Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Random June

The 2010 Bulwer-Lytton contest results are in and two Canadians are represented. David Mitchell on why being reminded of your own ignorance is good for you, Ascot hats and the news that grumpy people make better decisions which I plan to snarl at the next person who accuses me of not being chipper enough on a Monday morning. Slurls or really awful website names, how to make your own butter (via dottedyellowline) and the classic Danish tongue twister that'll tell you if you should even try to learn the language.

To get political, an exploration of the billion dollar summit mystery and photos from Saturday's peaceful protest hijacked by a small group of idiots. And from Laurie, some excellent photos of what the protest message was all about before it got overshadowed by aforementioned idiots. Staying within the political, but moving towards ecological, there's so much I want to say about the oil spill, but I simply don't have the words. Instead, a link to what happens when they spill coffee at the BP headquarters, a small movie called Cries from the Gulf by Lea Morris was says it better than ever could and a brilliant photo of a wave that sums it all up.

From the ecological to nature (would you just look at those segues!)… a fascinating article about exploding lakes, drunk parrots, a penguin soccer team (I had to get to World Cup in here somewhere), a dolphin who uses an iPad - the bleeding thing is everywhere - and Frankenfish. You've heard of blue holes, right? This makes me nervous. Very nervous. And yet it is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I've ever seen (found on dooce).

Janet sent me this photo of a cat that walked on the keyboard too many times. I showed it to Lucy. It didn't help. Willowtree posted a one minute summary of Lost as done by cats that means I now don't have to rent the final two seasons, Wheelie Catholic posted this video that asked the question "what do you consider disabled?" although I think perhaps it's more a question of sanity (which probably makes me an old fuddy-duddy). However, that punked out version of Scotland the Brave is seriously awesome. Lucia invited us to get a silly name and I really hope somewhere you get one that's worse than mine and then share it in the comments. Because mine'ss Booger Diaperchunks. Honestly. And Michele sent me a reminder that a second opinion can be a very good thing.

From Trevor, an important message from a kid, the Better Marriage Blanket and if anyone ever gave me that for an anniversary, they shouldn't be surprised to wake up dead. Also, someone has turned a public loo into a house, an attorney's bra prevents her from seeing her client, a priest wants some paintings of angels in a church removed because they have a "diabolical homosexual look" (which seemed appropriate to post during Pride week)and lastly, an incredible video of an even more incredible hailstorm in Oklahoma. Stick with it. It's insane.

Picking up on items mentioned earlier in this post, David suggested I do an image search in Google for our cross eyed opossum - I'll pass on the suggestion - and sinkholes in Guatemala 2007 and 2010 (more photos here), which also make me nervous. Who knew providing electricity could be this much of a nailbiter, for the pencil obsessed, a reminder to take your meds and an endless variety on the half-full/half-empty conundrum. There's a new way to diagnose fibromyalgia, a very different take on the pinup calendar and this one just never gets old. A brilliant ball launcher for a dog. I need one of those (more details on this to follow in an upcoming Lucy post) and lastly, an example of what voting for Zach would get you (part two is here).

A late addition from Diane - an interview with Zach's mom. And through that interview, I found Lark the Beard - Zach's improv group.

And a very happy Canada Day - as well as happy July 4th - to you all!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Master of Our Domain

Have you heard of Zach Anner? If not, you're in for a treat. But first, a soapbox moment. Or two.

The other day, I got one of those inspirational e-mails that circle the Internet on a regular basis. This one was a story about a blind boy sitting by a building with a hat by his feet, holding up a sign that said "I am blind, please help." Naturally, there were merely a few coins in the (no doubt tattered) hat. A good Samaritan walks by and takes it upon himself to change the sign (without asking) which miraculously has the effect of greatly increasing the donations. He goes by later to check on how things are, the boy naturally recognizes his footsteps and asks what he wrote on the sign. To which our esteemed Samaritan replies "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way." He had written "today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it." This "beautiful" and "inspirational" story is called The Heart of Gratitude, clearly with a double meaning - the boy should be grateful to the man for stepping in and taking over and we should be grateful because we can see when the boy can't.

