The wrong way to get recognized…

I’m pretty sure most bloggers want their blog to get noticed, to go viral. Well maybe not the people writing their diary online and, in those cases, I suggest a lovely journal from Marshalls. I know that I’d love to see one of my posts get noticed. I should be more careful about what I wish because sometimes it’s like wishing on a monkey’s paw, you get what you want but in the worst possible way.

There’s a blogger who, like me, has a small blog and a Facebook page. Our content is worlds apart. I write about Colin, LGBTQ issues (mainly trans), vegan recipes, my novels, and mental health issues (mainly my own). I’m also an atheist. Hers is about her interpretation of the Bible, offering suggestions for living a godly life, in full blown posts on her blog and handwritten notes on her Facebook page… with the occasional photo thrown in.

so regrettable

I want that font!

A friend of mine posted against the blog on her page, after getting banned for commenting. I went on as well and, I must admit, I commented too.

“I need to go get another tattoo. Would girls still like me?”

I wondered why I never got banned and then I took another look at the sheer number of posts and their times. I had to scroll up to get out of the 1 minute old messages then the same for two, three, five… there was no way a single person could delete that deluge. Plus many of the posts were people calling friends in to see and comment.

Then I wondered why she didn’t just delete that post… until I scrolled down and realized it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Her posts were buried under thousands of comments. She’d become viral in the worst possible way. I figured, by then, that she was probably extremely shaken, maybe even crying, and away from the computer. I know I would be. Most of the comments were along the lines of:

No, REAL men preefer strong independent women who dont take.lessons on how to live or who to be from.a FB article. This lady is nuts!

That was an average comment. There were better and there were plenty worse. I did not see a single comment supporting her.

I get that people have the right to their own opinion but if your opinion has already been shared 500 times, do you really need to post too? There’s even an article on Woke Sloth that God helpfully shared (the Facebook persona, not the sky Daddy). Someone, who appears to lead a quiet, sheltered life, has suddenly been shoved into the lime light and it’s all negative.

There are all sorts of people that I don’t care if they get negative press. Actual Nazis, rapists, child molestors, people who make pickle and peanut butter sandwiches, and bigots of any kind. She didn’t fall into any of those categories as far as I could tell. She simply wanted to share her 1950’s views on the Bible. She certainly didn’t deserve what happened to her page.

With any luck, something new will happen in the next few days and she’ll fade, once again, into obscurity. And, hopefully, when the next viral blog shows up, they’ll be remembered as a human and not just something to mock.

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Whispers of the past…

I was sitting in the van with Colin and my parents on the way to Bon Echo Provincial Park. It’s a place we’ve gone camping for decades now, a popular campground in Ontario. I was looking out the window, not really thinking of much, just noticing all the sights of nature as we whizzed past. Then I looked over and, for half a second, I expected to see heads with brown and black hair in the seats in front of me, instead of the grey I saw.

My parents’ camping days are numbered and their numbers are less than the fingers on my hand. I commented to my Mom about when we go camping next year but what I really meant was if.

It was really noticeable with my Dad this year. Would he be able to walk down to the deep beach this year? Should we take a van to the day beach? This is a man who was scouted for the Montreal Canadiens farm team, an opportunity he missed because he was out fighting forest fires in BC and no one knew where he was. A miss I’m grateful for because otherwise he wouldn’t have met my Mom and my sisters and I wouldn’t be here. A man who played “oldtimers hockey” and walked the track for exercise. A man who enjoyed getting into nature for a good walk. Now we’re worried if he can walk a few blocks.

My Mom commented sadly a few months ago that things just weren’t the same. When she was little (and when I was little for that matter) the dishes were ignored for a while and everyone sat and chatted. Now everyone finished, cleared their plates, got right into washing, and then went to do their own things, while my Mom and Dad sat at an empty table, a table that should have been filled with chatter. That one was easy at least. I messaged everyone and asked them to hold off on clearing the table to chat and, thankfully, it’s taken off and become something everyone enjoys. But there’s nothing I can do about age.

