Last week and part of this week was vacation; my first ever all by myself drive to and from Sudbury to the Sault to visit with family and friends. It was spectacular in that it was perfectly ordinary; coffee with one friend, lunch with another, hitting Pokestops downtown one night and a sleepover at camp another. It feels like I took a million pictures but it was more like 300-foxes at breakfast, a selfie with my neice, storm clouds and a rainbow while on a walk with mom, exposed rock bluffs and the marbled ancient shoreline of my favourite lake. If you're interested an album will be up on the Facebook page soon.
The serenity of my vacation was ruined by Canadian Soldiers of Odin and straight up old fashioned racism. Watching the news in the evening with my dad was challenging to say the least. He's in his 60s and holds conservative ideas and values; I learned that Hillary Clinton is a lying bitch about Benghazi but at least he also thinks that Trump is a sociopath. We can't let in any more refugees because they're dangerous (I wont repeat what he said here but it stunned me) thanks to the news out of Manhattan and New Jersey. Also, the Soldiers of Odin have set up a chapter in the Sault and are trying to start one in Sudbury, and I just can't even because a FB friend of mine is all for that, and I bet a few other people are as well but haven't said so YET. Sure they're doing food drives and picking up needles and, in some cities, patrolling the streets at night as a neighbourhood watch group, but despite ALL the Canadian chapters so far vehemently stating they're not like the extreme anti-immigrant group in Finland, that they're not racist, just good citizens who want to Do Something, I'm not convinced.
I spent a couple of hours combing the Sault's FB page and found this manifesto written by one of the admins. Here's a small excerpt:
"What I fight against is the injustice done to Canadians who are forced to change their way of life to accomodate people who immigrate here. I fight against the basic upheaval of our culture and beliefs under the guise of "tolerance" or "political correctness". I see the Canada I grew up in changing every day and not for better. I almost can't recognize the country of my youth where I was free to say "Merry Christmas" without the fear of someone taking offense to my sincere well wishes. Where we accepted those of other cultures openly and freely but we did not allow them to change who we are on a fundemental level as we are today. Would you come as a guest into my home and then demand that I allow you to wear shoes where we do not and tread mud on my floor? This is what is being done to Canada. This is the threat to our way of life. Please, come to my country, enjoy the same quality of life that I enjoy. But don't ask us to change the rules of our house to make you more comfortable."
The two admins public Facebook posts also have racist memes and similar comments. I'm having a bad attack of NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard. It's one thing to be aware of the racism and small-minded conservative thinking in my hometown, it's another thing to see it walking around out in the open wearing a leather jacket. Soldiers of Odin isn't anti-immigrant or racist? Sure, you keep telling yourself that. By deliberately choosing to start a chapter of SOO they've chosen to take on all the garbage associated with them.
On the other hand, they did go out the other night and pick up a shit-ton of dirty needles in a bad part of town. They actually ARE doing food drives and helping out. But would I say the same if they were the KKK and I lived in Alabama? If I wasn't a white chick who grew up here? Or is the extremism not bad enough? Where do I draw the line to say "Fuck the good people?" People like my dad who have spent 30 years doing volunteer work with Search and Rescue, helping out friends and family alike with home improvement projects, and doesn't buy Christmas presents but donates to the Sault Star Santa Fund instead? Is he my enemy? He's definitely the kind of guy on Twitter I'd take apart for his racism. If he showed up in my FB feed arguing that the SOO group in the Sault was a Good Thing and why the heck does the name matter so damn much? I'd feed him logic until his head explodes.
But he's my dad.
The Soldiers of Odin have done something here in Canada that noone else has been able to do before; give a legitimate face to the anti-immigrant, right wing conservative racism that's been lurking at the edges for a while now. It's one thing to laugh at the good ol' boys in the rural areas with their quads, beer, guns, and their backwards thinking. It's entirely different when those people put on a uniform, declare they're a part of a unified front, and start patrolling the streets. And I worry that if dad was 30 years younger, he'd join them.
The poplar across the street has leaves as bright yellow as miniature suns; they remind me of the fabled trees of Lothlorien. I noticed a few peeking out a couple of weeks ago and may have cringed a bit. Ryan laughed and said "Why are you always surprised to see the leaves changing at the end of August? Every year you're caught off guard." In part it's because while I'm always actively on the search for signs of Spring in February, I'm denying the change to Fall in late August/September. Ryan loves fall; the cooler days and crisp nights, the gorgeous fall colours on the trees in our area (Northern Ontario puts on quite a display!) and back to school for the kids.
This is Kat's first year of school while Gabe is a pro headed into grade 5. The bus picks them up at the end of the driveway and drops them off the same; the girl next door is babysitting for us on days we're not home soon enough (which is most of them) so we don't have to futz around with the after-school program or anything. Both kids had excellent first days, though they were nervous about making friends and finding their way around. Katherine is 'sweet and adorable' according to the agenda I get, and Gabe's teacher told Nana that he's quite stubborn but bright. They're both off to a great start and I couldn't be happier.
This is a big change for me as last year there was a lot of taking the kids across town on city buses; my mornings are my own again and it's amazing. I have time to tidy and read or write, get my head in order before going to work. If this is what the rest of the year is going to be like, I'm 100% ok with this. Before I was a parent I had no idea how much work parenting was, how organized you have to be, how on top of everything. I struggle every day to feel like I've done My Best and done Enough to make sure the kids are ready to face the next day, nevermind the rest of their lives. Already, after only a few days, having the mornings back has helped me center and focus on what's important; being prepared and having a routine we can trust. This is next level Adulting for sure.