One kitchen door, one over-the-door hanger, some cloth tote bags, and the root vegetables are now living in style.
Took about ten minutes to do, and an embarassingly long time to think of.
Walrus bag to rainbow bag, there's: potatoes, squash, cabbage, onions, carrots.
I also cannot buy a buttoned shirt which fits over my chest. I am a size 16-18 in most clothing: in yours, because you size small, I am probably a 20.
My female friends, including those smaller than me, have similar problems. Your women's clothing simply does not accommodate a wide range of body shapes and sizes. You don't even bring in Prana's larger sizes in the clothes of theirs that you carry.
It is especially noticeable that you do not even accommodate muscular women's bodies - the wide-shouldered or strong-legged are as out-of-luck as the large-busted or wide-hipped.
One would expect that to be your core demographic.
Meanwhile, a vast range of men can find comfortable, functional, stylish clothng at your store. My partner is 6'6 and strongly built and buys clothes from you easily.
I know you have experimented with a (slightly) broader range of women's sizes in the past. I also know you didn't really promote it - I found a pair of size 18 shorts, in _one_ style, on your racks by pure chance.
I suspect that the comparative failure of the experiment was used to justify not repeating it, when had we known the clothing was there we would have wanted and bought it.
As a co-operative which is not reliant on shareholder demands for a profit in every quarter MEC is in a position to take some chances, to do what's right instead of what's immediately expedient, to really promote heath and fitness and outdoor enjoyment as something that everybody can enjoy.
You are in a position to counteract the endless messages young women, and all women, get about the narrow range of 'acceptable' body types.
You are in a position to make members like me feel truly welcomed instead of grudgingly tolerated - so long as we don't expect too many nice things. You'll take my money for gear, if I'm okay with being sent elsewhere for clothing to wear while I use it. You could change that. You could get more of my business, easily, simply by treating me as if I genuinely mattered.
And you could do it - you could expand your sizes and rethink your fits - honestly, fairly easily, for the price of - for example - a moderate reduction in available colours of the clothing you sell. The warehouse and rack space can be made. The money can be found. The expertise can be located.
I have been making these suggestions to MEC for roughly a decade, and the response is always that you're "working on it." Please don't reply to this the same way.
Because you're not. You're not working on it at all. You don't value, or possibly don't even SEE, your female members unless we're slim and fall into a very narrow range of body types.
You're not Lululemon, or Patagonia, with their blatant aim at the young and slim and pretty client who they think will make a good "brand ambassador."
You're MEC. You're supposed to be better than that. You're supposed to belong to all of us. Are you ever going to act like that's true?
We bring them home, dice them, and put them in freezer bags of roughly 1lb each - the next one will go in 1/2 lb bags, as we're trying to reduce our meat consumption - for use as wanted. They mostly end up in pots of beans, or else cooked with greens, though they're also good for omlettes and hashes and savoury bread puddings and macaroni and cheese.
When we can dice no more, we freeze the bone with a good coating of meat on it, for soup.
Last night I put the bone in a pot along with:
1C diced celery
1C diced carrot
2 diced onions
1 box of chicken broth
1 box of water
3 T herbs du provence
2T chopped garlic
Quite a lot of black pepper
3 C dried white beans - half navy beans and half canellini in this case, as we were low on both.
It's been in the oven on 200F ever since, and will make a good supper. I will probably tweak the flavour a bit at the end - I think it could use a bit of salt, which is not always the case with ham so I leave it until the end, and maybe some dried dill to brighten things up.
ETA: added salt, dill, marjoram and half a cabbage two hours before supper and had it over boiled potatoes. It was really good.
We would have had it last night but the schedule was disrupted by the co-op run to Arnprior (if you're between Arnprior and Ottawa and want to get amazingly tasty ethical meat and fancy veggies and other stuff from the co-op, ping me for details. There is no minimum order, and if you know me well enough to read my journal you're welcome to have us hold your order in our freezer until you can come by, since we do the Ottawa delivery.
And also by Dreadful having an ... adverse reaction ... to the antibiotic he was on. All over one of the heirloom (1940s?) Hudson's Bay blankets we got for Christmas from random's parents.