And this is exactly the kind of crap that sends me into an apoplexy at most charitable campaigns for miscellaneous diseases/conditions. It is the using of the stories and lives of people with disabilities to tug relentlessly on heartstrings, to elicit the "there but for the grace of God go I." gratitude that we are hale and healthy, while at the same time leaning heavily on the guilt button so will shell out money to make the transitory pain and discomfort of having to see into these poor cripples’ lives go away. And of course the people who use us to raise money for us are able-bodied, because they know what's best for us, don't they, because it's impossible to imagine that people with disabilities might actually want to have a go at it themselves, in their own way, with some respect and dignity and entirely without the pity, thank you very much.

Want another one? This one's from some department in the Oprah syndicate. It's about Stephanie Nielson and her journey back to life after an almost fatal plane crash. And it's one hell of a story - Stephanie writes a blog, a very powerful one about her daily life, the love that in that life, what is like to be her and how she does it with grace. However! The video on the Oprah website is really less about Stephanie than about the alleged reporter's reaction to Stephanie story and because this supposed reporter stands in for us, the lucky healthy, able-bodied ones, it is about us as well. The last image and the last words are about what Stephanie's journey has helped the reporter realize and we're back to the sanctimonious able-bodied receiving grace and salvation through someone else's pain.

Which brings me to Zach. And it's a sort of natural segue, because Oprah is involved in this one, too (the woman is everywhere). Having become somewhat enamored of giving things away, Oprah is now giving away a TV show. Which is kind of cool. People who are interested do and the audition tape, the videos are posted and the public votes. The the person who receives the most votes gets the show. And one of the leading contenders is Zach Anner. Zach uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy (which he calls "the sexiest of the palsies") and proposes a travel show. Which is so much less than the experience of watching his audition tape - go watch it. I'll wait.

The man is funny. Seriously funny. And the Internet campaign to crown him the winner has gone nuts - it's led to a second video of Zach seeing the results when he had 2 million votes, a training video for his "crawlathon” to make good on his promise to participate in a marathon if he got 1 million votes, John Mayer is offering to do his theme song and there's even a conspiracy theory (thanks to David for finding all the links which I've shamelesly listed off his post on Zach).

And this story is the complete opposite of the other two. Because this is about a man not only embracing his disability and having a lot of fun with it, it is also a story about a man who refuses to be pitied. Zach is out there having a great time with a lot of self-respect and dignity (yes, dignity, because when it gets undignified - and it hilariously undignified - he's the one that decided to do things that way). He’s fully and totally in charge of himself, his message and his image and it’s what makes him and his proposed show unique and incredibly watchable. Not because it'll tug on the heartstrings, not because it'll push on the guilt button, but because you can't wait to see what he comes up with next. If he doesn't win this contest, he'll get a show somewhere else, because he's that good. Not because the able-bodied world is throwing the cripple a bone, but because it's good business.

Zach Anner is master of his domain and a true inspiration, not just for other people with disabilities, but for the able-bodied and clueless. He forces you to see him and not a stereotype and although he's just proposing a TV show, he's doing much, much more than that. He's changing the world.

Go vote for him. More than once.

Friday, June 25, 2010


It’s official. I’ve totally lost control of my life.

I get up each morning to email in two places and a browser filled with open tabs – love the wee buggers, but if you start the day with that much work lurking, it’s hard not to feel like Sisyphus. The last couple of weeks before my injury, I constantly felt as if I was running so fast that I was always on the verge of tipping over and falling while reaching my hands out to catch the balls I'd been juggling as they started to fall, sure there were many more balls that I'd forgotten. When you're that busy, things like having a disability, being aware of your pain levels or managing your energy don't even register.

Perhaps it's not surprising I didn't notice I was getting injured.

