Suddenly Sometimes

Ever noticed how suddenly-sometimes serendipity seems to occur most when the sun is shining and summer seeps into one’s heart, bubbles over and spills out in splashes all over the garden?  It almost feels as if this sweet summer state of mind creates a catalyst that activates a sublime sequence of inexplicable events.                

Like the time Bernadette called.  “The Town is giving away compost.  Want to go?  I’ll pick you up.”

I went.

The sight of eager townsfolk feverishly shoveling free compost, piled up in the parking lot, into bags and bins didn’t inspire me.  The stream of comings and goings to and from the main building however, was intriguing.                                                                                                        

Woo hoo! Community garage sale …     

 Bernadette laughed when I mumbled, “I’m going to look for treasures for my garden.”

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That’s me!

I heard “Junk Lady” as I hopped out of the vehicle.

My friends know me too well!

 

 

 

I picked up a bunch of beauties for mere coins.  Like these –

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A wall mirror to create the illusion of an open doorway on the fence in the backyard
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A toy scooter to use on the deck as a stand for a flowering potted plant.

 

 

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Three of five forlorn, unclaimed items remaining on the book table.  1917 publications. A century old.

 

 

 

And then I stopped in my tracks as some old books caught my eye.  

Me:  “How much?”

Bored vendor:  “How about a dollar fifty?  Fifty cents each.”

I set the coins down and scooped the volumes up, unable to believe my luck.  There were two others still  languishing on the table. 

“I have a quarter left and a TTC token,” I dared to venture.  “Would that be payment enought for those?”

Bored Vendor:  “Sure.  Someone could make use of the token.  This stuff is junk anyway!”

He was in a hurry to pack up and leave.

I handed over my last coin and the transit system token, picked up my booty and scurried away in case someone should have a sudden change of heart.

James 4:2 You do not have, because you do not ask …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

This rollicking suddenly-sometimes ride commenced a week before, when Evelyn and I sat down to enjoy a Japanese bento box lunch, and the conversation turned to gardens.  

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That’s me!  The only gardener in the family, actually.

Evelyn:  “How’s your garden doing? Done planting yet?     

Me: “No.  Haven’t even started.  I haven’t had time to buy the annuals.”

Evelyn: “Have you tried Costco?”

Me:  “No.  We’re not members.”

Evelyn:  “I am. I’ll take you.”

So off we went.

Nothing caught my eye in the garden centre.

But …

On our way out, we passed the  mobile phone sales centre, and I remembered my phone.  It had been gasping at death’s door for a while. 

I paused.

Me: My phone is a bit of a dinosaur. I need a new one with a good camera, but I’m not willing to go above my present monthly payment.

Pleasant Salesguy:  No problem. How much do you pay now?

I told him.  I had an exceptionally good deal, he said.  I knew that.

Pleasant Salesguy: Are you willing to go ten dollars more a month?

Me:  No!  I don’t use my phone enough to justify a higher monthly payment.

Pleasant Salesguy:  So you want a free new phone with a great camera for the same amount that you pay now – or less – right?

Me:  I know, it sounds like awful cheek, doesn’t it?

I turned to go.

Pleasant Salesguy:  Wait, wait …

He continued to scroll down, squinting at the screen in front of him.

Evelyn assured me she wasn’t in a hurry.  I rolled my eyes and sighed.

Then –

Pleasant Salesguy: Found it! There’s a loyalty deal and you qualify …

Music to my ears …

So I get a  free phone worth $700, and my monthly payment is four dollars less than previously.   My current phone, I’m told, is worth no more than $150, brand new.

Me:  I’ve been to every mobile provider I could think of.  When I tell them what I’m looking for, they look down their nose at me like I’m cheap. Or they talk down to me like I’m someone’s grandma, shrug and turn away.  So how come you found this one for me?

Pleasant Salesguy:  Because the mall guys work on commission.  It’s not in their interest to spend time looking for deals in the customer’s favour.  I’m a paid employee of Costco.  I’m not on commission.

Me:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how would this phone rate against my old one?

Pleasant Salesguy:  It’s an 8!  What’s more, check out the camera.

Evelyn and I pose.  I click.  We look ten years younger, the lines all automatically air-brushed away.

 Me: Wow!  Wow!! What a selfie!  …

 Pleasant  Salesguy’s name is Michael Blumenfeld.

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Michael Blumenfeld, Sales Manager, Wirelessetc.  Superlative, swept-me-off-my-feet customer service

And that’s not all.

I asked for an upgraded phone cover and screen protector and he gave me $125 in Costco gift cards to pay for them.

Me:  How come?

Michael:  Because this is Costco!

And there’s more …

The screen protector I chose was not in stock, so Michael made a call and arranged for me to pick it up from the mall closest to my home.

I’m elated.  Quite weak at the knees, to be honest.  Evelyn’s jaw’s dropping.  We’re both bewildered by the spectacular customer service …

Daughter squeaked when I showed her my phone at the end of the day.  “Where did you get that?  I’ve wanted an LG forever!  They say it takes the best pictures.”

She almost passed out when I told her how little I was paying for it.

I couldn’t stop talking at dinner that night.  About the amazing deal.  About Michael and the unbelievable customer service.

So we all four of us marched into Costco the next weekend with Grandpa and Grandma (and their Costco card) in tow – Husband, daughters and I – waving my contract with Michael’s business card attached to it.

The service was disappointing. Lack-lustre. The two young fellows at the counter seemed to barely tolerate us.  Kind of felt like we were a nuisance.

Daughters exchanged glances and threw me a funny look. 

“So where’s the customer service you kept on about?”

We got the loyalty deal for two more phones.  Husband pays two dollars and fifty cents less than I do, because he’s the second line on my account.  Husband and Daughter also got $125 each in Costco gift cards.  ONLY because I already had my contract through Michael and requested the same deal for the rest of the family.

