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The Heather By The River, #SoCS

Journalists. Photographers. And I use the term loosely.

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As a woman in my thirties, one who writes about things as my oxygen, I wonder what any of us would do for enough money. Would I write about people, even intrusively, for a living if given the chance?

Have I done it now? Already? Before?

How can it make anyone feel good about themselves to hound another human being, with their camera or their pen?

Responsibility: direct or indirect.

A world’s grief. Anger toward someone, needing to direct blame somewhere, the press. The press reports. The papers are printed. People buy the papers and mags.

More. More. More. We always want more.

From birth,
the two boys asked for none of it. That’s mostly where my thoughts return to.

I am not British and barely knew who Princess Diana was when she died. I wasn’t alive for the wedding seen around the world.

A sea of people, rather than water. That is what Diana must have seen when she looked from her vantage point, after saying her vows.

I would rather see a sea of Red or Black, blue or green, but the press fed off of the woman and she fed off of them, in a way, at least at first and for a long time afterward.

She was a fashion icon and a princess, but not only that. She used her position as a bit of an outsider, under the thumb of the monarchy, to become a change maker, by reaching out to those in need, those no one else wanted to associate with.

HIV and AID’s, in the 80s, when the hysteria about both was growing and at its greatest fever pitch. She shook hands, hugged those diagnosed and dying of the feared and misunderstood disease.

She came here, to Toronto, to sit by the beds of dying patients in hospice care. She walked a minefield, literally and figuratively. Danger signs.

Such grief of so many, I would not cry. As a fourteen-year-old child, fresh off of a kidney transplant and a thrilling wedding – I attended, my first of my oldest cousin. That was my wedding of the century.

Of royalty, I knew nothing. A fairytale life gone wrong is more like it.

Fairytales. I was familiar with these…the concept, the ideals, as a young girl. My Disney fairytale movies were my favourite. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, with the bright pink dresses and dancing with their handsome princes. I may have had similar dreams at the time, but what did I know? A lack of life experience and my own understandable immaturity.

What do titles represent, really? Sometimes, they bring just the right kind of attention and sometimes the wrong kind.

Now, upon reflection, twenty years later I do feel sad. I know of celebrity of her two sons. They are the British royalty of my generation.

I do perk up when I hear their names on the news. I bought the fake imitation giant ring, modelled after that of the one worn by both Kate and her mother-in-law, still lounging in my drawer. I woke to watch the wedding, once again broadcast live.

Prince William and Kate came to Canada after their marriage, the same date as my big brother’s own marriage took place. I hope one generation learns from the previous one, in certain cases, that sometimes it happens we grow wiser with enough knowledge.

They’ve come again since, since then, and with their two small children, touring parts of the country in which I live, that still sees itself as the child of Britain, past and present.

What is Kate wearing? Where are the couple going next? Are they in love, for real, or is it all just another fairytale?

But I do feel for two boys who, in August of 1997, woke up to the loss of their mother when I clung to mine for dear life, during some of the hardest and scariest times of my own childhood.

Are those boys/men in some ways like their mother, under scrutiny of duty, feeling hunted or like outsiders, wanting to reach out to those in need, perhaps not born with some of the advantages? They grew up with cameras as their mother tried to navigate a life of celebrity and being followed. She was hunted, more even than Prince Charles.

Now that I am more aware, I watch documentaries on the weekend after the anniversary of her death. I listen to stories of a nineteen-year-old who got married much too young, to an older man who shouldn’t have ever proposed to her in the first place, who was likely always in love with another woman. He should have been with this other lady all along and now appears that he is.

People marry the wrong person all the time, every single day and have babies with them. In these cases it is my hardest task not to judge because none of us are perfect. This challenges me as an adult who wants to see everyone happy, no matter whether they’re famous or not.

As a writer, this is my obituary of sorts, no matter how stream of consciousness based it may be, twenty years on.

From birth to death: Diana, 1961-1997

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TToT: My Morning Mangos and the Path of Totality – “Le Mot Juste” #10Thankful

To be honest, I didn’t even want to do one of these this week, not at first.

I was horrified at how many people seemed to be defending the wrong people, ones with hate in their hearts rather than those trying to stand up to them. I was railing at the unfairness of the argument, that I know how important free speech actually is.

I know all the arguments about freedom of speech and that anyone trying to silence that in any way, through protests, that this is not necessarily the best way. I wish I could come up with a better way to combat hate speech, even if it is still considered a part of free speech. Violence breaking out between people is the reason I dislike protesting, but I really have no new answers.

