Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Dream of Radishes

It's a fine thing to dream and make plans, but it takes serious dedication see those plans through! I'm a procrastinator and a hoarder; so you can imagine how much I hate purging and getting ready to move. My desk is the most obvious spot to start. It alone has prompted friends to intervene. They mutter about crews of junk haulers as I steadfastly refuse to let anyone near it.
It's my mess I'll clean it.
I know it needs sorting, but the desk has been there a long time. This won't be easy.
One day at a time, one pile at a time, that's my plan. I know it'll take time, but we're planning on being here at least more 3-ish years. We want to clean out the front closet that only holds bags and outgrown winter wear, buy wire shelving and make that our pantry.
Then we'll have room to store preserves, and pickles, and gleaming jars of homegrown herbs. Not to mention that we'll be reducing the amount of stored "stuff" we don't use anymore. I'm hoping to have enough room underneath that we can put put our seasonal footwear and thereby help clean up the front hall.

There's a drawer in the dark wood dresser that needs gluing and nailing since it's nearly unusable now. I need to hit the hardware store this week for industrial strength glue.

The whole apartment needs a good coat of paint, but if we're only staying 3 years, why bother? It's not like I can paint it the colour I want anyway. Better to invest in the community garden that will feed us instead.
I dream of a garden ripe with peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, beans and peas, carrots and sage, basil and chives. I wouldn't mind trying my hand at collards too, just to see if I can. Radishes, onions and maybe early gherkin pickles too.
I can almost taste them now.

First though, to find the desk.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Explanations, Plans and Survival, Oh My!

My last blog update was a little vague I suppose. I was trying to avoid the "the sky is falling!" screaming message. I guess I avoided it too well, because a few of you were in the dark.
So, this time, I shall explain, and my apologies for not being clearer, sooner.

It is no longer an extremist viewpoint that our society is changing, evolving and failing in many ways. Society no longer helps those who need a hand up. Not our fellow man, not our government(on any level). It is as though, for the most part, we are turning our backs on each other.
There are still some that try their damndest, don't misunderstand me, but by and large, we are not the society we once were.
Hurricane Katrina, the day the Twin Towers were toppled, the overwhelming number of homeless and working poor, I could list signposts until my fingers fall off. My point is that our world is changing. Hurricane Katrina made it abundantly clear that we cannot rely on others for our survival. We alone must wake up and take stock of our own situations. Now, I know that the liklihood of my neighborhood being devastated by a major hurricane are slim, but we did have a big power failure not long ago. We could still cook, and well, but our neighbors could not say the same. What about those who only had electric can openers? We were eating quite well. Breakfast on the BBQ, pizza, fruit...we were comfortable.
But all this brought us to the question of what if it were a longer power outage? What if it were some other crises that crippled our city? Both the American and Canadian governments have emergency preparedness pages on the web, so I didn't think we were too extreme.
We decided that if our little apartment could not sustain us for an extended period of time, and that's not realistically going to happen, we would have to look at going somewhere we could survive.
Mom's house.

It's a choice that makes sense for a lot of reasons, but the only way to get there if we had to would be to walk.
We have no vehicle and we AREN'T leaving our dogs behind!
So yeah, we'd have to walk it. Hence what I called The Great Migration, after The Land Before Time kids movie.

So, shortly after that last post, my friend Debra and I were talking on the phone about where I'd like to be if I had no obstacles.
Mom's house. Okay, anywhere closer to her and Dad and my brother would be nice!
"So why not move back?" she asked me
Money, logistics and the kids were the answers that came to mind.
The kids turned out to be the easiest solutions. Sort of. Jimmy was much more cool with it than I thought he would. Shandon was in shock and I'm not sure, but I think he's hoping we'll change our minds. Braydon is the tough cookie. This is the only home he's ever known. He does not do change well. Even less well than me.
He is the one I worry about.

But, in the meantime...

We start making plans, we take small steps now, we save what we can now (which likely won't be much for awhile) and we inch our way toward our goal. Which is to move in 3-4 years. After I get my print journalism degree. Another usable skill set besides retail. After Shandon is done high school. After we have had some time to ease Braydon into the idea of a move.
In the meantime, we keep an eye on the job market and home rental situation in Sault Ste. Marie.
We build a stockpile of canned goods and hand-powered can openers, candles and other supplies; just in case the shit hits the fan. In the meantime, we learn the skills that will keep us warm, fed and somewhat more comfortable if we have to make the Great Migration. In the meantime, Mom has said that we can plant fruit trees and such on her land. Things that we can all benefit from, things that will take some time to get established.

