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TToT: Run Time and Take Five – State Smash! #ShePersisted #10Thankful

Another birthday has come and gone and I’m fired up, in a lot of ways and by the positive signs of women persisting, remaining cautiously but still incredibly thankful.

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I know, I see, I’m not the only one.

Ten Things of Thankful, #10Thankful

So, to keep things in the proper perspective, I’ll just launch right into what makes me so grateful.

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(Makers, all, with Anado McLauchlin.)

I’m thankful for this group.

And for these girls.

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I’m thankful for friends, together, in one special spot.

I missed out on seeing for myself just how colourful this place was, but at least I got to take a break, for a minute or two, to sit on the couch with friends.

Thanks, Anado, for letting us into your home.

I’m thankful for newly introduced music, better late than not at all.

RIP Mr. Jarreau.

The guy sure could scat!

Speaking of music and birthdays, I’m thankful to have made it to a year with my decision to learn how to play the violin.

It was on my last birthday that I walked into a music store and rented a violin. I had no idea what I was getting into then. Well, okay, I kind of knew. I knew, but I didn’t really know. Know what I mean?

No?

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I’m thankful for a teacher, to take this photo of my re-commitment, one who hasn’t given up on me, even in those moments when I’ve wanted to give up on ever learning a difficult instrument like the violin in my thirties.

She taught me new finger exercises, ways to strengthen my left hand and the fingers on it. I spent most of my anniversary/birthday lesson wishing for new fingers, longer fingers, but I will get there, one day.

I’m thankful for another birthday.

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I’m still mulling over what that means, on a practical level of course. I had a rather subdued birthday, after spending a week in Mexico, but it did have its high points.

I had blood taken and both arms needed to be poked. I made a dentist appointment. I drank a lot of tea to fight off the beginnings of a sore throat. I had another bad eye day, noticing how blurry everything looked as I ate lunch out with my father.

I did wonder if I will still see anything by my next birthday. I am not freaked by being one age one day and another the next. I do realize, however, that I am getting older. A lot of things bring this fact home to me. I am trying to still live in the moment and enjoy all that life has to offer, but at a certain point I have to think about the future and what I want, really want and what is good for me.

Everything in life has its Run-Time.

I’m thankful for another successful, triple family birthday celebration.

It got off to a slow start, but really kicked into high gear there.

The lasagna was delicious. The kids were smarter than when we last saw them, all the way back at Christmas, if that is possible.

The best thing about each year I gain since they were all born is getting to see how they grow with every passing year, whomever happens to be the one celebrating the actual birthday.

They are all so creative and full of imagination. We adults have a ball watching them interact with each other and with all of us.

My family and I don’t likely agree on every single thing in life, but we are all pretty in sync on most things that really matter. It makes for a lovely coming together of the minds, not to mention senses of humour and attitudes on life.

There is always just the right amount of nostalgia and, this year, there are plans in the works for zip lining in Niagara Falls this spring.

Who else can you count on to try something as thrilling as zip lining with you, on a day that matters greatly to you, but your family? Mine are the best for those sorts of things.

It’s fun to sing Happy Birthday to three people at once. I only sing for two.

Happy Birthday Paul/Steve. You both crack me up and are the two best big brothers any thirty-three-year-old could ask for.

I’m thankful for my sister’s help in figuring out what I need to do, as part of taking some of my next, newest steps in my writing.

The writing is one thing. The business side is quite another. It’s all somewhat scary in its own way.

Filling out forms and paperwork is not my thing. Necessary, I realize. I truly appreciate any help I can get.

I am thankful my bracelet was found after I set it down, in my own house, and couldn’t, for the life of me, remember where I’d stashed it.

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A few of us got jewelry when we visited Anado’s home. We share this in common now and wanted to commemorate the fact.

I knew I would get home and set mine down somewhere, forgetting where that somewhere was. It scratches against the metal of my laptop when I’m writing, so I take it off, but I don’t like to.

Brian said it sounded like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find it, the bracelet reminding him of “My Precious!” and he had a point.

Thanks to my brother-in-law for spotting where I’d left it. I hope I would have remembered, sooner or later.

Made By Anado

This is my reminder of my time in Mexico. It is more than just any old bracelet. It was made by Anado McLauchlin and it reminds me of the makers of this world. It reminds me, when I hold it, of my purpose. It brings me peace to feel all the different bits of it under my fingertips.

And, finally, I’m thankful that this hasn’t ended.

Very grateful that someone has decided to take over the weekly running of the thankful blog hop, to give its originator a well deserved break.

I would have went ahead with these gratitude posts, one way or another, but it’s nice that it will continue on with more than just this blog.

