A Fond Farewell Lois…R.I.P.


 

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As I read the news thread that Lois Liliensten had passed away the sound of my daughter’s voice singing ‘Skinamirinkydink’ washed over over me. I sang it with her…often.

My daughter loved that song. She loved Sharon, Lois & Bram.

I purchased the album for her, the vinyl version which I still have. It got a lot of play, a lot of wear.

I leaned back in my chair at work to let the emotions, the memories pass through me and oddly enough I found tears sting my eyes.

I was surprised by this.

I then considered this trio and how they had entertained children. My daughter’s eyes would shine listening to them and that smile of hers?

Well, it could light up the night sky it was that brilliant.

And if three people could bring that kind of simple pleasure and joy to the world of a child then they are superstars to me.

So it was with a quiet dignity after a having suffered from a cancer that Lois Liliensten left this earthly plain.

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I do hope she didn’t suffer.

There are those in this world who do what they love and are driven by their passion. They are fortunate as well that it sustains them. They can live their life by it.

And all that I do, I love.

Always challenges will be presented. Such is life. And I will always rise to each new hurdle and stumble across. That I accept each challenge and attempt to remedy the problems with honesty and integrity convinces me that to honour all that I do is one of the most important aspects to living.

Even if it something appears mundane, ordinary…it is often in these that we think are so easily attainable that we find are the most difficult to master.

Good-bye Lois.

We loved you…we loved you in the morning and in the afternoon….we loved you in the evening underneath the moon.

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Hope you are off dancing with elephants across universe. Thanks for the beautiful memories and a smile that just wouldn’t quite.

Babies and Birth: The Birth of People, Ideas and a Book


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Last Saturday I attended Claire’s baby shower.  I am so very excited for her!  She is totally warming to the idea of motherhood now and getting rather giddy to boot.

I could see that there was a little fear in there too.  I wanted to tell her that this is a very normal response.

When the idea of a new life being born to this world hits a new mother, it can be a very powerful experience mixed with every emotion imaginable and a boatload of hormones to boot.

Claire will be just fine.

I then got to thinking of all the wonderful people I’ve met since I began writing in earnest, Claire being one of them.

She is one of the first people to have read any of my work.

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I had joined up with the New Westminster Writers Group in early February 2011 which was a critique group.  I hunted about now wanting to find another group that would provide additional information on the whole writing thing.  I found the Vancouver Writers Social Group and joined in March of 2011.  They would get together and discuss various topics.  I liked this and found it was the balance I was looking for.

While I had written all my life I can say in all honesty I really didn’t know anything about it.  When terms such as ‘steam punk, fan fiction’ and the like were bandied about I had no clue what these were.  So I listened.  Claire offered to give me some feed back on the memoir I had begun so I sent her the first chapter then met with her a week later at a coffee house near her home.

I was prepared to be critiqued.  After all this would provide additional guidance on this project I’d begun.  She looked at me rather resolutely and stated “I really like how you write.  You could possibly have a best seller here.”

I was absolutely stunned by her comments.

And it occurred to me then that perhaps I was good at this writing thing after all.

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The year of 2011 was a year of major breakthroughs on so many levels.

What I’d previously considered impossible now held merit and plausibility.  I needed to explore this further.

2011 was also a tough year emotionally.  I was stepping up to own those painful truths that I had denied for the better part of my adult life.  I was taking chances and stepping out of my comfort zone in a big way.  I discovered that my ‘comfort zone’ is simply what I’m used to, what I know and what I come to expect.  It can be a very stifling place to remain in.

Stepping outside of this mindset was the best thing I could have done to assist in my personal growth at that time.

I had to break down a few walls along the way though.

There were opportunities aplenty to change my mind and return the mediocrity of what I had known.  I teetered on this point several times.

But finally it was time to find out what was indeed on the other side of the mountain and my curiosity pushed me over the edge.

2011 was the ‘All or Nothing’ year.

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I just wanted to feel again.  I didn’t want to over analyze or question…I just wanted to experience this life fully and without inhibitions.

And I remember the night I started to write the book in true sincerity and with vision.

I’d chatted for years about penning a book.  There were many starts of fictional novels.  I started a journal back in 2004.  In a light blue duo tang folder I put a package of 200 line sheets in it.

On the over I wrote “Welcome to the Human Race:  With This In Mind”.

It took me seven years to write 100 pages of longhand.

On that January night in 2011 I reached a serious crossroad.   I’d been out with my friend Kathy and we’d had a conversation that would ultimately resonate so deeply that it propel me to change how I was living my life.  That evening I sat in the corner of my bedroom where the computer was originally set up and with a glass of red wine in had and pile of notebooks and such decided it was time.

By July 2012 I’d finished the first draft.

And it was meeting so many other writers, Keith, , John, Gareth, Amber, Jonanne, Perry, Peter, Sonya, Issac….just to name a few that propelled me forward wanting to improve my skill set.

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Claire’s initial affirmation was a major boost for my confidence and to continue on.

In the last five years I’ve finished and published my first book.  I’ve posted about 540 articles on this blog of mine and am developing six other writing projects.  A trilogy of the fantasy fiction variety exploring the evolution of the Written Word; an erotica fictional novel with the exploration of how we arrive at our sexual preferences at the core; a murder mystery and of course a romance.

