When the spiders sang…

TW/CW: Holy fuck racism!!!

Colin and Savannah campingWhen I was a little girl I had a friend who lived across the street from me. He was about my age and he had a bright green coat. He also claimed that the spiders in his front garden sang to him every morning. I tried to tell my Mom about him but she couldn’t figure out who I was talking about as there were a lot of kids on our street. I was frustrated because I knew I had a very easy way to describe him as he was quite black. But, while I was young, I also had eyes and ears and knew that describing someone by any colour other than white meant that they disappeared and only their colour remained and I didn’t want to do that. So I went with the second best description, his bright green coat. It took a while to pin down her friend’s son as my friend with the green coat. Both my Mom and his got a bit of a chuckle that I apparently didn’t find his skin colour relevant enough to mention. They didn’t live there for very long and, after he moved, my sister and I went over one morning to listen for ourselves but the spiders never sang. Maybe he took them with him.

Obviously I was quite privileged as a young blue eyed, blonde haired girl in white suburbia and, even with him, I could count the number of BIPOC I knew on one hand growing up. Even so, I learned and realized that people are people. That we all have hopes and dreams… thoughts and fears. And that skin colour does not tell you what a person is like. Some people missed that memo. Some never even saw it go by.

I follow a page by Ally Henny and she posted yesterday about a woman named Sharon Lee Davies-Tight who is, hands down, the most batshit crazy racist person I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. If there’s an award for self entitlement and ignorance she’s up there on the podium smiling and waving, oblivious, to the crowd. Her shitty post that was shared said, and I quote, “All animals have the capacity to love, including black people – The Animal-Free Chef”. Because, of course, that five pounds of shit, triple dipped in crazy is vegan. And I speak for almost the entire vegan community when I say we don’t want her, can someone (anyone) take her?

At first I told myself that I did not want to go down that rabbit hole and I went and did something else. But the rabbit hole stayed and the search bar is a thing that exists and holy hell!!! This woman starts talking about multi-ethnic people and how much more diverse and open minded they were than single ethnic people. At first I had no idea what the hell she was talking about but it soon became apparent that she considered white people to be multi ethnic and black to be single ethnic. Yes, there are multiple white ethnicities but Africa is not a monolith, there are many ethnicities there. Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania have black aboriginal people and there are the people of the West Indies as well. Black people are far from being a single ethnicity.

She mentioned several times how black people don’t call the police, not because they’re worried about harassment and/or harm, but because of their own criminal involvement. That black people all call themselves the n-word in bars just in case there’s an undercover police officer. That white women call the police while black women scream and fight, the latter because they didn’t want to get the police involved and their criminal misdeeds uncovered. I don’t know where this woman’s lived but I’ve encountered plenty of white women who screamed louder than angry opera singers and a few who wouldn’t contact the police because of criminal issues. Like my daughter’s friend whose Mom had a grow op in the living room. The plants were lovely and green by the way, just not legal at the time. As for calling the police, as Colin pointed out, that’s an act of force in itself. That’s “I want to get you but I don’t want to get my hands dirty so I’ll let someone get you for me and they have a gun”. And that’s just plain shitty.

There were reams of posts and she had pages of external links listed but I couldn’t bring myself to read any farther so I just backed on out and wrote here instead. In bits because my brain can only handle so much vile at a time. If I was a kinder person… a more understanding person… I’d wish those singing spiders would rest under her window and sing her songs of empathy and humanity. As it is I just hope they crawl up her fucking nose and bite her!

Today was socks…

money for blogToday, well, today was something all right. Today reminds me of the saying, “If every day is a gift then today was socks” and not the fun and funky ones either, just those horrid scratchy “sport socks” with ragged toe seams.

I guess things really started on Thursday when I found out that online grocery shopping (with home delivery) is finally a thing in my area. We’ve joined the 90’s!!! So I got online in my fuzzy slippers and cozy nightie and went grocery shopping. It was great! I found almost everything I needed, picked a delivery time on Saturday, and hit “submit”. It almost immediately showed up in my bank account as a pending order. Pending orders just seem to sit there until the order ships then they plop down to the actual balance. They don’t show up in the balance before then so I’m regularly calculating my “real” balance but that isn’t a hardship.

Saturday rolled around and so did my order. Everything arrived except for my vegan black garlic nut cheese, it got substituted for artichoke and fine herb nut cheese… and I got credited for it. I was all excited about my $10 credit. The new charge went through but my original pending charge was still there, just chilling and pending. I called the grocery store yesterday and was informed that charge had been cancelled and it takes between three to five business days to disappear. I didn’t like seeing it there but it wasn’t causing any problems. Right? Right???

