Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Spotlight Sunday, The Insightful Wanderer

Finding The Abbey Felt Like Striking Gold #JusJoJan

All the music and the books and shows that are out there I have yet to know of, I think to myself, as I watch Downton Abbey (for the thirtieth time) as I eagerly wait for the film to come out. FYI: I have months to wait still.

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I like to think of all the explorers and inventors and everything
undiscovered,
going back through history and into the present and the future I have yet to enter myself.

As I am halfway through the first month of 2019 already, I know there’s so much to discover too.

I am an explorer of my year, in my own personal narrative of a life, as I approach turning thirty-five. Sure, I am feeling wary of what might be or might not, but I am ready for the adventure and the exploration of what this year is meant to become.

Yeah, depending on the day and sometimes the hour you ask me in/on, my mood about all this changes. I feel like the start to 2019 is a slow one, but really I can’t complain about that. Life, when much more interesting, isn’t always the better alternative.

I am trying to see what’s next for me and I don’t always look at that as being a positive thing. I know I need to keep hold of the right attitude in this whole self-discovery dance I’m doing. I don’t dance well, but sometimes, you just have to flail around a bit, all four limbs, and not worry so much about what that might look like.

After all, last year at this time, I hadn’t bothered to give Downton a chance yet. How silly thirty-three-year-old me was for that.

Thanks today goes out to
The Haunted Wordsmith
for such a thrilling word. (Love the blog name btw.)

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TToT: Level of Loose Lip Loggers, #10Thankful

“You can cast the first stone. You can break my bones. But you’re never gonna break…never gonna break my faith.”

—Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige

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Caption: my friend Anita and I – so glad she could come to our first CFB bbq.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for no rain on the day of an important picnic/bbq for my cause.

We at the Canadian Federation of the Blind of Ontario were putting on our first ever summer social.

I am thankful for the perfect park where we held the event.

I am thankful I could meet such a diverse group, of old friends and new ones.

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Caption: large group shot of some of our guests.

I am thankful for the help from my family. They are always supportive and always present.

I am thankful for friends who offer rides, help fetching supplies, capturing the special moments of the day, and to help us raise a bit of money to begin something more, just by showing up that afternoon.

I am extremely thankful that the day went off without a hitch.

Some days are a snapshot in time, of a beautiful gathering coming together. I sometimes lose my faith, and then something happens to help me find a little more to be getting along with again.

I am thankful for the 31 who attended our event and then the breaking off of smaller groups, from the bigger, that same evening and the next morning (for breakfast at a lovely spot) and the morning after that.

We discussed policies and plans. We discussed dreams and goals yet to reach.

I am thankful my brother and I could get our 13th podcast episode recorded, with likely something like three full hours of discussion, on transformative times gone by and the change we want to see for those who are blind in Canada.

We talk with the one who started the ball rolling on an Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of the Blind, our good friend and former roommate.

I am thankful for this literary film.

For a major Downton Abbey fan like myself, this one is a treasure.

I’d heard of it, come across the trailer online, and I knew, right away, it would be my kind of film.

It was the perfect way to end one wildly successful weekend.

So much work to do. Sometimes, I need a little time with a good movie on Netflix, a bunch of tears shed – a satisfying few hours spent.

And I am thankful for the first of the freshest apples of the season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iazIjFT9ZI

A legend with a powerful voice is gone and this one song was the one that affects me most. She has affected many others, such as
this writer.

RIP Aretha.

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Daisy’s Haircut, #DowntonAbbey #SoCS

I didn’t see a last picture, not in some time. The last one of those I saw was one…I now do not remember what.

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This week, Linda at
Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS
says to write about the last picture we see before writing.

I once loved to pour over photo albums of my mother or grandmother’s. My mom on her wedding day, the photos of my grandparent’s younger selves, or my own photo, smiling wide, in grade eight graduation gown.

Now I see so little that pictures don’t appear to me, not anywhere near clearly, unless they are shifting images I hold onto in my own wandering mind.