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TToT: Blood Red, Royal BLUE, andd a PINK Bun – Lichen and Lightning, #10Thankful

Here I am and bursting with thankfulness, just like the fall colours now at their peak. My favourite season will be gone before I know it.

I missed last week, which I don’t like to do, but I had a good reason. I was filling up on things I’m deeply thankful for, living my reality, starting with this.

Fall colours and violin
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It soon became tricky, trying to hold my bow, as my fingers grew colder and colder. I wished I could see the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows which were in full display up north east, earlier than where I live. I am thankful that such views bring my mother such happiness.

I am thankful I got to play my violin, as brief as it was, even with the few songs I know, in a place of natural splendour.

Algonquin Provincial Park,
in the midst of my favourite time of year.

I went on a road trip, to say goodbye to a loved one. Upon returning home I was so emotionally spent that I decided to take a week off and come back again, here and now, with a double dose of reflective thankfuls.

Phone booth

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I’m thankful to have gotten to know a remarkable woman. My aunt started a life on her own, away from anyone when she arrived, and built a life for herself and a family, here in Canada. She worked hard, raised two children, and made a mark for herself in the restaurant business.

It wasn’t until later, the mid 90s, that I was around to meet and to get to know her. I just thought the past was well represented, as we passed a remnant of days nearly gone by, with the phone booth, saying farewell to what once was, with the introduction of modern technology of cell phones, becoming the unavoidable reality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RA4MykPm4s

My aunt was tough and resilient, like her mother, my oma.

She did not want a funeral or even an obituary. Was it because she did not want to bother anyone, even after her death? Or was it just that she couldn’t deal with the thought of us making a fuss after she was gone?

Well, on the chance of incurring her displeasure, I have needed to grieve and pay tribute to her, in my own few ways anyway. I am thankful I got to do that and to know how other loved ones are finding their own peace. It was important that I see them all again, to know they are going to be alright without her.

I learned to love “Operator” thanks to my father. Now though, it’s going to be forever the song that I now dedicate to my aunt, whose fierce spirit I felt as I stood just inside the booth, on a chilly autumn Sunday, in a Canadian national park, near her home, in Ontario. We all have regrets. I just hope my aunt is now at peace, wherever she is.

I’m thankful for lichens and morning glories.

I’m thankful for fall colours (red, orange, yellow) and for the possibility of either pink or blue. I’m thankful for the red blood that makes up a family.

I’m thankful for delicious food and the supporting of important causes.

pink hamburger bun
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I wanted to find out what a pink hamburger bun tasted like.

It was obvious to those I asked on Facebook and to my mom, even though my father and mother both said, up close, it could have been a sweet, dessert red velvet hamburger bun. The correct answer was it was dyed pink with beet juice, which I wasn’t so sure about at first, but did end up giving just a hint of sweetness.

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Then there was a wonderfully tasty bbq chicken salad, from
The Kitchen Eatery and Catering Company,
located in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada. It also just so happens to be my cousin’s lunch counter/store front and the catering business she is growing. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend you check it out. Beef sandwiches and pies named after her family members. She has not yet named a signature dish for my aunt, but I see that happening in future.

Pies were the order of the day, with Thanksgiving in Canada being in October. The coconut cream pie was delightful, with every bite of fresh cream and coconut I tasted. She explained her lessons in crusts for meat pies vs dessert pies, one taught to her from her mother and the other from her father, a big part of her team.

She has worked a lot of years to build up a dedicated crowd of regulars. She makes good food and puts her all into everything, and it shows. Both her parents taught her all they ever knew about the restaurant business and preparing the best tasting and quality food for any potential customers. We were lucky to be some of those, this time round.

I am thankful that I got to check out her place and the food. She was very gracious as a host. I am thankful I got to see the kind of family love that exists, even after losing her mother, my aunt. It isn’t easy, but we discussed what my aunt would think, if she could truly see what my cousin is creating. She would say she is crazy, but she would be proud I am sure.

I am thankful to get to experience the timeless hospitality of
the Grey Gables Inn (Bed & breakfast)

It’s a little like my favourite fictional Green Gables, as in the age of the building. It is the type of older building I’ve always felt uncomfortable in, yet as I grow older, I continue to see the value in the history and the ghosts of those who may once have lived there. It’s a place with great character. Leave it to my mother to find such a place.

I am thankful for the discovery of meditation music, when my mind is full of memories of loved ones, and sleep is not always so easy to come by.

He had many relaxation albums, going back to the 80s.

Tony O’Connor – Live in concert at the Sydney Opera House

This composer put on a brilliant live show before his own death. I wish I could have been in attendance, but I’m thankful for his haunting nature sounds, mixed with piano, guitar, and the authentically Australian sound of the
didjeridu.

I am thankful for some much needed guidance with my writing and the path I’m attempting to walk..

