Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TToT

TToT: Alright January … Enough Already! #HolocaustMemorialDay #10Thankful

When asked by author Angela Yuriko Smith what we’re looking for, Editor-in-Chief JT Lachausse replied:

“We want what you haven’t seen. Allow me to be dramatic: Imagine that every piece of art is represented by a stone. Many stones make up the mountains and buildings, but even more hide beneath the surface. We are so familiar and fond of the overground rocks, but in the caves and oceans-deep, there are stories that tell things wildly. Desperately, furiously, without great laborious sanitizing or editorial puncturing.”

This is the kind of writing I want to be doing.

And, if I’m not, that’s on no one but me.
The
Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for
Just Jot It January
and the writing it has helped me do all month long, but even good things must come to an end.

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I hear, when going through a rough time, that it can’t last forever. I guess.

I did peter out as the end of the month drew near, but I wanted to share
this here from Judy
because I enjoy her and her blog/writing.

I am thankful for another enjoyable lunch with a friend.

Talk of movies she has not seen (Forget Paris) and drinking mimosas on Valentine’s Day, for brunch and going to hear Margaret Atwood speak in Stratford.

I am thankful for a catch up violin lesson.

Our practice room this time contained a piano and that helped me with my scales.

I am thankful to get the chance to have an introduction conference call with the other writers participating on the project about braille.

I am thankful for the movie
The Post
because of the inspiring role, (Katharine Graham) played expertly by Meryl Streep as a woman who had to make a super hard choice and did it with grace and dignity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Post_(film)

Not an easy time to be female and in charge of a newspaper like that, having to make the hardest of decisions, so much at stake.

I am thankful I got a chance, before the movie, to speak to the manager in charge at my local theatre.

He couldn’t be of much help with the issue of audio description at Woodstock’s movie theatre, but he gave me the card of the head office out in B.C.

I am still determined to work, this year, on changing this policy of there not being enough demand, so I can see a movie and not have to make family or friends describe while they, too, are trying to enjoy the show.

I am thankful I could listen in on a conference call about
Braille Literacy Canada
and the importance of braille today.

I am thankful for family and their warm, heated homes to flea to, when I wake to a freezing house and such icy cold tile floors.

My heat crapped out again, twice in one month.

I am thankful for a quick fix and heat returns.

A leaf stuck in there, somewhere.

Silly. I am thankful February is near.

Farewell January.

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Favourite Things

Things, at the start of 2018, are changing up bit with the
FTSF crew.

My word for 2018 is “stoker,” which also means to stir things up, so I am all for this. I admit, I often have a difficult time with change of most kinds, but I am really trying. Still, though the list may have changed and has grown over my lifetime, here is my list of ten favourite things:

Favourite Thing Ten – Water

I love the roar and rush and rumble of waterfalls. It’s the trickling of a stream, brook, or creek. Or, the increasing and then the decreasing of a wave that’s coming and then going, washing in and back out again, leaving ripples in its wake. It’s the blue, green, rocky, sandy bottom of a lake or ocean. It’s my favourite metaphor for life, both the good and the bad of it, the scary and the sublime. Its power and its purity. It’s clear and clean, or heavy with mineral count. It is the refreshment in a glass or the lapping at my feet, pouring down my throat (to filter through my kidney) or threatening to wash me away.

Favourite Thing Nine – Marine Life

These are the creatures that swim, float, glide, or drift. They range from the smallest crustaceans to the largest squid/octopus, jellyfish, ray, or whale. It lives down on the sandy floor, at the deepest depths, or skimming and skidding along its sunlit surface. It is hunt or be hunted, all while storms rage, boats speed on by, nets drift and dangle, and waves carry it all along, currents deciding the course. It’s gills and blowholes and claws and fins and tentacles. It’s all the colours of rainbows in skies above. It’s camouflaging in all shades and underwater backgrounds.

