What was I thinking?!

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On New Year’s Day, I made a list of goals and priorities.

This has become an annual event along with reviewing accomplishments from the previous year.

Some 2018 items were general categories like health, relationships, career and financial well-being. Some items were specific like getting my drivers license.

Just before the Lunar New Year I caught the flu; I lost a week of work, socializing and getting out for provisions. My youngest adult child dropped off necessities from the grocery store. My closest friend brought me lozenges and herbal tea.

I had time to rest, wallow in self-pity, watch trashy Netflix shows and reflect.

Black cat in front of TV

Cat on Lap watching trashy Netflix shows with me

I used some of the recent recommendations from the Year of the Dog Feng Shui workshop to rearrange my living space, to revisit my personal space and time. According to our instructor, this coming year would be a good one for career and education.

black cat in front of documents and tablet

Cat on lap helping with Lunar New Year cleanse preparations

It could have been the haze of the flu lifting but I had a vision of where I would like to be in five years, let alone one. I revisited and embraced information about an early love, the love of libraries. I registered for a college program as a part-time student.

Coming out from under the winter funk, I felt motivated to move my body more and soon put some goals into action. I pushed myself to the end of April, as I studied for the written test for the drivers license.

Black cat in front of screens

Cat on Lap helping me study for the written test

I passed the test and earned my G1. Yippee!

In early May, I started attending night classes for two courses in a college program. By late June I was wondering “What was I thinking?!”. The stress of work demands and school assignments was starting to peak.

I felt a great relief by last weekend after delivering a successful presentation in one class and completing the midterm exam in another.

Now enjoying a wisely planned vacation week, I can relax and muster up enough energy to get me through the next six weeks of school (plus that work thing and weekend volunteer shifts…)

I am continuing with my morning walks because my physical and spiritual health are important to me.

I am planning to take driving lessons this fall and winter so I can pass the road test by next spring. I look forward to being independently mobile for future travel.

I think I’ll only take one night class this fall though!

We’re half-way through the year. Whew!

Thanks for stopping by. If you like the black cat’s appearances, you can see more of him and the Fat Tabby at this blogIf you like my writing style, you might enjoy reading my novel from 2011.

What’s your opinion of setting annual goals? Lifelong learning?

T

 

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How far would your generosity go?

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I used to purchase sheets of OC Transpo bus tickets to help my offspring get around town if they didn’t have a loaded or valid bus pass.

I would also carry extras with me as a backup plan if my PrestoCard balance ran out or to help out if a bus buddy forgot their pass.

Soon that will no longer be an option.

OCTranspoTicketsGoodUntilApril302018 - Edited (1)

Ottawa’s public transportation service will not accept paper tickets after April 30th. Commuters will have to have a Presto Card handy and loaded or carry $3.50 in exact change.

Coins350BusFareApr2018 - Edited

So, you could offer to pay for a fellow OC Transpo commuter who has forgotten their pass or doesn’t have the $3.50. You could offer them your backup stash of coin or indicate to the driver you wish to pay for another’s fare with your PrestoCard.

Presto Card pic from Prestocard.ca site

Presto Card pic from Prestocard.ca site https://www.prestocard.ca/en/

The latter will cost you 5 cents less but require social interaction with two people instead of one and delay others getting on the bus…

I suppose I will use the PrestoCard payment method for a friend instead of offering cash. It’s a matter of me remembering to load enough on my card.  

On a related note, I wish PrestoCard would send an email or text to notify you when your balance gets to a day’s value or less. 

Gone are the days of the paper passes 😦 and Federal tax credits for using public transportation.

I find this ticket-less system counter-productive and risky:

  1. Low income riders have to jump through hoops to prove their financial status in order to qualify for a Community Discount pass.
  2. Social service agencies can no longer provide bus tickets to their clients so they can get to appointments or related events.
  3. Buses may be carrying more coin as alternate payment rather than paper tickets. This could make for theft opportunities or cause more fuel usage due to extra weight.

 

Are you an Ottawa public transportation user? How are you adapting to these changes? What’s your opinion on this new system plus the city’s attempt to prepare commuters for the late and over-budget Light Rail Transit system?

T

 

Comforting thoughts of going home

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I recently pushed my limits with social anxieties.

I was proud with how I kept it together at a public event last month. Yeah, I lasted about an hour and a half. 