Survival "huh" moment of the week:
Did you know you can use jute twine as tinder? Simply unspin it, and gently separate the threads. To keep them really waterproof, melt some candle stubs down to a liquid wax, soak the jute twine lengths, remove and let dry on newspaper. Good for camping trips when you want to have a fast, strong fire until the wood catches.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baby Steps

Since my last entry, we here have made a few inroads on getting ready for, as we call it, "The Great Migration"
We decided to call it that so that we can ease the two younger boys into the idea of walking that far without alarming them. They'll be busy objecting to walking 788 K, or roughly 489 miles, which will take roughly 2 months to walk.
Barring big delays, sickness and other assorted crises.
(I'm tired already)
We figure the eldest boy will settle back into walking just fine, and B and I have always enjoyed walking, so no problem there once our bodies settle back into it.

This morning we were looking at routes, and we think we have a rough one laid out.

Over the past few days we've been looking at equipment and supplies and skills.
We've learned that we have a fire tinder quite close at hand , and in copious supply. (Yay for jute twine!) It's an easy enough thing to wax it too so we have dry tinder no matter what the weather. We have emergency candles. We have one wool blanket and a crank flashlight.
Not much for now.

But we have been scoping out camping supply companies, sports equipment supply houses; seeing what's available and what's frivolous. we've been talking about how to keeps spirits up when the boys realize their Game Boys will no longer work as they're used to. Games, books and so on. Honestly, we would miss our iPods. But apparently we may not need to miss them too much. As a friend pointed out, ebooks and the like can be charged now by solar power. which means, in theory, so could the iPods and Game Boys. So we've looked into solar power sources. It may all be a temporary band-aid, but if it gets the boys north in a happier state of mind, then I'll invest in it. We've been doing a lot of talking about how much water we all need. We've learned about on-the-go water purification and storage.
We figured out that we may even be able to take out bikes up, instead of walking. This would cut down greatly on our travel time. Of course this also means a change in cost of the migration, weight considerations and a myriad of other things. So we're still talking about that one.
But our guts are telling us we'll be walking.
Realistically, what B and I are talking about doing, is taking a day even at this time of year, just striking out and seeing how far we can walk, in winter boots, until a certain time of day, and then figure out how far we walked.
My thought is that if we do this experiment in winter, wearing boots, we might have a fair idea of how far the two youngest boys can walk. Remember too, we'll have two dogs with us as far as we know.
So we'll look at doing that soon.

For now though, it's time to head off to the job that will pay for all this.
More tomorrow!

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Times They Are A'Changin'

Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time, knows I am not an "extreme" personality.
I do not think extremes are healthy; for anyone.
But I believe in being prepared. For anything.
Once in my lifetime, I knew people I thought were extremists. They talked about the changing times, they bought batteries by the dozen, canned tuna and soup by the cases. They had an elaborate system of organizing their food, oldest products eaten first, dated and so on. Nothing expired. They had medications and antibiotics stockpiled, they made sure they were located close to water, away from major cities...all "in case".

At the time, I thought they were going a little over the top.

