Monday, September 29, 2014

Stories Without Words

I listen to “Histoires Sans Paroles” (Stories Without Words) by the Quebecois group Harmonium and I am instantly a young woman in my twenties, back in the 1980s in Montreal.

I am walking in the freezing cold. I don’t know why I remember the winters more vividly than the summers. Maybe they were harder to endure and I have more memories about them. Montreal had incredibly cold and snowy winters with wind funneling around the tall buildings ready to pounce on you when you least expected it.

As I listen to the music, time melts away and I can see myself trudging uphill to my Stanley Street basement apartment just above Sherbrooke Street. My apartment is in a glorious old brownstone house and used to be the servants’ quarters long ago in the days when the horse drawn carriages passed by. It’s dark and dingy and smells mildewy, but it’s home.  Ornate wrought iron bars cover the tiny window, the only source of light, except for a small basement window in the kitchen.

Upstairs lives Madame Bouvier, a funny toothless lady from France who can’t speak any English. It’s great for me to have someone to speak French with as it’s my goal to become bilingual. So often people instantly change to English when they hear my accent. I can’t help but take it personally as if my French isn’t good enough, but they are just trying to make it easier for me.

My bratty Abyssinian black and white cat Sabre ricochets off the walls when I come in. He doesn’t care for small apartment living and is extremely rambunctious, keeping me up at night and being a total pain in the butt. Out of sheer frustration, I finally let him outside and he climbs the tree, jumps on the roof and wanders down Stanley Street. It’s amazing he doesn’t get flattened by the steady stream of traffic.

Madame Bouvier’s cry of “Catee, le chat! Catee, le chat!” (Cathy, the cat!) is a common sound that blends in with the city sounds of honking horns, squealing sirens and the constant din of cars going by.

I love the way this piece of music starts with the gentle sound of the waves and then the flute solo comes in. I used to like playing flute along with the recording.

There is something very dreamy and repetitive about this music which reminds me of time passing and seasons changing. It makes me think of transitions and that feeling of timelessness when time slows down and doesn’t seem to be moving forward, even when it is.

Maybe the music reflects how I felt at the time with my transition from student to working person with its constant stops and starts as I struggled to find my way in the world.

It wasn’t an easy time making the transition to adulthood, but it was a time of great growth and self discovery and Harmonium’s “Histoire Sans Paroles” was a big part of that time. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Deciduous Daydreams

Scarlet, yellow and orange leaves,
Brash, blazing and brilliant against a blue sky,
Showing off in front of the evergreens.

A gust of wind and the leaves flutter to the ground,
The tree branches shiver, embarrassed in their nakedness,
Longing for snow to cover them.

The evergreens just laugh.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Happy Surprise

Don’t you love a happy surprise that happens when you least expect it? That’s what happened to me yesterday when I took the photo of this great blue heron basking in the sun with the ducks.

For one thing, I was in the city near a shopping centre and busy roads. Usually when I come to this pond there are only ducks there. 

I never expected to see even one heron and I saw two, the great blue heron 

and a green heron.

I got home and downloaded the photos from my camera to the computer. Imagine my surprise when I looked more carefully at the photo and noticed a turtle basking right next to the blue heron.

When I was taking the photo, my focus had been on the blue heron and I hadn't even seen that turtle. I was delighted!

How many times have you had expectations about an experience and it turned out completely differently, but in a good way? You run into someone you lost touch with and have a wonderful visit. You lose out on a job but then something better comes up. 

When a happy surprise occurs, I embrace and celebrate it, seeing it as something quite magical and mysterious. I’m so happy to have this photo to relive that special moment again and again. What a lovely day it was! It was the kind of autumn day when the sunshine was so warm and welcoming that all these wild creatures came together so peacefully to sunbathe at the pond. They didn't seem afraid of each other at all and were quite relaxed. If only people could be that relaxed with each other.

Have you had an experience where you had a happy surprise and it turned out even better than you anticipated? I’d love to hear about it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ten Years Later...

I can tell Kobie likes this post. Thanks, Kobe. I need all the help I can get!

Ten years ago today I got laid off my full time desktop publishing job at the Auditor General. I was quite upset at the time as I'd thought I was set there until retirement in 2019 but I was laid off a day before they would have had to make me permanent.

