1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, National Novel Writing Month, RIP, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, Writing

Lay Down Your Weapons #RemembranceDay #SoCS

I am trying to write about war.

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On this November 11th, I try to put myself in the place of, say, my grandmother. She lived through World War II and yet I feel like I never even scratched the surface with her. She spoke of that time in her life, more than most, but yet not nearly enough.

I am trying to get down the words, at least a beginning to what could become a novel some day. November is not only Remembrance Day, but it is also National Novel Writing Month and, at this rate, I am not likely to make the fifty thousand words that is the ultimate goal.

I have a near stroke when I think of the setting I want my story to have. I worried that this piece of writing required too much research. NaNoWriMo isn’t supposed to be about doing research. That comes later. Just write.

In a way though, I feel I’ve kind of being doing my own form of research, for many years. I’ve been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember, most especially World War I and II and the 20th century. I’ve watched documentaries and read up on lived accounts of those years. Still, as much of an empath as I feel I am, it is hard to put myself in that place.

How would it feel to be living during World War I or World War II anyway?

I listen to true and up close accounts of soldiers, in the trenches, between 1914 and 1918 and the rats and the mud and the stench of death all around you.

I’ve listened hard to personal accounts in interviews, Jews and other victims of the carnage. I am writing a story about a woman, her mother, and trying to raise three young children/grandchildren during such days. I am trying to put myself in their shoes. That seems, though I am a human too, to be a difficult task, a goal, one I am fighting hard to reach.

I love my country, am happy to be Canadian, but I am no patriot. I wish political parties and affiliations didn’t exist. On a day like November 11th, I don’t glorify war, just like I don’t glorify it any other day of the year. My goal, in learning about it and writing about it, is to try and make it not repeat itself, like I have that power.

All the talk of bravery gets to me. Of course, it would be scary to be caught in a war, but to make the decision to go and fight in one is different altogether.

I feel like I am being disrespectful. I know it’s a sacrifice to risk losing a leg, an arm, or one’s life to war. I speak the truth of it, but what it is is ugly and awful and, I believe, unnecessary.

I heard a song on the radio earlier today, one that very nearly brought me to tears, about how we’re all one, all family, every one of us. We are from different countries, continents, cultures, and races certainly. Some say this makes us different in ways that cannot be altered. Others sing those songs of coming together as one, in humanity.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS (Remembrance Day Edition)

I wish walls were never built and lines never crossed in anger. I am not in control of most of this. Losing limbs seems, to some, to be a possible price to pay for freedom and democracy. I just want to write about war. I don’t want to see any more. People say, when it comes to us imperfect and often boastful humans, that will never be the case.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

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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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, Podcast, Special Occasions, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

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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Memoir and Reflections, Podcast, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, Spotlight Sunday, Travel, TravelWriting, Writing

Ketchup On Pancakes: Episode 6 – Mom and More, #Thanksgiving #Travel #SiriusXM

It’s October!

Blowing out the candles and mya is in the shot too.
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Fall is my favourite month, this year my mom turned sixty, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving, and Halloween rounds off these thirty-one days.

Our 6th episode of the podcast is out and we dedicate it to our mother and discuss travel (Iceland), writing (SiriusXM, Canada), and Brian’s show on university radio (Friday’s from 11:00 to 1:30).

Episode 6 – Mom and More

We hope you’ll listen and feel free to visit our
Ketchup On Pancakes Facebook page
to share your thoughts and like the page while you are there.

Happy October to you all and thanks for listening.

Links to projects mentioned:

https://www.nativetraveler.com/blog-main/2017/9/20

https://chrwradio.ca

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, The Insightful Wanderer, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

TToT: The Bridge Between What Is and What’s Hoped For – Making Waiting Worthy, #10Thankful

“She promised herself she would see the world, and so she did.”

-Virginia Woolf

Sometimes I fear, as I write piece after piece about my first solo travel experience for interested and curious editors, that I will never again get the chance.

I took the Woolf quote from my writing mentor’s email signature because I feel like I could be that quote, if only…

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful that I can call my sister anytime and hear my little niece babbling happily in the background.

She is old enough now that my sister can put her down on the floor, with some toys, and then get some stuff done around the house while my niece entertains herself a little.

I don’t have to go far to see them in person, but sometimes, in the moment, I am dealing with something hard and hearing that little girl chatting away happily is the only thing that can make a difference in my mood.

She is just that precious.

I’m thankful for a lovely home visit with my friend because downtown was so incredibly busy.

It was a warm day again and the downtown area was busy with Thursday market and other things.

