Back in the day I used to party a bit with the Franken boys. Man, they made me laugh. With a drink in their hands, a twinkle in their eyes and a general joie de vivre, they dished out rural Ontario colloquialisms at a dizzying rate.
I wish I had written them down because I’d never heard tell such expressions in my immigrant-family household.
Two that drift into my consciousness in certain situations are:
“He’s about as useless as tits on a boar,” and,
“I tell ya, you just can’t win for losing.”
It’s this last one I’ve found myself using quite frequently recently.
So I have a patio door, screened, that leads to the porch. It was old and had a few tears so my dad brought it to Watson’s Home Hardware in Blyth and they nicely replaced the screen for me.
Dad is my handyman so he reinstalled it and it all looked so perfect it was almost invisible.
At least my puppy thought so. Bam, went his hard head as he tried to get outside. Thump, went his head as he tried to get back in. Too late, I thought about using duct tape to mark an X at his eye level. Within an hour, my new screen had a little hole where it separated from the seam.
I just shook my head, thinking I had done a great thing getting that screen replaced, but feeling like “I just can’t win for losing.”
I taught that same pupper to pee in the field where the long grass grows. “Brilliant”, I thought. “He’ll know the lawn is no place to pee and poop – the field is a natural bathroom.” But I have this little patch of grass the riding lawnmower is too wide to cut. I usually mow it same day with the push mower but one day of procrastination led to another and that patch got longer and longer. One morning, coffee in hand with feet bare and wet with dew, I went to check on what was blooming and literally stepped right in it.
I can’t get mad at the puppy, can I? He’s only taking what he has learned and extrapolating his knowledge to decide this long patch of grass is grounds for pooping too.
To top it off, – same puppy, different day – my daughter’s new summer job resulted in her first paychecque. We were so proud! We think the win blowing through the screen door blew it off the counter because puppy found it and literally ate it.
The concept of “can’t win for losing” happens over and over.
You cut hay based on a forecast predicting three days of sunshine and a sudden rainstorm blows in just after the windrows are raked and fluffy.
You crowd the cows into a contained area for vaccinations and one tries to jump the gate, knocks it over, and next thing you have a herd of cows careening down the alleyway.
You have a good day writing and have been diligent about saving your material and now you’re on a roll. Inspiration is flooding your head and words are flowing into the page when, bang ... power goes out.
You said it, “you can’t just win for losing.”
All these forementioned obstacles are solvable and pretty light compared to what is going on in the world right now. It does seem, though, this is a time when we just can’t win for losing.
Pandemics, racism, protests, anger, disparity, privilege and poverty ... these are such huge issues that have been around for so long. Have we really not found solutions? Or do we find them and change them?
Such as plastic bags. All of us have now been trained to bring our boxes or cloth bags to grocery stores to carry our groceries home. During the past three months, as we tried to protect ourselves and each other, we’ve had to leave our cloth bags in the car along with our excellent intentions while our groceries get loaded into plastic bags.
Fuel consumption decreased; a decided “yay” for the environment but creating volatile swings in energy stocks, impacting our opportunity to create a nest egg for retirement.
Hobbyists are raising backyard chickens and pigs and I am a huge fan of both but I know large-scale producers are worried it could create a disease-crisis ... then what?
Viruses are unseen and perhaps we who are white are blinded to our white privilege. It’s such a huge issue and I’m realizing I need to know what I don’t know when learning how deep systemic racism runs in the epigenetics of our whiteness.
Then I think about those grocery bags. If it were only you or I using cloth bags, it wouldn’t make much difference. However when we model the change, it catches on. Someone watches you carry your cloth bags into the store and it inspires others to do the same. The concept of reducing plastic usage to protect our environment ripples and grows into a movement that changes the very way we function. Then, it DOES make a difference (and will again after this pandemic blip).
That isn’t a win/lose. It is a win/win. We can use the same concepts for almost every issue, can’t we?
We start asking questions. We start learning. We wonder how we can be the change using the skills and advantages we possess. As farmers we physically feed the world and as people, we can form relationships with people of every colour to understand, love and connect as humans. We model the change.
If there’s one thing I know it’s that getting to know someone – really know them – is always a win-win.
It’s true that sometimes, despite our best efforts, it feels like we can’t win for losing. How much worse would it be, though, if we didn’t even try? If someone looked at us, and said “he/she is as useless as tits on a boar?” ◊