sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
As promised/threatened, here are a buttload of pictures from the road trip [personal profile] the_axel and [personal profile] the_siobhan and I took to POW Camp 30 in Bowmanville. For reference, this is about an hour's drive from Toronto. It's a former school for delinquent boys that was converted into a POW camp during World War II. It's since fallen to ruin, squatters, and graffiti artists—which tbh makes it approximately 10,000x more awesome from the point-of-view of a photographer or aspiring author of post-apocalyptic fiction—despite being guarded by surveillance cameras and one intimidating as hell pre-recorded loudspeaker message.

There are No Trespassing signs all over the place, but let's be honest; if they wanted to keep people out, they'd put some barbed wire or guards around. We ran into two other people wandering around the premises who had the same idea we did.

Narrowing down which pictures to show you folks was brutal—I hope you appreciate that I got it down to around 20 from over 100. (Okay, so more because Photobucket has ceased to work for me and DW's image hosting is brutal, but also to spare your browsers.

camp 30
+22 )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I went on an Exciting Photography Adventure yesterday. There are 100 or so photos to go through and edit, but here's a teaser of the incoming photo dump.

looking out a window into...?
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
 Cocoa turned 13 yesterday! My baby is officially a teenager! It's also, by default, Sabot's birthday. They got to celebrate with a meat cake made from four different animals, catnip, and new toys.

meat cakekitties eatingkitties eatingsabot checking out her toycocoa eating



I think they had a good party. They're currently sprawled out, blissfully content, on my bed.

sabotabby: (sabokitty)
>made it to the Women's March for about 45 minutes yesterday. Turns out I wasn't needed because there was such a phenomenally huge crowd—60,000, by best estimates, which is far more than the lawn and surrounding roads outside of Queen's Park could hold. I tried to take photos, but there were so many people that this was practically impossible.


here are my attempts )

I was pretty glad I got to go and be a part of this moment in history, even if it was just for a few minutes. I've been essentially away all weekend, but I've been passively enjoying looking at everyone's pictures, from all over the world, suggesting a nascent movement to resist misogyny, racism, and fascism.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
Last night, [livejournal.com profile] the_axel and I went to the Kensington Market Festival of Lights. Inexplicably, he'd never been before, and I hadn't been in about eight or nine years, so it was Necessary. It's a Solstice celebration and one of those weird, beloved Toronto traditions where you sort of wonder how this became a thing in the first place.

I was going to bring my camera, but at the last minute I was le tired, so all I have are crappy cell pictures. Still, you can see a little of what goes on there and why I adore it so:

warning: clowns )

Today was my last teaching day of the year. Then I rushed home to finish up the Christmas baking to distribute to neighbours, co-workers, and friends tomorrow and this weekend.

all the cookies )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
You guys you guys I did it!

I made the chocolate caramel shortbreads vegan. I usually make chocolate caramel shortbread as one of my Christmas cookies but that was Before. Now I had to re-learn how to do them.

This was a massive triumph of baking engineering given that my first attempt to find a recipe was a total clusterfuck that ended in literal tears. This is some advanced shit and it took two recipes + substitutions to create something that worked. But it worked! And it tastes like joy.

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How'd that last picture get in there? Cocoa, you are not a foods even if you are the same colour and named after a foods.

Anyway I am really proud of myself so here's what I did under the cut.

om nom nom )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
More Ethiopian cooking!

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I made some misir wot. Here's the recipe. I basically followed it except I added more garlic (obvs.) and berbere. Also I doubled all the ingredients, because I have an aversion to leaving half a can of tomato paste around.

Verdict: Tasty! Not as mindblowing as the d'ba zigni I made the other day or as good as Hirut's misir wot, but solid yum, and the more you eat, the more you want to eat. Also the most cost-effective, healthiest thing I've made—I think the whole thing cost about $10 in ingredients, and there's enough for 2 weeks to a month, and it's basically pure protein with nothing unhealthy in it. It's quite easy as well.

So this will definitely go in the repertoire.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
OKAY KIDS LET'S TALK ABOUT PUMPKIN PIE. Canned pumpkin (shut up) was on sale at the Valu-Mart, so I bought like four cans and made two pies and still have lots of pumpkin left over. Pumpkin all the things! I fuckin' love pumpkin pie and all things pumpkin, excepting the pumpkin spice latte I had at Timothy's the other day that tasted weird, and not at all like pumpkin.

