Nobody loves your compost as much as you do…or do they?

I have spent a fair amount of time during my life being told that nobody wants to hear any of my crazy ideas. Maybe some click counting software figures out my interests and then throws out thinly veiled advertisments for those products that are sort of in-line with said interests making me believe that those crazy ideas are mainstream, but I resist falling for it. I really do. If I have learned anything in sixty years it is that I am not popular, I am not mainstream. I don’t mean that I am counter-culture either, or fringe or edgy. I am annoying. So I stopped going on and on about composting when I was at a parties years ago.

But it seems compost is a good subject for casual conversation. Sheesh. When will I ever NOT be a social pariah?

My Crazy Ideas for 2018

Call me “Sir”. As Supreme Being I Decree:

  • Every seat in government has to be co-occupied, job shared so they can have a life while being involved in governance. That way, looking after the kids, the pets, the community garden, or community market, is part of their lives; so they can experience things that are about being a human being and not just an ambitious grasping jerk. Does that mean things will take longer to get done? Maybe, but they won’t take as long as fixing fuck ups!  Like war, like bad legislation, like inequity, like sanctioned discrimination, like really bad ideas. I heard they are doing this somewhere, Iceland or Greenland, or Paradise Island…
  • Anyone who is  in a position of authority must be referred to as “Sir” regardless of thier gender.
  • Queen Elizabeth the first (not our Queen Elizabeth, the zoo creature and her litter of baby zoo creatures) made a rule that one tree for every 100 acres every where in England had to be maintained.  (She needed mature trees for building ships to fight Spain…) We can do that! We have surpassed Tudor England with Good Ideas We Can Do THAT.
  • We will always have problems when laws and personal freedoms conflict, but lets face it, people are often jerks.  They gripe about everything.  Even a free lunch.  This planet gives us a free lunch when it comes to air and water but we constantly ruin it!  So these things have to be legislated up the yin yang. Because as I said, jerks.
  • Corporations,  and I heard they are now considered persons,  can be HORRIBLE jerks.  They need rules to govern them, rules up the whazoo.  Corporations don’t need thier own armies. Nope.  They can’t be allowed to go into a country and then build a fort with “private security”.  If they are not benefiting in a direct way the people who live there so that the people there have an investment in their presence, they are breaking international law. Period.  Saying you are building a school for the local population and then teaching them to be domestic servants in the hotel you are putting up (totally bulldozing over the local population and their needs) is NOT  building a school.  Unless a gulag is a school. Time was, people welcomed trade. But when its about flim flam, nobody welcomes them. Bad for business really is about bad for people, OTHERWISE IT’S ABOUT BAD FOR BULLSHIT AND THEFT.
  • And we need gun laws, MORE OF THEM, because, again, people can jerks. Lets face it, many jerks are alive today because there wasn’t a gun handy at the time and  I would like to think that where there is life there is hope. We might shop at “Jerks r us”, but we don’t want to live there. Or die there. I realized the other day that there are so many mass shooting in the United States that now they catagorize them. “Church mass shootings, school mass shootings, Walmart mass shootings…” Sheesh.
  • Taking a life is not a good thing.  It will never stop happening but it should not be a reason for celebration, ever.  It should not be the object of any game.  The enjoyment of violence is not something we want to encourage.  It is not how we navigate towards our objectives as human beings on this planet, and anyone who enjoys causing pain and suffering  is to be considered damaged, possibly ill/sick and should be denied employment where violence and abuse would be likely, i.e. the police force, the army and probably some sports.  I recommend cross stitch for violent people. They can design whatever violent scene or sentiment they like but it has to be rendered in cross stitch. I know you are thinking that these are the jobs where we want violent people because “the enemy” is ruthless, bla bla bla, but I’m Supreme Being in this make-believe scenario remember? Nobody gets to have fun killing. End of discussion. Now go and work on your sampler.*
  • As for sports, I find quilting pretty intense so I am no authority but I think it might change the game if commentors made comments like: “Youre right Jim! And that impressive body check he took will mean he will be ten times more likely to suffer early dementia, depression and suicide!” “Danger pay Rex?” “Well I say, God Bless them, they give us our careers Jim.”  “Hahahahahahaha”. The camera can pick out a child in the bleachers who has seen the results of Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome in a parent. 😦  I would imagine competitive quilting and cross stitch would start to look pretty good. Okay, that’s maybe cruel. Cross stitch is hard to do.

I just realized that all these things are pretty much the things I would have decreed when I was six years old. So, just in case your were wondering, no it’s not likely I will ever succeed in becoming “Supreme Being” so relax. I mean, really, I can’t think of anything more unlikely happening…oh wait, ick, this is awkward…

Finally, it was argued recently that things are changing for the better. I don’t know. Talk is cheap. Only when we meet in the field of our own vulnerability, aware of this vibrant and improbable event that is life, when we are just there, not in an abstraction, but in the terrifing, liberating beauty of it, does anything change.

