FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF, Travel, TravelWriting

Summer In Progress, #TGIF #FTSF

Well now – summer, 2018 is halfway gone. I know. I know how loathed I am by people when I point that fact out, but tis true.

Q: What did I learn this summer so far?

A: Don’t visit Florida in July. Far too humid.

It was
the summer of
Orlando, Florida.

It was the summer of
National Federation of the Blind conventions,
jitters of the first-timers, and memories made.

A group of members left Canada (from the Canadian version of the NFB) and spent a 4th of July (Independence Day) in one of the states of the union. From a distance, fireworks could be heard, after one of the many downpours came and went just as quickly.

My summer really started on that cloudy Wednesday.

It’s been the summer of seminars, speeches, and banquets, which included one free palm read.

An early morning solo swim, where the night before the pool deck, dark and silent, held a certain charm of its own.

Airplanes and the world’s quickest flight home.

My summer has now included a chest cold and a shattered iPhone screen, tire driven over, when I did not secure it safely inside my purse, but I now listen more closely to the rhythm of my heart.

Halfway through the summer and another FTSF with host Kristi and co-host
Kenya G. Johnson
of Sporadically Yours.

Next up: autumn, my favourite of all seasons, though this summer hasn’t been half bad.

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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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What’s Up With Me, #What’sUpOxford #FTSF

What’s up?

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What’s up with me lately? Hmm. What a question.

I have been talking about my desire to improve audio descriptive services in movie theatres, for the visually impaired, and I honestly haven’t stopped talking about it for days and days, with no end in sight because, I just figure, that’s the best way to keep my message spreading across Canada for the next six months in which I plan to run my survey.

I contacted local media and am going to be on my local television station to speak on this issue. I don’t know to whom my message will end up reaching, but I figure I have to start somewhere.

And so I thought I’d share this photo of me at Rogers TV and about to speak to the two hosts of
“What’s Up Oxford?”
about my passion project in progress.

I am nervous to be on camera, but it’s all necessary for my cause.

This has been a
Finish the Sentence Friday post,
in its new format where each week is the same but different.

This week, we’re sharing a photo and the story behind it. Happy to host along with co-host Kenya G. Johnson from
Sporatically Yours
in toe.

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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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I Wanna See Me, Reflected #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

Don’t look back.

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That was the title of the song I wrote lyrics for a few years ago, a song my brother wrote and performed for a college project.

It’s a good notion, as I try to focus on my future and living my version of now, but reflection isn’t all bad.

Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

It’s exhausting really, sifting through all the memories, as I write them down for posterity. Still, I write first-person essays and other non fiction, memoir pieces. All this is most undoubtedly good practice for the book-length memoir I am determined to someday complete.

I am sometimes overly self aware, leaning heavily on reflections, in order to better see myself and others. I look back a lot, in total disregard of the lyrics I once wrote, as I reflect on the past thirty-four years. Yes, I will soon be turning thirty-four and I have a lot to look back on.

The waves of memory just keep on coming. I try to jot them down whenever and wherever I can, always holding back the force of each and every wave, so the threat of being washed away doesn’t ever come too near.

This Flashback Friday, flashing back to all the Friday’s of my past, the prompt word is “memories,” brought to us by
Cage Dunn
and feel free to share any of your own memories with me in the comments.

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RESERVED! #TGIF #FTSF

There is a new coffee shop/bakery/cafe in my town. It reminds me of one I discovered and wanted to take home in my suitcase when I was in the Yukon six months back: Burnt Toast Cafe (Whitehorse) and Burnt Brick Cafe (Woodstock.

Both have similar names and beet salads. The similarities start and stop there.

Yes, while trying to envision the decor of this new cafe I have felt the brick wall next to my table. I called ahead and reserved a place. This means I was expected by the staff when I arrived, like I belonged there.

As I sit and eat my beet salad with goat cheese and candied pecans, I decide this will become my new out-of-the-home writing spot and I will be a local that will soon become a regular, maybe even with my own regularly reserved table where I will drink lattes and write all the things.

I would belong there.

When it comes to belonging, I know everyone says it, or at least feels it, at one time or another. We all struggle to belong somewhere. I am no exception.

I think of myself as a bit of a misfit and I have claimed the title with pride, though I live with feelings of not being enough or those of embarrassment a lot.