It’s seven and a half weeks until Kait has her baby, bumping me into the grandmother position and my parents into great grandparents. I wish my Nana could see this baby, when she was still strong and cheerful. She would have loved him so much (and equally loved knitting him little outfits). My Nanaimo Nana (great grandmother) would have loved him too. But I can’t dip into the past and bring them forth, they only exist in memories. There’s a chain of family connections and my parents are next on the list to get bumped off, then, eventually, it will be my turn.

I’m reasonably sure my grandfather had similar thoughts because he set out to write down the more memorable family stories that he remembered. I don’t think he got all of them because there’s been a few times I’ve mentioned a story he’d told me and got blank looks. Sometimes I think maybe I should write some family stories down too but I don’t know if anyone would be interested in the coming years.

But the past is the past. We honour them by remembering them and remembering their advice. Well except for my Nana’s advice to have me leave Kait in her carriage outside for a nap while I cleaned inside. That’s terrible advice when you’re in a third floor walkup in a not so good neighbourhood. But the good advice.

The future is coming, like it always does. Soon there’ll be a new grandchild and the beginning of a new generation. Soon there’ll be new ideas, dreams, and goals. And I hope my parents are there to see it unravel and to watch the little wee one grow big and strong.

Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary

Mom and Dad on their 50th wedding anniversary

A Q&A with Colin…

We’re going away on a camping trip but, when we come back, Colin has agreed to do a question and answer post. So, if you’ve got a question, now’s the time to ask them. So put on your thinking caps and write your questions below!

We, of course, will reserve the right to refuse to answer inappropriate questions and will delete any wildly inappropriate ones. But we’re looking forward to the rest of them.

Colin bringing plants from school

Colin bringing plants home on the last day of school

Who let the cretins out?

My morning started with a letter from one of the kiwi farmers saying, “You need to quit this shit. You’re mentally destroying your son, for your own selfish reasons.”

It wasn’t really a surprise that they’re back. I don’t know if they’re aware of this but WordPress monitors where people are coming from and helpfully shares that statistic with their bloggers.

Screenshot (4)

I know that’s small but, if you can’t read it, that’s 11 people from kiwifarms, which is a lot considering they copy each post they “critique”. I use the word critique loosely.

I don’t need to go on kiwifarms to know what they’re saying, in fact I never go there. Last time I discussed them, Kait sent me screenshots of the idiocy so I didn’t have to delve in. There’s only so much idiocy I can deal with. If anyone’s interested they’ll be saying what the above genius said albeit with a few more words.

They are so concerned about Colin (according to them) that they never pay attention to the words Colin himself says. Colin has persistently referred to himself as a trans female and has persistently explained he’s not transitioning because he wants to keep his fertility, something he just told the CAMH worker (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) this afternoon. She told him that’s becoming increasingly more common, I presume as younger people attempt to transition and also want a family.

The kiwi farmers ignore that, in fact they ignore everything he says and make stuff up whole cloth just to make it more interesting for themselves. Sorry, our lives are pretty boring. If you want some excitement, maybe take up juggling swords or something.

A Facebook friend of mine has been beautifying her hate mail so I decided to give it a try with my scrapbooking supplies. I think it turned out quite well.

mental destruction

It really needs to be needlepointed

Then I checked my blog’s Facebook page and found a message from my ex, written through one of his myriad of profiles. He’s not only disowned both my kids (again) but this time he disowned his grandchild. Or, as Colin put it, “He disowned a fetus. Who disowns a fetus?” Then he threatened suicide sometime in the next year. But not now so he can’t get admitted. He’s gone so far as to carry around a letter in his pocket so none of us can visit him in the hospital or attend his funeral.

*wonders if he remembers that Kait’s his next of kin*

Screenshot (2)And no amount of absolute ignorance would be complete without a healthy dose of anti-vaxxers.

A friend of mine posted this gem and I just stared at it for a bit before snagging a screenshot. People actually believe this stuff. Worm ovaries? As a friend of mine said, “Can you imagine how hard those would be to find?” Another friend asked why it had to specifically be Cocker Spaniel kidneys and not a Great Dane. Probably the cuteness factor. They need a cute pup to tug on those heart strings. Cow heart strings to be exact.

As yet another friend pointed out, people today are too far away from serious diseases. They weren’t around for polio for example. They never showed up to school to find another empty chair. People back then stood in line to get their polio vaccine, just like people in rural Africa today will walk for miles to get their children vaccinated. They know the risks. Anti-vaxxers make them up instead.

