Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dancing Flames


everyone loves fire
like moths to a blazing sun
watch the dancing flames

Thursday, December 11, 2014

ghosts

The ghosts come from my closet
the door swings open wide
voices fill the airwaves.
I must take it in stride

I didn't know the door was shut
I never knew it slammed
upon so many faces
til suddenly I'm deprogrammed

Now time's a funny object
It's given me some gifts
I must decide which are welcome
and which ones to set adrift

Do they all come wrapped in paper
present everlasting truth
or do some hide secret messages
to uncover like a sleuth?

As history slides still further
I feel it yet inside
it's left a permanent mark
the scars I can't abide

Doubt crosses many borders
I grapple one on one
with ghosts who stand in front of me
and wish this had never begun




Thursday, December 4, 2014

Happy Memories

Homework assignment:
Try to recall the day last year when you were happiest. Why then? What were the circumstances? Did it happen because of something you did, or did it just happen? When I asked someone this question the other day they said, "I can't remember the day but I can remember the hour very well. Is that good or pathetic?"
   ~ Jonathan Carroll

Last year...

Is he referring to this past year, 2014, or rather the year before? I suppose I can take licence in answering that, so define it as 2013, as I think of 2014 as this year. Or is it the year past? Hmm... I fear I am dithering though and shall just get on with the task at hand.

I slipped into a new decade
So what did 2013 hold? This is an interesting challenge for my memory. The biggest, most obvious thing must have been my birthday in July. I turned 40, but the date held far less fireworks than I imagined. The number came at me like a bulldozer trying to run me down, but after a few weeks, didn't have the punch I had expected. There were celebrations with friends and family, cake, and a trip to Sunfest with my girls for a taste of international music and arts. But it didn't make my heart stop. And I don't know if it contained my happiest moments to be truthful.

What else happened in 2013? At the time, I was pretty happy to meet my boyfriend's children in August. We had dated for what seemed like plenty long enough, but there were always reasons why we couldn't be introduced. When the date finally came, it was sprung on me at the last minute. I still had time to get nervous as all get-out though. To my delight, they happily liked me. And when I finally got over the fear of being the dreaded "other woman" I had hope that we could be one big happy family. We spent many happy moments together later that summer and fall, catching fish, carving pumpkins, and creating snowforts. The kids all got along better than I could have dreamed. The future looked bright. But as circumstances have since changed, I no longer have much to crow about over those particular memories. They sadly get lost amongst questions and lies.

Well then, where else did joy lie that year? There were plenty of smiles and laughter anytime I got together with my sister and her kids. And if I think about it, I know that my happiest moment was not a when, but with a whom.

2013 Clovermead Bee Beard Competition
Together with my sister, we went to Clovermead to see their annual bee beard competition. We hit the Ontario Science Centre in the spring, and gathered maple syrup, easter eggs and Autumn leaves; all together as a family unit. In those moments I felt most myself and at ease. I didn't have to be anyone else to impress. I wasn't required to be on my best behaviour. I could smile and laugh without fear of reprisals or ill effects. A pure love existed which didn't judge me, nor my actions. It wasn't big and spectacular, but all those moments were filled with the best of me and the best of what I hope to share with the world.

So I cannot say what my happiest moment of 2013 was. In fact, in 2014 I would probably have the same response. The "when" lay in the people whom I had the privilege to be with. My control of it had more to do with the fact that I chose to be with them. My family. My sister. Our love. Unconditional and joyful. And in recognizing that, I give thanks that I am blessed not with one sole happiest moment, but rather a happiest feeling when I am privileged to spend time with those I love most.

What is your happiest moment of the past year?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Burn Once More

He said not to tell anyone. He was embarrassed. He knew his behaviours were not quite right. He didn't want people to judge him. It would make it awkward for him, and of course me. People would question and judge. I wouldn't want that now, would I?

"Don't tell anyone of the voices I hear. Don't mention the shadows I see flitting around and the questions of whether they are real, drug-induced, or come from potential mental instabilities. If only I loved him, they would all disappear. They would just melt into the dawn of our perfect tomorrows forever."

As long as I didn't tell anyone.

The creak of a floorboard wasn't the house settling. It was mysterious men waiting until he was unawares to sweep me away.

The whispers on the wind were lovers rapt in illicit acts not meant to be, but meant to be specifically heard to drive demons into unfettered thoughts.

The wrinkles in clothes were evidence of a tussle, a coerced tryst, a living lie to provoke anxiety and mistrust. Not anything to do with sitting at a desk for hours, or caused by the casual push of a shopping cart in the grocery store.

These are boxes peeked into. These are memories shoved into dark corners, so as not to inspect them, so as not to puzzle them together and see the whole picture. Those boxes have been opened though. They have been pushed together to make a mountain out of the molehills I refused to do anything but stumble around.

But as I stare at them aghast, they crumble in the light of a new day. Their power is lost in history even as the scars simmer on my soul. I talk them out. I write them away. I steal back the power they had to create fantastical phantasmic faerytales that were too full of bogeymen and ghouls for anyone to survive. Because I wouldn't have, had we continued.

Yet the light begins to burn once more...



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter in Canada

This was the results of a 3-day blizzard from a few years ago.
Buffalo has taken the hit for us this winter :)
Apparently winter has decided to strike early this year. MAN, it is cold out there! A mere week ago it was 14C, but this week the temperature dipped to -18C (with the wind chill, but still). What is up with that?! Time to put another log on the fire apparently.

As any good Canadian is wont to do, we face the ravages of Mother Nature in stride though. Today I face it with humour, with the help of an email from a friend. If we can't get warm, we just put on an extra pair of socks and laugh about it...