I heard firsthand that someone who was at that rally was from north of the border, from my province in Canada and I felt sick.

Then I heard there were white supremacist rallies planned for B.C. and Quebec City and I felt even worse.

All this had me rather depressed, but still…the saga continues and, yet, I am thankful.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for fresh peaches and for mangos.

Sometimes, my brain gets a little mixed up and thinks a mango is a turkey dinner, but in fruit form apparently.

Yep. You heard me right.

I’m thankful I had a doctor’s office to be seen at right away when I really needed it.

Once I said the magic words of bladder infection, I was in. After all the unknowns of invisible illnesses, no tests to show there’s even a problem or any pain at all, it’s nice and refreshing to take a test, of any kind, and have it tell the doctors something useful and something to explain my symptoms as I’ve reported them.

I’m thankful for an understanding violin teacher.

We are the kind of teacher/student that, I’d like to think, are understanding when life suddenly happens and canceling is the only option.

I do try not to do it last minute, but in this case I can’t say otherwise.

I’m thankful for antibiotics.

I know over use and all the news reports of over prescribing. There is a time and place for most everything.

I am just grateful we have them when we really do need them.

I’m thankful for an anniversary of a writing freelance resource that has been my ticket into that world.

It’s another of those good vs bad situations with a platform like Facebook. In this case, it is serving a helpful purpose in my life and in helping me to advance my writing career.

I never could have guessed, one year ago, that I would get work from such a spot.

I should have something to show for that in the next month.

I’m thankful things stayed relatively calm for the rallies that did take place here in Canada.

The ones rallying in Quebec swear they are not racist, that it’s about legal immigration, not white supremacy.. Even the difference between the wild and out-of-hand events of Charlottesville, Virginia and the rather uneventful ones here in Canada perfectly illustrate the tameness of this country in most things, compared to what happens in the US most times.

The protesters in Quebec came across looking like the aggressive ones, as the main rally couldn’t begin while the protesters were outnumbering the ralliers and, in the end, things went off rather quietly, for this country anyway.

I’m sure those there might disagree with my assessment of the situation.

Rally in Quebec turns violent after protesters opposing anti-immigrant rallies clash with police – Toronto Star

I did find it amusing and ironic that while the rally was happening and the protesters were protesting in Quebec City, there was a Pride parade going on with Justin Trudeau and the PM of Ireland in Montreal.

I’m thankful for my brother’s help in audio recording for the SiriusXM project I’m working on.

He is an audio wizard. He’d say there are others who can do such things faster than he can, but I know you all would agree if you could have been there today and when you hear what we’re coming up with.

My words and direction and a few sounds I picked up while I was actually in Mexico and he with his computer program that cuts, moves, fades, pastes, moves, etc.

He’s got quite the sharp ear for it.

I’m thankful the blind were taken into consideration to experience the eclipse with everyone else.

eclipsesoundscapes.org

It’s nowhere close to the real thing, but it’s a start.

Thanks scientists and app developers.

I’m thankful that a solar eclipse is even possible.

Isn’t our galaxy astounding?

I’ve loved all that since I was a small child. I never believed being an astronaut was in my future, because of the math thing, but I’ve never met a space documentary I didn’t like.

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

And finally…

I’m thankful that nobody I know looked directly at the eclipse without protection.

At least, I don’t think they did. I’d better go and check with everyone I know to be certain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vGIfbHRepQ

I had to include an ode to the voice role Jerry Lewis did for one of the classic Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors Halloween episodes. That character was brilliant.

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TToT: A Pile of Sleeping Sharks – Idiots and Animals, #10Thankful

“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.”

—From “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Recently, I’ve only wanted to stay home with my cat. Maybe I really am becoming a cat lady.

I’m so sick of the idiots (and worse) in this world. There is so much immaturity and lack of care or concern for other people. Animals are where it’s at.

All I wanted was an enjoyable visit with family, but I was the one who didn’t choose to leave my phone at home that day, the day of rallies and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful that my brother’s band got back together, to practice for a gig, by playing in my basement once more.

It was all the songs I love, those I became so familiar with after months of hearing them in my basement.

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Secrets Revealed

This is a photo of their set list from the show the other night. My brother wrote it out in braille. They thought their fans might like to see. My brother didn’t really need it. He had the list memorized already.

I’m thankful to join in with a friend in a worthy cause.

He wants to start a branch of the National Federation of the Blind/Canadian Federation of the Blind in Ontario. The one currently going is out west only.

