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TToT: Speaker of Latin, Scratcher of Words #10Thankful

I am currently watching The Handmaid’s Tale and in the latest episode the poor handmaid is locked in her room as a punishment for not reproducing. She spends time on the floor of her closet, as she slowly loses her grip on reality, and finds a line written in Latin, carved in the wall: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for my back yard.

For a yard in town, it is a nice size. When we bought the house, there was no place to sit and enjoy it, until we had a deck built and a door out onto it. This was a few years into living in the house.

Now I can sit out there and enjoy the weather, if I don’t feel like the noise I get from sitting out on my front porch. I kept a BBQ from a past relationship and we are having a family gathering out there soon, to celebrate My sister’s birthday, among other things.

It’s perfect, with lots of space for the kids to run around back there.

I’m thankful I could help my sister out.

She was invited to a Mother’s Day tea at my nephew’s school. She could have brought my baby niece along, but it was nice I could stay home with her, so my sister and nephew could have a nice morning together with the rest of his class, without any of the distractions a three-month-old might cause, as cute as she is.

I got my niece to nap as soon as my sister left, but it was a close call to keep her sleeping, with my dog who likes to bark right there and the cardinal who likes to bang against the glass of my sister’s patio door because he sees his reflection and doesn’t understand what that means.

Luckily, my niece was just that tired.

I’m thankful to know that my brother has a friend who is looking out for him.

He messaged me one night, asking if I’d heard from my brother that day. I had and knew he had gone out for the night.

None of us knows when another seizure could strike, so it’s just nice to know he’s being thought of.

It makes me feel better and I thought it was just a nice thing for a friend to do.

I’m thankful to have been interviewed for my friend’s podcast.

You can check it out here.

I am thankful for a phone call on Mother’s Day.

I am not a mother and I don’t know if there is a day for us aunts.

I was on my way to see my nephew and his parents for dinner, when I received a phone call as I was getting dressed and ready to go.

At first I heard no voice speaking, but I did hear a background I guessed right away. Then, a little voice spoke to me.

My nephew was calling. His father told me after that he just said he wanted to call me. I don’t receive a call on Mother’s Day usually, but I like to think my nephew could sense that and was calling to lift my spirits.

Sure, he mostly asked about my dog, whom he usually loves, but I prefer to think of it that other way.

I am thankful for my mother and all the warm and wonderful mothers out there.

Mother, May I?

I’m thankful for my mother’s help when my television goes silent on me.

These days, it’s not just a television. Then you have the cable box and the surround system speakers and DVD and I can’t possibly use all of these with only one remote.

A lot is visual about it and when one wrong button is pressed or if you don’t aim straight at the cable box when you turn it on, all hell breaks loose. I guess it’s too much for a blind girl to be able to figure it all out, use it without running to her mother every week.

Luckily, she helps, no matter how often I request it.

I’m thankful for a delicious Mother’s Day meal.

It’s BBQ season and everything tastes better cooked that way. One of my favourite parts of warmer weather.

My mom also made a taco salad for the occasion, because she wants to bring something. It was a meal in itself.

My brother-in-law and nephew made the cupcakes for dessert.

I’m thankful we don’t live in The Handmaid’s Tale.

I am completely creeped out by this series, but this week I just had to mention that Latin bit.

Everyone keeps comparing the story to today’s times, or where we could be heading, even though we like to think of women’s rights as improving a lot in the past one hundred years.

I do hope we never do go as far as they have gone in Atwood’s story, but you never know. I do feel better to watch, with curiosity and horror, and then go back to my real life and feel how lucky I have it, to be as free as I am.

This story should be a lesson for us all, but it is scary when I think that there are a number of people who might want some of these Handmaid story elements to be true.

There is some mention, by some of the repressors, of the UN and Toronto Star. Is Canada still free, but the US is the one so messed up? It’s strange, as Atwood is a Canadian writer. I wonder why she set it like that.

I’m thankful my violin teacher is back.

It has been almost a whole month, since she went on her trip to South America, teaching violin. I am happy for her, that she got such an opportunity, but my violin playing has stalled as I’ve been on my own with it.

We will see what we get out of that. Though, after I was in Mexico, upon returning my skills weren’t as badly effected as I’d feared they would be. (Update next week.)

Not letting the bastards grind me down…a work-in-progress.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday

Radical Tenderness, #Compassion #1000Speak

How do we do this, find compassion in these times of insanity and chaos?

I was watching an interview with Stephen Colbert and writer George Saunders last week and the term “radical tenderness” was used to explain how compassion and understanding can be applied, even to those we strongly oppose. Is this possible?