There’s a name for it, I believe but am too tired to look it up for this stream of consciousness writing moment, but I still see images in my own head. My mind hasn’t totally forgotten. My brain and those connections still fire off and hope to produce something tangible.

Well, sometimes it is a vague memory, myself as a tiny twelve-year-old, standing in my overalls in front of our side garage wall, full to the top with big cardboard boxes of fluid for home dialysis.

Other times, I see a picture, as if expertly framed, inside my thoughts. It’s an image that comes, without warning, like the one I started to see after binge watching all six seasons of Downtown Abbey in the last few weeks.

The young, naive kitchen helper, assistant cook Daisy. She finally sees what she has, after pining for all the wrong men, and she sees it after cutting all her hair off, to change up her image and to impress the boy.

At first, he laughs, but then they share a tender moment. She meekly looks up at him, her chopped off dark haired head. This one image seems to go along with that moment and its audio track, on a loop inside my mind.

I don’t know what that’s about. It isn’t real, didn’t happen that way (or at least I never saw it), but it feels so impossibly true to me.

My older brother is a photographer. I am proud of this, I admire him for many things, this included. He takes still images, mostly, and preserves a moment.

That’s all I try to do with my own writing, even if my own brain works against me, not giving me more than a moment’s peace, showing me a constant reel of images like I can still see them with my eyes.

It can be exhausting, sometimes preoccupying all of me, zapping my energy, as strange as that may sound.

Bad brain! Bad bad bad brain!

STOP IT!!!

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Purple and Green, #FTSF #SoCS

Are you acquainted with “Steve” by any chance?

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He’s making science news today, here in Canada and the north, in a big, expansive way.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day: green beer, green rivers even. Everything is turned the colour green. Over the skies in Alberta, I believe, it is purple dancing in the night though, not the usual green of Northern Lights, ones I won’t likely ever see, like the colour green I miss and still try to hold onto inside my head.

I don’t care for all the revelry of this day, the kind that makes people let loose and get out of control even, arrests made, but it’s a celebration and I don’t fight that. I do believe some people don’t need much of an excuse to act ridiculous. I may be no wildly outgoing partier, but I love Ireland and I’d celebrate its existence any old time.

The colours seen in the sky are named Steve and I find that curious. Steve sounds like an Irish name to me.

My favourite character in Downton Abbey is Irish, the chauffeur Tom Branson. He is one of the best in that series.

I am away from all the noise today, no drinking for me, but I can practically hear the laughter from here, of a day where people let it all out. It’s green and I like green, green Ireland. What could be better?

Another
Stream of Consciousness Saturday
and a humorous
stream of consciousness
Finish the Sentence Friday proceeding it.

With Kristi and co-host
Kenya G. Johnson of Sporatically Yours
to make the stream of consciousness pairing complete.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature, TToT

TToT: Not Permanence But Flux, #Thundersnow #AWrinkleInTime #WomensHistoryMonth #10Thankful

March weather patterns have introduced me to something known as
thundersnow
as an occurrence of the season.

Oh March…silly month.

This week’s thankful post I want to dedicate to women and those who’ve made my life with kidney disease as good as it is now.

Even if I think, locally and in politics, women lost, again, to men. Still, I am thankful for ten other things, at least.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful I got to know my uncle.

Before my list of intelligent, strong, and brave women can commence, I must pay tribute here to an one-of-a-kind man.

I wouldn’t start off a post like this normally, in any other case, but my uncle died at the start of the week, after suffering a stroke and I wanted to acknowledge him in my TToT list.

He was my father’s older sister’s partner and he was like no one else I’ve ever met.

He invited my family and I into his home, not knowing us, and let us return several times. We grew closer and always enjoyed catching up.

He is gone and it’s the end of an era. RIP Uncle Jim.

I’m thankful for audio described Downton Abbey episodes.

Lots of strong women in that series, even and especially for the time they were living in, even as fictional characters that represented many women who were real.

