Learn to Smoke Meat – Meet a Blogger

One of the tasks I set myself this summer was to get more involved with my local community. The stress of the last several years –  dealing with constant money anxiety, trying to find different ways of making money while managing my declining health, my declining health, the immigration process, the rapid and terrifying decline in world politics, – has had a significant impact on my mental and physical health.

Things got particularly bad last year when I ended up spending more than 3/4 of the year on steroids. I needed an outlet.

Ever since we moved into the neighbourhood, I’ve been coveting a plot in the Community Garden. During one of the walks I was taking with my new chair, I happened to run into some of the gardeners who have plots there. I mentioned this was my second summer of waiting, and they surprised me by letting me know that they had a plot available. That was the catalyst that led to me discovering the amazing programs that are happening right here in my neighbourhood.

One of them is a community Wood Burning Oven. Every two weeks or so, they build up the fire and they do a pizza bake. After that the fire is available for anyone to use to cook their own foods, including bread.

The whole group is really amazing, and I’m glad to be working and spending time with people so dedicated to creating community and building up community as well. They all do so much and have so much passions and caring, it’s just an amazing energy to be around.

One of the things they do is organize these great Community Kitchens: events where someone with a certain knowledge teaches anyone who is interested. The food, to a point, is paid for by a local community organizations, people get to try samples, and everyone gets to learn a new skill.

When they found out that I smoke meat, they were immediately interested.

Tomorrow, I will be breaking out the BBQ’s, and using them to teach people how to smoke meat. I’m also going to finally convert an old mini fridge I’ve had for 2 years now, into being a cold smoker! I’m really excited.

The event is taking place at the Bayshore Park Community Garden and Oven in Ottawa. It’s free to attend, just show up between 12 and 3.  I’ll be there working on the BBQ and possibly doing some art as well as time and weather and people who show up permit.

Come out and say Hello if you are interested!

 

Learn to Smoke Meat – Meet a Blogger
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You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

(CN: Mentions of death and fire damage)

Actually, yes; yes you do.

It’s a technique used to both fight and prevent dangerous wildfires. A section of forest, or field, or whatever other terrain is under threat is subjected to a controlled burn. This serves two purposes. The main one is that it creates a pocket of space of cleared material that cannot feed the fire. The wildfire burns to the edge of the cleared space, and finding no fuel, burns out.

Additionally, the controlled burn clears the area of dead vegetation and speeds up the rate at which nutrients are returned back into the soil. This helps speed the growth of fresh green vegetation, which prevents the likelihood of future wildfires developing.

It’s actually a tactic being used right now in British Columbia to help fight the devastating wildfires that have taken place this year. In fact, the current wildfires are as bad as they are right now in part because the use of fire in firefighting was dramatically decreased in the last several years because of the perception that fires are always harmful. Because people were more afraid of potential property damage now, or a reduction in tourism, than they were of the deaths and devastation that would result from not taking the appropriate preventative steps.

Continue reading “You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire”

You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

Rise of the Fool

They called him a joke.

They said the people who supported him were fringe elements, just a bunch of extremists without popular support. Rabble-rousers making up the audience of beer halls; a bunch of drunk fools getting into trouble. Just a bunch of children.

His book was a bestseller.

His explicit hate and racism was said to be just for show. Not genuine, but just a way to gain the masses trust and attention. Interesting how no one considered what the fact that such hate would gain the trust of the masses actually meant.

No one thought he would make it very far in politics. He was a joke. There was no way he would actually win.

When he did, the whole world looked at the electors in shock, confusion, and a sense of horror. No one thought he would win.

Even after he won, no one thought he was really a threat. No one believed that he would actually manage to achieve his horrifying promises. It was all just rhetoric they said. He was too incompetent. He was too weak.

When armed resistances started up, protesting and threatening violence against any who spoke against him, it was excused as the childish antics of angry young men. Not a representation of what they really thought, but just a manifestation of the anger they felt at being disenfranchised by bad economic times.

The rise in vandalism and violence was excused as childish antics and not an indication of how they really felt.

The world mocked him. Comedians at the time drew attention creating caricatures of him as a bumbling angry clown with a funny appearance.

Who am I talking about? Continue reading “Rise of the Fool”

Rise of the Fool

Homemade Polish Pickles!

One of my favourite things about summer is getting the chance to can and pickle various local produce for the winter. It’s a lot of work, but if done right, can give me access to less expensive, healthier, and more environmentally friendly food all year round.

I learned how to can and pickle from my mother. She used to do it every summer and, though not always willingly, I used to help her. I still use the recipes she taught me, though the specific measurements are what I remember and so may not be exactly the same. Some recipes I discovered and created myself.

Polish pickles are something I always want to do, but often only manage to do a few jars when I manage to do any at all. It’s a shame because these pickles, which are fermented and use no vinegar, are really the only ones I truly like and that don’t hurt my stomach.

They have a wonderful slightly spice taste, they’re salty, garlicky, and just perfect on a rye bread with some liverwurst and salami, and a slice of tomato. They’re also the base for Pickle Soup.

This year, through sheer iron determination and buying small batches of pickles at a time, I managed to can more than ever before. All told I currently have 19 jars of pickles, and I’m pretty sure I gave away 3 jars.

Some I canned the old fashioned way, but the rest I put through a water-bath canner. I’ve never done that before so I look forward to seeing what that does to the overall process

Continue reading “Homemade Polish Pickles!”