This should keep me busy for a couple of years.  I also started my own publishing company and do hope to work with other writers as well.

Like all newborn’s there will be few slips and stumbles along the way.  That’s how we learn and grow.

I’m looking forward to meeting Claire and Denis’ little one.  Soon…

Peace.

 

The First Time Ever….


 

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The traffic was horrible on this evening.  I left the office at 4:00 PM.  I would have to navigate over two bridges on this evening’s commute.  I listened to the first traffic report that indicated a few issues on some of the bridges.

As I passed through the Cassiar Connector. which is a tunnel just past the Iron Workers Memorial bridge (a.k.a. 2nd Narrows), the traffic was backing up and beginning to resemble a parking lot.  I opted to take the 1st Avenue exit and travel along Boundary Road to Marine Way and access the Queensborough Bridge via this route.

I was making a special trip this evening as I was on my way to pick up the books I’d ordered.

This would be the first time I saw my work in print.

I cruised along extremely well and motored to Big Bend shopping centre where the traffic kinda slowed to crawl and sorta stopped altogether at times.

I cranked the radio and checked the gas gauge.  I had a 1/4 tank and should be just fine.  I switched the engine onto economy the sat back and sang out of tune to the songs on the radio.

Time wise I really wasn’t worried as U.P.S. closes at 8:00 PM and it was just 4:40 PM.

The minutes ticked by as the gas gauge slipped closer to empty.  The wild imagination that inhabits this head of mine began to nibble anxiously as the possibility of running of gas surfaced.

I reassured myself and my vehicle that we would be fine.

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An hour and half on the road and I was now approaching the bridge deck to the Queensborough.

Several traffic reports confirmed that accidents or breakdowns had somehow occurred on every bridge this day seemingly.

Michael Jackson crooned, “I wanna rock with you, all night…”

“You’ll get there” I whispered and ran my hand along the steering column like I would a familiar lover.

I squirted past the accident scene, saying a prayer and hoping no one was hurt.  I needed gas and I had to pee!

I seldom venture into this part of the world.  Surely there was a gas station somewhere around here?  Hadn’t I noticed one at some point?

I was down to an 1/8 of a tank when I saw the U.P.S. building and pulled in.

There was a fellow in front of me wanting to courier a watch face embedded with diamonds.  He wanted to insure it for more than $500 which was the limit U.P.S. apparently sets.  A kindly woman was on the phone making an inquiry on his behalf.

Twisting my legs a little tighter, I really didn’t mind waiting, I just need to pee!

The woman gave the fellow the phone so that the individual with the expertise could better explain to him why there was a cap on courier insurance.

After a moment she smiled and asked “Are you picking up a parcel?”

I grinned back “Yes.”

I handed her the tickets then asked if there was a washroom I could use.

She showed me where I could find relief.  Ahhhhhh!

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Upon my return the fellow had left and the woman retrieved my package.

My heart suddenly skipped a beat and crazy excitement began to build.

Completing the transaction my final question was where I might locate a gas station.

She gave me directions and it really wasn’t far.  Now I had the car gassed up and a box full books…my books.

I got back on track and head home to New Westminster.

A warm pleasure ran through me then.  I had been on the road for just over two hours and that was cool.  I was now basking in a strange warm glow as I maneuvered back through rush hour traffic.

The euphoria was building as I crawled back over the bridge.  I pulled out my nail clippers and opened the box then fished about and pulled out a book.  Reaching out I ran my hands along the cover and felt the tears sting my eyes.

I needed to record this moment and I needed food.  There was no way I could cook as every part of my being had surrendered to the sweet emotions that had engulfed me when I saw my first ever book in print.

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I order some food and a beer then opened the book reverently.

I gazed down at the dedication page and burst into laughter.  My first grammatical error glared at me.

To my daughter I wrote, “Not a day goes by that I do not appreciate the woman you ‘has’ become!’

I shook my head and smiled.  That’s just me trying so hard to get it right.

My daughter did the cover and I love it.  It works.

I knew I would come across a few spelling and grammar issues but I did try my damnedest to get it right.

And then I was just so overwhelmed by all of it.  I did it!  I really did!

This is a first.  This is a moment that will never come again.

Mistakes and all I’ve put it out there and bared my soul in the process.

While writing this book I found a strength and truth in my vulnerability that surprised me.

In doing this I am experiencing a  rush so sweet and pure….this is the first time.

Let me savour this for just a moment or two.

Peace.

 

Not Your Average Bear!


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I’m not too certain what made me thing about Yogi, but the smile that curled my lips when I did was immediate.

Saturday morning cartoons.

It was a ritual growing up.  Two hours of nonsense where I could get lost in an animated world.

Characters got blown up, had humongous rocks fall on them and fell from cliffs regularly.

But they never died.

If a cat has nine lives then animated characters are indeed immortal.

Silly pranks were played.  Scheming villains tried in vain to execute their various brands of treachery.

Every week their debauched visions were crushed by sly intellectual bunnies or awkward buffoonish bears.

