Category Archives: Lifestyle

Can’t write . . . eating chocolate . . .

I don’t always eat sweets, but when I do, it’s usually chocolate.

Melt-in-the-mouth milk chocolate for me, although I understand if you want to be all healthful about it and eat dark chocolate.

Today is World Chocolate Day.

If you need an excuse to indulge . . . you’re welcome.

Here is a list of fair trade chocolate options.

Two small heart-shaped chocolate cakes with burnt sugar spikes, by @butteraimee
Chocolate desserts by @butteraimee

Servicing and light repairs

In the early days of rail travel, steam locomotives could only travel forward. Trains required turntables, like this one at the John Street roundhouse in Toronto, Canada, to turn them around for return journeys. While at John Street, the locomotives received “servicing and light repairs.”

Canadian Pacific rail car on the roundhouse at Roundhouse Park, Toronto, Canada.
Roundhouse Park, Toronto, Canada

According to the Toronto Railway Historical Association, locomotives serviced there were so attractively maintained, their appearance became known among railroaders as the “John Street polish.”

I’ll be taking a few weeks away for some “servicing and light repairs” of my own before turning around for a return journey, or at least some spit and polish before moving forward again.

Some of the time will be spent at my cottage—one of my roundhouses.

Do you have a “roundhouse.”

Orange and purple sunset over a lake

Revenue and paying

Where I live, in Canada’s National Capital Region, many people speak French. Perhaps the prevalence of the language around me is the reason why I began to ponder the word revenue.

In French, revenue is the feminine participle form of the verb revenir: to come back.

Elle est revenue. | She came back. 

For something to come back, it must go out in the first place. In other words, if you want revenue, put something out there, baby. She will come back. Elle reviendra.

These are the things I think about.

Also, paying attention. When we pay attention, we give our attention to something. Our attention goes out.

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, give my head a shake, and choose to pay my close attention to a single thing in my surroundings, I always get something back.

Movement. Flow. To and fro. Giving and receiving. That’s how we get rich.

Put something out there. See what comes back.

In the moment: Non-waiting

“When we release our clinging to what used to be and our craving for what we think should be, we are free to embrace the truth of what is in the moment.”

—Frank Ostaseski, in The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Life lessons come to us when we need them. Sometimes they brush against us gently, and we recognize them with a grateful nod. Other times, they clobber us senseless.

Usually they cluster, as if they know that we need more than one of a thing before we’ll open our eyes to important information.

A cluster of lessons about embracing the moment dropped in for tea with me lately.

First came a post on The Good Karma Cabin blog. In The Space Between Karen wrote about recognizing the need to surrender, even when everything around you is not going according to plan.

Next, I spoke with a friend who accompanied her mother in her final days. That’s hard. To navigate the difficult emotions she tried her best to stay in the moment.

This morning I read about non-waiting in The Five Invitations:

“The difference between ‘don’t wait’ and ‘non-waiting’ is like the difference between detachment and non-attachment. Detachment implies distancing ourselves from a particular object or experience. It can feel cool . . . Non-attachment simply means not holding on to, not grasping . . .

Non-waiting is a quiet welcoming, more of an invitation than a demand. When we stop leaning into the next experience by hoping for a particular outcome, or leaning into the past by hoping we might somehow change it, only then are we free to know this moment completely.”

—Frank Ostaseski, in The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Here I am, doing my best to recognize this life lesson with a grateful nod, so that it doesn’t feel the need to clobber me senseless before I get it.

It’s better to live in the moment in the mess than to miss the moment by focusing on why it’s not good enough.

Yellow daffodil in bloom
In this moment, my daffodils are blooming

A little poem to lead us to bigger things

Sunday was World Poetry Day, as proclaimed by UNESCO. In honour of that event, I have written a poem, which I will share with you now.

(Ahem)

I say . . .
I don't care what you say.
I see . . .
Yes, through my eyes.

But . . . that way, we're both blind.

. 

A poem to send us into the day with the intention of kindness to all and celebration of everyone, no matter how different from us they might be.

Our technology gives our generation an opportunity that generations before did not have.

  • We can reach out instantly across the world to share our stories.
  • We can learn and strive to understand the stories of other cultures.
  • We can solve problems together and share resources.

What an opportunity we have! But we’re squandering it with our hate and derision. We’re using technology to create deeper divides instead of to close the gaps.

We’re being little. I’m guilty of it myself.

For today, I’ll try to do better.

Poetry Creation Station
April is National Poetry Month. I have set myself the challenge for that month of writing a poem a week. (I don’t promise that it will be GOOD poetry.)

Irish-ish and vaccinated

My family is so many generations deep in Canada that I don’t really feel Irish. A little Irish-ish, maybe.

Enough that tomorrow I will drink Irish beer and eat Guinness Stew sopped up with Irish Soda Bread.

I do it to honour my ancestors who immigrated and suffered—really suffered—so that I can sit in my warm house and eat plentiful food in good health. They lived in a remote log cabin. No plumbing. No furnace. No Mac’s Milk on the corner or butchery down the street.

It is especially fitting to do so this year, during a pandemic, because in 1866 my ancestors lost three children in one week to a diphtheria epidemic.

Children aged 13, 11 and 9 just . . . gone . . . in the space of a week.

Three children in one week lost to a disease that we never have to think about because WE HAVE VACCINES.

Time has made some people complacent. North Americans born after 1920 don’t know how death used to brush up close in daily life. Our generation has never seen with our own eyes an entire family wiped out in a week, because WE HAVE VACCINES.

Cheers and Éirinn go Brách!

And when it’s your turn, get the vaccine.

Shamrock cookies
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com