Sunday 28 June 2015

Ownership & Oil

My parents used to own a cute little cottage on a rural Canadian lake.  A friend of my mum’s described it as ‘cute as a bug’s ear’.  You had to drive through a farmer’s cow field, sometimes shooing heifers out of your way to get there.  And then up the side of a hill you’d swear would crumble beneath your tires.  This was rough Ontario scrub land surrounding the cutest puddle of water and life you could ever imagine.  Its name was Davern Lake.

About a dozen cottages line the one side of this lake and the entire other side is Crown land.  A railway runs through that land and over a bridge that was no doubt the site of many a dare.  I remember a story from my childhood that my own Daddy tried to cross that bridge once only to run back before a train came.

Davern Lake is representative of several different commonly seen ecosystems from not only Ontario, but many of the other seasonal provinces of Canada.  To the left is a swamp and marshy area that hides the loons and their young until they’re ready to travel abroad.  No doubt a few noble beaver lines have called this area home too.  Reptiles, insects, microorganisms live here in complete harmony, all doing their job inside this cycle of life. 

To the right and across is an odd area that is cleared of most seaweed to such an extent that if you stand up in your boat (with a life jacket of course) you can actually see the Bass swimming for your bait.  This area is crystal clear with light coloured sand on the bottom.  The bottom appears to be mere feet away though I’m sure it was well over my head.  It’s the closest part of the lake to the train track, and every time a train would come, all the fish would scurry.

This lake and this cottage is becoming a rarity now.  We used to wash, bathe, and flush with the lake water.  A plastic mallard duck held up the pipe supplying lake water to the cottage.  As beach after beach, shoreline after shoreline sees itself inundated with trash, toxins, sewage, and chemical run-off, swimming in anything other than a chlorinated pool will be unheard of soon.

Nature even seems to be turning on itself, like she has an auto-immune disease caused by an imbalance in her ph.   Algae blooms have such beautiful power to alter everything growing in their midst.  As anyone who has ever successfully raised fish in an aquarium will tell you, it’s a fine balance of good and bad bacteria that keeps an ecosystem like this healthy. 

In these our days of extraction, are gems like Lake Davern safe from exploration?  If they find oil across the lake deep down in that Crown land, will it too just become a side effect of progress?  Will ownership mean anything when the last drops of oil are being squeezed from her flesh? 

When I hear our anthem and think about our home on native land, I see places like Lake Davern.  I feel the warm soil under my feet as my toe digs in and finds a piece of artifact from a time long ago.  I smell the piercing odor of silage ripening in the barn.  There is just so much beauty around us in our country.  Enough to change laws, enough to spend tax dollars protecting it. 

In the last eight years the Conservative Government has torn apart more protective measures for our environment than any other government.  They are paving the way for big industry to squeeze us dry, province by crucial province. 

Please use your vote and the power it gives each and every one of us, to stop Harper from destroying any more of the true north strong and free.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Dear Cesar Millan ...

On November 21 2012, you came here to Kingston, Ontario, Canada with your "Trust Your Instincts" tour.  Naturally, my sister and I bought tickets, and my parents won tickets through one of the local radio stations.  Their dog Rudy brings the newspaper in the driveway every day to my dad, so he was Kingston and area's #2 Smartest Dog.  That night was a profound experience Cesar.  I think I cried from beginning to end.

I'm a writer by passion, and an animal-lover too.  Many years ago, I said ciao to my furry best friends.  I had a Rotti named Sasha, and a black and tan Cocker Spaniel named Laya who were a handful of fun to say the least and the light of my life.  These were very special ladies, deserving of being immortalized.

I'm an aunt too, so I decided to write a book about my furry besties and my niece Madelyn.
As you know, children are natural leaders. They get it.  I learned this and so much more from your program "The Dog Whisperer" that this book is full of what I call "Cesar-wisdoms".

