I do. I do. I do. I do. I do.

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There’s a small island in the Indian Ocean called Mayotte that has just voted to become part of France like Martinique and Guadaloupe. Until now, its status has been a French “oversees community.” The problem is that most of the residents of Mayotte are Muslims and practice polygamy.

Polygamy is illegal in France and so the Mayottes have been told they have to stop having more than one spouse.

Although condoned by both the Judeo-Christian Bible and the Koran, polygamy is illegal in most of the world, including all western countries and some Islamic countries. Only some Muslim states, like Saudi Arabia, and some African societies still allow it.

Why is polygamy a crime?

If someone wants more than one spouse and all the people involved are legally adults and happy with the arrangement, what’s the problem?

The anti-polygamists always drag out the “preservation of the sanctity of marriage” argument (where have we heard that one before?). People fear that the children of polygamous families will grow up confused about family life. They wonder what will happen if there’s a divorce. Will kids be taken away from their half-siblings as well as their other parent(s)?

I think polygamy makes a lot more sense than our traditional idea of marriage. The fantastical, romantic married couple as soul mates, two becoming one, cleaving unto each other and only each other until death is unrealistic. Divorce statistics bear that out. Loving only one person for life doesn’t happen much anymore. It’s an ideal —  a product of our particular time, place and culture.

Polygamy had been the norm in many societies throughout the world from the beginning of time to quite recently. Most of the animal kingdom is polygamous. It’s the natural order of things.

It until 1862 that polygamy was made illegal in the US.

Polygamy is not about the stereotypical sheik with harem of women at his disposal for fornication purposes. It’s a commitment made between three or more individuals to work together and love each other as partners and raise a family.

The polygamous family has far fewer pressures to deal with. Kids are raised under a wider influence of adults and siblings. Kids have more role models; more creative, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical resources.

There is a greater support system. There are more providers, both in a financial and emotional sense in a polygamous family. One or even two people losing their jobs doesn’t have to spell disaster for the family. Two people not being able to agree on disciplining a child or other domestic issues isn’t the huge problem it often is in two-parent families.

There’s so much divorce; so much unhappiness in marriages today. And there are many more people living lies; trapped in frustrating, loveless marriages, and/or carrying on extra-marital affairs. Wanting to leave, but not able to. If they had an alternate spouses, or even co-spouses, they’d have others to share their lives, their problems, their joys.

Marriage carries huge expectations. People expect their spouses to be good lovers, partners, help-mates, emotional supports, parents, providers, intellectual equals, confidants, companions, friends, etc., etc. That’s a lot to put on one person.

I won’t pretend that everyone would be happy in a polygamous family. Some people are perfectly happy and content with their current situation. That’s great. But why are the alternative options illegal?

If, for some reason I was no longer allowed to be single, I would much rather live in a polygamous marriage than a one-on-one marriage. The polygynous kind, though, where I was one of several wives;  not the polyandrous kind. (I’m not surprised that one never really took off).

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I know, that was terribly sexist and hurtful. I’m sorry.

Really, the best combination would be a few husbands and a few wives. One big happy family.

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Toast: A Heated Debate

My good friend, Loth, from across the Atlantic, inadvertently started something of a feud about toast on her blog the other day. While she maintains the UK rights to this feud, I’m claiming North American subsidiary rights. Because it’s just too good to let them have all the fun.

The feud is basically between the Cold Toast Eaters (CTEs) and the Warm Toast Eaters (WTEs). The first group likes to let their toast cool by making a little tent with the slices and waiting for it to become edible. Or, for those of us with some sophistication, we use one of our toast racks from our toast rack collection:

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This isn’t mine, but I wish it was. Mine are very boring.

When the toast has cooled, it is nice and crispy and crunchy and delicious and ready for a topping. Now, whatever you put on it will stay on top, not disappear into the bread.

