New Beginnings

The summer is drawing to a close and the new school year is about to start or has already started. For as long as I can remember, September has always felt more like the “New Year” for me than New Year’s ever did. Every new school year was a chance to reinvent yourself somewhat. It was a new beginning.

It’s fitting then that the public announcements of the big changes that have taken place this summer coincide with this time.

Continue reading “New Beginnings”

New Beginnings
{advertisement}

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

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

Strongest People I Know

Content Notice: talk of suicide, ideation, judgmental assholes

I had a bad day yesterday. I thought maybe I should end it all. These weren’t plans to actually kill myself. These are the thoughts I live with on a daily basis. Some days they’re easier to ignore. I wondered what was the point of living. Then I heard the news of Chester Bennington’s death. He killed himself. As my friends were sharing how much Linkin Park’s music had helped them in their teens, I also saw a lot of people with no understanding of mental illness, blathering on about “taking the easy way out”.

And it all brought it back to me. That time when I was 15 and attempted suicide. I was called all sorts of names. How stupid could I be to try to kill myself? Don’t I know it would hurt my mother? I started therapy then and have been in treatment since. I’ve had several ideation events. And the guilters were always there. I need to think about my daughter. How much it would hurt my family; my friends. How could I be so selfish?

There’s this idea that people who commit suicide are weak. They couldn’t handle their life and its circumstances. Korn’s guitarist Brian Head Welch said Chester took the “cowardly way out”. I cannot speak for Chester, but I can speak as someone who has attempted suicide. As someone who will always have ideation. Living with mental illness is fighting a war every fucking day. We’re fighting ourselves and also dealing with an ableist medical system. We have to deal with well-meaning people with their empty platitudes. We have to deal with cruel insensitive people like Brian, who think mental illness is just something we can get over.

hqdefault
Modified version. I will not post the original.

We deal with people making memes shaming the use of anti-depressants. Supposed friends will tell you they are there for you but then walk away from you because you’re “too depressing”. And these people wonder why we don’t feel comfortable sharing our struggles with them.

You want to prevent suicide? You do that by helping us fight the stigmatization of mental illness. You do that by calling out shaming bullshit advice or memes like the above. You do that by examining your own biases and admitting that you too need to learn a thing or two. You do that by demanding better health care and treatment for mentally ill people. You do that by viewing mental illness like you would any other chronic illness, as something that cannot be “gotten over” but instead as something that the person dealing with can learn to cope with. You do that by demanding that therapists are actually well versed in their field, and that they also learn social justice because a lot of depressed people are also marginalized in a lot of different ways and that all plays a part in it. For fuck’s sake learn how to properly tag triggering content. On Facebook, hide links to potentially triggering content in nested comments. Accept that sometimes you will mess up and will be called out and maybe it won’t be as gentle as you’d like. You fight the stigma by NOT centering your feelings but those of the depressed person.

Telling us how our death would hurt someone is just a way to manipulate us by guilting us. We KNOW it would hurt our loved ones. I know my daughter would NOT be better off without me. And you telling me how horrible I am for having ideation just makes me feel worse. You don’t prevent someone’s suicide by reminding them of how horrible they think they are. You end up reinforcing the intrusive thoughts and negative self image.

Some days I don’t like myself very much. Yesterday was a bad day, but I was reminded of my strength. I was reminded of the strength of my friends who are also dealing with mental illness. Do you know how much strength it takes to get out of bed; out of the house? How much strength it takes to deal with assholes who judge you without knowing anything about mental illness?

*******

RIP Chester Bennington. Your music touched many and I hope you’ve finally found some peace. 

Strongest People I Know

Immodesty Needs to take it Despacito

By now you’ve most likely heard this song.

j
“you get a Mandesty! and you get a Mandesty!”

The music industry is pretty immodest as it is. So it’s no surprise that this song has inspired young men to follow its slutty lead.

Enter Mikey Bustos

giphy
At least he’s honest

 

giphy (1)
Can’t really ask for restraint from women when you’re dressed like that

On the plus side, this video made it possible to forget the remix featuring Justin Bieber.

Immodesty Needs to take it Despacito