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TToT: Mid April and Easter Update #Easter #10Thankful

“No matter what happens, people need to get their stories out. Sometimes I think this is my life’s work: bearing witness, and helping others to bear witness. Bear witness, expel torment, see the red cardinal in the bare tree.”

–Carrie Snyder, “Red cardinal in bare tree”

One of my favourite writers, Canadian writers, and she speaks on what my writing mentor told me, as I grew more comfortable with my own writer status.

We who write, who call ourselves writers live as such. We are constantly observing the world around us, to write it all down when the time is right.

This week’s TToT is a little or a lot muddled all-over-the-place, kind of like my own life right now.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the chance to see myself in the media.

Check out this commercial. This girl has a YouTube channel and she is a public speaker, on Canadian television.

I believe it is important that the world sees that beauty and these products mean just as much to those of us living with a disability in the world.

I am thankful I could help my sister.

She has stuff to do to get ready for a friend’s wedding next month and she finds it hard to get a lot of it done at home, as she always becomes distracted by stuff that needs to get done around her house.

At mine, I could hold the baby and she could work. Not a bad deal.

I am thankful for yet another helpful violin lesson.

I picked up the second line to Minuet 3 easier than I thought. I really do love this song.

It did require me to use my fourth finger, which is not strong at all. It is difficult to stretch a fourth on the string.

I am thankful for a lovely Easter surprise from my friendly new neighbour.

I was not expecting the gesture of beautifully wrapped chocolates, in tissue paper, with a bow.

She wrote a lovely note with it.

I am thankful for another enlightening episode of Anne.

This one revealed more about characters like Gilbert. This is better than I could have imagined. I love knowing more about people, even fictional people.

I am thankful for the beautifully written verbal audio descriptions on several Canadian television channels, like the CBC when I’m trying to watch an Anne episode.

“The Woman is elegantly dressed and has a kind face.”

I am thankful Canada got something before the U.S. for a change.

Yeah, I said it.

I didn’t realize this one is the same one premiering on Netflix soon.

Either way, it should appear first on Canadian television, as it is our story after all.

I am thankful for women in history who made Canada better.

A novel idea for the 19th century: women are capable of talking about serious issues – Who is Kit?
        
I am thankful I could find out that there seems to be no problem with my plans to try zip lining.

My fear was that they would be hesitant to let anyone try it who is blind. So far, according to the woman I spoke to and her manager, if I will be with a group it shouldn’t be an issue.

I am thankful for the rain and for the warming April weather.

Spring is in the air and you can feel it.

I am thankful for Easter chocolate.

I don’t know what I think about religion. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the world powers, drunk on their desperation for even more. I don’t know what I am doing in my own life even.

I do know I am thankful.

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Bullets and Bones, #Vimy100 #AtoZChallenge

Nope. Even though the title of today’s post might suggest I have forgotten what letter we are at with this April challenge, I assure you that I haven’t.

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I heard it on a series about Canada and I thought it makes the point.

The A to Z Challenge – H is for History

That famous quote:

“Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”

I believe that wholeheartedly. I don’t ignore. I listen and I learn.

A lot of history is bullets and bones. Wars seem to be all we talk about when we speak of historical events and the bones of those who have gone before us, who lost lives, they are everywhere.

The series I was watching spoke of the War of 1812 and the battles between the United States and the Canada that wasn’t quite Canada yet, but a colony of Great Britain. So much colonialism throughout history.

What year did Canada become its own country?

I am a big history buff. I focus on wars too, though I despise them and all they have ever been about.

I do not like to refer to the United States of America because I do not approve of how the country started, by actively attempting to take the entire continent of North America for themselves. They wanted what is now Canada, the Canada that I love. Sure, when I listen and learn about that war, one often neglected, I think of what would have happened if the U.S. had won the war. What would be, where my country now lies?

The U.S. wanted all the land. They fought British and Natives, in what is now the Detroit and Windsor area, Niagara, Toronto, and all along borders we now hold dear.

There were battles fought where the capital city of Toronto now sits. We don’t now realize. Bones are buried there.

There has been remembrance ceremonies here in Canada and over in France. April 9th, 1917 was the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. And 100 years on. That, it is said, is where young Canada became a country, but fierce debate about just whose war they were fighting caused great tensions between French and English-speaking Canadians at the time, a set of tensions that still exists, in some ways, today.

Many died and were wounded for that fighting. I don’t look fondly on such a thing, but I try to respect the lives that were lost. Many bodies buried in fields in northern France. I am emotional about history. I don’t know any other way.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Stung and Still Standing, #Purple #EpilepsyAwarenessDay #SongLyricSunday

“No dress rehearsal. This is our life.”
—The Tragically Hip

A3ZS8vQ.jpg

I am fascinated by history and by time passing, as it does with every year of life I get to live.

This week I was initially stumped by the theme for
Song Lyric Sunday
which was about healing.

I’ve done a lot of that, physical scars and emotional ones too. For some reason though, I couldn’t think of a song. Then I watched the newest interpretation of the Anne of Green Gables story and heard their theme song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE2joQsWXJg

This song was included on a CD I received, as a get well gift, twenty years ago. This was back when I hardly had more than a few CD’s and barely even a CD player to play them in.

I walked to the nurses station and felt the funny cardboard case in my hand. As a thirteen-year-old girl, I thought the lyrics of this song strange, baffling, yet humorous.

