Category Archives: health

Where I've Been & the End of a Decade

writing2Sometimes life is hills or valleys, and sometimes it dives so deep into the underlayer that you end up in orbit without a safety suit. To say I will be happy to see the end of the second decade of the third millennium is an understatement. Fair warning: this will be a long post.

2018 started with a bang…literally. I was driving to work on a slow, quiet, dry day. Thankfully, the traffic was light. My car had always had a sporadic and unpredictable issue of brakes locking at low speed. I always left lots of room in between cars before this. This time I was driving at 100km/hour when my brakes chose to lock, spinning me about and slamming me into a cement barrier. Totaled the car, smashed my leg but otherwise, with a couple of months of physio I was mostly right as rain (yet another permanent bump to my leg though).

In March, I visited my family. My mother, in her 90s, had nearly died in January, so I was seeing her while she had her health. I was also working on writing through my Canada Council grant and Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland, the anthology of Lewis Carroll based stories, came out. That was the slow, almost normal time.

DSC03616

I shot this in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic ©2017

In June, I fell and broke my hand, but the doctors misdiagnosed it for three months which then required some other treatments to fix it. Just after that, I finally landed a new job and was getting ready to leave my previous toxic workspace. Then my cat died on the July long weekend. My job ended on Friday, July 13 and I would be starting the new job the following Monday. Instead, at midnight the same night I was booking a flight as my mother was failing fast. I was in Calgary for five days, and when I booked the return my mother was recovering. But before I had left she was failing again. I returned to start my new job two days late. I worked one day when my new boss gave me a flight back to Calgary the next day. I arrived on the Friday, the last day my mother was really conscious. She died that Sunday morning.

I stayed in Calgary for two weeks to deal with her effects and for her celebration of life. I was only back a week, grieving these deaths, when my landlady of more than 20 years chose to evict me. I live in Vancouver, the land of exorbitant rents. My landlady had once been a friend but she turned into an even more passive aggressive and petty person, had stopped talking to me at all and claimed that she and her new husband (she became very bitter when she divorced her narcissistic ex four years before) needed more space when they lived in the biggest house on the block, with 2 floors, and 3 bedrooms and were semi retired. Needless to say, she had become more bitter and paranoid and odd, and I now had to grieve losing my home and moving. On top of that she had known since the spring that I was in Europe in October and guess which month I was going to have to move?

December came and I was still setting up my new place. My brother and sister-in-law came out for a short visit. I didn’t make it out for Christmas, being stressed and exhausted. My brother’s health wasn’t good and he was suffering the extreme effects of sleep apnea, including brain fatigue and memory loss. We were very worried about him.

2018 came to a close and I was thankful, thinking this was the end of a terrible year. That was not the end of terrible or trauma though. In March, my brother died unexpectedly, which sent the whole family into a tailspin. Dennis was much loved and as siblings we were all very close. Again I was in Edmonton, helping my sister-in-law and grieving terribly.

Burning-book-mrtwismI had barely written in 2018 and the weight of grief made it extremely difficult to think of writing. I applied to the Horror Writers Association for the Scholarship from Hell, a scholarship to attend the Stokercon convention and masterclass workshops, as well as free flight and accommodation. I didn’t win the scholarship but was awarded a runner-up scholarship that included free attendance and master classes. I desperately needed the energy of writers to inspire me.

During the con I took a master class in poetry with Linda Addison. I came back, somewhat inspired but still fatigued by grief. I began exploring a few short forms of poetry, which was one way I dealt with my brother’s death.

Then in July, just past a year from having broken my hand, I fractured my ankle. I’m lucky my job allowed me to work from home as I was stuck in a walk-up. I also damaged the tendons in my thumbs and my shoulders from crutches and started physio before I was even out of a cast.

You would think that was plenty but it still didn’t end. My boss reluctantly informed me that there wasn’t the budget to continue my job in the new year. So now I was back looking for work. Then in September I was stung on my hand by a wasp. My hand and arm swelled up with extreme itchiness. Several weeks later I had hives on my head, side and leg. My doctor was pretty useless and for over two months I dealt with hives.

Then I caught a sinus cold. Just a cold, no big deal. Except it brought tinnitus with it and I’m still suffering ringing in my ears. Three months later, the sinus drainage continues. I have been doing all sorts of self care–physio, chiropractic, massage, counseling–all to get me through these challenging years. On top of that, I ended up with a stye so bad that my nose and cheek swelled. My doctor sent me to ER but thankfully, it just turned out to be some very extreme version of a stye.