Here is what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about Canadians, during a recent appearance at Caesars in Windsor: 

  • If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, You may live in Canada ... (had that happen to me)
  • If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, You may live in Canada ... (never, I hate seeing people in shorts or sandals when they should be wearing parkas!
  • If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, You may live in Canada ... (Yup)
  • If 'Vacation' means going anywhere south of Detroit for the weekend, You may live in Canada ... (Yup)
  • If you measure distance in hours, You may live in Canada ... (Yup again)
  • If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, You may live in Canada ...
  • If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' in the same day and back again, You may live in Canada ... (I might have - once...)
  • If you can drive 90 km/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, You may live in Canada ... (definitely)
  • If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked, You may live in Canada .
  • If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, You may live in Canada ... (I proudly boosted a stranded nurse last winter across the street from my house with my MALE neighbour watching on)
  • If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, You may live in Canada ... (Yup)
  • If the speed limit on the highway is 80 km -- you're going 95 and everybody is passing you, You may live in Canada ... (lol, doesn't everyone do that?)
  • If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, You may live in Canada ... (sad, but true)
  • If you know all 4 seasons: Almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, You may live in Canada ... (DEFINITELY sad, but true)
  • If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car, You may live in Canada ... (my neighbour that blows out the entire neighbourhood does)
  • If you find -2 degrees 'a little chilly', You may live in Canada ... (it's not really that cold)

If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your friends,
you definitely are Canadian and proud to be.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lest We Forget


Their uniforms crisp
Roles serious and dedicated
Their missive- our Freedom 

Marching, they came towards us
Strict row upon row to Serve
Silent we stood waiting

   Ready for them

On this day to honour
All the sacrifices made
And all those whom have never come back

Tears glistened in eyes
Hands trembled on canes
The bugle sounded our cries

   The Last Post...

We always rise again
Hands to heart
Eyes to sky

We stand on guard
Two minutes offered
Silent in humble thought

   Our gift of Remembrance

To men and women
Brave, noble and bold
Will our thanks ever be enough?

Poppies pinned to chests
Salutes raised to the dead
We will Never forget

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nail in the Wall


Unpacking pictures 
old photos of days gone by
memories long spent
moments no longer relived
not worth the nail in the wall



Friday, October 31, 2014

What's Not Okay

Oh Canada; proud, strong and free
It has been a tough couple of weeks to be a Canadian. Last week, in two separate incidents, Canadian military members were killed; both random acts of violence, but both meant to be strikes against our country. The deaths rocked us as a nation. And with good reason. Despite the violence, we banded together and swore to remain united in our peace, honesty and trustful natures.

And then on Sunday, a well-loved and respected radio host from our public broadcaster was fired from a post that he helped to create. The media was set ablaze by a Facebook post he published outlining some of the details. He warned that more details would come from people intent on smearing him and his career. Well, those details have come forth and they are worse than ugly. As far as his career is concerned, it may or may not be salvageable. Certainly, his private life has been made public in such a way that the world seems to have been given a seat in his bedroom. Without benefit of trial, he has been condemned to the full extent that the media can punish him. And I struggle to look away.

I love Canada. It is my home and native land. I am proud to recognize myself as a native and yet ashamed that as a nation we apparently have been duped by a charming individual intent on his own self-fulfillment and satisfaction. I have read the stories and am aghast at every new piece of the plot. Women have come forth, both anonymously and now using their own faces and names, to share their stories. Have we harboured a criminal amongst us? Have we given a wolf sheep's clothing and begged him to lead us? It is not for me to decide and for that I am thankful. But the number of women who have shared stories too similar and too awful is enough to cause doubt in the most ardent supporters and fans. Those fans have dropped rapidly over the last week.

So why do I let the story of a celebrity who has fallen from grace affect me so? As Canadians, we are supposed to be good, honest people. We are supposed to put forth the best qualities that we can and emulate the unwavering faith in our country and humanity, like Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent did. Sure they weren't perfect, but they died in the line of duty, their lives taken as they represented all that is good, nay Great on Canadian soil. And now we are sullied by an individual that appears to have taken his self-serving needs much too far in their satisfaction. I don't need to name this individual for my fellow Canadians. His face has been splashed across the media this week, even while the CBC has ripped it off of any piece of their property. And if the reports are true, then so they should.

For the story is ultimately about women. The story is about respect or a lack thereof. The tales that are spewing forth tell of violence masked in consensual BDSM. The problem lies in the lack of consent, hence we speak of abuse. They say he hit them. Nine women claim this now. Who knows if more will come forth, others will keep their secrets to themselves, or some will recant these vicious images that us dismayed Canadians are being forced to witness. Regardless of how this story plays out, I suspect that the conversation about abuse will be a little louder now.

You see abuse doesn't always happen to the other woman. It doesn't always end up being meted out to the sluts or girls that 'wanted' it to happen. The women that are sharing these stories come from a wide variety of backgrounds and education levels. None of them seemed to ask to be hit. None of them seemed to enjoy being called names or being made to feel like it was a normal part of life. They all pushed the abuse into "the past" to try to move beyond it and try to forget how it made them feel. But today, they realized that for the actions they allowed to be Okay, by not standing up against the abuse, those actions continued and touched too many other people. And it was NOT ok.

It is NOT okay for someone to make you feel stupid, worthy of abuse, or like you asked for it. It is NOT okay for someone to hit you, choke you, or rape you. It is also not okay for someone to isolate you from friends, family or society, question your integrity, nor turn the blame back on yourself for actions they have taken. Too many women face some form of abuse in their lifetimes, whether it be physical and/or emotional, by the hands of strangers, casual acquaintances or those that we are supposed to love and trust. Because once that trust is damaged, the world becomes a more difficult place to negotiate.

