Rising to another Lunar New Year

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I seek light in the darkness.

World events and backwards politics south of the border brought disturbances in a gloomy January.

It was a pleasure and relief on Friday evening to celebrate the Lunar New Year, to look forward to new developments, friendships and opportunities.

I like joining in small gatherings with family and friends to eat good food and share in good spirits. I like the of ambience colourful lights but do not appreciate the auditory assault from firecrackers or fireworks.

I appreciate joyful noise.

I cherish silence.

Year of the Rooster illustration

Year of the Rooster illustration by G. Jobateh

Wishing you a happy new year of harmony and opportunities.

Thanks for dropping by.

Parts of text on this blog post appeared on the Novel’s blog last weekend.

T

The bookshop withdrawals

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It has only been a couple of weeks but I really miss my bookshop shifts.

The Christmas and New Years holiday hours have messed with my routine, my near-weekly fix. I miss greeting the families with young children who visit the shop in-between weekend errands.

Books about book shops or book stores

Books about bookshops and bookstores

I miss chatting up the regular patrons. I miss tidying the shelves and discovering one or two gems to purchase for my own reading enjoyment.

book shop haiku

Spending time with family and friends between the paying day job shifts was a nice consolation for the past two eons but I look forward to experiencing my three hours of bliss once again.

Now that the new year has arrived, I can fixate on one personal goal, to nurture my inner child and embrace my love of drawing once again. I would like to explore possibilities, benefit from new technology tools, and expand my skills at writing a children’s book. It will likely contain cats…

pen and ink drawing of a cute kitten

Blissful Kitten pen and ink circa. 1982

Wish me luck. In the meantime, I invite you to read that novel I published in 2011.

Thanks for dropping by and… Happy New Year!

T

 

Muskoka as a travel destination

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During my book shop shifts, I enjoy the chats with regular clients.

They are inquisitive, well-read folks. Some say nothing for long stretches then surprise you with interesting questions or observations.

book shop display

At your local book shops, there’s always something different each week

One appears to be a grumpy old man but I think he brightens up when I acknowledge his arrival. He always says he’s in a hurry to get to his next appointment but often has time for chit chat or cranky observations.

Most of the clients leave the store with bagfuls or armloads of purchases – or items from the free bin.

At times we receive herds of children with their families. I love it when they visit the shop, explore the children’s section for new treasures – or ask random questions.

One of the regular gentlemen customers likes to explore new places so often occupies the travel section during his visits. During one shift, I noticed traveling man standing in the middle of the shop with a blank look on his face.  He declared, “I … am wondering where to travel next…”

“Muskoka!” I replied matter-of-factly.

“That’s right,” replied Grumpy Man, “Didn’t you recently travel there?”

“Yeah,” I responded, “After Thanksgiving for the Cranberry Festival then again two weeks later for a funeral.”

“Oh… Sorry to hear that. So what is Muskoka like?”, inquired Traveling Man.

view from airplane georgian bay

Georgian Bay air tour 2015

“Lots of trees, lakes, rivers and Georgian Bay if you travel far enough west. It can make for a nice, long drive through Algonquin Park.”

View of forest, Georgian Bay and CPR rail bridge in Parry Sound

View of forest, Georgian Bay and CPR rail bridge in Parry Sound

“Huh… thanks!”, he responded then turned to explore more shelves.

Muskoka is indeed a nice place to visit in the winter for ice fishing and carnivals, and of course, in the summer – along with all the rich people from Toronto and the U.S.  I failed to mention the black flies in the spring time though. Follow this site for tourism information.

If you’re looking to explore Muskoka through my memories, imagination and camera lens, follow this blog entry where I demonstrate you CAN go home again. Follow this one where I challenged my fear of flying – with help from my son and my little anxiety friend. Why not read a few excerpts from my novel? Heck, why not buy an ebook copy?

You can also learn about Muskokaisms, as recalled and recorded by my ten siblings and me.

Thanks for dropping by. May your world travels be enjoyable, educational and safe.

T

Not in the mood

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It’s Halloween and I am not in the partying mood.