Stress can be brought on by various things and the grief and trauma of my last two years has left me with stress and a dread of what could possibly be next. One extreme health issue after another has had me worried. Stress can cause a candida infection and I believe that might be the cause of the lingering tinnitus, the stye, the sinus issues and the extreme reaction to the wasp sting. I’m working on getting this sorted out.

received_312365166192812

Art by Jenn Brisson, published by Black Shuck Books

With everything that happen and still missing so very much my dear brother (I still can’t believe he is gone.), I do have to remember that there were some good things in my life. The compassion of my current employer was amazing and I will always cherish that I had the time to grieve with my family. My solo anthology Alice Unbound, as well as my collection, A Body of Work, were both published in 2018. I had received a Canada Council grant for writing, and a runner-up scholarship from HWA. I was also asked and will be a guest of honor at the Creative Ink Festival in 2020.

On top of that, I had record years in publishing my fiction and poetry. I wrote more new poetry this year than I had in years. In 2018, 12 poems were published and 3 stories. For 2019, 23 poems have been published and 10 stories. I’ll be listing links after this piece for 2019 and where most pieces can be read or bought. I don’t know if what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but I have weathered the worst two years of my entire life. I’ve had enough.

What do I hope for 2020 and the new decade to begin?

I want calm and peace, no endings, no trauma, no grief. I want health and the only excitement to be in what I get published. I want the continued support, love and compassion of friends and family, and hope that I can give it as well. I want to write more, maybe get that novel done and publish one of the two others that are languishing. For the world, I’d love to see an increase in understanding, empathy and compassion and a decrease in mistrust, fear mongering and hate. To all of you, may you have a wonderful, harm free 2020.

Noor5Poetry

Fiction

 

 

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Writing: The Storm of 2013

writing, writing contests, short fiction, stories, competitions, horror, SF

To write or not to write; there is no question. Creative Commons: http://freshink.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

I’m rather late to a sum up of 2014 (hahaha, I’m an idiot. This is why everyone needs an editor. I meant uh, 2013, because it really was that busy.) and it’s because it was one of the busiest years I’ve ever had. I barely had time to think or write on this blog. Hence, while I hoped to get out all of the Tesseracts 17 interviews within two months of its October release, it took me till January. And that’s how last year started; editing the 450 submissions for the anthology. I also participated in Women in Horror month in February, by posting interviews with Canadian writers or horror.

I had made a vow to have a rough draft of my ever languishing novel done by April but that was thrown to the wind. Along with the editing I also did a bit of other freelance editing around a full time job that went to double full time in April. That meant I was pretty worn out when I came home. I’d also injured my shoulder and was in unendurable pain that hit high levels in August. Using a mouse and typing aggravated it as well. So I had to add in physio on top of all that.

demons, anthologies, horror, fantasy, Demonologia Biblica

Available through Amazon. This is my favorite cover.

I then threw in a trip to Europe (Germany, France and England) where I also attended the World Fantasy Convention at the end of my three weeks. Luckily my shoulder was better enough to survive the trip. But guess what, I volunteered to be on the preliminary jury for the Bram Stoker awards (the major horror award in speculative fiction) and I was suddenly reading in every spare minute I had. It was probably around 50 entries in all . I hope to do some book reviews here at some point of the books I read.

So let’s see, there was editing, and copy editing, and reading, but was there writing? Why yes, there was writing and works being published. In fact, I had a pretty good year in published pieces, though a couple of publishers are in bad graces at the moment for not paying on time nor sending me my copy of the book. (More on that soon if I don’t hear from them.) Here is a list of works that came out last year:

  • “P is for Phartouche: The Blade” in Demonologia Biblica by Western Legends Publishing
  • “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” in Deep Cuts by Evil Jester Press
  • “The Book With No End” in Bibliotheca Fantastica by Dagan Books
  • “The Highest Price” in Artifacts and Relics by Heathen Oracle
  • “Gingerbread People” in Chilling Tales 2 by EDGE SF & Fantasy
  • “Tower of Strength” in Irony of Survival by Zharmae Publishing
  • “The Diver” in Readshortfiction.com (free under literary)
  • Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast by EDGE SF & Fantasy, co-editor with Steve Vernon
  • “Heart of Glass” in Polu Texni  (includes an interview and is free to view)
  • “Illuminating Thoughts” in Polu Texni
  • “Father’s Child” in Polu Texni
  • “Don Quixote’s Quandary” free in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

writing, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, anthologies

The Book With No End, is in this anthology out from Dagan Books.

I should also mention that I launched for Chizine Publications and Sandra Kasturi the Vancouver branch of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series. We began quarterly with three readers in April and then again in July and October. The new one is coming up on Feb. 12th, at Tangent Cafe in Vancouver, with speculative authors Ray Hsu, Geoff Cole and Noah Chinn. It’s free, so if you’re in town come out and enjoy some tales.

Somewhere in all this I did have a social life and I did sleep… I think. I also completed, by the very last day of the year, the rough draft of my novel. After so many stops and starts, it was done. Of course I have a massive rewrite to do but at least the plot and character arcs are down. So, yes, it was a very busy year and very productive.

CZP, Chizine, dark fiction, women in horror, Canadian writer, female authors

Colleen hosts the Vancouver ChiSeries, funded in part by CZP.

