Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Don't think no one wants you just 'cause your old"

Sitting at a neigbhour's backyard, having snacks and drinks, we talked about the daily grind. My friendly neighbour, let's call him Keith, is a one of those guys that never ages. You know the type; tall, black, handsome, personable, with a bit of exotic background. Well that's Keith, a guy who is retired but looks like he could be mid-forties and not mid-sixties. His wife Linda, is a fifty-year old White woman, very friendly lady who worships the world of Keith. This was my first visit at the neighbour's house. There were other couples that I did not know at the evening get together. As we talked and laughed about daily things, the conversation turned to the violence of the city. I commented about my wife working downtown and my apprehension about her having to walk around there. There were a number of muggings and some sexual assualts in the area.

Keith started commented about his measures to ensure safety in the home, like a camera mounted outside, double dead-bolt locks, a machete at his grasp. Keith started to talk about the sexual assaults that happen down town and it happened to a mature woman. Keith went on to say to his wife in front of us, "See Babe, just 'cause your old don't think nobody wants you". My wife and I laughed so hard. All the while Linda, Keith's wife, just took in all the words of wisdom that Keith had to offer. To this day I am not sure if Keith was being facticious or he was serious. Even as we laughed he never broke his stride. That guy is fantastic.

I was thinking about this today and how people are so funny smart that we don't know if they are serious or have their game on. I think Keith is naturally funny as we have seen more of his witty and crazy comments as we become closer neighbours.

It's takes skill to be funny. Sometimes funny can come out as just being mean. That is not really funny. I like to be funny and can be charming as well, but I know that some people are just good at it, that you don't know if they are playing you.

Oh by the way, I heard today that a simple trick to get yourself out of a funk is to bite down on the long part of a pencil. It forces your mouth into a smile. When you smile it makes you happy. So pick up that pencil and hold it in your mouth. :-)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The time to break bread with people.

This is Chloe at her first Pow-wow in Roseau River Reserve. Her dance outfit is a Jingle dress made by our cousin Sheryl Daniels-Blacksmith.

My wife and I like to have bar-b-ques with friends and family. We hosted quite a few meals with my Mom and Dad and cousins in summers past. This Elder said the most humbling and nice thing to me; he referred to me as "the one who feeds people". Can you imagine that? An Elder saying that about you. I will never forget that Old Man Joe for saying that. It is something that I got from my Mom. My wife is the exact same way. She loves to cook and to have family over. Even when my Mom was facing death with cancer she still wanted her kids to make sure they fed people. She was the one who told us to never eat in front of people, you make sure to feed them. I see that trait in many people, many relatives, many Indians. Food and sharing food is a very sacred event. Mom had put it in her last written thoughts to make sure that we are to keep feeding people. Mom loved my wife Suz. I think she saw that Suz is the same way of thinking.

When I went to Rocky Boy Reservation (that's the difference between the U.S. and Canada, the terms are Reservation for the U.S. Indian and Reserves for the Canadian Indian)I went to visit one of the Windyboys. He immediately made tea and gave us some Klick (or Spam) sandwiches. Cool, I thought.

This winter is the time to share meals with people in your home. I have friends or acquaintances that don't like that kind of thing. They don't like people in their homes. I try to understand that and I think, maybe it's a privacy thing. Or maybe it's a sanctuary thing. I don't really know, but there must be some deep meaning behind that.

Remember kids see what you do and follow what you do. Share with them and they will carry on that Teaching.

So I hope that you and your friends, your family have something to eat. It doesn't have to be the big turkey or even a big production of a meal, it's the act of sitting, sharing, visiting and making good memories that is what it's about. My wife, my children and I still share food with my Son. We will put a plate aside for him. We did it for my Mom, but Suz and I haven't shared food with her in a while, so I think this year we will put a plate aside for her as well. We should never forget to remember them and share some meal with their Spirit.


Visiting the Don! Our Boy. My Mom called him the Don. :-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

lol (lots of love) your Barbarian

I will fill you in on something, Women are smart. I am not just saying they are smart like in doing your math homework or taking care of the household bills but another type of smart. That smart that reeks of being devious. The smart that should keep you up at night, wondering if she has planned the "perfect" crime. The kind of smart that knows when you have been doing no good. The kind of smart when they know a lie is in the air. That is the kind of smart I am talking about. My wife has that smart and most, if not all women have that smart.

A fellow I know, let's call him Tom, was in control of the email account in his house. He and his wife shared an email account. Me, I have several email accounts that I do not share with my wife. Anyway, Tom's wife, lets call her Vali, could not figure out what was wrong with the email, she couldn't log on. So Tom had to give new passwords to enter the email account ever so often. One day that Vali did have the password she went into the email account. She looked in the trash bin of the account. I guess Tom forgot on this occasion to empty the trash as well. What did she find? She found an email from a girl to her husband, with his reply. He signed the email, lol your, Barbarian. For you younger folk,  LOL used to mean lots of love and not laugh out loud as it does now.  Anyway, Vali is one of those woman that relies heavily on her husband. She doesn't have a license and doesn't know how to drive. She has always been a home Mom and runs a home day care to earn money. So Tom has had the rule of the roost for many years.