When I wrote about my usual bogeyman when it comes to wrecking myself in this week's post for MyRACentral - use it while I have it because tomorrow I might not, all or nothing personality, meeting other people's needs before my own - I also touched on how important that job is to me. As a symbol of being better, as an actual job after so many years of not being able to work. And there's another big one for me. Because it's so much more than a job – it’s a place where I can be useful again and for me, and many others with this damn disease, it is the inability to be of use that brings you to your knees. So much of our identity and sense of self-worth is tied into being productive and being of use and once you're not, once your disease or disability progresses to the point where you can't, what good are you?

This job I have is not full-time by any means, but it is a job, one that doesn't just allow me to work, but also to be helpful, to be truly useful. And to me, being of use is my drug.

I've begun to think that it really is like an addiction for me, that perhaps looking at it this way will help me manage this thing that takes over and gets to make the decisions about how much I do in a day. I've come to realize that there's something deep underneath the usual reasons and if I don't figure out what that something is, I will work myself into the ground, wrecking myself on a permanent basis in a very short time. And if I'm trying to think long-term, finding enough hope within me to believe that I'll have another five years, 10 years, 30 years - who knew optimism could be this terrifying - then I need to start thinking long-term, because if I don't change how I work, I will destroy myself.

Which brings me to mindfulness.

Part Buddhist, part psychology, there are all kinds of fancy definition, but essentially it's about paying attention to what you're doing, whether it is eating, working or walking down the street. Pay attention. And whirling around like a dervish in your everyday life, doing 17 things at the same time means you pay attention to none of them. In her book The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters, Sarah Susanka, talks about our "hyperactive, multitasking minds" and boy, did that ever hit the mark. When I move that fast, my brain is never still and as my fibro tends to flare when I move that fast, my already zippy mind feeds on the hyperactivity of fibro and before I know it, my mind runs at 200 miles an hour and it never slows down. Never. It took me a week of (allegedly) sitting still to click out of the insanity and I began to feel centered again.

And once that happened, I began to wonder about something. Had I been practicing mindfulness, would I have noticed how bad things were getting before they got as bad as they did? Maybe if I started singletasking, there would be enough room for me to go through my day as a whole person instead of one whose body doesn't get a vote.

And sure, the long-term goal is to find out what is underneath all of this, but while I poke around in my psychological innards I need to change the way I work and I've found some tools that might derail me from the urge to multitask. To help me say no to myself.

I put a monthly planner on my wall and write down deadlines and such because then they don't have to be in my head or take up room on my to-do list until the day that's assigned to work on a specific project. David found a timer program that he set to 30 minutes and once the alarm goes off, I'm supposed to step away from the computer for a while (it also keeps track of how far over the 30 minutes I go and he's in the process of figuring out a way where it will report this number to him. I tell him he has trust issues). I'm going to start meditating again even though it'll take a whole 20 minutes away from my work day - how crazy is it to think that you can't afford to lose 20 minutes? I'll also try to get ruthless with my to-do list, remembering something a friend once told me: if I never get to do everything that's on my list, perhaps the list is too long. In the long run, slow and steady gets way more done than tearing through my life like I've got a rocket up my arse.

In Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn says something that to me is incredibly profound: "we have an infinite number of moments between now and when we die. The more we miss, the faster the trip". Because part of this problem of moving so fast is that I lose time. I have no idea how we got halfway through the year, feel as if time is moving too fast for me to appreciate the journey and on one hand, I'm grateful than I am now well enough to have this problem - seriously, take a minute to think about where I've come from - but on the other, it's no way of honoring your second chance.

Because it all comes back to that. I got my life back and I swore not to waste it. And that means paying attention to what's important, whether that the state of my body, the cat wanting a cuddle, writing The Book, a phone call from someone I haven't spoken to in a while or the way the sun shines through a leaf. And when I think about it, really think about it, that's the important way of being of use.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pride Goeth

My latest MyRACentral post ponders the eternal question of why I can't learn to stop before I hurt myself:

"It was as inevitable as the tides, the sun rising in the east and the Toronto Maple Leafs getting nowhere near the Stanley Cup finals."

