FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday

An Anniversary Memory, #FTSF

Grandma loved relaxing in the hot tub when she came to visit.

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I had it installed, hoping the ability to sit in the soothing waters might help my chronic pain. Grandma and I both had chronic pain and we helped each other through it.

The soothing waters were nice enough, especially on a chilly night, but she seemed to get more out of it than I did. The heat was hard on my headaches, but helpful for most of the rest of my sore body.

At the end of July I think of my grandma because she was taken, on this date back in 2005, suddenly from our lives. The photo was taken, little more than a month earlier, on her anniversary with my grandpa. They’d been married for fifty-five years.

Never again would I get to sit with her here, seen in the photo above.

I miss all of my now long departed grandparents, but Grandma, I miss you, on this
Finish the Sentence Friday,
hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee and
Kenya from Sporadically Yours,
all of us sharing a photo and a story to go along with it.

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Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TravelWriting

Falling, All Over Again #Niagara #FTSF

Returning to the edge, overlooking the mighty Niagara Falls is like returning home.

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The boats are somewhere, there, down below me. They move silently along, at the base of the roaring waters, both boats on the Canadian and the US sides. Ours is now called Hornblower and what used to be the Maid of the Mist in Canada is still what they call it in our neighbouring country, or so I am told.

I always loved the myth of the
Maid of the Mist (backstory not widely known),
even if I grew up fearing the actual vessel and all boats like it.

We went on it, some of my earliest memories, but enough was enough and I was afraid. I didn’t want to have to don the plastic raincoat and board that thing, going so close to such a fiersome force. I’d had enough of that.

Then, as I grew, we’d return to Niagara Falls often, and my family would tease me:

“What do you think Kerr…want to go on the Maid of the Mist?”

Ha ha, and the joke went on like that for years, right along with my fear of boats of all shapes and sizes.

Well, ownership of the boat tour company changed hands in recent years, but I was determined to tackle my fear, as I entered my thirties and was determined to live like I hadn’t been living, which meant proving to myself I could step foot on that boat again.

I did it, but my favourite myth of the Indian princess who was going to be forced to marry a much older Indian chief, though she was revolted by him, well that story haunted me and still does.

Legend had it, she fled her situation and ended up hearing a far away voice on the air, calling her toward the waters at the top of the Niagara River. So, she followed its irresistible call and it led her into the river and over the Falls she went, to join the Thunder Gods behind Niagara.

I was captivated and am glad I did tackle my fears a few years back, and then I was recently listening to an educational podcast called
The Secret Life of Canada
and it spoke of the history of the Niagara region and some of the culturally insensitive stereotypical stories white people have told and retold about Natives, how wrong that was, how offensive.

The story of that Indian maiden will stick with me, but I am always willing to learn about how to be a better human being, more sensitive and empathetic. We’ve replaced Indian for Indigenous in the language here in Canada and we must work for a better country, for everyone.

I now stand, happily, at the railing above and look down on those silent tour boats, but I will admit that I feel drawn to that place, whenever I am nearby, and hear the thundering sound.

Even if I end up an even older version of a maid myself, I am not about to follow those invisible booming forces to an unfortunate, tragic end. Though I do disclose that I feel a strong tug on my back, every time I move to walk away from Niagara Falls.

Today is
Finish the Sentence Friday
once more.

And the
fourth Friday of the month (May)
edition says to share a photo and the story behind it.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS

For The Love Of… #FTSF #SoCS

My oma lived through World War II and food shortages. She knew something about the feeling of hunger. I don’t know her exact relationship with food, how close she came to starvation, but I do know it had an impact.

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This means she was always feeding us, how many show love, and she loved us all (her family) through food alright.

Chocolate. Pancakes with Ketchup. I loved her salads.

I’ll admit, I like that empty feeling, when my stomach grumbles a little, as I somehow feel I am controlling my body. I have had a fickle and brought relationship with food and I don’t see that easing up much as I get older.

I guess that does link to feeling hollow in other areas of one’s life. I have never known the fear of going hungry, have often times had more than my share, a plentiful amount of food around me.

I struggled with food smells, when I was in the midst of kidney failure and the mouth watering aroma of bacon, a favourite of so many, made me want to vomit.

Now I still carry around with me a definite sensitivity to food smells. I don’t want my past with food or that of a loved one to bleed into the feelings of emotional emptiness or a hollowed out feeling of loneliness, one that only stuffing my face can quench.