In the email account Vali only found one message. When Tom got home from work, Vali was waiting. She had a stack of papers with the one message showing on the top of the stack. Tom cracked like cheap plaster. He confessed everything. He even used a business trip to the United States to go and see this girl. This girl was 22 and Tom was 40 years old. In hindsight Tom should have said, "it's the internet, I am just fooling around and teasing". But Tom was no match for Vali. The stack of emails was too much. He is now forever at her mercy. Last I heard he put a tattoo with Vali's name on his forearm. A real show of love and commitment.

Yep, those women are smart. If Tom is an indication of how men are, we are at the mercy of our women. Remember have your own account and never sign with LOL your barbarian.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The breakdown of Clans and the consequence to marriage

My Wife has a friend (let's call her April) from a northern Reserve in Ontario. Like most Reserve Indians there is a bit of dysfunction and lots of humour when it comes to this gal. April seems to be in the middle of some crazy event or is doing something that is stupid funny. I remember one year April came over for a Christmas dinner and she brought over pate. What the heck is pate? I remember as a kid we used to get this meat spread as a treat, it was called Devil's ham. It was a meat spread. I guess pate sounds a lot better.

This friend (of my wife's), April is having a bit of problem. There is this up coming wedding and April was wondering what side of the church she should sit on. You see, her Mom and her Dad split up years ago. They both went on to have different lives and found different partners. With these partners they each had 3 children. So one of the sons of the April's Dad is now going out with one of the daughters of April's Mom. So April's brother is going out with April's sister. Now that is Reserve stuff.

Back home we always tell our kids don't go with anyone from the Reserve as you might be going out with one of your cousins.

I am not sure when Clans faded in our Reserve but it sure has made a difference in how things are governed and how people are now partnered up. There are no taboos, other than normal mainstream taboos, when it comes to hooking up. There is a breakdown of the family units, the crossing of family lines. With the Clan system there were rules and conduct which you tried to adhere to. People still maintain that they have a Clan but I think it is more symbolic than anything else. It is purely a symbol to your heritage, but the real meaning to the Clan system has disappeared. We are left with the norms of modern society. It's not a bad thing but it is more evidence of disconnect between Traditional values and Teachings of our Grandfathers and Grandmothers. I feel bad for our People in that so much has been taken. I also feel proud that we are trying to maintain much in the way of Traditions that keep us linked to our heritage. Maybe we will learn to use the Teachings to bring us up as a people.

Two little Indian cousins. They know they are related :-) :D

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dealing with the Change of people and events.

My Dad has always been a proud man. A Man that did not take any charity or want charity from anyone, especially the kids. My Dad turned 79 the other day. That is pretty good for the family. Reaching seventy years of age was a milestone for anyone in my family. I guess heart disease runs in the family. Cancer runs in my Mom's family as well as diabetes. So if those old people are lucky enough to get past the sixties than it is all bonus from there. We should be glad they are here. We should be willing to over look the crankiness and forgetfulness that sometimes comes with age.

When you think about old people passing on, we think that the Dad goes before the Mom. It's quite a shock when your Mom passes before Dad does. That is what happened in my Dad's case. My Mom was suppose to be the person to carry on, to be our centre, our spine, our care giver. It's funny being forty-nine and still wishing for Mom. :D
It's not that I wish it was my Dad instead of my Mom, but it is strange. You see, my Dad lived life hard. He was a hard working man, a hard drinking man, smoke cigarettes, had car accidents and lived life where he was at risk. My Mom on the other hand, lived an alcohol free life. She worked hard all her life as a janitor. She was the voice of reason, the person we sought out for spiritual answers. Then she went and got cancer. She went very quickly when the cancer was diagnosed.

My Mom was the brakes for my Dad. The one who made the right decisions. The one who made sure kids were looked after. Made sure Grandpa was here for the grandkids. That old man sure counted on that old lady for everything. I try to make sense of things, but that sense sure is hard to find sometimes. People say that everything happens for a reason. I guess. But I think sometimes those reasons are no damn good. :-)

With my Dad's brakes gone he is in new territory. He doesn't have those brakes or that voice of reason behind him, to gently and not so gently steer him in the right direction. Even though my Mom is not around, my Dad has not turned to the drink. He still doesn't even smoke cigarettes. I am very happy for him that he had not taken his grief and loneliness in that direction. He did quit the kind of life he lead with his wife. He no longer fishes, no longer gardens, no longer goes into the bush, no longer is tinkering around the house. He has chosen to spend his time at the Southbeach Casino in BrokenHead Ojibway Nation. That is okay because there is nothing for people do in the Reserve. I guess he likes the noise, the movement, the laughter, the talking with people. It's not like he is locked up in house during the day. My Dad likes to get in his car and drive around. He goes to some of his nephews' houses and turns around in their driveways. He goes to the CareHome and visits. He does a lot of going here and there in the Reserve and into the town. I do worry about the old man, but know that he is lucky. We are lucky that he has his health. It was his active life that has kept him from a wheelchair or a cane.