Then came this morning. I was having a great day. I got all my chores done before breakfast. I even brought my handful of Valentine’s Day decorations up from storage and put them up. I sat down at the computer with my cinnamon toast and mug of hot chocolate while I chatted with Colin… then I opened my bank account.

$45 NSF charge

What??? I had only one thing coming out of my account currently and that was my rent and I had over $100 on top of my rent still in my account. How could it bounce with that much money padding it? Meanwhile all that money was accounted for so the $45 was literally money I didn’t have. Cue a quick goodbye to Colin and a 45-minute long hold for my bank. The rep I spoke to was terrific. It turned out that the pending charge was the issue. Even though it does not show up in my balance on my end, it shows up in my balance on their end. So while I really did have enough money in my account, I ended up “short” by $7. They credited back the NSF fee then I called my landlord to ask them to hold off on taking my rent out again until the pending charge is gone. I’m hoping that worked. My landlord is a big mental health organization so I have to call my care team then they call me back and then they have to message the housing department and wait for a response. I’m going with no news is good news.

So, there I am, anxious and tired with my mind worrying about money issues but not entirely sure where to land, and I decided my best bet was to get myself a bowl of chips and a book and curl up in my swing chair to read. Pour the chips, go to grab my tablet, and the doorbell rings on my phone. It was the drug store delivery person dropping off a prescription. Picture me with ??? above my head. I hadn’t ordered anything. Turns out my psychiatrist sent in a prescription for lorazepam yesterday, which is great, and they filled it, good, and immediately delivered it, okay. I get all my other prescriptions delivered so that makes sense. It costs $17. Wait. What? And it’s non-refundable once it leaves the store. And now you’ve got to be fucking kidding me! So I called and now the fee is postponed until the end of the month when I actually have money and they’re going to call me from now on if something costs money instead of automatically sending it.

Come to think of it, it’s likely a good thing I’ve got that lorazepam prescription now because after today I really could use a couple! Or maybe I’ll just make curry and console myself with curry and a brownie (not simultaneously).

Freeze Peach and covid…

There are some things that really annoy me. That pull tab companies place on the jars’ protective covers. You know, the one that never actually helps open the jar and just gets in the way? People who sniffle on the bus… for the whole ride (especially when they refuse an offered kleenex). People who blast their music at 1am in an apartment building (my dresser decor should not be dancing to your music).

Then we get into the people who think it’s their god-given right to harass other people because it’s “free speech”. Seriously? How are you any more freer by telling queer people that you hate them than when you kept your mouth shut? What happened other than hurting people you don’t know (and often people you do)? The answer to both questions would be nothing. You’re not really looking for free speech, you’re looking for carte blanche to bully.

Free speech is about freeing yourself. It’s being allowed to speak your truth. It’s being allowed to say what’s wrong with the government without reprisal. It’s the ability to criticise the police without getting arrested. It’s the right to stand up for yourself and others and say “we are here and we deserve a place in society where we can be safe and equal”. If you’re wanting a space to stand and say “I am better than this group. I don’t think they should have the same rights as me. I want their rights removed”, that’s the exact opposite of free speech. But time after time there are assholes who declare they want to claim that Black people cause their own problems because [insert weak excuse here] or First Nations people are “stealing” government money or trans women are transitioning solely to sneak into women’s washrooms. Explaining to them that they’re wrong is, in their opinion, “going after their free speech”. Telling them they have to stop a) telling lies and b) discriminating against these people results in huge flailing tantrums because their rights are being challenged. Nevermind that they were the ones trampling on someone else’s rights, their right to incite anywhere from dislike to outright hatred of another group has been put into question and that’s not “fair”.

We as a society need to stop listening to false logic and start focusing on what hurts people and what doesn’t. Does a trans woman changing in the corner of the change room hurt anyone? No. Does a group of people harassing her outside the change room door while telling everyone in the vicinity (and online) that she’s a pervert who’s there only to prey on their little girls hurt anyone? Hell yes! These two sides are not equal, hatred or damage wise and I’m so tired of people acting like they’re the same.

