My Cannabis Oil Nightmare

The THC-laden cannabis oil I bought from the Ontario government landed me in the hospital, and it could have killed me. There was no warning label on the package nor was there any indication anywhere on the website of the Ontario Cannabis Store website that this seemingly harmless substance might cause a life threatening injury.
The only warning basically said, if you're not used to cannabis, don't take too much of it at first.
So I ordered Indica Oil and waited for nearly three weeks for it to arrive. I took it under the tongue, as directed, for about two weeks with few effects other than a slight euphoria.
Then a week ago, I got some on my face, and it began to balloon; first the bridge of my nose expanded three fold. Then my entire face began to redden and feel like sandpaper.
I know this feeling because I am allergic to mango peel.
I wasn't too worried, I just treated it with some cortisone cream left over from the mango allergy.
But that didn't work at all.
It …

Tex Enemark: The Great Feminist Warrior

In the world of politics, there are dolphins and there are sharks.
Tex Enemark was a dolphin.
Not that Tex wasn't above wielding a sharp elbow now and then. Every dolphin learns that the ocean is full of other bad fish who would happily filet the likes of him for dinner.
But he knew the secret of being a successful dolphin.
He learned to swim with sharks.
And he did so with aplomb.
He used his affable nature to disarm. He cajoled. He wined. He dined.
He laughed, and laughed and laughed.
Because Tex had one rare piece in his DNA often even missing in dolphins.
He was pure of heart. A golden child with hair to match, a big man with hard hands who enjoyed sinking ships in the waters around British Columbia, to attract marine life, and allow grown up boys like him to dive around looking at stuff like a character in a Stephen King novel, pretending to be in search of doubloons.
I'm sure he was laughing through his pain at the comments when he first posted the news he was dying …

Ashley Simpson: Three Years Gone

photo courtesy of Marnie Portugaise

For John and Cindy Simpson, time stands still.
Certainly, there have been good times. The birth of grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
A puppy named Gypsy who has finally grown into her ears.
Love continues to swirl around them, like a warm Caribbean breeze.
But it doesn't matter.
None of it matters as much as it would in a normal family.
The only thing that matters is finding out what happened to their cherished daughter Ashley Marie who disappeared in April 2016.
Ashley is presumed murdered.
Her body has never been found, and no one has been charged.
While many people in Salmon Arm believe they know who took her life, the RCMP continue to say, at least publicly, that there are no leads in the case.
Last year, her driver's licence was found in a sanitation truck a 1,000 miles away from where she disappeared. Aside from that, nothing.

As winter turns to spring, John remains hopeful that a drone team will find the remains of Ashley some…

If You Don't Have Stress, You May be a Carrier

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I have long believed that depression can be cured when you take away the source of the depression.
Not all depression, but a lot of it.
Many people, including me, could have been saved from a world of depression and heartache if we hadn't been taken out by circumstances beyond our control.
Death. Unemployment. Divorce. Sexual assault.
A lot has happened in my life, and not all of it has been good.
But I've been lucky to have loyal friends who have always supported me, and talked me down from the ledge. None of them had a pot to piss in, but each of them had a friendly ear, a warm hug, an open door.
The world is a nasty place full of people who don't have stress but are carriers.
They hurt you, mock you, leave you, bankrupt you, under-employ you, sexual harass you, put you down so far it looks like up.
If I were a bettin' girl, I would say all those carriers are tweeting all over the place about the importance of recognizing mental illness in the…

Birthday wishes for Ashley Simpson

In November, my cousin Ashley Simpson would have been 35 years old. If she wasn't working, she likely would have celebrated with her big messy family chowing down on a feast prepared by her pa, John Simpson, who would have thrown everything at the usual gang: a turkey, a roast beef or ribs, pots of potatoes and veggies, and lots of yummy desserts.

Ashley might have tried some of the legal pot here in Ontario, or maybe brought her own, and washed down her meal with her favorite beverage, a fizzy and boozy Palm Bay. Likely she would have made some crack about showing the politicians how to do the whole pot thing. Then she'd giggle, and venture off to play with her gaggle of nieces and nephews, threading marshmallows, painting faces, and singing the kids' songs so many of us forgot so long ago.
Everybody would be there. There's half a town of young people from Thorold and St. Catharines who call her parents mom and dad. Ashley and her sisters adopted a slew of strays alo…

Drones offer help and hope to families of the missing

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John Simpson spent this past weekend playing host to golfers at the 2nd Annual Ashley Simpson Golf Tournament in Niagara. John, his wife Cindy and organizer Amanda Haveman have been working tirelessly on this event for weeks. It's meant to raise money, as well as awareness about the plight of missing women and girls in Canada.

It's the cause of John's lifetime. He's spent his savings trying to find his missing daughter Ashley -- my cousin -- who disappeared without a trace in Salmon Arm, B.C. nearly two and a half years ago. Like all parents of the missing, thoughts of Ashley consume him. The stress has cost him employment, and his health, and yet he continues looking straight ahead, fueled only by his faith that he will some day find Ashley.
Every spring, John goes back to Salmon Arm, and joins Ashley's Army, a group of volunteers who get to work scouring the bush and logging roads, casting their gazes toward running streams and rivers. Cin…

Sasha Fierce and Mama Rose

Two years ago, her parents entrusted me with her care.
Next week, I will hand her back to them, and she will enter the big, bad world of daycare.
I'm sad. I can't lie.
But it's time.
Alas, she remains untoilet-trained, and continues to speak a combination of Russian and French with a hint of Hindi -- unless she wants peaches or supe.
Then, her English is just fine.
Oh yes, and she drinks more juice than water most days.
I make no apologies. I am her grandmother, not her mother.
And I've never been a particularly focused caregiver.
When I need a nap I take one.
So for a time every day, the iPad has been the nanny.
Which might explain the Russian and the Hindi.
And her fixation on ghosts.

In my own defence, I kept her out of the hospital, though we did have a few close calls.
Like the time she brought the occasional table down on her neck.
Or the other time she tumbled down the stairs because a certain grandpa couldn't remember to close the door.
She's had a few…