Favourite Thing Eight – Space

It’s my earliest adventure, escape dream. It’s the dark, still, and the silence. It’s the circles and the rings and the orbit. It’s the blue of ice and the yellow/orange of fire from stars and swirling gases that envelop giant planets. It’s massive red spots as storms and dozens of Arctics stacked on one another, all the way out to the outer ranges of the galaxy. It’s yellow, blue and green and white, and red, and black that’s more than night is or will ever be. It’s infinite. It’s out there, somewhere.

Favourite Thing Seven – The Four Seasons

It’s the northern hemisphere and North America, central, southwestern. It is broken up into quarters of a year, here in (north more than south) of Canada. It is the smell of snow, the cold breath of it on my skin, and the feeling of invigoration. It’s the silence of the snow, the rustle of the warm breeze in the trees. It’s the intense heat and the brightness and burning from the sun, the kind to make any exposed skin surface feel like it’s on fire. It’s the birds of every temp, born to brave it or fly away from it, flocking back again. It’s the Canada geese, flying south and coming back home after long wait of months passed. It’s the early darkness, short days, green of new growth and rebirth. It’s the sprinklers and the mowers and the bikes. It’s the rustle and the crunch and the shuffle of dried out leaves. It’s the rain and the mist and the sleet and the snow, wet, soggy, heavy, and slush under boots and shoes. It’s the puddles after the rain and the icy spots before the thaw.

Favourite Thing Six – String Instruments

I love playing with a bow instead of a pick or a reed. I love the melancholy and the heartbreak of such a sound. I love the feeling, the shape of my own personal violin. The wooden body and the strings, stretched by pegs. It’s the deep melody of the cello and my newness, inability to tell difference between violin and viola still. It’s the power of the bow in my right hand, my chin and chest holding up my instrument, while my left arm, hand, fingers hold the neck and both sides of my brain try to figure out how to work separate and yet together, all at once, to produce more than the sound of a tortured animal and more of the notes and the scales I struggle to get straight in my own ear.

Favourite Thing Five – Art

I loved the visual and the sculpting, with lines, shape, colour, word, image, and sound. I love how creativity flows from each of us like unique perfume, like the individuality of every snowflake that falls from the cold sky.

Favourite Thing Four – The Purring of a Cat

I gently place my two fingers on my cat’s throat as he purrs. I feel it reverberate through his whole body as he settles down against my legs. He makes my chronic pain bearable, on the most unbearable of all days.

Favourite Thing Three – Literature

I love how it can be an act of courage, of hope, of truth. I love how, in essence, it sweeps me up and away. I love how it is about all of us and none of us and each of us, individually, on a personal level, still stretching out to infinity and some far off, far flung lands.

Favourite Thing Two – Travel

I can do it on foot, by car, train, bus, boat, or plane. Or, I can do it, go there in my mind, anytime., even as my sight fades and my memory and yearning grow stronger. I love the people and the places and the things. I love how stepping foot somewhere new or old, on returning or first approaching, that I am someone new, on my own, personal journey of discovery and upon discovering.

Favourite Thing Number One – Niece/Nephew Voices and Laughter

It sounds so grown up or only days from becoming words. I love the sweetness of the high pitched and the similar giggling of siblings. I love that it can turn, from sad to joyful in a single second of exuberant speed. I love the ring of it, the jangle of it, and the shimmering, swinging, swooping crystal clarity it brings, on all sides, expanding the walls of my heart as an aunt.

So there it is, my top ten list, not affiliated with David Letterman’s old show. Sure, some things are more to-the-point than others. I can go from the highly specific to the wide expanse of a thing, perhaps giving me the chance to write fifty favourite things, condensed down into ten, abstract or less so, as I hate to choose.

Check out some of
Finding Ninee’s
favourites too.

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TToT: Shrill Robots and Thumb Slam, #10Thankful

“I dreamed I saw a great wave climbing over green lands and above the hills. I stood upon the brink. It was utterly dark in the abyss before my feet. A light shown behind me, but I could not turn. I could only stand there, waiting.”

