A quiet Saturday night in Canada, but Wow
to what’s going on on the other side of the world from here.
And to the news between the US and Iran. Wow!
I say it as an exclamation a lot, to myself, because it feels super redundant to utter out loud to anyone within earshot.
I love this time of year in my country, snow or no snow, because I like being cozy inside and then, when I step out my door, to feel the fresh air, so cold. I love the stillest days of winter most of all, those still, silent nights those of which songs have been named.
I can’t imagine what Australia is dealing with right now because I’ve never had to experience such a thing. I remember watching the news when western Canada was dealing with terrible wildfires, hearing people in California speaking of it on Facebook. I can’t imagine even having to deal with smoke clouding the air and choking my lungs and burning my eyes. Having to outrun flames sounds nightmarish.
Over twenty lives lost there now, millions of animals and wildlife perishing so far, and yet climate change denial is still rampant. Wow, really?
I “WOW” this more than anything because, even if you don’t believe things are as bad as all that, at least let situations like the one in Australia now help you see that we can and should do something. Even if we choose to not put the blame all on our shoulders, fine, but at least we can do something, in the smallest belief it could help dangerous and devastating situations like wildfires take less of a toll. Why not? What’s the harm?
We frame things as serious, as serious as it often is, in the hopes that people will, you know…take it seriously. Then, we’re crying wolf or portraying ourselves as Chicken Littles. The sky’s not falling, okay, but it is smoky in places. If we talk so serious all the time, people will tune the warnings out entirely we’re warned, but then what does that leave us all with in terms of options to address what’s making the news in the first place?
So we have to sit with the realization of all those poor creatures, not understanding what’s going on, unless somehow instinctively. I sit here, in the northern hemisphere and January cold, thinking of all those poor animals, my two animals safely here with me.
Canadian firefighters and those from other countries have gone to help. What are the politicians doing?
Are there not enough natural events occurring these days for our world to contend with that humans have to go and create more havoc with their own real life choices? What is it with clueless, greedy, selfish, brutal men running the world, making serious decisions that will impact so many, creating an environment of fear and anxiety? What if we let women run the world, just for a little while, to see if things might turn around? What’s the harm in giving it a try? All men, stand down!
I saw how serious news stories were handled on the ground and up close when they involved New Zealand recently, (mass shootings and volcano eruption) by their PM, a woman. I wish there were more of her.
I don’t generally like to generalize, but I’m tired of the anxieties. If it’s this way, this greatly weighing on my mind and heart, I shudder to think of what it’s like for anyone immediately, directly effected in in the path of destruction, whether natural weather and climate or manmade disasters in progress.
I say my wow’s and my huh’s? I say it till I grow weary of saying it. I long to be a child again, not to block out news by simply not seeking it out because that feels irresponsible, but to be a kid again and simply not grasping the significance of all these things going on.
Oh two-year-old Mya my dearest one, how I envy your child’s cluelessness, in great contrast to that cluelessness I spoke of above from adults who should know better.
As the days grow darker, I wonder about why darker is harder for people.
Sleep and internal clocks and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are the ones that are most felt this time of year.
I get my time from my iPhone, which turns back an extra hour automatically, (will do so again tonight) rather than the clocks on appliances. I like that hour, as there’s a time for everything, even the chance for more sleep, something I blame pain more on than anything else when I don’t get enough of it.
Darker is the start of winter, but it is summer somewhere. Australia and New Zealand are down there, waiting for me, but life goes on until then. I go in to the colder, darker season in Canada with an appreciation for where I live. Christmas means darker, but with that five o’clock darkness, come Christmas lights. Christmas makes me happy. I let the additional hours of darkness bring me peace and reflection. I try not to focus on word meaning all of the time, letting my sensitivities get the better of me, but why is dark bad and light good anyway?
Our fears hide out there, just waiting for the right moment to leap out and scare us?
I’ve written about this before and probably can’t sum it up any better now, as Daylight Savings comes upon us for another year. I do wonder why and then my answer comes, as to why blindness is feared like it is. The idea of being left in darkness for the rest of one’s life is scary, I get it. Still, black and dark are so entrenched in our consciousness as things unwanted and feared. Whether it’s skin colour of another or a state of seeing/not seeing the world. Will we ever get away from such associations?
