those of us English speaking Quebeckers who care about the future of our country made it our business to figure out what was really behind all the promises and party platforms. We then made our decision as best as we could. I think, however, that it is sad that three out of the four national parties did not even think that English Quebec was worth a few television commercials and in some cases, a few posters. This last election may bring a new meaning to the slogan, Je me souviens.

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Posted by Somebody's Mother on 4:54 p.m.
Next Christmas, No Electronics
This is my New Year’s Resolution: I will never, never, never (may I repeat never) give anyone an electronic present for Christmas again. No one will get anything that requires the installation of software (not compatible), the connections of cables to a computer (not compatible) and the transfer of music from one electronic device to another (it sounds like mush!) This is my gift to me next Christmas and to you. If you had a similar experience to mine this past Christmas, you may not have come to the realization so I am here to help you come to your senses.
There is something about electronic devices and computerized contraptions that bring out the frustrated and ready-to-smash-dishes side in a tired human being no matter what age that human being may be when said doo-hickey does not function the way it should at 7:00 AM Christmas morning.
By the way, how many of us feel like highly functioning computer technicians at 7:00 AM Christmas morning? I know that I don’t. I also know that I don’t want to even try to feel like one. I want to open gifts and enjoy them without the gift putting me to work. In fact, electronic gifts are not the only culprit in making Christmas mornings less than relaxed. Remember electric trains? What about Lego sets? All these gifts do is force you to work and work and work some more.
I have to make breakfast so why do I want to be a computer technician, architect and/or engineer at an ungodly hour of a morning that is a holiday? Parents, next Christmas, let’s put the holiday back into holiday and give our kids gifts that require little thought on our part.
Actually, that’s the beauty of what ever comes in a Christmas stocking. Chances are, it goes on your feet, hands or head or you can eat it. The stuff is usually small, simple and pleasant. The work comes with the bigger gifts. This is certainly not an easy problem to solve. Clothes are no good because chances are, they won’t fit. You will have to go back to the store and fight crowds of like-minded cranky people who are returning gifts.
Video games that don’t hook up to a computer may also seem like an easy if expensive solution but think of the noise and blood-guts-and-gore factors. What’s so pleasant about getting the latest video game to work so that your beloved young ‘un can kill hundreds of cyber-people? Remember peace on earth, good will toward men? Can’t we spare a little good will for all those animated types who are destined to get the bullet over and over again?
Honestly, I think it’s back to wind-up toys for me…or dolls. I don’t care that my children are young adults. Next year, they’re getting dolls and I will blissfully send them back to their rooms to play with their new acquisitions and let me get another hour’s sleep. Better yet, if they’re so mature, maybe it’s time that they make breakfast.
Next New Year’s Day, I will wake up and not have to figure out a thing except where I put the Tylenol and Alka-Seltzer. That sounds like an easy one to handle. If every day could be that simple, it would surely be a Happy New Year.