Next year will be twenty years with my father’s kidney and I feel like I need to recognize that, to do something big, possibly using my skill with writing.

I’ve felt a bit stuck on that lately, likely because, as the date of June 5th, 2017 grows ever closer, I fear not paying proper attention. What if my time with my transplant is coming to an end? I’m just afraid to get my hopes up too high.

I also am working really hard to find a healthy balance between the every day tasks of growing as a writer, the actual act of writing, with the ones I often suppress, which must include getting out and taking chances to meet people and make connections.

And so there you have it. A few extra thankfuls to catch me up with what I missed during my absence.

And, before I forget –
it’s the second episode of Ketchup On Pancakes, our podcast.
So check it out.

Ottawa River
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And so I’m glad I got to go there, as hard as it was in some respects, to stand on the border of Ontario and Quebec, to feel the wind tunnel, once past the shelter of the trees, and into the openness of the river.

Song lyrics.

But isn’t that the way they say it goes
Well let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine, and to show
I’ve overcome the blow
I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words
Could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real
But that’s not the way it feels

—Jim Croce, “Operator”

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TToT: Greatness, Audacity, Tragedy – “Wow and Flutter” #10Thankful

“…Courage, my word. It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter. Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time.”

Courage – The Tragically Hip (For Hugh MacLennan)

I don’t know how much of a lot of Canadian music always makes it out of Canada sometimes, but the big news here this past week is the announcement that a nationwide musical icon has been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. I just figured I would share one of my favourite songs from Gord and his band. I learned something new and interesting about the origin of the song “Courage” and it seems apt.

I know I have looked to these lyrics, searching for courage at different times in my own life, and now it appears courage “couldn’t come at a worse time” for Downie.

😦

Here’s what I learned about a Canadian writer who inspired “Courage” the hit song:

Who’s Hugh MacLennan?

Onward and to my thankfuls for the week and there are some, for sure.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For just how good my parents really are to me.

I honestly, sometimes, feel I really don’t deserve them as my mother and father. This was brought home to me in a big way this week.

I was on the phone with my mother early in the week about something. When I hung up, I found myself feeling emotional about how they have always looked out for me, in both big and small ways, and how even now they are preparing for the future. It is a hard thing for me to think about sometimes, how much they have had to worry about me, but that’s how life goes. I can’t fully express, as we’re in the middle between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, still upcoming.

For that ability to turn on my AC when spring suddenly makes the leap into summer earlier than one might have expected.

For a local, provincial television station.

TV Ontario

I guess it’s like PBS or something, but again, this one would be something only those living in Ontario, Canada would likely be aware of.

I watched this channel since I was a kid and now I watch it for so many fascinating nature, science, social issue and travel documentaries. I love a lot of their historical programs. I learn a lot, as far as media goes, from TVO.

For the sharing of ideas that make me better and believe I deserve to strive for more in my own life.

Lidia Yuknavitch: the beauty of being a misfit, TED2016

This woman’s words made me cry because I’ve felt out-of-place too, many many times in my life, but I still want to believe I will figure out where I fit in.

For hash tag Greatertorontoday and the good deeds that were done.

All across the city of Toronto, for one day, acts of kindness were done for others. I would hope this isn’t just a one shot sort of a thing, that it could go on for more than just one single day, but it was nice to hear the reporter on the Toronto news reading the Tweets from the random acts of kindness that were happening.

#Greatertorontoday

My feelings on Toronto as a city run deep, but I know it has a great respect around the world, for its multiculturalism. I hope this, in itself, helps people to realize we are all human and deserve the same kindnesses shown to us all.

For gestures put forth and peaceful acts, amongst so much nasty rhetoric and angry attitudes throughout the world.

First, mid week, it was nice to see Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, taking one day off during his trip to Japan, to celebrate his anniversary with his wife.

Many thought this worth commenting on, criticizing, but I was glad to see that he values his relationship with his wife, while still performing his duties for Canada.

But then came the real uproar, at the end of the week, when President Obama visited the site of the bombings, on Japan, at the close of World War II.

Misinformation spread like wildfire, that he was offering an apology. He was simply pausing, at a place of great significance and destruction, while already in the country on official business.

It was the respectful thing to do. I know all the arguments, I realize I didn’t have loved ones directly affected by Pearl Harbor, but I know when peace is called for. I’m thankful he made the gesture.

For several more steps forward in the planning and execution of this podcast idea with my brother.

We did a trial run and it was not bad, but I couldn’t truly focus until I was happy with the name and then my brother’s friend reminded us of something memorable, an image that comes to his mind when he thinks of our family: Ketchup on pancakes.

That’s right. It’s a family favourite around here, for breakfast, or whenever.