And then there’s covid-19 and the dreaded masks. My first three masks were handmade by my Mom, two strawberry patterned and one plain cream. Then I got one with maple leaves while camping this summer… following up with three more pretty ones (plus a Christmas one I’ll hopefully never need again). The hook beside my door is full and there’s often a mask or two on my bathroom counter ready to be washed. They’re a bit of an annoyance. They can suck into my mouth and nose when I breath at times and they fog up my glasses, plus blowing my nose or getting a quick sip of water is a challenge. But they’re comfortable enough. They’re soft and don’t pull anywhere.  Meanwhile anti-maskers act like they’re the anti-Christ. I don’t get it, they’re a piece of fabric and a bit of elastic. They’re not dangerous, or painful, or difficult to wear. But anti-maskers talk about people breathing in a stew of their own wet germs as if they’ve never worn a scarf before. I have one friend who saw a man slip into the grocery store with a mask on then take it off so he could come up behind people and yell “baa” in their ear. Like a sheep, right? Because they were all “sheep” for wearing masks 🙄

I must admit that I didn’t do a tonne of research but what little I did showed a 70% reduction rate in transmitting covid-19 using social distancing and wearing a fabric mask. That’s a hell of a lot of a reduction. With odds like that, what’s the harm in putting on a piece of fabric? There’s a good chance you could be saving someone’s life, maybe even your own. And there’s no downside other than a bit more laundry and some foggy glasses. But on the anti-maskers side they get a tiny bit less laundry, clear glasses (at least until the scarves get pulled out), and an upswing on the chance of killing Granny. I know which side I stand (and it’s not the side yelling “baa” at unsuspecting strangers while they pick out cereal). I mean who sits there and thinks, “I don’t like being told what to do. I mean I follow road safety guidelines, wear my seatbelt, pay for my purchases, cross at crosswalks, put my garbage at the curb on the designated day, and keep my lawn neatly mown but I’m damned if I’m going to put a strip of fabric across my mouth to keep myself, my friends, and my loved ones alive. That’s government interference and I don’t do what the government tells me to do. I’m not a sheep!”

And while refusing to wear a mask while vulnerable people are dying irritates the hell out of me, there’s one thing that really bloody, fucking pisses me off. And that’s ignorant nazi analogies!

absolute fucking outrage

There is a black and white photo taken after one of Hitler’s speeches and, in it, there’s one solitary man standing in a sea of other men. He’s easily noticeable because he’s the only one who’s not saluting, in fact he’s crossing his arms. There is no record of who his is. Two families claim him. One paints him as a man with a Jewish fiance (who he could not marry due to German law) and two little girls. The other as a man who refused to salute in every situation due to religious reasons. For whatever reason, humanitarian or religious, he stood alone. He’s seen as a symbol of defiance. But this complete and utter walking lack of intelligence did a horrible photoshop on the picture as if to claim he was the sole person fighting against the tyranny of… wearing a mask to save your neighbour. Around eleven million people died during the Holocaust. Eleven million!!! That’s six million Jews and five million assorted people from neighbouring countries (like Poland and Serbia), people from the LGBTQIA community, people from the Roma community, autistic and developmentally delayed people, and prisoners of conscience (like Unitarian Universalists). So many people murdered, starved, tortured, and worked to death and this shit for brains person wants to compare standing up against all that, at the risk of death, to refusing to wear a mask while going in to pick up a Pepsi, at the risk of not being allowed in the store.

DO THEY NOT SEE THE DIFFERENCE???

How can they not see the difference between standing up against a totalitarian regime who’s taking your neighbours away and loading them into cattle cars and a bored 20 year old saying, “You have to wear a mask. There’s a box by the sanitizer.” How deep is their need to feel oppressed… to feel like the lead in their own exciting adventure story… that they’ll make up stories like this? They think the government, “big pharma”, and scientists are all working together to microchip them by covid-19 vaccine while they carry around a phone that has their entire Amazon shopping history, credit card information, and can pinpoint their location within a few metres. They’re worried the vaccine will make them sick while walking around maskless during a pandemic. Have they ever met common sense? Even waved at logic from a distance?

Dear anti-maskers (and anti-vaxxers for that matter). No matter what Barney and/or your mother told you, you are not special. You are not one of the chosen few who are smart enough or daring enough to peek behind the curtain and see the truth for what it is. You have not discovered the secrets that scientists, big pharma, the government, Monsanto, the illuminati, etc don’t want you to know and you certainly didn’t find it via YouTube, a personal blog, or a blog pretending to be a news site. The government is not one big political entity. It’s multiple governments over multiple countries and those countries have multiple governments as well. In Canada we have our federal, provincial, and municipal governments and they can all be from opposing parties. So, no, they are not all working together in one huge formation. Some are barely tolerating each other. Some aren’t even tolerating each other at all (written as bombs detonate somewhere in the Middle East). And big Pharma isn’t a thing (which is why we have umpteen dozen competing covid vaccines). Yes, there are big companies. Yes, they’re out to make money. But, no, they’re not working together. And there’s no way every single health care worker around the globe is keeping major secrets. Multiple someones would tell a spouse or family member or friend and the secret would soon be out. Same goes for scientists. They aren’t mysterious people who live in labs, they’re your neighbour with two kids and a pet bunny. I’m sure conspiracy theories makes you feel special and important and quite intelligent, like you’re playing spy except for real, but don’t you think it’s time to be special, important, and intelligent on your own merit and not because you’re believing someone else’s fantasy tale? It will feel even better, I promise. And, seriously, don’t you ever, ever compare yourself to a resistor in WWII Germany. You’re risking, at the worst, getting banned from Loblaws if you’re mouthy enough. That is nowhere near the same category as “starved and forced to dig your own grave”. Don’t be that person.

