1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, FTSF, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, SoCS, Spotlight Saturday

Bad Words and Battlefields, #FTSF #SoCS

As the days grow darker, I wonder about why darker is harder for people.

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Sleep and internal clocks and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are the ones that are most felt this time of year.

I get my time from my iPhone, which turns back an extra hour automatically, (will do so again tonight) rather than the clocks on appliances. I like that hour, as there’s a time for everything, even the chance for more sleep, something I blame pain more on than anything else when I don’t get enough of it.

Darker is the start of winter, but it is summer somewhere. Australia and New Zealand are down there, waiting for me, but life goes on until then. I go in to the colder, darker season in Canada with an appreciation for where I live. Christmas means darker, but with that five o’clock darkness, come Christmas lights. Christmas makes me happy. I let the additional hours of darkness bring me peace and reflection. I try not to focus on word meaning all of the time, letting my sensitivities get the better of me, but why is dark bad and light good anyway?

Our fears hide out there, just waiting for the right moment to leap out and scare us?

I’ve written about this before and probably can’t sum it up any better now, as Daylight Savings comes upon us for another year. I do wonder why and then my answer comes, as to why blindness is feared like it is. The idea of being left in darkness for the rest of one’s life is scary, I get it. Still, black and dark are so entrenched in our consciousness as things unwanted and feared. Whether it’s skin colour of another or a state of seeing/not seeing the world. Will we ever get away from such associations?

November is one of those more difficult months for me, at certain moments at least, as I look back over past experiences with these thirty days. Things happened to me in this month I won’t ever forget, things that have left solid impressions on the person I am.

Zooming out to a broader picture, it means solemn thoughts of war for Canada, with Remembrance Day (November 11th) and this year’s 100year anniversary in particular. I feel worse about the subject of war (the lessons we’ve learned and those we yet haven’t) than I do any dark morning or evening come too soon. Just as many lives were lost in the four years of World War I during bright, daylight hours, just as much death and carnage. Likely, more, as the armies needed the daylight hours to see what they were doing. Night would have been when it was smarter to hunker down in separate trenches wherever and whenever possible.

I think of every ghost, set adrift across those European battlefields, and I am haunted by the heaviness of so many souls lost.

And I go onward to November 11th this year with a heavy heart once again, though I don’t know exactly why that is.

I think of that word often and I don’t need Halloween or a day devoted to wars to do so. This month holds memories, like the hauntings of a shadowy realm.

I have all things monsters and ghosts on my mind still, even with Halloween in the rearview mirror for another year. Darker days mean winter and winter means ice.

I had to go to the easiest accessible book to me and that was my shelf of all seven Harry Potter stories to find my random word.

I did
point
and a wintery word is what I got.

Black ice can be a danger on the roads in Canada, in the months ahead. Scary.

Harry Potter stories use ghosts and monsters to great effect. The ice forms when the monstrous, hideous dementors show up. (Read the series to learn more about those.)

A fascinating representation of the things that scare us, threaten to remove all happiness, like the depression that is sometimes seasonal and sometimes all year round.

If you can, look at what darkness brings that is pleasant and happy, rather than those things it hides or covers up or frightens you with. Maybe, one day, we can change some of the feelings around what darkness represents.

What’s good could be bad and what’s bad could be good.

This is the weekend of
stream of consciousness prompts
for another
Finish the Sentence Friday
in early November.

I am back and taking part, after several weeks of distractions and elsewhere’s. Also, I’m writing blog posts and prompts, while avoiding something I should really be doing instead. This is okay, I suppose, but I know I need to get back to it shortly.

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TToT: Yellow Gold and Paula Red, #10Thankful

“But the fall was beautiful, too. There was the joy of winds blowing in from a darkly blue gulf and the splendour of harvest moons. There were lyric asters in the Hollow and children laughing in an apple-laden orchard, clear serene evenings on the high hill pastures of the Upper Glen and silvery mackerel skies with dank birds flying across them; and, as the days shortened, little grey mists stealing over the dunes and up the harbour.”