We live in a society where a child’s death is a shock and almost unimaginable. Children are young and full of life. One hundred years ago people knew different. Children are fragile and illness could (and did) wipe out entire families in a matter of a week or two. That’s why when you go to an old graveyard, you will see a gravestone with a list of names and dates, all the way from little Penelope age 8 months to Matthew age 14. Sanitation made a huge difference with disease control but vaccinations are on the same pedestal for protection of lives. When you look at disease statistics, there’s a huge drop for sanitation and an equally huge drop for vaccines.

Out of the three things I’ve mentioned, it’s the anti-vaxxers who make me furious. They aren’t putting themselves at risk (unless their parents were cretins too and didn’t vaccinate) they’re putting their baby at risk and all the people who come in contact with their baby. The cancer patients, babies too young to vaccinate, children with a severe allergy to an ingredient, immunocompromised people, and the people whose vaccine simply didn’t take. And they sit there smugly claiming everyone else is sheep for listening to the medical field while they read discredited articles and outright fiction. But they’re being told they are the smart ones and it makes them feel special. They listen to people like David Cucumber Wolfe, who thinks mushroom spores are trying to make it to the sun and that mushrooms came from space. Oh and that it’s the salt in the oceans that keeps them from floating away. I wonder how he explains the Great Lakes?

And they’re going to pat their backs on protecting their children with essential oils (which can harm children, don’t do it) and homeopathy (which is another word for expensive water). And they’ll keep patting themselves on the back until more and more outbreaks start. And even then they’ll be idiots. I read a post recently from an anti-vaxx site and a heartbroken mother had a young child die from some vaccinable disease and she sat at her computer saying she would never vaccinate, wouldn’t the vaccine have made that disease worse for her little boy? And I just wanted to reach through the screen and shake her and tell her to wake up, she’s the sheep and the “natural health” people are making a fortune off her and her fellow idiots. Google Mercola’s mansion if you don’t believe me.

But I’m not the jackass whisperer so, instead I’m going to work on my book and have a bowl of minestrone for dinner. And I’ll try to decide if my waist needs me to make another batch of homemade biscuits and if my mind and heart needs another stroll through Facebook and a hundred posts about little stolen children living in cages. Maybe I’ll just use messenger. And the cretins will live their lives and I’ll live mine. And Colin will continue to be female while masquerading as a cis male. And the kiwi farmers will continue to have a conniption fit every time that’s mentioned.

And, yes, I’m going to make those biscuits because life is short and biscuits are yummy.

my biscuits

2016… the year that won’t die…

2016I started out thinking that 2016 was going to be my year. My best friend of five years had asked me to start dating him and, by February, we were already hammering out rough plans for a simple, yet simply perfect, wedding… complete with a hot air balloon ride and trip to the Doctor Who museum. I bought plane tickets to see him in October and had a countdown going on my phone for how many days I had left. He was counting down too.

At first the goal was for him to move in with me but then we switched to me moving there. I didn’t realize it at the time but a lot of the reason for my decision was deep depression. I simply didn’t feel like anyone other than Lenny wanted me so what point was there in staying in Canada?

I knew I was struggling. I had Ativan from my family doctor for panic attacks and a low dose of Effexor for depression and I still had to hold myself back with all my strength some days to keep from running, screaming, out the front door of work. I couldn’t do that. I needed to be employed. I needed to stay employable so that I could move. So I transferred stores to work at one a five minute walk from home. That cut out two hours of transit time a day but my anxiety and depression increased. I confessed to Lenny that I was suicidal and he broke up with me two days later. Then I wrote a long and rambling letter on Facebook which was worrying enough that my sister took me to the hospital.

Going to the hospital netted me with more medication and a psychiatrist but things weren’t perfect. There were gaps between the various forms of disability assistance and I had three months with no income (not sequentially). Lenny first backed out on having me stay over then he blocked me the morning after my first hospital stay. I’ve never heard from him again.

