Mish-Mash Bubble-and-Squeak Awoooooooo!

1. Lycanthrovember

If you’re a fan of werewolf-themed literature, may I be so bold as to direct you towards Hic Dragones, where they are currently celebrating Lycanthrovember (which I’m sure is an official holiday somewhere) by offering a pretty sweet two-for-one sort of deal: buy a copy of ‘The Tattooed Wolf’ and get a copy of ‘Wolf-Girls’ absolutely free. YEEEEEAH!

“[K. Bannerman] displays unusual and sometimes uncomfortable characters, and I care about them all, the significant players and the extras. If you like reading stories about intriguing people, this story doesn’t disappoint. If you like short, satisfying reads between your ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ ten pound seat-raisers, then buy this book.”
– Joe Murphy, The Dragon Page

“[Wolf-Girls is] a refreshing contribution… well worth reading… It’s always nice to read stories with a strong female focus, especially in genres and thematic areas that are traditionally male-dominated where women are sidekicks or something to look at. The she-wolves in this anthology truly are themselves and feel strangely natural.”
– The Future Fire

2. Reading Out Loud

On Saturday, Nov. 8 at 4 pm, I’ll be joining author Matt Rader at the Village Muse Bookstore in bustling downtown Cumberland, BC to read from my newest novel, Mark of the Magpie. Wait a second, I think that requires clarification… I’m reading from my book, and Matt’s reading from his. Or we could swap, I guess. Either way, it’s going to be fun. I’ve heard a rumour that there will be the consumption of beer afterwards.  Hurray!

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3. Trees

A week ago, we were partying to save the trees in the Cumberland Forest. What a shin-dig! How many places would hold a lively circus-themed festival with hundreds of joyful people to save the wilderness next door? I love this town. Take a peek at a the party, which Shawn captured in his moving light box and shared with the world on the cyber-you-space-tubes. Isn’t living in the future amazing?

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Film-Making in the Forest

Sometimes, we take a camera into the woods to film the sprites and spirits that haunt the trails:
 

 
And sometimes, we ask all our friends and neighbours to come and help us, as we create a short film to save the woods:
 

 
And sometimes, the local media pop by to ask us how we did it, and why, and what other people can do to help save the trees, too:
 

 
This is one of those times. 😀

Adventures in Marmot Land

In this day and age, you know something is rare when you can’t even find a photo of it in Wikipedia Commons.

The earlier part of this week seemed to be a parade of bad news for the animal kingdom. If it wasn’t the extinction of the black rhino or the slaughter of dolphins at Taiji, it was pictures of chickens packed in cages and photos of a hundred dead coyotes.  Honest to Betsy, people!  I tried to figure out what was a better survival strategy…

…be unique and precious….

Poor albino dolphin baby. 😦

or normal and abundant.

In case you can’t make it out, those are bison skulls. Thousands of bison skulls.

Either way, it doesn’t seem to matter. If you’re an animal in humanity’s way, you’re pretty much hooped*.

So yeah, it was a bad start to the week for an animal-lovin’-vegetarian-hippie-tree-hugger-druid gal like myself.  But then, somewhere along the way, I took a detour into marmot land, and my friends, THINGS ARE LOOKING UP.

Marmots? Yes, marmots. Specifically the Vancouver Island marmot, which lives in the alpine meadows that follow the spine of the island. After being declared an endangered species in the 1980s, the Marmot Recovery Foundation launched a vigorous program that nurtured breeding groups in zoos, with the objective of releasing the subsequent generations to their natural habitat.  In 2003, at the lowest point, the marmots’ population was made up of only 30 individuals, living in tiny isolated groups — dire straits indeed, for an animal that doesn’t have a lot of offspring, only reaches sexual maturity after 4 years, and makes particularly tasty eating for the local bears, cougars, and wolves.

According to this article from the National Post, there’s a $1.2-million specialized facility on the Mount Washington ski hill, only half-an-hour from my house. From this location, the Foundation releases new marmots into the wild every year. We hike in the area every summer, and I’ve never seen such a building, but if it’s actually there somewhere, tucked amongst the valleys and alpine slopes and hidden from skiers and snowboarders, I’d love to visit.

And now, because of the Foundation’s efforts, the marmots’ population is growing. They’re still considered endangered, but there are now an estimated 350 to 400 individuals in the wild.  Not lots, true, but I’m going to stay optimistic that those tenacious little mountain whistle bunnies will pull through, with the helping hand of people who see more value in a live animal than a dead one.

So I guess what I’m saying is this: when the world seem dark and dreary, think ye on the humble Vancouver Island marmot, a beastie yanked back from the precipice of extinction, and know that sometimes, things really DO get better.

Battleship Lake

I can’t find a common-use picture of a Vancouver Island marmot that isn’t dead, and I think I’ve reached my quota for dead animal pictures today, so here’s a picture of Battleship Lake, in the shadow of Mt. Washington.