The WTEs on the other hand feel this is a toast abomination; that butter and everything else demands to be slathered[1] only on hot toast so that when you bite into your now soggy, taupe-coloured bread —  butter, honey, jam, marmite and/or runny peanut butter will ooze out and off it and dribble down your chin and onto your clean pajamas.

I’m going to remain neutral on the topic for now.

You should know, however, that toast was originally a method of preserving bread so it wouldn’t get stale so quickly. The word “toast” is from the Latin tostum, which means “to burn”.

The Egyptians of course originally invented bread and toast about 5000 years ago. I say “of course” because the Egyptians invented pretty much everything in the world, leaving only a few bits and pieces for Thomas Edison to clear up later on.

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The French seem to be CTEs, according to Charlene, who has recently returned from a trip to Paris. French toast, contrary to our eggy, fried notion of the dish, is really an almost inedibly hard baguette toasted and cooled to a granite-like consistency.

You can buy toast on eBay with the images of the Virgin Mary or Jesus or even Obama appearing on them.

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There’s an entire blog devoted entirely to toast, toast recipes, toast photos, toast haiku, toast news, toasters and discussions about toast.

I’m very fond of toast. I probably eat toast every day. Toasting bread brings out its flavours and makes it easier to digest than plain bread.

I always eat my bread toasted; even if I’m making sandwiches ahead of time to take to work – nice dark, thin, crispy, crunchy slices of cold, wholegrain toast.  


[1] “Slather” is one of my least favourite words in the entire English language. It’s ugly. It sounds messy and sloppy. Your face has to get ugly to say it. You almost always spit when you say “slather” because just thinking of the word instantly causes saliva to flow into your mouth. I would like to get rid of this word.

Forever Young

You’ve no doubt seen the Pepsi TV ads where some late 30s/early 40s person is stopped by a faceless narrator and asked: “I see you’re drinking Diet Pepsi. Is there anything else youthful you’d like to experience?” The person thinks for a second and comes up with something from their youth that they’d like to do again.

One woman wants to experience make-out sessions again. One guy wants to have the fun of sleep-overs with his friends again. One guy misses recess. One guy misses his 1980s hair. Someone else wants their old car back.

Then they show the old guy/gal at their current age doing the stuff they think they miss about their youth. Of course it’s not quite as much fun as they remembered it — making out with your husband at a gown-up dinner party  doesn’t seem to be as much fun as making out with some cute senior at the dance apparantly. Getting a wedgie at recess as a grown man doesn’t have the same thrill attached to it either, according to Pepsi.

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The moral of the story is that the only thing youthful left for us to do is to drink Diet Pepsi.

Is reality really that sad?

I miss stuff from my youth like high school dances and high school and university parties. Parties just aren’t the same when you’re an adult — moderate drinking, helping the hostess wash up, quiet music, lots of talk about work, everyone comes and goes with the same person they’ve been coming and going to parties with for the last 20 years.  Yawn.

I also miss all the energy I had when I was young, not to mention the awesome metabolism.

But other than that I think I’m pretty happy to be done with those years. All that never-ending school work. Living with my parents. Not living with my parents and living in a series of student hovels instead. All that random, meaningless sex…

Some grown-ups like to re-visit their youth every once in a while, by going out to a club and letting the 20-somethings laugh at them; or playing much-loved childhood games with each other; or going wild every so often by drinking too much; or taking a spin on a merry-go-round or even a tilt-a-whirl.

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I thought and thought to see if there was anything I do these days to try and make me feel more like a recalcitrant teen or an exuberant child, but I couldn’t think of a thing.

So, either I’ve grown into a hopelessly boring old fart, or, I’ve grown into a recalcitrant, exuberant adult which who never stopped doing recklessly inane things.

The Dumb Luck Club

When we were kids my parents always said since they didn’t have enough money to send 5 kids to university, they’d only send the boys since the girls were just going to waste an education by getting married and having kids anyway.

Ya, they were a little old world and old school, but we showed them. The girls went to university and didn’t get married and the boys didn’t go to university and got married and had babies. Of course since we girls were older, we had to pay our own way through school and my parents got off completely scot-free in the paying-for-university department.