I’ve also found out that I made it onto the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot for my short story “The Book With No End.” The Stokers are the top dark fiction awards for the genre and rank with the World Fantasy Awards, the Hugos and the Nebula. I will eventually write about the process for getting on the ballot because it’s a bit confusing. The Stoker prelininary ballots are a mix of recommendations from the membership and the jury. Once the membership votes, there will be a short form final ballot and then I believe another vote. I’ll find out if I make it that far.

Works to come out at some point soon in this year are “The Collector” in Cemetery Dance. I’m promised it will be very soon and I’ve been waiting over five years so it will be nice to see that one show up. Bull Spec also promises to publish my poem “Visitation” soon. I’ve also just learned that I’ve sold three poems to Burning Maiden and I’ll be featured in the next edition. Those poems are “Tea Party,” “Medusa” and “As I Sleep.”

So what’s in store this year. Obviously more writing and rewriting, and we’ll see. Some irons are in the fire but until I have an answer everything is just a dream. 😉 But we all should dream, shouldn’t we? May you all have a productive year.

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Body Adornment or Modification

body adoarnment, body modification, piercing, tattoos, body ornaments, fetish,

This image shows to types of body decoration, neither permanent: jewelery and mehndi. Creative Commons: Henna Designs

I’ve had some interesting comments on the post about genital bleaching. Some people defend it as just another way of decorating ourselves, such as having tattoos or piercings. This is actually inaccurate. While a tattoo or a piercing is a body modification, it is also body adornment or decoration. True, there are some piercings that veer from being only decoration (and used for enhancement of sensations or fetishism–bondage, humiliation, etc.) but for the majority it is about decorating the body in some way.

This is extreme body adornment and modification. Creative Commons Boing Boing

This is extreme body adornment and modification. Creative Commons Boing Boing

It’s true that humanity has been doing this as long as we’ve been building shelters and making things. Stuff…adornments, decorations, artifacts are what define civilizations. It’s an inherent part of our nature. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a vibrant fashion industry, laws and rules throughout the ages regulating clothing and dyes and styles, nor many types of jewellery. So, yes humans have been decorating themselves forever and continue to do so except for those religions that try to suppress human nature.

But a pure body modification is not necessarily adornment. Sometimes it’s a medical necessity, such as a disfigurement that is painful or limiting of a person’s movement. It might be surgery after an illness, disease or accident that requires a modification. Or it might be for decoration. Obviously, piercings modify the body’s structure to some degree. Any piercing you can see is one of decoration, though it can mean more. Those that you can’t see, such as breasts, genitalia or the subcutaneous implants might be body adornment as well. Like I said, some people do these piercings for ritualistic or fetishistic reasons. It may give them a sexual thrill, indicate they are into some form of fetishistic situation such as domination or submission, be a form of emotional catharsis, or be part of a religious practice.

I suppose anal bleaching could be religious. I certainly don’t know all of the spiritual practices out there. However, it seems that unless you’re a porn star where your butthole is displayed on screen that in fact it’s not decoration, so comparing a pierced ear or a tattooed arm to a bleached anus is not the same thing at all. I’d be happy to hear arguments that indicate this falls under decorating the body as opposed to modifying. Yes, both could be seen as forms of beautification and can definitely fall under fetish, or body modification. In this case when one has a nose job, a scar removed, a circumcision, a breast implant, or the genitalia bleached, it is body modification, whether it is for health reasons or vanity. I will still maintain that a person who worries that their labia isn’t pretty enough or their butthole of the right shade, has got their priorities mixed up.

skin bleaching, vanity, body modification, adornment, skin, blemishes

Skin whitening can be done to remove discolorations caused by sun or birthmarks but do you really need it where the sun don’t shine? Creative Commons: Tribune

This sort of worry is what creates a society where anorexia runs rampant, where we’re stuck on any flaw or imperfection as bad because we watch movies or look at magazines where people are lit, done up in make up and airbrushed to godlike proportions. Relationships become harder to maintain because they’re based on superficial forms of attraction. This isn’t about being confident; it’s about lacking confidence so much that you worry about what anyone will think of every aspect of your body.

We’re losing perspective. Personality and being human is what really matters, and going down the road of worrying about the shade of your genitalia, how your pubic hair curls, whether your toenails grow the right thickness and if your neck is long enough is trying to change how we were born. It’s an unending battle and a slippery slope. Michael Jackson is a fine example of someone who couldn’t stop trying to be someone else, to the point of having extreme cosmetic surgery and bleaching his skin so he looked less black. His talent was in his voice and his musical skills. His downfall was in his quest to be someone else.

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Writing: Remembering Lydia Langstaff

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Lydia Langstaff was just starting out but accomplished a great deal. Creative Commons: Dave Morrison, flickr

Today I heard that there is a celebration for a man who is one of the longest living with a heart transplant. Diagnosed at 21 with a fatal heart disease and given weeks to live, he received a heart transplant and 26 years later, he’s still going strong. This made me think of Lydia Langstaff, a young writer who I once knew. We were both part of the same writer’s group. Lydia and I began to do some individual critiquing of each other’s work on the side.