***

First thing we’d climb a tree
and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently
and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday
casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal,
this is our life

And that’s where the hornet stung me
And I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

Stare in the morning shroud
and then the day began
I tilted your cloud,
you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time
and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal,
this is our life

But that’s when the hornet stung me
And I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

And disappointing you is getting me down

Lyrics

***

This song’s lyrics aren’t specifically about healing, but when I remember the girl I was, upon holding that cardboard case, I remember the hospital in Toronto I was standing in. I had done a lot of healing, multiple surgeries between ages twelve and sixteen, and I had so much ahead of me, not all so easy to heal from.

But I was receiving a fresh start, a kidney from my father, and would I make a good life for myself with what I was being given? I was lucky to be alive, to have the best medical care possible, and I had all my life in front of me.

I still don’t know if I am appreciative enough of what that time of healing and sacrifice from my family, from so many medical professionals, brought – if I have made them all proud enough. It’s enough to show a person, at a young age, that life is precious and these lyrics now carry the greatest of weights to me, if not then.

Today is World Epilepsy Day.

Purple

Twenty years later and I now worry about my brother, with every seizure he has. The brain is a miraculous thing, with all the wear and tear it can go through and how it can heal. At least we both have working kidney transplants, for this moment, because who knows what time will bring.

Multiple surgeries, countless needles, and I’m still afraid of being stung by a hornet.

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Imaginary Lines, #FTSF

It all began with a Facebook post:.

With all the news lately of asylum seekers coming across the border between the U.S. and Canada, in through Manitoba and other places, I can’t help wondering what has made them take such chances. I guess we in Canada aren’t quite as used to it, though we’ve heard all the stories about people from South America and Mexico crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S. always.

Humans have always been on the move, but often spurred on by fear and desperation, feeling unsafe where they currently are.
It made me think of the two times I have crossed a border recently.
First it was the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. We crossed by car and I never even would have known we’d crossed into another province because I couldn’t see to read the signs. I soon got out and stood for a time on the border, on the river, with the wind-tunnel blowing my hair every which way. I remained there and thought about a loss I’d newly experienced and how that person had crossed the ocean to come to Canada many years earlier, for different reasons.
I then thought about what makes us draw lines between ourselves and other human beings. I understand why we’ve had to map out these markers between us and other countries and states and provinces. I even understand why some must be watched and even protected/defended, which leaves us frightened we are under a constant threat from other places and people.

The second time was when I crossed, by car, over the border between Canada and the U.S. but I felt so strange leaving my home country, though I wished I didn’t feel any such separation. I then crossed the border between the U.S. and  Mexico, but by plane I once more noticed nothing, until I landed and felt the thrill of being in a country I’d never been in before.

***

All week long, on our nightly National Canadian news, I have watched a series that attempted to answer my question: just who are these asylum seekers, those who feel so unsafe in the U.S. and are now coming so so very far?

I learned it has been somewhere around 140 of them since January 1st of this year, walking for hours in the freezing cold of winter. Some in Canada fear this number will only increase, from a trickle of people to a stream that’s unstoppable, as weather improves and spring arrives.

Well, I thought about the fear I had, not only of my recent writing workshop ending and having to return to my reality, but also I feared having to cross back over the U.S. to get back home to Canada.

I knew, as the end of the week drew nearer how silly it was for me to be afraid. I had no real problems. I still felt unwelcome, even with the kindness I was shown by so many who helped me travel safely through airports in both Dallas and Detroit.

Mexico and Canada and in between, now, is this dark spot, which I realize is totally unfair and uncalled for in many ways. Sometimes, in my mind, I see the continent of North America being carved up, split apart like cracks caused by shifting plates, deep underneath us.

I still can’t believe 45 ever ran on the promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. From the first time I ever heard that ridiculous idea, up to this moment as I write this, I can’t believe it. I know I am not alone. That thing many have said about how we should be building bridges that will connect us, not walls that will separate us even more than a border already does, this is what runs through my mind every single day.

Now, according to the series, there are those fleeing danger and worse in certain African countries and Asian countries, making it all the way to South America, often just as dangerous. This report I saw sent a reporter to investigate and speak to some, mostly from Somalia, who were crossing the border of Guatemala and Mexico’s most southern part. They have come so far, but because of what has taken place in the U.S. they are wanting to get to Canada, but remain trapped where they are, unable to get there without crossing through what lies between.

Canada is a long way away and suddenly, the distance I felt on that last day in Mexico, to make it back to my home, it doesn’t look nearly as wide a gap to go now that I’ve seen what those people are up against.

I hope Canada is kind with these asylum seekers. I hear our border guards and RCMP officers reporting seeing families, pushing strollers and coming across with infant seats, a heartbreaking thing to witness, as I imagine an infant I love having to travel like that.

Our country has those driven by fears, like the ignorance growing in the U.S., fueled by so much misinformation and a lack of ability to open their eyes.

In Canada, today a phone conversation apparently took place between our leader and the new leader of the U.S., after the face-to-face meeting that took place, last week in Washington, D.C.

It’s reported that border security issues were not discussed, but I find that so hard to believe. I don’t know what will happen. It worries me. When it comes to borders and boundaries, we may be two very different countries, but it’s like a horizon I can not see. It feels strong and weak, all at once.

I do know that Canada’s Immigration Minister was a refugee himself, from Somalia.