But I digress. This is the first time I've attempted a vegan pumpkin pie, and it went pretty well. I used a combination of two recipes: this one had a crust recipe that made sense, but used unnecessary silken tofu* in the filling and had insufficient spices. This one had a better sounding filling but committed an abomination by requiring a pre-baked shell. I mean really.

The combined recipe )
Results:

Oh yeah I topped it with this whipped coconut cream that is fantastic but I can no longer seem to find. Anyone have any leads?

tumblr_oemvg35GH31r2vmy7o1_1280

+ It totally held together. There are bits off of it because I did a shitty job of rolling out the dough (I made it into a ball when I froze it, not a disc, and so it took forever to defrost and I got impatient) which is my fault, not the recipe's. Following the recipe will result in a structurally sound pie.

+ It tastes great! I might add a bit more maple syrup or some brown sugar to the filling next time.

- It looked kind of...green? I don't know whether that was because of anything vegan that I did to it. I think it's a clove-meets-pumpkin issue but anyway if anyone knows how to make pumpkin pie come out a more appealing colour, do let me know.

- I used up the last of the aforementioned coconut cream. Need moar and I am worried the grocery store has stopped stocking it.

- It takes fucking forever. I was baking until 8pm last night. Again, if anyone knows of a way to make pie that is faster on schoolnights, it is relevant to my interests.

Overall a win; it got devoured at the school barbecue, unlike the storebought and prettier apple pies. No one knew it was vegan until I told them, which is my hobby atm.

* I love silken tofu, but why does it need to go in pumpkin pie? Pumpkin is already a binding agent and I couldn't figure out what it was supposed to replace. Condensed milk? Anyway.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (kittensquee)
I totally crashed the Guinea Pig Picnic for reasons. It's basically the cutest thing ever, and yes, I took pictures. Copious pictures.
DSC_5195 copyDSC_5199DSC_5202

Behold )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (manic pixie nightmare girl)
Like every teacher in the entire world, I managed to get sick immediately after closing up. I should know better than to plan anything immediately after school is done, since I tend to spend the last month or so plowing through and ignoring my body's desperate pleas for surrender.

Instead, I did laundry, because that was getting problematic, and I baked like a mofo. Expect a post about my first vegan cheesecake experiment soon (when it's eaten and I find out if it's actually good and if it held together, but damn if it doesn't at least *look* pretty).

And I gardened. Here are some pictures of what my garden looks like atm.
maybe of interest to some )

I managed to faff about during the day, between the baking and the gardening, and left social plans until the last minute because I was honestly feeling like utter shit and didn't even know if I would be awake and mobile when it came time for fireworks. In the end, [livejournal.com profile] misslynx and I went to the celebration in Woodbine Park at the last possible minute (we arrived as the show was starting). Worth it, even though I feel like worse shit this morning.

IMG_6552

I rather enjoy watching gunpowder used for its intended purpose.

Anyway, today is party, despite the fact that I am clearly dying and will soon be dead of the Plague or the galloping consumption of what have you. I do really want to sleep but I feel like if I ever stop moving, I will spend the rest of my vacation in sloth-mode and regret it come August when I have to go back to work.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (crazy cat lady)
It's the Forces of Darkness's birthday today! (Well, it's Cocoa's birthay—12, to be exact—but Sabot gets to celebrate her birthday on April 1st too because I don't know when it is.)

So I made them a meat cake.

Pictures )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (manic pixie nightmare girl)
I went wandering with [livejournal.com profile] metalana and took a bunch of pictures, and then she sent me filters and I made artsy photos. You might like them.

nightvale2
nightvale1
More photos. Not quite so weird. )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (kittensquee)
I bet you would like to see how the tinykittens next door are doing.

IMG_4060

MOAR tinykittens )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (pinko pie)
Also spotted at the demo: a glitch in the Matrix:

IMG_3708

After the demo, we went to [livejournal.com profile] jackspryte's, where I got to meet the tiniest puppy:

IMG_3728

(No, we did not let the puppy drink the beer. The puppy wanted to drink the beer, but he is too tiny.)

