FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

Salty Sweet, Bittersweet #TGIF #FTSF #pieceOfCake

My father was never the beer drinking father, like most kids had. He was the Coke drinking father who was always available to be designated driver.

“Can me and Brian split a can of Coke?” I would shout from the top of the stairs, down to my parents in the basement. We always had Coke in the house, or practically always, but I still always felt like I must receive permission from my parents to have any. I like to think I had a healthy respect for them, most of the time, asking before taking. We had a good life, but our parents taught us a healthy gratitude for everything we got.

One of us would get the can and the other, they would get the half of the can poured into a glass. It was often the two of us, brother and sister against the world.

When I was 11 I was like any other kid my age, growing up in the mid nineties, and wanting what we call, in Canada, not soda, but pop. I loved sugar, but I also craved salt.

I began to sneak those fast food restaurant salt packets. I would eat the salt off of Pretzels and I even sprinkled salt on my potato chips because they weren’t salty enough.

How many eleven-year-old kids crave salt? It would have been a tough choice, at that age, between a can of sugary pop or a bag of extra salty snacks, but, at a certain point, around age eleven, the salty snacks would have won. By necessity. Something in my body needed, demanded it.

This is what would change my life forever. I had been born blind and lived that way, just another part of who I was. After my eleventh year, there was no denying that something was very wrong.

It’s been more than twenty years since that eleven-year-old craved sugar and so much salt. My kidney disease was growing worse. The nausea was increasing. The fatigue was putting me in bed right after dinner, almost nightly, feeling so weak and unable to run and play like I’d always done, like kids did.

This was the year after I celebrated my tenth birthday, with friends at McDonalds. (A paradise and a sugar/salt lover’s dream come true.)

After the year of the Beverly Hills 90210 poster and the Mariah Carey cassette given to me for my tenth birthday…I was not well as my next few birthdays came and went. I was not expecting to spend so much time in bed, on the couch, unable to eat anything other than that salty, processed, packaged chicken noodle soup made in a pot on the stove.

Bowls and bowls of the stuff were consumed by eleven-year-old Kerry.

I will never forget what it felt like to be eleven and drifting away from any semblance of a normal childhood. The next few years would be trying ones, but I am who I am today because of it all.

Both the salty and the sweet, bittersweet memories of a childhood, never boring.

This was more of the story I’ve been writing for twenty years, the one I want to continue writing, from the year I was eleven and unwell. It was brother and sister, always, and my brother would follow my footsteps, getting sick like me, three years later when he turned eleven.

This was the prompt for
Finish the Sentence Friday
this week.

Kristi, the orchestrator of all of this, she gave me the idea to start with the can of Coke. Read her post by clicking on the link above to see where I drew tonight’s inspiration for the prompt.

What were you doing when you were eleven?

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Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Hearts and Sunshine – Music To My Ears, #10Thankful

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

–From “Little Gidding” by T. S. Eliot

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Last week I wrote my TToT list, like I’ve done for nearly every week, for months now. I found ten things to be thankful for, as always, but I did preface my list with a list of three things I had to complain about. Christmas wasn’t all merriment and joy for me.

Christmas Through Your Eyes

But then there’s this, there’s them. This song I include because I know how much I still have to be thankful for, not least the way the children in my life help me see certain things in a new light.

If I can’t see Christmas lights like I used to, or colours so bright, I am grateful for the little children who teach me to appreciate the beauty of the world.

My niece’s birthday cupcakes had designs of rainbows, hearts, and sunshines on them. These are the things she loves to draw lately. They are what make me feel like there is just a tiny bit of me inside of her, as those are the things I loved to draw when I was her age, back when I could see enough and loved colouring and bright colours.

I see myself in her sometimes, the little girl I once was, and I feel a little less afraid. Thanks goes to my cousin for the amazing cupcakes, as always.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For a second Christmas. A do-over if you will, with three amazing little people and the best family a girl could ask for.

Of course, there was nothing really wrong with the first one. I finally got to give my nephew the talking oven I’d been dying to give him and he loved it. Best part of Christmas Eve.

🙂

However, then I fell asleep with a headache, missing out on watching A Christmas Carol with my father, our little December 25th tradition.

Christmas number two was three days, after Boxing Day, with my brother and his wife and their two children. We all get together, at my parent’s house, and do Christmas on our own time.

For a spur-of-the-moment Sunday night trip to the movies, (to see the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens), with my two brothers.

I loved it. It was an awesome escape from reality for a couple hours.

I was not born yet, to witness the craze of the first Star Wars, back in 1977, so I probably don’t have the same attachment to what it was like when it first came out in theatres.

All I know is I liked the characters, the action, and the fact that I saw it all unfolding with my brothers. A few weeks ago now I wasn’t seeing any movie with Brian. Now here we all were.