The biggest organization for the blind in Canada is still the CNIB (Canadian National Institute of the Blind) and yet it isn’t enough. It isn’t fulfilling all the needs, according to us, the ones who are in need of the service.

This sounds like a lot of work, but my friend sounds up for the job and I want to do what I can.

I feel so helpless with so much going on. I need to be able to do something good.

I’m thankful for peaches and ice cream for my nephew’s birthday.

I may have had both a small sundae and then a small cone.

Fresh peaches are the best part of August. When you mix that with my favourite vanilla soft serve, I am in paradise.

For the birthday, we did things backwards: ice cream first and then dinner. Dinner was pizza anyway.

My nephew is still grasping the concept of what a birthday is. He isn’t overly interested in why people sing and light candles, depending on the day. You say Happy Birthday to him and he says it back to you, like it’s a greeting. He makes me smile with his total innocence. I need more of that to fight the overwhelming stress and gloom that often threatens to bring me down.

I’m thankful for a mild night out on a patio, listening to some relaxing music, until the rain came.

A friend of ours was playing at a local restaurant. We got through ordering drinks and appetizers before the rain started up.

Until that point, I was enjoying the guitars, both with his singing and as instrumentals.

I’m thankful for all the amazing art my niece made at art camp.

She is artistic, like her father. She is the little girl who loves to create things. She reminds me of myself at that age.

She is a natural at making things.

They made letters for their first names out of crystals and jewels. She showed me an ocean in a jar, made with water and oil and food colouring. She made a polar bear mask. She tie dyed a pillow and made another pillow, so soft and with many knots around the edges instead of sewing.

At this camp there was something called the splatter paint room. Nothing but bright colours, paint splattered all over the floor and walls. You can go wild, make as much of a splatter mess of colour as you want, and it’s all okay.

I thought, since I am so bad at interior decorating for my own house, even though I can no longer see colours: why not make myself a splatter paint house?

Her love and pride for the things she made, as she was showing us, made me miss colour, art, and made me so happy for her and so proud to be her aunt.

I am thankful for the bottle of water my newly four-year-old nephew gave me when I said I was looking for something to drink.

He just opened the fridge and got it for me.

He is the master of his fridge and his home at this age and it is so sweet to witness.

I am thankful for what a thoughtful little sweetheart he is.

He told us, the moment we arrived, that he wanted to get his mother some flowers. He had previously told his dad that he was “thinking” about getting her some flowers.

He’s been thinking about this. It constantly amazes me, the kind of kids they are, and the sorts of things they think about, before deciding to share with the grownups in their lives.

I am thankful for the Max Mix.

My brother is a music fan and he has a lot of it himself. When he noticed my nephew had a love of music, he made him a mix of all the songs my nephew seemed to love.

He remembers lyrics and loves to sing in the car. He is so cool, cooler than me anyway.

I am thankful for a beautiful day to sit outside for a five-year-old’s birthday party.

People gathered, kids running and playing, while I sat and had a cool drink.

They have a big yard, the yard we had as children, and so much room to run and play games.

It wasn’t too hot. It wasn’t humid. The air was perfectly summery and pleasant.

I’m thankful for his amazing little mind and imagination.

My nephews are both so smart. He knew people were coming and he worked on a show to perform for us, all week long. He prepared a screen with a border, like a TV, but when we were all outside, he set it up like a play or puppet show, using chairs as the stage.

It was a form of fan fiction with his favourites: Littlefoot (from Land Before Time), a T Rex, and Curious George.

It turned out to be this whole epic adventure story and it all came from him.

Desired Consolation – Bjork

Basically, it was the kids that kept me sane this week. Then I think of Bjork’s question in the song: How am I going to make things right?

I wonder if I can. What that will look like, I do not know, but I have to try something.

The woman who was mowed down was nearly my age. What made her come out, to such a place, on that day?

“If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.”

—Heather Heyer

RIP Heather

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TToT: Shiny Keys and Bucket Technology – Namaste, #Yoga #Radio #10Thankful

‘”Bully for baby syrups!”

‘”Pray, don’t let us disturb the concert with our sleeping.”

‘”Jerk us out a little more chin-music!”

‘”There’s no place like home with a baby in it.”

—Bram Stoker’s “Chin Music”

I wander through a bookstore and I feel the unfairness of blindness.

I sit in a mall and detect the repeating motion of shoppers passing by in front of me, but I wish I could see more than a blur like I used to.