I know this has become another rant and for that I am sorry. I struggle to come to grips with this breach of trust, this shattered faith in humanity that I hold so dear. I do believe that people are inherently good, but am sad to acknowledge that I feel akin to these women right now. I have never met any CBC personalities, but I knew someone who made me feel like it was my fault that he felt compelled to search my body, clothes and home for evidence of my misdeeds. Like I deserved to be cast as a disreputable woman because his insecurities and jealousy made him look for my guilt. He never found it, but left behind my shattered innocence in the wake of his accusations. He will never admit to his lies or improprieties, so I must move forward and attempt to find faith in humanity knowing that not everyone that smiles is a friend, and not everything that seems a gift is always so.

But this lesson is valuable nonetheless. And I refuse to let the small minority of people that do not understand how their actions affect others rule my world. For I am Canadian, proud, strong and free. I live in a place where men and women give their lives to protect mine. I prefer to see people who take up the cause to make the world a better place and refuse to be bullied by power-hungry individuals who can't see beyond their own noses and backyards. And I rally around women strong enough to stand up and say what is acceptable and what is Not. May you find peace in your release of those ugly memories that should no longer own you.

I am working on mine.

*If you are interested in more of the story that inspired this post, you can read more here...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Door Knockers & Palm Crossers

local politics
edge of your seat evening
election results
in four years to cut mustard
or shatter beliefs once more

Bye, bye incumbents
hello to new councillors
fresh blood, young faces
may you be the infusion
that London needs to shine bright

~
London's newest mayor on election night - Matt Brown

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Reading

I sat in the aisle seat
(the better to escape if need be)
Another woman munched a salad
  crunch, crunch, 
    chew
at the far end of my aisle.
I was late for the workshop;
the workshop ran late for me.
The poets would be along momentarily.

Frozen in the room lights
I glanced at vibrant scarves
draped limply along drab walls.
They could have been hung
  dramatically
with flair to fill this room
and the voices that would ring
with words
  dramatically...

Instead I hid behind
my unbelonging, my newness
that clung to me like
the pinched pins
that suffered the colours
meant to infuse the space,
this gathering of bards

I punched at my phone,
glanced at the empty lectern
and side-eyed my solitary seatmate

til the lights dimmed

And then the words rang out
staccato song
followed by aggrandized soliloquies
pretentious prose that elicited
  ...titters
  silence...
and awesome thought.

I related,
Belonged
and clapped along with poetasters alike.

But the house lights cast me aside anew
and I fled.

There was no belonging to the chummy chattering that erupted around me.
No faces to smile into nor laugh with.
No comment on the prose
we were so blessed to consider that night.
Just a cold car,
my single key
and a lonesome home
once more

Will I dare return again?


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rant

Rant.

Go...

My neighbour died last week. Another neighbour came over to break the news to me. She knew that I would want to hear, as I had always had a soft spot for him. It had been quick. He had gone to hospital Wednesday in distress and died before the day was out. The only thing left to do was schedule the funeral. 

Larry was a sweet old man. He was 90, still lived in his own home, drove his own car, and took care of himself. Another neighbour cut his grass and took care of his pool. Many neighbours brought him over meals, pies, and treats of one sort or another. We always gave him some of whatever we baked. He loved his sweets and appreciated everything that people did for him. From what I could tell everyone liked him. I was sad to hear of his passing.

Today was the funeral. As Larry had been kind to me in days when my grief was most poignant, I felt I needed to go and pay my respects. I had never noticed his family visit much, but the gesture of saying goodbye is an important one to me, so I wanted to go. A visitation was held, followed immediately by the funeral. He was to be interned afterwards. I knew that the internment would be out of the question, as I had to pick the girls up from school, but I planned to attend the other events. 

I drove to the church and said my hellos to the granddaughter that greeted me at the door. Larry was laid out in the next room with a few pictures nestled into the coffin with him. Death is never pretty, as the lifeblood that makes one real flesh and blood leaves the deceased withered and waxy. But I left a tear in his presence nonetheless. I took a seat in a pew off to one side and waited for the funeral to begin. A woman noticed me wipe my eyes though and approached to say hello. She was Larry's niece and looked like she needed a friend to talk to. We shared stories and I was convinced to sit in her aisle with her. Once the pianist played a few songs, the doors of the chapel were closed and the service began.

That is when I should have left.

I have been to many funerals. As much as they are sad affairs, they are held so that people can pay their respects to the deceased. They are an opportunity to start the closure of loss. This funeral was far from respectful though. And it certainly did nothing to honour the memory of the neighbour that I saw as a kindly elderly gentleman who was social, active and friendly with all he met. 

The preacher took to the pulpit and began by reading a letter from the daughter-in-law, who was seated in the front pew. It was awful. Not only did it highlight the ugliness of Larry's final hours, but it cast Larry in a light I never would have imagined. We were told of his mother's young death, then the destitution that followed. His father put him in an orphanage, only to bring him home to a house of alcoholism and poverty. So the story went, it made Larry bitter. And it went on to say that he remained that way for the rest of his life. 

As my fingers dug holes into my palms, I listened to Larry disparaged due to his lack of faith. His son and wife supposedly prayed for him to take Jesus into his heart, to no avail. It was his downfall and left him desperate to fill that whole with material possessions. 

Now it wasn't a secret that Larry had a problem. He was a hoarder. Two years ago he had damage in his home because of flooding. Due to the sheer mountain of stuff in his home the cleanup took the better part of six months. He spent that time living in his trailer out of town. I never heard tell that his son ever offered to put him up during that time. Oh, but they prayed that he would release the devil in his soul! 

