In Search Of….


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I took this in New Westminster in Queen’s Park

In a week I’ll be heading  back into training again and I will continue to share my journey with you.  It is my hope that I can improve my physical well being enough so that I will feel confident in training for the 1/2 Marathon that will take place in May 2015.  The 1/2 Marathon running clinic will begin in January.  I’ve got to shake off these shackles that smack of defeat.  I’m a hell of a lot tougher,  stronger and resilient than the ravages of cancer treatment.

I’ve been in an oddly reflective mood as of late. After discovering that one of my bosses’ is in fact my fourth cousin and I’ve been considering this thing we call family.

Family ties became damaged then non-existent at an early age for me. When I was a little girl I believe we interacted with family members on a regular basis.

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Cousin Mike & me at age 4

The violence in our home, however, and the acerbic attitude that my father often displayed resulted in a string of damaged relationships that unfortunately he never tried to mend.  The trickle down effect was that my sisters and I were estranged from extended family as well.

By the age of fourteen I had very little contact outside my immediate family.

I got into this thing of sending out Christmas cards, however. That became my way of letting extended family know that I was still on this planet and that I still thought of them and wished them well.

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Our dog Trixie, sister Norma & Me

I may not have seen you for twenty some odd years, but guaranteed you’d receive that seasonal greeting from me.

I’ve carried on with this tradition of mine for some 35 years or so.

I get that our family has known many tragedies. It’s tough to bond with people when they are in crisis. I know this all too well as the majority of my youth was spent in this mindset.

Hell, I didn’t even like spending time with me…

And how the fractures and traumas that occur within a family affect each of us can vary quite dramatically as well.

I pulled out all these photos that I’ve never really taken a particularly good look at. My dad’s girlfriend had inherited his estate, whatever that was, and upon her death her son Mike showed up and dumped broken bowling trophies, a moth eaten blanket my grandmother had made and grocery bags filled with old photographs that were in very bad shape along with my father’s ashes on my kitchen table.

I tucked everything away, including the ashes. I’d deal with it all in good time.

Nine years later and here I am peeking through these images and I think I appreciate them more now than I would have back when they first came into my possession.

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From left:  Gr. Grandfather James Pilling, John, little Arthur (my grandfather), Annie, Emma (Gr. Grandmother), Walter & Ellen

There was a framed image that had been haunting me. Today I discovered it was the Pilling family. In it, my great grandfather, great grandmother, my grandfather and his siblings. The photo was taken circa 1905-07 or thereabouts.

The Pilling clan dates back to the 1,700’s in the Yorkshire vicinity of England. I do know that we came over during the Battle of Hastings in 1066 from Normandy.

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Gr. Grandmother, Emma Pilling (Burrows)

As I researched these people, a part of me became incredibly curious about them. What were they like? What moved them?

My great grandfather was a carpenter. The photo of the family is so very proper. The oldest boy, John, died at 25. Another son, Albert, who was born in 1886 died the same year.

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Gr. Grandfather, James Pilling

There were tragedies just as today there still are, but then you have those moments when you just rise above it all. I found myself wondering about each individual and if they were happy. Had they been given the opportunity to garner an education? Were they pursuing their hearts desire?

Then I ventured off looking at my mother’s side of the family. I had thought my grandfather’s name was Andrew. It wasn’t. It was Andres Carl Erikson.

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My mother, Sylvia Pilling (Erikson)

Born in Iceland in 1888, he also was in World War l as was my Grandpa Pilling. On his paper work for entry into the War, they asked what his trade was. He wrote that he was musician.

My mother spoke fondly of how well he played the violin. There was a twenty plus age gap between my Grandma and Grandpa Erikson. He died just before my birth.

There was something very poignant about listing his ‘trade or calling’ as a musician.

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I took this in when I was in NY in 2011

There is not much information on this side of the family. My grandmother was Gudrun Jonasson. This was shortened to Runa. To her grandchildren she bore the Icelandic title of Uma (grandma).

She was a sweet and good woman.

The memories that I do have of my grandparents is often in shadow. Fleeting glimpses of our time together peek out at me.

I can recall making cinnamon rolls with my Grandma Pilling. She told me I would be a great cook because I didn’t rush.

I remember going to the horse races with my Grandma Erikson. She bet $2 on every horse and was so excited when she won. She was also a huge fan of $1.49 on Tuesday at Woodward’s Department store which no longer exists.

It is these little pockets of endearment that I hold so jealously close to my heart as there is a little bit of me in them.

My Grandfather Pilling took us out fishing on his boat from time to time. Once a squall was coming and he sent us below decks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick. The roiling waves turned my stomach into mush

At times he seems so strict, then he’d give you wink.

There were at times so many underlying messages filtering through. They were shaping me, directing who I would become.  Yet, sadly, I didn’t really know these people. Not really.

My time with them was surface time. Not a lot of depth. This was also true of the relationship I had with my parents.

When mom passed I sat with the reverend who would be officiating at her memorial. He asked me several simple questions  about her. Things that I should have known. Her favorite song, favorite colour, how my parent’s met, what her career desires were, etc., etc., etc.  In truth I didn’t know.

This woman who had birthed me was in many ways a stranger as was the man responsible for the other half of my DNA.

And with this awareness and admission came a very deep sadness.

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I took this just a few months back in August down at English Bay in Vancouver

Today as I stared at the people in the photographs it occurred that I should have known the connection. Were family stories told and embellished over the course of time?

The young boy whose arms are crossed defiantly across his chest was my grandfather…should I not have seen a bit of myself in his persona?

And I think that had I been told about them, had their stories passed along, had I felt that bond to these people a little more intimately that maybe, just maybe the search for self would have been a little easier.

Then again, that’s an awfully bold statement to put on those who’ve come before. Perhaps the honesty in this life is to really just appreciate who you are at any given time in your life and to accept and challenge to yourself to be the best person possible.

I know who I am now and I thank those who came before me.

In the human condition we can only offer our own experiences, yet what of the hopes and  dreams transferred to me through the code of genetics  and DNA and memory.

You are living your life influenced by those you’ve never known to satisfy what was unattainable to them.

Provocative thought.

And on that note I’ll say good-night.

 

 

 

 

In Twenty-Four Hours


 

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I could begin by telling you it was a dark and stormy night. I wouldn’t be lying as clichéd as it sounds.

And for the record, most nights are dark at some point, though not necessarily stormy.

I had gone for a run with my running clinic. It’s been tough lately, but over the last few weeks a new resolve has begun to emerge.

I will be working with a personal trainer effective November 1, 2014. I am going back into training mode.

I want to get healthy, I want to get conditioned. Come January 2015 if I feel I am prepared I will enter into training for the ½ Marathon in May 2015.  No more excuses. No more feelings of defeat.

The other night I dreamt I was running through Queen’s Park. It was still dark out and I was greeting the trees, the air, the moon, the earth…and I felt so light, so alive…

Then I woke.