Homemade Polish Pickles!

How the Hell Did You Finish Writing a Book?

It is one of the most common questions I am asked by people looking for writing advice. I understand the frustration. Before finishing Young, Sick, and Invisible, I had attempted and failed to write several different novels. I have a folder of dozens of half-written or half-outlined ideas that I still hope to revisit.

Writing YSI was a constant state of anxiety about whether it was something I could finish. Between ADHD making focus and starting difficult, and troll brain thoughts telling me I was unable to ever finish a project that wasn’t set by a teacher or a boss.

Even after I managed to finish YSI, I was convinced that it was a fluke. That telling my own story is easy in comparison to making up a story completely. I had started writing Hunting Blackbirds by this time, and still in the back of my mind were the thoughts telling me I couldn’t do it. When i wrote the final line of the first draft, it was overwhelming. I did it. I wrote a novel. Regardless of anything that happened next, I had completed a novel and no one would be able to take that away from me.

Finishing a book is hard, especially when you are dealing with mental illness and disability on top of it. Most of the advice out there for writers is mostly directed at either neurotypical people, or don’t include advice on breaking through mental barriers. I’ve been thinking for a while about all the things that helped me, with both books. What tools did I use to help with motivation, to help cope with troll brain thoughts, to help keep the writing going past the point of writer’s block and scene block? Here’s what I finally came up with, and I hope that other struggling writers out there find it useful.

Continue reading “How the Hell Did You Finish Writing a Book?”

How the Hell Did You Finish Writing a Book?

Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities

Dear Councillor Taylor,

I hope you are well.

My name is Ania Bula. I am one of your constituents living at the A_____ neighbourhood near Bayshore Park. This summer, the city has been working on updating the local Community Fieldhouse to better accommodate the needs of the neighbourhood. In consultation with local community organizations, the city was notified that our community would greatly benefit from having a full working kitchen, which in particular would include a separate handwashing station.  

It has recently come to our attention that the plans were modified by the city and that instead of the discussed kitchen, they are putting in a warming-kitchen only, which does not even include  the separate handwashing station. Continue reading “Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities”

Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities

Guest Post: Suffering Stream of Consciousness

The following is a stream of consciousness poem by a friend of mine who has been dealing with overwhelming medical negligence for several years, most recently blinded by a doctor ignoring medical protocol for a medication they put her on. These are her thoughts in the midst of trying to process her most recent medical traumas and yet another severe pain flare that has had no help from doctors. 

TW: Discussions of Death, Abuse, Suffering, Suicidal Ideation, Medical Neglect, Troll Brain thoughts. These are unedited troll brain thoughts as well and so not controlled for slurs and internalized prejudices.

written by friend Sophie; after spending 9 hours in an endless sob session and panic attack before being given a clonazepam and sitting down to write this as the clonazepam started to calm her down.

I am dying.
Continue reading “Guest Post: Suffering Stream of Consciousness”

Guest Post: Suffering Stream of Consciousness

It’s not about the A

One of the many jobs I’ve had is that of tutor. I’ve helped teach a variety of subjects including math, various sciences, and English. Additionally, I have designed and taught smaller classes, and have also helped siblings and friends study and understand the class material. I spent a lot of time thinking about teaching and about what and how we learn.

Growing up was interesting. My parents were relatively new immigrants to Canada, and it was their first experience with the Canadian school system. Much of their approach to education came from the European systems they were raised in. While grades mattered to them, education was about something more than regurgitating back information and facts.  I never realized how lucky I was in some ways for that, until I started hearing students repeating the same idea over and over again: it doesn’t matter what the right answer is, it matters what the teacher thinks it is. The only thing that matters is the grade they get.

Continue reading “It’s not about the A”

It’s not about the A

Why Isn’t Canada Part of the United States? A Primer for Americans

Virtually every American I keep in touch with has, at some point, asked me this question. American history classes do a very poor job of explaining how one region of mainland North America colonized by the United Kingdom became one country and the next region over became a different country, and tend to pretend Canada isn’t even on the map most of the time. I certainly faced this question with confusion prior to moving to Canada and being confronted with its reality.

As it happens, though, the events that led to these two settler states to emerge as separate entities are fairly interesting, and tied into the events that started the Thirteen American Colonies thinking of independence. Continue reading “Why Isn’t Canada Part of the United States? A Primer for Americans”

Why Isn’t Canada Part of the United States? A Primer for Americans

Where Did Everybody Go!?

For the last several weeks, I have not been as consistent about writing as I have been in the past. This is not because I’ve run out of ideas. Quite the contrary. I have a list of posts I want to sit down and write.

The reason I haven’t been posting as much is because I’ve been hard at work trying to makeover my office. One of the barriers that I’ve been experiencing with regards to being able to get work done on writing – both blog and fiction, painting, sewing clothing, and so forth, has been a lack or organization in my office. Because of how many different things I do, it’s been hard coming up with a good way to store the various accoutrement that come with them. The result is that whenever I want to say, paint something, I end up having to pull out a bunch of stuff from various locations, which usually turns into a giant mess. The mess in turn grows bigger, messing with my concentration and with my executive functioning.

In addition, having stuff all over the place means that I often have to bend and lift in ways that I find uncomfortable and painful. It makes it that much harder to motivate myself to do a thing, since I know it will be preceded by moments of physical discomfort.

Continue reading “Where Did Everybody Go!?”

Where Did Everybody Go!?