Years went on, I moved on, made a family of my own.
Then I woke up one day to watch how the horror in a major, American city unfolded. I watched a vibrant, lively city suffer, weep, die and decay. As horrified as I was at that, I was not prepared for the news coverage that showed a dead body washing up against a fence, in the backwash of a news boat. I was not prepared for that at all. I thought then, and still believe today, that the news media should never have shown such an image.
That was someone's parent possibly, someone's cousin, someone's sibling, daughter or son. That was once a human being.
And shocked, appalled and stunned as I was; I did learn something from the entire situation.
No matter how advanced our society is, our civic structure, our government can not always help us.
Yes, Hurricane Katrina was years ago. August 29th, 2005 saw massive flooding, which resulted in massive loss of life. The blame was eventually laid on the doorstep of the US Army Corps, who were responsible for the building and maintenance of the levees and floodgates. 80% of the city flooded, and much of that stayed flooded for weeks. The hurricane caused 7 million gallons of oil to spill into the water. Part of the cleanup involved dumping floodwater into Lake Pontchartrain for 43 days. That water contained raw sewage, pesticides, heavy metals, and bacteria.
When the hurricane left the city on August 30th, the people who had survived became desperate. There was excessive looting as people began to do whatever was necessary to get food, water, baby food and diapers, pet food and anything they thought they needed. The city was not prepared. There was a sharp rise in violent crime; rape, home invasion and so forth. It is a part of government responsibility, at all levels, to be prepared for disaster of all kinds; man-made and environmental. Part of the tragedy of New Orleans came about because the varying levels of government suffered from poor communication. FEMA claimed to have supplied over 700,000 applicants with emergency housing, but only one-fifth of that was actually supplied. All levels of government were criticized for poor response, much of the criticism came from the Mayor and Governor of New Orleans. There were deaths days after the hurricane had blown itself out, from thirst, starvation, exhaustion and dismal hygiene. There was poor planning on a civic level, where buildings and relief centers were concerned.
The Louisiana Superdome was designed for an occupancy of 800, but 30,000 arrived seeking safety. The New Orleans Civic Center was not designed as an evacuation center at all, but 25,000 arrived seeking safety, food and water.

So, what did I learn from this?

I learned that no massive structure can offer safety from death by dehydration, hunger or un-sanitary conditions. No government can protect us properly from Mother Nature when she's pissed. Rarely will a neighbor sacrifice to save another, but it IS possible. I learned too that people, generally, have a herd mentality. I also learned that man will turn on their fellow man in order to survive, to a great degree.
I learned that, essentially, we are all in this for ourselves first. Then, when we are comfortable, warm, fed and safe, THEN we have a responsibility to help our fellow man.

Do you know how you would accomplish this?

Neither do I.
So as of last night, Betty and I started thinking in a logical way about our own state of preparedness. We started looking at what we know how to do, what supplies we already have and so on.
I know how to skin an animal, I know how to make a fire. I know, in theory, how to acquire safe drinking water, although I've not yet had to do it. Betty has a firm grip on the physical aspects of what we'll need to keep us alive and fed, and hydrated, and comfortable.

We face some challenges, to be sure. We will not be ready for quite some time. We have to plan and prepare; but do it all rationally and calmly without shrieking about the sky falling around our ears.
And we will.
Hang on to your hats and rainboots as I take you along for the ride in the days to come.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Awakening

I find it ironic that the things that make me want to blog always seem to happen at work, hours away from when I actually can blog. By the time I reach my computer, the urge is gone, or forgotten, or I am over whatever irritated me in the first place. No, I can't write it down at work, customer service in a store demands attention. Ironic. Lately it's been those very same customers that irritate me.
What happened to the golden age of manners? When we were all taught to recite even the most basic "please" and "thank you"? Once, I would have told you those that are joined to their cell phone were the worst, but that's not true anymore. Now I think that manners have slipped away for the most part because of people's attitudes towards their fellow man.
People don't care ... most of them.
If they did, they would look for someone behind them before they allow a door to close. They would put the cell phone down to ask for whatever it is they need. They would say thank you for whatever service had just been provided for them.
Now, granted, if I have just sold you a pack of cigarettes or a lottery ticket, or even a small pack of gum, it may be no big deal to you; but time was when interaction equaled manners. I say thank you, when I really mean "thank you for coming to my store, instead of that other one down the street". When I see my customer on two crutches coming across the parking lot, and I know he's coming to get his cigarettes, I go and open the door for him if I don't have a lineup in front of me. Because I know he appreciates the help, and it's the right thing to do.
He thanks me, and I know he is thanking me for my attention, and caring enough about him to help.
If I saw him at the mall, and I did not know him from a stranger and I had nothing to gain from the experience, I would open the door for him and hold it anyway.
Because it's the right thing to do. Because it is my job as a human being to help whoever I can.

So please, when you go about your daily lives, getting your coffee, gas or a loaf of bread, please think about the most basic of interactions, and remember that you really can change the course of a person's day with a simple "thank you".