The rest of the post is

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Canine Extravaganza

Things are looking different on The Seated View - I'm playing with the "new" Blogger template and so far, it's not perfect. Please have patience.

Last weekend, we went to Woofstock - the annual dog festival. And there were a lot of dogs. Masses.

A pair of beautiful spaniels started the day

A Basselope waited patiently in line

There were tough guys with tiny dogs

Dogs all dressed up

Dogs having a really good time

Making new friends

Having a cool treat (chicken flavoured snow cones)

Showing off the new pedicure

And zonked out after an exciting day on top of a new pedicure

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting It

I was at the Market the other day, getting myself some red leaf lettuce, leaves crinkled into tight waves of deepest green and darkest red, put a yellow pepper next to it, watching the colors spark off each other. Waiting to cash out, I made funny faces for a little boy in a stroller, not paying much attention to his mother who was similarly laden down with produce. Susanna cashed me out while we chatted amiably - I go there all the time and by now, it is about more than just an exchange of goods for money - and as I start backing up to leave, the mother of the little boy in the stroller said something to me.

"I never knew how inaccessible the city is until this," she said, nodding to the stroller, "I get it now."

It was one of those small moments, of connection, of reality, of two people truly seeing each other. Not always the case when you use a wheelchair - it tends to convey a sort of second skin over you, causing people to see only stereotype, their eyes sliding away from yours. And because she had become a mother, this woman had had the click, the moment when she realized that she shared the experience of a small minority group and so, that mask that is so often put upon me melted away and we were just two people.

And more than that, more than that moment of grace, of shared humanity, this woman will, because she had become a mother, be more aware of barriers and who knows where that may lead. Will she talk about her experience in a way that makes others experience the click, as well? Will she be in a decision-making position where she can make a difference in the design of a business or building, making it more inclusive? Will she raise that little boy just a little differently so he sees just people from the start?

Babies are one of our best allies. More than anything, they help people get it.

p.s. Thanks to the people who said I inspired them in Friday's post. Never expected it. Really. The blushing was rather furious - had no idea a human being could turn that many shades of red.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Seeking Inspiration

I'm stalled out. Again.

I overdid a bit. Again.

I didn't realize until it's too late. Again.

Will I ever learn?

After a week of sitting as still as I'm capable in an attempt to heal, there hasn't been much progress. I have thoroughly lost my sense of humour, but I'm not sure if that can be termed progress. Probably the opposite. I'm angry, frustrated and a whole host of other synonyms for a bubbling vat of resentment that my body gets to decide what I do. The way out is to do a 180 on my attitude, which I will. Eventually. I have to seethe some more first.

However, to get the process started, I gave myself an assignment. Earlier this week I saw/read something - and I forget where because did I mention the vast quantities of painkillers? - where someone said they were writing a list of people who inspired them.

This week, I've been thinking a lot about Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit who had chronic fatigue syndrome (the author, not the horse). It took her four years to write the book because she spent long periods being stalled out by flares of her disease.

So I will continue to try to sit as still as possible, take my drugs and think about perseverance.

Who inspires you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Accidental Metalhead

My sister used to be a metalhead. I'm sure it's not a secret and if it was, I may be able to evade severe punishment by owning up to growing up in the 70s which meant the music I liked when I was a teenager is far more embarrassing.

Which gets me - rather swiftly for me - to the point. Because I don't think being a metalhead is embarrassing (OK, some of the hairstyles associated with being a metalhead could be, but we're talking about music today, not fashion). And this is why.

Janne and I spent a lot of time together growing up. Not only do we like each other a lot, as well as love each other – how lucky can you be that one of your best friends is your sister? - but a couple of things threw us together more than we might have otherwise. Because of my disability, I was probably home more than the average teen/early adult and there are 10 years between us. The ten-year gap meant that I was at times elected chaperone based on the thinking that an older sister was much less mortifying company than a parent. And one of the times when I got roped into being chaperone was when Janne went to concerts - our first one (before the metalhead stage) was Depeche Mode and My. God. The hair.