For another excellent movie narration, by an expert in the art of movie describing.

🙂

I really need to write a letter. I really see no reason, in 2015/16, that all movie theatres don’t have audio descriptive track for the visually impaired.

I know it’s a small town movie theatre, with few people in need, but there are still some, me included. With all the technology we have, it’s possible, and I shouldn’t have to worry about what movie to go to, not feeling I can’t see a specific film, say if I were on a date.

My older brother is well practiced, after being the one to do it for my younger brother and me since we were little, but most people don’t know how to describe a movie. It isn’t something to come naturally to most people.

For my brother’s home electronics knowledge.

I haven’t had much in home audio for a while now. When my ex left, I told him I didn’t need the flat screen television, and that he should take it, that I could get by with an old television for the time.

This meant that the surround sound system I’d purchased, when we started dating, was sitting unused, but since I was the one who bought it, I kept it. I assumed I would use it again, at some juncture.

Well, I finally have the chance. I required help to set it up again. My brother came over and got it working for me.

For Canadian healthcare and a card to access it.

I resisted having to get the new, updated card, for as long as I possibly could. Finally, I couldn’t resist any longer and got my photo taken, waiting for the card to arrive in the mail.

Well, it came the other day and I know I am lucky to live in Canada, to have the access to all the medical attention I might ever need, of which I very likely will at some point. That little card is my ticket.

For my brother, who continues to become his old self, a little more everyday and for the beautiful music he still makes.

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His language and memory are growing stronger all the time and I have him back. I’d feared that I’d lost him forever, in the way that he might never again be who he was. I was afraid we wouldn’t continue to have the connection we’ve always shared, that we could no longer have the talks we used to have. It’s a Christmas miracle. I don’t care what anyone else says.

At one point, during Christmas Part Two, my uncle came over with a guitar and his recorder. The two of them started to play and we all started to cry.

It was the best sound in the world, hearing my brother play the guitar, when we weren’t sure he ever would again.

Grenade

The above song doesn’t fit the scene, but I will forever think of it when I remember this next thankful on my list.

For the birth of a beautiful little girl, her existence, and the sunshine she’s brought to my family’s lives for these last five years.

I will never forget the night of New Year’s Eve, 2010 and celebrating, alone, in the kitchen of the house I was living in at the time.

It was just me, pizza, and wine, toasting the birth of my brother’s first child, my parent’s first grandchild, and my introduction into the best title ever: of Auntie Kerry. I couldn’t wait to get back to my family, to meet my niece for the very first time.

She has made the world a much brighter place, these last five years. She is smart and funny. She is so sharp. She keeps us all on our toes. We are constantly surprised by what she knows and what she thinks and what she says.

For one more perfect visit with my friend and her baby girl.

It was a chance to ring in 2016 with Chinese food, chocolate cake, and The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story.

🙂

For the fun of watching said unauthorized story with my old friend. She explained the wild outfits of the early 90s and the ways the actors playing the 90210 characters did or did not look like the real people they were said to be portraying.

It was highly amusing and entertaining. It was a surprise discovery, as we were looking around the television for something else to watch, other than all the to-be-expected New Year’s Eve countdown specials. We had fun, while my friend’s baby girl slept nearby. She wasn’t really old enough to watch, but my friend and I had fun discussing our memories of those days of 90210. It was my favourite show and this unauthorized movie was a fun way to spend the last few hours of one of the best years in recent memory.

Plus, in the morning I got to keep a sweet little girl company, while her mother got dressed, had something to eat, and packed up to leave.

They are gone now, back to Ireland, and I will miss them very much, but I got to have one last visit with them both. I will never forget that.

Unforgettable

RIP Natalie Cole

“I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words – how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”

–Elton John

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, TToT

TToT: Happy Days Are Here Again, #10Thankful

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

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I watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt clan: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

I had heard of them all, especially Franklin and Eleanor, but I enjoyed learning about the history. My mother mentioned she didn’t know what to do with me becoming all political all of a sudden, but I assured her that was never going to happen.

I simply wanted to learn about the people themselves, what times were like back then, and how we got here. All the political stuff wasn’t my main focus. I payed more attention to the polio that Franklin was stricken with. I wanted to know how disability was handled in those days and how he made it all the way to the White House.

Then there was his wife and all the social activism she took part in and the work she did for women’s rights. I was planning a post on feminism for mid week, so I was particularly interested.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

“Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on.”

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

This was a big song in the early thirties and when FDR ran for president, after the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the subsequent depression throughout the thirties and leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

The Happy Days song was a theme song, a slogan used for Roosevelt’s campaign. At one point, during the documentary, there is one of the first actual film and media clips on record, at least one of the first to appear in the documentary anyway. Franklin’s little granddaughter is the one to deliver that line, which was cute even all these years later, but although her grandfather would bring his country out of some extremely terrible times, the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again” wasn’t exactly the case and wouldn’t be for more than ten years.