I think I've grown a bit since my last post. I say this not to be egotistical, but as a way of exploring recent developments.
I have always been a spiritual person, just not in an obvious way. Lately, things are changing a little for me, helping me grow.
I am more aware of Spirit, the Universe, the Great Spirit, the POWER, call it whatever you like. I am getting more in tune with the elements, little by little, and spending more time inside myself. I feel the need to go out into the trees, get in tune with my drum again, pray from the midst of a creek, sit by a fire and feed it with cedar boughs and meditate in the dirt. I feel the need to connect with Mother Earth, the Grandfathers and Grandmothers, the Sky Beings and all the inhabitants of my Spiritual world. They bring me peace, and the older I get, I find I seek out and crave their peace more often. At the same time, I am driven to learn about other ways, not to change my Spiritual world, but understand another's better.
I will not turn my back on Owl while I learn about the Goddess. Learning about the elemental aspect of Wicca will help me to understand the bigger picture and see how similar our ways really are.
Through all of this, I have come to understand that not all change is horrible. Sometimes it is necessary to cut away the old growth to make room for the new bright shoots of understanding.

Sometimes we must travel through lessons we would rather avoid, to learn the hard truths. The truths that make us better, stronger and more resilient.
I would rather have avoided all the lessons, heartache and pain that my ex plopped into my world; but I still believe that at some point, my soul chose this general path for my life in order to learn from the experience.
I have always believed in reincarnation, even though I do not remember ever distinctly being told about it. I have always believed that our souls chose a general path before being born into each body; so that the soul can learn from each life and take the experiences back to the great body. The ancient Celts believed in reincarnation, according to the writings of Julius Caesar. Native people all over the world believe in the ability of the soul to be born time and time again. and of course reincarnation figures heavily in the beliefs of Buddists, Scientologists, Hindus, and the list goes on and on.

And this morning, while walking the youngest son to school, the thought hits me.

That's why I finish so few knitting projects.
It is not about the completion of a project; it is more about the stillness that the project brings my soul.
I do not want the stillness to be replaced by the anxiety of starting a new project, so I fear the finish.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Meet The Neighbors: Rage and Hate

I have known for a long time that there was danger in letting people in. Start to care about someone, and you're done.
It's over.
Any time I have listened to my gut, it has served me well.
When I did not listen, I was in danger.
Twenty one years ago, I did not listen to my gut.
I guess I had not developed the self-preservation skills enough to listen.
I jumped without thinking first.
And in the past ten years that leap has come back to bite me in the ass so many times I wonder why I ever did it.
Why did I marry him?

Some four or five years ago, I was astounded by a phone call in which he admitted to a grievous, unfathomable, horrible crime. There was a hard period of comprehension, acceptance, and a long period of trying to help... for the boys sake.
I should have listened to my gut that was churning in anger and betrayal.
I didn't. I kept trying to help.
I should have listened when the nightmares came back.
I didn't. I tried to tell myself that I was teaching the boys how to be better human beings.
I should have listened when he became a familiar lump on my sofa.
I should have paid attention when he got comfortable enough to reach for the remote and channel hop as if he belonged on my sofa.
I didn't.
He did not move in. I may have been naive, but I was not stupid.

When he got a home on the other side of the city, it was a relief.
When he moved back to Toronto, I could breathe easier.
And then the mail came. And kept coming. And finally I hit a point where I stood up and said "No more!"
I opened a letter from our government on day to find that they thought he lived with me, because his mail came to my address.
So that was the beginning of a fight to prove he did not live with me, and the end of his maildrop.
Things were quiet and predictable for a number of years.

When we did not get child support for an entire month, we started looking for him.
My gut began to churn when I was forced to admit that he had either lost another job, or he had been arrested again.
But some part of me wanted to believe that he had learned the first time.
I should have listened to my twisting gut.
But no, we made calls, sent instant messages....and that was Wednesday.
The Thursday before, Betty's father died, and we had a hell of a week.
And now this past Thursday I got a long distance call from his brother. He who never calls me had reached out this time to tell me that the Genius had been arrested again.
My gut flipped and turned to water.
"Do you know why?" I asked
"No, just that he's been in jail a month or so."

