The Place You Were Formed

It is the same for almost everyone, I’d bet.  When you have moved away from the place where you grew up (my sister jokes she has always lived in the same postal code) and you return home, it’s a wonderful experience.  I blogged about a trip home to the province of Saskatchewan last year.  Another trip this year was to attend the reunion of my College of Pharmacy class and then some driving around the province to see family and friends.  All those loved ones.   It was a big number, this reunion.  We are, as far as we know, the only class from the College of Pharmacy in its 100 year history who has held a reunion every 5 years since graduation.  

The campus of the University of Saskatchewan is a beautiful place and it doesn’t get any better than being there on a warm September afternoon.  

The Thorvaldson Building
The Thorvaldson Building
Inner passage in the new health building
Inner passage in the new health building
The Bowl
The Bowl
View from a boat cruise on the mighty Saskatchewan
View from our boat cruise on the South Saskatchewan river

The boat cruise made me think of a song by the Arrogant Worms “The Pirates of Saskatchewan”.  

Harvest was in full swing when I was ‘home’.  It’s a bumper crop this year, some say the crop of a lifetime.  My 91-year-old Uncle Albert called it “two crops in one”.  For my part I loved to see the combines on the land, the hauling machinery and the size of those machines.  Much different from the 60’s and 70’s when I operated the machinery on our farm in Saskatchewan.  Many of the pieces of machinery now cost the same as a very comfortable single family dwelling.  How in the world do they make a living with such costs?

I loved that trip home to Saskatchewan, where the skies are bigger than anywhere else, the place where I was formed.  

Don’t Cry Because It Is Over, Smile Because It Happened

One of our dearest friends has died

He faced a relentless disease with optimism, courage and grace

 In the face of a reality that could have been consumed by despair

He rose above, giving and receiving love and support

 The disease was transparent as it never obscured

The heart and strength of this man, who lived life to the fullest

From Taoism comes a teaching of the balance of life that holds

Every life is filled with ten thousands joys and ten thousand sorrows

I choose to interpret the teaching as joys abound

And can be found in everyday life, like the small things

That culminate in a friendship that withstands all

It cannot be replaced and will for all time in memory stand

While sorrows are few, as singles, they count in hundred fold

We think of what he would want us to think and it would be

 Do not cry because it is over.  Smile because it happened

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Checking Out a Human Book

My friend and I made a trip to the Ottawa Public Library recently.  We wanted to take part in the Human Library Project.  This is from the Human Library website: “The Human Library is an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding. The main characteristics of the project are to be found in its simplicity and positive approach.”

This year the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio worked with the Human Library.Org to host Human Library Days in 15 cities across Canada.  My friend and I  drove a fair distance to check out specific “books” based on our interest.   You can’t reserve a book before you get there and you can only check out one book at a time and then you must go back to registration to see if there are other times available with other books.  The system is designed on a first come, first served basis and to allow more people a chance to check out a book.  There are some “rules” for the discussion with your book as well.  

My Human Book was Theresa Dupuis. She gave me permission to write about our discussion.  She was listed under: blind octogenarian.  Here’s a bit of the discussion with her beforehand.  http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Ottawa/Audio/ID/2327013464/

The time we had together (20 minutes) flew by.  I asked her where she got her zest for life.  She talked about the difficult things that have happened in her lifetime (including losing her sight) and her determination to move on.  She didn’t gloss over the hurt or sense of loss but she talked about the need to work with the cards you are dealt.  Theresa talked about her family and her upbringing as one likely source of her resolve.  She was a delight.  

Theresa brought some of the technology she uses in everyday life.  A book reader (she belongs to a book club) and a talking calculator.  She brought the trophy she received as Skier of the Year, this after she lost her sight.  And finally a sculpture of a mother and child that she proudly had on display.  

I asked Theresa how she learned of the various supports and assistances that are available to people who are sight impaired.  She said she did the research on her own.  Theresa used to work for a Member of Parliament in the Government of Canada and was well versed in how to find out how things worked.  She brought those skills to bear in dealing with her blindness.  

Looking back, I think she was filed under the wrong category.  Theresa should have been listed under “vibrant woman who lives without the sense of sight”.   I learned a great deal in the short time we had together.   I usually never check out a book more than once.  My view is there are so many books in the world, why spend time reading any one of them more than once.  When it comes to Human Books though, it’s time for me to change my tune.

From time to time we meet people who have a very special zest for life.   You watch them and wonder what it is that makes them tick.  Have you met someone like that? What was it that drew you to them?

A Mind at Work-Blogging or Dreaming

While “modern” man knows more about the human mind than was ever known in the past (at least we’d like to believe we do), we really know very little.  How do things really work upstairs anyway?  I’d like to know where the storage facility is and how to go about purging information that’s no longer needed so there’s room for more pertinent, up to date information.  Although if you could really do that then I wouldn’t have remembered Eli Sopow’s name.  The fun thing about that ‘true story’ is that Dr. Sopow contacted me after the blog!  This proves the theory that you never know when you might need something.  This thought is particularly relevant right now as I am moving through the house with renewed purpose to reduce, re-use and recycle.   I am a woman on a mission.  But I digress.  