🙂

Our podcast is officially “Ketchup On Pancakes”.

So now we think we’ve figured out the microphone issues, settled on a catchy name, and have begun a proper outline for our introductory episode. We hope to record next week. I am excited and just hope my brother doesn’t get sick of me too quickly, as I can actually see this podcast going somewhere in time.

For a rebounding, a super positive, as in my latest violin lesson.

Sometimes, you’re just not feeling it. Other times, everything, the energy in the room, it seems to flow and I leave feeling super pumped about this choice to learn to play the violin at thirty-two years old that I’ve made.

That was the difference between the previous lesson, as I prepared to play Happy Birthday for my sister and this latest lesson, where I felt I could handle it, whatever it may be, and I took in every single word and concept my teacher explained to me.

For the support (past, present, and future) of audacious women writers, editors, dreamers who make their dreams come true and who show me guidance and kindness along the way.

Every week, twice a week, I read one particular website religiously. I have been trying to get a feel for the sorts of essays they publish, in the hopes of writing one. I have the idea all ready to go and again, this week, I came across one essay and it spoke to me, being about a similar topic.

REPAIR – FULL GROWN PEOPLE

Well, the editor of the site has been supportive of me submitting (actually resubmitting, as I was rejected early on, but feeling more and more confident to try again), as she seems to be encouraging me to give it another shot.

And, of course, there is my long developing support from an editor who reads my blog occasionally, who has followed my progress, and sounded intrigued about the podcast.

Change It Up Editing

And…

For the premiering of a brand new website, publication, and a truly panoramic take on literary travel writing

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

The word “panorama”, as I’ve understood it in the past, seemed out of my reach, as something visual. Now, I see things differently with this project,, begun and run, in part, by my writing mentor.

I may actually have used the following quote before, but again it fits. It is all about the writing, the courage, the courage to write.

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

—Gloria Steinem

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TToT: Red Means Stop and Green Means Go – Daffodil Hill, #10Thankful

Guess what?

Back and Better Than Ever

I sit here, feeling the vibration of the music underfoot. The music comes up through the floor at my feet and the art is flowing all around me.

As for me, I have my tool back, the one which I need now, if I even hope to write, the thing closest to breathing. Music is that for those in my basement.

Times Like These

Music. Writing. Creativity. Art. It’s all necessary, to keep this world bright and hopeful. Or to keep me bright and hopeful at least.

I had been feeling the pressure to write, but lately I have been held back by old and dying technology. I managed to keep up with my favourite weekly posts – somehow.

😉

Until last week of course. But last week I finally through my hands up in the air in frustration, when I couldn’t deal with a computer that resisted my attempts. I hated to miss this place, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Help arrived just in time.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For all the things I spoke of at the start of this post.

I am thankful I can offer a practice space to my brother and his fellow musicians.

This house is more than capable of providing a place for the kind of sounds of their guitars, drums, and vocals.

For the chance to observe the art they create. They do it all. They write their songs and perform them. They make something, where once there was nothing. That is producing something of beauty, putting something of beauty back into the world, when so much is taken away every day.

For my generous parents.

They see when I am struggling. They gave me back my creativity, when something came along and took it away for a while there.

For my brother’s help.

He knows his stuff and helped me find what I needed.

And for helpful computer guys on the phone.

For a sweet sweet computer.

Apple is not the product for everybody, as it once wasn’t for me, but they make magic and technology becomes my friend and ally once more.

For the slickest of slick Bluetooth keyboards.

This thing is so light and it allows me to write.

🙂

For helpful second brother to help me get new technology set up and working.

I needed to get my blogging/journal program to work and that involves a lot of the know-how of which I do not possess.

My brother rescues me from extra headaches. Invaluable.

For learning my second song on the violin.

My brother showed me the first few notes, fairly similar to “Twinkle Twinkle”, which I first learned.

Then I went to my lesson and learned the rest of a second song, a surprise for someone I love coming up soon.

For helpful cab drivers.

I took one to my lesson. He was helpful and gave me his number, eager to take me back when I was done.

It sounded a bit odd at first, but I know there are kind people. I hate to not take them up on that kindness. Perhaps he just desperately needed my business, but I appreciated it.

He described the streets (for my own knowledge, he said) and told me to call for a ride, anytime.

For creativity and a new project in the works.

I had an idea to try doing a Podcast. It will be based around the sibling relationship with my brother.

I had the idea and he went to school to know how to record.

He knew how to set up microphones and record us. It reminded me of all the times he taped us as kids. Of course, pictures meant nothing to him. He never could see them. I wouldn’t see them for long. Recording our voices, our experiences, this was how we passed our time growing up and how we captured memories, now all kept on cassette tapes he still has today.

I want to create something new and maybe it will become something.