I try to be compassionate and to write and share compassion, but my struggle is just as real, even as I write through my feelings.

I recently wrote about compassion, the other day was Pink Shirt Day, and bullying is real and damaging. I think name calling is unnecessary and immature, but we all do it. I struggle with the fact that I say name calling is wrong, and then I go and call someone something. The new U.S. leader is offensive to my every fibre. I don’t consider this name calling, but more like I’m simply speaking my truth. Whereas, I have vowed not to use his name on my blog, so I now call him 45 and that’s not so bad. It’s when I slip and swear under my breath at something he’s done that has made the news, because of course he has all that power now, power to command all that attention he craves. When I call him a foolish old man, then am I crossing the line into name calling? Is that compassion? Can I tap into my stores of radical tenderness?

This compassion thing isn’t easy. It’s the two year anniversary of
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
this week and I am still sad how the original steam of the movement started here has declined so rapidly.

There is ugliness going on in the world right now, truly, but there is also immense beauty and wonder.

All that ugliness could be part of the reason so many don’t know what else to say about a topic like compassion, I get that, but I can’t stop speaking out about it. I can’t.

The children in our lives deserve the best world we can give them (and so I dedicate my two year anniversary post on compassion to my niece, Mya Lynne, and to all the children, constantly teaching me that compassion is worth it):

I look down into your face, your beautiful face, and I see only a blur wrapped in a blanket. There’s no getting around that. I wish I could see you, but you are real, really here. I hold you tight. You restore my faith, now that you’re with us, and I find new stores of compassion in me.

You are beauty and sweetness and all that is good and right with this world.

And how!

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TToT: In My Head I’m Swept Away – Collective Arts, #10Thankful

Things are changing. I guess that’s a normal part of life. I wonder when it might be that this concept doesn’t feel so strange to me. I complained that these things are fading away, like this here ten things of thankful exercise, and then I’m the one who has faded away from even attempting it. Since the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 I’ve been preoccupied and all over the place. I still am.

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I liked Lizzi’s attempt at coming up with
fifty
and not just ten, back around Christmas. I thought, since I am on my way to parts unknown very soon, I’d try for somewhere between ten and fifty, to cover for those I’ve missed in recent weeks and the week I’m sure to miss coming up.

January throws me off somewhat, no matter the year.

This is meant to be a bunch of things I’m thankful for from the year that just was and some of what I’ve been thankful for lately. I will set a timer and see how long it takes me to come up with fifty items for this list of mine.

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For the perspective a year can give.

For snow globes.

For winter in Canada.

For the violin.

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For the bow in my hand.

For the strength and muscles needed to play.

For people willing to fight back, stand up, speak out.

For reason, logic, and common sense, which isn’t quite common enough.

For the challenge of learning to adapt and familiarize myself with new things.

For the discomfort that often causes because it helps me grow.

For the variety of sizes in Pesos.

For a Spanish language program I can listen to, shuffled up in my iTunes library.

For the syncing of all info and contacts even.

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For KFC (Kijewski Family Christmas).

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For journals and diaries.

Sophia showing Auntie Kerry her journal.
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For treats made especially available at Christmas.

For all things tactile, like the letter S.

For being exposed to new people.

For a first date.

For the smell of coffee.

For the scent of cinnamon buns when I step foot in the mall.

For people watching, even the way I do it.

For music of all kinds.

For salad.

For the stars and moons of all kinds.

For rainbows.

For sunsets and sunrise.

For mild and frigid.

For the sound snow makes, that crunching, when it is really cold here.

For a female Canadian on our money…the money with braille on it.

For my violin teacher.

For a spa experience.

For a shopping trip with a friend.

For hearing my name coming from the smartest of smart almost-two-year-old little girls, only here for a visit.

For my cat’s strange and sweet behaviours.

For my cat and dog ALMOST ALWAYS getting along.

For travel agents.

For the life lessons from those who push me to require more of myself.

For rice cakes.

For the coolness offered by the frozen food section of a grocery store.

For snow covered country inns.

For buffet breakfasts.

For scrambled eggs.

For podcasts.

For perfecting family pancake recipes with Ketchup.

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For inspired ideas.

For audio technology.

For song lyrics.

For the ability to provide a jam space in my basement for a bunch of talented and creative musicians.

For creativity.

For outdoor concerts.

For personal invites to travel and write and meet others who love both those things.

For family days at the beach.

For giving myself a year to focus on me.

For borders, be they on countries or the sections of a country.

For Netflix docs.

For photos I cannot see.

For governmental programs that help make life easier and more hopeful.

For opportunities for my brother to play his music outside.

For coffee shops.

