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Favourite Things

Things, at the start of 2018, are changing up bit with the
FTSF crew.

My word for 2018 is “stoker,” which also means to stir things up, so I am all for this. I admit, I often have a difficult time with change of most kinds, but I am really trying. Still, though the list may have changed and has grown over my lifetime, here is my list of ten favourite things:

Favourite Thing Ten – Water

I love the roar and rush and rumble of waterfalls. It’s the trickling of a stream, brook, or creek. Or, the increasing and then the decreasing of a wave that’s coming and then going, washing in and back out again, leaving ripples in its wake. It’s the blue, green, rocky, sandy bottom of a lake or ocean. It’s my favourite metaphor for life, both the good and the bad of it, the scary and the sublime. Its power and its purity. It’s clear and clean, or heavy with mineral count. It is the refreshment in a glass or the lapping at my feet, pouring down my throat (to filter through my kidney) or threatening to wash me away.

Favourite Thing Nine – Marine Life

These are the creatures that swim, float, glide, or drift. They range from the smallest crustaceans to the largest squid/octopus, jellyfish, ray, or whale. It lives down on the sandy floor, at the deepest depths, or skimming and skidding along its sunlit surface. It is hunt or be hunted, all while storms rage, boats speed on by, nets drift and dangle, and waves carry it all along, currents deciding the course. It’s gills and blowholes and claws and fins and tentacles. It’s all the colours of rainbows in skies above. It’s camouflaging in all shades and underwater backgrounds.

Favourite Thing Eight – Space

It’s my earliest adventure, escape dream. It’s the dark, still, and the silence. It’s the circles and the rings and the orbit. It’s the blue of ice and the yellow/orange of fire from stars and swirling gases that envelop giant planets. It’s massive red spots as storms and dozens of Arctics stacked on one another, all the way out to the outer ranges of the galaxy. It’s yellow, blue and green and white, and red, and black that’s more than night is or will ever be. It’s infinite. It’s out there, somewhere.

Favourite Thing Seven – The Four Seasons

It’s the northern hemisphere and North America, central, southwestern. It is broken up into quarters of a year, here in (north more than south) of Canada. It is the smell of snow, the cold breath of it on my skin, and the feeling of invigoration. It’s the silence of the snow, the rustle of the warm breeze in the trees. It’s the intense heat and the brightness and burning from the sun, the kind to make any exposed skin surface feel like it’s on fire. It’s the birds of every temp, born to brave it or fly away from it, flocking back again. It’s the Canada geese, flying south and coming back home after long wait of months passed. It’s the early darkness, short days, green of new growth and rebirth. It’s the sprinklers and the mowers and the bikes. It’s the rustle and the crunch and the shuffle of dried out leaves. It’s the rain and the mist and the sleet and the snow, wet, soggy, heavy, and slush under boots and shoes. It’s the puddles after the rain and the icy spots before the thaw.

Favourite Thing Six – String Instruments

I love playing with a bow instead of a pick or a reed. I love the melancholy and the heartbreak of such a sound. I love the feeling, the shape of my own personal violin. The wooden body and the strings, stretched by pegs. It’s the deep melody of the cello and my newness, inability to tell difference between violin and viola still. It’s the power of the bow in my right hand, my chin and chest holding up my instrument, while my left arm, hand, fingers hold the neck and both sides of my brain try to figure out how to work separate and yet together, all at once, to produce more than the sound of a tortured animal and more of the notes and the scales I struggle to get straight in my own ear.

Favourite Thing Five – Art

I loved the visual and the sculpting, with lines, shape, colour, word, image, and sound. I love how creativity flows from each of us like unique perfume, like the individuality of every snowflake that falls from the cold sky.

Favourite Thing Four – The Purring of a Cat

I gently place my two fingers on my cat’s throat as he purrs. I feel it reverberate through his whole body as he settles down against my legs. He makes my chronic pain bearable, on the most unbearable of all days.

Favourite Thing Three – Literature

I love how it can be an act of courage, of hope, of truth. I love how, in essence, it sweeps me up and away. I love how it is about all of us and none of us and each of us, individually, on a personal level, still stretching out to infinity and some far off, far flung lands.

Favourite Thing Two – Travel

I can do it on foot, by car, train, bus, boat, or plane. Or, I can do it, go there in my mind, anytime., even as my sight fades and my memory and yearning grow stronger. I love the people and the places and the things. I love how stepping foot somewhere new or old, on returning or first approaching, that I am someone new, on my own, personal journey of discovery and upon discovering.