A few years later, she had moved on to the metal genre and this was a time when she and I spent a lot of time in a car together with the music cranked and singing along. Although she had a drivers license, my parents felt she was too young to go see Guns N’ Roses in concert by herself, so I got volunteered to go. At the time, I had read the lyrics to their songs and was very busy sneering down my nose at them. But still, she was my sister, she very much wanted to go and I saw it as an opportunity for some anthropological research.

Skid Row opened and it was the loudest band I've ever heard it, then and now. There was a saying among the metal cohort that “if it's too loud, you're too old,” but I would like to counter that with the opinion that if your ears are still ringing 30 minutes after the music has stopped, it is indeed too loud. And then, GNR came on stage and it was one of the top two concerts I have ever attended. Sting’s … Nothing like the Sun is the other - I dragged Janne to that one, which made her a fan, so I wa's only fair that she returned the favour. But back to my conversion experience. GNR played for hours, feeding off the energy of the crowd, which fed off the energy coming off the band until the stadium became a symbiotic organism. They came out for an encore, playing song after song until 1 AM, saying it was one of the best gigs they've ever played and by the time it was all said and done, thousands of people walked out of there buzzing, high on the experience (and for some, probably high on other substances, as well).

That was the point where I parked all my preconceptions on the shelf and asked my sister to show me more. I learned about hair metal, ripped jeans and power ballads - I have a favorite memory of Janne and I am walking down the strip in Las Vegas, singing Wind of Change. I also learned that Thrash - an extra loud and discordant subcategory of the metal genre - could blow a migraine out of your head. It happened more than once and I'm not sure metal has been sufficiently credited for its healing properties. If you get migraines, try it sometime. Admittedly, it takes a certain level of guts and a bit of perseverance to voluntarily expose yourself to this kind of music at a loud volume, but you'll have a fair chance of kicking the sucker to the curb.

The reason all this has come back to me is my latest movie from Rogers Video Direct (the Canadian version of Netflix). I've come to relish the randomness of the shipments - my previous DVD was The Maltese Falcon and now, I've just finished watching Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. Bit of cinematic whiplash there. I was prepared to feel like I'd moved on, perhaps consider it a visit to my misspent youth, but instead found myself completely captivated by this documentary of Metallica recording Some Kind of Monster while undergoing group therapy. And aside from being a compelling look at the band and the strong personalities therein, it reminded me how much I like good metal.

Take Enter Sandman, one of my favorite Metallica songs. It's raw and primal and intense and just rips through you, leaving you invigorated and slightly stunned. Take AC/DC – how can you not move? Take Aerosmith, who I sadly have never seen in concert. And getting back to GNR, take Welcome to the Jungle – how can you not get caught up in that (just Axl’s hair is worth a look)? And then there’s Sweet Child of Mine – iconic and lovely. And it is the song that was played at the end of Claire’s funeral, an occasion so sad and devastating that we, all of us in the room, were reeling and raw with pain and when those first unmistakeable notes of her favourite song rang out, we, all of us in the room, looked at the friend or family member sitting next to us and laughed with love at the perfection of the choice.

Healing power of metal, indeed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Love Among the Ruins

This week on MyRACentral, I write about finding love when you live with a chronic illness:

When I was a teenager, I asked my mother if I'd ever find love. My friends were dating, but I'd never met a boy who could see me instead of the packaging I came in - my rheumatoid arthritis and my wheelchair blocked the way. It took some time, but as I, and the men I dated, grew older, it became easier to find someone who wasn't afraid of my RA or the wheelchair. But then, in 2004, my disease flared again, flared so intensely that I felt razed to the ground. That flare taught me just how hard RA can be on relationships, breaking bonds as it wrecks your body and a relationship of four years was destroyed in the wreckage."

