This blog keeps me accountable. So, in that spirit, I'm announcing on here that I'm embarking on the 12 week journey following Julia Cameron's The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of Enough. Again. I have never finished the full course. I think the furthest I've gotten is to chapter 7. On forgiveness. Hhhmmmm...but you'll all keep me on track, right?
This in response to my new moon vow of the 6 areas in my life that I've chosen to specifically focus on which I mentioned in an earlier May blog:
I LOVE Julia Cameron, her writing and her 12 week guided programmes. The Artist's Way transformed my life. I highly recommend it for anyone at any time in their life. I've worked through it fully at least three, possibly four times. It grounds me and points me in the right direction every time. I have the same faith with The Prosperous Heart and trust that this time I'll make it to the end. For this course, she has an interesting selection of tools:
Today I started my Morning Pages practice--3 handwritten pages each morning as soon as I wake up (on days that I work, I will work around this as best as i can...pages at work ASAP for the 7am-5pm shift and on my midnight shifts in the morning before starting the scheduled routines if possible otherwise when I get home). Refreshing though these pages are (I call them my AM pages as they are so grounding and self-illuminating and i love the play on a.m.) they can be difficult to justify at times if I feel I'm neglecting something else to get them done. But they only take 20 mins and add such clarity to my day. They are SO worth it. I still have to decorate the front of my present AM book (an 80 page Hilroy notebook) and design a playlist on Spotify. In the past I've used a mixed tape of Enya's music. I may return to that.
So there you have it. This is where I'm at right now. Where are YOU at? What is going on for you in your life right now? What are you choosing to focus on? What are you showing up for? Showing up can be the hardest part. Do it anyway. Much love. (Please note that weebly (my blog site/host) is having trouble with a bug preventing comments at the moment. They assure me they're working on it so please check in at different times and persevere. Thank you!)
Yesterday I discovered a delightful, heartwarming side story to the royal wedding that I hadn't realised before. Really it's a side story about Meghan Markle's kindness. She has two dogs, one is a rescue dog, a beagle named Guy, who is now living the life of a prince in England with her. His story is quite amazing: being found alone in the woods of Kentucky to being taken to a shelter, not being adopted and put on the euthanasia list. Then being accepted by a beagle rescue organisation in Ontario and with the help of a chain of volunteers who each drove him an hour closer to Canada, arriving at the rescue and being in an adoption event. Someone there fell in love with him and knew he was the dog for her. Meghan Markle. Rumours have it (although I'm not sure how true they are) that he sat with the Queen in her car on the way to the wedding.
I'm thrilled that this story is getting such publicity. All of my three present pets are rescues. For me it's the only way to go although of course any animal in a loving home is a huge bonus. But rescues are special. My sweetheart Trixie was also a rescue dog. There are so many pets out there awaiting their furever home...please check out all the local rescue organisations and even if you're not looking for a new pet at the moment, please consider donating your time, energy or money to help their causes.
I donate regularly to a local cat rescue, Kitty Kare. Such organisations do selfless work in rescuing and helping abandoned animals, usually recruiting only volunteers.
Of course, not every abandoned animal will live as a prince like Guy, at least not in your eyes...but in their eyes, your secure, loving, furever home will be as good as any palace.
A random comment from my good friend Louise yesterday reminded me of a mug experience from when Dane was young. I'm not sure how old he was at the time but still quite young, only fairly recently starting to talk? I'm guessing. But he had taken to calling me Sue not Mommy. My ex thought it hilarious. He was never Derek to Dane but always Daddy. Other people thought it funny or strange or some degree of both extremes. I found it funny sometimes but it also upset me a little. I could be Sue to anyone but only Mommy to Dane. I don't know why he decided to do that. One day he simply stopped. In the meantime, as a gift, I got a mug from Dane (of course really from Derek). 'My very first Mommy mug!' I thought excitedly as I opened it. Wrong. It read SUE. Derek collapsed in laughter. I think I laughed. It was kind of funny but I also felt very disappointed. I used the mug but also made my feelings about it known. At the next gift-giving occasion, I got another mug from Dane reading I love my mommy! I still have that mug. You can see it below. The writing is quite faded but I don't need to read it to know what it says.
This made me think about all my other significant mugs. I'm sentimental and quite a hoarder. We have tons of mugs. Most of them I could tell you who or where they came from. Favoruite mugs that get broken become brush or pen holders or pet food scoopers. Some of my special mugs are pictured below. Linda, my dear friend from BC, began a lovely tradition when she first visited me in Thunder Bay and we keep it to this day. She brought two similar mugs and a specially chosen tea. Those became the mugs we used all through our visit. Then she kept hers and took it back to BC and I kept mine. When i visit her, I n bring the mugs and tea. You can see the mug from her last visit below. Along with some of my other favourites.
What about you? What are your favourite mugs?
Did you watch the royal wedding yesterday? Did it lift your heart as much as it lifted mine, I wonder? I was working 7am to 5pm but got up even earlier to watch people arrive. At work I watched as much as I could on the computer inbetween routines. I was very fortunate to see the choir sing 'Stand By Me' live. One of my favourite songs, sung so movingly by a beautiful choir. I present it here for for your viewing/listening pleasure. Listen and watch it again even if you saw it. If you're listening and watching for the first time, I envy you. It's so magical.