November is one of those more difficult months for me, at certain moments at least, as I look back over past experiences with these thirty days. Things happened to me in this month I won’t ever forget, things that have left solid impressions on the person I am.
Zooming out to a broader picture, it means solemn thoughts of war for Canada, with Remembrance Day (November 11th) and this year’s 100year anniversary in particular. I feel worse about the subject of war (the lessons we’ve learned and those we yet haven’t) than I do any dark morning or evening come too soon. Just as many lives were lost in the four years of World War I during bright, daylight hours, just as much death and carnage. Likely, more, as the armies needed the daylight hours to see what they were doing. Night would have been when it was smarter to hunker down in separate trenches wherever and whenever possible.
I think of every ghost, set adrift across those European battlefields, and I am haunted by the heaviness of so many souls lost.
And I go onward to November 11th this year with a heavy heart once again, though I don’t know exactly why that is.
I think of that word often and I don’t need Halloween or a day devoted to wars to do so. This month holds memories, like the hauntings of a shadowy realm.
I have all things monsters and ghosts on my mind still, even with Halloween in the rearview mirror for another year. Darker days mean winter and winter means ice.
I had to go to the easiest accessible book to me and that was my shelf of all seven Harry Potter stories to find my random word.
Black ice can be a danger on the roads in Canada, in the months ahead. Scary.
Harry Potter stories use ghosts and monsters to great effect. The ice forms when the monstrous, hideous dementors show up. (Read the series to learn more about those.)
A fascinating representation of the things that scare us, threaten to remove all happiness, like the depression that is sometimes seasonal and sometimes all year round.
If you can, look at what darkness brings that is pleasant and happy, rather than those things it hides or covers up or frightens you with. Maybe, one day, we can change some of the feelings around what darkness represents.
What’s good could be bad and what’s bad could be good.
I am back and taking part, after several weeks of distractions and elsewhere’s. Also, I’m writing blog posts and prompts, while avoiding something I should really be doing instead. This is okay, I suppose, but I know I need to get back to it shortly.
To drink from the fountain
Of the little you know about love and god
I can’t see silver and gold anymore, but at least Canada still has net neutrality.
Photo caption: Max and Auntie Kerry. My favourite picture, though I cannot see it.
I have been watching many of the holiday programs in the run-up to Christmas: Home Alone, Rudolph, and an old Frosty classic.
My jolly holiday spirit has been waxing and waning this year, all depending on the day, which is why I am still here with my third Christmas season with Ten Things, keeping the gratitude going and written for the record.
It’s funny, that the Christmas song I ended last week’s TToT post with (all about the kind of snow we get here in Canada) and then that is the one Christmas song Sarah Slean chose to perform at her concert that night, the one I am happy to report I got to enjoy. This leads me to my first thankful for this last week before Christmas finally arrives.
I’m thankful for the weather holding back, if not the bitter cold, at least the blowing snow.
I live over an hour from Toronto and where most of the concerts are. I am thankful the weather cooperated and that I had family willing to make that trip, to drive me to see Sarah Slean and her band live.
December in Ontario, Canada can be unpredictable, but though it was so bitter cold, I was eventually warm inside the intimate venue, with some lovely music and a good friend.
I’m thankful for a truly uplifting early Christmas gift of a concert, with a friend and fellow writer.
Sarah sang beautifully, with a woman who doubled as backup and cello. She also had a guy on the drums, violins, and viola players. Slean herself, as well as being lead singer, played piano.
She even forgot the first line of her big single (Sarah) and had to stop the music and shout out for the lyrics. It was a sign that nobody’s perfect and we all forget things and make a mistake, if you can even call it that. We are all human. It happens. She has been writing songs for something like twenty years and her audience of all us fans were understanding.
Sarah spoke, in between songs, about the shelter she volunteers at in Toronto and the people she’s met there. The concert was raising money for food for Christmas for St. Felix Centre on Facebook.
She spoke of the snap judgments we are all guilty of making in our daily lives, using one of many hashtags during the evening (#GOTrainPhenomenon) for what happened the night it was just her and one scary looking man on a GO Train. When you’re trapped on a moving vehicle, you have nowhere to run and hide, which can open your eyes in unexpected ways.
