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TToT: Memory Use and the Overall System Footprint – Call and Response, #InternationalDayOfPeace #Graceland #10Thankful

It was a slow day And the sun was beating On the soldiers by the side of the road There was a bright light A shattering of shop windows The bomb in the baby carriage Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder This is the long distance call The way the camera follows us in slo-mo The way we look to us all

The way we look to a distant constellation That’s dying in a corner of the sky These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby, don’t cry Don’t cry

It was a dry wind And it swept across the desert And it curled into the circle of birth And the dead sand Falling on the children The mothers and the fathers And the automatic earth

“The Boy in the Bubble” discusses starvation and terrorism, but mixes this with wit and optimism. Simon concurred with this assessment: “Hope and dread – that’s right. That’s the way I see the world, a balance between the two, but coming down on the side of hope.”

Hope and dread. Hope and dread. Hope and dread. These things run through my head…my head…my head.

My nephew is learning so many new things at school, even already after his first few weeks.

How do I know this?

The other night at dinner he started asking about carrots and how they grow, in the earth, from seeds. Such a basic concept of a lovely natural process.

Seeds planted. Something growing, sprouting up, from once there was only dirt under foot.

I am thankful for all the time I got to spend with my aunt.

Her life is a mystery to me. I get stuck on trying to imagine it. I only knew her for the last few decades of her life.

She was my father’s half sister. She was born in Europe during World War II. She came here to Canada, all by herself. I will forever wonder about all that.

The last time I saw her, as herself, she had made the trip to her mother’s funeral. We didn’t think she would come, for several reasons, but she came and I was nervous to give my tribute to my oma, whose relationship with her daughter was different from ours.

I hugged my aunt, after a day at the graveside, and an evening reminiscing about the life Oma lived, all of us sitting on the deck, around a table. I hugged her and left.

The next time she would have faced tumour treatments, her brain badly effected. She clung to me, our last real moment of contact, and one more familial thread is lost..

Without my parents making a decision to introduce us, I would never have known her mighty spirit.

I am thankful for the light chatter of young voices on a hard day of reality confronted.

On the night we received the news, I heard a one-year-old playing lovingly with her doll (all thanks to WhatsApp) and I interrupted a family in the middle of their beloved spaghetti dinner.

I needed to hear these little people, to remember that there are beginnings as well as those endings we wish would never come.

Na na na na na na na na Max Man!

🙂

Thanks to speaker phone, we discussed colours, what we want to be when we grow up, and what our favourite foods are.

I sat back, listening to my niece describe all manner of shades of many many colours. I needed that just then.

I am thankful for a world attempting to live more peacefully.

Justin Trudeau spoke about what “Canada has gotten right, not perfect.” That we believe diversity brings us strength to fight hatred and violence.

With all the meetings of UN in New York through the week, I listened to several speeches, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in particular. All still so complicated. Peace exists in pockets. I just happen to live in one of those at the moment. No guarantee it will always be that way.

I am thankful for another educational Ken Burns PBS documentary.

I was unaware of the story of this couple.

I am thankful for a room full of writers

I had a question about writing, about the writing journey we’re all on, and I thought who better to bring it to than that select group of people. They are just learning as they go along, just like me, and I wanted their take on a particular situation I’ve gotten myself into.

Their input did not totally squelch my concerns, but we did have a lively discussion about writing contests and when a scam is a scam. I did not want to bring down the other writer in the group to have received good news like myself. He may choose to go a different way with it, but I am still undecided. We all want our writing to have a chance out there in the wider world.

I am thankful for light in the depths.

Edith Widder: the weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence – TED

This sort of thing is not visible to me anymore as such, but just hearing this scientist’s enthusiasm made me believe in the hope of all that magic to be found, especially in the ocean.

I am thankful for the perfect autumn weather.

Thursday was nearly thirty degrees. It was humid but yet there was a coolish breeze, enough to make a meal out on a patio still rather lovely. Yep, there was at least one bee this time, but not on me. Not that I knew of anyway.

I wasn’t having a great week. I was feeling unwell and having more computer troubles. I wanted the first day of fall to feel like fall.

By Friday the temperature had dropped ten degrees or more. I was in Heaven. Fall had arrived.

I am thankful for speedy and readily available medical care for myself and for those I love.

I felt lousy, but I needed blood taken and tested. I got it. Results available online now and oh how far we’ve come, to be able to check our own blood levels, without having to ask any doctor.

Then my family needs treatment for chronic medical conditions, tests run to check out symptoms, diabetes, and diet changes are called for. Hopefully those I love can remain healthy and live for a long time still.

I am thankful for a lovely day on the go.

It began at a secondhand store. Not exactly my kind of place, as I have a strange aversion to old, used things. I am also drawn to their stories. My sister was shopping for maternity clothes, not as easy as it sounds.

We kept my nephew occupied in the halloween decorations section, specifically interested in a doorbell with an eye that opened and and a voice that cackled.

We had lunch at a “pizza store” as my four-year-old nephew refers to it. All you can eat, but still we ate thin crust pizza, to stick, as close as we possibly can, to our diets and health restrictions.

Then I had my violin lesson. Brahms’ lullaby, played for me on piano and violin, so hopefully I can master the entire song by next March.

I went, with my brother and a few people, to attend a bit of speaking about video game production and radio.

A Journal Of Musical Things

This guy, the one with the website, he has been on a Toronto radio station for years. My brother listened to his radio programs. We heard he was visiting and we decided to go and listen to what he had to say.

Finally, we walked downtown, a Beatles festival happening, and capped off the day with a relaxing glass of wine and delicious dessert on a patio and then a cup of coffee, latte, before I felt a sore throat coming on dampen my mood. Nothing could truly dampen my first Saturday of fall.

I am thankful for an album, which becomes an experience in itself.

This album was brought back to my attention, but this week it has great value, in its overall feeling of hope and peace.

It is a magical record, full of the voice of Paul Simon, but yet with a distinctly African tone. Anyone who has never heard it has been missing out.

These days albums in their entirety are all but extinct. Songs that stand alone are what gets the public’s attention. This album, named for a tourist attraction, a musical and cultural icon of a place, a spiritual experience for some, that is what this album is for me.

It’s a collection of songs, taking me on travels, experiences of sorts, to a place called Africa, where my young self couldn’t imagine. This album was playing in our house, thanks to my father, and this can clearly be heard on an old home movie when I was three.

There was the almost mystical affection and strange familiarity I felt when I first heard South African music. Later, there was the visceral thrill of collaborating with South African musicians onstage. Add to this potent mix the new friendships I made with my band mates, and the experience becomes one of the most vital in my life. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland – Album By Paul Simon (1986)

I did not want to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, so much as I wanted to learn about South Africa, about the troubles and the ruining of lives Apartheid caused, when I was too young to realize, when the concept of black and white wasn’t something I thought anything about. Now I think about it often. No superiority. No ranking of human life.