The cancel culture…

Cis white vegans are the worst!

Some might say I shouldn’t take it seriously but it’s hard not to when every. single. word. is aimed at a part of you. It’s even harder when it comes from a friend, someone who knows I fall under each of those categories. I responded with, “Umm gee thanks. Stereotype much?” then got back a series of rapid fire responses, sent so fast that I received them all at once, explaining it was exactly one person they were mad at and that one person was racist and I “obviously” agreed with her so must be racist too so they’d be happy to yeet me off their page (phew). I’d already been unfriended before I even read the last comment and they never even found out if I agreed with her or not.

The very next day, another friend wrote a post that said, in part, that white women are white first and then women. I took it literally, thought it meant we were born white first then female, and jokingly replied that I was pretty sure both happened at conception. I went on to agree that white women have far more privileges than black women. That was taken to be white supremacy (if it helps I think that having black skin and being a woman also both happen at conception). The friend proceeded to unfriend me and then message me to have me explain what I’d posted. I believe that’s called putting the cart before the horse. They haven’t replied since. They had been Facebook friends with me for years, followed my posts, and knew what the content of my post and my views were like, enough to know this was out of character for me (remember they did message me to ask why I said what I did), yet they still unfriended me because they didn’t like how I phrased one reply in five years.

internet and real youThe hard part is this isn’t the first time I’ve fallen into a situation like this. I’m finding an increasing and uncomfortable amount of inflexibility these days, especially in younger adults. For some reason people seem to feel as if their friends need to have all the same beliefs and opinions as them and, if you differ, you must be wrong and out you go; you’re yeeted to the curb like yesterday’s garbage. Often it’s incredibly fast, the person’s made up their mind and decided you need to go before finding out what you even meant. Heck, like I said above, both friends removed me before I even had a chance to speak. Why? Where is the friendship in that? Friendship involves mutual respect and understanding, it’s not hair trigger and walking on eggshells in case you say something wrong. You’re supposed to look for common ground and mutual interests, not nitpick over minor details and search for reasons to uncheck the friend box.

I know there are times you have to get rid of a friend. I had an online friend several years ago, then I posted a benign, “Axial tilt is the reason for the season” meme and she became frothing at the mouth mad and devolved into a series of incredibly racist comments. There was no misunderstanding, she made it extremely clear. She might as well have worn a t-shirt saying “I’m racist and I’m proud of it”. The friendship ended immediately with no regrets. Another was an IRL friend I knew from a couple of community groups. We got along fine until she realized who my ex was… and I realized she was a friend of his. Even that would have been fine except she suddenly decided that I a) had to realize what an incredibly great guy he is and b) needed to get back together with him immediately even though we haven’t been together in twenty years. I told her several times that he had been emotionally and financially abusive to me and had treated both myself and my two kids terribly for years and that I didn’t want to get back with him or even speak about him. She ignored my wishes and continued to badger me on reconciling with her “great guy”. By that time we weren’t living near each other so I simply blocked her. Again no regrets. But this is different.

These days it’s like there’s a socially acceptable checklist of words and phrases to use and say, a culturally acceptable clique of White people and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) who decide what’s correct.  I see it time and time again where someone’s trying their best and has the best of intentions but gets lambasted because it wasn’t done or said exactly how things are getting done right now. No room for recognizing good intentions (remembering these are good intentions that caused no harm), no honest constructive criticism, just how dare you!!! I’ve seen people post on multiple occasions, “Is it safe to ask this here? I really want to know but don’t want to get yelled at…” And, yes, I know that BIPOC people have been dealing with crap for years but it’s not right for anyone to feel like that no matter who they are.

Back around nine years ago I joined a forum called Regretsy and made friends with a poster who used neopronouns. I had never, ever known anyone who used anything other than him or her, it was completely new to me. I asked a bunch of questions, got answers, then settled down with a sheet of paper and a few practise sentences. I worked hard to make sure I got those pronouns right. If he (the pronouns have changed) got mad at my initial fumbling questions, well I wouldn’t be transphobic but I’d be a lot more cautious and wary. I definitely would have been hesitant to ask any similar questions to anyone and there’s a lot that I wouldn’t have learned, a lot which Colin needed me to learn.