So, instead, we went through a drive through and took coffees back to my air conditioned house.

I’m thankful for a return into the world of yoga.

My instructor got rather busy at the end of summer, but we are starting again, now that fall has nearly arrived.

My balance wasn’t bad, but I still fight shaky arms.

The end-of-session silent meditation time was my favourite part, again, though this time I had a harder time blocking out everything I have had on my mind lately.

Other than a few Skype difficulties, it was not bad for having missed multiple weeks.

I’m thankful for a surprise acceptance email in the evening.

Different editors work varied hours, but normally I don’t expect to hear from them after eight in the evening.

This one was such a pleasant surprise and a great opportunity.

I’m thankful for living light.

Bioluminescence

I can’t really see it anymore, but I still watch any documentary I can get my hands on about the sea. It’s just amazing what animals are programmed to do.

Oh, to have become a marine biologist, free to study such miracles all the time.

I’m thankful I could book an eye appointment.

I haven’t been to see my retinal specialist since March of 2014 and I was worried I might need a referral to get back in there.

I am sort of worried about my eyesight, feeling it slipping away, and it’s about time I get some peace of mind, if possible.

I have been seeing this specialist for over twenty years, ever since a mysterious virus attacked my left eye and started in on my right. This doctor was understanding and patient and did his best to save my little remaining vision.

Now I need to hear he sees nothing wrong and that maybe there is hope. Though I bet he won’t see anything and I will feel even worse about what my gut is telling me is going on.

I still am grateful to have this doctor and he may just have a comforting word, said in his soft, soothing voice.

I’m thankful for seconds.

At the market, a bag of my favourite September apples costs quite a lot, but if you are willing to settle for the apples that didn’t quite make the cut during inspection, the price goes down considerably.

I have inspected many of these apples that weren’t quite good enough, finding nothing wrong. It’s not like they are covered in worm holes and mushy bruises.

They are still the apples I love. I am happy to take the ones nobody else wanted.

I’m thankful for my writer mentors and friends and their belief in me and my writing.

Just knowing such wildly talented writers believe in me, that they consider my writing so highly, this means everything to me.

That they describe my latest freelance writing successes in this way: “well deserved catapult to glory”.

I especially love that the piece referred to in this case was published in
Catapult
and I can’t believe my piece is visible on their main page.

On those days when I am feeling down about a pitch rejection or not hearing back from a short story contest I’d entered, their faith in me is just the thing to make me reconsider my own talent, as something I am working on constantly and am meant to do.

I’m thankful for a complimentary email to brighten up my weekend.

The one travel publication I received an acceptance for last week read something I got published (the Catapult piece I included here in the last TToT) and they emailed me, the editor, to say how much they enjoyed reading it and are even more sure about my participation in their literary journal.

It was just the thing to brighten up my dismal weekend.

I’m thankful for unexpected acts of kindness.

As my friend and I were going through the drive through to get our coffee, the worker at the window asked if we wanted to purchase a smile cookie to support a good cause.

VON Sakura House – residential hospice of Oxford County

I said why not, as it is for a good cause, and then we drove to the next window.

It turns out, the car ahead of ours offered to pay for our cookie and I suddenly felt warmer than the day could cause. It was a warm feeling of gratitude and for the kindness that still exists in my town and in the world.

And, speaking of lifting quotes from others…

The title for this TToT post I got the idea for from
Lisa
and from
Christine Carter’s book
all about self care and healing.

These ladies have a point, in that I am not dealing with any disaster. My brother’s accident a few years ago, that was a disaster for the family.

My week was far from disastrous and I am thankful for that.

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Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Writing

Fear of Flying: Inside the Memoir-on-Submission Wind Tunnel

And, through it all, the writer keeps writing, inspiring other writers to keep writing too.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Cameron Dezen Hammon

“What is it Mama?” my daughter asked, her so voice so hushed I could barely hear her. “What did they say? Mama?”

My daughter is not a quiet person. When she speaks, she’s usually heard. Maybe she was afraid of my answer. Or maybe I couldn’t hear her over the rush of blood in my ears, the slap of my palms on the hot steering wheel, the tepid air conditioner in my ancient Honda, barely keeping out the one-hundred-degree Texas heat.

I was in a Starbucks drive-through, my 11-year-old watching slime videos on her phone in the backseat. We’d just come from iFly, an indoor skydiving place on the Interstate 10 feeder road. My agent had sent my memoir out in early July to 45 editors, and since then I’d become an expert at choosing activities–like indoor skydiving—that prevented me from obsessively checking my email. I’d…

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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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