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TToT: Utility Muffin Research Kitchen – Comfort and Courage, #10Thankful

So much going on in the world, so much that I can’t write my way out of. I know what I am thankful for, as always, but recently my stress has been building and I couldn’t bring myself to post anything about gratitude last week.

I wasn’t even going to be back now, but I am one of those who believes both these are true:

“The only thing worse than knowing the truth is not knowing the truth, and yet, “the only thing worse than not knowing is knowing.”

By next Sunday we will know, not all “the truth” really, but the reality.

I don’t like where the world and more specifically the US is heading, but I am, in this case particularly, unable to do anything directly about it either way. Emphasizing what I am thankful for is the least and the most I can do now and we will face next week when we get there, like a rickety bridge, but I don’t speak of burning anything.

Those familiar with the stylings of Frank Zappa, you may recognize the stringing together of those four words in my title. I didn’t know of his recording studio and the rather odd name it possessed, until I heard an interview with Lady Gaga, who has purchased the house and now makes music there and shares it with other musicians. I liked the random word choice and thought it fitting for things at the moment.

For a little Halloween fun, with October behind us and November, the US election, and the holidays still to come this year, I begin with this here tale of terror.

Click Clack the Rattle Bag

Beautiful storytelling. I wanted to remember it.

Here is one song I came across this week that had the sort of feeling I am experiencing right now. I have the one picked out for next week, if a first female president is elected that is. If the worst does happen, the following song feels fitting, for my mood.

O Children – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I heard it in the final Harry Potter movie (well, Part One of it anyway). It felt sombre. Lots of people feel this added scene (not found in the books) was awkward and unnecessary, but I felt the opposite, that sometimes the movie takes a gamble on a little something extra and it touches a viewer like me.

So, Ron had just run out on Harry and Hermione and the mission they were on to defeat evil. Hermione was devastated and Harry suddenly gets her to dance with him, to this song, and something feels optimistically hopeful, for their friendship and humanity, like not all hope was lost.

Somehow, I felt a connection here, to the current climate. I don’t think I’m wrong.

I am thankful, first off, for small favours which are really just what ends up happening, but sometimes they can prevent something much worse from occurring.

My brother had a seizure this week, but he is fine now.

He has had several since he fell, last December, and hit his head. He had a few last summer and then not until the other night.

The worst part about them, like what I say above, is you don’t know when they will come, but yet would knowing really be easier?

I guess because you could plan for the most optimal situation. If he is in the wrong place, doing the wrong action, it could be worse for sure. If he’s out in the street. If he’s in a place where a secondary injury could cause more damage. It’s scary because he is so smart and so much of what makes him Brian is his amazing mind. He was, only a few hours before, playing the most beautiful music with his band in my basement. Each time they play I change my mind and a different one of their songs becomes my favourite.

He is himself still, thank God, but my fear is that something will change. Seizures are hard on the body and on the brain, obviously. He was alone, but he was sitting down, we believe. He will be okay. My heart stops each time I hear he’s had another.

I am thankful for those little Facebook reminders of what happened exactly one year ago. Well, okay, not always, but this time for sure.

This happened.

One of my better/best decisions ever. I am thankful that I have a place where I read my writing out loud. It is excellent practice.

I am thankful for a fun-filled writing group this week.

November first was the start of a month of non stop writing, for some, as it’s National Novel Writing Month once more.

Only two of our group are doing it this year and I’m not one of them, but we had a party of sorts, while we chatted, wrote, and read our stories out loud. I know how much I can handle and how much I can’t. I hadn’t had that positive breakthrough with my violin yet and I knew I couldn’t add anything more to my plate right now.

I know things out of my control should never stop me, if doing something like writing a novel were what I really wanted to do, but this just isn’t the time and I know it. I sometimes trust my instincts to show me the way forward.

I do have a story I’m dying to tell, but not yet. This doesn’t mean I must wait a whole other year, for NaNo to come around again, but we shall see.

I just need to see what happens in the US on Tuesday and the aftermath of that. I need to get a year of violin practice under my belt. I need to focus on my goals for at least the next three months. That’s what is most important to me right now.

But back to writing group. The stories, minus my own, were unbelievably satirical and hilarious. We had to roll a pair of giant dice and we received a matching setting and character description for both the numbers we rolled.

