Night skies and fortunate eyes

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I am spoiled.  I live in the most beautiful part of Ontario that offers an abundance of stunning scenery, unending lakes and breathtaking landscapes.  There are moments that I’m sure I take it for granted but most of the time I remind myself how fortunate I am to be living in such a paradise.

starry night

And with all of the beauty that presents itself during the daylight hours, the sun pulls up the blanket of the horizon and the night-time emerges to share its splendor. The nocturnal winter creatures echo their cries into the vast blackness and the stars tentatively begin to dot the evening sky in their familiar patterns.

The spectral portrait of twinkling lights is awe-inspiring and, if the skies are clear, it is something we are lucky enough to see every night. I forget that city dwellers are not as blessed because their sight lines are lost in a jungle of concrete, street lamps and high rises.

Looking back a few years I was fortunate enough to be in Toronto in August of 2003 when the lights went off across the Eastern Seaboard.  Yes I said fortunate and I was in many ways.  I was staying with friends at Yonge and Sheppard and was to meet more friends for dinner at Yonge and Eglinton.  I was supposed to take the subway but was short on time and took a cab instead.  It escaped my attention through the first few intersections that the street lights were extinguished and, as we sailed through block after block, we began to assimilate to the slowing of traffic and the lack of store lights.  The city was getting dark. Had I been taking the subway I would have been trapped in a blackened metal tomb as opposed to looking in wonder at a bustling city slowing to a crawl in almost complete darkness.

The barbeque dinner was fun and certainly memorable but the most remarkable part of the night was the masses of people on the sidewalks staring up at the night sky after the sun had set.  The stars that I see on a regular basis were seen by so many eyes for what seemed like the first time.  They stood in complete reverence and the sound of silence descended on a city known for its bedlam and pandemonium.  The constellations brought peace to a city of calamity.

Strangers on the street that may have passed each other numerous times without a second glance were now sharing a small piece of the sidewalk, but not only that, they were sharing a small piece of heaven.  Those stars, no matter which province, which country or which hemisphere we are in, connect us.

That Eastern Seaboard blackout was a moment of serendipity – a fortunate accident that allowed many to gaze upon the panorama of stars that would otherwise be oblivious to them. It seemed to bring a sense of peace and fellowship to a city so bent on individuality and alienation.  I didn’t know that in that moment under the same starry sky that I sometimes take for granted that I could appreciate my life that much more. Since that fortuitous experience I make it a point to look at those stars as often as I can.

On the nights that we are fortunate to have a clear sky, I always take a moment to stand in the darkness, regardless of the temperature, and wish with childlike abandon that I will see a shooting star. Carpe noctem – seize the night, seize all of the wonder it has to offer and make sure to wish on that falling star.

What would your wish be?

 