Yogi and Boo Boo ruled ‘Yellow Stone National Park’ much to the chagrin of Ranger Smith.

This was and still is a sweet innocence for me.  There was no hard sell.

It was always a simple formula, one that I came to expect and it was offered week after week, year after year, and it worked.

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A capricious bunny, an enamored skunk, a witty road runner, a southern rooster or a hero of a mouse…just to mention a few.

We were blessed with so many lovely characters.

Back in the 1990’s though, we were all grown up and adult animation became a demand and began to move to the forefront.

Some of the creations were a delight.  Pinky and the Brain, Future Cat & Friends are a few faves.

“The Simpsons” truly changed the landscape or animation.

Some very dark characters emerged during this time.  Then gaming exploded.

I got to thinking of cartoon from the Merry Melody collection called ‘One Froggy Evening’ done in genuine black and white.  It was likely produced in the 1950’s.

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A man finds a frog who can sing like  Pavarotti.  Elated he thinks he’s struck gold.  He advertises this and fills a concert house.  The frog, however, will sing only for him…alone.

This has been a favorite of mine for a lifetime it seems.  There is a joy in its simplicity that is so endearing to me.

These days its hard to find a cinematic production that is just plain old fun.  Making movies is first and foremost a big business.

Last weekend as I was curled up suffering from a dreadful cold and convinced I would never smell the sweetness of a rose again.  I watched ‘Guardians of Galaxy’.   I enjoyed it.  Now perhaps it was the fever but hell, there was a quirky innocence to each of the characters.

This doesn’t happen often in movies such as this for me.

It was silly, goofy and totally predictable, but what sold me was the depth of the characters.  I liked them and wanted to get to know them better.  When this happens I’m hooked.

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I read an article about a year ago that stated that movies follow just twelve various formats.  That’s it!  And as I pondered this I likened it to be true.

Why is it that some movies just blow us away?  Certain catch phrases are adopted or personality traits are adopted and emulated.

Others movies are forgotten before we leave the theatre.

Why did one leave an imprint and the other fade away?

This principle applies to the written word a well.  Those books that capture our imagination and allow it to expand.

In a nutshell, it is character development and plot execution.

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How do you take something that has been told a million times or more before and tell it again…originally?

What I’ve learned may sound simple but can really be the toughest thing you’ll ever do.

Tell your story as only you see it.  That is what makes it unique  because none of sees or feels the same about anything really.  Individually we all have variations.

This perhaps, is the most endearing factor in the human equation to me.

Perfection is a myth.

Forgiveness is the key to freedom.

Love is absolute.

…and how each of sees the rise and set of each day is as infinite as the sky we gaze into each day and each night.

 

Another One Comes to and End – A Look Back at 2014


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2014 has been a good year, a challenging year and one with many subtle and not so subtle transitions.

A year ago I was emerging from the cloud of chemo and recovering from the brutality of radiation.  My hair was like peach fuzz on me wee noggin’ and I think I stayed in for New Years last year.   My memory is still a bit spotty surrounding that time.

I can tell you what I did for New Year’s Eve two years ago in detail.  It’s just the later part of 2013 and the first few months of 2014 that have left some areas in the shade.

I was feeling rather defeated at the beginning of the year though.  This I do recall.  My feet were still a little numb and I was just a tad stuck in a job that gave me no joy.  I questioned my own intelligence at times and felt useless and insignificant.

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The shift came when I had the absolute joy of going on a cruise with a group of fabulous women that I went to school with.  It has been an absolute pleasure and delight getting to know these gals again.

Life can pull us in many directions.  Sometimes it pulls us apart.  Sometimes we find ourselves isolated and alone and wonder how it is we came to be in such a state.

I do know that at the end of every path taken that there was a starting point or perhaps it was a breaking point?

Choices are made.  Sometimes we desperately want to believe the dysfunction as it worms its way in.  It will dilute and fracture the ideas we first had though.  And they always begin with such sincerity and honest passion, don’t they?

Believing in a lie then recognizing this is a tough pill to swallow.

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When that nagging little whisper becomes a scream, best you listen to it else you’ll become deaf and indifferent to the common sense and reason that is desperately trying to intervene and prevail.

And no one likes to admit they’ve been had or taken.

God knows I shrank back from this world for a time, suspicious, hurt and wallowed in a pity pool.

I’ve met many people who’ve stayed in that state.

As I watched the ‘Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ for the millionth time, it actually made me tear up a wee bit this year.  The simplicity and beauty in the ending of the tale of how the Grinch’s heart grew ’10 times that day’.  That four letter word again…LOVE.

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Yup!  It’s a balm that will heal any and everything.

I could well have lounged once more in the pity pool considering some of the health issues that I’ve been faced with but you know, I am so over that.

There was a time when misery parties were my thing. Oh yes!  You think your life sucks?  Pull up a chair.  Let me tell you a tale of my time in hell….oooh and ahhh!

And then there was that moment of reflection when I saw the ugliness in my behavior and what it was doing to me.  That naked truth when I had to make a decision.  Either change or bury my head even further into the bed of lies I’d accepted as truth.

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Peeling off that mantle of delusion has taken some time.  Each lesson learned along the way I’ve appreciated more than you will know.  And yes, sometimes those lessons come packaged in sweet disguise.