There was enough left over, after paying for the extras, to buy trays of flowering annuals for the garden, a set of LED walkway lights, and a rose bush for Grandma.  Compliments of Costco. All because Michael Blumenfeld never made me feel stupid, and took the time to dig out a deal that finally embraced my family as well.

Young Fellows were indifferent, when we were done, and looked relieved to see us go.

I assumed, because of my initial experience, that exceptional customer service was the norm at Costco Wirelessetc.  I understood otherwise on my second visit. It was Michael who went out of his way to make this customer’s day sparkle.

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Husband and Daughter had to return to the location the next day, to pick up their not-in-stock screen protectors.  

“Pick them up from your local mall?  Sorry. No way!”

“But Michael arranged for me to pick it up from …”

 “Michael is the manager, he can do these things …”

Evelyn mentioned that if she’d chosen to take me to the other Costco location she shops at, the mobile phone sales section would not have been visible from the vicinity of the garden centre. So I’d never have seen it to remember the worn out dud I had in my possession.

Such a smooth-as-silk sequence of events that led me to three valuable vintage books and a brand new top-notch cell phone.

Sweet, surreal, sublime, suddenly-sometimes serendipity …

It was not about Bernadette and free compost, or about Evelyn and the garden centre at Costco after all.  

So thankful.  For Evelyn and her Costco membership.  For Bernadette.  For Michael Blumenfeld at Wirelessetc.  And for my fabulous new phone, of course, and the old, old books …

Love how life works when one leans in and listens. 

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Never miss a moment. (Taken at Walmart.  Most folks are proud pose and flash their captions.)
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On a friend’s coffee table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s more.  Lots and lots! 

Next time!

Until then,  

sincerely

 

 

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Parked outside the doctor’s office

Love Those Bhangra Boys!

 Life is full of appointments – to be kept or missed as one chooses – delicate deviations from the daily script.  Sometimes showing up in the form of inner impelling, an inaudible whisper, they urge one to reach for the moment and grab it by the horns, before it dissolves and vanishes un-met, unrecognized.

Gotta grab that camera  before the light moves on …

Rainbows on the ceiling won’t linger long , nor shadows on the carpet …

So one halts to act. Because such moments will not be put on hold. Because the tide of micro-events ebbs and swells, leaving behind the joy of happy happen-stance embraced or the tragedy of serendipity unrealized.

The timing of such things is fragile, precise and never a coincidence.

NEVER a coincidence …              

                                      ……………………………………………………………………………..                                 

I had a nagging urge one busy afternoon, to check my Facebook page. 

I’m not one of those Feverish Frenzied Facebook Fiends … honest!

 The screen on my phone opened up at a video clip on Cousin Preman’s page.

Click …

Jaunty young men with beards and bright turbans leap and prance, holding hands with a delighted woman.

A birthday Bhangra serenade!

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Maritime Bhangra Group

The woman in the motorized wheelchair beside herself with glee, claps her hands and beams.   

Her eager, electrifying enthusiasm smacked me in the face.

 Check out  the birthday Bhangra dance.   Click here …

I hit like, stabbed the comments section with a forefinger and tap-tapped:

An amazing lady, God bless her.  This resonates with my heartbeat.  I’ve lost two close friends to ALS .

Later that evening my phone went ping.

Email alert …

 A message via this blog’s address from Next Week on Thursday (Sneak Peak) (on the header menu) 

You have made such a difference in my life this afternoon (I read). Your reply to Preman started it all. I SO want to connect with you. I SO want to find out about the next Thursday. Having gone through cancer yourself, you know the deep JOY of living .

Curious, I leapt into her Facebook page.

The intro read –

I am a joyous person LIVING with ALS with my loving husband, Cameron, always at my side.

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Something about the way she smiles … (The Facebook profile picture ‘with Cameron at my side’)

I got punched in the guts.  I’ve lost two good friends to this brute, a cruel, merciless, relentless ogre that steals and destroys –

ALS.  Lou Gherig’s disease … 

 – and I’m passionate about raising awareness.

Who IS this woman?

Surprise!
Who’s that girl?

The name is Judy Starritt

Enjoying the evening
“Who me?”

                     

#3 I choose my joy!
Sky’s the limit, baby!

Codeword:  JOY!  

This says it all
Christmas lights in her yard

 A person like you and me who’s –

       (a) A once-upon-a-time high school math teacher                             

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I didn’t, actually! A Math pun from Judy’s Facebook page.

(b)  Some mother’s beloved daughter

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Two peas in a pod and tea for two. Judy (right) and her mama

  (c)  Her boys’ mom

Left over right
Mama, me and brother makes three … (Judy and two of her three boys)
Our sons or Charlie's angels
Brothers united, Judy’s gems. The three Starritt boys
Timothy's diapers
Comely young mother.  Judy hanging diapers out to dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(d) Doting Grandmama and

Grandad, Grandma, Findlay and Eamon
A sampling of Starritt munchkins

(e) Adored wife of –

Drum roll … Ladeez a..a..nd  gentlemen, presenting the one, the only   …

      – Cameron Amos Starritt 

Ya …ay!

#16 My, he looks like Cam
Ta da !  Cam: “I’ll be your leprechaun and sit upon an old toadstool …”  
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Cameron Starritt.  That’s her man.

                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many hats Judy wears.  She sparkles, she shines.  She’s extraordinary.

 A wheelchair won’t vanquish her spirit –

New transportation
Off on a summer sortie on the motor scooter
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Steppin’ out of the shadows (Judy, centre)

                                                                                Disease daren’t define her.