—Lord of the Rings

I was recently brought back to my love of LOTR and this quote jumped out at me when I heard it again. I feel this way a lot now.

People tell me not to be scared, but I can’t help it. I can take up violin and yoga and other things, to keep focused on the positive, but I feel this quote intensely and I wish people would stop trying to make me feel something that has taken root and is, for better or for worse, how I feel.

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It’s nearly Christmas and I am making my way through these last few weeks before it arrives upon us. The news around the world, this week, was not much improved from previous ones.

Here in Canada, in the last week or so…
a young man was only trying to stand up for someone else
and he lost his life.

Then, another man and his family were targeted,
in a racially motivated attack,
by a man with a bat in a WAL-MART parking lot.

And this was just in Ontario mind you.

So, I sometimes start off my weekly TToT post sharing my fears and concerns and the things that feel so out of my control and which are so often wildly unfair about the world.

Then I list what I am thankful for, to help me get through the week and focus on the beautiful things and the magic to be found all around me.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a quick reply/acceptance.

From last week’s TToT…the audio piece I did with my brother will be included in the holiday marathon radio show.

The man in charge asked how to pronounce our last name. He isn’t the first to ask that. He also asked how we’d like to be billed and the question was a new one, hadn’t been asked that way before.

Whose name should go first?

I am thankful for more writing support/discussion with those who know and understand.

My two writer friends, I originally found on Facebook, are such a pleasure to spend a few hours with.

We talk writing and I found out one of them wrote a children’s book about Helen Keller.

The other is a knowledgeable scientist/science writer.

I learn so much from them, have learned so much, in this last year since we first met.

I am thankful for a pleasant holiday mall experience.

I found a bright and friendly deer.

I found my favourite holiday scent, vanilla bean. I got myself some hand soap, shower gel, and body spray.

I found a few gifts in my favourite store, that which is full of mostly books, but not all.

I went in for books and came out with a super soft blanket. Still, I hope bookstores never disappear like Blockbuster has.

Santa was, of course, also there.

My Grownup Letter For Santa

I am thankful for my writing group on a bad day.

My internet was causing me problems and I was stressed out by the events of the world. I needed to escape to “The Elsewhere Region” for a few hours.

These people are clever, creative, and fun. It cheered me up in a major way, just being in their presence.

I am thankful for a most pleasant surprise gift from the heart.

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Anything coloured or any sort of writing/drawing tool makes me sad, as someone who once lived for colours and drawing colourful pictures.

Still, it was a sweet gesture and a bit of an inside joke/had to know the giver, to fully get how meaningful it really was.

Mine is yellow and you can write on just about anything with it. It’s gel and smells like heaven in crayon form.

I am thankful for an enjoyable lunch with a new friend.

On a limited amount of time, a lunch break, I found it hard to both eat and be able to say all the things I wanted to say.

She started out as my travel agent when I went to Mexico, but we formed a kind of special connection since then.

I trust her now, as I plan out future travels in the years to come.

I am thankful for my violin teacher’s invite to an all strings concert.

I knew little about baroque music and I still don’t.

I would have recorded the actual concert I attended, but I was advised against it.

Oddly Shaped Pearl

I researched the word and found out that is what Baroque means.

I am thankful for a new possible public writing spot.

Burnt Brick Cafe

I am thankful for my mom’s delicate and detailed Christmas care.

Clever, original, and inventive.

She decorates my home, even though I can’t see much. I don’t put in the work and she comes over and makes the place feel like Christmas.

This year she only made the pine branches she had look the shape of a Christmas tree, but soft pine this time. I see the bright white lights she adds and then comes the star.

No photo can capture it, but the star wouldn’t stay up on such a soft pine branched tree and so she used one of my old white canes. She put it up the back and this was enough to steady the star on top.

I am constantly in awe at the things she comes up with. It’s always been that way, as long as I can remember.