World War II and the Cold War and so on. It all just got me thinking of when we’re ever really happy, as whole countries or as individual citizens, but that doesn’t mean that gratitude is not the place to start.

The psychological benefits of gratitude closely mirror those of meditation

American Thanksgiving, I wrote my

1000 Speak post (the link was open for a whole week),

and then there was yet another shooting outside a Planned Parenthood. What a week.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my country and my province.

Yeah, Canadians are known for their modesty, most of the time, but lately we have been in the news for many acts of good will and open minds and arms.

Most notably, since being top story in the news around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 25,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Canada.

The deadline is now at February, but at least we’re doing something and taking action to offer our doors wide open for anyone who wants to start fresh.

But also…Christmas in October.

terminally ill Ontario boy celebrates Christmas early in hometown

and

Ontario brothers capture incredible photo after bravely rescuing bald eagle

For the chance to share a valuable male perspective on feminism.

Purple: My Interview Wit Garry Atkinson

November 25th was International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I am very interested in feminism and write about it as much as I can here. It’s important to me and often somehow it gets twisted into something it is not. I want to change that.

The interview I did, is one man’s point-of-view on what feminism means and what it means to be one, to him personally.

After fifty years, Gloria Steinem is still at the forefront of the feminist causehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/road-warrior-profiles-jane-kramer?mbid=social_twitter

For something to look forward to in 2016.

A little taste of what I might be getting.

I love a good concert and I chose the lawn “seats”, so I really hope for no rain that day in June.

I consider myself lucky every time I see another of my favourite bands live. It is the best feeling in the world, when the music I love surges through me, the performers so close.

For an invitation from a lovely group of fellow writers and bloggers.

I have been gradually building these blogging relationships with this particular group of bloggers from

the TToT.

Well, they hold a big Google Hangout vidchat, as they call it, and they asked if I wanted to join them.

I liked having a place and people to talk about writing with and I told them about my travel blog. Maybe they will be kind enough to offer some feedback at some point.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

I am new to Google Hangouts, but they were patient with me, even when I hung up accidentally.

Oops.

🙂

It is nice for me, after so many months of reading and commenting and interacting, to get to put voices to the names. It will take me a few weeks to get a handle on exactly whose voice is whose, but I will get there soon enough. It’s just harder because I can’t keep track of who may have joined or left the chat because I can’t see the separate little windows on the screen.

For a very special 60th birthday celebration.

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All the family came together on the final Saturday afternoon of November, to celebrate the best husband, father, and grandfather (PA) we could possibly have.

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For some very special 60th birthday cupcakes.

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Who doesn’t love cupcakes? How could anyone not be thankful for cupcakes?

🙂

I have a cousin who makes cakes and she does all sorts of designs and flavours.

I can’t see them, but I can feel the fondant.

For my brothers.

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I am just lucky to have them, all three of them. Whether it’s when one carries my bag out to the car for me and gives me a ride home, to all the times he and the other two make me laugh, to the amazing father’s two of them are to my niece and nephews.

My older brother and I had a nice conversation, which isn’t always so easy in the group with everyone there. He was telling me about how his job is going. He is a photographer and Studio Manager.

Think Global

He has been there for ten years and he is well known in his department for his talents, his hard work, and his integrity. I was happy to listen to him tell me about what his duties include and what an important and reliable part of the team he actually is at that place.

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For goodbye hugs.

I am always a little sad when my niece and nephew are leaving. I love our byes at the door. It’s only one month until they will come back, next time for a few days, just after Christmas. It’s like we have Christmas twice in our family. Who wouldn’t love that?

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My nephew holds onto me with his little gloved fingers and I say bye again.

For small businesses, locally run, such as my cousin’s hair salon.

I did an interview with her last March and November 28th was Small Business Saturday.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

I think it is important to balance out the giant corporations and brans with the people who work so hard to offer quality options, products and services, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

For two of the most generous parents anyone could ask for.

That is all. They are just great to everyone they meet, especially their children.

I’m thinking this Christmas might not be so bad after all. I wasn’t quite myself last year around this time, but despite everything, it may turn out alright – happy days once more.

The only time i ever heard that old slogan, until I realized where it originated was when Brandon and Kelly got back together on Beverly Hills 90210.

Yeah, well for those of us who were huge fans of the young adult nighttime drama back in the nineties, it was a big moment. I remember how happy thirteen-year-old me was when my two favourite 90210 lovers were finally reunited, after two years of will-they/won’t-they.

🙂

What can I say? It got me through dialysis and that lousy year. Life gets more complicated as you grow older and it’s harder to find the sort of pure happiness you used to feel as a kid. This exercise in being thankful helps.