We pride ourselves, or at least we used to pride ourselves, on our compassion and on our understanding that we’re all equal. Equal rights… equal love… equity… we were trying to make the world kinder and a whole lot more fair. But more and more I’m seeing a “throw the whole man out” attitude. That person has “problematic” views? Just don’t speak to them anymore. Doesn’t matter if they’re your grandmother or a close family friend, they’re garbage now. Yeet them out with the trash.

When Colin changed his pronouns back in, umm, I think sometime around 2014, my parents couldn’t grasp it at all and refused to use them. They refused again when he changed his name to Emma for a year-ish and switched to she/her. By today’s standards he shouldn’t be speaking to them, ignoring the fact that they still loved him dearly and spent time with him and that he wanted to keep them in his life. Life isn’t black and white. They weren’t simply “problematic”. They’re his much loved grandparents. Not everyone has to (or should be) tossed to the curb like yesterday’s paper.

Another issue with this black and white, that person doesn’t count because they’re problematic/racist/transphobic thinking is people forget the person is still, just that, a person. You can disagree 125% with someone’s views and opinions and still recognize their basic humanity. I read an article today from British Columbia where a Native Canadian reserve has a covid-19 outbreak and the surrounding area has had a racist outbreak. Okay, I get it, racism is horrible but racists are not literal trash (like the garbage you put at the curb). They are still people. Debate them if you want (I do), explain why they’re wrong (I do this too), but back off before it gets personal. One person that was interviewed was one of the racists, who now realizes he was wrong, which is great except people were wishing death on his children (like multiple people) and he’s ended up suicidal. We’re supposed to be the good guys here. We’re not supposed to be driving people to the point of killing themselves. And we’re certainly not supposed to be hoping that innocent children die of covid to teach a stranger a lesson.

The thing is, sometimes people won’t agree with you 95% of the time. Or even 80% or 75%. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just makes them not you, and that’s okay. People are allowed to be different. And, as long as they’re causing no harm, it’s fine to live and let live. Not every opinion needs to be a battleground. Not every view has to be an “agree with me or you’re yeeted” perspective. Sometimes it’s fine to just discuss the things you have in common and back off on the other stuff. So your aunt thinks aliens built Stonehenge and that Elvis is still alive. Alrighty then, moving right along. You disagree over politics… okay, unless they’re raging asstwats and/or racist, maybe just take a deep breath and change the subject when T-Rumplestiltskin rears his ugly head. It doesn’t make them Satan’s cousin.

I can’t speak for anyone else but I want to leave this world a better place than when I arrived. Standing up for human rights is amazing but if we end up so narrow sighted that we ignore the simple fact that we’re all human, we’re not going to accomplish anything. Take the time to listen.

Best laid plans…

Anyone searching for Facebook Notes tips, they’re a few paragraphs down

tardis ornament bokehI woke this morning to a cat nibbling on my fingers. That’s not out of the ordinary, not with Lara in the apartment. She’s a lovely cat, just lacking a bit with social skills (with cats too). I wasn’t in a rush so I stayed in my cosy nightgown while I brushed my teeth and fed the cats and chatted with my Mom and made my breakfast. I’d just settled down at the computer when I decided to open my email and see if there was an update on my Amazon order. It wasn’t due until Tuesday but sometimes they come a bit early… like now when the package was two towns away… clicks refresh… and out for delivery.

This was 10am and I had plans to go shopping with a friend of mine in the late morning to early afternoon (we were kind of winging it). Obviously that needed to be delayed. But how long could it take? And so I waited… and waited… and waited… while my parcel information just sat there doing nothing.

At 3:30pm I’d long since changed my plans to shopping tomorrow instead and cancelled our afternoon walk. But I had three very ripe bananas in my fruit bowl and a good banana bread recipe in my Facebook notes. I got out one bowl and the loaf pan then decided to call up the recipe before going any further. Notes has gotten harder to find recently so I went to my profile page and down to my about section then started scrolling… and it wasn’t there. I checked again and again, still nothing. I searched all over my page on both my tablet and computer and it just. wasn’t. there. A Facebook search called up a group of people who like notes and some notes apps but not my specific notes. And I wanted those notes. My Nana’s buttercream frosting recipe was in there and she died in 2003 so it’s not like I can ask her to rewrite it. My favourite pancake recipe which the long forgotten site removed. My hot and sour soup recipe which was modified from a product recipe. They’re irreplaceable.

Finally I did a Google search and struck paydirt. After a few false starts I found this link which lets you click on “my notes”. I was overjoyed until I realized I could only read the first couple of lines; the “see more” link wasn’t working. There’s a save option but that really only worked two or three times. But if you click on “comment” it will open up the link so you can see the whole post.

