And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new wats to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
– Kitty O’Meara
Photo caption: massive flock of swans on a pond at the side of the road. Reminds us of how the world of nature and our environment might have been calling for a shut down of our regularly scheduled programming for a while now and to slow down and learn to value what truly matters, not what certain fake leaders think life’s all about.
And nature also takes a breath, as my favourite Canadian song writer (Jann Arden) says: “good things come from bad things.”
I am full of gratitude for so many things, even though this pandemic rages on across the world, moving in waves, inclines and declines, and I wait at home for news…for something.
It all starts and stops, begins and ends with breathing.
I’m thankful for every breath I take that’s unimpeded by the virus in question and any other.
I’ve never experienced pneumonia before. I’ve been on ventilators before, during surgeries, but any remaining memories of that sort of thing are super vague.
I’m thankful my family are all safe right now.
Speaking of breathing, my sister has asthma and I’ll never get over the shock when I walked into my brother’s hospital room, after an emergency medical condition had him requiring help to breathe and we’d not had any warning.
I’m thankful for medical advancements in the last one hundred years.
I’ve read and studied a lot about the Spanish flu of 1918 and I know this is different, but the biggest we’ve seen since then.
I’m thankful my two essential worker parents are okay.
My mom looks after people in a group home and my dad drives a wheelchair cab.
People with disabilities already have greater difficulties during these large events because they can not drive and depend on others to do that and more.
Lots about this world isn’t accessible and all the work-at-home modifications being made to keep people working and our economy from total collapse are things those with disabilities ask for normally and are often denied.
Not so much the time to harp on that now, but it’s a valid point.
I’m thankful for the technology I do have in 2020 so I don’t feel so alone, even while practicing social distancing in my home where I live by myself.
I have family and friends nearby and am rather used to spending large amounts of time home.
I’m thankful for all the work being put into fighting this coronavirus thing here in Canada and around the world, all the brilliant minds working and the front line people seeing this covid-19 up close, but I feel intense appreciation I am in this country and not in the US, but I worry for all my friends there during such days as these.
I’m thankful for the message Prime Minister Trudeau sent out to the children of this country.
I envy my three-year-old niece, but I wonder if she’ll feel any of these issues going on around her. My older niece and nephews can’t go back to school and I know that will be an issue. I’m okay because I know their parents are there for them, there to explain things when they ask questions.
I can’t imagine running a country during a global pandemic, especially after Sophie Trudeau tested positive for the virus. He isn’t perfect, but better than many alternatives worldwide and I feel safer here than many places I could be right now.
As it stands, we welcome
our new reality, even as we resist what that means.
I listen to two US sources, along with the national news here in Canada too.
I’ve been listening to Michael Moore and his podcast since before Christmas, when his main goal was to fight to get #45 out of office. It’s become something else now that most of us couldn’t have seen coming.
I’ve been listening to Rachel Maddow and in her most recent episode, she ended the show by announcing the death of an NBC colleague who lost his life to covid-19 and she lost control and became choked up as she said it.
Most of us aren’t that close to this yet, but who knows what the next weeks and months could bring upon us all.
Panic. Don’t panic. Panic. Don’t panic.
I am one who learned about this coronavirus with a slow dawning, a realization that’s just now beginning to scare me. It was only end of January that I was still relatively oblivious and planning an adventure to walk the Thames River Path in England. This new reality hit me soon after.
Since then, I’ve been around some people, but I now feel the instinct to totally isolate from all people.
Every time I send someone out to run an errand for me, they could potentially pick up this virus themselves. Should I stop this, for their sakes and mine?
I get paranoid with germs (for years) and now. Where are they? How close by are they? Which surface are they living on?
I’ve been cushioned here in my town, in my county, but reality inches ever nearer. I listen to accounts from doctors and nurses who are already seeing emergency rooms and ICU’s full of the sick, numbers then reported on the nightly news and 24/7 online.
I take deep breaths, sitting here and when I step outside, the now spring air streaming into my lungs as I go out with my dog.
I went for a walk, fell and twisted my ankle and skinned my knee, but I got back up again and kept walking. I wanted to feel myself, moving through the world, grateful I am still well.
I went to a medical appointment and it was a breeze compared to how it usually is. The doctor and his pain clinic moved out of the hospital setting and into a recently abandoned medical practise next door. I was in and out, no waiting in a waiting room with a dozen other people, but straight in to the room, after I’d been given a mask to wear. I haven’t worn one since being on dialysis back in the late 90’s.
I sanitized my hands and got my nerve block injections for my headaches, that I’ve been receiving for almost a year now.
I questioned whether I should have gone there, gone out at all, but things moved along so quickly because many patients did decide to cancel.
I worry for my parents. They aren’t in the highest risk group, but they are over sixty.
I worry about my sister, doing her work in the midst of this time of year which is tax season, ever so slightly delayed like school and everything else.
I worry for my brother-in-law who works in a factory.
I worry about my older brother who needs to go into work to support his family.
I worry for my younger brother who had a kidney transplant in 2013 and who has had other medical issues, before and since then. He and I are both immunosuppressed, not currently on dialysis or a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, but I don’t know how this new strain of virus might act if either one of us were to catch it. I’ve never had pneumonia and the idea of basically drowning when the lungs are overloaded is terrifying.
I worry for my sister who has asthma and her husband who is a type one diabetic, who just recently recovered from mono. They have two young children and I’m only thankful that my nieces and nephews are at much lower risk of contracting this.
My father and mother work still, front line workers really, as she works in a group home and taking care of vulnerable people and he takes people in wheelchairs where they need to go in his specialized cab.
Here in Canada we have a wonderful healthcare system, but we see what’s happening in Italy and we must learn all we can. I feel better sometimes, most of the time, hearing the news here in Canada and feeling I’m safest here when compared to anywhere else, but things can keep getting worse with every case reported and all the ones that aren’t quite yet.
