365 Notes: 162 – Nightmares

Every once in a while, I am plagued by nightmares. Yesterday was such a day. In the afternoon, my younger son took a nap, and I thought “this is my lucky day,” because it meant I could take a nap, too. This was welcome because the weekend had been a long one, rich with late lake nights and good company. I was somewhat sleep deprived, and accordingly lay down my weary head when the opportunity arose.

What a mistake that was.

I woke up about an hour later, dripping with sweat and hyperventilating from the dream I had just had. I was in a full-blown panic attack – it had been a terrible nightmare. Out of deference to the real-life innocents who were not so innocent in my dream, I won’t get into all the details of it – although I remember many of them well. As with most of the nightmares I have, this one involved being violently attacked (by two different people and a huge cat, in this case), kept somewhere against my will, and being chased when I tried to escape. This particular nightmare also involved a house fire, and a vehicular hit-and-run that left me dying in a ditch.

So realistic was it, that when I woke up, my hands immediately reached for a facial wound I had sustained in the dream. I was shaky and on edge for hours afterwards. And disinclined toward sleep when bedtime came last night.

Rightly so, it turns out. Sleep didn’t come until nearly three in the morning, and when I woke up less than three hours later, it was in another sense of panic from another realistically disturbing dream. More confinement, more chasing, more violence. This time, having first been shot, the dream ended with me possibly drowning or possibly being saved from a river rapids I found myself in. My head was going under, but someone’s arms were going around me when I woke up. There was slightly less panic than I experienced from the earlier dream, but it was sufficient that I jumped out of bed without a moment’s thought.

I wanted more than three hours of sleep, but I just wasn’t willing to risk it.


365 Notes: 161 – Picky palate

I was a picky eater growing up, the list of foods I didn’t care for was long. It included (but was by no means limited to) seafood of all descriptions, broccoli, pepper, turnip, cauliflower, spaghetti sauce (tomato sauces of all kinds, really), corn flakes, and liver. Oh god, I hated liver.

Because I was a child, and because my parents worked hard for every scrap of food they could put on the table in front of us, I was generally expected to clean my plate. There were kids starving in China, after all. The turnip I could mash in with my potato and struggle to get in down. The broccoli could be smothered in butter and salt and made tolerable. The tomato sauce (to which the childhood aversion was admittedly brief) I was allowed to do away with, and I chose to eat my pasta like I ate my broccoli – salted and buttered.

I have long regarded food as a salt and butter delivery system, and my picky childhood nature suggests why. But this didn’t work for corn flakes and liver. Those I had to struggle down, no matter how soggy or chewy. From time to time I could slip a piece of liver to the dog. More often, my parents (or dog) got wise to the trick and prevented it.

When I became an adult – meaning when I began to feed myself – I put all my childhood hatreds on a forbidden list. But because I am an adult, I am also aware that tastes change, and so I subject myself to the forbidden every once in a while. That’s how I found out I love broccoli.

I mean, really love it. It is one of my favourite foods in the world, and easily my favourite vegetable. It doesn’t even need salt and butter, although obviously it is enhanced by their presence. And then last night, which is what triggered this note in the first place, I came to the unexpected discovery that turnip is delicious. Just absolutely yummy. Imagine my surprise.

I am not ready to re-try liver yet. Just seeing it in the grocery store is enough to trigger my gag reflex, but who knows? I had corn flakes for breakfast just this morning.

365 Notes: 160 – Here comes the rain again

Any regular visitors to this spot will know I am a tad hurricane obsessed. This started a little over 10 years ago when Hurricane Juan came roaring ashore in Nova Scotia as a category 2 storm, getting only slightly downgraded by the time it hit my place.

My place, at the time, was a mini-home on the outskirts of town, and the storm literally had it rocking. We were lucky. We didn’t go over, the family was safe. A couple of miles down the road, the roof of a similar structure was across the street and twisted around a telephone pole. My son’s school lost its roof altogether. A couple of people, very tragically, lost their lives. We were lucky. All we lost were some shingles and some sleep.

And as scary as it was, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

So it is with some excitement that I note the first named storm of this year’s Atlantic Hurricane season is headed my way. Granted, Arthur – for such is the storm’s name – is not yet fully a hurricane, but it is a tropical storm and all forecasts show it reaching hurricane strength within the next day or two somewhere off the coast of the Carolinas. From there, it is forecast to find its way northeast until it finds me.

By then, it is likely to have been downgraded from hurricane status again. But we are still looking at about 100 mm of rain with 110 km/hour winds this Saturday. And after the excessive heat and humidity of this week, that can only be refreshing. If perhaps just a little bit damaging.

I have to admit I am a bit nervous about riding out the storm in my bus. If the last storm made a mini-home rock and rumble, I can just imagine how wobbly the bus will be. But I will hunker down as best I can, close the windows tight, and watch the storm with the kids. My younger son, at least, enjoys the wind and rain as much as I do. If I know him at all, he will want to go outside to dance in it. I may join him.  My life could probably use more dancing in the rain.