Favourite Thing Number One – Niece/Nephew Voices and Laughter

It sounds so grown up or only days from becoming words. I love the sweetness of the high pitched and the similar giggling of siblings. I love that it can turn, from sad to joyful in a single second of exuberant speed. I love the ring of it, the jangle of it, and the shimmering, swinging, swooping crystal clarity it brings, on all sides, expanding the walls of my heart as an aunt.

So there it is, my top ten list, not affiliated with David Letterman’s old show. Sure, some things are more to-the-point than others. I can go from the highly specific to the wide expanse of a thing, perhaps giving me the chance to write fifty favourite things, condensed down into ten, abstract or less so, as I hate to choose.

Check out some of
Finding Ninee’s
favourites too.

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I Wanna See Me, Reflected #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

Don’t look back.

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That was the title of the song I wrote lyrics for a few years ago, a song my brother wrote and performed for a college project.

It’s a good notion, as I try to focus on my future and living my version of now, but reflection isn’t all bad.

Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

It’s exhausting really, sifting through all the memories, as I write them down for posterity. Still, I write first-person essays and other non fiction, memoir pieces. All this is most undoubtedly good practice for the book-length memoir I am determined to someday complete.

I am sometimes overly self aware, leaning heavily on reflections, in order to better see myself and others. I look back a lot, in total disregard of the lyrics I once wrote, as I reflect on the past thirty-four years. Yes, I will soon be turning thirty-four and I have a lot to look back on.

The waves of memory just keep on coming. I try to jot them down whenever and wherever I can, always holding back the force of each and every wave, so the threat of being washed away doesn’t ever come too near.

This Flashback Friday, flashing back to all the Friday’s of my past, the prompt word is “memories,” brought to us by
Cage Dunn
and feel free to share any of your own memories with me in the comments.

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TToT: Insertion Follows Playback Like Edit Follows Automation – Full Cold Moon, #10Thankful #IDPD2017

“(UN IDPD) serves as an important reminder that globally there are over a billion people with a disability. This year’s theme, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all” is especially relevant to our accessibility efforts…”

—Microsoft

More on IDPD2017 from the WHO.

I know when and how to celebrate and I am learning when to stand up and speak up for the important things – overall, a thankful post brimming with gratitude really.

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Photo caption: sisters watching the decorating of their father’s 62nd birthday cake. Talking/smiling. Happy Birthday Dad! XO

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for this artistic girl.

Making works of art out of the task of cupcake decoration.

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Making something, all her own, and loving it.

I am thankful for this sly guy.

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He likes to hide, but there’s a mischievous spirit just under the surface, behind the hands that sometimes cover his face when he’s playing shy to the camera.

I am thankful for such a smart and curious almost ten-month-old sweetheart.

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Photo caption: Cousin hugs.

Her big cousin Soph adores her. It’s sweet to see them interact.

Mya is so interested in everything now. She is so close to walking, as she sees the rest of us doing it and wonders why she hasn’t managed it yet.

She is the happiest baby I’ve seen really. She likes to cuddle, but I can barely keep up with her when she’s on the move, and she’s not even a year old yet. Her mother and I are in no real hurry though.

I am thankful for the missing and missed one at last weekend’s gathering and the kind soul he is.

Old soul is my man Maxwell.

I am thankful he could enjoy his new friend’s birthday party. He got so excited. He was counting down the hours to his first party invitation since starting junior kindergarten in September.

I am thankful for a name given, from a friend, that suited my current state rather perfectly.

**Given what you’ve shared recently, I’d say the cauldron’s selection is a potent one for you. Your Embrace the Darkness name is “Good Night’s Sleep.”**

I had mentioned my sleep/dream issues lately and she generously handed this one to me, gifted me with it as a way to accept and deal.

I am thankful for a visit with one of the few people in my life who understand about living with chronic pain.

She brought me a coffee, doughnut, and a sympathetic ear.

She lives with pain and manages to hold onto her most original sense of humour and I take lessons from her on that front – where I find strength through some good sarcasm now and again, I see she does too.

I am thankful my friend arrives home from Ireland next week for the holidays.

I see her and her daughter just once a year, at this time, and it’s a fascinating way to observe the growing up of any child. They are quite the pair.