This is not at all how I saw 2020 playing out.
I had a friend who was traveling and another who’s about to. I can’t do much about that, but I still worry. So many who would have not gone and those still trying to get back home.
I have an old friend, from childhood, who moved to Ireland for medical school and is now a doctor there. I don’t know how much risk she’s at since all this, but I keep track of the news of this virus out of that country too.
I can’t control any of this and the last thing I wanted to do was see this happening, but we’ve been warned of a possible pandemic to come. Well it’s here, sweeping across the globe bringing with it waves of destruction and instability.
I worry about people’s jobs and the economy that I understand little about. I studied history and the Great Depression in the 1930’s. I learned about the Spanish flu of 1918 and how that washed over humanity during that time. We’ve come far with medical knowledge and still we are left battered by something so tiny, invisible and deadly in many cases, but people think it’s like any other flu season we’ve known in our lifetime.
I know it may be petty, but I’ve started calling #45 covid-45 because of his unique ability to be cruel and ignorant and incompetent at a time when the whole world needs effective leaders who also care, even just a little.
I like to listen to flocks of birds out my window and above my head. They fly by and I wish I could fly too.
Our winter was mild and yet I’m pleased to feel spring is in the air. I am finding things to bring me a few moments of peace because I know we’re at war, World War III if you want to call it that, but it’s a battle raging on in nearly all places now. It is just now making it to the northern parts of Canada and in our territories. It’s on islands that want to keep it from swamping their systems. The border between Canada and the US and that between them and Mexico, closed to all but essential trade.
Europe is being ravaged by it and it will get into refugee camps and already war torn regions, places across the African continent and in bustling cities where social distancing isn’t a thing.
For humans, in most cultures, having to stop shaking hands or hugging or kissing of cheeks is so difficult to do. Whereas I’m not struggling with that as much as I am to not touch my own face a thousand times a day.
People can’t believe they are in the position, for the first time, of being prevented from travel to their heart’s desire and content. They, we’ve, I’ve always had that option of traveling and the freedom of choice. Yet, when I hear people complaining that they are bored and dreaming of the moment they’re told it’s safe to do so again, I want to scream. I don’t know why, as I’m among them, but I know we’ve all been spoiled when air travel is so common and wanderlust is a thing.
I have multiple rolls of toilet paper here still and am not letting that stress me out, but I don’t like what I’m seeing of people out in grocery stores. I go back and forth between feelings of panic and calm, though I am never sure what I’m panicking about. I can’t pinpoint anything for sure in my buzzing brain.
I can’t concentrate on writing the things I’d planned on writing so far this year. I can’t manage anything more than stream of consciousness writing at the moment.
My dreams are vivid and my waking hours are spent trying not to bombard my head and heart with opinions and facts and statistics.
This is a numbers game, as the saying goes, but this time this is no game we’re playing. I’m no good at numbers games at the best of times.
People who are already greedy or selfish will only look for ways to enrich themselves in this, all while I know this virus can take hold in any one of us, doing as much or as little damage as it sees fit.
People are afraid and in denial as a form of self preservation, but the world is also populated by resilience and brilliant minds already at work.
I’m getting by on the stories that keep coming out, stories of courage from front line workers and from communities coming together to pick up groceries and medications for those who can’t.
We’re depending on our medical professionals and our food delivery drivers and those in the factories and the plants, but they have families and bodies that are vulnerable to getting sick.
I am used to hiding away in my own solitude and I don’t want to start worrying, any time I’m around another person, but maybe now is the time to isolate from friends for sure and now even family members.
I don’t know what to think.
So we are welcoming spring and wondering what’s to come. Some say we’re making more of this than is necessary, like young people who celebrated spring break and think they’re invincible. None of us are invincible.
We humans have our social media now and can stay in touch with loved ones and we should. We’re not used to being constricted in our movements and in our socializing. We’re told to stay in our homes, except for those necessities of life, but we can’t handle being cooped up for long.
Will this last weeks or months or more? We hate to think it could. Loneliness even though we can connect easier than any period in history.
I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I take chunks of time off of Facebook and I watch a show from my childhood. I can recall difficult times in my past and how I made it through and that helps, but this is a new one on me.
I think of my indoor cat now and what his life consists of. Human beings won’t stand for that for long, but I’ve seen some beautiful examples of people in places like Italy and Spain making the best of these circumstances. Each of us and our governments are dealing with this in stages, but sometimes swift measures are necessary ones.
I’m trying to wait this out, to ride it out, but I don’t know what to expect and I know emotions are running high.
I envy the innocence of the children in my life right now, but I’m now afraid to be around them, around anyone. I hate that feeling.
How are all of you coping with all this? I know I’m not alone and neither are you.
The mall was pleasantly less crowded on this early January day, I spent it out browsing its many stores with a friend visiting from Ireland, and the sun made an appearance; a win win of a day for me I gotta say.
David’s Tea, The Dollar Store (don’t know if it’s actually called that anymore), lunch at the foodcourt and all the while that pleasant scent of cinnamon buns in the air; that was my day – here’s what’s been on my mind.
There’s the possibility
of a snow day, on any given week, most weeks here in Canada every January.
This brings children joy all around this country, while my friend’s daughter was dying to see the snow Canada promises. No snow days for her in her Irish home.
Canadian kids can sometimes get what feels like countless days off from school every winter. Others aren’t so thrilled about how January seems to stretch out, what seems like indefinitely, because they can’t seem to see beyond these somewhat blue thirty-one days, so soon after the champaign cork popped and the new year was rung in.
Once the memory of a snow day fades and adulthood overtakes, a snow day for schoolchildren is simply the snow the adult must go out super early before work to scrape from the car.
The things that seem hard at one age, school assignments and least favourite subjects, these are replaced with deadlines and annoying coworkers, but it’s more than work stress that’s getting to many at this time of the year and no day off or work perk is going to thrill like it might otherwise have done.