And this year began coming out of a very dark place.  I had refused to consider Cancer’s taunt.  Yet still, for a time, the mantle of warrior was too much.  Fear crept in and the tendrils of depression stroked my ego as would a gentle lover.

Having experienced this a time or two I was able to cut it off at the pass with guns a blazing.

Oh come on!  We all love a good western, don’t we?

And now this year is coming to a close.  I’m feeling even stronger having reached a few new pinnacles.

And I’m on the cusp now.  The dreams and efforts  that I’ve been working on are about to come to fruition.

The book will be out soon.   I’ve got an idea of where I want to take this company that I’ve been forming just a few technicalities remain.

And it’s not about me.

This has and will always be about the written word and celebrating the freedom and expression that it provides.

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And as this brain of mine continues to formulate thoughts and ideas, I accept now that it never shuts down.  Sometimes I don’t like the thoughts and ideas that come to me.  But what I’ve learned is that I need to acknowledge those filaments of thought.  Sometimes they take hold and more often than not they sink back in amongst the vortex of neurons and protons that are firing away.  Those filaments will dance with ambitious delight in offering up an idea that I just may want to entertain and process further, even if it is dark in nature.

And with every night there comes a dawn and vice versa.  it is the way of the world.   Those erstwhile opposites that actually compliment each other and always have.

I was standing beside the river the other night spellbound by the beauty before me.  That moment when night kisses day good-bye.  I had that sensation wash through me of being so connected to this world that I inhabit.

I am coming to love these moments.  I feel small and yet so vital.  The mountains that stood before me have taken hundreds if not thousands of years to form.  They will remain long after my time on this earthly plain is done.

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For the moment, however, they are stuck with me.

For all of you that have followed my ramblings, I thank you and may the New Year bring your heart’s desire.

Many blessings.

 

Peace!

Good-bye 2014 and thank you!

Happy New Year to all!

 

 

 

Back in Training: Week Seven, The Christmas Week


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I’ve worked out a few times leading up to Christmas.  I worked out good and hard too!  On the 23rd I was at the gym getting my sweat on.

Time for the Christmas confessional.  I’ve imbibed a wee bit.  I’ve consumed some beer and wine over the past few days.

On the 24th at noon my boss tossed a couple of growlers up on the table and along with the rest of the staff I raised a pint to toast the season.

For the most part I’ve been quite good with not over indulging in the food area of the holidays as well.  Mind you a pizza recently visited my life as well.  I’ll man-up about this though.  I was simply too damn lazy to cook.

This occurred on the 26th.  I drove a great deal that day you see.

I visited with my sister who lives about a one hour drive away.

And as I left I went about my second task of the day which was to replace my T.V.

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I’ve had the current television for close to 15 years.  It is just the third T.V. I’ve owned in my life and still worked just fine, however, with the new technology my unit kept losing the signal.  The technicians, who were are very pleasant and based out of Guatemala did their best to assist.

The problem still persisted.  I pondered on the fact that perhaps my old tube T.V. just couldn’t translate the information adequately. I had been advised that if a technician was sent to my home and the problem was my ‘fault’ then the cost would fall to me.

Odd, yes?  I haven’t touched anything behind my T.V. other than to clean in the last 5 years.  In any case I considered what my response would be if I was informed that my T.V. was too old for the technology.

I decided that perhaps it was time to purchase a new T.V. rather than possibly causing bodily harm to a technician.

I did my homework on the Boxing Day offerings.  Had my budget set out and decided that Visions Electronics had the most lucrative deals.  Next was to find a location that would not be inundated by the masses.  In other words, I had to find a store location that was not attached to a godforsaken mall.

I decided upon the store location on Marine Drive and as I arrived it was as I suspected busy but not unreasonably so.

A young store clerk showed me my options and I asked a series of questions then I told him I would like consider my options and he left me alone. I read the fine print and half hour later waltzed out of the store with a 40″ Hisense LED Smart TV at a cost of $350.00.

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Yay!  I had met my objective.

I headed home with my purchase.  I passed the lineup on the Queensborough Bridge.  The outlet mall on Queensborough Landing was just insane as cars were lined up for miles trying to access the stores.

I was really hungry at this point so I dropped the T.V. off then headed out to grab a quick bite.  And as I consumed my meal it occurred to me that I have a ‘Smart’ phone that still confounds me on many fronts.

Now, admittedly, I really only require the basics of talking and texting from my phone.  There are a plethora of apps available to me of this I’m assured, but they hold no appeal to me personally.

They don’t really make phones with just basic functions any longer.  Still there are those moments when I’ll push something I ought not to have and the damn thing won’t do what I want.

Bloody hell!

And it is in these moments that I feel very foolish and not particularly intelligent.

For example shortly after I had purchased this smart technology, I was certain I’d found a ‘lemon’ as it was now frozen.  I went back to London Drugs and expressed my dismay to the clerk.

With a slide of his finger and an apologetic smile on his face the clerk handed the phone back to me.

I had inadvertently locked the phone.

I have this affliction though.  When it comes to directions I glance at them then launch into whatever it is I am trying to accomplish.