Mine was: “beach with a prudish dress code” and “woman who is upset because her imaginary friend dumped her for another woman”.

Maybe I will share that story one day.

I am thankful that NaNoWriMo exists.

It got me writing back in 2013 and I wrote the quota of fifty thousand words in thirty days that year.

I achieved what would have seemed and sounded impossible to me at the time.

I fear I lost that beginning to a story, but even if I did, I now know I can do it again and I will. I now have two novel ideas to choose from when I do.

I am thankful I got to hear my violin teacher performing live with her fellow musicians. Brass, wood winds, strings, and percussion. It was a remarkable thing to witness, so many performing in unison and the pieces played were introduced by professors of the music school at University of Western Ontario, in London. The quote about comfort and courage was from one of those introductions and I made a note of it and liked the sound of it when I heard it.

I am thankful for a better week with the violin.

For the last few weeks I’ve felt like I was not making enough progress with the song I’m working on. I worried I was wasting everyone’s time and money and belief in me, especially my own hope, with all I’ve put of myself into this dream.

This week something began to make more sense I suppose. I felt better, walking out of that practice room, than I have in a while. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but definitely one of the more rewarding things I’ve attempted in my life.

I am thankful for family to hang out with when I need to smile and distract my rushing thoughts.

I watched the final game of this season’s World Series with my parents, brother, and uncle. I’m glad I got to think about baseball instead of world happenings, even if Toronto had lost out days before, for another year. These two teams deserved a shot.

I had to spend this past weekend around one who knows nothing about politics, elections, or world events yet. He is only four, so plenty of time to face these things, to learn about them, but I wish he never had to.

I feel the need to phone and speak to other children in my family, as I did after my aunt died, even with my feelings of not wanting to bother people, with their busy schedules and hectic lives. I know I should not ever allow that to hold me back. It’s silly really.

I am thankful for a ride home from my uncle after we couldn’t quite hold out past the rain delay to go home and call it a night.

My uncle is someone I can talk to about the struggles and the thrills of learning to play an instrument later in life because he plays and he gives it his all when he does.

He introduced me to another violinist from Canada on the brief drive home.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ehnes

I am thankful for the baby kicks I’m not certain I felt.

My sister has felt them for a while in her second pregnancy, but getting over my weirdness with such contact, I tried for really the first time this time round. I felt nothing really, but it’s still early enough, and as long as the mother feels them I am okay to wait.

It really is miraculous and to think of that baby growing and moving is one of the best things in a mixed up, topsy-turvy world.

I am thankful for comedians to make me laugh about the things that, if I don’t laugh about, the only other option would be to cry.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor and Jimmy is hysterical with a good guest.

I am thankful for the vast array of autumn weather we’ve been having.

It was so nice to step out my door the other day to bright sunshine and warm temperatures, for November anyway. I stop, on the stairs, multiple times a day, in my favourite place in my house. I stand and take in the view, with my remaining senses of smell and hearing. I loved the cooler weather of Halloween. I loved the dank and the rainy and the better days as we fell back one hour, ushering in darkness earlier and earlier going toward December, and we’re on our way toward winter. Glorious that I live in Canada and get to experience all four seasons.

Okay, so perhaps a couple additional TToT items this week, to make up for missing a few recently. I needed to write and find all the ways I possibly could to keep my mood from crashing. On into another week however.

And, with that I conclude by saying, America, please be careful.

Here is a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago.

Good luck to all my American friends and to all of you from this here TToT, for the week that’s ahead of you. We, the rest of the world, will be praying and crossing our fingers and watching closely.

Utility, muffin, research, kitchen. And comfort and courage to us all.

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NaNo NaNo NaNo, #NaNoWriMo #SoCS

I want to write a novel and
this
is a small bit of what it will be about.

tMSZXZo.png

Three years ago, this very month of November it was, I took a stab at writing my first
novel.

I took part in
National Novel Writing Month
because on their site it said: “The world needs your novel.”

Really? Mine? Hmm.

I had an idea for a novel in my brain for several years. It was a family story about how three generations of a family deal with losing someone they love.

I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days. The website that year wasn’t all that accessible and so I did not get much farther off from registering. I did not keep track of my word count like everyone else online. I did it on Twitter instead. It didn’t matter that the website for the organization was a bit of a nightmare. All that really truly counted would be the words I would write.

