The Man Who Talks to God


20151226_174652

The view from my sofa

I’ve had a lovely holiday season thus far.  I’ve visited with family and friends.  I’ve attended a few gatherings that remind me how fortunate I am.

This has been a tough year.  Yet for all the challenges I’ve had they’ve provided insight into some of the areas I need to focus on.  One of them is most definitely my health and well being.  I’ve got to take back the level of health I was enjoying just a couple of years ago.

20151227_144156_00120151227_144134_001

The gal pals from school.

I woke early yesterday.  I didn’t have any coffee which is unusual for me.  I’d meant to pick it up the day before.  These days, however, if I curl up the sofa with my Canucks  blanket tucked about my person then chances of stepping out into the cold again are slim to none.

I bargained with myself that I’d do it first thing in the morning.

20151228_073611_001

Walking down through the 4th Street overpass yesterday morning shortly after 7:00 AM.

At 7:00 AM I slipped from bed and dressed to go for a walk.  Two hours later I arrived back home.  I’d walked the length of the Quay from the 4th Street Overpass down to the end of New West Waterfront Esplanade.  I’d stopped at Angelina’s for breakfast then I traipsed over the Quayside Drive overpass and stopped at Safeway to pick up my coffee.  Then toddled back home.

20151228_073808_001

20151228_074038_002

Walking along the Westminster Pier Park walkway watch the sun come up 

I was in pain, though it was moderate.  I know for the next little while any activity I do will leave me in pain, but you know, I just gotta do it.  The alternative is worse.

I then went and had my hair trimmed up and decided to head to downtown Vancouver to use some of the gift cards I received for Christmas.

This is the first shopping trip I’ve made to downtown Vancouver this year which is really odd for me.  My daughter and I decided to meet up and have dinner later in the afternoon as well.

6. Sunrise Steveston 012

Out by where I’m now working in Steveston 

I arrived downtown around 1:30 PM.  It has been so beautiful out and the mountains were just glorious!  I decided to have a gander at the new kid on the block being Nordstroms.  It actually looks very much like the one in Seattle.  It is bright, open and accommodating.  It is also outside of my price range.

Still they’ve made every attempt to make customers feel very comfortable regardless of their income.  On the second level is a bar where I watched three men taking photos of their Ceasars! I suppose there is a novelty to this idea of having a drink while you’re out shopping right in the store.

Christmas wish 043

Canada Place a couple of weeks ago at the Charity Breakfast

I smiled then wondered how much they’d given their wives to spend.  They may well need another drink.

Nordstoms is competing with Holt Renfrew and The Bay in the downtown core.  I’m sure they’ll do well.

I checked out Old Navy then it was on to MAC.  I stopped in at various stores along the way.  I’m on the hunt for some good work shoes for the docks out in Steveston.  Uggs had a nice pair that was just a little too expensive at this time coming in at $255.

I’ll head over to the outlet stores in Queensborough to see if I can find a deal.

20151228_163140

The mountains covered in snow yesterday at 4:30 PM

I made my way down Robson to Burrard then headed toward Mahoney & Sons on the water where I would be meeting my daughter.  I definitely got my 10,000 steps in and I was feeling it.  I was now in need of a bathroom.  I went into the Royal Centre Mall and could not find a public washroom at all.  The Hyatt Regency Lobby claimed to have facilities but I could not find them.  I was running early so I stopped at the Elephant and Castle deciding to use their facilities, have a pint and rest for a bit.

Pulling out my notebook I began to jot down a few thoughts.  A man sitting a few seats over asked me what I was writing about.  He also told me I had bronchitis when I coughed. I smiled and told that no, I didn’t have this affliction.

9.

Steveston a couple of weeks ago in the morning

He continued to ask me questions periodically to which I would reply.  A text message made it clear I’d be here a little longer so decided to give up the writing quest and chat with the fellow beside me.  I’ve always enjoyed conversing with people.  I’m seldom intimidated and if the conversation gets uncomfortable, then I politely excuse myself.

He asked me what I thought God was.  Quite the ice breakers.

I told him that to me God was an entity of pure energy that resided within all of us and a.k.a. love.  He spoke of the big bang theory, the collision of light and dark matter.  He spoke of time and our human failings.  It was an interesting conversation.  He told me God speaks through him and that life is about love and compassion.  He went on to tell me that he was clairvoyant as well.

20151228_163043

At the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre yesterday

Smiling he told me I’m an old soul.  I’ve been told this in the past as well.  He wanted to pay for my drink and buy me another.  I politely declined.  It really wasn’t necessary.  He told me I’d write about him.  I grinned and said yes, I most likely would.  He claimed to have money and lot of it and he was having issues with his family.

We did not exchange names.  There was something very familiar about him though and there was a sadness that resonated through him.  He told me I still have some anger issues.  This is true, though I’m aware and working on these aspects of self.

We spoke about dimensions and the need to get out of the 3rd dimension and into the 4th and beyond.  Now, you may be thinking that he was a little out there.  The odd thing is I’ve been researching all of these things for many years now.

20151228_163108

The world contained at the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre

Some of the posts I’ve written on this blog deal with these topics as well.

It was time to leave.  I think he would have talked well into the night had I remained.  I wished him well then went to freshen up a bit.  As I left the establishment I noted he was no longer there.

Later when I got home certain parts of this conversation came back to me.  He asked me if I could ask God anything what would it be.  After a few minutes of consideraton I decided that I’d ask if I was done with the health issues I’ve experienced.

The answer was interesting.  If I didn’t want them back then I was in the clear and would live a long life.  And oddly this made sense.

20151228_083411

Winter foliage on the Quay in New West yesterday morning

Now it’s about health and wellness.  I’ve got a long road ahead of me.

The other thing that intrigued me was a comment that he made about the anger issues that are still ongoing.  This is negative energy of which I’m aware.  I described it as peeling back layers of an onion.  You think you’ve dealt with everything only to find yet another issue that needs to be addressed.

“Before you go to sleep tonight, count to eight, then think about the relationship between you father and his dad.  There may be some answers there. ” he instructed.