It wasn’t until the late fall that things started picking up but I was still suicidal and still struggling. And flipping the calendar to 2017 didn’t solve anything. I was back in the hospital in January and February. Then came income tax time and me, in my infinite wisdom, decided that maybe I wasn’t in the best mental condition to do my taxes, even though I do them every year. So I hired someone.

July rolled around and I got an unexpected windfall of $200 and change. It was nice but there had to be a reason why. And that reason was the person who did my taxes never included my rent so, when it came time to calculate the Trillium benefit, I got the bare minimum. So I worked with the Canadian Revenue Agency, sent in the information, and requested a lump sum payment in June 2018 instead of monthly payments.

Then Colin got audited for, you guessed it, 2016. They wanted proof of rent. We got a basic income tax statement showing out total rent and I wrote a letter on it saying he paid half while I paid the other half. Then his GST cheque arrived and I figured that was good enough. It wasn’t. He got another letter asking for proof that he’s on the lease AND proof he pays half the rent. Nothing’s ever that easy.

Trillium was supposed to be deposited yesterday. I checked at 7:30am when I woke up and nothing. But I’ve had deposits as late as 8am so I wasn’t too worried. At least until 8am arrived and my money didn’t. I had a group to attend so I called the CRA while I was walking to the bus, the whole bus ride, and walking to the group. Two wrong numbers and a number that lead to a message stating “All our operators are dealing with other clients and our queues are full. Please try again later.” Finally I got someone who wasn’t dealing with Trillium but used some of the same software. He discovered they didn’t have my letter so he transferred me to someone else who gave me a bunch of information that I wrote on a sheet of paper towel. I’d love to say that was it but I also had to sign up for their online site and that was another headache with another phone call.

So tomorrow I have to write a letter for our building’s office asking for a letter for both Colin and I and for him to be finally put on the lease. Then I need to hand deliver it first thing Monday morning and hope our letters are ready soon. Maybe then will 2016 finally be done and buried because I’m telling you, it is truly starting to stink!

 

For my Ontario readers…

One more day. One more day until Ontario votes. Before you sit down to cast your vote, I want you to remember these things.

Doug Ford was the only member at city hall to vote against a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youths, the most marginalized and at risk people.

Doug Ford complained about a group home for autistic people, saying *they* should be out in the country somewhere instead of ruining property values. “Put them out on 43 acres so they can run around.” He does know they‘re people and not puppies, right?

Recently he was asked what he’d do for LGBTQ homeless youth and he responded that he’d lower their taxes. Because the homeless have such high taxes to begin with.

He *still* hasn’t decided if he’s going to march in the Toronto Pride parade. I’m betting he’ll decide on “no” as soon as the polls close.

He wants to get ride of rent controls. There used to be total rent controls. If I was paying $670 a month and moved out, the next person could only be charged $670, unless there were major upgrades. Mike Harris cut that and our rents have since skyrocketed. Ford now wants to cut the rent control that allows current tenants to only be charged a certain percentage of rent a year. For example, my rent increase was $38/m this year. If Ford has his way, you could be paying $1200/m and get a notice saying you’re now paying $1400/m. Ford claims that will *help* tenants. Help them right into shelters that is. Exactly how many people on disability and old age pension can he fit into homeless shelters? A fixed income doesn’t stretch just because the rent does.

He’s trying to buy votes with a $1 a beer campaign. Really? Is your vote really worth $1. Is your health care, your child’s education, really worth a $24 two-four?

He’s also running his personal business into the ground. How do you expect him to balance the budget if he can’t keep his own business up and running.

He went out in 2013 and bought votes from people in public housing for $20. Just went in with a wad of cash and started handing out money. He claimed it was a “gift”. Do you think he’s changed in the last 5 years. Do you think his ethics have improved?

We can’t afford Doug Ford. He’ll transform Ontario into a place that best serves his rich friends and will screw over everyone else.

Please vote wisely and make your voice heard. Thank you!

Just a stones throw away…

When I was a little girl, in the 70’s, a family named the Martins* moved across the street from us. They had three kids, just like us, and both us kids and our parents clicked. A few short years later the family moved to farm country on the other side of Toronto. They bought a lovely ranch house with two basements (something that intrigued us to no end), a tiny barn, and a pond complete with frogs.