No flashy completion badges for me once I crossed the finish line. I knew in my heart that I’d done it and that was all that mattered.

Three years later and I haven’t done it again, but I did buy the t-shirt.

I did not take a month or two, Christmas off, before returning to my first attempt at a novel like is suggested. I did what they said. I wrote to get to fifty thousand. I would edit later.

Or would I?

I have the words somewhere, I hope. I don’t keep track of all my documents on all the laptop switches since 2014, oops. I emailed a copy to myself, but that may be gone.

Was this one more in a long line of mistakes, failures, and regrets from my writing journey thus far?

I sent it to a friend, even as rough as it was, whom I trusted to give it her honest opinion. Maybe she has a copy still. I wouldn’t count on that.

I was not a planner, as is the case many times in the rest of life. I was a pantser. I didn’t have a plan. I just started to write from my themes of family, loss, grief, and resilience.

I can’t let that idea go, but a novel is such an enormous task to take on.

I would have loved to participate again this year. I have faith that the website has improved for visually impaired and blind users. I now know someone locally, one who is from my local writing group and is in charge of support for writers doing NaNo in our immediate area. My writing group is talking mostly all about NaNo all month.

I would have abandoned my first novel, still in progress somewhere, to try writing this newer idea which has shaped and formed in my mind in the three years since that first attempt.

This one is historical fiction, unlike that first one which took place in a more contemporary setting.

This one will be mostly fiction, but loosely based on family. It takes place in Europe during World War II. It’s about a woman who is a mother of three small children throughout the war. There is struggle and bravery all around her. Her decisions aren’t easy ones.

We who study history know all about the Holocaust, about big events such as D Day, which are both important, but what was life like for other people who were going about their business and living their lives when war broke out?

***Just practicing with early versions of my elevator pitch.

I would have taken a crack at this, but apparently I can’t handle a project of this size and my continual violin lessons at the same time. I haven’t got the brain power to muster for both.

Maybe next year, once I’ve been playing violin for more than a year. Maybe.

So much going on. World events are wild, whether it’s war in the twentieth century or world upheaval in the twenty-first.

My brain is full near to capacity at the moment.

When a story sticks in the head like this one and the one before have, I don’t think I will be getting them out of there anytime soon.

NaNo, NaNo, NaNo sounds like a taunt to me, that I couldn’t hack both writing and music lessons, but this isn’t your ordinary, everyday writing. This week is a tense one, and who knows where we’ll all be next week this time. Hopefully all those brave enough to take on writing fifty thousand words this month will still be writing. I do think it makes for an excellent distraction.

Now I stop writing and it’s time to practice my violin. I just like to do an update on where I am, with every passing year, as November and NaNo again rolls around.

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inside Out, #SoCS

Almost Halloween and it made my day to receive happy updates on my phone of my friend and her little girl, who is enjoying pumpkins and so many other new experiences, this being her second Halloween and first to really begin the fun of the holiday.

This is just a small thing, but a big big thing really, that makes my day better, set against a backdrop of chaos and endless information.

lwb5GIr.png

So much else goes through my head and my mind. It’s like that line parents and elders often find themselves speaking about children and the younger generation: “everything I say to them just seems to go in one ear and out the other, like they aren’t even listening”.

In one ear and out the other.

Are we listening?

So much in the news and going on in the world, so much info for me to hear, that I can’t possibly retain everything that comes across my path.

Lately I’ve felt like I can’t live up to the things I’m attempting, for some people, as if I’m not getting it fast enough or in the time they’ve allowed in their own heads, so I may not be getting the hang of it and, to some, should maybe just throw in the towel.

Perhaps this is all mostly going on inside my mind. Maybe it’s not that bad. It could be that they don’t think this at all. But I feel it, from them or from myself, or a little of both.

I try to block out all other things when I am in that practice room. For one hour I don’t let myself think or worry or fret over anything else that would otherwise dog my every waking thought. None of that when I am with my violin and while I have the undivided attention from the one who knows it and is trying to teach me.