My first attempt at saving was to directly copy and paste to OpenOffice. This led to a weirdly formatted document chock full of lines. So I opened WordPress and pasted in there, thus removing the formatting, then copied and pasted into Open Office. I had to add the correct formatting but at least it was legible.

It was over an hour later by the time I got all the recipes copied to my computer and I no longer wanted to bake anything. Actually I no longer wanted to even cook anything, which is why I had half an English muffin for dinner tonight. Mmm… dinner of champions!

And, while I was eating my dinner, I was messaging another friend and telling her that my package wasn’t here yet but they still had another hour left in their estimate. I flipped over to the parcel information just in time to see the page update to “delivered”. And there it was on my doormat, much too late for me to do anything today.

But tomorrow’s another day, the stores will still be there, the trail ready to be walked, the bananas waiting to be smushed. And maybe I’ll have helped someone retrieve their Facebook notes… helped save a memory. As for now, my tardis ornament is safely on the tree, I have a stack of scrapbooking pages waiting and new photo sleeves to place them in, and I’m all ready to relax.

Remembrance…

remembrance day poppyEvery once in a while, when the stars align in exactly the wrong way, a war occurs. Of course it’s not that simple, nothing ever is. But it happens. And farmer’s fields and peaceful valleys and streams where children splashed and swam and quiet hamlets get ploughed into mud, trenches, and barbed wire.

Often, by then it’s too late to do anything else. There are marginalized citizens, either by religion or race, being (as Colin says) genocided. Often they’re pleading for intervention and yet… the ones who call the war are never the ones in battle. They’re never the ones who lie crying for their Mom while their life bleeds away and their guts mix with the mud. They don’t have to worry if the skinny teenager standing on the road ahead is innocent or covered in bombs and ready to kill them all. The ones in charge sleep in a comfortable bed every night and dine on a hot, well cooked meal every evening. The war they unleashed is an abstract in a place far away from their lives.

I remember being taught about World War I and the cavalry division. Cavalry had always played a huge role in the British Army so the commanders naturally placed them front and centre in the battlefield. Front and centre against tanks and machine guns. The cavalry didn’t stand a chance. The commanders soon realized this as the death toll climbed but they continued following the same plans because it had always worked before (against other calvary). Of course it wasn’t them or their children dying, it was the calvary and the foot soldiers so they continued.

The most frustrating part is every war starts out with a need for all parties to sit down and negotiate a treaty. They refuse and convince thousands of their people to die, ostensibly for their freedom. Eventually those same parties all sit down and negotiate a treaty… the exact same one they needed to negotiate before all those deaths. When you get right down to it, every single war is a needless war. They all boil down to one or more parties simply refusing to negotiate or refusing to negotiate fairly.

I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who. The Doctor, the main character, was a soldier in a huge, fictional war called the Time War and he gave a speech that I think is eminently suitable. I’ll pare out the parts that are specifically related to the show:

Ah. Ah, right. And when this war is over, when you have a homeland, what do you think it’s going to be like? Do you know? Have you thought about it? Have you given it any consideration? Because you’re very close to getting what you want. What’s it going to be like? Well? Oh, you don’t actually know, do you? Because, like every other tantruming child in history, you don’t actually know what you want. So, let me ask you a question about this brave new world of yours. When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and when it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one? Maybe you will win! But nobody wins for long. The wheel just keeps turning. So, come on. Break the cycle.

Because it’s not a game. This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought, right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die! You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn! How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does until what they were always going to have to do from the very beginning. Sit down and talk!

Of course I understand. I mean, do you call this a war? This funny little thing? This is not a war! I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you could ever imagine. And when I close my eyes I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count! And do you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where you put it? You hold it tight till it burns your hand, and you say this. No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will have to feel this pain. Not on my watch!

No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will have to feel this pain. Not on my watch! In other words “lest we forget”.

And so we were silent for two minutes yesterday in remembrance of World War I and II… and all the other wars. Silent so we wouldn’t forget. Silent because never again. And yet wars under a myriad of names are being waged all across this world. There are Muslims in concentration camps in China and children dying in camps in the United States. There’s an outright attack on the LGBTQ community happening through eastern Europe and Africa with Poland even declaring a third of the country LGBT free… as if every queer LGBTQ man, woman, and child is going to suddenly vanish. The Middle East is a hotbed of violence and, as always, everyone has their fingers poking in making it a hundred times worse.