Why I have this idea in my head that I should know what I’m doing without the benefit of being guided by the directions that have been so thoughtfully included, well I wish I had an answer to this.

I paid the bill and headed back to my homestead to get this technological wonder up and running.

So let me ask you this.  Having just made the confession I did, do you think I read the directions prior to embarking on this task?

After all I only wanted to plug it in and ensure that it did in fact work.  How difficult could this be?

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Welcome to the episodic adventures of ‘The Dumb Blond Meets the Smart TV.’

First I had to unhook the old T.V. and this proved to be a challenge. I needed a wrench to loosen the cable that was screwed in tightly to the back of the set.  Then I pulled the cumbersome beast off onto a sheet I’d placed on the floor so that I could pull it out of the way without scraping up the floor.

Next I removed parts from the box.  The stand seemed to require screws and after a brief search that lasted a nanosecond I was convinced that his puppy snapped together like Lego as I could not find any screws.

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(Queue the music…the theme from Pyscho or Jaws will do)

Note to self:  It would have been very beneficial to have read the directions at this point.

They did in fact kinda sorta snap together.

So I crawled in behind the T.V. and began plugging in various coloured cables into various coloured plugins.

The flashlight was directed at the plugins and the batteries were fading fast. The object was so that I could see which colour I was inputing and damned if I could find a yellow plugin for the yellow cable. Briefly I wondered at their various designations.  It was at this point as I poked about the back that the T.V. that it fell forward onto the floor.

I gasped in horror as my mind immediately began trying to make excuses to trade this back to the store with no additional cost to me.  Now just how pathetic is that?

Gingerly I lifted it up and it appeared fine. My smart T.V. had just survived its first test of having me as the owner.  Laying the screen down gently I walked back over to the stuff strewn across my sofa.  There an image glared at me depicting screws going into the holes on the stand.  A few moments later said screws were located.

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I now had everything secured and hopefully plugged in correctly.

Several buttons ran down the side of the screen and I noted the power button and with baited breath pushed it.

A red light came on and I felt a small wave of triumph wash over me.  The word ‘HISENSE’ appeared on the screen in a lovely shade of light turquoise.

A tentative sense of relief slipped in.  I’d not broken it!

Now it asked me my language preference and where I lived.  It asked my provider and my password and that is as far as we got. It kept looping back.

Maybe I did damage it I thought in despair.  Would I not be able to watch a show?

I gazed down at the remote and pressed the button that said TV on it.  We had contact, baby!

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Brightly coloured people appeared on the screen unusually short and wide much to my delight.  I played with the settings and managed to get them looking fairly normal.

And the manual sat before me taunting me.  Yes, I will read it.  Just not at that moment.

My home once again resembled a war zone. I stared at my kitchen and loathed the idea of cooking.  I had tested my mental acuteness and the idea of cooking just seemed a rather exhausting task, hence, I invited a Pizza into my home.

As I nibbled on the cheesy goodness and watched ‘True Grit” on the Tele, I assured myself that I would go for a run in the morning.

At 7:00 AM I woke to the sound of rain falling outside.

People, I ran in my heart!  Truly I would have but hey, this induction back into running in the dark of morning just can’t begin with a torrential rainfall in the mix.

But yes, it is time to hit the gym and get back to training in earnest.

I had a lovely celebration with my daughter and her boyfriend.  My daughter cooked her first Turkey dinner.  She was insistent from the outset to do all of this on her own with no assistance from moi.

I smiled in pleasure as she swore like a banshee as she tried to extract the food she’d stuffed into her too small apartment oven.  In the end everything was delightfully delicious.

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This was a great Christmas.  The last few years I’ve felt the strains of battle.  The continuous fight with depression, issues with my heart and the battle with cancer.  The residue effect has been felt over the last few Christmas seasons but always I’ve been with those that I love dearly and for that I am so blessed!

This Christmas I felt as though we’d come through that darkness and a promise is beckoning.  I just have to stop and read the directions.

I am rebuilding and I’m back on track.

On the morrow I have my reading tasks set out.  Not too sure still why I feel I should know that which I do not.  Perhaps I’m simply human after all.

Cheers!

Authenticity


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“Find your authentic truth.”

These words were uttered a couple of years ago and they stuck as I was seeking that essence of my being that had been shut down and placed in stasis. Feeling half alive or rather just existing was no longer enough.

I wanted more.

A hunger was born.

A desire.

A need to discover. And I was driven by an insatiable curiosity to find my purpose

Sounds rather intense, doesn’t it?

In truth it has at times been quite awkward and my sudden recollections and admissions were at times quite juvenile upon their awakening.

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But then again, how could they be otherwise?   I may well be in my fifties but adopting a new way to look at this world and how I function in it?

Well, you have to go back to the point when your first thoughts were secured about this world, of how you were taught that it worked and then question the foundation of that.

So yes, it can be quite juvenile and innocent in its evolution as you change your way of thinking. There is sweetness to it though, a jubilation as those first spears of clarity shoot through you. There are several emotions that will move through you.

There can be a sense of deceit. What you should keep in mind too is that the borders that you are born into will dictate to a large degree how you’ll be expected to perform in this world.

