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TToT: Back Home In Ontario Edition, #CFB #Organize #Empowerment #10Thankful

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

—Jonathan Swift

I have been away for a few weeks, most recently in British Columbia and before that, I guess I couldn’t seem to organize my thankfuls, but a visit to the ocean is good for a little perspective.

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Caption: Sitting with my group, by the lighthouse, at the end of the breakwater in Victoria.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities

Speaking of, “Organize” was the theme of the 2018 convention for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, in Victoria, BC.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for capable airline pilots.

I’ve probably flown ten times or so in my life. Every one of those times, I hold my breath as the plane speeds down the runway, takes off, and lands again later on. I get nervous, clench my hands into fists, and then try to just go with it.

Through all that, through every bump and jostle of turbulence, I am grateful to feel that there must be a super capable person in charge of flying that aircraft.

This time, flying across Canada and back, was no different.

I’m thankful for a mostly accessible place to stay.

The hotel was a lovely one, with braille in the elevators, marking each floor as you stepped out, all except braille or other tactile numbers on the room doors.

The guy at the desk when we checked in even thought, without us having to suggest it, to stick a piece of tape on each ID key card.

By the end of five nights staying there, I started to feel at home. It was wonderful. I walked around the lobby and the floors with relative ease, even with the drunk group on my floor the one night.

“Blind woman coming,” one of them announced, the loudest of them all. “Stay to the right.” This I already knew.

I couldn’t resist turning back to him, as I walked right to my room door and went to pull my card out, to inform him that my name was Kerry and to: “have a good night.”

I’m thankful for a writer with a car.

A friend of some heard I wanted to visit a few specific places during my Victoria stay and generously offered to drive.

We took cabs otherwise. I did a lot of walking as it was. I appreciated the ride.

On the first leg of that driving, we got to know each other and I discovered she is a writer too. After that, we had plenty to talk about.

I’m thankful for the breakwater.

Up until recently, this long walkway sticking out into the sea, with the lighthouse at its end, had no railings. It wasn’t quite so safe when you couldn’t see.

Now it had railings and I could walk out into the water. I was in heaven out there, as windy as the day was. I never wanted to come back in.

I’m thankful for a welcoming tour of an historic bookstore.

MUNRO’S Books

My new writer friend knew the manager and we were greeted warmly and given some in depth backstory about the building and the owner, who once was married to Alice Munro and is famous for that union.

I’m thankful for a comfortable and also stimulating day of discussion, listening, and new friendship.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities/conventions

It was the largest group for its convention. We from Ontario were celebrated and welcomed guests in attendance for the first time.

There were talks and discussions throughout the day on Saturday, making it a long one, but oh so worth it.

Being in a room where almost everyone is without sight, there was help and understanding assistance from everyone, from where to find an available seat or to feeling free to speak one’s mind. We didn’t always agree on every issue (universal design, accessibility, guide dog issues, career search, disability awareness), but we all were there to listen to each other.

We even had a few special visiting guest speakers: one was an expert on advocacy from University of Victoria and the other on social media trends.

I’m thankful for compassionate and passionate sighted allies and their ideas.

As nice as it is to join together as those living as blind Canadians, as essential and important, it’s good to be able to share with understanding people with sight too.

The writer/driver and her partner were there, along with a university student film maker, to capture the day’s events and they decided to interview some of us, for development of a possible short documentary called Listening To Blind Canadians.

In her car, she told us how she knew one of the women from the CFB and their parents had found companionship with each other in their later years. She didn’t seem to be fascinated by blindness in any artificial kind of way, like we were some sideshow to her. Just that she wanted to be there, as a friend and ally, to bridge the gap and promote a wider understanding through shared humanity.

I’m thankful for helpful people during travel.

From the BC Ferry Service employees, who helped us on and off and to comfortable seats to many public transit (Sky Train) workers who helped us find the next train, the right one.

We decided to do a ferry ride to the mainland and back, in one day. We went to check out Vancouver and meet up with my brother’s friend for lunch.

We did mostly traveling though, met another blind person on the bus and traveled part of our way with him, and yet I even got to walk into the water of the Pacific.

Even one of the fellow CFB members, also attending the convention, was a big help. He was around and free to go along with us, knew the city of Vancouver pretty well and had lots of practice riding those trains.

I’m thankful for delicious salads on my travels.

It was greens, seeds, cucumber, a sort of sweet vinaigrette, and the freshest little cherry tomatoes.

Mmm.

