FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

Oh August! #FTSF

It’s August and I get giddy at the thought of autumn approaching ever closer, like a week ago when the night air felt like fall. Others disagree strongly and hate to see summer come to an end.

Otherwise, I eat fresh peaches, on top of soft serve vanilla ice cream and I inhale the flavours, eagerly waiting for the apples of September to ripen.

But then I remember what I’ve been working on, including one project that I hope will take my writing to a whole new level and I change to a nervous, anxious feeling.

By the end of this month I will have sent in two more drafts to publications I hope to see my finish product appearing on soon. I work on these in little chunks, wanting to write convincingly on my trip to the Yukon and to accurately portray the special bond I had with my guide dog for so many years.

I must locate photos to go with my words, a task made all the trickier because I cannot see them. I must read over contracts and worry about giving up the wrong things, while also signing and returning them with my permission. Getting paid has its drawbacks, but I won’t complain, just as long as everything goes smoothly.

Seriously, I worry too much about things that might happen or not happen come September.

I won’t likely see the total solar eclipse taking place on August 21st, the one many are driving long distances to view and that which many writers will no doubt pitch and write about.

It’s August and I can’t believe my nephews are now four and five years old consecutively. This is the month of both their births. Special and memorable. The older one had a breakdown when his foil birthday balloon got caught in an updraft and was gone, “up to its home, the sun” my nephew said, between bouts of sadness and tears and a wisdom of loss he’s picked up somewhere wonderful.

Dinosaurs. Curious George. These boys make my life better.

So I’m back to deadlines and working to control my expectations and impatience. I must buckle down and write, edit, and write some more.

I am dying to announce my upcoming published pieces along with their locations. I am proud of the publications that have decided to help this newly budding writer. If I do though, I fear (logically or not) that something will go wrong and my announcement being premature.

Instead, I focus and I try my best. I fear letting someone down, myself mostly. I have, in some ways, had one of the better summers in a long time, though I won’t see the results of this until autumn comes.

It’s August, the end of another week, and time for another
Finish the Sentence Friday
with Kristi from Finding Ninee and the rest of the FTSF gang.

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Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Oh, To Be Like Those Tenacious Weeds – Windows and Mirrors, #10Thankful

The eyes are the window to the soul…mirrors to the soul. So what about when one is no longer real?

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It’s about that time. Soon it will be time to have a new artificial eye made. It’s made me think more about the whole thing again.

August is here and if I make it through the next month I’ll be a happy camper. So much pressure not to mess up and let myself and others down.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the first day of August and a very special birthday.

My nephew turned four and will be starting school next month. Time flies by.

He had a dinosaur themed birthday with his mom, dad, big sister, and grandma.

We will celebrate next weekend. He is always so excited to show us any new toys he’s gotten since we last saw him when we first arrive. His spirit is one of contagious joyfulness.

I’m thankful for a more successful violin lesson where I could stretch my fingers, develop more strength and flexibility in learning a new part.

I’m thankful for a delicious and satisfying late lunch out.

A veggie omelet, Greek salad, and a cold Coke. Mmm. Strange combination maybe, but it hit the spot on such a hot day and after my lesson.

I’m thankful for the reception I got when I brought my old artificial eye into writing group.

I thought it might make for an interesting mystery object for people to try and write about.

Most people were fascinated to see one up close. One was horrified. I understand the reactions because I’ve seen them all before and have had them all myself.

People wrote humorous stories, horror stories, and to-be-continued stories.

I ended up writing a story that I didn’t expect. It seemed to reflect back at me, all the feelings I’ve had about having lost my left eye and had, what most times is this secret thing, until I reveal it to people. Or, unless they are able to notice it first. I don’t know how often.

I’m thankful for the chance to get more comfortable and challenge my old fear of used clothes.

My hair cut at my cousin’s salon ended with my sister helping me pick out some items from the small boutique as part of the facilities offered.

My cousin believes in recycling because she loves fashion and style, but she’s seen how much clothing waste takes place and she searches out the finds to be had in secondhand stores and sells them for low prices to her already loyal customers.

These are nice looking things and they’re often hardly even worn. I have a long standing phobia of secondhand things and I am challenging that still. I did find some great stuff, including a hoodie, tights, and a few tops and tanks to go with them.

I’m thankful for the happy sounds my niece is starting to make more and more as she approaches six months.