The event was a mid-week fund raiser for a local agency that provides temporary shelter plus mental health support for the homeless and those caught in the claws of addiction.

Based on the ticket cost, the quality of the tasty treats, wine and dignitaries in attendance, I could soon tell I was in with a different crowd.

According to the suggested starting bids for the items in the silent auction and the live auction, I felt a sense of disparity between the purpose of the event and the money flowing from attendees. I felt disappointment at the waste of food and lack of sustainable measures taken for composting and recycling.

I was certainly in with a different crowd.

The one thing that kept me staying longer than I wanted was to see if anyone else would outbid me on a quilt in the silent auction. I lingered beside the table, nursing my wine while wincing at the loud music from the speakers and the over-excited voice of the live auctioneer. I had my fill of food and wine. I had my fill of social interactions.

The quilt appealed to me because my paternal grandmother used to make them – back in the day when they used scrap material and there was symbolism, cultural meaning in the patterns.

The quilt appealed to me because of the comforting feeling it can represent, a feeling like a loving home, like a soft blanket wrapped around you, holding you tight and assuring that everything is going to be alright.

It also appealed to me because it was one of the less-expensive items on the table. 

Quilt on futon

I approached the people at the registration desk and explained my need to leave. They assured me it was okay and that they would call my cell number later if I had the winning bid.

And they did.

I was soon the proud owner of a locally crafted quilt. I like how it adds to the colour and comfort of my quiet, humble home. 

Tabby cat on quilt on futon

Miss Geneva Tabby checks out the new quilt on her futon

I have a home. For that I am grateful.

Thank you for stopping by.

 T

Artful winter survival

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Canadian winters…  You adapt to the season or you escape to warmer climates.

For those of us who are not beach lovers or sun worshipers, we choose to stay and make the best of it. Sometime after January 31st, we start complaining.

bus shelter surrounded by snow

Public Transportation experience

We pop our Vitamin C, D and Omega-3 and absorb the glow from the DayLight lamp while we curse the inconveniences of the season. We get in gentle exercise, cautious walks outdoors, small social gatherings then retreat indoors for quiet activities.

As someone who appreciates the quiet and calm of my humble abode, I make efforts to refresh my living space and head space by performing winter housecleaning and preparation for the Lunar New Year. It’s a valid excuse to add ceremony to housework, to make it fun and hopeful.

Of course, when you share living space with cats, you adjust the placement of items to maintain harmony in your home.

cats hiding in play structure

Cats avoiding the cleaning staff

One way I refresh my head space is learning new things, doodling, listening to uplifting music and reading. When you’re a bus mouse, you can get in some good reading time – if you can find a good seat for the long workday commutes.

Photo of I Ching Handbook

I Ching Handbook

So as we navigate through and negotiate with Winter, we can remind ourselves that it will soon lead to Spring.

There is hope.

Photo of life cycles banner

Thanks for reading along! How do you survive Winter in your neck of the worldly woods?

T

 

Change of seasons and art

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While passing by an urban park in Ottawa recently, I noticed something I loved had been taken away. 

One of my favourite spots for work day wanderings and pondering had been painted over.

park bench painted

Favourite Bench at Dundonald Park with new art

The new art work looked like bare tree limbs against a multicolored sunset. Either that or some artistic feather design.

I noticed a few other benches had been painted over too.

park benches painted

Dundonald park benches painted anew

It had been a while since I took a lunchtime walk up here but this change must have occurred just this autumn. I am sure I will eventually find out why someone did this but I’m still processing, reeling from the change to favourite park bench’s art. I had become fond of the previous artwork and what it represented to me as I approached a wonderful new discovery in 2015 and rekindled relationships.

park bench painted spring

Dundonald Park bench 2015

It will take me a while to accept the new design. But … as in my professional and personal life, I have learned to adapt to change, to accept the changes that are beyond my control.

At least my two favourite trees have not changed – except for losing their leaves again in preparation for winter’s sleep.

Two tree tops touching

Two tree tops touching Nov 10 2017

I was consoled and delighted to see something new – a little book lending library.

lending library book box

Lending library box

It was a sign of sharing and trust in this eclectic downtown park. I hope it survives the winter and disturbing elements that sometimes occupy the area.

Thanks for dropping by.

