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Emma-Jayne Saanen

Mountain Hare Masks

Mountain Hare Masks (2016)

Inspired by Nanayena’s Arcanine cosplay, I decided to experiment with EVA foam. With an upcoming rally to raise awareness of the plight of mountain hares, I decided to make hare masks.

A fuller post on the process will follow.

Care for our Mountain Hares

Call on the Scottish Parliament to deliver greater protection for the mountain hare

129 hand-knitted hares were delivered to the Scottish Parliament, thrown into the back of a pick-up truck to highlight the callous disregard shown for the lives of real mountain hares.

Protesters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament

Protesters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament

On Thursday, 17th November 2016, protesters gathered at a mountain hare rally organised by OneKind. The knitted hares were gifted to MSPs with a request to halt the culling of mountain hares taking place in Scotland. Like badgers in England & Wales, the hares are being killed in vast numbers in an unscientific and unethical attempt to stop the spread of disease to red grouse. The louping ill virus is spread to the birds via a tick found on mountain hares, but there is no evidence to show that slaughtering mountain hares will halt the spread of the virus.

Hand-made hares, knitted by volunteers, getting ready to be delivered to MSPs

Hand-made hares, knitted by volunteers, getting ready to be delivered to MSPs

The mountain hare is an iconic Scottish species, so why are they valued less than red grouse?

Blood sport.

The red grouse are preserved at all cost so that they can be shot for fun by hunting enthusiasts. The enjoyment of killing, and the profits that go along with it, are prized over the hare (and of course other species, such as raptors). In addition, blood sport enthusiasts will hunt the mountain hare themselves; eight to ten hares can be killed by a single shooter in one hunt, with up to 200 being slaughtered during a single driven hunt. With mountain hare populations falling by around 34% between 1996 and 2014, mountain hare numbers are in decline and in need of protection.

OneKind, a charity focused on protecting Scotland’s animals, have been running a campaign to raise awareness of the tragedy facing mountain hares. Their long-term goal is to see complete protection of the mountain hare, while supporting steps on the way to that goal.

You can learn more about the campaign by starting here, and can sign the petition here.

I am a volunteer for OneKind, but my thoughts and opinions are my own. There will be a follow-up post where I write about my experience as a volunteer at the mountain hare rally.

Scan cats killed by cars in West Dunbartonshire

Please sign the petition: Scan cats killed by cars in West Dunbartonshire

Dougal the cat, relaxing on the couch.

All responsible cat owners will have their pets microchipped. This technology allows owners to be reunited to their pets should the worst happen, including a fatal accident. However, many local authorities in the UK do not bother to make use of microchips when they come across lost, or dead, cats.

There are risks to having outdoor cats, and road traffic accidents are one of them. As a cat owner, I feel that when such an accident happens, an owner who cares enough to microchip their pet has the right to know what has happened to their cat. In this spirit, I think that all local authorities should scan any dead cat they come across in their work.

There was a national petition about this issue, which West Dunbartonshire Council did not respond to. This gives me hope; hope that they are willing to do this one simple thing to end the awfulness of cat owners not knowing what happened to their companions.

My cat Dougal disappeared years ago. He was microchipped. He was previously in an RTA, and his microchip reunited us with him and allowed us to have him treated. But when he vanished, presumed dead, we had no information. If he was found by the local authority, we were not told. This is wrong.

Scanning a microchip takes no time at all, so I ask West Dunbartonshire Council to start scanning the deceased cats they find.

Please sign and share the petition. Thank you. 

State of the Urbanimal

Hello m’dears and m’deers!

I thought I’d write a post about all the things going on in my life at the moment, with the possibility of developing each one into a fully-fledged blog post on it’s own. I’ll divide them up into ‘mind’, ‘body’ and ‘spirit’, but there are bound to be crossovers!

Mind

  • I’ve not written about it publicly but my mother passed away three months ago, eleven months after being diagnosed with cancer. Due to the variety of issues around my mother’s death, I’m dealing with a lot of complex trauma, and unfortunately I have to be my own therapist at this time.  I think I’m managing well, all things considered.
  • My chronic depression, anxiety and various other issues are, understandably, exacerbated meaning I’m pretty much unreliable this weather.
  • I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied by taking on a home study course. I’m working on a simple business administration course in order to brush up my admin skills with the intention of being a freelance virtual assistant.

Body

  • My fibromyalgia has been a nightmare recently. I’m finally being referred to a pain clinic, and I’m starting to take pregabalin which a few of my fibrochick friends have recommended.
  • As I talked about in my last post, I’m starting to take control of my fitness. I go to the gym three times a week; I’m still tweaking my programme to find a balance between effort and impact, but I have already lost some inches from my waist and can fit (uncomfortably) into my jeans again.
  • Thanks to my friend Tam, I now have a bike. You can see me riding around the car park trying to get the hang of turning.