Last time I found a delicious salad like that, I was in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I’m thankful for those who came before.

We were able to travel on buses and trains independently, knowing our stop was coming up, all because of an automated announcement of streets. I take this sort of thing for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. There were people who demanded that service and had to fight for it.

I met the CFB treasurer, who was born in the UK, who wrote a book
The Politics of Blindness
and then I finally managed to read that book.

Here’s to the beauty of Canada’s west coast and to organization, to truly make a change.

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TToT: The Mercurial April of 2018 – Foreshadowing Farce, #10Thankful

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

—Maya Angelou

This week, all of Canada is mourning loss of life, young and promising players, in a horrific bus crash in Saskatchewan.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful that all of Canada has come together in a time of grief.

A GoFundMe page has been set up, which has already raised over 4 million dollars for families and survivors, and Justin Trudeau visited the injured. With all the bad in the world, even in moments of shock and loss, I feel better to sense a coming together of my country, from coast to coast to coast.

‘Hockey stands with you’: Condolences, support pour in for Humboldt Broncos | CBC Sports

I am thankful that hockey is what it is, means what it means to so many Canadians, even if not always especially and specifically for me.

From small town teams to the NHL, support to those (on and off the team affected) has been swift and strong.

https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos

I’m thankful for an angel who is going to leave something behind in tragedy, to be able to at least help someone go on, in good health again.

Lethbridge hockey player’s organs to be donated after fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash | CBC News

I read that one of the young men recently signed his donor card. This is a tough subject, but as the sister of someone who five years ago received a kidney from another person lost, I know the other side, that the side of organ donation.

I don’t have a clue about the tragic side of having to let go like that, but to know a gift is being given, I can’t pretend I don’t recall that relief I felt for my brother’s sake and for my own.

I don’t know what else to say. It’s one of the hardest things any person could experience, I’m sure. Still, I had to speak up about it, to include it in this list.

I’m thankful for beautiful art that remains after death.

One of the fifteen killed was not only a hockey player, but he could make brilliant music on the piano. (See performance link above.)

I will start and end this TToT post, speaking of music, but as things must and do go on…

I’m thankful I got a sudden call that a cancelation came up for me to get a physical therapy appointment finally.

I’ve been waiting for this call for over a year now.

I’m thankful the therapist took the time to go through my lengthy medical history with me.

It took up her whole allotted hour. We didn’t even have time to get to any stretches.

I’m thankful she plans to educate herself, to read up on my rare syndrome, before our next appointment.

I am thankful for the smooth and textured needs of two new bracelets.

Some are smooth, but other parts are made up of lava stone. They have tiny grooves in them and you’re supposed to drip the smallest drop of essential oil on them. Then, I can have a gentle and soothing touch of scent against the skin of my wrist, wherever I go.

My cousin, who runs a hair salon, also sells handmade items, such as jewelry and things. I like to shop, supporting local makers.

I’m thankful I got to attend my violin teacher’s masters recital.

I met her family after and they, along with her friends and other students/teachers, were all so proud of her, including this one student of hers in particular.

So many people, all there to support her. She has worked at it nearly all of her life. Her skill has taken years to develop. I will miss her and everything she’s done for me, once she moves on for further education, but this show was outstanding.

I was in a mood all that day, before her show that night. I don’t know what it was or why. I kind of wonder if it wasn’t me, feeling anxious and nervous, for her sake. I get more nervous for others more than for myself, if possible, when someone I know or care about is going to be tested or performing in front of people, like when my brother plays guitar.

This time, I am not sure, maybe it was just a bad day. Then, when I sat down, the song she played on her violin seemed to calm me, changing my mood and reducing my anxiety. The song was something I’d really never heard before. It was abrupt and anxious sounding, but it seemed to put, into music, the exact feelings I’d been experiencing. It took it all down several notches and I felt like it expressed precisely how I’d felt.

I’m thankful for not only a piece of music that speaks to me, but also a passage in a book.

This one is from A Wrinkle In Time. I read it and it brought together the elements of my own head, the themes that have been with me most of my life, something deep inside, of which I’ve put into my own song lyrics in the past. I’ve even dreamt this sensation:

“This movement, she felt, must be the turning of the earth, rotating on’ its axis, traveling its elliptic course about the sun. And this feeling of moving with the earth was somewhat like the feeling of being in the ocean, out in the ocean beyond this rising and falling of the breakers, lying on the moving water, pulsing gently with the swells, and feeling the gentle, inexorable tug of the moon.”