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It was a dream of what I used to do a little over a year ago. I realized in that moment how much I want that simple pleasure back. The tears stung my eyes as I curled up into my pillows.

I’ve got several goals that I want to bring to fruition over the next little while and the only way I know how to do this is to buckle down and get ‘er done!

In any case, let’s get back to this dark and stormy night of mine.

I had puttered about the place when I got home. I made dinner and cleaned up.

Then I worked on some old photographs, scanning them into my computer and giving them new life to share with family and friends.

A few ideas popped into my head regarding stories for future books. I’ve several on the go now. I think I have a story to be told in every genre at this point.

I was happily tired when I slipped between the sheets.

Nirvana claimed me swiftly and I fell into a deep and restful slumber.

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I like to keep my bedroom window open just a bit to keep fresh air circulating year round. Else wise I find it can get just a little too stuffy.

There is something very comforting about curling up in my blankets with the cool of the room surrounding me. The exhaustion of the day found me melting into my bed as each muscle tensed then relaxed gratefully.

I was a good two hours or so into this night’s sleep when something drifted softly over, caressing my face.

I was being summoned back into the waking world.

A strange howl now filtered into my ears as I was drawn from the realm of sleep. The sensations of my faced being stroked caused alarm.

It was a rude awakening at this point. Disorientated, my eyes popped open. I was in a defensive and combative mood as I rose from the sleep state.

Above me a white billowy thing hung in the air. It was massive, big man!

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From somewhere a scream erupted. It was from me as my brain now began feverishly to put together these events and respond accordingly.

The howling that had assaulted my ears upon waking began to dissipate and with it the white billowy omnipresence that, for a nanosecond, held me captive in all my vulnerability.

Awake, well kinda sorta,  with this heart of mine pounding like a jackhammer doing triple time I followed the visage of the white billowy thing.

It had drifted off toward my bedroom window.  A moment later my laughter filled the room as I curled up to one of my pillows.

The white billowing menace had been the sheer curtain that adorns my window.

I decided to get up and calm myself and watch the storm play out for a bit.  I must admit I love a stormy night.

Trees were being punished ruthlessly as the wind factor fluctuated between 85 – 100 km per/hour.

Sounds of things being knocked over or tossed about added a certain credence to the power of this thing.

And the rain, well it would come down in sheets then nothing.

I suppose the wind was just raking the storm clouds across at such a rapid pace and squeezing every cloud dry in its wake.

I smiled as I thought of how fresh the air would be in the morning and with that I returned to bed.

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Wednesday I muscled through work as a host of issues seemingly tried to impede my progress. I was indeed grateful for the day’s end.  I had gone for my nine month check*up regarding the cancer thing.  Everything looks great and they extended the period to four months before the next one.  I can dig it.

I had waited patiently for an hour after my appointment time before I was in fact ushered in.  Now I headed off to the third floor to offer up some blood for their ongoing research.  I had agreed to do this way back when, thinking that if I could help in some small way then perhaps it’s worth it.

I don’t know that I’ll continue with this, however, as the blood lab at the Cancer Agency sucks.  Not once in the year and half that I’ve been dealing with them have they been able to draw blood without butchering a few veins.

I have deep veins that are also known rollers.

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I always pass this information along to the whomever is burdened with the task of extracting blood from me.  Every other lab I’ve ever dealt with never has an issue and have always managed quite easily with this knowledge to do the job swiftly and professionally.

Not the Cancer Agency.

I graciously informed the young woman as she wrapped the rubber band around my arm to do so tightly and I made a fist.  The vein rose immediately.  Did she get the needle?  No.

She started to flick it with her finger then press down on it.

“It’s ready.”  I informed her pleasantly.

She gave me a dubious look then continued to flick her finger and press down.

I had that sense of dread now as the vein was sinking fast.  Still she got the needle ready, inserted it and started to dig around.  I was pumping my fist furiously trying to bring it back hoping it would pop again but I knew this was to no avail.  The vein had collapsed as it often does yet she continued to try and find it.

I closed my eyes and sighed.

Sheepishly the technician removed the needle and covered the area with a cotton swab and taped it down.  She apologized and said that she would get her superior to perform the task.

Then she disappeared calling “Ruby…oh, Ruby. “

Ruby was apparently very busy.  I would have to wait.

I’d had to go and plug the parking meter once already and now I sat hoping that  I still had some time left on the hour that I’d added.  Dark thoughts entered my mind as I considered the possibility of a traffic ticket.  It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been in this position and there are a number of traffic tickets that I simply refuse to pay.  I really believe that parking should be free for patients.

In any case Ruby sent another technician in to do the job.

The woman smiled confidently at me. “Having problems are we?”

Curious comment.

“No.  I’m not having any problems, thanks.” I smiled back.

She gave me a curious look in return and I once again explained the issue with my veins.

She wrapped the rubber band around my left arm now as the right one was done and the bruising had already begun to spread beneath the cotton swab.

I fisted up and the technician told me I shouldn’t do this then tried to loosen my fingers.  That good ‘ol sinking feeling returned as I explained that this was the best way to get the vein to pop.

She looked at me stonily and I got thinking about the meter that was ticking.

I released my fist and she began to whack my arm with two fingers and press down.  Oye!

I watched rather detached now as she slapped the crux of my arm trying to get the vein to show itself.  Then her eyes drifted down to the vein that runs prominently up the forearm.

I didn’t even have time to object.  The needle was out and in within a heartbeat.  This was not a good place and I am certain she knew this.  The blood flow was slow so I began to pump my fist to increase it.

Our eyes met then and whatever she’d been about to say was swallowed.

I wanted to punch Ruby in that moment and I don’t even know who the hell Ruby is.  Frustration washed over me in a way I don’t like.  The bruising was already beginning and it took a couple of minutes of pumping my fist before the three vials of blood were collected.  Removing the needle she placed a cotton swab on the entry point and my thumb replaced her finger.   A black bruise at least one inch in diameter had already formed.

She was contrite.

So I do believe I’ve held up my end of the bargain with regards to the research.  If they want to continue with it then they’ll have to allow me to go to the blood lab of my choice as I’m done with that one.

Fortunately no parking tickets were littering my car so I drove back to work with the radio cranked singing out of key.  The frustration now released and gone.

A torrential rainfall greeted the drive home.  I had packed up to hit the gym after work and as I snaked along the highway at a leisurely pace the exhaustion of the day began to settle in.  News of the young soldier who was gunned down at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa filtered in over the radio.  Like the majority of Canadians I felt a deep sadness settle upon me.

I came home and let the sofa envelope me as a I fell into a light sleep.

A half hour later I got up and made dinner and watched the news of the days events.

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This photo was taken a few minutes before Corporal Cirillo was gunned down.