Spirit

  • I’m trying to find energy for creative projects, but it is a bit tricky! I can’t remember the last time I drew something, or painted.
  • I am offering to do free tarot and oracle readings, so that I can practice! You can read about my offer here.
  • My partner and (mostly) I, are working on a podcast about the social justice issues raised in the sitcom Disney’s Dinosaurs. Yes really.
  • I really want a dog, but I know I am not in a place where I could look after one. I am managing my love affair with dogs by being a member of Borrow My Doggy. Through that site I’ve met Lily & Tinks, two wonderful canine companions.
  • Pokemon Go has been my saviour, I kid you not!
  • I have a new tattoo planned.
  • I’m a volunteer for OneKind, a charity that is focusing on ending cruelty to Scotland’s animals. The majority of my work is home-based research tasks, which is perfect for me right now, but I’m also starting to move into public engagement again.
  • The Burpeethon is back for a third year! This ridiculous fitness challenge has returned, and I’m hoping it will be the best event yet!

Re-shaping up!

Doge as a Twinkie I’ve been unhappy with my body for several years now, but over the past twelve months my health has gotten out of hand. Weight has been piling on around my middle, so much so that I feel like a beanbag being propped up by two chopsticks. The straw that broke the camel’s back was last month, when I took some nude selfies and I was just so unhappy with what I saw.

Of course fat is a feminist issue, which does make me reluctant to talk about this but here I am. I have never been made to feel overweight by anybody else. When I am harassed on the street the insults are about my face, not my body. I feel overweight because my body does not feel like my own; it feels bloated and out of control. Unnatural. Not a part of me.

I am unfit too. I get out of breath when walking up the stairs, and I’m too embarrassed to do any group fitness because I don’t want others to see how bad I am. I’ve been hiding behind my fibromyalgia too; using the pain as an excuse not to try anything at all. It’s ridiculous when I think about it.

My diet went to hell in a handbasket earlier this year. I didn’t have the time or energy to eat properly, so I relied on fizzy juice and chocolate bars to get through and I’m paying for it now.

Less moaning, Em! It’s time to c*nt up!

Inspiration came when a friend recommended the Re-Shape programme run by my local council. It’s eight weeks of access to their gyms, swimming pools, and fitness classes combined with weekly classes discussing diet. The ladies in my group are all pretty cool, and because many of them also have unusual dietary requirements I don’t feel like the odd-one-out for once. I’m back at the gym for the first time in about four years. Still finding my feet, but having fun. I’ve made a start on a C25K programme too. I had tried that earlier in the year, but running on the ground messed up my joints. Starting again on a treadmill feels so much better. I’m still not feeling brave enough to return to my Krav Maga classes, or to try any new fitness classes, but I have faith that it will come in time.

I have noticed that my jeans are a bit more comfortable this week. It’s the little victories that count. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have some more updates for you all. In the meantime, I hope you all feel happy and healthy in your own way!

 

I made a zine!

Claim your free zine!

Pile of Kurt ZinesMy first zine, all about the stray cat that lives in my garden, is available for free. However I do ask that you give a donation to your local branch of Cats Protection (or your local cat rescue if you live outside of the UK) in exchange. Just drop me an e-mail at melee(dot)meles(at)gmail(dot)com.

Bulk copies of the zine are available on request, through I will need to ask for a contribution towards printing costs.

About the “Kurt” zine

Kurt on the day he was trapped and neuteredThe “Kurt” zine is a very simplified version of Kurt’s story; how I imagine he came to be a stray cat living rough in the gardens of my home town. You can read his story in this blog post: the short version is that we had a stray cat regularly visiting our home for food, and with the support of Cats Protection we trapped, neutered and released him. TNR is the best way of ensuring the welfare of stray and feral cats, while helping to control their population, but Cats Protection can’t do TNR projects without donations.

The zine just a wee fun project I started to keep out of trouble, and is by no means a polished piece of work. I’ll write up a separate post about making the zine for those of you who are curious.

Feminism, I choose you!

“I DON’T PLAY POKEMON BECAUSE I’M AN ADULT AND I’VE SEEN A VAGINA”

– one of many bullshit memes doing the rounds on Facebook

It is very hard to enjoy anything these days without having to deal with patriarchal attitudes, including the latest iteration of the Pokemon Franchise – Pokemon Go.

Magikarp says "Fuck you!"

Magikarp says “Fuck you!”

I’m a Digimon girl; the anime and the characters were better, but they never seemed to get their games right. Pokemon was a side interest, mostly due to the fact that we couldn’t afford to have multiple consoles in our household when I was growing up. (Sega Mega Drive FTW). When my American friends started playing Pokemon Go it looked like so much fun so I downloaded the APK and played for a week before it was officially released in the UK.

The game is fun. I have mild agoraphobia, so having an app that gamifies my time outside is always welcome. It is also similar to geocaching, one of my favourite hobbies. Finally, I’ve managed to have an amazing social experience while playing; other people are outside playing too, and seeing so many people being joyful is a wonderful thing.

Of course there are haters, and haters gonna hate.

Mostly that’s fine. There are always some grumpy bastards who like to spoil everybody’s fun. However, a lot of the hatred directed to Pokemon Go players is deliberately misogynistic, homophobic and promotes toxic masculinity. In short, it’s anti-feminist and that has set off my inner feminist úlfheðnar.