Also I sang karaoke. There was the best karaoke songbook that included the Sisters of Mercy.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
FullSizeRender 5

Last night, there were demos in at least 18 Canadian cities and towns. I went to the one here with [livejournal.com profile] misslynx. It was surprisingly large, given the two days that the organizers had to get it together. We shut down traffic at Yonge and Dundas and Yonge and Queen* and rallied outside of the Canadian Border Services Agency office.

Here's some coverage from CTV.

More photos )

Meanwhile, the Tories remain sad that all this dead baby stuff is making them look like big meanies during an election campaign and committed to taking in fewer refugees and supporting Assad (reminder: the reason the war in Syria started four years ago) by bombing anything we can.

There are a lot of horrible things in the world. I can't do anything about most of them. I can do something about this.

* Non-Hogtowners: The busiest part of the downtown.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (wall)
I'm going to talk about the photo of the dead Syrian toddler. You've been warned. I won't show the picture itself, or the other ones like it, because you've all probably seen it by now and I want people who have chosen to not see it to read this entry.

But I'm going to start with a story that I've probably told before, and probably even told on this blog, about images. The year is 1990. My country, among other countries, goes to war with Iraq. Like a good peacenik child of peacenik parents, I am opposed, and am as outspoken about the issue as a precocious 11-year-old can be, which is to say that everyone in school thinks I'm weird. I have lived my entire life in the shadow of the atom bomb, with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes ringing in my ears. I know what war does.

And yet I didn't. The images in the newspaper, on the television, were of sanitized battle, red dots and green night-vision like a video game, with nothing like the photos of the My Lai massacre to drive it home. One could be forgiven, watching the news, for thinking that smart bombs were so smart that they managed not to kill anyone at all.

As a teenager, I saw the images the news hadn't shown. Banned in Canada, the photo was of the charred corpse of an Iraqi soldier. You can Google that too. He was the enemy, a bad guy, the guys our brave soldiers had fought, and he spent last moments trying to escape a burning car, screaming in agony. This was why I'd opposed the war. I wondered, had those around me seen it, would they have opposed the war too? It's so easy to erase the identity of the enemy, of the Other, when you don't see his suffering.

As a country, we went to war meekly, unquestioningly, like we typically do. Today, I see kids watch those sanitized video game images, dream of going to war themselves. They play Call of Duty and watch drone footage of bombing and relish in the carnage. The victims, real and virtual, are not human to them.

Which brings me to Aylan Kurdi, age three.

Social media does what social media does. The leftists post about the crisis in Syria, washing up on Europe's shores. They cry out for someone to do something. Along comes a shocking photo that jolts everyone. Those previously uninvolved and unaware share it. Facebook bans the images. The discussion shifts from the tragedy to the image of the tragedy. The tone shifts. Everyone becomes a monster.

Sorry, I'll need to talk more about the image of the tragedy than about the tragedy itself. In this post, anyway. If you want to talk about ways to help, that's what the comment section is for, and I'll post any useful information I glean.

The first disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not anyone on either side of the debate.

The second disclaimer: Despite how ugly the tone has gotten online, we're all actually on the same side. Unless you voted Tory or UKIP or are secretly Donald Trump, you probably are pro-migrant justice. If you're not, please do the world a favour and DIAF.

The first strawman: No one on the pro-sharing-the-photo side is saying that anyone is a bad activist or too much of a sensitive special snowflake to look away.

The second strawman: No one actually wants to look at pictures of dead kids on their FB newsfeed, okay? No one wants to see this image. No one wants kids to die.

I managed to find the post with all of the dead kid pictures, remove the thumbnail, and share. It took me about ten minutes to decide whether I should and then figure out how to remove a thumbnail on FB's newest redesign. I personally believe these photos should be seen. I am also aware that they're horrible to look at, and I don't want to see them, and they make me cry. I don't want to trigger anyone.

I posted a second article from the photographer that included a thumbnail with a less graphic photo. That was all last night.

