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TToT: Back After A Long While #OctoberSurprise #BlindnessAwarenessMonth #10Thankful

I could have posted my favourite quote about the month I most love, but that “October” quote from Lucy Maud Montgomery has been added here in previous years. I will stick to my own words today.

I’ve been out of this gratitude post activity for months now. I still practice gratitude in my head and in my heart, but I have my moments of self pity and fear also and so I wanted to break that block I had which kept getting in my way of sharing here.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am thankful for this, my favourite month. The air is fresher and crisper and cleaner than the earthiness of spring or the humid, heavy heated air of summer in southwestern Ontario. Winter is good also, with the smell of snow in the air all around, like a snow globe. I look forward to that, though I worry about people I love who find the long, dark months of winter a challenge to their mental health and energy levels.

I am thankful for my yearly seasonal fresh apples. They are giant, some I call pumpkin apples. They are special and tart/sweet and so crisp and sour at times. I am thankful for those who pick them from the apple trees this time of year.

I am thankful for how Canada is mostly pulling together and facing this pandemic with grace and a common goal of staying healthy, as many of us as possible. I lay low and protect myself, as I’m on my way to 25 years with my father’s kidney come 2022. Those I love are staying safe too.

I’m thankful for staying close to family during such strange times. I am lucky to have parents who taught their four children respect and love for the gift of a sibling, brother or sister, for the different things they bring to the table of sibling closeness. Our parents know they won’t always be here and how important it is to keep growing a bond with a sibling, no matter where life takes any one of us four. We’re here for each other and I don’t see that changing, but I hope I can do my part to keep the bonds strong.

I’m thankful each sibling and I have talks and they each keep me sane, in different ways, at different moments when I might be struggling to voice my concerns and fears over the state of things. I tend to let my imagination run wild with these things, am frightened for what’s to come in the US especially in the coming months. It’s hard here too, as helpless as I feel because I can’t contribute a vote against the man currently occupying the people’s house there in DC. I can only watch from up here, in horror and disgust and embarrassment for it all and the still real possibility that it could go worse still.

I am thankful for a more successful year for me, compared to 2019, dangerously contagious unknown virus that has come upon us in 2020 notwithstanding. I’ve started doing what’s called sensitivity reads for a children’s publisher in Toronto and now an accessibility review for a science journalist who was presenting at some sort of UK science journalism conference. She wanted to do all she could to make her slide presentation, with its images and alt text on those images accessible for everyone and needed someone with a screen reader to look everything over. I feel like I am doing my part in this world to improve accessibility for myself, others with the same needs as I have and that’s something at least..

I am thankful the show I do with my brother is
now available
in more places than one. We’ve had some incredible guests on the show in recent weeks and we’re not done yet.

I’m thankful for the nature documentaries on Netflix I’ve had to escape into for distractions lately.

Most of what’s available on Netflix now is audio described, allowing me to imagine the scenes of wildlife and the natural world in my mind as I’m listening.

Watching these, I felt peaceful for a brief but necessary break in my day, but also I’ve been reminded why I love nature (my religion) and the need for action to protect it.

I’m thankful I have an essay
about Braille
I wrote, published in my third print book, not counting the
magazine
I now have my name on as assistant-editor over the last year or so.

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I probably should have confirmed, but I’m unfortunately unsure I can post the correct photo description, as I am unsure which one I went with here. I just chose one from my photos, one from that day, something with the print magazine my essay is in, me holding it or it being open and showing the page with my name or my story on it.

I’m thankful for the Women Who Travel online study course I’ve been taking, for the virtual walk around New Zealand next month, and the nature writing class I’m taking in January, 2021, all of which give me something meaningful to focus on, to work on, and to use as inspiration until I can travel again one day.

I’m thankful for the recent online fiction writing class I started, every Friday night until right before Christmas. It will keep me accountable..

Though we don’t know what will be by the time Christmas and the end of this wild year arrives, but until then I am doing my best to get by.

So, if you ask me that usual, general question from now until at least 2021 and the hope of a possible COVID-19 vaccine is perfected, even if I sigh, suck it up and answer “fine,” I won’t exactly be fine, but I’m doing what I can to stay hopeful and sometimes I fall back into that trap of answering in a way as to not make others feel uncomfortable to continue any further talk with me.

Thank you, Kristi and everyone, for still being here to show me the way on staying as accountable to being thankful as humanly possible and a recent Happy Birthday to our hostess here at the TToT.

And finally, this is a shot of my pal before I had to say goodbye and have him put down last month.

7My7QrQ.jpg

RIP and I’m glad there’s no more suffering for you. Staying positive here, as best I can. There’s always something to be thankful for.

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TToT: An Epoch In My Life – Equations and Conjugations #BlackSwan #OneWorld #TogetherAtHome #10Thankful

“’The matter with human beans,’ the BFG went on, ‘is that they is absolutely refusing to believe anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles. ‘” …

—The BFG by Roald Dahl

So much going on that writing here often now slips through my fingers and gets lost in the recesses of my brain, but I have plenty to be thankful for-so let’s go.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

With the novel coronavirus, covid-45 up to his bullshit, and now the worst mass shooting in Canadian history having taken place this past weekend. I am trying to find moments of joy, ways to distract myself and my racing thoughts, and ideas to harness the creativity I have inside.

I wish, oh how I wish the world could all be on the same page with this, to work together, which seems so very simple to me. Apparently not?

We can sit around and blame China or the US or anyone else, but where does that get us?