I'm listening to it repeatedly as I write this. One of our men that I had to see at work yesterday at 8am had promised the day before to have his TV tuned to the royal wedding. As soon as he could, he turned the TV on for me so I could glimpse and hear Prince Harry and Meghan getting into the coach for their drive around after the service. So touching of him to do that for me. "Just for you, Sue," he told me, "Don't you dare tell anyone else." Too bad. Now everyone knows. Lol! This particular man is a dream to work with, always helping and joking with staff.
Hopefully you also saw Reverend Bishop Michael Curry's speech. If not, please go and check that out, too. So uplifting. He talked about love being all there is. "Two people fell in love and we all showed up." We could all watch it every day as a delightful way to start the day and put us in the right mindset. (tried to copy it from YouTube and also watch it from there but it doesn't seem to be working at the moment.)
Anyway, if you did see the wedding, I hope you liked it as much as me and I hope you, too, appreciated all the lovely modern twists to it.
At work yesterday, perhaps because i had love on my mind, the following sweet potato peel stood out in particular. Looking at it today, it might have stood out equally well had I been thinking about going to the dentist!
Wishing you a day filled with love in all its forms and shapes.
Yesterday morning was the new hawthorn moon in Taurus in case you missed it. Through Moonshine with Effy Wild, an incredible online art course which cycles with the moon (see also side button in this blog), I am much more aware of the moon and its phases and also the properties of each moon. It enthralls me. And it's rather magical. Each moon has its strengths so the idea is to make new moon vows, what you'd like to manifest in the next cycle as the moon increases/waxes to full, capitalising on the attributes of that particular new moon.
Hawthorn is the tree sign that this new moon falls on according to the Celtic tree calendar. Hawthorn represents defense and protection. And Taurus is the moon sign for this new moon (also the sun sign at the moment. Sun signs refer to astrology which we're all more familiar with). Taurus, like the sun sign, represents practicality, finances, no-nonsense approaches, realism, physicality. Steady and sensual are its trademarks.
I feel drawn to create some regular daily practices in several areas so that I can boost certain things in my life, gain some control. I also feel drawn to share these (and my new moon spread) with you to show accountability. So, this is my rather personal new moon vow...very specific as per the Taurean way.
From this new moon to the next, I vow to build a solid foundation of 10 minute (at least) daily focus/practices in the following areas:
So there you have it! Do YOU have a vow you might like to make based on the properties of this new moon?
Also a tarot card reading is interesting to do at this time. And I have my lovely new shiny Dreaming Way deck to play with. So this is my new moon spread (complete with shine, sorry). Basically a very positive reading...the 6 swords, far left, represents me right now: moving forward with a purpose, being guided towards a set goal, moving from some turbulence towards more peaceful/tranquil waters/times. Interestingly, I did this reading last night. This morning I did my daily tarot card pull after shuffling the cards thoroughly and the card that came up for today in the Dreaming Way tarot was the 6 swords!
Basically, the rest of the reading shows me needing to be firm with boundaries, sticking to my plans, working/creating steadily, head down, stay focused, keep producing. Fresh start financially, rein in the spending, gain control of finances to increase peace and harmony in this area. Others can help me balance some areas, share their tips (hint hint, comments always welcome! Lol!) and show me different ways of achieving balance in all areas. Implementing some regular practices will move me steadily forward in the right direction. I can trust in tried and true wisdom and rely on what has gone before and worked. The concrete focus on building steps will greatly help me and the little by little (but doing something!) approach will prevent me from being overwhelmed and stalled. I'm on the right path, have harnessed the right energies and approach and can move forward with trust and confidence. Did I mention how much I love this deck?
Yesterday the temp went up to 26 degrees. Another gorgeous day. Sunny, too. Rob set up his office outside on the back deck, something he's never done before, something he wanted to do on Sunday but didn't manage. Yesterday I remembered a table we'd recovered from an SUV accident and we set that up with a sun umbrella for shade and Rob marked his students' online work. I heard him chatting with the neighbour. I heard his tremendous sneezes. I saw a cluster of runs in the back of his grey shirt. He cared about none of that, just sat typing and reading. At one point, I huddled next to him on the back steps and critiqued a story with a warm wind circling my ankles. He became my shield (as he is in so many areas of my life) from neighbours on one side, the BBQ my shield on the other.
So many trees cut down and 'trimmed'. These trees were my protectors, ensuring me privacy. Last year I had anxiety attacks about going out into my back yard and being so 'seen', so open and vulnerable. Few others understand this. This year we have to tear the garage down and it will take away even more privacy.
I have to learn, like Rob, to just do what I want to do, care nothing about what others may think or about how they may perceive me. I have the umbrella to shade me, the table to ground me and my words and dreams and creativity to ignite my soul. Other than good weather, what else is needed? This will be the year I own my own space, especially outside in the bigger world.