So, what would certain people say about the series I just spoke of? Would they call it fake news, created to tug at the human heartstrings, but disguising hidden dangers for all good, law-abiding citizens?

Some here in Canada argue we need to worry about real Canadians first, before helping everybody who just so happens to show up on our doorstep, no matter their reasons.

I put myself in the shoes of anyone in need. That’s because I feel I am one who benefits a lot, is carried on the backs of other Canadians, requiring services my country provides and this is painful to think about when I hear all the talk that’s been growing, as I’ve always been receiving help from so many hard-working Canadians. I am just as much a risk and a drain on the system, even if nobody ever bothered to know me and what my worth is as a fellow human being, just trying to live peacefully and share this planet. I guess that’s why I am so passionate about this sort of thing, though I admittedly know very little about all the ways humans cross borders. I want to learn more. I want to keep up and stay as educated as possible.

The whole thing makes me want to cry. I am really no less expendable, to so many who complain, as any refugee or immigrant ever was or will be.

We need to remain real and human to each other. Being unnamed, just a number or statistic, and cold distance is seen as sensible and becomes contagious.

***

February is, of course, Black History Month and I have been watching a documentary series on Thursday nights, all about the colonization Great Britain has been responsible for, for so long.

Where were borders when that was going on? What boundaries existed, what limits, when the Mighty Great Britain was subjugating so many?

Here in Ontario, I watch a lot of programs on the provincial station, which is affiliated with England and the BBC. A lot of documentaries from over there are aired here and I see a lot of a place I really know very little about, though Canada and they are forever connected too.

I am glad I am learning about the history of Britain’s colonization of anywhere and everywhere and the multi-cultural place it is, with its problems and all that has transpired there for all these years.

***

I ended my Facebook post by stating:

Notice, I say “border” instead of “borders” because I want to highlight the fact that two places share it, rather than being on one side or the other. Also, the term “alien” should never have been used to describe other human beings. Such terms allow us to think of ourselves as “us and them” and divide us even more than we already are.
You could cross an entire ocean or a border, guarded by someone with a gun or a deadly serious tone in their voice. Or, you could cross one in a car or airplane, and if you’re not looking, not even know you’re doing it.

***

When it comes to borders and boundaries, if we dare to look within ourselves, where do our hearts and our humanity begin and end when it comes to empathy and compassion? Where do we draw lines in the sand of our lives and those of other humans who are just trying to live life on their own terms, just like any of us feel we deserve to?

***

I realize this one was fairly lengthy, but I have had all this building up in my mind and heart and it all came out through my fingers, as I am a little wound up by recent events on all fronts. I do appreciate that Kristi read my Facebook post, included here, from earlier in the week and asked me to co-host with her this time.

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http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=699286

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TToT: Accessories Not Included – Listening to Echo’s Answer, #10Thankful

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence.
Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

–Henry David Thoreau in a letter to Harrison Blake (December 6, 1853)

The other night, while I was sleeping soundly, it happened. Only a few miles from where I peacefully slept, a man in his early twenties decided to get behind the wheel of a car, after he’d been drinking. He then drove into a woman’s vehicle, killing her.

http://www.lfpress.com/2016/11/25/fatal-crash-london-widower-soldiers-on-after-partner-a-newspaper-carrier-killed-in-early-morning-collision

People make bad decisions. People do careless and dangerous things, to themselves and to other people.

Don’t take the good things in life for granted.

I’d always wondered why…a Thursday?

It was Thanksgiving in the US and just another Thursday here in Canada when this “accident” would soon occur.

I have a few issues with American Thanksgiving. I have no problem celebrating the autumn harvest. It’s the history that is used to then whitewash why there is any celebrating going on at all that’s the problem I have. Then everyone rushes out to buy a bunch of things on Black Friday, to signal the onslaught of holiday shopping. Deals are nice, but this particular Thursday and Friday are odd days to me. It’s so easy to whitewash, when we’re not dealing with the hard stuff ourselves. A killer deal on a TV is, I’ll admit, an attractive one however.

We can convince ourselves that we would never drive drunk or lose our lives to a drunk driver. We can think that we’re just eating dinner with our families, when it’s often based on falsehoods and anything but the cold, hard, truth of reality. History is easy to push away.

I have no problem with family togetherness or with giving thanks and making a consorted effort not to take our own lives and those we love for granted. I think of and try to follow Thoreau’s words.

Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young

Every time I hear this song I think of the famous American film set during Thanksgiving, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”.

I’m thankful for those who write and speak up, be they strong female voices or men using Facebook.

The editor of
Full Grown People
is speaking up for the injustices she’s been seeing. She is one kick ass lady whom I wouldn’t want to mess with. She is tough but fair. She would clearly do anything for her family, friends, or the country she lives in and loves.

I’ve come to rely on a certain male Facebook friend’s posts on what he’s seeing going on, as scared as I’ve been for that country and our whole world lately. If there are others like him, there’s hope yet.

I’m thankful for the magic of editing.

My brother and I worked really hard again this week on editing more of our dialogue down. It feels like a great weight is lifted off the shoulders when done. I like the feeling.

We are adding little musical parts to break up our speech. This is a podcast discussing a political event, in this case, and so there is mostly talk from us. We needed to break that up by adding music, sound, and hopefully a bit of humour thrown in there too. I hope our dry sense of humours shows through.