The book consists of three parts that are all timely in nature.  Part one discusses "breedism" where a wise and experienced Rotti explains to a naive young Cocker what this term means:

"As though she could read her thoughts, Sasha whispered, “That is a Pit bull Terrier Laya.  His breed was the most common one used for fighting.”  Laya thought surely her big sis was mistaken.  She watched as the grey and white dog lay calmly on the floor licking his own paws.  His eyes were half closed like he was giving himself a foot massage.  Laya noticed how strong his body looked.  His short hair showed muscles in his cheeks, his chest, and his legs.  She quickly understood that her sis was right.  Oh but still all she wanted to do was run over and lick him!”

 Part two touches on the need for pet owners to choose their breeds wisely, as many furry friends' instincts are ingrained and impossible to completely stop.

“Maddie and her mom chose a really nice place to lay down the picnic blanket.  Though Laya wanted nothing to do with it, her attention was at the water where some children were feeding baby ducklings by the rocks!  She was just dying to go over and kiss the children and chase the ducklings!  She felt it deep inside … the call of her ancestral duties welling up inside of her.  In her mind’s eye she saw herself jumping into that lake- only after her master’s command and scaring up all of those ducklings.  Her master fires his gun and dinner was theirs.  What pride she felt.  She leaped forward instinctively only to be brought back just as quickly by the tightness of her collar.”

And part three sees the family discuss the growing pet population and why adopting a furry friend from a rescue or shelter is the way to go.

“Maddie asks her wise aunt Tammy, “If the pet stores have puppies for sale, and the Humane society has dogs and puppies for adoption, are there really going to be enough people to give all the animals forever homes?” asked Maddie in between bites of her hot lasagne. 

“Well no Maddie, there really aren’t enough people for all of the puppies.  And it’s becoming such a big issue, that many cities are trying to ban the sale of puppies.  In the future, all stores will offer pet adoptions not pets for sale.”

Cesar, I have loved so many animals in my life so far.  I decided to include a few in this book.  
So every dog in "Three Amigas" represents a furry animal loved by me or someone in my life.  

Until you return to my fair city on another informative tour, I wondered if you would write a brief Forword or more importantly assist in publishing my book. I would be happy to send you the rest to read. To some, this seems silly I'm sure.  But I recall often a scene from one of your episodes of "The Dog Whisperer" where a woman told you she didn't think anything would help her dog's behaviour.  You told her not to decide the outcome of anything in life.
I hold on to those words every day my friend.

Cheers and many thanks!

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Can't See the Disorder for the Dollars

Oh Canada ... you send such a confusing message at times. I watch a bit of CBC, and I'll be the first to admit, I'm a skimmer even when I watch the news. I know a little about a lot of different topics in the news now.  A little about everything;  a lot about nothin'.  This leads me to see a somewhat vague macro view of Canada and her Provinces.

Ah yes ... the macro view.  These days the macro view screams trouble in my opinion.  There are warnings then there are advertisements for the very product you were being warned about.

How in the heck does that compute?

This timeline is humorous to me:

March 2 2015:  Study was published in an issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal stating that 20% of Canadians exhibit signs of a drinking disorder.  Discussions around this study stated that Canada's current approach to at-risk drinking is a "systematic failure".

April 16 2015:  Premiere Kathleen Wynne decides to allow beer and wine to be sold in 450 supermarkets in Ontario.  So if you have a drinking problem, and the study says 20% of you do, then you can't even go get your groceries without being tempted.

June 15 2015:  Justice Minister Peter MacKay announces tougher measures for drunk drivers causing death.  This will actively change the current mandatory minimum sentencing from a minimum $1000 fine to a minimum 6 years in prison.  Yikes.  This move is backed by mothers in particular who lost children to drunk driving.  It seems MacKay has a softness for drunk driving deaths but not so much for deaths of the hundreds of murdered and missing aboriginal women.  If only we all could separate and compartmentalize as well as MacKay and his dishonourable peers.

So does the booze go on my shopping list or do I save it for special occasions only?  I'm so confused right now that I might just get drunk tonight to see if I see their logic more clearly!  Also, Ontario is crazy about this "Craft Brewery" thing.  It's a good thing for those of us who want to step back from the big industry production we've seen up until now.  These yummy concoctions are made in small batches right onsite of where they're being sold.  Day by day, pint by pint, they're growing a grassroots industry that adds colour and flavour to even my city.

