1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: A Pile of Sleeping Sharks – Idiots and Animals, #10Thankful

“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.”

—From “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Recently, I’ve only wanted to stay home with my cat. Maybe I really am becoming a cat lady.

I’m so sick of the idiots (and worse) in this world. There is so much immaturity and lack of care or concern for other people. Animals are where it’s at.

All I wanted was an enjoyable visit with family, but I was the one who didn’t choose to leave my phone at home that day, the day of rallies and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful that my brother’s band got back together, to practice for a gig, by playing in my basement once more.

It was all the songs I love, those I became so familiar with after months of hearing them in my basement.

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Secrets Revealed

This is a photo of their set list from the show the other night. My brother wrote it out in braille. They thought their fans might like to see. My brother didn’t really need it. He had the list memorized already.

I’m thankful to join in with a friend in a worthy cause.

He wants to start a branch of the National Federation of the Blind/Canadian Federation of the Blind in Ontario. The one currently going is out west only.

The biggest organization for the blind in Canada is still the CNIB (Canadian National Institute of the Blind) and yet it isn’t enough. It isn’t fulfilling all the needs, according to us, the ones who are in need of the service.

This sounds like a lot of work, but my friend sounds up for the job and I want to do what I can.

I feel so helpless with so much going on. I need to be able to do something good.

I’m thankful for peaches and ice cream for my nephew’s birthday.

I may have had both a small sundae and then a small cone.

Fresh peaches are the best part of August. When you mix that with my favourite vanilla soft serve, I am in paradise.

For the birthday, we did things backwards: ice cream first and then dinner. Dinner was pizza anyway.

My nephew is still grasping the concept of what a birthday is. He isn’t overly interested in why people sing and light candles, depending on the day. You say Happy Birthday to him and he says it back to you, like it’s a greeting. He makes me smile with his total innocence. I need more of that to fight the overwhelming stress and gloom that often threatens to bring me down.

I’m thankful for a mild night out on a patio, listening to some relaxing music, until the rain came.

A friend of ours was playing at a local restaurant. We got through ordering drinks and appetizers before the rain started up.

Until that point, I was enjoying the guitars, both with his singing and as instrumentals.

I’m thankful for all the amazing art my niece made at art camp.

She is artistic, like her father. She is the little girl who loves to create things. She reminds me of myself at that age.

She is a natural at making things.

They made letters for their first names out of crystals and jewels. She showed me an ocean in a jar, made with water and oil and food colouring. She made a polar bear mask. She tie dyed a pillow and made another pillow, so soft and with many knots around the edges instead of sewing.

At this camp there was something called the splatter paint room. Nothing but bright colours, paint splattered all over the floor and walls. You can go wild, make as much of a splatter mess of colour as you want, and it’s all okay.

I thought, since I am so bad at interior decorating for my own house, even though I can no longer see colours: why not make myself a splatter paint house?

Her love and pride for the things she made, as she was showing us, made me miss colour, art, and made me so happy for her and so proud to be her aunt.

I am thankful for the bottle of water my newly four-year-old nephew gave me when I said I was looking for something to drink.

He just opened the fridge and got it for me.

He is the master of his fridge and his home at this age and it is so sweet to witness.

I am thankful for what a thoughtful little sweetheart he is.

He told us, the moment we arrived, that he wanted to get his mother some flowers. He had previously told his dad that he was “thinking” about getting her some flowers.

He’s been thinking about this. It constantly amazes me, the kind of kids they are, and the sorts of things they think about, before deciding to share with the grownups in their lives.

I am thankful for the Max Mix.

My brother is a music fan and he has a lot of it himself. When he noticed my nephew had a love of music, he made him a mix of all the songs my nephew seemed to love.

He remembers lyrics and loves to sing in the car. He is so cool, cooler than me anyway.

I am thankful for a beautiful day to sit outside for a five-year-old’s birthday party.

People gathered, kids running and playing, while I sat and had a cool drink.

They have a big yard, the yard we had as children, and so much room to run and play games.

It wasn’t too hot. It wasn’t humid. The air was perfectly summery and pleasant.

I’m thankful for his amazing little mind and imagination.

My nephews are both so smart. He knew people were coming and he worked on a show to perform for us, all week long. He prepared a screen with a border, like a TV, but when we were all outside, he set it up like a play or puppet show, using chairs as the stage.

It was a form of fan fiction with his favourites: Littlefoot (from Land Before Time), a T Rex, and Curious George.

It turned out to be this whole epic adventure story and it all came from him.