I focus so hard on her words and her instructions, on the notes and the strings and the proper techniques, so hard that my mind aches. It’s not just the headaches or the usual body pains I feel, but rather my mind physically stretching to try and accommodate these new things. Sometimes, I feel I hear and understand her so clearly, but other times I fear her wisdom goes in one ear and out the other with me. I fear I’ve just wasted an entire sixty minutes of her precious time.

I wonder how much more would weigh me down if I could see, so those things that went in one of my ears and out the other, straight through my often swirling brain, would have to keep up with what my eyes were also taking in.

I can’t say how that would work. I may never know.

I just want to think of the stories surrounding Halloween as fun and games, but I think of ghosts and those who are no longer hear. I think of the world we’re facing in the glaring absence of those people.

I think of pipelines. I think of refugee crisis stories. These are real lives and people debate them as if they were theories taught in a classroom somewhere. I think of what I just saw on a news documentary, about the famous family because some of it’s members didn’t survive the boat trip. Canada is home to some of them now. Iraq is home to others, who can’t bear to be away from where their loved ones are buried. I think of the fight going on in Iraq and Syria still. Will families who’ve had to flee for their lives ever get to return home again?

Will the wild war of words and opinions and so much more in the US ever settle down? Will Canadian government live up to all their campaign promises? Does any government?

Questions which I come to on my own and those that I hear and learn about, I take them in, even if I think of that Halloween episode on The Simpsons when Bart is attacked by the little people Lisa invented in a plastic tub, which come upon him in the night, shooting in through his one ear and going through his brain and out the other.

I saw this image so clearly when it first aired back in 1998, but now exists only in my memory.

Do we hear today’s real issues? Do they make an impression? Do they touch us? Do they cause us to stand up and act? Or are we so used to hearing so much that it all just flies in one ear and out the other?

All these things turn my insides out on a daily basis. I must focus on creating things. Art. Beautiful music and words and building things that didn’t exist before.

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TToT: Too cold For Pumpkins and Other Stories – A Day In The Life, #BraveEnough #EightDaysAWeek #Review #10Thankful

This will be part gratitude post and part music review, I’ve decided. Music always causes me to be thankful.

Here’s what else’s going on.

FmTFzlp.jpg

I am thankful for some of the best October weather lately.

Okay, so that weather decided not to hold on for our family day, when we’d planned on visiting a pumpkin patch, to have a good time like we did last year. Ah well, can’t win em all.

Before that though, well I would stop at my favourite spot in my house, my stairs, on the landing, and I would put my chin on the window ledge. It is high enough that I just meet its height. It makes me feel child-like when I stand there. It offers perspective.

With this weather, first it was a couple of extremely breezy days and I just loved the sound of rustling leaves in the trees, some far off hissing. Such mild breezes and the smell in the air was just glorious.

I am thankful for Canadian healthcare.

I tried to feel indignant on some comments DT made about our healthcare, but decided that is nothing but wasted energy.

Nothing is perfect, as I continue to have symptoms that become difficult to treat, but when it really counts, Canada is the best place to be.

Again, I worried about my brother’s health, three years post kidney transplant. He needed medical help this week suddenly, to be treated for shingles immediately, and he was. Hopefully, he is on the road to total recovery. Knock on wood there are no further complications from the virus. It is his second time with it.

I am thankful for live music.

Shawn Hook was the opening act.

I am thankful that I was able to attend a live musical performance like no other, with my sister and my unborn niece or nephew.

FmTFzlp.jpg

Lots to say about this show, which was a lovely surprise of a performance, but I still want to write a full review another time.

This song just makes me want to get up and dance.

I was looking forward to seeing Lindsey Stirling live for a while now and, once more, I found myself becoming transformed by what I heard and felt.

I am thankful for another Wednesday evening in “The Elsewhere Region” (which just means my twice-a-month writing group), that you just never know who might show up there.

This week we had a surprise guest from Denmark. She was a friend of one of our members, just visiting for the week, but it was nice that she came along. She is a writer too, which was obvious from her piece that she wrote and read aloud to the group.

I am thankful for the love of certain kinds of music that my father has passed on to me, from his generation, of the kind that a lot of people my age don’t have.

My father taught me to love and appreciate The Beatles. I owe him for that.

This documentary was sweet and sad and it brings you back to the 60s, a time I did not live through, but when I watch things like this, I feel I can understand a little of what that time was like.

