Archive for the ‘1’ Category

NIKIASHTON&ME

Five years ago I had the pleasure of meeting, knowing and working with Dave McPherson when he managed a campaign and pulled me in, far in, and empowered me to be a strong voice for the candidate and the party. He also knew how (so clever!) to engage my workaholic nature and get the most of my skills and talents during an election. How I miss him! davemcpherson

This year, another  election, another campaign manager of similar construction… Paul Mason, equally clever, equally progressive, equally funny AND with the same capability of getting the most from me…just when I had been somewhat disengaged from a campaign, Paul had me in that place where one is living, breathing, thinking, dreaming, working campaign 24/7. And of course, for progressive leaders (yes leaders) like these, one would work 48/7 to achieve the goal.

Now during that first campaign with Dave…one evening, staffing the office alone because Dave set hours for the office of pre-dawn to 11 PM or some such, I was surprised to receive, totally on my own, then Federal NDP leadership candidate, 29 year old Niki Ashton.  She arrived to help with our by-election and, of course, to meet the people.  Some communication failure had prevented my candidate and any “important” campaign staff from receiving her as they had with all the other leadership candidates. In fact, every leadership candidate except Thomas Mulcair had been in that campaign office! Repeat, I was alone in the office…just me. Showing not a shred of disappointment, Niki and her partner wanted to immediately get to work! We settled on some phone lists and I overheard her enthusiasm as she talked to OUR local voters. We also talked to each other, a lot… and her easy, friendly warmth truly impressed me. My disability and those issues, my issues, DAMN, forgot to chat about them; the evening ended too quickly. My thoughts were, “Not now, Niki, Canada isn’t ready, but when you run again, I will support your leadership campaign because you are AMAZING!” Of course things change, the country changes, the needs of the party change and I must be open-minded, but listening to Niki in debate last night, I have to say she is that same person, so clear, so able, so intelligent and SO PROGRESSIVE! Like the campaign managers who could get the most from me, who keep me from being swallowed by the politics of politics, Niki is that New Democrat who has distilled it all to what we need. No environment = no planet so nothing else matters – and inequality is utterly unacceptable. The calibre of the other candidates is amazing. I love them all! Jagmeet pulls community like no other. Guy is very prime ministerial, he speaks slowly and carefully and stays on message. Charlie has the history… All wonderful but Niki, you had me five years ago. Like John Horgan, you roll up your sleeves and jump in with the people. You are the people. I have no money to contribute to your campaign. I am disabled and therefore marginalized. But I have my words and I can campaign like the wind in a hurricane … with the right  (I mean totally left) leadership.

Is it wrong to say… You Go Girl!

 

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As someone who lost the right to work because my employer fought NOT to accommodate my chemical sensitivity, my life was profoundly affected financially and socially. Adopting the motto, “Every problem is an opportunity,” I have forged on so that resentment and negativity have no time to creep into my thoughts. In fact blogging has taken a backseat to the activism for environment and disability that occupy my waking moments. I am ever grateful to Linda for the work she does on this BLOG.

Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

When we develop MCS/ES, one of the first concerns we have is how to keep our job when other people keep using products and materials that disable us.

Some people are able to negotiate a legally required accommodation  policy, but sadly, too many people find these policies are rarely or effectively enforced as they should be.

no enforcement lost my job

Here are some Human Rights resources on various laws, regulations, and solutions that, when enforced, can help people remain employed without losing their health and abilities:

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Every now and then I think we have made great strides in education about Environmental Illness awareness. Every now and then I think the facts are now persuasive enough to help people recognize that the substances making “US” ill are healthy for no human and no living thing on this planet. Every now and then I realize that despite the work of pioneers like Lynn Lawson, understanding and interest in this topic remain near the starting line. I hope I have another 28 years to devote to this, and that change grows exponentially.

I echo the gratitude expressed in this BLOG and renew my vows to continue to work hard for change through all means available to me.

Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

1-2 Lawson - Lynn Lawson Holding NCEHS Award December 14, 2015 Lynn Lawson with award, December 14, 2015

Ninety year old Lynn Lawson of Evanston, IL passed away on January 30, 2016

In September, 2015, Mary Lamielle, Executive Director  of the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies,  named Lynn Lawson the first recipient of the NCEHS EI Pioneer Award:

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Two years ago my dear friend Ally made a poppy seed cake that made it to my BLOG. She and I are great poppy seed fans and even have a deli we have designated “The Poppy Seed Store”. Our eastern European tastebuds must have been similarly trained as this store is filled with meats, buns, cans, teas but most important of all – POPPY SEED EVERYTHING! (Other people call the store International Sausage House.)