He's been to the vet and he's fine, eating like a horse (or trying to, poor beast is on a diet) and with excellent blood sugar numbers and all. But my afternoon and early evening were hijacked by the need to deal with the devastation wreaked on the central, cream-coloured(!), section of said blanket.
"And the only reason I'm singin' you this song today is because you may know someone in a similar situation. Or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that ..." then here is how to clean a wool blanket that has picked up some odd stains over the years and is presently covered in, oh, let's call it mud, shall we?
You will need:
A bathtub or laundry tub
Oxygen bleach - we use oxiclean for babes, as it's unscented.
A toothbrush you can discard or a nailbrush you can clean thoroughly, after.
A spin-dryer, or access to a washing machine.
A small plastic bowl or similar.
A fairly strong light you can shine on your work.
Optional but beneficial:
Have a restorative cup of tea and refer to the cat as "mittens" in an ominous tone, repeatedly. Consider whether there's enough of him for a hat.
Relent because he's
so cute and doesn't feel well. Establish him on an old, comfy towel and give him enough catnip to keep him mostly there while his guts settle.
Lay the blanket in the tub and cover it with cold, soapy water. Let it soak for 15 minutes, and then go over it, gently dislodging with your brush anything solid that hasn't floated off already.
Drain the tub, making sure to hold the blanket up as much as possible (wet wool blankets are heavy!) so the solids go down the drain.
Lay the blanket back in the tub, folded like ribbon candy.
Pour some oxygen bleach into the bowl. Go over each section of the blanket with the brush, treating everything that looks stained or discoloured, dipping your brush frequently into the oxygen bleach, refolding the blanket as you finish each section so you expose the next strip. (This sounds more complicated than it is: all you really need is enough of a system that you don't miss a chunk). Do both sides. I did all of the cream sections plus anywhere on the stripes I saw staining. Don't scrub hard - rub just enough to get a foam going.
Let the blanket sit while you have a cup of tea and a stretch. You deserve it, and it gives the oxygen bleach time to work.
Cover the blanket with as much cold water as the tub will hold and swish the blanket around as much as your hands will stand. If you're working in a laundry tub, change the water once.
Drain the tub and put the blanket in the spin dryer/in the washer set to "spin only". Spinning removes terrifying amounts of soap and dirt along with the water, it's amazing.
(Optional step is optional:
In a small cup, combine:
2-3 T lanolin
6 drops of bluing (if your blanket is mostly cream/white)
About 1t of detergent or your nice scented bodywash or shampoo - something to act as a binding agent for the lanolin so it won't just solidify and float when you add it to the rinsewater.
You can add a few drops of rosemary oil or clary sage or pine oil, if you like your blankets to smell woodsy.
Fill the cup with boiling water to melt the lanolin and stir vigorously.
Add this to your rinsewater.
My theory was that I had the lanolin and bluing handy, and I only wash wool blankets once every few years, so I might as well give this one the full spa treatment while I was at it.)
Step eight: Cover the blanket with, again, as much cold water as the tub will hold, add the lanolin mix from seven-a when the tub is full and you can insure it gets mixed throughout the tub - avoid pouring it directly onto the blanket. The bluing is actually super-handy this way, as I could see the mixture spread out - and swish the blanket around for as long as your hands will tolerate the cold water. If you did the lanolin thing, let it soak for fifteen minutes or so once it's been well swished, to let more lanolin settle into the fabric.
Step nine: Drain the tub, spin the blanket again, and hang it over the shower rail (spinning gets out so much water it's even safe to hang wool without worrying about it getting dragged out of shape, it's amazing) or lay it flat to dry.
Step ten: assuming you can still lift your arms, give yourself a serious pat on the back, and then wash your tools.
It was seriously hard on my hands and shoulders, but I swear, this blanket hasn't looked this good since Diefenbaker was in office.
So around noon, I hauled myself to the kitchen and loaded one of the enamelled iron pots with:
Two frozen lambshanks
A box of chicken stock
A generous slosh (1/8 C?) dried onion
1 C chopped frozen celery (We've taken to chopping all the celery when we buy it and freezing what we don't immediately use. I love raw veggies in warm weather, but can't get excited about them in January, so right now celery=cooking celery.
