FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

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.

Advertisements
Standard
Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, Podcast, Special Occasions, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

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.

WZLbd3j.jpg

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.

vVp01jN.jpg

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.

bkKfIIK.jpg

Apparently, so do others.

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

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.”

bGAXcwA.jpg

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.

stTLdua.jpg

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.

5t4Gub3.jpg

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.

fBySvm4.jpg

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
bBWr38x.jpg

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.

Standard
Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, SoCS, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, Writing

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.

Standard
Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Piece of Cake

My One and Only #AtoZChallenge

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to stay away from you, not to hold you close to me every minute of the day.

Dw7b20H.jpg

I love you deeply, but lord knows, you don’t make it easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

The A to Z Challenge – V is for Violin

This is a love story of a different sort. Last year I discovered my love for the violin.

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. From the moment I laid my hands on its body, I wanted to make beautiful music with it. I’d soon find out it wouldn’t be quite so simple as that.

I love everything about it, but it is the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted, to try and make anything resembling music with my hands, a bow, and four strings. There’s so much more to the violin than I ever imagined.

Angle. Pressure and weight. Force. Technique.

Most times I can get a decent sound from it, if I don’t think too hard, but that’s the trick. I work at just feeling the music, letting it flow through me, but there’s something missing.

If it were easy, I’d be better by this time, one year and counting. If it were so simple, I’d have gotten farther by this point. If I didn’t adore the violin, I’d have taken the easy way out and given up by now, saving myself the pain and frustration.

You don’t make it easy to love you, but I do. After all, some things can’t be explained. Love. When you know something is right, you just know.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, TToT

TToT: Being the Heroine of My Own Story – Lucky, #EarthDay2017 #WorldBookDay #10Thankful

“There, sitting on the warm grass, I had my first lessons in the beneficence of nature. I learned how the sun and the rain make to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, how birds build their nests and live and thrive from land to land, how the squirrel, the deer, the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter. As my knowledge of things grew I felt more and more the delight of the world I was in. Long before I learned to do a sum in arithmetic or describe the shape of the earth, Miss Sullivan had taught me to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister’s hand. She linked my earliest thoughts with nature and made me feel that ‘birds and flowers and I were happy peers.”

—Helen Keller, The Story of My Life

I’m trying to have the sense to live in the moment and to enjoy myself in that moment, whatever it might be, like Helen Keller and her teacher Miss Sullivan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rlQqWbp7rY

The only time things seem to make any sense is when I am with my nieces or nephews, holding my niece.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for more time spent, just myself and my little buddy Mya.

She didn’t want to sleep the entire time. She didn’t want to miss one second of her time with Auntie Kerry.

Then Kim told me there are a few photos recently taken where Mya looks like me. I may never have my own children. My sister will never know how much this small thing, one I won’t ever likely fully understand because I can’t see the pictures, means to me anyway.

I am thankful for my last violin lesson for a few weeks.

Last time we missed multiple weeks it was I who was going away. This time my teacher is traveling.

I hope, like last time, I don’t fall too far back in my progress.

I hope her trip is everything mine was to me, all she hopes.

I am thankful for my return to the library.

I haven’t been to my writing group (The Elsewhere Region like I like to refer to it) since February, for a few reasons.

Everyone there seemed pleased to see me, a few even saying they missed me. I missed them and their wonderful imaginations.

We had little scraps of paper with a few lines of story prompt written on them, thanks to one of the members of our group, and mine included: a frog prince, a talking donkey, a cloud castle, and Betty’s wish list.

Who is Betty you ask…well I asked myself that same question. It was the first try for me, in a while or at all really, at writing fantasy. I liked what I came up with, though I have no idea where I was headed with it, but then my equipment decided to cause a problem.

I was reading my story in progress out loud to the group, they were riveted, and then the second half of what I’d written seemed to vanish. I am sure I wrote it, but my technology doesn’t always cooperate.

I am thankful I could answer a few questions about how I’ve learned and lived as a blind person, for a good cause.

My sister’s sister-in-law works with a young boy who is blind. She helps him in his neighbourhood school, but she had some questions about how I’ve grown up, how I learned, and how my mom saw it all from the parent perspective.