In fact, special measures, grants, employment subsidies have been brought about by the Ontario Liberals to encourage this Craft Beer and Wine industry.  A friend of mine works at one trimming the grape vines carefully.  The Winery owner is applying to have her wages subsidized by the Ontario Government.

So we're subsidizing an industry that produces something that kills 50,000 Canadians a year AND impairs its users?  I've had a few of the amazingly bitter concoctions of beer at my local craft brewery. The one I tried was 9% alcohol!!  I basically floated home ... up Princess Street!  I'm a bartender and the highest alcohol content in my fridge is 7%.  Bang for your buck is great, but c'mon! Do bartenders who serve these brews with higher content have special training?  The only real reason I personally notice the % is because it's my job, and it's a problem I see every day that I work.  Surely Ontario could squeeze out a few warnings to drink craft beer and wine responsibly, don't you think?!

My big thing is personal choice.  You likely get that by now.  And some may argue that this IS giving us all personal choice.  Well ... maybe.  But that choice is being influenced by hypnosis marketing and Government subsidies.  It almost seems bait & switch-ish to me ....

"Here... drink this, buy that.  Support your local industry!  But if you over-indulge, to the wolves you go!!"

Sunday 14 June 2015

Objects or Sentient Beings?

This is not a raw raw raw! post, nor is it an anti-Snoop, anti-space exploration, or anti-media post.
I simply notice something odd and I think we might be getting things mixed up sometimes.  I mean, there are bajillions of sentient beings out there and a bajillion machines.  But no matter how many capitalist pigs say corporations are people, we know it'll never be true.  I listen to the news, perhaps too much at times, and this week alone has brought up this conundrum of perception.

Snoop Dog Lion :) was down east being interviewed by The Trailer Park boys, during which he actively marginalized the camera operator as though the entire point of her being there, was to be graded, marked, labeled like an object.  Stephanie Clattenburg was there to do her job.  That's all. She wasn't there applying for a role in one of Snoop's videos.  She wasn't there to get his autograph OR be complimented!  She was there to operate the camera.  But for Snoop, every woman is an object to be graded.  I don't dislike Snoop;  I dislike marginalizing misogyny.  He objectified this woman in such a way that I think even Bubbles looked more stunned than usual!

Fast forward to today.  I'm listening to CBC about some space thing they sent up a while ago.  I've learned it's called the Philae Lander.  It's a thing, an object, no heartbeat, no pulse, no frontal lobe giving it the ability to reason.  Yet the way the news anchor spoke about this 'thing' urged me to google it to see who this Philae person was!!!

I just had to try to formulate that thought, and here's another one:  I find more and more we identify people as something other than the multi-faceted individuals that we are.  We see people as their gender, their illness, their religion, their race, their skill-set, their work title.  We take one individual aspect of a person and we make them all about that.

A great example is Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner.  Media has been labeling this individual as one aspect of their abilities for a long long time.  In their lifetime, this person has been:

1) an Olympic hero
2) the guy with the Kardashians
3) a transgender woman named Caitlyn.

Caitlyn is still an Olympic hero, and she's still that individual who's somehow married into the Kardashian pack, and now she's also transgender.  Caitlyn is all of these things and so many more! We give ourselves too little credit when we simply identify ourselves as one thing.

We are quantum, we are individuals living within the science of possibility.  Some of what we are is intangible.  Other parts are immeasurable.  While still some parts beg the existential question and cannot ever really be pinned down or identified.

For instance, I have depression.  So am I my depression?  Is that what I am?  It's how I see myself sometimes when I'm in it.  We do this to ourselves as well as to others.

A friend has MS.  So is she only her MS?  Or is she a woman, mother, sister, wife, friend who also has this disease?

Confusing times all around.  We have a woman with a beating heart being pared down to one word .... "thick" ... and we have a Robot on a meteor that appears to have a sentience that is spooky.