I would have added 1C chopped frozen carrots, but we're out.
Then I added
1T Penzeys's Lamb Seasoning and
1/2 T Maharajah curry powder,
(I could have gone with 1/2 T lamb seasoning and 2-3 T Maharajah, but I wanted richness rather than spice, this time.)
Put the lid on, turned the oven to 300F, and wandered back to my book.
At 5 I started rice with a bit of lemongrass and cilantro, and added two large handsful of wax beans to the broth around the lamb shanks. I may add a big bunch of baby spinach right at the end; it's basically cooked as soon as it hits the hot liquid, so. And I've been trying to get our vegetable consumption up.
Meanwhile, supper smells promising.
I've been thinking about a thing that happened recently. Which I am going to disguise the details of, because it's a very common thing that people do and I have zero desire to put it on anyone specific because, well, "because" will become clear, I hope.
So someone asked for advice on writing a story in which one of the romantic leads has a marginalised identity, which the writer does not share.
And a lot of people responded helpfully, and a lot of people responded helpfully and encouragingly, and a number of people responded reassuringly: you're a good person and a good writer, you'll be fine, just go ahead.
It's that last response that I want to talk about, because it didn't sit well with me, and it hasn't sat well with me when I've seen it before — and I've seen it a lot. But I couldn't pin it down, what was bothering me, beyond the basic fact that it nearly always seems to be offered from, and to, the side with the privilege. I had observed repeatedly that asking for or taking that particular reassurance tended to lead to bad outcomes, and I had a rough notion of what was going on, but I couldn't have told you what was specifically wrong with the reassurance, or the context of it, or what. So I chewed on it a bunch.
This is a common problem for me — I don't know if it's a common problem in general — when it comes to thinking about oppression and marginalization and privilege. It's a difficulty, not of believing people, but of believing people and then not knowing what to do next: learning that a thing is wrong doesn't necessarily gift me with an understanding of why and how it's wrong, and not knowing what is wrong with a thing makes it hard to address effectively.
In other words, a desire not to hurt people is not, in and of itself, a toolkit for not hurting people. You have to do the work of understanding what hurts, and why.
I mean, "don't do that, it hurts people" is an incredibly valuable thing to be told. I'm not saying it's not. It just doesn't give you a lot of help in avoiding the many, many related ways of hurting people that you will, probably, move on to next if you leave it at that.
I have spent quite a lot of time fighting the despair that comes with the notion that the only way to address my privilege, in areas where I have it, is by systematically harming the people I come into contact with and then apologizing and making amends until I run out of problematic behaviours or, much more probably, friends. Eventually - much more slowly than seems reasonable, looking back, but I am a slow thinker - I realized that I didn't necessarily need to be a better person: I needed to be a better-informed person. Then I moved myself out of a lot of then-ongoing conversations and did a lot of reading, and then I asked some more questions and then I did more reading, and this has been working much better. For everyone, I think.
Again, this might just be me, in which case this isn't going to be as generally helpful as I might have hoped, but one can only try.
So. The "you're a decent person" problem.
Well, the first thing is that in that context it's invalidating, while looking and sounding like validation: "Can somebody tell me how to fix my front brakes? I never learned." "Oh, sweetie, you're a good person. You'll be fine."
You won't though. Try to teach yourself how to fix brakes without doing the reading or getting the right tools or getting someone to teach you, and you'll probably crash, actually, and you may well hit and injure or kill someone. And the thing is, you know that, or you wouldn't be asking. So while responses like that sound much more supportive than "that's too complicated for you, you can't fix your own brakes", they're functionally the same: they ignore the question and in doing so they invalidate the asker's reality, while making it harder for them to learn to do the thing well.
Telling someone who is asking for pointers to acquire the tools they need to do the work they've set themselves that they can just go out there and fake it because they're a good person is obscuring the point, and profoundly unhelpful at best, dangerous at worst.
(You don't ask someone who makes their living as a mechanic to drop everything and teach you for free, mind you, unless you're really good friends who regularly do each other large favours. But you ask someone, in person or via a manual or both, paying as appropriate for that instruction.)