From the moon to the sea…RIP to those lost and deepest condolences to all those who’ve lost loved ones.

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TToT: Chameleon in a Room Full of Mirrors – Penblwydd Hapus #10Thankful

“You are strong because you are imperfect and you are wise because you have doubts.”

—Clementine Churchill

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This is a reminder of the little girl I once was. My sister found this card in the library book my nephew brought home from school last week.

What are the odds and my first thankful after musing on what it’s like to turn another year older, all while discovering those reminders of the girl you used to be.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the short story I managed to come up with at my writing group, even if my braille display did crap out on me (dead battery) right before I finished it.

It was a short story about a young girl, living in Europe, only a few years before the breakout of World War II and she is celebrating her birthday with a skating party with friends.

I will finish the story and read it out loud at the next writing group night.

I’m thankful for an inspiring first meeting with some new peers living with chronic kidney disease.

We met to discuss how those of us who’ve been and are currently living and dealing with kidney disease can help a new generation of those going through or about to go through it.

Some were on dialysis and some, like myself, were transplant recipients. One was even newly diagnosed and didn’t know where to start. I hope we didn’t overwhelm that person too much.

So much excellent discussion went on. It felt empowering, more than I’ve felt in a long time, as I’ve been off of dialysis for so long that you start to forget what it was like. I have this chronic condition, transplant or no transplant, and may need help from these same sorts of people again one day too.

I am thankful, also, for the guy next to me who got up and brought me a new plastic fork after I broke mine trying to stab a cucumber out of the pasta salad on my plate as the presentation went on.

I hate those cheap plastic forks.

I’m thankful for Apple Music.

Now, for a monthly fee (after the first three free months) I have millions of songs at my fingertips, right on my phone for streaming.

I’m thankful for a surprise right before my birthday.

Native Traveler, awarded gold in the audio story/blogging category from the NATJA

The host submitted the Native Traveler show with my piece on No-limits Travel for the Blind to the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) awards , among a couple of others.   The show won Gold in the radio broadcast category!.

North American Travel Journalist Association awards list for 2017.

I’m thankful for the card, flowers, and butterfly for my keychain, all from my wonderful neighbour.

The card was one of those singing ones.

The butterfly has now become a symbol with meaning between the two of us. I am keeping it with me. I like to trace my fingers around the wings. I used to love to draw bright, colourful butterflies when I was younger.

The flowers were fragrant, but the stalks were so heavy that my mom had to prop up the flowers, using a cooking pot and some cardboard.

I’m thankful for all the well wishes from family and friends, on Facebook and off.

I wasn’t feeling so well on my actual birthday, but it was nice to hear from people. It cheered me up a bit.

I’m thankful for the cake my mother made for me.

Cherry chip with a cheesecake swirl and white chocolate icing.

She is amazing with certain kinds of cake. It was made with love and care. Thanks Mom.

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I’m thankful for a snowy day on my birthday.

I felt unwell, stayed inside the whole day, but I was glad to know what was going on, a snowy world, just outside my window.

It was a perfect February day, even if the next one brought rain and then freezing to produce slick conditions for walking.

Someone on my blog wished me this and I had to look it up, but was super glad they’d said it:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/penblwydd_hapus

I’m thankful I can learn new things, even and especially at thirty-four years old.

Penblwydd Hapus to me.

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TToT: Mother Nature and Cloud Iridescence, #10Thankful

It was a diamond winter day in February — clear, cold, hard, brilliant. The sharp blue sky shone, the white fields and hills glittered, the fringe of icicles around the eaves…sparkled. Keen was the frost and crisp the snow over our world; and we young fry…were all agog to enjoy life. 

—THE STORY GIRL
🎨 Peder Mørk Mønsted

New month, new slate. Here we go.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for a nice dinner out with my sister and my brothers.

We went, to celebrate February’s arrival, my upcoming birthday, and my brother-in-law’s birthday in a few weeks.

A few drinks and a free celebration dessert made it a lovely evening. I could relax, finally, for a few hours at least.

I’m thankful when my niece hands me a banana.

It was a plastic toy, but still. The gesture shows she is growing up, soon to be taking her first steps.

I’m thankful when my friend the travel agent helps me figure out some pricing for a trip to BC.

It is for the Canadian Federation of the Blind’s annual spring convention.

At least three of us are going. We will make sure to get in some travel/tourism stuff in there as well.

I am determined to stand by the ocean.