 

A gunman with ties to some radical ‘religion’, ,and I use the term loosely, had killed Cpl. Cirillo then waltzed over to the Parliament to shoot up the place.

Why?

And you know, being chosen to stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a huge honour for those selected.  The guns they carry don’t have bullets in them.  They stand for those who’ve fallen in combat.

Whatever entity the gunman felt he was serving and that will embrace him in the afterlife won’t be a fair and just one, of this, I’m certain.

A young man, a soldier, father, son, brother, friend, lover had his life stolen

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And as I crawled into bed all I could wonder was why?

Twenty-four hours had passed and now I lay mourning a young man I’d never met who was everything to so many, whose energy was fabulous.

Rest in peace Cpl. Cirillo.

 

Truth and Wimsy


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Jayne and I sat in a lovely restaurant on Friday evening enjoying our meal.

We can easily agree to disagree and I love the debates we engage in.

She doesn’t always share my point of view and often challenges it.

This is one of the things I love about her.

She challenges me to look deeper and think actually how I in fact deduce and entertain my reasoning.

I love debates, I love the thought process and I love to be challenged in some manner as it only assists in my growth. While I may well have some very strong opinions I am always open to new ideas and concepts.

Do you want to save the world from itself?

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I watch the news and see all that ails and plagues this planet of ours. And while I realize the news program being viewed has been designed to entertain to some degree, that they’ve taken a host of stories and then decided how they are going to be delivered, as it is a business after all.

I recall watching Walter Cronkite deliver the news in my youth. You could see news people in the background of the newsroom at their desks, smoking cigarettes and moving about gathering information as it came in. Camera shots moved in a little closer to isolate the ‘background’ disturbances.

There was a certain trust back in those days that the news being delivered was based on fact.

The age of flower power was then ushered in. Young people were rising up questioning all the propaganda that had been fed to them. Furthermore, they weren’t buying it.

Many of us thought there was a better way. The utopian dream was born.

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No more fighting, no wars, no more power struggles and we would all live equally and in harmony with one another. For a brief moment I think I believed it was possible.

This news of a new initiative to remove the insidious actions that mankind had been doling out since the beginning of our time on this planet blinded me for a moment.

It wouldn’t be that easy. You cannot erase eons of conditioning just like that.

If you are raised to believe in a certain ideology it is very hard to challenge it, let alone change it.

I had spent a lifetime wanting to feel completely comfortable in my own skin.

Prior to my caner diagnosis, I had begun to feel as if I finally reached that pinnacle. Things were beginning to settle into place and I’d never felt more at peace with myself as when I embarked on the training for the ½ Marathon.

Then just as quickly has that illusion emerged it was gone.

Cancer will do that to you. The body was now under siege.

And so I began to look deeper.

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I’m not the insecure and naïve girl I was some twenty plus years ago and my views on this world that we live in have changed considerably.

I am more than just the flesh that houses my soul, my spirit. Yet I want that sense of unity with the sum of all my parts.

I look at this world and some of the major issues that we are facing today. Ebola is raging through West Africa and I wonder why we’re not applying the knowledge and remedies we have gained in the Americas with those who are most vulnerable is really beyond me.

The death count seems to double every couple of weeks. The sad thing is the people living there aren’t really aware of what a crisis this has become consequently becoming very vulnerable to infection. And even the removal and disposal of those infected who’ve died must be done quite delicately so as not to infect the living.

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And we watch in animated horror and it doesn’t really affect us, now does it?

Or will it?

One man on a flight to the U.S. had this virus…now two nurses who attended to his care have contracted it. He has since died.

Ebola has made its appearance here in North America. We’re not so complacent any longer. Those tendrils of fear now begin to spread.

I recall a few years back when we had the SARS outbreak. That one came over from Asia.

And the next thing you know the latest fashion trend was the surgical face mask.

Back to the news of the day.

Then of course all the atrocities that are being committed against mankind are reflected as well.

Is the vision that I hold of this world an honest one?

It’s debatable as are most things.

I suppose that’s why I’m exploring the human equation.

I challenge the idea of an ‘eye for an eye’.

Think about this statement. You take one of my eyes out and I’ll take one of yours. It balances out the conflict. We are back on an even playing field, yes?

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Or are we?

We pray that the rights and freedoms we’ve fought so hard for will not be stripped from us, yet governments of the day quietly pass laws stripping them from us as it is no longer ‘cost effective’ to have them in place.

And they’ll commission a study group lead by an ‘independent’ advocate of the government to review the issue…just for good measure and spend just few more precious tax dollars to ensure that all their bases are covered.

When conflict or a threat of some kind occurs close to home we suddenly feel very vulnerable and everyone is suspect. As a nation we don’t like to feel that frailty, as an individual we are horrified and fearful.

I feel incredibly small in comparison to the next layer of life that will be revealed, as it is a moment and it’s fleeting.

I haven’t been guaranteed anything regarding this life and why should I be?

I have this day and it’s mine to live.

We have our truths and much like the interpretation of a painting, a sketch, a poem and so on, truth is just as subjective.

And I’m still striving to find my authentic truth, that place where I am confident that all the energy I exude in a day is being utilized in a manner that will benefit all that surrounds me. That I am connected to this world of ours and those that inhabit it in a manner that is positive and honest.

And that’s all I can do at the moment.

Thanks for stopping and many blessings.

Peace.

 

Move Like….Gumby?


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The thought occurred as I was escalating up the escalator.

“You gotta move like Gumby, move like Gumby…you gotta moooooove like Gumby!

I have been telling myself this quite a bit lately.  “Just move, girl.  Just get up and move.  Walk, dance, do something!”

When did this become so freakin’ hard?

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I’m having to reschedule when I ‘move’ and I definitely need to do it more often.

The new job has found me with my head in the books pretty much the entire day.  Oh, I take bathroom breaks and run up and down the stairs from time to time and feed myself when hunger occurs.

I’m working in an industrial park with a lot of green space around me, however, with only a half hour allotted for lunch I can’t really get a good walk in.

But perhaps a 15 to 20 minute power walk could work.

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I’ve decided to get up a half hour earlier to do a brief workout in my living room.  It’s a start.  I am running with my group again and it has been brutal.

I’ve finally accepted what my body has been trying to tell me for the last six months.  “Slow down and start over.”

I was talking with Deborah who is one of the run leaders tonight about this.  Both she and her husband Peter have had health issues over the years and it’s tough.  You just want to get over with being ‘sick’ and get back to your life.

My head was convinced that I could just pick up where I left off and I think I really wanted to believe just that.  The last six months as I have tried to just push through the damage caused as a result of treatment I have finally conceded that fact.

Yup, it took a little while to sink in.  I don’t always want to see what is glaringly in front of me.

I really wanted to treat the whole cancer debacle as just a minor inconvenience.  I have accepted that it was little more than that.  I have accepted that physically I’ve taken a bit of a beating.  And I’ve accepted that regaining my health is going to be a little painful for a while.