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What a week. Full of the good and the not-so-good things and I am once again driven to list my thankfuls because sometimes blindness really sucks.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful I got an acceptance to a pitch within twelve hours.

It’s a nice feeling. It doesn’t always happen so fast. It was a nice start to the week.

I’m thankful I am being given the chance to write about the affect the Yukon had on me.

This is for a Canadian website/App and the editor said she is pleased to have a piece to publish, different from the usual story of seeing the Northern Lights.

They are a marvel, of course, but I am glad I can offer an alternative viewpoint of a place that is more than just one spectacular visual sight.

I’m thankful for essays I read that make me think and put a new spin on the essay form.

The Medicated Writer by David Ebenbach

I’m thankful for another lovely coffee/raspberry lemonade chat with a friend to distract me from my thoughts.

The news out of the US all week was non stop and ridiculous. I was feeling highly anxious, waiting to hear back about my piece for Hippocampus, and I needed a break from all that.

The place was busy because Ontario’s premier was visiting our town, but things emptied after we were there for an hour or so.

We talked about travel, family, and writing.

I explained to her what it’s like to walk into a crowded coffee shop and try and navigate my way through it. She is like many people who are driven to offer help when they see a blind person. I understand and take them up on that help often. It was just nice to explain how it works because she, like most people, don’t give it all much thought until they hear how it is firsthand.

I’m thankful for the calming yoga session and conversation with the teacher.

I’d heard of
NAMASTE
before, but she ended our now weekly session by saying it and explaining why she does.

It is one more thing I feel kind of silly saying back, but we all like to end with something.

I do love the peaceful end to yoga where I stretch out, blocking out all thoughts, other than that I can put up a barrier to the worst of them, while I focus by staring up at my light and listening to the hiss of my laptop which tells me my teacher is still there.

I’m thankful my brother had a successful first radio show.

CHRW Radio Western

He has unique taste in music, with a musical mind, and he finally gets the chance to share some of that with others.

When people ask me the type of music he does listen to/play, I do struggle to describe it in a single word. It is a lot of things, though not what you’re likely to ever come across on the radio.

He has opened my eyes up to a whole world of music that exists, even though very few people ever find it. Like writers and writing, there is so much beautiful music out there that never gets the chance to be heard by most of us. His passion for giving the unknown musicians a turn seems important to me.

He has named his show
Chin Music
and I think it suits.

I’m thankful for a violin lesson where practice and repetition were points brought home once more.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Rinse. Dry. Repeat. It’s the only way.

I’m thankful for the chance to get somewhere on my own and feel proud of it.

I appreciate the help I receive, for many reasons, as new travel by myself can be stressful and intimidating, but it is also good for me sometimes. The only way I will ever begin to feel any less intimidated is if I practice, kind of like with the violin.

When you can’t see, obviously public transportation is the best way to get somewhere. Then, I like to have an idea in my head of the directions I will be going. I need to see it in my mind and it requires massive amounts of concentration.

No matter the anxiety or the physical pain, the sense of accomplishment at the end is awesome.

I’m thankful I made the final decision to not stay home and instead take someone up on an invitation to meet new people and work on my terrible social skills.

I am terribly shy in new situations. I felt unwell and considered turning down the invitation, but I am glad I went.

I was the only girl there, but it turned out to be an enjoyable hangout on a spacious porch, listening to music, and having a few drinks on a beautiful July night.

It’s just too bad I need a few beers to lighten up. I stop worrying about where I am and I relax. This is fine for one night, now and again, but just attending instead of hiding out by myself helps too.

If I’d gone home, I would have kept thinking about what’s in the news, what a week it had been, and I needed to get away from all that.

I met new people, including someone who came here from Mexico to go to school in Canada. Opening up one’s social circle is a good thing.

I’m thankful for a lovely family day in Toronto.

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We met in a mall, couldn’t take the subway because the line was closed down, so had to all pile in the van and drive downtown Toronto. It took a while, but what a perfect day, too hot even.

So we got to spend a few hours somewhere cool, with lots to see, and around so much life.

I am conflicted on aquariums, worrying always if the creatures are happy swimming in those tanks. I wish I could ask those sharks, rays, and other fish.

If my nephew learns to love and respect sea creatures and the ocean, I will be happy.

Like standing at Niagara Falls, anywhere with all that water and marine life is where I can stand and tune out all the hoards of tourists and people. I could have stood beside that shark tank forever.

Then we came back out into the warm day and passed jubilant baseball fans. The Blue Jays were losing and then came back with a grand slam at the end of the game, the second in a week. The Toronto streets are full of energetic shouts whenever their team wins.