This struck simply because I never spoke about my family at all and this is indeed a relationship I know very little about.

20151228_083243

 

Santa’s a little hung up on the Quay in New West yesterday

The conversation had been very much about the great beyond and our place in it.  Dark matter will swallow light if you let it and in many ways he is right in that we are in this struggle currently on our planet.

If we give in to fear and anger it will consume us.  Not a good place to be.

And as I walked down to meet my daughter for dinner I thought of how good it was to converse with a stranger about the state of everything.

And there have been several times in my life when those conversations have indeed steered me in a direction I’d not thought of previously.  Sometimes they open the mind just a little more.

20151228_083709

What a lovely way to commemorate those you loved. Located at the Quay in New West

And sometimes it’s just great chatting with someone you don’t know and will likely never cross paths with again.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

Advertisement

Back In Training: Week Six: Oh, the Pain!


 

lights & action 048

As I write this my posterior has seized up and my abs feel like I’ve laughed incredibly hard for the last 24 hours!

I am in pain.

Tamer stepped things up yesterday.  She pushed me a little harder, a little further.

Have I mentioned that I’m in pain?

images5C60J18G

I told my daughter this in a conversation today and she chuckled and said ‘Good!  Your trainer is doing her job!”

No sympathy, none!  Oye!

I guess I thought that this part of my anatomy was in better shape and of course I’ve had yet another rude awakening.

These new exercises will now be incorporated into the mix as I formulate some new routines for the gym workouts.  The goal right now is to put together four workouts combining the exercises Tamer has given me.  In some cases I will use certain exercises during each workout, for example the T-Rex.  Not too sure why these straps tacked up against the wall are called this but they are great for upper body strengthening.  Perhaps in a week I  will make the attempt at trying to do a pull up from 90 degrees once again.

Fit 1

I’ve been feeling a little rickety and tired as well.  There have been all kinds of flu bugs making the rounds and I’m not very hospitable when it comes to the flu/cold thing.

Sleep is what the body has been craving and I have obliged it.  Still, I’ll wake after a great night’s sleep and find it hard to stay awake.

I am sitting at my desk these days resembling a bobble head of sorts.  This morning I feel so much better!

And the homestead once again has the appearance of a war zone.  This time with wrapping paper, gifts, cards and ribbon strewn about the place.  In a couple of months time I will be 57 years of age.  I would like to be in the best health of my life and a month into training for the 1/2 Marathon in May 2015.  It is the holiday season and I’ve attended about four social events thus far.  Still have a few more to attend and then the big day itself.

It was a delight to drop off the gifts at BC Children’s Hospital.  This was right after my trainer had worked my behind off!  The pain had not yet settled in.

June 21, 2014 1037

Shortly after writing the last sentence, I fell asleep on the sofa. Flash forward and it is now Friday evening at 7:51 PM! And no, I didn’t sleep for the entire week!  🙂

This week has been just crazy.  I’m trying to keep things organized as I morph into the persona of Christmas geek.  Oh yes! I love this time of year.  Chocolates, cookies and cards have been given to all the people I work with.  All the cards have now been mailed.  My homestead once a ware zone now looks like a mad woman tried to wrap the interior of it and all the contents.

Photographs, gifts, scissors, tape, gift bags and tags and cards that have been purchased and not used from years past are now strewn across every available surface.

lights & action 225

I was at the gym tonight getting in yet another kick ass workout and opted to step out for a nibble as I must go back to the insanity that awaits me and clean it up.

Most of the Christmas gatherings are now in the bag so to speak.  We are going to go to Bright Nights at Stanley Park on Sunday then I’m off to the bi-annual solstice party!  And I’ve much to be thankful for.

A year ago I wrote on a piece of paper how I wanted to be rid of the cancer, the poor health issues and of the fear.  No more setbacks.  No more tears.  Then I tossed it into the fire and released it.  I had jotted down on a second sheet of paper what I hoped 2014 would bring.

Progress in my growth as a writer and to publish my first book.  A more rewarding position as an accountant.  I wanted to continue to grow as an individual, to give back, to live humbly.  I wanted to continue working toward being a more loving and gentle being and a healthy one at that.

I then tossed that into the fire.

Last weekend of summer 2014 036

And I’ve certainly been making progress on all those points.  It is an ongoing thing though.  I know I will never wake up one day and feel that I’ve fulfilled every goal.

For every success or accomplishment, while I can quietly enjoy their purpose, I know that their completion opens up a host of new ideas and challenges to be explored.

What do I want for Christmas?  Just to enjoy the company and love of friends and family.  It really is that simple for me.  If I can make someone smile in delight on Christmas morning that is the ultimate gift.

happy 1

And when someone says those three simple words (I Love You) and means them then I know I am truly blessed.

Have a great weekend all and I’ll be back soon bitching and squawking about the terrors of my trainer!

Peace out.

 

 

A Christmas Story


I wrote this originally a year ago.  It was part of a five part series called ‘The Napkin’s Odyssey’.  I quite liked the tale that I developed.  If you like this then please do go back and read the others. Thanks. 

Remembrances

lights & action 031

I set out on my annual Christmas shopping trek seeking those items that would just scream someone’s name at me.  There was quite a bit of foot traffic on this Saturday afternoon along Granville Street.   It’s always good to see the hustle and bustle this time of year as I made my way slowly along the corridor plotting my course and plan of action.

This is one the main shopping drags in downtown Vancouver.  Today, as is typical this time of year, the sky is overcast and a wet snow has begun to fall.  I had been checking to see if any interesting little shops had materialized over the last year.  Unfortunately there were none at this juncture of my quest.

With all the health issues I had faced recently I found myself feeling a little fatigued and decided to find a bench to call home for a few moments.

I sat down across from the old Eaton’s store.  Next year Granville will look very different no doubt.  An American store, Nordstrom’s had purchased the property that was opposite me and it was now being renovated and slated to open sometime next year.

images4GHGYW0Cimages3R6502SQimagesKEPHSCZY

The old Eaton’s store, considered one of the ugliest stores. 

