Friday, December 13, 2013

People Not Presents

I am participating in the Write Tribe Blogging Challenge from December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today's topic is People so I decided to write a poem for a change of pace.

People Not Presents

The Christmas rush is here again
Take a breath and count to ten,
This time of year we lose our way
It makes me sadder than I can say,

Spending too much on so much stuff
Don’t you think we have enough?
Eating until we’re ready to burst
Drinking to quench our endless thirst

Forever searching and feeling a void
No wonder we often get annoyed
Please listen to this Christmas verse
Open your heart and close your purse,

Reach out to others and the world will sing
Don’t you think that’s a wonderful thing?
Love and kindness are better than toys
People, not presents bring Christmas joys.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Music Makes Christmas

I am participating in the Write Tribe Blogging Challenge from December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today's topic is Music.

I just love the Christmas season. The sparkling colourful lights and decorations are so lovely and the food scrumptious. (BURP! *Loosens belt a few notches*) I love all the rituals and traditions about this time of year.

It’s wonderful to have family and friends spending time together. The world just seems a kinder and happier place at Christmas.

But what really makes Christmas for me is the music.

I sing in a women’s choir, play flute in a concert band, and with my harpist friend. This time of year we are busy doing Christmas concerts at seniors’ residences as well as our main choir concert coming up this week. There is something so wonderful about performing music with others for an audience. They enjoy it and so do we.

Here is a recording of Noel Nouvelet with me playing flute and Sharon and Lyn on harp.
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I love Christmas carols of all kinds, whether it's something sacred like O Holy Night or something secular like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

It’s all great!

Well, I could do without Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer but to each his own, right?

Music touches something deep inside, connects us and brings such joy. Without music, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas.

What is your favourite Christmas music?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I am participating in the Write Tribe blogging challenge from December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today’s topic is Books and I am relating each topic to Christmas. I love the Christmas season so much and this is the time of year when we’re all caught up in Christmas preparations and events. I'm in a Christmas frame of mind!

When I was a kid, my favourite book at Christmas time was “The Night Before Christmas.” I remember I’d read it over and over gazing at the beautiful illustrations of Santa Claus and the reindeer. I’d picture myself as one of those kids snuggled in bed with visions of sugar plums in my head. 

I don’t know where that book is now as I read it so much, it fell apart. I can still remember it vividly in my mind. Looking at some of the vintage book illustrations on Google from the 1950s and 60s reminds me of that book.

The Night Before Christmas is still popular which is pretty impressive considering it was written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823. Many books have been made, parodies have been written and even some songs as I discovered while looking around on Youtube. Here is one vintage version done by Gene Autry and Rosemary Clooney.

Here is a very retro looking book, similar to the one I would have read back in the 1960's.

Ahhh, such fun to think back on those fun Christmases of childhood and how this book was very special part of my Christmas.

What Christmas books did you enjoy as a child?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tasty Christmas treats and Some Not So Tasty

Write Tribe

I am participating in Write Tribe's blogging challenge from December 8-14. Today's topic is Food.

What would Christmas be without Christmas sweets? My waist expands an inch or two when I bake the decorated cookies, scrumptious fudge, chocolate brownies and other delicious treats at this time of year.

I make them for gifts and for the boys, you understand.  *Wipes chocolate from mouth.*

Give me the chocolate!

And what about the Christmas treats that we don’t like? They still become part of our Christmas memories.

Candy canes are pretty and so decorative to look at.

They're also good for breaking a tooth. I’ve never liked them much even if they do freshen my breath for those moments under the Mistletoe.

Give me the chocolate!

I remember my mom buying old-fashioned brightly-coloured candies when I was a kid. You know the kind? 

She would pour them into decorative dishes where they would grow sticky and gather dust until April when they were replaced by Easter Candy.

And who can forget the Christmas cake? 

I’d like to forget it. Never did care for the stuff. So dry and heavy and not all that tasty. They do make wonderful doorstops and paperweights though! Besides, you do know where fruitcake comes from, don't you?

Give me the chocolate!  

I’m sure dentists and diet groups rub their hands with glee as we gorge on copious amounts of sugary, fattening concoctions at this time of year.

