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TToT: Level of Loose Lip Loggers, #10Thankful

“You can cast the first stone. You can break my bones. But you’re never gonna break…never gonna break my faith.”

—Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige

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Caption: my friend Anita and I – so glad she could come to our first CFB bbq.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for no rain on the day of an important picnic/bbq for my cause.

We at the Canadian Federation of the Blind of Ontario were putting on our first ever summer social.

I am thankful for the perfect park where we held the event.

I am thankful I could meet such a diverse group, of old friends and new ones.

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Caption: large group shot of some of our guests.

I am thankful for the help from my family. They are always supportive and always present.

I am thankful for friends who offer rides, help fetching supplies, capturing the special moments of the day, and to help us raise a bit of money to begin something more, just by showing up that afternoon.

I am extremely thankful that the day went off without a hitch.

Some days are a snapshot in time, of a beautiful gathering coming together. I sometimes lose my faith, and then something happens to help me find a little more to be getting along with again.

I am thankful for the 31 who attended our event and then the breaking off of smaller groups, from the bigger, that same evening and the next morning (for breakfast at a lovely spot) and the morning after that.

We discussed policies and plans. We discussed dreams and goals yet to reach.

I am thankful my brother and I could get our 13th podcast episode recorded, with likely something like three full hours of discussion, on transformative times gone by and the change we want to see for those who are blind in Canada.

We talk with the one who started the ball rolling on an Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of the Blind, our good friend and former roommate.

I am thankful for this literary film.

For a major Downton Abbey fan like myself, this one is a treasure.

I’d heard of it, come across the trailer online, and I knew, right away, it would be my kind of film.

It was the perfect way to end one wildly successful weekend.

So much work to do. Sometimes, I need a little time with a good movie on Netflix, a bunch of tears shed – a satisfying few hours spent.

And I am thankful for the first of the freshest apples of the season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iazIjFT9ZI

A legend with a powerful voice is gone and this one song was the one that affects me most. She has affected many others, such as
this writer.

RIP Aretha.

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TToT: Time, Place, and Space – Lost On Spot, #FamilyReunion #LaParada #Panorama #10Thankful

“It helps, too, to dream big, to make plans for future projects that are beyond the scope of my current experience, to make connections with other people who work in the arts, to apply for grants, send out stories, throw bottles into the sea. Make space for more opportunities to unfold. Here’s a fun thing to try: write a letter to yourself, addressing yourself like you would a dear friend. What advice would you give yourself? Can you name all the things about yourself that you like, that give you strength and courage? What questions would a good friend ask you? (I did this at the beginning of June, and reading over my “Dear Carrie” letter now, I recognize that it has helped shape my summer in positive ways.)”

–Carrie Snyder

I read this blog post and wanted all of it. I want to think good things about myself and write it all down. I want to know art and other artists. I like the bottle in the sea idea.

I have been slacking, not keeping up reading other thankful posts. I have let myself down, in a couple ways this summer, but then I’ve taken on so much that is new and thrilling too.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for feedback that is hard, sometimes/at times more than others, to hear.

I know I am learning from it. I know I need to hear it. I know it is part of the deal, of being a writer.

I’m thankful for a surprise offer.

It came at just the right moment, right after the difficult-to-hear feedback. It was a strange contrast of a day.

I was unable to trust in it, at first, because I still don’t expect good things to come my way much in life. (Bad habit/trap to fall into.)

I could sure use offers like this one to come along, once-in-a-while. It was from a well-known company, with a healthy budget and reputation. I was discovered, just by having my words, in existence, out there in the world.

I should be able to brag, but still I am uncertain whether or not to speak details of the thing in question, while contract is still being worked on and leading up to the release date.

Still, I had to include it here, in this list, this week. I won’t ever forget that contrasting day of offers, for feedback and for growth and opportunity. I only need to make sure I get it right.

I’m thankful for friends/writers who offer me a bit of encouragement when I’m starting to doubt.

Editors are unknown and unfamiliar to me, but then that means their job isn’t to make me feel better about myself or to buck me up. I know, logically, that isn’t their responsibility, but yet I probably still am looking for that, somewhere, deep down. Working on it.

Friends, those who know the world of writing (creatively or business wise) are the ones who are there, when I need them the most, to remind me that I am a writer, still learning and growing, but yet not at all without merit.

It’s just nice to hear it. I am indebted to both editors and writers/writer friends/friends and family, for the contrast.

I’m thankful I got to check out a live radio studio.

Radio Western (94.9 CHRW)

I was in there, going and observing the action live, while my brother put on his Friday music show. I told him, on air and off, that witnessing him in that environment made him seem a whole lot cooler.

I was there to celebrate his year on air (48th episode or so) and to talk about the summer social we have coming up, for our work with and as the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
and also, to get any listeners, familiar with his show, familiar with him and I together. (Keep reading to find out why that is.))

I’m thankful the woman who runs it wants to give us a chance.

She has offered us a weekly half-hour talkshow. We are doing it (based on our podcast/Canadian Federation of the Blind) as a theme. We will talk about disability, accessibility, and equality/equity. We will be current (have call-ins/live guests).

She has also offered to air already recorded episodes of
Ketchup On Pancakes
and so that’s why we don’t want to do a total copied version of our already-existing podcast together. That is about family/creativity/humour, not strictly about disability issues.

It isn’t mainstream radio as most people think of it, known by everyone, but a university radio station supports the arts and local talent, as well as community. It will be more of a reach than we’ve so far had, be broadcasting us to more of an audience than we’ve had as of yet.

And so, we are (soon-to-be) available to people, driving in their cars, across London, Ontario and beyond. Also, we are available, online and on Rogers (channel 943).

Now, all we need to do is come up with a catchy name for our talkshow that captures what we are about. We have a little less than one month to do this. Sometimes names and titles are easy to come up with and other times, not so much.

I’m thankful I got to see a talented singer/performer live.

She is a local girl, someone I’ve known from a writing group, full of talent, and full of life. She is animated and energetic. She is many things I wish I could be, but have no stamina to be for long.

She is multi-talented creatively. She went to school for musical theatre and she ended up singing some opera (in English/German/Italian I believe). She had to practice, in front of friends, family, and local community, to attend nationally, after having gone to perform in provincials.

She sang about men and about eating children. She sang and had two young men performing, so she could take a break. It was inspiring and fun.

I’m thankful for a long awaited family reunion.

We used to see each other (my mom’s side of the family) at Christmas every year. Then, with every passing year, our group increased in size. Then, both my grandparents passed away, (2005-2010) and we would’ve needed to rent a hall for our gatherings. The decision was made at that time, to stop holding holiday celebrations, and we’ve seen a lot less of each other in the years since. Some of us see each other more than others.

It was a beautiful day. I tried to enjoy the day. I don’t do well in big groups, even when it’s family. These are people I have known, more or less, all my life. Some came along in the nearly 35 years since I was born.

Cousins have children and some didn’t or couldn’t make it. The children don’t know me. Some of the adults don’t know me anymore and I don’t feel as if I know them now.

Still, family is important. There are connections (no matter the time that’s passed us by or the place/life’s circumstances that have occurred). I know we’ve all changed. We’re not the same people we once were. I know there’s a set of roots there, those that run deep. I wanted to reconnect. I can’t make that kind of connection happen again, not with the wave of my hand or by snapping my fingers.

It was nice we did it. I do hope we can make it happen every so often. I wish some things were different, but we share a common thread of where we’ve all come from, no matter where we might now be or where we end up.

The food was good and the kids had fun. It was on my uncle’s farm, where I grew up staying, for summer holidays, as a child. I was never a farm girl, but my mother had been, like her mother and father before her, and my cousins were, though I did grow up a country girl who would eventually move into town.

It ended up the perfect spot for a summertime family reunion.

I’m thankful for my August birthday boys.

I’m thankful I met these talented writers in Mexico and that I get to go on another journey with them, if only by reading their wonderful words:

Go on a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina with Angela Lang

or else…

wander through time/space/place with Kristin Vukovic

These two writers, along with the rest that P publishes, make me want to keep working to become a better writer myself.

I’m thankful for
this literary travel journal
they are both featured in, and for “Lost,” the most recent issue.

It is full, with each and every new issue that gets released, with the best writers around.

It is soon to celebrate its two-year anniversary. Happy Anniversary Panorama!

Your name continues to thrill me to no end. The bigger picture indeed.

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TToT: Living The Life We Want – So Slam That! #NFB18 #10Thankful

It was my first Independence Day in the US (independence being the key word there) and I had an unexpected and unpredicted time away. I owe it all to the CFB, sponsoring me to see what the US’s national convention is all about.

The difference between what exists in the US and what we’ve got here in Canada was hard to miss while I was in Florida all week.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful to be representing Ontario in this national magazine.

July 2018 Issue of The Blind Canadian

I’m thankful for this travel agent.

ANITA PATON – THE TRAVEL AGENT NEXT DOOR

She’s awesome!

I’m thankful for UPS volunteers.

It is a convention, held once a year, and this one had nearly 2500 attendees who used a white cane or a guide dog. All of us were trying to get the hang of a large hotel and conference/convention centre and having UPS volunteers around, to give us a bit of direction now and then was a big big help.

I was so overwhelmed, my first time attending, that sometimes I’d get panicky and have to stop and take a few deep breaths and refocus. I could continue on from there.

I’m thankful for the experience at this convention because it fostered further confidence and independence.

Convention 2018 Agenda

I’m thankful I got to meet a friend, in person finally, whom I’d been speaking with for years online.

He was great to talk to in person. Thanks, Timothy, for the coffee and the dinner and the company. You brought a bit of calm in the storm that that week felt like at times, so wound up, rushing on all around me.

I’m thankful for a still night on a closed pool deck.

Florida was so muggy that I didn’t mind getting to spend almost all my time in freezing cold convention halls. It was not so bad though, when the sun was down.

I’m thankful I didn’t have to change into my dress in a restroom stall.

I had to get it right, being back in the States and in Florida again (my fourth time) that they there were referring to washrooms as restrooms.

We had the banquet on our final night there and I didn’t want to have my dress on all day, through the final business hours. We weren’t staying on site, so I could have gone back to change at some point, but really there just wasn’t time.

So, thankfully, the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
president generously granted me her room and better bathroom to change in.

I’m thankful for a final, early morning solo swim.

We’d been so busy, all week long, that I finally had to wake up earlier than everyone, on our final morning, and go down as soon as the pool opened, at six.

A security guard had to help me find the door out, from the lobby, but once out I had my pick from the lounge chairs and I used my white cane to get the layout of the pool deck.

My chair was straight out from the bar of the stairs into the pool. Once I was in the water, I slowly made my way around and discovered the shape and the depth.

It was just what I needed and totally worth the waking up so early part.

I’m thankful for an inspiring speech in this room. A table full of fun people. A delicious salad and platter of desserts.

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I’m thankful for a flight, gone by too fast.

Life’s full of metaphors, including lift off and landing, and living in the moment are all important.

Here’s to living the life you/we want.

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TToT: A Tapestry of Blue – There Goes June, #10Thankful

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” ~Chinese Proverb

This weekend, I have been here, celebrating Canada Day with family and we have the perfect spot for it, right near all the action of the day’s events.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for our Ontario speeches being posted on Youtube.

I’m thankful to finally be taking an online creative writing class with a writer I admire.

Sonya Huber

I’m thankful for a walk through a downtown, town square, Thursday market.

I could smell fresh fruit/vegetables, garlic and spices, breads, soaps and we stopped, to sit and plunge our hands into the cool water of the fountain.

I’m thankful for fresh cherries.

I’m thankful for three/four person calls.

I’m thankful to live in a country, Canada, with accepting strong parents.

151 reasons why it’s better to be Canadian

I hadn’t even known about reason 118 until reading this.

I’m thankful to be someone’s go-to and trustworthy reader/editor, to look something over.

I’m thankful for a week of peas.

I’m thankful to be a part of a group of people, working for the same goal, even if this means calls to discuss the financial realities.

I’m thankful for a new Florence + the Machine album.

So long June.

I’m not thankful for this heat wave, but that’s why I’m leaving, for a cooler climate.

Wa! Wa! Ha! Ha! Just kidding. It’s Florida.

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TToT: Man Who Ate The World and Other Losses – Dive In and Go Deep, #10Thankful

Well, that didn’t go well – not well at all. A big bust you could say.

Trade war looms as Trump and adviser lob insults and accusations at Trudeau – The Globe and Mail

Britain. France. Germany. Italy. Japan. All their support is welcome, but all good intentions aside, none of them must share a border with a foolish reality TV personality, one whose spokespeople said openly Canada and Justin Trudeau were mocked to look tough for the most serious meeting any president could ever be having.

If I ever wanted #45 to succeed in something, it was now, when the world could possibly end up exploding into nuclear war. The rest of it, if we in Canada had to swallow his insults for that purpose alone, I’d say we could gladly take that on. I fear we haven’t heard the last of it though.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for marking June 5th, transplant anniversary, with a dinner with my dad to celebrate 21 years.

I have my father and I have a working kidney. Makes me the luckiest woman around, I’d say.

All one needs – one of each. Top notch.

I’m thankful for an inspired writing prompt to make us all write better at my writing group.

“Love was a hallowing man with a home and only I knew that.”

And the stories just sort of spun loose from there, from all of us, getting us to write in styles we weren’t often known for amongst that room of our creative peers.

I’m thankful for a delicious vanilla latte and catch up with a friend.

I’m thankful for biscotti.

I’m thankful for the right and access to vote.

The accessibility issue is a different story, but not nearly so bad as it could be. These are the times I wonder if I have the right to complain, to think I should try for betterment.

It was a braille sleeve that the voting card slides into and braille and raised numbers for each party’s offering for my riding, not that I claim to understand all the lingo. So, I was with someone I trusted, to help make sure the card was lined up properly and to let me know the order the names were going with the numbers. I learned later alphabetical. Should have known.

So, I counted down, to the correct number, and made my X in the small cut-out circle provided.

Now, all the strong wording was that Ontario’s possible next provincial leader, if chosen PC/Conservative Party, would basically be giving Ontario its very own copy of the guy put into the Whitehouse. Enough to scare anyone.

Was that all they were trying to do? (Whom I’m not really sure.)

And thus I was lucky to live in Ontario, Canada, where I could vote, where my blindness didn’t prevent me from voting, my right in a democratic society. And some of you will not have known much about this, but the PC was voted in, and he is the brother of deceased Toronto mayer, known around the world a few years back, Rob Ford, who even made it onto the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

What have we gotten ourselves into, I wonder? Is he a #45 wannabe?

He sure feels like it, but as we don’t do anything really to anywhere near as dramatic of a degree as our neighbours to the south, I don’t know if he’s going to be as bad as all that. (See my opening for this week’s post.)

As switching from one party to another often goes, in politics, the Liberal Party had a lot of years to run Ontario and now it’s someone else’s turn. I just hope all the scare tactics were playing on mine and other people’s greatest fears, though sometimes my dramatic side feels totally justified.

I’m thankful for the ocean, on World Oceans Day and every day.

The morning after Thursday’s election, I was feeling low about everything, when it seemed the party to beat had started to seem like the NDP, but no big surprise, as my negative side kept whispering in my head. All I wished for was to be by the ocean.

I’m thankful for Dr. Sylvia A. Earle and her mission.

Mission Blue

I’m thankful for my sister helping me shop for what looks/feels good on me, even without being able to see any of it from my end.

It is the strangest thing, to go by fabric and texture and shape, rather than how a colour looks or how it looks on the body. Again, I’ve learned that yellow isn’t my colour. Shame really.

I’m thankful for documentaries about puffins, grey seals, and the coast of Ireland.

The Parts Unknown host visiting the closest thing to Ireland, this side of the Atlantic.

And travel storytellers like the one that was lost for good.

Anthony Bourdain and the Missing Piece – Longreads

RIP to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony Bourdain became one of #MeToo’s strongest allies – The Lily

Earle said to “dive in and go deep” and that’s the way Bourdain seemed to live his life, right up until the end.

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.”

—Anthony Bourdain

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TToT: Pink, Blue, and Violet Too – Celtified! #10Thankful

When you’re tired and you find you can’t sleep,
Hear the song of the wise willow tree.
Feel the breeze kiss her leaves,
So soft and so sweet:
When you’re tired and you find you can’t sleep.

—Willow Lullaby

I was taken by surprise when I, again, discovered music, from here in Canada and known as Cassie and Maggie MacDonald. They were from Nova Scotia and visiting Ontario recently.

I’d like to learn/improve violin (even try playing fiddle in my imagination) and also how to speak Celtic. When I was in Ireland I only left knowing one phrase: Pog mo thoin

Strip the Willow Set … Blue Willow … The Willow Lullaby … Down in the Willow Garden…

See a pattern with the song titles forming here?

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the work my brother puts into our podcast together.

KETCHUP ON PANCAKES: British C or B Columbia

I am thankful for a beautiful live fiddle concert.

I was tapping my foot along with the faster songs and then slow ones like Willow Lullaby had me solemn.

Thank you to those who suggested/brought me along to the show and to Cassie and Maggie and their interesting between-song stories, excellent sisterly talents, and the folk music and lyrics I am now listening to on Apple Music, on repeat.

Let No Man Steal Your Thyme

This phrase was one of the songs they did and I was caught curious about its meaning. After listening to their version of the song, (Maiden’s Lament), I decided the part about thyme representing a young woman’s virginity was somewhat off-putting, but I rather focus on the empowering message not to waste precious time with someone or something negative or unhealthy because life is short.

I’m thankful for little bottles of champaign.

On a hot day, in a busy bar, I ordered a bottle and drank straight from it. A glass was included, but I’d rather not, which makes me unsophisticated, not allowing the bubbles to breathe. Still, it was easier without and I don’t know enough to taste any difference.

I’m thankful for an excellent fiddle album from a musician with the same name as mine.

Look up Kerry Fitzgerald if you have a streaming service, and even if you don’t. She is from near me, though she tours all over. This album is Fiddle Beatz and the mix of her fiddle (violin music) and electronics, plus parts of her own voice make it awesome.

I’m thankful for a surprise email about organ donation.

Someone I met recently took the time to pick up the card, fill it out, and mail it off. She told me it is because she met me that she saw this through, that my brother and I put a relatable human face to the issue.

And now…a short TToT intermission halfway through.

***

So sleep with the sweetest of dreams;
May you dance in the light of moonbeams.
And sing, “Hey Diddle Diddle,” with the cat and his fiddle:
Sleep with the sweetest of dreams.

***

I’m thankful for something cold to drink on a hot day’s walk home.

I am thankful for Apple Music.

I am thankful for a new Lily Allen album.

Lost My Mind – Lily Allen

I am thankful for indoor plumbing.

I can’t tell you just how much.

I am thankful for first local strawberries of the season.

Strawberries, thyme, and the willow tree.

When you find you can’t sleep the night through,
And your worries, they come back to you:
Rest your head on the pillow,
Of leaves from the willow:
If you find you can’t sleep the night through.

—Willow Lullaby

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TToT: Back Home In Ontario Edition, #CFB #Organize #Empowerment #10Thankful

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

—Jonathan Swift

I have been away for a few weeks, most recently in British Columbia and before that, I guess I couldn’t seem to organize my thankfuls, but a visit to the ocean is good for a little perspective.

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Caption: Sitting with my group, by the lighthouse, at the end of the breakwater in Victoria.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities

Speaking of, “Organize” was the theme of the 2018 convention for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, in Victoria, BC.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for capable airline pilots.

I’ve probably flown ten times or so in my life. Every one of those times, I hold my breath as the plane speeds down the runway, takes off, and lands again later on. I get nervous, clench my hands into fists, and then try to just go with it.

Through all that, through every bump and jostle of turbulence, I am grateful to feel that there must be a super capable person in charge of flying that aircraft.

This time, flying across Canada and back, was no different.

I’m thankful for a mostly accessible place to stay.

The hotel was a lovely one, with braille in the elevators, marking each floor as you stepped out, all except braille or other tactile numbers on the room doors.

The guy at the desk when we checked in even thought, without us having to suggest it, to stick a piece of tape on each ID key card.

By the end of five nights staying there, I started to feel at home. It was wonderful. I walked around the lobby and the floors with relative ease, even with the drunk group on my floor the one night.

“Blind woman coming,” one of them announced, the loudest of them all. “Stay to the right.” This I already knew.

I couldn’t resist turning back to him, as I walked right to my room door and went to pull my card out, to inform him that my name was Kerry and to: “have a good night.”

I’m thankful for a writer with a car.

A friend of some heard I wanted to visit a few specific places during my Victoria stay and generously offered to drive.

We took cabs otherwise. I did a lot of walking as it was. I appreciated the ride.

On the first leg of that driving, we got to know each other and I discovered she is a writer too. After that, we had plenty to talk about.

I’m thankful for the breakwater.

Up until recently, this long walkway sticking out into the sea, with the lighthouse at its end, had no railings. It wasn’t quite so safe when you couldn’t see.

Now it had railings and I could walk out into the water. I was in heaven out there, as windy as the day was. I never wanted to come back in.

I’m thankful for a welcoming tour of an historic bookstore.

MUNRO’S Books

My new writer friend knew the manager and we were greeted warmly and given some in depth backstory about the building and the owner, who once was married to Alice Munro and is famous for that union.

I’m thankful for a comfortable and also stimulating day of discussion, listening, and new friendship.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities/conventions

It was the largest group for its convention. We from Ontario were celebrated and welcomed guests in attendance for the first time.

There were talks and discussions throughout the day on Saturday, making it a long one, but oh so worth it.

Being in a room where almost everyone is without sight, there was help and understanding assistance from everyone, from where to find an available seat or to feeling free to speak one’s mind. We didn’t always agree on every issue (universal design, accessibility, guide dog issues, career search, disability awareness), but we all were there to listen to each other.

We even had a few special visiting guest speakers: one was an expert on advocacy from University of Victoria and the other on social media trends.

I’m thankful for compassionate and passionate sighted allies and their ideas.

As nice as it is to join together as those living as blind Canadians, as essential and important, it’s good to be able to share with understanding people with sight too.

The writer/driver and her partner were there, along with a university student film maker, to capture the day’s events and they decided to interview some of us, for development of a possible short documentary called Listening To Blind Canadians.

In her car, she told us how she knew one of the women from the CFB and their parents had found companionship with each other in their later years. She didn’t seem to be fascinated by blindness in any artificial kind of way, like we were some sideshow to her. Just that she wanted to be there, as a friend and ally, to bridge the gap and promote a wider understanding through shared humanity.

I’m thankful for helpful people during travel.

From the BC Ferry Service employees, who helped us on and off and to comfortable seats to many public transit (Sky Train) workers who helped us find the next train, the right one.

We decided to do a ferry ride to the mainland and back, in one day. We went to check out Vancouver and meet up with my brother’s friend for lunch.

We did mostly traveling though, met another blind person on the bus and traveled part of our way with him, and yet I even got to walk into the water of the Pacific.

Even one of the fellow CFB members, also attending the convention, was a big help. He was around and free to go along with us, knew the city of Vancouver pretty well and had lots of practice riding those trains.

I’m thankful for delicious salads on my travels.

It was greens, seeds, cucumber, a sort of sweet vinaigrette, and the freshest little cherry tomatoes.

Mmm.

Last time I found a delicious salad like that, I was in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I’m thankful for those who came before.

We were able to travel on buses and trains independently, knowing our stop was coming up, all because of an automated announcement of streets. I take this sort of thing for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. There were people who demanded that service and had to fight for it.

I met the CFB treasurer, who was born in the UK, who wrote a book
The Politics of Blindness
and then I finally managed to read that book.

Here’s to the beauty of Canada’s west coast and to organization, to truly make a change.

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