What was unusual about Graceland is that it was on the surface apolitical, but what it represented was the essence of the antiapartheid in that it was a collaboration between blacks and whites to make music that people everywhere enjoyed. It was completely the opposite from what the apartheid regime said, which is that one group of people were inferior. Here, there were no inferiors or superiors, just an acknowledgement of everybody’s work as a musician. It was a powerful statement. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland transcended racial and cultural barriers. ” Graceland was never just a collection of songs, after all; it was a bridge between cultures, genres and continents, not to mention a global launching pad for the musicians whose popularity been suppressed under South Africa’s white-run apartheid rule,” said Andrew Leahey of
American Song Writer.

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

Just Jot It January: Skeletons, Headaches, and Mountains #JusJoJan

I wrote using the word “skull” in my previous JJIJ, but I really owe it a lot.

I used to press my fingers against my cheek, under my eye socket, and along the bone of my upper nose. I would press my fingertips against my temples to create the kind of pressure, almost my own brand of acupressure, when the headaches were particularly bad.

I imagined those skeletons at Halloween, that under all the coverings of skin and muscle, there was something basic and strong.

My skull, my scalp, where the pain seemed worst. I wondered where all the pain came from.

Recently I imagined it again, holding the brain inside. I was so grateful for it, for the skull itself, the structure that was keeping safe a very important brain, one that was uniquely belonging to a one-of-a-kind personality. If it hadn’t been for it, a fall would have spelled disaster. It saved all the intelligence and all the character that made up my one-and-only younger brother.

Then I read this prompt and thought of the sound all those fake skulls made when they fell down on the three brave characters, in that scene from Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, as they went to find the King of the Ghost Army in his forbidding, forbidden mountain tomb home. It was a mountain of skulls raining down upon them.

Music is on all our minds.

Under Pressure

Linda’s inspirations range from Japanese artist to British rock legend:

Just Jot It January 12th – Skulls

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

The rules are

RIGHT HERE.

The “skulls” prompt is brought to us by the brain of an artist named Dean, over at

Deanz Doodlez.

Check him out over there.

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TToT: Vanilla and Peppermint – Ringing in the Season, #10Thankful

“You look like you’ve been run over by a steam roller and left on our doorstep.”

–Dr. House

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No, not that Dr. House. The real Dr. House is alive and well and a nephrologist, a kidney transplant doctor in Ontario, Canada.

I feel like I should add, before I go any further, he is nothing like the grouchy, dysfunctional, fictional doctor people can’t help mentioning when they hear the name.

The above quote is the first thing he said to my brother, when he visited him, on his Sunday morning rounds. A real word mincer.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

The season has begun. Whether it begins: (in retail) immediately after Halloween ends, after November 11th (as is the respectful way), at Thanksgiving (for Americans), or on December 1st is really up for debate.

All I know is: I attended my local Santa Claus Parade, there’s snow on the ground, and the Home Alone movies are being shown on television.

Christmas is on its way.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the common cold.

Okay, well I’m thankful that that’s all it was for my brother.

He was unwell at the beginning of the week. He was dehydrated. He had been sleeping somewhere between 16 and 20 hours a day, every single day the week before. He hadn’t been to school in days.

But once he was where he needed to be, in hospital, they began to assess him. They gave him intravenous fluids and antibiotics, plus a specific treatment for

CMV.

CMV is more common after transplant, but he is more than two years out from his. It took a few days to test for, but he did not have it. once they discovered he didn’t, when the fluids had a chance to work, once his blood pressure wasn’t so low, and once he could eat again he was released. Such a relief. Transplant patients just must be careful. My brother’s case is proof that even a common cold can cause a lot of problems.

For vanilla bean everything!!!

One thing I love about the start of the Christmas season is my favourite scents.

I stocked up on everything vanilla bean at

Bath & Body Works.

No photos or words can do it justice. If I could send the scent of my vanilla bean shower gel, hand lotion, fragrance mist, hand soap, and lip balm to all of you, through the screen, I would.

🙂

Or better yet, the products themselves. They make excellent Christmas gifts.

For more red.

My favourite scent may be vanilla, but my favourite colour is red. I have been working on finding red appliances for my kitchen.

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This week I found a microwave that would fit the theme.

For some wonderful praise of my writing.

It was my second time at the writing group I’ve started attending and this week’s mystery object, fittingly, was someone’s ticket stub for the Eiffel Tower.

I like this group. Wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I like that I am put on the spot. We all are. We find out the answer to the mystery object question and, within minutes, we’re all writing furiously.

We have about an hour to come up with a piece of writing, based on that object. This week I brought my Braille Display and was able to read what I’d just come up with.

Silence. Crickets, if there had been any crickets in the library.

🙂

And then someone in the group told me they were silent because they were still imagining the scene in their mind. It was one comment, but it meant a lot to me to hear it.

For a Saturday afternoon writing workshop.

More writing. Yes, I could spend lots of money on classes and workshops. Seems, these days, like every writer or editor teaches them. I’m sure it’s a good way to make money, as there isn’t always money to be made in literature.

I went on a whim. It was a workshop on dialogue. I learned things, as logical as they are and I should already know them, and got to share my writing with an old guy who is working on his own novel, crime I think he said it was.

These things, whether I learn a lot or not, are great places for me to practice writing and meet and hear from other writers, all at different levels of writing in life. It gets me out of my shell and feeling a little less afraid.

For snow.

In this case, for the first real snowfall, accumulation of snow for the season.

I love that smell. Maybe someday Bath & Body Works will figure out how to bottle it, but nothing will ever compare to the real thing.

I wish it wasn’t so cold though. I love to run my hands along a railing covered b snow. Unfortunately, my fingers won’t tolerate the soft, powdery texture for long. Gloves just cover up its wonderfulness.

For one cold Saturday evening family activity to ring in the holiday season.

The Santa Claus Parade was a favourite holiday ritual of mine growing up. We’d get our spot, all bundled up, and watch the floats slowly pass, with their Christmas lights, music pumping from loud speakers, and all the kids on the floats, yelling or singing.

And then always return somewhere warm and be thankful for heat all the more. I know I always was. And was again last night.

Well, so what if the parade from two years ago had us out in hardly a coat at all. This year, with the blankets, hoods, and gloves was better. It started out with rain, but by the end of the parade the snow was falling steadily. It had to be shook from our umbrellas.

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My nephew thought, upon hearing the first sound of sirens in the distance, that we should hurry up and run. He’s still figuring out parades and Santa Claus, for that matter, but I hope he grows up with as much wonder for all these traditions as I did.

For my trusty little iPhone 5 and for the fact that it still works.

I “may” have dropped it, a short drop, after I lost use of its original case. It was a short drop from the porch swing, onto the porch, but it still operates.

However, if you were to shake it just hard enough, a shifting sound inside the phone would make things seem worse than they apparently are.

Every time I receive an email though, the sound it makes to notify me causes the phone, if I am using it at the time, to reverberate throughout. It is a strange sensation, if I happen to be holding it at the moment, and, let’s face it – I’m holding it most of the time.

😉

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For a book review.

After the Scars #bookreview

A friend, writer, and blogger read my short story and the anthology it is in and wrote her review on both.

I haven’t heard a lot of feedback, so this was important, I believe, for me to grow as a writer.