Not a lot of time today to spend on my blog. Getting ready soon for dinner prep, dinner then off to a Guild meeting. I've typed up my comments, as per directions, cos my writing is difficult to read. If you've ever seen it, I expect you're rolling in laughter at that understatement. OK, I just a picture of it to show you. I remembered that I have posted a sample of my handwriting in a much earlier post but never mind. Below is my written critique for a fellow Guild member's piece. Even though I can't always read it myself, I do like my writing. It looks especially good peeking through as a bottom layer in a collage of mixed media painting.
In addition to typing up my critiques and doing some house tending today and a staff meeting this afternoon, then a phone call to Dad, I've been working on a couple of poems for our poetry meeting on Wednesday evening. It's a week of writing groups. Well, two nights out of the week anyway. One poem came from my post yesterday and my feelings. I feel it needs a lot of work yet. I'm hoping my fellow poets have some ideas. The other poem was birthed the other night after I'd turned the light out and was starting to drift off to sleep. I recalled an incident during the day where I rescued a spider and the poem arrived. I put the light on and wrote it directly into my phone. As much as possible, I take advantage of these flashes of creativity and ideas when they occur and capture them as soon as possible. I know from experience that I likely won't remember them the next day. Even the next half hour sometimes. Working on the poem today, I haven't changed much. Always interesting to hear the poetry group's take on it. Their suggestions and thoughts are invaluable.
And in that vein, with writing thoughts circulating, I'll sign off with a poem that was selected for an anthology, The Banister, last year. It didn't win a prize--I've never won a prize in this competition--but I do like that selected poems are printed in hard copy.
Today is Mother's Day in North America in case you live under a rock and didn't know. I've never been much into Mother's Day. I grew up with Mam's attitude that, like Father's Day, parental love and appreciation shouldn't be confined to one day a year. Of course, it's not really, hopefully, especially if you have decent parents. Mother's Day and Father's Day are more about commercialism. But they are hard to escape. And sometimes they're very unwelcome. Their 'in-you-face-ness' at least.
I'm crying as I write this. Grief is a bastard. Not a word I like or usually use. It's the one that came first to mind. So there it is. This year, more than any other that I can recall, I'm really missing Mam. I feel compelled today to take one of the three pretty carnation plants my hubby Rob bought me from the MS society up to Dad's to place beside Mam's urn which Dad keeps on a table by the chair she slept in for the last year of her life. Dad regularly has fresh flowers or a flowering plant there. This year I want to bring something for her. Today. Mother's Day.
That surprises me. I don't believe that deceased loved ones are in a particular place...if we're lucky we can feel them all around us a lot of the time, nor do I believe, as I've mentioned, in Mother's Day being so very special. But I do believe in following my intuition as much as possible and I feel compelled to take this carnation there this year. Of all of the carnations, I've chosen the brightest one for Mam cos she loved bright colours. Her favourite colour being red.
Perhaps I sense Dad moving on and I feel freer to grieve? Rob sent me a f/b private message from downstairs: Happy Mother's Day, my darling. It made me cry. And I told him. He raced up to see. Yup. I mentioned about Mam and just missing her and maybe cos Dad had seemed to pass some invisible marker of grief this past year I felt freer to grieve? Or at least openly grieve in front of him? Rob also suggested that this year is 5 years since Mam died and those anniversaries have a way of sneaking up when you're not prepared for them.
Before Rob's message, I'd cried as I made myself French toast with warm fruit, treating myself like a precious jewel to comfort myself. After Rob's message, my son Dane texted from the States where he's spending time with his hubby Jonathan. He told me I was an amazing mom and that he loved me so much and hoped I was having an amazing day. I hesitated but replied with a thank you and said I was crying cos I was missing his grandma. So we texted back and forth for a bit. I told him I was ok and plastered smileys all over the text to prove it. He said he knew that but it was ok to cry. Did I tell you he's a wise one?
As I was preparing breakfast, I listened to CBC Radio. The host, Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe, mentioned it being Mother's Day. She said it was a hard one for her. Her mother had died just over a year ago and today was her mother's birthday as well as being Mother's Day. Her voice broke as she revealed that. A tough day to get through. She played A Good Mother by Jann Arden as the final song. Very moving.
Perhaps part of the reason that I'm grieving today is that it does make me focus on Mam and whereas I do believe that our loved ones are always with us in some form, I feel like I'm losing some of this earthly connection, the memories, and yearn to reestablish that. Angeline got me thinking about Mam's favourite songs. These are the details that I sometimes feel slipping away into the mist. But I remember the year I spent in Britain living with Dad's parents, my Nanna and Grandpop, while Mam and Dad established their life in Canada. My record player and all my records had been sent on ahead. It needed a transformer to change the electrical current so it would play in Canada and Mam and Dad saw to it all for me so that I could play my records on a Christmas visit. But they wanted to test it. Mam had written to me saying she had fallen in love with a song and one particular phrase in this song. And she bought it. I couldn't remember when she had ever bought a single before. And she played it on my record player to test it and she hoped that was alright.
The song is by England Dan and John Ford Coley. The line is "There's a warm wind blowing the stars around/and I'd really love to see you tonight."
Thank YOU for hearing me. And Happy Mother's Day, whatever that means to you and whatever your memories. In a sweet aside, I consider myself mom to all my pets and Rogue deposited a bone behind the bathroom door as I was showering today. His gift. The cats may or may not bother depending on their moods. Lol.