I am glad that he is around to visit with. Dealing with his new changes has been a test for the kids. He was never one to sit in the casino or to even borrow money from people. With his weekly casino trips he sometimes has to go and pawn some home items. That is strange for him. I guess there are worse things. I know he is the social animal and still likes to tease the women. :D

Saturday, December 5, 2009

If I should fall from the Grace of God.

I remember being so angry when I was about 9 years old. I took the cross that my Mom had over our doorway and threw it outside on the ground. For the life of me I can't remember why I was mad or why I did that. I do remember the intense guilt and how scared I was. I broke the arm of Jesus. Did I fall from the Grace of God? I did pick it up and put it back with the broken arm gone. Today I still feel bad for what I did.

Oh boy I grew up very scared of going to Hell. I was bad, but so was everyone else. At least I think they were. No different from everyone else in the world, but it sure felt like it. I never really socialized with White people until I was 29 years old. The reason I say this is because you have a narrow view of things you don't really know about. It's funny because I interacted with White people and other people almost daily. I never broke bread with them until I went to dinner with friends of my wife. I really gave her a hard time about going to meet them. Anyway, getting back to God and my fall from His Grace, or is it Her Grace? I guess I was not a big fan of the Church even though my Mom was a very good Christian. I mean in what is expected of a Christian, you know living those good people virtues. I used to tease my Mom quite a bit about the Church. I used to tell I was going to burn it down. She would just brush me off, knowing I was full of poop. We were Indians and Indians shouldn't be believing in the Church. There was so many reasons not to go to Church for, but yet our Reserve were mostly Church people. People still did ceremonies but Church was there as well.

I did Lent come spring before Easter. I would give up something for forty days leading up to Easter. I did it because my Mom did it, no real other reason. She is gone now, so I don't do it. I tried it a couple of years after she passed by there was no incentive. I use to tell my Mom what I was giving up and she would be happy. That was the significance for me. So now she is gone and there is no reason for me to try and keep the connection with the Church. My faith was tested and I failed to keep the faith. I still want to pray, but that is not the same as Church. Even as a person who went to Sweats and did Sundance, I still tried to do my Easter duties, take the Host, confession and fast for Lent. I didn't do confession though, except when I was a kid. I never like that part. I found it weird.

Well that's it I denounced my membership in the Roman Catholic Church, but now have just made it public for what that's worth. If I fall from Grace because of it, well I know longer have that fear of Hell any longer. It's just the way it is I guess.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You love them more than your own kids. Grandkids

My buddy Dave and Janet have just become grandparents this morning. I got a note from him and a picture of the new granddaughter out in Ontario. Dave lives in Alderville First Nation, Ontario. So it brought back memories to us when we became grandparents.

When Ed and Brandi had their baby, my wife talked to the Grandma of our boy Ed. Suz spoke to the old lady about Ed's new daughter. The old lady was so happy, she told Suz that she would have fun with the new granddaughter. "You love them more than your own children" the old lady said. Suz and I laughed about it.

Now that our Amelia is over two years and Jackson is going on 5 months, we can appreciate what she was saying. Jackson is no longer a slug. He laughs, smiles, moves excitedly when you play with him. Amelia is saying words and talks lots but most of the time it is incomprehensible. She knows what you are saying to her and does (some times) what you ask of her. But the loving more than your own kids thing is still funny. We do love our Grandkids. I am not sure more than the kids, but still it is up there. Maybe another type of love? Not sure. Because we are more protective of the grandkids. We scold the Ed and Brandi if we think there is a lapse (or perceived lapse) of judgment. Maybe there is section called Grand-parents love?

In our Reserve the Grandparents always have kids around them. Many times kids are raised by the Grandparents. Or like in our case the kids come home to re-vitalize, catch a breather. It sure is hard for young couples to catch a break sometimes. I am in my glory with the kids being here. I could do without the big kids, but the grandkids are our young daughter are so fun and it makes us happy. They are past that slug stage where the baby sleeps, eats, poos and sleeps some more.

I don't think I love my grandbabies more than my own kids, but it sure feels like it sometimes. I know that's kind of awful but it's funny. I think there should be a new word for love when it comes to Grannies, Granpas, when it comes to the Grandkids.

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

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