“I am angry every day of my life, but I have learned not to show it; and I still try to hope not to feel it though it may take me another forty years to do it.”

–Louisa May Alcott

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History, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Shows and Events, SoCS, Special Occasions

15, 20, 25, #SoCS

“Is there anything to feel. Is it pain that makes you real. Cut me off before it kills me. Long way down. I don’t think I’ll make it on my own.”
–Goo Goo Dolls

SoCS

Another Saturday has come round and that means it’s time for another Stream of Consciousness:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/10/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-1015/

I need as a part of my week.

Celebrating!

I guess that’s kind of like “Winning!” and Charlie, wherever you are, if ever there were stream of consciousness, you were it.

I am celebrating a few things this week. First of them is the Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, where my family come together, eat my mother’s delicious dinner, and have a whole lot of fun and good times. I am certainly winning with this to look forward to.

Perhaps I will write about the events of the day’s celebrating in next week’s SoCS post.

As for other reasons I am celebrating, this week just so happened to be the anniversaries for three important things in my life.

It has been 15 years, this week, since the very first episode of Gilmore Girls aired for the very first time.

I can’t believe how fast time passes me by. Really.

I know many people think this show is irritating, but I was immediately, or nearly so, just so drawn into its characters and premise, from almost the very beginning.

I was glad to see that television could still be original. The writing was snappy and witty. So many references to literature, culture, music, and so many things I did not know, would go right over my head, but these girls seemed to come up with this stuff, like stream of consciousness was could and did come just so unbelievably naturally to them in their everyday lives.

There was just the right amount of drama and fun. The town and its residents were wacky and out-there. I most definitely did not have that relationship with my own mother, could not have had a more different family situation than the Gilmores’. That was the attraction, I suppose.

Watching that show was a way I could bond with a friend, even when I felt like I was losing touch with her and the rest of my world, in all other ways at the time. She and I could still get together and have an all night Gilmore Girls marathon, cup after cup of coffee consumed in her basement, until we both ended up falling asleep in the early hours of the morning anyway.

Back when I taped every single episode on VHS and then began collecting DVD.

Next, going back 20 years and this week in time. The huge Goo Goo Dolls album, “A Boy Named Goo” was released and this rock group was my best wishes/going away/good luck with your kidney transplant gift, presented to me by my seventh grade class, at the party they had for me before I left.

Sure…it was stolen…when my house was robbed…as I found out my transplant had to be postponed…due to a sudden and mysterious seizure I’d just had…but the robbers couldn’t have known, what that CD meant to me, or I’m sure they would have stayed home and lived to rob another day.

Insurance bought back all our stuff in the end, but I loved my present and loved the music.

Speaking of this particular Goo Goo Dolls album…I really first heard their songs on the season six finale of the show that turns 25 this week.

This week in history…Beverly Hills 90210 first aired and this time I was not there, would not be for a few years.

I wanted to write a whole post to explain, to commemorate the value of this show for my life during the 90s, but then I fear sounding frivolous and silly. How could some glam and superficial show about privileged teenagers, living in Beverly Hills, how could this mean something so great?

Maybe you don’t ask, but I write about it here, think stream of consciousness is the perfect time to write about it.

My sister caught on first, but we were both still quite young in the early to mid 90s. We weren’t prevented from watching the more adult type shows.

Summer episodes, at the Beverly Hills Beach Club were the summer later, after the show aired on Fox. It was then that it took off and the phenomenon started.

My decade would soon be shaped by 90210 and its 10 season run. I started to watch the recorded episodes my sister had, braille labelling the VHS tapes and watching the shows, over and over again.

When I would eventually get sick, in 96/97 I would watch to escape, to imagine I was a beautiful, blond bombshell with a credit card and a boyfriend. Yes, I use the word bombshell. I had the posters and the dolls. Barbie became Beverly Hillized. I was stuck in a world between little girl playing with Barbie and the grown world of nighttime dramas. Every Wednesday at 8:00 I would watch, I would record. I would learn the lines by heart.

Kelly’s mother: “What do you want to do?”

Kelly Taylor: “Smell the roses. Maybe ponder the question of why God bothers to give us life in the first place when all he seems to do is fill it with pain and suffering.”

–Kelly Taylor/Jennie Garth

This line made me cry. Over and over, when pain and fear in my own life were at their worst, during the 90s and beyond.

I wanted to acknowledge these three events, for the role they all three played in the significant moments in my young life.

Celebrating a show or an album and its anniversary and poignancy in my life is really celebrating a feeling.

But I guess, now, I’m really just rambling.

Long Way Down

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Memoir Monday: The Beginning and the End

The Beginning and the End

I can hardly believe it’s been twenty years since he died.
I think and write a lot on the subject of loss and grief. My Opa’s sudden and unexpected death at age sixty-seven of a heart attack would be my first real experience with these things.

Continue reading

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