Desired Consolation – Bjork

Basically, it was the kids that kept me sane this week. Then I think of Bjork’s question in the song: How am I going to make things right?

I wonder if I can. What that will look like, I do not know, but I have to try something.

The woman who was mowed down was nearly my age. What made her come out, to such a place, on that day?

“If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.”

—Heather Heyer

RIP Heather

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TToT: Spectrum of Splendid Great Yellow #OrganDonation #10Thankful

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

—Neil Gaiman

TEDxToronto – Drew Dudley “Leading with Lollipops”

I am leading off my list of thankfuls this week with a story about lollipops.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a visit with family on a hard day.

Another year of summertime sadness comes around.

How does one provide solace? Flowers? A well written note? How about, a visit with a little baby?

There’s nothing like the sweet face of a baby to make people think of the good, but music playing and memories shared can also help.

I’m thankful for a long coffee/smoothie chat with a friend.

We speak at our writing group, but this was a nice chance to have a conversation, just the two of us.

I owed her a coffee for reading over my short story I recently submitted, but we ended up talking for very nearly three hours.

We talked about writing, cats, and our possibility of ending up the stereotypical old cat ladies someday.

It’s hard when you see family and friends, all coupling up, getting married, and starting families. It’s nice to speak to people who understand how it doesn’t all come so easily for some of us.

I’m thankful for feedback from an editor.

I was fearing my draft wasn’t what the editor wanted or expected, but she seemed happy with things, for the most part.

Could I work on the ending? Well, sure. I do appreciate feedback from an editor and that’s what I got.

Now to think how to end the piece. Hmm.

I’m thankful for a pleasant pitch surprise email.

I saw a call for pitches about the special relationship we have with our animals and I thought (since it’s ten years since my guide dog died) this would be the perfect time to write about her. I sent the pitch out the day before I left to visit the Yukon, more than a month ago. After a few weeks I didn’t think I was going to hear back. I figured the answer was a “no”.

I’d been expecting to hear from that first editor, but coming home to an email from this second one was such a welcomed surprise.

The subject matter is perfect and the pay is not bad at all either.

I’m thankful for a first successful conference call with people I know I’m going to learn from.

There were several of us calling in and it made it difficult to all get a chance to speak, not over each other either. Still, I think this will be good for me.

This organization gets together to discuss the topics that are relevant and might be of some interest.

Then we decide who’s going to write what. I offered to write a review for a book someone has written. I think I can handle that as my first assignment with VisionAware and I like reading and learning about self publishing.

Then I get to interview the writer. I think this will be an excellent opportunity for me to learn some editing skills and how to divide up work, to figure out who is the best person to write specific pieces.

Anyway, all of them seem like highly intelligent and curious people from many different walks of life. I can only benefit from that.

I’m thankful when the pain eases.

After two days of it, intense as it is, I can come out of it on the other side and view the rest of the pain I live with in a new light.

I can learn new lessons from the pain, even after all these years.

I’m thankful for another lovely talk with my neighbour.

We are almost forty years apart in age, but somehow we have arrived at this moment in time with similar outlooks on life, from some of the things we’ve both been through.

We both discussed what we know we deserve and the lessons we’ve had to learn, often the hard way, to arrive at this conclusion.

We are both on our own, sometimes uncertain whether we can do it, but that’s why I am glad we’ve found a friend in one another.

I’m thankful for a reminder of friendship.

It’s really one of those little Facebook friend reminders, but someone chose to share theirs with me.

Our first connecting online, then in person, but it all matters, adding up to the relationship of mutual respect we have today.

Sometimes, when I don’t get stuck reading the battles going on in comment sections of breaking news stories, I really do like Facebook. I like those I follow on it even more.

I’m thankful for a beautiful word from my mentor.

Sometimes, her words of advice or encouragement just completely blow me away.

I needed to hear those exact ones, as I prepare to work on the pieces I’m writing throughout the summer. I need to know other people have faith in me, then to build that faith in myself too. It is all necessary to believe I can do the work I have set out for myself.

I’m thankful for four years gone by.

Somewhere out there
are my family’s Angels.

Another year and my brother has graduated and is on his way into radio and so much more.

Think about organ donation. It isn’t the easiest thing to think about, but it matters to someone.

Low – Cracker

Here’s to all the lost angels, either from suicide or accidents. RIP and you are missed.