It was once described as an unending urinal wall.

So much has changed over all the years from frequenting this area of the city.  I gazed up the street.  The Bay looked very much the same on the outside, however, the interior has undergone many renovations over the years and continues to do so.

There used to be an old man that had built this weird conglomerate of instruments and he would sit outside The Bay, right on the corner of Granville and Georgia St. and play a variety of melodies.  From the time I was a young girl to somewhere in my mid 20’s he was there every Christmas.

I would go down to shop and always looked for him.  The contraption he played was drums, keyboard, accordion, spoons, symbols, a horn, tambourine, etc.  All were rigged and connected somehow, and with each note played they combined to make a hauntingly beautiful sound.

I would hear it when I got off the bus drifting down the Granville Street corridor.

imagesOHXT4WWBimagesI0MOQ3MT

The Bay Downtown Vancouver…Then & Now

The old guy wore a beat up Santa hat.  He was whiskered and a little rough around the edges but the smile and light that danced in his eyes could melt the bitterest of colds.

I always gave him a five dollar bill.  Might not sound like much but in those days it was.

He was still there for the first year of my daughter’s birth but the year after he was gone and I never did see him again.

I sat smiling thinking back to times past.  Looking down toward the south end of Granville I could still recall the neon signs that used to grace the corridor.  Vancouver was a relatively gritty city in appearance back in the day.  Even so, she’s always had a charm and beauty that cannot be beat and still does.

The White Lunch Café was located a few blocks down.  I would go there for breakfast from time to time.  Coffee was ten cents a cup with as many refills as you wanted.  Cinemas, theatres and stores peppered the street back then. There was quite an outrage when the price of coffee was boosted to a quarter for a cup.

images0GQHY675

imagesQ162ACJ5

Robson Street was a kitschy place at the time inhabited by artists, fortunetellers, belly dancers and cool little shops and restaurants.

I had my tea leaves read by a woman, who in hind sight, was a little scary.  She would stare into the cup, then stare at me, stare into the cup then stare back at me.  Her eyes fluttered closed and she moaned plaintively whilst rolling her head about.  Then the eyes popped open and she unloaded a host of information that made absolutely no sense but she assured me in time, it would.  Whatever was disclosed to me that day was soon forgotten.

Closing my eyes for a moment I just let the memories dance to the surface.

I always went down to Woodward’s.  They had the best Santa Land and the best Christmas displays in their windows by far!  It was the 6th floor that was transformed into a magical place for children each year.

The last Woodward’s Santa Land I attended was in 1987 when my daughter was four years old.  Woodward’s would later close down forever in 1993 . Eaton’s suffered the same fate unfortunately.

And as I sat watching the busy shoppers, I wasn’t saddened, not really.  Change occurs all the time.  It never ceases.  That I have been afforded so many rich memories is what matters most.  And you know, it never is about the gifts that I have received that springs to mind. It never has been.  Always it is a sound, a place, a smell, a touch, a smile, etc.  Some sensation arrests my attention and I find myself propelled into this beautiful, magical spirit we all share.

Of course, as adults, we all know that a man in red suit cannot possibly circumnavigate the globe in a huge red sleigh distributing toys to every child on this planet, yet we propagate the myth.

Why?

Perhaps because it makes us feel good.  There is a certain innocence and magic to it I suppose.  That desire to just believe.

imagesOF6PH0ME

My eye caught an elderly woman shuffling up the street with her walker leading the way.  Little clips had been attached to hold her shopping bags.  I admired her ingenuity. She wore a brown and white woolen weave coat that fell to mid-calf.  A brown felt beret with a broach of a penguin pinned to it adorned her perfectly coiffed grey hair.

She had the kind of eyes that were like liquid honey and a mischievous smile that graced her lips.   I watched as she made her way up the street.  A stately little gal and I pondered the stories she could tell.  She was close to me now and she caught my gaze.  The smile deepened as did mine.

“Merry Christmas” I offered with a nod.

“And to you, child!” she replied softly.  There was a hint of an accent to her voice from a lifetime ago.  I couldn’t say from where.

A few more glances and I stood.  Time to get back to the task at hand of finding the elusive perfect gift.

A snowflake landed on my nose as I stood and I laughed.  Looking up, I watched as the wet snow transitioned into the big fat flakes.  I was delighted that I’d left the car at home.

As I headed south along Granville St., the lonely refrain of a saxophone rang out.  The first few chords of ‘White Christmas’ echoed on the buildings and for whatever reason, I came close to tears.

Over the course of my 54 years there have been a lot of bad Christmas’ in the mix, along with some very lonely ones as well.  Now I simply focused on letting those that I love know how I feel and try to help a few of those in need as well.

I quickened my step now as the snow was really starting to come down.

The Napkin’s Odyssey…A Christmas Story Part 5 Final Chapter


I’ve done several writings on how to end this short story.  It’s been difficult, to say the least.  What message did I want to convey?  And I wanted to keep it simple and encourage everyone to perhaps reach out just a little more.  Doesn’t have to be much.  We all get so caught up in the commercialism of the Season.  Sales signs woo us and we think of the delight our loved ones will experience. 

I know what I try to infuse into this time of year.  So here is the final installment.  Have a very happy holiday!

Christmas Napkin 4Part 5 – Love and Forgiveness

My daughter and I were preparing to turn in for the night.  She was sitting on the sofa brushing her teeth watching the late evening news.  A muffled voice called, “Mom, come here!  You gotta see this.”

With face towel in hand dabbing my freshly washed face I walked out into the living room.  The newscast on the television was from Steamwork’s restaurant.

“…it’s been really quite remarkable what’s been occurring down here.  All of this was apparently inspired by an anonymous poem that was left with one of the servers last Saturday afternoon.  The server and a fellow co-worker later came up with the idea to share this with their customer base and Dennis, the manager here was very supportive of the idea.  As you can see it has gone viral down here.”