(Related: the "you're a good writer" problem, the shaming flipside of which is often expressed after a failure of representation as "that's just bad writing." (Allowing the person who says it the self-reassuring corollary: "I am a Good Writer, so I am safe from that and related errors.) Which isn't wrong, exactly, except for the word "just". There are a lot of kinds of good writing and a lot of kinds of bad writing and even if we all agreed on which were which, which we do not, that's a bit like telling someone that their spelling is terrible and not mentioning that there are such things as dictionaries: you're not obligated as a casual critic to mention the dictionary thing, or go find them a suitable one, but I do think you shouldn't tell them they just need to Try Harder at Being A Better Writer. You do need to Try Harder to be a better speller, or writer - or a better anything - but you also need to know what, specifically, to try harder at.
Fail Again and Fail Better is real, and true, but it's not everything. And now I am tempted to derail myself with a whole discussion of how we overvalue "originality" and the individual and the iconoclast and the autodiadactic in writing and elsewhere and how that hooks into a number of deeply messed-up paradigms and if someone else wants to write about that please do because it is outside my current scope but oh wow I want to read that. Anyway. Where was I?)
So again, what happens when someone says, oh, I don't know, "I'm thinking of hiking the West Coast Trail, with a group of friends, they want me to organize the trip, I've done these kinds of hikes in these places, got any advice?"
What doesn't happen is this: people aren't overwhelmingly inspired to respond with "well, you're strong and brave and your heart's in the right place, just head out, you'll be fine." I mean, there are people who do say and believe things like that — right up until they try it, generally, at which point the Search and Rescue people usually get involved.
Mostly, though, what happens is this: people who have done the trail will — assuming they don't take one look at your current skill and experience and fitness levels and suggest you pick a different route — post links to their entire packing lists, which will feature discussion of the number of milligrammes to be saved by removing the handle of your toothbrush (no, seriously) and in-depth comparisons of blister treatments and merino vs synthetic baselayers and extensive discussion of bears and they will show you their extensively annotated maps, and they will look at your estimated km/day and tell you where you're being unrealistic, and in general people will school the heck out of you, partly because anyone who has hiked the West Coast Trail can and will discuss the topic for hours at the drop of a (waterproof, deet-stained) hat but mostly because when someone expresses an intent to hike the West Coast you probably, even if you do not hike yourself, understand that this is an incredibly difficult undertaking which is going to require not just courage and determination but a large amount of data, a number of slightly unusual skills, some fairly specific equipment, and a lot of physical conditioning, because if you try to do this thing without knowing what you're doing and how to do it, you or your companions will get seriously hurt or quite possibly die.
So when that person asks for help and information and advice and the benefit of your experience, you give it to them. You don't try to tell them that they can do the trail in their gardening sandals, armed with good intentions and a single bottle of water.
(Originally I was using the Appalachian Trail as my example, but random pointed out that you can do quite a lot of the Appalachian on guts, brute force and ignorance without doing yourself or anyone else a serious injury. Most people who nope out of that trail make it out on their own feet - however bloody and bruised. Which is a different, if related, metaphorical thingy, also somewhat relevant here.)
Now, look, you say.
And it's true that if one more piece of fiction makes it into the world with some regrettable assumptions left intact it is unlikely on its own to directly cause serious, long-lasting harm to someone. Nevertheless, somebody might - very likely will - get hurt.
And the regrettable assumptions themselves? Yep. You caught me. I'm not only using car repair and hiking as a way to talk about writing, I'm using writing as a way to talk about anti-oppression work in general. The regrettable assumptions, and their perpetuations, absolutely can and do injure and kill real people.
Being a decent person in an indecent system is not enough. It's necessary, but it's not sufficient. A decent person who is easily fooled by indecent arguments is functionally indistinguishable from a bad person, alas.
That approach also leads to the assumption that all failures are failures of decency, which just isn't so. Some are, for sure. We've all encountered that situation. But many, maybe even most, are not.
Trying to introspect, or abuse, yourself - or someone else - into becoming "more decent" is missing the point, badly: that is not what "educate yourself" means. It really isn't.