ANNE OF INGLESIDE

I skipped this most helpful of gratitude exercises for a week or two, feeling like the odd one out with my lack of enthusiasm for summer and desire to see the end of the Labor Day long weekend, but I am thrilled that September has arrived because I have a feeling it’s going to be a most excellent month.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful we have a friend from Ireland visiting for a few weeks.

I’m thankful for my sister’s help on a contract for a writing assignment I’ve been given.

More to come on this next month, but the whole process is still an intimidating one.

I’m thankful for waves at the lake.

Such bodies of water are a beautiful show of nature’s power. I am awed by them.

I got to sit at the shore, on a chair with my feet in the water, and feel the waves wash in and then the pull of them going back out again.

I’m thankful for an especially intense violin lesson.

I was struggling to learn a certain rhythm in a certain part of the song. It was a challenge and I kept at it.

I’m thankful I could play along with my teacher.

I would have thought it would make me more nervous, but it seems to give me courage and encouragement.

I’m thankful for peaches in ice cream.

I’m thankful I got my story out on what made my summer special.

Tap to Travel: A Unique Reason to Visit Orlando

I’m thankful for a sunburn that’s healing.

Entirely my fault, but sun: I bow down to your mighty rays.

It was a particularly bad one, on both my legs, but I now have a greater appreciation for the pain burn victims endure. The skin is an amazing organ, but I really must stop putting mine at risk, as mine is an increased risk of skin cancer from being an organ transplant recipient.

I’m thankful I don’t have to start school this week, though I do have some plans.

I’m thankful for September.

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TToT: Just Passing Through – Relative Pitch, #FirstDayOfSpring #10Thankful

Spring has sprung!

What’s up everyone?

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for a spot on my local television channel.

What’s Up Oxford – Rogers TV

I’m still nervous to be on camera, saying “um” a lot, but I was happy overall.

I’m thankful my local newspaper gave my story a chance.

Woodstock resident hopes to help blind people enjoy the movies with better descriptive audio – Woodstock Sentinel Review

I made the front page. The Ontario premier was on the second page.

It’s frustrating that my own local theatre didn’t even respond to interview requests, either because they were busy or avoiding the whole thing, but I don’t intend to let them stay silent on this issue for much longer.

I’m thankful for a few recent opportunities from my irregular appearances on Twitter.

I hesitate to get into these really, yet, and what they actually are or might become, but I am feeling pretty good about it. At least, with this whole recent set of realities about the risks of Facebook, at least Twitter is a totally risk free platform, right?

Yeah, right. Sure. Still, I know the risks and they must be weighed rationally.

I’m thankful for modern medicine here in Canada.

I take all the modern hospital facilities and equipment for granted, as I’ve always had it available to me. Here in a country such as Canada we have so much. In 2018 I have no reason to believe my loved one won’t be safe and taken care of.

I’m thankful for universal healthcare…not free like some people like to say/think it is.

Like the great and powerful gun debate, the one over what universal healthcare system Canada has vs what the US has and how both countries compare to many others, this rages on and on and on.

Nothing’s perfect. Certainly Canada is not. Yet, I am glad I was born here and have no tough insurance choices to make, no mega medical bills or debts hanging over my head and neither do my loved ones.

I’m thankful my brother is doing better, that it wasn’t something more serious.

He had stomach pains, but it wasn’t on the side where his five-year-old transplanted kidney sits. That brought me relief when I heard, even though I wanted someone to find out why he was having pain otherwise.

They thought it was his appendix, but no sign that that is the case. Frustrating, the mystery of the whole thing. For now, he’s doing better, and I hope it will stay that way.

I’m thankful for a gathering of strong voices.

I do worry for all the pressure put on those who are still young, fighting and speaking for safety and an end to gun violence, but they are strong in spite of it all. I hope they can survive it, but I am glad the adults aren’t silencing the younger generation.

I’m thankful for an Easter egg hunt, with the kids, in the yard.

The sun was out, but it was still a bitterly cold wind blowing as they searched. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to bother them much.

I’m thankful for spring.

Even though I don’t agree with most about how horrid winter can be, I do admit when it’s a lovely feeling to sense the start of a new season in the air.

I love the birds and even the rain.

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Speaking of Easter and spring…this one plastic egg got discovered by a wild creature, instead of a child; child proof and critter proof too.

I’m thankful for nature. (More to come on that as April draws nearer.)

What animal, would you guess, tried to make its way in for what treats were hiding inside?

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Poetry, Song Lyric Sunday

Shades of the Unwell, #SongLyricSunday

I lived in a kind of shadow world, most of my twenties.

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The chronic pain I was living with had covered me over, casting a shadow over my days:

Chronic pain makes you feel invisible, or at least it did me. Shadows flitting, everything fleeting.

I was left to watch them dance across my walls and ceiling at night, wondering what any of it was even for, if I even mattered or had a purpose at all.

What was the point of sleep? Was there even any reason for me to get up in the morning?

***

All day staring at the ceiling
Making friends with shadows on my wall
All night hearing voices telling me
That I should get some sleep
Because tomorrow might be good for something
Hold on
Feeling like I’m headed for a breakdown
And I don’t know why

[Chorus]
But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be…me

I’m talking to myself in public
Dodging glances on the train
And I know, I know they’ve all been talking about me
I can hear them whisper
And it makes me think there must be something wrong with me
Out of all the hours thinking
Somehow I’ve lost my mind

[Chorus]
But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be

I’ve been talking in my sleep
Pretty soon they’ll come to get me
Yeah, they’re taking me away

[Chorus]
But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be
Yeah, how I used to be
How I used to be
Well, I’m just a little unwell
How I used to be
How I used to be
I’m just a little unwell

LYRICS

***

I wanted people to see me for who I was, who I had been, or could be. I worried nobody would see my value in the world any longer, that they wouldn’t stick around long enough to see me as more than how unwell I felt.

This week’s lyrics (the Matchbox 20 song I’ve chosen) are all about
shadows
and the tricks they play on the mind.

I still don’t sleep all that well, even though I feel again like I have a purpose, though the timing of this post takes me back to those shadow filled long nights of my twenties again.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF

Songs For My Soul, #InternationalWomensDay #TGIF #FTSF

Almost exactly two years ago, for something called 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion and for International Day of Happiness, I wrote
this post
of my top ten favourite albums.

This time
for Finish the Sentence Friday
I will choose my top ten favourite songs because it is top ten week.

“I’ve looked in the mirror, and the world’s getting clearer. So wait for me this time.”

Time – Chantal Kreviazuk

This first song is about time that feels like it’s running out and I’m still playing catchup.

“My scars are what got me this far. And now I can touch the stars. Cause’ it don’t matter who you are. Who you are. We’ve all got scars.”

Scars – Emmanuel Jal feat. Nelly Furtado

This powerful and poignant duet is about scars, real physical ones and the scars on the heart. I’ve got both, but I am proud to have them as a part of me.

“DJ’s playing the same song. I have so much to do. I have to carry on. I wonder, will this grief ever be gone. Will it ever go? I’m the
King of Sorrow.” – Sade

This is a truly sad one, but I love this artist because her songs range from sorrowful to sensual.

So that’s why I couldn’t pick one over the other and had to include two in this list.

No Ordinary Love – Sade

Next, I must include an all-time favourite, with the piano violin combo, that makes me cry every time.

“All my plans, fell through my hands, they fell through my hands on me. All my dreams, it suddenly seems, it suddenly seems…”
Empty – The Cranberries

And now, it’s all the more sad, since this singer died early this year.

“Everybody loves you when you’re easy. Everybody hates when you’re a bore. Everyone is waiting for your entrance. So don’t disappoint them.”

Black and White – Sarah McLachlan

Being afraid, not always feeling like I was enough, and this one is all about my fear of being one giant disappointment to the world and the pressures of that.

“Be a good girl. You gotta try a little harder. That simply wasn’t good enough, to make us proud.”

Perfect – Alanis Morisette

This is likely a song about one of those parents who is living through their child. That’s not why it struck a cord with me. It wasn’t anything like that. Yet, there was a time when I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough and was letting everyone down.

“I believe that when the hurting and the pain has gone, We will be strong, Oh yes we will be strong And I believe that if I’m crying while I write these words Is it absurd? Or am I being real…
I Believe – Tears For Fears

“I believe, no I can’t believe That every time you hear a newborn scream You just can’t see the shaping of a life.”

Okay, so you may be wondering, what’s with all the sad stuff.

This next one, I will write/quote no lyrics from, but see if you can tell the mood of it anyway.

Smile – Lily Allen

It seems more upbeat anyway, than some of what I’ve included here, though it’s a young girl who is acting rather petty. In recognition of yesterday (March 8th) being International Women’s Day, I thought I’d showcase what growth and empowerment can stem from.

Devil Inside – Inxs

We all have a bit of a bad bit, inside, somewhere. This song is my way to end this list, on a bit of a cheeky note.

Of course, there are many more and I could likely do this again, even if it’s sometimes hard to think on the spot. So many to choose from, songs are my fuel and my energy to keep going, but I will stop at these four for today.

I am excited to learn, hear the songs that made the top ten for
Kenya Johnson of Sporatically Yours
as a co-host with Kristi.

Plus, a bonus guest host:

Jen Kehl (one part of The Stereo Sisters)

I see I’m not the biggest music fan here.

And so, the above songs have changed me, made my life better, richer, have soothed my soul.

Thanks for listening.

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Sewing The Seeds, #TearsForFears #Compassion #1000Speak

“Time…to eat all your words…swallow your pride…open your eyes.”

I won’t include a link to TFF’s most well-known song: Everybody Wants to Rule the World, because I am sick of power and reckless lack of humanity.

As we show the next generation the way, we need to show them love, but too many of us won’t admit where we went wrong ourselves.

Though, (both love and hate, as movements/floods), can, instead, be seen as seeds sewn in each and every one of us given the right environment for such strong emotions.

Adults, those who are handed the positions of power and leadership, do your job and LEAD!!!

I am tired. I am not thinking all that straight. I just can’t…

I was pulled in two different directions on this night, just after February 20th, and of equal wonder, though firmly rooted in sadness for everything I wish could be different but isn’t.

First, a group of youth from the Jane and Finch area of Toronto were treated to a screening of Black Panther and given the chance to see a black man as superhero for a change.

Then, I heard recording of the students in Florida, one in particular, speaking out on the BS they see from the adults and those running their country.

I wanted to cheer all these kids on, to believe they would be in history books in years to come and for only the best of reasons, that they would see nothing else but positive role models that might show them some hope somewhere along the way.

I have two sets of nieces and nephews: one set currently attends a school in an urban setting, in a highly diverse neighbourhood, in one of the busiest cities in Canada.

My second set (nephew for the moment, but soon both nephew and niece, or soon enough) who go and will go to school, in a rural area. It’s out in the middle of the countryside, where their parent/aunt/uncles went to school once upon a time, long long ago, where we grew up in a highly sheltered setting.

If I thought, ever for one moment truly, that any of them were at risk of having some angry/out-of-control person walk into their classrooms with a dangerous weapon, able to kill like we all saw in Florida last week…

My chest both constricts painfully and threatens to burst at such a notion as this. I can hear the anger and the pain and frustration in the voice of that young woman on the video, speaking up for her friends and classmates and herself.

I know there is anger and it is justified. I just wish she wasn’t left with such anger in the first place. It seems to be pushing a great many young people, those speaking with such poise for the media and the world to hear, and these are young people who were born around the turn of this new century, barely even born when 9/11 occurred.

Now I am forced to contemplate my own loved one’s voice shake with anger like that, if anything were to ever happen so dreadful as all this, and I don’t want to.

February 20th was the 3rd anniversary of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, the blogging event that a bunch of writers created all the way back in 2015 and of which I was moved to join in on at the time.

More regular violence in places like Syria (those poor babies), (in schools/places of worship) but also there have been changes for the better since 2015 – #MeToo and #TimesUp to name a few.

On this anniversary, with so many horrible things/monumental things having taken place in the last three years, I thought I’d write again on the subject of compassion toward ourselves, each other, and the wider world. Today I was inspired to speak about this, using one of my favourite bands and their lyrics to make my point.

And so, another senseless event, and I have nothing to say, but I find words anyway, but perhaps I am just too naive to know any better. I still believe:

The songs I’ve chosen for this post, from Tears For Fears, they make me cry and they make me keep on hoping, shouting my message of compassion, even in my most furious and pained moments.

As for 1000Speak, this blogging movement for compassion did not continue more than a few years, as I sensed many of its original participants found they eventually couldn’t restate the same things anymore, that they had no more to give to it, no more to add. The fatigue sets in and we ask “what’s the point”?

I get it. I mean, after all, who’s really even listening to my thoughts on all this anyway?

Things change and life goes on, I understand, as sad as that made me, and still does. I feel that same way, but I still write. I don’t give up on compassion. I keep saying my piece. I am glad new voices are always being added though.

Children do need to be where we find hope, where we first look to demonstrate our own humanity, as those who should know better, even if some of us never were shown the way ourselves.

Compassion is a seed that must be sewn and sewn again and again and again.

Thank you to all the hard-working gardeners who keep at it, season after season, year upon year, and throughout all kinds of weather.

As TFF lyrics once put it, as far as compassion and the spreading of it goes: “it’s under my skin and out of my hands.”

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TToT: Silver, Gold, and That’s So Weird – Go Train Phenomenon, #10Thankful

To drink from the fountain
Of the little you know about love and god

—Sarah Slean

I can’t see silver and gold anymore, but at least Canada still has net neutrality.

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Photo caption: Max and Auntie Kerry. My favourite picture, though I cannot see it.

I have been watching many of the holiday programs in the run-up to Christmas: Home Alone, Rudolph, and an old Frosty classic.

My jolly holiday spirit has been waxing and waning this year, all depending on the day, which is why I am still here with my third Christmas season with Ten Things, keeping the gratitude going and written for the record.

It’s funny, that the Christmas song I ended last week’s TToT post with (all about the kind of snow we get here in Canada) and then that is the one Christmas song Sarah Slean chose to perform at her concert that night, the one I am happy to report I got to enjoy. This leads me to my first thankful for this last week before Christmas finally arrives.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the weather holding back, if not the bitter cold, at least the blowing snow.

I live over an hour from Toronto and where most of the concerts are. I am thankful the weather cooperated and that I had family willing to make that trip, to drive me to see Sarah Slean and her band live.

December in Ontario, Canada can be unpredictable, but though it was so bitter cold, I was eventually warm inside the intimate venue, with some lovely music and a good friend.

I’m thankful for a truly uplifting early Christmas gift of a concert, with a friend and fellow writer.

Sarah sang beautifully, with a woman who doubled as backup and cello. She also had a guy on the drums, violins, and viola players. Slean herself, as well as being lead singer, played piano.

She even forgot the first line of her big single (Sarah) and had to stop the music and shout out for the lyrics. It was a sign that nobody’s perfect and we all forget things and make a mistake, if you can even call it that. We are all human. It happens. She has been writing songs for something like twenty years and her audience of all us fans were understanding.

Sarah spoke, in between songs, about the shelter she volunteers at in Toronto and the people she’s met there. The concert was raising money for food for Christmas for
St. Felix Centre on Facebook.

She spoke of the snap judgments we are all guilty of making in our daily lives, using one of many hashtags during the evening (#GOTrainPhenomenon) for what happened the night it was just her and one scary looking man on a GO Train. When you’re trapped on a moving vehicle, you have nowhere to run and hide, which can open your eyes in unexpected ways.

She considers herself something of a #SongWitch for what happens to her when a set of lyrics and piece of music come to her and become something special.

Her lyrics are heartbreakingly beautiful and wise.

Sarah Slean – Perfect Sky

I’m thankful my friend and guest (her birthday being the next day) and I could talk, even during intermission, and her spirit could be lifted just as mine was.

We struggle with writing, at times, but we shared our experiences, back and forth. I know we inspired each other to never give up and to continue on this path we’re both on.

It was different songs that spoke to the two of us, but all that matters is we got something special and unique out of it.

Mine was the first song Sarah sang, about there never being a perfect sky and right away I was listening. She had my attention for sure. I am often afraid I will one day no longer even see what sky is, but the message about not waiting for some perfection that will never come was duly noted.

For my friend, it was a song about finding the right words and that endless search to say exactly what it is any of us wants to say.

I’m thankful for more speaking up and activism from a powerful advocate and friend, after an unexpected piece of news.

I went to the Sarah Slean show, happy to avoid hearing the news of the vote in Alabama that I’d been hearing, frankly, too much about.

What happened in that state was and is a smaller scale example of the disbelief I have for who is POTUS right now. It is all so nonsensical and disgusting. I feel like I live in some kind of upside-down world, on a daily basis, even from my semi-regular life here in Canada at this time.

It’s a sign that sure things shouldn’t be assumed/presumed or counted on. It felt like all those who mocked anyone for their confidence in Hillary Clinton winning the presidency, like it was such a sure thing in 2016, were given a taste of their own medicine here in 2017. Cockiness is not such a good attitude to have when it comes to these things.

Enough people, the right people weren’t having it and I will let Kerra speak on the rest.

How black women saved Alabama — and democracy (CNN Opinion)

I am so proud to know her and that she has found this place for her opinions on the fate of her birth country.

I’m thankful for people to check on me when I’ve had a bad day and couldn’t be found.

I stay in touch with someone, as I am on my own a lot, and then I have my bad days when the pain makes me want to sleep and shut out the world.

I appreciate being left to this sometimes, but I know I am always being watched over and protected.

Whether it’s family or neighbour, it is a nice thing to know.

I’m thankful for a pleasant and successful final National Foundation of the Blind Peer Advisor conference call before the holidays.

We are a team in many ways. We support each other in our limitless pursuits. It’s a good group.

We speak, by phone, one Thursday evening each month. This was our evening to hear about holiday plans and traditions. Still, I am the only peer advisor from Canada in the group. One woman calls from Australia.

Maybe we will all meet in person one day.

I’m thankful for such fun kids in my life.

It was a wonderful pre-Christmas Saturday with my niece and nephew.

My niece has herself a dollhouse, which is actually for a family of bunny rabbits. My nephew played with his big sister and her rabbit family.

I sometimes like to join in their games. Other times, I love to just watch and listen as they play. They fight, like siblings often do, but they love to play together too. It’s super sweet to witness the fun they have with each other.

I’m thankful for Chippy.

I believe that is his name, their Elf On The Shelf, who shows up somewhere new every morning leading up to Christmas.

My niece and nephew enjoy looking for him in a new spot every morning, like hanging from a light, as he was the day we were there.

I guess, I don’t really know the rules, as this wasn’t a thing when I was growing up. Still, they seem to love it. It is one of the special holiday traditions they have as a family.

I’m thankful for such smart kids in my life, asking questions.

My brother had the new Blue Planet oceans shows all downloaded and my niece was all into learning about sharks. She could become a scientist (marine biologist perhaps) or an artist. That’s what is so amazing about her. Her future, with all that curiosity and intelligence, is wide open.

My nephew is settling in at school his first year and making friends. He is so inquisitive and full of life. He makes me smile, the sweetest little soul.

They asked questions and seemed to begin to understand, more and more, about what blindness means in their aunt and their uncle.

I am glad we could share a love for marine documentaries and colours.

I’m thankful for old champaign still tasting good.

Thanks for the hospitality goes out to my brother and sister-in-law, for the snacks, and the holiday cheer.

S…A…N…T…A
S…A…N…T…A
S…A…N…T…a
And Santa is his name-o!

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