As I sat there, listening to him coming up with beautiful guitar parts on the spot, well mostly, I was moved by the pure simplicity and yet something more complex than I understand. I add my producer’s opinion in there and soon enough we should have ourselves a third episode.

I’m thankful for another piece of music, due to my brother’s eclectic listening tastes, but of which spoke to me in a very clear and direct way.

Broadcast
is the name of the band and I am still learning about these guys.

I’m thankful for a thorough doctor and medications available to help treat me medically.

It’s frustrating to feel unwell for lengthy periods of time and to understand very little about why that might be.

This doctor is being very thorough and accommodating with me and I’ve seen enough doctors to know when I should be feeling grateful for one.

I’m thankful that a professor friend of mine thought to share a piece of writing with me that he’d been studying with his class and thought I might like.

Mary Wollstonecraft
was a feminist, a writer, traveler, and a brilliant and complex woman of her time.

I’m thankful that Christmas came early for me, in a way, with the delivery of a package on a Saturday morning.

It wasn’t quite from the guy in red himself, but close enough.

🙂

I’m thankful for the celebration plans being made for the end of December with an old friend.

She will be back from Ireland, for the holidays, and a girl’s night is in the works.

This makes me, simply, happy and contented, even with the craziness of these days and the hectic holiday season.

I’m thankful for the chance to catch up with another old friend.

Having months and even years go by and to still be able to talk again, like no time has passed is a nice feeling.

As always, there was a lot to catch up on, not all of it so cheerful, but a friend is always up for listening to both the bad and the good things in life, choices made or the things life just throws at you.

Skype and other forms of modern technology make this process of catching up even better and handier than ever before.

I’m thankful that my parents had a lovely evening of family, fun, and food.

For years there were many children running around. there were presents to pass out. Now, there is just the four brothers and one sister, right in the middle (my mom). Of course, there are the spouses. There is a lot of, I’m guessing, good food still. Lots of drinking and merriment. (Enough designated drivers to go around at the end of the night of course.) Loads of laughs and catching up. (There it is again.)

Families change and grow, but when they grow apart through feuds or bickering it is always a sad sad thing. It’s nice to know that my mother’s sibling relationships live on, especially at this time of year.

I’m thankful for a perspective from a writer on what Canada means to him.

Knowing My Place – Panorama Journal

I’ve had a lot of discussions over the last few weeks especially, with family and friends, and I am always wondering about my place here in Canada.

I am grateful to hear another’s thoughts. So here’s to another Thursday and to not taking any of it for granted.

CHEERS!

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TToT: Yearnings of the Heart and Soul – Seriously? #10Thankful

Red or blue? Coke or Pepsi? Apple or Android?

What a week. Ruined colours for me forever.

Okay, not really, but my examples do showcase our differences and what separates us, the teams we often feel we’re on and the people we most closely identify with, as opposed to those other people. I wanted to cry all week, but couldn’t quite get the tears to come. So I play this song.

By now, we all know who the next guy in charge of the US is going to be, and he’s eating that worldwide attention up like we all knew he would. Then Leonard Cohen died. People say these things are final and we must get over it, well that first one, and so I can’t simply listen to a song like Don’t Worry, Be Happy and accept the way things in the world seem to be going. I am afraid of that and I’m afraid I can’t.

Saturday Night Live found the best way to help out the grieving Americans and to pay tribute to a favourite poet/artist at the same time.

Then there is this song which comes from the “This American Life” series:

Seriously?

I was afraid of where this election was leading and this song is the perfect mixture of intense jazz, sad realism, lyrics that make me want to cry and cry out because I don’t know what has gotten into the US and not just them. I am critical but I know that if it were happening here in Canada, I wouldn’t want to be forgotten and forsaken. I would want help in understanding and whatever else and these things tend to spread eventually anyway and already seem to be doing just that. My knowledge of history has me rooted in fear and apprehension, but thankful to be Canadian at this time. I feel powerless amongst my existing and somewhat even more clearly defined thankfuls.

I’m thankful for the chance to express my thoughts and distract myself with a task during the night of the US election.

We thought we would do a before/after, from our Canadian perspective. Our hope was to focus on a lot of tough issues discussed and a few laughs thrown in there from time to time also, to try and lighten the mood a little wherever possible, but I haven’t been laughing for a while, not about this stuff.

It didn’t look good to me, not from the start, and in that case I did not relish being right with my instincts. We recorded a bit during the night, as the results came in and again the next day, once the results had time to sink in somewhat.

Bad dream or a sign that the end is near? Yes, either way, I had a sound effect for the occasion. If you aren’t sick of hearing about it in a few weeks, our podcast and the third episode should be available on iTunes. After all, we wouldn’t want to forget this event would we? Well, now we have it recorded forever.

I’m thankful the election is over.

I did feel relieved. It was painful and surreal. Now those long months are behind us and the nightmare of the next four years is just beginning.

I’m thankful for The Paris Climate Agreement, a step in the right direction.

So many countries have gone together on this. Who knows what will happen going forward, but I am proud Canada is represented and hopefully doing our part.

And then there’s the setting aside of ocean reserves, with the three oceans Canada exists within and the work President Obama has done. Oil spills, like the one on Canada’s west coast recently, these can do a lot of damage, and hopefully Prime Minister Justin Trudeau understands this. I am proud to be flanked by the three, Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic.

