Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer's End

Maybe it's just me but this summer has felt like a furnace. A big, sloppy, loud wet furnace. I'm grumbly in the heat and it gives me headaches...the yo yo of the barometer and please bear with me. I've been going through some interesting stuff over the last month or so and there are some pretty major decisions happening for us, but I won't get into that until all is finalized.
Chester is doing great, though I'm a little pissed at his doc for changing clinics (I know, like our comfort and convenience is the ONLY thing she should be thinking of!). We now have to go to Calgary Trail to see her. We don't want to go switching docs at this point, but it's reminiscent of when our own doc just up and quit without a word, leaving us in a very crappy situation. But it's worth it for the boy. He wasn't very happy that I dragged him out of bed so early this morning. His usual reply to things of this nature is to grumble all the way from the bedroom to the couch.
I've been canning and preserving. I know it's not unusual to do so at this time of year.However, it is for me to find the time to do this. I got a bunch of dills done, some peaches, jam, syrup, etc. Twyla then proceeds to finish a jar of pickles by herself. Try to tell her that that's not a meal. She grins wickedly and continues to munch. I'm glad she likes them, but you know...preserves...for the future!
Okay, small talk complete.
I have started about three different paragraphs here and none of them were working. Maybe because I've felt a huge amount of frustration with the levels of disengagement from people for the last, well, I suppose year or so, yet getting specific can be tricky. I know a variety of people that are worried about a zombie apocalypse, yet I look around me and, guys, we're in it. It's like being in a life raft in the middle of the ocean and the thing is coming apart at the seems, but the rest of the people in the raft are worrying about getting a good tan or staying so zoned out that they don't even realize that they are in a life raft. There is a sense of utter disinterest, both in people that I know and people in general. It is an extremely alien way of thinking to me, to worry about nothing but the trivialities that are going on from second to second in your own life while there are things going on around you that are both the planet and to the people you have in your life. There is a sense, even from people who are (were) normally engaged in the important stuff, that everything is just too much effort. Even on social networking sites, the best people can seem to come up with are these idiotic posters with "profound" sayings. It's like being back in elementary school where you got your book club flyer a couple of times a year. In it you could buy the latest Judy Blume novel or these little posters with a kitten on a fence and the words "HANG TEN" written large across the top. Cute for a ten year old girl but not really...real....if you know what I mean. It's as though everyone decided they want to "Hang Ten" without actually knowing what that means. Don't get me wrong. Some are very schmaltzy and funny or have an Einstein quote, but they get real old real fast. It, to me, denotes the final nail in the coffin of complete disinterest. Because (for the most part and with a VERY few exceptions...Look at Nature Nut, you...walkin' the talk!) the people posting these don't seem to get what they are actually posting. There is a sense of "this sounds cool and profound and I will sound cool and profound if I post it" an example...I know a couple of people who will post these pictures of air-brushed aboriginal art with say, a quote from Chief Seattle, and yet the only thing I've ever heard from their mouths is disparaging, off-the-cuff things about Aboriginal people and certainly no effort towards the environment. It is like a society of walking Hallmark cards with utterly no substance to it. In my opinion, you should not be posting the animal anti-cruelty posters with a picture of a dog or cat with soulful eyes...what I'll call hallmarks...if you utterly ignore the animal cruelty that occurs in your own neighbourhood. Making statements about social issues without actually doing anything about them...isn't that more self-serving than anything?  So instead of doing something self-less, you paste on somebody else's words that went along with their actions and you can say...well, I put up those words so I'm doing my part. It doesn't work that way. If you wear a t-shirt that says to recycle and the best you can do is get your empties to the depot (meaning you're doing it for the cash, not for the environment) while the rest of the recyclables go into the trash, then you're full of shite. On the flip side, are the rehashed-warmed over Far Side-esque political cartoons that show up fourty-five times in a day that are just not that funny, especially after the twenty fifth posting.
Why do I care? Because we live on a planet in a society that is disintegrating. Maybe what is at your front door is okay at this moment in time, or it seems that way to you. You peer out and it seems like a nice day. But if you look just a little further out, it's not that simple and only a simple mind thinks it is. Maybe you figure that if you look like you are in the know and you say the right words, if you 'pass-it-on' without actually even getting the meaning, then you've done your part. Now you can move on to something more fun. Wrong, sweetie. What you've done is precisely nothing. If there is an animal starving, cold and hurting outside your front door, shut up and do something about it. Platitudes written by somebody else are just that.
I admit I don't get the whole disengaged thing. The ability of some people to listen to what somebody else is going or has gone through whether from a distance or right up close and dismiss it with a shrug or a flippant comment; to look at the world and figure it's not their problem; I don't get it. There is this idea that "it's been okay so far...nothing has happened" so it's all okay. What an idiotic way to view the world. It's like these brain-deads that send around this 'list of things we did as kids' thing. Ask Twyla how this irritates me.You see it in emails and Facebook, etc. It goes something like this:
When we were kids
"Our mothers smoked and/or drank while pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with brightly colored, lead-based paints.
There were no childproof lids on medicine or special locks on cabinet doors.
We we rode bikes, we wore baseball caps, not specially engineered helmets.
As infants, we rode in cars without car seats or booster seats, no seat belts and no air bags. Sometimes, as tots, we rode in small moving boxes packed with blankets and toys.
We rode in the back of pickup trucks and no one was arrested or cited.
We drank water from garden hoses, not from plastic bottles.
We shared a single bottle of Coca-Cola with three friends — and no one died.
We ate cupcakes with food coloring, white bread, real butter and bacon. In fact, we drank Kool-Aid mixed with tablespoons of real sugar.
Yet we weren’t overweight, because we were always outside playing.
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when dusk fell. And no one was able to reach us all day. And: we were okay.
We’d spend hours in the forest with Daisy rifles, or building go-carts without brakes, or sledding with wooden and steel monstrosities that could sever a limb.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s and X-Boxes. There were no video games, no cable television, no DVD players. There were no computers, no web, no Facebook, no Twitter.
We had friends and we went outside and found them… without cell phones or text messages.
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits resulting from these accidents. We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns and knives for our birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, played lawn darts and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment."
This has got to be some of the most brain-dead, stupid, selfish, lazy-assed moronity (it's a worn now, okay, smarty-pants) that has ever been spewed.  I know any number of people who have sent this to me and, again...disengaged to the point of stupid. I know one person, who, the first day I met them years ago was actually complaining about how much trouble it was to put kids in a car seat. All I could think that day was "ferfucksakes!"  It was utterly unbelievable to me. These are the same people that think that the government will fix climate change (if'n it akchully igzists), that banks and corporations have our best interests at heart and doctors always know what they're doing.
The above "what we did when we were kids and lived through it"  foolishness is like going "peanut butter is safe and there should be no precautions because I never saw any of my friends die of a peanut allergy when I was a kid..."  
Well...moronic person...let's talk about the whole it never happened to me scenario. It never happened to any other person until it did. Want some personal anecdotes? Well, you're going to get them anyway:
My Great Uncle Mike got into a car (hitchhiking) with a stranger (who was drunk). They got into a car crash while in a car with no seatbelts or laws requiring the wearing of seatbelts. Obviousy there were no air bags. He went through the front windscreen. He was paralyzed and bedridden for the rest of his life - read decades.
I was abducted when I was four. I remember it clearly. I was held for several days and hit when I wanted to go outside and look for my mama. It gives me nightmares to this day.
When I was a small child in Calgary I remember a little girl called Kimberly. She disappeared while playing outside unsupervised. Her body was later found in a garbage bag. She was three or four.
A young woman who worked with my sister and was an avid rider was thrown from a horse while riding. She was wearing a helmet and suffered dire injuries. If she had not worn a helmet she would be dead.
When Twyla was two, we were in a parked car and hit by a utility vehicle which smashed us into another vehicle. What saved Twyla from perhaps severe injury was that she was strapped into her car seat.  As it was she 'only' had a concussion.
When I was nineteen, my roommate called me from the hospital at 3am. She had been out with some friends riding a pickup truck on a country road, some in the cab and the rest in the back. One of her friends leaned back too far while sitting on the edge of the back and hit a tree. She died. My roommate was inconsolable.
When I was a kid, almost everybody drank beer (or whatever)  in the car while driving. The near misses are too numerable to mention.
I was bullied mercilessly in school...I can't imagine what it would have been like if there was an internet. At least now people are paying attention.
I was molested by someone (a religious figure) close to the family when I was a child. No one would have believed me if I had told them then.
Myself and my siblings were nearly killed while riding in the back of a pickup that had a camper on it (Dad slammed on the breaks and we all went flying backwards and smashed into the back. I came to upside down).
I have met devastated people whose babies died of SIDS when they were left on their tummies. There is not a word of comfort that you can give.
My parents hit me mercilessly at times...including with fists and bottles. (I remember my dad screaming at me to stop blocking his punches...which I learned to do to survive. I'll say this, though he was a large cop and I was only about eleven when this started, he never connected with my face. I think it drove him crazy.)
The point of all this isn't for you to shitty did she have it?!?  Everybody has it shitty to a greater or lesser degree. I don't feel sorry for me. I went through what I went through and came out for the most part hopefully a bit smarter and certainly fiercer. What I'm saying is matter-of-fact.