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So it’s back to the beginning.  I want to move like Gumby.  I want to be all twisty bendy without the feeling like the tin man.

And I shall!

 

Wait For Me…


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The CPR train station at 8th Street and Columbia St. in New Westminster, BC  – Then & Now

Yesterday I went out for a walk.  Now that the festivities have subsided regarding the unveiling of the monument commemorating the photo ‘Wait For Me, Daddy’, I decided to check it out.

They have also placed images from New Westminster’s storied past.  New Westminster is not very big in area.  Just eight square miles or thereabouts.  Many of the old buildings are still in existence.

Above is the old train station.  It is now vacant having recently shut down after serving as a steak house for many years. I hope the city will polish it up and perhaps it could serve as a museum.

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The images are all taken in the vicinity of 8th St. and Columbia.  The first image with the crowd of people is of Hyack Square where the monument now stands.  The prominent building that you see still exists and is a Salvation Army Thrift Store.  The middle photo is the stair wall that has all these images on it.  Hyack Square, by the way, sits between the Salvation Army Thrift Store and the old Train Station.

The third image was taken at 8th Street looking up Columbia St.  The taller building to your left still stands and house a coffee house on the main level with offices making up the rest to the building.

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And this is the monument that now stands in Hyack Square.  The detail is remarkable.

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I really like the expressions and with all the hands reaching out the division of this family has already begun.

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The artists commissioned for this piece did a fabulous job of capturing this in a rather odd vortex of sorts.  It also lights up at night.

 

 

The Human Condition


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The poster showcases a muscled beast of man with a shaved head and a trophy belt tossed over his shoulder as if it was merely an after thought. The expression, while shadowed, appears remote and angry, yet oddly defeated?

It is flanked by a framed sketch of a whipped latte and a cup of coffee.

The poster seems oddly out of place. Still, in this hang out of mine there are many contradictions.

I, myself, am one in many ways.

The balance between sinner and saint really is non-existent yet I foolishly try to sell this world this odd combination of what, I’m not too sure. I think I’m fooling myself more than anyone else.

And to what purpose?

It is simply a fact of being human I suppose.

I’ve been inflicted with this condition you see…no way around it. Some manage the human condition better than others. Then again it is dependent on so many infinite combinations, is it not?

The consumption of my meal is taking place as I listen idly to the conversations that are filtering through around me.

Germany apparently started both world wars. Ah yes, the quest to dominate, to run the whole show. Unfortunately far too many have sought that narrow minded way of thinking.

What is the imagined prize I cannot help but wonder.  Power?  Control?

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Our waitress prattled on at the table behind me about ‘Fright Nights’. The thrill, the excitement, the fear, the fun!

‘Fright Nights’ is basically our local fair ground reconstructed with Haunted Houses to celebrate the season of Halloween.  Oh yes, it has indeed become a season albeit a short one.

Staff members are dressed in grotesque costumes with frightening makeup and chase you about or jump out at you hoping to scare the bejeezus out of you.  Often they are very effective.

I’ve gone a few times.  One thing they do is turn the lights off on our glorious old wooden Roller Coaster. My friend Kathy and I went on it a few years back. They have a camera mounted to take your picture just as you make your first descend.

I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed so hard at our expressed horror. We bore the same expression with our then blonde manes practically in a vertical position upon our heads. Our eyes were wide, mouths open and the wind factor added a rather animated effect to our expression.

It was the most unflattering photo of the two of us ever and but one of the funniest.  .

I enjoyed it immensely but truth be told, I wasn’t willing to cough up twenty dollars for the damn thing.

After work today I met a woman I went to school with for a drink. She lives very close to my new place of employment so I danced across the street to the Deep Cove Brewery to sample their wares.

Impressive! Christmas giving will be full of spirits this year.

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Sharon was responsible for putting the cruise we went on earlier this year together.  And it was one of the best trips I’ve had.   And Sharon is a lovely woman.  She is in this life to live it fully and from what I can determine she’s doing a damn fine job of it.

And we make our choices on the direction we want our life to take, don’t we? Some of us do this with a great deal of clarity while many of us do this with blinders on.

Personally I’ve stumbled through this life’s journey and it has been an interesting one

At times we are all asked if we have any regrets.

The guy in the UFC poster I described earlier looks like he may have some, though it may debatable as to what the origin may be.

I love the line in ‘My Way’.

Regrets, I’ve had few…but then again…too few to mention…”

Perhaps I should have regrets. But at the end of the day, I have to accept that I made the decisions and choices that I did based upon the knowledge, or lack thereof, that was available to me at that time.

Expansion can only occur when you reconcile all the emotions that have bound you and release them.

Letting go of fears that have confined you for a lifetime, beliefs that may well have been misguided and the self-depreciating manner by which we subject ourselves to is not an easy task.

I’ve the muscled man in the UFC poster, a baseball game (the World Series) and a soccer game vying for my attention in a restaurant with about eight pages of food on their menu.

Pizza, pasta and beer.

I won’t be some skinny mini, of this you can be sure. I have no desire to be cut and rock solid.

I just want to enjoy a healthy body once again so that I can enjoy all the activities that I fought so hard to have in my life.

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Pizza and beer will not assist me in this endeavour. And while I try to persuade the rest of the world that these two items should indeed be considered superfoods, I can assure you that I am not too convincing. After all it is self motivated on my part and rather delusional at best.

We like what we like, even if our arteries are hardening at the thought of it.

The question of air pollution resulting from the use of automobiles certainly hasn’t deterred our desire to drive or our love affair with our automobiles.

And while I am trying to consciously cut down on the eco footprint that I am making, I know I could do better.

Why don’t I?

The answer to this is simple. I’m human. No, it’s not a cop out. We are conditioned and I am trying to change this on a daily basis, trying to turn those habits that have been ingrained into something far more constructive and benefical.

I want to be a kinder and gentler being. Oh, there are many things I want to aspire to. There is a bombardment of stimuli, good and incredibly bad, that I and everyone else inhabiting this planet is assaulted with each day.

Dear old technology rushes and washes over us like a tsunami. Oddly, we welcome the assault.

The news about the iPhone 6 and its release to the world held my attention simply in the absurdity that people were waiting in lines over night to attain this new object

Why?

So why the fascination and the must have? Will it change your life? Make it better than it was a day ago?  Not likely.

But again, it all comes back to the human condition.

That moment of supremacy, however fleeting, when you feel you’ve got the edge on this thing we call life.

Stick that phone in the pocket of your jeans and find out the next day that it’s warped.

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Back in the 1970’s women were making a real mark on their position in this world. They were challenging the role that they had been cast in on every level. Equality, fairness in the workplace, and a host of other inequities founded the women’s movement.

Then someone whispered in a woman’s ear…you’ll be far more successful if you dress like this and look like that.