Blogs where do the ideas come from? I fancy myself a bit of a conceptual thinker, taking concepts or events from one context and seeing if they are relevant in other circumstances.  This blog post is a case in point.   I try to make sense of things by connecting them to other things I already know-a compare and contrast effort.  It’s not for everyone but it is, as the young folk say “the way I roll”.

Dreams, where do the ideas come from?  I had a dream recently that made me think my mind treats dreams as it treats blogs.  My subconscious puts two things together and says, hey that would be a good dream.  And here it is:

A few weeks ago my friend Al posted some pictures of his younger days. He was playing a guitar.   I didn’t realize he had a musical background (and can’t find that picture now-speaking of filing things-Al, maybe you can send it along).  Around the same time there was an article in the paper about Canadian singer Jane Siberry.  Jane now plays only in small venues or people’s homes.  And my dream?  I was in someone’s house and Al was singing and playing his guitar.  He gave a very good performance and when the evening drew to a close he passed around an envelope.  I put in $30.  Good concert, Al.  Interesting dream, there, mind of mine.

Do you find your mind strings together different things to put into a dream?  Got an example you can share?

There Is A Truth About This Blog

One of my friends uses the phrase “there is a truth” to preface some of his remarks.  It’s an unusual phrase.  I imagine the idea is to add credibility to what comes next.  It’s never been clear to me if it’s a “truth” known world-wide or just in his mind. 

Here’s my go then, at ‘there is a truth’, about this blog (the year-end stats WordPress provides follows below if you are at all interested).  I will try to be as objective as I can about the whole thing.

  1. 55 posts in 2012-not exactly a house on fire.  The first year was only 8 months and there were 53 posts in that time.  I seem to be flagging.  Question: if you read this blog routinely, is its regularity (or lack thereof) an issue for you?  People who blog daily must be very organized or full of ideas and it seems I am neither.
  2. 5800 views in 2012-not exactly viral.  Now, my husband once teased that most of those views are mine but I know someone else is reading the blog because I hear from you and I thank you.  Question: what is your taste in blogs?  Is it certain topics or bloggers, controversy, photos, hobbies?
  3. The quest to eat my way through the counter at Simply Biscotti (the reason for this blog at the onset) is moving at a slow pace.  Not because it isn’t enjoyable, it’s just there have been many other things to keep my days occupied.  Question: if you live in Ottawa, have you visited Simply Biscotti?  I’ve visited the bistro with a number of friends-from in town and out-of-town and I’ve had some great visits with Rosa, the owner as a result of this blog.  That’s a plus and a good reason to keep up the quest.  
  4. The most views of the blog in 2012 was about my friend Ella.  The title was Ella’s Tree. 
  5. Randy Bachman brings more people to my blog site than any other search.  Now, there’s some humour in that, isn’t there?  People are interested in Mr. Bachman’s marital status.  I noticed hits on the topic shortly after I did a blog about seeing him at a book launch.  And people keep asking the question about whether he is separated.  There’s no search on our garden bounty this year or many other topics that have struck me as blog worthy but lots of queries about a rock legend.  Question: Should I start writing about public figures and not expound on the value of horse manure in taking little things and growing them into big things.  Oh, wait, they may be the same thing!

And so to those of you who are good enough to read this blog regularly or sporadically, thank you.  I always appreciate feedback, whether a comment on the blog or by email.  Any comments or suggestions you have for me are most welcome.

I wish you all the best in 2013.  

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Remembrance Day 2012-Thank You Dad

Our father, Bill Allen, served in the army in World War II.  He initially trained others to drive tanks here on Canadian soil and then he served overseas-Northern Africa and Italy.  He service ended before the end of the war due to serious illness.  He contracted rheumatic fever and was sent home.

He was a man of solid character, our Dad.  A bit of a rascal some would say.  Well perhaps many would say that and we (three daughters) enjoyed his sense of adventure, wit and humour.  He was full of mischief.  His service in the war was never a big topic of conversation or perhaps I just wasn’t listening.  If it was the latter, that is a shame for Dad never lived long enough for me to be wise enough to ask him more.  He died at the relatively young age of 61 in 1979.  I can only imagine the experience, the impact and the horrors of war that our Dad experienced.

Men and women who served and returned must hope and trust their work and sacrifice makes the world a better place.  This was brought home to me in a very real way when in the 1970’s I was held up at gun point while working in a pharmacy in Regina, Saskatchewan.  I was not harmed.  Shaken, but not harmed.  When I called my Dad to tell him what had happened, he said “I never served in the war so that some ba@#$rd could hold a gun to my daughter’s head!”.  And I thought how he and others might have held hope the world would be rid of all evil as a result of their efforts.

If Dad were alive today, I’d travel to wherever he lived from wherever I lived.  I’d accompany him to a Remembrance Day Ceremony.  And I would tell him the world is a better place because of his service.

Thank you Dad.