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TToT: Time, Place, and Space – Lost On Spot, #FamilyReunion #LaParada #Panorama #10Thankful

“It helps, too, to dream big, to make plans for future projects that are beyond the scope of my current experience, to make connections with other people who work in the arts, to apply for grants, send out stories, throw bottles into the sea. Make space for more opportunities to unfold. Here’s a fun thing to try: write a letter to yourself, addressing yourself like you would a dear friend. What advice would you give yourself? Can you name all the things about yourself that you like, that give you strength and courage? What questions would a good friend ask you? (I did this at the beginning of June, and reading over my “Dear Carrie” letter now, I recognize that it has helped shape my summer in positive ways.)”

–Carrie Snyder

I read this blog post and wanted all of it. I want to think good things about myself and write it all down. I want to know art and other artists. I like the bottle in the sea idea.

I have been slacking, not keeping up reading other thankful posts. I have let myself down, in a couple ways this summer, but then I’ve taken on so much that is new and thrilling too.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for feedback that is hard, sometimes/at times more than others, to hear.

I know I am learning from it. I know I need to hear it. I know it is part of the deal, of being a writer.

I’m thankful for a surprise offer.

It came at just the right moment, right after the difficult-to-hear feedback. It was a strange contrast of a day.

I was unable to trust in it, at first, because I still don’t expect good things to come my way much in life. (Bad habit/trap to fall into.)

I could sure use offers like this one to come along, once-in-a-while. It was from a well-known company, with a healthy budget and reputation. I was discovered, just by having my words, in existence, out there in the world.

I should be able to brag, but still I am uncertain whether or not to speak details of the thing in question, while contract is still being worked on and leading up to the release date.

Still, I had to include it here, in this list, this week. I won’t ever forget that contrasting day of offers, for feedback and for growth and opportunity. I only need to make sure I get it right.

I’m thankful for friends/writers who offer me a bit of encouragement when I’m starting to doubt.

Editors are unknown and unfamiliar to me, but then that means their job isn’t to make me feel better about myself or to buck me up. I know, logically, that isn’t their responsibility, but yet I probably still am looking for that, somewhere, deep down. Working on it.

Friends, those who know the world of writing (creatively or business wise) are the ones who are there, when I need them the most, to remind me that I am a writer, still learning and growing, but yet not at all without merit.

It’s just nice to hear it. I am indebted to both editors and writers/writer friends/friends and family, for the contrast.

I’m thankful I got to check out a live radio studio.

Radio Western (94.9 CHRW)

I was in there, going and observing the action live, while my brother put on his Friday music show. I told him, on air and off, that witnessing him in that environment made him seem a whole lot cooler.

I was there to celebrate his year on air (48th episode or so) and to talk about the summer social we have coming up, for our work with and as the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
and also, to get any listeners, familiar with his show, familiar with him and I together. (Keep reading to find out why that is.))

I’m thankful the woman who runs it wants to give us a chance.

She has offered us a weekly half-hour talkshow. We are doing it (based on our podcast/Canadian Federation of the Blind) as a theme. We will talk about disability, accessibility, and equality/equity. We will be current (have call-ins/live guests).

She has also offered to air already recorded episodes of
Ketchup On Pancakes
and so that’s why we don’t want to do a total copied version of our already-existing podcast together. That is about family/creativity/humour, not strictly about disability issues.

It isn’t mainstream radio as most people think of it, known by everyone, but a university radio station supports the arts and local talent, as well as community. It will be more of a reach than we’ve so far had, be broadcasting us to more of an audience than we’ve had as of yet.

And so, we are (soon-to-be) available to people, driving in their cars, across London, Ontario and beyond. Also, we are available, online and on Rogers (channel 943).

Now, all we need to do is come up with a catchy name for our talkshow that captures what we are about. We have a little less than one month to do this. Sometimes names and titles are easy to come up with and other times, not so much.

I’m thankful I got to see a talented singer/performer live.

She is a local girl, someone I’ve known from a writing group, full of talent, and full of life. She is animated and energetic. She is many things I wish I could be, but have no stamina to be for long.

She is multi-talented creatively. She went to school for musical theatre and she ended up singing some opera (in English/German/Italian I believe). She had to practice, in front of friends, family, and local community, to attend nationally, after having gone to perform in provincials.

She sang about men and about eating children. She sang and had two young men performing, so she could take a break. It was inspiring and fun.

I’m thankful for a long awaited family reunion.

We used to see each other (my mom’s side of the family) at Christmas every year. Then, with every passing year, our group increased in size. Then, both my grandparents passed away, (2005-2010) and we would’ve needed to rent a hall for our gatherings. The decision was made at that time, to stop holding holiday celebrations, and we’ve seen a lot less of each other in the years since. Some of us see each other more than others.