For intimate and cozy live concert venues.

For Halloween candy.

For wine and pizza.

For manicures.

For new writing opportunities.

For laptops.

For braille.

For hard decisions.

For blogging.

For miracles and magic.

For little puppy/rabbits.

For first days of school.

For the chance to do an interview with an editor/writer I admire.

For peg dope.

For sul ponticello.

For cello music.

For long tones.

For drag and drop audio.

For fireside chats with a train to be heard somewhere far in the distance.

For pasta Tuesdays.

For packing/to-do lists.

For my mother’s talents with a needle and thread.

For doctors who listen.

For medication coverage.

For tolerance.

For pizza with family.

For catching up with an old friend.

For my first violin concert and my second and my third.

For everything in the ocean.

For space and the eight/nine planets.

For morning glories.

For phone booths.

For talented family in the kitchen.

For family sharing food.

For my cat’s soft fur.

For a world full of accents.

For comedians.

For the chance to laugh rather than crying.

For Niagara Falls.

For heated car seats.

For mint filled cookies.

For secondhand clothing.

For the chance to face my fear of secondhand items.

For gavels.

For jokes, knock knock or other.

For rewatching old movies.

For good neighbours.

For unexpected book sales.

For the sound of skating.

I should probably stop here. This is just a start to a list. It goes to show just how much there really is to be thankful for, if you take the time to look, list, and add them up. I topped 100 things in this list and I think I’ve made my point.

I am starting to panic about why I’ll be missing TToT next time. I have so much to be thankful for. I just must learn to trust in all of it.

Bonus Thankful: airplanes and the responsible pilots who fly them.

Mucho Gusto!

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TToT: Da Da Da, Sa Sa Sa – Black Moon Yonder, #10Thankful

Here’s a little flashback to finish off the week and begin a whole new one.

me on bike
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For the record, I don’t generally like motorcycles. They are loud and they make me nervous, but this one wasn’t moving.

I’m not enjoying this perpetually dreary start to October. I haven’t been enjoying this cold I’ve picked up and had for over a week now. And I’m certainly not and never have been enjoying the nonsense of the US election, as they count down, one more month to go.

Music will help. Music and good deeds and fresh fruit.

I am thankful for all the beautiful violin music that author Anne Rice shares on her Facebook page.

I much prefer this version to the original Coldplay song.

It’s a shame Anne Rice has quit posting political articles and she doesn’t even attempt to have discussions about politics right now. I miss her views, though I didn’t have to deal with all the nasty comments. Her page, her rules.

I’m glad she still shares music though, mostly violin stuff.

I am thankful for rough bikers.

me with bikers
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I used to hang out with quite the group, wouldn’t you say?

This was who sponsored my trip to California when I was sixteen, through
The Sunshine Foundation, Canada.

I am glad to see bikers, somewhere out there, are doing it again. This is where “don’t judge a book by its cover” couldn’t be more applicable.

A Cycle Broken – The Guardians of the Children

I am thankful that, despite my cold symptoms being rather irritating, the second episode of the podcast
Ketchup On Pancakes
is complete and we’ve beat our previous episode
(Episode 1: Intro To Us)
by extra time, going more like 70 minutes, instead of the previous one hour.

We went over time, but it is a good episode, which includes us adding in more sound and effect, compared to our first try.

We plan to create a shortened, all make-it-up-as-we-go-along episode next time though.

Actual new episode still to come in the next week or two.

I am thankful for an interview I finally got posted.

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview with Jennifer Niesslein

I am thrilled about this actually and have been for some time now.

I should have had this posted a while ago, but I was so over-the-moon that Jennifer had agreed to be a featured guest on my blog, that I wanted it to be perfect.

It’s up now and she even shared it with her Facebook friends/followers too. She has been so open to speaking with me. I try not to come off like too much of a stalker, but I really admire the work she does.

I am thankful for help in making it look more visually appealing.

My sister helped me to make the interview stand out from my usual blog posts.

I am thankful, though this cold has been bothersome, that it’s starting to ease up.

Thank goodness for tissues.

I am thankful for the black moon.

It was the perfect way to say goodbye to September and usher in October.

The Dark Side of the Moon

I am thankful for the autumn arrival of my favourite in-season apples.

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This is my diet for the time being. What else do you need?

I am thankful for a rather productive weekend, even with everything.

And finally this evening, I am thankful for
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
and another new episode, because he makes me laugh, even when talking about some pretty crappy things.

Off to see if I can find his latest thoughts on the week that just was.