The rest of the post is

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Irreplaceable Treasures

I rented Leap Year last week and it’s a good thing I had a coupon and got it for free or I would've been stomping back to the store, demanding my money back. Load of formulaic crap with the same amount of originality, soul and entertainment as a paint-by-numbers rendition of a stag by a lake. If you're in the mood to see this story - overly controlled urban woman seriously into planning goes to quaint, mostly rural area, somehow gets thrown together with a scruffy, handsome local man with a sexy name, they spend the majority of the movie bickering/falling in love while the woman through various humiliations learn to cut loose and be less uptight and they live happily ever after - rent The Proposal (Single Disc Widescreen). Equally preposterous if you think about it, but you don't because in that one, the writing is good and the actors make it work. Leap Year? Not so much.

Anyway! The test - because there's always some sort of test - that convinces formerly uptight city woman seriously into planning that her existing boyfriend (equally uptight citified male with a silly name) should be scuttled in favor of new handsome and scruffy man as this one: Handsome, scruffy man asks her what she would take with her if her house was on fire and she only had 60 seconds to get out. Naturally, he would take his dead mother's Claddagh ring (obviously, this is the part where the filmmakers attempt to push the "wistful sigh" button in the female viewing public, except it didn't really work). And equally naturally, once home with existing boyfriend, uptight city woman now not quite so much into planning anymore after spending time with handsome, scruffy man employs this test, yanking the fire alarm. Soon-to-be-ex boyfriend makes sure to take laptops, digital cameras containing pictures of the two of them, the video camera with the recording of his proposal to her and their Blackberries because that's where their lives are and that's where the pictures of them together - not to mention the video recording of him proposing to her - are located. Somehow, this constitutes failing the test. No, I don't know why.

I don't see what's so wrong with being into planning – those of you familiar with the Christmas schedule will know this - but that's beside the point. The point is the test. Because it made me think about what I’d take if I had 60 seconds to get out and other than the cat, my computer, external hard drives and camera were high on the list. Because that’s where my life is – my work, a few books-in-progress, photos of the important people and events in my life. The rest is just stuff. And sure, if I gave it some more thought – and I’ve already probably given it more than it deserves – I could probably come up with a few precious objects. Like the vase my grandfather gave to my mother on her 17th birthday, that she passed on to me when I turned 17 and which Morgan will get when she reaches that age, the opal my father bought for me when he was in Alice Springs, the necklace made from a chunk of meteor David gave me on Valentine’s Day and a few other things, but most of all, the cat and the technology. Oh, and my painkillers. The technology is needed to re-create my life, the few items are irreplaceable treasures and the meds? Well, it can take several days to get new prescriptions and I'm going to need them. Am I being overly practical/not-at-all romantic again?

What would you take if you only had 60 seconds to leave the house?

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Tinks Meet Lucy

But first we gathered at mor's for a multi-birthday celebration (suffice to say there were 5 birthday songs).

Liam experimented with facial hair

Morgan always starts the visit with being a barnacle on mormor

A really excellent photo of Ken's knees (I'd forgotten to switch off the macro setting)

Morgan's been bit by the photo bug - apparently it's genetic on her mother's side - and took this of Michele. Better than any of the ones I took...

Scott taught the next generation all about the iPod (we start early on obsessions in this family)

and then we all went to my place to meet Lucy. She was in her glory - this much attention? This many hands? It's possible it was the best day of her life.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Two Rants

The last week’s been interesting, news-wise. Two issues in particular have poked at my rant gland and today seems like a good day for sharing.

(rant gland?? Is there such a thing?).

Rant #1: the G-20 summit. Or rather, the G-20 security budget.

For those of you not living in Toronto and/or obsessively checking news of any big summits, the G-8 and G-20 summits will be happening in Ontario, G-8 in Huntsville, G-20 in Toronto. The estimated security budget for these events was $100 million. Seems a bit of a steep price, but if you consider how many "important people" are going to be needing security, the two locations, etc., it can add up, I guess. So far, not much of a news story, but wait for it, because here comes the interesting thing.