A little Christmas shopping with them maybe? I want to get her something memorable, as I only get to see her once a year and it takes her a little time, each time, to warm up to me again. A toy may help, but it can’t be anything too big because it must get back to Ireland.

Lots for them to cram into only a few weeks here back in Canada, with family and friends, but it’s always fun.

I am thankful for such kind and generous parents.

They bring me medication when I go away and forget it at home. They go that extra mile, in so many ways, and are flexible in so many ways too.

They are both unflinchingly generous people.

I am thankful for another job completed and well done, hopefully.

I wrote a memoir piece about our family, from the past, and the early December trips to a giant toy store we’d make as a family.

I turned it into a bit of a back-and-forth with me and Brian. We recorded it and added sounds and a bit of music to the piece.

We are submitting it for consideration on my brother’s favourite holiday Christmas marathon radio show he has listened to for the last three years.

Even the year of his horrible fall, when he was slowly recovering with a brain injury, he listened. The jingle bells accompany the radio guy and he plays some of the most obscure music for the season, to be heard on a New Jersey college station.

In the midst of all the musical pieces, he plays short holiday themed stories, recorded by friends and fans. This year we wanted to be included in that.

We shall see what he thinks when we send it to him.

Adding more…

I am thankful for fresh edits to a piece and that time away so I can come back at it with fresh eyes.

I wrote about the road I took through my Yukon visit and the road I’m traveling down in my life.

I worked on it with one editor and took a few weeks away from it. Coming back now, with fresh eyes, I can consider other editing suggestions and work to make it the best piece it can possibly be.

I just saw a Yukon documentary, playing in theatres for a limited time, and this virtual return to the north of Canada has given me new life to put into the writing.

I appreciate all I learn and how I can improve and grow as a writer, with the guidance of talented people I am lucky enough to get to work for/with.

I am thankful for a movie about the Yukon in my heart since I visited there, even without the DVS working.

It’s funny to have the story, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, but again we ran into issues with the audio description service at the theatre.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover they said they had it. A worker disappeared somewhere and came back with two headsets and wireless boxes.

Once inside the we turned them on. One worked and the other did not. The first worked, but it was describing a story that certainly wasn’t that of the Yukon.

We were offered their apologies and two free movie passes, but that won’t address this issue.

I did enjoy the film, despite all that, but a documentary, at least, has steady narration.

I don’t even think about going to an action movie or one with a lot of adventure, not without the proper assistance from a helpful person sitting next to me.

This is no answer. Perhaps not that many blind people go to movies, anymore or ever, but this must be improved upon.

As for the movie, I nearly came to tears more than once, as it brought back sense memory of my days there and my deep feelings about so much of that wild beautiful part of North America.

I am thankful for the day, December 3rd, to highlight disability, not just in North America, but around the world.

Every day is a day to talk about it, without becoming preachy. I feel this is something I have been called on to do, but it is a rather tricky balancing act.

I watched a Canadian national news broadcast and no mention at all was made nor any story aiming to shed light on some aspect of disability and what IDPD means to so many. I know an hour long news program can’t get to everything, but I think this should have been covered in some way.

I plan to do a lot more of this activism stuff in 2018 and beyond.

I am thankful for the final super moon of 2017 and the fact that, in spite of my worsening eyesight, I could still make it out on the horizon as we drove home.

I am all about horizons these days. Onward and upward, all while still making the effort to enjoy the final weeks of 2017 in the meantime.

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Mothers Are Saviours, #SoCS

Safe to say: Happy Birthday Mom!

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The idea came from a cousin when I couldn’t think of anything good enough on my own.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

How perfectly coincidental that the big 60 falls on a stream of consciousness day.

So many people care and wanted to be included in my present to my mom, and I am not done yet.

Whether birthday card greeting or nostalgia and memory, it isn’t hard to find positive things to say about her. The things flow from her, through her, if you’ve even just barely met her. I didn’t think the challenge I was putting out there was so hard.

Some people doubt their ability to use their words for self expression and toward another. They feel my expectation, perhaps, but I only wanted them to feel safe enough in saying whatever came to mind when they thought of my mom and the woman they all know and love.

Even those closest to her might have struggled, but that is just because the feelings are a little too close for comfort and, in having to put into words just what she means to them, it may have felt uncomfortable in the moment. I thought it, thought her, worth the immediate feelings of uncertainty as one sat down to write.