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Stylish Negotiations: How a Blind Writer Finds the Right Journals

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Emily K. Micheal TEDx promo photo 9.2016By Emily K. Michael

Submission guidelines rarely make me angry. Because I seek publications that share my interests – ecology, feminism, disability, music – all the specifications can start to look the same. Most journals want a well-rounded submission, free from religious agendas, offensive stereotypes, and one-dimensional fables of inspiration.

When I find a publication that seems promising, I scroll through the journal’s “About” page and submission guidelines. Here’s where I can make some serious assessments. Journals lose my interest if they proclaim, “send us your best work” or “we only publish good poetry.” I won’t let my students use “good” and “bad” as standalone terms, so I hesitate to send my work to a journal that won’t express its own agenda in more vibrant language.

Among publications that promote the work of disabled writers, the guidelines evince a similar aesthetic. Here are excerpts from three journals committed to sharing the…

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While We Sleep: A Warning

This, all true. I was shocked by what I saw when I pushed myself to watch The Handmaid’s Tale and, yet, I wasn’t. We need to drain off the water we’ve watered horrors of history and even the present down with for so long, even if it feels highly uncomfortable and unsettling. We must. We can’t afford to keep on repeating history.

Drifting Through

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 4.54.35 PM“I was asleep before… that’s how we let it happen. They suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary.”

This is Offred’s stark warning.

A narration of regret.

Her name’s not really Offred. It’s Jane. Or June. Or something that I can’t remember because her name no longer matters. She is no longer a human with an identity, she is the property of Fred. And she is the main character in Hulu’s series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the 1985 Margaret Atwood novel.

Offred is a Handmaid in Gilead, the religious fundamentalist reincarnation of the United States. After a terrorist attack and environmental disasters left the republic weakened, a strong-arm theocracy took hold. Patriarchal control was the new order. Women, no longer allowed to work, read, vote or hold property. Children, taken at will from parents who refuse to conform. Traitors, hung along the river, government spies around…

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TToT: Peace, Happiness, and Love – June Gloom Lifting #10Thankful

“A large pine tree backlit by a cloud that is glowing from the light of the setting sun. The pine tree is a mass conical-shaped clumps of darkness that angle upwards from the unseen trunk in the middle of the tree. The edges of the tree shows more details, each branch ends in a splaying of fingers of pine needles. The cloud does not show the color in the photo as vividly as it was, it was a glowing orange color that was strong enough to show the spaces between the branches of the tree that stood between the camera and the sky.”

—TToT regular Clark of
The Wakefield Doctrine

I return from a busy time and thoughts swirling. I began this week’s post with that caption of a photo. (To see the photo, must go to the link I provide just above.)

There are a lot of photos I could now share, and I will, of my adventures in the last few weeks. I just thought, as I saw many photos and this includes Clarks’, that I have only descriptions (as vague or elaborately detailed as someone else chooses) to give.

For now, I needed a break from trying to imagine what my eyes can’t see and am going back to a totally wordy TToT post. Instead, I challenge you to read the photo descriptions of Clarks’ that I include here, as a thankful, and try to allow his words and mine to conjure up images, without necessarily relying on the visual.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a writer like Clark deciding to explain the photos he includes.

“Looking Homeward from the woods. The light and shadows cover the lower half of the photo and, together point towards the house. The ground is brown with shadows and light that do nothing to make it less brown looking. Even though the house itself is mostly brown (with dark vertical rectangles, outlined in white that show the windows along the top half) the background above the house shows blue, even though the green pine trees rise through the top of the picture, telephone pole straight, with drooping green arms of branches. The house looks farther away than it is.”

Well done once more Clark. Bravo!

Writers are, or should be, great at describing a visual image. It seems like an excellent writing exercise to me. I appreciate it when it is done, though it can’t completely ever make up for the inability to see with one’s own eyes. I only allow myself to feel the pity of that situation in my own life for short bursts and then I return to thankfuls such as these.

I’m thankful for such excellent writing advice.

With a little summer happiness.

Carrie Snyder says: My current philosophy (and by current, I mean, as of yesterday afternoon), can be summed up thusly: just finish it, including all of your bad (wild, implausible) ideas, and see what happens. As I counselled a student yesterday in my office: the perfect story you’re holding in your head has to get out of your head in order for others to read and experience it—and in order for that to happen, you have to accept that your perfect story will be wrecked in the process, at least to some degree. You can’t take that perfect story out of your head and place it on the page intact. No one can. But there isn’t another way to be a writer. Let your perfect imaginary story become an imperfect real story.

I’m thankful for the opportunity and a first successful conversation with someone from a leading awareness organization of blindness and its issues.