When you’ve recently experienced a death in the family, this day provides a poignant reminder of our eventual departure from this earthly existence.

Instead of spending the day with costume alterations or decorating your front door, you check your packing list and search your closet for appropriate attire. You don’t want to venture out into public and risk being bombarded by imagery and retail distortions of this celebration for the dead.

Instead of a jack-o-lantern, you will light a candle of remembrance and respect.

votive candle in wine bottle lantern

This week will be the first time I would have stepped into a Catholic church in quite a few years. There are mixed blessings of being the youngest in a large, poor family in that you were not close to the recently departed. You dig for the words to describe memorable moments, characteristics of a family member you barely knew.

You prepare yourself for a long journey, to attend the services where you will offer consolation and comfort to others.

You prepare yourself for the moment that will open the floodgates of tears.

Thanks for visiting and reading this entry.

Do drop by the novel’s blog to read an excerpt. It’s the one where Sera thinks about life after death and her Mother’s impending fate. I wrote it based on my naive impressions after my own Mother passed away many years ago.

T

 

How do you like them apples?

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Thanksgiving has come and gone in our little corner of Canada.

We were grateful for small blessings while opening our hearts and wallets to those less fortunate.

I was pleased by the recent news report about Apple orchards in eastern Ontario experiencing ‘weird, wonderful flavours’ after drought. This Thanksgiving, we did indeed enjoy some sweet apple cider. The resident artiste has made it a tradition for our weekend of feasting and giving thanks.

The novel’s blog served up an excerpt about thanksgiving and non-traditional meals shared at a Chinese Canadian restaurant that became a third place for the Fletcher family plus provided Sera with her own special space.

In The Year of the Rabbit, the apple appears many times – mostly as a symbol of innocence and discovery.  It leads Sera through thoughts of life after death then the accidental revelation of her true paternal origin.  There is another scene where its innocent influences cannot prevent Sera from acting on uncontrollable rage.

Read some excerpts here or download 20% of the novel for free from Smashwords. Not convinced yet? See what other readers have said about the novel.

Thanks for dropping by.

T

Smoke ’em if you got ’em

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That’s apparently a phrase that originated from World War II.

At the time, cigarettes were rationed to soldiers, so they became a luxury and a valuable form of currency for those who did not smoke.

Over at the Deep Blonde Thoughts blog, you can enjoy a post titled Lighting up vs puckering up. The words singe with personal opinions and smolder with sage advice on having kissable lips.

In The Year of the Rabbit, readers will discover that smoking is frowned upon – especially when one of the Fletcher girls is caught at it. Murder could be frowned upon too…

– Snippet from the novel –

Sera heard a loud crack – then a chilling silence.  

She saw movement to her right – someone coming up from the direction of the train tracks.  It was Gwen, wearing her weekend jeans, jean jacket and her copper hair flowing around her.  She was smoking a cigarette. Quickly, she ran over to her sister’s side.

“Hey! Sera,” she panted, “What happened? I heard yelling.  Are you alright?”

Sera nodded and brushed pine needles off of her sweatshirt. She was in shock as well as surprised to see her sister smoking.  Her eyes widened at the sight.

Gwen noticed her sister’s discovery.  “Oh, yeah…” then bent with intention to put it out on the forest floor.  

“No!” said Sera, “That’s not safe.”

“Then where else am I supposed to put it?”

Sera gestured to the beer bottle beside the paint can.

When Gwen returned to her sister, she helped her up and brushed the pine needles off of her back.  Sera stood still, staring at where Daryl MacDonald lay.  He wasn’t moving.  His head and neck were bent back in an awkward position against the stump.

“Gwen… I think he’s dead.”

Together, they walked slowly in the direction of the body.  Sera looked down at him then at her bloody right hand.

“Oh my God.  I killed him.”

– End snippet –

Read more excerpts here or download 20% of the novel for free from Smashwords. Not convinced yet? See what other readers have said about the novel.

Thanks for dropping by.

Move along now. Nothing to see here.

T

 

My world needs good vibrations

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Imagine a group of middle-aged women dinging and swirling away on different-toned singing bowls.

After a bit of practice and belly laughs, it can become a harmonious experience.