She also wrote a post, on one of her multiple blogs. This one,

3 Writers Dine Together

is a lovely summary of our very first in-person meeting in Toronto.

For my fellow Lord of the Rings nerds, especially when they’re Stephen Colbert.

No One Confuses Smeagol & Gollum On Stephen’s Watch

The man makes some excellent points and uses humour to make them.

🙂

And…on that note…

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and let it snow, snow, snow!!!

“November-with uncanny witchery in its changed trees.”

–L.M. Montgomery

Yes, I know I include a lot of Lucy Maud Montgomery quotes in these TToT posts, but the woman had a way with words.

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TToT: Turn Back the Time and Think Inside the Box – Booooo! #10Thankful

The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…

–Stephen King

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Who’s afraid of spiders?

😉

Who likes to be scared?

I watched a scary movie, but waited until after Halloween was over, as if somehow this made me safer. I believe it was the third and worst one, according to King, the king of the horror genre.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

Happy Halloween

I know. I know. I am aware that Halloween is done and over with, that it is the start to a brand new month, and Christmas merchandise is beginning its reveal in stores, but just stay with me a minute or two, or as long as it takes you to check out this edition of the TToT.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Since this is about the week that just was, there is a clear Halloweenish theme to it, but this includes lots of chocolate and candy talk and a reminder added to the title, to remind everyone to turn clocks back one hour, if they haven’t already.

🙂

If so, what are you waiting for? Did you forget? That would explain why things seemed off all day.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the chance to be featured early in the week.

After The Scars: Featured Writer’s Series

I was interviewed about my story on the new website that has been launched for the anthology I am in.

For a chocolate adventure – the best kind in my opinion.

Chocolatea

A friend and I went for a drive to a nearby town and to try out the chocolate shop I’d been told about.

I hoped it would be better than the one here that my mom, sister, and I tried during the summer.

This place was all made-in-house, but there was sugar this time. I am one of the many hooked on sugar, I can admit it.

So good I think they would make excellent Christmas gifts – and, just in case the name isn’t obvious, they also sell tea.

For raspberries and laughter.

My friend’s little girl now blows raspberries. They are cute and all, except, maybe, when she decides to keep her mother awake for an hour with them at 3 A.M.

The giggles are new, to me, this week upon seeing her. It’s the best noise in the world. Enough said.

For my “second chance” to be featured this week, about or with my writing.

😉

First it was for The Second Chances Anthology and then for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest

The #1000Speak blog asked me to write the guest blog for this week on their website and I thank them for the opportunity.

For Halloween candy.

Sure, it’s just candy, but something about the size of the chocolate bars, makes me think I am in the clear because I am eating less, but I realize, after Halloween is over, the trick that was just played on me.

Well, anyway, it makes it fun and it brings back many memories.

My siblings and I used to all gather on the wreck room carpet at the end of the night, dump out all our candy, and share and trade with one another. My father would stand by to snatch his favourite chocolate when we weren’t looking.

🙂

Just kidding. He asked first, most times. )Parental Tax)

For the humorous side of this horror filled holiday.

#HalloweenFail

Without that, I would find it harder to handle the scarier elements. I need a good mixture.

Halloween Impressions

For little trick-or-treaters, or not so little, as the case may be.

Yes, from the smallest to the very big. The small ones are sweet, but some kids find it hard to give up free candy.

When should kids stop? We were debating this question.

Some of them say the funniest things. The little ones are often so polite. The rain fell for a while, but they were troopers.

For not having my house get toilet papered or egged in some sort of a retaliation

We gave too much away at the start, which left us rationing by the end. We eventually had no choice and had to close the door, but a handful of kids kept coming. They very well could have been pissed and returned aiming for blood, or aiming with eggs as the case may be.

As a matter-of-fact, I am thankful I have never been toilet papered or egged in this house. I do live near a school and park. Could be the perfect target for punks, if they wanted to.

For my favourite little trick-or-treater of all

My friend returned, this time with her little pumpkin.

This particular jack-o’-lantern is only six months old. This means she has no teeth yet and can’t eat candy or chocolate.

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She sure tried her hardest. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo of the evidence left behind, but she chewed on that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for quite a while. It didn’t end quite like she’d hoped, but she had fun trying.

That was one heavily drooled upon package of mushed up chocolate.

I Walked with a Zombie – REM Version

I, myself, did not walk with any such thing. I would say zombies are some of the worst creatures there are, even though people have gone crazy for a show about them. I get totally creeped out. Even Brad Pitt wasn’t enough to make them tolerable to me.

Thanks to my brother (music expert extraordinaire that he is) for the strange and unfamiliar Halloween themed song selections.

And, to the departed Mr. Lugosi, you will always hold the place of Dracula and no disrespect meant Sir.

RIP

Well, another Halloween over and I still didn’t manage to finish reading Dracula. So, here’s a quote from Dracula’s literary horror rival instead.

“So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein–far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.”

–from “Frankenstein” By Mary Shelley

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SoCS

I’d Turn Back If I Were You, #SoCS

I had a strange dream the other night. It was one where I was on my own, trying to find my friends, to meet someone. I walked and wandered long halls looking. I found myself being approached and manhandled by someone, but strange…I can’t remember now who it was.

It was one of those dreams that seemed to drag on and on, like being stuck in the Land of Oz. I called for help, but none came.

It was one of those dreams, like when you fall asleep with the TV on and it enters your dreams, but this time it was smell that was the problem. I was smelling something, so strong, that pierced my nostrils. I couldn’t get away from it and I tried so hard to wake from that.

All so strange.

SoCS

Strange, stranger, strangest.

I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do I do I do. I do.

So, it’s the night before Halloween and I’m watching The Wizard of OZ on television, right.

Witches.

Halloween equals witches. Wizard of Oz equals witches.

A yellow brick road. A pair of magic, ruby, red slippers. What magic powers could a pair of red shoes contain anyway?

Hourglass counting down the minutes till doom would arrive.

I’ve always feared this film, at parts, and I’m certain I am not alone in that, but more than feeling afraid, growing up I just thought this story was odd, bizarre, weird, but it also felt strangely like home.

I was definitely no writer or storyteller when I was a kid. I don’t think I had much of an imagination, anyway, and maybe that’s why I still lean toward nonfiction today, when I write, although I now really do enjoy reading fiction too.

There’s no place like home. I will forever equate Oz with my grandparents. This movie will always remind me of them. It’s set during the thirties, on a farm, and with a tornado. My grandparents and their farm lived through a tornado in the late seventies.

I’m now watching Wizard of Oz with descriptive. Even when I watched as a kid, I had more sight than I do now, but I’m still learning things about the movie, by listening to the descriptive track. I must have seen this film a hundred times, but must have missed a lot every other time I watched.

I can understand always feeling like I’m a bother, that I’m in the way, as they tell Dorothy she is at the beginning of the film.

That feeling of wanting to get away, the one she expresses during her “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is one I like to think about, beyond everything, but how do you get there? Does it require a twister every time?

Like entering Narnia through the wardrobe or through a picture of a boat on the waves, of which I’d read years later. I could compare and connect so many of these stories, showing that all ideas are a part of one another.