Last I heard, hoarding was a mental illness though. Not a reason to castigate someone. Especially not at their funeral. 

There was no mention of what Larry did for a living. No recount of how many years he was married to his wife. Nothing said about his love of dancing. I wanted to pipe up that he was blessed with another romance late in life that was sadly cut short by his fiance's death on the day Larry asked her to marry him. And gee, he was 90 years old, living on his own, still able to walk and drive (not well, but its hard to let go of that independence) and visit with his neighbours when the mood struck him. 

No, we were told that despite Larry having made his family's life miserable for so many years by refusing to take up their faith, they finally won. As Larry lay dying, wracked by painful seizures that apparently terrified him, he finally saw the light. After yet another seizure, he "saw the light" that was Jesus. And then his fear left him. And he died. 

The cynic in me thinks that the tidy summation of Larry's awful existence was probably not exactly accurate. I offer no disrespect to those who have experienced this first-hand, but after listening to all the awful things said, I couldn't stomach the moral of the story - that we all must accept Jesus into our heart or be left to live eternity in hell. No heaven for any disbelievers or sinners. What about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others? No Jesus - no heaven.
.
I wanted to leave. It galled me to sit and listen to them bash this dear man that had helped rake my lawn at the age of 83 years old because he saw me crying in fresh grief with rake in hand over a leaf pile. Local bank tellers had spoken of him in glowing terms for goodness sake. And all they could see was a bitter old man that I am sure they are glad to be rid of.

Well, I made it through the service, despite my seething brain. And tonight I toasted Larry with fellow neighbours that had attended the funeral and were equally shocked by the things said and manner that Larry's death had been handled. We all deserve better than that. As my neighbour said, "they could have just stated facts if they didn't have anything nice to say." But I guess their god lets them feel justified in their ugly actions. I for one want nothing to do with their religion, if it is that judgemental and cold.

... end rant

Monday, October 6, 2014

Life After Life

 Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, © 2013, Bond Street Books

What if you had life to live all over again? And you were able to learn from the mistakes you made in the first go round? Would you do it all again? Would you try to make a difference for
yourself and the world around you?

Ursula Todd was born on February 11th, 1910. In the middle of a snowstorm, no one comes to the aid of her mother and she dies with the cord wrapped around her neck.

On February 11th, 1910, Ursula Todd is born in the middle of a snowstorm. After a quick scare, she cries to life.

As Kate Atkinson weaves the tale of Ursula's life, we travel through England during a dark time. The world is on the brink of war. Ursula lives only to die at the hands of fate. Repeatedly. After every death, she is born again to do it all over anew, but with subtle twists to extend the story.

Ursula is not untouched by this cyclical life. By the time she reaches puberty, déjà vu plagues her at every turn. Death seems to stalk her, but she learns to outsmart his hand repeatedly. Sometimes whether she wants to or not. Her family notes her odd ways, but it is only Ursula and the reader who see the purpose of it all. And as time marches on that purpose becomes a spectre that many historians would like to see smoted as well.

While I read Ursula's tale, I could not help but think on parts of my own life that could have been changed. Have I lived more than once? Have I danced with death, but picked a safer path this time? If I changed something, would my world look completely different or just slightly askew?

I cannot help but think that there are many lessons to be learned on the path we walk at present. As tempting as it is to go back in time and set things to rights, is that really the right answer? It is an interesting question and one that got Kate Atkinson a Costa Book Award for Novel (2013), plus several literary nominations for awards. I guess that means that a few other people have asked that same question themselves then, doesn't it?

This one is well worth the read in my books!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

To See Further

as the wind blows
as my story goes
people come
and others flow

through my pictures
in my dreams
just fleeting memories
so it seems

one yesterday
and another now
my losses strained
against furrowed brow

they keep adding up
to make me fall
they keep challenging life
leaving behind a dark pall

standing there
you were so strong
you'd gone before me
knew the sad song

grief enough 
to fill my head
you brushed me off
and smiled instead

with old gnarled hand
you reached to me
took up my burden
laid it aside gently

not near so bad
as it did feel
this too shall pass
with more feelings real

for many years 
you strode the path
looked death in the eye
feared not its wrath

but today you lost
your life so sweet
no goodbyes said
from across the street

how do we know 
when our time has come
can you make peace
before the reaper's last drum

Dear Larry is gone
but not forgot
his gift to me
to see further than one aught



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, © 2008, Harper Collins

I am sure plenty of you have already picked this book up. I had seen it promoted on Goodreads, Indigo/Chapters and elsewhere. While that does help to catch my eye, it doesn't always equate to me reading a book. And as I am not much into racing and I don't have a dog, I might not have picked up this book at all. But my book club strikes again and it is on our list for this fall, so off to the library I went.

And I am glad.

We are introduced to Enzo in the opening pages. He is an old dog that is failing. His hips no longer work and his bladder isn't what it used to be, but he is still dedicated to his owner, Denny. As the story unfolds, we get to recollect Enzo's life from the time he is picked out of the puppy patch at the farm. And in a unique twist, the tale is told exclusively from Enzo's perspective.

Enzo is a dog that is closing in on his perfection of doghood. He is convinced that in his next life he will come back as a human. As such, he strives to do his best to be kind and considerate to Denny and as it comes in turns, his wife Eve and their daughter Zoe. Just because Enzo feels he is close to being human doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy a good game of tug of war with Eve or a walk in the park with Denny when he is home from the race track though. But when Eve is struck by a deadly diagnosis of brain cancer, the whole family has to adjust, Enzo included.