All the finger pointing and wide gaps in the seriousness of the way this virus is being taken and all those conspiracy theories floating around. Why can’t things just be what they are? Like the quote I started this week’s TToT with, humans refuse to admit until they see with their eyes, and during times like these, not even then.

I am thankful for this song.

The Book of Love – Gavin James

I am thankful for a new online writing class I’ve started and the community of writers who are willing to open up and share.

The instructor started a WhatsApp group for all of us and we’re all leaving audio messages there, for each other, and as a place for reflection and contemplation.

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She suggested we think up a name for the group and I thought of black swan because it’s a term being used to describe this pandemic and also, there are swans down at the park by my house now. I remember their white, graceful, loveliness as I watched them glide across water. Now I no longer see them, but I think a swan could be still beautiful, even a black one. Why not?

I know we’re often tempted to describe tough times like these as dark times, looking for the light, but I often get tired of these images we use to describe the bad and the good of life, but yet I know I can’t make every person stop describing life this way. It is what it is, as a writer, but I know the images that are created powerfully in words that bring to mind such metaphors.

I see it as a way to express how we are all going through an unprecedented period in history together, but also, along with all the negatives there can be beauty.

I am thankful for music to get me through hard times, like the live concert I got to see the other night.

Sarah Slean sold tickets, but for much much less than I’d pay to see a show in person, certainly less than I paid to see her live on a bitterly cold December night back in 2017.

Day One – Sarah Slean

I know Zoom has its issues, and I had to turn the voice off my iPhone while watching or else all the hundreds of people commenting would make Voiceover go berserk.

Sarah is so cheery, the kind of cheery you can hear in her voice, as her smile is audible when she speaks. Her singing voice is just brilliant and so is her piano playing.

She is excellent with a string section behind her, don’t get me wrong, but there was just something about the simplicity of a woman and her piano in her home in Toronto with 776 people listening to her performance.

I am thankful for the virtual camino walk I’m on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Ekot38tV8&feature=youtu.be

I have many places in Europe I’d like to get to, but Italy was never high on that list for some reason. I am not sure why, but now Spain is up there.

A writer who creates unique travel experiences put together something to occupy us and help us find our way through all this, starting a group on Facebook and every day she posts a file where she describes a chunk of a camino, Camino de Frances in this case. I would have trouble handling such walks in real life, with my blindness and my chronic pain issues, but this is totally doable. No blisters if I choose not to imagine them, though I know I get off easy in this case.

All these ancient routs that pilgrims went on, going back to the sixth century or the tenth. I simply can’t imagine. This music she shared told a story to perspective travellers. It puts me in that frame of mind.

I write a daily corona diary to my long since departed grandmother, but I also take her and all my ancestors along on the camino with me.

I am thankful for something called Annedemic.

Winter Green – The East Pointers

The band, The East Pointers, they’ve come up with something to help raise money for struggling musicians who have lost touring opportunities. Themselves or one of their friends or musicians they’ve played with read one chapter of Anne of Green Gables a night on Facebook live. It’s always entertaining and I forget how much I love that story. It’s just a lot of fun to distract from all that isn’t.

I am thankful I can travel even when grounded in place.

TVO Original TRIPPING the Rideau Canal

I love the Rideau Canal and especially when it freezes over in winter and becomes a long stretch of skating surface.

I experienced that back in 2015 and I wish to go back there, since skating again with family in these last five years and most recently, right before the coronavirus took centre stage.

I went to Ottawa last year, right around now, to a conference and I brought a friend with me. I stood out on our balcony and recorded a soundscape of the capital city of Canada and I still plan to write some poetry of some kind and record my voice reading it over that city backdrop.

I am thankful to be in Canada during covid.

In spite of everything, this country is handling the pandemic better than many other places. When I heard an interview with Andrew Cuomo I heard someone who knew what he was talking about and who works hard. That’s what leadership should look like, but other so-called leaders are impossible to follow.

Here we have kept the numbers of infections and dreaded dead down to a lower amount than elsewhere. We come together during hard times, like this virus and now the shooting Nova Scotia has suffered.

I am thankful I got to speak with my family members, even if we’re social distancing for now.

My niece and nephew told me all about what they got from the Easter Bunny and then my niece gave me a book report, of sorts, about the BFG.

Snozzcumbers Soph, really?

The main character’s name is Sophie – close but we call our Sophia Soph.

I really should get a copy of a book my niece is reading and read along too. We could have a little Roald Dahl book club of sorts, even from a distance. My teacher read us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, I believe, and the Glass Elevator in fourth grade, but I hardly remember except for some truly awful alien creatures in the latter story. I could use a refresher.

I am thankful that the re-test of my blood, creatinine level, it was repeated and has gone down again.

From 70-80 for years and years, up to 110 at the end of 2019, down to 100 at my birthday, and now down to 93 – I’ll take it, for now.

And I am thankful for this poem and the journey it relays.

David Whyte: Santiago

My writing instructor recommended it. I had not heard of David Whyte before.

As Anne Shirly would say, this is sure to be an epoch in my life, this virus, for better or for worse and everything/everywhere in between.

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TToT: The Luxury of My Breathing – Hammer and Dance #10Thankful

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.

And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new wats to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
– Kitty O’Meara

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Photo caption: massive flock of swans on a pond at the side of the road. Reminds us of how the world of nature and our environment might have been calling for a shut down of our regularly scheduled programming for a while now and to slow down and learn to value what truly matters, not what certain fake leaders think life’s all about.

And nature also takes a breath, as my favourite Canadian song writer (Jann Arden) says: “good things come from bad things.”