Small Tibetan Singing Bowl and Mallet

Small Tibetan Singing Bowl and Mallet

As you may have guessed, I recently attended a Tibetan singing bowl workshop. It was a serendipitous opportunity in my research on spiritual traditions.  The invitation came at a time when I felt the world could use more harmony and good vibrations.

After the past few years of attending the annual Feng Shui workshops, I had yet to acquire a singing bowl. There are metallic bowls and crystal bowls. The workshop focused on the metallic ones, their special composition, the history and different methods of production.

The attendees were all women who learned about the benefits of singing bowl placement for good energy and harmony in cleansing one’s personal space as well as for personal meditation.  I was more interested in the latter.

Based on unsuccessful experiences with group Gong meditation sessions, I found the singing bowl  personal practice would be more beneficial.  I would be in control of the surrounding environment, sounds and vibrations – all the while remembering to breathe!

After testing out a few different sized and toned bowls, I chose a small, green one that is supposed to be in tune with the heart Chakra. According to  the advice of a local Feng Shui practitioner and retailer, one can never have too many singing bowls to place around the home ;-^ 

Thanks for dropping by. If you like my writing style, you may be interested in my novel, The Year of the Rabbit.

Flo

 

 

 

Is nothing sacred anymore?

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Eagle feathers and in-coming messages

This is a account after I put aside my aversion to noisy crowds and intense solar powers yesterday.

I attended the Free the Falls walk in our nation’s capital. It was to satisfy a personal quest to learn from the Indigenous People and share a passionate plea to save sacred islands from commercial development.

Free the Falls pic from business card

FreeTheFalls.ca

Soon after I arrived at Victoria Island by taxi and joined the mingling crowd in the morning shade, one of the organizing volunteers delegated me to help hand out ribbons, strips of colourful cloth for later tying on to Chaudière bridge. I found it a good exercise for me and other delegates to mingle, connect with people and pass on the message.

Eventually we heard the sound of Native men sharing one drum and singing. I felt the vibrations in my heart. It was powerful like thunder.

Then the women, the Grandmothers formed a circle nearby to sing and dance. I found it uplifting and lively like sunshine and rain.

Next, we gathered around the men’s circle to listen to speeches and prayers.

Most of us were respectful of this ceremony, straining to hear the various speakers. Others could be excused for their poor manners due to the lack of a sound system or raised stage. I can understand that it was likely preferred to not be seen as a spectacle.

One moment of sweet irony was as the Native men and women held their eagle feathers up during a prayer, the sound of a cell phone in the pouch of a Native man beside me blared out something like “Zrr-wooosh! In-coming message. The database has been successfully updated.”

I like to think of it as a crossing between the ancient and the modern, that there is still a quest to connect the sacred and the mysterious in our intrusive technological age.

After much more waiting, standing and listening for directions, we soon formed a marching throng and proceeded to Parliament Hill.

Gathering on Parliament Hill June 17 2016

Gathering on Parliament Hill

Of all the photographs I took during the day, I connected with one that demonstrates the spirit of friendship and sharing. One of the Natives carried a large basket around to the patient participants, offering strawberries. To see that photograph and many others taken during the day, visit the It is Sacred Facebook group.

After more waiting, connecting and standing in a large circle on the hill, we were summoned to gather around a hard-to-see group of Elders and organizers. Again, a platform could have been used… Most of us listened intently to speeches and requests for a symbolic gesture of reconciliation. This time they had a sound system that helped broadcast the messages.

I was disappointed by ignorance and disrespect from others on the hill, promoting their own agendas to willing listeners off to the side during the speeches, and the vocal dissent of one young Native woman commenting contrary to the shared mission.

It was apparent to me that there was still a need for dialogue and agreement within the Indigenous people themselves.

people gathered on parliament hill for sacred falls vision

Hundreds gather for a shared vision of the sacred centre

The conclusion of the gathering was loosely communicated yet some of us followed the pipe and flag carriers under the scorching sun, past the starting location and a little farther to the bridge. We were committed to tie those ribbons!