Judy:  “I have discovered I haven’t changed, just my body has changed.  I am more intensely aware of both the changes in my body and the JOY that surrounds me …”

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Joy for Judy: Posted on her Facebook page

Shortly after her diagnosis  in 2014, ALS awareness (literally) deluged public awareness in the form of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Judy:  “It was as if ALS suddenly came out of the closet!”

Her firefighter son took on the challenge with gusto –

Click here to watch Judy at Andrew’s side in the Hot Firefighter Ice Bucket Challenge … 

  –  as his mother prepared herself to face the inevitable new normal.

Judy: “I made up a motto for myself and shared it with others … ‘I have faith and hope, I am optimistic and I will find joy every day.’”

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Draped in Joy with Joey Shipley
Loved watching the ocean
And she does …

I so identify with Judy’s resolve.  When late-diagnosis breast cancer crashed-landed on me  in the summer of 2008, I determined to live each day with joy.   However many – or few – of them remained. 

Me to self:  “I won’t waste a single moment of my cancer!”  

Judy won’t waste her ALS.

Kindred spirits or what?

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Come on out of that shell! (Judy pounding a maritime lobster treat)

Judy: “I looked for joy – unexpected happiness – and began to find it in the most unexpected places.”

Judy: “At first I would recite this over and over in my head.  Now I just accept it because I HAVE found JOY and mentioned it is nearer than you think.”

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Joy at the window, xylophone rhapsody by Cam.
Our official onboard photo
Say, “Cheeeeez!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some snippets from e-mail newsletters to family and friends –

“If you are wondering, I did find JOY every day!  I don’t want to sound superhuman … I DO have dark moments about the future at times, but by keeping myself busy and surrounding myself with positive people that love me and knowing I have so many people out there, caring and praying for me, this journey is SO much easier.”

“Every day became a special one.  I have so many reasons to smile.”

Like them wild chicken stockin’s and a brand new volunteer-constructed ramp …

“As I started out my journey with ALS, I made up a motto that I wanted to represent what I have, what I am and what I want.  As many of you know, I composed the following –

I have hope and faith

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Judy: an infection of joy

I am optimistic

I will find JOY every day.

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And oh, she does …

 

“Just had to look out the back windows to find my joy.  I told you once that JOY is nearer than you think!!”

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Joy out the back window: Cameron and the chickens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I will participate in the ALS walkathon.”

Since she made that last statement above, Judy has inspired three ALS Walk Strong teams to join Halifax and Virtual Walks!

Judy Starritt is probably the unofficial poster girl of the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (www.alsnbns.ca).

Her story is on their blog. 

Click here to read about Judy’s journey: ALS In The Words Of Judy Starrit …

I contacted Kimberly Carter at the the ALS Society  for permission to use information from their website

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With JOY in the background. Judy (left) and Kimberly Carter of the ALS Society New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (seated right)

Me to Kimberly:  Any friend of Judy is a friend of mine.

Kim’s reply:   I’m the same way, any friend of Judy’s is a friend of mine. I just love her half to pieces.

Yes, there’s certainly something about Judy …

 

 

…………………………………………………

It’s ALS Walkathon time of year again on June 10, 2017.

You’d find posted on Judy’s Facebook Page:

MAY the 4TH be with you and me and the ALS Walkathons across Canada. Today is my official starting date to promote my own team. It is called “Judy’s Joys” and Cameron and I and many more family and friends are going to walk beside me.
It is on June 10th at DeWolfe Park in Bedford. Registration is at 11 o’clock and the walk is at 12 o’clock.
To join my team, go to
www.alswalkstrong.ca

I made a donation (of course) and wrote on my page

Wish I could walk alongside you, Judy Starritt. Brave, beautiful, joyful, you inspire me … Rooting for you in memory of two close friends I’ve lost. Keep sparkling, keep being you. You go, girl … GO!

Join me in supporting ALS WalkStrong 2017.  Click here to donate/ support Judy’s team.  She calls them Judy’s Joys …

………………………………………………………..

Mum often said when I was a girl, “Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Weep and you weep alone.”

Phrased more simply:  “Who wants to be around a miserable grouch?”

Or in Judy’s words (quoting from a newletter update to her circle) –

Find YOUR joy!

You’ll find this picture in her Facebook photo gallery

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So her home is her haven, not a jail.  She made that choice.

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The Starritt summer cottage.  Idyllic.  Pastoral.

Life is her adventure.  It’s not unfair.  She made that choice too.     

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Let you love shine.  Follow your dream.  (Close up of the fabric of her caregiver’s outfit)

It helps immensely, of course, to have a wonderful man at your side.

Judy:  Thank God for big men!

The man behind my joy
The big man standing behind the JOY Christmas illumination.  The man behind her joy – literally!

 

                                             

                                                                   

                       

                                       

                                                                   ……………………………………..

Judy:  Eggs come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re all the same inside.  Just like people.

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From her chickens, with love

Some eggs, like some people,  have stronger shells strengthened not because of, but despite  the circumstances …

Judy wrote on her Facebook page some months back

Since my video went viral, many new and exciting things have happened to me. I tried to read every comment and some just stood out. Selina’s was one of of the them. I replied and a special friendship has developed. Is it serendipity??? Who knows? Who cares?? I delight in her words and she has opened my mind and heart to newer things.

As she has opened my heart  …

Words are powerful. Weapons of destruction or tools of hope.  It all depends on how one chooses to wield them. 

To bless or to curse …

 Judy:  “I will pray that in my lifetime, ALS will become treatable, not terminal …”

Oh, me too!  Me too …

Believers in dreams, you and I, Judy.  With faith, we’ll make them all come true.

1 Corinthians 13:12    For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I         know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood …

Through the looking glass in my garden nooks …

Judy Starrit has found her Promised Land — that place within the heart, nestled deep inside the human spirit.