The point is that we have protections and laws now that many people worked really hard to have passed, not so you could be inconvenienced but so that you and the ones you love don't have to learn the hard way that bad things can happen, even if they never have before. Because those people suffered tragic losses/circumstances that they did not want others to suffer, we have ways to protect our children and ourselves. Do you get annoyed if a charity like MADD comes knocking at your door looking for some of your hard-earned cash? They are there because they had a loved one die because of a criminal who got behind the wheel of a car after drinking. (The really sick thing is I know people who STILL do this...drinking and driving, that is) They want to educate people so this can be stopped and educating people costs money. Those people want to save you from the same agony of losing a child or wife or mother or grandchild to a selfish asshole who used a car like a loaded weapon.  And those morons who make you put that little one into those maddening car seats...well, they are interested in saving that child's life if the people at MADD let an asshole slip through, get behind the wheel and smash into a car in which that child is travelling. Those pesky bike helmets...have you ever seen what a little boy's head looked like after being struck by a car when he wasn't wearing a helmet? There isn't much left. Have you ever watched a child suffocating because they came into contact with something they were severely allergic to? They turn blue and get all puffy. Their tongue swells. Their eyes bulge. Sometimes, if they don't get help quickly, they die. Here's the thing with that. It isn't just one lone child or even a few here and there. Peanut/nut/fish allergies are now prevalent. The chemicals that we gobbled up and came into contact with back in the good old days when there was no awareness of what these chemicals do to the human body,  have had an effect. It's gone straight to our DNA and changed the very cells of our bodies and those of our children, making us far more sensitive and reactive. A little harmless red dye anyone? Or maybe you played in a yard sprayed with DDT...that didn't kill did it? It might kill your kids though. Or maybe that friend you had who just passed away from the C word...maybe it did kill them. Maybe all that smoking your mother did while she was pregnant actually did take her life with lung cancer (as it did Brad's mother). It just took a while.
We have safety features on medication bottles because, in the eighties, Tylenol and every other over-the-counter drug was perfectly safe. Until people started dying because some sicko decided to poison the Tylenol right at the factory. And because there are so many copy-cat sickos out there, we figured that some safety measures might save some lives. Sorry if it's hard to get those pesky safety seals off. Would you rather be dead?