Even if you are not a dog lover, you cannot help but be charmed by plucky Enzo. He understands the nuances of life and refuses to let go of his faith that good will prevail. Through the family's trials, he tries to find understanding and offer support to his humans, in a way that can't help but make us wonder at our own failings. If you can keep dry-eyed in this quick 321-page read, you are a stronger person than I. But I am sure you will enjoy it nonetheless even if you do.

Monday, September 15, 2014

the key


the key to my heart
returned too soon with remorse
a cold reminder
some things aren't as we dream them
metallic hope thrown away

Thursday, September 11, 2014

About Time

Happy New Year!
Words spoken by those in...  September?!

What?

But it makes sense. And it has been similar to the meaning behind the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne . I have been experiencing 'old home' month, if you will. Faces I haven't seen in years have filed by with smiles and hugs like nary a day has past. I've seen former work associates, co-workers, spoken to high school chums, and visited friends who moved away years before. Their link is in their happiness to see me.

Now, is it that I am so great a person? Well, not necessarily or else I would probably still see or talk to them all on a regular basis. Not that I am knocking me. Life gets busy. Sometimes Big 'L' Life gets in the way of living. We get so busy running that we forget to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the people along the way that have sniffed those roses with you.


It fills my heart to see their smiles. It does my soul good to hear them say they have been thinking about me. Where have I been? What have I been doing? How have I been keeping?

I ask myself, why haven't I been around then?

Well, J lives in BC and L moved to NY 14 years ago. JA is a 2 1/2 hr drive away, as is C in a slightly different direction. A, B and D work 10 minutes from my house, but the phone has been silent between us. And my excuse for S is what? I am too busy for a coffee break? What's wrong with me? Why can't I drive 45 minutes to see D and J or 1 hour to visit with J and L? I would love to see all of them. I know there is tonnes to catch up on and we could all use the tonic of the visit.

It is that dreaded Time. Or lack thereof. But it seems that time is pointing out there is plenty of reason to stay in touch. Relationships are worth it. And regardless of the quiet days that I spend typing on my computer, I do have a few relationships in my life. My friends are there regardless of time's passage.

And right now, I should make the effort to reach back out and step into people's lives. It is worth it. Time has bestowed the gift of remembrance on me. Perhaps it is time that I cash in on that offering.

Anyone care to sniff the roses with me this week?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Waiting in my Web


Isn't that interesting? The black and yellow garden spider is also known as the writing spider. Argiope aurantia is harmless to humans, but collects plenty with her sticky web.

Wish I could catch a few more clients with a web of my own...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Folk-tastic!

I have a little secret. I've got a little bit of twang to me. I really don't know where it came from. My mother listened to the likes of Nana Mouskouri and Boney M. We had 8-tracks and records, which were played from a large stereo cabinet that looked something like this...
Not mine, but not far off of our super 70's stereo

Now that was a fine piece of electronica, let me tell you. It had an am/fm stereo, record player and an 8-track slot on it, plus the obligatory red velvet curtains on the side panels. Bring on the 'Night Flight to Venus'! Hooey, we knew how to throw one down.

Yes, well...

Jump forward a few years and my musical tastes expanded some. I was introduced to punk, alternative, pop, rock, and funny enough, a whole lot of folk music via some musician friends. I had a real eclectic taste, that was for sure. I was just as happy to listen to Depeche Mode or Skinny Puppy, as I was to groove to Gordon Lightfoot or Stompin Tom. I know. I know. Neophyte.

Nathan Rogers at this year's Home County
But out of all those musical stylings, the folky blues stuck. I still flip on the radio to whatever pleases the kids or myself in that moment (plenty of CBC 2 in the afternoons and evenings), but a good old dose of folk music makes me smile. In fact, I don't think I've missed the Home County Folk Festival in years. And I am pretty sure I have made folk fans of my kids too, as they always insist on going and staying as long as possible (dragged them away from Whitehorse at 10:30 pm this year).

I believe it was at a past year's Home County that I ended up on Rock Ridge Music's mailing list. They had me in a good mood and I would have signed up for anything on that day. In retrospect, it was a good thing though, as now they send me artist spotlights all the time. I have discovered 'Dwight & Nicole' and Levi Weaver, both of which are fabulous bands/musicians.

This week they sent me a teaser for someone new though. And I need to hear more.

Christian Lopez Band
On first listen Blaster Records snapped up this talented musician. It was a no-brainer and they have formed a great union since their initial meeting. That despite the fact that the front man for the band is a mere 19-years-old. Don't let his age fool you though. Christian Lopez is an old hand as far as making music goes. He began playing piano at age 5, and guitar by the time he was 9. Writing songs was a natural extension that came along in his teens.

Now the West Virginia native's dreams are coming true in the form of his first EP Pilot set to be released in October 2014. Not too shabby for someone who has played pre-shows for the likes of Zac Brown and The Dave Matthews Band. Intrigued yet? If it seems like a long time to wait for the EP, there is always live music to fill the gap. The band is touring the US this fall.