NASA Scientists tweeted out to the world this morning on behalf of the Philae Lander:

"Hello Earth!  Can you hear me?" ... and then ... "I'm awake.  How long have I been asleep?"

But even more odd to me, is one person's response to Philae's initial contact:

"loud and clear well done you are so clever."

So ... this week in the news we have a rapper treating a woman like an object, an Olympic hero squeezed into an acronym, and an object in space being spoken to and lauded like it's human.

That's just weird.

Saturday 13 June 2015

Voiceless Activism

Periodically, I practice something I call “voiceless activism”.  I’m not great with face-to-face debate, so I prefer to just pique interest and hope for the rest to follow as they say.  Last Friday was my day off and the sun was shining high.  So I put my “I Kill Cancer” t-shirt on and took to Princess Street, armed with good news and a smile.  My hunni dropped me off midway down this main drag of my city, and my first stop was the bank on the corner.  A kind gentleman met me right at the door and offered to hold it for me in a chivalrous fashion.  When I was almost through the door, he said

“What’s your t-shirt say?” 

I’ll be honest, I find it really difficult to not judge books by their covers, so I wasn’t at all sure how this was going to go over.  I moved my purse strap out of the way so he could read the whole message with its big green Cannabis leaf.  I said,

“I read every day about people successfully treating their ills with Cannabis.  They smoke or vaporize it and some eat it too.”

He smiled broadly and said,

“Well I do both.”

We high-fived with gusto right there and then in that tiny ATM booth.  We continued chatting while each did their banking business.  It seems my new friend has restless leg syndrome and Cannabis is the only thing that will let him get any sleep.  He’d been through the gamut of pharmaceuticals, the only successful one being an antidepressant that was prescribed off-label for leg twitching.  He said it worked  a bit for the twitching, but caused problems in his marriage because it messed with his sex-drive.  I said,

“Hey I was on that one too!  And yep … I know all about that.”

He seemed surprised and turned to look at me saying, “it effects women that way too?”

“Oh heck ya.  You try and try and try and can't if your life depended on it.”

It amazes me every day how honest some people are with me.  It makes me happy that they see me as immediately trustworthy.  Communication is the only way we can even get a peek into someone else's shoes ... let alone walk in them.  Y'know what the difference is between a stranger and a friend?
About five words.  That's all.

He said,

“Y’know … I’ve never told my Doctor that I smoke marijuana.  I’m afraid to even mention it, y’know to get the card and be legal.”

I pondered this as I walked on down the street, after saying ciao to my new like-minded friend.  Aren’t our Doctors supposed to be our confidants? Aren’t we supposed to be honest with them?  I faced this recently as I desperately needed to find a new family Doctor. I was completely honest with him during our meet and greet. I told him that I've been off of antidepressants for about four years now and only use Cannabis.  He was open and said he thought he'd learn a thing or two from me. How amazing is that?

We have to push to normalize Cannabis. But we're not all into discussing it, and that's  okay ... we're not all ripe for the debate team.  If I can alter that old adage about a man and a fish:

"Give a man the info and he'll ponder it for a day.  Teach the man how to find that info himself and you'll change the world."  One of us at a time.

I didn’t have any other interactions that day with my good news t-shirt on.  But that’s ok because I got some second looks and a few thumbs-up.  I don’t always make eye contact anymore.  I just let them read it.  That’s all.  I effectively place the information ball right in their court.  You wanna know how people are killing cancer?  Go to this website  :)

Wednesday 10 June 2015

My Search For Crystals

I've been feeling off lately, you may have read it in my words.  What I've learned from my mental illness is that the absolutely worst thing I can do, is surrender to it.  Though surrender beckons me as sweetly as a chocolate-covered Siren some days.  I've learned you must move forward trying one by one the immeasurable therapies that the Spirit, science, and our history have left for us to discover.

I decided I needed some Crystal Therapy.