Well Dorothy gets her wish for adventure. The Wicked Witch was scary.

It’s a frightening part, when they scream for help in the magic poppies, but it’s that strange sensation you have during a dream, during those times where you know you are dreaming and yet you want to wake up, but can’t. Your mind isn’t quite ready for consciousness.

😉

It’s a helpless feeling, but the feeling of complete and utter fatigue is one I knew well when I was going through kidney failure, twenty years ago. It’s a scary feeling, that exhausting fatigue that drags you down, leaving you feeling like you’re lost in a fog.

The witch bewitches poppies, attractive to the eye, but poisonous. Not so different from the poisoned apple in Snow White. More of that literary connectedness that I love.

Back to witches, as it is the time of year for those.

Even the Wicked Witch of the West reminded me of my grandma, sometimes, when she would say a specific line, not that my grandma ever talked with wickedness, but again it’s the accent, the way they spoke in those days I guess.

A horse of a different colour? Trees that talked, men made out of straw, tin, and a lion that spoke like a man. Yeah, that’s right. Absolutely no ability to imagine things different from what they were. Why couldn’t the seven-year-old me let go of all that I knew?

I knew it was make believe, but it was the strangest thing to me. I couldn’t quite let go of the logic I was so familiar with, even as a child who knew how to play make believe myself.

Dorothy reminds me of my grandmother for her clear naivete
Glinda the Good Witch, for her kindness, the light, love, and warmth that radiate from her, that pink bubble that she floats in and out in.

All the men, the wizard, and Uncle Henry all reminded me of my grandpa, when they said certain words and in the tone of their voices. Even the Witch’s guards sounded like my grandpa when they spoke.

Now it will forever help me feel closer to both my grandpa and grandma. Someone once said the whole story made no sense. Of course not, but in a strange way…

There’s no place like home?

Home is this terrible place, where Dorothy was always in the way and some nasty neighbour woman was trying to take Dorthy’s dog.

Many people are forever trying to escape the reality of their own lives, to discover what’s waiting for them (over the rainbow), only to discover that the grass isn’t necessarily greener and home really isn’t so bad after all.

Well, Oz didn’t seem like such a merry old land to me. It may have been in colour: yellow brick road, ruby red slippers, and the Emerald City, but everything about it seemed frightening to me. A bad dream, but I was used to those, or just a strange dream, the strangest. I had plenty of those.

I didn’t really know, when I was a little girl, about the books the movie was based on. The film made recently, Oz the Great and Powerful, with James Franco and Mila Kunis playing the future Wicked Witch of the West I feared so much. This film was even stranger than the original.

The witch’s guards were only doing what she said because they were afraid? Because she told them, ordered them to do it? This question puzzled me. They would cheer when she was dead. How strange.

Also, a witch could be killed by having water thrown on her?

That seemed strange, a stranger way to kill a witch, I had not heard. If it were that easy, why didn’t someone do that much earlier?

There again came my rationalizations. I was a bit of a strange kid, to be honest.

But that feeling that Dorothy almost had a way home, the wizard planning on taking her with him, but then the dog ran off and the balloon floated up and off without her, leaving her there for good, or so it would seem.

Couldn’t she just recognize the scarecrow, tin man and lion, not to mention the wizard and witch were people in her real life?

Dorothy was crying so much. Strange.

Other characters cried a lot too. The man who let them in to see the wizard and the lion. All of it, strangely reminded me of my grandparents.

All she had to do, it turned out, was click her heels together three times and say: “theres no place like home.”

Really? That’s all?

She couldn’t do it before, really?

Because the movie needed to run its course, but Glinda said it was because Dorothy wasn’t ready, that she had to figure it all out for herself, that there was no place like home. She had to go on the whole strange journey, to learn the lesson she needed to learn.

“Oh, what a world!”

–The Wicked Witch of the West

Is it strange that I felt sad once the witch was gone?

I thought all the costumes and makeup were strange. The one actor playing the Tin Man had to back out of the role because he was allergic to the silver makeup, nearly dying I think I read somewhere.

So strange that the wizard, thought to be all powerful, “very good, but very mysterious,” according to Glinda, wasn’t what he appeared. How many in power are not so mysterious or so smart or strong as they want people to believe?

Looks are deceiving, or something like that.

The Lion cries, as they stand before the wizard, begging to go home. More crying and that’s not even including the big goodbye scene between Dorothy and her friends.

“Dorothy…small and meek.”

–Dorothy Gale

Your Honour, Your Excellency, Your Wizardry.

–The Scarecrow

They had to prove they were brave before he would grant their wishes. Who was he to demand bravery anyway? What kind of magic was this?

They call the wizard: “Humbug!”

Again, reminding me of the square mints my grandma always had.

Universities where men go to become great thinkers?

Oh right. A strange feeling I get when I realize the time of these stories, when mostly men, if not only men would have gone to university, whereas now we don’t give it a second thought that we, as females, go to university right there along with the guys.

The Cowardly Lion had been Confusing courage with wisdom. He was given a medal to prove his bravery. We need medals to prove bravery these days. They have a medal. Like soldiers. Or witch slayers.

“Aw, shucks folks. I’m speechless.”

–Cowardly Lion

I feel self conscious when I’m told I’m brave too, Lion.

Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. The Wizard of Oz says this and he is quite right.

Good deed doers.

Testimonials.

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

–The Wizard of Oz

Happy Halloween:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/10/30/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-3115/

The night before Halloween, every year, author Anne Rice is the guest of honour at a ball named for her most famous character from her books.

Strange or not strange?

I am not a fan, but many people love the world Rice has created. Who’s to say what is strange and what is not?

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Bucket List, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions

Ghost Stories

The ghosts of your past shaped your reality, moulded your future, and haunt you only to remind you how much you deserve. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be me. So, acknowledge your ghosts. Because without them, who would you be?

–Sonya Matejko

If It Weren’t For You: Acknowledging Your Ghosts

Last year, this was what I had to say about the topic of ghosts:

Phasmophobia

Then, last October, as Halloween drew near, my family and I went for a weekend in Niagara Falls. On the last night some of us went on a haunted walk at Fort George, in Niagara on the Lake.

NiagaraGhosts.com

It was my first time doing one of these. I’d been spending the month writing about phobia and how to face it. I wanted to see if I could handle a ghost walk.

Well, I wrote about the experience, but then I lost my laptop. I can’t be certain, but I think I’ve lost what I wrote. Theory could suggest that it was the ghosts, that they didn’t want me to write about them, and so they got rid of the evidence.

Reported sightings.

Well, I don’t really believe that actually. I ended up being incredibly touched by the history we learned about the site, a soldier’s fort during the War of 1812, between Canada and the US.

There were so many stories, sad and mysterious, about those soldiers and their families. The tour guide was animated and knowledgeable. He spoke of history, lives lived, and I couldn’t say if I totally discounted ghosts or not as we drove away at the end of the tour.

I was with cynics and yet, I didn’t like to say anything for certain. I try to keep an open mind, but I do believe most things can be logically explained. People believe, but I can’t really blame them for wanting to feel close to those they love.