She considers herself something of a #SongWitch for what happens to her when a set of lyrics and piece of music come to her and become something special.
Her lyrics are heartbreakingly beautiful and wise.
I’m thankful my friend and guest (her birthday being the next day) and I could talk, even during intermission, and her spirit could be lifted just as mine was.
We struggle with writing, at times, but we shared our experiences, back and forth. I know we inspired each other to never give up and to continue on this path we’re both on.
It was different songs that spoke to the two of us, but all that matters is we got something special and unique out of it.
Mine was the first song Sarah sang, about there never being a perfect sky and right away I was listening. She had my attention for sure. I am often afraid I will one day no longer even see what sky is, but the message about not waiting for some perfection that will never come was duly noted.
For my friend, it was a song about finding the right words and that endless search to say exactly what it is any of us wants to say.
I’m thankful for more speaking up and activism from a powerful advocate and friend, after an unexpected piece of news.
I went to the Sarah Slean show, happy to avoid hearing the news of the vote in Alabama that I’d been hearing, frankly, too much about.
What happened in that state was and is a smaller scale example of the disbelief I have for who is POTUS right now. It is all so nonsensical and disgusting. I feel like I live in some kind of upside-down world, on a daily basis, even from my semi-regular life here in Canada at this time.
It’s a sign that sure things shouldn’t be assumed/presumed or counted on. It felt like all those who mocked anyone for their confidence in Hillary Clinton winning the presidency, like it was such a sure thing in 2016, were given a taste of their own medicine here in 2017. Cockiness is not such a good attitude to have when it comes to these things.
Enough people, the right people weren’t having it and I will let Kerra speak on the rest.
I am so proud to know her and that she has found this place for her opinions on the fate of her birth country.
I’m thankful for people to check on me when I’ve had a bad day and couldn’t be found.
I stay in touch with someone, as I am on my own a lot, and then I have my bad days when the pain makes me want to sleep and shut out the world.
I appreciate being left to this sometimes, but I know I am always being watched over and protected.
Whether it’s family or neighbour, it is a nice thing to know.
I’m thankful for a pleasant and successful final National Foundation of the Blind Peer Advisor conference call before the holidays.
We are a team in many ways. We support each other in our limitless pursuits. It’s a good group.
We speak, by phone, one Thursday evening each month. This was our evening to hear about holiday plans and traditions. Still, I am the only peer advisor from Canada in the group. One woman calls from Australia.
Maybe we will all meet in person one day.
I’m thankful for such fun kids in my life.
It was a wonderful pre-Christmas Saturday with my niece and nephew.
My niece has herself a dollhouse, which is actually for a family of bunny rabbits. My nephew played with his big sister and her rabbit family.
I sometimes like to join in their games. Other times, I love to just watch and listen as they play. They fight, like siblings often do, but they love to play together too. It’s super sweet to witness the fun they have with each other.
I’m thankful for Chippy.
I believe that is his name, their Elf On The Shelf, who shows up somewhere new every morning leading up to Christmas.
My niece and nephew enjoy looking for him in a new spot every morning, like hanging from a light, as he was the day we were there.
I guess, I don’t really know the rules, as this wasn’t a thing when I was growing up. Still, they seem to love it. It is one of the special holiday traditions they have as a family.
I’m thankful for such smart kids in my life, asking questions.
My brother had the new Blue Planet oceans shows all downloaded and my niece was all into learning about sharks. She could become a scientist (marine biologist perhaps) or an artist. That’s what is so amazing about her. Her future, with all that curiosity and intelligence, is wide open.
My nephew is settling in at school his first year and making friends. He is so inquisitive and full of life. He makes me smile, the sweetest little soul.
They asked questions and seemed to begin to understand, more and more, about what blindness means in their aunt and their uncle.
I am glad we could share a love for marine documentaries and colours.
I’m thankful for old champaign still tasting good.
Thanks for the hospitality goes out to my brother and sister-in-law, for the snacks, and the holiday cheer.
And Santa is his name-o!
Thanks, Dr. Seuss, for that one. I love that and the travel it hints at, alludes to. It’s thrilling, just writing that quote and reading it back to myself. I recently carried that quote with me, on my first solo trip to Mexico, reciting it in my mind whenever I needed a shot of bravery.