She was under thirty and was truly like a porcelain doll. Her skin was nearly translucent, a pale white, and her eyes were large. Lydia’s hair was blond and her rounded nails had a tinge of blue. In many ways she was as delicate as a fey being who spends a short time navigating the world of humans. You see, Lydia had a congenital heart defect. Her nails and skin were part of her condition. Her heart was such a tremulous thing that Lydia could never fly, nor even walk up a flight of stairs. The strain would have been too much.

She told me once her family called her their miracle because she had never been expected to live past birth. And yet she did. She

Lydia Langstaff, memento mori, remembering writers, speculative writing,

Writing may be less ephemeral than our lives. Creative Commons: pirano Bob R, flickr, by William Michael Harnett

made it through her world carefully, and uncomplaining. Lydia’s husband, Jeff Langstaff, supported her and they were both aware of her tenuous hold on the reins of life.

For the brief while I got to know Lydia she was a determined writer. She never ever complained about her condition. She persevered and lived with it. And she was becoming a good author. She sold a few stories and possibly some poems. She and I were working on novels. I had read some of hers. And then one day we heard that Lydia had died suddenly, one night in the arms of her husband. They had always known it could happen any time, but it was still a surprise that she died so young, at 28.

After Lydia’s death, her husband Jeff asked me to look through her manuscript. It turns out she had finished the first draft of a novel and he wondered what it would take to make it publishable. I read it and didn’t charge him, in honor of Lydia. It was a mythic tale, of traveling back in time to Scotland’s early history, of accepting one’s destiny. I told him that it would take some editing to make it publishable but it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t do it for free but I would halve my rate. He told me he’d think about it because even an edited manuscript doesn’t mean it will be published. It languished in a drawer and I never heard from Jeff again.

It’s been about 16 years since Lydia died and I still have her manuscript. I don’t know what her maiden name is and attempts to find Jeff have not succeeded. I’m loath to throw out the manuscript as it seems to disrespect Lydia’s memory. Yet should I edit it and then self-publish it under both our names? If I did that, I’d have to split the proceeds after my cost; Lydia’s half going to heart research. But is that ethical? I feel stuck and wonder what would be right. I’d love to honor her memory and let her story see the light but I’m not family and yet, I can’t find them. What do you think I should do? And if you know a Jeff Langstaff, have him read this and contact me if he’s the right one.

There is a Lydia Langstaff Memorial Prize that On Spec puts out (possibly sporadically) given to a writer under 30. I think it will be resurrected again. But I’d like to know what to do with Lydia’s manuscript and I’d dearly love to find her family. In the meantime, I have another part of Lydia’s legacy. She taught me to cherish each moment because time is ephemeral and I’ve had so much more time than she did. She showed me that one can accomplish a great deal, even with physical handicaps. I don’t always remember  these lessons but I try to because Lydia gave it her all for her short time in this earthly realm.

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Cooking Without Fat: Indian Curry

diet, cooking, Indian curry, low-fat cooking, eggplant, yams, food, healthy eating

The great veggie goodness, before the chicken and mushrooms were added.

I’ve been doing a diet to kickstart my body into losing weight. This means eating low sugar vegetables (no beets, corn, carrots), low sugar, whole wheat grains (no potatoes, bread or white rice), low sugar fruits (no tropical fruits) such as berries or apples, white meat only (skinless chicken breasts, fish) and no fat at all. That means no olive oils, no nuts or seeds and no fatty meats. The warning with this type of diet is you have to do it under a doctor’s supervision because we need fat to function, both for nerves and our brains. By day four you can start to feel shaky or nauseous because the body is missing the fat and going into ketosis. You have to take potassium tablets while on it (available with a prescription) and it is only short term, two weeks at most.  Anorexics, if you normally feel shaky, nauseous, tired or foggy, it means you are starving yourself to death. Stop, before you die and damage your body permanently.

In some ways this diet hasn’t been a big challenge. I normally do a no fat, no grain lunch. This usually consists of a piece of meat, such as a skinless chicken breast, in seasoning, cooked in the microwave with a bit of water, plus some form of vegetable. Either a salad with lemon squeezed on or something like broccoli or bok choi. Sometimes I’ll add some avocado, which is a fat but a good one.

The challenge has been cooking, where I’m not using a microwave. I have a cast iron frying pan and find that if I put it on a low to medium heat I can start with cooking my vegetables a bit. Of course you don’t really “stir-fry” and have to watch for sticking, but I found it works okay for doing eggplant that takes a bit of time. Last night I decided to make a curry. Normally I would have used a pre-bought curry sauce but I realized that these have a lot of oil in them. No curries with coconut milk, which I love because it is high fat, though also a good fat.