T

 

Thanks for the natural attractions

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It was an extended Thanksgiving holiday peppered with family gatherings, feasting and a lot of car travel. It was also one tarnished by news of another assault on a sacred site in the nation’s capital.

I spent most of my vacation week traveling with family to visit others in the Greater Sudbury area. The long drive was accompanied and enhanced by the natural fall colours. We enjoyed a couple of days of conversation, feasting, playing cards and going on an outing to a natural attraction. We drove farther north to Onaping Falls to visit the AY Jackson lookout.

AY Jackson lookout at Onaping Falls

A walking stick rests after a tour of the natural beauty of Onaping Falls

The lookout was named after a famous painting of the falls by Group of Seven member, AY Jackson.

I enjoyed the fresh, cool air and exercise plus another chance to catch up with older and wiser relatives.

Blonde woman at the bridge over Onaping River and Falls

Blonde woman at the bridge over Onaping River and Falls

When I returned home stiff yet elated, I was relieved that one of the offspring heeded my request to visit le petit apartment and check on the cats.

Tabby cat resting in front of house plants

A peaceful Sunday setting in the Tabby cat’s habitat

While I was savoring the memories of visiting Onaping Falls and viewing photographs of its natural settings, my activist friends in the Ottawa area were having to educate the public, the politicians, anyone who would listen about the shameful activities happening again at a sacred site in the Ottawa River.

You too can be informed. Read this interview of Algonquin Elders.

On this Sunday morning, my pen name got involved with sharing her views on this glitzy invasion at Chaudière Falls and its islands.

Thanks for dropping by. Spread the word. Free the Falls!

T

 

Time and again

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Saturday brought the perfect long weekend weather to get out to a popular exhibit.

Everyone and his uncle thought so too!

I mustered up the courage to match my curiosity. I really wanted to see the MosaiCanada150 exhibit in Quebec. The last time I pushed myself to attend a crowded cultural event was in July.

Prospector plant sculpture MosaiCanada150

The Prospector

With water bottle, granola bars and sun hat ready yesterday, I set out on public transit to cross the river to la belle province – specifically to Gatineau, Quebec.

The Jacques Cartier Park lineup to get in and past security was very long. I didn’t realize until after I took what looked like a clear passage on a side road that I was cutting into the line. I apologized to the people beside me, using my confusion as an excuse.

It was an impressive exhibit.

There were dozens of sculptures artistically made with plants, depicting different stages in Canada’s history. The exhibit took us back in time to the First Nations, the voyageurs and early settlers.

Due to the crowds of people in the way and my short stature, I could not find the time or patience to stop and take photos of all the displays. I adored them with my eyes and stored the images, my reaction and appreciation for them in my short-term memory bank.

Mother Earth plant sculpture

Crowds of humans adoring Mother Earth

 

The main attraction, pièce de résistance was Mother Earth. As I took shaded shelter under the trees before merging into that long queue, I overheard a security guard saying to people resting on the grass,  “Move faster. Move faster!”

I can understand that they wanted to keep bodies moving and make room for the hundreds of others waiting at the entrance. It just seemed ironic that we were being rushed and not allowed the time to stop, to reflect and appreciate the magnificence of the scene.

It was ironic to see Mother Earth set with a backdrop of high-rise buildings. Perhaps it was complimentary in that we can learn to balance our desire for progress and modern expansion with a respect for nature and the ancient traditions.

Perhaps.

Mother Earth plant sculpture

Mother Earth in the city

Did I achieve my objectives?

Yes.

  • I pushed myself to venture into a crowded public place. Alone.
  • I took pictures with my smart phone but I also took time just to admire the art, to observe other people and eavesdrop on their conversations, their reactions to the exhibit.
  • Since I went alone, I was on my own schedule and was able to set my own pace (except when getting swept into the flow past some displays and jammed still at others).

Today it’s raining. I shall stay in my humble home to putter with houseplants, to reflect and write, to cook a batch of meaty pasta sauce.

I changed the C cell batteries in my Zen Alarm clock. Once again it makes a loud and proud chime in the key of E rather than a dull thud. It had been almost three years since I coveted and acquired it.

When I look back at my observations, writing and personal growth since then, it seems that things haven’t improved in our outer world.  It’s like we’re stuck in some ambitious, testosterone-fueled cycle. I know I have been working on myself. What about the rest of the world, for Pete’s sake?!