Whoever heard of healthy Christmas treats? Oh sure, we might eat a Clementine or two in a virtuous moment but it’s the treats we clamour for. We can be good in January.

Give me the chocolate!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Memory of a Very Different Christmas

I am taking part in the Write Tribe's Festival of Words for the week of December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today's topic is Memory/Memories. I am planning to relate each topic to Christmas since it is the Christmas season.

I have many memories of Christmas but one that stands out in my mind is Christmas 1997 which we spent in Canada’s Arctic region.

That Christmas we were thousands of miles North in the tiny community of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, located on King William Island in the Arctic Ocean. 

We arrived there in August and were there for the eight long months while Brian worked as an adult education teacher.

As a rugged Canadian, I like it to be snowy and wintery for Christmas, but must admit Gjoa Haven was a bit too wintery for my liking. The brutal Arctic wind and the constant darkness were unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

I was home with my two boys who were two and four at the time. We hardly ever went outside due to the intense cold that could reach -60 C with the wind chill.  Luckily the Inuit kids were friendly and would often visit to play with the boys and do crafts and baking with me. I think their visits helped keep me sane as the cold, isolation and darkness were often overwhelming.

Christmas in Gjoa Haven was definitely not the same as back home in Ottawa. There were no decorated Christmas trees or lights, inside or out. Since Gjoa Haven is above the tree line, it has no trees due to the permafrost. They could have used artificial trees, but the Inuit didn’t seem to embrace the Christmas tree tradition that much anyhow.

They did embrace the other Christmas traditions of feasting, partying and gift giving. They also loved games. Every night for two weeks during Christmas and New Year’s, they would have a feast at the community hall and play competitive type games well into the wee hours of the night. I remember going once just to watch and feeling as if I was in a foreign country.

I admit I felt sad and lonely so far from our families at Christmas time and I missed all the familiar traditions. 

The Non-Inuit teachers tried hard to bring some of the familiar Christmas traditions to that remote Northern town. The school held a Christmas pageant and I got to play flute with the choir. I still remember kids doing a cute skit they made up about Mr. Bean coming to Gjoa Haven.

Everyone lived in houses, had Satellite TV, and were quite familiar with North American culture. It was fascinating to see the Inuit culture evolving with the contrast of the old ways against the new ways. I imagine it’s even more that way today with the improved Internet which was still fairly new back in 1997.

As another Christmas approaches, I think back fondly on that time sixteen years ago. At the time, I was counting the days until our return home. Now I feel lucky that I had the chance to live among the Inuit and experience Christmas in such a different way.

Here are some photos of my sons and a view out to the Arctic Ocean. These were most likely taken in September while there was still light and the Ocean wasn't frozen over yet. I don't have too many outdoor shots from December as you can well understand!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Practicing Gratitude Guest Post at Everyday Gyaan

Corinne Rodrigues of Everyday Gyaan is hosting a “Living Gratitude Series” this week, and invited me to contribute a guest post as part of the series. 

Thank you so much, Corinne. I very grateful for this opportunity.

My post was published today, and I would love it if you would head over to her blog, check it out, and add your comments.

Have a happy day full of gratitude!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why I love fall

I am participating in BlogHer NaBloPoMo for October 2013 and the theme is FALL. 

Love those blog challenges and reading other bloggers' posts! Always a fun time!

My favourite thing about autumn would have to be the colourful foliage. Here in Canada, the trees put on a spectacular display of red, gold and orange leaves. The sun is lower in the sky and bathes everything in a golden light. I especially appreciate the finery, knowing that it is here for such a brief time. Soon the trees will be naked and grey and we’ll all be bracing ourselves for the onset of winter. As much as I love fall, I find it a melancholy time with the shorter, colder days and all the plants withering away. I want to make it stop and last longer but of course it never does.

Maple leaves blaze crimson red
Gently floating past my head,
Gone is summer’s oppressive heat
Leaves rustle and crunch beneath my feet,
My eyes feast on nature’s glorious show
I know that soon the leaves will go,
It will soon all be over until next year
I must enjoy the show while it’s still here!

