Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir Monday, Piece of Cake, RIP

Ode and Lament

RIP Dolores.

Her Headache

As the final few days of 2014 are coming to a close, I wanted to highlight a few anniversaries. Most importantly is the twenty years since the release of an album full of music that has changed my life and gotten me through everything from illness, to loss of a loved one, to the end of an important relationship.

The Cranberries released their second studio album in 1994 and this has remained, not only my favourite, but the favourite of so many others. Songs like “Ode To My Family” and “Zombie” remain this Irish band’s biggest known hits of all-time, but it’s in every song and beautifully haunted lyric that I find solace and refuge from some of the harshness of life.

I know this particular album may not hold the same meaning for many people as it does for me, but I urge you to listen to it sometime…

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Ketchup On Pancakes: Episode 8 – Farewell 2017 (By the Fireside) #Siblings #Podcast

Here we are, back again!

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It’s 2018 and we’re sitting, warming ourselves by the crackling fire in our latest and first episode of the Ketchup On Pancakes podcast of this new year.

Won’t you join us? It’s bound to make you smile.

Episode 8 – Farewell 2017…By The Fireside (Ketchup On Pancakes)

Last year was “beyond expectations” great for both of us and we, at Ketchup On Pancakes, have high hopes for the coming one.

Also, thanks to the mysterious fire stoker, fanning the flames behind us as we talk, I’ve decided to make “stoker” my word for 2018 and I vow to stoke the fires, like our stoker, to help keep the warmth and the glow in the world going.

Also, do check out the audio story we created. It’s a holiday story perhaps, but it also takes us back to a simpler time and maybe it will do the same for you too, at any old time of year.

E.T. & A Slinky (recorded for Jon Solomon’s 25-hour holiday radio marathon)

Are you fan of the film about the lovable alien? Did you have a slinky growing up?

Also, please feel free to follow
Ketchup On Pancakes on Facebook,
for mostly regular updates on all things podcasting and related subjects, specifically when we post a new episode.

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TToT: Insertion Follows Playback Like Edit Follows Automation – Full Cold Moon, #10Thankful #IDPD2017

“(UN IDPD) serves as an important reminder that globally there are over a billion people with a disability. This year’s theme, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all” is especially relevant to our accessibility efforts…”

—Microsoft

More on IDPD2017 from the WHO.

I know when and how to celebrate and I am learning when to stand up and speak up for the important things – overall, a thankful post brimming with gratitude really.

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Photo caption: sisters watching the decorating of their father’s 62nd birthday cake. Talking/smiling. Happy Birthday Dad! XO

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for this artistic girl.

Making works of art out of the task of cupcake decoration.

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Making something, all her own, and loving it.

I am thankful for this sly guy.

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He likes to hide, but there’s a mischievous spirit just under the surface, behind the hands that sometimes cover his face when he’s playing shy to the camera.

I am thankful for such a smart and curious almost ten-month-old sweetheart.

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Photo caption: Cousin hugs.

Her big cousin Soph adores her. It’s sweet to see them interact.

Mya is so interested in everything now. She is so close to walking, as she sees the rest of us doing it and wonders why she hasn’t managed it yet.

She is the happiest baby I’ve seen really. She likes to cuddle, but I can barely keep up with her when she’s on the move, and she’s not even a year old yet. Her mother and I are in no real hurry though.

I am thankful for the missing and missed one at last weekend’s gathering and the kind soul he is.

Old soul is my man Maxwell.

I am thankful he could enjoy his new friend’s birthday party. He got so excited. He was counting down the hours to his first party invitation since starting junior kindergarten in September.

I am thankful for a name given, from a friend, that suited my current state rather perfectly.

**Given what you’ve shared recently, I’d say the cauldron’s selection is a potent one for you. Your Embrace the Darkness name is “Good Night’s Sleep.”**

I had mentioned my sleep/dream issues lately and she generously handed this one to me, gifted me with it as a way to accept and deal.

I am thankful for a visit with one of the few people in my life who understand about living with chronic pain.

She brought me a coffee, doughnut, and a sympathetic ear.

She lives with pain and manages to hold onto her most original sense of humour and I take lessons from her on that front – where I find strength through some good sarcasm now and again, I see she does too.

I am thankful my friend arrives home from Ireland next week for the holidays.