Apparently enjoying Pokemon Go makes you ‘less of a man’ and by association ‘more of a girl’. Let’s pick this apart.

The image of manly manliness is pretty fucking toxic. Big boys don’t cry. Man up. No cooking and sewing, even if you like it. Lots of cars and fighting, even if you hate it. Be Alpha. You know, the sort of attitude that bullies men into being emotionally backwards, and closed off to the world. Because men shouldn’t ‘feel’. The sort of attitude that promotes hard hearts and harder thinking. An unrealistic expectation of all men to fit the mould that patriarchy set up for them, and if they fail then they will never be a ‘real man’.

Fuck that noise.

And what, pray tell, is wrong with being a woman? Are we too weak? Too frail? Is being compared to a woman such a horrid thing?

Think about it, and fuck that noise.

If you have a penis, vagina, both, neither or whatever, if you are male, female, both, neither or some other flavour, do not let some messed-up judgemental fuckwits tell you what it means to be a ‘real man’ or a ‘real woman’. I’m no expert on sociology or gender, but I can spot a scumbag human a mile off. And if you want to play Pokemon Go, then go.

It’s a sad day for Europe

From mEUw @ FB

From mEUw @ FB

What the fuck, Britain?

I get rudely awoken this morning by the trumpeting of xenophobic fucknuts, proudly proclaiming that they have taken back Britain. “From who?” I wonder aloud. It was never taken to begin with!

For those of you unaware, Britain voted to leave the European Union. In actual fact, it was England and Wales who voted to leave. Scotland (my country) and Northern Ireland voted resoundingly to stay … but screw democracy, amirite?

My reasons for voting to stay in the EU are based on personal experiences, as I couldn’t give a hoot about economics or fishing quotas. To be fair, the majority of the Leave voters didn’t care about facts either, preferring instead to complain about ‘teh ebil immigrants’ who are simultaneously stealing our jobs and claiming our benefits. I’m still waiting for one of the knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers to explain that one to me.

From mEUw @ FB

From mEUw @ FB

When my mum was receiving chemotherapy, four out of five of her consultant oncologists were immigrants. The surgeon who saved her life back in April is the son of immigrants. In my time working as a carer, the people who look after those who are vulnerable, a huge number of my peers were immigrants. My rights as a worker are protected by EU law, because I cannot trust Westminster to look out for me. My partner’s work (finding a cure for cancer) relies heavily on university and research funding from the European Union. Animal welfare, human rights, environmental protection, social justice … all causes that I care about, and all receive more support from the EU than the UK.

But here we are, creating a legal, moral, intellectual and (dare I say) spiritual barrier between ourselves and the rest of Europe thanks to some small-minded, insular plebs who don’t even live in my country!

I was furious this morning, and I will be for days to come. However, every cloud has a silver lining. The cultural division between Scotland and the rest of the UK is larger than ever, which can only drive us closer to a second independence referendum. Out of this tragedy, Scotland could have another chance to be reborn.

Keep dreaming!

Gratitude

13165849_10156918852250343_6205642873862213607_nLife is hard, is it not? I’m unemployed once again, my family is facing some major challenges, I’m still waiting for my Asperger’s diagnosis, my fibromyalgia is worsening, and all of that is causing epic levels of depression and anxiety. The negativity is palpable, and I cannot be bothered with it any more!

Last Thursday, I decided to celebrate all of the good things in my life. Out in the garden, it was a beautiful sunny day and my lawn was overrun with cuckoo flowers and dandelions. With my drum and my voice, I asked for my Goddess and the local spirits to join me.  I made a list of everyone and everything I am grateful for and then charged a candle for each of them. Each candle was lit in the presence of the Spirits, then we all chilled in the garden with some music and cider.

This was the most informal ritual I have ever done, but it had the best vibes. Things feel tough in the short-term, but long-term I am #blessed (chuckle). The disconnection I have been feeling in my heart (something that I may write about later) has lessened, and I feel like I can achieve things. I am a lucky soul.

What do you guys do to celebrate gratitude?

Book: The Cult of the Tiger

Cult of the Tiger, by Valmik Thapar, published by OUP India in 2002

Buy from Amazon

the-cult-of-the-tiger-400x400-imadht8hm9kw82uy

I had seen this book recommended by a friend, and the cover just drew me in. Thapar is a naturalist and conservationist from India with a passion for the tiger; you can feel it in his every word.

This is a very short book that only gives a taste of the impacts tigers have had on the humans they co-habit with. I was expecting something joyful and spiritual, but in reality Thapar has documented the negative impact us white Westerners have had on the cultures we have brutally colonised. By murdering the tiger with our guns, we prove to the indigenous people that whites are more powerful than their gods. It’s grim to recall the damage we have done, and it’s aftermath is still going strong.

If you have more than a casual interest in tigers, or are interested in animal magic, this book would make an excellent addition to your library. The book can be pretty expensive to buy new, but of you are on a budget you can pick up an affordable second-hand copy.

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