She’s growing far too fast for any of us, but with that comes more exciting milestones.

Sitting in my lap this week she was making a lot more sounds while reaching and looking, interacting and reacting.

She has rolled over and I swear she is eager to get moving.

I’m thankful for a successful second radio show where my brother did a lovely thing for a friend.

He dedicated a song to a poor, departed cat who changed my brother’s opinion of cats as a species.

RIP to a friendly cat.

I’m thankful for bowls and towels.

It’s been raining a lot lately and it’s a good thing we’re set to get a new roof put on this house any day now.

There are several leaks at this point, which have been happening for years, but now when it rains I listen for the drip drip sound inside, while listening to the pounding of the heavy rain out my window.

It’s not supposed to rain indoors. I am still lucky to have a roof over my head that keeps me dry, except for when I stand under those few leaks to lay down the towels and bowls and the drips land in my hair, along with a soggy layer of my ceiling.

I’m thankful for my cat stepping on my sore legs and purring that provides pain relief.

I’m thankful for a cool Friday night amongst humid days.

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Getting my TToT in early this week, for a change, doesn’t happen often. I think I just need to work on accepting a lot of life for what and how it is.

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, TToT, Writing

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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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Memoir and Reflections, Podcast, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

Episode Five – 2017: “Get Up and Get Going” (Year of the Roooooster) #Podcast #YearOfTheRooster

Raise a glass or a fist with us to progress and the passing of the years.

A lot can happen in twenty of them.

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

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

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

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.

Please, give our Facebook page a like
and feel free to let us know what you think of KOP.

How has 2017 been for you so far?

Hope you enjoy this fun-filled summary of ours.

Notes:

-Description of above photo

It’s of you and Brian.  Not a standard portrait or even candid photograph.
Brian is in the foreground looking to the right, seems to be talking.
You are behind him, looking to the left.  Smiling with your eyes closed (I guess it was bright at the time).
I suppose you two were talking, but I guess while in line it’s almost like Brian is talking to you over his shoulder.
It’s just before you two where weighed.

Resources:

http://astrologyclub.org/chinese-horoscope/2017-year-rooster/

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Poetry, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

TToT: Hunters, Fishermen, and Other Liars Gather Here – Of Gold and White Horses, #10Thankful

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,

    And the rivers all run God knows where;

There are lives that are erring and aimless,

    And deaths that just hang by a hair;

There are hardships that nobody reckons;

    There are valleys unpeopled and still;

There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,

    And I want to go back — and I will.

—Robert W. Service

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Then and now.

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My dad and I have both come a long way. I thought such an important milestone deserved the landscape to go with it.

Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder

Land of the midnight sun.

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June was the perfect time to visit.

Ten Things of Thankful (And an extra bonus item)

I’m thankful I got to celebrate June 5th in a miraculous place.

I wanted to shout it from the rooftops – 20 years baby!

YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH!

I spent the actual morning of the 5th, standing on a suspension bridge, overlooking a place called Miles Canyon. The day was a perfect temperature for me, wind and sun, blowing my hair all around and warming my face.

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I thought about where I would have been, exactly twenty years earlier. I was so glad to have that hospital and those doctors then. I was so blessed to have all those years of a dialysis free life, thanks to my father. I was lucky to spend that moment, twenty years on, up on that bridge.

I’m thankful for a truly eye opening week.

I thought the Yukon seemed so far out of the way of most of the rest of Canada and thought of it a little bit like the Canada of Canada.

By that, I mean that in North America, to me at least at times, Canada goes somewhat unnoticed or under appreciated by the United States and such. We are here but can feel invisible. We are a small world player, in many ways, not making a whole lot of noise or commotion, but that’s how we prefer it to be. We are here and we are strong.

Then there is a part of Canada that is tucked away, far from what a lot of the gathered population ever sees. I wanted to go out and find this place.

By the end of my time there, I’d learned so much and was blown away by all of it. I heard stories of the people who have lived in that climate (months of mostly all light and then months of continuous darkness) for years upon years. I learned about myself and what travel can mean to me, through seeing places of intense and immense beauty, while not actually getting to experience the spectacular visuals of the north.

I missed out on a to, but I gained so so much.

I’m thankful I had the chance to see a part of my country of Canada, far far from my place in it.

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I have never traveled out west through Canada before, spending most of my time in the central part, the middle area, always curious about what lay in all that northern part. As we flew, I heard about the Rockies as we passed over them.