I see her and her daughter just once a year, at this time, and it’s a fascinating way to observe the growing up of any child. They are quite the pair.

A little Christmas shopping with them maybe? I want to get her something memorable, as I only get to see her once a year and it takes her a little time, each time, to warm up to me again. A toy may help, but it can’t be anything too big because it must get back to Ireland.

Lots for them to cram into only a few weeks here back in Canada, with family and friends, but it’s always fun.

I am thankful for such kind and generous parents.

They bring me medication when I go away and forget it at home. They go that extra mile, in so many ways, and are flexible in so many ways too.

They are both unflinchingly generous people.

I am thankful for another job completed and well done, hopefully.

I wrote a memoir piece about our family, from the past, and the early December trips to a giant toy store we’d make as a family.

I turned it into a bit of a back-and-forth with me and Brian. We recorded it and added sounds and a bit of music to the piece.

We are submitting it for consideration on my brother’s favourite holiday Christmas marathon radio show he has listened to for the last three years.

Even the year of his horrible fall, when he was slowly recovering with a brain injury, he listened. The jingle bells accompany the radio guy and he plays some of the most obscure music for the season, to be heard on a New Jersey college station.

In the midst of all the musical pieces, he plays short holiday themed stories, recorded by friends and fans. This year we wanted to be included in that.

We shall see what he thinks when we send it to him.

Adding more…

I am thankful for fresh edits to a piece and that time away so I can come back at it with fresh eyes.

I wrote about the road I took through my Yukon visit and the road I’m traveling down in my life.

I worked on it with one editor and took a few weeks away from it. Coming back now, with fresh eyes, I can consider other editing suggestions and work to make it the best piece it can possibly be.

I just saw a Yukon documentary, playing in theatres for a limited time, and this virtual return to the north of Canada has given me new life to put into the writing.

I appreciate all I learn and how I can improve and grow as a writer, with the guidance of talented people I am lucky enough to get to work for/with.

I am thankful for a movie about the Yukon in my heart since I visited there, even without the DVS working.

It’s funny to have the story, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, but again we ran into issues with the audio description service at the theatre.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover they said they had it. A worker disappeared somewhere and came back with two headsets and wireless boxes.

Once inside the we turned them on. One worked and the other did not. The first worked, but it was describing a story that certainly wasn’t that of the Yukon.

We were offered their apologies and two free movie passes, but that won’t address this issue.

I did enjoy the film, despite all that, but a documentary, at least, has steady narration.

I don’t even think about going to an action movie or one with a lot of adventure, not without the proper assistance from a helpful person sitting next to me.

This is no answer. Perhaps not that many blind people go to movies, anymore or ever, but this must be improved upon.

As for the movie, I nearly came to tears more than once, as it brought back sense memory of my days there and my deep feelings about so much of that wild beautiful part of North America.

I am thankful for the day, December 3rd, to highlight disability, not just in North America, but around the world.

Every day is a day to talk about it, without becoming preachy. I feel this is something I have been called on to do, but it is a rather tricky balancing act.

I watched a Canadian national news broadcast and no mention at all was made nor any story aiming to shed light on some aspect of disability and what IDPD means to so many. I know an hour long news program can’t get to everything, but I think this should have been covered in some way.

I plan to do a lot more of this activism stuff in 2018 and beyond.

I am thankful for the final super moon of 2017 and the fact that, in spite of my worsening eyesight, I could still make it out on the horizon as we drove home.

I am all about horizons these days. Onward and upward, all while still making the effort to enjoy the final weeks of 2017 in the meantime.

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Ketchup On Pancakes: Episode 7 – Tales of Ketchup on Pancakes and Other Scary Stories #Halloween #Podcast

Are you afraid of the dark? Do you believe in ghosts? Did you love Halloween growing up? Why or why not?

I had my issues with it, as a child, but I am finding my own kind of love for it as an adult.. These are just some of the questions we ask, and then discuss, on our first Halloween themed episode of the podcast.

Episode 7 – Tales of Eating Ketchup on Pancakes and Other Scary Stories (Ketchup On Pancakes)

Sit by the fire with us, while we tell a terrifying tale, the setting of which is an old army base, a fort used during the War of 1812 in Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake and British territory at the time of fighting against the Americans.