I am full of gratitude for so many things, even though this pandemic rages on across the world, moving in waves, inclines and declines, and I wait at home for news…for something.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

It all starts and stops, begins and ends with breathing.

I’m thankful for every breath I take that’s unimpeded by the virus in question and any other.

I’ve never experienced pneumonia before. I’ve been on ventilators before, during surgeries, but any remaining memories of that sort of thing are super vague.

I’m thankful my family are all safe right now.

Speaking of breathing, my sister has asthma and I’ll never get over the shock when I walked into my brother’s hospital room, after an emergency medical condition had him requiring help to breathe and we’d not had any warning.

I’m thankful for medical advancements in the last one hundred years.

I’ve read and studied a lot about the Spanish flu of 1918 and I know this is different, but the biggest we’ve seen since then.

I’m thankful my two essential worker parents are okay.

My mom looks after people in a group home and my dad drives a wheelchair cab.

People with disabilities already have greater difficulties during these large events because they can not drive and depend on others to do that and more.

Lots about this world isn’t accessible and all the work-at-home modifications being made to keep people working and our economy from total collapse are things those with disabilities ask for normally and are often denied.

Not so much the time to harp on that now, but it’s a valid point.

I’m thankful for the technology I do have in 2020 so I don’t feel so alone, even while practicing social distancing in my home where I live by myself.

I have family and friends nearby and am rather used to spending large amounts of time home.

I’m thankful for all the work being put into fighting this coronavirus thing here in Canada and around the world, all the brilliant minds working and the front line people seeing this covid-19 up close, but I feel intense appreciation I am in this country and not in the US, but I worry for all my friends there during such days as these.

I’m thankful for the message Prime Minister Trudeau sent out to the children of this country.

Trudeau gives Canadian kids ‘special thanks’ for helping fight coronavirus – CBC News

I envy my three-year-old niece, but I wonder if she’ll feel any of these issues going on around her. My older niece and nephews can’t go back to school and I know that will be an issue. I’m okay because I know their parents are there for them, there to explain things when they ask questions.

I can’t imagine running a country during a global pandemic, especially after Sophie Trudeau tested positive for the virus. He isn’t perfect, but better than many alternatives worldwide and I feel safer here than many places I could be right now.

Justin Trudeau: Working at home just like the rest of us – Politico

I’m thankful for a body that knows how to heal itself, at least somewhat.

I went for a walk last week and twisted my ankle and scraped up my knee.

I’m thankful for strange pain pathways that don’t feel how bad my knee looks/feels. I was able to put weight on my left foot and right leg and finish the walk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jO2wSpAoxA&feature=youtu.be

I’m thankful for the beautiful words of children.

I asked my cousin if I could share the following thoughts from her kids. Good place to end the TToT for this week (copied, with permission, from Facebook):

We’re all poets. And have something profound to share. Here’s the sentiments of our sweet Anders and Nevie.

Nev😇
I am happy
I wonder how many animals there are in the world
I hear the radio
I see the lake
I want a pet hamster
I am silly

I pretend I’m an animal
I feel proud
I touch animals
I worry about wildlife
I cry sometimes
I am kind

I understand the way of life
I say I love animals
I dream happiness
I try hard
I hope this virus goes away
I am calm

Anders🥰

I am strong
I wonder about the world
I hear nature calling for me
I see love
I want to have a nice life
I am proud of who I am

I pretend that I can fly
I feel happy
I touch nature
I worry about other people
I cry sometimes
I am filled with love

I understand nature
I say freedom
I dream of the world being saved

I try to be my best
I hope I can listen to other people’s feeling and help them if they’re sad
I am the best, best version of myself

Write them for yourself and your loved ones to stay connected to Self and one another. Stay true folks❤️❤️

I AM
I WONDER
I HEAR
I SEE
I WANT
I AM

I PRETEND
I FEEL
I TOUCH
I WORRY
I CRY
I AM

I UNDERSTAND
I SAY
I DREAM

I TRY
I HOPE
I AM

Try these prompts out for yourself in the comments, as comments, if you want and take care of yourselves.

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It Is What It Is #SocialDistancing #SoCS

Spring has arrived.

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As it stands, we
welcome
our new reality, even as we resist what that means.

I listen to two US sources, along with the national news here in Canada too.

I’ve been listening to Michael Moore and his podcast since before Christmas, when his main goal was to fight to get #45 out of office. It’s become something else now that most of us couldn’t have seen coming.

I’ve been listening to Rachel Maddow and in her most recent episode, she ended the show by announcing the death of an NBC colleague who lost his life to covid-19 and she lost control and became choked up as she said it.

Most of us aren’t that close to this yet, but who knows what the next weeks and months could bring upon us all.

Panic. Don’t panic. Panic. Don’t panic.

I am one who learned about this coronavirus with a slow dawning, a realization that’s just now beginning to scare me. It was only end of January that I was still relatively oblivious and planning an adventure to walk the Thames River Path in England. This new reality hit me soon after.

Since then, I’ve been around some people, but I now feel the instinct to totally isolate from all people.

Every time I send someone out to run an errand for me, they could potentially pick up this virus themselves. Should I stop this, for their sakes and mine?

I get paranoid with germs (for years) and now. Where are they? How close by are they? Which surface are they living on?

I’ve been cushioned here in my town, in my county, but reality inches ever nearer. I listen to accounts from doctors and nurses who are already seeing emergency rooms and ICU’s full of the sick, numbers then reported on the nightly news and 24/7 online.

I take deep breaths, sitting here and when I step outside, the now spring air streaming into my lungs as I go out with my dog.

