I’m thinking of myself as the “Carrie Bradshaw” of mental illness right now. In fact, right now I’m wearing my pajamas and a sleeping mask on my head as I write this, sipping a black coffee and chain smoking cigarettes with a photo of Mr. Big on my nightstand. Okay, I don’t have the coffee or cigarettes or the photo.
And I’m sitting in a living room, so there isn’t even a nightstand nearby. I am sort of like Carrie in that I write, not a column for a trendy New York city paper, but a blog for dorky, silly people such as myself. Sorry, I called you dorky and silly if you’re reading this. But I’m dorky and silly, so I imagine if you enjoy my writing that you must like dorky, silliness if you’re still reading this. Where was I?
Oh yes. I’m like the “Carrie Bradshaw” of mental illness. If I did write for a trendy, New York paper, my column would be called Crazy and the City. Seeing as how I live in the Maritimes though, I would likely write for The Coast and my column would be Crazy in the Tiny City. But am I crazy? I thought I was but some things have happened recently that called into question all the things I thought about mental illness previously. Let me tell you all about my BFFs, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. We all went to lunch the other day and…
Okay, I am not so much like Carrie. I do actually have a Samantha friend. She may be better known to you as the Blog Broad. But she’s gay, and too crippled up with fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and slipped discs in her back most of the time to engage in the sexual acrobatics of Samantha from Sex in the City. I also have a Miranda-ish friend, T. But she isn’t really very Miranda-like other than she has short red hair most of the time (she likes to change her hair quite often). She isn’t very sarcastic, she is an optimist and she’s very Catholic. And I don’t have a Charlotte friend at all.
So back to that thing that happened that caused me to question my insanity. Those of you who may have started following my blog may have noticed that I have disappeared for a while. In the days leading up to Christmas, things in my life went very… weird? No, not weird. They went crazy, literally. Someone very close to me went into a state of mania. So the last month was spent going back and forth from a very well known mental institution located here in the Maritimes.
I’d never seen anyone in a state of mania before. It was an eye opener- seeing someone whose mind was broken to smithereens, going from one thought to another at the speed of light; seeing someone who was speaking to objects and dead people. Then visiting them at the hospital surrounded by other people in various degrees of true mental health crises. I couldn’t help but question all my previous-held notions about mental illness. I realize that there are varying degrees of mental illness, just like there are different stages of cancer. I suppose someone with mania would be at Stage 4 if they had cancer. Whereas I would likely be in the pre-cancerous cells stage or Stage 1 if I were to compare my “mental illness” to cancer.
But it got me thinking about all of the people I know who are struggling with mental wellness, including myself, and I couldn’t help but wonder, are there really so many people who are mentally ill? Everyone seems to be on some sort of prescription: Zoloft, Effexor, Celexa, Prozac, Paxil, etc.. Is it possible for so many people to be mentally ill? Is it legitimate mental illness or is our society making us sick? Are we all so obsessed with being happy that we need to take happy pills to find fulfillment? Or is it technology that is creating havoc and anxiety in our minds? Is there really an increase in the incidences of mental illness or is it an increase in awareness of it, a combination of both, OR is mental illness the “In” thing? Could we all just be normal?
I also have been wondering, what is “normal” anyway? I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs about mental illness and I’ve read Jenny Lawson’s books about the same topic, and I find I identify with the writing because as I read, I’m connecting- OMG- This is EXACTLY how I feel. But maybe we’re not really the crazy ones at all. Maybe we’re just the ones who are brave enough to share our true thoughts and feelings and bare our souls to the world. Maybe the so-called (self-called) “normal” people are actually JUST LIKE US but are pretending they don’t ever feel socially awkward, or isolated, or whatever. I think they are pretending! I think everyone has some element of craziness, but some of us are better at hiding it than others. I think crazy IS normal. And that the “normals” are really the crazy ones among us because they are crazy and don’t even recognize it!! Oooooh…. you “normal” people really piss me off, thinking you’re all that and a bag of dill pickle chips, making me think I’m the crazy one and you’re crazier than a pack of wild hyenas running around in a Walmart.