I have been living gluten-free for over seven months and have experienced a huge improvement in health. Ally, kind as she is, developed a new recipe for poppy seed cake and it’s gluten-free. Hard to believe but it is the best poppy seed treat I have ever eaten. It may or may not be true but she and I (over time of course) may have consumed the entire cake ourselves. GFpoppyseedMAIN Here’s the recipe.

Cake:

1 cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

32 ounces (900 grams) ground poppy seed filling ( 1 can)

(Ally prefers the can pictured on the right as it seems to have citrus peel in)

POPPY SEED FILLING

POPPY SEED FILLING

2 egg yolks and 6 egg whites (4 eggs would probably work fine)

1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind

1/2 cup sour. Cream and 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cup almond meal and 1 cup brown rice flour

1 t soda

1 t salt

Glaze:

1 cup icing sugar

2 to 3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F Carefully grease and flour 12 cup Bundt or 10 inch tube pan and set aside

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy Add poppy seed filling and beat until blended Beat in egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition Add sour cream mixture and beat just until blended In a small bowl, blend flour, almond meal, baking soda and salt Add flour mixture to poppy seed mixture gradually beating well after each addition

In a separate bowl, beat whites with electric mixer until stiff peaks form Fold whites into batter and spread in prepared pans

Bake 60 minutes to 75 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan Cool 20 minutes on rack. Slowly drizzle glaze over cake allowing it to soak in a bit before adding more.

 Gluten Free Poppy Seed Cake

Gluten Free Poppy Seed Cake

tideAs the ups and downs of life are measured, I begin to think of them less as ups and downs and more like ocean waves, ins and outs; perhaps it is because I was lucky to emigrate from Alberta to the west coast at a formative age. Sometimes when the tide is way out, instead of appreciating the stretches of sand, the driftwood, the barnacles, the hermit crabs and such, I focus on the wrong things. But not so often… I know it’s a choice. Somehow, somewhere within, through luck, philosophy, good reading or good breeding, I can and do focus on the positive. A woman I recently met, having experienced just too much stress, remarked on my attitude and all I could do was give her a hug; was that an instinctual attempt to transfer some of this positive energy?

My mother thinks my sister is the lucky one. She has succeeded financially, has an abundance of health and healthy offspring, winters in Arizona and will settle next week in BC on waterfront property in Victoria. But I am lucky, I experience true joy almost daily. Last night I was moved to tears by the sweet, pure delightful voice of AMYlubikAmy Anne Lubik. It is hard to describe that feeling. Had I died that moment, it would have been just fine. In that warm, soft voice was definitely angels’ song. Not a lot of music nor a lot of art has this profound an effect on me, yet how lucky I am to actually know someone who breaks frequently into song AND can do this with her voice. I told Amy about a piece of art by Csaba Markus that had the same effect on me. My inner dog began guarding the piece; I didn’t like it when people looked at it in the wrong manner. I was offended when people, clearly wealthy enough to buy it, would remark that it would match their sofa. Were they interfering with this inner joy that I was lucky enough to feel…

And last night, after thinking Amy’s voice would sustain me for so long, dear friend and champion of change, Rick Glumac, played his guitar and sang a song he had written just for our Greendrinks, evoking another type of pure pleasure, laughter. We all laughed at his straight-faced genius talent. How lucky to not just be there, but to be able to call Rick a friend; to know him, to encourage him, to stand with him, to be wowed by him – constantly. And while we celebrated the talents of all our GREENDRINKERS, we saw comments from the ever-talented Graham Girard, from across the country, whose brain I had the luck to watch at work as we founded and refined the original Tri-City Green Council.

Lucky indeed, not to have lost so many friends and dear ones, but to have had the privilege to know them, to write about them and for them…who knew the bit of writing talent identified in my youth would lead to a large collection of eulogies…will I publish a book of them…one day? Each person known and lost is etched in my being. I am lucky because I know I have more than inhaled some of their molecules. I AM some of their shared experiences…some of that ocean tide.