Me, myself and I

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“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

~~~

It is a terrible thing to have to admit I still have the winter blahs in April.  The ground is still laden with mud-speckled snow, the mercury is still dipping below zero at night and, although the sun is trying to warm the earth, winter still has its death grip on spring.

Perhaps the overwhelming winter weather and extended season has been the cause for my hermit-like habits over the last five months.  Or perhaps with each calendar year that passes I am less excited about dressing in less than comfortable clothing and venturing out to brave the elements.  Regardless of the reason, the majority of my evenings are spent at home enjoying my own company.  Callaway is always there with me, but her conversation skills are still somewhat lacking.

hermit

(image credit: alpinequest.com)

I am a big fan of spending time at home.  I have no trouble passing the endless hours of those cold winter nights because I am comfortable enough in my own skin to enjoy the time alone.  My neighbors are close enough if I ever need help, but at enough of a distance that my sanctuary can still remain tranquil and remote.

In the summer, when the resort is in full swing and there are over 100 people on the property at any given time, it is comforting to know that I will find that same solace within my four walls or ensconced in my gazebo when I go home.  The many leaves that grow create a canopy of shelter so I feel even more hidden than before.  It is true bliss.

Spending that time alone helps me refuel and prepare for the barrage of stimulation I encounter when I leave the sanctity of my shelter.  Sometimes solitude, for me, can be the best companion.

How do you feel about spending time alone?

 

 

 

Last Trifecta

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A chorus of silent voices,

joining in harmony around the globe.

Embracing passion,

creating relationships,

making friends.

We placed a bet on the Trifecta,

wagered everything we had.

We all came in first.

trifecta

~~

(image credit: trifectawritingchallenge.com)

Written for the last ever Trifecta challenge – 33 words of our own choosing.  It saddens me that the doors to the Trifecta lounge will be closing but I am thankful for the friends I have made in that lounge.  Thank you to the creators of Trifecta for giving us the opportunity to hone our skills and choose our words wisely.  And thank you for creating a community that will live on in our newly developed friendships.

Is there a right way to write?

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When I began to really delve into writing poetry and short stories I was more comfortable writing in long hand.  It freed my mind to truly compose the ideas, the rhymes and the drama, and felt much more like a natural flow from brain to hand to ink to paper.  The archaic version of computers we had at that point did not lend much ease in the writing experience since it was a behemoth that was no more moveable than my car.

In the bygone days of my youth (I make myself sound 100 years old), when I began to read voraciously, I would always have a pen and paper handy to write down any words I found challenging and words that I was excited to use in my writing.  It went on for pages.  I still have those pages and, although they are now collecting dust in a storage bin, they still remind me of my hunger for words.  My hunger now is much more easily satiated.  With the ease of Google, on-line dictionaries and thesauruses I no longer have to put the word to paper and look it up in a bound, hard-cover dictionary.  I even have a dictionary in my Kindle should the need arise to define a foreign word.

Nowadays, I’m sure a chimpanzee would have much more success with that foreign writing object we call a pen.  I used to have beautiful handwriting and now the things that come out of the pen slightly resemble a modified version of shorthand.  (It would be far more beneficial for me if it were shorthand since I currently have no clue what I’ve written!)

shorthand

(photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)

With the ease of the digital age I use a voice recorder if I am overcome with inspiration.  Random thoughts that used to be scribbled on scraps of paper are now stored in my phone for easy access.  My calendar is on my iPhone and so is my shopping list.  Even with my creative stream, that long steady flow of blue ink has been replaced by the gentle tapping of the keyboard on my laptop.  I have finally been able to train my mind to tune out the incessant clicking and it no longer derails my train of thought.

What do you do?  Do you still give the ink a chance or are you a slave to your keyboard?

Feeling that warm Canadian glow

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canada

Our love for our country runs deep.  We, as a nation, bleed red and white and this morning I felt the vibration of a country celebrating in unity as the Canadian Men’s Hockey team took Olympic Gold.  The West coast rose at 3:30 am (or stayed up) to watch the puck drop at 4:00 am PST and the wave of Canadian spirit undulated across the nation.

During these winter games we battled and we fell.  We picked ourselves up and congratulated those who bested us.  We honored those who carved the way for new Olympic challenges.  We watched the families and friends of our Olympians cheer on our Canadian athletes in Sochi while we cheered from home.

We did not just celebrate our victories.  We celebrated our efforts in every sport and paid tribute to those willing to represent the best our country has to offer.  We felt the pain of those who came up short of their goals but we also felt their Canadian pride in their attempt to be the best.

We battled with the world, we won with pride and we lost with dignity and grace.  We leave Sochi with the same sense of self and the same Canadian values we had when we arrived.

An entire country will go to bed tonight proud of our Canadian athletes, their coaches and their support staff.  We will appreciate the thankless hours parents spend teaching these children to learn from defeat, to lose and to win graciously and keep striving to be the best they can be.

(image credit: karenfron.com)

The Voice Within – Trifecta Challenge

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ad

The Angel and the Devil sat on opposite shoulders spewing arguments around the head that separated them.

“I know I am the reason for her funk, and I’m quite proud of that fact.”  The Devil crossed his arms and a smug smile crept over his peeling lips.

“But it’s awful watching her frustration swell to the boiling point.  Can’t you ease up a little?”  The Angel’s plea fell on deaf ears.  The Devil was quite adept at tuning her out.

Without warning, the shoulders of the host body began to rotate.  Her arms reached forward, her fingers entwined and she stretched.  Her fingertips touched the keyboard and the Angel stood to watch.  Something magical happened and the Angel merely observed as the words began to etch themselves onto the screen.  A little squeal of glee escaped her lips as she turned to stick her tongue out at the Devil.

Now the Devil felt the frustration.  He stood and was about to embed his pitchfork into the side of the head when the Angel cried out.

“Don’t do it.  She’s writing about us!”

The Angel continued to smile as the Devil flipped her off.  They both took a seat on their rightful shoulder and let the creativity happen.

~~

Written for this week’s Trifecta Challenge.  I have been in a writing funk of my own the last few days and after reading a comment by Ad-libb3d at 4:00 am, the lightbulb slowly began to shine again!!

(image credit: wallpaperswide.com)

Now onto this week’s Trifecta prompt. We’re back to one word, its third definition and the 33-333 word limit.