VisionAware

I hope to start writing articles for them very soon.

I’m thankful for a successful first real try at yoga.

I am doing it with my bed as a yoga mat and my teacher a voice through my laptop, for now anyway.

I will buy the mat soon as I decide I will stick with it and I found a teacher who lives in Montreal, so not all that close by. She instructs me over Skype and it works.

My favourite part was at the end when she instructs to just stay lying there, still, for however long it takes to get back up and into the real world again.

So peaceful. I heard a basketball bouncing, off somewhere out my window, but I focused on the light on my ceiling and allowed no intrusive thoughts to interrupt the peace.

I’m thankful I got my entry in on time for the Writing Diversity contest, for a book festival that takes place on Toronto’s waterfront every September.

I left it to the deadline, not good, but it’s done.

I began the month of April submitting one short story to Alice Munro’s contest and ended the month of June with this one.

Each time I feel my story is actually good enough to have a chance, so maybe my confidence as a writer is growing, at least.

It would be cool to get to read this latest story on stage in Toronto if I did win.

I’m thankful a new episode of Ketchup On Pancakes is complete.

Raise a glass or a fist with us to progress and the passing of the years. A lot can happen in twenty of them.

January/February to June/July and Ketchup On Pancakes is back on the podcast scene.

Episode 5 – 2017: “Get Up and Get Going) (Year of the Roooooster) – Ketchup On Pancakes

Are you into astrology? I admit, I am skeptical, but it seems as possible as anything, and highly philosophical, which I like.

This is the year to get up and get going toward something. The time is now. This moment is everything. We are making this year count.

Brian’s laugh is infectious throughout. Both of us aren’t afraid to make fools of ourselves to lighten the mood. In this first new episode of the year (already halfway through), I follow a rooster’s example and Brian shows off his recently graduated audio skill set. We discuss travel, family, achievement, and feelings of self doubt that makes any adventure such a worthwhile challenge, using our trademark sense of humour to keep things real.

Give us a like.

I’m thankful for “The Elsewhere Region,” also known as the local library’s writing group I attend – for many starts to possible stories.

Without this group, I wouldn’t have a started story twice a month or so to possibly shape into an entry, like those I’ve been submitting lately.

I began going to this group to work on more fiction. Otherwise, I lean toward more nonfiction and memoir. That is great too, but this balances out the all too real.

I start a story, never knowing where it might lead. I have many I started and haven’t gone back to, but sometimes, an idea catches on and leads to more.

I am thankful for messy conversations being had.

Inside Messy Conversations About Race – NPR

My friend Kerra did an excellent job being interviewed about the project she has teamed up to tackle. It’s an important conversation to have and to continue having, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

I’m thankful for the chance to consider what my country is all about on Canada Day, 150 and every day.

Part of it was what I felt on my Yukon trip last month. Part of it was the discomfort I experienced as Canada Day 150 approached. It was a lot of things all mixed together.

I don’t wish to revere the man who started Canada, 150 years ago. I don’t wish to say Canada is all a lie. I just wanted to be real about how we all got here.

I do feel lucky to live here. I do.

All the careless playing with fireworks people seem to do. All the celebrating and revelry of one day, as people love a party. I just wanted to get past the one day, to remember all the others. I don’t get why Toronto had a giant yellow rubber duck for the occasion. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I just want to focus on what is good about this land. I don’t know where the future will lead. I only know right now.

Shamaya – Susan Aglukark

I’m thankful for Canadian music, artists, and the history of a country like that from which I live and learn from.

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TToT: Managing The Mischief of Life – Zipping Along #WildPlayNiagara #HarryPotter20 #10Thankful

It’s over and done with. As the month of June comes to a close, so does my month long celebration of twenty years since my kidney transplant.

It’s like I’ve reached some invisible, yet important marker: Now what?

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Why not a photo of what is wild and free? (Wild Horses) This makes me think of the expression: “Wild horses could not drag me away from you.” Wow. Just Wow is all I have to say.

Well, there is another event that would shape my life going forward, that took place in 1997, though I had no idea of it occurring.

Read ahead for more on the 20th anniversary of magic as I now know it.

Before I continue, I am including this ink here, rather than trying to add two posts to the linkup.

A Bold Sea of Red – Hiraeth

Check it out if you want to see a few more photos. I had trouble posting because of a few of them causing trouble. The program wouldn’t accept them and I missed the TToT deadline for last week.

I thought about making this a entirely HarryPotter20 thankful post, but I have so many more things to be thankful for this week.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for summer solstice.