Sometimes I marvel at the little sequences in life, how, when you look back with that proverbial 20/20, things worked out just the way they did for something special or right to happen. Like a pinball machine or the crazy game in the Price is Right where the contestant drops a big coin at the top of a game and tries to get it to fall into one of the prize columns at the bottom. I don't watch the Price is Right (obviously as this game has a specific name!) But life works like that sometimes.
My yesterday was like that. Rushing to get my blog done before visiting a friend for popcorn and a movie, I found I was running late. I still had popcorn to pop and butter to melt. And Rogue wanted to go outside. I couldn't deny him as it was so warm and sunny on the back deck. But if i let him out he's old, quite death and quite blind plus plain stubborn. Trying to get him back in the house can be a challenge. But I started the popcorn popper to let it warm up as usual and let him out. He basked in the sun, nose sniffing the spring air. I put the kernels into my popcorn machine. Nothing. It made its usual noise but the popcorn did nothing. It hadn't heated up. And despite me talking to it, unplugging it and trying all over again, it still didn't heat up. I'm sending frantic texts to Val:
Running late. Sorry.
Popcorn machine not working--do you have one?
I can bring unpopped corn and melted butter and pop.
She never answered.
Rogue had left the deck and was meandering all over the yard. I sorted the melted butter, unpopped corn and pop into a bag then tried to encourage Rogue to come in by clapping. Reluctantly he jumped up the steps and came inside. I gave him treats and headed out, later than the time I was supposed to be at Val's originally.
As I approached her house, someone was parked in 'my' spot, right outside under a small tree. Not that mattered, as there were no car in her driveway. Strange. Had she been called in to work? Had something happened and her sister was in the house to let me know? (ask anyone in my family--my thoughts always turn alarmist first. I'm working on it) Maybe her car was in the shop? I pulled into the driveway and ran the doorbell and knocked on the door. And I checked the thread of text messages that had led to our arranging this get together.
Yep. My fault. Val had suggested NEXT week. Duh. I sent another text:
OK I'm at your door...I obviously have the wrong day. Lol. Going home now.
I got in the car and started it, had to wait for a string of traffic to pass. One of which was Val. I moved out of the way, gave her a little wave, parked down the street, then walked up to meet her getting out of the car. I felt silly as I apologized and explained everything. My mistake, how I'd been held up.
"I had a few errands to run, had coffee," Val said. "But I'm off today anyway. We could watch the movie today."
We could? Did she have a popcorn popper? Yes she did. A cute red one that looked like a vendor's cart in a park and popped perfect popcorn.
So we visited and watched a movie, Lady Bird. (I highly recommend it--even the movie wasn't what I expected...a contemporary coming of age story, not the movie on Lady Bird Johnson as I had thought!) We both enjoyed our visit and I contemplated at the jiggly sequence of events and misadventures that caused the visit to happen. Had I been on time or not had to mess on with the popcorn popper or with Rogue, I'd have missed her. And our yesterday together wouldn't have happened. Nor would the time Val had originally suggested as I'm working full days next week.
These little time snafus remind me of 9/11, of the stories that materialised of people who missed being in the buildings through one thing or another...missing a bus, buying a band aid, an appointment rearranged at the last minute. No comfort of course to the families and friends of others who were there, perhaps erroneously at that time. But still an interesting reflection on the sequence of events that make up our days.
One of my favourite songs growing up was 'Que Sara Sara' by Doris Day. What will be will be. I like to think we have more individual choice than that now, but sometimes I wonder.
May your day unfold beautifully.
At one point yesterday I checked my email on my phone. The time was 4:44 and my phone had 44% charge left in the battery. That tickled me. I love things like that. To me it's a little magical nudge from the universe. "Hello! I see you!" Well why not? It happens a lot. Not the fours, more like ones and twos for me. Had I graduated?
I checked into the number 4 this morning. It means stability. Like a square. Like a solid table. It includes all four directions and all four elements. So far so good. Recognition from the angels according to Joanne Walmsley's Sacred Scribe's website. A sign that my hard work towards my passion is paying off. Support to continue.
Sure. I'll take that. Thank you.
This past Saturday, 5th May, Rob and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Rob gave me some cheerful daisies and noted the sequence of 5s on the card. According to Joanne Walmsley this sequence shows support in letting go of the old which no longer serves and trusting and embracing the new. Very interesting for a wedding anniversary!
Rob had bought me two pots of daisies. Anticipating more magic when I was thinking about this blog, I counted the total number of open flowers from both pots. How crazy if it was five!
Well, it was six.
Five and one to grow on. It still works! Lol.
Last night I realised I had made a mistake which could result in disappointing several people. It was to do with the NOWW awards and the NOWW magazine, of which I'm editor. I felt defensive (my first unflattering reaction to any mistake I make) and crappy and like a corner of my world had crumbled. It was a fairly legitimate mistake and nothing major or bad will occur as a result. Disappointment for some people. Something I never want to happen on my account, of course. (is that defensiveness creeping in again?)
