The vitriolic response to my post yesterday met my expectations for my social experiment. I really hoped to be proven wrong, but a trend I’ve seen in larger forums was confirmed in the intimate community that is this blog.

I want to say thank you very much to those who reached out and told me deeply personal things about your own situations that were none of my business. Those words came from a deep well of compassion. You embody the little hope that I have that our world could one day be better.

Yesterday, I wrote:

I was disappointed by the lack of response to that post. I can think of a lot of very valid reasons why people chose not to contribute and so that’s not what bothers me. What does bother me is that the post was almost completely ignored.

The comments I got yesterday completely ignored that, but gave me exactly what I was hoping to get from the original post,. So I guess I should thank you, too, after all?

I am going to address comments right here so that they and my responses are not lost.

Linda in NE wrote:

I will admit that this one rubbed me the wrong way. Instead of going into all that I would suggest that your friend really research the cost of living in blue vs. red states. I believe she will find the cost of living much lower in the red states.

Jersey, also a very long-time friend of Bast’s, responded to that:

Red states are THE poorest in the nation. Their social programs generally are awful and likely to get much worse. In many Blue states, there is better public transport outside the cities, more job options, better township, county, state social services. Perhaps Linda wouldn’t have made that comment if she’d known Bast has lived all over the US, and is well aware of cost of living.

Thank you, Jersey!

Kelsi said:

I will only speak for myself. I ‘ignored’ that post because it was ridiculous.

Ridiculous: deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.

Yes, you’re right that it is deserving of derision and mockery and absolutely absurd that a family living in the Western world cannot get access to things like healthcare and food.

Yet you eat out in restaurants frequently, at least once every couple days – something our family rarely does, because to us, that’s a major luxury.

I really love when people comment on how much I eat out without considering the rest of my budget or their own budget for that matter. It shows the exact kind of tunnel vision that I expected.

But you feel it’s okay to ask your readers/friends for cash to fund your causes? And when no one responds you feel ignored. The word that comes to mind is hypocrite.

Hypocrite: a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

Being a hypocrite would be bringing up this basic income idea without contributing to it. Shall I show you how much I have helped Bast and her family over the last 15 years or so? Even when I literally have had no food in the house, I have always had more than them and have given them what I could.

Why are you judging your readers/friends?

If you are feeling judged, that is very telling.

And to me, this sentence from your post says a lot. “I was really hoping to go do a Women’s March today, but really couldn’t get away…”

Try freelancing for a couple of years and turning down a huge job for a major client after a month-long dry spell to go marching instead, and then come back to me on this.

Yvette wrote:

Marched in San Diego today with a bad knee and hip. Just brought my cane and took it slow.

Thank you!

And then Cindy Brick came in with a lot of ideas of how to survive without a furnace. Bandaid solutions for a greater issue.

I do not feel ashamed or chastened or angry this morning reading your comments. No, I genuinely feel sorry for those of you who are utterly lacking in compassion and unable to see past your own past situations. I shouldn’t have to say this again, but I will — I’m not talking about the lack of financial contribution. What saddens me is that instead of saying, “Wow, I’m sorry this family has gone through this. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for them to swallow their pride and let you do this,” you felt an appropriate response was to call the request ridiculous, hypocritical, and ignorant. Please take a long look at yourselves.

What will stay with me most about this experiment is an email that I received after my original post that detailed why this reader had decided to contribute. You know who you are and I cherish that email. I don’t think it’s right to reproduce it here, even without citing you, as I believe you would have commented if you had meant for it to be shared. But I will say it is one lovely missive that embodies the spirit of my request and that it trumps every one of the hateful comments I received thereafter. You are a flame of hope in a very, very, very dark age. Please keep that fire going as it is badly needed.

Social Experiment Update

I was really hoping to go do a Women’s March today, but really couldn’t get away. As a woman, you’d think I would have wanted to march for myself, but no. I’ve been a privileged woman raised in a country where I’ve always felt that, in theory, my gender was equal. So it’s not for me that I would have marched, but for my best friend Bast, who lives in a country that has declared war on women, mostly by denying them reproductive rights. That country has also declared war on the poor, the sick, and members of the LGBTQ community, so Bast is quadruply cursed.

A little over a month ago, I tried a social experiment to help Bast and her family by trying to create a basic income for them.

I was disappointed by the lack of response to that post. I can think of a lot of very valid reasons why people chose not to contribute and so that’s not what bothers me. What does bother me is that the post was almost completely ignored.

I am terrified of what will happen to Bast and her family in the next four years as the few social programs they qualify for continue to be cut.

Since I wrote the post, the family’s woes have increased as their furnace went out right when their area was hit with an unusual cold snap. There is no hope that they could fix this problem as only a full furnace replacement is an option now. They are working to get the house ready for sale as that is their only hope at the moment of getting themselves better situated by moving to a blue state with a lower cost of living.