It’s all relative.
There are those usual headaches if you’ve grown up here, lived here, and some thrills too, depending on what age you are.
I try to look ahead, even as January drags on into February and the snow persists. It isn’t the snow that bothers me so much. I feel refreshed by it, invigorated by it almost, but the month of January (while still holding the thrill of unknown possibilities to come in the remaining months of the year, feels like a blue month to me.
My synaesthesia colours January as blue in my head. I see it, even if nothing else, but it hurts me to see how many feel that blueness deep inside. I love the colour blue, but it means depression to so many I know and love and have known and loved. I see it in lots of places I look.
While the future is likely to bring new periods of colour and feeling and hope, that isn’t so easy to notice whilst in the middle of the month of January.
I wish I could make it all better for those people. I wish I could hug them and reassure them everything will work out, but while I can predict a number of possible outcomes for anyone of us, I can’t make them believe anything in the first month of a new year, not when their environment tells them the darkest days of a wintery January might never ever lift the cares and worries from their shoulders.
I wish, for so many who deal with a blue January, every day could be like a first snowfall for a visiting Irish child: pure joy in all that white stuff falling from the sky to cover the ground in a blanket of delight.
for all the possibilities this prompt offers for things to jot down our thoughts on.
With everything happening in North America and around the world, I want to do something, to jump to attention and act. Instead, as the above quote illustrates, I end up in my own position of relative privilege and comfort. It feels bad, but nothing’s easy.
I keep breathing to squelch my anxiety. Breathe Kerry…breathe.
*Now I’m talking about myself in the third person, great!
Breathing exercises are very important when learning to swim. I never quite got the hang of putting my face under water. The timing was bad when I was learning. My kidneys were failing. I was anemic and under weight and frail. I wasn’t receiving vital nutrients and nothing was being filtered properly from my system. The water would become my nightmare. So much frustration.
Squelch, squelch, squelch is the sound of wet feet.
I must remove my shoes if I want to observe my nephew’s swimming lesson. Barefoot in the pool area. That’s the rule.
I enter the space where the indoor pool is and immediately I feel the warmth and the mugginess of this place I know from another time. I want to witness this, even though the many sounds of splashing and shrieks of mirth make it impossible for me to hear the one little voice I’d recognize here.
My sister describes my nephew’s many actions, in a roped off section of the shallow end, a platform underneath him and the other children while they learn to push off the side of the pool and swim. Being on his back still makes him squirm because he feels he has little control over himself. I totally understand this. As in swimming as too in life.
This has been arranged through my school, my special ed/braille teachers, and my parents. I will take swimming lessons to make up for the big chunks of physical ed I am unable to participate in because I can’t see.
**Yes, this was back when schools still had a lot of gym classes. 🙂
I am twelve and I like the pool, but this is where I am now forced to risk getting water in my nose and eyes. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I hardly have the strength to swim from one side of the pool to the other, on my front as I prefer it.
My teacher is nice enough, but she doesn’t understand. Nobody understands why I even struggle to float. I swim front stroke and my teacher shows me how to move my arms to get me further ahead in the water. I can’t stay up, can’t keep moving my arms anymore. The echo of the indoor pool is drown out by the underwater roar in my ears.
I am weak and I am in water. Bad combination.
Now I sit with my sister on an aluminum bench at the side and watch as my brother-in-law has to tell my nephew to listen to the teacher. He’s being obstinate, wanting to jump off the platform by himself, while the instructor is working with one of the others.
I feel the roughness under my bare feet which prevents slipping on the wet floor next to the l-shaped pool I’ve known since childhood. Rough times come flooding back to me as I thought they might.
I can’t do this, I try to tell them. I want to let my arms drop and sink under, only because I can’t do this right now. I am sick and I don’t know how to tell them. What’s wrong with me? It’s not only my eyes that fail me, but my strength that feels like it has abandoned me also.
I love the smell of the pool and the water is pleasant. I love the feeling of weightlessness, but I like the sound of the echo still, as I just can’t make it to the opposite wall.
Why do they put candy machines right in the lobby on the way out? Of course, I know why and my nephew falls for it just like I used to.
***Beg parents for some change.
“I need some money Mommy,” my four-year-old nephew says.
It was a short visit to the pool, but it was one I needed. I needed to be in that place, with the sound of fun and learning. I needed to see this being a pleasant and even fun activity for someone, for my nephew, even if it didn’t happen that way for me. He may just learn to love swimming. He can only be safer for it.
We do just need to remember to breathe, whether it’s for the purpose of not sinking in life or in the water.
It was a slow day And the sun was beating On the soldiers by the side of the road There was a bright light A shattering of shop windows The bomb in the baby carriage Was wired to the radio
These are the days of miracle and wonder This is the long distance call The way the camera follows us in slo-mo The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation That’s dying in a corner of the sky These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby, don’t cry Don’t cry
It was a dry wind And it swept across the desert And it curled into the circle of birth And the dead sand Falling on the children The mothers and the fathers And the automatic earth
“The Boy in the Bubble” discusses starvation and terrorism, but mixes this with wit and optimism. Simon concurred with this assessment: “Hope and dread – that’s right. That’s the way I see the world, a balance between the two, but coming down on the side of hope.”
Hope and dread. Hope and dread. Hope and dread. These things run through my head…my head…my head.
My nephew is learning so many new things at school, even already after his first few weeks.
How do I know this?
The other night at dinner he started asking about carrots and how they grow, in the earth, from seeds. Such a basic concept of a lovely natural process.
Seeds planted. Something growing, sprouting up, from once there was only dirt under foot.
I am thankful for all the time I got to spend with my aunt.
Her life is a mystery to me. I get stuck on trying to imagine it. I only knew her for the last few decades of her life.
She was my father’s half sister. She was born in Europe during World War II. She came here to Canada, all by herself. I will forever wonder about all that.