Now I've read quite a lot about crystals.  As a child I always had my head down, eyes catching the glimmer of something magical from the Earth's core.  I even wrote about them in an article called "Increase Your Functional Energy: Tips and Tricks".  But I never really felt their power. I kind of feel like a child who has just now grasped the magnitude of rocks, crystals, gems.  These are Mother Nature's crafts, her handiwork, her gifts to us.  These are pieces of carbon that have been pressed and condensed and formed over millions and millions of years.  The Earth's elements and microorganisms  find a way in there too, adding colour and texture and yes healing abilities.  They hold energy.  They hold healing power.

To my happy wonder, this search lasted a mere week.  I put my feelers out to my friend circle and asked where to buy large quartz crystals.  A friend suggested I go to the Flint and Feather Trading Post on the Tyendinega Mohawk Reserve.  So we packed up the pooch and took a wee road trip.

Upon arrival and with an iron will to resist the urge to stroll, I quickly began seeking stones.  To be honest, my will wavered a few times and I was really impressed with how genuine each piece of Native culture was.  Even the lady who worked there was genuine.  Speaking of which, have you ever met a stranger that felt like a friend?  It seems my timing was on when I decided to visit the store when we did, because the lady working yesterday was nothing short of a gem.  Pun intended :)

So when you go there~ and I recommend that you do~ you'll see a large wooden display box mid store full of small shiny finished stones.  There are little glass display windows around the edge to show you what each stone is.  Clever carpentry.  I personally adopted six healing stones from this display alone.  Four Agates, one Moss Agate, and one Amethyst.

But the real magic was displayed near the main counter under glass.  A fittingly safe area for little conductors of healing energy.  My new friend, who's name I'm disappointed I did not ask, was there to help me.  I simply told her that I was looking for crystals, and I immediately felt her full attention on me.  "Do you know what kind of crystals you want?" she asked.  I proceeded to explain my hopeful publishing attempts and that I needed help focusing.

Well ... out came the bible.  "The Crystal Bible" that is.  Volume 2 of 3 to be exact.  My new friend credits her own knowledge of healing crystals and gems to this book and it's author Judy Hall.  Check out that link for loads of valuable info on healing crystals and stones.  I could fill an entire post on which stones do what, but this post is only about my stones :)  I've had them now mere days and I feel somewhat protective of them now.  I'll simply tell you each stone's abilities as it pertains to my current needs.

My Agates:  *focus, self-acceptance, self-expression, strengthen resolve, decisiveness

Citrine: *increase stamina, balance hormones, depression, inspires creativity,
Rose Quartz: *calms emotions, aids acceptance of change, restores hope.

Quartz:  *stimulates positive thoughts, master healer, clear thinking.  The wee super-clear ones were gifted to me all the way from Alabama from a fb friend named Mike.  Gifted Crystals and stones are especially precious to me.

Amethyst:  *creativity, aids sleep, slows anger, increases positivity.
Peacock Ore:  *stimulates insight, creativity, and self-esteem, removes negative energy. This unique and powerful beauty was gifted to me all the way from British Columbia from a sister and kindred friend named Angele.

The beauty of this crystal adoption trip ~as one does not own or buy crystals ~we only adopt them, was the amount of knowledge I attained in such a short amount of time.  Each time that I decided on a crystal, she would point and say "you must choose it yourself, I cannot choose for you".  As a child I never felt a pull of choice the way I did that day.  Each crystal I chose is perfect to me.  The next very crucial instruction was the necessity to cleanse my crystals of their absorbed energies.  This can be done in a weak sea salt water bath for an hour or up to 24 hours.  This is something that should be repeated with use and when others touch them.  These beauteous conductors of energy also absorb it~ the good and the bad.  You want your crystals to be free of all other energy when you start working with them.

So here's the thing.  It's been almost a week since I adopted my crystals and started working with them and wearing them.  I swear to Goddess I feel different.  I haven't had acid reflux throughout the night since I started sleeping with my Amethyst in my pillowcase.  In fact, Saturday night at work I felt like I was on some kind of speed!  I had a Quartz in my cleavage, my Citrine on the right hand side and my Moss Agate on the left hand side.  I felt energized my entire shift.