That’s my mom alright, all three of those, the exact definition of ingenious.

I am thankful for a second favourite Christmas gift.

My sister loves Pinterest and found a Harry Potter quote, printed it out and framed it for me.

This has been the week of surprises, let’s call them semi Christmas presents, both I was not expecting.

As for another Christmas present I was given early, Canada and all the snow might want to put a damper on that one tonight.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV4F2yfEt9o&app=desktop

Just not on this day/night…okay? Please! I wanted to go to Toronto.

More on that next week, if I actually get there that is.

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The Value and the Invaluable, #FTSF

What is it that is priceless about this one, precious life?

Finish the Sentence Friday:

with Finding Ninee

and with guest sentence-thinker-upper

Mardra Sikora.

What is priceless about my violin, about Halloween 2017, and about writing?

My violin rental was my birthday present when I turned thirty-two. I chose to buy it for myself, once I learned how much I loved the challenge and wanted to keep going with it. I found a young woman who had been playing for nearly twenty years, who was a student and could use the twenty dollars a week. I admit, I get a pretty good deal there. She gets to teach me. Feel bad for her sometimes on that. I learn, but it sometimes ends up taking me a few tries, at least.

Buying a violin…hundreds of dollars. A violin lesson…$20.

The feeling of peace while I concentrate and play, the sensation of accomplished determination of practicing, and the sweet and beautiful sound of such an instrument…

PRICELESS.

Halloween this year was full of pizza and plenty of treats. The weather could have been a lot worse. It was cold, but at least there was no rain or snow. My nephew came into my house and immediately removed his socks, as he likes to do. It took plenty of gentle reminders, which turned into nagging reminders that if he wanted to go trick-or-treating, he needed to put them back on his feet.

Candy costs money. Costume making costs his mother hours of time and attention.

Hearing my five-year-old nephew counting his candy, showing up he can count all the way to one hundred (even though he may have counted some pieces of that candy more than once), and the pure innocence and recently discovered joy of the holiday in his voice…

PRICELESS.

Writing is, for me, like breathing. It’s getting to share here, to speak out on the things that matter to me, and all this is, of course, priceless.

All the courses with their enrolment fees, the expensive technological equipment I need to replace the hand/eye connection I no longer have, and the newly sought after paid work I have found and fear I will find no more of.

Writing, as breathing…

(as I’ve said)

PRICELESS.

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TToT: Blood Red Sun In A Smoky Sky – Lucky and Thankful, #FridayThe13th #Podcast #10Thankful

Okay,, I did it again. What week is this, exactly, that I came late to the party and linked up last? I keep this as a priority, but it does end up falling down a point…or five.

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Birthday photos come a week later, first of my time holding my niece, by the swing set she is too young to enjoy just yet. I am still thinking birthdays…my parents and a friend and so on.

But forest fires continue to burn on the west coast and far away there is violence, such that I cannot imagine, and here I sit, writing another list of what I am thankful for in this life.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the best spaghetti dinner ever.

My brother made it. spaghetti has been a favourite food in my family for a long time, since our traditional spaghetti dinner, every Christmas Eve when I was young.

Now my brother makes it so well, as he’s been perfecting it. We went another way with the food in the title of our podcast (the one I was there to make when this meal was made) but, if I could have come up with a clever enough name using spaghetti, I would have.

He now takes care, not to eat sauce from a can, but to make it with vegetables and spices, allowing it to simmer.

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My brother has perfected spaghetti and my sister has perfected cupcakes.

I am thankful for the birth and birthday of a lifelong friend.

We’ve been friends since we were ten. She was one of the few kids to approach me, on that first day at a new school. I had felt like a bit of a sideshow then, but our friendship grew into so much more.

I think of her now, so far away and on a path I never could have guessed at, and I smile and put my hand to my heart.

I am thankful for a long chat with a writer friend.

She writes about science. She is a scientist who loves to write, I suppose it would be better to say.