If not now? When?

Happy New Year!

* It seems there really is a program to teach inmate to quilt.


Sitting a Three Day Sesshin at Oak Tree in The Garden

Sitting Zazen for Extended Practice

It is really easy for me to be seduced by the couch and practice is one of the things that I can build up a lot of resistance to even though I have been doing it for a long time. I have so many  examples of how much I benefit and it’s even better when I can have the company of other people sitting. So I was glad when I had the opportunity to sit a three day Sesshin lately with Oak Tree in the Garden. And yet even as I was preparing to head out I was thinking of excuses for cancelling at the last moment. (wtf?)

We are often encouraged to “indulge ourselves” by advertising: to eat what doesn’t satisfy any nutritional need, to buy what serves no purpose, to want what we can’t afford now and even when experience shows us these things lead to despair that *ping* in our brain that happens when we follow an urge feels satifying. I watched a show on the science of fast food; apparently the “stomach share” is how fast food companies look at us. It was frightening. The worst thing was I started craving junk food while watching the show! I know it is fun to commiserate with others about our favorite snack food and how we are “going without”. We know it is ridiculous in our part of the world to do something like that. The only real “problem” of food is the lack of it and it still is in many places in the world. I digress.

So why is it so hard to do what makes us really feel better?

When confronted with the onslaught of advertising that encourages instant gratification, heck it makes it seem like a virtue, well, it helps to practice. Just being aware is not as easy as saying it. It takes practice. Establishing good habits may not sound like fun but it really makes more fun possible.

The other problem is that we are convinced of a lack of time. Sometimes when I sit down on my zafu and it seems it will be an intermitable amount of time that I will have to sit there. But then, the three days go by, and I am happy to say, I really feel a difference! Where did the time go?  (By the way, it’s still right here, right now.) 😛


What do you think? Too MUCH?


Can Poverty be Re-branded?

“Sometimes when it feels like things are falling apart it’s just things falling into place”.

This inspirational saying brought to mind the Monty Python skit of “Catch that prize!” where if a contestant could catch, say a refrigerator, dropped from a fourth story window he could keep it. It is annoying how many pithy sayings there are for things falling apart.

I went to a lecture titled, “Is poverty a disease? Could treating poverty work like medicine?” Dr. Gary Bloch, a nice young  doctor who works out of a hospital in T.O. in an area with a lot of homeless people using the ER. *

I am biased, three times around the big C has introduced me to lots of doctors, I have found many doctors, young white males in particular but not exclusively, to possess large egos if not pugnacious attitudes of entitlement. I have read a bit about what internships are like, so I add exhaustion as an excuse for some of them, and then there are the ones who really want to do good… and this guy is one of them. But he is still coming from a culture (medical professionals) that looks at everyone as a set of symptoms.  It is also a culture that is very difficult to enter because of the costs of medical school. Why money should be allowed to be a deciding factor in who might want to be, or might be able to be, a doctor is another question. Most doctors tell me that I can discuss only two things per visit. However, if one of them is about O.H.I.P. the clock seems to fly out the window. Sorry I am griping. 😛

At the very end of the lecture I got to say my two cents worth. My heart was pounding so hard once I decided to try to speak that I might have not heard all of his lecture.  I brought up the Harris government, 25 years ago in Ontario targeting single mothers, reducing their family benefits by 1/3 OVER NIGHT and then standing back to watch the fallout. All the tax payers who could accept the cost of constant road repairs before they accepted the cost of social repairs? Well, if driving over the bodies of welfare mom’s had caused a bumpy ride to work they still might have supported this bludeoning of Family Benefits. I’m not sure but the effects were not as immediate as a bitter cold winter on ashphalt so they weren’t too bothersome. But a large number of women and children fell through the cracks. “Falling through the cracks” meant they went missing in the minds and hearts of the society that they belonged to. And many ended up in peril.

Harris’ cuts weren’t even cost effective, they shifted the expenses to totally ineffective services and removed large numbers from the data for political purposes only.  Add mismanagement of support payments, often those coming after a forced combative situation, a stipulation of receiving benefits was legal action against the absent partner, and voila, many families found themselves unable to pay rent. Their next step was into homelessness. There were piles of cheques for support that were months late and yet they sat unprocessed. Miscommunication, hostility and ineptitude turned up the heat on fathers who were labeled and threatened for being “dead-beat dads” which did not help moms and kids either. Many of my peers who didn’t have any other support network to help them were lost as the stress of jumping through hoops and sorting through requirements turned them back either to abusive situations or bad choices or emotional collapse and mental breakdown. The resulting years have led to the cost to taxpayers in law enforcement, incarceration, emergency services and health costs all skyrocketing and all caused by the repercussions of what were applauded as reforms twenty-five years ago.