Now, why would Genius 2.0 not ask his older brother why he was in jail? In the back of my mind, I know something was fishier than a herring cannery, but I didn't push.
Instead, at the urging of a friend, I went digging the next day.
He was result number three in Google.
My eyes skimmed over the info, his name, his age... oh my god, his email address, oh my god, there's his instant messages handle...and my forehead hit the desk.
He was caught in a sting designed to catch people like him.
This crime was worse. More immoral, more slimy, more intending, worse than his prior conviction.
I wanted to sob, not because I harbor any feelings, because I have nothing but hate in my heart for him. I wanted to sob because I didn't see this one coming.
I wanted to sob for my shildren, because this story is carried on every major southern Ontario newspaper, website and sex offender list known to every frightened parent.
He had already been in jail a month.
On the first day of his children's new school year, he was caught by the police who keep children safe from people like him.

Right then, I wanted to throw up.
I still do.

I have learned from this. I have learned I am still capable of hatred. Pure, black, oily, stinking, putrid hatred that sits in the bottom of my gut. It keeps company with my rage.
They are neighbors that I thought I had worked through, but I doubt now I will ever be rid of them. I hate knowing both Hatred and Rage. I think of them as squatters that I may never be rid of.

I can only hope that Hatred and Rage will eventually be scorched by my new friends Hope and Love.
I have made new friends that accept me as I am; hatred, rage and all.
They don't know what a big step it was to open myself up again.
I can only hope that through this window I've opened again, only light and goodness come through.

Because I don't know if I can live with these oily squatters for the rest of my life.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Growth and Stagnation

Intentions.... No matter how hard I try to keep up with this blog, there is always a period when it gets away from me.
Ah well, here we are.
Where to start....
Since January there has been a lot happen, and not much happen, all at the same time.
I have knitted a bit. Trying to get the "Ocean" socks done for Boo, and I don't think he's going to fit them by fall, when he'll need them. At times like this, it astounds me how fast he's growing. I know I knit slowly but...! So Betty has suggested that I just finish them and donate them in the fall along with the hats, scarves and mitts I may have completed by then too. Unless I start a scarf soon, just for bus knitting, these socks may take everything I have. I have so many projects I'd like to do, knitting I mean, but I'll never get them done by fall, or even the beginning of winter.
Second Life is too ....intriguing. It calls to me, it sucks me in. It's hard to resist it's Siren's call.

I have been getting some done. A couple of poems of the mystical sort. I've started a fiction piece, we'll see where that goes. I've started a friend's biography, not sure how far I'll get on that. I'd really love to get back to the "smart house" book, no idea where that time will come from.

I've gotten back into meditating too. That's going well. Found some music that helps and brings on the strangest feelings and visions....

Second Life...
I've made some interesting friendships in the past few months, solidified some friendships and let a few go their own way. Although I must say, it's been a hard lesson to learn that not everyone who starts off close will stay that way.

Growth...comfort...inner peace...drive...contentment...curiosity...ambition...service.
Yes, it's been an interesting few months.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Secret Lives of UFO's. (Part 1)

It's a good thing that I don't rely on Wikipedia for a whole lot of knowledge. Because it hasn't got much to say on the subject of scarves.

A scarf is a piece of fabric worn on or near the head or around the neck for warmth, cleanliness, fashion or forreligious reasons. They can come in a variety of differentcolors.

That leaves so much unsaid.
Like how useful a scarf is, how it can either be a piece of garbage if made from the wrong yarn, or perfect if made in the right colour and from the most perfect yarn.
It also doesn't tell me why I love to knit them. I love to pick the right colour, depending on the recipient. I love to peruse stitch encyclopedias, looking for just the right combination of knits and purls that I can work on the bus. I love having scarves as a mindless project I can work on as the mood suits me. I love knowing I can change someone's life by knitting a scarf, as I try to do every winter , with knitting for my local homeless.
Why then has this poor scarf sat for so long?
Well, that's a good question.
It's a nice scarf, this photo doesn't do it justice. It is mint green, light blue and white variegated yarn, so soft that you just want to rub it on your cheek. I think of this one as "Sea Waves".
It's for Betty, who I know will use it and love it. It is knit on larger needles so she will have a lighter weight scarf that will tie easily, needles that are supposed to help me finish quickly.
Why then does it only see the light of day when I take it along to work?

I am trying very hard to finish it.
Push me.