The corner of my world which began to crumble let in all past mistakes along this line...as I dug deeper into...what? self pity?...it started to let in all past mistakes. EVER. Ugh. And to dissipate this landslide of self blame and shame, I had only one miniature chocolate egg. Shame this deep required at least whole chocolate bar. And chips. Salt and vinegar preferably. I watched a funny video of cute cats on facebook. That helped. More than anything else, I tried to just sit with the feelings until they subsided or I chased them away without numbing out.
I sent an email to my lovely friend Louise who I knew would understand because she seems to understand all my feelings and accepts me despite my self doubts.
A few days earlier, a friend had also experienced similar self-disappointment and shared it with me. I tried to cheer her up, put everything into perspective, acknowledge her feelings but also boost her by pointing out how kind she is, pointing out the beautiful loving 'her' we all see. I sent her what I consider the bedtime quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I have it (and what I consider the morning quote) printed out and hanging in my bathroom.
The quote and a damn good sleep helped. But this being human stuff can be tough sometimes.
Wishing you a day of love and sunshine. In your heart at least. Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe.
So Rob and I drove out to Nipigon (about 1 1/4 hours away one way) last night to see if we could get into the free comedy show which becomes part of the TV show "Still Standing". We drove through rock cuts, saw lake vistas, passed a lone deer grazing, the Terry Fox monument and an orange-rock inuksuk atop a boulder. I sang to my cds. Rob, I'm sure, tried to tune out my singing,
We arrived about 20 minutes before the doors opened and waited in a winding line up outside the Nipigon legion. It seemed promising that we would get in judging by the increasing number of hopefuls who queued behind us.
And we did! I felt like an imposter, not being a Nipigon-ite, and I had less faith than Rob that we were going to see the actual comedy part which airs towards the end of the TV show. But when we walked through the doors and saw the stage set up, exactly like on TV, I was convinced.
Three other writers of "Still Standing" performed their comedy first--one in the guise of giving us house rules. Make noise when we laugh. Clap to show appreciation. Take our coats off so it doesn't look on camera like we're going to leave after the first bad joke. Ignore the cameras so we don't lock eyes with someone watching on their couch at home.
We watched an affectionately funny show where Jonny Harris spotlit town 'celebrities' (people he had interviewed throughout the week) and mentioned some of the hardships the small town had encountered as he does on the TV show. No airs or graces, just very down-to-earth as I expected him to be. There aren't too many shows that I follow but I fell in love with "Still Standing" and the tone of the show a few seasons ago. This Nipigon show will be the first show of the 5th season. The 4th still has to be aired.
Everyone left smiling. Rob and I had some special wonton soup and spring rolls at the China Garden before the drive home. Darkness fell through drizzle. Mist wound along valleys, drifted across the highway. High above the road on a rock cut, the brightly illuminated Terry Fox monument faced west, the same direction as us. Ever hopeful. Still standing.
We arrived home tired, our spirits light. Another shared adventure in our pockets. Another shared memory in our hearts.
Really quick! Rob and I driving to Nipigon to try to get in to see Johnny Harris of Still Standing fame in mere minutes so for today I figure some of my haiku'll do! Enjoy!
These are from May 2017:
1. An evening of 10 by 10 plays,
sushi dinner where we ate too much,
sunset deepens from apricot to scarlet.
2. Outside on the window ledge
of a theatre workshop,
two pigeons nod in agreement.
3. Next door’s dog pokes his head
through my fence;
each yap, a white plume.
Sunny morning deception.
4. Hospital waiting room:
as the man beside me fidgets,
all our chairs bounce in time.
8. After a walk to the river,
black dog’s wet pawprints
lead us home.
9. Beneath decaying leaves,
a fat, pink, glistening worm.
I push him safely under the deck.
10. In the branches, a white tufted bird!
But no...a sparrow
carrying dryer lint to line its nest.
11. Bright full moon
scraggly black clouds
drama on high.
Thank you for reading!
Today is beautiful outside...inside too as I've opened all the windows that will open and sweet spring breezes are meandering through the house. I should rake the leaves, paint an exposed spot on my car, clear clutter, dust, clean the litter boxes, start working on the NOWW magazine...Rob and I already took Rogue for a lovely walk up by the rail tracks, saw deer tracks in the mud and admired a fire engine red street car with many concertina links being tested by Bombardier. (the path by the tracks runs adjacent to Bombardier's yard. Sometimes at midnight I can see the street cars running up and down in the yard beyond the house across the road. Surprisingly an unbelievable comfort especially when my son Dane lived in Toronto as many of these cars are made for Toronto) We saw a red winged blackbird and heard them sing close by. The walk, I like to believe, nourished all our spirits.
But back to the to-do list, there's lots to do today. Lots that should be done on a day off, an otherwise completely free day. BUT these cards arrived before we went out for a walk!
I discovered them when a fellow blogger used them to do a prediction for May. I absolutely fell in love with them. Then I went online and looked at reviews and card reveals of them and I felt like they spoke right to my soul through the screen. Dad had given me an Amazon gift card and well, now the rest is history. As I write, they command my attention from my painty table beside me, in the gentlest, most persistent way. Usually with my new decks, I cleanse them through incense smoke and sleep with them under my pillow for a few nights. BUT these call to me now. I've been dancingly waiting for them. I asked my Moonshine group how they personalise the cards or embrace them. After a few exchanges, the woman who introduced them to me said that she believed I already had a good connection with them so cleanse them, shuffle well and plunge right in!