We were on coltish legs understand and suddenly those insecurities were turned inward.

Today aging is considered a disease. It can be fixed though. There is a surgical procedure for everything now.

Wrinkles? Botox

Fat belly? Liposuction.

Sagging lips? Collegen shots.

Boobs? Implants or a reduction.

And to what purpose?

How will this enhance our human experience?

I really don’t think it will.  Oh, you might well think that the $10,000 that you spent on correcting the flaws that society insisted made you unacceptable will improve the quality of life…but sadly that can only come with acceptance of who you are.

With every perceived imperfection included in this acceptance.

Last year when chemotherapy induced the departure of my hair, I stood in the shower rather fascinated by the wads that slipped so easily from my head. My daughter shaved the remainder off at my request.

I stood for a time gazing at this bald head of mine.

It was a humbling moment yet equally liberating.

How much stock I put into my daily appearance, wanting to be accepted, wanting to be found desirable, and ultimately wanting to be loved.

Nothing had changed in my personage…just my appearance. I was the same woman I was a day ago, only now I was bald.

And it’s a dramatic change in such a visual society as ours.

But I’m alive. I’ve got another day, another moment, another chance.

These days the news is filled with men dressed in black beheading their fellow man.

Why?

Ebola is raging through West Africa and as it turns its insidious direction toward our continent the tendrils of fear are building.

Why are we not sending our knowledge and medicines over to West Africa?   Why are we not trying to save these people?

Oh, government officials will stand up for posterity’s sake and say they’ve committed so much to the effort while we watch yet another diseased body being lifted onto a gurney by a people wrapped in plastic.

What the fuck is going on?

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Lineups for days for the iPhone 6?

And everything is supersized or minimized. Our manic senses need to be filled. We need to feel normal in this abnormal world. We need to find sense in the non-sensical.

I saw the image on TV.

A figure shrouded in black standing next to a man in orange who was on his knees in all his fragility. A desert backdrop lent so much despair to the situation.

I gazed at the figure in black. What struck me was that this person had never known love; had never truly experienced its power. They wouldn’t be taking off a fellow man’s head had they.

And this saddened me so deeply.

They take these boys at such a young age. Feed them hate, fear and loathing. Promise things that will never be attained.

Now take a step back. I know it’s horrific. I know they need to be held accountable.

But what are we feeding the young minds of this world?

Love, compassion, empathy?  Gotta wonder.

Be a size zero, get your masters in anything, have a line of credit to live off because you’ll be paying off your student loan well into your 40’s, then pretend that you’re not polluting the world in that 3,000 sq. ft. home you live in that you can’t afford.

And across the globe young boys are being conditioned to serve a master that detests all you believe to be good and true.

They believe if they walk into a busy marketplace and blow themselves up and take a few of the bad guys with them, they are assured with their death that 76 virgins will greet them.

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that it’s the same 76 virgins for each and ever fool who tosses the gift of life away for an angry god.

And isn’t that the crux of it all?

We all think we know, believe we’ve been shown the way, the path….

The very fact that the man in black beside the victim to be persecuted is so well covered speaks volumes.

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They know it’s wrong. Gazing into that damnable camera they know it’s insidious.

That is why they are hiding, covering themselves.

Again, it is the human condition.

And I hurt for them as much as I do for the soul who is on his knees begging for mercy, for their life as they are remembering the love afforded them. In that moment they want to be enveloped by it, wrapped in it, lost in it.

And the one to take it from them, who stands shrouded in black covets it.  Yet he’ll never admit to it.

A week ago I stood in this town of mine and watched and took some shots as we commemorated a photograph that was taken at the beginning of World War II.

A young boy broke from his mother’s grasp reaching for his father who was marching off to war.

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I am a photographer, albeit an amateur. But I know why this shot struck a nerve worldwide and still does.

There is an honesty to the anguish, to the fear….

It is the last photo of the family as a unit.  A small boy in that moment knew somewhere deep within that his life was about to be forever changed.

And as I continue to see horrific images of people dying horrific deaths, I’ve no answers.

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I got up this morning and readied myself for work.

God, it was beautiful out! The moon still flirted in her magnificence, while the clouds that lingered shone pink and a mist hung mysteriously on the river wrapping the trees in a sultry manner.

I stopped to get my morning coffee and man I see frequently was curled up on the sidewalk.

“Could you mange a coffee for me this morning?” he asked.

“ Sure. You good with cream and sugar?”

I got him a muffin as well.

We exchanged pleasantries when I delivered the goods and he thanked me.

As I drove into work, an obscure thought slipped through the grey matter.

“What if this guy were Jesus in the expected second coming?”

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How many of us see these people as being invisible?  There are so many out there now, too many.  I don’t know what brought him to this point, in his life but as stated earlier, we make our choices then we live with the results.

Still, for some, well likely for many, the road is not quite as conquerable as we’d like.

I am a bit odd in that I’ve got the tenacity of a badger and the heart of horse. I look for the good, seek the good yet I’ve known enough crap to appreciate life on a whole different level.

And we only have this day.

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I wake each morning grateful. Another shot at doing, another chance to make a difference, another opportunity to influence change?

And I’m no one special; just a woman who has far too many things running through her head at any given time.

I am preparing at 8:39 PM to head home. The ad in the bathroom stall is somewhat confusing.

Collectible plastic toys are being offered. There are 800 in all. And as I do my business I find myself saddened. Sell your condoms, your taxis, your warnings about smoking or drinking too much…but toys?

What does that say about our footprint?

Another poster of the UFC guy is hanging in the bathroom.

Pausing I look at the image. I wash my hands and leave.

Nothing much to say really. They are selling a product. One I don’t adhere to and it makes me feel sad simply because of it’s physicality and intent.

Oh, I can assure you that when I watch hockey this year I won’t turn in horror when the gloves come off.

And again, it comes down to conditioning.

I am feeling chilled. Time to head home and wrap a fleece blanket about my feet.

We only this moment.

Enjoy it.

Peace be with you always and may love always shine its light.

The New Independence


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A teenage boy sits in the middle of the wilderness.  A shiny clean Ford pick-up and a man (presumably the father?) are in the backdrop.  A computer is perched on the teen’s lap and he is skyping his mom.

She gushes “You made it!” to her smiling son.

The punch line to this Ford commercial is ‘Welcome to the New Independence!”

If that is what independence now looks like,  I firmly believe someone forgot to cut the umbilical cord.

I did something last week I’ve not done is a long time.  On Sunday I slept in.  And I didn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone.  I did some writing, cleaned my house, washed some clothes then curled up and watched a bit of television.

I can’t remember the last time I decided to just cocoon myself within the walls of my home.  Perhaps what was stranger yet is that I found this rather remarkable in some strange sense.

Just how plugged in have we become?