Yes, I have stopped taking my pills. I’m normal, after all.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the hospital,
Not a creature was stirring, not even an animal,
The bedsheets were hung from the ceiling with care,
With hopes that Saint Dymphna soon would be there,
The patients were all locked down snug in their beds,
While visions of dead people danced in their heads.
And the nurses in their scrubs and the doctors in their coats,
Had just gotten ready to get the fuck out,
When up on the roof there arose such a clatter,
Security rushed out to see what was the matter,
Away to the buzz door they rose in a flash,
The patients were ready to get into a clash,
The exit door lights lit the linoleum floor all aglow,
Hints of red shone down on the patients below,
When what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But Saint Dymphnas and her confessor Gereburnus dear,
With two trusted servants and the King’s only fool,
Fleeing from her father’s evil, big, long and hard tool,
More quickly than a cheetah, along Saint Dymphnas came,
She whistled, sang and called the patients by name,
They gathered around her and formed a neat row,
Their strength to resist temptation did grow,
She meticulously tended to each patient’s need,
Showed love, empathy and compassion, indeed,
She did not leave until each patient was helped,
And she laughed out loud in spite of herself,
And when each patient had had their needs met,
She took the bedsheets and created a large safety net,
Only then did she turn to see her father with dread,
And with his sword, Damon cut off her sweet head.
The patients now cured were all filled with sorrow,
Knowing today would unfold to Christmas tomorrow,
Their suffering took on a holy new strife,
For them, Saint Dymphnas gave up her life,
In the mental hospital, the patients will all be alright,
And so they call out, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”
Saint Dymphnas is the patron saint of the nervous, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill and those with neurological disorders. She is also the patron saint of psychiatrists, neurologists and psychologists.
Dymphnas was born in Ireland in the 7th century. Her father, Damon, was a pagan and her mother was Christian. Dymphnas also became Christian. When her mother died, her father was overcome with grief and vowed only to remarry if he found a woman who compared in beauty with his dead wife.
His grief led him to become mentally unstable and his daughter was resembling his dead wife more and more each day. He vowed he would marry her. Dymphnas fled to Geel in present-day Belgium with the help of a priest, Gereburnus, two servants and a fool.
When she arrived in Geel, legend has it that she built and ran a hospice for the sick and the poor. However, her father was able to track her location using the money trail. (Pretty fucked-up, without computers, right?) Anyway, King Damon had his soldiers kill the priest who helped her escape. And when he found his 15 year old daughter who refused to marry or go back with her father, Damon cut off her head with his sword. Saint Dymphnas is also the patron saint for victims of incest.
Hospitals and Christmas shouldn’t go together but sometimes it’s inevitable.
Christmas is often a very hard time for a lot of people. Is that statistic still relevant? The one about Christmas time being when the most suicides happen? I believe it.
Christmas is such a special time of year for a lot of people. People with families, friends and money. But for others, it’s a lonely time. Shut-ins. Seniors. People who are estranged from their families. Those who live in poverty.
Sometimes people are secretly struggling and you don’t know until it’s too late or maybe they reach out for help in time, but no one listens. Or the doctors say it’s not serious enough. It isn’t until they rant and rave for hours on end or when they say something about how they took pictures of Christmas eve for the kiddies. “What did you take pictures of?” Santa and Mrs. Claus fucking.
Take the time this Christmas to remember those not as fortunate as yourself. Instead of money, share your time. Ask people how they’re doing, not in that superficial way, but how they’re really doing. And listen. If we all stopped being such big liars, maybe people wouldn’t hide their fears, feelings and anxieties. We’re all fucked up. We all are. But we hide it. We hide it with lovely photos of our families, friends, vacations on Facebook. But when you dig deeper, every one has secrets. Ugly secrets. They’re there. And if you try to tell me your life is all roses and lollipops, then just wait for it. There’s someone or something waiting around the corner to smear shit on it.
Maybe if we stopped judging others for being weak…if we started supporting each other more… I think we can do better.
I’m baked. Not high. I mean I baked all day. I’m baked as in I’m so exhausted I feel out of it. So a short post for you today. Here are some recipes that you may enjoy.
For the crust, just use the recipe on the shortening container. The trick to flaky crust is to put the pie dough in the fridge for a bit before rolling out the dough. It’s the melting shortening combined with the flour that makes pie crust flaky.
The filling I made
- 4 cups frozen WILD Nova Scotia blueberries
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
Place blueberries and syrups in pot. Heat. When blueberries start to form liquid, add tapioca and lemon juice. Continue cooking until thick and all the tapioca has dissolved.
Then add filling to your pie shells. Make sure to cut slits in your top crust. Bake at 375 F for about 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Grammy’s Shortbread Cookies
- 1 lb. butter (454 gram) or margarine
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 4 cups flour
Cream the butter. Add sugar slowly. Add flour slowly. Mix well and chill for at least an hour. Roll out dough and use cookie cutters to create shapes. If no cookie cutters, just form into balls and press balls down with a fork.
Bake at 300 F for 15 minutes.
Allow to cool and frost if desired.
Red Velvet Cake
The original- the red in the cake was created by the beets. Store bought Red Velvet uses food coloring.
- 2 cups fresh beets pureed
- 2/3 cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix beat puree, oil and eggs until well mixed. Add sugar and vanilla.
In a large tupperware container with a cover mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Put cover on top and shake the hell out of it. If cocoa sticks together either use a whisk or a fork to separate it.
Stir the flour mixture and the milk to the batter alternating in batches. Turn up mixer to high once flour has started to incorporate in. (You don’t want flour all over the place!)
Put into buttered cake pans (9 inch) and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when placed in the middle.
Traditional Red Velvet Cake doesn’t have cream cheese icing either. This icing is to DIE for!! It’s so good. I use it for everything now and it’s pretty easy to make.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp and 2 tsp flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 pound of butter or margarine
- 1 tsp vanilla
In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, flour and salt. Boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. I mean it, all the time. No messing around!
Allow to boil for 5 minutes. Do not mess with the boiling. Every step must be exact.
Strain mixture using a metal mesh colander into a mixing bowl. Cool to room temperature. If you don’t do this, your icing will look fine at first but will turn into a runny mess that looks like… um… well… something you don’t want to eat that comes from a man’s nether regions.
Stir in vanilla.
Add butter a little at a time and whip. Once all butter is added, whip on high for 5-7 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
Frost your cake and ENJOY!
I don’t have any finished photos of my shortbread cookies or Red Velvet Cake because I’m still working on the icing. I didn’t let it cool to room temperature because I was tired and just wanted to go to bed. So I tried to take a short cut. I put my icing in the fridge and I’m hoping I won’t have to re-make it. I’ll keep you posted.
Authentic Red Velvet cake is a very different item to serve and everyone seems to love it. Either that or they are LYING which is a cardinal sin.
If you make any of these recipes, please let me know. I would love to see your pictures or hear about your own variations.
Time for junk and time for beer
I eat good, but this can’t last
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast
Maybe use a hula hoop
I can hardly stand the weight
Please Christmas, don’t be late.
Blogmas is starting to feel like the Advent Calendar from hell. I’ve been trying to write something everyday since December 1. I’ve been told by some wonderful bloggers I’ve met through this process of starting a blog that it’s okay to fail at Blogmas. But I’m stubborn. I want to do this. So here’s another fucking blogmas post, number 20.
I’ve been doing a lot of errands and running around trying to get things ready for Christmas and helping my grandfather-in-law write and send Christmas cards. He’s 91 and still knows so many people. TOO many people. After writing addresses on the envelopes of 44 cards, licking the seals (didn’t die like Susan from Seinfeld thankfully, but tasted yucky) and putting all the stamps on, it ended up being about 8 hours of work. As we went through my grandfather-in-law’s address book, I would say a name and he would debate whether they should get a card. And at 91, a lot of his friends had died, which is sad. Does it make me a bad person that for each friend who he said was dead, I wanted to do a dance of joy because it meant we could skip the whole greeting card part?