I was afraid of what the future held. How would we manage? I worried about getting another job. It was a time of fear, self-doubt and self-discovery. 

Luckily the fear and self-doubt have subsided somewhat, but the self discovery continues and is an ever evolving and exciting process.

I decided to take some time to do creative pursuits, spend more quality time with family and give back to the community. 

Ten years later, I am still doing this and having a wonderful time.

Of course I had to write a poem about it as that's how I express myself best. 

Narcissistic Cat strikes again! ;)

I got laid off ten years ago today
I can’t help reflecting on this special day,
I have done a lot in the past ten years
Trying new things and fighting my fears,

After the layoff I floundered about
Full of fear and lots of self doubt,
I fought the guilt and found joy instead
Choosing gratitude over dread,

I helped with drama and helped kids read
I drove kids to sports when there was a need,
I published some stories and even a play
I still try to blog something new every day,

I joined a choir and a band
To lose myself in Music land,
Music is such a wonderful thing
The way it spreads joy and makes my soul sing,

I got to meet some Internet pals
All of them are wonderful gals,
I had my eyes lasered and lost some weight
I can honestly say I’m feeling great,

Ten years of my life are gone for good
I’d do it all over again if I could,
To my family members and my peers,
Thanks for all the support these past ten years!

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's all about ME, ME, ME!

It’s all about ME, ME, ME!
Come to Facebook and you’ll see,
Loads of photos in all their glory
Some of them look pretty gory (Such as this selfie below!)

I love to share my every thought
From what I ate to what I bought,
To how I feel and what I think
It’s driving all my friends to drink

My cats are the cutest, don’t you agree?
Especially my famous cat, KoBEE,
He is the most adorable cat ever
Everything he does is cute and clever,

I love to post statuses, day and night
Giving Mark Zuckerberg such a fright,
I post any time and in any place
Eating up Facebook’s data space,

I like to Facebook til I drop
Mark keeps pleading for me to stop,
I can’t stop Facebooking, can’t you see?

My Facebook is all about me, me, me!

I am writing this post for Write Tribe's Wednesday prompt of I, Me and Myself.

Special thanks to Shilpa Garg whose post about narcissistic types on the Internet inspired this crazy poem. 

Loved your post, Shilpa. Check it out, everyone! It's great!

Much appreciated, Shilpa!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Higgledy Piggledy

Higgledy Piggledy is such a great word
It bounces off the tongue and sounds absurd,
In a jumbled, confused, or disorderly way
Sounds like how I spend my day,

Dust bunnies dance and have a ball
Doing handstands down the hall,
Clutter builds up by the door
Covering every inch of floor,

Dirty dishes and laundry fight for space
You’d think that they were in a race,
Around here Higgledy Piggledy rules supreme
Look at me, I’m livin' the dream!

Monday, September 15, 2014


If only I was ______ enough
(pretty, slim, rich, successful, clever etc)
Life wouldn’t be so tough

Do you compare yourself and then feel shame?
It’s time to stop this destructive game,
Stop with the comparison trap
It’s a guaranteed way to feel like crap,

No one is perfect, it’s all an illusion
Stop torturing yourself with such delusion,
You’re good enough and better in fact
Now quit with the comparison act.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Writer's Block

I am writing this post for "100 words on a Saturday's" prompt of using a quote from the list of writing quotes. I chose the quote below.

The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.

Myrna washed the windows until they shone. She scrubbed the kitchen and the bathroom. Then she vacuumed the rugs. A fresh scent of lemon filled the air as she dusted the furniture.

There was a knock on the door and her writer friend, Gloria stood in the doorway holding a basket containing a notebook, a thermos, two mugs and some fresh carrot muffins.

“I thought you could probably use a break,” Gloria said.

“That’s so nice of you, Gloria.”

“Having trouble with the novel?”

“Yes. How did you know that?”

“Your house is so clean,” Gloria said with a grin.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Atta Boy, Tanner!

Yesterday the day started with a loud honk of a car horn in our driveway, followed by a frantic knock on the door. I looked out to see the angry face of my neighbour glaring at me.

“Your dog is in our garbage. My husband can’t park his school bus,” she stated in an accusing way as if I’d led him over there deliberately.