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And so I pondered this commercial and so many more that cater to a populace that seems to thrive on the next technological ‘wonder’ with a fervor or perhaps a fever?

Send a text or an email to a friend, family member or loved one and if the response isn’t reasonably quick, worry sets in.  Something is wrong!  The phone call is made and voicemail comes on.  A sense of panic washes over you.

Then you stop to think if you’ve perhaps offended in some way?

You feel a little foolish when it is discovered that they were in the shower or in a meeting….or, I don’t know, living?

And they were doing so without you.   Strange.

I stopped to get my coffee fix at Starbuck’s this morning as I always do on my way to work.  A beautiful day was dawning.  The rising sun was kissing the clouds causing them to blush a deep pink.  The sky was a sleepy blue and a mist hugged the trees.

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I slipped back into the car and began my trek to the office as Willy and the gang discussed on the radio that distracted drivers (i.e. those using their phones to text and  talk) were now responsible for more vehicle accidents causing serious injury and death than drunk drivers.

This caught my attention and began to really observe those on the road with me this morning.  It didn’t take long before I noted driver’s with their heads looking down toward their lap or looking downward at the passenger seat even though no one was in the car with them.

Some openly held the phone in front them as they spoke into it.

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Hey I’m no saint.  I’ve used my phone a time or two while driving, though rarely.  I’ve never tried to text.  Still, this really raised a certain awareness for me.   I am now committed to never using the phone while driving.

I love to drive.  I love to crank up the radio and sing to a favorite song.  I always enjoy the changing vista that surrounds me and often I am stimulated in the creative sense.  Man, there is nothing worse then having a line or two for a story that you’ve been working on suddenly rise to the surface and you just happen to be doing 100 KM on the highway!

But here we are now evermore enslaved by these technological tools that have invaded our lives.  I am no longer working in the downtown core, however, when I was it was increasingly apparent this absorption with the iPhone, Smart phone, Android…whatever it is we are calling this thing.

I’ve posted about this.  Of how I’ve had people walk into me and barely glance up.  Heads bent with that familiar little screen glowing up at them.

My daughter mentioned at dinner tonight that this was likely becoming an addiction of sorts and it was probable that some form of neurosis would result.  Sadly, I do believe she’s right.

She was also correct in stating that collectively we’ve never been lonelier.  I love conversing and sharing ideas.  I confessed, and rightly so, that often I have very strong opinions and its a well known fact that I’ve had my foot in my mouth more times than I can remember.  That is who I am.  I do learn from conversations and debates though.  A point of view will be expressed giving me pause and open up an entire new path of thought for me.

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New Westminster in its infancy

Still, even when the tongue is running with blinders firmly in place…it is still just my expression of thought.  There is no malice or ill intent.  Just me thinking I know everything.

And I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  I’m silly, garish, brash and at times amusing, even humorous.  I’m also intelligent, thoughtful, intense and care very deeply about this world I inhabit.

The idea of conveying all your thoughts, of who you are through, texts and tweets, well, my daughter pointed out that all of this could be edited, until the sender was satisfied it represented who they thought they were.

But was it accurate?

In a conversation you can say things in the heat of the moment.  Emotions can run high at times.  At the end of it however, Are you giving an impression of who you really are perhaps?

And as I write this, there is some conflict, because writing is such strong expression for me.

There is a difference though.  I’ve a very deep love of these things we call words.

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And while I have a Twitter account, I’ve found having only 140 characters impossible to work with.  I’m still far too long winded.  But again, I digress.

What is happening to us?

In 1997 I purchased my first computer.  I can recall being on a ‘chat room’ talking with people who were in Australia.  This fascinated me.  And what do you suppose I asked them?

Oh, it was hopelessly mundane.  “What’s the weather doing?”  “Do your toilets really flush counter clock wise?”

Why I needed verification of this type I cannot say. I was a different woman back in 1997.  I was emerging rather awkwardly into this life.  And while I’ve made leaps and bounds in the social department, I can still be totally inappropriate in what is uttered from these lips of mine.

Still I am searching for the human experience. I want to drown in it.  Want to find its honesty, its wealth, its truth…my truth.

I want to find a certain peace.

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I don’t know.

Somehow skyping someone from a desert or a forest or from wherever to let them know they are where they are holds little appeal.

The new independence.  From what?

Definitively I am very independent. I’ve had to be.  The life plan dished out dictated as such.  And what is independence?

It is in my mind it is someone who is ‘stand alone and self-sufficient’.   They don’t need anyone.

There are times when I wish I could ask for help, when I could admit I’m only human, when I could express comfortably my vulnerabilities.

That requires a great deal of trust and I’m still working feverishly on letting myself do this naturally.

I hope Carol reads this post.

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She was a pen pal of mine some 40 plus years ago.  It used to take some three weeks to a month to mail a letter over seas.  Carol lived in England and I, of course, in Vancouver, BC Canada.

We wrote for a few years. Pen pals were the thing back in the day.

And while I was writing Carol, my life was falling apart…rapidly.  I don’t know what I told her.  I don’t know if she knew.  But close to 40 years later I received a message on Facebook.

At the time I wasn’t very good at checking messages.  Carol had sent me a message asking me if I was the person she’d written in her youth.

It blew me away.  This was my pen pal after all these years.  And I hope to meet her one of these days.

We shared an energy, a time, a confidence.  Both young girls with a life ahead of us.  And we made choices.

Yet I must thank technology for allowing me to connect to her again.

No, I’ll not slam this ‘new independence’ of ours.  Perhaps we should use it with caution and appreciation though.

The frailty of youth is that they think they know how to resolve the sins of the past.

In time they’ll come to know it’s just human behavior.

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A bronzed moosehead gazes out above a fake fireplace tonight down at Begbie’s.  A barrel of peanuts sits at the door for those barbarians who will swill the shells upon the floor after consumption.

The Eagles serenade me over the sound system as I wrap this up.  I’ve watched an array of personalities come and go in the last two hours.

The girls that work here know me.  I pop down from time to time on a consistent basis to write.  It’s what I do.

And as this night closes all I can think is just how grateful I am to be here.  How much I love all of those that share my life, how much I love the energy beings that encourage and drive me each day.

Blessings and peace to you all.  And always offer a smile and greeting. It’s just good form.

Namaste.

 

 

c

Learning to Exhale…..


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I have been a member of the Royal City Literary Arts Society for a few months now.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several very talented and well renowned poets and writers.

This group offers several workshops and open mic events.  This, I realized, was something I desperately needed to work on.  Public speaking is rather intimidating to me.  By the time I get up to do my piece , typically I’ve inhaled and am sweating buckets.

I remind myself to breathe and do so rather raggedly.

Seventy-four years ago an iconic photograph was taken here in New Westminster has Canada advanced into World War II.  On October 4th, 2014 a monument will be unveiled commemorating this event at the very location that the photograph was taken from.