*Oh, google. You are so full of disturbing pictures. I need a drink.

This Beloved Forest

“At first glance, one could be forgiven for mistaking it for the end of the earth. The savage Pacific rain forests crowded in, resisting gentrification, and the lowest basin of the valley remained damp and swampy and choked with vegetation, even during the hottest months of the year.”

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“Everything grew rapidly, eager to live. A cleared field was replaced by shrubs within a season, and a man could barely keep pace against the relentless reclamation of the wilderness.”

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“The woods were thick with life, all size and shape: herbivore, carnivore, omnivore. There were insects as big as a girl’s hand, shaggy deer, packs of wolves, families of black bears, and solitary mountain lions.”

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“There were rats and voles, stoats and squirrels, snakes and frogs. In my estimation, the trees sheltered an infinite zoo of creatures, all of whom rebelled actively against humanity.”

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This is the forest that Lizzie describes in Bucket of Blood, and it is the very same forest that the Cumberland Forest Society is raising money to save, for it is scheduled to be cut down in 2016.  Go check out their page – there’s some amazing initiatives going on, driven by a passionate and creative community.

I hope very much that these woods are never tamed, and that the wilderness will continue to resist civilization’s relentless assault, and that the lovely ravenous beasts continue to roam in those shadowy green depths forever.

Ghosts of the Past, We Give You Welcome to Haunt Us

This might be a little rambling, but I’ll try my best to be clear and concise and kind.

When I was in my college years, I listened to a lot of Ani Difranco.  My friends and I even painted her name on a van and crashed a wedding to see her* perform, and afterwards, we sat on a summer’s beach with Ani and the wedding party, chatting about goddess-power and menstruation and spelling womyn with a ‘y’.  Yes, that was my 20s. They were crazy fun wonderful joyful empowering liberating wonderful years, when I wore a lot of crystals and tie-dyed skirts.  I remember there being a lot of self-righteous rage at fighting The Patriarchy, as if it was a well-organized corporation whose express mandate was to keep womyn subservient, rather than just a bunch of assholes misrepresenting a wide range of human beings who all happen to have a penis.

(Since those heady days, it’s been my experience that the world does not exist in diametric opposites, but in endless branches of options. The dichotomy of female/male, black/white, good/evil appears to be a framework constructed by human brains that can not comprehend the sheer vast infinite number of variations on a theme. That’s what I figure, anyway.)

So, yeah, that was bloody decades ago, and I haven’t thought much about Ani Difranco since graduation. I was surprised when Facebook recommended that I ‘like’ her page. How weird is that? Ani Difranco has a Facebook page! It was like taking a ghost of my past and making a profile for it**.

So I clicked on the link, just to see what she’s up to, and I discovered a whole brouhaha of a storm a-brewing, because Ani will be hosting a song-writing workshop… at an old plantation in Louisiana.  I did one helluva double-take at that. I think I even cricked my neck.

Long story short: It seems that Nottoway Plantation was one of the largest plantations in the South, with over 150 slaves picking cotton. It is now owned by a very wealthy Australian businessman who contributes millions of dollars to anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-immigration movements in his own country.  The whole thing seems like some weird clash of ideologies taking place over the graves of the oppressed — the symbolism couldn’t be more blunt if it was co-written by David Lynch and T.S. Eliot with a hammer and a blowtorch.

Of course, many of Ani’s fans are up-in-arms over the affair, and rightly so, but the ratio of outrage to dialogue is high. People are mad, feeling betrayed, questioning their alliances. Ani has always encouraged her listeners to be vocal and passionate, so it’s no surprise to see such a polarized group demanding answers and calling for accountability. Did no one on Ani’s team notice how cringe-inducing it is to ask guests to pay thousands of dollars to make music in a place where women were raped, tortured, forced to labour, and have their children torn from their embrace?  Is this poor planning on the part of a tour organizer, or just a loosening of a performer’s ideology?

There are very few places in North America that are untouched by racism, greed, colonization and the lingering sorrows of tyranny.  Every place here has long shadows, if you look deeply enough – none of us, no matter what our genetic background, can escape it.  As someone who digs into historical documents on a routine basis, I am constantly surprised and dismayed by the blatant racism and lack of compassion exercised by the caste systems of European colonists, with each level above treating the ones below like shit. And I’m not so ignorant to think it isn’t still happening today. Every piece of electronic equipment I own was made in a factory in some distant country, from materials mined in yet other distant countries, and none of those places have stellar track records for treating their employees with dignity and respect.  Our civilization is built on the labour of the oppressed. The only way to move passed it is to recognize it and do what we can, in our own small way, to show compassion, find kind alternatives, and not drown in the sheer magnitude of it all.