I want to blend in, to belong there, to belong anywhere. I want to be just another customer.

Customer. Decor. Furniture.

In the cafe today I was finding my way back to my table, after paying the bill, but before eating my dessert. I do hope to come often enough that soon enough I know my way around, but this was only my third time.

Friends either give me their arm, speak directions, or suddenly I am on my own, just me and my white cane.

It taps the metal of table legs and people stare.

Okay, so I don’t know if they do, or if they are nervous I might knock a table over or what, or maybe neither. Today, either way, one of the staff silently pushed me from behind in the name of guidance.

They didn’t do this violently or rudely, just in an attempt to show me how to find my table again.

And did I pull away, whirl around, and correct them, asking them not to put their hands on me without saying something?

Did I say politely that wasn’t the right way to go about that, to help the blind costumer who’d just spent $40 at their establishment?

No and no. I continued to use my cane to find my place and I sat down to enjoy my mini Oreo cheesecake.

I can’t just expect people to know the proper procedure, but it’s hard to explain, n the proper tone, in the moment.

I definitely don’t know how to blend in, to be just another customer, to feel like I fit in, when I feel like an object that must be moved. I say I feel like a misfit, or like a piece of miscellaneous furniture they move into its proper spot in their cafe so I am not in the way.

But do I even go with the rest of the place’s decor?

Hmm.

I should have explained why silently pushing me from behind was not the way to help someone, me, who can’t see. Somewhere inside I have the urge to whip around and tell them to take their hands off me. Or, that they should at least say something before doing it.

Anger and rudeness isn’t the answer. I want to soon be a regular there, to support the community, and to eat good food. Maybe I will even write great things there.

First, I must become comfortable there, with all them, and they must become comfortable with me too.

I want to belong somewhere, a community, even its businesses, such as interesting cafes like those you hear about in Paris, where people drink their lattes, observe people, and write.

Okay, so Woodstock is no Paris, but right now, I am the blind woman who clearly hasn’t figured out her way around quite yet. Friends don’t always know how to help and staff doesn’t yet know me either. If I wait, let time do its thing, I can hope to belong there, the woman who comes in with her laptop and her stick once a week, to her reserved people watching/writing/latte drinking table in the corner.

I can hope. I can dream.

I can do that. I can be. I can belong.

Finish the Sentence Friday:

Finding Ninee
and
Hillary Savoie
hosting.

I belong at this end-of-the-week blog exercise. I am back where I belong.

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The Value and the Invaluable, #FTSF

What is it that is priceless about this one, precious life?

Finish the Sentence Friday:

with Finding Ninee

and with guest sentence-thinker-upper

Mardra Sikora.

What is priceless about my violin, about Halloween 2017, and about writing?

My violin rental was my birthday present when I turned thirty-two. I chose to buy it for myself, once I learned how much I loved the challenge and wanted to keep going with it. I found a young woman who had been playing for nearly twenty years, who was a student and could use the twenty dollars a week. I admit, I get a pretty good deal there. She gets to teach me. Feel bad for her sometimes on that. I learn, but it sometimes ends up taking me a few tries, at least.

Buying a violin…hundreds of dollars. A violin lesson…$20.

The feeling of peace while I concentrate and play, the sensation of accomplished determination of practicing, and the sweet and beautiful sound of such an instrument…

PRICELESS.

Halloween this year was full of pizza and plenty of treats. The weather could have been a lot worse. It was cold, but at least there was no rain or snow. My nephew came into my house and immediately removed his socks, as he likes to do. It took plenty of gentle reminders, which turned into nagging reminders that if he wanted to go trick-or-treating, he needed to put them back on his feet.

Candy costs money. Costume making costs his mother hours of time and attention.

Hearing my five-year-old nephew counting his candy, showing up he can count all the way to one hundred (even though he may have counted some pieces of that candy more than once), and the pure innocence and recently discovered joy of the holiday in his voice…

PRICELESS.

Writing is, for me, like breathing. It’s getting to share here, to speak out on the things that matter to me, and all this is, of course, priceless.

All the courses with their enrolment fees, the expensive technological equipment I need to replace the hand/eye connection I no longer have, and the newly sought after paid work I have found and fear I will find no more of.

Writing, as breathing…

(as I’ve said)

PRICELESS.

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