Or give our KOP Facebook page a like or a share.

We at Ketchup On Pancakes want to wish a Happy Halloween to you all.

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TToT: Blood Red Sun In A Smoky Sky – Lucky and Thankful, #FridayThe13th #Podcast #10Thankful

Okay,, I did it again. What week is this, exactly, that I came late to the party and linked up last? I keep this as a priority, but it does end up falling down a point…or five.

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Birthday photos come a week later, first of my time holding my niece, by the swing set she is too young to enjoy just yet. I am still thinking birthdays…my parents and a friend and so on.

But forest fires continue to burn on the west coast and far away there is violence, such that I cannot imagine, and here I sit, writing another list of what I am thankful for in this life.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the best spaghetti dinner ever.

My brother made it. spaghetti has been a favourite food in my family for a long time, since our traditional spaghetti dinner, every Christmas Eve when I was young.

Now my brother makes it so well, as he’s been perfecting it. We went another way with the food in the title of our podcast (the one I was there to make when this meal was made) but, if I could have come up with a clever enough name using spaghetti, I would have.

He now takes care, not to eat sauce from a can, but to make it with vegetables and spices, allowing it to simmer.

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My brother has perfected spaghetti and my sister has perfected cupcakes.

I am thankful for the birth and birthday of a lifelong friend.

We’ve been friends since we were ten. She was one of the few kids to approach me, on that first day at a new school. I had felt like a bit of a sideshow then, but our friendship grew into so much more.

I think of her now, so far away and on a path I never could have guessed at, and I smile and put my hand to my heart.

I am thankful for a long chat with a writer friend.

She writes about science. She is a scientist who loves to write, I suppose it would be better to say.

We talked for a long time, about everything concerning writing, as we are both trying to make it, using our skills, on our own.

Though our lives are vastly different from one another, our thoughts often come back to the same thing, something involving the art and the struggle of being a writer.

I am thankful for a gift of Gummy Bears.

I was working on a piece, on deadline, and someone knew it.

They sent me a treat, even if it was just a picture of that treat, a virtual treat as it were.

Still, to know they were thinking of me, there in that moment, was a nice thing, plain and simply.

I am thankful for superstitions like the famous Friday the 13th.

They have given me something to write about and to think about. They have caused me to challenge what I think and what I believe.

I am thankful for a visit with my neighbour where she helped me figure out how to take action in a few areas of my life.

She is good at narrowing an issue or a particular problem down. She keeps me thinking ahead and on task. Checking in on me periodically has helped a great deal since knowing her.

I am thankful for a delicious lunch/latte with another writing friend.

The wrap and the latte were just the thing for a Friday, as tired as I felt. I like hearing her take on things and I hope to be an ear to listen with for her, someone she knows she can trust.

I am thankful for a challenging violin lesson and yoga session, both within two days.

New poses to strengthen. New parts to repeat and drill into my thick head.

It is all a challenge, but a giant breath of fresh air too.

I am thankful for a friend’s writing getting published and read this week.

Kerra makes her opinions known on CNN.

She is speaking up, speaking out, and writing.

THE PRICE OF REDEMPTION – Panorama Journal

I am thankful we got a 60 minute episode of Ketchup On Pancakes recorded and up on our SoundCloud page.

KETCHUP ON PANCAKES: Episode 6 – Mom and More

When I think of my mom, I think of growing things, like flowers.

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Apparently, so do others.

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TToT: Forever and Ever and Always – “Inshallah” #10Thankful

“Another celebrity dies. And still it mystifies the people. Another icon is destroyed.”

—The Cranberries, “Paparazzi On Mopeds”

Last week I was writing about American royalty and this week British, with my memories of where I was in my year, month, and life twenty years ago this week, when Princess Diana was killed.

Biopsies and weddings and recriminations, oh my!

I may have been able to see swans twenty years ago, but I don’t know if I’d go back if given the chance.

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I had the best day in a long time with my sister and her kids.

Forever and Ever – Pooh’s Grand Adventure

We spent the day in a nearby town called Stratford, known for culture and Shakespeare’s plays, but I like it best for the swans at the park, the awesome chocolate shop, but mostly for the time the four of us spent there together.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for another fascinating interview.