This morning several of my friends posted that they would unfriend anyone who posted the dead kid pictures. Okay. Several other of my friends posted the dead kid pictures. Statistically, if you're interested, 100% of the people I saw write against posting were white Canadians. All of them were parents. Many of the people who posted the photos were people I knew from migrant justice activism and a few of them are Syrian. One of the latter commented on the irony of white Westerners ignoring all the Syrian toddlers butchered by Assad, which is a fair point. Some were parents, some were not. All of the people in this discussion, on both sides, are people that I respect and whose opinions I respect.

(By this afternoon, everyone had moved on to talking about Canada's culpability; the children and their mother would be alive if the Tory government hadn't refused their application for refugee status. The social media cycle is short like that.)

For years, involved in Palestine solidarity and anti-war activism, I posted dead kid pictures, thinking that they would shock the apathetic into action. Then I stopped, because I felt it was disrespectful to the dead and their families, and because I think we get desensitized to pictures of dead bodies. I think the global reaction to the pictures of little Aylan Kurdi illustrates the importance of these images, no matter how horrible it is to look.

A few points of discussion:

Consent of the family: This is the single most important question. Until this afternoon, we didn't know whether Aylan's family wanted the photo of his corpse to be shown. Now we know. The father, who has suffered the worst a person can suffer, wants his child to be a symbol of the refugees' plight. He wants this to be seen.

The feelings of the community: How do these images represent the lives of people in the broader community? I'm not Syrian; when I posted the pictures, I was taking the lead from people more directly involved than I am.

On that note: A friend pointed out, rightly so, that we never see the bodies of dead white children. (I'm not sure if that's entirely true; we certainly did in the Sandy Hook massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing.) It's only black and brown bodies that are reduced to the moments of their deaths rather than to their lives.

The feelings of victims of trauma: The parent who's lost a child, for example, or the survivor of a war zone. That's why I don't think these photos should be forced on anyone (other than Tories, who deserved to have it shoved in their faces). LJ and Tumblr have mechanisms built in to prevent people from being triggered; FB is of course terrible at it. But this deserves consideration, of course.

Bottom line is that these images getting out has already had an impact. The atrocity stares you right in the face. It makes the Conservative politicians responsible duck for cover, at least for a few minutes. It shakes up the apathetic. Which is why I think they need to be seen. Otherwise, little Aylan is just another statistic; after all, don't brown kids always die in large numbers?

Images have power. I can't say why one has more than another—my Syrian friends have been posting horrific images of dead children for years, with little noise generated outside their community—why this one has the potential to topple governments and maybe even save lives.

This is why, personally, I can't look away.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (kittensquee)
As some of you know, my neighbour's tinycat escaped for one night only, right before she was due to get spayed, and apparently had a great time because now there are tinykittens.

Tiny, tiny kittens.
SO SMOL )

They have the following:

• Tiny stubby tails
• Tiny feets
• Wee little noses
• Homes for when they get bigger, which is a relief

One had hiccups. Tiny hiccups.

Also did I mention that they are tiny?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (commiebot)
For tomorrow I return to Canadaland.

Drowned sailors, a maypole, labour monuments, and country idylls )

Home tomorrow. Though Heathrow. Wish me luck.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (joe hill)
Yikes what did LJ do? They changed it now it sucks.

Anyway, I had a few more adventures and took pictures with my decent camera instead of just my iPhone.

We have been wandering around Stockholm. Today we took the train to Gävle, known to normal people as "the place where they burn the Yule goat every year" and to Wobblies as "the place Joe Hill was born."

photos! )

Also! We went to see Jimmy's Hall, the new Ken Loach film. Highly recommended. It's basically like Footloose but with Irish communists instead of Kevin Bacon.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (bat country)
I have arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, and am groggily updating this from [livejournal.com profile] smhwpf's flat! Not tons to report so far because apparently 12 hours of flight and different time zones does strange things to my head, but a few things:

1. I highly recommend flying to Paris. They give you little bottles of wine on the flight. Also I could recline my seat back and there were no crying children.

2. Stockholm is incredibly pretty, or at least what I've seen of it so far is.

IMG_3495
3. There is not a single Swedish word I can pronounce properly.

4. We had a stroll around the neighbourhood. There was a glorious beer garden on a hill and some sort of mansion filled with vegetarian food, both of which had a spectacular view, comme ça:

IMG_3494

5. Here is an awesome monument to Swedish fighters in the International Brigades in Spain:

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Okay time to get up and do things.

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