Then we had dinner at my favourite Toronto restaurant: The Pickle Barrel. Delicious beet and chicken salad, mango bellini, and brownie cheesecake for dessert.

Mmm.

As I’m heading home, at the end of the day, I can’t see the sky or the incredible sunset and so I feel the unfairness of blindness.

When I Grow Up – Jennifer O’Connor

Namaste.

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TToT: Peace, Happiness, and Love – June Gloom Lifting #10Thankful

“A large pine tree backlit by a cloud that is glowing from the light of the setting sun. The pine tree is a mass conical-shaped clumps of darkness that angle upwards from the unseen trunk in the middle of the tree. The edges of the tree shows more details, each branch ends in a splaying of fingers of pine needles. The cloud does not show the color in the photo as vividly as it was, it was a glowing orange color that was strong enough to show the spaces between the branches of the tree that stood between the camera and the sky.”

—TToT regular Clark of
The Wakefield Doctrine

I return from a busy time and thoughts swirling. I began this week’s post with that caption of a photo. (To see the photo, must go to the link I provide just above.)

There are a lot of photos I could now share, and I will, of my adventures in the last few weeks. I just thought, as I saw many photos and this includes Clarks’, that I have only descriptions (as vague or elaborately detailed as someone else chooses) to give.

For now, I needed a break from trying to imagine what my eyes can’t see and am going back to a totally wordy TToT post. Instead, I challenge you to read the photo descriptions of Clarks’ that I include here, as a thankful, and try to allow his words and mine to conjure up images, without necessarily relying on the visual.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a writer like Clark deciding to explain the photos he includes.

“Looking Homeward from the woods. The light and shadows cover the lower half of the photo and, together point towards the house. The ground is brown with shadows and light that do nothing to make it less brown looking. Even though the house itself is mostly brown (with dark vertical rectangles, outlined in white that show the windows along the top half) the background above the house shows blue, even though the green pine trees rise through the top of the picture, telephone pole straight, with drooping green arms of branches. The house looks farther away than it is.”

Well done once more Clark. Bravo!

Writers are, or should be, great at describing a visual image. It seems like an excellent writing exercise to me. I appreciate it when it is done, though it can’t completely ever make up for the inability to see with one’s own eyes. I only allow myself to feel the pity of that situation in my own life for short bursts and then I return to thankfuls such as these.

I’m thankful for such excellent writing advice.

With a little summer happiness.

Carrie Snyder says: My current philosophy (and by current, I mean, as of yesterday afternoon), can be summed up thusly: just finish it, including all of your bad (wild, implausible) ideas, and see what happens. As I counselled a student yesterday in my office: the perfect story you’re holding in your head has to get out of your head in order for others to read and experience it—and in order for that to happen, you have to accept that your perfect story will be wrecked in the process, at least to some degree. You can’t take that perfect story out of your head and place it on the page intact. No one can. But there isn’t another way to be a writer. Let your perfect imaginary story become an imperfect real story.

I’m thankful for the opportunity and a first successful conversation with someone from a leading awareness organization of blindness and its issues.

VisionAware

I hope to start writing articles for them very soon.

I’m thankful for a successful first real try at yoga.

I am doing it with my bed as a yoga mat and my teacher a voice through my laptop, for now anyway.

I will buy the mat soon as I decide I will stick with it and I found a teacher who lives in Montreal, so not all that close by. She instructs me over Skype and it works.

My favourite part was at the end when she instructs to just stay lying there, still, for however long it takes to get back up and into the real world again.

So peaceful. I heard a basketball bouncing, off somewhere out my window, but I focused on the light on my ceiling and allowed no intrusive thoughts to interrupt the peace.

I’m thankful I got my entry in on time for the Writing Diversity contest, for a book festival that takes place on Toronto’s waterfront every September.

I left it to the deadline, not good, but it’s done.

I began the month of April submitting one short story to Alice Munro’s contest and ended the month of June with this one.

Each time I feel my story is actually good enough to have a chance, so maybe my confidence as a writer is growing, at least.

It would be cool to get to read this latest story on stage in Toronto if I did win.

I’m thankful a new episode of Ketchup On Pancakes is complete.

Raise a glass or a fist with us to progress and the passing of the years. A lot can happen in twenty of them.

January/February to June/July and Ketchup On Pancakes is back on the podcast scene.