I want food to be something enjoyable. I want to appreciate each and every flavour I come across. I know the problems with food and a lack of it that much of the world faces. I know I have had it good in comparison.

It’s
Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS
on a Sunday.

Also, I’m linking up (on a double stream of consciousness weekend) with Kristi from
Finding Ninee
and Kenya G. from
Sporadically Yours,
on the subject of food and feeling empty vs (/) hollow.

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Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Special Occasions, Spotlight Sunday

A Mother’s Love Shaped Me, #SongLyricSunday

In high school English class, I was told once to count how many times the word “blood” was mentioned in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I was given a bag of pennies and told to keep track with them. Well, I didn’t use pennies to count how many times the word “heart” was used in one of my favourite albums, but I can swear it was almost certainly at least once in every single song, if not more.

Huh, hmm…blood…heart…perfect combination right there.

I tell you, this Apple Music thing is a wondrous tool at my fingertips and it has sucked me, once more, into an endless vortex of songs and albums from my past.

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On this Mother’s Day I dedicate
this one (SLS)
to my own mother, who raised me, showed me what the heart is for.

From those early days when I was obsessed with music like Wilson Phillips and their hit “Hold On” and so much more. So much of that music I loved then, before I knew about or had ever really been in love, music involving the heart was all around me.

I found one song on that album I could have gone with, with the word “heart” in the lyrics, but I went with this Cher song instead. )There’s more to her solo career than only “Turn Back Time” and “Believe” too.):

There are plenty mentions of that most essential of organs, that pumps and beats, on this entire album. This was one of my favourite (self-titled albums), from way way back in the day, thanks to my father’s bringing the cassette tape along when we drove to Florida in 92.

It would overtake Wilson Philips, for me, soon after that and ever since then, but a classic is still a classic.

***

Beneath the white fire of the moon
Love’s wings are broken all too soon
We never learn
Hurt together, hurt alone
Don’t you sometimes wish
Your heart was a heart of stone

We turn the wheel and break the chain
Put steel to steel and laugh at pain
We’re dreamers in castles made of sand
The road to Eden’s overgrown
Don’t you sometimes wish
Your heart was made of stone

Look at the headlines
Big crowd at the crazy house
Long queue for the joker’s shoes
Ten rounds in the ring with love
Do you lose and win
Or win and lose

Sweet rain like mercy in the night
(Lay me down, wash away the sorrow)
Caress my soul and set it right
(Lay me down, show me your tomorrow)
Summer tears, winter and the moment’s flown
Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was made of stone

Mercy, mercy wish your heart
Was a heart of stone
Get the picture

No room for the innocent
Peak season in lonely town
Knocked out of the ring by love
Are you down and up Or up and down

I ask the river for a sign
(In a dream we go on together)
How long is love supposed to shine
(In a dream diamonds are forever)

But you and I, hurt together, hurt alone
Don’t you sometimes wish
Your heart was a heart of stone

Mercy, mercy wish your heart was a heart of stone
(With a heart of stone, you’ll be well protected)
Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was made of stone
(With a heart of stone, you’ll be well connected)

[Repeat and fade]

LYRICS

***

Blood and the heart. Angels and heaven. I love lyrics and this set, this song always gives me chills.

Thinking of a heart of stone makes me think of the silent, frozen courtyard of the evil white witch’s castle, in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chronicles of Narnia with all those statues of creatures she turned to stone and left to stand, stock still, but winter would eventually come to an end and the ground/stone/heart would/could then thaw.

It has, again here, and spring comes once again, Mother’s Day with it. When I think of spring flowers, I think of my mom. She taught me many things…for instance…

No matter what I’ve been through since childhood, in love and through loss and no matter how much I may have wanted to, I could not remain bitter for very long.

No matter what I see now still, when it comes to love that does not last, I can’t cling to the bitterness or disillusionment of that because she modelled something different.

Whether it was/is the way she loves my father (coming up on 39 years now), other family, my siblings and me, or especially now with her grandchildren. She taught me what the heart is meant to do.

So Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Xo

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

Cheesy Words From A Grateful Sister, #SongLyricSunday

I’m grateful for siblings who listen and laugh with me.

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First born…middle child (children) and the baby of the family.

We’ve avoided the traps of sibling rivalry, for the most part, at least. We were all “the favourite” in our parent’s eyes. We are all awesome, in our own unique ways, if I do say so myself, enjoying inside jokes and common interests and our hobbies.