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I got to be in the Yukon just before summer was quite official and it opened my eyes to the differences of the latitude I may be at, all in my own country, and how the sun affects us all.

I’m thankful for a most unexpected gift of a writing deadline extension.

I am writing a short story, one I want to hopefully help move forward our ideas of diverse characters and stories.

Then things got away from me in this chaotic month and the deadline for this was coming up fast.

Suddenly, as I was about to give up because my story wasn’t complete in time, I read about an extension the contest decided on.

I now have until the end of the week and the pressure is mounting once again. I know I can meet that challenge, thanks to something I know I won’t always be able to count on magically appearing when I’m feeling I won’t make the deadline set.

I am thankful for Niagara Falls.

I may have included this before, but once again it surprises and delights me.

I got to experience it from a entirely new vantage point, going along it on a zip line.

It constantly takes my breath away.

I’m thankful for my brother who captures everything I now miss, with his love for photos, that makes me want to cry every time I think about it.

Don’t misunderstand. I am grateful for him, but I feel everything I can not see is the beauty he expertly and lovingly captures with his camera.

I do appreciate the attention he put into documenting our zip lining day in pictures. He will work on them, to make them the best they can be in his eyes, and I will write about what June 24th, 2017 meant to me, as soon as I get through a few other pressing deadlines in these next few weeks.

I am thankful for everyone who took the time out to come with me, to help me celebrate.

They overcame any reservations they may have had and they went zipping down that wire with me.

They even put up with a sudden downpour/hailstorm with me on our way back.

I am thankful said weather event decided to make an appearance right after we completed our mission.

We were all separated, into groups from our bigger group of fifteen, kids in strollers included.

Some of us took shelter inside arcades and some were caught out in it. I was under an awning, with my father and brother-in-law and the two kids, and we just barely stayed dry, but were already soaked anyway.

Dark clouds are a part of life. If you’ve never been soaked and caught in a rainstorm, you’ve not experienced the magic of nature in its entirety.

I am thankful for my mother and my niece and nephew’s other grandma for staying down on the ground to watch the kids.

I know they had their hands full, more than one bathroom visit included.

I am thankful for the last twenty years.

In that time: I got my kidney and Harry Potter was written.

What more than that could I want/need?

I am thankful for what Harry Potter has brought into my life.

20 years later, Harry Potter’s power is still strong (Toronto Star)

It all comes down to the magic. I can venture through adulthood without sacrificing my childlike view of the world, the one I wish was and work for.

J.K. Rowling has had amazing success with the books ever since. That must be a difficult load to carry, the pressure that goes along with success like Harry Potter has brought. On the other hand, it has brought her many great things as a result.

https://wearelumos.org

I sometimes want to keep Harry Potter to myself and then I want to hear how it has touched other reader’s lives like it has mine.

We can share in it. Magic is ageless and timeless and this story gives me hope and brings me a kind of faith, I suppose as a religion in a way. This may sound strange to those who never did read Harry Potter, but it feels as real as anything, though it stands as the most successful of fictional worlds.

I realize it means considerably less to some and to some nothing at all, only a book, not representing everyone. I am glad books are constantly being written that could bring people the kind of joy this one has brought me.

Thankful to my friend Kerra for directing me
here
as I explore diversity in my own and other stories.

Something Just Like This

Now,onto big decisions for my future. There was a discussion about making some changes. I want to share photos here, for my sighted viewers, but recently was having some trouble with that. Also, it was discussed whether me publishing my pictures here makes them property of WP and if I should move all my writing to a site all my own. I am thankful I have a friend who knows what he’s talking about, even a bit, when it comes to all that.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

—Albus Dumbledore, “Harry Potter)

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A Response to Jia Tolentino’s “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over”

This response is directly on point.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zoeBy Zoë Bossiere

A couple of weeks ago, a piece by Jia Tolentino came out in The New Yorker called “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over.” The title alone was enough to deluge social media feeds with writers stepping forward to defend the vitality of the personal essay in spite of the article’s assertions, or otherwise agreeing with Tolentino that the personal essay is, in fact, “dead.” The only problem is, the article isn’t actually about what we writers know as the personal essay at all, but rather a separate subgenre of nonfiction called the “confessional essay.” If we want to get even more specific, Tolentino’s article is talking specifically of the confessional essays typically printed in online “women’s” publications such as xoJane, Jezebel, Salon, and others. To compare the personal and the confessional is a common false equivalence, and a great underestimation of all that first-person nonfiction writing encompasses.

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