I often wonder if this was their evil plan from the very beginning. I’ve learned, since I became a parent, that parents are a lot smarter and more Machiavellian than we used to give them credit for.

After high school, I went to work for a few years. I would never have gone to university at all, if,  through and odd fluke, I hadn’t ended up working with a group of people who were all university graduates. I started thinking, “Hey, if they can do it, why can’t I?” My sister, in turn, went to university because I had gone.

To what extent are our successes or failures in life about our own hard work, talent, ambition and intelligence and to what extent are they about our family, culture, friendships and even just  luck?

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell thinks success depends more on the latter than the former.

He talks about how successful hockey players are all born in the first few months of the calendar year[1]. He mentions how Bill Gates, who is not particularly gifted, would never have been successful if it weren’t for the fact that he happened to have had access to a computer at an early age, and at a time when computers were very rare. And he talks about Christopher Langan.

Christopher Langan has one of the highest IQs ever recorded at 210.  But Langan grew up poor. As a teenager he taught himself advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin and Greek and got a perfect score on his SATs.  So, he made it to university, but couldn’t stay due to lack of finances.

His life has been a string of labourer jobs: cowboy, forester, farmhand and bouncer.

What would have become of Stephen Hawking if he’d been born into a poor family? Or Einstein if he’d never met Max Talmud[2]. Or Mozart if he hadn’t had such an ambitious father?

Some people can pinpoint an exact moment or experience or person that turned them onto the path they followed in life. The prima ballerina who fell in love with dance the first time her mother took her to the ballet. The doctor who chose medicine after an older brother died of some incurable disease. The artist who couldn’t stop creating art since the first time she picked up a crayon.

I think most people have more than one “what if” moment in their lives which they look back on wondering if things might have turned out differently if a certain event or person had or hadn’t happened.

I’m a big planner, plotter and organizer, but I really think a lot of the stuff, good and bad, that has shaped my life has been down to pure, dumb luck. What about you?


 [1] Since youth hockey leagues determine eligibility by calendar year, children born on January 1st play in the same league as those born on December 31st  in the same year. Because adolescents born earlier in the year are bigger and more developmentally advanced than the others, they are often identified as better athletes, leading to extra coaching and a higher likelihood of being selected for elite hockey leagues.

[2] A family friend who introduced the ten-year-old Einstein to key science, mathematics, and philosophy texts.

Afternoon Delight

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“The Napping Muse” Paper and Acrylics Collage © N. Doany

On Sunday afternoon I did something so deliciously naughty I’m not even sure I should talk about it in public like this.

But I can’t resist.

Let me set the stage.

I’d had a strenuous couple of weeks. Then two late nights in a row. So, I was feeling more than a little weary by Sunday. The sun was shining, but the cold weather was back and there had even been a dusting of snow overnight. I’d been outside briefly in the morning and now had no desire or energy left to do much of anything. Soooo….

I tossed myself on the sofa and had a nap!

Just like that! How decadent! How self-indulgent! How amazingly wonderful!

It had been so long since I’d had a nap. I must have been crazy. Why do kids fight so hard not to nap? It’s the best thing ever. Forty-minutes of flaking out in the middle of the day and I felt like a million bucks. And, I had the best night’s sleep ever that night. For once I didn’t have to fight to stay awake long enough to drag myself into bed and pass out. No! I tucked myself in, read for a while and settled comfortably into sleep for a change.

Actual science has proven that naps can:

  • Decrease stress
  • Increase alertness, productivity, cognitive function and creativity
  • Improve memory and learning
  • Motivate exercise
  • Promote a more restful sleep at night
  • Promote better health including reducing risks of heart disease.