The curry needed to simmer with the spices I was adding so I decided to use a pot on low heat. I chopped up yams (my carb for the day) and put the chunks into the pot with chopped onion, garlic, chive tops and Thai chili. The onion has enough water in it that this prevented burning. The key to cooking without fat is to never put the heat too high.

Indian curry, cooking, no fat diet, vegan, vegetarian, diets

The finished result. Worth using a spoon to get every drop.

I wasn’t sure how the baby eggplants would do if I just tossed them in to the pot, so I cut them in chunks, put on a grill, sprinkled with salt and stuck them into the toaster oven on broil to get them going. In the meantime, I added green beans, the last of peas in the pod that were too old and starchy, and celery.  I added curry powder, basil, cayenne, rosemary, dried chilies,  salt and pepper. I meant to add a touch of lemongrass powder but slipped; it turned out okay though. Because the curry powder can be a bit bitter I put in one sugar cube.

Once this was all mixed, I added half of a large can of tomatoes. That was my base sauce. By then the eggplant was browned and softened and I added that in. I let everything simmer for about twenty minutes until the yams were softened. Then I added sliced mushrooms and chunks of chicken breast. The eggplants break down to give a thicker base and adding the chicken at the end kept it tender.

There are probably gourmands out there shuddering at my culinary abuses but it worked. I had a tasty curry with enough for four servings. Without the chicken this would work for a vegan or vegetarian meal, and adding in some healthy oil isn’t a problem. I like my foods spicy so you can see I used three different types of hot in this.  I’m a concocter more than a cook and it’s why I could make my apocalypse diet work, because I could adapt. The recipe, as it is, follows.

LOW TO NO-FAT INDIAN CURRY

Garlic
Chive tops
Thai chili
White onion 2-3 slices, chopped
2 medium size yams
4-5 baby eggplants, chopped into chunks (any variety will do)
1 stalk celery
Green peas (optional)
2 cups green (string) beans, chopped to one inch size
6-8 mushrooms (chopped or sliced)
Skinless chicken breast cubed
2 cups canned, peeled tomatoes
½ tsp rosemary
1 ½ tsp basil
3 pequeno chilies
1 tsp lemon grass powder
½ tsp cayenne powder
1 ½ tbsp curry powder
1 sugar cube
salt & pepper to taste

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The Luxury of Recycling

recyle, reuse, recycling, garbage, littering, environment, environmental disasters, slums

Find your own way to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but don’t use laziness as an excuse not to. Creative Commons: timtak flickr

Long ago I took on the recycling mindset. I didn’t want to litter, and if I’m getting rid of something that’s still usable I can’t just throw it out; I have to find a place or person where it can have more purpose. Vancouver has now had curbside recycling for a number of years. Even before that I would save up items (mostly paper) and take them to the recycling depot. But then I was a book rep and would have boxes of catalogues and order forms that would get outdated.

But when I finally came to realized how much garbarge we produced, I wanted to cut down even more on what goes into the landfill so we’re not living on a giant garbage heap. In amongst all these thoughts and growing awareness, I traveled to India. India’s population wasn’t yet a billion people but it was overcrowded and impoverished. I remember coming into Calcutta and passing fields where garbage speckled the fields. The streets of Calcutta were not just filthy. They included a dead cat, feces and other items not wanted. But much was recycled. People tore up any piece of tin or cardboard or concrete sidewalk to create shanty shacks in the mediums between the roads. It was sad and startling.

The air was so thick with diesel and pollution that a handkerchief held over my nose and mouth was black in two hours. The air garbage, recycling, pollution, Asia, culture, trash, landfillremained hazy and thick. When I walked to see the Taj Mahal at dawn the sky displayed an orangey rosey glow that was mostly pollution. Not only did the Ganges have a dead cow floating along, people doing laundry, ablutions and religious observances, it also had the ashes sifting down from the burning ghats where they cremated bodies. I made sure not to touch one drop of that river water and I already had dysentery.

When I arrived in Meghalaya, one of India’s seven tribal states, and more affluent than the general Hindu culture, I found pollution that was heartbreaking. The Khasis had a sacred grove of trees outside of Shillong. One day we drove up there, and it gave a great view of the city. But everywhere I looked there were plastic bags, bottles, straws and tetra packs. Another day we went to see some sites and then sat on a hillside by a waterfall.  We ate our lunch, which was wrapped in banana leaves and then in plastic bags (there were no neat takeout containers). After we finished the other people tossed the banana leaves and then the plastic bags. I ran around gathering up the plastic and exclaiming, You can’t do that. It’s bad.