I also went with my bestie Sam (the Blog Broad) to do some shopping tonight and we saw this:
I finished some of the baskets I was working on and I thought I’d show you the finished product. Original article can be found by clicking HERE.
And finally, I saw a car today that I wish I had gotten a photo of. It was your typical SUV that is really just a sportier mini-van with the family stickers on the back [Eye Roll]. And on the roof of their truck, they had constructed a reindeer out of wire and souped it up with Christmas lights. I followed them with the intention of taking a photo but then couldn’t find my phone. Then I realized when I got home that it was in my pocket THE WHOLE TIME! Mother-humper!
But here are some other tacky things I saw.
That’s it for Blogmas 20. Happy 12/20 everyone. Why isn’t 12/20 a thing? Maybe we should make it a thing? 12/20? Jays? Anyone?
5 more posts.
Today I’m starting a new regular feature for my blog. I will be exploring new places around the Maritimes in Canada and Northeastern Maine, U.S.A.. I will be taking my ass to these places and sharing some of the beautiful gems that can be found in the North Atlantic region. Yesterday, my friend Donna and I took my ass across the border to a little town in Northeastern Maine called Eastport. It’s very close to Calais- pronounced like those hard bumps that form from working with your hands or walking too much, “callus.” Although, I enjoy pronouncing it the French way, “Cal-ay” because it sounds more sophisticated. From Calais, you take the Coastal route 1 along the Atlantic coast heading south to Perry. And just after you come to Perry, there will be a turn on the left for Route 190 which will take you to Eastport. It is 27 miles from Calais and will take about 35 minutes to get there.
Along the way, you’ll find many cute little parks and rest stops. We stopped at Saint Croix Island National Park which is designated an International Historic Site as well. If you’re familiar at all with the Europeans arrival in North America, you may be aware that in 1604 Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts and Samuel Champlain came with a small group of French men to what is now modern-day New Brunswick and Maine to settle and trade with the First Nations people. They chose to settle on Saint Croix island in the middle of the Saint Croix river because the position would allow them to trade with the Aboriginal peoples on both sides of the river. Champlain left the group to map the coast of “Acadie” which would later be known as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. What the French settlers didn’t realize was how harsh the winter would become due to the influx of Arctic air from the north. The men were not prepared for the severity of the winter weather conditions. The ice in the river froze creating ice floes too small and dangerous to cross. Isolated from the mainland with no access to fresh water, food or wood, the men began to die from scurvy. Of the 79 men, 35 died and just over 20 were near it by June of 1605 when Champlain returned. Because it is the first known settlement by European people in the Maritimes and Maine, and because of what happened to the people, it is considered to be a place of historical importance. It was closed because it’s winter yesterday, and all of the interpretative displays and monuments were covered up. But there is a beautiful view of the St. Croix River and of St. Croix Island.
After enjoying the view, (and not much else) at the St. Croix National Park, we continued straight for Eastport. Once you turn onto Route 190, you cross two causeways to reach Eastport. That’s because it’s on an island attached to the mainland through causeways. Eastport is on Moose Island, but to get to Moose Island you first have to drive over Carlow Island, also attached by a causeway. It is a scenic drive of ocean views most of the way to the little town of Eastport. When we finally arrived in the little town, I said to my friend Donna, “Doesn’t this remind
you of Cabot Cove?” I kept expecting to see Jessica Fletcher come cycling around the corner any moment. I apologize to those of you who may be too young to understand the references here; it’s from a television series, Murder She Wrote. Jessica Fletcher was a murder-mystery writer who lived in the fictional town of Cabot Cove in Maine. Every week someone got murdered and it just so happened that the police were always incompetent. Luckily, Jessica Fletcher would always weasel her way into the investigation and help solve the case. Surely, Cabot Cove in Maine must have had the highest murder rate per capita in the world.