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The Promised Land.  That’s what I named our home.

A believing heart, a humbly yielded spirit …

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BELIEVE in mirror letters 
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Sunlight reflected off mirror BELIEVE, creating an inverted splash of word on the bathroom floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Codeword:  JOY …

Always!

So thankful for Judy’s joy.  Infectious, unforgettable lady.

To help increase ALS awareness and support Judy’s Joys at the Walkathon, please share this post.  (Scroll down and click on one of the share buttons below). Let’s see how far Judy and her cause can travel. Thank you.

Until next time,

sincerely

PS:  Three cheers for Judy’s beloved Maritime Bhangra Group.

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These Sauve sahibs jump for joy
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Hurrah, we made it! On the front cover.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy: “Love those boys!”

Click here  and give her Bhangra Boys a thumbs up on their Facebook page. 

Oh, and if you enjoy gorgeously groan-worthy puns like these – 

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— you must take a leisurely stroll through Judy’s Facebook page !

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Groan!

That Corner Chair

Ever paused to check out what folks are doing at bus stops, or observed  parents with kids in restaurants, in the park?

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Eyes on phone.  Caregiver of disabled children. In local mall.
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In the mall at Christmastime.  Not interested in atmosphere, decorations,  festive music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forty-something-and-under phenomenon.  Hunched over phones …

Shook my head head in disbelief as I took this one –

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Youngster manning Salvation Army Christmas Kettle – crouched over phone and halfheartedly ringing bell with free hand.  Guess why kettle’s almost empty.
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As it should be.  Smiling Kettle Person happy to pose at WalMart.  Couldn’t help emptying  my purse of all its spare change.

Times have changed. Sad.

Life’s blazing flicker moments come and go.  In plain sight.

So easy to miss …

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Happened to look out of window as sun rose last week.    Picked up phone and clicked.   

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Sunrise over neighbour’s home

Minutes later –                                                     

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Brighter, more gold

Stark contrast in brightness of light and sharpness of shadow.  Parable for the day –

Only a matter of time before things get brighter …      

Might have missed the golden moments in morning haste, if I hadn’t happened to look.  ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….     Objects have such power to transport me back to associated moments.

 When I look at these – 

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The moment I stand at this bay window, I’m back in assorted paradise climes where I found the shells and starfish
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Enormous bathroom collage of shells from  shores around the world.  Daily I re-live the joy of beach-combing.  The sense of remembered joy never fades.

                                                                                                        

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Ah, to be a dewdrop in lush, humid rain forest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then there’s Chair-In-The-Corner .

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Husband’s maternal grandpa’s chair.  Over a century old, from Kopay, Jaffna.  

Hansi putuwa in the vernacular.  Translated: resting chair

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Infant Husband with grandfather on said Corner Chair .

Miracle child, my husband.  Survived despite all odds.

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Cutie Pie- now mine!

Parents who dared to believe.  Mother with dogged faith –

He’s going to be okay …

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Husband with parents after christening at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Borella.  (Left) Maternal grandparents, (right) Paternal grandparents
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“Hi there!”.  Dad, Mom and precious first born (two brothers to follow)

– and Maternal Granny who pretty much slept with head in his crib at night that first year.

Just in case …            

Grew to be strong as an ox, that babe, healthy as a horse.                     

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A deep, strong bond to the very end of her life. Husband and Ammamma (His mom’s mom). 

And married me …  

Testimony to power of prayer, faith,  love, positive thinking.

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………….

Visually struck by the obvious.  See how reflection in mirror changes.

Depending on where I stand,  angle I look from …

Another parable?  Sort of.

How do I perceive situations that arise?

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It will, but can it hold you?
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Need more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider, ponder on definition of joy.  An inner grace, un-dependent on circumstances.  Ability to be thankful.  To see the glass  half full, not half empty.  To look back with gratitude.    

And embrace even the unbearable uglies …

To be able to evoke music from within –     

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Music from within??

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Determined to believe the best is yet to come.      

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“The best is yet to come”.  Caption on van zipping past on Saturday morning.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Thankful husband’s life was spared to marry me.  Thankful for our daughters.

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He and Me.  Post-cancer treatment cruise.  Sketched Antigua, West Indies. (Bears passing resemblance to Husband, None at all to me.)
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New York City artist.  Striking reproduction of the twins’ ‘inner essence’ 

    

 

 

 

Thankful for nine cancer-free years.       

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Pink ribbons for breast cancer.  Holy Spirit Dove.  Mother-in-law’s handiwork.  A gift to celebrate the end of chemo.  Always grateful for in-laws’ loving care and support.

 

 

 

 

Wordless gratitude …  

Wishing you thankful joy today.   May it sidle sweetly in and entice you to come out and play –

In spite of yourself …

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Until next time,   

sincerely

Her Old Piano

We’ve just driven into town, there’s a piano on the kerb outside our hotel.  A note scrawled on yellow paper, propped against the open lid –

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Unusual sight.  Unprotected piano outside Europa Inn, St. Andrews-by-the-sea, New Brunswick
Signed: Simone Ritter .  Work in progress, she says,  stay tuned …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piano  won’t stay tuned for long, squatting outside in the elements 

Intrigued, curious.

Who’s the lady?  What’s her plan?

We check into Europa Inn, Husband and I.  Two nights.  Delightful auberge in sleepy, small town seaside setting, old fashioned European charm.

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Serenity by the sea.  Yep. That’s what I’d call it.
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Europa Inn: flights of backstairs and balconies full of pink petunias

       

 

 

 

 

Old-world nostalgia and a plethora of      prewar/war-time memorabilia …

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Old iron safe (from town’s namesake church) in quiet backroom of Inn
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Europa Inn.  Famous for signature  eight-course dinner banquet by Chef Markus Ritter. Must-do tourist experience in New Brunswick,  as per travel guide 

 

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Did the road trip instead!