We talked for a long time, about everything concerning writing, as we are both trying to make it, using our skills, on our own.

Though our lives are vastly different from one another, our thoughts often come back to the same thing, something involving the art and the struggle of being a writer.

I am thankful for a gift of Gummy Bears.

I was working on a piece, on deadline, and someone knew it.

They sent me a treat, even if it was just a picture of that treat, a virtual treat as it were.

Still, to know they were thinking of me, there in that moment, was a nice thing, plain and simply.

I am thankful for superstitions like the famous Friday the 13th.

They have given me something to write about and to think about. They have caused me to challenge what I think and what I believe.

I am thankful for a visit with my neighbour where she helped me figure out how to take action in a few areas of my life.

She is good at narrowing an issue or a particular problem down. She keeps me thinking ahead and on task. Checking in on me periodically has helped a great deal since knowing her.

I am thankful for a delicious lunch/latte with another writing friend.

The wrap and the latte were just the thing for a Friday, as tired as I felt. I like hearing her take on things and I hope to be an ear to listen with for her, someone she knows she can trust.

I am thankful for a challenging violin lesson and yoga session, both within two days.

New poses to strengthen. New parts to repeat and drill into my thick head.

It is all a challenge, but a giant breath of fresh air too.

I am thankful for a friend’s writing getting published and read this week.

Kerra makes her opinions known on CNN.

She is speaking up, speaking out, and writing.

THE PRICE OF REDEMPTION – Panorama Journal

I am thankful we got a 60 minute episode of Ketchup On Pancakes recorded and up on our SoundCloud page.

KETCHUP ON PANCAKES: Episode 6 – Mom and More

When I think of my mom, I think of growing things, like flowers.

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Apparently, so do others.

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TToT: Hum Bucker Splitting Push Pull Pots – Go Pretenders and Sluggers, GO! #Baseball #ChrisCornell #RIP #10Thankful

Most recently, on The Handmaid’s Tale, a line is spoken that captures how it is:

“We only wanted to make things better. Better never means better for everyone.”

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So true.

Oblivion – Grimes

It’s a two-in-one edition of the TToT this week, as last week I allowed my mood and a bad sun burn on both arms to dictate my lack of a post.

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Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for an unexpected email.

The anthology I was published in two years ago is being rereleased this summer. I received the surprise email to confirm I still wanted to be a part of the project.

I’m thankful for a successful first violin lesson in weeks.

Other than writing, I have never felt so frustrated one minute and wanting to give up and then so determined the next minute as I feel with the violin. It’s my roller coaster.

I’m thankful for an anniversary celebrated with my friends at “The Elsewhere Region”.

We celebrated the existence of writing group, two years on, with blueberry cheesecake and, you guessed it, writing.

I have written more fiction, more stories, starting during those nights in the group than I’ve done on my own time in a while. The short story I submitted to the Alice Munro Short Story Contest, for instance, was begun there. Though I found out this week that I did not qualify with it (bummer), I am still glad it came out of that place.

I hope there are many more still to come.

I’m thankful for the chance to see my sister included in a team of dedicated women.

My dad and I walked to see her game the one night. We stood there and I listened as best I could. It was the sound of the coaches leading their players, encouraging them by shouting positive reinforcement and the other teammates cheering them on that was so nice to see.

My sister hasn’t played in over ten years, since before motherhood and time gone by, which makes it all the much harder to jump back into a game like baseball. I admire that.

Hearing a group of women encouraging each other to do their best. I wish I could be a part of something like that.

I’m thankful that my nephew is getting more comfortable with his baseball.

He is still so little, but he will get there. Maybe he will play for many years and maybe he’ll ultimately decide baseball isn’t for him. Either way, he gets to learn about being on a team, just like his mom.

I’m thankful for my sister, two years older.

Our two-year age gap feels like nothing really. She will always be my big sister though. She is one of my biggest influences, an example I follow, two years behind and I like celebrating her every May that comes around with the loveliness of spring.