I also sleep with my Rose Quartz by the bed and haven't remembered any bad dreams.  And to top all of this off, something magical happened in one of my dreams the second night after the adoption.  I flew in my dream.  This is something that I used to do a lot about ten years ago.  If you look into the meaning of this, it is quite profound.  Could my crystals have removed the weighted emotional energies that have blocked this ability in my subconscious?

Y'know ... I suppose I could just take a pill for my reflux and an energy drink at work.  But this subject ain't got no more time for super sterile sillyness.  We're gettin' back to nature baby!!

Thanks to new friends ... it was easier than I thought :)

Sunday 7 June 2015

Dear Tom Mulcair & the NDP Party of Canada

Hi Tom,

I'm a middle-aged Ontarian and I want to see you as Prime Minister of Canada in the next Federal election.  Your stance on protecting Canadians' personal freedoms and privacy aligns with my own, and with that of thousands of others like me.

One undeniable yet unspoken election issue, involves one of these freedoms:  the freedom to use and grow the Cannabis plant.  I and thousands like me use Cannabis daily as medicine.  Please don't dismiss me us as people whose needs are covered under the MMPR.  This sham of a program gives the world the illusion that medical marijuana is easily attained in our great country.  The truth is, Docs know little to nothing about cannabis as medicine or how to proceed if they wish to recommend it. Many outright refuse to discuss it because they have heard of colleagues coming under scrutiny for simply showing interest in this Government approved program.  So now we have millions of patients lying to their doctors because they themselves fear scrutiny.  Doctors are hard to come by these days.

Will you watch this short video clip Tom?  It's a look into the life of one of the thousands of people like me who have a disorder that no pills will treat the way Cannabis treats.  Jacqueline, the woman in the video has an extreme stutter that has always affected her life.  The difference in her speaking voice after smoking Cannabis is awe-inspiring.  The pills can't do this Tom.  Nothing they have can do this.  But Cannabis can do it.  

The common argument is that Canada lacks studies.  There are studies Tom, lots of studies. Not to mention the simple fact that there's been a study going on for over 5000 years.  Even our beloved Health Canada website states under "Overdose/Toxicity" that "there has been no documented evidence of death exclusively attributable to cannabis overdose to date."  We can't even say that about water Tom, as you can die if you drink too much water.

Now I know legalizing Cannabis is a hard sell when it comes to some voters.  But there are many aspects to consider.  Not only is there me and people like Jacqueline, but there are so many more who want this plant regulated.  I'm hoping my like-minded Canadians will contact you as I have here on your website and express their desires for legalization.  I'll remind you that in Ontario I can legally grow up to 15 kgs of Tobacco for my own personal use, though tobacco kills almost 70,000 Canadians every single year.  

You seem like a person who is "real".  And I think that we'll never be right if we can't be real. Double standards exist regarding these two plants and this as it turns out is a dangerous thing.  Both plants are profitable commodities.  Who profits now Tom?  I implore you to be real about this topic. Here's something to consider:  where I live, a job at the LCBO or the OLGC Gan Casino is considered a good one.  You make great money in a safe, clean environment.  I have friends in both those positions and every shift they are faced with desperation.  Witnessing someone lose their shirt at the poker table must be choking.  And I've heard of alcoholics bribing liquor store clerks with house-cleaning services or worse, for a bottle.  These are both industries celebrating a substance and an activity that is highly addictive and detrimental to one's health and happiness.  Yet they're well-paying jobs one doesn't easily give up.  If society is fine with this fact, why can't it be convinced that growing a plant with medicinal properties for export is a good thing too?  Jobs, tax revenue, export, increased economy, and ameliorated health is an outcome you'll see.

The ongoing Conservative script we hear from Rona Ambrose tears down public trust and interest every time it denies that Cannabis is safe medicine.  Turn the newspaper page and you'll read about the kid who had 100 seizures a day until she tried Cannabis oil.  Turn it again and you'll read about Uruguay legalizing or Portugal decriminalizing.

Canada can grow the economy with you Tom ... you just have to let us.  I'm eager to discuss any and all of this with you at dinner when I win the "Dinner with Tom in Toronto" contest.  I'm encouraging others to enter too.


the couch activist