On summer road trip with husband.

Spectacular paintings jostle for elbow room on walls.  Struck by joie de vivre, bright light and vibrant energy in them.

Signed:  Simone Ritter.

Breakfast- a mouthwatering masterpiece.  Friendly host, proud hubby, Chef Markus Ritter, gives glowing account of talented wife’s hobby-turned-profession.  

Simone Ritter Art …   

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Simone Ritter’s  artwork (on display for sale) lines the walls of Europa’s dining room

Leave two days later.  Weather’s changed, sporadic showers.  Piano clothed in plastic protection.

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A raincoat for poor piano on the morning of our departure .

 

 

 

 

 

Never encountered Simone in person. Forgot to ask about the piano. Wish I had.  Kept wondering …

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

My mind is an interesting place I’ve been told.  

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This is my mind, where nothing is impossible!

“It’s about perspective,” I reply,

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She’s too small or the chair’s too big? (Moncton, New Brunswick, 2015)
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It’s how one views things …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– “being able to see where there’s nothing to see.”

When waters swirl sixty feet deep, who’d imagine the possibility of a stroll on the ocean floor?

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Chocolate waters around Flower Pot rocks. (High tide, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick)
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Hard to believe … a walk on the ocean floor?
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Husand (left) standing where waters stood sixty feet high
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Walking the ocean floor. Sixty-foot high waters have receded. 
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Husband standing under centre of arch.  (Check first photo.  This archway was completely submerged)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A parable?  Sort of.

Waters did recede, in spite of what we saw when we first arrived …

Which is the definition of faith.  Sort of.

Hebrews 11: 11  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see … 

………………………………………………………………….

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Seeing beyond the physical reality –

Which brings me back to when eye sees what doesn’t yet exist –

Like knowing when garbage is more than garbage …

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For example –

(1) Old washbasin – just  an unusual lily pond-in-waiting –

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Didn’t throw out the sink. (After fall bathroom renovations)  Hurry up, summer!
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Won’t look like this one, tho’!

 

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For sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)  An ordinary bottle  … a prospective tree ornament, of course!

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Colourful chopstick, shiny marbles and sea shells and … voila! (In my summer garden)

(3)  The old kitchen sink – a perfect container for growing swamp plants 

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After kitchen renovations (In my summer garden)

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(4)  That tired saucepan – an eccentric hanging container for a flowering summer plant

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Rope to hang  it with and hurrah for blooming beauty-to-be!

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Mr. Pot Man (Clay pots are not just for planting in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5)  Ancient pots and pans make whimsical garden ornaments

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Kitchen Corner (In my summer garden)
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Not just a bundle of old twigs (neighbour’s garden)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daughters issue dire edict when ensuite toilet is replaced: “No planting flowers in it, Mom. Not going in our garden.”

I give my word!

See a bath tub tossed out on sidewalk recently, imagination bubbles over.  So tempted. Wish I could carry it home.  

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Threw the old one out!  (There’s a limit to creative art …  even I have my standards!)
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Kerb-side tub.  It looked like this .. would have made a gorgeous garden planter – sigh! (Bed and Breakfast, Annapolis Royale, Nova Scotia)

Which brings me all the way back to Simone’s piano.

A year and a half’s gone by.  Often wondered about it.  Have to know …

Find Simone Ritter on Facebook and shoot off private message. She sends picture of finished work with a note –

Simone writes: It was popular with the passers by during the summer months, even in the unfinished stages.  Unfortunately a storm came through and ripped the plastic off the piano.  The heavy rains made the wood swell and then it could not be played anymore …

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…  her handiwork
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Ta da!

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely breathtaking …

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Gorgeous explosion of creativity.  Well done, Simone!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

It’s  all about  knowing how to look –

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… in the most unexpected places
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Husband with tour map 

 

Living in the possibility of the moment –

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Picture of a woman taking a picture of her shadow.  (Happened to look out of high-rise window and captured the moment)

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And honing the inner vision –                                       

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Me reflected in neighbour’s glass door, seen through glass pane of laundry room door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you see what you see?

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A hug or a serpent? (Neighbour’s front yard)
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Dead wood or sculpture?
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Just a car or dawn-in-the-windows? (On the driveway)
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Stars in my eyes. (Reflection in family room mirror)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……………………………………………………………………………….

And that’s Life According To Me, a deliriously expectant resident of  La La Land!

Love living there …

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More than content to be one of the Fools Who Dream 

Because, ultimately, it’s about the final, impossibly possible picture –

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Life’s glorious gifts, hidden in plain sight –

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… just waiting to be unwrapped

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Of course I do !

Unimagined sweetness –

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… and eaten up in a single go!  (Guilty. When Rosalyn brought dessert)
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… just begging to be tasted

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Finally a thaw in the air.  Milder days ahead. 

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So thankful.        IMG_20170226_214313

Until next time,

sincerely

 

PS:  Meet the Ritters of Europa Inn –

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Ritter family. Chef Markus, artist Simone and kids, Saint Andrews-by-the-sea, New Brunswick

And Puppy has the last word –

I do!

Gimme, Gimmee, Gimmeee!

Puppy adores presents.  Assumes every gift-wrapped package is for him –

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“Gimme, gimmee, gimeee ….” (Puppy and Ruwan)
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“Hey … gimme!”  (Puppy and Reshma)


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Nope!  

                 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got  caught red-handed on Christmas Eve, snooping  around tree.