Whether it’s the ocean in the northern hemisphere or the opposite pole, down at the bottom of the world, I hope we realize how valuable it all is.

I’m thankful that my family reads my blog as much as they can.

And they put up with me and some of the things I say here.

They never quite know what to expect I’m sure and, truthfully, neither do I most times when I sit down to write.

They are incredibly supportive and I can say the things I want to say, though I hope I never hurt any of them too much in the process. I am lucky to be able to speak my mind, as I do appreciate at this time of year.

I’m thankful that I discover new and different music through the music expert in my life.

My brother is the music guy and he has so so many internet radio stations and is always playing something new and different to my ear. This one was just the kind of fast tempo I needed to perk up my spirits. I hadn’t heard anything quite like it.

I’m thankful for strong women who are fighting for women and minorities, even as I feel the bleakness of powerful forces out there.

What Hillary Clinton’s Fans Love About Her

So many wanted to see a female president and a secret Facebook group for her popped up and certainly left a mark.

Then there are wonderful women like this one.

She is a strong woman too and she is leaving her own mark, on me certainly.

I’m thankful for those who fought, though I do find it difficult to wrestle with my conflicted feelings on war and everything that goes along with it.

Leonard Cohen recites “In Flanders Fields'”

Instead of sharing one of his songs, I thought this might be better.

It’s one of my favourite poems, though the subject matter is one I struggle to understand.

I’m thankful for beautiful TToT bloggers and their messages of hope and peace.

Bluebell Sounds,
which sound divine.

Just Remember This,
a kiss is just a kiss.

Cruising Through,
most of us just doing the best we can do, but with lovely memories and photos in this case.

I’m thankful for the peek into the rest of the world from a story I’ve loved since childhood.

‘there’s always more to the story’

This song is for you Clark and for Almira.

I’m thankful for more comedy to keep me smiling.

I love Vince and Jimmy.

I was escaping into some Lord of the Rings movies to distract myself from the things I fear, but the similarities to the power men crave and the ring, a physical symbol of that greed, it was all too obvious. But there is hope amongst the uncertainty.

And so I am determined to end this post on a positive note, among all the bad news, the protests going on around the US, and my spot, from where I sit, feeling helpless, here in Canada.

What are the things that bring us together? These are the things we have in common.

If we cut our fingers, we all bleed.

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NaNo NaNo NaNo, #NaNoWriMo #SoCS

I want to write a novel and
this
is a small bit of what it will be about.

tMSZXZo.png

Three years ago, this very month of November it was, I took a stab at writing my first
novel.

I took part in
National Novel Writing Month
because on their site it said: “The world needs your novel.”

Really? Mine? Hmm.

I had an idea for a novel in my brain for several years. It was a family story about how three generations of a family deal with losing someone they love.

I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days. The website that year wasn’t all that accessible and so I did not get much farther off from registering. I did not keep track of my word count like everyone else online. I did it on Twitter instead. It didn’t matter that the website for the organization was a bit of a nightmare. All that really truly counted would be the words I would write.

No flashy completion badges for me once I crossed the finish line. I knew in my heart that I’d done it and that was all that mattered.

Three years later and I haven’t done it again, but I did buy the t-shirt.

I did not take a month or two, Christmas off, before returning to my first attempt at a novel like is suggested. I did what they said. I wrote to get to fifty thousand. I would edit later.

Or would I?

I have the words somewhere, I hope. I don’t keep track of all my documents on all the laptop switches since 2014, oops. I emailed a copy to myself, but that may be gone.

Was this one more in a long line of mistakes, failures, and regrets from my writing journey thus far?

I sent it to a friend, even as rough as it was, whom I trusted to give it her honest opinion. Maybe she has a copy still. I wouldn’t count on that.

I was not a planner, as is the case many times in the rest of life. I was a pantser. I didn’t have a plan. I just started to write from my themes of family, loss, grief, and resilience.

I can’t let that idea go, but a novel is such an enormous task to take on.

I would have loved to participate again this year. I have faith that the website has improved for visually impaired and blind users. I now know someone locally, one who is from my local writing group and is in charge of support for writers doing NaNo in our immediate area. My writing group is talking mostly all about NaNo all month.

I would have abandoned my first novel, still in progress somewhere, to try writing this newer idea which has shaped and formed in my mind in the three years since that first attempt.

This one is historical fiction, unlike that first one which took place in a more contemporary setting.

This one will be mostly fiction, but loosely based on family. It takes place in Europe during World War II. It’s about a woman who is a mother of three small children throughout the war. There is struggle and bravery all around her. Her decisions aren’t easy ones.

We who study history know all about the Holocaust, about big events such as D Day, which are both important, but what was life like for other people who were going about their business and living their lives when war broke out?

***Just practicing with early versions of my elevator pitch.

I would have taken a crack at this, but apparently I can’t handle a project of this size and my continual violin lessons at the same time. I haven’t got the brain power to muster for both.

Maybe next year, once I’ve been playing violin for more than a year. Maybe.

So much going on. World events are wild, whether it’s war in the twentieth century or world upheaval in the twenty-first.

My brain is full near to capacity at the moment.

When a story sticks in the head like this one and the one before have, I don’t think I will be getting them out of there anytime soon.