The parents decided to make the friendship work despite the distance. We’d go up there to visit on occasion and every summer the parents would each take turns having all six kids for a week. It was on one of those weeks that we ran into the bull.

Penny the pony

I’m in the yellow

The Martins lived a quarter mile down the road from the Waltons. In the city that would be blocks and blocks away but in farm country that meant they were one neighbour apart. We’d walk down the dirt road to the Waltons, stopping half way to splash in a little creek and wash the sweat and dust off us. That cleanliness didn’t last for long but it sure felt good at the time.

Kirsten was always waiting for us to show up. Usually we’d go to the cow barn where the cats and all their kittens were. This was a huge favourite of ours but not so much our parents because sometimes we tried to sneak kittens home.

“Why don’t we go to the garage instead,” Kirsten suggested this time. We were all underwhelmed at the prospect.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she cajoled. “My grandfather never threw anything out and we have all sorts of neat stuff in there. Antique cars, old fashioned stoves, umm, lots of stuff.”

Well it was obvious she wanted to go and maybe there would be something interested so we agreed. In hindsight we should have checked out those damn kittens.

“We have to cut through the cow field,” Kirsten explained unnecessarily as we passed a cow.”

“There’s just cows, right?” Sarah Martin asked.

“Cows and one bull,” Kirsten replied. That didn’t appear to make Sarah happy.

“Don’t worry,” Kirsten continued. “He was my 4-H project. I raised him from a tiny calf. I bottle fed him. He knows me.”

She scooped down and grabbed a handful of gravel. She threw one over toward the fence where several cows grazed. “See? That’s him there.”

“Should you be throwing rocks at him?” I commented warily. I was a city kid but was reasonably sure bulls could get a tad testy. I was also sure that throwing rocks at anything was a bad idea.

“Oh he’s fine,” Kirsten replied as she threw another rock and then another. “The only time we have to worry is if he starts snorting and pawing the ground.”

That was when, with absolute movie timing, the bull began to snort.

“Just walk fast,” Kirsten urged, “don’t run. He’ll start chasing if you run.”

Her advice hadn’t got us very far yet but it wasn’t like the rest of us had any better ideas so we sped up but not too fast. How fast is not too fast?

“You can run when you get around the side of the building. There’s a missing board in the wall that you can squeeze through.”

She had to be kidding. A board? We had to squeeze through a gap the size of a board? Course the plus side was we didn’t have to wait for her to unlock a door.

My sister Sue and her friend started out at least 10 feet ahead of us but we were closing that gap quickly. Soon I could hear their feet pounding. At least I hoped it was them and not the bull. I was too busy speed walking to look back. Then I finally got around the corner, just in time to see Kirsten and Sarah dart in front of Sarah’s sister Megan. Megan was portly so to speak. I watched as she squeezed into the hole and listened as the bull’s snorting grew louder and louder. Then it came.

“I’m stuck,” Megan wailed.

“Really?” I blurted. It had to be a joke because I could hear that bull now.

I looked past her and realized there were two wooden walls with a missing board each. Of course they weren’t one across from the other, they were about a foot separate. And Megan was stuck between the two of them.

“Pull!” Sarah yelled as she grabbed Megan’s hands. Meanwhile I pushed. What felt like years later, she popped out of that wall like the cork from a champagne bottle.

I quickly slid through and moments later the bull arrived, battering at the wooden boards like he could plow his way through. Kirsten eyed the wall suspiciously then climbed onto the hood of a 20’s car and scampered onto the roof.

“There’s a hole into the loft here,” she explained as she slipped out of sight.

I scrambled up after her and soon was joined by Sarah and Sue. Megan was too big to fit so she had to settle for hiding on the far side of the shed.

Kirsten was right, there were interesting things in the shed but I was too busy paying attention to the bull raging underneath us to give them much attention. At first he raged and the pounding of his hooves was thunderous but he slowly quieted down and eventually there was silence.

Kirsten volunteered to leave first and soon gave the okay. All the cows were grazing peacefully by one of the fences, the bull amongst them, and we made it out of the field safely.

I’d like to say that was the last time we went to that shed but I’d be lying. I’m reasonably sure that was the last time Kirsten threw stones at a bull though.

*all names have been changed.