I’m thankful for a Friday morning surprise phone call.

I’ve volunteered with the Kidney Foundation of Canada for years, since soon after my transplant, and now I was contacted about getting involved more so, possibly with public speaking opportunities about diagnosis, dialysis, living donation, organ transplant, and hopefully to offer some hope that life can be good for twenty years with care and a little bit of luck.

I’m thankful for an enlightening and enjoyable conversation with my new neighbour.

She showed me around her home and we sat at her kitchen table for over two hours, talking about writing, the town we live in, family, and she wanted to meet the rest of mine.

She came by two days later, for a drink, to meet my brothers and my sister-in-law and the kids.

I’m thankful for a family day.

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We were celebrating my sister’s birthday when we could all be together.

It was Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. This means the carnival comes close to my house and we all walked down there together.

My nephews went on the cars and my niece went on a few rides all by herself. She is braver than I ever was when I was her age.

We went on the gravity ride with her (my brothers and I) and it felt both good and bad.

It was a glimpse of what going on a ride like that was like as a kid, moments of pure pleasure, and then I’d return to being thirty-three and I’d feel a little ill and I was off balance for a long time after the ride ended.

We passed games with those people yelling and bells ringing and buzzers buzzing. It was loud and a little went a long way, but I remember what it was like to find such a thrill from a place like that.

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The child roller coaster was loudest of all. Every click/thud of the cars as they went around the bends and up and down, up and down. Life is loud and uncomfortable a lot of times.

I’m thankful for extended family that are cool and care about what’s most important.

whole front porch
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We had a lovely afternoon sitting on my front porch and talking about everything under the sun. My aunt and uncle spoke about my cousins and we discussed movies and animals and family.

As for roller coasters…
Buckle up because we’re only about ten feet up the clicky part.

—The Daily Show

Whether it’s 45, a sicko who attacks a concert full of young girls, an attack on a bus in Egypt, a knife attack by a white supremacist on a train, I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster, but gratitude for family and fun and flowers takes the edge off the nausea a little bit.

But check this out.

Roller Coaster Story

Grandma is always the wise one.

Into You – Ariana Grande

RIP to all who have been lost in the last few weeks.

I’m always thankful for life.

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Tongue Tied #Language #SoCS

“Language is your medium and use it to the max.”

—Anne Rice

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

I think about language as I sit in the quiet room of my local library on certain Wednesday nights. I am trying to come up with a bit of story to read out loud at the end of my writing group and I want to use the right sort of words and sentences.

Anne Rice is one who believes in adverbs, even though many so-called writing pros condemn the use of them. Ugh!

How am I supposed to know what is the right way to go?

I’m just glad I’ve managed/mastered the English language this far, when I wish I’d focused harder and done better at learning French when I was in school. I am proud that Canada is a multi-language nation and it can only serve as a benefit.

My family doesn’t all speak Polish or German. I wish we did. My father’s parents didn’t teach him their native European languages, by speaking them at home when he was young. I think they were so focused on learning English, as still fairly new to North America, that they couldn’t be bothered. I hope they didn’t feel any sort of shame surrounding the speak of their birth countries, being recent immigrants to Canada.

My mom learned German, as my grandparents always spoke it, but a certain dialect of the language. My grandpa used to tell me stories of how he didn’t even speak English before going to school. It was always German in his home as a child.

My mom speaks some and understands it. This allows her to speak to my uncle who visits from Germany every few years.

I was recently blown away by the beauty and rhythm of Spanish, as I prepared to travel to Mexico. I tried, for months, to learn some so I wouldn’t be totally lost when I went down there. By the end of my week, I’d gotten better at recognizing what was being said around me, but I would have needed many more weeks there to be able to speak any with much confidence.

Language is hard. It is one of those things that gets harder and harder to learn as you age. I am so set on learning to play the violin, at age 33, that I can’t possibly fit in learning any other language on top of that.

Ah well…there’s always my forties.

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