Then as you question this you’ll have a sudden vision of how this world should function…according to you but is it a healthy vision or one of imminent destruction?

Questioning your foundation is a tough thing to do on any level. Had you been raised believing the world was flat, as this was indeed once the norm, consider the main stream response when they were advised that this was not the case. The landscape before them was flat enough. Should they walk for miles, indeed the land would still appear quite flat.

Yet someone had the edacity to state the world was round, and furthermore they could prove it! There was no end of the world that you would fall off of, no oblivion to fear. So we created our heaven and hell and our purgatory. Sometimes I wonder if indeed these ideologies were created to offset the discovery of certain truths.

And we want an explanation for everything, yes?

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Sometimes we want so badly to believe in something, anything…don’t we?

Tell me you love me and mean it. Tell me that everything will be okay even though this myth of life that I had adopted was crumbling about my feet and I will believe you

Despite the evidence to support the imminent destruction, I don’t want to see it. I will refuse to buy what my eyes tell me.

I sit empty and devoid of any emotion.

How could everything that I so wanted in my life slip away so catastrophically?

Maybe, just maybe, that is not what I needed in my life. The myth of happiness could not be found on the path I was exploring.

Maybe, just maybe my passion and truth would be better directed toward a truth that was in fact born to me. And so the internal inquiry began.

Perhaps the quest, the aspect of this life that I had missed was opening myself to that truth that was inherent to me and inherent to this world that I inhabit.

And now I must ask myself how can I better serve this world? How can I give back? How can I assist in its evolution to a better place, an honest place, a natural place?

And I’ll likely spend the rest of days given to me attempting to do just that and to do so with loving and forgiving heart.

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We’ll always kill. It is indeed a part of this world. But we are different. We have reason, we have logic, or so we are lent to believe, and we have so many fundamentally intrinsic idiosyncrasies in comparison to our animal counterparts. Yet it is what we do to each other that confounds me. The cruelty that we display is at times so discouraging and the creative manner by which we as humans can kill another.

Well it leaves me speechless.

Tonight the geminides will be occurring. And a perfect night for it. The sky is clear. Let the meteorites rain upon us! All I have to do is stay up for another four hours.

I just may do that.

Peace.

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Search Of….


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I took this in New Westminster in Queen’s Park

In a week I’ll be heading  back into training again and I will continue to share my journey with you.  It is my hope that I can improve my physical well being enough so that I will feel confident in training for the 1/2 Marathon that will take place in May 2015.  The 1/2 Marathon running clinic will begin in January.  I’ve got to shake off these shackles that smack of defeat.  I’m a hell of a lot tougher,  stronger and resilient than the ravages of cancer treatment.

I’ve been in an oddly reflective mood as of late. After discovering that one of my bosses’ is in fact my fourth cousin and I’ve been considering this thing we call family.

Family ties became damaged then non-existent at an early age for me. When I was a little girl I believe we interacted with family members on a regular basis.

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Cousin Mike & me at age 4

The violence in our home, however, and the acerbic attitude that my father often displayed resulted in a string of damaged relationships that unfortunately he never tried to mend.  The trickle down effect was that my sisters and I were estranged from extended family as well.

By the age of fourteen I had very little contact outside my immediate family.

I got into this thing of sending out Christmas cards, however. That became my way of letting extended family know that I was still on this planet and that I still thought of them and wished them well.

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Our dog Trixie, sister Norma & Me

I may not have seen you for twenty some odd years, but guaranteed you’d receive that seasonal greeting from me.

I’ve carried on with this tradition of mine for some 35 years or so.

I get that our family has known many tragedies. It’s tough to bond with people when they are in crisis. I know this all too well as the majority of my youth was spent in this mindset.

Hell, I didn’t even like spending time with me…

And how the fractures and traumas that occur within a family affect each of us can vary quite dramatically as well.

I pulled out all these photos that I’ve never really taken a particularly good look at. My dad’s girlfriend had inherited his estate, whatever that was, and upon her death her son Mike showed up and dumped broken bowling trophies, a moth eaten blanket my grandmother had made and grocery bags filled with old photographs that were in very bad shape along with my father’s ashes on my kitchen table.

I tucked everything away, including the ashes. I’d deal with it all in good time.

Nine years later and here I am peeking through these images and I think I appreciate them more now than I would have back when they first came into my possession.

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From left:  Gr. Grandfather James Pilling, John, little Arthur (my grandfather), Annie, Emma (Gr. Grandmother), Walter & Ellen

There was a framed image that had been haunting me. Today I discovered it was the Pilling family. In it, my great grandfather, great grandmother, my grandfather and his siblings. The photo was taken circa 1905-07 or thereabouts.

The Pilling clan dates back to the 1,700’s in the Yorkshire vicinity of England. I do know that we came over during the Battle of Hastings in 1066 from Normandy.

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Gr. Grandmother, Emma Pilling (Burrows)

As I researched these people, a part of me became incredibly curious about them. What were they like? What moved them?

My great grandfather was a carpenter. The photo of the family is so very proper. The oldest boy, John, died at 25. Another son, Albert, who was born in 1886 died the same year.