These people are educated. They go to school and university and drive jeeps but they had no idea about environmentalism. I triedto explain that not only is it visually unappealing but unlike the banana leaf, the bag will go into the ground, poison the earth, or a cow will eat it and then when you eat part of that cow (the Khasis are not Hindus, who don’t eat cows) you could get sick from the plastic. I simplified it but I tried to impress that they shouldn’t leave garbage in the natural environment. But they also had no form of recycling.

trash, garbage, pollution, India, slums, recycling, recyle, reuse, reduce, environment

In many ways India does more of the Reuse part of the three Rs than we do. But Reduce is something that all countries need to do so that there isn’t so much garbage in the beginning. From: Indianimages.com

For much of India, it would have been fairly difficult to go up to someone and say, Don’t cut down that tree or you will have no trees at all, when that tree might be the only means for them to cook food. Seeing such destitution, filth and pollution in areas made me realize that we in North America have the luxury to recycle. It’s not that easy in a third world country where survival is your first most thought. You want shelter, security and food, and little else matters after that. In fact your full day might be taken up with finding enough food for your family. Such images fill me with despair but I try to hold out hope, from my teenage years example, that things will change for the better.

This doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It can, and when the teenage Khasis boys looked at North America and coveted the standard of living and all the trappings of popular culture that we have, then it became even more of our onus to make sure people don’t repeat the mistakes. India has rampant pollution but then Canada and the US’s shores and land are not pristine. We work at it but there is always room for improvement. You cannot deprive another society or deny them to have what you have, but you can try to show them it can be done better.  Pollution and recycling isn’t just something for some people. Every person and ever nation has to do it and India’s government could at least start the ball rolling, and maybe they have. I haven’t been there in years. One thing I know is I’ll continue to try to lead by example and I have room for improvement too.

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A Random Post About Random Events

writing, life, poetry, pain, poems, Rannu

Poised to begin. I’m always thinking about writing. Creative Commons: gnuckx, Flickr

I’ve had an incredibly expensive and busy week, with no time to write or rant on the blog (besides the Fluevog review). So I’m just going to ramble about what’s going on with me, a rarity when it gets to general day-to-day stuff. About a month ago I put my back out. This is unfortunately a semi regular event for me. In the realm of symptoms for chronic myofascial pain syndrome is tight muscles that have forgotten how to relax, therefore causing trigger point nodules of pain. I also have loose ligaments, so common movements can cause the muscles to pull my ribs out and the ligaments won’t hold them in place.  Yes, it is painful and makes it difficult to sleep, breathe or move at times.

That took a couple of weeks to settle down and I stopped working out for that time. Then I was lazy and busy and I missed another two weeks. Now I’m back to working out, realizing I miss bellydancing (haven’t taught in about four months) and have to get more dancing in. It is the easiest and most fun type of exercise for me.

I’m dealing with ribs still doing their own thing, a couple of rush editing projects and attempts to write a story before the end of the month for the Rannu competition. Of course, at this point, it’s all in my head and not down on paper. I have three weeks to kickstart myself. The reprint collection is ready to be checked over by a friend and then I’ll try formatting it for Smashwords first.

pain, myofascial pain, muscles, trigger points, back issues, dislocated ribs, health

These spots are just some of the areas where myofascial pain can set in, sometimes all at once. Creative commons: from docakilah.com

Besides the dumb rib issue, I’ve had to get a crown on a cracked tooth, which is becoming more complicated, and that’s not a cheap venture. And…it looks like one of my not very old, yet still sucky, tires may have to be replaced from a flat a few weeks back. The tire was okay but doesn’t seem completely right. I’ve started a new series of poems, which I began in March, where I wrote two new stories, rewrote two others and started the poems. The series will have thirteen in all, and be about witches, but with a Canadian twist. Two are done, two more being worked on. No idea how long it will take to finish this series but I’ll start sending out some of the individual poems. And I’ll get something done for the Rannu competition. I work better to deadlines so it’s always good to grab one.

Energy is always an issue. With spring finally seeming to have hit Vancouver–we actually had a warm enough weekend to go without jackets–I’m waking up a bit earlier and easier. I’m battling back anemia  and sometimes the myofascial pain adds its on dimension of fatigue. And sometimes I don’t manage my time well. But I have lots to do, including repainting and reorganizing my den and writing writing writing. Spring cleaning is sometimes an ongoing thing, and writing is a constant even if it happens in fits and starts.

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Vanity Gone Too Far: Genital Bleaching

skin bleaching, anus, anal bleaching, health, skin lightening

Perhaps a strategically placed flashlight would work just as well. From: newspitter.com

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re worrying about bleaching parts of your nether regions then you need to get your head out of those areas and go smell the flowers. And I mean that literally. Some of you might be wondering what I’m talking about.

There has been a prevalence in recent years for some people to bleach their anuses. Yes, truly. It seems it was something that porn stars did to enhance an overall skin tone  for the camera. Where else are you going to have bright lights shining down upon your genitalia, except maybe in the doctor’s office? But somehow, some vapid, silly people got it into their heads that human beings should be of one even color, even the places where the light don’t shine. They think everyone comes airbrushed like Playboy model pictures, porn stars and people in the movies who are lit, pomaded and dressed to look perfect.