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Posted by Somebody's Mother on 4:43 p.m.
Bridge Blues Revisited In the Darkest Month of the Year
Ah, January, the month that weighs in on those of us who suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). For the light-starved among us, January makes us really, really…well, sad. Christmas is over, the coloured lights are coming down and springs is more weeks away than I want to think about.
No matter. This Monday, I trudged into the car and turned the key in a cavalier fashion. I hummed along to the music on my speakers until I hit the traffic. It was déjà vu of the most horrible, horrible kind. What did I see before me? The College Street Bridge had one lane closed again.
You see, as the school term came to a close and as I knew that the January blues would hit me in two short weeks along with the long-term indigestion of too much holiday feasting, there was a small hope on the horizon, the hope of a two lane bridge and the five minute drive to work that I had known and loved for the past ten years.
Yes, I have cast my eyes heavenward and asked God to give the world peace, to release those who were kidnapped and to keep an eye out for my aged parents. It just seemed to be a teeny-tiny bit presumptuous to ask the Supreme Ruler of the universe and the Creator of all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, to expedite the repair of one small bridge. That would seem a trifle selfish and piddley considering the weightier questions that exist in this complicated world.
Yet, surely at this point in time, I have reached traffic hell in the middle of January and nothing short of a bona fide miracle will bring about the completion of that bridge and the triumphant moment (cue the orchestra!) when the nice men in hard hats pack up their equipment and go away, very far away.
Unfortunately, my public kvetching is earning me a link with that bridge that might stay with me for years. People greet me and say, “How do you like the bridge? It’s almost finished.” Age, willpower and my mother’s stern upbringing helps me to refrain from saying, “Are you crazy? Almost doesn’t count!”
Last week, when both lanes were open, my husband warned me not to get too excited. He pointed out the equipment on the side of the road and the covered signs. In my heart of hearts, I knew that he was right. I knew that the construction workers were on holiday and that in a matter of days, the signs would be uncovered, and the equipment would be back sitting idle in a closed lane while I sat swearing in my car waiting for the one open lane to move.
Yet I had an unrealistic hope that the work was finished and that they just didn’t have time to take their equipment away. In my little fantasy, on January 9th, they would just bring all kinds of trucks that they would schlep the equipment up and into, and go off singing something like, “Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it’s off to Tadoussac, we go.” Then they would drive away and all this construction work would be a dark memory.
Ah, January, it leaves you no illusions. Once the temperate January thaw is over, we will descend into the deep freeze and those poor guys will just have to work a bit faster. Ha-Ha, did you hear me, boys, faster!
Meanwhile, I hope that my car doesn’t stall in the middle of that one open lane. Then those construction workers might be using the same sort of strong language about me that I’ve been using to describe them.

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All The Little Christmas-es

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 8:11 p.m.
Happy January 6th. In case you didn’t know it, it’s a big day around the world. For many, it’s Epiphany. It’s the Ukrainian and Armenian Christmas. It is also the birthday of Haile Selassie who is the Messiah of the Rastafarian religion.
In Ireland, January 6th is both known as Little Christmas and Women’s Christmas. It is the last day of Christmas holidays for children and as Women’s Christmas, it’s a day when men take over all household chores and give women the day off. Friends of mine from Cork tell me that the bars are full of women out for a good time. Then on January 7th, the tree is taken down and Christmas is officially over.
I’m looking at my tree and heaving a ponderous sigh. While our tree is not a big tree, there are a lot of decorations on it and all must be put away the right way, my way. You see, I’m not obsessive about many things except keeping CDs and DVDs in alphabetical order (I am a librarian after all) and putting away Christmas decorations so that they don’t get scratched and are easy to put up the following year. This is why I very uncharacteristically ask for no help when undoing the Christmas tree. I don’t want to have to explain and defend my methods. I just want to get the job done right with as little havoc and destruction as possible.
Putting up the tree is usually festive with the soundtrack for the Charlie Brown Christmas show wailing away in the background and family members finding prominent places on the tree for their favourite ornaments. Taking down the tree is definitely a time for blues. You don’t want something too depressing, for example, an old Leonard Cohen album might make you feel positively suicidal considering the fact that you may not have seen sunlight for weeks and that your body is dehydrated from all the beer, wine and/or champagne that you’ve been swilling as opposed to good, healthy water. No, you want something a little bluesy but upbeat – maybe some B. B. King or Bonnie Raitt.
Then once the right music is selected, all the boxes for the Christmas glass balls come out with their appropriate lids placed underneath. Then the glass balls are removed first so that they don’t break while every thing else comes down. These boxes go at the bottom of a big carton because next year, the glass balls will be the last thing to go up. Then all the ornaments go in plastic bags and are twist tied shut. The strings of beads that I use for garlands go in sealed sandwich bags and are placed on top of the ornaments. Then the stockings and room ornaments go on top of those in the big box because those will be the first to go up next Christmas a good two weeks before the tree.
Finally, the lights are wrapped around these nifty plastic thingies that we bought that are specifically for keeping Christmas lights from getting tangled and knotted. These are a good invention, folks, go out and buy extras as the amount of grief that they have saved us over the years is enormous.
Now, Christmas is over and the long, dark night of the soul, January and February, have begun. With that in mind, I break three different New Year’s resolutions and crack open a Guinness. Happy New Year.

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