Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On a more positive note, cabbage.

Cabbage is big. It is easy to grow. All the dishes made from it have the taste of the old world or that of the east. If I imagine a garden I will imagine cabbage and turnips on a cold grey day, still growing despite the weather. Gardening is amazing because it actually works. I do not yet have the delicacy or the money to grow more difficult crops perfectly or sometimes even imperfectly. No greenhouses are available, nor fancy mixtures. But things will grow in spite of this fact. Part of this is because Vancouver Island is fairy land. There is some magic to it. The soil is rich. Nothing is prickly or harsh here, unlike the interior.

I looked at a seed chart today. It turns out that if I do not plant cabbage transplants by early march there will not be time for them to mature. I mentioned this to a friend today and he encouraged me to get some seeds, so I sent off an order to West Coast Seeds in Delta. Hopefully I will get an envolope soon, full of exciting time-oriented objects.

This is my second year gardening on my own. I used to grow things but my mother was in charge and knew when to plant what. One of it's main challenges and rewards is time. Time-as-a-being: It is a way of living with time. I deal with deadlines at school and at work and with bills. Why is it not the same to garden?

If I do not go outside in time it will be dark. I will not be able to work in the garden. If I do not grow these cabbage in time there will not be enough time to grow them at all is different. On one hand it is discouarging. Many gardens are not planted due to missed deadlines. On the other hand it makes you more aware of weather, season, and light. That is the difference. Deadlines at work and school, bills and dishes, these things are enforced by human systems. The deadlines I am following when I grow things are not really deadlines at all. They are not set but simply are. I get both time and nature.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dealing with passive-aggression

Sometime in late August 2008 I found a whiteboard sitting on the side of the road. It was a giant whiteboard. I needed one of my roommates to help me carry it home. We put it in the kitchen. Unfortunately whiteboards attract the nefarious, ever waiting, and continually irritating passive aggressive note.

It might have happened anyhow. Maybe we would have ended up with all sorts of stickies everywhere. But this made it very easy.

Ever since that day my household has worked on dealing with passive-aggressive note issues. Our house is too small for 5 people so it is hard to avoid space issues and respect the common areas in a way that everyone thinks of as respectful.

I look at passive-aggression as a form of bullying. You make the other person feel guilty and incompetent so that you have power over them and so that you can control them and make them behave like yourself. The problem is that people do not like to be controlled. As such they will attempt to fight back. It gets even worse if they continue to bully. The problem with passive-aggression, like other types of bullying, is that it is hard to recognize. Unless you know the signs you will not realize that the person leaving you a friendly little note full of smiles and hearts is actually attacking you. Recognizing passive-aggression for what it is helps. As such when our resident psychology-turned-philosophy. student moved in she labeled half the board as an area in which to write passive-aggressive notes. Whenever our friends come over we teach them how to be passive-aggressive. Making it into a game or a joke helps both victims of passive-aggression and victims of the desire to be passive aggressive realise what is happening and attempt to prevent it, or maybe it was just funny.

Happily we no longer get notes like the above imaged, but that  has less to do with us and more to do with no longer living with crazy people.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Swing dancing

I took a class on Sartre last year. We watched a video because my teacher was slightly incompetent. Various people who knew Sartre talked about the time in which he lived, the atmosphere into which he was accepted, and the strange freedom that the Paris youth were then embracing. Thousands of people came to his funeral. He was not only a philosopher or an adored public figure, he was one of the spirits of the time. He exemplified the thoughts of a new era, and offered further thoughts to expand that era. I don't know if he was right, what I do know is that in the video there were people dancing. People about my age in a black and white video. They looked free. We don't have that feeling of freedom anymore, but we still have swing dancing.

My roommate did swing when I moved in with her, and she convinced me to come along to a Saturday night dance with a live band. Because of the band the room was packed. First there was a lesson. Two teachers instructed us to get into partners. First we learned the basic step, and then a few simple moves. You meet a few people and learn a bit. There is nothing grand in it.

Once the lesson is over the instructors turn out the overhead lights and turn on a reddish spotlight. The DJ puts on a song and everyone starts dancing. It isn't just the things from the beginner class.  Throwing or jumping is not permitted because of limited dance space, but many of the people dancing are impressive and skilled dancers. Seeing all these people in the dim red light I realised that swing is still alive! After almost a hundred years this dance is still something that brings people out. I have been dancing for about a year now and I am always surprised by the enthusiasm. I can tell my friend about swing and she will ask me to take her along. It seems so esoteric but it isn't. It isn't just a few people playing with the past. It's alive.