We can of course blame media, the internet and the hyper sexualization for this offense. Why yes, I hope to be judged on the color of my butthole because obviously my intelligence matters least of all, then my personality, then my face. Yes yes, let’s prove who is the biggest ass; it’s those who worry about the color of their skin to the most minute degree. I would say that only white people do this because otherwise it would be a bright and shining star in a very odd place, but guess what? Other races or people of darker skin tones worry about lightening all of their skin. They want to be of a lighter tone. Michael Jackson was a fine example of taking the removal of skin pigmentation too far. If you’re bleaching your butthole, there are more things wrong with you than skin tone, unless you plan on being a porn star.

genital bleaching, skin lightening, culture, self-image, unhealthy fascination, narcissism

Because black people want to be white? What's wrong with this beautiful woman's skin tone? Nothing. From: blackskinlightening.com

Have I mentioned that anal whitening has also spread to the vagina? Oh yes, we want our labia bleached perfectly too. People might get certain skin conditions such as varicose veins or the redness of rosacea taken care of. That’s one thing and those conditions have other complications. But a human’s skin tone is not a condition; it’s part of nature’s pattern. Seriously, I have heard fewer things more ludicrous than bleaching genitalia, and any person who is more concerned about the color and tone of my genitals and anus is more of an ass than I care to talk to. I wont even get into the dangers of bleaching areas of such delicate nature. Clearly the people doing this have no idea that humans are made of varying textures and tones of skin, wrinkles, creases, dimples, beauty marks and birthmarks, moles and other differences. We are a landscape, not a blank canvas.

Once upon a time we worried about a good fit with someone as a partner. We also tried to fight racism and judging someone based on the color of their skin. We used to contemplate our navels. Now we’re contemplating asses.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 67-72

tomatoes, cooking, pilaf, curry, food, cooking, recipes, Apocalypse Diet, zombies

Not hearts but canned tomatoes, one of my lifesaver vegetables so far into the Apocalypse Diet. Creative Commons: wwwbittersweetcook.com

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 67 (Mar. 07):

People have been asking how much money I’ve saved, how much weight I’ve lost. First, this isn’t a real diet since I was allowed to eat whatever is in my place. But I have had smaller portions. I’m the type of person who could crash at the top of a snowy mountain and it would be months before I would have to eat my fellow humans, because my body can hang on really really well to its weight. I don’t change weight a lot. Throughout this, I’ve continued to work out but the carbs have gone ups while the vegetables have gone down…slightly. I don’t weigh myself (see previous posts on eating disorders) so I think I might have lost five pounds, but that’s about it.

As for saving money, I think I spend around $40/week on food. That doesn’t include dining out. So if we look at that amount I’ve saved probably around $200. Not phenomenal but then I had bills to pay so “saving” isn’t quite right. The  money just paid some of those bills.

I’m in rinse and repeat cycle. Breakfast, the molasses banana bread with margarine. Lunch, previously frozen pseudo (no milk) clam chowder. Yes, by the time I get home after working out at 6 pm I’m usually starving.

I had one precious tin of tomatoes left. I took half the tin, mixed it with onions, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper and added in some shrimp and mussels to make a sort of pilaf. I added the rest of the rice from last night, and some engevita yeast for a slightly cheesy taste.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 68 (Mar. 08):

Rinse and repeat, molasses banana bread for breakfast. Lunch was the rest of the rice pilaf with shrimp and mussels from last night.

brains, zombie food, eating, diet, apocalypse diet, end of the world

Can you say grainzzz? Brains made from edible foods by Sara Asnaghi. Now that's zombie food I could eat.

That’s quite filling. I’m beginning to think I might not make it past March. 16th as I’ll be out of most foods, but we’ll see. There are still soups in the freezer and still tins of tuna.

Dinner was the last of the gyozas in the freezer, fried up with some soy and hot sauce. I also found a prehistoric package of  “dessert topping mix” by Weight Watchers. It’s a pseudo whipping cream so I whipped it with water and vanilla and it was ready. Then I took some of the frozen berries and a bit of coconut and mixed it together for dessert.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 69 (Mar. 09):

In my cupboard are jars of flour; chickpea, rice, potato, which I have had for half of forever. While I could take one of those package mixes and still bake a cake I think I’ll try a concoction at some point that will use up these dinosaurs.  In the meantime, breakfast has been the same as all week, banana bread.

Lunch was the chicken barley bean soup, and dinner was going over to a friend’s.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 70 (Mar. 10):

I was running around all day and didn’t really eat, besides two pieces of artichokes in oil, until 5:00. I was so hungry when I was out on the Drive, buying cat food that every food place I went by was a challenge. “Oh maybe I’ll just buy two slices of pizza; that sushi roll looks really good; falafel!; maybe some smoked salmon; I could just buy a cookie… And on it went, but somehow I made it home and cooked up pasta, with some of the canned tomatoes, garlic, curry spice, some tamarind, fenugreek, fennel, salt, pepper, chili peppers and the last carrot and prawns. Oh and I added some engevita or flake yeast, which is high in vitamins and adds a bit of a creamy cheesy texture.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 71 (Mar. 11):

Leftovers of the curry pasta from yesterday. Supper was a small bowl of homemade pea soup, and then popcorn with engevita yeast later on.

pottage, gruel, barley, food, cooking, recipes, apocalypse diet, diets, zombies

Apocalypse Pottage; my desperate yet hearty concoction of the last of many things (with a sprinkle of flake yeast).