Last night my dear friend Fran in Tasmania marveled that I got so much writing and creativity done. I replied that she hadn't seen the state of my house and that's how. I 'lol'ed but there's a huge chunk of truth in that.
So if you notice my car still has its exposed spot, the house is still dusty, the leaves still unraked, you'll know that I've given in to the temptation of this gorgeous tarot deck. After all, what are days off for but to play in?
The Last Thing On My List ...
by Sue Blott
(2nd place winner in the NOWW Summer Flash Fiction Contest) published on the NOWW website on 12/18/2017
Yahtzee with you is no longer fun. Drunk and blinded by the stinging smoke from your cigarette, you make stupid choices.
I cry out, “Wait!” but you roll again.
“What?” You rub your forehead, study the dice.
“You had Yahtzee! Five fives. Jeez, Larry!”
You giggle-snort and collapse back onto the couch.
I shake my head, sling the dice into the box, shimmy the lid on. I like winning but not at the expense of watching you spiral into stupidity. Together for seven years and you drink more and more until you flake out, leaving me to stub your stinking cigarette out so our house doesn’t burn down.
Time after time, you remember nothing.
I remember everything.
You exhale. “Let’s play that other game.” Smoke coils towards me like a snake about to strike. “Lists.”
“Lists. Okay.” A game that originated from counselling, a way of sharing and learning about each other. On a deeper level, the counsellor suggested.
I’m delaying going to bed. Why I don’t know. You’ll fall asleep in no time, perhaps in the middle of an embrace so I have to push the weight of you off me, your hand slapping my stomach as you roll over. Not on purpose, of course. That’s a no-brainer for me. Never physical abuse, just a gradual withering of love and respect.
When you choose a list, your favourite, I know I can’t tell you the last thing on mine.
“Hhmmm, let me think. I need tea. I’ll make you coffee—”
“ ’Sokay.” You point to the half-full scotch glass.
“So not okay,” I mumble as I walk into the kitchen, considering my list. The first things are a given. The cats. Marmalade—he’d never make it out on his own with that lame hind leg—then Tinkers and Siam. My journals, photo albums … Once you were my first thing on “A List of Things I’d Rescue From Our Burning House”. You still assume you are.
I know I’m top of your list. I am your list. You’ve never cared much for the cats.
I pour my tea, stir your coffee, my thoughts swirling with the dark liquid. How can I tell you that the last thing on my list is you? Until I can, all we’ll do is play games with each other.
In the living room, you’re sprawled on the couch, your lips strumming to snores. Drool glistens at the corner of your mouth. The cigarette has burned itself out in the ashtray. I watch you, know the peace a mother feels when her child is asleep at last. I cover you with the woollen throw scattered with blue hearts, your favourite from our Maritime trip. I tuck in your toes. You hate your feet to be cold. Leaving your coffee on the table, I carry my tea to bed where Marmalade will have warmed my pillow.
Tomorrow, I think, maybe tomorrow I can tell you the last thing on my list.
I'm late blogging today. Only one more hour left of the day. But it's been busy, writing-focused one. Thanks to NOWW (Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop). This morning I attended Angie Abdou's interesting workshop, then this evening I went to Write NOWW LitFest 2018, the 20th Literary Awards Dinner. A day immersed in writing and the writing culture. Divine and enriching.
The workshop offered lots to think about and we played with 'freefall' writing. Between three timed writing exercises, I created an intriguing idea for a short story. Bonus! Then this evening we had a delicious dinner, then heard Angie Abdou speak about her love of writing, how she came to actually write rather than living a parallel life and how ultimately she writes for herself. She writes because she feels compelled to, because she has to, because, like reading, it helps her make sense of or helps define the lives we live.
Next the Kouhi Award (presented to Ruby Slipperjack) and the Phillips Award (presented to Eleanor Barr) and the writing contest awards (the nail biting part for me!). The people's choice 10 x10 play by local playwright Amanda Doig. had everyone laughing. We left to soft disco lights swirling across the ceiling and a few people twirling across the dance floor.
Fellow writers won. Their words inspired me. Their stories and poems ignited my imagination, made me want to read more of their work. Congratulations echoed throughout the room. Always reassuring, always a wider validation of a writer's work to win something, that recognition is priceless on the days when the words won't come or on the nights alone at the keyboard. The writing touched someone somewhere.
I won 3rd place for my memoir, 'The Penpal'. Yay! But the most fulfilling part of my evening was when Jean E Pendziwol introduced me to someone, a young woman, Autumne, who had read my flash fiction story, 'The Last Thing on my List', on the NOWW website. She apparently loved it and wanted to know who I was. I didn't know what to say. She was lovely. I felt very flattered. "I wrote a comment," she told me. How kind.
Now, alone at the keyboard close to midnight, I check the NOWW website and read her comment:
Wow. The Last Thing On My List left me breathless.
I absolutely adored every word. --Autumne
And I know I will write again tomorrow.
Is there a creed, a set of disciplines or a quote or phrase you try to adhere to? Something that sums up your view on life? Since my early teens, for me it's been Desiderata. I have recited it in my darkest and loneliest hours, absorbed its truth over the years, adapted parts to better serve changing beliefs. I've had the final line, 'strive to be happy', as the final line in my email for several years.