CHRISTIAN LOPEZ BAND TOUR SCHEDULE
8/20 – Cumberland, MD / Downtown Cumberland Concert Series
8/21 – Floyd, VA / Dogtown Roadhouse
8/23 – Nashville, TN / Antique Archaeology
8/23 – Franklin, TN / Grey’s On Main (evening show)
8/29 – Charlotte, NC / PNC Music Pavilion
9/3 – New York, NY / Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3
9/12 – New Hope, PA / Triumph Brewery
9/13 – Winchester, VA / Bright Box Theater
9/18 – 9/20 – Dewey Beach, DE / Dewey Beach Music Festival
9/27 – Blacksburg, VA / Sycamore Deli (w/Deer Run Drifters)
10/4 – Thomas, WV / The Purple Fiddle
10/10 – Clear Springs, MD / Knob Hall Winery
10/11 – Bethesda, MD / Taste of Bethesda Festival
10/17 – Bedford, VA / Bedford Library Concert Series
10/18 – Shepherdstown, WV / Shepherdstown Opera House
10/25 – Centreville, VA / Cox Farms Fall Fest


It's one thing to rave over the music and pump up a band, but I know you just want to hear it for yourself, right. We have to wait I'm afraid, as the full EP will only be released later this week for streaming or download. The teaser I got was just a single song, which was enough to let me know that I definitely wanted to hear more.

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Organizing with Mason Jars

Look what I found on Pinterest; a neat organization item made from mason jars...


Cool right? It looked simple enough, so I thought "What the hey?!"


And decided to try it myself. Any good crafty house has got a bit of glitter paint, mason jars and bits for knobs, right?

This one does!


I've already started my canning this year (made sweet pickles yesterday and have relish in the making as we speak), but wide-mouth jars aren't used very often, making them scarce. Two were all I needed for this craft though and polished tiger's eye stones were my accompaniment for knobs.


One for q-tips and bandaids in the other. What do you think? Pass or Fail?

     Take that Pinterest!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

too hot



flames lick 
hot thoughts prick
mud sticks
tonight

fire scores
no rest no more
smiles a chore
by its light

purge me
erase misery
a peace plea
burn bright
~

Friday, June 20, 2014

Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk, by Richard Wagamese, © 2014, McClelland & Stewart

Should I start by saying this book wrecked me? That I bawled through the last twenty pages, apparently having stopped at exactly the right spot last night. Normally I can't put a book down with that few pages to go, but something told me that I couldn't continue last night. So at lunch today fat tears dropped into my soup and scattered across the pages, as a mound of kleenexes piled up.

Not that this book was... what? Chick-lit? Thriller? Romance? It was none of those things. It was literature, and good quality prose at that.

All the way along I felt like this was a book that a man's man would appreciate. The main character is 16-year-old Frank, raised by "the old man". He taught him to fish, hunt, recognize tracks, survive in the bush, and most importantly, the value of hard work. His father on the other hand slips in and out of Frank's life on rare occasion, and those moments are always punctuated by drink. He is a virtual stranger and a miserable, non-communicative one even when he does make rare appearance. The old man serves as the only kin that young Frank has, but that doesn't prevent his thoughts from straying to blood ties.

When the book opens, Frank has been summoned by his father to town. Eldon is sick and dying, his abused liver finally at the point of shutting down. He has a last request for his estranged son - to take him into the woods to bury him in the warrior way. This despite the fact that Eldon has never taken much stock in his native roots. Frank struggles with the request, but ultimately agrees to the task, if only to see if some of the questions that have dogged him his whole life might be answered. What they discover along the way is a broken life lived.

This quiet book looks at life, hope, fear, love and the struggles that are encountered along the way. Wagamese's prose is fuelled by the knowledge that as much as we need to listen to hear life's stories, sometimes those stories need to be told too. Whether we think we have the strength to tell them or not.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, by Barbara J. Taylor, © 2014, Akashic Books

This debut novel from Barbara J Taylor opens in grief. Young Daisy's life has been extinguished too soon in a freak sparkler accident in her backyard. Her sister Violet is witness to the accident and many whisper that perhaps the incident was in fact her fault. Their mother Grace is thrown into heavy mourning and their father Owen quickly finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. It looks to be a sad tale that just might not find its way back out.

The story may have a sad premise, but Taylor convinces the reader to join her in the tale, as we watch bewildered Violet try to find a space in her new world. Her mother is lost in grief and her father abandons the family to move into a gin mill in town, where the firewater that numbs his reality is readily available. It seems no one cares about poor Violet, until "stinky" Stanley befriends her. The two form a quick friendship fuelled by both of their outcast statuses; Stanley's mother is dead and his father another disgruntled miner working long hours. Where no one else seems to care about them, the children find hope and life in each other.

The world of the anthracite coal mines is harsh and filled with constant threat of tragedy in this turn-of-the century novel. As each bell rings out an accident, both fear and hope are flamed. Will a new tragedy bring Violet's torn family back together once more? The mine that employs the bulk of the men in town, also takes as many away. It is a reality that touches everyone in town, where Violet's father Owen works, and eventually Stanley finds himself as well. The only thing that brings comfort is the heavy presence of the church, even with its share of meddling church ladies and their caustic tongues. In Grace's case though, it would seem that grief is even more powerful than God's good graces. Owen prayers died on his tongue with his daughter too.

So what will it take to reunite a family torn apart by grief? You will soon find out in this quick read.

Thanks to Akashic Books for sending me an Advance Reading Copy to review!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Visitors




birds in flocks arrive
banded visitors aplenty
abundant reasons




fair cedar waxwing
dining on crab apples fine
a gift of breakfast

my treat to spy you
regal birds so prolific
please return once more



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Waiting for the Man

Waiting for the Man, by Arjun Basu © 2014, ECW Press

Joe is in his mid-30s. He is in advertising and does quite well at it, laying claim to successful beer, beans, and dog food campaigns. Everything Joe attempts, turns out right.

But one day he wakes up in a panic. He's 35 and life somehow appears meaningless. He can get any girl he wants, but is single. He is surrounded by people daily, but is without real friends. His family loves him from afar. He's good at his job, which pays the bills, but at the end of the day, it all leaves him empty.

Until a voice in his head tells him to wait. So he does.