I suspect that the two things - the shame-driven endless quest to root out every scrap of evil from your own heart and the reflexive reassurance of our own basic goodness that misses the point - are not only related, they're the same thing at heart: heart-searching and self-criticism, if that's all you do or if you do it without finding some kind of support for yourself, eventually bottoms out and then - because it is a basically very healthy response to realize at some point in that cycle that you're not that horrible person, you're really not - feeds directly into the mutual reassurance cycle: it feels good to tell your friends that they're good people, decent people, people who want to do the right thing. It feels good to be the sort of person who has friends like that, and says things like that to them. It really does.
And there's a time and a place for doing that, for reminding each other of our basic decency. One of the things about unlearning privilege — any kind of privilege — is that it's extremely easy to take a wrong turn and end up stuck fast in the Pit of Shame. There are excellent reasons why this is often treated with, hrmm, brisk unhelpfullness by the unprivileged, mainly that it doesn't actually help them, you, or anyone and when a privileged person has a meltdown it usually takes up a lot of space which the people they have harmed were possibly intending to use, and makes a lot of noise, which often drowns out the conversation that was going on before the meltdown started - but it's still a shame-based meltdown and shame-based meltdowns are painful and awful and destructive and just because it's not the job of the people you've harmed to walk you through it and look after you and remind you that you're valuable doesn't mean you don't deserve those things at all.
Besides, it's not like people never do valuable work from a place of deep self-loathing, but it's sporadic, unreliable, inefficient, usually ends in a spectacular flameout and is basically the least effective way of creating real positive change ever.
Shame is not a sustainable power source. Sort of like alcohol, it acts as a stimulant in the short term, but is ultimately a depressant. Also, it impairs your judgement and reflexes.
In order to make useful change, you have to a) genuinely desire it ("be a decent person") b) believe that you are capable of learning how to make that change, and that your basic motives are reliably good, which is to say, you can't be, or can't continue to be, swamped in shame and self-loathing, because it doesn't matter how much you want something if you believe yourself to be incapable of it, and then you can c) learn the information and practice the skills required.
You can't skip b), any more than you can skip a) or c). If you skip b) you end up ping-ponging uncontrollably between "I am an awful person and must fix everything about myself" and "I am a good and caring person and need fix nothing about myself." Both are bad for you without being good for much else.
If you skip c) you can end up stuck at performing decency and anti-oppressiveness to your own personal choir, at the expense of practicing them and of getting better at them, or as a way of avoiding admitting that they require work, because you've made a basic error about the correct use of decency, that is, to give you a desire for the work, not to replace it.
And that's what's wrong with responding with reassurance when somone's asked for help.
Don't be the anti-oppression version of the hiker who ends up in a Medevac helicopter, and don't encourage other people to be that person.
And carry extra water. It never gets heavier.
First Christmas, Stan Rogers Warning: SO MANY FEELS.
At Last I'm Ready For Christmas, Stan Rogers
Christmas Must Be Tonight, Blue Rodeo
Huron Carol (Wendat, English and French), Heather Dale
Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes, Bruce Cockburn
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, Barenaked Ladies feat. Sarah McLaughlan.
What is Ther Worst Viral Thing? (Based on personal loathing, not actual/potential severity)
Head cold, the runny kind
Sinus cold, the stuffy kind
Influenza (get your flu shot, everyone!)
ETA: "stomach bug" includes viruses causing *both* kinds of digestive distress. Possibly I ought to have said "digestive system" rather than "stomach", but I am the sort of person who would rather clean up after Norovirus for a week than discuss the topic for ten minutes, sorry.
Image: a memorial stone for the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique shooting.
Text: IN MEMORIAM
Geneviève Bergeron Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
6 DÉCEMBRE 1989
Image of a sticker. Text:
Take action on violence against women Dec 6.
Status of Women Canada has more information and ways to get involved:
Image of three red roses against a white background.
Text: #6decembre #december6
Image is a link.
This song has been a potent medicine against all kinds of darkness for me since benet introduced me to it back in, oh, I don't know, 1996 or so.
So here it is, in case it can be that for you.
If there's a song you feel that way about, and you wanted to post it on your own journal and link to it, or just post it in the comments, I would like that. Perhaps we can get a whole playlist going. Can't hurt to try. Permission to link happily granted.