The City of New Westminster approached the Royal City Arts Society (a.k.a. RCLAS) and asked the members to submit poems regarding the photograph titled ‘Wait for Me, Daddy.”  It was taken by Charles Detloff of the Daily Province newspaper and later that  month would make it onto page 37 of TIME magazine.

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RCLAS posted the poetry challenge to its members.   I opted to give it a shot and my submission was one of the poems selected.

Tonight we had the poetry reading at the newly opened Anvil Centre here in New Westminster.  This was apparently the first cultural event there.  Personally this would be the first ‘formal’ reading I would be participating in.

I got home from work then paced my living room reading the poem aloud repeatedly.

I have watched many of the seasoned poets in this group get up and perform their pieces.  And I thought perhaps I should try this approach.  This was only my fourth time reading and if my furniture was any indication they were captivated by my reading.  I rendered the inanimate things speechless!

Now it was time for the real deal.

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I walked over to the centre. It’s only about four and half blocks away from my home.  We’ve had several days of much needed rain, quite heavy at times, but the skies had softened and the clouds had broken as I stepped out into the evening.

As the poets were called forth with a brief bio to introduce each, I felt the nerves set in.  When my name was called I rose in my liquid state and performed the piece kinda sorta the way I wanted to.  I was a little emotional and when the paper I was holding began to tremble I just tried not to think about it and pushed through.

I was humbled by the response to my reading and very grateful for the opportunity to be part of this event.

Below is my submission.

If you would like to check out the other submissions I have provided the link at the end of this post.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Nancy Pilling

A native of Vancouver, Nancy Pilling moved to New Westminster in 2010. She is currently employed as an accountant in North Vancouver. She has had a lifelong love of writing and is dedicated to this passion of hers. It is Nancy’s desire to continue exploring the many avenues of the written word and to publish her work.

A Single Moment
by Nancy Pilling

It is a single moment captured and frozen in a frame,
A photographer’s dream,
A small piece of history now has a face, a single image and its power,
Still felt to this day,
It spoke to the agony of a people, to a nation, to the world.

The world back then was tough and gritty,
The Great Depression had weathered us all,
War now held us in its grip,
We were a young country then, just finding our feet,
Collectively we stood together.
Canada would fight for the liberties we were coming to know,
We’d fight for the vision of a country imagined in a world gone mad,
And we’d fight for the freedom that was ours to defend,
And we would do so with innocent bravado.

An outstretched hand son to father,
The line of troops in perfect symmetry,
Expressions, the angst and determination,
Emotions, the love and fear,
Immortalized as time stood still.
He lived and I wonder who walked back into his son’s life?
Was it a familiar stranger, or was it Dad?
Did he bear the confidence once shown?
Or was the gift of his time in hell
Memories of a bloody field that would haunt the rest of his days?

My father too fought in this war,
A young man, he was eighteen and so brave,
Dad’s stories were never told, he held tight to those terrors,
That hell of his remained a mystery and died with him,
But we lived his horror every day,
At least that’s the reason I’d like think as to why he turned out that way,
Maligned and damaged, so dark his soul barring the shadow of a boy who was no more.

The innocence of youth saw young men march to war who sacrificed a promised life,
What was that boy losing the day his father marched away?

http://rclas.com/waitforme#

Welcome!


September 20, 2014

 

My nephew and his wife brought their twins into the world today. So I thought I would share the events on this day to commemorate their arrival.

It is the last day of a spectacular summer. The sky now has a soft haze to it has the sun sets on this season.   I’m down on the river having dinner watching the geese fly by forming that all too familiar vee.  Also today I noticed several trees beginning to turn shades of red and gold.

Funny how it happens just like that.

Gary posted some beautiful photos of the babies, and wow, their energy is so strong! The last few months seeing the photos of Carleigh, of how healthy she looked, how at peace she looked, well I felt the energy of these two even then. Their life force is incredible

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Finishing up my dinner at the Wild Rice a warm breeze washes over me as the train sounds its lonely refrain.  A tree on the Quay is alight with white Christmas lights that have remained all year long.  The world’s largest tin soldier stands a short distance from me gazing over the Fraser River as it always does.

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There is a piano that is set up…they’ve put several around the lower mainland for people to play randomly and someone is currently playing a familiar tune. A woman who was dining here with her family is cradling her new born grandchild likely a month or two old.

Tug boats glide quietly up the river with log boons in tow as dusk grows ever darker and lights begin to blink on. Earlier today I put together photographs on a flash drive for my girlfriend of her son’s wedding. I also downloaded some photos from our trip to New York back in 2011.

And as I flipped through those images today, which I’ve not viewed for some time, the thrill of being there was once again experienced.

I had just completed the Coho Run, a 14 KM race, and a week later I jetted off to New York arriving just a week after the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I fell in love with the city.  It had as much energy as I did.  It was old and crusty, young and vibrant as well as stately and mature.

New York contradicts itself on many levels and makes no apology for it. It has attitude and then some.

I then headed into town to take my friend to lunch for her birthday which was in fact on the 4th of September.   I have four friends that celebrate a birthday in September. They are born under the sign of Virgo as are the twins that came this day.

And these two lads have made their debut during the Year of the Horse, one of the noblest of creatures on this planet.

I’m not going to check the news reels to see who was killing who. I’m not going to talk about the problems in this world that occurred on this day.  Problems have and will likely always exist in this world.

What I will say, is that Gary and Carleigh set up a Facebook page to keep all of us informed of the imminent birth of these two guys.

Their mother looked positively radiant and their father couldn’t wipe the smile from his face. Their joy was palpable, and the energy was a total rush.

Birth can be painful, as well I remember my own experience. Yet, when that first glimpse of the child that has grown within is experienced, simple awe and humility often follow.

Another promise has come into this world; another piece to an unending puzzle.

Welcome to the human race, boys!

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Love will be the energy that guides you.  Curiosity will propel you and a world awaits for you to experience it.  Know that there will be times when you will know sadness and you will hurt.  These experiences will make you stronger and appreciate joy and happiness that much more. You’ll feel a range of emotions during your lifetime but know that the love of your family really is there.

You are so fortunate in this regard.  I can not think of two more fitting parents than the couple you were blessed with.

My prayer for you is that life will flow in abundance through you. May you experience the true fabric of life and understand its contents.

Know that what you choose to weave into this fabric is yours for the making. Your brother and sisters’ will give you guidance.  Listen to their wisdom. Our time here is brief.  Enjoy it.

And as the dark of night falls may you never tire of the beauty that each day will afford you.

The stars that can shine through do. Here in New Westminster and the lower mainland in general, we emit so much artificial light that we obliterate the billions of stars that carpet the sky.

I hope you will experience this. That you’ll go camping and lay side by side enamored by the view with your breath taken away by the skies above you.  They are more alive than you can ever imagine!