I love this song at this time of year with its sad lament and who can resist the smooth voice of Nat King Cole?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If Only You Were Here

This blog post was written for Write Tribe's 100 word challenge with the prompt of "If only you were here."

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

If only you were here, I’d be raising a daughter instead of two sons. It’s still hard to accept that your death 21 years ago was a tragic accident that would never have happened if the doctor had been more careful. But no matter how much grief I’ve suffered, with all its overwhelming emotions of anger and sadness, nothing will bring you back. I try to be grateful for the present and appreciate all of the good things in life. Still, it’s hard not to wonder about what might have been, my sweet daughter Laura.

If only you were here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Some Day Syndrome

Write Tribe

This poem is written for Write Tribe's 100 words on a Saturday prompt of "Truly Alive."

Some day there’ll be time for you and me
Some day we’ll be together, just wait and see,
Some day I’ll work less and take time to rest
Some day I’ll be less grumpy and be at my best,
Some day I’ll  try and enjoy life more
Some day I’ll stop and take time to explore,

Hey, Mr. Some Day, I have something to say
The time to start living is now, not some day,
Have you forgotten life comes with an expiry date?
Start some day now, it’s never too late! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Give Life a Chance

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and  I decided to write a short story with a hopeful message.
It doesn't have to be bleak and hopeless. There are people who care. All you have to do is reach out to others and give life a chance.

From the rooftop of our apartment building, I look at the cars below me, tiny dots of red and white light streaming along in the darkness. The cool autumn wind rustles through my shaggy brown hair and I hear a plane coming in for a landing overhead.

“Aren’t you going to get your hair cut, Josh?” my father asked just last night in complete exasperation. “You look like a bum. How will you ever get a job looking like that?”

I take another swig of the bottle of vodka I stole out of my parents’ liquor cabinet. Usually it makes me numb. It’s not working tonight.

It would be so easy to end it all right now.

“Josh, you’re hopeless. You’re on a one way road to nowhere,” my mother said last week when I announced I had quit school.

She’s right. I am going nowhere. I’m useless. Looking over the edge of the building, nausea overtakes me. It would be so easy and would be over in no time. The world would be so much better off without me.

“Don’t do it,” a soft voice says nearby. “Please don’t.”

“Who said that?”

“It’s me, Fred. I’m the night security guard.”I squint to see a stooped grey-haired man in a blue uniform smiling kindly at me.

“Come to arrest me for trespassing?”

Fred comes touches my shoulder. “What’s your name? Do you want to tell me about it?”

“Why should you care?” I ask. “My name’s Josh.”

“Josh, whatever pain you’re going through, you can tell me.”

“What do you know about it anyhow?” I say.

“Hey, I was young once just like you. I know how overwhelming it can be sometimes,” he says in a kindly way.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be me,” I say, blinking back tears.

“Don’t give up just yet. Give life a chance,” Fred urges. “Things can change in an instant.”

“I don’t want to live anymore,” I sob. “My parents hate me. I’ve made such a mess of my life.”

“Everyone messes up now and then. I’m sure they don’t hate you,” Fred says, patting my arm.

“They do. I know they do,” I say in defiance.

“Please. Can you do me a favour?” Fred says.


“Give life a chance for me. I’m an old guy near the end of my life and your life has just started. I don’t want you to throw that away.”

“Why do you care so much?”

“I care, more than you know. I had a son about your age once.”


“Pete shot himself with a rifle when he was 21 years old,” Fred says, his voice breaking.

“Oh no, that’s awful.”

“He got so depressed after he lost his job and his girlfriend broke up with him.”

“I’m sorry,” I say, not knowing what else to say.

“He was my only son,” Fred says, wiping away a tear.

“That’s really tough.”  I put down the vodka bottle and move away from the barrier.

“You remind me of him,” Fred says. “Say, can I buy you some dinner? Glenda’s Diner is still open. I’d love it if you’d keep an old guy company.”

“Sure, that sounds good.” I say.  Heaviness lifts from my shoulders and I can breathe more easily.  “Thanks, Fred. I'm lucky you were here."