I remember New York City with two of them and a trip still to come with the third is going to be epic.

They’ve given me the gift of becoming an aunt. They’ve shared new music (Bjork/Pinback just to name a few).

I love them all. They, all three originals and two in-laws, all my heroes, even if this particular Bette Midler song is overdone, over played, and over-the-top in their eyes perhaps. This song still makes me cry. They matter. I’m going for it with the sharing of these lyrics, because I would be lost without them:

They’ve kept me going through the hardest of times, their strength and integrity, their strength of character – best people I know.

***

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings,

cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

LYRICS

***

This song doesn’t mention sisters/brothers anywhere in it, but it’s what I think of, who I think of when I hear it.

And while
Helen
spends time with her sister, I spent my Saturday on podcast production with my brother.

Today is Earth Day and we have Episode Eleven coming out, with our first guests, and an awesome interview about the natural world and our place in it.

My brother is tough and resilient. He knows his sound and audio. He is loyal and hilarious.

My older brother and my sister-in-law got to celebrate a sunny spring weekend, with their two children, for her birthday.

My sister is working to help people with the dreaded “TAXES” and taking care of her family. They’re lucky to have her attention to detail and her devotion to the three of them.

Having them, being lucky enough to call them my siblings, gives me the strength to go on.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, SoCS, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Daisy’s Haircut, #DowntonAbbey #SoCS

I didn’t see a last picture, not in some time. The last one of those I saw was one…I now do not remember what.

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This week, Linda at
Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS
says to write about the last picture we see before writing.

I once loved to pour over photo albums of my mother or grandmother’s. My mom on her wedding day, the photos of my grandparent’s younger selves, or my own photo, smiling wide, in grade eight graduation gown.

Now I see so little that pictures don’t appear to me, not anywhere near clearly, unless they are shifting images I hold onto in my own wandering mind.

There’s a name for it, I believe but am too tired to look it up for this stream of consciousness writing moment, but I still see images in my own head. My mind hasn’t totally forgotten. My brain and those connections still fire off and hope to produce something tangible.

Well, sometimes it is a vague memory, myself as a tiny twelve-year-old, standing in my overalls in front of our side garage wall, full to the top with big cardboard boxes of fluid for home dialysis.

Other times, I see a picture, as if expertly framed, inside my thoughts. It’s an image that comes, without warning, like the one I started to see after binge watching all six seasons of Downtown Abbey in the last few weeks.

The young, naive kitchen helper, assistant cook Daisy. She finally sees what she has, after pining for all the wrong men, and she sees it after cutting all her hair off, to change up her image and to impress the boy.

At first, he laughs, but then they share a tender moment. She meekly looks up at him, her chopped off dark haired head. This one image seems to go along with that moment and its audio track, on a loop inside my mind.

I don’t know what that’s about. It isn’t real, didn’t happen that way (or at least I never saw it), but it feels so impossibly true to me.

My older brother is a photographer. I am proud of this, I admire him for many things, this included. He takes still images, mostly, and preserves a moment.

That’s all I try to do with my own writing, even if my own brain works against me, not giving me more than a moment’s peace, showing me a constant reel of images like I can still see them with my eyes.

It can be exhausting, sometimes preoccupying all of me, zapping my energy, as strange as that may sound.

Bad brain! Bad bad bad brain!

STOP IT!!!

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Poetry, Song Lyric Sunday

Shades of the Unwell, #SongLyricSunday

I lived in a kind of shadow world, most of my twenties.

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The chronic pain I was living with had covered me over, casting a shadow over my days:

Chronic pain makes you feel invisible, or at least it did me. Shadows flitting, everything fleeting.

I was left to watch them dance across my walls and ceiling at night, wondering what any of it was even for, if I even mattered or had a purpose at all.

What was the point of sleep? Was there even any reason for me to get up in the morning?