The camera panned the restaurant.  Walls were filled with napkins and the place seemed to be in a total party mood.  The newscast flipped to a camera outside the restaurant.  There were lineups at both entrances.  Servers were coming out offering hot chocolate, coffee and light appetizers to the waiting crowd.

The camera then switched back to the inside of the restaurant.

“I am here with Dennis who manages Steamwork’s.  So this is really something…”

“Yeah, we never saw this coming.  It’s been fantastic!  We’ve raised a lot of money for local charities, which we’ll be dispersing on Tuesday.  You know what has blown me away is just how everyone embraced this idea….its been really moving, really something to be part of..” then he trailed off looking around the restaurant.  Turning back to the reporter he smiled, “And I just want to thank the person who wrote that little poem….I… I’m going to go and make sure…” then he turned a moment later giving a server a brief pat along with a word or two and continued on.

“And there you have it.  Miracle on Hastings St. I must tell you the energy down here is unlike anything….” she smiled then, “back to you Chris.”

Kristen smiled.  “That’s really cool.”

“It certainly is.” I replied.

I must tell you, I was quite overcome at seeing what my little poem had inspired.  I was humbled by it.  For a moment in time, that little napkin had somehow carried an energy  resulting in this beauteous magic of the human experience.

I thought of some the books I’d read that had altered my path.  I thought of some of the people I had met that had enough of an impact, however fleeting, to make an impression and give me a sense of hope.

And somehow the brief writings on a napkin had touched something so deeply in so many.

Then I thought of Jay.

When I was sixteen I had lived on the streets for a brief period of time.  I had panhandled hoping to get enough money for a $5 hotel room in the Downtown Eastside.  I can recall sleeping in beds with sheets that were so soiled, all the washing in the world could not take the stains away.  And I  had wondered if I would ever feel clean again.

To many I was invisible.  Yet, the other day I almost walked right by Jay.  I really didn’t want to stop.  Didn’t want to take the time and I know that each time I do stop and help someone, the feelings I experienced rush to the surface.  Perhaps that’s why I’m always so torn.  And its hard to watch and to see the desperation, the fear, the despair and the pain in someone’s eyes.

But I do know that a kind word, a smile, a coffee or a sandwich offered can make a difference.

The following day I called Covenant House and spoke with Rick.  Jay was doing well.  They were hoping to get him interested in school again and they had a room there for him.  They were assessing his situation but he was safe and they would do what they could.  I thanked Rick and asked him to give Jay my best and Rick said he would pass along the message and thanked me in turn.

And maybe, just maybe I had provided enough of an impact to give Jay a sense of hope.  That was the prayer in any case.

Love and forgiveness.  If you think about the man’s whose birthday inspires this season and the message of his life, those two attributes pretty much sum it up for me.  It was a lesson I learned a long time ago and work steadily at improving upon.  So I will end this tale here.

Merry Christmas to all of you and may the New Year bring many blessings.

And who knows, maybe one day we will have Peace on Earth.  Always I must believe that its possible.

 

 

 

 

 

The Napkin’s Odyessey….A Christmas Story Part 4


Part 4 – Let It Be

christams napkin 2Lisa made it in to work around 1:00 PM on Sunday.  She had laminated the napkin to keep it dry.   A mock-up of the banner and a menu insert had been prepared.  John had called her a short while ago and said that Dennis was definitely interested.

Over the course of the night Lisa had thought it might be a great way to raise funds for a few of the local charities that could use the help at this time of year.  She decided to state that if customers would like to make a donation they certainly could but it wasn’t necessary should they wish to participate.

Slipping out of the cool afternoon air into the warmth of the restaurant, Lisa greeted her fellow workers.

Elsie was back at it.  Lisa stopped briefly at the bar, “How are you feeling Elsie?”

“So much better!  Thanks again for covering me, Lise.  I just went home last night and slept.  My fever broke sometime during the night.  Hopefully this is the end of it.” She smiled.

“Good to hear!  I’ve got to go find Dennis.  See you soon.”

Walking to the back she caught sight of him and waved.

“Hi Dennis.” She smiled upon her approach.

“Hey Lisa.  Head on back to the office.  I’ll be with ya in a second.” He replied.

Lisa waved to few other employees as she made her way to the back.  She caught sight of John just before going into the office.  He had agreed to come along as well.  A moment later he entered the office.

“Hey, girl.  Let’s see what you came up with.”

Lisa opened her leather portfolio and John indulged himself.

“Cool idea about laminating the napkin.” John commented holding it up.  “Hmmm.  We could attach a stick and clip it to the tree top.”

“Great idea!  I was wondering how to mount it up there.

“Or we could take a straw….slice it partially down the middle and slide this on.  Well we can play with the idea.” John grinned at her.

“Okay you two,” Dennis stated as he walked into the office.  “What crazy ass shit have you been up to?”

Lisa smiled and began the explanation.  John handed him the laminated napkin which he read through and nodded for Lisa to continue.

“We thought it might be fun to engage the customers.  I’ve prepared a mock-up for a menu insert and we could put up a few banners.  I also thought it might be a great way to raise some funds for some of the local charities.” She finished.

Dennis reviewed the insert and the banner then leaned back in his chair.

John piped up now. “Oh, and we could use the cork boards in the basement to post the napkins on.  I think there are around three or four down there so we could place them in strategic points throughout the place.” He offered.

Dennis looked at everything before him nodding thoughtfully.  It probably wouldn’t amount to much but hell, he liked seeing staff members developing ideas on how to better engage their customers and who knows, it could be fun.

“Can we get this up and running by tomorrow?” he asked them.  Lisa and John smiled big time.  “We sure can.” Lisa stated.

“Okay Lisa, send the digital files to our printer.  I think four banners, and forty inserts should do it.  And this?” he held up the laminated napkin.

“We thought of attaching it to a stick or straw and clipping it to the top of the tree?” John offered.

Dennis smiled.  “It would seem you’ve both thought it through completely.

“What about donation containers?” Lisa asked.

“Leave that with me.  I’ll pick something up later.” Dennis assured.