On that hot journey back, I walked and talked with another non-Native woman. She had traveled by bus with a church group from her city. She wanted to ask permission to sprinkle some of her late son’s ashes into the nearby water, knowing that it would run to the Ottawa River.

I observed quietly as she spoke a brief prayer and sprinkled the ashes from a small tin. Together we tied our ribbons to the bridge then hugged. I wished her a safe journey back home as we parted and I headed off in the heat to find a local bus.

To me, this was a day to gather and march as a collective conscience, to offer prayers for a shared vision. It was also an opportunity for individuals with private reasons to visit this area.

Although I took adequate precautions, my face was sufficiently kissed by the sun. I like to think that I “earned the burn”.

Related links:

https://freethefalls.ca/

“Collaborative consent” or Indigenous Rights: Condo development on Ottawa sacred site?

 

Thanks for dropping by. Meegwetch.

T

I have written this as pen name Florence T Lyon. I invite you to read more about my chosen name and the bittersweet novel I published in 2011. It contains reference to  Native culture in the Georgian Bay area, and the comforting love of Grandmothers.

 

Where did you go?

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Where did you go to worship this weekend?

Did you go to a church or temple in your community? Do you prefer the peace and quiet of a corner shrine in your own home? Did you rather escape to a provincial park for camping out in nature?

It has been many years since I have ventured into a Church or other place of worship on a regular basis. Although one can appreciate the sense of community and kindred spirits in a man-made structure, I appreciate and respect one in the middle of nature, among the trees, fresh air and water.

There is such a place in the middle of the Ottawa River. It used to be a meeting place for Indigenous people who came from thousands of miles away. They left their weapons at the entrance. They came in peace. They gave offerings to the Creator.

Then the European settlers arrived. They pushed the Indigenous people away from areas ripe for development, for harnessing the power of the water. They took away their children and their language. They tried to destroy their culture and their spirit.

“If you take [a copy of] the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone.  Our bible IS the wind.” Statement by an anonymous Native American woman.

Source: http://www.religioustolerance.org/nataspir1.htm

An agreement to eventually return the sacred area back to the original people has not been honoured. There are reports that developers are driving processes, that the Indigenous community was not appropriately included in consultations about plans for this space.

Ask yourself and others if it is finally time to return this sacred land to the care of our Indigenous people, to recover it as a place for healing, for worship, for sharing with all people.

Learn more. Join the walk on June 17th.


I am a pen name for someone who is a Canadian Citizen, a Mother and a Grandmother. It was a random, personal encounter with one of the Grandmothers on the city bus that finally got my attention about this important issue.  I am lending my voice to thousands of others in order to educate more people about this very important issue for the Ottawa area and our nation, our home and native land.

I grew up in the Church that assisted the Canadian government in segregating the Natives, taking away their language and their culture. I am ashamed of that heritage.

It is time for reconciliation and healing.

T

 

Growing up Catholic – First Communion

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The average reader of this blog will have concluded that some of the Catholic themed portions of The Year of the Rabbit are influenced by the author’s upbringing.

wee catholic girl first communion

Catholic girl’s first communion

 

I have fuzzy memories of my First Communion and squinting in the bright sun so that someone could take this photograph.  Perhaps I was still processing the “Body of Christ” and “Blood of Christ” symbolism.

It was either fuzzy memory of the event or a bad dream of dropping my little Bible into the Seguin River on the way home while struggling to peer over the railing at something one of my siblings spotted in the water below. Distant memory still recalls that mortified feeling.

As a small child attending Church, I was afraid to look up at the large statue of Jesus on the cross, his sad eyes and his wounds dripping with blood.

In The Year of the Rabbit, Sera Fletcher was allowed spend her Sunday mornings with the Johnsons, the kind neighbours who encouraged her to read Bible stories from Baptist and Coptic sources. After church, the Fletcher family and close friends gathered for brunch at the Red Hare restaurant.

If you haven’t read the novel yet, take a detour to Smashwords to download a sampling of the ebook format.  See also what other readers have offered about the novel. If the notion grabs you, purchase a copy of the entire novel.  You get to set the price.  How do you like them apples?

Thanks for dropping by and Peace be with you 🙂

T