***

All day staring at the ceiling
Making friends with shadows on my wall
All night hearing voices telling me
That I should get some sleep
Because tomorrow might be good for something
Hold on
Feeling like I’m headed for a breakdown
And I don’t know why

[Chorus]
But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be…me

I’m talking to myself in public
Dodging glances on the train
And I know, I know they’ve all been talking about me
I can hear them whisper
And it makes me think there must be something wrong with me
Out of all the hours thinking
Somehow I’ve lost my mind

[Chorus]
But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be

I’ve been talking in my sleep
Pretty soon they’ll come to get me
Yeah, they’re taking me away

[Chorus]
But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be
Yeah, how I used to be
How I used to be
Well, I’m just a little unwell
How I used to be
How I used to be
I’m just a little unwell

LYRICS

***

I wanted people to see me for who I was, who I had been, or could be. I worried nobody would see my value in the world any longer, that they wouldn’t stick around long enough to see me as more than how unwell I felt.

This week’s lyrics (the Matchbox 20 song I’ve chosen) are all about
shadows
and the tricks they play on the mind.

I still don’t sleep all that well, even though I feel again like I have a purpose, though the timing of this post takes me back to those shadow filled long nights of my twenties again.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF

Songs For My Soul, #InternationalWomensDay #TGIF #FTSF

Almost exactly two years ago, for something called 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion and for International Day of Happiness, I wrote
this post
of my top ten favourite albums.

This time
for Finish the Sentence Friday
I will choose my top ten favourite songs because it is top ten week.

“I’ve looked in the mirror, and the world’s getting clearer. So wait for me this time.”

Time – Chantal Kreviazuk

This first song is about time that feels like it’s running out and I’m still playing catchup.

“My scars are what got me this far. And now I can touch the stars. Cause’ it don’t matter who you are. Who you are. We’ve all got scars.”

Scars – Emmanuel Jal feat. Nelly Furtado

This powerful and poignant duet is about scars, real physical ones and the scars on the heart. I’ve got both, but I am proud to have them as a part of me.

“DJ’s playing the same song. I have so much to do. I have to carry on. I wonder, will this grief ever be gone. Will it ever go? I’m the
King of Sorrow.” – Sade

This is a truly sad one, but I love this artist because her songs range from sorrowful to sensual.

So that’s why I couldn’t pick one over the other and had to include two in this list.

No Ordinary Love – Sade

Next, I must include an all-time favourite, with the piano violin combo, that makes me cry every time.

“All my plans, fell through my hands, they fell through my hands on me. All my dreams, it suddenly seems, it suddenly seems…”
Empty – The Cranberries

And now, it’s all the more sad, since this singer died early this year.

“Everybody loves you when you’re easy. Everybody hates when you’re a bore. Everyone is waiting for your entrance. So don’t disappoint them.”

Black and White – Sarah McLachlan

Being afraid, not always feeling like I was enough, and this one is all about my fear of being one giant disappointment to the world and the pressures of that.

“Be a good girl. You gotta try a little harder. That simply wasn’t good enough, to make us proud.”

Perfect – Alanis Morisette

This is likely a song about one of those parents who is living through their child. That’s not why it struck a cord with me. It wasn’t anything like that. Yet, there was a time when I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough and was letting everyone down.

“I believe that when the hurting and the pain has gone, We will be strong, Oh yes we will be strong And I believe that if I’m crying while I write these words Is it absurd? Or am I being real…
I Believe – Tears For Fears

“I believe, no I can’t believe That every time you hear a newborn scream You just can’t see the shaping of a life.”

Okay, so you may be wondering, what’s with all the sad stuff.

This next one, I will write/quote no lyrics from, but see if you can tell the mood of it anyway.

Smile – Lily Allen

It seems more upbeat anyway, than some of what I’ve included here, though it’s a young girl who is acting rather petty. In recognition of yesterday (March 8th) being International Women’s Day, I thought I’d showcase what growth and empowerment can stem from.

Devil Inside – Inxs

We all have a bit of a bad bit, inside, somewhere. This song is my way to end this list, on a bit of a cheeky note.

Of course, there are many more and I could likely do this again, even if it’s sometimes hard to think on the spot. So many to choose from, songs are my fuel and my energy to keep going, but I will stop at these four for today.

I am excited to learn, hear the songs that made the top ten for
Kenya Johnson of Sporatically Yours
as a co-host with Kristi.

Plus, a bonus guest host:

Jen Kehl (one part of The Stereo Sisters)

I see I’m not the biggest music fan here.

And so, the above songs have changed me, made my life better, richer, have soothed my soul.

Thanks for listening.

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Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

When I Was Young, #SongLyricSunday

The whims and choices of life, like some roll of the dice, or the drawing of one card from a deck before or after being shuffled.