Happy Writing!

FUNK (noun)
1 a :  a state of paralyzing fear
b :  a depressed state of mind
2 :  one that funks :  COWARD
3 :  SLUMP  <an economic funk>  <the team went into a funk>
- See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.euwKt2HW.dpuf

The memories that will linger from Sochi 2014

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2014-sochi-logo

(image credit: sochi2014.com)

I have been watching the Olympics intermittently.  During the time that I have been able to stop and watch, there have been some proud Canadian moments that will live on in our history because they have been documented.  Athletes have been awarded medals that will be displayed for generations and their names have been chiseled into the stone tablets of time.  Those victories have been celebrated and are cemented into the foundation for our future Olympians.

Dara Howell, a young girl from a small town so close to mine, proudly claimed her Gold medal and made the boundaries of Cottage Country swell with pride.   Sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe topped the podium and took home Gold and Silver medals together.  Alexandre Bilodeau won Gold and, once again, shared a tender moment with his brother Frederic who has Cerebral Palsy and is, undoubtedly, Alexandre’s biggest supporter.   These are the precious Canadian moments that make us proud of our fellow countrymen and make us bleed white and red in their honor.  Support and pride can be felt across the country for ALL of our Canadian athletes.

But there have been moments that may never be recorded in the hallowed halls of Olympics gone by – moments that not only made me proud to be a Canadian, but proud to be a human being.  Newscasters delighted in showing the film footage of our Canadian ski coach, Justin Wadsworth, unselfishly replacing the broken ski of Russian skier, Anton Gafarovski, so he could “finish the race with dignity”.  Justin showed the world the heart of a former Olympian, the heart of a Canuck and the heart of the true human spirit.

Gilmore Junio has been plastered all over the coverage of Men’s Speed Skating because he gave up his spot in the 1000M race to allow his teammate, Denny Morrison, to compete after Denny fell in the qualifying round and was not entitled to race.  Denny went on to skate the track of his life after being cheered on by his family, Gilmore’s family and the rest of Canada, and he earned a Silver medal.  Gilmore may not have won a medal for the 1000M race but he won much more than that.  He won the heart of every Canadian and many other hearts from around the globe.  In true Canadian fashion, Denny Morrison is now campaigning to have Gilmore carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies.

I can only hope when I think back on the Winter Olympics in Sochi that I will remember these moments and not just the jubilant faces on the podium as the winners received their medals.  The Olympic games are about being the best you can be and, in my opinion, Justin and Gilmore both won the Gold in that category!

Showing signs of happiness

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A few days ago I attended a business meeting and encountered a woman I haven’t seen since I left my old job last May.  Our hotel properties used to be side by side so we had a fairly regular occasion to bump into each other but I haven’t seen her since I began my new job.  We exchanged the usual pleasantries, took our seats and the meeting began.  After an hour of brainstorming, the session adjourned and we were able to chat a little more and catch up.

We, of course, commiserated with each other about the roller coaster of weather we have been experiencing this year.  We talked briefly about how the hospitality business has been for each of us this season and then the conversation changed completely.

She looked at me quizzically and said, “I’m not sure if this will come out the way I mean it to, but your face looks so much lighter.”

It was an odd statement, certainly, but one I have been hearing more frequently.  It wasn’t in reference to my pallid winter flesh color nor was it meant to infer anything about weight loss.  She simply observed my happiness.

happiness

(image credit: myvintagejewelbox.com)

When she had seen me last, I was working at a job that I no longer enjoyed.  The stress that I faced each day was etching itself into my face and I looked, and felt, like a different person.  It was a tough decision leaving that job because it had once been a place I considered to be a second home and my fellow employees were like family.  When that home was bought by a corporation, the feel of my job evolved into something foreign. It was no longer a warm and inviting place to be and, although I had to leave some great people behind, I made the tough choice to get happy again.

I was fortunate enough to be able to make the decision to be happy, and if my face is any indication, I made the right choice.

Soup for the soul

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There is something comforting about being safely tucked inside on a snowy, windy winter’s day.  What makes it even better is having homemade soups simmering on the stove and having the house smell like home.  It is a nesting feeling for me being in my kitchen and having the aromas of what I chose to create permeate my house.

I love to cook and I absolutely love to make soup.  My dream would be to have a restaurant that focuses on soup and fresh-baked biscuits and goodies, allowing me to get back into baking and making wedding cakes again.  I have discovered another woman who not only has the same goal, but we both love to play Scrabble.  We began to get very excited at the prospect of making our dream come to fruition.  We even thought we would combine our two passions and name our restaurant “Alphabet Soup”.   Clever, I know.  With our clear passion for creating and my best friend’s sense for business…..this could be an exciting future prospect.

This weekend, I have been creating big pots of soup to portion out for meals and keep in my freezer, as well as give some to my brother for his lunches.  Some soups are staples and the recipe is followed to the letter.  Others are made on a whim whenever I feel the need to pair flavors and see if it works.  These were the flavors this weekend:

  • Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sherry
  • Corn and Bacon Chowder with Shrimp
  • Curried Butternut Squash and Cauliflower
  • Broccoli, Apple and White Cheddar

I’ll be sure to send you all an invitation if the restaurant dream ever becomes a reality, and maybe you can send your requests for a soup you’d like to see on the menu.     :)

100 Word Song – Limelight

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Moon

Like the moon held captive in the night sky,

I am suspended in my reality unable to breathe.

My true freedom is a vague memory.

My personal space exists only in the lens of a camera.

Vague reflections of a life I once had are mirrored in that glass.

All I wanted was to reflect my passion through my art.

Fragmented moments alone are stored deep in memory,

treasured few blinks in time that I can grasp and hold tight.

I envy that moon, alone in the night sky

surrounded by stars unable to bridge the distance.

Solitude escapes me.

~

Written for the 100 Word Song Challenge over at My Blog Can Beat up your Blog.  You should check it out and follow him if you are not already.

I got to choose the song this week and I chose Limelight by Rush. (yes, it’s a Canadian band and I am Canadian).  Although the song has a great rock beat in typical Rush style, there is a sadness behind the words that I felt compelled to share.  Neil Peart struggled with their rise to fame and the lack of courtesy shown by fans and paparazzi.  Being in the “Limelight” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=vUNxqE_3N0c