We are all born the same way, birthed from a womb, whether it happens in a dirt floored hut or the private ward of a luxury hospital. We are all born innocent and ready to love and be loved. Everything else comes later. We’re born loving and taught to hate. If only there was a way we could teach all the children around the world to treat each other kindly, to accept each other’s differences, to listen and try to understand instead of resolving conflicts with fists, to hug consensually. It would make such a huge difference. Imagine those children as adults, having grown up learning fairness, kindness, and equity. Maybe someday it will happen but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

The wrong side of history…

Daddy Harold2

My grandfather

When I was a little girl, I loved hearing family stories and my grandparents loved telling them to me.

I heard all about how my great-great grandfather, who had itchy feet, travelled along the coast of Africa, trying to decide whether to stay there and mine before he settled on the coal mines in Nanaimo, British Columbia. And how his wife had to pack everything on her own and travel with two small girls, including taking a three week ocean trip where she needed to bring all their food and water as none was provided. They were simply given a space on the deck. Damn, I hope it didn’t rain!

And I heard about my great-grandmother who, by all accounts was a dour and serious woman, and how one morning everyone left to go fishing for the day and she got the notion to see if she was as flexible as she’d been as a teen. So she grabbed her ankles and hoisted them behind her head. She managed but wasn’t flexible enough to get them back down again. The family came home expecting to smell dinner and found her contorted, in the dark, on the kitchen floor.

Or the family favourite, which got trotted out every time the old song Grandfather Clock was sung around the campfire. A grandfather clock was bought when my grandfather was born, one he still had while I was growing up, and it worked beautifully right until he left to fight in WW2. Then it stopped completely. When the news came that the war was over and he was well and coming home his grandmother marched over to it, yelled, “Harold’s coming home you daft thing! Start working!” and gave it a good whack. It immediately began to work.

But my favourite story was when my great-great grandfather ploughed over an Indian.

My great-great grandparents came through the United States and what was then known as Indian Territory or Unclaimed Territory (even though it was patently obvious it had been claimed) to finally settle in Creston Valley in the foothills of British Columbia’s mountains. They were the first white settlers in that valley and they soon built their house and got to readying the ground for potatoes. And that was when the aforementioned event occured. My great-great grandfather was out ploughing the field when a young Native man crept up and tried to attack. All my great-great grandfather had to defend himself with was a plough. He was horrified as soon as he saw the young man bleeding on the ground and carried him into the house to nurse him back to health. The young man declared him to be his blood brother and my great-great grandparents began spending time in the Native village and learned their language. When it came time for my great-great grandmother to go to the hospital to deliver her astonishingly huge baby, she was taken, by canoe, to the ferry. My Mom remembers her grandmother speaking the Native language and her attempts at being taught. But she was only taught a few words before her grandmother passed away. Still, she remembered going to the Native reserve with her Dad to play with the kids while her Dad talked to the adults.

I knew the words reserve and reservation but I had no idea what they meant. To me they were just a different kind of housing, like some people live in subdivisions, some live in townhouse complexes, and some live in apartment buildings.

We learned about Native people in school. The different tribes throughout Canada, the homes they built, the food they ate, and whether they travelled by the seasons or stayed put. Nothing later than pre-colonial days, which left me feeling like Natives were pretty much extinct.

Then we went on a trip across Canada (one of several). My parents stopped off to visit one of my Dad’s friends and he had daughters around the same age as my next oldest sister and I. So we were given movie and popcorn money and sent off to enjoy the show. I went off with plenty of excitement, new people to talk to, and a movie to watch. This was going to be fun. Then the oldest girl opened her mouth and started ranting about Natives, or Indians as she called them. They were all drunks and lazy and stupid and worthless. They just hung around town causing trouble and hoping to get enough change for another drink. She ranted on and on while my sisters and I stared at each other in surprise. Nothing had set her off… nothing we’d said… nothing around us. It was bewildering and more than a bit creepy. Later on we told our parents what happened and my Mom looked sad. She explained that Native people didn’t have a history with alcohol so hadn’t built up any sort of tolerance and were more likely to be addicted. Later I realized that was only a small portion of the truth.

There is a picture tucked away in one of my Mom’s albums of my uncles dressed up for Hallowe’en. I can’t remember if they were both Indians or if one was an Indian and the other a cowboy. But my Nana was able to go to a store and buy a pattern to make that “costume”. Meanwhile actual Native children couldn’t wear their own clothes or speak their own language. I was taught Native history and Native youths weren’t learning it.

Technically it all started with Christopher Columbus getting lost and smacking into South America then going back and telling Europe about all the “free lands full of riches” he’d found but I’m going to start with our first prime minister. John A. MacDonald was a quick witted man. He also was a binge drinker who would drink himself senseless, with understandable reasons, namely the deaths of his wife and infant son and daughter. He also set up the framework for the biggest horror in Canadian history, residential schools. To quote:

“When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly impressed upon myself, as head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.” 1879

To give you an idea of how callous the government was, they knew that around 50% of the Native children would die of disease and flat out didn’t care. As long as the remaining students were taught to be as white as possible, they would consider the schools to be a success.