Though I could not see the snow capped peaks, I felt such a deep sense of wonder as we headed for the west coast. My country is so vast and amazing.

I’m thankful for pilots.

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I am somewhat anxious when flying, but it is a true miracle that a plane can even get up in the air, let alone stay up there and take people so far across the skies.

I hear their announcements on the speaker and they sound like they know what they are doing. I hope, every time I fly, that that is the case.

I really did enjoy my experience flying WestJet.

I’m thankful for local tour guides.

Big bus tours can be fun, like the one I was on in Ireland, but this time we had a smaller and more personal experience with a local tour company I’d highly recommend.

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They have had it in the family for 100 years and the woman in charge and her employees (one being her daughter) are highly knowledgeable about the region and so very proud of their homeland. They know about the environment, the terrain, and the people. They are Yukoners, through and through..

I’m thankful for the chance to learn about culture and nature.

Culture:

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I could smell the wet wood as they worked, using a tool called an adze. They had to keep the wood moist so it wouldn’t cracked as they worked on it. They only had it dug out a tiny amount, with a lot of hours of work still left to go.

It is one of several cultural events and demonstrations happening, there at the riverside, sponsored by the Canadian government and Canada 150 in 2017.

Nature:

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I missed the bright colours of the water. I missed the white caps of snow atop the mountains in the distance. I missed the severe cliffs and vistas.

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I smelled the fresh Yukon air. I felt the wind. I instinctually detected the wide open spaces. I listened to the ripples at the lake’s edge. I compared the silences to the sounds of rapids far down below.

I felt it all in my bones.

I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers while traveling.

I started the trip being given someone else’s seat on the shuttle bus to the terminal and I ended it with a generous gesture by a flight attendant.

When she learned I hadn’t known I had to download a certain update on my phone, one that would be able to work with the inflight entertainment system, she offered tablets (free of their rental charge) so we could watch a movie on the four hour flight.

I watched Beauty and the Beast, the 2017 live action version that I’d been wanting to see since it came out back in March.

Also, there was the politeness of many I met while there, the polite drivers letting me cross streets, and the woman at the glass blowing factory who showed me around and was so helpful.

I’m thankful my mom and I weren’t eaten by bears.

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We stayed down at the roadside, overlooking the lake, while the rest of the group walked a bit up the mountain. They were going up some to get a better look, but it was the two of us that got the show.

My mom was taking a panoramic shot with her camera when she suddenly told me of the mother bear and her cub only forty or so feet down from where we stood. She got a few pictures and then couldn’t see where they went. It was at that moment that she grew nervous and we were glad to have the unlocked van to retreat into, until she spotted the pair once more, making their way along the edge of the water, far off into the distance.

This was a good thing in my mind, as I couldn’t remember what action to take when approached by a grizzly bear vs a black bear.

Was I to play dead or fight back? I’d probably just fall to the ground and curl up into a ball either way.

I’m thankful for the comforts of home after being away from it.

I could choose to feel all down and depressed that I had to leave a place I may never return to or a city I felt at home in, or I could be glad to have my own things back.

I both love going out into the world and exploring what else exists, but I will always love having a home to come back to.

Just hearing a little baby crying on the plane coming home made me miss my baby niece.

I’m thankful for family and neighbours who agree to watch my dog and check on my cat while I explore the world.

I love to travel, but having pets makes that difficult. My dog is very attached to me and my cat is not one of those cats that likes his solitude.

I don’t like to put it on my family to take care of my animals, those I chose to have, just so I can run off galavanting. It’s just that I do feel the pull to wander sometimes, though I try to space it out somewhat. It is a responsibility on them when I dump my dog at their house, but I know our family looks out for each other. We help one another out when and where we can. I would do the same for them.

I’m thankful I got to see my nephew’s baseball game.

He is still learning (Lucky Number 13) and yet he may grow to love it. Only time will tell. They are all so cute though. The coaches and volunteer parents have quite the time, wrangling all those kids, shouting instructions to run or catch or pay attention. They are distracted easily and I can’t blame them. A lot going on.

It was just strange to return to the neighbourhood park where the game was being played. I hadn’t been there in years, but sitting on that bench, by that baseball diamond, it brought back a lot of memories of summer days long gone.