This was billed as a special Halloween themed tour, different and more than the regular tours, but it was a beautiful autumn evening and I am glad I went.

Months later, in the middle of winter, I tried another ghost walk, through the streets of Ottawa and through the old Ottawa Jail. There are so many stories of haunted places and people, especially at this time of year, love to be scared.

I believe ghosts aren’t actually real in the way most might think, but that ghosts are the memories of people, those no longer in our lives and that they can be felt, if one pays close enough attention, as the imprints of what once was.

There are those who are not here now, in my life, but I feel them and they haunt me where I live.

It might be the memories of old friends or those of a lost love:

Ghosts Are Real

Then there are sites of history, old abandoned sites, like these:

Abandoned America

I watch a lot of documentaries, whether about those pour souls murdered in the Holocaust or those patients who once lived and died in the mental institutions, you can feel the spaces they inhabited, and I believe it is important to acknowledge the spaces they took up in life.

It could be a cemetery, like where I visited the graves of my grandparents. I toured, not only old and abandoned forts, but also jails, and sites of torn down mental hospitals and I felt the people who once lived in those places. They lived and died there. Their souls are hopefully at peace, as the living pass by, but it feels slightly disrespectful to traipse over these spots:

Ghosts are Scary, Disabled People are Not: The Troubling Rise of the Haunted Asylum

These were human beings once. I believe they are gone, but I can understand recognizing the energy of their existence, which I have felt, myself, when I’ve visited where they once dwelt.

Now, with the popularity of touring asylums, forts, relics from years ago – this could be seen in a negative light. These people had families and people who loved them, but they make for good stories to tell for a thrill.

The ghosts of the past, the memories of my loved ones who, for whatever reason, are just not here anymore.

If you need a way to explain the lack of people in your life, as to the question of where they go, because I’ve always had issues with facing the fact that certain people may be in my life one day and gone the next.

All the fun and games of the holiday of Halloween are great and all. I’m more into all that than I’ve ever been before.

I just am more interested in the stories of the real human lives, the love, the loss.

Ghost – Ella Henderson

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Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

In The News and On My Mind: Blue October/Red October, #TBT

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.
–JEG

img_0967-2015-10-22-13-51.jpg

I love October. I love the cool scent in the air, one that brings me back to a different time – fall recesses in the school’s playground.

I love Halloween, despite all my comments to the contrary.

I know the month is usually associated with colours such as black and orange, but today I am talking more about blue and red.

I love colours that I begin to forget. I always will, no matter how vague their shades become to my mind, but I don’t like when a colour is associated with a political party. I love blue: blue skies, water, even and especially I love blue Powerade.

I love red. I would say red is my favourite colour. I love its connotations. I love its fiery, passionate, brilliance.

Blue can be associated with sadness. I can relate to that too. Red is the colour of my favourite literary character’s hair and the colour of hearts and love.

Now I’m supposed to give over my favourite colours to Conservatives or Liberals? No no no!

This October is becoming a mixture of excitement and tension, at least around here in Canada, for the hope that our Toronto Blue Jays will defy all odds and make it to the World Series and then there was our big election.

People in Toronto are dressed in the team colours. Our Boys in Blue. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are blue.

Blue and red.

The Jays play the Kansas City Royals again on Friday and all our hopes rest on this game, again, and I can’t really stand to watch the whole way through. It’s like when my brother or someone else I care about happens to be performing. My heart beats in anticipation for their success and I can hardly stand it.

As for our Canadian election: blue is out. Red is in.

Isn’t red associated with Communism? What?

Why do we ruin our beautiful colours, all of you forgetting how lucky you are to see them, with these differing affiliations?

No! I will not give up my precious colours to any one group of people or one set of beliefs.

I was not alive when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada, but I hear it was quite the time. Scandal of the day. His son Justin was born into this circus.

It’s strange to think that our Prime Minister is only a little more than a decade older than I am. This leaves him up for a lot of criticism because some say he is too young, unexperienced, as the attack ads always claimed.

Sure, eleven weeks for a political race may sound laughable to the US, for instance, but it was eleven weeks too long for me, with all those “he’s just not ready” attack ads.

Others say he is the fresh, new, younger leader this country needs. The world is moving forward, progress and all that, and I tend to agree.

As I’ve said before, who would want the job anyway? He’s got to be a little crazy, but he must have his reasons. Maybe he really does feel like he can make a difference. Running a country, even Canada for whatever that’s worth, must not be easy.

The fear mongering continues. Justin will raise taxes. People don’t feel safe anymore, within the first few days since the election took place. What are they afraid of? Should I be afraid too?

I wrote a blog post, pre-election, about the question of voting: who should I vote fore, should I give into the fears being raised, and how do I really and truly know who I believe can run this country?

Time For a Change

Throw-back to a few weeks ago and before the election.

Time to look ahead, to the future:

A New Day In Canada

Was our prime minister racist? Was he xenophobic? I hate to think it.

I probably should have stayed away, but I have been reading the Facebook comments on two posts in particular, both reflecting and looking back, with sadness to one year ago today and the death of Corporal Nathan Zirillo.

Ottawa shooting: Day of chaos remembered 1 year later

Stephen Harper, still technically in charge of Canada and Justin Trudeau, soon to be – come together to place a wreath for the dead. They both make use of social media, a sign of the times, but today they were, the two of them, offering their sincerest condolences for the loved ones affected in the tragedy of exactly one year ago.

I visited that spot, on Parliament Hill, last winter. It was a cold and grey day, but it was quiet, people milling about, with no sign that just four months earlier, on October 22nd, there would have been fear and panic of the unknown.

Of course, it should be all about the tragedy, the sacrifice, the bravery and remembering those we lost. Harper’s words were about remembering, but quickly things moved into comments about how people loved how safe they felt with Harper in charge and how afraid they are now that Trudeau is at the helm.

The Trudeau posts’ comments were full of people who are looking forward to a future with a new leader for Canada. Then, more back-and-forth.

I understand. These men aren’t responsible for what some commenter writes, but if I were Harper, all this time, I would be horrified that people are making such drastic statements in the name of Conservatism.

I could stay off places like Facebook, the comments, but it’s out there and I don’t want to close my eyes to it either.

There’s a page on Facebook, with 5641 likes, called Ban Islam In Canada:

“Islam is the world’s leading death cult! Please keep in mind we do not insult other religious beliefs here – IF YOU DO YOUR COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED! This page is about the dangers of Islam – so please respect other viewpoints about God.”

Excuse me! What did you just state?

What do I do when I realize this nonsense exists? I want to cry at the awfulness. I want to get angry at the ignorance. I want to make people understand, make them stop spreading such poison. If I were Harper, I would be horrified that anything like this uses Conservative politics on its page to help deliver its message. Canada is better than that.

I do get that There are going to be sides, but I don’t like it. I’ve said all this before. I hate it, in fact, but my mom always told me not to use that word unless you really meant it. She’s always right. I…um…dislike that.

🙂

I simply couldn’t believe some of the racist, sexist, awful comments made by my fellow Canadians. One man even went so far as to use the word “vaginas” when exclaiming he thought Canada will now sit on the side lines of fights he evidently believes canada should remain in. Really? I kind of wish I wasn’t sharing a country with that, um, farthest thing from a gentleman I can think of.