We arrived in Eastpoint around lunch-time (Atlantic time) so we ate at the WaCo Diner. Not as in Waco, Texas. As in “whacko.” I didn’t really see anyone who looked like a whacko in the diner. Probably the only whacko in town that day was me. Imagine it- I carried my donkey head on a stick all over that little town and took photos. And no one seemed to take a second look! The WaCo Diner had a beautiful view of the water and we sat right next to the window. It is your typical diner with reasonably priced food and excellent service. We didn’t have to ask for our drinks to be refilled, the waitress brought us fresh drinks as soon as our mugs were empty. Donna had a coffee, so I wasn’t so much surprised at her refill. But I had a hot chocolate with whip cream on top and she also brought me a fresh one with the whip cream as well! They had all day breakfast so Donna had the special (steak, eggs, homefries, and toast) and I had the “Eastport Scramble” which went straight to my ass. My literal ass, not my figurative one. Actually, maybe it is my figurative one? It is my figure, after all. In any case, it was delicious and well worth the cost.
After we ate we walked around downtown Eastport and explored the shops on Water Street. There wasn’t much open. We discovered that all the shops in Eastport are closed on Sunday and that only about half of the shops in Eastport are opened on Mondays. Tuesday-Saturday all the shops are open. However, it seems the local pub is only open Wednesdays-Saturdays. Of course, we did visit in December. They may have different hours in the summer. The first little store we went into was S.L. Wadsworth & Son. I guess it is the oldest ship chandlery in America; that’s what it says on their business card. I don’t even know what a ship chandlery is, but it seemed to me that they sold a lot of the kinds of things you might find at a Canadian Tire in Canada but on a mini-mini-MINI-scale. The part my ass was drawn to
was the gift shop area. Most of the items were nautically themed or ocean related. And if you are a pirate, this is the store for you! It must have the largest selection of pirate gear that I’ve ever seen. Aye, Aye, matey! If you’re having trouble finding it, look for the fisherman statue. It’s right across the street.
The next shop we visited was called Port O’ Call. I really enjoyed this store. It was full of unique gifts and trinkets and even clothes items. You can even go to their website and order some of the neat items in their shop. I’m going to feature a few of the things I thought were interesting but I know that many of you may find some neat finds by browsing their online gift shop. Almost immediately after we walked into the store, I was drawn to the Scramble Squares puzzle display. Anyone who solves the puzzle in less than 5 minutes wins a puzzle of their choice. I love puzzles. So I was game. (Get it. I was “game.” I kill me.) I started at it as my friend Donna browsed through the rest of the shop. I was probably there for 30-40
minutes, lost in a spell of trying to solve the puzzle and determined to do it before realizing my 5 minutes was long up. I only realized it because Donna had finished browsing through the entire shop before I had even went past the puzzle display. I ended up buying two of the puzzles, one with hummingbirds for my mother and one with puffins for my grandmother-in-law. Then finally, I browsed through the rest of the store and was drawn to were these necklaces with round pictures on them. I’m not even sure what the pictures are made of. For some reason, they made me think of Jenny Lawson‘s taxidermied raccoon, Rory and her taxidermied mouse, Hamlet. I’m not sure if the animals on these necklaces were dead, but for some reason, they remind me of her dead stuffed animals.
Because it seemed the rest of the shops were closed on Water Street, we crossed over from Port O’Call and into the Moose Island Bakery. We were still full from our lunch over at the Whacko Diner (spelled WaCo), so we just viewed the treats and didn’t indulge. The bakery is open year-round and is locally owned and operated. The lady at the counter explained that her sister owns the bakery and if we wanted anything ordered special for Christmas that they are taking pre-orders. Of course, for Donna and I that wasn’t really helpful information since Donna will be spending the holidays in New Brunswick and I will soon be returning to Halifax, Nova Scotia to spend time with my family. Next time we visit, we will be sure to save some room in our tummies for some of the bakery treats at the Moose Island Bakery.