I am thankful for a violin teacher who shows me lots of compassionate patience and who lends me a chin support so I can keep hold on my violin with just my neck and head.

I am thankful for my brother’s quiet support of my attempt to learn to play the violin.

Recently, my discouragement has been growing, but I will not give up.

Some things we really want, we soon learn just aren’t meant to be. Learning to play the violin, for me, isn’t one of them.

Doesn’t mean I don’t doubt myself on a regular basis. I may not be the most dedicated player, devoting hours and hours to learning, but I am a slow yet determined learner.

Just when I was beginning to doubt that I was doing all of this for the long run, I practiced, on the sly, while most of my family were elsewhere. I did not draw attention to it, but my older brother was present.

We both think the violin is just so neat and I felt better in that moment, when I acknowledged how hard it’s been and when he offered up his signature style of quiet support as I fumbled to get through a song.

I vowed then that I would not give up on my dream.

I am also thankful that he doesn’t give up.

He keeps helping me with things I struggle to do on my own, now that it’s just me.

I think music sounds so much better in surround sound. He made it so much easier for me to go from cable TV, to movies, to my computer. The fewer steps there are, the easier I will pick it up and do it on my own, even if it takes me forever to master it all.

And my brother keeps coming back, helping me, over and over again.

FmTFzlp.jpg

I love hearing my niece and nephews playing. They even allow me to get in on their games now and again as well.

We played and I watched how the game was constructed. How my niece acted out what she sees every day, with the grown ups in her life, how there’s a repeated order to the imaginary day we were living. Wake up. Going shopping. Eating lunch. Having a day where we just rest. Back to bed. My brother was the best at these last two.

🙂

Children are the best and I watch the children in my life, reminding me of the child I once was myself. This is a priceless gift.

I am thankful for my family. Goodnight.

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Train Wreckss, #SoCS #Halloween #GilmoreGirls

Ho, ho, ho!

  1. Okay, so wrong holiday there. I am looking past a lot of things happening right now. I’m fast forwarding two whole months.

Just over a week left until Halloween and lots to be
HORRIFIED
about I figure.

This afternoon, on my way to a pumpkin patch, but the day looks to be cold and windy, not quite as pleasant as last year’s adventure. Should have some fun with family anyway.

It’s not really the horror of all things Halloween that’s got me so on edge and taking it out on stream of consciousness writing as an art form, more like a form of therapy.

I tried to get into the spirit of the season, by watching
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
last night, but couldn’t get into it.

This clown thing that’s been making the news for a while is scary enough. I’ve never been a fan of clowns.

Nothing against the ones who live to dress up and make children laugh. Not my style.

I think our options for entertainment have grown in the past several years, technology a big part of that, resulting in less need for clown entertainment, but not all will agree with me. Some still prefer just such classics.

When I was in kindergarten, I had a little friend and his mother was a clown. She did kid parties and had a candy floss machine. How cool was it to have a friend with a mother who had constant access to that sweet treat?

Well, something happened after I lost touch with that boy and I grew up. I started to fear clowns.

I was in hospital a lot when I was twelve. The Shriners even have a hospital. Clowns were an easy way to cheer up seriously ill children. This meant one could often find a clown wandering around any children’s hospital I happened to be at, going from room to room on a paediatric ward, trying to help the boys and girls forget about how sick they were and the needles and surgeries, just for a little while, with magic tricks and songs and friendly, lighthearted chatter.

I confess, my trick was to pretend to be asleep in my hospital bed when I got word that a clown was on the way. This only worked when someone could tell me, as one thing I disliked was how clowns were often silent until they were right up on you.

Sounds like a predatory action and it wasn’t. Any clowns I met during my months of hospital visits were nothing but well intentioned. It was I who was growing more and more uncomfortable.

I have never liked makeup and so Halloween only held excitement for me because of the candy. I didn’t want thick makeup on my face and I didn’t like to think of it as a part of a clown’s costume either. The only clown I liked, by this time, was the Jewish clown on The Simpsons.

As I’ve lost more sight, makeup never held any real interest, as a woman. I know it isn’t the case, but now that I can’t really make out faces, whenever I imagine makeup on a woman, I think of thick, dark, clown makeup.

As I learned of terrifying clowns in the horror genre, like Stephen King for instance, I liked clowns all thee less.