To the people who did reach out and/or contribute, thank you. The family now has $90 coming in every month. It’s a pittance, but every little bit helps. If you cannot understand what a difference an extra $90 a month can make in someone’s life, then you have enough disposable income to contribute to increase that amount. Instead of sharing memes on Facebook and ranting about Donald Trump and the state of affairs in the US, you can do something concrete to help a family that is standing right at the mouth of hell. Please help if you can.

Boosting Morale

Work has gone from a 1/10 to 15/10 on the busyness scale after a much longer holiday hiatus than I could have expected. The last few days have been trying and there’s currently no end in sight. I really can’t complain and since I did so much touristy stuff in Amsterdam, I’m not having much trouble getting back into the work mode I was in in Spain as it feels like I’ve been on holidays for a solid month! I’ve only had just enough small jobs to keep me going into the red, but barely. I’m grateful to be at a point in my freelancing career where I was able to weather a break like that easily and without too much stress.

At any rate, I’ve been putting together a care package for a friend and promised to get it off to her this week. So that left today or tomorrow and I was planning on tomorrow so I could get everything with a hard deadline off to the clients by tonight. But it was actually sunny today, so going down to the village made sense. I headed out around 1:30 and got the final items for my friend, then went to the post office where I was able to package it all up for her and send it out. It was a much more positive experience than the last time I tried to mail something from the UK.

Then, I had lunch and what I’d been craving all week, Marco’s pizza! I was going to get a pizza from Tesco as the ones I like (Dr. Oetker) were on offer for £1.50, regular £2.50, but I’d rather pay the extra £3.50 and get real pizza! You know what I mean. Pizza that looks like this:

This one wasn’t quite as good as the one I had the first time as the crust was cooked a bit too long, but I’m being fussy. I love the super garlicky oil the drizzled over top and that a thoughtful server brought me some tap water before I had a chance to ask him for it. What a treat lunch was!

I’m rather shocked by how far my money is going here. The exchange rate compared to last June is definitely helping (then, £50 got me about 92CAD and now it’s only about 82CAD!). I am nowhere near being able to have the standard of living I had in the Balkans or Mexico in terms of being able to eat out or for a beer whenever I want, but the UK is proving to be yet another country where my dollar goes further than it does in Canada. What a surprise.

Well, my sunny trip and lovely lunch certainly boosted my morale. Back to the grindstone I go!

Exploring Hardcastle Crags National Trust Site

Hardcastle Crags is a large woodland area with hiking trails that is owned by the National Trust, making it like a national or provincial park in Canada. At the heart of it is a 19th century cotton mill. You can spend hours hiking the trails and some days there is a café open and you can tour the mill. It is about two miles to the mill from my house and I headed up there this afternoon to check it out.

One of the things I focused on on my walk was my camera as I have not been happy with my pictures here. I think it is because of the crap natural lighting. So I took a lot of pictures of the same thing on different setting, trying to capture the misty beauty of the area and the bright greens that that make an otherwise dreary winter landscape come to life.

I loved this mossy wall.

The parking lots are a full mile from the mill, so I still had a ways to go!

“Who was welcomed by Hebden Bridge.” Boy do I know what that sort of reception feels like!

I have no idea why anyone has this notion that England is quaint and misty and lovely.

These sheds are actually still in use to store things like bicycles despite being open to the elements.

“Public convenience” is long for toilets.”

One mile left to go to the mill!

It was slippery out and I didn’t want to risk another fall, so I opted to follow the road up to the mill rather than do an actual hike. Moreover, it was warmer than I thought it would be and I was over dressed. Next time I go out in this kind of weather (about +8C), I’ll just wear fleece and the windbreaker rather than my heavy coat.

I loved this scene and how my picture turned out. The moss was almost fluorescent!

The mill at last!

I’m intrigued…

I decided to poke around a bit.

I headed out around back to the mill pond.

It looks cold, doesn’t it? But I found the weather almost balmy!

Yes, I walked across this.

My boots are getting a beating and need a good clean, but what a smart purchase they were!

I had fun watching this duck couple paddle around.

There was a world class restaurant on this site in the late 19th century.

When there was a decline in mill work, the owner reinvented himself as a hotelier and restauranteur. That’s how you survive!

Sign before the little bridge over the river.

I was happy to find this trail on the other side of the river as it wasn’t too rough or slippery.

Steps leading down to the river.

With a matching pair on the other side.

Coming back to the bridge, I remembered the stepping stones, so I kept going…

There are so many paths leading up into the hills.

This building is the toilets.

Looking towards the picnic area.

That looks like fun.

Standing in the middle of the river. These require big steps, but were easy enough to get across as they were not slick.

Made it!

Heading home, I noticed this giant lump in the tree.

I also noticed what looks like a church steeple at the top of a hill.

I passed a house with an incredibly steep driveway. Eep!

I find that sign funny.

We use one word for this sign…

Here are my scary steps at home. I had to go down these in the dark the other night!

I was gone a good two and a half hours. What a lovely walk this was!