The last time I saw her, as herself, she had made the trip to her mother’s funeral. We didn’t think she would come, for several reasons, but she came and I was nervous to give my tribute to my oma, whose relationship with her daughter was different from ours.
I hugged my aunt, after a day at the graveside, and an evening reminiscing about the life Oma lived, all of us sitting on the deck, around a table. I hugged her and left.
The next time she would have faced tumour treatments, her brain badly effected. She clung to me, our last real moment of contact, and one more familial thread is lost..
Without my parents making a decision to introduce us, I would never have known her mighty spirit.
I am thankful for the light chatter of young voices on a hard day of reality confronted.
On the night we received the news, I heard a one-year-old playing lovingly with her doll (all thanks to WhatsApp) and I interrupted a family in the middle of their beloved spaghetti dinner.
I needed to hear these little people, to remember that there are beginnings as well as those endings we wish would never come.
Na na na na na na na na Max Man!
Thanks to speaker phone, we discussed colours, what we want to be when we grow up, and what our favourite foods are.
I sat back, listening to my niece describe all manner of shades of many many colours. I needed that just then.
I am thankful for a world attempting to live more peacefully.
Justin Trudeau spoke about what “Canada has gotten right, not perfect.” That we believe diversity brings us strength to fight hatred and violence.
With all the meetings of UN in New York through the week, I listened to several speeches, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in particular. All still so complicated. Peace exists in pockets. I just happen to live in one of those at the moment. No guarantee it will always be that way.
I am thankful for another educational Ken Burns PBS documentary.
I was unaware of the story of this couple.
I am thankful for a room full of writers
I had a question about writing, about the writing journey we’re all on, and I thought who better to bring it to than that select group of people. They are just learning as they go along, just like me, and I wanted their take on a particular situation I’ve gotten myself into.
Their input did not totally squelch my concerns, but we did have a lively discussion about writing contests and when a scam is a scam. I did not want to bring down the other writer in the group to have received good news like myself. He may choose to go a different way with it, but I am still undecided. We all want our writing to have a chance out there in the wider world.
This sort of thing is not visible to me anymore as such, but just hearing this scientist’s enthusiasm made me believe in the hope of all that magic to be found, especially in the ocean.
I am thankful for the perfect autumn weather.
Thursday was nearly thirty degrees. It was humid but yet there was a coolish breeze, enough to make a meal out on a patio still rather lovely. Yep, there was at least one bee this time, but not on me. Not that I knew of anyway.
I wasn’t having a great week. I was feeling unwell and having more computer troubles. I wanted the first day of fall to feel like fall.
By Friday the temperature had dropped ten degrees or more. I was in Heaven. Fall had arrived.
I am thankful for speedy and readily available medical care for myself and for those I love.
I felt lousy, but I needed blood taken and tested. I got it. Results available online now and oh how far we’ve come, to be able to check our own blood levels, without having to ask any doctor.
Then my family needs treatment for chronic medical conditions, tests run to check out symptoms, diabetes, and diet changes are called for. Hopefully those I love can remain healthy and live for a long time still.
I am thankful for a lovely day on the go.
It began at a secondhand store. Not exactly my kind of place, as I have a strange aversion to old, used things. I am also drawn to their stories. My sister was shopping for maternity clothes, not as easy as it sounds.
We kept my nephew occupied in the halloween decorations section, specifically interested in a doorbell with an eye that opened and and a voice that cackled.
We had lunch at a “pizza store” as my four-year-old nephew refers to it. All you can eat, but still we ate thin crust pizza, to stick, as close as we possibly can, to our diets and health restrictions.
Then I had my violin lesson. Brahms’ lullaby, played for me on piano and violin, so hopefully I can master the entire song by next March.
I went, with my brother and a few people, to attend a bit of speaking about video game production and radio.
This guy, the one with the website, he has been on a Toronto radio station for years. My brother listened to his radio programs. We heard he was visiting and we decided to go and listen to what he had to say.
Finally, we walked downtown, a Beatles festival happening, and capped off the day with a relaxing glass of wine and delicious dessert on a patio and then a cup of coffee, latte, before I felt a sore throat coming on dampen my mood. Nothing could truly dampen my first Saturday of fall.
I am thankful for an album, which becomes an experience in itself.
This album was brought back to my attention, but this week it has great value, in its overall feeling of hope and peace.
It is a magical record, full of the voice of Paul Simon, but yet with a distinctly African tone. Anyone who has never heard it has been missing out.
These days albums in their entirety are all but extinct. Songs that stand alone are what gets the public’s attention. This album, named for a tourist attraction, a musical and cultural icon of a place, a spiritual experience for some, that is what this album is for me.
It’s a collection of songs, taking me on travels, experiences of sorts, to a place called Africa, where my young self couldn’t imagine. This album was playing in our house, thanks to my father, and this can clearly be heard on an old home movie when I was three.
There was the almost mystical affection and strange familiarity I felt when I first heard South African music. Later, there was the visceral thrill of collaborating with South African musicians onstage. Add to this potent mix the new friendships I made with my band mates, and the experience becomes one of the most vital in my life. block quote level 1block quote level 1
I did not want to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, so much as I wanted to learn about South Africa, about the troubles and the ruining of lives Apartheid caused, when I was too young to realize, when the concept of black and white wasn’t something I thought anything about. Now I think about it often. No superiority. No ranking of human life.
What was unusual about Graceland is that it was on the surface apolitical, but what it represented was the essence of the antiapartheid in that it was a collaboration between blacks and whites to make music that people everywhere enjoyed. It was completely the opposite from what the apartheid regime said, which is that one group of people were inferior. Here, there were no inferiors or superiors, just an acknowledgement of everybody’s work as a musician. It was a powerful statement. block quote level 1block quote level 1
Graceland transcended racial and cultural barriers. ” Graceland was never just a collection of songs, after all; it was a bridge between cultures, genres and continents, not to mention a global launching pad for the musicians whose popularity been suppressed under South Africa’s white-run apartheid rule,” said Andrew Leahey of
American Song Writer.