Perhaps nobody but me will want to hear the sort of discussions my brother and I have, but maybe, just maybe we can say something, share something, speak to something.

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

This song was performed live, at an open mic night I went out to Friday evening. It was a beautiful version, but this one is the one I’ve always loved, the one that makes me tear up when I hear it, and of which I love to return to.

“So remember when we were driving, driving in your car. Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk. City lights laid out before us, and your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder. And I had a feeling that I belonged.. I had a feeling I could be someone…be someone…be someone.”

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One Touch Is All It Takes #LoIsInDaBl #SoCS

I wouldn’t do that if I were you…

A common phrase, but how do we go from that to trying to actually put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, even for just a moment?

We hold their hand for just a second, that’s how.

It’s Saturday and nearly the first full week of February, meaning it is time for

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

and also,

Love Is In Da Blog, #LoIsInDaBl

This week’s prompt word is

FINGER,

and hopefully not the middle one.

🙂

I am used to going about my business, knowing how I may be feeling inside, but also realizing that anyone who may come across me would have no idea and vice versa.

What if?

The first time a tiny baby grips your finger you truly know what life is all about.

It happened for me, multiple times, and I never forget.

When my niece or nephews hold onto my finger(s) and take me along for a ride, into their world and their imagination, I go willingly and happily because I know I won’t ever have that chance again.

One of the best parts of a relationship, one I miss dearly, is the feeling of my fingers entwined with the fingers of the person I love. No sensation has ever made me feel more secure, even while it lasts.

Fairly recently, those few days when my brother was in that hospital bed, hardly responsive at all, all I could do to stop myself from collapse was to reach out and touch his still fingers, to know he was still with us and that I would get my little brother back.

I read the world with a single finger, with my own two hands. I read braille and I type on my keyboard. I slide a single finger across my phone’s touch screen and I can speak to someone. These are all tools to open up the world and to understand another.

Empathy is often spoken of by speaking about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, but it’s really all about human touch. That touch of a hand or the grasping of a single finger is sometimes all it takes.

If we want to know love, to be loved, we need to reach out and take another’s hand. That’s the sort of human connection we need more of to truly understand another’s struggles and triumphs.

In a month of discussion on the subject of love I had to share my thoughts about how all this can be achieved, to know I am not alone in wanting more connections formed among us for a better world.

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The Reality of My Own Perception, Or Something Like It

Last week feels like so long ago now. I completed several things, a book review I’d been working on since July.

A week ago, for

Redefining Disability,

http://rosebfischer.com/2014/07/15/the-redefining-disability-awareness-challenge/

I had to go on a search to find my own:

Patience With Public Perception

This time, when it comes to disability, I write about my own perceptions.

But perceptions are reality to each of us, individually. Of course, all of this is my own perception.

Have you been following me?

🙂

Yep. Confusing circle of endless perceptions, isn’t it?

How many times can I use the word “perception”? Nope. That is not the question for today.

***

Q: How has your perception of disability changed in your lifetime?

A: I’m an over thinker. Yep, I am. It’s what I do.

The one thing about my particular disability, compared to some others possibly, is that I am unable to focus on my visual surroundings and the sighted world.

This has me stuck with my own mind, as what’s going on visually around me, on a daily basis, is less of a helpful distraction.

Now, that’s not to say I’m not perfectly willing to concede that this can get me into trouble sometimes. I need to make sure I am interacting with others, using my other sences enough, so that I can get out of the endless loop of thoughts and perception inside my brain.

IT’S A TRAP!

🙂

My perceptions, as a child, were obviously much different than those I carry as an adult. Having disability from birth makes a transition, over the years and the stages of my life, hard to follow sometimes, difficult to pin down.

I try to get back there, as I miss that childlike view of the world, as I see it in the little people in my life now.

I was thinking about it as I spent a few solo hours with my now three-year-old nephew last week, since I last spoke to public perception of disability for RDAC.

He still does not know. I can say that fairly safely. He does not yet understand what disability or blindness means. It isn’t really a factor so far, in his sheltered little world.

I like this time spent with only him. It brings me a sense of peace and reflection, free from the sometimes exhausting loop I refer to above.

He holds something, a toy out toward me, and I don’t react. Maybe, for a moment or two, he wonders what that might mean.

I lived it. I’m still living it.

I want to be that child that lives in a child’s world. I don’t want disability to matter. I don’t want to have to constantly perceive what disability means. I envy him.

It’s a nice thought, to be able to get on with the business of living, but I have this filter in my mind and I can’t stop the loop from circling round.

And round, and round, and round it goes.

I no longer have the luxury of a three-year-old’s perception. I am stuck with my thirty-one-year-old’s perceptions. I want to be three again.