Know that you were born on a day when those closest to you were so excited at your coming. All was very well on this day of your birth.

It has been a beautiful day, a calming day, a reflective day. One that I have appreciated with close friends.

I sat down at English Bay looking out over the ocean, watching the seagulls misbehave while chatting with my friend. This is a magical place for me.  Find those places that speak to you and hold them close to your heart.  They’ll be your old familiars, the things that never change.

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As I paid my bill the server asked about my writing. I told him I was trying to capture a moment in time for the two that entered this world today; that I wanted to give them that little slice of history that would otherwise not be recorded.

Suddenly I was overcome by the shear beauty of the event and tears pushed to the fore.  I took my leave thinking of the miracle of life.

And on that note let me just say, welcome.

 

 

A History Lesson


 

 

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New Westminster back in the late 1700’s

I must admit sometimes I tend to get my head stuck in the clouds.  Lofty ideals and wishful thinking fill this head of mine and at times the translation of what’s in there can come out rather garbled.

I was thinking about the phrase ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”   It seems like a rather strange statement, doesn’t it?  Then again intentions can go south and sideways fast I suppose.

I’ve been refocusing my intentions and shifting them back to a level that is reasonable.  I guess you could say I’m removing the rose coloured glasses for the time being, and you now what?  The cold light of day can be pretty damn beautiful.  I guess it just depends upon your perspective and your state of mind.

This summer has found me ensconced in my orange room tapping out the final edit for the book and taking photos whenever I could.  I’ve at times been a little reflective as I pick up the pieces of this body and soul of mine in the aftermath of the cancer and subsequent treatment.

Lately I’ve been feeling like a lump on legs, but hey, I know the road back to good health will be tough but worth the work.  Last Saturday I hiked up Quarry Rock in Deep Cove over in North Vancouver.  Tough for sure, but man, you should have seen the view!

On Sunday the new civic centre in New Westminster had its grand opening.  It is known as the Anvil Centre and I must say, it is a great looking structure.  It houses a theatre, museum, archives, art gallery and much more.

The City of New Westminster is not a very large in terms of area.  The main road in the downtown core is known as Columbia Street.  It stretches about eight or nine blocks, then it turns into a busy cause way that will take you over to the Sapperton side of New West on one end and over to the Queensborough side on the other.

In any case they closed the downtown core of Columbia Street down on Sunday to celebrate the grand opening.  The one thing I’ve come to love about living here is that this little city celebrates a lot!

I grabbed my camera and headed out into a cloudless late summer afternoon to enjoy the festivities.  I took my time wandering down the street taking in the sights before heading into the building.  I’m sure half of the population of New West was in attendance.

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It’s truly a beautiful space.  On the third floor I got in line for the museum then made my way in.  Several volunteers came up and offered information freely.  I could use my camera, just not the flash.

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There was a strong aboriginal presence in the artifacts that have been preserved, as there should be.  I walked about taking the odd photograph and reading a few things.  Then I came to the midway point in the gallery.  I was quite impressed with what greeted me.  It was a scale model of the Patullo Bridge.

One of the volunteers came up and noted how impressive it was.  I concurred completely.  It is a magnificent structure.  He then told me the story of it.

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The model was built during the great depression by a young boy.  It took him approximately two years to build it.

His model won a competition at the PNE, which is our annual fair in Vancouver.  The boy was later awarded a scholarship and went on to be a life long learner.

And guess what?  That boy is still alive at 90 years of age he was at the Anvil Centre able to witness his creation being restored and being placed permanently on display.

Below is a new story from a local paper.  The article was written a few months before the opening.

What is remarkable about this story is simply the chain of events that occurred after he built this scale model and how it impacted his entire life.

I love stories like this.  And can you imagine winning a pair of shoes for your first model of an antenna?

It was a very different time and this man has witnessed all of it.  Enjoy!

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Jack Lubzinski peers through the superstructure of the scale model of the Pattullo Bridge he built when he was 13 years old. Now 90, he’s supervising the restoration of the model for permanent display at the new Anvil Centre.

— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

There’s not a lot of love for the Pattullo Bridge these days.

But the venerable old crossing over the Fraser River that links New Westminster to Surrey helped put Jack Lubzinski through school, kept him out of the war and launched a lifelong interest in math and physics.

The Pattullo still had that new-bridge sheen when Lubzinski was first captivated by it. The Richmond schoolboy had just completed a scale model reproduction of a huge transmission antenna that had won him a pair of new shoes in a contest when one of his teachers challenged him that the antenna would be as monumental a project as he’d ever be able to achieve.

Lubzinski took the words to heart and spent the next 18 months designing and constructing a scale model of the Pattullo that would stretch more than seven metres long by the time he was done.

Now 90 years old, Lubzinski was a doting observer and sometime supervisor Wednesday as the giant model’s six sections were carefully moved from the basement of the New Westminster Museum and Archives where it had been gathering dust for decades. The grey wooden model will be restored and reassembled by conservator Shabnam Honarbakhsh with the help of funding from the Rotary Club of New Westminster for eventual display in a permanent exhibit at the new Anvil Centre.

Lubzinski smiles at the irony that his model may outlive the actual bridge, which is slated for replacement or rehabilitation by TransLink.

“If there’s a need for a new bridge, then I guess they’ll replace it,” said Lubzinski, matter of factly.

It’s that kind of pragmatic attitude that propelled him to build his model in the first place. The derisive words of his teacher ringing in his ears, it took him a week to whittle and assemble the pieces of B.C. cedar for the first girder. With hundreds more needed, Lubzinski devised a system that got production down to a couple of hours.

Working after school and on weekends in the kitchen and living room of his family’s home, Lubzinski gave painstaking attention to the bridge’s details, right down to the sequence of vertical bars in the outer guardrails.

When the model was finished, he took it apart in sections and transported it to his school, where it became a showpiece attraction in front of the office and a constant reminder to the teacher who dared question his abilities.

In 1940 Lubzinski presented it to the bridge’s namesake, premier Thomas (Duff) Pattullo.

The premier got him scholarship money to continue his studies and when the military called him to service, a judge intervened, ruling Lubzinski’s “place is in technology rather than in the army.”

Lubzinski earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1947 and a master’s in 1950. His thirst for knowledge not sated, he went on to take more than 360 university courses over the next 40 years, including every physics course at BCIT.

To pay the bills Lubzinski and his brother Joseph started Marine Products Company, manufacturing mahogany steering wheels for boats for more than 50 years before it closed in 2005.

He also founded the Lubzinski Center for Innovation in Point Roberts to further the study of quantum physics.

“That bridge changed my life,” said Lubzinski.

 

 

Jack Lubzinski and conservator Shabnam Honarbakhsh will be at the museum June 26-28, 2-3 p.m., to meet the public and talk about its construction and restoration. The New Westminster Museum and Archives is located at 302 Royal Ave.