FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

The Value and the Invaluable, #FTSF

What is it that is priceless about this one, precious life?

Finish the Sentence Friday:

with Finding Ninee

and with guest sentence-thinker-upper

Mardra Sikora.

What is priceless about my violin, about Halloween 2017, and about writing?

My violin rental was my birthday present when I turned thirty-two. I chose to buy it for myself, once I learned how much I loved the challenge and wanted to keep going with it. I found a young woman who had been playing for nearly twenty years, who was a student and could use the twenty dollars a week. I admit, I get a pretty good deal there. She gets to teach me. Feel bad for her sometimes on that. I learn, but it sometimes ends up taking me a few tries, at least.

Buying a violin…hundreds of dollars. A violin lesson…$20.

The feeling of peace while I concentrate and play, the sensation of accomplished determination of practicing, and the sweet and beautiful sound of such an instrument…

PRICELESS.

Halloween this year was full of pizza and plenty of treats. The weather could have been a lot worse. It was cold, but at least there was no rain or snow. My nephew came into my house and immediately removed his socks, as he likes to do. It took plenty of gentle reminders, which turned into nagging reminders that if he wanted to go trick-or-treating, he needed to put them back on his feet.

Candy costs money. Costume making costs his mother hours of time and attention.

Hearing my five-year-old nephew counting his candy, showing up he can count all the way to one hundred (even though he may have counted some pieces of that candy more than once), and the pure innocence and recently discovered joy of the holiday in his voice…

PRICELESS.

Writing is, for me, like breathing. It’s getting to share here, to speak out on the things that matter to me, and all this is, of course, priceless.

All the courses with their enrolment fees, the expensive technological equipment I need to replace the hand/eye connection I no longer have, and the newly sought after paid work I have found and fear I will find no more of.

Writing, as breathing…

(as I’ve said)

PRICELESS.

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TToT: Synth Scapes and Ween’s Wit #10Thankful

“A glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the valleys were filled with delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had poured them in for the sun to drain —amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and smoke-blue. The dews were so heavy that the fields glistened like cloth of silver and there were such heaps of rustling leaves in the hollows of many-stemmed woods to run crisply through.”

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a parcel of deliciousness from a TToT friend.

Your squares were delicious. It took a little while for the mail to deliver it, but it finally did.

I am thankful for the kind of literature that can be turned, so skillfully, into a television series drama.

I am almost finished watching Margaret Atwood’s story of Alias Grace, turned into a television show.

It is dark and heavy and I feel a lot of things when I watch, being a historical snapshot of the 19th century for women. It was often brutal. I liken it to today, to see just how far we’ve actually come.

A great story, brought to life, should make the viewers feel all the feels when watching.

I can’t wait for the dramatic finale.

I am thankful for one of the more positive and uplifting violin lessons I have ever had.

Again, I missed a week and dreaded my return performance, but it was wonderfully positive and motivating.

I try to imagine the scales and notes visually because my brain still wishes to go there. Who knows…incredibly confusing, or, perhaps a helpful resource left over from what feels like a past life I once lived.

I am thankful for peaceful, soothing music to listen to when I have a bad headache to deal with.

My brother found me a piece on Youtube and it is a performance in Australia’s Sydney Opera House by musician and artist Tony O’Connor.

I am thankful for a place like The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto for such wonderful care all those years ago.

As I look back, in this 2017 year, I remember the care I received, as a organ transplant recipient, twenty years ago, and then my brother, two years later.

At that time, they did not do kidney transplants on children at any hospital, any closer to where I lived.

It is a special place and one day I will write more about my first time, walking through those doors.

I am thankful for my brother’s perfect pitch.

A gift he was born with. It helps me when practicing my scales. He keeps me on the right note.

I am thankful for the self reflection I experience, come Halloween, now that I am an adult.

I hated putting on costumes and having my face painted or having to wear a mask. I wanted the treats. I couldn’t have one without doing the other.

There was still a frantic bustle in the house on those Halloween nights growing up that I miss. I see it all now, through the eyes of my nieces and nephews.

I am thankful for food shared by neighbours and friends, just stopping by.