People are not wanting other groups, ethnicities, races in Canada. They tie them up, immediately, as being Muslim, AKA terrorists. No distinction. No difference to them.

Anytime a white man commits murder, we don’t start blaming all white people. This prejudice that has taken hold of our world, not just Canada, it must stop.

Yes, it was a horrible crime that was perpetrated on October 22nd, 2014 in Ottawa and with the death of Patrice Vincent in Quebec.

Zirillo was on duty. He wasn’t in a coffee shop or church. He knew the risks in such a job, as remote as they were. That doesn’t make it any less tragic for his family, for his child, but there it is.

I don’t know where it was proven the one responsible was a terrorist. If it was, correct me. It was one lone extremist, a radical.

Was he mentally ill or did he know exactly what he was doing? This debate will continue. More attention on mental health? Always.

Did our prime minister use those things to push his agenda? Would someone do such a thing? Did he truly believe Canada was being attacked, because the guy attacked where and who he did? The perpetrator didn’t just attack someone in a cafe or on the street, but terrorists do that as well.

Should I be more afraid than I am about Canada being attacked, being in the wrong place at the wrong time myself one time?

This happened while Harper was in charge. What if it happened when Trudeau was? People would blame him for being soft on terrorism. What do people think of the fact that it ended up happening on Harper’s watch?

It’s all perception really. Facts and events are concrete, but the way they are perceived is an entirely different story.

George Bush was in charge during 9/11 and not Obama. Did Bush make things safer so something like that did not happen for Obama?

Who knows.

I am proud to be Canadian. I feel for the family. It affects me when something like that happens, in the capital of my country or anywhere else.

I choose not to follow the line of fear so many do. I choose to believe that most people who want to come to Canada want to come for the best reasons, reasons having nothing to do with terrorism.

If they choose to follow more of the Canadian traditions and beliefs or if they intend to remain immersed in whatever religion or culture they came from. As long as we are good to one another, what does it matter?

What will that do to Canada? Oh please!

It was said Harper’s campaign failed because he was running on a message of fear. People got sick of it. I only know that I felt it and I was sick of it.

Now, will Justin magically fix all the problems going on in our world today and in Canada? Of course not. No politician can, does, or ever will.

I do happen to like a younger and fresh take on things. He has been in politics, surrounded in it all his life, which you could argue gives him the ultimate dose of experience, as he’s seen firsthand what the job is like.

I’ve learned Justin Trudeau was/is a teacher. He seems to have a more stable family life, compared to his parents. Let’s hope the stresses of his new job don’t damage that.

I hear that Pierre Trudeau was known as a brilliant man, an intellectual, but people are saying Justin has an emotional intelligence and sensitivity that I would like for Canada’s PM.

How is Margaret Trudeau feeling about her son taking on the position? She knows what it’s like and only wants the best for her child and his family.

Let’s give Margaret Trudeau the respect she deserves

It’s the dynasty, the Trudeau family. I don’t know much about that, but as I am now an adult and observant of things, even as I try to resist it, it shall be interesting to see how those who keep pushing the fear tactic will handle whatever happens.

Are we allowed to call Justin Trudeau hot?

I can’t see Justin and his apparent good looks. That’s certainly not why I would have voted for him, as so many are claiming was done. Really? Does anyone really believe another would vote for a guy to run the country, on his appearance? Do sighted people do such a ridiculous thing as this, ever?

So the “Blue” Jays go on to fight another day.

And the red Liberals have the majority.

I choose to go with sunny yellow. Hope, bright times ahead, sunny skies and green lights for Toronto, Ottawa, and the rest of Canada.

The Daily Show gets the last word, practically.

It is my blog after all.

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Blogging, Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, SoCS, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Throw-back Thursday, Travel Tuesday, TToT

2015 October Platform Challenge: Day Nine, #platchal

I missed a few days there, or a little more than that, as I already have both a Facebook page and Twitter, but I’m back for more of a refresher.

Create An Editorial Calendar

I outline what I want for my blog, in my very first post,

Bucket List,

but I had no clue how it would really be to have a blog, day in and day out. I couldn’t have known then.

I do like to keep a rough schedule, more in my head, but the categories I select before each post help me keep things straight.

I stayed up, into the night, before I actually launched this blog, coming up to my thirtieth birthday in 2014 and mapped out which days I wanted to post.

I would let alliteration lead me.

Memoir Monday: My Fear of Going Blind

Fiction Friday: An Old Woman’s Regret

Spotlight On Saltz

From there, as the months of blogging went on, more weekday categories were added.

Touching Landscapes: Feel the Vibrations

This was my regular post, my growing favourite, Travel Tuesday as I called it. This was how I eventually decided to branch out further, creating

The Insightful Wanderer

and my blogging schedule continuing to change.

Slowly, my favourite weekly posts have become

In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition

because these allow me to focus in on what may be going on, in the moment.

It is a difficult question, how often to post on a blog. I don’t like to box myself in by telling myself I have to post, but I understand consistency and regularity.

I have not run out of things to say, like I’d feared in the beginning, and only really the opposite is true.

Every day is too much, but I hate to go more than a few days and not publishing something.

My Mondays have become a series on disability, for which I have a vested interest.

When It Rains It Pours – The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

I do the well known TBT thing.

Throwback Thursday: World Kidney Day

My weekends were where I featured interviews. I wanted to give the spotlight to other people who write, blog, and make a difference in some way.

She’s the Bomb

Eventually, my weekends would evolve into what they currently consist of: Stream of Consciousness Saturday and 10 Things of Thankful on Sunday.

SoCS: Engraved

and

TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

So this is just a selection of my posts, an example of the kind of blogging schedule I keep to. This won’t be the way others can or choose to do it. I don’t know. Is this too much? I know it’s enough and I am happy because my blog, its content, style, and all other elements, including number of weekly posts is me…just me.

When an idea hits me I make a note of it, trying to decide when and if it might fit. I plan things, sometimes weeks or even months ahead of where I am. It works for me. Writing is a lot of hard work, more than people realize, but the weekly practice is the best thing for me. I like to have a plan wherever possible, but yet I also like to go with the flow and let things happen naturally.

A blogging calendar, like a yearly one, has certain markers of importance and note. What might take place in between is anyone’s guess.

I am enjoying this challenge for the month of October. It has given me more to think about. It is now a part of my month.

Follow the guy who runs the challenge.

@RobertLeeBrewer

Dates to make note of, things to come on my blog, of course always subject to change:

**More posts for Redefining Disability, including my thoughts on a woman who made the news for making herself go blind.

**An “In The News and On My Mind” post about voting. Will I or won’t I?

**A post about love (tentatively titled Somebody That I Used to Know), a list of songs to help with heartbreak and how to get past lost love.

**Halloween themed posts about spiders, werewolves, and ghosts.

**My story about a giant book fair, by the lake, in Toronto.

That should get us through October anyway.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, TGIF

Planting the Seeds of Compassion

1000 Speak

When it comes to compassion, what do a couple of wrestlers, a gnome, and an abandoned button factory all have in common?