I ended my diatribe with “Poverty is not a disease, it is a crime.” and I got applause.  (That was a bit frightening actually).

However quietly, fearfully we do it, we need to speak up about the things that maintain poverty so we can talk about the things that can alleviate it. Poverty is a crime being committed against the most vulnerable, and it is global. It is endorsed by the most wealthy and most priviledged. Poverty makes possible all sorts of abuses of human rights and so often leads to violence and even war. But I worry about calling it a disease. People living with poverty are already in isolation.

*I wrote this draft perhaps five years ago never publishing it.  If you go to the link for Dr. Gary Bloch you will see he is doing many positive and constructive things and lecturing other doctors. Maybe he is changing the culture from within? As I said, he is one of the good ones.

Me too? Piss off!

I have been walking around feeling lousy because I have been remembering times when I did things I didn’t want to do and times when I didn’t say things that I should have and thinking about all the circumstances surrounding those times and just feeling so awful just because I don’t like to think of myself as a victim even when I was. I think I would rather be a whore than a victim. Then I read this:
and I started to feel better.
Once I knew a man who wanted to go and harass women who were on a “Women Unite, take back the night” march. He thought because they didn’t want him march with them they were being sexist and therefore he had a reason to yell at them and interfere with their march. (I recently listened to an interview with the woman from Pussy Riot who told of a man who joined the band dressing like a woman who was horribly beaten for it and I thought, cool that he did that but typical he got beaten for it.)
The genius of non-violent demonstration is the inclusiveness of non-violence. This man, (and I said nothing to him at the time because I was in love with him and constantly aware that he was smarter than me, like all men, starting with my father) This Man needed only to respect the value of their message or at least their right to express it. Their message was, “We should be able to dress as women (how we like) and still walk safely home. It is not a privilege. Acts of violence are criminal.  Being female in THIS PLACE at THIS TIME is not something we should need to justify any more than any man has had to.” And then it occurred to me, any man who is not a black youth in a hoodie that is. (If you say things like “all lives matter” in response to Black Lives Matter, you are not getting it. If you say, “that is disrespecting the flag”, you are missing it again.
Bending a knee is a non-violent means of making a point. However uncomfortable it may be for those of you who like quibble about anything that might make it seem to be about something else, citizenship is the right of citizens and that includes non-violent demonstration.)
As for all the recent “news” about moguls who abuse their power and intimidate women (and who knows who else) for sex, well why is it getting so much attention right now? And is it going to change things? Is there a nugget of hope here or is it another tittliating story? SEX SEX SEX
In the tape Harvey says, “come on are you going to ruin a friendship for five minutes?” or something and I thought, if only she could have said “this is not about friendship this is about an exchange for sex” and then put a price on it per minute, a million per minute. (No doubt considering the recent press it would have been a great deal for him). I am being facitious of course but seriously, who would be the criminal if she had? She would have been. How insane is that?
It is time to own up to the fact that it isn’t about sex (or even gender though frequently women are the demographic). Sex is a smoke screen, a diversion. This is about control. This is about culture dominated by a small number of powerful people who want a large contingent of people who will do stuff for nothing or next to nothing. It is about unpaid labour and abuse of an entire populice. Women (and others) doing things to avoid violence, to avoid arrest, to avoid losing a promise of financial security, not even “wealth” often , just doing things to avoid being called a WHORE and being rejected even by other women. Meanwhile the collateral benefit goes to those who just shiphon off the gravy that they had to do nothing to recieve except be powerful or perceived as being powerful.
This is the formula: maintain fear, remove autonomy, encourage desention, work them to death and make them grateful to think they are your friends.




Face Painting!

I got to do some face-painting at a street party in the east end of the city on Friday. The first “client” was a very smart little girl of four who knew exactly what she wanted. “I want to look like a tennis ball.”

Fortunately there was a tennis ball nearby that I could work from.

I like to get people, especially kids, talking about what they have chosen, sort of expanding on their imaginations, which are generally huge, so it begged the question, “so you like playing tennis?”

“No. I just like tennis balls.”

I didn’t get any pictures that day not even of the “tennis ball” a first for me. What can I say, it got busy and no one took any pictures. Here instead is a picture from another day and another street party, just to give you an idea of the set-up. The makeup is hypoallergenic and water based, great for kids and I have a bunch of laminated pictures to get them thinking about what they would like.  I often find kids are wannabe artists too so I can talk about how to mix colours and blend.  It’s all good. 🙂