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Seven Essays I Meet in My Literary Heaven

Today I am sharing this post from a few years ago, written by a brilliant woman I greatly admire, and whom I’ve learned so much from about what makes an essay shine. Interview with Jennifer to come on this blog very soon, so watch out for that.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

heavenA guest post from Jennifer Niesslein, founder of Full Grown People, the essay magazine:

1.     The Essay that Manages to Be Funny, Poignant, and Thought-Provoking All at the Same Time. I think I like this kind of essay because it most closely mimics real life: the humor and the pathos and the mysteries of being human. Shaun Anzaldua and Jody Mace are fabulous at this, and I don’t why they’re not household names.

2.     The Essay that Takes Me Someplace. Listen, I live a sheltered life. I’ve been out of the country once and that was to Toronto for a conference. (The black squirrels weirded me out.) My favorite place is home, where my robe is waiting. So when I come across an essay that transports me to Montana, or Ireland, or Italy in a way that feels like the writer is carrying me in her pocket?…

View original post 342 more words

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TToT: Boulder Slipper Lungs – Thanks Noodles! #10Thankful

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No quote full of wisdom can possibly be any greater than the ones that come from young kids and their imaginative little minds. I am feeling that most acutely and holding on, looking for a little bit of that in me, while the little ones in my life remain this age and teach me so much.

For some reason, some reason we can’t figure out, his mother can’t quite explain, my nephew calls his lungs boulder slipper lungs.

🙂

Nobody Knows (Pete’s dragon Soundtrack) – The Lumineers

The things the children in my life continually come up with are things that are constantly surprising me and making me smile.

My nephew, for example, he loves noodles and he wants them plain, with only butter. He loves what he refers to as “Grandma’s noodles,” but I think my brother, for example, may pick out the Simpsons quote from the title of this week’s TToT post if no one else has the foggiest clue what I’m referring to.

I was thankful my sister, brother-in-law and nephew made it home safe from their first vacation together out west to visit family. It was my nephew’s first airplane ride. Western Canada and Alberta means dinosaurs for my nephew and fishing for my brother-in-law. My sister was just glad to get away with her two favourite boys. With my nephew starting JK in a couple weeks, things are about to get busier.

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For their affect on my life.

They teach me to keep an open mind, even though they often feel like they are right, so who’s to say who’s right anyway?

For instance, if you were to try and convince my nephew that lungs are not called boulder slipper lungs, he likely might not believe you, but school will soon start and who knows what sorts of logic and teachings he will be introduced to then and there.

🙂

Reminds me of that song by Canadian band Rush, “The Logical Song”.

That my family puts up with my writing and this blog, are as supportive as they are, when I know many writers aren’t quite so lucky.

A lot of people write memoir and non fiction which involves stories of their family members in it. This can create resentments and other issues. Recollections are different for everyone. I needed to express myself, but how to do that without alienating those I care about?

Of course, if I write (even in my fiction), people in my life are going to appear because they are most of what matters to me.

I know they respect my need to express myself through words, but I never want to sacrifice their trust in me or their needs for that self expression.

Hmm. Perhaps I really should just quit with these pesky words and return solely to visual art instead.

That all my family survived the destructive, unpredictable tornado of August 7th, 1979

TORNADO: Part One, Whirlwind

I wanted to mark the anniversary and write an interview with my parents. It was too late to speak to my grandparents about their recollections, as I only started this blog after they both passed away, though I had spoken to them both about it many times before.

It’s raining as I type these words, hard and noisily just now, and I imagine or I try to. One of those things I can’t really fathom without experiencing how it must have felt firsthand, which I am lucky and hope I never have to do. I am just glad my father survived to tell the tale, or else I wouldn’t have been here to be able to help him tell it in the first place.

For that moment that I often find myself awake to witness, at three or four in the morning, when the sound of the nighttime crickets and the start of the early morning first chirping of the birds intermingle with one another.

If I am unable to sleep in those moments, at least I am awake and tuned in to hear such a natural thing as that.

For a nephew who just turned four.

We had spaghetti and meatballs (noodles) and cake (which I received a big bite of just icing when finishing). We may need to whisper Happy Birthday for his fifth birthday, if he doesn’t grow out of the shyness he had this time when we sang out loud.

I will never forget his birthday, as I was there the day he first arrived.

It was a very special day for me for so many reasons.

Read here to find out why.

Memorable. Unforgettable. Incredible.

For a fierce game of dinosaurs.

This includes “THE DEEP UNDERGROUND” from my nephew’s favourite movie “The Land Before Time”.

The underground, in this case, is the front entrance which is down two steps. The Sharp Tooth is inevitably pushed off the edge by Mother, Littlefoot’s mother with the long neck.