As of writing this post, Ani Difranco has not yet made any announcement to explain her position, and I wish dearly she would, because in a strange reflection of her fans, ignoring the ghosts won’t make them go away.  It just makes them more furious than before.

*not ‘crashed the van into the wedding’ though, because that would be just tragic.

** Facebook keeps recommending people who have died, too. It’s really unnerving. Friends who have been gone for years, but whose Facebook profiles are still around, still networking, still connecting. *shudder*

Waste not, want not!

I’m going to share a secret with you.

Well, it’s not so much of a secret, as a recent resolution that no one knows about, but given its nature, who would I have bothered to tell? If you know me, you’re already aware that I’m interested in environmental issues, and we live in a house that’s pretty… well…. hippy happy granola green.  We recycle everything possible, we try to avoid all pre-processed food and trans-fats, we’re vegetarians and grow some of our own food. We walk and bike around our town, and for longer trips, we recently bought a Mitsubishi Delica that burns diesel, but we’re considering switching over used veggie oil, because I want everyone following me on the highway to smell like french fries.  If I could afford to make my house solar-powered, or wind-powered, or tap into a volcano for some geothermal action, I’d do it.

So. Yeah. Peace out.

Anyway, I’ve been displeased with the amount of water our household uses, and while we’re below average for our region*, I’m curious to see how much less water we can use monthly.  Now, one of the great pleasures of life is a bubble bath, and I have always loved the opportunity to find a serene moment by basking in a tub full of hot water.  But do I need it? Of course not.

So I’ve sworn off baths for a while. I want to see how long I can go without using the tub, and determine what sort of effect this will have on our monthly water consumption**.  Okay, first of all: swearing off baths does NOT equal swearing off being clean! There will still be showers. But an average bath requires 150 litres of water, while a shower with a low-flow shower head uses 38 litres of water. By avoiding baths, I wager there will be some significant changes.

The last day I had a bath was Sunday, May 12. I am TOTALLY JONESING for a bubble bath right now, and that’s why I’m writing a blog post: I’m reminding myself that there’s good reasons for consuming less.  Maybe the data will show that, by making a choice that is really quite small and insignificant in my life, I can alter my habits and waste less water. I do think we can change the world by changing our habits, and lots of small changes added together can have very big results.

According to the UN, 783 million people out there do not have access to clean, healthy water. Just because I do, doesn’t mean I should forget how lucky I am. 🙂

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*FYI – the average in our region is currently 14 cubic meters per month for a single family dwelling.

**Any excuse for some SCIENCE!!!!!

Opening Doors

I found myself on the blog “The Art of Manliness” today and had a merry old time perusing the articles, but the one I enjoyed the most was ‘Opening Doors for Women’.

I’d always had so many questions about this ancient ritual of gentlemanliness, and certainly when I was younger, I would rush to a door before my date to open it for myself because… I don’t know, I was trying to prove I didn’t need help? Maybe. I would hold doors open for others to be polite, but I didn’t want anyone to be polite to me? Thinking back, it was a little ridiculous.

In the comment section*, someone mentioned that women born between 1969 and 1980 appear to be the most resistant to door-opening, and speculation followed that this was due to the rise of feminism in the 1960s, and that my generation was simply taught to be belligerent and ornery**.  Firstly, I’d like to see the statistics, but I doubt anyone’s collected those particular numbers. Secondly, I wonder if this is connected , not to when a person was born, but when the door was being opened for them — for example, were women more likely to open their own door in the 1970s and 1980s, but then womenkind accepted more door-opening chivalry in the 1990s and 2000s, because it harkened back to a distant, romanticized era?  I look at teenagers today***, dressing up in neon clothes and jelly bracelets and big hair, and I wonder WHY WHY WHY the ’80s won’t just die already, and all I can assume is, it’s the nostalgia.  People get rather moon-eyed and funny about ye old-timey days.

Case in point: I was listening to an elderly fellow talk on TV last night about the 1940s, and how there was so much that society had back in the 1940s that it doesn’t have now, like safe streets and friendly neighbours.  And, I thought, polio.

Anyway, I’m falling off track. Really, opening doors for each other because it’s a nice thing to do — I can get behind that. Also, it’s nice to be pampered. I admit it. And as the article points out, a relationship is made up of two people doing nice things for each other, but no one has to keep score… there lies the way to resentment and jealousy.  He opens the door for me, I make him a cup of hot chocolate, he takes out the garbage, I walk the dog, on and on it goes.

Moral of the story: do nice things for each other.  Can’t really ask for anything more. 🙂

*I love reading the comment section; I love the arguments, the drama, the personal stories. The more comments, the better!

**My words, not theirs. I think that was the sentiment the commenter was trying to express, but they were afraid the online community would hang, draw, & quarter them.

***Jesus, get back in your rocker, gramma, and knit me a sweater.