I’m thankful everything I took from the show helped me take some necessary and tough steps in my own life.

From 1925, to remembering a hard decision made this day back in 2011 to 2018 and all.

I’m thankful for the progress made since 1964 in Canada.

I’m thankful for a history lesson brought to life and with powerful true words from the author.

She battled depression, rejection, and sexism, only to write Anne of Green Gables and nineteen other novels in her lifetime.

https://www.lmmontgomery.ca/laura-robinsons-reflections-lm-montgomery-heritage-minute

Whether it’s the early 20th century, in the UK or in Canada, it couldn’t have been so easy to speak out about women’s rights. For Lucy Maud Montgomery, she had a lot up against her and yet she created a totally feminist character in Anne Shirley and in dozens of other strong female characters throughout her career as an author is a testament to who she was.

I’m also thankful, then, for female writers and scholars in today’s world, those who have written extensively on the women of history, here in Canada and beyond.

I’m thankful for a Canadian female from the country’s history books (or should be and now will be) appearing on the $10 bill.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/viola-desmond-10-unveiled-1.4567290

I’m thankful for the females winning big at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards.

Margaret Atwood won an award for the mini series Alias Grace being adapted to television. The new Anne program won an award for best television drama series.

I love/loved both.

I’m thankful for a powerful female voice from a friend.

Watching ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is a political act – CNN

And I’m thankful, Sade is back with a new song for the soundtrack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7b8hitvfoE

Sade is one of my favourite women and artist/performers.

Happy International Women’s Day and Happy Women’s History Month to all the strong women, in my life, in my world – past and present, real and fictional.

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So Far, So Good #SoCS

International Women’s Day … World Kidney Day.

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I am lucky to be a woman in 2018 I realize. I am lucky to have one working kidney, rather than my two old damaged-beyond-repair kidneys.

Women have come so far since the 1920s. My kidney transplant is working, still after nearly 21 years, so far so good.

I realize all this, as I’m watching Downton Abbey for the first time. I found the series with descriptive track, which I first needed to keep up with all the characters, but now I like for facial expressions and such.

These aren’t available on Netflix with any audio track, though a couple shows (mostly Netflix originals) do have that.

These are recorded right from British television, one episode even with the commercials left in.

We’re coming to a time when audio description, on TV and in movies, isn’t quite so rare as it once would have been. Still, it isn’t common enough.

I want to demand audio description for movie theatres and for television, but it all takes time. People turn on TV and suddenly hear some odd extra voice chirping at them and are taken aback at first. It isn’t nearly common enough.

I recently began to see a new commercial for Diet Coke and wondered why they were choosing to show a new ad. Why now?

Some actress saying how if she wants to have a Diet Coke, she will. I admire that attitude, but what was I missing?

The answer is, I was missing the fact that it isn’t only the regular Diet Coke they are advertising. Apparently, they have four new flavours. I was told this by sighted family. Otherwise, I never would have known and they never would have caught my attention Coke.

I know, if most movies and shows still don’t have audio description, commercials won’t be any more likely to have it, though I have heard of a few. Either way, without specifically speaking about the fact that it isn’t just the usual Diet Coke they have to offer, someone without sight won’t know. I am a small minority of Coca Cola’s customer base, I realize, but I think I deserve to know these things, as insignificant as it might sound.

I totally thought about phoning Coke’s 1-800 number and complaining, letting them know this is discrimination and all they need do is verbally mention the new product they’re offering, but really I hold down a little on the growing activist part of me that is sick of living with things as they are. I am sure I’d only get one of those automated messages and be told to press 1 for…and 2 for…

I might still. I would also complain. I don’t recommend the Cherry, which is flavoured with something that tastes like pepper, a heated after taste that makes it undrinkable.

And so, your hard drive space is low, is the message my laptop keeps repeating to me. I get a notification of lack of space on my phone regularly, but this one is new. I am no good at clearing out my computer/phone. I let apps and files build up.

Wow, this post was supposed to be about one thing and it went a totally different direction. And so it goes.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

We’ve come so far, and yet… And so on and so forth.