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“To Pup” … gift tag and tissue flung aside.  Hole in the bag.  He found his present.
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Looks like it
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“Finally, all mine.” (Had to hide the bag till Christmas morning).
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“Don’t remember.  Never graduated !”
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 “Oh, hello Santa, it was you all the time!”
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So who killed Santa?
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Didn’t do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guilty …

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Not me!
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    Fine, call the cops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy lives in state of constant joyous expectation.

Fabulous way to live …

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“Something yummy, for sure!” (Puppy and Friend Jim)
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Every moment, no matter what comes along

Living life in Puppy Mode …

Sunshine and shadow – embrace it all.

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Me in splash of sunlight
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Christmas decorations on kitchen wall
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Ivy topiary in foyer
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Orchid on kitchen table

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s treasures – darkness, light; good, the bad, lovely and ugly.

Rich fodder for this writer’s pen, if nothing else …

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Driving home at dusk.  Lamplight over court.

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Life often presents real live parables.  Puppy is mine.

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…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I have dreams.

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More than one, actually
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BIG DREAMS
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Just did. 

A secret path leads to dreams.  Winds through dusty roads, up dim stairways and rugged steps, along endless corridors.  

Along the way –

  • Jeers, sceptics, wet blankets –
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Mean comments
  • Dead ends, slammed doors –
  • Grim warnings –
  • Unforseen restrictions –
  • Disappointments, endless waits –

And yet –

Impelling urges on, blazing inferno that won’t be quenched.  Lurks just beneath surface of immediate consciousness, hangs like  mist, a veil through which real world is viewed.

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Endless
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Clinic for  weary dreamers?
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As fast or as slow as it takes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still …    

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Yes! (Tiana’s T-shirt)
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That’s me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see … 

Fueled by burning urge to write –

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Really do  
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At my desk
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Out on the deck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, no matter how I feel –

Must keep going –

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You want me to … what?
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Hey, it’s freezin’ out here!

                   Okay, all done, and good luck with shoveling up that poop when the snow thaws …

Never mind what they say.

One piggy, second pig, third pig …

and …

Ha! 

Nope!  Long before that …

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Okay.
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A swine state of affairs!

And now –

Don’t know.  

Won’t find out till I try … 

Finally, one sweet day –

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And it was all worth it after all …
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Light at the end of the tunnel 

                                                            Aren’t you glad you made the climb?

Every day is Christmas for Puppy, any moment might bring gifts.

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Every day is NOT Christmas (back of scooter taxi, Colombo, Sri Lanka)
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                                                        Christmas Eve. Bone-shaped stocking – guess whose?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for Puppy, a parable of joy and daily expectation.

Gimme, gimmee … gimmeee!

Until next time,

sincerely

PS: The pictures in this post are all random clicks on Ipad and phone.

Toilet Paper Brides

New Year rolls in. 

Brings gifts –

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Soaring postage costs.  Not many Christmas cards last year.

 – three hundred and sixty five days untrodden, all gift-wrapped.

_20150601_100324

img_20161228_191113

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Reams of resolutions.  High hopes in spite of/ because of …

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What next? 

Then comes …

 Evening news.  Burning building collapses.

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Downtown Tehran. Authorities ignored warnings about structural weakness
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Flaming highrise falls down flat

 

 

 

 

 

Shades of 9/11 …

Pick up phone to text Neighbour–

Me:  (tap, tappity-tap) Hope your family wasn’t near the building that came down in Tehran.

Neighbour (texts):  Thank God, none of my family members was in that area.  I knew this building very well since my father used to have an office there when I was little.  My mother was working, so he would take me to his office after school.  It’s all so sad.

Me: (Tap, tap): Thank God.  Sad, yes.

Avalanche in Italy buries ski resort.  More earthquakes. Tsunami warning. Shooting in Texas mall.

img_8498

 Never ends.  So what’s changed?

 Nothing, it seems, but …

  • Must keep looking upward, focus outward, embrace light. 
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Puppy embracing light
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Dawn over neighbours’ homes
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Moonrise above next door’s roof
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Full moon at midnight through bathroom skylight
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Crescent moon and single star above neighbour’s house
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… little star

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 img_20161228_182006

– Must speak LIFE.

Proverbs 18: 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Daughters’ Christmas present hangs by writing desk.  Speaks loud and clear to Heart.  Heart leaps for joy –

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Merry Christmas Mom (that’s me!)             
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Husband’s wife.  Daughters’ mom.  ME.

– Mustimg_20170116_183143 believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes! Just getting started …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Inspired by Puppy’s determination to keep dreaming, believing –

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“Hey, Grams, wanna share? “
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“… it’s gonna fall!”

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When all else fails …

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Yahoo!  Dishwasher time …

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…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Box of Dreams sits by bedroom door.  Weighs a ton.

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Up to the brim.  Almost twenty years of journals
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Yes, mine.

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Now making entries in journal number thirty six.

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From the wildest dreams of …

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Been scribbling my heart out for years.

A dream catalyses the evolution of Something out of Nothing, sometimes through Unlikely Source.

Like toilet paper wedding gowns …

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Radiant Toilet Paper Brides at Rachel’s bridal shower
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You’ll never know till you try
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Just imagine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plan for the rest of 2017:

(1) Quit skulking  in life’s undergrowth   –

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Puppy’s arch-enemy, lying in wait

…  strive for the stars.    

(2) Look at the bigger picture –     

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Sky’s the limit
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Life in miniature.  Husband peeping into giant doll house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3)  Build more bridges (not fences) –

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Shut out of paradise.  All fenced out

(4) Think outside the box –

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You betcha!
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Too confined
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Don’t go there! (Puppy and friend)
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Oh, come on out!
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No way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5) Break out of the iron bars –

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“Someone lemme out!” (Puppy out of harm’s way during renovations)
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“Come on out. ” (Puppy’s sister, Jesse)
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“Can’t you see the door’s open, silly?”
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Sometimes the keys are in plain sight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what keeps holding you back?