She had the coolest keychain on her keys. Instead of a cube with coloured squares, she has three blocks that move from one side to another, and they contain tactile dots. They are braille dots and they make different letters in braille when you mix and match them.

A fun thing to do with your hands. She sounds like an excellent teacher who wants to keep learning the best possible ways to teach her student to be as successful in his life as possible and it seems he is lucky to have her.

I am thankful for a friend reaching out, mentioning me to her friend, and a new and possible connection made in the world of women writing and women’s storytelling.

Thank you Lizzi. Women helping and supporting other women. We can always use the help. I appreciate it.

Who knows what will or will not come of it, but that is what making connections is all about.

I am thankful for a lovely first visit with my new neighbour in my home.

We had a nice talk. Many more to come.

She even warned me about the roofers coming to her house and called me this evening, to check on me, when she thought she heard a noise over here.

I am thankful for this earth.

I watched Bill Maher say that 45 needs to forget “Make America Great Again” and instead “Make Earth Great Again.”

I totally agree. Mars is cool and everything (says this fan of planets since childhood) but we don’t have licence to be careless, reckless, and destroy this planet, just because some want to get there. It is not the answer to our problems of environmental and climate changes. Taking care of this place, the one already with plenty of water and life and the air we breathe, that will benefit us all in the end.

As many said, every day should be Earth Day for us all.

I am thankful for science.

All Around Us and Everything Essential

I thank all the scientists in my life: my oldest friend, my many excellent doctors over the years, my cousin and his wife, my new friend who is also a writer, Bill Nye The Science Guy (for teaching me to love our solar system when I was a child), and to so many who are much smarter than I am in these matters.

I owe science big and I believe those who marched all around the world were warranted in doing so. We need to make a statement. Science is worth fighting for.

I am thankful for another excellent episode of Anne The Series.

A young girl runs through a dark, snow covered forrest, carrying a lantern and wearing only a thin layer of night clothes.

Ahead By A Century.

I am glad Anne and Diana are allowed to be friends again so soon, but I didn’t expect these three things to happen, all in this one episode of Anne The Series: Diana’s sister almost dying, Anne meeting Great Aunt Miss Josephine Barry, and Gilbert suffering a huge loss.

The fist fight is one of the memorable parts of this one, likely brought on by grief and a need to defend a newly growing love and respect, even if the source of that love and respect doesn’t make it easy, like one before her.

Though Anne is conflicted about what her future should be, between romance that most young girls are desperate for and her strong ambition, she knows when she listens to her heart.

This episode is all about letters, long lost pleas that will now never be addressed and unfinished business and apologies.

More flashback with Marilla this time, as a young girl, about Anne’s age. Sadly, youth cannot last and family obligations altered everything, but not necessarily for the worse, for some more than others.

Matthew offers to help Gilbert, Marilla and Gilbert have a enlightening conversation about place and time, and Anne finds a kindred spirit in old Miss Barry, who the writing hints as having had a long same sex relationship with another woman. This was never even alluded to in the series I loved growing up, but the times are changing and I am glad for that. It was one of the pleasant surprises of this week’s instalment.

Some of my favourite themes explored in this narrative are those exploring grief, loss, stubbornness, regret, and how decisions can or may influence the future.

Anne goes to give her apology when she finds an abandoned house, Marilla is stuck with her regrets, and Matthew goes to the bank to make some mysterious financial transaction.

Season finale already next Sunday. That went fast and I hope the break isn’t too long, that a second season is in the works.

“Romance is a pesky business. No sense to be made of it.”
—Miss Josephine Barry

I am thankful for books, but not only them, but books in accessible formats.

On World Book Day, I am not just thankful for books, though I am always thankful for those. It’s being able to read them, hold them, learn from them, and to access them in either e-format, audiobooks, or in braille.

This wasn’t always possible if you couldn’t see to read and it still isn’t always made easy. I just want to be like Helen, with her love of reading and learning. Or Anne and hers.

And so one more week ends and another begins. It’s all still an endless, giant enigma to me.