Finally, we looped back up to where we had parked and stopped in to The Commons Eastport. We both adored this art gallery, but what I was surprised to learn when I was referring to the brochure to write about our adventure is it is a “destination gallery.” Above the gallery, there are rental condos for short or extended stays. The gallery is open year-round and features artists from Maine, the Maritimes and the Passamaquoddy Nation at Sipayik Point. The lady at the gallery was very friendly and knowledgeable about all of the artists, and there were also Christmas ornaments created by many of the artists. Gallery photos:
I discovered the work of Bonnie Stewart while at the gallery (above and below). She is a local artist who uses small objects found in nature like pine cones, shells, sea rocks and the like to create intricate works of art. I absolutely love them. I can’t imagine the amount of time and thought that must go into creating each one of these unique pieces of art.
It is a delightful shop and the inclusion of artists from both Maine and the Maritimes highlights the close relationship that exists between the two regions. We are connected by the land and the sea and often rely and assist each other in times of need. I remember in Nova Scotia when we were hit by category 2 Hurricane Juan in 2003 that the power corporation in Maine sent up workers to help restore power. And, of course, every year, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas Tree to the city of Boston in Massachusetts as a thank you for the help they sent after the Halifax explosion on December 6, 1917. It was the largest human-made explosion prior to World War II. Two ships collided in the harbour, one carrying explosives. It was an accident, but it leveled much of the city. The Maritimes has always had a deep connection with the New England states. Well, maybe not during the American Revolution or the War of 1812, but other than that, we were pretty tight.
I think a great day was had by us all, and I want to thank the people of Eastport for being so accommodating and welcoming to me and my ass. Not everyone wants to put up with an ass, but the wonderful, kind, and friendly people of Eastport were happy to do so. I think when you can go to a place carrying a donkey head on a stick and people don’t judge, that you’ve found a safe place to stay awhile. If you ever get a chance, I encourage you to take a detour off the beaten path and check out Eastport, Maine. Tell them you heard about it from Ocean Hayward’s ass.
The bathroom. We all go. Its main purpose should be for #1 and #2, although many other activities may happen in a bathroom. (I’m thinking preening, washing up, and the like- get your mind out of the gutter; although yes, sometimes sex in bathrooms happens.) Arguably, the bathroom is the most important space in any home or public area. Because when you gotta go, you gotta go! Know what I’m sayin’, dawg? Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the fuss over the use of public bathrooms and a rant has been brewing.
In the US, there are states actually passing legislation around who can use public bathrooms. Although it seems odd, let’s not forget that at one point, the US had segregated bathrooms in some states for Black and White people. Now the debate has turn to transgender people and which bathrooms they are allowed to use. Some states are requiring people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their sex. There’s actually been cases where transgender people using the bathroom have been stopped and told they aren’t allowed in the bathroom, or harassed. Maybe this is because I am Canadian, but I can’t even IMAGINE how someone has the audacity to go up to someone and say, “Excuse me, I notice that you used the men’s room, but you aren’t really a man. You are a woman, so you have to use the women’s bathroom.” First of all, how do you know that the “woman” isn’t just a really feminine looking man? How do you know? How are they even going to enforce such laws? Are they going to hire the genital police to guard the doors to public bathrooms? “Pull down your pants, we need to be sure that your parts match the stick-person sign.” “Hey, the sign lady has a dress on, and you’re wearing pants, so you go to the men’s room.”
Furthermore, why do we even need to assign bathrooms by gender and/or sex? Especially in those one-room bathrooms. Men and women use the same bathrooms in our homes, so why do public washrooms have to be genderized? When I go to the gas station, and I’m on the road a lot, I’m going to whichever bathroom is open. I have used the “Men’s” room too many times to count. Why would I wait in a line behind a bunch of ladies (many of whom are going to spend at least 5 minutes in there grooming after doing their business) when I can skip across the hall into the empty men’s room? I wouldn’t and I don’t. Yes, I usually have to put the toilet seat down, but that’s just a minor inconvenience and I always use toilet paper to protect my hand from man germs. And, yes, I’ve surprised many men waiting to use the “Men’s” room when a somewhat attractive blonde chick comes busting out the door instead of the man they were expecting to see, but I don’t care. When you gotta go, you gotta go!