I thought a lot about what I wanted to save for my featured 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion post. I came to writing about this through a mixture of things, all leading me here today.

Isn’t that how the best ideas come to be?

On one of the warmest days of July, 2013, family and friends gathered around to watch two people we cared about walk out onto a flimsy dock, in the middle of a pond on a large property.

The floating dock was made from recycled materials. This was a true reflection of the lovely young couple and their care for the environment. They cared about the mark they were leaving on the world around them and we all were there because we cared so much about the two of them.

Later on we sat at rows of tables, under the walnut trees, with a soft warm breeze. The rest of the evening, in fact the whole weekend, would be full of good friends, lots of family, and an extensive line-up of the music that clearly represented this most unique duo.

To them music isn’t just music. This is evident by the radio show they have done, Sunday nights, for years now: Non Toxic Air Waves is a place where they play songs, all that have a certain significance, as they have always used the platform to discuss, on the air, issues of sustainability and social justice.

They are truly an inspiring couple, for so many reasons, and I am proud to call them family.

To see them together is a lesson in true companionship, trust, and compatibility.

You may be wondering why it is I have chosen today to feature them. I hope, by the time I am through, this will be indisputably obvious. When I thought about how I could put my own unique spin on the topic of compassion, on this important day for underlining its importance for our world, I came to the undeniable conclusion that these two are the best example of what compassion means.

From summer to a cold winter day in January.

I wanted to speak to them about their life together and the effect they have on everyone and everything they meet. All their modesty aside, I believe they deserve the attention and the praise, although they did not ask for it.

Their property contains their house, a nursery full of native plants (during the summer anyway), swamp land and a woods. A pathway leads from house and nursery down to the pond where they walked out that sunny July day, to celebrate their commitment to each other with us all gathered to celebrate with them.

On this day it was snow covered and she helps me navigate my way. The three of us then proceed to skate on the frozen pond, (a clearly Canadian winter pastime), all the while we talk about everything under the sun…or in this case, the snowflakes.

As we make our way back up to the house to warm up, they show off something they are proud to show me.

They took an old pink armchair, started cutting holes in it, stuffing soil and plants in, and placing moss on.

In her words:

“It will be a living chair and will hopefully clean air: Yeah!”

Her enthusiasm about this old chair sums up what they believe so strongly and what they live through example. It made me smile when I first read those words because I could hear her love for the project in my mind.

As a young girl she sold tadpoles instead of lemonade and he learned about gardening and plants from his mother and learned to love the natural world by exploring around his home, while starting, at an early age as a boy, by working in his neighbour’s garden..

She graduated with an Honours Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies, Environment and Resource Studies with a specialization in Environmental Assessment at the University of Waterloo (Wow! What a mouthful).

He worked in nurseries, greenhouses, and as a landscaper and is an expert on all things seeds and sod. He obtained a Recording Engineer Diploma from the Ontario Institute of Audio and Recording Technology (OIART).

Together they began Wild Life Gardening, started something they like to call Trash Theatre, and organized something known as Procession of the Species in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

She has taken her knowledge and, together with his creative abilities, they have developed lesson plans to go into the schools with Trash Theatre. Through interactive skits and creativity they teach children all about the natural world and all the species that that world is made up of. They use music and self-expression to help kids feel inclusive and to help them explore their individual talents and strengths.

I spoke to them as we ate vegetarian pizza, down in their cozy basement by a roaring fire, for over four hours that day. We listened to music the whole time, from jazz to reggae to rap.

Something like this, a calling that they seem to have for this stuff, it appears to be a love so strong and pure, almost beyond my ability to pin down with words here, but I had to at least try.

They taught me about the term “native plant species” and how vital they are to a healthy planet.

Of course the term is pretty self-explanatory really, but I honestly never gave it much thought before they brought my attention to it.

I have visited their beloved nursery in the spring and he took the time to show me just some of the plants they had, letting me feel and hold some and he made sure to show me the ones I could smell.

There’s always something new going on, at their place, depending on what season it is.

They use terrariums as a way of letting anyone have their very little nursery of their own. They sell these at markets on the weekends and they are working on creating a children’s book, another fun yet educational tool to introduce children to a love and respect for our environment.

I wanted to know more about Trash Theatre, Wild Life Gardening, and about what matters to them.

She showed me something then, a puppet made out of some sort of bright orange or pink fuzzy material. It had a mouth, ears, eyeballs made from styrofoam Christmas balls, and the eyelashes were made from reused yogurt containers.

These are the kinds of masks and costumes they make, for Procession and with school children during workshops with Trash Theatre.

He jokes with me about the time a woman came up to him and informed him that naming it Trash Theatre didn’t make it sound very appealing. Of course, to her, the word trash didn’t exactly conjure up positive ideas, it works for them and word of mouth is spreading. Through grants and the Ontario Arts Counsel they get sent to schools all around the province and the impact they have is making a name for them that only they could pull off.

It’s kind of like a continuous Halloween. They search secondhand shops for items that someone else no longer wanted, but of which can be useful to them.

The unique look he has, with long hair and beard, this makes him uniquely suitable to dress up as a gnome.

Yes…a gnome.

They do singing telegrams and where, these days, can you get a singing gnome?

For their engagement party they dressed up as two wrestlers: Hulk Hogan and Macho Man’ Randy Savage (guess which one was which).

🙂
This, I think I can safely say, none of us had ever seen the likes of before, since, or ever will again. This is what makes them two of a kind.

They then bring this freedom of expression to children all over. They tell me that dressing up gives kids the opportunity to be whomever or whatever they want, choosing to hide their faces, which then helps them to feel freer to express themselves and to participate in performing with the others.

They encourage every child to participate in some way, whether big or small, as a leader or behind the scenes.

He gets the kids to rap right along with him and they incorporate instruments and music into it.

She prefers to be in charge backstage, helping get the kids into their costumes.

They then use fun and interactive play to teach the classes about native plants and animals and how the children themselves can make a difference to these things and the environment in their own lives, in their own small ways at home.

They love all birds, such as woodpeckers and owls. They love and care about the health of native species such as monarch butterflies and bees, pollinators of the plants, which benefits everyone.

Procession of the Species marks Earth Day

I asked them why the word “procession”?

“Procession is more of a celebratory liberating expression, where parade is more of a military term, kind of like showing off or to concur. Eli Sterling, the creator of Procession of the Species in Olympia Washington, is particular about this,” I was told.

Also, at an old and abandoned button factory the two of them run workshops, combining science and the natural world with artistic expression

I wanted to know who they look up to, admire, or revere. When I asked this, he hesitated, saying he had to think because he’d not really thought about it. I was surprised at that.

She right away spoke of trail-blazing women such as Jane Goodall, strong females who have gone out and made a difference to the natural world.

He thought about it. He named writer Kurt Vonnegut, but really his biggest influencers would have to be his brother, sister, and his parents.

Both him and her have it in common that they grew up in good families with strong role models and close sibling relationships. A lot of both their love for the natural world and for teaching others how to cherish it have come from the amazing families they have.