I first discovered it as a much requested song on a Saturday morning radio show. Immediately fell in love with it and the spirit of it. I'm more accustomed to 'be careful' over 'be cheerful' but am fine with both sentiments.
In Canada, I finally found a poster of Desiderata and was delighted to discover that it had been written and displayed in an abbey in the 1600s (according to my poster). Over the years and thanks to Wikipedia today, I now know that Max Ehrmann wrote it in 1927 and published it in a book of his poems in 1948. No matter. The words are still prophetic and comforting. If ever I feel out of place in the world, I recite: "I am a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars, I have a right to be here." You too. Strive to be happy.
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Yesterday my hubby, Rob, and I drove to Kakabeka Falls, our Niagara of the North. About half an hour's drive from our house. We brought our dog, Rogue, although he's getting old and I fretted about how he'd manage walking around the Falls and dealing with the steps. We picked up Joey's fish and chips to eat en route, listened to CBC radio, a talk show, chatted a little. I love the drive. In spring I get restless and antsy and relish longer drives. Kakabeka Falls, the thunderous majesty of the Falls, ignites my spirit and speaks to me like nothing else. All those delicious negative ions.
I took some lovely videos of the Falls, complete with volume, before remembering that I can't post videos on my blog unless I upgrade. But I also took some photos. The Falls are mostly thawed now and due to spring run off are especially forceful. No rainbows in the mist (although I imagined I saw some and Rob agreed--he's learned to agree with whatever I say I see that may not necessarily be there) as the day was overcast. Just a little chilly at times but excellent walking weather.
Bewitching. Magical. Inspiring. Energising yet relaxing. They feed my soul. Apparently they fed Rogue something too as he was a trooper! He managed all the walking (well over an hour including pauses to 'ooh' and 'ahh'. ) and only hesitated once at one set of steps. We met some people from the Netherlands, busy with their cameras, who had been to Niagara Falls. They agreed that Kakabeka is so much more natural and prettier, so up close and personal.
When we got home, I watched and listened to the videos. I loved them but the sound, without seeing the Falls, came across as static. Maybe you had to be there. I hope one day you CAN make it in person to our spectacular, healing and soul-nourishing Niagara of the North.
A poem is brewing. That's good. My poetry group meets in a couple of weeks so I need to get thinking about writing some poems. But the reason this particular poem is brewing is not so good. It stems from an incident seemingly from a different life time ago when I was 17. Summer and I'm working evenings in downtown Vancouver. I go to college the rest of the year but am working in a hole-in-the-wall-and-up-a-few-dusty-staircases telephone survey office over the summer. I live with my parents in North Vancouver so have to take a series of buses to get across Burrard Inlet to the north shore.
One evening we got out late. As I'm waiting in the dusk for my bus home on a city corner, a man asks me something about the buses. A couple of other people stand around but he chooses to talk to me. So I chat. I'm an introvert but can easily chat one on one with strangers. And I've been brought up to always be polite. He seems like he needs help. Turns out he's quite drunk. Or stoned. And persistent that I talk to him. I look around at the other people. They stare off into the distance with big city detachment. I see a bus coming. Is it mine? I walk away from this guy who isn't being physical or even obscene that I can remember. Only persistent with his prattling on. He's still saying something. I turn to respond. The bus whizzes past. Wait! It didn't even stop? I check with another woman stood like a statue by the curb. Yep. That was my bus. The one that would get me home at the right time with fewest transfers. The one that wouldn't be back around for at least another half hour. The drunk guy staggers towards me. I've had enough of him. I'm mad at him and mad at myself. I flee down the street. All I can think is that I need to get across the Inlet so I head to the seabus terminal.
I sort out my buses and take my transfers at the terminal. Wait for the seabus which I absolutely love. It's a hovercraft ferrying people from downtown to the north shore, Lonsdale Quay I believe. I don't navigate places well so I'm quite proud of myself that I've somehow got myself a plan B to get home. Rattled though I am that I missed the first bus. Unnerved by the man's persistence. Unsettled by the way I perceive that I caused the whole incident.
Am I sitting in the terminal waiting or am I actually already sat on the seabus when another drunk guy sits beside me? I can't remember. I think he sits beside me at the terminal. But I move away. Enough of drunks and their advances or whatever they were for one night. He seeks me out on the seabus. Sits beside me in two little seats close to the front of the bus where the crew are. I ignore him. Why don't I want to talk to him he wants to know. He just wants to talk. I scrunch up to the white molded plastic around the window. The conductor, for want of a better word, comes up--a man maybe mid-30s.
"Is he bothering you?" the conductor asks me.
"Ain't bothering no-one. Just talking."
"No. It's okay. Thank you." I worry what will happen to the drunk.
"If you're sure. It's no trouble. I'd be happy to remove him."