My perception and my reality are stuck up there, lost in the loop. If they would ever slow down enough, maybe I could make them known.

Canada must tackle disability rights reform

I must perceive what my country’s election might mean for me. I want to retreat to my loop.

I must leave my own perceptions and study what the public ones are. Again, I want to return to the loop.

I am an adult, but with all the added and the extra worries about where I fit, or don’t fit, in that adult world. My perceptions are my own, which matter of course, but I must find a way to meld that with the outside world, if I ever want to get out of my own head and find a way to join the living.

I perceive disability as my own personal reality, but at the same time I see it and how it really must be for so many other people with it.

It changes, like everything else in life, as the years and my experiences stack up.

Change is inevitable. Perception is reality.

Hmmm. Just what other cliches can I add to that?

Okay, so perhaps this question has gone completely off the rails this week. Just maybe.

I just want to get back to the lessons a three-year-old can teach.

I want to hold up my ideas and my perceptions to the light, not keep them always hidden on that wacky loop-dee-loop in my head, even if they are met with blank stares or questioning eyes.

I want to live it and stop perceiving and pondering. I want to answer this question, to participate in this blogging challenge, and to help other people understand, but yet I don’t know if I can do all that. Don’t know if it’s possible. I am perceiving, even as I write this. I don’t know where I’m going with it, like life. I am letting my weekend stream of consciousness writing spill over into my week I suppose because I can’t possibly hope to make any sense here today, as I write on a Monday that is actually a Wednesday.

***

I can’t hope to make much sense here, but I try anyway. I answered these questions about perception, relating to disability, because I don’t like leaving any unanswered. I did my best, but to fully follow my answer, you’d need to be inside my head where my own perceptions reside. I am not sure if perception is all too easily explained with words.

Do you agree with me at all? Were you able to follow what I said, my answer to this week’s question whatsoever?

If not, I will understand.

Redefining Disability on Facebook

Follow the page though because the thoughts, views, and opinions are expressed a lot better over there. Promise.

🙂

Next week’s question is:

How has medical treatment and technology changed in your lifetime?

Only Time

Goodbye August.

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Book Reviews, Feminism, Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF

Jean Louise the Silent: My Review of Go Set a Watchman, Part Two

“The time your friends need you is when they’re wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right.”
–Dr. Jack Finch

Further Character Discussion:

In Watchman there are important characters to the story, a few specific Finch relatives, those who were only briefly included in Mockingbird. This made the story of this literary family of note even more layered and interesting.

Atticus’s sister Alexandra and brother Jack are two important characters in this second story. His sister has been watching over Atticus, as he ages and grows arthritic, freeing Jean Louise from the responsibility.

By the end of Watchman, Jean Louise’s short visit home has resulted in a few battles between the proper southern lady her aunt thinks she should be and the modern woman she sees herself as. They butt heads, more than once, on matters both big and small.

“Her father’s sister came closest to setting Jean Louise’s teeth permanently on edge.”

Her respect in her well read uncle is tested when she looks to him to provide answers to the questions being back home has raised.

“As I sit here and breathe, I never thought the good God would let me live to see someone walk into the middle of a revolution, pull a lugubrious face, and say, what’s the matter?”
–Dr. Jack Finch

Uncle Jack is a doctor, but now devotes his time to being a bachelor, who loves his cat and Victorian literature. Jean Louise gets along a whole lot better with her uncle than with her aunt, usually anyway.

“Uncle Jack was one of the abiding pleasures of Maycomb.”

While one may not always understand the older generations attitudes or behaviours, they provide vital information and context for those returning characters we all know and love.

The absence of Jem (rest in peace) is made more tolerable with the new character of Henry, a youth who grew up across the street from Scout and her family from soon after the TKAM story came to an end. He is a friend of the Finch children as teenagers, a possible love interest for Jean Louise, and someone Atticus can take under his wing to possibly take over the law practise one day.

“She was easy to look at and easy to be with most of the time, but she was in no sense of the word an easy person. she was afflicted with a restlessness of spirit he could not guess at, but he knew she was the one for him. He would protect her; he would marry her.”

Will Henry and Jean Louise live happily ever after?

“Love whom you will but marry your own kind was a dictum amounting to instinct within her.”

She is stubborn and undecided

“She was almost in love with him. No, that’s impossible: either you are or you aren’t. Love’s the only thing in this world that is unequivocal. There are different kinds of love, certainly, but it’s a you-do or you-don’t proposition with them all.”

On the other hand, when it comes to returning characters, Go Set a Watchman does not bring back someone such as Cal (the wise old African-American housekeeper from To Kill a Mockingbird) without this story taking on a whole new level of seriousness.

“Calpurnia, the Finches’ old cook, had run off the place and not come back when she learned of Jem’s death.”