“Thanks Dennis! I think this will be a lot of fun.” Lisa replied. “Oh, can I leave everything in here for now?”

“Of course you can leave it here, and I will let all the staff members know about this venture and that they have to do this and post it up on a cork board.” Dennis said standing now and devilish grin on his face.  “Let’s get out there and have some fun, shall we?”

As day turned into night, staff members chatted about this little venture.  At the end of the shift John rounded up a couple of other guys and they went downstairs and brought up the four cork boards.  They gave them a good wipe down while discussing placement.

Steamworks is a big restaurant with substantial floor space.  They decided upon three upstairs and one in the lower level.  Each cork board was mounted and secured now.  They had brought a side table up as well that was about three feet in length and two feet in width.  The decision was that this could be used for the napkins and possibly the donation containers.

Lisa had been busy handing napkins out to staff members.  Jokes and comments were tossed around as they sipped on various refreshments and nibbled on sandwiches and burgers.

John had taken a couple of wooden stir sticks and glued the bottom portion together.  He went into the office and retrieved the original napkin and slipped in between the two.  He then took a clip from Dennis’ desk then went back out.

“Lisa darling, come on over here.” He announced loudly.

Lisa got up and walked over to where John stood beside the tree.

“Yes John…” she smiled.

He held up the napkin “I do believe you should do the honours.”

Lisa took the napkin and reached up but the tree was too tall so John lifted her up.  They almost knocked the damn tree down but eventually they had success.

Lisa had everything on a flash drive and had dropped it off at the printers before her shift.  Dennis would pick up everything in the morning.

They looked at the tree with the napkin clipped to one of the top branches.

“Shine bright little napkin.” Lisa said with a smile.  Then the remaining staff finished their task and posted their napkins on the cork boards before heading out into the night to their respective homes.

————————————————————

Four days later the cork boards were very close to being full and they had raised close to $1,200 dollars.  It would seem this little exercise had become quite a hit with customers.  Dennis had made up envelopes with each day’s donation amount noted on the outside before sealing it and putting in the safe.  He had asked the staff to come up with some local charities by week’s end.

A warm ambiance had taken hold and everyone seemed just a little more festive and this became increasingly evident as the week progressed.  Dennis found himself coming in a little early each day to read some of the napkins.  Some wrote brief stories, some wrote just one word.  There were poems as well.  Some of the writings were sad, others funny but all were heartwarming in some manner.

There was an intimacy that was being shared and with it came an odd camaraderie of sorts.

A reporter from The Province newspaper had been in earlier for lunch and had later returned to take a few pictures.  Dennis was really surprised actually at just how successful this had been and it had most definitely boosted business as well.

Friday morning Dennis got up and headed down to the restaurant.  He stopped and got his coffee and it was then that he saw the front page of The Province.

“A Christmas Saga Is Unfolding At Steamworks” was written bodly above a photo of one of the cork board’s with the tree in the background.

Dennis purchased the paper then took his coffee and read the article.

A strange odyssey began at Steamwork’s Restaurant on Monday.  A customer had left a napkin with a poem written inside the fold on Saturday afternoon (see below).  Two employees came up with an idea to involve patrons of the restaurant and raise funds for local charities while they were at it.  The result has been rather amazing.  Participation has been rampant.  While I was dining there yesterday I found the atmosphere regarding this activity infectious and found myself jotting a thought or two between a napkin’s fold. 

After posting my napkin and making a donation, I read a few of the others that were posted.  Many entries were incredibly touching and some were very funny.  I could well have stayed at length to read more had time and space been permitting.

Christmas spirit is what you’ll find if you get the opportunity to stop by. Happy holidays to you all.”

Below this brief summation was a photo of the banner which had the original poem written on it.

Dennis finished his coffee and smiled.  He tucked the paper under his arm to show his staff later on.  They were having their staff celebration at the end of tonight’s shift.  This year he felt it would be a particularly good one.

As a result of the newspaper article, the restaurant had its busiest day on record.  Christmas spirit had gone viral.

The Napkin’s Odessey….A Christmas Story Part 3


There will likely be five installments as I wanted to pace it a bit better.  I hope you are enjoying this little story so far!

Part 3 – The Power of Suggestion

Christmas Napkin 3Lisa watched the woman leave and picked up the bill fold from the table.  She’d liked the woman’s gentle nature and wry sense of humour.  Walking to the cash register she opened the tab and took the cash out.  She looked at the napkin and opened it briefly.

Smiling she tucked it into her leather case that held her tips.

“I will read you later.”  Completing the transaction it was back to work.  It had been very busy and showed no signs of slowing down.  Lisa didn’t mind.  With all the courses she had lined up for the New Year every little bit helped.

At 23 years of age she had big plans and even bigger dreams.

Her shift should have ended at 8:00 PM but Elsie wasn’t feeling all that good so Lisa agreed to cover the rest of her shift.

At 10:00 PM Lisa finished up for the night.  She ordered a burger and John poured her a beer.

They chatted while she cashed out her tips.  She smiled when she saw the napkin and set it aside.

“When are you leaving for Halifax, John?” she asked.

“I’ve got my flight booked for the 21st of December at 8:00 AM.  But I gotta tell you, I hate flying at this time of year.”

“Yeah, never fun with all the delays and stopovers, is it?”

“You’re not going home this year?”

“Nah.  Can’t afford it.  I’ve got all my classes lined up for next year and have most of them paid off.  I’m just going to get as many hours as I can over the holidays.  My mom’s bummed about it, but hey, I’ll shoot for a summer sojourn.”

“Traveling during the holidays sucks to boot.” John reiterated once more. “The things we do for the folks…”

Lisa laughed.  “How are you’re studies coming along?”

John had been in law school but was finding that he really didn’t like it all that much.

“I’m gonna get together with a career counselor in January.  Think I’m going to change my major, but to what I’m not sure.  As it is, I’ll be in debt up to my asshole for the remainder of my days.  I don’t know how you manage to pay for everything, Lisa.” He commented shaking his head.