“I can’t get no peace, until I dive into the deep, blue lullaby.”
—Blue Lullaby, The Jellyman’s Daughter
Of course everyone can recall, with at least some detail, just where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Most then speak of staring at the television, watching the horror unfold.
I remember the feelings. My father driving my sister back to college, starting to hear things on the radio in the car. I went into school, my teachers listening to radios and talk of World War III. That was my fear, but although I watched the news with my father all evening, our family just recently acquiring CNN, I wondered where all this might lead.
I wonder now when people speak of not getting that image out of their minds, but even then my vision was bad enough that I wouldn’t see those towers fall, people jumping for their lives, to their deaths. Am I less affected somehow, because I didn’t see it with my own two eyes?
What about anyone, such as children born after 2001, like my niece and nephews, who weren’t alive yet to know that day? Well, I suppose it would be like Pearl Harbor for me and also my parents. It’s the way I’ve heard those who witnessed that describe the feelings, but the difference being that lead to war for the US, a world war that had already begun for Europe. This time there has been no declaration of another world war, not in the 15 years hence, and hopefully never again.
If I were to have cried at the end of this strange week, would anyone be all that surprised? Whether from having to make more decisions about my health, to decide on medication coverage and possible effect on my transplanted kidney, which is coming up on twenty years. My fear, no matter how unlikely, ratchets up ever higher. Or from the fact that time rushes by, ever faster, as my niece enters an actual number grade, her brother soon to follow their cousin, who himself just began junior kindergarten this week and oh how little they seem for that first day. Perhaps it’s that I can’t possibly manage all my email and technology issues on my own which required having to accept help from one who knows so much more, or else maybe it’s that I realized I can do more than I thought I could. It never ends. Or from a painful part of being Canadian or a sombre day for the US, fifteen years after-the-fact.
And so I let all that sink in and I let my gratitude germinate and I feel all those overwhelming things and then I move forward and I find my list of thankfuls.
I’m thankful that I get to see my first big concert of a violin player live.
I’ve loved the sound of the violin for years, but now more and more I hear it everywhere. Wherever it appears in a television or movie’s soundtrack I zero in on it immediately, sometimes still uncertain, but at my core I know that sound.
I’m thankful that I found a doctor who seems to have a few suggestions for possible medical treatments.
After a while, you feel like you’re losing it and maybe you should just suffer silently because nobody could possibly understand. At this point, I take what I can get with my health, which sounds bad, but really I don’t believe, in spite of all doctors have done for me, that they have all the answers or can cure everything.
The question then becomes: how much can I put up with, how much do I just need to accept, and how then to focus on the good things in my life?
I’m thankful that I got to attend a truly unique and wonderful secret performance.
This wasn’t only a gig to them. It was held in the bachelor apartment of that friend of my brother. I happened to know where the show was being held, but only because M had volunteered to host it. I still had to apply on the Sofar Sounds website and wait to see if there was a spot left for me.
Intimate doesn’t begin to describe it. There were at least thirty people, mostly twenty-something’s, all crammed into a small house apartment in London, Ontario last Tuesday night. It was air conditioned, but this made little difference once all musical equipment was set up and everyone filed in to watch the three performances.
It felt lovely to me though, even though I was overheating and realizing I was possibly the oldest person there, at thirty-two. It was just so wonderful to see the love of music and the teamwork that these young men and women showed to bring people together through music. It frankly restored my faith in people, younger generations, or any generation for that matter.
I’m thankful that at said secret, exclusive performance, I got to learn of a duo I’d not heard of before, one I likely never would have heard of otherwise, and one which included cello.
This young musician couple from Scotland were on tour in Ontario and they were happy to be playing at their fourth Sofar, after Edinburgh, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. They were a team also, in the guitar, mandolin, and the cello he played, and her singing with him backing her up. They played a nice mix of Scottish music, bluegrass, and even a Beatles cover with a brilliant new spin on its classic sound.
I m thankful my niece started grade one and my nephew began junior kindergarten.
I was emotional all week, thinking about it, how my niece is learning how to read and write and next it will be my nephew’s turns.
I was emotional as I saw people I started school with, more than twenty-five years ago now, sharing the news of their own children’s first days of school, on Facebook. I was emotional because time flies and that’s both a good and a bad feeling, with nothing to be done about it either way.
I’m just lucky that my niece and nephews have access to all the tools they need to grow and learn in the right environment.
I’m thankful for new members and old ones, at my writing group, who share their varying perspectives with me.
I get to witness the different writing styles, experiences that are unique to each individual writer in that room, and they trust me as one of the few they feel mostly comfortable reading their words out loud to.
This is a term that just happened to come up at the most recent meeting and I’ve decided that is how I will refer to this group from now on. I am a huge fan of names and titles for things. Saying “writing group” or “writing circle” just never has had quite the same ring to it.
I’m thankful my ex could make a dent with my email problem.
I have collected thousands and thousands and thousands of emails and my ability to stay on top of that, deleting or organizing, it got away from me. It was so bad my computer’s voice program couldn’t even speak anymore, making it impossible to check my own email. It felt like a runaway train.
I resist these things, such as calling in the expertise of an IT ex boyfriend who knows his stuff. I don’t like to be a bother to those who are currently in my life, let alone those who chose not to be.
The hard part is that someone is a decent enough person to want to help anyway. The worst part is knowing that decency exists always.
Dent made, but still I feel like I can’t quite get a grasp on this, which feels like a silly complaint to have really.
I’m thankful that a favourite blogger and writer of mine has returned, after a fruitful summer off, to blogging and writing again. And who has made her return by sharing something I did not already know on her blog.