Consequently, have you watched your home washed away in a flood where there should be no flood, or your entire life disappear in a wildfire or storm that left nothing but a pile of ashes and a pit in the ground. Have you watched your farm go to hell in a drought that is more widespread and consuming than anything ever seen in recorded history?
This is where empathy comes in. You have to have enough of an imagination (I know...a tall order for some) to put yourself into another person's shoes and go 'that hasn't happened to me but IT COULD', so maybe I'll take some precautionary measures.
Enough has happened to me or to those I care about that I would do whatever it takes to protect them. I have seen up close and personal what drunk driving does (and not even the worst of it) so I will certainly get up in your face if you are just that stupid that you are willing to drink (or get wasted) and then get behind the wheel of a car. I have been pretty close by when a child disappeared never to be seen alive again so I walked Twyla to and from school every goddamn day when she was small and I was outside with her when she played. I have met parents who lost children and I never wanted to become one of those poor empty shell folk or worse, I never wanted to experience something I KNEW I would not survive. Screw you if you think I'm 'over protective" My child is alive and she 'ain't' no wilting wall flower either just because her mama was there. Bravo to the parents who protect their little ones and not so little ones! Bravo to those who can discipline and teach manners (which is also important) without hitting.

Now I am watching the local climate do things it shouldn't while the climate of the planet becomes a liability for life not just to our species but to all species. So I will certainly continue to bore people with my 'tree-hugging crap' and my advocacy to maybe do a little preparation for a rocky ride ahead. It may not have happened to you. It may not be something you can see right in front of your nose. It may be a lot of trouble to ensure that it doesn't happen to your children. But that's the way it is. We have to stop living in our own little bubbles and start to look at the bigger picture. Just like I support MADD because I want to do everything I can to prevent some sorry-assed drunken bastard from killing a person I love, I support those who are trying, desperately now, to wake people up before it is too late (it probably is, actually) and Earth goes up in a ball of flames. I want my daughter and grandchildren to be able to live safely on this planet or I at least want them to be as prepared and compassionate as they can be to deal with the consequences of what the last and present generation has done to our little life raft. If you are so self-centered and blind that you can't look at these things and put yourself or your own loved ones into the scenario that spurred and is spurring the people that work night and day to create laws and bring to light that which will protect the lives of your loved ones, then you're not worth much in my mind's eye.
Before you post the next hallmark, ask yourself what you can actually do to get that message across. Do you believe in women's rights? Then the next time you see some asshole abusing a woman in word or deed, do something. Do you believe in saving animals? Then go out and save an actual animal. Do you believe in a future for the children in your life that you love? Then get your ass out there and clean up the garbage in your own neck of the woods. The only real message you can send is the example you set, not the picture you post on Facebook of someone else's deeds.

Don't just be a hallmarker. Unless you actually LIVE every day what you are posting, then it means absolutely nothing.

What's on the Menu: Twyla's cooking
Reading: 'Clockwork Prince'
Plan for the Day: Decluttering
Listening to: Nothing so far
Watching: 'Arrested Development', 'Grimm'