NaNo, NaNo, NaNo sounds like a taunt to me, that I couldn’t hack both writing and music lessons, but this isn’t your ordinary, everyday writing. This week is a tense one, and who knows where we’ll all be next week this time. Hopefully all those brave enough to take on writing fifty thousand words this month will still be writing. I do think it makes for an excellent distraction.

Now I stop writing and it’s time to practice my violin. I just like to do an update on where I am, with every passing year, as November and NaNo again rolls around.

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TToT: Major and Minor – Zones and Pods, #InternationalLiteracyDay #9/11 #10Thankful

“I can’t get no peace, until I dive into the deep, blue lullaby.”

—Blue Lullaby, The Jellyman’s Daughter

Of course everyone can recall, with at least some detail, just where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Most then speak of staring at the television, watching the horror unfold.

I remember the feelings. My father driving my sister back to college, starting to hear things on the radio in the car. I went into school, my teachers listening to radios and talk of World War III. That was my fear, but although I watched the news with my father all evening, our family just recently acquiring CNN, I wondered where all this might lead.

I wonder now when people speak of not getting that image out of their minds, but even then my vision was bad enough that I wouldn’t see those towers fall, people jumping for their lives, to their deaths. Am I less affected somehow, because I didn’t see it with my own two eyes?

What about anyone, such as children born after 2001, like my niece and nephews, who weren’t alive yet to know that day? Well, I suppose it would be like Pearl Harbor for me and also my parents. It’s the way I’ve heard those who witnessed that describe the feelings, but the difference being that lead to war for the US, a world war that had already begun for Europe. This time there has been no declaration of another world war, not in the 15 years hence, and hopefully never again.

If I were to have cried at the end of this strange week, would anyone be all that surprised? Whether from having to make more decisions about my health, to decide on medication coverage and possible effect on my transplanted kidney, which is coming up on twenty years. My fear, no matter how unlikely, ratchets up ever higher. Or from the fact that time rushes by, ever faster, as my niece enters an actual number grade, her brother soon to follow their cousin, who himself just began junior kindergarten this week and oh how little they seem for that first day. Perhaps it’s that I can’t possibly manage all my email and technology issues on my own which required having to accept help from one who knows so much more, or else maybe it’s that I realized I can do more than I thought I could. It never ends. Or from a painful part of being Canadian or a sombre day for the US, fifteen years after-the-fact.

Blue Lullaby

And so I let all that sink in and I let my gratitude germinate and I feel all those overwhelming things and then I move forward and I find my list of thankfuls.

I’m thankful that I get to see my first big concert of a violin player live.

I’ve loved the sound of the violin for years, but now more and more I hear it everywhere. Wherever it appears in a television or movie’s soundtrack I zero in on it immediately, sometimes still uncertain, but at my core I know that sound.

I’m thankful that I found a doctor who seems to have a few suggestions for possible medical treatments.

After a while, you feel like you’re losing it and maybe you should just suffer silently because nobody could possibly understand. At this point, I take what I can get with my health, which sounds bad, but really I don’t believe, in spite of all doctors have done for me, that they have all the answers or can cure everything.

The question then becomes: how much can I put up with, how much do I just need to accept, and how then to focus on the good things in my life?

I’m thankful that I got to attend a truly unique and wonderful secret performance.

Sofar Sounds

Secret gigs and intimate concerts, all around the world – in 271 cities.

My brother and his friend have been playing music all around their city this summer, but this time they were scheduled to perform at something truly special and I just had to check it out for myself.

Sofar Sounds on Facebook

This wasn’t only a gig to them. It was held in the bachelor apartment of that friend of my brother. I happened to know where the show was being held, but only because M had volunteered to host it. I still had to apply on the Sofar Sounds website and wait to see if there was a spot left for me.

Intimate doesn’t begin to describe it. There were at least thirty people, mostly twenty-something’s, all crammed into a small house apartment in London, Ontario last Tuesday night. It was air conditioned, but this made little difference once all musical equipment was set up and everyone filed in to watch the three performances.

It felt lovely to me though, even though I was overheating and realizing I was possibly the oldest person there, at thirty-two. It was just so wonderful to see the love of music and the teamwork that these young men and women showed to bring people together through music. It frankly restored my faith in people, younger generations, or any generation for that matter.

I’m thankful that at said secret, exclusive performance, I got to learn of a duo I’d not heard of before, one I likely never would have heard of otherwise, and one which included cello.

The Jellyman’s Daughter

This young musician couple from Scotland were on tour in Ontario and they were happy to be playing at their fourth Sofar, after Edinburgh, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. They were a team also, in the guitar, mandolin, and the cello he played, and her singing with him backing her up. They played a nice mix of Scottish music, bluegrass, and even a Beatles cover with a brilliant new spin on its classic sound.

I m thankful my niece started grade one and my nephew began junior kindergarten.

This week was

International Literacy Day.

I was emotional all week, thinking about it, how my niece is learning how to read and write and next it will be my nephew’s turns.

I was emotional as I saw people I started school with, more than twenty-five years ago now, sharing the news of their own children’s first days of school, on Facebook. I was emotional because time flies and that’s both a good and a bad feeling, with nothing to be done about it either way.

I’m just lucky that my niece and nephews have access to all the tools they need to grow and learn in the right environment.

I’m thankful for new members and old ones, at my writing group, who share their varying perspectives with me.

I get to witness the different writing styles, experiences that are unique to each individual writer in that room, and they trust me as one of the few they feel mostly comfortable reading their words out loud to.