Lisa smiled and let go an exaggerated sigh. “I don’t have a life, remember?”

“Right!”  John grinned and took her cash and counted it.

“Damn, you did good girl!”

He took the required 30% that was divided among the bartenders, hosts and kitchen staff and Lisa still had over $200 to take home.  He gave her the cash back in $50’s and $20’s.  Then he reached for the napkin that was off to the side.

“No.  Don’t touch that just yet.  A woman was in earlier.   She wrote something in it and I plan to read it now.” Lisa informed him.

John laughed.  “Probably a love letter.” He teased.

She scowled at him, “Fuck you.!”

John laughed harder. “Well, I’ll leave you to it then.”

A moment later the burger was in front of her.  Lisa took a long sip of her beer then she opened the napkin and she began to read.

The burger was held suspended as Lisa stared at the napkin.  Suddenly her eyes began to fill with tears.  She put the burger down then reached for another napkin.  John walked over having seen the shift in mood.

“Lisa?  Is everything okay?” he inquired.

She nodded. “Yes.  It’s just really beautiful what the woman wrote.”

John raised his brows in a rather dubious manner.  Must be a girl thing he decided.

“Here, I’ll read it to you.”

“Give me a half sec. Finish your burger and I’ll finish up with the two at the end.  Be right back.”

Lisa took the opportunity to eat the burger and she read the napkin through once more.  The place was almost empty now and they closed in another half hour or so.

Lisa cleaned off the area wanting to make sure the napkin didn’t get wet or stained.

She sipped her beer and a few moments later John walked back over.

“Okay.  I’m listening.”

Lisa picked up the napkin and began to read.

A simple Christmas napkin,

This is all I am,

Designed to look festive and pretty to grace a table fair,

I’ll take the stain from your face,

Sticky fingers will come clean,

You’ll dab spilled wine from the table top,

Then toss me in the waste.

But what if I told you, I had a dream?

A Christmas wish so grand!

No other napkin will shine a bright as me across this great land!

Slip me in a plastic sleeve,

Take my picture if you like,

Make me a star like the ones in the heavens,

If only for one night.

Then lay me to waste as I surely I must go,

But before you do one last thing,

Take one more Christmas napkin,

And on the inside fold,

Write at least one word, if you will,

Of what Christmas means to you,

Then pass it forward with instructions at the ready,

Why we could fill a wall!

And before I depart just one last thing,

Peace to you and Merry Christmas to all!’

John just stood there.  He wasn’t an emotional kind of guy but like Lisa there was something inherently beautiful in this little poem.  Before speaking he made certain that the emotion in the moment had passed.  An idea popped in his head.

“I’ll be right back.”

He came back a moment later with a big Ziploc bag from the kitchen.  “Here.”  He handed it to Lisa.

“Don’t you just love this?” Lisa asked as she slipped the napkin into the bag.

“I do actually and I’m surprised.”  He leaned against the bar.  “So what big plans do you have for that little napkin there?”

Lisa sat back and looked at the bag. “Can I get another?” she asked holding up her beer glass.

John smiled and went over to the taps and poured her another.  When he came back Lisa was smiling rather mischievously.

“Okay. Spill.” He instructed.

“We could use this with the customers.  I can take a picture and Photoshop it.  We can put this little guy on top of the tree.  I’ll make a few banners and we could ask our customers to write down a word or two.”

John looked at her rather contemplatively.  “We would have to watch the wording.  Might have to adjust it to ‘What do the holidays mean to you?’” he began, “And we could make up little flyers asking patrons if they would like to participate and if so to ask their server…”

The two were now deep in thought.  John brightened “Hey!  We have those cork boards downstairs!”  We could bring them up and put them in various parts of the restaurant  so people can post their napkin.”

Lisa grinned. “I love it!  Is Dennis around tomorrow?”

“Yup, I think so.  I’ll leave him a message.  What time is your shift tomorrow?”

“I’m in at 2:00 PM again but I can come down early.  I’ll have the banner and flyer laid out.” Lisa replied.

“Cool.  What do you think we should call this little venture?” John offered.

“Hmmm.  Let’s sleep on it.”

Lisa finished up her drink then headed home.  This was going to be so cool.

 

 

The Napkin’s Odessey…A Christmas Tale Part Two


This is part-two of my Christmas story.  Again, it is written in the form of factual fiction. For the record, I am not certain of Covenant Houses’ policies on taking in young people but I do know they are fabulous organization. Enjoy!

Part Two – New Beginnings

Christmas Napkin 4For some three hours or so I had maneuvered Vancouver’s downtown core and found some cool gifts. The mood had grabbed me and now I had a good portion of my quest complete.

And I’d actually had the wisdom to bring along some reusable cloth grocery bags.  I stowed my goodies into the two with one fitting comfortably over my shoulder and the other draped on my forearm, the contents of each not being too heavy.

Making my way to the Skytrain to head home, a familiar rumble gnawed at my belly.  I had not eaten in several hours.  The decision was made to head to Waterfront Station.  There were some really good restaurants in that area where I could grab a nibble.

A couple inches of snow had accumulated and I felt like a child in that moment.  The hood on my jacket was pulled up and my cheeks were cold as I trudged along the sidewalk.

It was then that I saw him.  He was huddled down by the London Drugs store at Georgia and Granville St.  A chewed up sleeping bag was drawn tightly around him.  I stood for a moment feeling so conflicted as I always do.  I was hungry and tired but hell this young man was a kid.  I was guessing perhaps sixteen years of age.  Hard to tell sometimes but I made my decision and moved toward him.

“Hi there.” I said when I reached him.

He gazed up at me and offered a weak smile.  He was coming off of a fix of some kind.  Cold sweat was running down his face.

I knelt down now.  “You’re not doing so good.  Look why don’t you come over to the Starbucks here.  I can buy you a sandwich and a hot chocolate.  Might make you feel a bit better.”

“Okay.” He replied softly.

I helped him up.  “How old are you, dear?”

He gave me a look, the fear and mistrust both very evident.