Next year isn’t only the year I celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant, but as a much broader celebration, it will be Canada’s 150th birthday.
So, on September 10th, CTV, the national television broadcaster asked Canadians to film a minute of their life, a reason they are proud to live in this country. All clips will be compiled together. Sounds like a lovely pride project.
I mention several reasons, just here in this week’s TToT, why I am proud to be Canadian. This doesn’t mean I think we are a perfect country or that we shouldn’t try to learn about mistakes of our collective past and make an effort to do better for the next 150 years.
One musician is doing just that before he runs out of time:
STATEMENT BY GORD DOWNIE clickable
Ogoki Post, Ontario clickable
September 9, 2016 clickable
Mike Downie introduced me to Chanie Wenjack; he gave me the story from Ian Adams’ Maclean’s magazine story dating back to February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” clickable
Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him. clickable
Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it in school; it was hardly ever mentioned. clickable
All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are. clickable
I am trying in this small way to help spread what Murray Sinclair said, “This is not an aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected – that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well… They need to know that history includes them.” (Murray Sinclair, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2015) clickable
I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country – It’s not a popular thought; you keep it to yourself – I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.” clickable
It’s painful for me when I hear about stories like these, boys like this, lives who mattered and who deserved to feel safe in this country, like I’ve felt. These are things I too would rather not have to think about, as I can plead ignorance growing up, but I can’t continue to bury my head in the sand any longer.
Canada in a day is a great thing, but it’s truly impossible to sum up what Canada has been, what it is now, or what it should be or could be or might be in the future. It’s important that I speak for both here. I want my blog to be a place where I show both sides of our Canadian coin.
“Crocodiles are easy. They try to kill and eat you. People are harder. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first.”
“I have a message for my fans. Whatever you want to do in this world, it is achievable. The most important thing that I’ve found, that perhaps you could use, is be passionate and enthusiastic in the direction that you choose in life, and you’ll be a winner.”
I’m just here, on this final long weekend of the summer, watching Crocodile Hunter videos on YouTube. I loved him. Not sure how it started, but I loved him for his Australian accent and for his larger-than-life personality, but mostly because he had so much passion for animals. He seemed to know, instinctively, what his passion in life was, when I did not feel nearly as sure of my own. I guess, the more I listened to him speak, I suppose I hoped I would figure that out, like something from all that energy and enthusiasm he used to put forth might rub off on me.
And so I dedicate this week’s Ten Things of Thankful to Steve because I was hardly even writing at all when he died and I didn’t get to write any sort of tribute back then.
Sounds like a trip to the movies, doesn’t it? In this case, when normally it’s such a difficult choice between those two things when approaching the concession stand, it’s not a matter of any choice this time.
It’s another catchy and memorable line to help me break up notes in Twinkle Twinkle on my violin.
It is a little hard to explain, but it’s one more reason I am loving the surprises each time I have a lesson. I am learning faster than one might imagine. I have my moments of course, long way to go yet, but I am building the foundation for my future as a star violinist, at least in my own circles in which I currently travel.
I’m thankful for a glass of champagne and some delicious fried chicken tacos after my violin lesson.
A lovely evening, late dinner out on a patio. The drink wasn’t to celebrate anything in particular, other than another successful lesson. I thought that worthy enough of a beginning of the week celebration just then.
And then, don’t get me started on those appetizers. Wish they had been my whole meal.
Have you ever eaten coleslaw in a taco? Topped with the kind of fried chicken that could beat KFC any time.
I’m thankful that Brian and I were able to, after a few starts and stops, get most of Episode Two: Ingredients Listed recorded of our podcast, Ketchup On Pancakes.
I had it all planned out, and it takes a certain amount of planning to be ready to record.
Then something is missing. Either one or both of us just isn’t feeling it. There needs to be a certain kind of mood and I knew it might be this tricky. The whole structure of our podcast is how we interact as siblings. That relationship can’t or at least it shouldn’t be pushed or else we end up sounding less like ourselves and more like we think two people on a podcast should sound. That is definitely what we don’t want.
We are going by no real time table at this early stage. We are taking our time and not rushing or pushing it. It comes out naturally, organically, when it’s meant to be.
Thankful for all the lessons I’m learning about editing.
This is nothing new, or shouldn’t be, for anyone who claims themselves a writer. Editing is part of life and ever more is it becoming so as I write more.
Well, this is a manifestation of that same skill development I’m learning. It is hard, when it is something you’ve created, to cut some of that out. It just isn’t practical to keep everything. An hour is what we’re aiming for with this podcast, when many are less than, but we are following our own instincts and not paying attention to what anyone else may be doing.
And so I create and then we execute that creative vision and then we cut out and trim and edit and narrow down.
Hope to have our second episode finished sometime this month. A lot more to learn.
I’m thankful for the arrival of September.
I realize what this signifies to most people. I don’t long for extreme cold and snow either. I just dislike extreme heat and humidity. Just because September means one month closer to winter isn’t enough of a reason to dislike it. Now, if I were going back to school in any traditional way I might understand.
To me the cooler nights and decrease in hot hot days is when I’m most comfortable. I love the way the scent in the air changes. I love the apples.
I’m thankful for the release of a truly modernized take on travel, place, travel based writing, and so much more.
September 1st was the day their first publication came out. I like that their first one is focused on firsts.
I hope to have a piece I’ve written published here one day.
I’m thankful for bees.
I spoke of apples above. Well, I wouldn’t have my apples if it weren’t for bees.
And so, after one patio lunch this week which included sharing my meal and a lovely final day of August afternoon atmosphere with them, I can gladly say: thanks for not being too loud with your buzzing and thanks for not stinging me. Oh, and thanks for all you do with the pollinating of the flowering buds on the apple trees.
With all the fear of Zika virus lately, so much so that lots of bees were killed in the States from some attempt to kill dangerous mosquitos – I am able to carry my long standing phobia of bees and put it in its proper perspective, enough to appreciate the apples I hope to enjoy in the days and weeks to come.