I changed, edited the quote on that poster from:

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” — Dalai Lama

To:

“We can only obtain peace in the outer world once we make peace with ourselves.” 

I felt the quote could use a positive injection – for so many reasons.

Thanks for dropping by.

T

My great grandchildren will not be blonde

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That’s a bold prediction from someone so naturally fair of skin and hair.

I am okay with that possibility.

First, I can say that because I have brown offspring from a mixed marriage. In my eyes and their doting Aunties’, these children were beautiful, intelligent and well-behaved.

I was often oblivious to the colour of my children’s skin yet experienced some strange looks and comments when we were out in public. The most humorous and innocent was when a child at the local park asked if I was their babysitter.

Yes, they have met challenges with finding their identity, their place in society. They adapted. They survived. Some of them identify as Black or POC (Person of Colour). None of them have adopted urban stereotypes nor have they been in trouble with the law. 

To me, they are beautiful humans, the next generation. I raised them to be positive contributors to their community and to society. They know how to speak up when they see injustices. They too will make beautiful babies if they so choose or can afford to raise a family in this precarious economy. 

In the 90s, I grooved to this song from Michael Jackson. It spoke to me – except for the beginning featuring a loud, dysfunctional family then the parts where MJ is grabbing his genitals, smashing up a parked car and vandalizing empty store windows. Apparently, the main body of the “Black or White” short film reflects the song’s lyrical plea for racial and cultural unity. That message was lost on me into the eight minute mark. I think MJ also wanted to express issues with father figures, the automotive industry, consumerism and colonialism.

You will be thankful I found the shortened version.

My second posit is that my white, blond son from an earlier relationship chose to marry a lovely woman of Asian origin. I see that he inherited the “non-conformist” gene as well as the blond one.

Their children are beautiful. My grandchildren are beautiful.

My grandchildren.   

It was comments I heard years ago from a stand-up comedian that stuck with me and inspired me to draft this blog entry. 

It was the weekend’s nationalist “rally” in Virginia that gave me the angry energy and tenacity to publish it.

Quoting Paul Rodriguez, “One hundred years from now, our children’s children… everybody’s going to be Filipino”

(Start at 1:30)

I’m okay with that.

Regardless of their skin colour or which version of the Creator they honour, I have hopes for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren and those to follow. 

I hope the shared traits of humanity such as compassion will calm the fear and hatred of those feeling threatened. Is it possible that the good ole boys are scared? Are they trying to protect their heritage, their culture?

Why did it take public outrage at his initial comments for Tweetle-Dum to finally denounce the white supremacists?  

Let’s remember that this continent was occupied by other people thousands of years before those European colonizers and immigrants arrived with their ships.

The first people had a respect for the power of nature, the seasons, the animals they hunted for food. They hunted out of necessity, not for sport. We could learn from the First Nations about living in harmony with nature and planning seven generations ahead.

It’s going to be a struggle but people will learn that harmonious survival of the human race and Mother Earth is more important than skin colour, religious dogma and power. At the basic root, we need to ensure clean air, water and arable land.

Here are some changes i would like to see in our gently blended future: 

  • Muscle cars and air-polluting auto racing will no longer exist. Neither will fossil fuels.
  • Reusable energy from the sun, wind and oceans will power our needs.
  • People will be educated, active and civil. We will see a return to public discourse and philosophical discussions.
  • Artists will be respected and supported regardless of their eccentricities ;-^
  • The fashion industry will reuse materials and will not be so frivolous and wasteful. We will do away with stilettos, latex and skinny jeans.

There will challenges with how we define culture.

Some people may still want to pierce their body parts, tattoo their skin and dye their hair to stand out, to show their individualism or create a sense of belonging in some form of neo-tribalism. Some may try to appear so unique as to bleach their hair blonde. I hope the chemicals don’t harm their brain cells or our ecosystem as a result.

If we deplete and pollute this planet to the point of no recovery and have to spread out into the galaxy, to meet and rely on other species, I just hope we can still celebrate and respect diversity.

 

T

 

More crowded gatherings tests

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Last weekend I attended the Capital Ukrainian Festival.

I was looking forward to music, cultural crafts and … perogies.

I was also challenging my aversion to crowds, spending hours in the hot sun and lining up for food.

Ukrainian dancers on stage

Capital Ukrainian Festival – dancers

The musicians and dancers certainly entertained the visitors in the hot afternoon sun. There were all kinds of vendor tents and scheduled tours of the church.