I have the good luck of being someone who can help others. I am grateful for that. In an email I received this morning, friend Simona writes, “Thanks Elaine. You are exactly what I need when I’m hurt and also when I’m happy.” Does life get better than this?

And last night, the all too amazing young Sara Norman brought her mother, poet Renee Norman to Greendrinks, and she wowed us all with her poetry about motherhood. And while she watched and listened to others at the microphone, she fondly twirled bits of Sara’s hair.

Last night was very special for me, euphoric in simplicity. Amy was so right, we need to take some time to just enjoy, especially those of us passionately trying to make the world a better place. I was so lucky to be there.

BAD EV DAY

Posted: July 24, 2014 in 1
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Ostensibly a trip to Whistler shouldn’t be too difficult as an all-electric journey, especially while embracing the ideology of “the journey is as important as the destination”. Like slow food, slow travel is a way to embrace awareness of one’s surroundinEV3kmleftgs and savour them. Besides, going all-electric with transportation is a commitment to this, and so with artist, film-maker and media man Jay Peachy, we journeyed on in our quest to enjoy and learn all about EV travel.

Hitting more snags than we imagined was definitely part of the learning curve. Not reaching the destination in a day, a mere 150 km, was a total surprise. Failing to charge at more than 50% of the chargers where we stopped was a concept that was not on our radar at the outset of the journey, but definitely it is something to plan for. I am so glad I have a VOLT with its own backup gasoline onboard charger so inconvenience didn’t become disaster.

Everywhere we stopped people were curious about both the vehicle and the charging stations. Their curiousity often overlooked the fact that we were soaked from rainEVintherain and unsuccessful in our attempts to connect the vehicle. Ever the early adopter and educator, had I not felt cold, miserable and defeated, I would have welcomed each and every one of these interested humans, hoping to welcome them to what should be the no petro, low GHG wave of the future of transportation.

As it stands, this morning I am headed to the dealership to find out why the little onboard gas-powered generator is misbehaving. I probably should have posted about my good EV day first, the one where we successfully got to the Peace Arch border for the Protect Wild Salmon Rally and back without using anything but battery, and where we encountered not a single snag.WILDSALMONsign

Honouring, that’s a short title. It’s a simple process, too.

My friend, Taewon, lost his first friend this summer. Tae is a warm, friendly guy, I liked him the moment we met. He’s a young man who has made some serious decisions about his life, forging forward, taking risks, putting himself  “out there”. For a sensitive person, for an immigrant, for a person with mobility challenges, I admire his attitude all the more. new-handicap-sign_sq-b776123d4caffce16afc752c82caf50c6309eb02-s3-c85

The friend who died was especially close to Taewon, as I understand, because this was the first person to really see Taewon as a regular guy; he didn’t notice disability. He looked him in the eye, talked to him like he talked to everyone, included him in everything. And being regular, being just one of the gang is really the aspiration of almost everyone, with or without a disability.  Losing this someone who epitomized the word “friend” was seemingly too much to bear.

As the weeks went on and the grieving continued, I told Taewon about my way of handling those who have passed on in my life, and they are myriad. I honour them.

I honour them by embedding their names in my passwords, some of them are thought of several times a day as I type and retype their names. It’s private, it’s personal, it’s tiny… but a tribute nonetheless. Each person (and DOG) also has a specific memory or association. For example, in the BLOGPOST previous to this one, my recipe for RICE SALAD has a tribute to Gevin who first sent me Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. I use it a lot. I buy it for others and give it as a gift. I tell people the “Story of Gevin” and how he came to mail me a box of goodies from Louisiana. I think of Gev when I cook. His memory is wholly embedded in my kitchen.  Larry is Single Malt Scotch. Mark is Chess….on and on it goes.

I explained this to Tae. Despite his wounded state, his comprehension was immediate. He smiled through misty eyes. “Beer,” he said. “I will remember him every time I have a beer because we drank beer together at SFU.”

“Perfect,” said I.

As the weeks passed, he still mentioned his friend a few times during our conversations. The panic was gone. He told me about the planned memorial, but gradually the focus of the conversations shifted away from his loss. Honour beer seems to be working.

I teased Tae by telling him I would honour him with a BLOGPOST. “I’m not dead yet!” He flashed me the grin that everyone is always pleased to see on the murderball court….but that’s another story.

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