The Elsewhere Region

This is a term that just happened to come up at the most recent meeting and I’ve decided that is how I will refer to this group from now on. I am a huge fan of names and titles for things. Saying “writing group” or “writing circle” just never has had quite the same ring to it.

I’m thankful my ex could make a dent with my email problem.

I have collected thousands and thousands and thousands of emails and my ability to stay on top of that, deleting or organizing, it got away from me. It was so bad my computer’s voice program couldn’t even speak anymore, making it impossible to check my own email. It felt like a runaway train.

I resist these things, such as calling in the expertise of an IT ex boyfriend who knows his stuff. I don’t like to be a bother to those who are currently in my life, let alone those who chose not to be.

The hard part is that someone is a decent enough person to want to help anyway. The worst part is knowing that decency exists always.

Dent made, but still I feel like I can’t quite get a grasp on this, which feels like a silly complaint to have really.

I’m thankful that a favourite blogger and writer of mine has returned, after a fruitful summer off, to blogging and writing again. And who has made her return by sharing something I did not already know on her blog.

The Fallow Period

I’m thankful for peace where I live, where my family lives, and where my niece and nephews can grow up without being directly impacted by war and violence.

I recently listened to a news story about hopes of a cease fire in Syria and then a man who was a child soldier, speaking on Facebook, about the plight of his people in the country of South Sudan.

No country is perfect. None is spared completely, forever.

I’m thankful for my country, both that I and others can recognize the bad that’s taken place and still celebrate what we are as citizens and what we could be.

Canada In A Day

Next year isn’t only the year I celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant, but as a much broader celebration, it will be Canada’s 150th birthday.

So, on September 10th, CTV, the national television broadcaster asked Canadians to film a minute of their life, a reason they are proud to live in this country. All clips will be compiled together. Sounds like a lovely pride project.

I mention several reasons, just here in this week’s TToT, why I am proud to be Canadian. This doesn’t mean I think we are a perfect country or that we shouldn’t try to learn about mistakes of our collective past and make an effort to do better for the next 150 years.

One musician is doing just that before he runs out of time:

***

STATEMENT BY GORD DOWNIE clickable

Ogoki Post, Ontario clickable

September 9, 2016 clickable

Mike Downie introduced me to Chanie Wenjack; he gave me the story from Ian Adams’ Maclean’s magazine story dating back to February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” clickable

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him. clickable

Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it in school; it was hardly ever mentioned. clickable

All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are. clickable

I am trying in this small way to help spread what Murray Sinclair said, “This is not an aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected – that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well… They need to know that history includes them.” (Murray Sinclair, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2015) clickable

I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country – It’s not a popular thought; you keep it to yourself – I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.” clickable

***

The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans.ca

It’s painful for me when I hear about stories like these, boys like this, lives who mattered and who deserved to feel safe in this country, like I’ve felt. These are things I too would rather not have to think about, as I can plead ignorance growing up, but I can’t continue to bury my head in the sand any longer.

Canada in a day is a great thing, but it’s truly impossible to sum up what Canada has been, what it is now, or what it should be or could be or might be in the future. It’s important that I speak for both here. I want my blog to be a place where I show both sides of our Canadian coin.

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What A Life! #FTSF #SoCS

“What a life!” my oma would always say with a sigh.

She was right. I say it now, that line, in exasperation, and in my memory of her, to honour her unique brand of wisdom and her straightforward ability to speak the truth.

I just had a checkup with a nurse practitioner. She was very thorough and we talked for what felt like a very long time. No rush to see me briefly and get me out the door. No neglect of what I needed. I told her my entire history, as fast as I possibly could, but she did not want me to hurry through the details. She was wonderful.

It takes me a little while to get through my somewhat complex medical history. I had her curious and eager to look up my eye condition

and the rare syndrome I share with my brother.

This took me back, which it can most often do, and required that I look back over the years.

Mostly I spoke of how sick I was before my then gp finally diagnosed my end-stage kidney failure at age twelve. That sure took me back, into the bad and the worse in terms of memories and recollections. I told her how hard it becomes to remember to include all necessary details, with every retelling I give a doctor or nurse. She was very understanding.

I see how far I’ve come when I look back, using my medical story as the example. I reflect on the girl I was and the struggles in the following years. I want to think I am doing alright considering. I think of my oma and I leave my medical checkup and I sigh.

When it comes to the years, I do so much looking back that it is sometimes a heavy weight on my shoulders.

I like the romantic notion of the days of yore. I read such fairy tales, but life is never like those stories in literature in reality. People reminisce about how it used to be, but perhaps, just perhaps they are remembering a time that never actually existed.

That may come across, to you, if you’re only just hearing me for the first time, as a highly pessimistic slant to life. Perhaps. Your take on, say the last twenty years of your own life, it could very well be all rosy coloured and tinted through different glasses. I haven’t worn glasses since 1996 I’m afraid.

No self pity here, but my life isn’t now or never has been a fairy tale anyway. Just the sort of telling it like it is/was, just like my oma used to like to do. That’s about as stream of consciousness as I can get today.

There is thankfulness to be had here, (which will for sure include that wonderful nurse), of course, but that is still to come in my next post.