Also, to meet people in person, who I’ve spoken to by phone for months, it will be nice to make their acquaintances, and I hope to speak in front of the entire convention on my project to put descriptive audio services in movie theatres.

I’m thankful for a visit with my neighbour and my brother.

My brother got a ride back here, planning to jam with his band friends in my basement that night. So, I’d previously made a plan to visit with my neighbour in the afternoon and so the three of us had a nice talk.

I’m thankful my neighbour cared to give me some tea to help me sleep with my cold.

She said she could give me apple cider vinegar to gurgle, which she swears takes care of a sore throat for her within hours/a day or two. She said it may taste bad, but it works. Luckily, for me, my throat issues were behind me. Sure, I barely had a voice, but the soreness was gone. It was a stuffy head and I don’t sleep well at the best of times.

She is taking care of me, however she can.

I’m thankful my cold cleared up like it did, when it did, and I hope it stays away for a few weeks at least.

I have an appointment next week to get a new artificial eye made. It requires an entire day of fitting and resizing and taking my current artificial eye in and out, in and out. Not my favourite thing.

With a cold, tearing up constantly, it wouldn’t make the experience any easier.

I’m thankful for my sister’s help with time card/invoice spread sheets/graphs.

To request payment for the contract work I am doing, writing an introduction for a paper on braille, I must fill out a chart thing.

My computer’s voiceover program does read graphs, but I tend to try too hard to visualize them and have to work with what I hear.

I am practicing with my braille display to get a better idea, but just hearing numbers and columns is confusing.

My sister deals with these things, all the time, for her tax business work. She helps me get paid and I am grateful.

I’m thankful my niece is still small enough to fall asleep on my shoulder.

My sister was at the store and my niece had worn herself out, crawling round and around my house, going for mops, crawling behind the couch, and getting into trouble of all kinds.

Eventually though, she started to whimper, for her mother I’d imagined. I picked her up and paced with her in my arms, listening to music and singing gently. Soon she was asleep on my shoulder.

I tried to sit down gently in the chair, trying hard not to wake her, and the position I ended up in was not so good for my neck.

I tried to shift, but she was in a position in my lap and I didn’t want to disturb her. It was totally worth it.

I used to do this with my niece and nephews in the past few years. This may be my last chance, for a long while, to hold a sleeping baby. That saddened me and I held her all the closer for it.

I am thankful for what Britain did to fight off Hitler in World War II.

I went to see The Darkest Hour and I was moved, in many different ways. Churchill’s oratory skill was brilliant and his determination to protect England was challenged at every step, until he was honest and got feedback from the British people. He had little help from the United States at that time, May of 1940. Still, he was honest about the fact that they were on their own and there was no option but to fight to the end.

My feelings on peace vs war, it’s complicated, but I try to understand how things were/are, when making a judgment call on what should/must be done.

If Hitler had conquered the island nation of Great Britain, he could have and likely would’ve moved on to England’s child of sorts, Canada.

I’m thankful it’s February.

I am fickle with my feelings on turning thirty-four on Saturday. It depends on the day or the moment I think about it.

Still, January wasn’t the best of months. Though February also means my niece’s first birthday and her growing up, I am still looking forward to celebrate. The cake my sister has ordered from my cousin, the cake maker, sounds pretty cool.

Spectacular moment “rare rainbow cloud” appears in skies above Brazilian tourist spot – THE SUN

Hello February. You’ve arrived, Finally!

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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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After the Summer Writing Workshop: Back to The Real World

I can relate, so well to these thoughts on what a week that’s all about writing can be. Thanks, as I look back on one year ago, this week, goes to: Amy, Donna, John, Jen, Kerra, Sara, Angela, Kristin, Lisa, Susan, and everyone else I met during that magical workshop in Mexico.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

fastBy Melissa Fast

I noticed the moseying around the quiet little town of Gambier, Ohio—stop by the Amish basket maker, peek in the bookstore one more time, grab a bite to eat at the Village Inn (Ohhh, the tater tots).  Suitcases were already packed and most of the writing workshop participants had boarded shuttles to the airport or loaded up the car and left. The few of us who remained didn’t want to leave. The spell would be broken.

I know I’m not the only one who thought it. Once home, I scrolled through Facebook and Twitter feeds and saw the same kind of sentiment—magical, fantastic, unbelievable. Status updates tried to encase the week-long experience of TheKenyon Review Writers Workshop, perhaps to hang on just a bit longer.