This whole thing is ruling social media at the moment. I try my best not to imagine a creepy clown in the woods. Better left for fiction, but when I heard it had started in certain US states, I said, “thank God that isn’t happening here in Canada.”

Well, it has spread, as many things on social media will do. It’s here in Canada, in my town even. I say if I were harassed by one of those guys I would use my white cane to jab jab. Maybe a kick to the crotch. I don’t advocate real violence, but getting up in anyone’s personal space is not cool.

I think people can be a little odd or possibly more than that. I also think once certain folk realized this silly thing would get them some attention, just such a behaviour was far too tempting to pass up. People are on edge now. Someone could get hurt. Will this whole bit of nonsense stop once October 31st has passed us by?

I try not to bring a whole lot of attention to it. Besides, there is a horror a lot more worrisome anyway, but that one we must wait for Halloween to be over before we face it.

I spent a lot of energy talking about the horrors of the US election in my post last week. So, I will not go too far down that rabbit hole this week. Already, much too much of my week/month/year has been spent thinking/talking about the horrible predicament they are in, but of which we in the rest of the world are not immune to.

I focus on the candy of this season and I look forward to the remainder of 2016 because it’s been a life changing one for me, in several ways, more of which I will write about as the end of the year approaches.

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.

I am tired of feeling this anxious. I want to focus on the things I’ve got to look forward to.

Though, I have wondered lately about hope.

After a few more challenging times practicing my violin lately, I’ve started to fear that I have no hope of getting better.

I hope I will persevere through the trying times, because I never believed learning to play an instrument like this would be easy at age thirty-two. I don’t sound like a horror when I play, but I do struggle to remember everything and not get discouraged beyond repair. This is still something I love and am determined to get good at, or at least better than I am right now.

All you usually hear are those reactions when people hear I even wanted to start, at my age, to learn one of the more advanced musical instruments. They don’t see things as I go along, as I keep practicing and fight my doubt in my abilities. Most people aren’t around for the tough times. I may sound more horrible than a tormented cat or a screechy something or other, but I know what it sounds like when the correct strings are played and the exact notes are found. I still have hope.

And so, all threat of clowns aside.

(Halloween or November 8th included)

😉

I just want to get past Halloween without meeting up with one of those guys. Always have my white cane on hand though, and I will make my intentions perfectly clear before acting in my own defence.

🙂

Then, November 8th will come and go. Can’t wait for that fun day.

After that comes American Thanksgiving and the event I am really looking forward to, something to help me relax after these months of stress.

The new Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.

After that Christmas and the start of a new and exciting year.

BRING IT ON!

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TToT: Blood Red, Royal BLUE, andd a PINK Bun – Lichen and Lightning, #10Thankful

Here I am and bursting with thankfulness, just like the fall colours now at their peak. My favourite season will be gone before I know it.

I missed last week, which I don’t like to do, but I had a good reason. I was filling up on things I’m deeply thankful for, living my reality, starting with this.

Fall colours and violin
4R3Ctbc.png

It soon became tricky, trying to hold my bow, as my fingers grew colder and colder. I wished I could see the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows which were in full display up north east, earlier than where I live. I am thankful that such views bring my mother such happiness.

I am thankful I got to play my violin, as brief as it was, even with the few songs I know, in a place of natural splendour.

Algonquin Provincial Park,
in the midst of my favourite time of year.

I went on a road trip, to say goodbye to a loved one. Upon returning home I was so emotionally spent that I decided to take a week off and come back again, here and now, with a double dose of reflective thankfuls.

Phone booth

dCtZJGV.png

I’m thankful to have gotten to know a remarkable woman. My aunt started a life on her own, away from anyone when she arrived, and built a life for herself and a family, here in Canada. She worked hard, raised two children, and made a mark for herself in the restaurant business.

It wasn’t until later, the mid 90s, that I was around to meet and to get to know her. I just thought the past was well represented, as we passed a remnant of days nearly gone by, with the phone booth, saying farewell to what once was, with the introduction of modern technology of cell phones, becoming the unavoidable reality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RA4MykPm4s

My aunt was tough and resilient, like her mother, my oma.

She did not want a funeral or even an obituary. Was it because she did not want to bother anyone, even after her death? Or was it just that she couldn’t deal with the thought of us making a fuss after she was gone?

