1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Piece of Cake, Poetry, TToT

TToT: The Luxury of My Breathing – Hammer and Dance #10Thankful

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

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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.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

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.

Trudeau gives Canadian kids ‘special thanks’ for helping fight coronavirus – CBC News

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.

Justin Trudeau: Working at home just like the rest of us – Politico

I’m thankful for a body that knows how to heal itself, at least somewhat.

I went for a walk last week and twisted my ankle and scraped up my knee.

I’m thankful for strange pain pathways that don’t feel how bad my knee looks/feels. I was able to put weight on my left foot and right leg and finish the walk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jO2wSpAoxA&feature=youtu.be

I’m thankful for the beautiful words of children.

I asked my cousin if I could share the following thoughts from her kids. Good place to end the TToT for this week (copied, with permission, from Facebook):

We’re all poets. And have something profound to share. Here’s the sentiments of our sweet Anders and Nevie.

Nev😇
I am happy
I wonder how many animals there are in the world
I hear the radio
I see the lake
I want a pet hamster
I am silly

I pretend I’m an animal
I feel proud
I touch animals
I worry about wildlife
I cry sometimes
I am kind

I understand the way of life
I say I love animals
I dream happiness
I try hard
I hope this virus goes away
I am calm

Anders🥰

I am strong
I wonder about the world
I hear nature calling for me
I see love
I want to have a nice life
I am proud of who I am

I pretend that I can fly
I feel happy
I touch nature
I worry about other people
I cry sometimes
I am filled with love

I understand nature
I say freedom
I dream of the world being saved

I try to be my best
I hope I can listen to other people’s feeling and help them if they’re sad
I am the best, best version of myself

Write them for yourself and your loved ones to stay connected to Self and one another. Stay true folks❤️❤️

I AM
I WONDER
I HEAR
I SEE
I WANT
I AM

I PRETEND
I FEEL
I TOUCH
I WORRY
I CRY
I AM

I UNDERSTAND
I SAY
I DREAM

I TRY
I HOPE
I AM

Try these prompts out for yourself in the comments, as comments, if you want and take care of yourselves.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, SoCS, Spotlight Saturday, Travel

It Is What It Is #SocialDistancing #SoCS

Spring has arrived.

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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.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes

White and Blue and Cinnamon Too #Synaesthesia #BlueJanuary #SnowDays #JusJoJan

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.

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Thanks,
Jill,
for all the possibilities this prompt offers for things to jot down our thoughts on.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

A Post-truth World and I Keep Breathing, #TGIF #FTSF

“I want to change the world. Instead, I sleep.”
—Ingrid Michaelson

Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson

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.

Post-truth’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries – Thee Guardian

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.

Just breathe.

***

We do just need to remember to breathe, whether it’s for the purpose of not sinking in life or in the water.

I took my cue from
Kristi from Finding Ninee
for this week’s Finish The Sentence Friday post.

We all need to remember, in this post-truth world we’re living in, to just breathe, if we can.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Shows and Events, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT

TToT: Memory Use and the Overall System Footprint – Call and Response, #InternationalDayOfPeace #Graceland #10Thankful

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.

I am thankful for light in the depths.

Edith Widder: the weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence – TED

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.

A Journal Of Musical Things

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

Graceland – Album By Paul Simon (1986)

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.

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TToT: Major and Minor – Zones and Pods, #InternationalLiteracyDay #9/11 #10Thankful

“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.

Blue Lullaby

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.

Sofar Sounds

Secret gigs and intimate concerts, all around the world – in 271 cities.

My brother and his friend have been playing music all around their city this summer, but this time they were scheduled to perform at something truly special and I just had to check it out for myself.

Sofar Sounds on Facebook

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.

The Jellyman’s Daughter

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.

This week was

International Literacy Day.

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.

The Elsewhere Region

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.

The Fallow Period

I’m thankful for peace where I live, where my family lives, and where my niece and nephews can grow up without being directly impacted by war and violence.

I recently listened to a news story about hopes of a cease fire in Syria and then a man who was a child soldier, speaking on Facebook, about the plight of his people in the country of South Sudan.

No country is perfect. None is spared completely, forever.

I’m thankful for my country, both that I and others can recognize the bad that’s taken place and still celebrate what we are as citizens and what we could be.

Canada In A Day

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

***

The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans.ca

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.

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TToT: Dog Days of Summer – Memory Locations and Yahoo! #10Thankful

“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.”

—Steve Irwin

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.

HqX5Yne.pngSKWZQVy.png

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.

Dog Days Are OVer – Florence + The MAchine

Thankful for popcorn, not candy.

🙂

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.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR-AND-CHIEF – Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

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.

Millions of bees dead after South Carolina sprays for Zika mosquitoes

Of course, I am not at any immediate risk from those virus carrying mosquito pests, threatening the lives of so many unborn babies either. There’s got to be a better way to handle it.

I’m thankful for birds and Canadian birds especially.

I thought of this the other night, hearing a flock of geese outside, and proud to live where I live, that they are known as Canadian geese.

Whether it’s the squawking of a bluejay or a sea gull or even the cawing of the crows I don’t like quite so much.

Then there’s the haunting sound of the loon.

http://nationalbird.canadiangeographic.ca/bird.asp?name=Common-loon&id=1005

I’m thankful for the first of two men to have a profound affect on me.

September 2nd is the anniversary of the death of J.R.R. Tolkien.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/lord-of-the-rings-creator-tolkien-dies

I am currently working on writing about Tolkien’s participation in World War I where he easily could have been taken far too soon, depriving the world of so much.

When he did die, many years later, he died an old man.

Not everyone is so lucky.

I’m thankful for all that Steve Irwin (Crocodile Hunter) gave of himself, until his heartbreaking death ten years ago.

“If we save our wild places, we will ultimately save ourselves.”

“We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.”

—Steve IRwin

Larger-than-life. No doubt.

Interview

I’ll never forget when I heard of his death. I was moving out of my childhood home and into my very first house.

I didn’t exactly find it to be an unexpected end to a life. All that time around all kinds of creatures and it was bound to happen. It was a fluke thing, when all other days he had come out alive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeydzMjP4Oo

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.”

—Steve Irwin

Crikey!

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