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Gr. Grandfather, James Pilling

There were tragedies just as today there still are, but then you have those moments when you just rise above it all. I found myself wondering about each individual and if they were happy. Had they been given the opportunity to garner an education? Were they pursuing their hearts desire?

Then I ventured off looking at my mother’s side of the family. I had thought my grandfather’s name was Andrew. It wasn’t. It was Andres Carl Erikson.

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My mother, Sylvia Pilling (Erikson)

Born in Iceland in 1888, he also was in World War l as was my Grandpa Pilling. On his paper work for entry into the War, they asked what his trade was. He wrote that he was musician.

My mother spoke fondly of how well he played the violin. There was a twenty plus age gap between my Grandma and Grandpa Erikson. He died just before my birth.

There was something very poignant about listing his ‘trade or calling’ as a musician.

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I took this in when I was in NY in 2011

There is not much information on this side of the family. My grandmother was Gudrun Jonasson. This was shortened to Runa. To her grandchildren she bore the Icelandic title of Uma (grandma).

She was a sweet and good woman.

The memories that I do have of my grandparents is often in shadow. Fleeting glimpses of our time together peek out at me.

I can recall making cinnamon rolls with my Grandma Pilling. She told me I would be a great cook because I didn’t rush.

I remember going to the horse races with my Grandma Erikson. She bet $2 on every horse and was so excited when she won. She was also a huge fan of $1.49 on Tuesday at Woodward’s Department store which no longer exists.

It is these little pockets of endearment that I hold so jealously close to my heart as there is a little bit of me in them.

My Grandfather Pilling took us out fishing on his boat from time to time. Once a squall was coming and he sent us below decks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick. The roiling waves turned my stomach into mush

At times he seems so strict, then he’d give you wink.

There were at times so many underlying messages filtering through. They were shaping me, directing who I would become.  Yet, sadly, I didn’t really know these people. Not really.

My time with them was surface time. Not a lot of depth. This was also true of the relationship I had with my parents.

When mom passed I sat with the reverend who would be officiating at her memorial. He asked me several simple questions  about her. Things that I should have known. Her favorite song, favorite colour, how my parent’s met, what her career desires were, etc., etc., etc.  In truth I didn’t know.

This woman who had birthed me was in many ways a stranger as was the man responsible for the other half of my DNA.

And with this awareness and admission came a very deep sadness.

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I took this just a few months back in August down at English Bay in Vancouver

Today as I stared at the people in the photographs it occurred that I should have known the connection. Were family stories told and embellished over the course of time?

The young boy whose arms are crossed defiantly across his chest was my grandfather…should I not have seen a bit of myself in his persona?

And I think that had I been told about them, had their stories passed along, had I felt that bond to these people a little more intimately that maybe, just maybe the search for self would have been a little easier.

Then again, that’s an awfully bold statement to put on those who’ve come before. Perhaps the honesty in this life is to really just appreciate who you are at any given time in your life and to accept and challenge to yourself to be the best person possible.

I know who I am now and I thank those who came before me.

In the human condition we can only offer our own experiences, yet what of the hopes and  dreams transferred to me through the code of genetics  and DNA and memory.

You are living your life influenced by those you’ve never known to satisfy what was unattainable to them.

Provocative thought.

And on that note I’ll say good-night.

 

 

 

 

The New Independence


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A teenage boy sits in the middle of the wilderness.  A shiny clean Ford pick-up and a man (presumably the father?) are in the backdrop.  A computer is perched on the teen’s lap and he is skyping his mom.

She gushes “You made it!” to her smiling son.

The punch line to this Ford commercial is ‘Welcome to the New Independence!”

If that is what independence now looks like,  I firmly believe someone forgot to cut the umbilical cord.

I did something last week I’ve not done is a long time.  On Sunday I slept in.  And I didn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone.  I did some writing, cleaned my house, washed some clothes then curled up and watched a bit of television.

I can’t remember the last time I decided to just cocoon myself within the walls of my home.  Perhaps what was stranger yet is that I found this rather remarkable in some strange sense.

Just how plugged in have we become?

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And so I pondered this commercial and so many more that cater to a populace that seems to thrive on the next technological ‘wonder’ with a fervor or perhaps a fever?

Send a text or an email to a friend, family member or loved one and if the response isn’t reasonably quick, worry sets in.  Something is wrong!  The phone call is made and voicemail comes on.  A sense of panic washes over you.

Then you stop to think if you’ve perhaps offended in some way?

You feel a little foolish when it is discovered that they were in the shower or in a meeting….or, I don’t know, living?

And they were doing so without you.   Strange.

I stopped to get my coffee fix at Starbuck’s this morning as I always do on my way to work.  A beautiful day was dawning.  The rising sun was kissing the clouds causing them to blush a deep pink.  The sky was a sleepy blue and a mist hugged the trees.

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I slipped back into the car and began my trek to the office as Willy and the gang discussed on the radio that distracted drivers (i.e. those using their phones to text and  talk) were now responsible for more vehicle accidents causing serious injury and death than drunk drivers.

This caught my attention and began to really observe those on the road with me this morning.  It didn’t take long before I noted driver’s with their heads looking down toward their lap or looking downward at the passenger seat even though no one was in the car with them.