In Canada, there has also been controversy for people with illnesses such as Crohn’s, colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), incontinence and the like who are often denied access to so called “public bathrooms.” In Saskatchewan in 2016, an elderly man using a walker who was on the verge of peeing in his pants asked to use the bathroom at a gas station and was denied access by employees. In fact, the ability for people with disabilities to access “public” bathrooms is so limited that Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has a campaign called, “Go here” which recruits private businesses to keep their bathrooms, uh, well, open for business. In addition, people can download an app on their smart-phone to find businesses where they can do their business and a card to show that says, “I am a Crohns, Colitis, IB sufferer and I need to go to the washroom.” Can you imagine? As if it’s not bad enough to have an illness that causes frequent bouts of explosive diarrhea, but in order to use a so-called “public” bathroom, you have to show a stranger a card that basically tells them that you are about to have explosive diarrhea!
Again, I do a lot of road trips, and I’m lucky to say that businesses have never harassed me about using their bathroom. I always just duck into a gas station, fast food joint, or a Best Buy in order to relieve myself. But there have been some places of note where finding a bathroom was a problem. These are generally the tourist attraction towns, like St. Andrews, New Brunswick, the Halifax waterfront in Nova Scotia and Freeport, Maine. I understand that the businesses in these high traffic areas don’t want the general public freeloading in their toilets, but at the same time, when you gotta go, you gotta go! My favorite line is when I go into a particular place, for example, a tourist bureau in small-town Maine, it may have been called Freeport or something like that, and when I ask to use their “restroom” (as Americans seem to call it, although to equate what goes on in there with “resting” seems a little odd to me) the response is, “We don’t have a restroom.” I call bullshit on that! My next question is naturally, “then where do you go to the bathroom?” And generally the response is that the bathroom is for employees only. As someone who worked a stint in a tourist industry where we had access using a key to a small port-a-potty that was for employees only, if someone ever came in with the pee dance or that strained/worried look of, “I have a poker,” I always gave them the key. It’s called empathy. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Transgender people and people with disabilities and I would argue many seniors as well (anyone with toileting challenges, really) are facing discrimination regarding the right to use the bathroom. And it should be a right, but it is a right that we seem to be treating like a privilege. It’s about time we acknowledged the most basic human quality we all have in common: we all use the bathroom. Everybody pees. Everybody poops. There’s no denying it; so how about we stop denying people the ability to get their business done and to get it done with dignity. No laws are needed here; just basic human compassion and empathy.
Enter the Freak Flag Contest!
Yes, I am organizing a real contest! And yes, there will be a prize!
Will it be fun? Well, that’s mostly up to you Lovelies! Because as much as I will encourage you to participate, I can’t do the work all by myself.
So, what’s this all about, right? Let’s recap on today a bit (if you want to whole story, click here) Earlier today, Sonofabeach96 dared me to hold a contest, and ask people to design a flag (he had me at “flag” actually…) to officialize and represent the online freak circle.
Now, freak might sound a little heavy to some of you. But I think we all share a little (or totally not little) odd, weird, awkward, crazy, looney side, don’t we? I am at peace with mine, and you know there wouldn’t be much action in The Cove if I didn’t expose it constantly.
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Last night, I went to my friend Donna’s for a dinner party. She has a cute little home about a half hour south from where we are staying and an hour north of the Maine and New Brunswick border. Donna is a “Newfie.” A Newfie is an affectionate term for those who originate from “the rock” or Newfoundland, Canada. Newfies are often the butt of many a joke in Canada. They have a distinct dialect of English, very similar to those from Northern England.
Newfies are known for their hospitality and kindness. Traditionally, Newfoundland was a “have-not” province, meaning a lot of the population lived in poverty. That was before they discovered the natural gas off their coast, which was great for them right up until the price of oil started tanking. (Get it… the price of oil tanked.) My friend Donna and her family, who all live in New Brunswick now, grew up not having much, but they also learned to share what it is that they have. She always jokes that her dinner parties may not have the most fancy of dishes, but that everyone is fed and has a great time. I would argue with her on the first point, but the last two points are right on. Donna is an amazing hostess.