I went for a walk, fell and twisted my ankle and skinned my knee, but I got back up again and kept walking. I wanted to feel myself, moving through the world, grateful I am still well.

I went to a medical appointment and it was a breeze compared to how it usually is. The doctor and his pain clinic moved out of the hospital setting and into a recently abandoned medical practise next door. I was in and out, no waiting in a waiting room with a dozen other people, but straight in to the room, after I’d been given a mask to wear. I haven’t worn one since being on dialysis back in the late 90’s.

I sanitized my hands and got my nerve block injections for my headaches, that I’ve been receiving for almost a year now.

I questioned whether I should have gone there, gone out at all, but things moved along so quickly because many patients did decide to cancel.

I worry for my parents. They aren’t in the highest risk group, but they are over sixty.

I worry about my sister, doing her work in the midst of this time of year which is tax season, ever so slightly delayed like school and everything else.

I worry for my brother-in-law who works in a factory.

I worry about my older brother who needs to go into work to support his family.

I worry for my younger brother who had a kidney transplant in 2013 and who has had other medical issues, before and since then. He and I are both immunosuppressed, not currently on dialysis or a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, but I don’t know how this new strain of virus might act if either one of us were to catch it. I’ve never had pneumonia and the idea of basically drowning when the lungs are overloaded is terrifying.

I worry for my sister who has asthma and her husband who is a type one diabetic, who just recently recovered from mono. They have two young children and I’m only thankful that my nieces and nephews are at much lower risk of contracting this.

My father and mother work still, front line workers really, as she works in a group home and taking care of vulnerable people and he takes people in wheelchairs where they need to go in his specialized cab.

Here in Canada we have a wonderful healthcare system, but we see what’s happening in Italy and we must learn all we can. I feel better sometimes, most of the time, hearing the news here in Canada and feeling I’m safest here when compared to anywhere else, but things can keep getting worse with every case reported and all the ones that aren’t quite yet.

This is not at all how I saw 2020 playing out.

I had a friend who was traveling and another who’s about to. I can’t do much about that, but I still worry. So many who would have not gone and those still trying to get back home.

I have an old friend, from childhood, who moved to Ireland for medical school and is now a doctor there. I don’t know how much risk she’s at since all this, but I keep track of the news of this virus out of that country too.

I can’t control any of this and the last thing I wanted to do was see this happening, but we’ve been warned of a possible pandemic to come. Well it’s here, sweeping across the globe bringing with it waves of destruction and instability.

I worry about people’s jobs and the economy that I understand little about. I studied history and the Great Depression in the 1930’s. I learned about the Spanish flu of 1918 and how that washed over humanity during that time. We’ve come far with medical knowledge and still we are left battered by something so tiny, invisible and deadly in many cases, but people think it’s like any other flu season we’ve known in our lifetime.

I know it may be petty, but I’ve started calling #45 covid-45 because of his unique ability to be cruel and ignorant and incompetent at a time when the whole world needs effective leaders who also care, even just a little.

I like to listen to flocks of birds out my window and above my head. They fly by and I wish I could fly too.

Our winter was mild and yet I’m pleased to feel spring is in the air. I am finding things to bring me a few moments of peace because I know we’re at war, World War III if you want to call it that, but it’s a battle raging on in nearly all places now. It is just now making it to the northern parts of Canada and in our territories. It’s on islands that want to keep it from swamping their systems. The border between Canada and the US and that between them and Mexico, closed to all but essential trade.

Europe is being ravaged by it and it will get into refugee camps and already war torn regions, places across the African continent and in bustling cities where social distancing isn’t a thing.

For humans, in most cultures, having to stop shaking hands or hugging or kissing of cheeks is so difficult to do. Whereas I’m not struggling with that as much as I am to not touch my own face a thousand times a day.

People can’t believe they are in the position, for the first time, of being prevented from travel to their heart’s desire and content. They, we’ve, I’ve always had that option of traveling and the freedom of choice. Yet, when I hear people complaining that they are bored and dreaming of the moment they’re told it’s safe to do so again, I want to scream. I don’t know why, as I’m among them, but I know we’ve all been spoiled when air travel is so common and wanderlust is a thing.

I have multiple rolls of toilet paper here still and am not letting that stress me out, but I don’t like what I’m seeing of people out in grocery stores. I go back and forth between feelings of panic and calm, though I am never sure what I’m panicking about. I can’t pinpoint anything for sure in my buzzing brain.

I can’t concentrate on writing the things I’d planned on writing so far this year. I can’t manage anything more than stream of consciousness writing at the moment.

My dreams are vivid and my waking hours are spent trying not to bombard my head and heart with opinions and facts and statistics.

This is a numbers game, as the saying goes, but this time this is no game we’re playing. I’m no good at numbers games at the best of times.

People who are already greedy or selfish will only look for ways to enrich themselves in this, all while I know this virus can take hold in any one of us, doing as much or as little damage as it sees fit.

People are afraid and in denial as a form of self preservation, but the world is also populated by resilience and brilliant minds already at work.

I’m getting by on the stories that keep coming out, stories of courage from front line workers and from communities coming together to pick up groceries and medications for those who can’t.

We’re depending on our medical professionals and our food delivery drivers and those in the factories and the plants, but they have families and bodies that are vulnerable to getting sick.

I am used to hiding away in my own solitude and I don’t want to start worrying, any time I’m around another person, but maybe now is the time to isolate from friends for sure and now even family members.

I don’t know what to think.

So we are welcoming spring and wondering what’s to come. Some say we’re making more of this than is necessary, like young people who celebrated spring break and think they’re invincible. None of us are invincible.