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Unlocking door. (Husband after summer concert in the park)

         

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Endless!

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(6) Wear the weight of passing years like a  million dollar diamond tiara –

 With grace and elegance …

 (6) Resurrect dead dreams –        

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Kanatte Cemetary, Colombo, Sri Lanka
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Dying African violet.  Nursed it back to life.
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                                                                               LEAVE OUT.  DON’T PUT  IN GARAGE     (Sign on neighbour’s lawn)

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(7) Pray more –
_20150710_141818

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Grace before Christmas dinner

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…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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Puppy’s favourite pausing spot

                                                                                             Dear Me,

                                                                                             The dream finally came true ….                                                                                                                 

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I still write letters

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Who writes letters anymore? (Street corner, Colpetty, Sri Lanka)
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Never believe that

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Philippians 3: 13 But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Ahoy there!  All aboard …

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Wellawatte railway station, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Oh baby …

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Puppy and Rithika

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Never too early to start

 _20150423_184824

   

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Me?  Never!

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

Some day soon.

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Some day …

Thankful for dreams.  A reason to leap out of bed each morning.

Until next time,

sincerely

            

 

 

                                     

Aloha Sweet Things!

Meet  Sharyn Stone, my friend.  She and husband, Jeff, live the enviably idyllic barefoot life at Huelo Point Lookout Bed And Breakfast (www.maui-vacationrentals.com), in Maui. 

The English Duke/Earl of Somewhere-Or-Other had just honeymooned at Huelo Point with his fourth (fifth?) bride when Husband and I visited just before Christmas 2013.

Picture breathtaking, heart-stopping paradise.

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Sharyn at Huelo Point Lookout, Maui, Hawaii. (Bed and breakfast owned and operated by Dr. Jeff and Sharyn Stone)

First met Sharyn on the internet (gasp!) on a writer’s website, Fanstory.com

We each discovered our Writing Twin.  (Never thought to meet one in this lifetime.)

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Not really!  Uncannily related in many ways, tho’ ..
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Same fave novels as girls, same fave plays, poems, same passion for theatre.  Incredible serendipity.
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Husband with Jeff and Sharyn, Huelo Point Lookout, Maui

Sharyn is everything I’m not, the very opposite, possibly, as regards general outlook and life philosophy and yet …

We call each other Twinnie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This bio in her blog says it all –

ABOUT: SHARYN STONE

Getting older and, for the most part, having a blast!

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO LIVE YOUR DREAMS. YOU KNOW THE OLD SAYING … ‘IF NOT NOW … WHEN?’

I guess I’m all about following one’s dreams—even though, sometimes, those dreams change into others and we have to make that adaptation—but I have no intention of dying with my “music unsung”!

See what I mean?

 I’m half her height (mildly exaggerating), and  NOT a blonde bombshell– but I’ve no intention of dying with my “music unsung” either!

Sharyn posted on her Facebook page shortly after the dawn of 2017

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Old Girls Looking … What??  

That’s Sharyn all right!

Her dream’s coming true.

Tickets, anyone (click here)?

One-woman musical. A bittersweet, poignant, sometimes irreverent look into life as she’s lived it. Script, lyrics and acting by Sharyn Stone, storyteller par excellence, poet, playwright.

She sang and played for me from the show’s musical score, over the phone last month, just before Christmas.  

Almost picked up my feet and danced.

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Had the privilege of reading an early draft.

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Reading material on endless flight en route to  Sri Lanka

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Sparks of brilliance.  Definitely going places.

Felt it in my bones …

 

 

This is Sharyn with her adorable sidekick, Joyce Romero (82 years young) and the comment accompanying the email she sent along with the picture –

and you thought leaf blowers were for the GARDEN??? Think AGAIN TWINNIE!

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The wind-blown look.  Sharyn with Joyce, posing for OGLH poster (on her neighbour’s Harley).

_20150601_150607

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That’s for sure!
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No way.  Not those two!
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Old Girls, the demure version
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She most certainly is!

_20150711_170822
img_20160505_095939         Aloha, Sweet Things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

A peep into the final scene of Old Girls (with permission, copyright Sharyn Stone):

STORYTELLER/SHARYN: What’s that old guy looking at? (Speaking to “old guy”) Yes? Do you need the machine

MIME/MALE GYM MEMBER, OLD:  No, no thank you. It’s just that … well … I’ve been watching you for months now. You’re beautiful.  And I just want to say how great it is to see Old Girls like you …     Oops – that didn’t come out right

STORYTELLER/ SHARYN: Oh, ya think?

MIME/MALE GYM MEMBER, OLD:  Old girls … like you … looking … Hot! And I don’t mean … sweaty. You are seriously … HOT. On the INSIDE.  I mean …

The message?                                                    

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I’m not.

YOUTH IS A STATE OF MIND.

I agree.  One hundred percent.

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I’d rather not know.
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Go on!

_20150710_101443

Congratulations, Twinnie!  

Thrilled for you.   

Your name in lights …

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So here’s to all the dreamers who DARE to dream –
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Buying coffee at  Tim Horton’s.  She let me take a picture of the caption.
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Clipping from Toronto Star
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Thankful for the ability to keep dreaming in spite of naysayers, sneering sceptics.  Despite what life’s flung my way –
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Tune out the dreamkillers … and run.
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 My friend Joan Adams wrote on New Year’s day –
Dream Again
… To each one who’s forgotten to dream.
Do you remember that old suitcase
Where  dreams were hidden and no longer seen?
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Used with permission, copyright Joan Adams, another internet friend from Fanstory (who lives within visiting distance.)

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I believe.

Happy New Year!
Until next time,
sincerely
 PS: All the pictures in this post are clicks on Ipad and phone. 