When it comes to travel, I could go for days and days, writing about it I mean. That much travel, while sounding just as thrilling as Seuss’s quote, would exhaust me. I do it in my imagination though, all the time.
If I had the money and the energy, I’d be off. Sure, I’d always come back to my home, as that’s how travel is most appreciated, but I would not be satisfied to simply stay in one place all my life. I would suffocate in that bubble.
It was in me, of course, ever since forever. My grandparents lived in just such a bubble, but they didn’t stay. They left sometimes, though always coming home again.
My most favourite treasure from my grandmother are the journals she kept, for years, where she jotted down the daily events of her life and family. Then, just a short distance from where she kept those, were the stakcs of photo albums, full of photographic evidence of the places her and my grandfather saw during their fifty five years together: all throughout Canada and the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Australia.
Life and reality are just as important as a life of travel. Some can avoid that, I suppose, but not me.
I have limitations. I fully acknowledge those, but recently I challenged them too.
I immediately started thinking about what I would write, upon reading this week’s prompt for Finish the Sentence Friday
and my first thought was Mexico.
I would write about my recent trip there. Why not? What else could I possibly write about now, while the memories are fresh? But wait…
I have things I want to say, but I can’t get back to it, whether in my own head or when trying to explain to others just why that trip meant so much. I try and try and try to explain the feeling, but somehow, my experience doesn’t come through. I feel unsatisfied with how I am describing it and how they are hearing it described by me. I guess the expression “you had to be there” is right. Oh, so right.
I travel back to every moment of that week, from my fear and intense anticipation. To my sense of peace and calm and rightness with the world and my place in it at that instant. I don’t want to say words now fail me, but perhaps they do. The envelope of photos I now carry in my purse of my trip don’t do the thing justice either, somehow locked in the past of the actual purse I carried with me. Nor does the bracelet I wear on my left wrist, every bead carrying that week’s sense memories within.
I went so far as to create a whole travel website, separate from this blog, while the force was still strong to attempt the world of the travel blogger. I had it all mapped out, saw things so clearly in my mind.
I wrote up an About Me page there, before the new site went live. It laid out all my most favourite spots: Niagara Falls and Ireland.
I put forth an illustrated list of the places I’ve been so far: Cuba, Florida/New York/Michigan/D.C./California, and Germany.
I spelled out everywhere I dreamt of going: Hawaii, Palau, Australia, and New Zealand. I wanted to be adventurous, surprising even myself, and in this dream I stood at the bottom of the world, surrounded by ice and penguins.
I didn’t truly believe I’d have the stamina, resources, or opportunity to make it that far, but, really, who could say?
Then, my website fizzled out. I let myself down. I studied travel blogs galore and somehow, I couldn’t become them, social media and pitching tour companies and all. I couldn’t. I was not a list maker and a personality so strong. My fantasy of becoming someone, I perhaps wasn’t meant to be.
I am a literary writer. That’s who I am. I can take all the travel blog success courses I want, have as many Skype sessions with an already established travel blogger as are offered in any given online course, and I still failed.
But I didn’t. I found a way to travel anyways. I found a group of my people, other literary type writers, somewhere full of magic and reality, all wrapped into one.
I couldn’t hold onto that week forever. It came and went. I may feel a little aimless since then, since arriving home, but that’s okay.
The world is a giant place. Anyone who doesn’t open their mind first, it doesn’t matter how far or how nearby they go or stay.
Travel all sorts of places, in your mind, through reading/watching a good book or movie. That’s just more ways to open your mind to the vistas (boy do I love that word).
Read travel blogs, as I still do, if that makes it all more real.
Acknowledge your limitations while challenging what still might be.
Meet people. Meander through a place. Taste a new food or sample a helping of another culture, far flung from your own.
I may not have that beautiful travel site I saw in my mind, but I am still wandering through this big, beautiful world and I am doing it with all the insight I can manage to unearth as I go.
I will linger here a bit yet still, but I know I will be off again, sooner or later. If you linger too long, you risk getting stuck. I hate to burst your bubble, but it must be done.
I meander and linger and meander some more. I look over those vistas I can no longer see. I meander with these words and with myself. Still figuring it all out.