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The US has an age limit of eighteen for when someone can fight and die for their country, kill another human being (enemy) in battles, wars that shouldn’t be happening in the first place.

Yet, no alcohol until the twenties. Then, God forbid a twenty-year-old couldn’t buy guns, right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzpLMD1xb0Q

But I wasn’t intending this to become a political post of any kind. I just find it funny. Not haha funny, but unbelievable and rotten in fact, that for instance, those teens who died by all those bullets on February 14th will never see twenty-one.

Okay, I’m done. On I go to remember when I was twenty-one.

***

I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore.
You took my thoughts from me. Now I want nothing more.
And did you think you could just take it all away?
I don’t think it’s happ’ning, this is what I say.
Leave me alone, leave me alone, Leave me alone ’cause I found it all. Twenty one, twenty one, twenty one…

So I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore. I don’t think it’s going, To happen anymore.
Twenty one, twenty one, twenty one… [X 2] Today… [X 4]
Twenty one… [X 14]

LYRICS

***

As I picked my selection for a song about numbers, for this week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
I tried to remember, but I honestly don’t recall a whole lot from when I was the age Dolores O’Riordan sings about in this one.

She was a song writer, around that age though, when her biggest hit album came out. She was experiencing fame and notoriety around the world. I wasn’t famous, then or now, but I can’t imagine the power and the pressure.

That was the year though, (I was twenty-one-and-a-half) when I lost my dear grandma. I was experiencing loss and grief, as an adult, (for the first of many times) and I would soon move out on my own.

I was still stuck believing I had no control or power over my own life, or not much at least. I would soon buy a house and learn I could find something of my own path going forward.

I am trying to write a letter to my younger self, for a project called
Letters Anthology
and have been trying to think back to my early twenties. As I enter my mid thirties, I can reflect and try to remember that young woman I once was, but it is harder than I’d have thought. I have been through so much, some of which I’ve chosen, but I still see a lot of living as a roll of the dice.

I haven’t played any card games or games of dice in a long time (used to love playing our family’s version of Dice with my grandma when she was alive) and not as far as gambling goes. I stay as far away as possible from those loud places. So much so that I couldn’t even recall, when I started this post earlier today, if the game Twenty-one was cards or dice.

My grandma couldn’t always play dice with us for very long, as she had fibromyalgia and the use of her arms to roll the dice was hard on her. Now, and starting around the time I turned twenty-one, I got diagnosed also. Sometimes, just washing my own hair is hard on my arms now, raising them up above my head for too long.

I do know that living, truly living, is a gamble. It’s the kind of gambling I’d rather do. If I’m going to take a chance on something or someone, I’d like it to start and end with taking a chance on mmyself.

Now, back to writing that letter to the twenty-one-year-old me.

What do you remember about being twenty-one? Would you rather gamble with cards, a roll of the dice, or in/on life?

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IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, Shows and Events, SoCS, Special Occasions, Travel

Fly Me and My Shadow to the Moon, #SuperBloodMoon #GroundhogDay #SoCS

I used to love to see my shadow. I could stand on my driveway and see enough to detect the bright, white cement and then the dark shape that was me. I could look down and see my legs, taking step after step with my flat attachment, the visual image of that game, it made me think of, copycat where one annoying sibling or other family or friend would repeat everything you’d say.

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I moved my hand and the dark shape would follow the action. I was it and it was me – a basic shape, an outline of my body.

Today, the sun was shining brightly as I went about my day. I had a meeting with the travel agent and I went to my violin lesson.

On the second day of February we wait eagerly for a creature to come out. If it sees its shadow, it is frightened and runs and hides. Winter continues, a dreaded fact for most people, but I take winter in my stride.

As well as Groundhog Day, this week there was some sort of a super blood moon, along with a lunar eclipse.

I don’t pay much attention to the one, being such a literal kid that growing up I was always confused what the whole thing meant, but I do wish I had seen the bigger than normal moon and its reddish tinge.

Tough times lately, but February is here finally.

And so,
in other words,
What?

Will there be six more of anything left of winter?

Meh. I know some would tell me I should have a sense of humour, find one, about Groundhog Day and I know I probably should, but I don’t.

I find some superstitions to be curious and interesting, but here in North America, we seem to find this one highly amusing and a sign, to make us feel better (that spring is on its way) or help us wallow in our dislike for long North American winters that we’re told will be even longer.

It just seems too silly for words, in other words, and I’m sticking to that.

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