I more than willingly entered this other world. For an entire week, I was spellbound in words. I dis-remembered contrary…

View original post 604 more words

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TToT: Lightbulbs and Lightning Strikes, #LookBackMarchForward #10Thankful

January isn’t making anything easy on me, but it too shall pass.

Somehow, I’ve had Billie Holiday on my mind as this month stretches on, painfully on and on.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the never ending list of ideas that come to me, as potential topics to write about.

Writer’s block, no way, at least not in the usual way of things.

When I am given the job of writing something, I may get a block, but that’s more from my fear of not being able to do the job I was asked to do, not being good enough.

I’m thankful for a return to my writing group in 2018.

It was a difficult day/week/month, but those people are there for me.

I wrote about a young woman, musician, who was hearing the news that Kurt Cobain had died, and wondering how to navigate the perils of fame.

It is a question on my mind. The group listened to my clumsy story and seemed curious, as curious as I am about what I’ve been thinking since I heard Dolores O’Riordan was gone.

I did smile and even laugh, with my group of local writer friends. Worth it.

I’m thankful for a list of tough questions to answer, to better know myself.

I am a writer, but I have a lot to learn. Sometimes, it requires that I look deep into myself, to find the truth. Otherwise, my writing will not keep on the forward momentum I hope to have.

It’s hard work, difficult and painful and sensitive stuff, but I am determined to see things more clearly on the other side.

I’m thankful for a first successful meeting of
The Canadian Federation of the Blind,
Ontario, in 2018.

I’m thankful for a contract opportunity to write about something so important to me.

Braille is not a well understood thing, for many, even as technology takes on bigger parts of all our lives.

My early literacy is thanks to my parents and to the school I was in and braille is a large part of all that.

So, to share about the value of braille is so important to me. I just hope I can do it justice and give to it as much as it has given me.

I’m thankful Canada’s government didn’t shut down.

Disfunction at the highest level.

I know very little about trade agreements, but Canada is doing the work and staying involved with other countries, while moving away from what the US seems to be heading for.

They are being run by someone who only pitches America, America First, or whatever, all things made in America. Whatever, to bring more jobs. I guess that is left to themselves, in their own country. Isolation.

If his government can’t even work together, to stay open a year after his inauguration, how well will they do, on their own, if that is what they prefer?

I’m thankful I could be in on a meeting to discuss traveling out west, for a convention in British Columbia.

The Canadian Federation of the Blind have a convention, every May, where issues important to blind Canadians are discussed.

This year, Ontario is coming to western Canada and we are going to make our mark.

I was only in B.C. in the airport, changing flights to the Yukon. I intend to go back, to speak about the project to make audio description in movie theatres a common thing, and I will see the Pacific Ocean while I’m at it.

I’m thankful that the marching continued, one year later, with all the more reason to do so.

I wondered, did worry, that it was a one year hit action/movement and those who like to criticize would be able to point at the one time visual as a sign that making our voices heard isn’t needed or productive.

I did not see all the signs, but had a few read to me. Some smart sign writers in those marches.

This is a current US president thing, true, but it is bigger than that guy. It is a stand against what has been.

It leaves a bunch of us out, those who find marching in the streets difficult, but it is heartening to me anyway.

I want things to only get better, going forward, in the years to come. I have a vested interest in that, in compassion and in empathy, for not only one gender or class or whatever.

I understand the fatigue that can set in, but we all must keep doing something, however small. I am still working out what that something is for me.

I’m thankful for a chance to listen to a local orchestra, playing my kind of a symphony and to see a movie live, that I missed the first time around.

I saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the film, on a big screen at a sport stadium.

Then, I saw the soundtrack being played by live orchestra. It was a strange experience of my senses.

I heard parts of the soundtrack, differently than I’d ever heard them, when blended into the background of the movie on DVD at home.

Int was strange, seeing with a crowd of other major Harry Potter fans, with all the cheers and the comments made by nearby fans.

The bells and the percussion section and the other main instruments that make up that famously known and heard Harry Potter musical sound.

I’m thankful for things that happen (or don’t happen) for a reason.

Maybe I don’t get what I want, in one moment, but that leads me to something else. Maybe I am getting what I can handle, what I need to teach me what I need to know.

Who knows.

I resisted the “door/window” line of optimism.

I am ending, this week, with another comforting song from The Cranberries, the Irish band that was and is no more.

My brother generously added it to his playlist on the radio show he hosts, every Friday morning, on a college radio station in London, Ontario.

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