Episode 5 – 2017: “Get Up and Get Going) (Year of the Roooooster) – Ketchup On Pancakes

Are you into astrology? I admit, I am skeptical, but it seems as possible as anything, and highly philosophical, which I like.

This is the year to get up and get going toward something. The time is now. This moment is everything. We are making this year count.

Brian’s laugh is infectious throughout. Both of us aren’t afraid to make fools of ourselves to lighten the mood. In this first new episode of the year (already halfway through), I follow a rooster’s example and Brian shows off his recently graduated audio skill set. We discuss travel, family, achievement, and feelings of self doubt that makes any adventure such a worthwhile challenge, using our trademark sense of humour to keep things real.

Give us a like.

I’m thankful for “The Elsewhere Region,” also known as the local library’s writing group I attend – for many starts to possible stories.

Without this group, I wouldn’t have a started story twice a month or so to possibly shape into an entry, like those I’ve been submitting lately.

I began going to this group to work on more fiction. Otherwise, I lean toward more nonfiction and memoir. That is great too, but this balances out the all too real.

I start a story, never knowing where it might lead. I have many I started and haven’t gone back to, but sometimes, an idea catches on and leads to more.

I am thankful for messy conversations being had.

Inside Messy Conversations About Race – NPR

My friend Kerra did an excellent job being interviewed about the project she has teamed up to tackle. It’s an important conversation to have and to continue having, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

I’m thankful for the chance to consider what my country is all about on Canada Day, 150 and every day.

Part of it was what I felt on my Yukon trip last month. Part of it was the discomfort I experienced as Canada Day 150 approached. It was a lot of things all mixed together.

I don’t wish to revere the man who started Canada, 150 years ago. I don’t wish to say Canada is all a lie. I just wanted to be real about how we all got here.

I do feel lucky to live here. I do.

All the careless playing with fireworks people seem to do. All the celebrating and revelry of one day, as people love a party. I just wanted to get past the one day, to remember all the others. I don’t get why Toronto had a giant yellow rubber duck for the occasion. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I just want to focus on what is good about this land. I don’t know where the future will lead. I only know right now.

Shamaya – Susan Aglukark

I’m thankful for Canadian music, artists, and the history of a country like that from which I live and learn from.

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TToT: Hunters, Fishermen, and Other Liars Gather Here – Of Gold and White Horses, #10Thankful

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,

    And the rivers all run God knows where;

There are lives that are erring and aimless,

    And deaths that just hang by a hair;

There are hardships that nobody reckons;

    There are valleys unpeopled and still;

There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,

    And I want to go back — and I will.

—Robert W. Service

ps4BvXK.jpg

Then and now.

GjWyfmm.jpg

My dad and I have both come a long way. I thought such an important milestone deserved the landscape to go with it.

Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder

Land of the midnight sun.

nSb0kiN.jpg

June was the perfect time to visit.

Ten Things of Thankful (And an extra bonus item)

I’m thankful I got to celebrate June 5th in a miraculous place.

I wanted to shout it from the rooftops – 20 years baby!

YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH!

I spent the actual morning of the 5th, standing on a suspension bridge, overlooking a place called Miles Canyon. The day was a perfect temperature for me, wind and sun, blowing my hair all around and warming my face.

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I thought about where I would have been, exactly twenty years earlier. I was so glad to have that hospital and those doctors then. I was so blessed to have all those years of a dialysis free life, thanks to my father. I was lucky to spend that moment, twenty years on, up on that bridge.

I’m thankful for a truly eye opening week.

I thought the Yukon seemed so far out of the way of most of the rest of Canada and thought of it a little bit like the Canada of Canada.

By that, I mean that in North America, to me at least at times, Canada goes somewhat unnoticed or under appreciated by the United States and such. We are here but can feel invisible. We are a small world player, in many ways, not making a whole lot of noise or commotion, but that’s how we prefer it to be. We are here and we are strong.

Then there is a part of Canada that is tucked away, far from what a lot of the gathered population ever sees. I wanted to go out and find this place.

By the end of my time there, I’d learned so much and was blown away by all of it. I heard stories of the people who have lived in that climate (months of mostly all light and then months of continuous darkness) for years upon years. I learned about myself and what travel can mean to me, through seeing places of intense and immense beauty, while not actually getting to experience the spectacular visuals of the north.

I missed out on a to, but I gained so so much.

I’m thankful I had the chance to see a part of my country of Canada, far far from my place in it.

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I have never traveled out west through Canada before, spending most of my time in the central part, the middle area, always curious about what lay in all that northern part. As we flew, I heard about the Rockies as we passed over them.