 Here are some tips to perfect napping:

  • Forget about all the stuff you think you should be doing and know that a short nap is the best thing you could be doing right now
  • Don’t nap too late in the day or you’ll nap too long and feel all weird when you wake up instead of bright and perky
  • Don’t eat too much or too much heavy food before napping
  • Find a quiet comfortable place that’s reasonably dark
  • Don’t forget your blankie – it keeps you cosy 

How long should you nap? That’s up to you. Here are the five main types of naps according to Riran Project who seem to know everything about everything:

  • THE NANO-NAP: 10 to 20 seconds. Sleep studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone’s shoulder on the train
  • THE MICRO-NAP: two to five minutes. Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness
  • THE MINI-NAP: five to 20 minutes. Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance
  • THE ORIGINAL POWER NAP: 20 minutes. Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names)
  • THE LAZY MAN’S NAP: 50 to 90 minutes. Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles 

So, really, if you haven’t had a nap since Kindergarten, I highly recommend it. I know workplaces that have nap rooms. I don’t know why they aren’t mandatory in every workplace.

Call Me, Irresponsible…

You and your friends go to the local bar to watch some hockey and drink some beer. You each have a couple and are having fun, laughing, cheering for your winning team. Suddenly the bar staff comes over, demands your car keys and tells you they have called a taxi and you have to leave. You are escorted off the premises.

Crazy? Not if the Ontario Liquor License Act enforcers have anything to say about it. They want to hold bar owners and bar staff responsible for your drinking.

  • Bar owners and staff can and have been charged if they have intoxicated people on the premises whether or not they served you the alcohol that made you intoxicated.
  • They’re not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages to anyone who appears to be intoxicated.
  • They are responsible if you hurt yourself while under the influence of alcohol on their premises or after you leave their premises – even if you were already drunk before you got there.
  • They are responsible for making sure you get home safely after you’ve been to their establishment.

“Intoxication” is a completely objective term, legally. There are, of course times when it’s obvious, but not always. I know plenty of quiet drunks who have enough experience that they can appear just a bit tipsy while completely blotto.

In a very high profile case, earlier this year, 3 employees and all 13 company officers and directors of the Port Carling, Ontario Lake Joseph Golf Club were charged with permitting drunkenness on the premises and for serving alcohol to someone who was intoxicated. Four young people left the place following an afternoon of golf and drinking. They got into a car, drove too fast, lost control, ran off the road into a tree and  flipped the car into Lake Joseph. Three of them, including the driver ended up dead.

Tim Mulcahy, the father of the driver, thinks the laws are ass-backwards. He thinks the focus should be on making driving laws tougher. For one thing, he found out after the fact that his son had already amassed several speeding tickets in the past. As a fairly new driver, why wasn’t his license suspended?

Mulcahy has also petitioned the provincial government to change the rules to state that only a blood alcohol level of zero is permitted while driving — especially for new drivers. He would also like to see it be more difficult and time consuming to get and keep a driver’s license in the first place. This isn’t a radical idea. For much of the world outside of North America it is far more difficult and costly to get and maintain a driver’s license.

All these wishy-washy terms like “drunkenness, intoxication and acceptable blood alcohol levels” obviously aren’t working.[1] And, pointing fingers at everyone but the idiots who insist on endangering their own lives and the lives of others by drinking and driving is very politically correct, but totally inane.

Are we going to charge the corner shop owner for selling cigarettes to a pregnant woman? McDonald’s for selling 2 Big Macs to the grossly obese guy? Axe for selling that hideous cologne that makes teenage boys targets for being pitched into the closest body of water?

Perhaps we need to stop being so silly about our alcohol laws and get a little less silly about our driving laws. And maybe, just maybe, start making people a little more responsible for their own actions.

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[1] In 2006, in the US there were 13,470 fatalities in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver (BAC of .08 or higher). 16,005 people were killed in the United States in alcohol-related motor vehicle traffic crashes (BAC of .01 or higher). These numbers are very similar to statistics from 10 years ago — the ad campaigns don’t seem to be working. Canadian statistics are proportionally similar. Compare this to the approximately 10,000 alcohol-related traffic fatalities per year for the entire European Union.