Things have changed in Alabama, in the south, and in the country in twenty years and not all relationships have necessarily survived the evolution in the intervening years in tact.

“She loved us, I swear she loved us. She sat there in front of me and she didn’t see me, she saw white folks. She raised me and she doesn’t care.
It was not always like this, I swear it wasn’t. People used to trust each other for some reason, I’ve forgotten why they didn’t watch each other like hawks then.”
–Jean Louise Finch

Jean Louise is grown now, a lady, but she is unable to be the good southern lady that she could so easily have become.

It was during a scene where Alexandra has organized a gathering of Jean Louise’s “friends” and acquaintances, a group of good Christian ladies for Jean Louise to socialize with while she is visiting, where I first was given the idea for the title of this review. This scene very closely mirrors one from To Kill a Mockingbird and Jean Louise feels just as awkward and out-of-place now as young Scout did back then, expected to grow up into the perfect MAGPIE.

Jean Louise sees these women as MAGPIES and finds nothing whatsoever in common with them and their inane chatter. She becomes shy and withdrawn, distracted and unable to relate to any of her contemporaries, her equals as they might be known by some.

She sits silently, in a corner of this circle of ladies, but she can not just sit silently by, while the men of Maycomb go to their meetings and have their say on the way the world has worked or will work. Things were all cordial for everyone, just as long as the races knew their places. This begins to change, but there is a fight to come as it does.

She must make a choice: soon, sooner than she thought, now.

“I thought I was a Christian but I’m not. I’m something else and I don’t know what. Everything I have ever taken for right and wrong these people have taught me-these same, these very people. So it’s me , it’s not them. Something has happened to me.
They are all trying to tell me in some weird, echoing way that it’s all on account of the Negroes…but it’s no more the Negroes than I can fly and God knows, I might fly out the window any time now.”

***

“Had she been able to think, Jean Louise might have prevented events to come by considering the day’s occurrences in terms of a recurring story as old as time: the chapter which concerned her began two hundred years ago and was played out in a proud society the bloodiest war and harshest peace in modern history could not destroy, returning to be played out again on private ground in the twilight of a civilization no wars and no peace could save.
Had she insight, could she have pierced the barriers of her highly selective, insular world, she may have discovered that all her life she had been with a visual defect which had gone unnoticed and neglected by herself and by those closest to her: she was born color blind.”

All character discussion thus far leads up to the bigger question – the big question really, for so many readers who’ve claimed To Kill a Mockingbird as their own moral compass over the last fifty-five years.

“She crossed the room again to straighten the stack of books on his lamp table, and was doing so when a pamphlet the size of a business envelope caught her eye.
On its cover was a drawing of an anthropophagous Negro; above the drawing was printed The Black Plague.”

There is one main reason so many people did not want to read Go Set a Watchman or regretted it when they did.

Both Atticus and Henry are members of The Maycomb Citizens Counsel. Jean Louise discovers this and she takes her place, that familiar place, up in the balcony of the courthouse where, as kids, her and Jem watched from above, as her father defended Tom Robinson.

“He walked out of the courtroom in the middle of the day, walked home, and took a steaming bath. He never counted what it cost him; he never looked back. He never knew two pairs of eyes like his own were watching him from the balcony.”

Now she is here again, looking down on white trash and respectable Maycomb men gathered together, discussing the preservation of segregation and of southern values.

“The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, he is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman, had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.”

Would this newly revealed piece of the puzzle taint the beloved hero status Atticus Finch has held for so many, for so long, like it did poor Jean Louise?

Do these things change the man Atticus was, as a father and a man, in Jean Louise’s eyes.

“She knew little of the affairs of men, but she knew that her father’s presence at the table with a man who spewed such filth from his mouth-did that make it less filthy? No. It condoned. She felt sick.”

Whether Harper Lee completely meant to show Watchman off to readers or keep it hidden and buried – would this bring an end to the love and admiration?

I saw, just the other day, a Hollywood actress named her son Atticus. Others who had done the same seemed to regret choosing the name in the first place, as rumours of Watchman’s Atticus began to surface. Was he the same Atticus they knew and loved? Was he the complete opposite, a cold, bigoted, racist old man?

“Her nausea returned with redoubled violence when she remembered the scene in the courthouse, but she had nothing left to part with. If you had only spat in my face…It could be, might be, still was a horrible mistake. Her mind refused to register what her eyes and ears told it.”

Like the drunken and abusive liar of a man who spat in Atticus’s face all those years earlier.

***

I admit this was my main curiosity for going ahead and reading Watchman. I guess these rumours did help spread word and drum up publicity for the July 15th release.

After all, it’s all about sales and hype and even controversy.

Not for me.