“What’s it to you?” he hissed at me.

“Well, I know you’re young.  Covenant House is just a ways down and they may be able to help you out.” I offered.

He didn’t say anything.  We stepped into Starbuck’s and I sat him down and asked him what he wanted.

The place was busy and many of the patrons gave him a rather dubious look.

“It’s okay.” I smiled getting him to refocus.

“A sandwich and hot chocolate would be great, thank you.” He replied.

A few moments later I came back with a heated Chicken Panini, fruit salad, coffee cake and hot chocolate.

Sitting across from him I asked again how old he was.

“I’m fifteen.” He muttered.

“Would you like me to contact Covenant House?” I asked.

“Who the fuck are they?” he growled.

“They are an organization that helps young people, such as you, that are going through a tough time.”

He regarded me for a moment and then nodded before turning his attention back to his food.

Taking my cell phone out I got hold of an intake worker by the name of Rick.  He wanted to know if I could escort the young man down to Covenant House.

I sighed.  “I suppose I could.”

“Are you okay?” Rick asked a moment later.

“Yes, I’m fine.  Just a little tired is all.”

“Listen, I’ll come up there.  It won’t take me long.” He offered.

“Thank you so much, Rick.  I’ll see you soon.” I replied gratefully and hung up.

I smiled at the boy and told him a fellow by the name of Rick was coming up here from Covenant House to chat with him.

“My name is Nancy, by the way.” And I held out my hand.

He wiped his grubby hand on the sleeping bag, looked at it for a moment, then took a napkin and wiped it again before taking my hand.

“I’m Jay.”

“Listen Jay, I just want to try and pass on a little wisdom to you.  Whether you take it or not is up to you.” I paused for a moment, not sure if what I was about to tell this kid was appropriate or not.

He sipped his hot chocolate and savoured a bite of the coffee cake.  “Go on.” He muttered.

“I was out on my own when I was sixteen.” I began, “I know what the streets can do to you.  Get your head out of the drugs, man.  That shit will just chew you up and spit you out.  If you thought you had no control before, well let me assure you, you’ll have none if you keep going down the road you’re on.”

He sat glaring at me.

“Look,” I continued, “I just don’t want to see you throw your life away.  The best thing you can do for yourself is get an education.”

At this statement he scowled but said nothing.

Perhaps I was out of line and all of what I was saying was falling on deaf ears so I finished with the only truth I felt he really needed at this time.

“Jay, I’m not trying to lay a trip on you, but the only person that can really help you is you.  Once you make that decision to clean up your life and get the skills that you’ll need to carry on, you’ll be surprised at the doors that will open.  And they will.”

And then I just smiled at him.  The words that I’d hoped would rise to this occasion unfortunately had not.

A man walked over to me then.  “Nancy?”

I looked up at him. “You’re Rick?”

“Yes.” He replied.

“Rick this is Jay.” I said standing.

Rick turned his attention to Jay then.  I offered my seat as I would soon be taking my leave.

Gathering up my bags, I straightened my wig then pulled the hood back up.  I leaned down and gave Jay a hug.  “Good luck, Jay and as absurd as it may sound Merry Christmas.”

He just hugged me back and smiled rather timidly.

Rick thanked me as well and I left and continued on toward Waterfront Station.

I decided to go to Steamworks for a bite to eat.  I was feeling rather reflective.  The soup and sandwich came and I watched the snow falling outside while I consumed my meal.  Sitting back I sipped my beer and looked down at one of the napkin’s on the table.

It was a Christmas napkin.

A red Poinsettia with vibrant green leaves was emblazoned onto the white surface.  I smiled at this.

I picked up one of them and looked at it thoughtfully.  An idea then came into my head.  Retrieving a pen I jotted down a brief story on the inside flap of the napkin.  I then requested my bill.  The server brought it over and I tucked the cash along with the napkin inside.  On the outside of the napkin I wrote “Please open me and read.”

Likely nothing would come of this little venture of mine, but it would be cool if it did.

And so began the napkin’s odyssey.

A Christmas Story…The Napkin’s Odyssey – Part 1


I thought I would re-post my Christmas story from last year.  Enjoy1 

Part One – Remembrances

lights & action 031

I set out on my annual Christmas shopping trek seeking those items that would just scream someone’s name at me.  There was quite a bit of foot traffic on this Saturday afternoon along Granville Street.   It’s always good to see the hustle and bustle this time of year as I made my way slowly along the corridor plotting my course and plan of action.

This is one the main shopping drags in downtown Vancouver.  Today, as is typical this time of year, the sky is overcast and a wet snow has begun to fall.  I had been checking to see if any interesting little shops had materialized over the last year.  Unfortunately there were none at this juncture of my quest.

With all the health issues I had faced recently I found myself feeling a little fatigued and decided to find a bench to call home for a few moments.

I sat down across from the old Eaton’s store.  Next year Granville will look very different no doubt.  An American store, Nordstrom’s had purchased the property that was opposite me and it was now being renovated and slated to open sometime next year.

images4GHGYW0Cimages3R6502SQimagesKEPHSCZY

The old Eaton’s store, considered one of the ugliest stores. 

It was once described as an unending urinal wall.

So much has changed over all the years from frequenting this area of the city.  I gazed up the street.  The Bay looked very much the same on the outside, however, the interior has undergone many renovations over the years and continues to do so.

There used to be an old man that had built this weird conglomerate of instruments and he would sit outside The Bay, right on the corner of Granville and Georgia St. and play a variety of melodies.  From the time I was a young girl to somewhere in my mid 20’s he was there every Christmas.

I would go down to shop and always looked for him.  The contraption he played was drums, keyboard, accordion, spoons, symbols, a horn, tambourine, etc.  All were rigged and connected somehow, and with each note played they combined to make a hauntingly beautiful sound.

I would hear it when I got off the bus drifting down the Granville Street corridor.

imagesOHXT4WWBimagesI0MOQ3MT

The Bay Downtown Vancouver…Then & Now

The old guy wore a beat up Santa hat.  He was whiskered and a little rough around the edges but the smile and light that danced in his eyes could melt the bitterest of colds.