I’ll be sure to let you know, here, when I’ve been everywhere. In the meantime, Dr. Seuss’s words keep me going, moving, living.
One of my favourite Christmas time traditions growing up was to go for a drive on a snowy night to check out all the houses and their lights, coloured or all white. Didn’t matter, not at one time.
This holiday season I still feel grateful for so many things, including the lights of Christmas. It is not so easy to spot houses covered in lights anymore, but I am still thankful. Having traditions at this time of year helps to brighten my mood as the end of another year draws to a close.
And what a year it was.
I am unable to really see this photo now, but sounds nice anyway. Trees. Lights. Snowflakes softly drifting down.
December is here once more. I have a tree-like situation in my living room, lights outside on my house, and snow is starting here in my part of Canada, but all over really.
I am thankful for where I live.
I am thankful because I know Canada isn’t the greatest country in the world, but it is pretty great still. I am happy to see Justin Trudeau using social media, as is how it’s done these days, but he uses it without malice or ugly undertones.
The still current U.S. VP Joe Biden visited Canada this week and spoke to the Prime Minister and the representatives of the provinces, about climate change. It is close to many Canadian’s hearts and on many of our minds, the arctic, pipeline concerns, effects of oil on animal species, and severe weather patterns with melting sea ice. It isn’t so easy to ignore, but I know it isn’t easy to figure out either.
I know a lot of people who live here hate the cold and the snow of the long winter months Canada is so well-known for, but I can’t think of anything better than a still, silent, and snowy night.
I am thankful to have a mother who loves decorating for the holidays and she sets everything up for me, now that I am on my own.
Last year, around this time, our family found ourselves in a frightening situation, likely the most frightening we’d ever experienced, which is saying a whole lot.
It wasn’t so easy and somehow didn’t feel quite so important to decorate for Christmas, while we waited to see what my brother would be like when he woke from a sudden head injury.
Of course, as soon as the shock wore off and things began to look up, family and holidays were once more the priority and felt right to celebrate.
None of us, nobody in fact wants to spend Christmas in a hospital, but they are so nice to have when needed.
I am thankful that I can still see Christmas lights.
Who knows…next year this time…five years from now…ten and beyond. I’m living in the now and enjoying what I have while I have it.
I am thankful for the recognition that is still extremely necessary and is brought into focus on December 3rd, every single year.
It feels good to see the plans forming officially. It will be here before we know it…before I know it. Preparing. I can and I will do this.
I am thankful for the help I’ve received so I can be comfortable with my stuff I will be taking with me, my ability to read and write, and to just fit in and be another member of the class.
I am thankful for the guidance from my writing mentor, a wonderfully helpful local travel agent, my parents, and all the family members who have been so supportive of me wanting to take on a new adventure in 2017.
I’m thankful for some of the fascinating reading material I’ve received already, reading material about one place in particular where we’ll be during the writing workshop.
I am reading New York Times articles about a place of art and that goes by the name, translated from Spanish, to mean “House of Frogs” I believe. Better than “House of Scorpions” as I am a little more nervous at the thought, ever since I read “The Pearl” in high school.
One minute, it went from the reading material from off of my shelf, to use for scanner practice, and then suddenly two copies were being requested. A lovely surprise.
In the last month or two I’ve gotten my anthology possibly sent and traveled all the way to Australia and now a copy will surely live at a school for the blind that I did not attend, but I know lots of people who did.
For my part, I guess “clumsy” may not be the very first word people would think of to describe me as, but likely it would make it into the top five, depending on the day you asked.
I don’t wear high heels and I hardly ever had to. If it had been necessary, I imagine there would have been a lot of clumsy moments for me.
I guess I feel like, not unlike the effort it takes to physically walk through life, there is a certain amount of stumbling I do metaphorically. I get through life, but it’s a clumsy effort on my part, as every time I manage to gain some traction and get control of my footing, something else will usually then come along and I will end up on my ass.
I like to speak publicly, unlike so many, but I often struggle to say the right thing at the right moment. When I haven’t thought long enough about what to say, I stumble clumsily over my words. I think my mind often gets ahead of the words that come out of my mouth.
I like writing because, despite my lengthy moments of explanation or exposition, I can choose just the right words at the perfect time. I can think and plan and act accordingly.
