Kitchen Fire: Everything is Fine…

Earlier this month, the house I’m living in had a fire. Let me start off by saying, everyone is ok and the house is still livable.

It happened in the kitchen, after a burner under a pot of oil was accidentally left on. It could, and does happen to anyone. We were sitting in our basement apartment when the sudden bang of a breaker going off alerted us to the fact that something was wrong. Cale went upstairs to check and what ultimately must have been less than a minute later, I heard him yell fire. I followed upstairs just in time to basically see him running with a flaming pot of oil out the front door. Looking at the kitchen, I saw darkness and the reflection of flames as I run back down the stairs to grab CJ and run out the back door. Once she was safe, I ran back in to beat out the fire with a cloth and douse any remaining embers.

We had the fire out before the firefighters got there, and they got there quite quickly! Cale had a relatively mild (especially considering!) burn on his hand from the heat of the flames as grabbed the pot. It wasn’t until writing this post that we both realized that the burn on his hand was on top where the flame rolled over the skin as he ran. Apparently despite the fact that the contents of the pot were on FIRE, the handle managed to stay cool enough not to burn…THAT IS A FUCKING WELL DESIGNED POT DAMN IT!

Did you know that smoke from a house fire leaves behind what looks like blackened cobwebs? They’re called smoke webs.

Most of the kitchen is ok, though despite that, some effects of the fire are visible throughout the house. The stove is gone, as is the stove fan, and cabinets above and below will have to be replaced. Insurance had to be called, and we’ve been told that the next few weeks will see workmen coming and going to take care of all the various things that need to be taken care of. The thought that keeps circulating among all of us who live here is that it could have been so much worse. Cale and I both had to get checked out by paramedics, and while our vitals were all ok, I can still feel the irritation of the smoke in the back of my throat.

For all that this fire had a less tragic ending, it’s brought back a lot of thoughts and feelings related to losing my home to a fire back in 2011. What is it with years that end in 1?

I’ve been in a heightened state of anxiety since it happened, which hasn’t been particularly gentle with my Crohn’s.

I can’t help thinking of all the similarities between the two fires. In both cases the fires started in the kitchen, in the case of the house that burned down, it was my neighbour’s kitchen, but still.

Both times when it happened, I was a student in my winter semester.

Both times, it started in a kitchen, though in the case of the house in Hull, it was my neighbor’s kitchen.

Both times, it was someone else’s actions that had such an effect on me.

Both times I was in a place I nominally moved to for my education, in a place far away from my family.

In a sense, the first fire acted to mark my transition from broke college student, to actually living in poverty. It taught me the meaning of housing insecurity, as in an instant I found myself homeless and having lost everything. This after years of moving yearly, in the transient student tradition, sparked an obsession with finding myself a safe nest; a hearth to call home. A goal, in truth, I am still working towards.

I didn’t just lose my house, I lose all sorts of mementos, keepsakes, and basically everything I owned up to that point. The sentimental loss hit hard of course, but another reality was facing the prospect of having to replace everything all at once. It’s something I’ve faced again after having to move again and having to give up most of what I owned. You find yourself looking for something, not knowing whether you have it, lost it, or whether it’s gone.

With this most recent fire, the actual loss sustained personally by me was relatively minor. Some food lost. Possibly some kitchen item or two. The owners lost more, what with part of the kitchen now needing to be rebuilt, and the oven needing replacing. Insurance has been remarkable co-operative and helpful. And yet, there is a part of me that is still somehow waiting for this to end with me homeless again. I know logically that it shouldn’t. I know that I haven’t done anything wrong, in fact it wasn’t even me in the kitchen. I’ve been doing my best to help take some of the work off of the home owner’s shoulders – helping with phone calls, meeting people as they come by throughout the day. But still the worry, the fear, exists and I can’t seem to make it go away.

It’s all messing with my head. My focus is shot, of course at the best possible time with everything coming due. I’m working on trying to control my anxiety, but it’s also been like dominoes. My ADHD, my anxiety, my depression, they’ve all decided to make themselves felt this week, which of course displeases my spine and stomach who start to feel left out.

Still, I was prepared for this in some way. I knew it would be rough the moment I saw the smoke. I’m processing and trying to take the time to process and come to terms with everything. I’m trying not to repeat the mistake of last time and pretending everything was ok when it wasn’t, but I’m also taking hope in the fact that I’ve survived worse. This is fine…

Kitchen Fire: Everything is Fine…
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To the Members of Parliament of the House of Commons of Canada:

To the Members of Parliament of the House of Commons of Canada:

MP Jagmeet Singh taught us something about Canada this week.

For anyone who hadn’t heard about it: In response to growing global concern about systemic racism, especially with regards to policing, including mounting global protests on the Issue, Member of Parliament and PoC Jagmeet Singh proposed a motion addressing systemic racism in the RCMP.