At the best, the schools were boarding schools which taught English and other lessons. At worst the schools took physical, emotional, and sexual abuse to nightmarish levels, starting with being torn from family and carted to school in handcuffs at the age of three. In both scenarios the children were deposited back at home in their late teens with no memory of their language or culture and as strangers to their families. Many were suffering from severe trauma; if the abuse was nightmarish to read about then imagine how it would be for the child. And this went on for several generations. Genetics plays its part in alcoholism but several generations of systematic child abuse also plays a huge role.

Then there’s broken promises. Treaties for made for land (aka reservations) and those reservations were created. But, for the most part, they weren’t in good locations. They were in areas with soil too thin to grow crops, poor hunting, and more north than the natives had been. Those areas are remote with limited access to urban areas. The homes are in ill repair and often too small (and it’s not like there’s a Beaver Lumber around the corner to fix them up), the plumbing is out of date, the water is frequently unuseable, plus there’s little to do and the teens commit suicide at a horrific rate. But, you know, promises… some day in the future things will get better.

Right now there’s trouble in the Maritimes. Many years ago, back in the 1760’s, a treaty was drawn which allowed the Mi’kmaq to fish out of season (May to November). This was to permit them to fish for themselves and make a “moderate livelihood”. Now there’s a huge disagreement over what that means with Native fishermen saying it means they have the right to fish enough to earn a small amount, enough to support their families and have a bit left over, and the non-Native fishermen arguing that it means to fish for only what you need to survive. I, of course, went immediately to the dictionary which states:

Moderate (adjective): average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree.

I’m going to have to go with the Natives here, average in amount does not sound like hand to mouth sustenance.

Meanwhile utter chaos and violence has broken loose with fishermen destroying Native lobster pounds (huts which contain circulating fresh water to hold live lobsters) and setting fire to buildings. Non-Natives claim the Natives are going to fish the lobster to extinction even though the experts say that isn’t the case. Meanwhile the RCMP are, for the most part, standing back and watching the violence. Probably not a huge surprise considering they were created specifically to clear Natives out of the prairies but disappointing nonetheless. And government at all levels is lamenting that something needs to be done… all the while hoping it’s someone else’s responsibility.

And I just keep hoping that someone in power will shape up, accept some responsibility, and try to sort these issues out because we really screwed up and it’s time to make amends.

No. Just plain no…

I started shopping at Dollarama before Colin was in school and got a job there, which people joked was simply a way to fuel my shopping addiction. I certainly went home with at least one bag of purchases after every shift. The love affair has slowed down but hasn’t gone. I still shop there once or twice a month.

dollarama self checkout

I forgot to take a picture and pulled this off the internet

I was at our local shopping centre on Friday to meet with friends and buy my bus pass and decided to stop in at the Dollarama there. Thankfully it wasn’t busy and I quickly had an armload of goodies to buy (and of course I didn’t have a basket because I only went in for two things). I got to the front of the line then turned automatically to the cash counter and all the registers were quiet, there were no cashiers at all. What? Then a store employee caught my attention and directed me to a bank of self serve cash registers.

I stood there for a moment. I don’t like those machines and usually refuse to use them but I had that armload of goodies and there was already a line behind me. So I used the machine and left but I’m not going back to that location. So far there’s still cashiers at my current location but, then again, there was at the shopping centre last month. If they switch to only self serve, I’m not shopping there either. If they all switch over then, well, I’ll miss Dollarama but c’est la vie.

I remember in the 90’s, going to the bank and standing in the line for what felt like forever. Then they brought out automatic tellers and suddenly you could take out your money in a matter of minutes. Then came debit and you didn’t even need to take money out. And now tellers, which used to be a stable job, are becoming a thing of the past. I can see the same thing happening with cashiers. Why hire four employees to staff your cash registers when you can hire just one to supervise people at the self serve checkouts? That’s three wages you don’t have to pay.

Loblaws isn’t that bad but Walmart routinely tries to encourage me into their self service area. First by getting rid of their express lanes, they’re now a second self serve area, and second by having people urge me to go there. I always politely refuse. I saw a joke earlier with the tagline of, “No thanks, I don’t work here”. Maybe someday I’ll use that.

We’ve lost so many jobs already through cheaper wages overseas, automation, obsolescence, and computerization. We don’t need to let retail jobs slip away too. So many people’s jobs are at stake and all because of those tiny, little machines.