For a chunk of days of rain, whether the weather is a loud, hard downpour or a sprinkle off and on throughout the day. We needed the rain, something to break up all the intense humidity.

For a gift from my father. I know he feels bad when he hears how much I miss the vision I used to have, but he still brings me markers when I speak of wanting to revisit all that anyway, despite my worsening sight, an activity which will likely bring back both joy and sadness all at the same time.

I heard my favourite scented markers from childhood, a somewhat brighter time in my life, visually I mean.

Mr. Sketch

Well, thanks to

Lizzi

and

Ivy,

I have been thinking about colours, flowers, rainbows. I am going to try art, which I have been aching inside to give myself another chance to do for a while, but kept on putting it off because it will never be what it used to be for me again.

I sat down with my pack of colourful markers this afternoon, with a piece of braille paper because it is the perfect thickness, at my kitchen table because the light from the window there is the best place for maximum brightness.

Well, it was frustrating some moments and at others I had hope, with the slightly damp texture these particular marketers leaves behind and with the correct colour of marker fitting to the corresponding scent all coming back to me. I want to make something for Ivy’s Art Challenge and maybe involving 10 Things of Thankful because it has been so important for bringing light and colour back into my life these last fifteen or so months of extra reminders of the things I have to be thankful for.

That my five-year-old niece has a love of art and colouring and drawing pictures.

She got that from my brother I’m sure, her burgeoning artistic talent, but she reminds me a little bit of myself at her age and I feel somehow comforted by that notion.

I know she will continue to create beautiful things because that’s just who she is and where she comes from.

For this old favourite of mine from fifteen years ago.

Perfect Day – The Cranberries

This song perfectly incapsulates my feelings about the August birthday boys in my life. I celebrate their birthdays and I selfishly want them to remain young like this and never grow old, as Dolores sings, but I know that’s neither fair nor plausible.

August, within ten days of each other but spanning a year apart in age, are my two amazing nephews. They have inspired these songs today.

It’s the two boys and my niece who inspire my attitude that all art is open to me because I’ve seen the amazing things that come from their imaginations and my own imagination is the one thing I haven’t lost. They help me never to forget that.

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Denial Vs Self Preservation, #SoCS

I am writing, for a little stream of consciousness therapy today, but what to write about?

I could speak about the recent passing of Nobel Peace Prize writer, teacher, and Holocaust educator Elie Wiesel.

He wrote about the loss of his family and horrifying imprisonment in a concentration camp in the memoir

“Night”.

I saw an old interview with him on Charlie Rose.

I could, but I can’t. I won’t.

I read news about his death. I reflected back on the reading of his memorable memoir, which I read over ten years ago most likely. I thought about his story and I vowed to carry on being a witness, (indirectly) of the horrors, which humans are capable of, but I just can’t dwell on all that too hard.

I would again have to hear things I don’t want to hear, things about concentration camps during World War II. I know about all that, more than I’d like to, being obsessed on this period in history, many times in my own life.

But now, with all that’s happening in the current climate of killings, anger, ignorance, and inability or unwillingness to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, I just can’t.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

I am having issues with concentration lately.

I can’t seem to focus on one thing. My writing. My blog. My violin. My thoughts.

I feel all over the place. I want to do so many things, but don’t last long on any one of them.

I’ve lost it, whatever “it” is.

I want to know what is going on in the world around me, but every time I listen in, I hear something worse than the time before.

It’s on my Facebook and on the news on TV. I take breaks from both, but this just leaves me feeling disconnected. Is what I’m doing, in my own life, is that worth drowning the rest of the world out entirely?

Don’t I need to be aware, as a grown woman in today’s society, of what’s going on?

But it’s all race debates, class debates, political debates in the US.

It’s government disarray in the UK.

It’s a growing migrant crisis in Europe.

It’s ISIS central in the Middle East.

I want to get out there, to experience more of the world, instead of just reading about it, though I love reading in its place. I can’t not read, yet my Safari App on my phone keeps bursting with the many articles I open up and vow to read. I don’t make it back, yet I keep on adding to the cue.

That is how I feel about my life, yet I know the chaos going on in my brain is only a sample of what’s happening everywhere.

I have a problem with concentration, but I expect I’m not the only one.

Today, to speak about

CONCENTRATION

has been no problem for me.

I can’t stop myself for very long, but during those breaks from the outside world, I am not in denial. I am practicing self preservation in the midst of so much I cannot control.

So, I write. I blog. I make “music” (of sorts) on my violin. I work on creative projects with my brother, (both song lyrics and our new podcast).

I create because I must. I spread a little genuine kindness and compassion through all these things. I hope I can make the world a better place. Lets all try a little more of that.

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