The RCMP or Royal Canadian Mounted Police (and no they don’t ALL ride horses) is akin to the FBI. They are the Federal policing agency, though in provinces like BC which doesn’t have it’s own Provincial police force they may also provide additional policing services.
Mr. Singh’s proposal would recognize that racism exists in the RCMP, would review their funding, as well as demand their reports regarding the use of force. Mr. Singh brought up that just in the last short while many Indigenous people had been the victims of violence at the hands of RCMP officers.

That racism exists in the RCMP is not really a new revelation. Some of us remember the Starlight Tours, where Indigenous peoples in Canada were left to freeze to death by the police. Some of us remember the findings of various commissions and reports that consistently pointed out issues with racism within the ranks of the RCMP and especially in their dealings with Indigenous communities.

Mr. Singh’s proposal was met with a single consenting vote, from the leader of the Bloq Quebecois. The Bloq has had a long racist history. They are among those who have proposed laws restricting access to public spaces and government services to people who wear religious garb like a head scarf. They’re basically conservatives with a Quebec accent.
Mr. Jagmeet Singh then proceeded to call Alain Therrien a racist.

I believe this to have been a calculated decision on Mr. Singh’s part. I think he was teaching us a VERY IMPORTANT lesson that we need to make sure we pay attention to.

In the last few weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a knee in acknowledgement of the protests and in support of Black Lives Matters. A big gesture in support of Civil Rights, but a gesture nonetheless.

As Prime Minister, Trudeau has the podium and the influence to make big changes in Canada. But he won’t even do the work of calling out and rooting out racism from within his own House. He won’t address the fact that white people are overwhelmingly over-represented among the members of Parliament and the Senate. More than one MP currently sitting in Government have shown support or given dog-whistles to white supremacist organizations. Our Oh-So-Brave Prime Minister won’t even call a racist, a racist.

Canadians like to pretend that racism doesn’t happen here. We loudly brag about the fact that the Underground Railroad led here to Canada, where we have no history of slavery.  We like to pretend that when racism does happen, then those who are its victim can be confident of support.

So here we have a Member of Parliament for whom Racism is not a theoretical problem. This Man of Colour spoke a truth everyone already knew, calling the one person to object to saying that there is racism in the RCMP, a racist. Here was a person who knows what it is to be a victim of racism saying out loud “this person is a racist.”

And as I’m sure he fully expected when he chose to speak the truth: He was Punished for it. Meanwhile, the person being racist, faced no consequence, not even an acknowledgement from other members of the house that yes, he is in fact a racist.

The truth of the matter is that in Canada, it is still worse to call someone a racist than to actually be a racist. That calling attention to racism when you are a person of colour, is to invite punishment. While a white man takes a knee and receives praise, a Brown man stands for the truth and is silenced by the same people demanding praise for their anti-racism. We are being shown right now what systemic racism looks like, what it acts like.

Jagmeet Singh took a stand against racism. I will not give my vote or support to anyone who doesn’t choose to stand with him in this moment.

Sincerely,

Ania Bula

To the Members of Parliament of the House of Commons of Canada:

Dobranoc Babciu

I received a phone call early this morning from my father: his mother Lidia Bula née Pardon, my beloved grandmother, had passed away at the age of 91.

This has been especially hard on my Father. Around 30 years ago, when I was just a toddler, he lost his father Andrzej to a surprise heart attack. At the time, my father’s immigration status in Canada was still under application, meaning he couldn’t leave the country without risking not being granted re-entry. With a wife and new daughter here in Canada with him, it was a risk he couldn’t take. He had to miss his father’s funeral and the chance to see his face one final time.

Now 30 years later he loses his mother, and circumstances again steal from him the opportunity to say good-bye. Mine too for that matter.

Continue reading “Dobranoc Babciu”

Dobranoc Babciu

Guest Post: Lessons from the 442nd

By: Junpei Yamaguchi 

CN: Internment, War, Covid

Setting: An eighth grade U.S. History classroom in 2005.

Cast: 14 year old Junpei, relegated to the very back of the classroom due to regularly falling asleep in class and the teacher getting tired of it and banishing me out of the way entirely.

Mr. Federighi stands at the front of the classroom and tells us about the brave 442nd regiment of World War II. Thousands of brave nissei men off to fight the nazis while many of them left their families not in their homes, but in concentration camps sealed with barbed wire… Put there in the name of freedom.

Their land and property was seized, and sold by the US Government for profit that the victims wouldn’t see a penny of. People who looked like me, or even *whiter* than me… Just one grandparent was enough to justify imprisonment… People who looked like me were shipped across the country to some of the most miserable places on the continent.