Meet Maria

 House is undergoing renovations. 

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Puppy, a nervous wreck. (“Help! Where’s my spot?”)
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Sleep tight, Claire! Overnight guest beds down with paint pots by front door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clouds of dust, pails of paint –

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Inside the coat closet

I gasp, run for IPad.  Just remembered something …

Tap. Click.  Got it!

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Take a look at this …

… something Daughter said eight years ago.

Flashback to …

Several dark months when light in home is dimmed while Mother (me) undergoes treatment for late-detected breast cancer. Pretty much confined to bed.  A simple journey to the bathroom and back is long, exhausting.  Endless pilgrimages to hospital and clinics.  Can’t do much else besides.   Completely sapped of strength.

One day Daughter says –

“I guess God allows the pit to get so deep, so we can see how high his ladder can go …”

Bingo!

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How high can it go?
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Not high enough.  

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Grammatically incorrect t-shirt!

Words to heal or kill- power of tongue to build up or destroy …

 

 

Perspective alters instantly.  Pit is deep, very deep – yes – but ladder goes high, so high.  Begin to count blessings.  Endless list.  

People who love and care –  

  • Husband, Daughters, Family, Friends, Church (Kitchen lies idle. Meals come in unsolicited for seven months straight.
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Puppy, constant companion.  If eyes could heal ..
  • Maureen, who accompanies me to chemo sessions, sees me safely into house, remains awhile in driveway crying for me before driving away. 
  • Brother-In-Law, Jonathan, who spends 4 hours a day for a week, driving me to radiation through freezing rain and snow storms, so exhausted husband can have a break..
  • Puppy’s unwavering eyes on me. Doesn’t move from my bedside. (Never wanted a dog.  Can’t do without him now)   
  • Top notch medical care. Stellar surgeon and oncologist.
  • Knowing that everything happens for a reason.
  • Prayer.  Someone IS listening.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

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Husband wakes up each morning and says, “Good morning gorgeous!”

I cry the first time I hear him.  I’m grey,   bloated,  bald as an egg.  

He isn’t joking.

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He’s my man

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Meet Maria –

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I see Maria one morning at the chemo ward.   A pretty woman.  She begins to cry when the needle is inserted into her vein.  My heart aches.  In two weeks she’ll be as bald and as I am, with black nails and all the awful trimmings.  I don’t want her to suffer as I have. 

I place a hand on Maria’s and murmur, “You’ll be all right.”

She says, “How do you do it?”    img_20150801_202032

“You wake up each morning and ask for strength for the day.  At night say ‘thank you’ for the grace that took you through. Live one day at a time.  Don’t think about tomorrow.  It’s too frightening.”

We meet every three weeks at the hospital, talk on the phone.  Dark moments.  Shared strength.

Maria makes it.  So do I.  Sisters. There’s something about shared suffering.  Eight cancer-free years for us both this year.  Oncologist tells me I’m one of her success stories.

How high the ladder goes …

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Celebration time.  Hyrrah for Maria!         

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_20150710_103346                                                   Pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness

 Detest the wig.  Makes me itch, gets into eyes –

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Unloved.  Hardly used the wig.

Husband wears it to sixties hippy-themed costume birthday party some weeks back!

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Happy Hippy Husband.  Despised wig finally comes in useful!

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That’s my man!

 

 

 

 

Won’t ever forget that moment when head feels scratchy. Realize hair’s growing back.

What a feeling …

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Gorgeous full moon last week.  

Playing hide-and-seek over neighbour’s roof …

Roses still blooming in Garden –

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                                                                                              Standing tall.  Me in a puddle of sunshine.

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Hope is a precious thing.  Joy is priceless.  

Until next time,

sincerely

PS: The pictures in this post are all clicks from my IPad and phone.  Please share your thoughts and leave a comment.  Thank you for dropping in. 

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A dog’s life. Puppy sleeps in. 

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Real Life Sucks

The shadows catch my eye.  Long stooped frame with  cane, smaller figure keeping step.

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Walk with me

His steps falter, hers are spry.  She must have been a pretty woman in her youth.

Pause at traffic lights.  His shadow falls over hers, covers it.  Now they are one.

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Rosalyne and me standing behind them

Symbolic.  

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Young love –  Viking lass and her beau! 
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Can it last?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my perfect world –

Daughters: “What planet are you living on, Mom?” (Eye roll!)

Planet Naive?  

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He and me 

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Still grappling with a sense of let-down over the Brangelina breakup.  Can’t think why.

Real life sucks. (Borrowing Daughters’ phraseology.) 

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What happened to  till death do us part ?

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All by myself

Aunty Joyce and Uncle Rajan celebrated fifty years this past summer, Husband’s parents mark sixty next year.   

There has to be hope.

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The royal wave. (Rajan and Joyce, 50 years)  
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The In-Laws: Merlin the Magician and Vampire Girl ( Wimsy and Devi, coming on 60 years)
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Always hopeful Puppy.  The crumb will fall. .

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………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Change of subject.  A well placed seat on a porch/ in a garden corner, is a beckoning invitation.

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Gunther-and-Mary’s backyard
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Patriotic front porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slideshow – more leafy corners and slivers of heaven –

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An old chair in a green nook makes a marvelous stage for a potted plant. These dilapidated abandoned treasures found a home in my Eden –

Love how chairs add charm and character to a space (indoors or out).  Couldn’t love this one, though –

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See through pink plastic – yikes!

When I can’t sleep  I re-live  lovely moments.

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Like these –

  • Time spent with kindred spirits –                                                     
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Rosalyne and me at Word On The Street, downtown Toronto

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  • Rainbows in hosepipe mist and around the house –
  •  Puppy discovers playground –