For me, it’s all about the writing. It’s about relatable characters and the way in which they interact with one another.

It’s about the story.

“The novel must tell a story,” as Uncle Jack says vaguely to Jean Louise. That’s all Watchman must needs do, no matter what some readers may think or feel, which ever story came before, after, or during.

To be clear, I do not think of GSAW as a sequel, in any of the ways we all know a sequel to be. True, it takes place twenty years after Mockingbird and yes, it is being released more than fifty years after Mockingbird, but it was written a few years before. The timeline may feel dizzying as it is laid out, but it makes for an interesting study of Lee’s writing.

Lee’s publisher wanted more of the flashbacks, with the children, and less of what Watchman would have been back then. But it feels meant to be seen, if not then, then now, and here we are.

I would imagine English literature classes will be discussing and debating the merits and the classification for this book, as compared to Mockingbird, for years to come.

Literary scholars will do the same.

As someone who loves literature, I wanted to read Watchman because it is Harper Lee’s contribution, no matter how we ended up with it or what it might say about the American south in the 1950s.

I don’t know the ins and outs of the publishing world. I don’t know what it takes to bring a novel to fruition. I am not aware what the process entails. I would have liked to witness this particular process though, over those five or so years where Go Set a Watchman evolved into the bestseller that To Kill a Mockingbird became.

People like to label things and put them in their proper places. They like things to follow an order and they like to be able to map things out.

You can’t do that here. However the publishers may have marketed GSAW, read it for yourself before making up your own mind.

I am glad this story got to see the light of literary day. My enjoyment of each and every chapter was immense and a little unexpected, after my less than expected love of the classic elements of Mockingbird. As someone who prides herself on loving literature, I was pleasantly surprised that I took to Watchman as entirely as I did throughout.

Harper Lee dedicates Go Set a Watchman to her father (Mr. Lee) and sister )Alice.

Is her beloved character of Atticus (whom she said was based on her father) tarnished in the reader’s eyes forever? What might this mean about the kind of man Mr. Lee was?

What would Alice have to say about this book’s release, if she were still alive?

These questions aren’t ones I can answer here, in my little old Watchman review, but I am sure they will both be debated in the future, as a little time and distance offers perspective.

“Even his enemies loved him, because Atticus never acknowledged that they were his enemies.”

For my part, this line perfectly sums up what’s truly in his heart and intentions all along. Not sure others will see it that way or be able to let it go at that because he was a man of his time, whether I myself can accept that or not.

As much attention as is put on Atticus’s shoulders, Scout steals the show here. This does not mean the actions of America’s heroic father figure are of no importance. History and humans are rarely ever that simple, even though I wish they were, that I could snap my fingers and make them that way.

Henry tells her, “You’re gonna see change, you’re gonna see Maycomb change its face completely in our lifetime. Your trouble, now, you want to have your cake and eat it: you want to stop the clock, but you can’t. Sooner or later you’ll have to decide whether it’s Maycomb or New York.”
–Henry Clinton

She is stuck between two worlds and the past and future going forward.

“She looked at Maycomb, and her throat tightened. Maycomb was looking back at her.
Go away, the old buildings said. There is no place for you here. You are not wanted. We have secrets.”

Jean Louise can never remain silent, but this also means she can not remain in Maycomb either, or that is what she will end up being, unless she can find some way to make peace with things as they are, even work to make a better, more equal future for everyone. Her and her brother were raised by a white man and a black woman and yet, sadly, life’s rarely so black and white itself.

She has received the most important quality from her father, for good or bad, and that is conviction.

“She did not stand alone, but what stood behind her, the most potent moral force in her life was the love of her father. She never questioned it, never thought about it, never even realized that before she made any decision of importance the reflex, “what would Atticus do? passed through her unconscious; she never realized what made her dig in her feet and stand firm whenever she did was her father; that whatever was decent and of good report in her character was put there by her father.”

She can not remain in Alabama and silent to an ever changing world. This makes her the heroine of this story in my estimation, of her story, which she is finally getting to tell.

For thus hath the Lord said unto me: Go, set a watchman; let him declare what he seeth!
–Isaiah 21:6

***

Wow. I must end my review here, for now, but there is still so much I could say, so many lines from the book that spoke to me and of which I wish I could include here, to prove my points.

But I realize that then this darn thing would end up being several thousand words long. And who knows if anyone’s even made it this far, managed to stick around to the end anyway.

One last piece of Go Set a Watchman wisdom if you’ve read to the end:

“I’m only trying to make you see beyond men’s acts to their motives. A man can appear to be a part of something not-so-good on its face, but don’t take it upon yourself to judge him unless you know his motives as well. A man can be boiling inside, but he knows a mild answer works better than showing his rage. A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them.”

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