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 72 (Mar. 12):

Breakfast was another piece of banana bread with margarine though it was um…garlic banana bread because I forgot to clean the cutting board which was last used to chop garlic. Not too terrible though. Lunch was a bowl of my vegetarian nut chili.

Okay, what do you get when you mix the following ingredients: canned tomatoes, barley, quinoa, sesame seeds, garlic, a soft beet, olive oil, turmeric, dill, cayenne, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a can of tuna? Gruel, pottage, goulash? That is in fact what I made tonight and I’m beginning to think I have a sense of what gruel was in the Dark Ages. The turmeric offset the barley from the red of the beets and tomatoes. The hot sauce offset the sweetness of the beets. It wasn’t bad at all, which is good because I have another two days’ worth of it.  Maybe I should open up the Apocalypse Restaurant and serve Apocalypse Pottage.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 32-37

zombies, apocalypse diet, eating, food, end of the world, dieting

Will I have to eat brains at some point? Creative Commons: geekstir.com

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 32 (Feb. 1):

Since I posted early yesterday I didn’t list that I had a seaweed snack, one of those little packages of salty green weirdness. Then for supper I had the last of some cheese perogies, which I probably had for over a year. I fried them up with onions, garlic and sundried tomatoes. Last night I watched 28 Days Later, a variation on the zombie story where people are infected with rage through highly contagious blood and there are very few people left in Britain. It starts with Cillian Murphy waking up in the hospital, not knowing what has happened. Gee, Walking Dead, wherever did you guys get that idea for your pilot show? Problem was, I had nightmares about zombies and not a restful sleep. Dang.

Breakfast was a watered down glass of pomegranate juice. I have a very large bottle and that stuff just does not go bad. My freezer food, spicy veggie peanut soup was supposed to be lunch but someone made a special Filipino noodle dish for someone else’s birthday (long noodles long life) and I had that instead.

While I was keeping an eye on the green veggies in the fridge I missed the two sweet potatoes taking on a zombie-ish tone and turning mushy. By the time I peeled away the grossness I had about 1.5 sweet potatoes that I cooked with 5 Brussels sprouts, and mixed them in some pesto sauce I found in the cupboard. Not a great meal but okay.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 33 (Feb. 2):

Groundhog day found me eating the groundnut (another name for peanut) spicy soup I should have had yesterday, plus

brains, zombies, apocalypse diet, eating, diet, food, end of the world, cooking

Leftovers can get tedious, though I cycle through my frozen foods at any time. Creative Commons: http://www.lastkisscomics.com

some of someone’s nacho chips. Breakfast had been another handful of those peanut snacks and there is only a handful left. And guess what, supper was the rest of the sweet potato with some pesto sauce, plus a can of pop I had in the fridge. Black cherry, a little taste of sugary sunshine.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 34 (Feb. 3):

Lunch was a combo of some of my gumbo, and a few pieces of sushi someone brought in. That held me until later Friday night when I went lazy and cooked up some pasta, with scallops and the pesto sauce. I had some leftover red wine in the fridge so I drank that before it went bad.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 35 (Feb. 4):

Another weird Saturday. The last of the crunchy peanut snacks is gone. I try to update this daily so I don’t forget but I think that might have been all I had until the evening at a friend’s for a light meal. I did have a couple of crackers with a very thin slice of cheese before going to bed. I don’t worry whether cheese will give me weird dreams (as reported by some) because my dreams tend to be rather odd on average.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 36 (Feb. 5):

A small bowl of brown rice with a spoonful of pesto sauce for lunch. I repeated Friday’s dinner by having pasta with the last of the scallops and the pesto sauce. Pesto is so good. Other than that, a snack of the very last slice of cheese and six crackers was my day’s food.

I watched The Invasion today with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, about an invading and alien virus, which takes over people and reprograms them. It had enough tension that I was on the edge of my seat for part of it. It’s another possibility of how supply lines would be upset. While the human bodies would still need the food, in this time of transition stores are empty and Nicole gets to drain a lot of pop and eat nuts to get by.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 37 (Feb. 6):

This morning I had a rice cake with almond butter, and a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips (doing it the Dutch way). Lunch was a bowl of avgolemono soup. I’m not a big eater normally and yes, I am eating a bit less. I have noticed I’ve lost a few pounds but nothing truly significant. So consider, I’m in month two of my Apocalypse Diet and I’m not really scrimping a lot.

 

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