I always gave him a five dollar bill.  Might not sound like much but in those days it was.

He was still there for the first year of my daughter’s birth but the year after he was gone and I never did see him again.

I sat smiling thinking back to times past.  Looking down toward the south end of Granville I could still recall the neon signs that used to grace the corridor.  Vancouver was a relatively gritty city in appearance back in the day.  Even so, she’s always had a charm and beauty that cannot be beat and still does.

The White Lunch Café was located a few blocks down.  I would go there for breakfast from time to time.  Coffee was ten cents a cup with as many refills as you wanted.  Cinemas, theatres and stores peppered the street back then. There was quite an outrage when the price of coffee was boosted to a quarter for a cup.

images0GQHY675

imagesQ162ACJ5

Robson Street was a kitschy place at the time inhabited by artists, fortunetellers, belly dancers and cool little shops and restaurants.

I had my tea leaves read by a woman, who in hind sight, was a little scary.  She would stare into the cup, then stare at me, stare into the cup then stare back at me.  Her eyes fluttered closed and she moaned plaintively whilst rolling her head about.  Then the eyes popped open and she unloaded a host of information that made absolutely no sense but she assured me in time, it would.  Whatever was disclosed to me that day was soon forgotten.

Closing my eyes for a moment I just let the memories dance to the surface.

I always went down to Woodward’s.  They had the best Santa Land and the best Christmas displays in their windows by far!  It was the 6th floor that was transformed into a magical place for children each year.

The last Woodward’s Santa Land I attended was in 1987 when my daughter was four years old.  Woodward’s would later close down forever in 1993 . Eaton’s suffered the same fate unfortunately.

And as I sat watching the busy shoppers, I wasn’t saddened, not really.  Change occurs all the time.  It never ceases.  That I have been afforded so many rich memories is what matters most.  And you know, it never is about the gifts that I have received that springs to mind. It never has been.  Always it is a sound, a place, a smell, a touch, a smile, etc.  Some sensation arrests my attention and I find myself propelled into this beautiful, magical spirit we all share.

Of course, as adults, we all know that a man in red suit cannot possibly circumnavigate the globe in a huge red sleigh distributing toys to every child on this planet, yet we propagate the myth.

Why?

Perhaps because it makes us feel good.  There is a certain innocence and magic to it I suppose.  That desire to just believe.

imagesOF6PH0ME

My eye caught an elderly woman shuffling up the street with her walker leading the way.  Little clips had been attached to hold her shopping bags.  I admired her ingenuity. She wore a brown and white woolen weave coat that fell to mid-calf.  A brown felt beret with a broach of a penguin pinned to it adorned her perfectly coiffed grey hair.

She had the kind of eyes that were like liquid honey and a mischievous smile that graced her lips.   I watched as she made her way up the street.  A stately little gal and I pondered the stories she could tell.  She was close to me now and she caught my gaze.  The smile deepened as did mine.

“Merry Christmas” I offered with a nod.

“And to you, child!” she replied softly.  There was a hint of an accent to her voice from a lifetime ago.  I couldn’t say from where.

A few more glances and I stood.  Time to get back to the task at hand of finding the elusive perfect gift.

A snowflake landed on my nose as I stood and I laughed.  Looking up, I watched as the wet snow transitioned into the big fat flakes.  I was delighted that I’d left the car at home.

As I headed south along Granville St., the lonely refrain of a saxophone rang out.  The first few chords of ‘White Christmas’ echoed on the buildings and for whatever reason, I came close to tears.

Over the course of my 54 years there have been a lot of bad Christmas’ in the mix, along with some very lonely ones as well.  Now I simply focused on letting those that I love know how I feel and try to help a few of those in need as well.

I quickened my step now as the snow was really starting to come down.

In the Mood


Christmas is coming up fast this year.  Why I’ve hardly had a moment to breathe and now I am in panic mode.  As much as I would like to go ‘Christmas crazy’, I am resolved to keeping it simple this year. 

We went to see The Nutcracker on the weekend.  That put me in the mood for sure.  But you know, the one show that used to always do it for me was ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’.  Last week I saw it on the guide and with giddy anticipation I switched the channel. 

I tucked my blanket around my toes and positioned all the pillows about me just so and my daughter curled up with her head on my lap. 

A few minutes into the show, however, I found myself scowling at the TV. 

THEY HAVE CHANGED IT! 

For about 15 minutes I watched in horror at this ‘updated’ version of the classic only to find that I disliked the characters being portrayed immensely.  The kids were selfish, egocentric and at times a little mean. 

I know to, the original had some of those elements as well but there was an innocence to it that didn’t come across at all in this version. 

After 20 minutes I could watch no more. No doubt they all redeem themselves at the end, or at least I hope they do.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stick it out.

I have never been a huge fan of Christmas movies.  More often than not they are disgustingly tear-jerky throughout.  Clichéd endings of miracles abound and everybody learns valuable lessons and a brighter future always descends from the darkness.  You just have to believe.

There is a formula to these films.  It’s been around a good long while.  From ‘A Christmas Carol’ to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, we are reminded to believe. Our hearts will swell to bursting and we’ll all feel good for a nanosecond. 

And so the challenge presented itself to me. 

Could I write a Christmas story that was not chock full of clichés?  Could I do it with a slightly bent sense of humour but get the meaning across?  Hmmmm. 

And could I actually add a fresh twist to it.  Why not give it a whirl?  So next week I will be lining up a five-part Christmas story to be presented to all of you.   

I love to tell stories as many of you likely do as well.  And don’t you love the process?  How an idea catches? 

I find myself rapidly visualizing the opening scenes, changing up characters and their purpose from the get go.  I then scramble to find a sheet of paper to jot the idea down with a brief outline.  It has now been committed to the page for further evaluation and development at a later date. 

So I’ve an idea that I am currently plotting out for a Christmas story.  Time to get the bare basics down. 

Have a great day. 

Peace