In the past week it's come to light that the security bill for the G-20 summit is currently at $800 million. Yes, you heard that right (saw that right?). $800 million. Forecast to be $1.2 billion when all’s said and done, although of course it could go higher. I guess those sound cannons are a tad expensive...

One. Billion. Dollars.

And this is the point where I yet again started to wonder when the Harper government is going to collapse. They’ve run roughshod over existing legislation - this is a government that passed a Bill mandating fixed election dates every four years, then called an election in the middle of their first term. They have prorogued Parliament twice, the second time for no reason whatsoever except perhaps to delay uncomfortable questions into the Afghan detainees debacle, have essentially told aids groups to "shut up", have decimated funding to women's programs, cut the court challenges program and are messing with aids oversees. Yet are perfectly happy spending $1 billion of taxpayers’ money on security for an event that when it was held in London last year cost 20 million.

What else might $1 billion buy? And when are we going to kick him out?

Rant #2: woman's right to have nice view six months a year vs. property owners’ right to renovate.

A couple buys a home in an older area of Toronto with the intention of tearing it down and building a new home. They carefully check with the City to make sure that the 100-year-old house is not considered a heritage building, it isn't and they go ahead with the purchase. They start a blog to keep family and friends updated on their progress and this is where it gets sticky. Enter the neighbour across the street. This woman somehow finds out about the plans and starts throwing her weight around, because she doesn't want her view to change. During the seasons in which there are leaves on trees, she can't see the house, but the remaining six months of the year, she really enjoys the view with her morning coffee. She puts it somewhat differently, saying she is "trying to preserve a home that adds character and beauty to my neighbourhood for future generations to enjoy". She talks to her City Councillor, who has also been contacted by some other "concerned residents" from the neighbourhood and long story short, the Councillor asks Heritage Preservation Services for a report about whether the house should be considered a heritage building and the owner of the property is now in limbo, unable to start the project.

In general, this annoys me. Here's someone who's gone through all the entire process, carefully checking to make sure that the property they want to buy is not a heritage building and yet a neighbor who really likes the view half of the year can derail their plans completely. I live in the oldest neighbourhood in Toronto, one that has many historical buildings and it's an area t development has been careful to match the history all around. This means that buildings are generally low rise - since I moved here in 1996, the highest buildings developed have been no higher than 12 stories, which is still kind of tall for this area. Developers generally try to match the exterior of their buildings to flow with the older buildings, which gives the whole neighbourhood a cohesive look. Except despite this neighbourhood fighting tooth and nail, we have two (or is it three?) new developments of condos going in. Which are going to follow the new trend of being 40 stories. One of these developments will require tearing down a block of very old two- or three-story buildings that somehow narrowly escaped being historical, even though other buildings - attached to this block and looking much the same - are indeed historical and cannot be torn down. So that's part of the rant.

However, it gets even more interesting. The reason these people want to build a new home is because the wife is a paraplegic and needs an accessible home so she can live with her family again. Not surprisingly, I'm on their side, but it should be said that I am also on the side of a heritage buildings - after all, I fully understand the importance of preserving historical buildings, as my neighbourhood is currently being destroyed by insane development. However, this couple followed protocol, made sure the house was not designated a heritage building, are now the owner of that property and as such, I don't think it should be permitted for a group of "concerned residents" who don't want there to be a different looking house on their street to force the issue. Where’s the fairness? Or logic, even?

And here's where it gets beyond mere squabbling and into revealing depth of character (or lack thereof). Because although the neighbour across the street claims to appreciate the family's challenges, she believes that the husband has somehow “used” the wife's disability to win support. Considering that they were building an accessible home because she has a disability, I think perhaps it’s reasonable to include this fact as part of your argument, but maybe that's just me? And then, the neighbour, this paragon of human virtue says with a smile "I don't have a disability. Sorry. If I did, maybe I could use that, too."

And this is where my rant escalates to such a level that I no longer have words. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Butter & Lavender

Happy birthday to John/TinkPapa, who also starts the morning show at Oldies 1150 today! Live streamed here.