My sister and brother both played in leagues and we’d go to their games often. My favourite part was the snack bar, but being back there now made me remember old times, old friends, and things that felt forever ago, compared to the life I am living in 2017 and my transplant anniversary is a part of that.

“Forever can spare a minute.”

—Belle, Beauty and the Beast 2017

How Does A Moment Last Forever – Celine Dion

“Ever just the same. Ever a surprise. Ever as before and ever just as sure as the sun will rise.”

—Tale As Old As Time, Beauty and the Beast

The people of the Yukon know the sun will rise again. It’s just a question of when and for how long.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS

Deep Breaths #SoCS

My mom cuts down the purple lilacs from up high and offers some to my new neighbour. She thinks to replenish a vase with fresh flowers when the previous ones begin to wilt. On my living room coffee table there sits a bunch of those purple lilacs and I bend down to touch the leaves and the petals. I detect their scent. The smell of those flowers is a sweet smell I don’t tire of.

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Something smells rotten throughout Canada’s closest neighbour and ally and many want to rid the country of what’s causing it, or should I say whom. Is there something fishy going on? Others love the smell they detect in the air and want to keep that going.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

There is a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, as of this final weekend in May. Many say it is a bad choice and will likely give another win to Justin Trudeau in the next federal election. Who can possibly say which way things will go by then. I notice the air in Canada smells more of fragrant lilacs though and less of a stench is what you smell here. Our politics gets rough sometimes, but there is a certain politeness that never lifts, as Canadians. We aren’t quite as divided along party lines as our neighbours to the south. I hope it stays that way.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake

Picking Up The Pieces #FTSF

I have always helped the children in my life understand my blindness by explaining that my eyes don’t work, that they are broken. This may sound harsh, but I’ve found this to be the best and most concrete way to explain things. This is not an easy concept for a three-year-old to grasp, no matter how it’s worded, but it’s the best I’ve yet come up with.

Still, they don’t automatically see this as anything bad. They think it over a moment or two and then we go on with our day. I think it is such a difficult idea to imagine for them at that age, to understand that anything like that can be the case. I am happy to see myself through their eyes for a time.

Was I broken when I was born without perfect eyesight?

Of course not. No baby could or should be called such a thing.

The image that immediately comes to my mind is that of all the poor birds we found on our deck or on the lawn growing up. My mom would bring them in, carrying them delicately in the palm of her hand, and would give them time to see if they could recover. a helpless bird with a broken wing is how I felt a time or two. Sometimes the broken wing spells the end for the bird and sometimes they just need some peaceful and restful recovery time.

My mom would release the bird if this healing were enough. In this simple yet selfless act, she taught me how to heal from the things that might break me.

After all the medical stuff I would endure, I often thought it odd how I never did break a limb. That is one break I have managed to avoid.

I felt the most broken when I became so sick and lost at age eleven.

It broke me the day I lost a loved one, had to hear my oma’s heart break at the words she had lost a grandson, or when I had to tell my own mother her baby brother lost his son/she lost yet another nephew.

It broke me in pieces for a long time after my first experience with love and relationships, as a teenager, when things turned out worse than I ever could have guessed. It kept me from looking for love, for letting it into my life, for many years.

Another piece of myself was broken off when I had to admit I couldn’t handle anymore school because of the pain and I had to take a break from all the stress.

Sometimes we’re left scrambling and searching all around us for our missing pieces, for a long long time.

These things broke off pieces of me and yet love and hope and the most pleasant surprises yet to come helped me put the pieces back together.

Life can be like this sometimes. I feel like a broken person sometimes, when I think of how some might see me, incomplete or whatever. I have lost more eyesight than I was born with, in years gone by, including my left eye now being artificial. Does this leave me broken, not entirely whole?

Whatever that might mean, when something is broken, can it be fixed and even should it?

Any broken part of my physical body or any blow to my spirit, any blow to my heart, I make up for all that by remaining as whole a person as I can be in other ways that matter.

I will take broken eyes over a broken soul anyway. It’s those who are broken in personality are the ones who could most benefit from some repairs.

My eyes may be broken, my heart a time or two, but my personality and my character are in tact and solid. I know that for certain. There is no quick fix, no repair man to call when the soul is irrevocably damaged. I can heal my cracks. They may still exist, but they make the whole of me stronger, in spite of all the breaking there ever was.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post with
Kristi from Finding Ninee
with some thoughts on the things that break us.

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