Capital Ukrainian Festival- tents and church

Capital Ukrainian Festival

I abandoned my quest for perogies and other tasty treats due to the long lineups in the hot sun. The shaded merchant tent was more appealing for my delicate complexion and conducive to locating inexpensive, practical items. I found some colourful, blank greeting cards for sending to family and friends. Yes, I’m one of the people who still do that.

I was attracted to the watches displayed by one of the merchants. I was also curious about the symbols on the watch face.

watches brochure

Ukrainian festival – watches brochure

Coat of arms:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Ukraine 

It was the Tryzub Cross. I was curious to learn more. The Tryzub Cross is simply a cross-bar on the middle tine of a tryzub.

But what is a ‘tryzub’? And why should it have a cross-bar? ‘Tryzub’ (тризуб) is Ukrainian for “trident” and is one of Christianity’s earliest symbols. A trident with a Cross is associated with St. Vladimir the Great (980–1015).

Read more here: http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/crosses/tryzub.html

The merchant explained the history and practices of the watch manufacturer plus let me try on a couple of the ladies’ models. I didn’t commit to purchasing one right away yet accepted the brochure for something to look at while I digested the price! If you have the means and time to learn more about these beautiful watches, you can visit the vendor’s web site at http://kleynodwatches.com/

Eventually during my wanderings, I came across plenty of Ukrainian Easter eggs.

Did you know…? The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax.

Read on here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pysanka

Pysanska souvenir egg

Pysanka souvenir egg

That appealed to me. Pysaty. To write.

This weekend I also wrote (well… typed) in my other blogs. Drop by if you have the curiosity and time. It won’t cost you much.

Thanks for dropping by.

T

Hope and action for the next 150 years

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A year ago, hundreds of kindred souls joined in a walk from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill.

Indigenous People and allies gathered, walked and demonstrated their support for protecting a sacred place in the heart of Canada’s capital. I joined in too on that hot, sunny day.

We were protesting the condo development that was being allowed due to various cracks in the system of our courts and unfair, unclear zoning laws.

This year, the Faith is Peace march on June 23rd was championed by interfaith leaders who supported the movement to protect this sacred place. We were accompanied by clouds and intermittent rain which seemed appropriate for the tears of disbelief that this demonstration is still necessary during Canada’s 150th birthday year.

Faith is Peace march to Parliament Hill June 23 2017

Faith is Peace march to Parliament Hill June 23 2017

We gathered on the Hill for almost two hours, listening to drummers, singers and speeches. We heard once again about the sacredness of Akikodiwan, the importance of clean water, spiritual ceremonies, partnership of men and women – and with reassurance, the importance of the role of women in Indigenous communities.

Through the rattling and banging of the Canada Day stage construction, the faith leaders’ sound system persevered.

We heard speeches from representatives of various faith groups who reinforced the importance of recognizing and respecting sacred spaces.

We heard young people speak their views on the issue.

Faith is Peace demonstration and speeches on Parliament Hill June 23 2017

Faith is Peace demonstration and speeches on Parliament Hill June 23 2017

 

During the final week of June, Canadians observed interesting developments as a group of Indigenous People, water protectors and their allies made it past Parliament Hill security to erect a ceremonial teepee. After some dispute with police, they were allowed to set up on the East side of the hill. The day before Canada Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the demonstrators.

Officials allowed the teepee to remain on the Hill throughout Canada Day celebrations. Progress…

Not many people were eager to participate joyfully in the 150th milestone of colonialism while Indigenous people’s rights were still being ignored. Some downright boycotted it.

Personally, I avoided the crowded downtown Ottawa streets and observed celebrations from the comfort of my dry, humble home and watched online or through the various television broadcasts.

I consider myself a settler descendant. I accept no responsibility for atrocities committed in the past by governments and other institutions. I will accept the opportunity and responsibility to learn more about the issues and offer my voice in support. 

You can learn background information through these resource links:

Sign the petition to the House of Commons in Parliament Assembled

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1153

In particular:

  • The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples declares that indigenous people have a right to protect their sacred places. This must be done for the Sacred Falls and the Islands.

 

Thanks for dropping by and reading about this issue. Please share with family and friends.

I hope it won’t be necessary to join another walk and demonstration again next year. If it is, I will be there.

T