“I’m the lucky one,” Fred says. He puts his arm around my shoulder and guides me towards the elevator.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Seven things I can't live without

Write Tribe

I have enjoyed this week long Festival of Words as it's so challenging and rewarding to write something daily.

I have also enjoyed reading other bloggers' blogs and am especially enjoying learning about the wonders of India through the eyes of all the Indian bloggers who were involved with the challenge. Such fun to learn about your country with its many cultures and incredible diversity.

For the last day of Write Tribe's Festival of Words, I am writing about seven things that I can't live without each day.

It goes without saying that my family, friends and pets are my world and I can’t live without them but for this post, I will focus on daily things that I can’t live without. 

How about you? What daily things can't you live without?

I have to start off with my Keurig and good strong coffee to kickstart my day just right. I love flavoured coffee the best and my favourite lately is Van Houtte’s Raspberry Chocolate. So fragrant and sweet. YUM! Cheers! *Raises cup*

I always check in on Facebook to see what my friends are up to, for daily affirmations, a few laughs and inspiration. It never disappoints though sometimes I do linger there longer than I should. Guess I’m slightly addicted but there are worse addictions, right? Please say yes!

I have always loved email right from the early days in the early 1990s when I would park my son Rory in his baby chair next to my computer and email friends back in the days of long email addresses and dial up. Whoooooooosh, dumpty dum. Who can forget the funny sound of dialup connecting? Ahhh, such nostalgia!

Poor Rory would grow mighty impatient with me and who could blame him as I’d often lose track of time once I got on my email? I'm still bad that way, only now I have Facebook, too. Something so magical about being able to send a message to anyone in the world and have them get it instantly and reply back. I still think it’s amazing and incredible and am so grateful for this technology that connects us this way.

My camera is like another set of eyes for me, seeking out beauty and interesting things all around me to capture for my photo books and scrapbooks that I love to make. My photos are so precious and become even more precious as time passes. Since I can’t take a photo of my camera, here is one of my cloud photos that I took recently and edited in Picasa. I love taking photos of Nature and clouds are ever changing, full of many moods depending on weather and time of day. I love using my cloud photos to create inspirational posters like this one.

What would I do without my laptop? I use it for my writing, my desktop publishing projects and for my photos, inspirational posters and creating photo books. I keep in touch with my friends on it. It is like my lifeline. When it isn’t working, I feel like an arm has been cut off. Here is a photo of my laptop with my sweet new kitty, Kobie draped across it. He seems to like my laptop almost as much as I do.

I have to have a small bit of chocolate each day as my special treat. I’ve been going to Weight Watchers forever to get my sweets emotional eating under control as that really is the source of my extra weight. I’ve learned that I only need a small amount of chocolate to be satisfied and it’s more special that way, too. A little can go a long way. Gone are the days of downing a big bag of chocolate covered almonds. For now, a small chunk of dark chocolate will do nicely.

I’ve loved tea ever since my grandmother used to come and stay with us when I was a teen. She was always brewing tea and would leave it simmering on the stove, adding teabag after teabag. Some of my fondest memories are of watching soap operas with her while enjoying a cuppa and a piece of her home-made bonnach, a Scottish type soda bread. 

To me, tea means relaxation, reading a book and taking time for me as opposed to coffee which revs me up for the day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Seven Pinecones

Write Tribe
I meant to post this yesterday but was out and about til later in the evening so it never happened. And you bloggers in India are already ahead enough of me by 10 hours so I thought I'd keep it for today's post. Bad me missing a day. Sigh. I guess it happens.

This is for the Write Tribe's Festival of Words from September 1-7th celebrating the number seven!

Seven pine cones so fragrant and fine
Waiting for me to make them mine,
Soon they will become a Christmas treasure
Giving me hours of crafting pleasure,

First I buy spray paint in metallic tones
I get more paint on me than on the cones,
Gooey glue drips everywhere
On my dress and in my hair,

And I won't even mention about the glitter
I don't want it broadcast on Facebook and Twitter,
I am all thumbs, I must confess
The pine cones are sticking to my dress,

I look so festive, don't you agree?
I could replace the Christmas tree,
That's enough with my silly crafting dream
If I see another pine cone, I'm going to scream!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Seven days of laughter

I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day! Today is Day 4.