It was a beautiful day. I tried to enjoy the day. I don’t do well in big groups, even when it’s family. These are people I have known, more or less, all my life. Some came along in the nearly 35 years since I was born.

Cousins have children and some didn’t or couldn’t make it. The children don’t know me. Some of the adults don’t know me anymore and I don’t feel as if I know them now.

Still, family is important. There are connections (no matter the time that’s passed us by or the place/life’s circumstances that have occurred). I know we’ve all changed. We’re not the same people we once were. I know there’s a set of roots there, those that run deep. I wanted to reconnect. I can’t make that kind of connection happen again, not with the wave of my hand or by snapping my fingers.

It was nice we did it. I do hope we can make it happen every so often. I wish some things were different, but we share a common thread of where we’ve all come from, no matter where we might now be or where we end up.

The food was good and the kids had fun. It was on my uncle’s farm, where I grew up staying, for summer holidays, as a child. I was never a farm girl, but my mother had been, like her mother and father before her, and my cousins were, though I did grow up a country girl who would eventually move into town.

It ended up the perfect spot for a summertime family reunion.

I’m thankful for my August birthday boys.

I’m thankful I met these talented writers in Mexico and that I get to go on another journey with them, if only by reading their wonderful words:

Go on a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina with Angela Lang

or else…

wander through time/space/place with Kristin Vukovic

These two writers, along with the rest that P publishes, make me want to keep working to become a better writer myself.

I’m thankful for
this literary travel journal
they are both featured in, and for “Lost,” the most recent issue.

It is full, with each and every new issue that gets released, with the best writers around.

It is soon to celebrate its two-year anniversary. Happy Anniversary Panorama!

Your name continues to thrill me to no end. The bigger picture indeed.

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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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TToT: Anniversaries and Possibilities – Desert Roses and Rain, #BloodMoon #LunarEclipse #10Thankful

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”

― Sarah Dessen

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I’ve been thinking of the concept of time lately. I’ve been thinking about the timing of life’s greatest surprises.

I’ve been thinking, the last few days, of the girl I was (in my early twenties) when I lost my grandmother and the person I am today (in my mid thirties) – because of her and thanks to so many others.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful to them all.

My family have lost both my cousin and my grandmother in the month of July and we never forget.

I’m thankful for the time I had with my grandma and that I can remember her on this day and every other.

When we lost first my cousin, followed almost precisely one year later by my grandmother, I was adrift in my twenties and things wouldn’t become clearer for several years.

When I think of how much I miss those loved ones and the person I was when they were still here, I wish to turn back time, but then I stop, pause and ponder, and my present and future beckon.

I’m thankful for moving writing like this.

Orange by Susan Block – The Citron Review

I’m thankful for the hope that much waited for political change can bring.

From my standpoint, born in Canada, Ive recently been lucky to hear stories, firsthand, from another’s place in the world.

As much as I worry about where we are, I know there’s a big big world out there, one still fighting hard for something better.

I’m thankful for music.

Listening to music helps me sort out my feelings. It has recently become energizing and lyrics and feelings music provokes, this awakens me to the possibilities.

I’m thankful for a blood moon and a lunar eclipse, even if I can’t see all of that.

Our Favorite Photos of the ‘Blood Moon’ Eclipse – National Geographic

Do I wish I could see these? Yes, I do.

But I can still see the moon and I can feel the power it has over the earth and everything on it. The way it moves the tides is a powerful example.

I can love the fact that it is “blood,” “orange,” or “Red” and I don’t stop, won’t stop imagining what that looks like.

I’m thankful for my ability to cry.

When I heard the news, I cried, letting my hot stinging tears trickle from my eyes, onto my pillow and down into my hair.

Whether it’s from a sudden great loss or a rush of extraordinary emotion in the face of something real, crying (even a little) reminds me that I am loved, of my ability to love, simply to feel alive.

I’m thankful for the feeling that I’m flying.

Desert Rose – Sting

I’m thankful for the desert.

I know very little of this climate, up close, other than the sands I stood on on my Yukon trip last year.

Carcross Desert – Atlas Obscura

Not exactly the same as in this song I realize.

Whether Sting is singing about the desert or rain – from the sands to the ocean deep, as in my favourite IMAX movies.

I remember the first time I heard the above song. I was in high school and my friend’s mother had picked us up at the movies. We were driving in her van and Desert Rose came on the radio. I was blown away, as there was nothing else really like it on the radio in Canada and I felt like I was being transported, somewhere far far from my home.

I’m thankful for the rain.

Last time it was fire and this time it is rain.

“Ever since I met you on a cloudy “Wednesday,” I can’t believe how much I love the rain.”

(Lyric from a Chantal Kreviazuk song, which I’ve altered only slightly.)

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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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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: 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

Mfvikph.jpg

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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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…

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