Saturday, April 23, 2022

Shooting the Poop with You

 Picked up my wife from her work and we visited as we drove. We spoke about the downtown Hudson Bay store being taken over the Indians. We both acknowledged the targeted visceral anger and hatred to Indians in social media. The news story sparked a feeding frenzy of racist sharks; their attacks were fast and vicious. Just a normal day as we laughed a bit about people. Suz (my wife) borrowed twenty bucks off her friend at work. The friend started to tell her about her night before. She and her spouse went for supper (dinner for those who don't know) at Boston Pizza. After their dinner, she stopped to play a few slots (gambling slot machines which are abundant in Winnipeg licensed establishments). As she was playing an old white woman (who said she had worked in the WHRA for forty years-Winnipeg Regional Health Authority) started chatting her up. The old white lady says to her, "Child Tax?" Child Tax is a benefit provided by the Canadian government to families and sent out monthly. Anyways...the friend told the old white lady, "I work in government as well." The old lady goes on to say, "I didn't mean anything by it," (the assumption she was spending the tax child benefit.) Of course she, the old white lady didn't, it is normal mindset for many not to acknowledge their bigotry. I am being sarcastic, just in case the "of course she didn't" came off as I believed that she sincerely didn't mean anything by it. Me and my wife said, "could be she was using Child Tax at the slots, but still." 

People are so funny with their everyday beliefs which can only be founded in stereotypes, racism and privilege. My wife and me ( I know I should have said I instead of me, but I'm Ojibwe me) laughed hard at her friend's story. It reminded us of "are you Peggy?" Are you Peggy story is the time a Roman Catholic priest went up to my wife and son on a public street in downtown Winnipeg.  My son who is a brown Indian man, was meeting his Mom to give her money. My son had a wad of cash in his hand as the "Father" asked if he was Peggy. The Priest was actually asking if my son was begging. Such a benevolent and charitable man that Father. 

A cousin of mine died yesterday. He was getting sick for awhile now. Blew out his liver from the drink. I was just thinking about how much fun he was. I was glad to get to know him pretty good through working together. In the Reserve you know lot of people and most of your relatives, but in some cases you don't get to know them really intimately. We shared some good times. He was of course closer to others and I imagine they have some great stories about him. This cousin, Bunny (sounds like Bun-eh) was telling me a story about my brother Pancho (sounds like Pon-cho) when they were younger. Bunny was having fun with the same woman my brother was with. My brother was kind of a tough guy. My cousin said he phoned the woman (she was already married to Sonny) he was fooling around with. When the phone was answered, it was a familiar voice;  "Hello" my brother Pancho said. My cousin Bunny didn't say anything, he just listened, as quickly as the hello went unanswered, came "Who the fuck is this" asked Pancho in a mean voice.  Bunny laughing away as he said, "I hanged up with a very quiet click."  We had a good laugh over this. My cousin was a slickster. 

Was at Surplus Direct today to get some runners (sneakers) for my grandson. The checkout line was long. Surplus Direct is one of those little shops which sells discounted "seconds" from big stores like Costco. So as I was in line a couple of young Neechie girls came in. The one girl leaves her bag at the front as there is a sign advising to do so. They walked around the little store. You could hear the other girl say to her, "Good, I never even knew this was here." They looked around, got the bag from the check out and left. I was a ways from the check out but I am pretty sure one the women at the checkout said to her co-worker, "Bet they are up to no good." I looked and no one in the line noticed or batted an eye over the comments. I was thinking, I heard it, I am going to tell them off. By the time I got to the till the moment had gone, I just kept it to myself. I regret it, no matter that the moment had gone. It did validate my thinking that this must be such a common thing so no one even notices. It is racism. We are so conditioned to it, it doesn't phase the public anymore. But I imagine, "she didn't mean anything by it." Bless her little white heart. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit my cousins Stephanie and Charolette; they live in Selkirk Manitoba. I really enjoyed the visit because no one is really visiting right now (you know the old COVID thing and the fact we are old lazy folks). As we get older we have difficulty; difficulty in making new friends. Heck, it's hard enough keeping in touch with old friends, family, never mind fostering new relationships. I want to make friends with Muslims, Ukrainians, Russians, Black people and other Neechies but how do you go about it. I had this idea before about setting up time to sit in a coffee house and advertise; "Hey want to meet an Indian, well just come down to X-Cues and sit with one, chat and ask what you wish." I thought it would be a good idea. 

Speaking of Child Tax Benefit, my Wife sent me to Wally-mart to get some Ritz crackers for our girl's school day. It was kind of late in the evening. There was an Indian Woman with two young girls with her. So I walked up to her and said "Anishinaabem na?" She said "Eh ha." So I asked her if she wanted a ride home, no charge. She said okay. So we loaded her stuff in the car and took her home. I came back to Wally-mart and was walking in when this Indian guy waved me over. He said "Are you a taxi, I saw you giving a ride to the Woman." I told him "No, I just give rides to Neechies, can't really trust the cabs." The taxi industry in Winnipeg has had some issues with Indian fares; some sexual harassment of Women. So he asked me for a ride. So I sent him to my car to load his stuff and I ran for the Ritz. I asked him where he wanted to go, so he got me to take him downtown Winnipeg. We got to the apartment and I opened the trunk and  he said "No, that's my stuff. I'm just dropping off money for my aunty, paying her back." So I says "Oh okay." While he went visiting his Aunty I waited in the car. He came back about 10 or 15 minutes later and I asked him where he lived, I ended up taking him to south Winnipeg, which was a good drive. It was closer to where we left Walmart in the first place. I went home  and the wife was sitting around with her phone and said, "Three hours? I was worried and you didn't phone?" I had left my phone at home because it was only a ten minute trip to Wally-mart. But the point is the guy pulled a good one on me, he pulled an "Indian."  I could laugh about with my wife because she was upset at the time.