Well, on the chance of incurring her displeasure, I have needed to grieve and pay tribute to her, in my own few ways anyway. I am thankful I got to do that and to know how other loved ones are finding their own peace. It was important that I see them all again, to know they are going to be alright without her.

I learned to love “Operator” thanks to my father. Now though, it’s going to be forever the song that I now dedicate to my aunt, whose fierce spirit I felt as I stood just inside the booth, on a chilly autumn Sunday, in a Canadian national park, near her home, in Ontario. We all have regrets. I just hope my aunt is now at peace, wherever she is.

I’m thankful for lichens and morning glories.

I’m thankful for fall colours (red, orange, yellow) and for the possibility of either pink or blue. I’m thankful for the red blood that makes up a family.

I’m thankful for delicious food and the supporting of important causes.

pink hamburger bun
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I wanted to find out what a pink hamburger bun tasted like.

It was obvious to those I asked on Facebook and to my mom, even though my father and mother both said, up close, it could have been a sweet, dessert red velvet hamburger bun. The correct answer was it was dyed pink with beet juice, which I wasn’t so sure about at first, but did end up giving just a hint of sweetness.

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Then there was a wonderfully tasty bbq chicken salad, from
The Kitchen Eatery and Catering Company,
located in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada. It also just so happens to be my cousin’s lunch counter/store front and the catering business she is growing. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend you check it out. Beef sandwiches and pies named after her family members. She has not yet named a signature dish for my aunt, but I see that happening in future.

Pies were the order of the day, with Thanksgiving in Canada being in October. The coconut cream pie was delightful, with every bite of fresh cream and coconut I tasted. She explained her lessons in crusts for meat pies vs dessert pies, one taught to her from her mother and the other from her father, a big part of her team.

She has worked a lot of years to build up a dedicated crowd of regulars. She makes good food and puts her all into everything, and it shows. Both her parents taught her all they ever knew about the restaurant business and preparing the best tasting and quality food for any potential customers. We were lucky to be some of those, this time round.

I am thankful that I got to check out her place and the food. She was very gracious as a host. I am thankful I got to see the kind of family love that exists, even after losing her mother, my aunt. It isn’t easy, but we discussed what my aunt would think, if she could truly see what my cousin is creating. She would say she is crazy, but she would be proud I am sure.

I am thankful to get to experience the timeless hospitality of
the Grey Gables Inn (Bed & breakfast)

It’s a little like my favourite fictional Green Gables, as in the age of the building. It is the type of older building I’ve always felt uncomfortable in, yet as I grow older, I continue to see the value in the history and the ghosts of those who may once have lived there. It’s a place with great character. Leave it to my mother to find such a place.

I am thankful for the discovery of meditation music, when my mind is full of memories of loved ones, and sleep is not always so easy to come by.

He had many relaxation albums, going back to the 80s.

Tony O’Connor – Live in concert at the Sydney Opera House

This composer put on a brilliant live show before his own death. I wish I could have been in attendance, but I’m thankful for his haunting nature sounds, mixed with piano, guitar, and the authentically Australian sound of the
didjeridu.

I am thankful for some much needed guidance with my writing and the path I’m attempting to walk..

Next year will be twenty years with my father’s kidney and I feel like I need to recognize that, to do something big, possibly using my skill with writing.

I’ve felt a bit stuck on that lately, likely because, as the date of June 5th, 2017 grows ever closer, I fear not paying proper attention. What if my time with my transplant is coming to an end? I’m just afraid to get my hopes up too high.

I also am working really hard to find a healthy balance between the every day tasks of growing as a writer, the actual act of writing, with the ones I often suppress, which must include getting out and taking chances to meet people and make connections.

And so there you have it. A few extra thankfuls to catch me up with what I missed during my absence.

And, before I forget –
it’s the second episode of Ketchup On Pancakes, our podcast.
So check it out.

Ottawa River
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And so I’m glad I got to go there, as hard as it was in some respects, to stand on the border of Ontario and Quebec, to feel the wind tunnel, once past the shelter of the trees, and into the openness of the river.

Song lyrics.

But isn’t that the way they say it goes
Well let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine, and to show
I’ve overcome the blow
I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words
Could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real
But that’s not the way it feels

—Jim Croce, “Operator”

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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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