Though I could not see the snow capped peaks, I felt such a deep sense of wonder as we headed for the west coast. My country is so vast and amazing.

I’m thankful for pilots.

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I am somewhat anxious when flying, but it is a true miracle that a plane can even get up in the air, let alone stay up there and take people so far across the skies.

I hear their announcements on the speaker and they sound like they know what they are doing. I hope, every time I fly, that that is the case.

I really did enjoy my experience flying WestJet.

I’m thankful for local tour guides.

Big bus tours can be fun, like the one I was on in Ireland, but this time we had a smaller and more personal experience with a local tour company I’d highly recommend.

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They have had it in the family for 100 years and the woman in charge and her employees (one being her daughter) are highly knowledgeable about the region and so very proud of their homeland. They know about the environment, the terrain, and the people. They are Yukoners, through and through..

I’m thankful for the chance to learn about culture and nature.

Culture:

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I could smell the wet wood as they worked, using a tool called an adze. They had to keep the wood moist so it wouldn’t cracked as they worked on it. They only had it dug out a tiny amount, with a lot of hours of work still left to go.

It is one of several cultural events and demonstrations happening, there at the riverside, sponsored by the Canadian government and Canada 150 in 2017.

Nature:

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I missed the bright colours of the water. I missed the white caps of snow atop the mountains in the distance. I missed the severe cliffs and vistas.

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I smelled the fresh Yukon air. I felt the wind. I instinctually detected the wide open spaces. I listened to the ripples at the lake’s edge. I compared the silences to the sounds of rapids far down below.

I felt it all in my bones.

I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers while traveling.

I started the trip being given someone else’s seat on the shuttle bus to the terminal and I ended it with a generous gesture by a flight attendant.

When she learned I hadn’t known I had to download a certain update on my phone, one that would be able to work with the inflight entertainment system, she offered tablets (free of their rental charge) so we could watch a movie on the four hour flight.

I watched Beauty and the Beast, the 2017 live action version that I’d been wanting to see since it came out back in March.

Also, there was the politeness of many I met while there, the polite drivers letting me cross streets, and the woman at the glass blowing factory who showed me around and was so helpful.

I’m thankful my mom and I weren’t eaten by bears.

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We stayed down at the roadside, overlooking the lake, while the rest of the group walked a bit up the mountain. They were going up some to get a better look, but it was the two of us that got the show.

My mom was taking a panoramic shot with her camera when she suddenly told me of the mother bear and her cub only forty or so feet down from where we stood. She got a few pictures and then couldn’t see where they went. It was at that moment that she grew nervous and we were glad to have the unlocked van to retreat into, until she spotted the pair once more, making their way along the edge of the water, far off into the distance.

This was a good thing in my mind, as I couldn’t remember what action to take when approached by a grizzly bear vs a black bear.

Was I to play dead or fight back? I’d probably just fall to the ground and curl up into a ball either way.

I’m thankful for the comforts of home after being away from it.

I could choose to feel all down and depressed that I had to leave a place I may never return to or a city I felt at home in, or I could be glad to have my own things back.

I both love going out into the world and exploring what else exists, but I will always love having a home to come back to.

Just hearing a little baby crying on the plane coming home made me miss my baby niece.

I’m thankful for family and neighbours who agree to watch my dog and check on my cat while I explore the world.

I love to travel, but having pets makes that difficult. My dog is very attached to me and my cat is not one of those cats that likes his solitude.

I don’t like to put it on my family to take care of my animals, those I chose to have, just so I can run off galavanting. It’s just that I do feel the pull to wander sometimes, though I try to space it out somewhat. It is a responsibility on them when I dump my dog at their house, but I know our family looks out for each other. We help one another out when and where we can. I would do the same for them.

I’m thankful I got to see my nephew’s baseball game.

He is still learning (Lucky Number 13) and yet he may grow to love it. Only time will tell. They are all so cute though. The coaches and volunteer parents have quite the time, wrangling all those kids, shouting instructions to run or catch or pay attention. They are distracted easily and I can’t blame them. A lot going on.

It was just strange to return to the neighbourhood park where the game was being played. I hadn’t been there in years, but sitting on that bench, by that baseball diamond, it brought back a lot of memories of summer days long gone.

My sister and brother both played in leagues and we’d go to their games often. My favourite part was the snack bar, but being back there now made me remember old times, old friends, and things that felt forever ago, compared to the life I am living in 2017 and my transplant anniversary is a part of that.