365 Notes: 159 – Canada’d, eh?

There was a time I was proud to be Canadian. Stephen Harper has been in power for so long, it gets difficult to remember those days, but they happened. I promise. I hitchhiked happily around this country, knowing (within reason) I could count on my health and safety. I cheered loudly for Canadian athletes in the Olympics, particularly when they did battle with their American counterparts. I have never once missed an opportunity to vote in a federal or provincial election. I have written dozens of letters over the years to my representatives in government. I even ran for office once.

In short, I cared about my country. I thought it was a good place that could be made even better.

Thanks to the neo-con revolution that began under Brian Mulroney and continued under each of his successors, culminating in the unapologetic corporatism of the current Sussex Drive’s most weasily resident, I now live in a Canada that bears only passing resemblance to the country I grew up loving.

The health care and education systems have been mercilessly gutted. The CBC is on its last legs. The only democratic reform we see attempts to subvert rather than enhance our democracy. The Prime Minister rules the roost, making all the decisions that matter. Our Parliament has become a hollow shell, its members mere voice boxes for or against the PMs position. We abandon our soldiers when they come home from dangerous missions, imprison our natives at an alarming rate, and ignore all science in support of the fossil fuel industry.

I hope it is not too late to undo the damage our last few governments have done, especially the Harper regime. But I fear it is. I will still vote in elections, and I will still write letters to my elected officials, and mouth off about things that are bothering me. But I am not the federalist I once was. For now, Canada feels like something I am stuck with, destined to be ruled by the far away twin cities of Ottawa and Calgary. It feels like Canada is something that is being done to me, rather than something I am taking part in. I don’t like it anymore, and am increasingly becoming a regionalist. I am more and more considering the idea of Atlantic separation from the Ottawa based petro-state.

This all started out to wish you all a happy Canada Day, but as you can see, my heart just isn’t in it this year.

365 Notes: 158 – Weakness in the face of adversity

I spent nearly 6 months establishing the habit of writing every day. It was hard. Very hard. One emotional shitstorm, with the ensuing depression, undid it all. Not writing every day, it turns out, is much much easier.

365 Notes: 156 – The enemy of my enemy

The Middle East has a scary new bad guy: The Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant, nee The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, nee The Islamic State of Iraq. The media still calls it Isis, so that’s what I’ll call it here.

These guys are badass. They control great swaths of Syria, territory gained during the long civil war there, and have recently captured huge chunks of Iraq, including the second largest city. Isis is basically your typical Islamist nutjob group, although they were disavowed by al Qaeda for being too extreme. It’s a Sunni jihadist group fighting to impose sharia law throughout the region. If they could cleanse it of Jews, Christians, and (especially) Shia Muslims along the way, I’m sure that would be good, too.

Naturally, there is considerable thought in the region, rich in nutbars though it is, that these particular nutbars must be stopped. Iran wants them stopped. Turkey wants them stopped. Iraq wants them stopped. Syria wants them stopped. And The United States, well, you better believe it wants them stopped.

Thus is the U.S. suddenly in a position where it is in common cause with with both Iran and al Assad’s Syria. A couple of years ago, the United States was considering airstrikes in Syria in support of the rebels there. Today, it must equally be considering airstrikes there, except now any intervention will be against Isis, and so help the Assad regime by default.

Iran has deployed some soldiers to Iraq to help with the fight against Isis there. The U.S. has just ordered an aircraft carrier (entertainingly, the George H.W. Bush) to the Persian Gulf should the President decide to order airstrikes against Isis positions in Iraq. Who would have thought ten years or ten weeks ago that the United States would be considering airstrikes in support of an operation involving Iranian forces?

If the common Isis threat is readily dispensed with, I’m sure all parties involved will be back to their usual diplomatic sniping at each other quickly enough. But while the threat looms, Iran and the United States (who have no official diplomatic ties, even) get to be, if not friends, then at least enemies of each other’s enemy. The world is a strange place, and war makes for some very strange alliances sometimes.


365 Notes: Day 155 – Lagging behind

A few people have noticed that a day passes here and there when I have done no note. Technically, I should be on note 160 now. We are definitely on the 160th day of the year. So I am five notes behind, and I have failed in the resolution to write one every day. Oh well, I have my excuses. I’ve been busy, I’ve been sick, I’ve been distracted. That is defeatist, of course, since the objective of the resolution in the first place was to write every day despite those very things.

I am going to plug on, though. I will likely miss more days. I’ll be busy, sick, distracted. There will be times I simply just don’t want to do it, and so I won’t. But maybe I’ll catch up. I was actually six notes behind a few days ago, but gained one by doing two one day. There will sometimes be days like that, and I’ll gain some ground instead of losing it. I know me and I know my life, though, so there won’t be very many of those days. There is far more likely to be days with no note than days with multiple notes.

So the resolution didn’t go quite as planned. Oh well, I say again. Writing every day is difficult, and I have failed far easier things.