I apologized and ran across the road to retrieve Tanner. There he was munching away on rotten leftovers in tin foil, blissfully unaware that he was causing the neighbour to have a conniption fit.

I yanked the stinky rotten food out of his mouth and carried it in one hand while I led him back by the collar to our house.  YUCK! How could he eat that stuff anyhow? What a strong stomach! Amazingly he didn't get sick. What a dog!

Our red Siberian husky, Tanner is almost 17 and has aged a lot lately. He sleeps a lot and we can't take him on long walks any more since his back hips are arthritic making it difficult to walk. He has cataracts and doesn’t see that well.

I’d come to think of him as being old, frail and helpless. This incident has proved otherwise. Seeing Tanner being a bratty imp, still full of devilishness, despite the ravages of aging has reminded me not to be judgmental based on appearance.

How often do we put limitations on a person (or an animal!) and judge them just by how they look? 

Don’t ever underestimate others’ potential by their appearance whether they’re old, poor, overweight, disabled, a different skin colour, small or whatever the difference may be.

I love this photo of Tanner from Winter 2013. Huskies look so good in winter time. It really is their setting. He looks a bit more aged now but is still a beautiful dog. 

I know his time is growing short but he inspires me how he is content in his life, enjoying a good nap and some food. And he still has a spark of the devil in him which keeps us on our toes.

Even an old dog like Tanner is still full of tricks and should not be underestimated just by how he looks. He sure proved that to us yesterday. Atta Boy, Tanner!

Friday, September 12, 2014

From 15 to 50

 Linking this to the Fiction Challenge ‘From 15 to 50′

with the following prompts: 

Word prompt: Perspective
Phrase Prompt: ‘Three in a row’
Picture Prompt: (Copyright Shailaja Vishwanath at The Moving Quill)

(50 words exactly! Phew!)

The pots stand three in a row, largest to smallest, in perspective.

“I get the biggest,” Oldest sister, Nora says.

Middle sister, Carol takes the second largest.

Youngest sister, Mary, gets the smallest.

Her bean plant thrives while ours die.

“Bigger isn’t always better,” she says with a smug smile.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You Matter

Several years back, some friends from our church suffered a terrible blow when their adult son shot himself dead one winter night. How incredibly sad that this man had reached such a low point that he saw no way out other than taking his own life.

While I can’t even begin to comprehend the deep despair a suicidal person must feel, it's clear that people have become more disconnected and isolated from each other.

In the frantic pace of today’s world, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and feel that no one cares. Families are fragmented and communities are not as close and supportive as they once were.

Is there anything that we as individuals can do, even in a small way to connect with others and assure them that they are valuable?

A movement started at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work called “You Matter” is doing just that.

By acknowledging someone, showing appreciation or even doing a random act of kindness towards a stranger, you may change someone’s life more than you know.

Here are 60 ways to show a person that they do matter.  

We all are important and every life is significant and of value. 

We are all connected.

I am participating at Write Tribe’s special blogging challenge today as part of Suicide Prevention Awareness Day.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Throughout my life I’ve had moments of great weakness where I gave up too soon after a failure or I accepted someone else’s negative definition of me as the truth. I’m not proud of those moments but will admit to them and hope that I’ve learned and grown since then.

I'd like to share my wisdom of age and experience with young people like my sons in the hopes that they will discover their inner resilience earlier than I did. I think my inner strength or resilience was there all along but often I didn't trust it enough to tap into it.

Just like a piece of sandstone that has undergone intense pressure and heat to become a hard igneous rock, I would like to think I’m stronger now after a lifetime of hurts and disappointments.

Of course I’m far from perfect and still go through my weak moments but hopefully I’m more resilient now than when I was younger. I still get hurt but am able to weather it better than when I was younger and more inexperienced, convinced the world was ending if I failed or someone was mean to me. Now I know I will get through it and that I’m a good person with lots to offer, worthy of self love and respect.