So began a vision quest that took Joe from the streets of high-profile New York to middle-of-nowhere Montana. The voyage holds much soul-searching, questions about what life is all about, and debate about if we are supposed to find meaning in it all. Joe is a cynic and his journey isn't easy. For one, there is a mini van. And lots of bad pizza. Showers and sleep are minimal.

Sounds like the making of any great adventure, right?

Are you interested in learning more? How about a few words from the author, Arjun Basu himself? I had the pleasure of asking him a few questions. Here is what he has to say about "Waiting for the Man" and the writing process that went along with it.

  1. How long did it take you to write the first draft of “Waiting for the Man”? How long was the editing phase? When it came time to publish it, did you debate self-publishing or insist on the traditional route of a publishing company? What made you decide to use ECW Press?        ~ AB: The first draft was written so long ago, it's hard to properly answer the question. The story behind getting this story out is long and arduous. It involves probably 10 drafts, a huge rethinking of the story after draft 4, the discarding of two complete threads (and one major character, almost a co-narrator), and really winnowing this thing down to its essence. It also involves 4 agents (!) and, yes, a time when I was considering self-publishing so that I could move on and get with my life and my writing. But then ECW stepped up, and I was "given" a great editor in Emily Schultz and we worked really well together - she saw a fully realized work but then made it that much more complete. 
  2. 2.       Many people speculate throughout the book as to who “The Man” actually is, i.e. God, Jesus, a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, etc. His omnipotence is what attracts people to Joe’s story, but is he any of these things? As much as his presence is the driving force in Joe’s journey that begins in New York, his time in Montana is devoid of any influence from The Man. So what role did The Man actually have in Joe’s story?
           ~ AB: That speculation is valid and is even brought up in the book itself. But because The Man is in Joe's head (and only his head), he/it gets imprinted with a lot of meaning by a lot of people. And Joe being an advertising guy, probably sees a certain irony in his situation, sure, but on some level he also understands that his story is not his at all, that all stories are given meaning by those receiving it, and that we all interpret stories to suit us. I don't know that Joe gives up on The Man, but he sees everything for what it is. In Montana, The Man is already in his rear view mirror. And perhaps he/it ends up being Joe's inner voice just telling him to find something, anything, and get out of the rut he finds in New York.
    3.       Have you ever gone on a “vision quest” or done any extreme soul searching of your own? Why and what was its outcome?
           ~ AB: I've gone on road trips. When I was younger I went on road trips every summer - some of those memories made their way into the book. I've never gone on a vision quest, per se, though some journeys seems to become a kind of vision quest. My desire to write was the result of a lot of baby steps growing up, but when I was 18, I left home and hung out in Banff for 6 months and when I returned home I realized I was going to write. I didn't head out West with that goal, it just happened. Was that a vision quest?
    4.       Joe has an interesting relationship with people. He is a self-proclaimed womanizer and has a decided lack of connection with anyone. So how is it that he was picked by “The Man” for this journey? Do you think that we all have a little piece of “Joe” in us? How did this affect his relationship with characters in the parallel story in Montana?
           ~ AB: The Man doesn't so much pick Joe as Joe picks The Man. At least that's how I see it. There's probably some deep self-improvement mumbo-jumbo in that statement. But I don't see Joe as anti-social as much as he's a bit numbed by modern life. That doesn't make him unique.
    5.       Were you changed by the writing of this book? Do you have any other books in the making?
            ~ AB: I don't know that I was changed by the writing but it's possible that I was changed by the process. I wrote this book at the same time as a huge shift in the publishing industry. It was amazing to see such change occur while I was writing. In a way, it shifted my goals, but in the end, my goal, my primary goal, remained the same. And now my goal is to finish my next novel. I've started writing it. My only hope is it doesn't take as long to write as Waiting for the Man.

Thank you so much for sharing Arjun! Myself and my readers appreciate your thoughts and time. 

This review/author interview/giveaway is part of a book tour promoted by ECW Press. Words of Mystery started off the tour last Monday, but please take the time to visit the other bloggers on the tour.