I am thankful for the completion of the very first Halloween themed episode of Ketchup On Pancakes podcast.

Tales of Eating Ketchup on Pancakes and Other Scary Stories

Happy Halloween.

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Ketchup On Pancakes: Episode 6 – Mom and More, #Thanksgiving #Travel #SiriusXM

It’s October!

Blowing out the candles and mya is in the shot too.
XYrBQ1R.jpg

Fall is my favourite month, this year my mom turned sixty, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving, and Halloween rounds off these thirty-one days.

Our 6th episode of the podcast is out and we dedicate it to our mother and discuss travel (Iceland), writing (SiriusXM, Canada), and Brian’s show on university radio (Friday’s from 11:00 to 1:30).

Episode 6 – Mom and More

We hope you’ll listen and feel free to visit our
Ketchup On Pancakes Facebook page
to share your thoughts and like the page while you are there.

Happy October to you all and thanks for listening.

Links to projects mentioned:

https://www.nativetraveler.com/blog-main/2017/9/20

https://chrwradio.ca

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

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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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS

You Bet Your Boots, #SoCS

It’s another
Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS
and I am thinking about yesterday.

I am thinking about eyes and, yes, about a lot of other random words that do and don’t include the letters “y…e…s”.

Not necessarily “yesterday” as in the actual yesterday, which is about to change, as I waited to write this until the very end of my Saturday.

I spent my actual Saturday having fun with family. That is exactly what I needed to remember what is most important and to forget the yesterdays lately, ever since November 8th, 2016.

I thought of the Beatles documentary I saw recently and their song:
Yesterday.

The “yesterday” of the times during the Beatles popular years looked a lot different from my yesterday. The world is made up of the big and the small things that make up both. Times really change a lot and yet, yes/no, they don’t, as it would appear.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, but “yes” I could. The world is not actually any worse than it was yesterday. My eyes didn’t deceive me, though I wouldn’t have a problem wording it that way.

My eyes help me less and less, though most days I don’t notice either way.

The times spent with my niece and nephews involves me and also my brother explaining more and more that we can’t see, that our eyes don’t work. Sometimes one of them tries to make sense of this by stating that “their” eyes work, as if they are trying to make sense of the fact that they can still see and to work it out in their mind.

My niece is oldest and seems to understand. My nephews are a few years younger than her and are still working it all out, but they are getting there. They need to be reminded to let us feel a toy they want to show us, for example, like on this most recent visit when my nephew wanted to show us his lip balm. I should have smelled it anyway. I soon did and it smelled like strawberries.

Yesterday I could play a game with my soon-to-be-six-years-old niece and not have to think too hard about all the things that are hard. She accepts me for me, her aunt, and she puts her small hand into mine and guides me to where she wants me to go in our games.

My eyes made it impossible to watch my nephew’s swimming lesson the other day, but I still wanted to be there.

My eyes made it impossible to read the menu at dinner with my family, but luckily they could read and we knew, pretty much, what we wanted at a restaurant we’ve been to eat at hundreds and hundreds of times before.

My yesterday of sorts had my eyes working better than my today. I can’t change that. I eat pizza with my family and it tastes just as delicious, with or without fully functioning eyes.

Yes, okay, so the world makes little sense to me, more than ever, but it’s not all bad. I can still write stream of consciousness thought and not have to be perfect or say what any one person expects me to say.

Yes, I do like living in Canada and having it become dark so early, as I feel the night has just as much to teach as the daytime.

Yes, I can focus on the good and use a positive word, instead of no no no no no all the time. I can agree that the world is out of sorts and this is a “yes” statement, instead of just being something negative, where “no” is like a shake of the head.

Yes, I have all the Cherry Coke I could possibly need right now and to last me for a long long time. Can you say sugar rush/sugar coma anyone?

Yes, if I’m not careful I will hold down the shift key for not just the first letter, “y” and onto the second letter, “e”. My computer’s voice program sounds it out like “yeeeees”. That’s how I know, but soon I will have actual braille to read from when I write, so my own editing can go more smoothly. I won’t have to rely entirely on those little subtle clues that I made a small blunder.