We humans have our social media now and can stay in touch with loved ones and we should. We’re not used to being constricted in our movements and in our socializing. We’re told to stay in our homes, except for those necessities of life, but we can’t handle being cooped up for long.

Will this last weeks or months or more? We hate to think it could. Loneliness even though we can connect easier than any period in history.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I take chunks of time off of Facebook and I watch a show from my childhood. I can recall difficult times in my past and how I made it through and that helps, but this is a new one on me.

I think of my indoor cat now and what his life consists of. Human beings won’t stand for that for long, but I’ve seen some beautiful examples of people in places like Italy and Spain making the best of these circumstances. Each of us and our governments are dealing with this in stages, but sometimes swift measures are necessary ones.

I’m trying to wait this out, to ride it out, but I don’t know what to expect and I know emotions are running high.

I envy the innocence of the children in my life right now, but I’m now afraid to be around them, around anyone. I hate that feeling.

How are all of you coping with all this? I know I’m not alone and neither are you.

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TToT: Thirty-six Pick Up Sticks #BlanketSea #10Thankful

Let’s just dive in.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am a little older and wiser since the tenth of the month and yet I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m headed. Currently, I am listening to a live feed from a famous pub in Dublin, Ireland with live, Friday night entertainment.

I did turn thirty-six recently and my niece and nephew were so excited to start celebrating with me. We had a cake made and sampled by the time my sister arrived with dinner.

VRU6XdI.jpg

I am thankful for family on my birthday. Even my nearly three-year-old niece sang. She loves to sing.

I am thankful for loved ones who can bring me smoothies, milkshakes, and oranges to soothe my sore throat.

I am thankful my post birthday cold didn’t last too long.

I am thankful for the nerve blocks I’ve been getting.

I am a little wary of being injected in my head, but in the nerves specifically. I have had Botox to try to treat headaches in the past. Nerve blocks are helping one very specific headache I get.

I am thankful to have written a poetry review for a talented artist’s first poetry chapbook.

You can read it here.

If you like what you hear, check her out.

I am thankful for my core group of three writing women who I get to write with twice a month.

They have such unique imagination in their heads and stories they read out to the group.

I am full of gratitude that they share with me in such a special way.

I am thankful we in Canada are starting to work on healing the deep rifts here between Indigenous groups and the government and your average Canadian citizen.

Canada loves the rule of law (unless we’re talking Indigenous rights)

Okay, well if we’re not doing a great job so far, I at least hope everyone doesn’t give up and keeps talking.

I know things seem particularly rough right now, but at least we’re facing these issues, head-on. When we push them down and hope they won’t make too much trouble, it only prolongs any possible solutions.

I don’t pretend to know the answers, but I feel quite emotional about it all when I think of the history of this land and how it will all progress in future.

The live performance at Temple Pub and they are doing a version of this, one of my favourite songs by The Cranberries, after all this time.

It reminds me to keep on dreaming for myself. I am extremely grateful for dreams, but I remind myself of this lyric often:

“Don’t mind dreams. It’s never quite as it seems. Never quite as it seems.”

I am thankful for February. This winter hasn’t been as cold as some likely have been, but still cold enough for complaints, but I love this time of year better than summer.

I am thankful for anything I can do to distract myself from some of what’s going on in the world these days. I’m nervous that 2020 will be a long, rather scary year in some ways, but that’s why I keep doing all the things that bring me fulfillment and joy to balance it all out.

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TToT: 2020 and Feeling Good As Hell #JusJoJan #10Thankful

Once again, I have been absent from this
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
exercise in gratitude and I did mean to join in more, but life got in the way.

I am thankful for
Kristi
and her taking on the TToT and for making a lovely effort to ensure accessibility is as common as possible, even with all the things that are out of her control.

I will go back a few months to start things out – back to 2019.

I am thankful I got to attend an old friend’s wedding back in November.

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It was wonderful having a celebration with good friends and family too. The event wasn’t too big and I danced as much as possible.

I am thankful for a fun few days with friends (both old and new) at Social Media Week Toronto, only a few days after the wedding.

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Caption: Kim, me, Amy, and Victoria

It was a nice getaway to Toronto and it was cold, mid November, but I was mostly thankful for the slight warm up but still cold enough, on my last evening in the city, with the most delicate snowflakes falling as we walked to find some dinner before I had to catch my train home.

I am thankful for the chance to be a guest on a podcast about culture called
Culture-Hacking – “Seeing the World Differently”.

I am thankful for a fun-filled Christmas season with family.

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Caption: I’m with my nieces, watching The Simpsons on the tablet, with the tree in behind us. (Hmm, did I end up posting this photo more than once?)

I am thankful for a speaking gig I had lined up for January.

PROBUS Canada

It was good to get to speak to a room of women from the older generations, to share a bit about my blindness experience, including all the travel I’ve done and some of the obstacles I face, not to mention informing them of the existence of the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
here in Canada in 2020.

That website is where you can go to read the latest issue of The Blind Canadian, November 2019 where I am newly an assistant-editor.

I am thankful I had a meeting with the woman/writer I’m planning to walk the Thames River path with this coming September and with my friend and travel agent who is helping us plan the month long adventure ahead.

I am thankful for this new audio podcast platform.

anchor.fm

We may use it to record and share daily updates as we go and I have started a profile there and have recorded my first two episodes. I will probably make these, as an audio version of my written blog, capturing the months ahead and all the planning and preparing I’ll be doing. It’s a cool site/app I can even add music to my recorded voice and I can do it without having to depend on my audio expert brother all the time. I think this one, it will be nice to be able to do it myself.