Today I'm playing with a collage using the gestalt theory based on the the brain's ability to view separate pieces as a whole. Or maybe I'm having an Art Attack! Does anyone remember that art show from the 1990's? I used to love that show and Neil was cute, too!

It's also Wordless Wednesday for many bloggers today, but I couldn't resist throwing a corny quote in there as well.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My 7 favourite birds in North America

I am participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words from September 1 - 7. The theme for this festival is "7" and this post is about my seven favourite North American birds. What are your favourite birds?

Where I live in rural Ontario, Canada, we are lucky to see a variety of birds all year around. 

Here are seven of my favourites.

My most favourite bird is the cardinal. His happy chirp brightens the dullest day and I love seeing his bright red plumage against the monotone background of winter.  I love that he stays around all year and I put out sunflower seeds to attract him to the feeder. Here is a photo I took of him. His wife is sweet, too, and comes on the bedroom window sill to say hello to me.

(from morguefile)

I adore the mourning doves with their sad cooing sound. They are such sweet gentle birds. I remember how devastated I was when my cat killed one right in front of me and I couldn’t do a thing. 

(from morguefile)

Blue jays are another bird who stay around in winter. They are fun birds, so colourful with their blue, black and white markings. I love their cheeky, brash ways and their sharp, shrill cry. They enjoy stealing food out of our husky's food dish which is fun to watch.

(from morguefile)

I love the tiny chickadee and their happy little cry of chickadee, chickadee. I admire that such a tiny bird can survive the intense cold of a Canadian winter.

Nothing says spring more than the arrival of the robin coming back in April from the warmer southern States where they spend the winter. Last year, a robin made a nest in this tree and we watched the baby birds hatch and grow into adults. Here is a photo I took of the babies.

This is another bird that migrates south for the winter. I love the cheerful whirring chirp of a red winged blackbird. You can see this bird on the back roads sitting on fence posts next to the cornfields and meadows or up on an overhead wire. This bird always looks like he's enjoying life and living in the moment which reminds me to do the same.

As you can see, I didn’t include crows or grackles in my favourite birds list. Although I admire their survivor instincts and ability to scavenge, they are not nice birds, especially gluttonous grackles who like to raid my feeder and terrorize all the other birds.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Seven things I remember from my childhood

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 
from September 1 - 7. 

Today I'm revelling in nostalgia and thinking back to my childhood during the 1960's and 70's. 

Do you remember any of these or are you too young?

I loved my portable record player and spent many an angst-filled moment listening to records in my bedroom, both 33s and 45s when I was a teen in the 1970s. I’m glad to see record players are making a comeback again. I used to love my records.

I’m glad these aren’t making a comeback. They were a trend that didn’t last too long, thankfully as they were quite hazardous and sometimes would break and shards would fly in peoples’ eyes. I recall having a pair of clackers and I still wince thinking about my poor swollen wrist covered in bruises.

I learned to type on something similar to this one, a rather imposing and unforgiving machine. You had to pound so much harder than a computer and use the return lever. Tching! Many a time I’d make a mistake and I’d have to start again. Computers are so much better!

In the days before photocopying, schools had these machines to run off copies which were usually purple ink and very faded. I will never forget that stinky ink smell they had when they were just printed.

I remember these in the classroom when I was in elementary school. They would come with a record that the teacher would put on for the sound part. I always remember the cheery sound of the bell signalling that the film strip should be advanced to the next frame. Ding!

We used to love crowding around our black and white TV to watch shows like Star Trek and Bewitched in the 1960s. TV shows were so good back then even if they were in black and white and the reception not always that clear. We often had to get up to adjust the rabbit ears aerial and we would have to get up to change the channel. No such thing as a remote back then.

I used to love going to drive in theatres with my family when I was a kid. My parents would pack my brother and me in the back with treats and sleeping bags. Often we would fall asleep during the movie but it was still fun and would save my parents having to get a babysitter. 

There are still a few drive in theatres around but not near me, unfortunately. I miss them.