“Forever can spare a minute.”

—Belle, Beauty and the Beast 2017

How Does A Moment Last Forever – Celine Dion

“Ever just the same. Ever a surprise. Ever as before and ever just as sure as the sun will rise.”

—Tale As Old As Time, Beauty and the Beast

The people of the Yukon know the sun will rise again. It’s just a question of when and for how long.

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TToT: Short and Sweet, Here and Gone #10Thankful

I never get these in on Friday. Never. Despite my best intentions, it just never happens, until now that is.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful I can go for ice cream with my family.

We have a favourite place here and I thought about what it means to be able to enjoy such a simple pleasure and summer pastime, without fearing for our lives.

In Kabul this week that was not the case. How could someone plant a bomb at such a place, where families with their children gathered? How?

I’m thankful for a new friend who has a big heart and loves to help other writers, specifically women, to work to be our true selves.

Rebirth the Heroine

I recently liked the quote about being the heroine of my own story and this fits perfectly with the message in this video. I could use her peaceful voice and reassurances right now, in the midst of what is a pretty important month for me. (More on that next week.)

I am thankful the zip lining adventure has been officially booked.

We are ten or more. That means we get the discount. Wooooo! Five dollars off each ticket is five dollars. Better than nothing.

I just need to find out if they will allow my brother to photograph anything close to where the zip lining is. I hope to write a piece and use his photos in the newsletter for The Kidney Foundation of Canada. They may want you to buy their pricy souvenir photos though. I can do that too.

Maybe if I tell WildPlay Niagara I am a writer and doing a piece to be published and my brother is a professional photographer.

Cross your fingers.

I’m thankful for a doctor who has a family member with headaches.

Well, allow me to rephrase…I am not glad about the headache thing.

I mean that she seems to understand pain, as she lives with and loves someone who deals with it. This may be why she is as compassionate and empathetic as she is.

She is trying me on a new med because this one hasn’t helped one bit. I have high hopes for the next one.

I’m thankful for an invite to a lovely dinner as a guest of
The Writers’ Union of Canada
by the local members.

I was the youngest one there, but that’s okay. They were all so friendly and I feel I could learn a lot from them.

I probably can’t go back, as the rules are pretty strict and you must be a member, but I am not sure I qualify yet.

Either way, I was happy to be a guest that one time and I had some great conversations, ate some delicious food, and maybe I even made a few future connections. We’ll see.

I’m thankful for a friend who is speaking her mind for the causes important to her and which deserve more attention.

Sweatpants & Equality – Activism Is A Movement & A Practice — Not A Moment By Kerra Bolton

Feeling helpless gets old real fast. Some people find a way to act. Kerra is one of those people. She is strong and determined and I am happy we met. I look forward to reading her words in Sweatpants & Coffee in the future. Give this one a read though.

I am thankful Canada is vowing to move ahead with our promise devoted to the environment.

I don’t understand people and I will never understand 45 and the things he does. I don’t know when enough will be enough.

I don’t pretend to understand everything about the goals set out in the Accord, but I trust in what it stands for and am honoured to be one of almost all countries of the world working to protect the planet together.

I am thankful for another chat with my neighbour.

We could sit on her deck this time.

I love her vow to find peace in her life. She did something about her unhappiness and made a change. I admire her for that. I am glad she did and we can be neighbours.

She even said she will let my dog be leashed and hang out on her deck this summer. Whenever I go away I have to lock him in my entranceway and he barks a lot. She will have a key and can bring him out with her those days, so he won’t have to be alone and she won’t have to listen to him making all that racket.

I am thankful I am off to somewhere I’ve never been.

That is why I am getting this post in early. I will be back in a week’s time and I will have a TToT post in me, all about my trip to share.

I am thankful for some time with my nephew and niece.

With the brutal attacks, more this week, bombings in Baghdad and Kabul, I was feeling anxious and sad.

I sat with my almost five-year-old nephew, in the back of their new van like we used to do as kids in ours, with the hatch wide open to the driveway, where my dad (Grandpa) swept. Reed and I talked about colours, he got a juice box for both of us, and I relaxed for the first time in days.

Then I had a peaceful moment with Mya in my lap, as she stopped crying for her mom for a minute as I called to find out if she was coming to pick her up soon. She stopped crying, suddenly, and we just sat there together.

I kept thinking about Louis Armstrong and his famous song:

What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

“I hear babies cry. I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

—Louis Armstrong

I am now off to experience that world, the part that makes it as wonderful as Armstrong sings about that is.

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