I wanted her to know how safe she made me feel, as her daughter, and how she has saved me, dozens and hundreds of times, from my biggest fears and from myself and the world at large.

Anyone can and soon does feel safe in talking to her, in opening up to her. That’s her gift to the rest of us who have the privilege of her in our world.

All the times I felt so sick, so much pain, and like nobody believed it, she saved me and made me feel safe again..

She was surprised by her gift and more is being added, even just today in fact.

A mother should want to do it, protect their children/grandchildren, and she does. My mother for the save.

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TToT: Raining Lumos and Dobby #DisabledAndCute #IAmAPreexistingCondition #10Thankful

Lord, when you send the rain

Think about it, please, a little?

Do not get carried away

by the sound of falling water,

the marvellous light

on the falling water.

I am beneath that water.

It falls with great force

and the light

Blinds

me to the light.

—James Baldwin, “Untitled”

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The magnolia blooms for a short time only. True beauty doesn’t often last. It comes and it goes.

The rain kept coming, across parts of Ontario and Quebec, for most of the week.

Raining cats and dogs: Lumos and Dobby are mine.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for delicate things in nature.

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We found this cracked robin’s egg on the driveway and I thought it a sweet discovery. My mom improves on the nature and this sign of spring.

I wondered then, where the inhabitant of the egg went. How did the egg land and not crack into even more pieces? I wondered things.

I’m thankful for leftover wine.

My sister had a wedding shower for a friend and there were leftovers. She was kind to share them with me.

I’m thankful for a writing group built around a hand sculpted wand.

One of our members of “The Elsewhere Region” brought in a birthday gift she’d received. It’s like the Harry Potter wand I bought, even the box, but made specifically for her, with love from a friend who knows her well.

The Celtic Tree Calendar

The stories we all came up with were interesting. Mine was about a teacher of the blind who started a braille club in her class and her wand accidentally fell out of her desk drawer. She almost had to reveal to all her students that she was magic, until her visually impaired student saved her.

The others used their very interesting imaginations and came up with wild tales of magic and I was once more blown away by their storytelling abilities.

I am thankful I could help spread hash tags about the disabilities many of us were, in some cases, born with.

The hash tag “I Am A Preexisting Condition” is making the rounds on Twitter since the shocking revelation that the GOP and the House voted in their horrid healthcare plan, which is making many people I know with chronic illnesses and conditions afraid for what will happen.

I felt helpless and wanted to do something. I couldn’t think of what that could be. It’s just so outlandish.

I am thankful for my nephew’s creativity, imagination, and the ideas that are all his own.

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He drew an X on a piece of paper and tacked it up on the door. We saw it there when we arrived the other day and I was smiling when I heard what it’s for.

He put it up to keep the spiders out.

NO SPIDERS

I am thankful I could give my niece her bottle and put her to sleep.

My nephew was staying with his grandparents overnight and he was a bit sad as bedtime approached. My mom comforted him and I fed Mya her bottle. That girl loves to eat.

Then she fell asleep over my shoulder.

I’m thankful for echoes of a memory with a lullaby.

My mom started to sing an old lullaby that her mother, my grandmother, used to sing. This seemed to bring back memories for me, something so vague, about my grandma singing to me.

“Go to bed my little darling. Close your big blue eyes. Soon you’ll hear the sandman calling, far beyond the skies.”

It’s funny that you can sense a memory from the past, so long gone, and even start to wonder if it really happened. I remember being sung to like that, but I don’t know when or how old I might have been. I seem to remember being held, but can any of us remember back that far into our pasts?

Well, I held Mya and the entire time I tapped that song out on her back, gently, over and over again, trying to sharpen my own memories. It didn’t work, but the song is a beautiful one.

I am thankful that France did not make the same mistake the US made.

France is a totally different country than the US of course and I knew they would make the right choice with Emmanuel Macron.

Just a few weeks ago, Canada gave a giant sigh of relief, when our own (he was being called Canada’s Donald Trump) and he was running for the Conservative Party of Canada, dropped out.

Kevin O’Leary is a businessman, like 45, known for his role in Shark Tank, but he didn’t feel quite as outrageous. Maybe that was just my wishful thinking there, but he decided on his own that he couldn’t stay in the race.

I don’t know what will happen with the EU and I hope no more terrorist attacks occur in France or anywhere else, but I am sure we aren’t done with all that, sadly.

I am thankful for the sun to make its reappearance.

Even I grew weary of all that dreary weather, day after day after day. The sun does shine again, but unfortunately, some are dealing with major damage to their homes and their lives. Rain has power to mess with us. The sun revives.

And this last photo isn’t the most pleasant sight. I begin with a beautiful flowering bush and I cap off this TToT with the scene we came across in my back yard.

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I have squirrels living in the top of my garage and this one came to a sad end, landing in a tree and hanging there until we noticed it. Poor thing.

Loss and endings. I just hope those affected by the flooding, in Quebec mostly, can salvage something of their homes.

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Only When I Breathe #SongLyricSunday

How can I put this? How can I possibly make people understand how it feels?

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I struggled with these kinds of questions for many years. Pain can be physical or emotional. Both, I know now, are comparable.

This song is not her biggest hit. I’d say Melissa Etheridge was at the top of her game in the nineties, but this one came out a few years after I’d started experiencing daily pain around the year 2000, from either headaches or somewhere in the rest of my body, mostly my limbs, but really a sensitivity to the touch.

This song was likely about emotional pain, which most songs are about, but by this time Melissa probably experienced both, within relationships or physically because of the breast cancer she was diagnosed with.

***

I, played the fool today
I just dream of vanishing into the crowd
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
And I can’t ask for things to be still again
No I can’t ask if I could walk through the world, in your eyes
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
My window through which nothing hides And everything sees
I’m counting the signs and cursing the miles in between
Home
Home, is a feeling I buried in you, that I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Yeah, it only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Oh,it only hurts when I breathe

LYRICS

***

It’s hard to make people understand. We all experience emotional pain from loss of a loved one or other family troubles. Love ends. People leave.

Most of us get a headache or the flu or a broken bone at some point in our lives. I know that child birth can be painful, not from personal experience but from those who have felt it, but I know that pain fades because of the reward for it in the existence of a precious child. Most acute pain fades from our memory as time passes.

It’s chronic pain that is hard to explain because most people, like the thought of living life as a blind person, can’t or don’t want to think too hard about it, don’t want to imagine that happening to them, but living with chronic pain changes you. It’s changed me.

The awful pain scale is a familiar way to help people understand, but pain is subjective and one’s ten is another’s seven. If ten is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, what was that worst pain? Everyone has had such varied experiences with pain that it makes it hard to rate sufficiently.

Stabbing…throbbing…dull…sharp…pounding…and so on and so forth.

I’ve only found a few people in my life who truly understood it. One of them is gone, so I am greatly familiar with both emotional and physical pain from many sources.

I decided this
Song Lyric Sunday
I would focus more on the physical side, as I’ve written plenty on emotional pain already.

I don’t talk a lot about living with chronic pain, here or elsewhere, because I don’t believe people truly want to hear about it too often. This song brings it up in the chorus though, as saying “it only hurts when I breathe.” While coming off sounding dramatic, this one line certainly gets the point across.

Don’t get me wrong, I love breathing, but I could do without the pain.

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A Balloon In My Mind #AtoZChallenge

In my dream, the balloons were in the yard, trying to get in the house.

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My grandma once told me of the time she was walking along a beach and came across this blue balloon thing on the sand. She gently reached out toward it. She wasn’t shy, even when she had no clue what something was.

The A to Z Challenge – J is for Jellyfish

I have seen jellyfish in my distant memory, but since I’ve lost more of my vision, the image of what one looks like has faded.

So now, after my grandma’s description and the dream I had, I think of a balloon whenever I try to imagine what a jellyfish looks like.

I have studied them intensely, on the many ocean documentaries I’ve watched in my time. They aren’t something I would like to touch in the near future. I fear walking along the sea or swimming in it, for fear of coming up against one. I hear the stories of stings and still, for some reason, the jellyfish is still one of my favourite marine creatures.

There is a place, an inland lake, somewhere in the south Pacific Ocean, on an island known as Palau. I want to visit Jellyfish Lake, if I could go anywhere, because then I could stop imagining what a jellyfish looks like, and actually swim with a bunch of non stinging jellies.

What might you envision in your mind, if you’d never before seen a jellyfish? Balloon or something else? Balloon with stinging tentacles of course. Such cool creatures, but it made for one hell of a bad dream.

***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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