Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Baby, It's Cold Outside

It's cold here. We had snow today, which is a Very Big Deal for us here in the Pacific Northwest this early in the season. I don't recall having snow this early in the last 20 years. Although I base this on my own faulty (and drunken) recollections, and not on any sort of factual information, I'm pretty sure this is quite unusual.

As I sit here in my warm home, with my unfortunately-precocious kittens who will need to go to the vet very very soon before Tracy "lays some kittens" (Eleanor apparently thinks it's sort of like what chickens do) I can't help but think of the people who are not indoors. The people who are not only possibly-pregnant-by-their-own-damned-siblings-who-should-know-better-than-to-be-dancing-the-hokey-pokey-in-the-laundry-pile-in-the-hall kittenless, but who are homeless and without warmth.

The Kindergarten class went on a walk today to the local RCMP detachment. I, as is my luck, had signed up to accompany them on this, the Day of Snow. Quite frankly, it was hellish. Walking fourteen blocks each way with sixteen small bundled-up whiningpersons (actually I think most of the whining was mine) was no day in the park. But you know, when we got to the station it was warm and dry (and interesting) and when we got back to the school, Eleanor and I came home, changed into dry clothes (having been thoroughly moistened by 32 small boots that couldn't resist kicking up the slush and soaking everyone in sight) and then drove in our warm van up to the warm home of a friend and had a warm and nutritious lunch. Indoors.

A lot of people not only don't have dry clothes into which to change, if they had such clothes they would have nowhere in which to change into them.

We have quite a few homeless shelters here, as we have a huge housing crisis. The same is true of any major population centre in North America. The shelters are often overflowing, and have to turn people away. To sleep outside. In the cold and rain and snow. Based on my experience today of walking twenty-eight blocks (in sturdy, warm and dry boots), during the daylight, I can tell you for sure that I would give almost anything to not have to spend the night outdoors tonight. Fortunately, I don't have to. And, if you're reading this, chances are that you don't have to, either.

But there are people, our neighbours, out there right now. In the snow. No matter how they got into this situation, be it through poverty, addiction, illiteracy, mental illness, poor choices, the new "make more jobs" plan of the gummint that introduced the $6CDN starting wage, or just the fickle fuckery of fate, they are still our neighbours. And still human beings. Who are cold.

I know that everyone is broke, saving their money in anticipation of Christmas, and has little time, having been sucked in by Stephanie's promises that they could knit for everyone on their list in time for The Big Day (there is no shame in this, I almost fell for it, myself however rethought things once I sobered up), but you can still help.

In Canada there is a program called Blankets for Canada, about which I have written before. There is a similar program in the US called Warm Up America, which was started by the Craft Council of America.

Money is always welcome, of course, as it is in any charitable organization, however if you have a couple of hours of free time, you could knit a square. One square (in acrylic, please, for ease of care). In Canada we ask for 9" squares and in the US they ask for 8". (I guess it's something to do with the metrics, and all.) You don't have to knit a whole blanket, just one square, and then drop it off at your local Michael's store. They collect for us all across North America and there should be either a drop-off box in the store or you can give it to the Events Coordinator. (They are required to do this by their head office, so they shouldn't be standing there looking startled when you show up with it.) If you're in Vancouver's Lower Mainland, these squares have a 90% chance of ending up in my home. I spend a lot of time driving around collecting them, and I have an army of little old ladies (some of whom are in their 20s) who will piece them together into blankets. See? Minimal pain and you can feel all warm and fuzzy inside afterwards. (If everyone in the Lower Mainland did one square a year, this chapter would get enough for over 52,000 blankets per year. Currently we get somewhere between 100-150 blankets a year. We could use a couple more.)

The shelters also need washcloths, particularly in shelters where there are women. The shelter managers have told me that the ladies ask for washcloths but they have none. When faced with the option of spending their meagre budgets on food or on cloths, well, I think we all know the choice they have to make. After next week's craft sale, I'm going to take the leftover washcloths to the shelter up here.

Anyhow, I don't want to make this into a 90,000 word plea (oops, too late!) or appeal to your better natures, but if at some point over the next year (or month) or so you could knit a cloth or a square, I know for sure they'd find a good home.

I'm going to go wash some blankets now. I'm heading down to one of the shelters tomorrow afternoon on the way to work, and it would seem some morally-bankrupt kittens have been sleeping in the blanket storage area (aka the top bunk of my daughter's bed). Even the homeless have allergies.

And don't want blankets that smell of kitten ass.

I'll admit, I couldn't quite decide whether to feel sympathetic about the needs of the homeless, or grossed out by kitten sex. But having witness and survived cat pregnancy and birth in the past, I decided to focus on the blankets. I have a bunch of already-made squares (intended for an afghan I now realize I have no desire to finish). But they are about 12" square. Ack granny squares. Do you think anyone would want them, or should I frog until they're closer to the right dimensions? (I'm in the US btw). Thanks for reminding us all about this. I'm feeling broke right now because of a bunch of unexpected expenses. But I still have food and clothes and a roof and heat. And spare yarn.
Thanks for posting about Blankets for Canada. I've been thinking about ways I can help others especially as it approaches the holiday season, but I didn't realize that this charity existed. However I haven't done much research yet on the subject. I have a friend who wants to learn to knit so while I teach her I'll knit up a few squares or washcloths to drop off at Michael's.
An FYI for those in the lower 48 without close access to a Michael's (such as myself *sob*) several fabric stores are collecting the squares as well... I know Hancock and Joann's to name a few.


Oh yeah, and girl, those kitties of yours have issues. ;)
Maybe I just need to do something for someone else - knitting for people on my list and housetraining a puppy and trying not to murderize anyone is driving me insane.
I knew you were a closet softie. Good for you for being involved in this. I'm seriously impressed with people who make time in their lives consistently to help others.
I didn't know Micheal's was a drop off spot for squares... I think I'll cast one on tonight; winter decided it was time for its annual visit a couple days ago.
Thanks for the reminder Rabbitch, I normally do some things for the tree down at Carnegie, but I'll try to throw in a square or two as well.
But I LIKE the smell of kitten ass.

I promise to make some squares too. Thanks for the reminder.
Thanks Rabbitch ... I have a couple of sqaures laying around the house I had made up for Blankets for Canada. I'll be dropping them off at Michael's shortly.
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