I heard Sting speak about his music, then and now, and the world he’s worried about leaving behind for his grandchildren.

I love to listen to interviews, to learn about people, and I think he is a good one. I’ve always been a fan of his music, from his Police days.

Then he scored the IMAX film The Dolphins that I love. It’s remarkably beautiful.

When Dolphins Dance

It brings me peace.

“Be yourself, no matter what they say.”

—Sting

I’m thankful the roof is completed, all fixed, along with all banging sounds silenced.

The men are gone, scaffolding removed, giant bin for debris taken away.

Now the rain will stay where it belongs.

I’m thankful my brother is off on an adventure.

Adventure Is A Wonderful Thing

We drove him and a friend to the airport and I was so excited for them, even more so than if it were me going. I want everyone to get to experience travel of some kind.

I’m thankful to have discovered an out-of-the-way little pizza shop to enjoy with my mom on a drive out of town.

Super Choice!

It was.

I’m thankful the first of multiple pieces of my writing was published to round off the month of August.

My Pal Croche: Remembering My First Guide Dog – Paw Culture

I am grateful that Paw Culture gave me the opportunity and a place to write about Croche, for the tenth anniversary of her death, on Good Friday, 2017.

I’m thankful for September and the first of the fresh local apples of the fall season.

It’s practically all I eat for the next month or so. Perfect combination of sweet and sour. So crisp and crunchy.

I’m thankful my niece and nephew have had such an amazing person to take care of them for the early years of their lives, so my brother and his wife could be at work and have total confidence and trust in the care their children were getting.

Now that my nephew will be joining his big sister in school, this won’t be happening, but the bond will always be there.

I know it’s hard to have to decide to leave your precious baby with someone else so much of the time, as working parents, and especially in a city like Toronto, finding good childcare isn’t so easy.

This person helps shape how the child will be, from the first years of their lives, and I know this was a big weight off their minds. I am grateful to this person. I see how much my nephew and niece love her. Transitions are never so easy and pain free, but a part of life.

I’m thankful for the senses I still have to enjoy a day out with loved ones.

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I got kind of depressed after we returned from Stratford, because I couldn’t see the white swans on the water anymore, but I enjoyed juice boxes, walking along a path while my nephew looked for a campsite (pretend), and the drive there and back.

I felt the fresh air and sunshine of the day. I smelled the scent of chocolate as we entered the shop. I heard the ducks and geese, if I couldn’t see the others.

I’m thankful for the sweetest moments with my nephew and niece during our day.

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“Kerry, mommies and daddies always come back, right?”

I was blown away by that statement? Question? Hmm. I still don’t know.

I heard the small voice from behind my front van seat ask this. He’d heard it said on a children’s program that morning. He sounded certain enough, but still looking for a little reassurance from his aunt.

“Inshallah”

Then, as we walked through a store full of goodies, he soon asked if we could get chocolate for others, not just himself. I almost melted, right there, surrounded by chocolates, at his thoughtful request.

As my sister loaded him and our treats into the van, I held my niece in my lap. She’d hardly cried or fussed the entire day. Later that night, I’d hold her in my lap as she chattered away and watched her big brother playing, with great interest.

My nephew wanted me to come to his house to watch Pooh’s Grand Adventure and I did. I am so happy I did.

Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin

I’d seen it before with him, but never had I paid as close attention to the dialogue and word choice. I was impressed at what a smart story it is.

As we sat, the song from above played, about being together forever and ever, as my nephew crawled into my lap and cuddled, sitting still for what could have been a shot at forever and I nearly cried, thinking of how many days there will be like that granted to me.

“Inshallah.”

It means God Willing. It’s an Arabic word I heard mentioned twice this week, from Sting during his interview and then in a piece I read somewhere.

I’m thankful for my boys.

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Never before had both Dobby and Lumos sat on either side of my chair like that.

I think Lumos was still wanting me all to himself, as Dobby had been away the previous few days because of all the commotion with the roof repairs.

And to end the post, a song that one of my favourite bands wrote after Diana’s senseless death.

Paparazzi On Mopeds – The Cranberries

Goodbye summer/August, the final long weekend of the season, and welcome to a new month and season of autumn to come.

And to my nephew, starting school for the first time and his big sister and cousin, I want you all to know:

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

—Pooh’s Grand Adventure

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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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