ETA: I cannot get youtube to disgorge the embed code. If you can, and will paste it to me, I'll swop it for the present link. Note that I know how to do this thing, I am just not being given the option either because I decline to sign in, because embed is disabled, or because I'm on the iPad; attempts at tech support are not solicited at this time.
ETA2: dine got me embed code, yay, which prompts me to link Blue Rodeo's Rose Coloured Glasses, which I think of as "that song we take turns singing to/about each other", and:
lexin contributes Something Inside So Strong, a song I did not know and am delighted to have heard now.
ETA3: white_hart: gives us Indigo Girls, Let It Be Me and angevin2 has embedded Tom Waits, Never Let Go over on LJ.
Little boxes, little boxes
On the hillside
Made of ticky-tacky
On the hillside, all the same
Doot doo doo doo doo
Doot doo doot doot
My hovercraft is full of
Answers on a postcard, please:
Admittedly, I had my tonsils removed when I was 18, and had had serious trouble with them for years, so it was a fairly complicated removal, but it took me slightly more than a week to successfully consume 2 litres of water within a 24-hour period and thus win my release from hospital and my ever-present IV, yclept Henry. (Not, sadly, "Henry IV": I would totally do that now, but this was then.)
Cold water, as well as even the most forgiving solids, took ... rather longer. There's a reason nobody tells you to put ice directly on fresh stitches, let me tell you what.
Had anyone attempted to feed me ice cream directly after the surgery they would have been exceedingly fortunate to escape having suffered no more than a paint-strippingly old-fashioned look (and only because my throat was too swollen to allow me to talk and I was too loaded on Demerol to throw a punch, at that.)
I had my tonsils taken out!
I was a child, and there was ice cream, and it was good.
I was a child, and there was ice cream, and it was awful.
I was a child, and there was no ice cream
I was an adult, and there was ice cream, and it was good.
I was an adult, and there was ice cream, and it was awful.
I was an adult, and there was no ice cream.
I retain both my tonsils and an uncontrollable desire to tick boxes.
(Optional but interesting) My tonsils were removed in (year):
I tend to produce first drafts so condensed as to be downright gnomic, and then show them to friends who are kind enough to be informatively bewildered at me until I unpack.
Related to this, I always said I don't outline, at least outside my head. It occurs to me that my first drafts ARE outlines, really. Just, I outline in actual paragraphs.
Huh. That's an oddly useful insight.
In other news I forget where I recently saw someone comment that you can tell the difference between bad allergies and a cold because colds are PAINFUL, but that, sadly, is also very useful information right now.
HOWEVER, if you're used to finding me on gchat, you see the one serious problem, here. I can't reach any of you and it's awful.
If there is some other chat client you're on, or if you don't mind getting chatty texts from me, please leave your info here (all comments screened)
You wish to engage in criminal activity of a magical nature in Toronto. It is summer. Pick a location:
Other TTC station (specified in comments)
Elsewhere on Toronto Island
Nathan Phillips Square/City Hall
Regent Park Armory
Queen Street West
Queen Street East
Flatiron Building, Front Street East
Don Valley (specifics in comments)
Robarts Library/Majestic Turkey
Public Library (specify branch in comments)
On a streetcar
This other location:
Please speculate freely on tactical, logistical, and other considerations in comments.
No, I am not going to blow up the location in question. Not even if it's the extension on the ROM.
 South of Finch, East of Kipling, West of Kennedy. Amalgamation can bite me.
Stanford researcher Mark Jacobson likes to take current thinking about renewable energy and supersize it. Rather than aiming for 50 percent renewables, like California is, he has analyzed what it would take for each of the 50 states to go fully renewable. It would apparently involve so many offshore wind turbines that hurricanes headed toward the States would be suppressed.
I feel like that's an unalloyed good, am I missing something here?
I assume I'm looking at, like, five readers here, and I'll probably end up getting four of them to help beta, but the heart wants what the heart wants, which in this case seems to be Ed Lang attempting to grapple with the logistics of a situation involving fucking magic, seriously? while Peter Grant and Thomas Nightingale are stuck kibitzing via Skype and can't usefully do any actual spells.
IDEK YOU GUYS.