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Shows and Events, The Blind Reviewer

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo

“Where there is kindness there is goodness…and where there is goodness there is magic.”

I have heard of the many and varied versions of the classic fairy tale of Cinderella.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella

Truthfully, it was never my favourite Disney film when I was a child. Thus, I did not rush to watch any of the others that have been released since.

I guess I always thought the story to be a bit lacking in any real spark of interest to me.

I was a Sleeping Beauty girl, through and through.

The Blind Reviewer: Maleficent

I don’t know, then, why this latest retelling of Cinderella caught my attention the way that it did.

Actually, I have a hunch and it wasn’t the most solid reason to assume I’d like this new live-action production, directed by the brilliant Kenneth Branagh.

He is a multi-talented man and I felt he would pick the best actors to fill the roles and would present the story in a new and fresh way, just enough that I might come to love the story and see it in a whole new light.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20DF6U1HcGQ

As with all movie reviews I must say here that possible spoilers lay ahead. I would love for you to keep reading, if you can accept those terms.

🙂

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_(2015_film)

Why should you see this film?

**There’s the fact that not one, but two of the actors in this film can be seen on the beloved nighttime soap Downton Abbey.

**There’s the fact that Kenneth cast the wildly talented Cate Blanchett (most notably of Lord of the Rings and Elfin fame to me) to play the wicked step-mother.

**There’s the fact that the special effects and costumes were/are supposed to be phenomenal.

Everybody loves the story of Cinderella. As I have stated above, me not so much, but I was soon turned around on the matter, a fair bit at least.

The first good sign was the fact that I went to see this film with DS (descriptive service) and it worked. I had the worst luck with that lately, but as happy as I was when I first heard that voice coming through my wireless headphones, that is not what sealed the deal for me.

It was not one of those times when the basic storyline was taken and changed around, to fit a certain theme or time period.

(Ella Enchanted or Ever After.)

This film sticks extremely close to the well-known story, loved by so many generations.

These most recent of retellings often give background, such as with my favourite Maleficent, and this particular Cinderella was no different.

She is a young woman who suffers a lot of loss, very early on, but she is clearly loved by her parents and has been taught some really really excellent lessons and values from both of them.

It’s hard for any child when a step-parent and step-siblings are introduced into the picture. Cinderella is no exception there, but she attempts, at least, to make the best of her circumstances.

When her father is no longer there to protect her, her home life becomes unbearable, if not for the mice who become her friends.

Banished to the attic and made to wait on her remaining horrible step-family hand-and-foot would be dreadful without the strength her parents instilled in her and her creature companions.

Now I was unaware enough not to have realized, until watching this time, that Cinderella got her name not by any accident.

There’s a really well-done scene where Ella is caught having slept by the fire to keep warm. Her step-sisters call her Cinder-Ella, after cinders from the hearth.

After suffering an extended period of torment and ridicule from the only “family” she’s got left, she retreats into the forrest, on a horse, to get away for a little while.

She comes across a stranger in the woods, teaches him about the value and respect for all living things, and an instant connection is formed between her and this mysterious Kit the so-called Apprentice.

She leaves a lasting impression. They both disguise their true identities, for different reasons.

Will they ever meet again? Of course they will.

😉

There are procedures to follow as a prince when searching for one’s future bride, but Kit isn’t about to let that get in the way, stop him from seeing the captivating girl on the horse, from the woods again.

A royal ball is announced and Ella’s hopes are soon dashed, when her step-mother forbids her from going and posing any competition for her own two daughters, in the hopes that one of them might be chosen by a prince, for a life of luxury and wealth.

All this time, an all-knowing narrator has been explaining what we’ve been watching on screen and I like this element, also used in last year’s Maleficent.

I loved the British feel of this film and it’s splendid acting from all the cast.

I must say that my favourite of them all is Helena Bonham Carter, who is both narrator and Fairy Godmother. She brings a feeling of magic and wonder to this film that I couldn’t get enough of.

Helena Bonham Carter Talks Cinderella

After myself only seeing her as the supremely evil Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series of films, it was sweet to see her as the ultimate embodiment of goodness and generosity here.

The continual theme throughout this movie is what Ella’s mother taught her before she died and Ella never stops honouring her mother’s memory by finding the good in people and making the best of her bad situations.

The Fairy Godmother appears on the scene, just as Ella is at her lowest point, believing the ball is going on somewhere and she is missing her one chance for true love.

Fairy Godmother pops up and brings her own sprinkling of magic by waving her signature magic wand.

A pumpkin becomes a coach. Mice, a goose, and two lizards are transformed into the driver and horses. Ella’s mother’s dress, now in tatters but of which means so much to her, is altered into the most beautiful gown in all the land.

Of course she is presented with her famous glass slippers (almost as famous as the ruby ones from another famous tale) and off she goes, left with a warning to return by the stroke of midnight when the spell will be broken.

These elements of the story are at the core of what Cinderella is supposed to be about.

I’m simply putting it out there that Helena is the best thing about this film. She’s charming and witty and the mother figure Ella so badly missed and needs.

She is the kindness that shows up at just the right moment. This, going to show Ella that such kindnesses do still exist.

Of course I missed out on the stunning visual effects of orange vegetables and animals turned into royal transportation. I don’t see the visual beauty of the costumes.

And yet, I still lapped up every last feeling of magic and goodness that I could find.

The prince resists all advances from the many royal females and dolled-up girls, including wicked step-sister number one and number two, never losing hope that his dream girl would show herself.

They present her, in style, just her alone making her grand entrance into the ballroom.

Prince Kit and and Ella have their long awaited first dance. Jealousy boils up between all the other girls. Of course the step-sisters and mother have no idea who this mystery usurper is, not as of yet.

The prince and Ella sneak away and have a special evening, before the clock chimes twelve and she rushes off, losing one of her glass slippers in the process.

I followed along with the plot and story arc of course, but I knew what to expect with both. Any predictability, the bore I’ve thought this tale to be in the past, and all feelings of the poor damsel in distress and having to always wait to be rescued by a man were pushed to the back of my mind while watching.

It was the wonderful casting of characters and the themes of jealousy, cruelty, resentment, all balanced out by Ella’s never-ending compassion that drew me in.

Kenneth takes his time to present all of this and I didn’t mind. I followed along, loving the intermittent narration and the morality at the heart of the tale.

Things like status don’t matter. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

These are the truths at the centre of Cinderella, in the year 2015.

This was no Brothers Grimm ending, bloody and hacked off heels or gouged out eyes, in spite of the horrible way Cinderella is treated for most of the story.

Without spoiling the ending (come on though because you should already know this) and without giving away a whole lot more unnecessary details, I leave off my review right here.

Happy endings and all that jazz. It was heart warming to see that this is a film for all ages.

I must admit that at times I grew slightly irritated by the amount of people in the theatre, both children and adults, making noise and filling up the seats.

It was March Break after all. What was I expecting?

🙂

There are so many lessons for all ages to be found in this film. The themes of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness made me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. I readily admit.

The star of this film, I will say again was not Cinderella herself (Lily James), at least not in my humble view. She was good and all, the perfect essence of all that is good and kind.

It’s the Fairy Godmother who steals the show and none of it would have been possible without her.

If I had to say, I would have to rate this film as being Four Stars.

In spite of an overly sappy line here or there, I was pleasantly surprised. Even as I entered the theatre with hope that I might just might like this version more than any other that has come before it, I wasn’t so sure at first.

Go see it for Helena’s performance alone, along with the other excellent actors that make up the other roles as simply an added bonus.

Go see it if you enjoy visual effects, or so I hear.

Go see a classic story, retold by a genius like Branagh and let the magic, enchantment, and spells draw you in and hold you there for a little while at least, even if only until the clock strikes midnight and the spell is broken.

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