YEs.

🙂

I realize that this is a small thing, in the grand scheme of things. All the things, all that my eyes cannot see, so my ears pick up on instead.

Yes, I have been somewhat of a “yes girl” in my life, not wanting to say “no” if I can help it. Hearing that word, “no” isn’t always easy, but sometimes we have no choice. Yes doesn’t always give us what we want.

My yesterdays have been a mixed bag of yes’s and no’s and maybe’s because I can’t always make up my mind. I am somewhat famous for that indecision actually.

Yesterday is in the past and my broken eyes can’t look back to see what I may or may not have gotten wrong. Tomorrow is all I can do anything about now.

Yesterday is over and done with now and tomorrow is all we’ve got to work with.

Yes, I will do my best. My yesterdays’ weren’t all that bad really. It’s just easy, with working eyes or without, to see things that are in the past as being worse than what they maybe really were.

Yes, I have a lot to look forward to coming up. Yes, I am looking ahead to these things. Yes, I loved all the yesterday days I have had.

And YEEEES, I absolutely did eat some of my niece and nephew’s old Halloween candy while visiting, but it was mostly the stuff they don’t like, so it’s okay.

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TToT: Utility Muffin Research Kitchen – Comfort and Courage, #10Thankful

So much going on in the world, so much that I can’t write my way out of. I know what I am thankful for, as always, but recently my stress has been building and I couldn’t bring myself to post anything about gratitude last week.

I wasn’t even going to be back now, but I am one of those who believes both these are true:

“The only thing worse than knowing the truth is not knowing the truth, and yet, “the only thing worse than not knowing is knowing.”

By next Sunday we will know, not all “the truth” really, but the reality.

I don’t like where the world and more specifically the US is heading, but I am, in this case particularly, unable to do anything directly about it either way. Emphasizing what I am thankful for is the least and the most I can do now and we will face next week when we get there, like a rickety bridge, but I don’t speak of burning anything.

Those familiar with the stylings of Frank Zappa, you may recognize the stringing together of those four words in my title. I didn’t know of his recording studio and the rather odd name it possessed, until I heard an interview with Lady Gaga, who has purchased the house and now makes music there and shares it with other musicians. I liked the random word choice and thought it fitting for things at the moment.

For a little Halloween fun, with October behind us and November, the US election, and the holidays still to come this year, I begin with this here tale of terror.

Click Clack the Rattle Bag

Beautiful storytelling. I wanted to remember it.

Here is one song I came across this week that had the sort of feeling I am experiencing right now. I have the one picked out for next week, if a first female president is elected that is. If the worst does happen, the following song feels fitting, for my mood.

O Children – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I heard it in the final Harry Potter movie (well, Part One of it anyway). It felt sombre. Lots of people feel this added scene (not found in the books) was awkward and unnecessary, but I felt the opposite, that sometimes the movie takes a gamble on a little something extra and it touches a viewer like me.

So, Ron had just run out on Harry and Hermione and the mission they were on to defeat evil. Hermione was devastated and Harry suddenly gets her to dance with him, to this song, and something feels optimistically hopeful, for their friendship and humanity, like not all hope was lost.

Somehow, I felt a connection here, to the current climate. I don’t think I’m wrong.

I am thankful, first off, for small favours which are really just what ends up happening, but sometimes they can prevent something much worse from occurring.

My brother had a seizure this week, but he is fine now.

He has had several since he fell, last December, and hit his head. He had a few last summer and then not until the other night.

The worst part about them, like what I say above, is you don’t know when they will come, but yet would knowing really be easier?

I guess because you could plan for the most optimal situation. If he is in the wrong place, doing the wrong action, it could be worse for sure. If he’s out in the street. If he’s in a place where a secondary injury could cause more damage. It’s scary because he is so smart and so much of what makes him Brian is his amazing mind. He was, only a few hours before, playing the most beautiful music with his band in my basement. Each time they play I change my mind and a different one of their songs becomes my favourite.

He is himself still, thank God, but my fear is that something will change. Seizures are hard on the body and on the brain, obviously. He was alone, but he was sitting down, we believe. He will be okay. My heart stops each time I hear he’s had another.