Anyways you take care, just wanted to shoot the shit with you today.  

G'waabaamin sa.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Uncertain about the Uncertainty

 "...How would our Ancestors (Anishinaabek) have responded to these times? They would be calm and approach things with gentleness and confidence. They would say we are not alone and we have never been alone, the Ancestors are here with us to take us forward. They would say, why are you afraid? Do you not believe? Did you really think you were in control and can overpower nature? These are natural consequences that we have helped create. Nature is only returning the poisons we have put into her. The abuse we have inflicted on her. It is a time of reckoning now..."  Elder Dave Courchene Jr. Turtle Lodge 

There is so much uncertainty in our lives: massive forest fires; flash flooding; will Cancer get me; can we earn money to feed and house ourselves; trying to stay alive and free from sickness; hoping to not be shot  by a cop; hoping not to be shot while going to school; hoping not to be shot at a movie, not to be shot at a nightclub; having a spouse with homicidal leanings; worrying about being on a flight with a pilot who decides to fly into a mountain; getting some type of sexual transmitted disease; not having a crazy neighbor who measures lawn height; worried about a pack of dogs eating us; the possibility of swallowing a fly that just came out of outhouse; walking in public with toilet paper hanging out the back of our pants or stuck to our shoe, getting hemorrhoids. The uncertainties we face our numerous. So how in the heck do we cope with the feelings which come from uncertainty? It is worrisome to many that is for sure. We have the "could have been me" thoughts when a bad situation occurs somewhere. It could have been me getting bit in the neck by the white tiger named Mantacore and then carried away like a squeaky toy.  Instead it was Roy, who was bit in the neck and by the grace of all that is holy, was not me. 

There's an old Native proverb which goes like this: "Only the Squirrel eats nuts thrown on the ground, while the Hawk doesn't eat nuts." It reminds of the fact a garden snake is non-venomous but people will bring out their rakes and hoes to cut the snake to pieces when they see one. Hank Williams Jr fell down a rock cliff and damaged his face. George Strait 13 year old daughter died in a car accident and Willie Nelson's son hanged himself. The uncertainty of life can be felt by anyone. I think about Bob Gainey, the manager of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. His daughter was swept of the deck of a Tall Ship in a storm and never found. The common house spider is actually good for your home but you will kill it on sight. Maybe you are uncertain of the type of spider, and uncertain about its bite. The real bite which is an uncertainty is the bite, well really a sting, of a Bee. The Bee of all things which can bring life to an end by ceasing to be, because it is a keystone species. What a tippy topple way for life to be. Can we even plan for the uncertainties in life? 

Uncertainty is our world no doubt. Which uncertainty has you wondering? I fell for a sales pitch, well almost fell for it.  On Facebook there was this post from a City Councilor which showed him getting a free emergency kit. All you had to do was register for it. Anyways the company called the house and set up a date and time to bring over the kit. Turns out there was a presentation you had to listen lasted 2 hours and was a smoke fire detector sales. The presentation was filled with numbers, videos of devastation with home fires. The pitch is really effective. You are left feeling uncertain, feeling afraid. The last sales pitch is "how much is a life worth?"  The smoke detector package is about $4000.00. The thing about uncertainty is it can be pricey. I could not afford the $4000 for the 7 detectors.  I had our house vent system vacuumed a while back and the guy asked me if I wanted to spray the vents with some kind of chemical. I said "no thank you" and he said "well it's your family." I had read the vent vacuum and chemical were not really proven to help air quality in the home. So not sure if I will have vents done again. When marketers call the house and do the sales pitch for vacuuming vents, I just tell them I had it done a month ago. 

I know I will fall prey to uncertainties of life, but for now I am just going to try focus on having enough gas in the car, some water bottles, a fire extinguisher, a charged up cell phone and dog food. It's all we can do in this time of uncertainty; war, climate change, extremism, and social media. I think Dave Courchene Jr said it very well, "to approach things with gentleness and confidence." If Dave Courchene Jr was not a Traditional Teacher and Elder, you would think he was a practitioner of Taoism; Nothing lasts forever. Everything comes and goes. What goes up, must come down. Go with the flow. "The basic principle of Taoism is that animals, plants, and humans should live in balance with the world around them."  This is also the tenants of Indigenous way of life. It is wonderous how people with a strong belief system can meet uncertainties without the worry. 

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

 Urban Cowboy is a 1980 movie with a soundtrack steeped in western songs that had great Redneck lines like, "single bars and good time ...