To me Reslience is:
  • Believing in yourself during difficult times.
  • Trusting your inner wisdom to guide you.
  • Not being swayed or manipulated by others’ opinions and not taking what they say so personally. Their opinion of you is not a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of them.
  • Realizing you aren’t perfect and will fail sometimes. Everyone has failures, even those who give the illusion of perfection.
  • Picking yourself up after failure and starting again, smarter and stronger this time.
  • Realizing that failure and disappointment are tough to go through but they also makes you grow and that makes you that much more resilient.
I am taking part in the Write Tribe Blogging Challenge to be a problogger, blogging daily.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gratitude List for September 7

I am participating in Laurel Reagan’s weekly Gratitude Link up. 

I do think these gratitude lists are the best thing for getting our mindset in the right place. When you think in a spirit of gratitude, there is no space for self pity, negativity, envy, jealousy, guilt, and self doubt. It’s not to say that those bad emotions never come back for a visit, but it’s easier to keep them at bay by thinking with gratitude.

I am grateful that...
  • We got through our first week of September with new school schedules and routines.
  • When I went back to Weight Watchers, my vacation didn’t make me gain too much weight.
  • I am grateful that the humidity has gone and we are finally having some of those cool golden days of fall that I love so much. Today the boys and I took the nicest bike ride on the back roads and then a lovely walk with Loup, our Malamute in the woods.

  • Choir started up again last Tuesday and I’m starting my 11th season which I can’t believe. I love choir so much. Also the concert band found a new director so that will be starting up soon and that makes me very happy as I wasn’t going to join if there wasn’t one.
  • Sharon and I have some musical gigs coming up this fall for our group Tartan and Tea which I’m looking forward to doing.
  • Being able to do all my musical endeavours make me very grateful. Music is such a wonderful gift to share with others and something you can enjoy your whole life unlike some sports and other activities.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Beauty is Everywhere

This quote by Kafka reminds me to look for beauty every day.
It all starts in the mind anyhow. You’re seeing the world through your own special filter of reality and no one else sees it quite the same way.

Since I am an avid photographer, I have my senses finely attuned to look for the beauty all around me. It’s there if we look hard enough.

Beauty is a mourning dove

Beauty is a discarded glove,

Beauty is the sunset on a lake

Beauty is a delicious cake,

Beauty is a bratty cat

Beauty is a rubber mat,

Beauty makes every day a special surprise

All you have to do is open your eyes.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Two Cents' Worth

I am writing this post as part of Write Tribe's "Two Cents' Worth" prompt for Wednesday. My apologies for being a day late, but better late than never, right?

Hey Big Spender, listen to me, please
Do you think that money grows on trees?
You spend, spend, spend with no end in sight
Your credit card bills are an awful fright!

And do you really need to buy all this stuff?
Don’t you already have enough?
Bet your bottom dollar that soon you’ll see
Buying things doesn’t set you free,

The fact is things just take up more space
They make you trip and fall on your face,
This is my two cents' worth or more like a dime
Hope you’ll actually listen to me this time!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Song

This is a photo from last fall. 
The leaves haven't started changing yet 
but it won't be long til they look like this.

Finally we’re getting some warmer temperatures today after a very cool summer here in Ontario. Hard to imagine that fall is on its way. Today kids started school again and all the clubs and groups will be starting their sessions. September feels more like the start of a new year than January. It’s a busy and exciting time, full of new beginnings and possibilities. And yet, on the other hand, fall signifies the ending of summer with plants dying, leaves falling from the trees, and winter approaching.

When I think of music associated with fall, “September Song” is the first song that comes to mind. I’ve always found “September Song" so melancholy and bittersweet. I especially like this version done by Frank Sinatra as he always fills his songs with so much emotion.

It starts off talking about a young man enjoying his youth as he chases the girls but how quickly it passes and he is in the September of his life.

On one level, September Song reminds me that summer is drawing to a close and fall is beckoning with cooler weather and the changing colour of the leaves. Soon the trees will be bare and grey as the Canadian winter lurks in the shadows, waiting to pounce. We have to enjoy these long, warm days while we can.

September Song is especially poignant on another level as it reminds me of time passing and how I’m getting older and have less time in front of me than behind me. Seeing our parents aging is also tough.

The main thing is to make the most of each day as we don’t know how many days are left and they become more and more precious as time passes. Share them with the special people in your life and live them with joy.

“Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I'll spend with you
These precious days I'll spend with you.”