So they’ve lived and worked together for so many years now. I must admit I have wondered what that is like, but apparently I am not the first to be curious.

The two biggest questions this couple receive are:

When are you going to have children?

And

How do you do it? How do you possibly work and live together without getting on each other’s nerves all the time?

They must be sick of these by now, I figure, but they seem to take it with good humour and wise and thoughtful responses.

They are very much of the “whatever happens happens” belief, not saying either way. This, I believe, is a very healthy attitude to have about anything in life. Their unique experiences interacting with children through Trash Theatre gives them a chance to have an affect on the lives of children, which would make them amazing parents one day, but they don’t seem to fret about it either way.

As for the second question…well, they are like anyone else, in that they have their moments.

She tells me he is much more laid back and that she’s often the one who gets worked up. At times like this, they go to separate ends of their house or yard or one goes off on an errand or to pick something up for the business. It isn’t rocket science really. She tells me she knows how lucky she is to have found him and the feeling is clearly mutual.

It is something you just feel when you spend any amount of time with the pair. They are one of those rare fits for one another. Their creativity and their care for the world around them is evident.

He has a photographic memory, whether its for music or for a type of plant.

Her passion for saving and sparing the planet is hard to miss and her desire to teach anyone who will listen makes her charming and warm.

He uses rap and free style, not only as a creative gift, but as a way of training his memory and as a type of self-expression and a form of therapy.

I wondered if they had the urge to travel and, if so, where?

They seemed quite content to stay here in Canada, specifically Ontario. It is their home and it is where they work so hard to make our natural surroundings thriving and healthy.

They love the work they do landscaping people’s yards, including mine. They did so much, planting native plants and a red maple in my back yard.

Having a big group jam session in their basement, with friends, is one of their favourite ways to spend a Sunday.

While the thought of growing a nursery/greenhouse is always there, they try hard to balance work load with enjoying themselves
Their true goal is to teach others how to best help our native species thrive so that we can enjoy them for years to come.

I really enjoyed my day spent with these two. We talked philosophy, music, and life in general. I felt like someone understood, as it gets harder and harder, in your thirties when everyone around you is having children, some years ago already in many cases.

Their words of solace and wisdom about love was just the perspective I needed to hear, as I saw just how wonderful it is when two people truly click and compliment one another as they so naturally do.

This couple has weathered a lot over the years and has built something and continues to build it, leaving a legacy and an example to the rest of us. The world would be a much healthier and more prosperous place if the rest of us followed in their footsteps.

I wanted to write about the difference they’re making and the people they are, on this day, because at the heart of who they are and what they do there is compassion for all living things.

Compassion for the natural world, for youth, and for humanity as a whole.

That’s what today is all about.

***

In the above article I reference material from wildlifegardening.ca and from conversations the three of us have had. All the rest are my own personal observations, thoughts, and feelings.

For more information on any of what I’ve written about here, please visit any or all of the following:

http://www.wildlifegardening.ca

http://www.trashtheatre.ca

This past month and 1000 Speak has been one of the most inspiring for me and I hope we can continue the momentum of compassion that we’ve started here.

Colors of Wind

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Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights

Nyctophobia

Happy Halloween!

For the final edition of Frightful Fiction Friday I have gathered some excellent inspiration for my final phobia story.

I took part in a

Ghost Tour of Niagara,

last weekend in Niagara On The Lake and if it weren’t for the guide with the candle, well I was pretty much in the dark the entire time anyway. Let’s see what I can dream up.

Check out my previous story,

Acrophobia,

and now…enjoy getting lost in the darkness.

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5.
Darkness. Nothing tightens our breath or sends chills down our spine like the idea of walking through a dark forest, alone. We know it’s full of trees and timid squirrels, but we know that’s beneath the sunlight. The night tells a different story. The night is dark and quiet, and unknown. We hate when we have to trust that there’s nothing following us and we hate to be lost for we know there are times when the strength of our mind and the strength of our legs simply isn’t enough.

***

This historical ghost walk is going to be a peace of cake, she thinks. After all, she is in a fairly large group of people. What could possibly go wrong?

She wakes suddenly. Something is not quite right. Her head is swimming and she reaches out in the dark that surrounds her and in the blank part of her own mind. She can’t remember what happened, how she ended up here, or indeed where here even is.

It is dark. That is all she knows.

She stands unsteadily and fully takes in her situation. She had been exploring this historic site with a group of other curious people. Where had they gone?

She couldn’t stay here. The tree roots caused her to stumble as she began to grasp the fact that she was totally alone.

The others must have not noticed she was missing or they would have sent someone to find her. Surely those who knew this spot best would have found her, no problem.

As she moved slowly through the ever enveloping darkness she heard noises somewhere out there and shivered. Was this some bad dream she was having in response to her decision to go on that bloody, excuse the term, ghost tour that evening? She probably should have just stayed home. Lesson for next time: trust her instincts.

There was no more group of people surrounding her, allowing her to shake off her nervousness. No longer was there a confident tour guide with a candle to lead the way. The darkness felt heavy and seemed to weigh heavily on her limbs.

She spotted one of the buildings up ahead, a dark shape looming out of the rest of the darkness. She approached it with a mixture of relief and hesitancy. Something told her this building wouldn’t hold the safety and protection she hoped it would. It would be just as dark, or darker inside. Maybe she was better off staying out here.

She reached for the wall and slumped down, her back to it. Any strength she may have had was waning. What if she didn’t make it to morning and the relative certainty of rescue?

No no no. What a silly thought. Someone would be back and they would find her and apologize profusely for losing track of her like this. This definitely was not a part of the tour.

Suddenly a horrible moaning came from somewhere out there. It was a sound unlike anything she had ever heard. It was, undoubtedly, the sound of someone experiencing great suffering.

She had the urge to run to and from it. She wanted to help who ever that was in such agony, but at the same time she could not escape the darkness and wished to run in the opposite direction, even if it brought her into more unknown, pitch blackness. She could not go, and yet she could not move.

A figure came near then, running and dropping something as it passed her. It seemed to take no notice of her, but ran from the direction of the screams.

“Wait!”
The fleeing figure did not stop and appeared not to notice or hear her.
She stood in fear and picked up what the passerby had let fall.

She felt the sticky rag between her fingers, but could not see what this was in all the dark.

All she could do was smell the thick metallic odour and she knew it was the blood of the one letting out those terrible sounds, somewhere out there in the abyss.

The darkness seemed to take over than and the last thing she heard was more screams and moans and the scent of blood on the rag in her hand choked her as she slid down into a darkness so thick she felt like she would be trapped in this black pit for eternity.

***

So there you go and here we are at the end of October and the end of this series.

I don’t know if I frightened you with any of my stories, but I sure frightened myself. I wrote about fears I have had and I want to thank

Young And Twenty,

one more time for providing the blog post and the inspiration these last five Fridays, with her:

5 Fears and What They Say About Us.

Are you afraid of the dark?? I don’t require lights on to get around my house in the middle of the night. You’d think I had no fear of the dark if I had been so used to it, but depending on my circumstances I can be very jumpy.

What are you most afraid of? Do you have a phobia of some kind? How has it affected you?

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