I am thankful for those little Facebook reminders of what happened exactly one year ago. Well, okay, not always, but this time for sure.

This happened.

One of my better/best decisions ever. I am thankful that I have a place where I read my writing out loud. It is excellent practice.

I am thankful for a fun-filled writing group this week.

November first was the start of a month of non stop writing, for some, as it’s National Novel Writing Month once more.

Only two of our group are doing it this year and I’m not one of them, but we had a party of sorts, while we chatted, wrote, and read our stories out loud. I know how much I can handle and how much I can’t. I hadn’t had that positive breakthrough with my violin yet and I knew I couldn’t add anything more to my plate right now.

I know things out of my control should never stop me, if doing something like writing a novel were what I really wanted to do, but this just isn’t the time and I know it. I sometimes trust my instincts to show me the way forward.

I do have a story I’m dying to tell, but not yet. This doesn’t mean I must wait a whole other year, for NaNo to come around again, but we shall see.

I just need to see what happens in the US on Tuesday and the aftermath of that. I need to get a year of violin practice under my belt. I need to focus on my goals for at least the next three months. That’s what is most important to me right now.

But back to writing group. The stories, minus my own, were unbelievably satirical and hilarious. We had to roll a pair of giant dice and we received a matching setting and character description for both the numbers we rolled.

Mine was: “beach with a prudish dress code” and “woman who is upset because her imaginary friend dumped her for another woman”.

Maybe I will share that story one day.

I am thankful that NaNoWriMo exists.

It got me writing back in 2013 and I wrote the quota of fifty thousand words in thirty days that year.

I achieved what would have seemed and sounded impossible to me at the time.

I fear I lost that beginning to a story, but even if I did, I now know I can do it again and I will. I now have two novel ideas to choose from when I do.

I am thankful I got to hear my violin teacher performing live with her fellow musicians. Brass, wood winds, strings, and percussion. It was a remarkable thing to witness, so many performing in unison and the pieces played were introduced by professors of the music school at University of Western Ontario, in London. The quote about comfort and courage was from one of those introductions and I made a note of it and liked the sound of it when I heard it.

I am thankful for a better week with the violin.

For the last few weeks I’ve felt like I was not making enough progress with the song I’m working on. I worried I was wasting everyone’s time and money and belief in me, especially my own hope, with all I’ve put of myself into this dream.

This week something began to make more sense I suppose. I felt better, walking out of that practice room, than I have in a while. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but definitely one of the more rewarding things I’ve attempted in my life.

I am thankful for family to hang out with when I need to smile and distract my rushing thoughts.

I watched the final game of this season’s World Series with my parents, brother, and uncle. I’m glad I got to think about baseball instead of world happenings, even if Toronto had lost out days before, for another year. These two teams deserved a shot.

I had to spend this past weekend around one who knows nothing about politics, elections, or world events yet. He is only four, so plenty of time to face these things, to learn about them, but I wish he never had to.

I feel the need to phone and speak to other children in my family, as I did after my aunt died, even with my feelings of not wanting to bother people, with their busy schedules and hectic lives. I know I should not ever allow that to hold me back. It’s silly really.

I am thankful for a ride home from my uncle after we couldn’t quite hold out past the rain delay to go home and call it a night.

My uncle is someone I can talk to about the struggles and the thrills of learning to play an instrument later in life because he plays and he gives it his all when he does.

He introduced me to another violinist from Canada on the brief drive home.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ehnes

I am thankful for the baby kicks I’m not certain I felt.

My sister has felt them for a while in her second pregnancy, but getting over my weirdness with such contact, I tried for really the first time this time round. I felt nothing really, but it’s still early enough, and as long as the mother feels them I am okay to wait.

It really is miraculous and to think of that baby growing and moving is one of the best things in a mixed up, topsy-turvy world.

I am thankful for comedians to make me laugh about the things that, if I don’t laugh about, the only other option would be to cry.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor and Jimmy is hysterical with a good guest.

I am thankful for the vast array of autumn weather we’ve been having.