Her dinners start at 5pm sharp and she generally tries to maintain a schedule of bringing out a new course every hour. The first course is always the appetizers.
Everything is laid out buffet style, so people can pick and choose what to eat based on their preferences. Donna tries to accommodate everyone’s individual food needs. I particularly enjoyed the Caesar salad in a pita bowl. The dressing seeps into the bowl and you can eat the bowl when you’re done. Or if you’re gluten free, you can just throw the pita bowl into the compost.
Then it’s onto the main course. Fresh homemade sour dough bread, shrimp risotto, spaghetti, pasta sauce with ground beef and moose-meat sausages, turkey, turkey gravy and steamed carrots and yellow and white potatoes. Again, guests choose what they want to eat in order to accommodate their palates. Moose-meat? Absolutely delicious. Moose-meat made into sausages? Absolutely to die for. In fact, if I hadn’t been told there was moose-meat in the pasta sauce, I’d have been none the wiser. It doesn’t taste gamey at all like deer meat tends to taste. Although, I did learn from another guest that if you know how to prepare deer meat that it will not taste gamey at all.
After the main course, we took a longer break before the deserts were laid out and Donna had prepared a special kind of Yankee Swap for everyone. I’d always wondered the origin of the term “Yankee Swap” and apparently it dates back to the American Civil War when the Confederates and the Yankees would trade prisoners in what was supposed to be some sort of fun game. How it got adapted into a Christmas tradition is unknown. In case you’ve never heard of a “Yankee Swap,” traditionally, how it works is a dollar amount is set for gifts, and each person attending your Christmas party brings one gift, wrapped, without a tag on it. When each guest arrives, they place their untagged gift under the tree. Then, each guest draws for a number, based on the number of gifts that are
brought. When a person’s number is drawn, they pick a gift under the tree, open it, and show it to everyone else. After the first gift is opened, each subsequent guest to choose a gift has the option to trade gifts with anyone who has already opened a gift. So the later the number you drew is on the list, the better your odds of being able to choose whatever gift you prefer. It is a really fun secret Santa kind of game, where guests can interact with each other. Making the gifts funny makes the game even more fun.
My friend Donna varied her Yankee Swap a bit though. Instead of asking us all to buy a gift to bring to the party, she bought all the gifts. As each guest entered the party, we were all given a homemade lanyard with a Christmas tag on it. On the tag, was a number.
Donna had bought all kinds of neat little gifts. She said she allots $5 for gifts and spends the whole year before her annual Christmas dinner party looking for sales. She tries to get a mix of funny gifts and nice gifts. The gift I really wanted was a duck wine holder!
I was number 3 so I picked up a pottery plate first, but someone else wanted my plate and I ended up with a necklace from Avon instead, of which I do not have a photo. My hubby, C, had number 16, so we picked up a travel Pilsner glass. The camouflage is perfect for hiding that beer you’re drinking in public. Or for those days you feel like going for a hike in the woods and you want to hide that refreshing beer you brought along. It also works for when you go camping at those “dry” prohibition campgrounds. Also, if you’re out hunting, you certainly don’t want the deer to steal your beer! Hunting with guns and guzzling brew-skis is now perfectly safe now that your Pilsner travel glass will blend in with your environment. (We will definitely be re-gifting this to my dad!)
Finally, we had our last course of the evening and my favorite. Desert and coffee/tea. Donna always has multiple deserts to choose from and I can’t help but try them all. Homemade cookies, vanilla cake with red and green frosting, carrot cake and chocolate fudge cake. And yes, I tried all four! My husband had to roll me to the car. We haven’t even got to the real nitty gritty of the Christmas eating season and I know I have put on at least 10 pounds since September. Gazing at all of the photos of wonderful homemade food at Donna’s, I think I gained another 10 pounds just from the memories of last evening!