Hot dusty summers, hardly arable land that these enterprising farmers managed to grow in *anyways*, machine guns pointed at them, mold in the rice… There was no going to the grocery store. If you weren’t in a camp where anybody had thought to bring seeds, or where the soil was simply too barren, it was moldy gruel, and gruel alone. Even those who had grown food, it was sparse at best. It supplemented, it did not alone feed.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Lessons from the 442nd”

Guest Post: Lessons from the 442nd

April 2020

My first semester of Agriculture Technology is finished. I’m taking a summer course, which means I get to stay out West for now, which is lucky cause I cannot imagine trying to navigate getting to Ontario in the middle of this. Not to mention, that BC seems to have a much smaller number of cases than Ontario, which for someone on immunosuppressants that make me in particular at risk of upper respiratory infections, is kind of a big deal.

This whole thing has been weird and scary to navigate. I’m trying to balance the need to feel in control by educating myself as much as possible with trying to not actively freak myself out by facing just how fucked I could end up being if I get sick, not to mention the fact that I’m likely to get sick eventually. It’s not been great for my anxiety, but weirdly, most of the time I’m managing.

Continue reading “April 2020”

April 2020

Baba Yaga’s School for Abandoned Girls

For the last few years, I’ve been writing a fun little story about a school run by Baba Yaga for abandoned girls. It’s been a Patreon perk, with the posts password protected. As a way of both encouraging myself to write more, and in a nod towards these difficult times and a need for some levity, I’ve made the previous chapters available to the public.

Additionally, until the crises is past, new chapters will remain open access.

You can find Chapter 1 here!

Baba Yaga’s School for Abandoned Girls

Some Pictures of Beautiful British Columbia

As a way to share some of the better aspects of living here, here are some pictures from BC, most of which are from the last few days and some socially isolating long drives and fishing trips.

Gallery

Delicious Homemade Broth

There is something quintessentially evocative of a Polish home, at least to me, about a big pot of stock simmering on the stove. Growing up, we would make stock at least once a week, and sometimes even more than that. We would have ingredients for stock prepped and frozen in the freezer so we could put together soup whenever we ran out of the bits already made.

Store bought, just can’t compare to the taste I grew up with.

If you have any kind of meat bones lying around, chicken, pork, beef, cuts of freezer burned meat, they can all be tossed together into a pot and simmered into the kind of soup that’s perfect for when you are under the weather, outright sick, or just craving something homey.

With everything going on, I thought I would share the family recipe for stock. If you are feeling adventurous and want to give it a kick, when roasting the bones, smoke them instead. It will add a smoky flavour to your broth.

Chicken Stock Continue reading “Delicious Homemade Broth”

Delicious Homemade Broth

Sausage Adventures: Homemade Liverwurst

I grew up on liverwurst sandwiches. I love a slice of rye or sourdough, spread with some liverwurst, some tomato, and a slice of pickle. It’s my favourite sandwich, for all that I was mocked at school for eating them let alone liking them.

I am kinda picky about the kind I like though. I hate it when it’s coarse, or in any way gritty. I don’t even add THAT much to my sandwich, preferring a thin layer. When it comes to other forms of liver, I’m not a fan. The smell, taste, and texture are not really things that appeal to me.

When the opportunity came up to get my hands on a whole pig, one of the first things I thought of was getting a chance to try my hand at making my own. NOT for the faint of heart, let me tell you.

To start with, there are MANY different schools of though around ingredients, fillers, and so on. Different techniques, spice mixes, and so on. It can get overwhelming trying to figure out what and how to try. So those of you who know me won’t be surprised to hear that my decision was to sort of try it all at once. xD Luckily this porker had a BIG LIVER (easily 2 KG).

What do I need to get at the Store?

The base recipe that I finally settled on includes the following.

  • 500 g Liver
  • 500 g Pork Fat
  • ½ Onion pureed
  • 1-2 large cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp Cure 1
  • 35g salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 slices sourdough
  • 2 slices buttermilk potato
  • 3-4 roasted chestnuts
  • 1 cup of water

Your choice of assorted spices

I then added different ingredient variations to see what worked and what didn’t.
I find the flavor to be pretty versatile, so that a lot of different interesting additions work surprisingly well. Just think of what you like on your sandwich and what you like with pork and have at it!

Continue reading “Sausage Adventures: Homemade Liverwurst”

Sausage Adventures: Homemade Liverwurst

Greetings From BC

CN: Description of mild medical procedure and wound care, mention of needles.

So much has happened in the last month.

I made it to BC with remarkably little trouble. My birds came through ok, CJ was a darling quiet girl on the plane, and my stuff arrived just a few days after I did.  The move itself went remarkably smoothly. The guys who came to load up the truck were nice and very professional. They loaded everything up in under an hour. When the truck arrived here, everything was unloaded nice and quick too. All my stuff arrived in one piece and all of it arrived. Continue reading “Greetings From BC”

Greetings From BC