It was so nice to step out my door the other day to bright sunshine and warm temperatures, for November anyway. I stop, on the stairs, multiple times a day, in my favourite place in my house. I stand and take in the view, with my remaining senses of smell and hearing. I loved the cooler weather of Halloween. I loved the dank and the rainy and the better days as we fell back one hour, ushering in darkness earlier and earlier going toward December, and we’re on our way toward winter. Glorious that I live in Canada and get to experience all four seasons.

Okay, so perhaps a couple additional TToT items this week, to make up for missing a few recently. I needed to write and find all the ways I possibly could to keep my mood from crashing. On into another week however.

And, with that I conclude by saying, America, please be careful.

Here is a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago.

Good luck to all my American friends and to all of you from this here TToT, for the week that’s ahead of you. We, the rest of the world, will be praying and crossing our fingers and watching closely.

Utility, muffin, research, kitchen. And comfort and courage to us all.

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inside Out, #SoCS

Almost Halloween and it made my day to receive happy updates on my phone of my friend and her little girl, who is enjoying pumpkins and so many other new experiences, this being her second Halloween and first to really begin the fun of the holiday.

This is just a small thing, but a big big thing really, that makes my day better, set against a backdrop of chaos and endless information.

lwb5GIr.png

So much else goes through my head and my mind. It’s like that line parents and elders often find themselves speaking about children and the younger generation: “everything I say to them just seems to go in one ear and out the other, like they aren’t even listening”.

In one ear and out the other.

Are we listening?

So much in the news and going on in the world, so much info for me to hear, that I can’t possibly retain everything that comes across my path.

Lately I’ve felt like I can’t live up to the things I’m attempting, for some people, as if I’m not getting it fast enough or in the time they’ve allowed in their own heads, so I may not be getting the hang of it and, to some, should maybe just throw in the towel.

Perhaps this is all mostly going on inside my mind. Maybe it’s not that bad. It could be that they don’t think this at all. But I feel it, from them or from myself, or a little of both.

I try to block out all other things when I am in that practice room. For one hour I don’t let myself think or worry or fret over anything else that would otherwise dog my every waking thought. None of that when I am with my violin and while I have the undivided attention from the one who knows it and is trying to teach me.

I focus so hard on her words and her instructions, on the notes and the strings and the proper techniques, so hard that my mind aches. It’s not just the headaches or the usual body pains I feel, but rather my mind physically stretching to try and accommodate these new things. Sometimes, I feel I hear and understand her so clearly, but other times I fear her wisdom goes in one ear and out the other with me. I fear I’ve just wasted an entire sixty minutes of her precious time.

I wonder how much more would weigh me down if I could see, so those things that went in one of my ears and out the other, straight through my often swirling brain, would have to keep up with what my eyes were also taking in.

I can’t say how that would work. I may never know.

I just want to think of the stories surrounding Halloween as fun and games, but I think of ghosts and those who are no longer hear. I think of the world we’re facing in the glaring absence of those people.

I think of pipelines. I think of refugee crisis stories. These are real lives and people debate them as if they were theories taught in a classroom somewhere. I think of what I just saw on a news documentary, about the famous family because some of it’s members didn’t survive the boat trip. Canada is home to some of them now. Iraq is home to others, who can’t bear to be away from where their loved ones are buried. I think of the fight going on in Iraq and Syria still. Will families who’ve had to flee for their lives ever get to return home again?

Will the wild war of words and opinions and so much more in the US ever settle down? Will Canadian government live up to all their campaign promises? Does any government?

Questions which I come to on my own and those that I hear and learn about, I take them in, even if I think of that Halloween episode on The Simpsons when Bart is attacked by the little people Lisa invented in a plastic tub, which come upon him in the night, shooting in through his one ear and going through his brain and out the other.

I saw this image so clearly when it first aired back in 1998, but now exists only in my memory.

Do we hear today’s real issues? Do they make an impression? Do they touch us? Do they cause us to stand up and act? Or are we so used to hearing so much that it all just flies in one ear and out the other?

All these things turn my insides out on a daily basis. I must focus on creating things. Art. Beautiful music and words and building things that didn’t exist before.

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