If you live on Victoria please come out to Nothin' but Swing on Saturday nights. It's pretty amazing that this exists, so you should see it at least once.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Getting scammed

We are moving out in August and I decided to start advertising now in order to avoid the last minute panic.

I got an email for a really nice place in a somewhat rural area, which I like. My roommate ran a scam check by putting the address in through craiglist and seeing if there were any hits. There were. It is rather clever. They took an ad for two bedroom and made it into an ad for a four bedroom. Which is the greed hook. $300 per month would have been very nice. The scammer didn't even read my ad. I'm a little hurt, because it was a good ad and gave the information he wants in his list. Come on scammers! At least don't use a form document. Oh wait, maybe I shouldn't tell them that.

It didn't look too scamlike, apart from the rooms looking like B&B rooms, until I asked for a face to face interview.

Re: 4 bedroom for August 1st (Near uvic)‏
From: Ryan Joe (
Sent: February 5, 2010 10:58:46 PM
To: Jesse ... (
thanks for your email..i own it and its located @ 1435 Braefoot Close, Victoria B.C.    and also want you to know that it was due to my missionary trip that makes me, my wife and Daughter to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent and looking for a responsible person that can take very good care of it as we are not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean at the time and the person that will rent it to take it as if it were its own. So for now, We are here in the United Kingdom, our new house and put all my worries off concerning the maintenance of the House , i have the keys to the House and it is  right here with me, and also the house documents....... Which I can send to you after all necessary agreement has be accepted.. Also I will like you to know that the rent charges is not really the issue ,but your absolute maintenance of my House is most important thing so i want you to get back to me with the Application form below


1)Your Full Name
2)Your Full Address & Phone Number
4)Are you married
5)How many people will be living in the house
6)Do you have a pet
7)Do you have a car
9)When do you want to move in
10)How long do you want to stay in my House
11)Reason for moving out of Current home

 so If you are still interested, and  Note that rent is $1200 per month and  Utilities is included in the rent .I personally will actually come visiting you some time during the year as our new tenant. Looking forward to hearing from you with all the details so that i can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you. Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys of the house to you. The address of the house is  1435 Braefoot Close, Victoria B.C. 

I was considering sending them the money in domino currency. Oh well, no chickens for me. It wouldn't have been that convenient anyhow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Living like my mother

When it is cold and wet I keep a big pot of chi on the stove. I make a new batch every three days. It boils over and making a mess on the stove, but my roommates apparently found it an endearing quality. We have acquired at least one roommate by offering them a cup of spicy honey-laden tea. My mother taught me how to make chi. She did not learn from the internet. She learned from an Indian woman who lived next door to her when my older brother was a baby.

I got it into my head that I should live in a commune at least once during my life. My mother told me about her experiences in a communal house. It seems like she gave me all her dreams about what life can be. I also learned that I never wanted to have children, because that is a lot to give another being.

When I was a child we lived in a little log house and had a huge garden out back where I hung worms on a tree I called a worm tree. I was a heartless child. We had chickens until the raccoons ate them. I cannot remember a time when the moosewood cookbook did not inhabit our homes. I believe I might have been vegetarian as a child but I cannot be sure. I homeschooled until grade five. By the time I got into high school all these things were gone. We moved into an five-plex. Our only garden was on the deck.

I have only lived on my own for a year and a half. It's so short that the halves still count for something. When I moved out I made note to take responsibility for myself. I have took responsibility for my diet and decided to stop eating meat, my health care, my expenses, and all those other things that make some one an adult, so far as I can tell. Every time I reflect I find myself moving towards the life my mother lived when I was a child. My boyfriend convinced me to get a compost program. We both kept little gardens last year and plan to do so again this year. If I get a big enough yard when I move in the summer I plan to keep chickens as well. Someday I will live on a farm. My grandmother commented when my sister stopped eating meat that it seems like it is the thing to do at this age. Mother did it. Sister did it. I'm going it. It's just a phase.

The garden and the chickens, and living in a community of people, not eating meat are all things that my mother did and then stopped doing. It is the same for my boyfriend. Eventually you grow out of it. Eventually you settle down into a normal life. That frightens me. The idea that I can grow out of my ideas frightens me. I will have to work in the great world as Forster calls it and slowly the things I think about what it is to be human and to be me will disappear. I will not live out doors but I will not live in my own home either. Just a impressionless cell. The bright electric lights of a career will make them so hard to see that sometime I will just stop looking. On the other hand I cannot remain a student forever, and some of these ideas I am sure are a product of being a student and young. I will look like a fool if I act the same as I always did. I shall once again be incomplete.