I both like writing and blogging exercises because they give me a chance to not think so hard about what I want to write about. This may mean nobody is reading, but I am writing, and that’s worth all the clumsy moves and stumbling in the world.
It’s Christmas and that means we’re all supposed to be feeling great, but how many of us is that actually not the case for, really?
Rain instead of snow. Fog instead of flurries. I don’t like being frozen either, but the way people seem to have embraced all this unseasonable warmth baffles me. To me it seems like we are living one of those world disaster films, just after the opening credits have rolled. Do we not think this could spell worse times ahead, for this planet? Do we care?
Christmas in most of Canada is supposed to mean snow. I just can’t feel thankful for the fact that we don’t need to wear coats to go out to our holiday parties this year. After all, this is Canada, not Australia.
Also, a friend is leaving and I can’t feel thankful that I won’t get to be around, over the next couple years at least, to see her little girl grow up.
Finally, in my little list of grievances before I get to my thankfuls, because I am not always as positive as I would like, as this TToT convinces me I am.
I can’t see Christmas lights on houses and many more beautiful things I miss seeing so much. I try to convince myself I am lucky I ever saw such things as the lights on houses. I always loved going out for drives, at night, to look at the lights when I was growing up.
It’s almost winter and do you know what that means?
Yes, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, of course.
But it also means the dreaded body aches, chills, headaches, stuffy noses, and sore throats.
The jolly merry old illnesses and colds of the season.
Other than the movie review I posted the other day, I have taken a few blogging sick days, after being pulled down this past week with a pretty nasty cold, first of the season.
What are the odds I will be able to knock the number of these down from last year, from three to just one?
Happy Holidays to me. At least I should be back to my old self by Christmas.
Anyway…it has been quite the week for me, on a more positive note, with a list of the blogs I have been featured on lately. Also, my chosen story in a holiday short essay contest, and an interview I recently did with a fellow blind travel blogger/writer.
I hope you enjoy and feel free to check out any or all of the blogs and websites I list below, both for the work I’ve done and for those who have hosted or been interviewed by me.
I have met a lot of interesting people, bloggers, writers over this past year or so. One in particular is a visually impaired writer and traveler from Australia who was kind enough to feature me on her travel site back in the summer. Glad to be returning the favour I asked her if, I could interview her on my new travel website and here it is:
Next, sticking with the travel theme, I received my second chance to showcase my travel writing skills, with a guest post I wrote for a blogger, writer, and traveler who has just recently updated and consolidated three or so separate blogs into one. I thought the highly personal reason for why I hope to one day travel to the birthplace and the French village of Louis Braille and check off an important item on my WanderList would be the perfect fit for her newly put-together website:
To cap off that Friday full of guest posts and coming up on the end of the year, I was once again mentioned in a end-of-the-year round-up of a fellow blogger. She runs a style website for blind and visually impaired women and I contacted her earlier in the year. We spoke and from there she featured me on her Fierce Friday series, followed by me interviewing her for my blog a short time later. Well, now she has included me in the midst of two extremely talented visually impaired women of whom I look up to, a writer whose book I reviewed a few months ago and the talented writer and traveler whom I mentioned above:
I woke up feeling like crap a few days later, to a message that my holiday themed essay had been chosen. I still felt like crap, but this announcement made me smile in spite of that crap. A blog all about brevity, called Brevity and I didn’t think I could be that brief. Check it out here:
This week for Travel Tuesday it isn’t a travel tale or memory of my own I wanted to share. I hope to face east, one day, and just keep going until I hit ocean, but for now I must settle, (which I am happy to do) with hearing about it secondhand.
have to do with traveling the world. I want to see places like Hawaii and Australia, but I know how much of my own country I have yet to explore.
Technically I have been to Eastern Canada, but due to the fact that I was only a few years old at the time I have found writing about it exceedingly difficult.
I not only love writing about travel, but I love to read about other people’s experiences with their own travels. At least, by reading how other people see the world, I can learn what’s out there for myself to one day see up close.
Here is an excellent Victoria Day long weekend travel post a talented friend posted on her blog. I asked her if I could share with my readers and I wanted to show off her site at the same time. Check out her long weekend: