1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, National Novel Writing Month, RIP, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, Writing

Lay Down Your Weapons #RemembranceDay #SoCS

I am trying to write about war.

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On this November 11th, I try to put myself in the place of, say, my grandmother. She lived through World War II and yet I feel like I never even scratched the surface with her. She spoke of that time in her life, more than most, but yet not nearly enough.

I am trying to get down the words, at least a beginning to what could become a novel some day. November is not only Remembrance Day, but it is also National Novel Writing Month and, at this rate, I am not likely to make the fifty thousand words that is the ultimate goal.

I have a near stroke when I think of the setting I want my story to have. I worried that this piece of writing required too much research. NaNoWriMo isn’t supposed to be about doing research. That comes later. Just write.

In a way though, I feel I’ve kind of being doing my own form of research, for many years. I’ve been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember, most especially World War I and II and the 20th century. I’ve watched documentaries and read up on lived accounts of those years. Still, as much of an empath as I feel I am, it is hard to put myself in that place.

How would it feel to be living during World War I or World War II anyway?

I listen to true and up close accounts of soldiers, in the trenches, between 1914 and 1918 and the rats and the mud and the stench of death all around you.

I’ve listened hard to personal accounts in interviews, Jews and other victims of the carnage. I am writing a story about a woman, her mother, and trying to raise three young children/grandchildren during such days. I am trying to put myself in their shoes. That seems, though I am a human too, to be a difficult task, a goal, one I am fighting hard to reach.

I love my country, am happy to be Canadian, but I am no patriot. I wish political parties and affiliations didn’t exist. On a day like November 11th, I don’t glorify war, just like I don’t glorify it any other day of the year. My goal, in learning about it and writing about it, is to try and make it not repeat itself, like I have that power.

All the talk of bravery gets to me. Of course, it would be scary to be caught in a war, but to make the decision to go and fight in one is different altogether.

I feel like I am being disrespectful. I know it’s a sacrifice to risk losing a leg, an arm, or one’s life to war. I speak the truth of it, but what it is is ugly and awful and, I believe, unnecessary.

I heard a song on the radio earlier today, one that very nearly brought me to tears, about how we’re all one, all family, every one of us. We are from different countries, continents, cultures, and races certainly. Some say this makes us different in ways that cannot be altered. Others sing those songs of coming together as one, in humanity.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS (Remembrance Day Edition)

I wish walls were never built and lines never crossed in anger. I am not in control of most of this. Losing limbs seems, to some, to be a possible price to pay for freedom and democracy. I just want to write about war. I don’t want to see any more. People say, when it comes to us imperfect and often boastful humans, that will never be the case.

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My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015

Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.

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It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.

Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.

This is how it’s done.

So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.

JANUARY

One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.

I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.

I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.

This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.

Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.

We All Need The Village

&

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.

Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.

FEBRUARY

This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.

One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous

Then came

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.

A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski

I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.

This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.

Dating in the Dark

This is my life.

MARCH

This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done

There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.

The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.

I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.

RIP Edward Herman

(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)

Second,

Love and Despair

with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.

Third, Christopher Lee.

Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

APRIL

Babies are born and babies die everyday.

Departed and Demented

Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.

The Dark Mark

These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month

I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.

Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.

I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.

Milestones and Siblings

I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.

Orphaned

It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.

MAY

Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.

I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.

Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.

If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.

Writing the World, Sight Unseen

The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.

🙂

Oh, and then there’s this.

The Second Chances Anthology

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At least some good came from the month of May.

Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.

Ten Things of Thankful

May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.

There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World

End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.

JUNE

And I had a publisher. Yay!

Little Bird Publishing House

And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.

Close But No Cigar

The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.

New Month, New Me

Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.

The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.

Every F****n Day – Lolawolf

“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”

🙂

This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.

Figure It Out – Royal Blood

I was trying.

This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:

**Five years for Grandpa

Ruby Red

**Five years for Oma

Gardens of Sunset

**And ten years for Grandma

You Are My Sunshine

Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.

RIP James Horner

The US did make some progress this summer.

ROYGBIV

JULY

My country has made some much needed changes this year too.

Canada Day, 2015

We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.

Life is all about the fireworks.

BANG!!!

Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,

(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)

I had one hell of a summer.

One Last Kiss

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!

CHECK!

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That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.

Color, Light, and Magic

Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.

AUGUST

It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One

&

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two

The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.

Read a review of the play here:

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank

And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.

Big Blue Live

And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.

Be Real

My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.

Rural Pride, County Wide

Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.

SEPTEMBER

When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.

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With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.

Perfection

At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.

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Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon

OCTOBER

I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.

Check it out here.

This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:

Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210

By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,

Canadians felt it was time for a change.

I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.

Travelling with the Speed of Sight

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.

NOVEMBER

The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Words with Friends

Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.

Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.

In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later

An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,

with the attack in Paris.

Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.

And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,

with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.

It was time to celebrate a great man.

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My Father Turned Sixty

On the final day of November.

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DECEMBER

As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015

We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.

My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.

For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.

Decade Adrift

The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.

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We were all together and Brian played music again.

My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another

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Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!

In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Talking to Amy Gigi Alexander

He Named Me Malala

&

The 1994 Miep Gies Lecture

Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.

Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015

On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:

First, Vulnicura.

Black Lake

by Bjork.

Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.

Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.

And third, Honeymoon.

High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray

As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.

This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.

Let Them Eat Cake

I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.

I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.

FGP’s Virtual Holiday Party

I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.

I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.

Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?

Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.

Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.

Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.

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TToT: My Weekly Antidote to Cynicism – Lest We Forget, #10Thankful

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

–Gordon Lightfoot

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

This week was less like the last, and more like it must have been forty years ago. It felt gloomy. It was windy and rainy, just like it was, this time in the month of November, when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in lake Superior.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Okay, so I usually put a lot into these weekly posts here and enjoy doing so, but this week, for the first time, a lot has hit me all at once. Not sure I can keep it up to my usual standard.

This week’s been an emotional one, starting with Remembrance Day, Friday the 13th, and the unexpected horror of more terrorism and violent attacks came as a total surprise, but my week was not through with me yet.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the way the children in my life remind me to appreciate the simple things.

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For the honour to be asked.

A friend wondered if I would do something for her and her daughter, be a reference, and I was just so pleased to be the one she would come to.

For the work another friend put into something, she hoped I could use on my blog.

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She didn’t have to do this, but she did it anyway.

For the way history comes alive for me, even forty years later.

In the eighth grade I had a history teacher, Mr. V, who gave us the lyrics to a song as a school project. He played the famous song in class and I learned about the wonder and the power of our Great Lakes.

Gordon Lightfoot recalls the night of the SS Edmond Fitzgerald’s sinking

It was the first time, after studying Canada’s founding fathers of Confederation and being bored out of my mind, that I began to really care about history and I learned what it could mean, as a true teacher of the past and also future, as far as lessons go.

For freedom, even if I don’t always appear grateful for what I have of it. And for poetry, written 100 years ago, that gave me a way to connect to a long ago event like World War I:

The Changing Shades of Flanders Fields’

Sometimes I feel like I don’t appreciate the sacrifices made, as is so commonly spoken about on November 11th (Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day) whatever you know it as.

The Complicated Task of Never Forgetting

This is not true. I know I am lucky because if those wars hadn’t been fought, who knows what might have happened, but I just feel so morally opposed to war that I have trouble.

I know. I know. Nobody likes war. I am thankful for other perspectives, even when I have a really hard time understanding.

I got the chance, on Remembrance Day, to listen to an interview with a Canadian soldier who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. He lost both his legs, fighting for a cause he believed in. Although I felt myself beginning to shout at the TV screen, a few times as he spoke of why he wanted to go and fight, I tried really hard to understand his point-of-view. I had to at least try and I am thankful I made the effort.

For the writing and the lessons from Anne Frank and her life and for my blog, the diary to my modern world.

My father saw that there was a new documentary on her life and he asked if I wanted to watch it with him.

The subject of World War II, in particular, he and I have both always been interested in. As completely horrible as it was, unthinkable, I am glad my father showed me that stuff, because it’s made me a more compassionate and empathetic person, and for that I thank him. I also thank Anne for being who she was, as courageous as she was, at her age and through all she went through. Her writing is what I admire most and I am thankful her work was shared.

For those who made sure, even after she no longer lived, that her writing lived on for her.

Her father, Otto Frank, and for the family’s friend and Otto’s employee, Miep Gies, who discovered the diary and kept it safe until Anne’s father returned and saw that it get published. I wish I could have had the chance to meet her. She seemed like a really cool old lady, even in the 90s:

Miep Gies Wallenberg Lecture

I once more, after this past summer’s visits to the Anne Frank exhibit, and with this week’s reflections on wars, began to let myself fall down the path of listening to Holocaust survivor stories, through YouTube interviews. This can be a difficult place for me, so I had to watch myself, or it could become all too consuming. I know when and where to leave things, to remain positive and grateful.

For VoiceOver.

Just thinking about where people were during the thirties and forties even, compared to now and today’s modern age of technology. Truly amazing to think about.

Believe me, I don’t only think about this at this time of year, but all the time actually. I am lucky to have electronic devices that talk and read to me, opening up the world and providing all the information I could possibly need or want.

This makes things so much more accessible, of course, but it makes it harder to hide what might be going on in the world, compared to when Anne Frank and millions of others were suffering and being persecuted and killed.

These things are still going on, but we can’t pretend anymore.

For my safe home in Canada.

I know the fear of these times we’re living in, with terrorism as a global problem. I am not naive enough to think things can’t happen here or anywhere, but I know I am not a refugee who has no choice but to flee my home. I have not been caught in a terrorist attack. Not yet.

For the modern healthcare that is at my fingertips and at the ready when a family member is in need.

I felt the not-so-unfamiliar feeling in the pit of my stomach, the deep down fear for my brother’s health and the kidney transplant that is only just over two years old. It is a fragile balance.

Here I was, just last week, complaining that I worry sometimes about my own kidney failing, but the truth is that I haven’t been hospitalized in fifteen or so years, but my brother has had to be plenty of times in the last five or six years alone.

Well, the reason I easily could have avoided TToT this week is that things are still up-in-the-air and that still scares me a lot to think about, because he’s always had a complex medical story and nothing is clear yet.

I haven’t slept, after what happened in PAris the other night (which already gets me on edge) and then I heard how unwell my brother has been all week. I hadn’t realized he felt this bad.

I spent the evening in emerge with him. I can’t help but want to go to him at times like this. We are close, in our sibling bond, but because we’ve both gone through some incredibly complicated medical crap together over the years, and I would never want anything to happen to him. I needed to see to it that he was going to be alright.

So, hopefully things with my brother get figured out.

Over the next few days to a week I hope for that and I will go forward and let the start of the holiday season warm me, starting with my favourite Parks and Recreation character, to launch the season officially:

Nick Offerman shares his thoughts on Oprah’s Favourite Things

Forget Christmas music starting to be heard on the radio or the Santa Claus Parade. Nick knows how to usher in the Christmas season something fierce.

🙂

Last week, Canada’s new leader, Justin Trudeau, was sworn in. He has been big news and the New York Times even had an article where they referred to him as:

An Antidote to Cynicism in Canada

Well, as crazy as things may have gotten this week, Ten Things of Thankful is my antidote to cynicism.

After all that’s happened this week, I will try to go forward and into the holidays, and try to remember these words and to follow them:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

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I Will Never Forget Yet I Will Never Understand

Yesterday was Remembrance Day here in Canada, Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day; whatever you call it where you are it is the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that we stop to remember.

I thought about writing, but as you see, I held off until today. Why did I do this?

Today is the day after and I wanted to speak about my feelings, but couldn’t quite say what I wanted to say on the day when others were both remembering and speaking theirs. I will admit I was afraid of coming off as disrespectful or ungrateful. I did not want to offend. That is not my intention here.

I have written about my interest in the world wars in the past on this blog:

Day in the Museum, Part Three: Keep Calm and Carry On

I often immerse myself in the stories and the details of World War I and World War II specifically. These events in 20th century history have always held my attention and baffled me greatly.

The recent events here in Canada, more specifically in our capital of Ottawa affected us and me, so much so that I can’t speak about Remembrance Day without speaking about the loss we’ve collectively suffered only weeks ago.

First there was the hit-and-run in Quebec, of Officer Patrice Vincent.

Then, only a few days later, on the morning of October 22rd, my phone blew up with news updates on an attack in progress in Canada’s capital city. The news was not good.

There had been a shooting at The National War Memorial, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on Parliament Hill.

The country was in a panic and Ottawa, as a city, was in a frenzy. What was going on? Were we under attack?

I began to feel highly panicky and anxious, even though I lived several hours from Ottawa myself.

By the end of the day it had been established that one lone soldier, standing guard and unarmed at the memorial, Nathan Cirillo, had been murdered.

The gunmen then proceeded to force his way into the parliament building and was then confronted with a shoot-out, resulting in his death.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa-shooting-a-look-back-at-how-the-week-unfolded-1.2811614

I was asked the other day by a family member why I hadn’t yet written about these events. He figured, as I use this blog and my writing to express my feelings about the things that happen, that I would surely have had something to say on the subject.

I may be totally ungrateful, unaware of how lucky I am and how much I indeed have. I wish nobody any disrespect.

I have no immediate family member currently involved in combat. I do have family who have loved ones who are. Below is a dedication to one such recently deceased soldier:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QerRytM2CJk

Remembrance Day means something to me.

Each November I would sit, cross-legged on the cold floor of my school gymnasium for the November 11th assembly. I felt the sombre mood as fellow students did readings and played soldiers and their families from the Great War, a title I did not understand as a young child.

How could a war be great?” I would wonder.

I was a very literal child.
🙂
Since I heard my school’s choir singing In Flanders Fields, I was captivated and haunted by the lyrics of this famous battlefield poem. Visiting Flanders is on my WanderList. I want to walk in that hallowed place.

I could not find a version of the song that I refer to here, but I was brought right back to those yearly assemblies yesterday, when watching the ceremonies shown live on television. A school choir, like my own, performed the song and I listened in remembrance.

This is one hundred years since that First World War and seventy-five since the Second. I heard about the poppy display at The Tower of London and would have liked to see it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2829837/A-poppy-fallen-Thousands-flock-Tower-London-888-245-ceramic-flowers-planted-pay-respects-Britain-s-war-dead.html

I am aware of all that I have. I have heat in the winter, central air to keep me cool in summer, a house, food to eat, two amazing parents and a family to be proud of.

As a blind woman, I couldn’t live in a better part of the world and I know it. Even with all that I struggle with, I am still so damn lucky.

In this day and age, with the internet and twenty-four hour news it isn’t so easy to live in a bubble of denial or shelter from the rest of the world.

Lyrics such as: don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me, till I come marching home … these old-time lyrics from a period long past seem simple and naive to our world today.

This is the world I imagine existed when World War I broke out. It’s an innocent view of war that some young men may have had before going away to fight in 1914 and then they saw things they could never unsee. Nowadays we know better, (we should know better) but the fighting still goes on all over the world, every single day.

I watched all the ceremonies, the salutes, and honouring of those who’ve sacrificed their lives for my freedom.

I feel proud to be Canadian, but I feel uncomfortable when I watch. I can’t quite make any one day or one particular minute of silence all about pride and honour
. I just can’t. Maybe this makes me a bad person somehow, but I feel an anxiety that the world is doomed to make similar mistakes over and over again.

All the propositions to do better and to strive for peace are all well and good, but I can’t turn a blind eye on what I know about the world, not even on Remembrance Day.

The utter senselessness of World War I and the unimaginable cruelty of World War II will always define the first half of last century for me.

I remember all the time. I don’t need a chosen day or time for this. It is almost constantly on my mind, a world without war.

I don’t know what it was like for my father’s father during World War II and I never will. He is gone now and unable to have any imagined adult conversation with his grown granddaughter about this. I feel a huge empty gap in his life that I can only guess at, an entire fifty-seven years before I was born that include things I will hopefully never experience.

He was a teenager, in France with his family, when the war broke out in 1939 and circumstances, totally out of his control, they were thrust upon him. This I can not possibly fathom.

He and his siblings were taken by the Germans and forced to work for them. I believe he was made to dig ditches and other things I know nothing about. I try so hard sometimes to imagine him during the years of the war and what his life was like.

There has been a lot of talk in recent news, due to recent events, and on every Remembrance Day about bravery and sacrifice. I do not challenge this.

Some of these brave people make the choice to serve, to fight, or to stand guard and protect, such as reservist Nathan Cirillo. His child will now grow up without a father and this is supremely unfair. This child and others have no real choice in the matter.

War brings these choices and to others, to children and the innocent, it brings no choice whatsoever. Peace provides us time to reflect.

I do not mention the names of those who have committed the senseless crimes in Quebec and Ottawa. I do not like to glorify such things, but I reflect on the family members of these sick criminals and what they must be dealing with in the aftermath.

I was not in a rush to defend my country from a direct attack by ISIS. I know what is going on with that right now, but am probably naive about so much. However, the need to jump to attention and to go on the defensive like it is common to do is not where my mind goes.

All I do know is something I recently heard:

An eye for an eye and we are all blind.

As someone who was actually born blind, I consider this truth more potent than any I have ever heard.

I did not rush here to pour out my raw and unexamined feelings about Ottawa’s recent attack when it happened. I am blessed to live in a country of relative peace and therefore, I have nothing but time for reflection. I depend on and defend the right and my own right to speak about these things in such a place as this.

I want this blog to be a place where I write, to get out feelings sure, but not as a dumping ground for just anything that comes to my mind. Some of it I try to come at from a place of education and also from a place of emotion.

I prefer to mull things over and to write as a way of making sense of those things, but I believe holding off sometimes can only help make what I say sound as clear and concise as possible.

A rant is, more often then not, better suited for a private journal. For me, my blog is where I examine events and ideas from a mature, insightful point-of-view.

I hope that is what I have done here, the day after the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

I will always remember. Yet I am sorry…but I can not ever understand.

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Bucket List, Poetry, Special Occasions

One Hundred

Number 15 on my
Bucket List
is to visit the setting of the poem that can always give me goosebumps.

On this one-hundred-year anniversary of the start of Britain’s fighting in World War I England went dark, except for a single light or candle, for one hour starting at 10 this evening, August 4th.
Poppies fill the moat of The Tower of London in remembrance.

It’s unfathomable to me that 17 million lives were lost over the four plus years of The Great War (and I use that term with a dry chuckle). I know what “great” means in this case, large in scope and impact, but I can’t imagine what it was like to be Canadian during those years.

We had no choice. Britain were at war and we were Britain’s young and inexperienced child. We followed them into the darkness and the death.

I have been fascinated by John McCrae’s tragically sad poem “In Flanders Fields” since it was read at our Remembrance Day assembly in school. Now that I am older and love literature and poetry I see it for the meaningful piece of both of these that it is, a brilliant lyrical window into the suffering of combat and conflict that would be the world wars of the 20th century.

I read about the pride and the duty to one’s country; about the trenches with the death, rotting corpses, the blood, rats, and the lice; the shrapnel, machine gun fire, and the poison gas. I can’t and never will understand this hell. I feel a pull to this time in history too for the romance of the love letters written by soldiers on the front back to their sweethearts a world away at home, the toughness and resilience of this period.

It is hard for me to relate to a time when Germany and the German soldier were considered the enemy. Whether it’s World War I or World War II I know that was the case, but having such a connection to Germany with family living there, now I feel stuck in a war inside my head that has long ago been fought and resolved. I don’t have to choose, but in my mind I am pulled back to that time when things were just that black and white.

As for McCrae I imagine him sitting there in the midst of all that death and writing a poem he probably never could have guessed generations of school children would be hearing and taking in as we have.

I hope to travel to this spot. Places in Europe I hope to still visit in my lifetime such as Flanders, Vimy Ridge, or possibly Passchendaele would bring it to a whole new level of surrealism for me.

For now I must settle for reading and rereading the

poem,

and letting my mind stretch to grasp such a time in history that I will never know, but I feel the impact on my own personal view of the world since the guns were silenced and the century I would eventually be born into wore on.

Talk of foes and the ones who once lived, loved, and felt the sun on their faces will never stop affecting me, but back then it would take one more, one more World War would be necessary before death on such a global scale would have all countries involved saying ENOUGH!

I don’t think we’ve quite learned our lesson, on the contrary. I just wanted to explain why number 15 appears on my list and why I even care at all when it is often thought and said that today’s generation could care less.

I once asked my father (ever a cynic) if he thought there would someday be a World War III and he said gravely:
“I think, nowadays with nuclear weapons, that would spell doom and the end of this planet for us all.”

Only time will tell I guess, but for my niece and nephews sakes I hope he is wrong and I hope our world has learned something from the World Wars of the past. Nonetheless, it will mean something to me if I ever manage to check number 15 off my ever-growing list.

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