🙂

I’m doing a double linkup this weekend, starting with

Finding Ninee’s Finish The Sentence Friday,

followed by

Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

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TToT: Crocs, Gators, and Peg Dope – Wil It Fly? #Podcast #10Thankful

I have no philosophical quotes or music to include here, to share, to start my TToT this week.

My head is just so full of thoughts. It feels crammed and ready to burst.

I returned to Lake Erie the other day and I just stood out in the water, up to my waist, and I looked out to the horizon.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

That the podcast is finally out there.

Here is our Facebook page.

If you follow such pages, give it a like. That’s where we will be announcing, every time a new one comes out for now.

We are still playing around with place to host it and such.

Go here to listen to us directly.

Come on. You know you’re curious.

😉

Any feedback is very much appreciated.

For all the support people have shown so far for this project.

Thank you to all of you. This project has meant a lot to me and I hope it keeps going.

I thank every one of you who’ve liked our Facebook page and took some time, out of your busy lives and schedules, to give it a listen.

Hope you found id amusing or entertaining. What did you think?

That someone shared a book with me and it was the best book I’ve come across in a long time.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

I heard it was a book about time travel and immediately, my first instinct was to move along, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Time travel isn’t all about science fiction. It means history. I love history.

It also had a lot to do with today and the issues we’re still seeing around matters of racial divides and those who’ve overcome such prejudices and defied those odds.

That I am headed to Mexico for a very special writing workshop.

This just sort of happened suddenly. I received the invite from my writing mentor. She is running the workshop and she made it possible for me to participate.

I will be traveling to Mexico this winter, for a whole week, to learn about writing and literary travel writing.

This is a huge thing for me, traveling so far away from home and family. It is scary, I won’t lie, but at some point, I have to go for my dreams and experience more of the world.

I’ll admit, it’s still far enough away that it doesn’t yet feel real. It’s such a big deal that I am still in some shock that it’s happening at all. Things like that don’t happen to me.

That I have those in my life who support my writing and believe in me, wanting me to have experiences and stories to tell.

I owe it all to my writing mentor, my family, and friends.

It’s months away yet, but I am so excited that I had to share the news on Facebook. Everyone seemed excited for me.

My family know what it means for me and to me, traveling by myself like that, but that I need a chance to grow as a writer and to experience life. They want all that for me and are making it possible.

Also, to my writing mentor, who is in my corner and, as a writer, believes in my abilities.

For another year with a working kidney for my brother.

It’s been three years now, but somehow feels longer.

I guess the whole experience was so new to us all, felt so gigantic, that three years later I look back in wonder.

For my violin teacher’s ability to fix what the music store got wrong.

So, remember, some of you, a few weeks back when I broke a string on my violin?

Well, it took three store employees to figure out why it wouldn’t fit.

So when I got back to my lessons this week, my teacher looked at it and said it was on sideways.

And so, she fixed it, telling me about a product known as peg dope, in the violin world, made for violin peg adjustment.

🙂

I just love these new terms I’m learning. I’m also glad I have a teacher who knows what she’s talking about. No offence meant to those hard working guys in the store, but I think I’ll let my violin teacher replace my strings from now on.

That my mother is a pro at sewing.

I hate bathing suit shopping and finding one that fits at all.

I know, as a woman, I am not alone on this one. It used to be that I needed to find one that would cover up any surgical scars I have. Now I was left with one that tied in the back, right below my head, which was uncomfortable and gave me headaches.

Well, when stores failed me and time became a factor, in came my trusty mother and her sewing kit. She transformed a halter top into a bathing suit where the straps actually now go over my shoulders, instead of around my neck.

For a lovely beach day with family.

Okay, so the weather wasn’t ideal. It was cool and cloudy for most of the day. The sun did finally show itself by late afternoon.

The water was still pretty cold, which didn’t stop my mother. She’s the tough one in the family, but my niece braved it with her. My nephew enjoyed the air mattress as a floating device.

My brother had his handy portable grill and we had enough food and snacks to go around.

I was thankful for that grill, as a makeshift fire to sit around, as a way of keeping warm before the sun made its appearance later on.

There was a washed out little stream up on the beach and a log across, which my niece used as a balance beam. Sand castles were made. My brother is a design man, an artist, and it’s possibly being passed on to his little girl. She also loved feeding the sea gulls, which is something I like to think she got from me. That was my favourite thing to do as a little girl, though now I felt rather uneasy when they were flocking all around our group. I prefer them off in the distance, hearing their cries against a backdrop of waves, but my niece was enjoying having them so close, she could almost reach out and touch them. She even put a piece of bread on her head to see if one would take it. They aren’t that bold.

The water was much calmer than the last time. The birthday cupcakes were peanut butter with Spider Man, The Hulk, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for the birthday boys.

We had a bit of vehicle trouble in the family to end off the night, a flat tire, but luckily, the guy who ran the chip wagon knew about flat tires. All and all, a nice day all together.

That I was invited by another blogger to write about

A Day in the Life of a Blogger

Thank you, Life Through My Bioscope, for the invitation.

And there you have it. Lots of big things, memories (old and new), and I couldn’t sleep again last night, thinking over everything that happened this week.

I want to find the perfect quote or song, something that comforts me and something I could look to for confirmation that I am doing all the right things and that it will turn out the way I hope it will.

I just don’t think there is such a thing. I guess I can be thankful for mistakes and for nature and for the lessons of travel and life experience. I can be thankful for anonymous organ donation and for people willing to take a chance on little old me.

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