I shake my head. All I really want is for everyone to just leave me alone. In peace. I just want to be safely home in my bedroom with its lemon walls and brown flowered wallpaper, away from this raw after dark downtown world. The conductor doesn't move far. He stands, arms crossed, in the doorway of the crew's quarters, watching. The drunk pretty much shuts up, mumbles under his breath. I say nothing. I rest my head against the multi-paned window. Its coolness on my forehead soothes me. Lights dance outside the window but mainly it's dark and I can see my own reflection, the guy beside me, even if i stretch my neck back enough, the conductor watching. I study my reflection. What was it about me that had attracted this? Two drunks, the unwanted attention of two men like that, in one night? Too much make up? The wrong clothes? I still tended to wear skirts a lot. Too trusting? Too polite? Too nice? Too vulnerable?
The guy beside me stays beside me. At some point he tries to talk to me again. I ignore him.
The conductor leaps over. "Do you want me to get rid of him for you? I can. If he's bothering you."
Again I shake my head. So weary. "We're almost there. It's okay. Thank you."
When we dock, I scramble off the seabus while the conductor makes the drunk guy wait until everyone else is off. Until I'm well out of sight. I feel a little sorry for the drunk, again persistent but harmless, but mostly I feel sorry for myself. What a night.
When I finally get off the connecting bus at the end of our street, Mam and Dad are both there waiting. Mam looks worried. I see her relief when she spots me. Dad looks furious. I don't think I can face him. No energy. They ask what happened. They've been so worried. How could I do this? In the street, walking home through the dark, in the warm summer air, Dad starts yelling at what I've put them through.
I yell something back. Or do I? I know I stride away from them, burst into tears. Mam tells Dad to leave me alone and be quiet. She runs up beside me. We're the least demonstrative family ever but she puts her arm around my shoulder. I don't want to tell them. I blame myself. I know Dad'll be mad. But I do tell them what happened. No blame on me except that I shouldn't have engaged these men in conversation, especially the first. I barely said nothing except probably leave me alone to the second. Dad wants me to quit the job. His reactions always so extreme. Mam sees it as a lesson to learn, encourages me to keep the job, not to give in and let this situation control me. She guarantees my safety as much as she can. From that point on someone, either Mam and Dad or my boyfriend, drive across town to pick me up every night I work.
I listened to the following TEDtalk (10 mins 35 seconds) for the second time yesterday. I urge you to listen if you can. It's very powerful. It's not too much in your face. It doesn't whitewash ALL men. The image of the woman being moved haunts me. Sounds too unbelievable. As though it's a comedy skit. But it's not. Imagine being that woman. I understand her fury. I feel it too.
After relistening to this TEDtalk, the memory of that evening in Vancouver is what rose to the surface for me. It's not really a #MeToo. Or is it? Would these men have approached me if I was a burly man?
Within a year or two, I took Women's Studies at SFU and took Wen-Do, Women's self defense. I learned lots. No such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But be aware of your surroundings. Do what you need to to keep yourself safe at all times. Even if this means causing a scene--something that I tried so hard NOT to do that lifetime ago. What you wear is what you wear and nobody else's business. No such thing as asking to be raped. All this was quite revolutionary in the late 70s. And we obviously still had a long way to go. Obviously we still do. But we're getting there. Talking and being open helps.
Thank you for bearing witness to my story.
Last night was our monthly LUNA (Lakehead Unfinished Novels/ Novelists (haha) Association) meeting. Only four of us. But always an enlightening, encouraging group. Last night we chatted a little about building new neurological pathways and strengthening our brain in general. Pat mentioned brushing your teeth with your opposite hand. Try it. Quite challenging. Glenn remembered a music teacher he once had who could play any instrument equally well with either hand. This man also wrote easily with either hand and had to have two signatures on file at his bank, one for his left hand and one for his right. Fascinating.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog about tai chi, I often worry that my brain is becoming dull, that I'm losing memory or brain power so I'm all ears when I hear about new things to try to sharpen my mind and increase my brain power. I found the following site which lists ten brain activities to embrace to boost your memory and brain power.
Some I knew of: learn a new language, take a cooking class, learn a new sport or physical activity. But others, more readily and easily accessible, were new to me:
Last week I met a friend at Starbucks before going to a movie. We rarely go to Starbucks and as soon as I got there I had to pee. But the bathroom doors had huge punch button locks on them. I questioned the cashier (don't they have fancy names when they work in a coffee shop? Baristas apparently...I googled it). Anyway, I questioned the barista who looked to be about 30.
"I can give you a code but you have to order a drink first," he said, waving his hands to the side and behind him to encompass the gurgling coffee machine and the board of fancy drinks.
"I have to pee," I replied. "I can't even think of drinking anything!"
He shrugged with the merest touch of compassion. "Sorreeeee..."
So I ordered tea. He leaned across the counter and uttered the numbered code in a hushed tone. Confidentially. I nodded but was still concerned about choosing my tea then asking that the bag not be placed in the hot water. Then I fretted about paying with a gift card, the amount of which I had no idea. My point being, by the time I got to the locked bathroom door, I hadn't rehearsed the code once. How would I ever recall it?
Somehow I did. Inside, I applauded myself on remembering. I have issues recalling any set of numbers or the instructions on the back of microwave dinners without checking and rechecking several times. Maybe my brain power was miraculously increasing. I felt smart and quick-witted and super-intelligent.
Until I thought more about the code. And understood why I remembered it so well. It was 2018.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.