Thursday, May 1st - Words of Mystery Tour kickoff & review
Monday, May 5th - Buried in Print - Review
Tuesday, May 6th - A New Day - Review & giveaway
Wednesday, May 7th - The Book Stylist - Review
Thursday, May 8th - bookgaga - Review
Friday, May 9th - A Bookworm’s World - Review & giveaway

~~~
So, does this put you in mind of any journeys of your own? Have you broken with the status quo, even for a moment, to dip a little deeper into what life is all about? Would you care to escape life's confines to travel along with Joe, as he stops and waits for the Man? Tell me about your own soul searching moment and you will be entered into a contest to win your own copy of "Waiting for the Man" by Arjun Basu. The folks at ECW Press were good enough to send me a copy to review, plus included an extra just for YOU!

All I want to know is a little bit about your own experience with "The Man". Share this contest with your friends, followers and whomever might be on a vision quest of their own. I look forward to your answers!

In the interim, feel free to watch the trailer about the book below. And don't forget to dig deep for your existential dreams to share with me...



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

To Review a Book

I have written a number of book reviews here at A New Day. Most of them have been positive, barring a few bad eggs here and there. It started because I joined a book club. The ladies of my club meet once a month to discuss the book "du jour". Over wine and nibblies, we debate the merits of whichever book we have chosen that month. We have gushed over "The Night Circus", squirmed over "We Need to Talk about Kevin" and wondered what the heck the author was trying to say in "Seven Ravens: Two Summer in a Life by the Sea". By the way, don't even bother trying to look that last one up. It is still considered the worst book we have attempted to read over the five years that we've been together. All thumbs down.

Aside from books suggested by my book club, many other books have crossed the threshold of my sacred bedside table reading stack. There are ones that have languished (like one on Catherine the Great that I just can't get through for the life of me), and others that were there but an instant due to me not being able to put them down. Those are the books I wish I could linger over longer, but ultimately end up back in my re-read pile.

A good book never dies. It is reborn every time we crack the spine anew.
You can quote me on that if you want. *:x lovestruck

So why so much discussion on books today? Well, I recently finished another book, this one sent to me from ECW Press. They are a Canadian publishing house based out of Toronto with over 30 years of experience and almost 1000 books in print. And when they sent me this newest book, they actually included another copy for me. Well to be more exact, they sent a copy for me to review and one to include as a giveaway. This post is all about getting you excited for that! Don't we all love books and love them more when they are FREE!

**Consider this your heads up to come back and visit A New Day next Tuesday, May 6th, 2014. I'll have my book review ready and a special treat for readers. See you then!**



Interested in Winning?

Monday, April 28, 2014

this dance



swaying in time
these bodies united
a love that's sublime
thou not always abided

a look in those eyes
tender touches that match
who could possibly decry
their heart's song that attaches

two women together
embraced cheek to cheek
A beauty to behold
something we all seek

as an honoured guest
to witness, I felt blessed


♡♥♡

In "Can I Have This Dance", Anne Murray sings of a love profound that is felt in one's soul. It is a beautiful song, regardless of your love of her or a taste in country music. Plus it makes for a perfect song for a slow dance with that special someone.

This song was played at a dance I went to Saturday evening in association with the London Lesbian Film Festival. It was dedicated to a couple who were wed the previous week. It was beautiful to see the dance floor fill up with so many people and I was touched to be there. The song is still ringing in my head and the smile that it gave me on Saturday is still there at the thought of it. I guess I am just a sucker for love.

This sonnet was inspired by all the happiness and love that I was witness to that night. I hope you can find a measure of what these women exuded in your own life. If only we could all be so blessed...

♡♥♡

Friday, April 25, 2014

waiting

~
brown 
dead, barren 
waiting, waiting, waiting
for the sun's warm rays
spring
~



It's National Poetry Month. My children have both been exploring the nuances of poetry at school, which just tickles me. It has also amounted to a little creativity on my poetic part, as seen in this cinquain poem. Have you written any poems in National Poetry Month?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Flower

F

    ancy petals

L

    ittle waving heads

O

    pen to the sun

W

    aving in the breeze

E

    verywhere in spring

R

    enews my soul
sign of spring - hellebore
It's National Poetry Month. My children have both been exploring the nuances of poetry at school, which just tickles me. It also has amounted to some creativity on my poetic part, as seen in this acrostic poem. Have you written any poems in National Poetry Month?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chocolate Fuelled Fun

one, two, three
come find me
coloured eggs a'plenty
behind the couch, over the entry
tucked into a lamp's smooth shade
over by the hand-knit brocade
find them all on an Easter crusade
the last one's found, they all hoorayed

Back to bed
all the adults said
No chance of that, I dread
it's time for fun
fuelled by chocolate eggs one by one
and kid chaos until they are all done...


It's National Poetry Month. My children have both been exploring the nuances of poetry at school, which just tickles me. It also has amounted to some creativity on my poetic part, as seen in this freestyle rhyming poem. Have you written any poems in National Poetry Month?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

late winter

Sunshine fills my eyes
Sorely needed on this day
Stubborn winter sits
Blankets everything cold
Refuses the way to spring
~


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

rebirth

Flower
delicate, hesitant
growing, reaching, struggling
waiting for spring warmth
rebirth


Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Bear

The Bear, by Claire Cameron; © 2014, Doubleday Canada

Shortly on the heels of finishing All the Broken Things, I was given another book that featured a bear, this one written by Claire Cameron. Where Kuitenbrouwer's book depicted an appealing beast that you couldn't help feel for, Cameron's black bear was anything but. Her animal was wild and extremely dangerous, and the start of a terrifying ordeal for two young children.

Five-year-old Anna is on a camping trip with her Mom, Dad and little brother Alex, affectionately known as Stick. Things have been difficult in her parent's relationship as of late, but a late-summer portage trip seemed just the thing to smooth over troubled waters. That is until an overnight stop at a small island  leads to tragedy. A black bear sniffs them out and attacks, but not before Daddy stuffs little Anna and two-year-old Stick into a Coleman cooler for protection.

While Coleman saves Anna and Stick from the bear's deadly claws, they can't stay in the metal box forever. And once Anna kicks them to freedom, the next step is more than any five-year-old can fathom, that of making their way to safety in the wilds of Algonquin Park alone. With nothing more than a box of cookies and the dying words of her mother to give her direction, Anna must take responsibility for Stick and their lives. Their canoe gets them off the island and away from the bear, but where to go next is beyond little Anna. How to survive is another matter entirely.

Written in a first-person narrative, the reader travels along with the children as they struggle to find shelter, food and a way out of the wilderness, with the meagre skills that their youth allows. The choices they make are terrifying for an adult, let alone for two children with no experience in how to take care of themselves. Cameron masterfully sets you on edge though, as you internally scream at the children to not touch this and stay away from that, to no avail. As a parent, I wanted to scoop them up and take charge, soothing the children with promises that it would all be alright. But only Anna had the power to ensure that.

If you like to camp and have a young family, this book might not be for you. It strikes fear into every worst case scenario that parents put themselves through in relation to their children. If you are curious to see how Anna and Stick make out in the wilds of Northern Ontario without an adult to guide them though, then this book is a well-written tale that will have you flipping pages to the end.

That end you will have to read for yourself though...

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