Some openly held the phone in front them as they spoke into it.

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Hey I’m no saint.  I’ve used my phone a time or two while driving, though rarely.  I’ve never tried to text.  Still, this really raised a certain awareness for me.   I am now committed to never using the phone while driving.

I love to drive.  I love to crank up the radio and sing to a favorite song.  I always enjoy the changing vista that surrounds me and often I am stimulated in the creative sense.  Man, there is nothing worse then having a line or two for a story that you’ve been working on suddenly rise to the surface and you just happen to be doing 100 KM on the highway!

But here we are now evermore enslaved by these technological tools that have invaded our lives.  I am no longer working in the downtown core, however, when I was it was increasingly apparent this absorption with the iPhone, Smart phone, Android…whatever it is we are calling this thing.

I’ve posted about this.  Of how I’ve had people walk into me and barely glance up.  Heads bent with that familiar little screen glowing up at them.

My daughter mentioned at dinner tonight that this was likely becoming an addiction of sorts and it was probable that some form of neurosis would result.  Sadly, I do believe she’s right.

She was also correct in stating that collectively we’ve never been lonelier.  I love conversing and sharing ideas.  I confessed, and rightly so, that often I have very strong opinions and its a well known fact that I’ve had my foot in my mouth more times than I can remember.  That is who I am.  I do learn from conversations and debates though.  A point of view will be expressed giving me pause and open up an entire new path of thought for me.

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New Westminster in its infancy

Still, even when the tongue is running with blinders firmly in place…it is still just my expression of thought.  There is no malice or ill intent.  Just me thinking I know everything.

And I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  I’m silly, garish, brash and at times amusing, even humorous.  I’m also intelligent, thoughtful, intense and care very deeply about this world I inhabit.

The idea of conveying all your thoughts, of who you are through, texts and tweets, well, my daughter pointed out that all of this could be edited, until the sender was satisfied it represented who they thought they were.

But was it accurate?

In a conversation you can say things in the heat of the moment.  Emotions can run high at times.  At the end of it however, Are you giving an impression of who you really are perhaps?

And as I write this, there is some conflict, because writing is such strong expression for me.

There is a difference though.  I’ve a very deep love of these things we call words.

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And while I have a Twitter account, I’ve found having only 140 characters impossible to work with.  I’m still far too long winded.  But again, I digress.

What is happening to us?

In 1997 I purchased my first computer.  I can recall being on a ‘chat room’ talking with people who were in Australia.  This fascinated me.  And what do you suppose I asked them?

Oh, it was hopelessly mundane.  “What’s the weather doing?”  “Do your toilets really flush counter clock wise?”

Why I needed verification of this type I cannot say. I was a different woman back in 1997.  I was emerging rather awkwardly into this life.  And while I’ve made leaps and bounds in the social department, I can still be totally inappropriate in what is uttered from these lips of mine.

Still I am searching for the human experience. I want to drown in it.  Want to find its honesty, its wealth, its truth…my truth.

I want to find a certain peace.

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I don’t know.

Somehow skyping someone from a desert or a forest or from wherever to let them know they are where they are holds little appeal.

The new independence.  From what?

Definitively I am very independent. I’ve had to be.  The life plan dished out dictated as such.  And what is independence?

It is in my mind it is someone who is ‘stand alone and self-sufficient’.   They don’t need anyone.

There are times when I wish I could ask for help, when I could admit I’m only human, when I could express comfortably my vulnerabilities.

That requires a great deal of trust and I’m still working feverishly on letting myself do this naturally.

I hope Carol reads this post.

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She was a pen pal of mine some 40 plus years ago.  It used to take some three weeks to a month to mail a letter over seas.  Carol lived in England and I, of course, in Vancouver, BC Canada.

We wrote for a few years. Pen pals were the thing back in the day.

And while I was writing Carol, my life was falling apart…rapidly.  I don’t know what I told her.  I don’t know if she knew.  But close to 40 years later I received a message on Facebook.

At the time I wasn’t very good at checking messages.  Carol had sent me a message asking me if I was the person she’d written in her youth.

It blew me away.  This was my pen pal after all these years.  And I hope to meet her one of these days.

We shared an energy, a time, a confidence.  Both young girls with a life ahead of us.  And we made choices.

Yet I must thank technology for allowing me to connect to her again.

No, I’ll not slam this ‘new independence’ of ours.  Perhaps we should use it with caution and appreciation though.

The frailty of youth is that they think they know how to resolve the sins of the past.

In time they’ll come to know it’s just human behavior.

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A bronzed moosehead gazes out above a fake fireplace tonight down at Begbie’s.  A barrel of peanuts sits at the door for those barbarians who will swill the shells upon the floor after consumption.

The Eagles serenade me over the sound system as I wrap this up.  I’ve watched an array of personalities come and go in the last two hours.

The girls that work here know me.  I pop down from time to time on a consistent basis to write.  It’s what I do.

And as this night closes all I can think is just how grateful I am to be here.  How much I love all of those that share my life, how much I love the energy beings that encourage and drive me each day.

Blessings and peace to you all.  And always offer a smile and greeting. It’s just good form.

Namaste.

 

 

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