And I am thankful, last but certainly not least, for a mostly positive result on a blood level that had jumped in recent weeks for unknown reasons.

I have lived by that number for more than 20 years, creatinine to measure my transplanted kidney’s excellent function. I don’t remember it being more than 70-80 in years and suddenly I received a call that it had jumped up to 110.

On re-test, it did go back down, not down as far as I’d necessarily like it to, but 100 – and I will take that, for now.

I tend to lean into my more negative side with these sorts of things, but the doctor wouldn’t commit to the idea that my kidney is slowly declining. He said, at this stage, it could be that, but maybe 100 is my new baseline level. It happens and there’s no reason, at this time, to think anything further to be the case. I am getting re-tested in April and going back again in June for my once-a-year, usual doctor’s appointment.

But he did seem quite sure I’d be walking in England by September and that nothing renal related would get in the way of that. (Still…one more reason I want to do this walk, to help raise awareness, and to explore the world while I have the chance.)

I am thankful, extra thankful, to that hospital and the transplant outpatient program and the doctors that keep such a good eye on things for me. I am lucky to be living where I am living, as I hear more and more stories of the medical costs in the US that people live with.

To start 2020 somewhere, I was glad to participate in an entire month of blogging with prompts coming from certain participants of the yearly activity, participants such as
Wendy
and the blogger to run the whole thing. Thanks
Linda,
for getting my year started, with writing and blogging and your Just Jot It January #JusJoJan challenge, so I can at least begin somewhere for the year.

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Caption: a Just Jot It January completion badge

I am about to celebrate this blog’s six year anniversary and my thirty-sixth birthday – 2020 and I say “bring it on!”

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That Magic Number #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

I have written every day (excluding Wednesday’s and Saturday’s) for
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
2020 and now I come to it:

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I write to start my year off because I don’t have a clue what else I’m doing really.

I wonder what’s next for me, what sorts of
change
might be in my future, these next eleven or twelve months, but do I really want to know?

They say it’s inevitable anyway. Still, I am scared. Not of life in general. No, I’ve learned to be open to it all.

It’s when I’m going along and I get a call. Was I too cocky?

A sudden rising in my blood levels, the kind the nephrologists test for, the kind I’ve learned to watch too, as well as my family members do.

I’ve been at 70-80 or somewhere there about, for over twenty years now. I’ve been stable, no matter whether or not the rest of my life has felt that way.

Now I fear the kind of changes that could come, if that number were to keep rising, rising up above 100 and counting.

It’s an alteration within my blood that the doctors look at. I sit here, listening to a poet reading her poems to me, writing down words and phrases that strike me especially and I think, as she describes her medical history using words: muscles, veins, blood

She refers to her body being explored by Miss Frizzle and her school bus full of curious children and I think of my creatinine.

I can’t touch it, leaving the blood safe inside me, in my veins, but I don’t wish to explore it further. I want to leave it to a twice-a-year thing, no closer than that.

I don’t write poetry like Alana, but I think in terms of it.

I scare myself, hopefully, for no reason. A recheck and it will all be good again, go back down to the level I brag on.

My weekend is slightly ruined though, as I weight. Nothing I can do. Don’t worry too much, I tell myself, others might say. No point anyway.

I think of that girl I was, once so sick, my brain unable to do math. A zero on the test. It was time for dialysis to remove all that toxic sludge from my body.

I am not that girl now, a woman approaching middle age. I want to go out now and experience it all. So grateful for the fact of dialysis, but I run from any thoughts of being stuck to machines multiple times every week.

I want to walk along the Thames, to go back out west, to tackle my
bucket list
without restraints.

Of course, money is my biggest, but those machines threaten to hold me down.

I feel the mark on my chest where the tube once hung, connecting to tubes that carried my blood to be cleansed. Family stayed by my side, friends sat and we talked. I dreamed of one day visiting Ireland and Prince Edward Island and more with my grandparents, my family, a partner maybe.

Now I want to run from that little girl, into my future, but I know it will all come full circle.

I hear/read about the future of organ donation, of artificial kidneys, but I don’t hold my breath.

I think of lists with my name on them and rising blood levels and I want to sleep.

It’s in the waking that the thoughts come rushing back.

So many changes lately: people in my life leaving, missteps and moves questioned, and now…here I sit and I wonder over that magic number over the weekend.

It will all be okay. It will all be okay. It will, it will.

I don’t tell my brother, one who can best understand the fear that comes creeping back in. He’s on the west coast right now and I don’t want to bother him or disturb the freedom and lack of worries while he’s out there. And so I burden you, blog, with this one, for now.

Breathe Kerry, just breathe.

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Farewell Glow #JusJoJan

I had my final hair cut from a cousin of mine today. She has been doing my hair for nearly fifteen years and, first world problems I know, but it isn’t only the hair.

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It’s really a
mix
of feelings and emotions because I trusted her, as family I’ve grown up with, to style my hair like I trust my sister to help me choose clothes.

Unable to see my face in the mirror (my hair) or how I look in a certain sweater or pair of jeans means I appreciate any help I can get.

I don’t say this to sound like poor me, the blind woman, because I work hard to fight the problems pity for blind people causes in society.

It’s just nice to have those I totally trust to do their best to help me out in these certain areas because, though I no longer see it all, I still like the things many women like like clothes or my nails done or a new haircut.

My cousin is moving, with her husband and kids, across the country and I am happy for her. I know a lot of people don’t understand why she felt the need to leave everything, her business and family and the only place she’s ever known as home, but I understand doing something that others don’t get. It means doing what you feel you must, something that your heart is telling you, all while other people shrug their shoulders and raise an eyebrow in confusion because they don’t see what you are seeing.