Standard
Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Poetry, Special Occasions, TToT, Writing

TToT: Landscapes of Skies – Morning Chatter, #AtoZChallenge #10Thankful

“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl could be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

—Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby

For April Fools’ Day this year: Tourism Ireland claimed they were saving power by having sheep keep the grass trimmed, George Takei announced he was running for office, and that’s just the start of it.

It may have been a week of
tomfoolery,
but also of sunshine, birds, flowers, and beautiful skies.

I learned my brother and Vincent Van Gogh share a birthday.

Thanks, everyone, for your delightful and helpful descriptions last week, for what a rainbow looks like to you.

Anyone want to take a crack at describing Van Gogh’s painting? I’ve never seen a rainbow, but I’ve also never seen the stars.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful that I was published again.

My Wedding Won’t Be Like My Sister’s, but That’s Okay – A Practical Wedding

I received a lot of positive reactions that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

I am thankful to learn that writing is hard for everyone.

You have to be able to stand not knowing

Oh, of course, I am not glad to hear anyone feels this way. I just know it’s easy, as a newer writer, to feel like things will never go where I want them to. This writer has been published, books, and she still gets down on herself. It is oddly comforting, that it isn’t likely to get much easier, the further down the writing path you find yourself.

I am thankful for writers who are willing to stand up for others.

The Men Who Won the Presidency – Full Grown People

This essay hits the nail on the head. I am glad Full Grown People has returned, after being on hiatis. It seems to be moving to publish more of these kinds of open statements and I think that is important.

I am thankful, again, for a doctor who cares.

This doctor is doing all she can to help me feel better. In my experience, that doesn’t always work so well, but her sincere desire to try means a lot to me at this point, after some doctors I’ve seen over the years.

I am a little nervous to try her latest suggestion, but I will see how it goes. If it doesn’t help, then we return to the drawing board.

I am thankful for my brother.

He turned 30 and we didn’t get to celebrate like you should celebrate the start of a new decade of life, but I’m just thankful he’s here to celebrate it at all.

He had a seizure on the eve of his 30th.

I am thankful that my brother is okay.

It’s not a good sign that he’s had a seizure twice in only a few weeks, but luckily he has a doctor appointment this week and maybe he’ll have to increase his medication.

You never know when one will come on. He must have bumped his head on something as he fell because there was blood everywhere.

We’re all just so relieved he came to and phoned his friend, who thankfully could tell right away that something wasn’t right, and went straight over to check things out.

I am thankful my violin teacher and I could work on some problem solving and practice strategies.

When most people move out, I prefer to move in.

We discovered I could keep my arm straighter, in the proper position, if I stand against the wall to play. I rest my right arm against the wall and then I know not to bring it inward any.

It’s a bit of an odd place to be, but hopefully it’s just until I get the hang of things better. I need to know the feeling of where my arm should be, just like I need to learn to feel where my fingers should be.

We are working hard to find ways so I can practice more efficiently. Every lesson we discuss things in a slightly different way.

It was exhausting, but a good kind of exhausting.

I am thankful I got my entry in by the deadline.

The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story

I doubt my abilities sometimes, but if you don’t submit, you’ll never win.

I wrote something that I quite like. I am proud of it, but we’ll see what the judges think.

I owe some of my family for their input.

I originally did not give my main character a name. Then, as I was working on the final touches before submitting, I realized what day it was. I am not a fan of April Fool’s Day because I am too gullible for my own good, even on a day I know jokes and pranks will be occurring. I did snap up a bit of, what I hope will be good luck, by naming my main character April.

I thought since the deadline was April 1st, it felt meant to be somehow.

Speaking of jokes and pranks…

I am thankful for humour and light things with Canada’s leader and a sitcom star.

Did you hear about this?

Matthew Perry responds to PM’s April Fool’s Tweet

I can’t tell you how nice it felt to read this and be able to smile at a story I read in the news for once. I say I can often be gullible, but I can’t believe some took this seriously. I needed this kind of lighthearted humorous exchange, between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Matthew Perry (Chandler) from Friends.

I am glad Canada has a leader with a decent sense of humour.

I decided to try the A to Z Challenge, for the first time, on a whim this year. I hope I will be thankful for that decision, as April goes forward.

A to Z

We shall see.

“To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

Standard