Very few people devote their whole lives to animals. I wish there were more Steve Irwins’ in the world because animals are constantly about to be found on the nearly extinct list and people are afraid of things they don’t understand, animals included, and that is why Steve did what he did.
“I have no fear of losing my life – if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it.”
“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”
Every single day that my vision fades, no matter how slowly over time, I remain, to some extent, a visual person. The sights I once saw, colours which used to be so bright, they have never left my brain. I attempt to bring what I still can’t help seeing in my mind’s eye out or else I go a little loopy.
This is what I like to call “BlacK and Yellow”.
“I’ll be yours instead in my head. I’ll be yours instead.”
Of course, this song doesn’t sound nearly as thrilling here, but the line from above seemed to fit with the visual images in my head of which I am attempting to do my best to bring forward through visual art.
Nothing is so black and white or, in my case, black and yellow.
I’m thankful for black and yellow, the darkest and the lightest colours that I can only now see such a vague idea of, compared to how I will always remember them.
I am thankful that I had a few moments of pure blissful peace. All I did was play Braids on top quality sound and let that stereo sound take me away from everything. It was as close to meditation and drowning all my other chaotic thoughts out as I ever get.
I’m thankful for siblings, such as an older one who is understanding and does not mind helping me out with a writing project which has the potential of being huge. All it took was a request and my brother was all ready to go. I trust his insights and impressions after all this time. I appreciate that more than he knows.
That my younger brother makes such breathtaking music, with his friends, with his own talents, and now with his sister.
He plays, unafraid, loudly and I feel the vibrations of that music’s power through the floor under my feet and into my heart and soul. He is so cool, his outlook on life and on getting on with it, as best we can, and not allowing negative thoughts and feelings to drag you down, no matter how hard they try.
And also for the pictures that show a new life and my sister’s own strength in giving that new and developing life a safe and healthy place to grow, for as long as it needs.
I’m thankful for fresh peach soft ice cream sundaes
I’m thankful for women who speak up on the most vital matters that I wish I myself could do/say more about,
She is one of my heroes, in feminism, in literature, and in the art of just being a decent human being who stands up for what’s right. She spoke most recently at this United Nations 2016 meeting for World Humanitarian Day.
I am thankful for the thing which happened 25 years ago this week.
Happy Internaut Day. With the creation of the World Wide Web,
I would soon be able to find out anything I could ever wish to know and a whole new world of possibilities would open up to me, so many others, and especially the visually impaired.
I am thankful for the violin lesson I had, even for the rain that soaked me and made my shoes all squeaky as I stepped inside the music school. I am trying to get past feelings of silliness when my teacher shows me another technique she learned as a child. I am improving, slowly but surely.
I am thankful for the kindness and compassion shown to me by a nurse practitioner. She took the time to speak to me, not making any attempt to rush me, and I felt like she was really listening to what I had to say about my own years of illness and pain. I did my best to explain my many medical issues and how I’ve dealt with them. I tried to explain how far I’ve come, in making an effort in spite of the pain and the stress, to live my life. Not all medical professionals are nearly as understanding or empathetic. I don’t take such an attitude for granted when I come across it. I am lucky to have the medical clinic to reach out to in my town. It wasn’t so easy getting there.
I am thankful the Toronto Blue Jays are doing so well and that they won the game my brothers and my father were at. Here’s hoping for more of the same, as we head into autumn and a possible second year-in-a-row of playoff potential for our only Canadian baseball team in Toronto.
I am thankful my nephew is so big into the planets right now, just like I’ve been since childhood.
We enjoyed singing along to his favourite planet tune, even though I told him:
I leave off this post with what I’m calling “Circulation” even if those I’ve asked all guessed I was trying to draw the planets, but I originally began with only the images of coloured circles. I don’t mind. I love the planets.
Things change. Nothing stays the same. I am thankful that I have learned to recognize my thankfulness.
If framed in a way that reminds me of how time travel books are just stories about history, I am likely more willing to take a chance and read on.
My writing mentor has helped me see that I could travel to another country to have new experiences and go for my goals, so why not be the one to prove me and my dislike for time travel novels wrong too?
Travel. Time travel. These two share a few similarities.
With both (one fictional and the other super easy with the invention of aviation especially), we learn a lot about another place and people we’d never met otherwise.
I often wonder how I would react to find myself in the situation the characters found themselves in here.
I like to think I could cope. We all make do. I would adapt. I am good at that.
I don’t have practice living without luxuries like plumbing and running water and indoor toilet facilities. I guess I would do poorly in a time travel situations, not that anyone swept up by it in this particular book had much of a choice.
I do love history a lot, especially the history of the last few centuries.
My writing mentor shares books and I likely wouldn’t have found this one:
It was an audio book. I like to do the reading sometimes, but other times, I like to be able to just sit back and let someone else bring the story to life through their own storytelling ability. It’s like its own little piece of performance art. I’m not sure I would have the skill to make any story I might read come alive to the listeners in this way myself.
This story was a lot more than time travel, but really that has its place. I should have learned from the whole Lord of the Rings and fantasy genre experience.
Kindred is about an interracial couple in California in 1976. One day, while moving into their first home together, Dana is putting books away on a shelf when she starts feeling strange. Before she knows what has happened, the room, her husband, and the year she is living in all vanish and she finds herself on a riverbank.
After she suddenly hears cries and ends up saving a young child from nearly drowning, she finds herself in another time and about to embark on a strange back-and-forth adventure, from 1976 to the early 1800s. She and this child will become linked, through time and space, for reasons beyond either one of their comprehensions, until that link is finally severed for good.
I would recommend reading this book, as it is written so much better than I could ever sum up here, but instead I can speak to what this particular story ended up meaning to me.