I do wish the best for her and her family on this new part of their journey together, but I will miss having her nearby. She is my main connection to the rest of the family I see, less and less, now that we’re all older.

Her salon smelled lovely, she’d often had relaxing music playing and would offer coffee or tea while I’d wait, and I always enjoyed the feel of the way she would straighten my hair.

All my best to them. I just gotta work at accepting change when it comes because that’s not going to be the last change I’ll have to face. It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.

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TToT: An Ode and Lament For “No Need to Argue” #FlashbackFriday #10Thankful

Had they but courage equal to desire?

William Butler Yeats – Poetry Foundation

It’s around that time: celebrating The Cranberries biggest and best of all their albums – No Need to Argue, 1994.

First off, I just like that message, being someone who never liked to argue much at all myself.

It’s not only one big time radio single that’s on offer here, but a lovely and haunting collection of songs, that moves me from start to finish.

From family ties to Ireland’s well-known Troubles to a tribute to a long-since-passed Irish poet.

During the later half of the 90’s, I’d place the tape in my walkman, crank the volume in my headphones, and drown out the world, a world of medical tests and uncertain outcomes. Not all my childhood was about, but a big big part of it and this album was a piece of that.

And it all started with my sister (thanks) and an Irish boy on our school bus.

RIP again, Dolores, and a great owing of gratitude to the entire band for this album.

What album (not song) has been there, done this sort of thing in your life? Albums are often neglected pieces of art as a whole.

Ode and Lament (From my 20th anniversary post for this album.)

I’m back for another round of
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
and this week I am thankful for more than ten things, but for every song on this memorable album and for those who made it – those still alive and those no longer with us.

I think of that quote from the top of this post and hearing her murmur those words of W.B. Yeats (in that song on the album) and I often wonder if my courage is equal to my desire for so many things.

Her haunted voice will forever ring inside my head.

Had they but courage equal to desire?

Had I? Have I?

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Ahead by a Century (Recap of Anne with an E, Season Three / Episodes Two and One) #AheadByACentury

Ahead by a Century (Week Two):

(Spoiler alert! Read on, however, for a wider discussion of issues from stories.)

I put off writing this second week’s summery of Anne with an E (of Season Three) because I needed time to think about what I’d seen, but I do wish I could go back to find my summaries of all Season One episodes and I wish I’d taken the time to write recaps for all of last season that I missed. I was distracted, but I’m back and ready to recap!

(Either on Facebook, or here, or both.)

Only into episode two and I’m reeling from the sharpness of the storyline in this new adaptation. It’s not what many would want for L.M.’s Anne Girl character and her world, both at Green Gables and out beyond. It’s harshness is what makes it feel authentic and we can’t hide from that which is true authenticity, no matter what year we’re in.

If you want to escape from our world into the world of a century ago, to forget all our modern troubles, this show does that. The characters ride around in buggies, pulled by horses, and homosexuality isn’t spoken of. Perhaps a certain impeachable US pres’s grandfather is across Canada at this time, making money off of the greed for gold, but that doesn’t mean that this storyline isn’t going to be full of the realities of life that made it so harsh at the turn of the 20th century.

Anne is given permission and a blessing, by her adopted family of Marilla and Matthew, to go to Charlottetown and then to the mainland, Nova Scotia, to look for information on her birth parents. She must be accompanied by Gilbert, which she resents, and he is rebuffed by her moments of irritability as she is too preoccupied to see how much he already cares.

She arrives in PEI’s capital city to meet up with her gay best friend who will go with her to the orphanage she grew up in.

While Gilbert goes off and explores newly discoverable romance with another, for the time being, a whole other strange B storyline, Anne is brought back to some of the worst times from her early life. While Gilbert has a date in a tea room with a snooty young woman, Anne tries to find out if the orphanage has any record of her parents.

Again, I watch and wonder what places like that were really like for all the abandoned and orphaned little ones in the world, while wishing places like these weren’t still existing. Anne says that place is better than some and much worse than others of its kind. Sure, I like to see characters in fiction that I can relate to, blind or disabled or writers or whatever, but I’m also curious about the kind of fiction which explores lives I, myself, have never lived for good or for ill.

The woman in charge is cold and of no help at all, sipping her tea with disdain that Anne would even deem to return for anything. The man on his way out, after admitting he can’t take care of his flesh and blood children since their mother died, makes Anne start to wonder if the stories she kept going along with about her own two parents were really that of truth, that they both died of scarlet fever when she was still newly born. Was she really so loved and/or wanted at all?

Cole sees her starting to pull apart all the stories and her imagination that got her through such loneliness, as she finds old pieces of paper with her own stories written hidden in the bell tower of the building. She wonders if it was all foolishness and he tells her how brave she is to him for doing whatever she had to to survive it all those years.

As they head for the door to leave, mission NOT accomplished, Anne is stopped by a young woman scrubbing the floor. It’s another orphaned girl who once bullied Anne for daring to dream or have an imagination of any kind. She recognizes Anne and angrily shouts about how she isn’t still there, but is now paid to work there, but the whole scene is disturbing and ugly as Anne and Cole leave that place behind them.

From orphanage where children are left without love to the ferry back to the island. Cole won’t let Anne give up, but all the work Ms. Stacy and Matthew are doing to repair the old printing press so the children of Avonlea School can print a newspaper is about to lead to an unsettling ending to episode two when Marilla reads Anne’s article about meeting and visiting the village of the young Indigenous girl.

(Oh, what times these were where the fear in a white, Christian community of the “other” is so intense they refer to that other group of people as “savages” when such a term is so horrible to hear now that 2020 is the time we’re nearly living in.)

**Side note – Interfering neighbour Rachel is a woman of her time, thinking she must find the new teacher a replacement after Miss Stacy’s widowhood, whereas Muriel would be just as happy on her own as to receive any match making help from anyone, let alone Rachel Lynne. Once Lynne sees Stacy with a man, all alone in a barn, even if that man is Matthew, all that talk of impropriety gets thrown in Miss Stacy’s face. How dare she be working, out in the barn, like a man, with a man that is not her husband.

Marilla is afraid of losing Anne, now that she loves her so much, which will have Marilla acting out in all the wrong ways, but she can hear very plainly how much Anne is praying for word that she was loved by her real parents once upon a time.

To top it all off, we have the character of Sebastian (new to this adaptation) having a not so sweet second episode. He has a step son to learn how to handle, one who feels like his mother has found her do-over in new baby daughter and husband, and this young man sees with his own eyes the farm and house where his mother now lives with her new family, including Gilbert, a white boy…away from the black neighbourhood in the area known as “the bog”.

Elijah is not dealing too well with having a new baby sister and stepfather, bringing all his pain and his coping mechanisms, which primarily include alcohol and saying things he doesn’t really probably even mean, throwing insults at his own mother and accusing his mother’s husband of having an alternate plan to get rid of their new white friend and roommate, to take over the land. Sebastian is disgusted by the suggestion and the two almost come to blows.

By the morning, all Gilbert’s tangible, valuable memories of his dead father have been taken from the room and Elijah is gone. This family stuff is hard in any century.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ166DTIV-o

Ahead By a Century:

I am back with my Anne with an E updates (season 3), after skipping this writing ritual for all of last season’s events.

It starts with a girl and her horse, Anne and Belle riding through the snow. … Pine cones. Silver coins. Anne turns 16 and desires to discover her lineage.

I’ve been long drawn to stories like Harry Potter, Frodo in Lord of the Rings, and Anne of Green Gables because the life of an orphaned character is so far from my own reality.

I may wonder sometimes about my ancestors, though at least I know of them, and I have always had present and supportive parents around. I wondered about those who never knew that kind of security and/or love.

It starts with Anne and Bell. It goes into the theme song for the show, a Tragically Hip hit that denotes the time period of Anne, as I sit here in 2019 and love this adaptation of the classic Green Gables story.

Ahead by a Century – The Tragically Hip / Anne with an E-Theme

One year ago this day I was on Prince Edward Island. I miss PEI in September as I watch this first episode of season three, expecting and seeing ads for Find Your Island with PEI Tourism making me recall it all. What a special place, an island (seen visually in red and green for many) but forever trapped in my head and heart as the setting for tragical events in a beautiful place, surrounded by water.

Sad that time moves on, even after the death of the lead singer of song Ahead By A Century, as I watch this series…from a time more than a century ago and I think of Gord’s work for connection with all who share this land before he died.

Anne and the girls watch the boys play hockey on a frozen pond and soon boys are declaring their intentions toward the girls. This is a timeless ritual, though somewhat changed in 100 years. Anne and Gilbert are meant to end up together, of course (poor Ruby), even if now it’s nothing but misunderstandings and awkward teenage encounters in the schoolroom. They will have their time, but in the meantime, brief interactions that mark a future love.

For now, as a newly sixteen-year-old Anne, she is the Bride of Adventure in her mind and that will and must suffice for now.

When season two premiered, we were introduced to Afro-Caribbean character, Sebastian, a new friend Gilbert has made far from Avonlea. Nothing like this exists in the 80’s series so many worship. I love both now, for different reasons, but Representation matters.

Creator of this update:

“I was troubled by the lack of diversity in the book, especially since Canada is such a diverse nation, both then and now,” she said.

And so, of course the novel was written in a different time, but it’s the 21st century now and the changes have only added to an already rich story with a lovely facelift.

Anne meets a young Indigenous girl and visits her community. The white people (Christians) stay separate from other groups then, but this inclusion started episode one of season three off right. I hope the friendship between the two girls continues.

Anne is open to meeting and making new friends and that’s all there is to it. She is supposed to represent the kind of openness of heart and mind that so many lack, then and now.

The scenes with Sebastian (Bash) and his wife Mary and their new baby girl made an already sweet episode even sweeter. Love scene between the still newly married couple made me grin, wanting love for others, fictional or no.

I have high hopes for this new season on CBC here in Canada, (to appear on Netflix in the new year).

That’s it for this instalment of Ahead by a Century, though most don’t have any knowledge or interest in the world of Anne, either Montgomery’s original creation or this re-imagining for a new century, but I’ll keep writing them anyway.

Here’s to all the Anne and Gilbert fans out there. What will this new season bring in the journey of their relationship?

How to be happy and content with oneself and still the possibility of finding true love with another?

I ask myself those last questions, those I posed after Season Three, Episode One, to myself all the time.

Also, I decided to go from most recent episode re-cap to the previous week’s recap here on the blog. I will return with Episode Three next week, here, but I’ve moved from Facebook to this blog because I want to catalog these and yet most people on Facebook know nothing of Anne with an E and could really care less and won’t bother to read, especially the longer my recaps end up being.

Maybe, after reading my recap here and after checking out the scene from YouTube I included above, both fans of the original Anne story and non fans alike might be curious enough to watch an episode. I say, to Anne fans everywhere, give this new adaptation a chance. I didn’t regret it. You might not either.

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