Whether it’s 1819 or 1976 or 2016, some things are radically different and yet others aren’t really so different at all.
The biggest difference is, of course, that in the early 19th century, slavery was in full force in the United States of America. But, even if it was abolished one hundred years or more prior to the year 1976, a lot of the deeply ingrained cultural beliefs were still evident. Even though the 1960s was known as the decade of Civil Rights, things hadn’t evolved all that much by the 70s.
A lot of things take years and years to know in reality. A country hardly changes enough for all of its citizens in the years of any one person’s lifetime, or multiple generations.
All the racial tensions that seem to be building once more in the US of today have always been there. Rights have been fought hard for and laws eventually changed, but changing hearts and minds of a country’s people can’t be legislated.
Far from me to lecture, but denial that the problem was as bad or still is, this is more common than most people would like to think or are capable of even hearing.
So many of the scenes in the pre-Civil War era of Kindred involved life on a plantation and vivid descriptions of the mistreatment of slaves, the deep seeded ranking of white people and slave owners being above the dark skinned people they had control over, this was all stuff I’d heard about. How anyone could ever truly believe another human being who looked different was less human is beyond me. But that is the point I suppose. That time was beyond me. I like to take the holier-than-thou stance that I never would or could’ve stood for treating a dog let alone a person like people were treated then, but I know I can’t say that for sure.
My mind struggles to try and understand it. I can’t.
Even while I read and learn, even fictionally about that time in history, I can’t comprehend fully. Of course I can’t.
It was the repeated descriptions of whippings that were hardest to take. Many times I reflexively began to reach over to turn off the book or to get up, to distract myself from the words and the meaning behind them, but I couldn’t. Something held me there.
I felt as baffled when the black and white couple (Dana and Kevin) told their families about their plans to marry in 1976 and were met with nothing but disdain, as much as by many of the things I heard when time travel had taken them, (in a way me), back in time to 1819.
I think a lot of us would much rather live in a bit of a denial state, than to almost force ourselves to hear things we don’t want to hear and learn the facts that we can never unlearn. I know I would, but then my mouth would always be so full of sand from my head being stuck in it.
Not sure a so-called book review can be written through stream of consciousness writing. Most times, we think of book reviews as the book reports we were told to do in school. I don’t think this necessarily has to be so.
These are just a few of my thoughts while reading. I just wanted to take a moment here, on record, to make note of one book I am very glad I listened to. I think books like this are more important than ever.
How silly would I be if I assumed these things were only going on in isolated communities?
My town is a small one, around 40 thousand residents. I lived just outside it all my life, until I moved into it, ten years ago.
I had family and friends here. I went to high school here. This is home, but I am the isolated one, in many ways.
This isn’t just a problem in Canada, I would guess. Depression is a problem for people all over the world. Being young comes with so many new responsibilities, new feelings, and new and often scary experiences. I went through many of these myself, but I made it through.
What could be so bad that one feels so hopeless, as a youth, with their whole life ahead of them?
I ask more questions than I know the answers to. I still write this post.
I worry that some officials get their backs up a little. They want to think they are doing all they can to help their troubled young people, but they don’t live it with them. How could they possibly understand?
Well, they were young once too, right?
Of course, we’re lucky to live here in this country. So much of the world suffers things we can’t really imagine. However, saying a young person will live through it (whatever “IT” might be), that their is life after all the trials and tribulations of being a teenager, that it will get better sounds so great, but yet, it doesn’t. It doesn’t solve enough of the underlying issues.
I say I am isolated because I live a sheltered life. I struggled, of course, still do. I have my ups and my downs and I definitely had them when I was younger.
On the other hand, I was sheltered by all the love and security I received. Not all families, sadly, have this. It’s causes are many and varied. I don’t know what the answer is.
Bullying is a big part of it. Kids can be so cruel. I’ve seen it, but others have seen it worse. It could always be worse, right? Well, not much consolation when said to someone who feels like there is no place they can go to feel safe.
The school environment is so toxic at times, when the education system wants to educate, but misses out on key points of that education.
Stigmas remain. Disfunction is reality for many. I don’t know what to say, but more needs to be said.
“Oh, these kids just wanted an excuse to get out of school,” is a line some might say, an ignorant and narrow-minded observation, but what would a lonely youth do to get out of living?
It was a big, important, necessary morning at my town’s town square. These young people needed to be heard. I am glad they got that, at least.
But, in those darkest of dark moments, what do they do when they are told they need to wait for help, that they are being put on some waiting list for mental health services?
In that dark tunnel of isolation and depression, nobody understands and it won’t ever get better.
I fear that those moments will continue. I don’t like to think my city has this going on, somewhere in its homes, its schools, its neighbourhoods.
I don’t understand it all, budgeting, but we have a new hospital here. Where are the beds, the specialists, the mental health services when those in need really require help?
We all feel different, like we don’t fit in, like we’re worthless. I have seen signs of that, but it obviously goes much deeper. I care about the town where I grew up and where I currently reside. I, like so many, would probably prefer to live in denial, to believe all’s well and it’s not going on, but these students show, very clearly and with outspoken grace, that there is something more going on, underneath the surface of a small, south western Ontario town.
When it comes to the news, of course, there’s been a lot, a heavy news week. Stories surrounding the US election and its nominees is front and centre. There’s horrible injustice with the privilege and light court sentence of a university athlete. I want to write and speak up, but my frustration with humanity sometimes makes me hold back, keep it all inside, until I threaten to explode. I calm myself then, simply by saying, but humanity isn’t all bad, not by a long shot.
My town is no different than any other town. Whether it’s a town with a suicide and mental health story or a bunch of shootings in a big city like Toronto, it all matters. Big cities, small towns, and if you dig a little under the surface, you find the same problems, begging to be addressed.
This has been a finish the sentence Friday post. Here is Kristi’s take on one of the stories, from the news, of which I briefly alluded to above: