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Showing posts from 2014

Happy Birthday

After the last post, it might be nice to enjoy something a bit lighter and more upbeat:

     Birthdays are a big deal in some cultures.  Particularly here in America, we take the anniversary of our first day as a cause to celebrate.  It's the one day when you are special for no other reason than for being you and surviving another year.  For many, being the birthday boy or girl meant you ruled the day.  People gave you things, sang your name, made merry in your honour, and told you that all your wishes should come true.  American parents often go to great lengths to plan the perfect birthday parties for their children.

     In my family, birthdays were comparatively low key.  When your family is large and doesn't have much money, the idea of hosting a half dozen school friends for a traditional birthday party isn't very practical, and going out to a professional venue of some sort is certainly impossible.  So, we didn't have the kind of formal celebrations where crowds…

Freya's Goodbye

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In the staff lounge on Thursday, I ate my lunch quickly, scanning my smart phone and reading articles I don't remember.  When I had done with that, I looked at the clock.  With some 20 minutes of break time left, I considered returning to my desk early.  While I usually take a walk, I just didn't feel up to it, and I only wanted to get back to my work and finish out the day.  Such "dedication" is frowned upon for non-exempt employees, so after a bit of waffling, I put on my jacket and headed out after all.  A few steps out, the urge to keep walking took over.  Suddenly, I wanted to go as far and as fast as my feet would carry me, to walk until I couldn't anymore - to nowhere in particular.  A few steps more, and I couldn't stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks.  The transformation was abrupt and unexpected.

     That morning, my daughter's dog Freya had gone on her last trip to the vet.  She had been sick for several years, had taken a particula…

Catching the Magic

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I couldn't count the times I've wished I had brought the camera when I was walking in some park, forest, or other natural area.  I couldn't count the magical moments I've missed capturing because I was unprepared.  For years, I never thought to bring a camera anywhere when the function was not specifically to photograph something.  I'd be walking along and happen upon a scene of such beauty, where the colours and shapes were so perfect and the light was at just the right stage, that I'd stop and marvel and long to share without the means to do so.  Or else, I'd be sitting quietly in camp and a deer might slip silently from the trees and cross only a few yards away.  I'd hold my breath and watch, but then the magic was gone.  All the time, whether walking or camping or even just living my normal routine, the universe was giving me amazing gifts I was powerless to share.

     So, now and then, when I had the foresight, I started bringing a camera to …

Dreaming It Up

Some stories come to you out of nowhere, demanding to be committed to paper.  Some characters just drop in on you like unexpected house guests and take up residence in your skull until you agree to tell their tale.  I think that every writer has probably experienced this kind of inspiration.  It's what moves many to embrace the calling.  Later, at times when the writer sits down to consciously create something, it can be maddeningly frustrating that similar inspiration isn't on the same timetable.

     But those flashes of ideas aren't really from nowhere.  Although the concepts may seem new to you, they are really the product of your own brain working without your conscious direction.  It's a feat of ordinary magic that your mind takes in disparate elements from your life and your environment, mixes them together and presents you with something you didn't even realize you were thinking about.  We all do this, writer or not, and call it dreaming.  The chief di…

Why Not?

We've been exploring Netflix lately, discovering movies and TV shows we've intended to watch but had forgotten as well as stumbling across things we never heard about before.  It eats up some time, but it's a good use of those spare evenings when the work day has left you unwilling to stray too far from your couch and unable to put your mind to more creative work.  "Veg"ging, it is.  Sure.  But, there's a lot of good stuff out there, and all that input is bound to spark ideas.

One show we particularly enjoyed was "Stephen Fry in America," a BBC series that (Surprise!) sent Stephen Fry touring the United States in 2008.  I suppose there may be a few folks who are unfamiliar with Mr. Fry, and if you are one of them, I encourage you to seek out and sample his work.  He is a witty, likeable, British actor- intelligent and from all indications, a genuinely nice guy.  So, knowing this about him and being generally interested in how a stranger might …

It Just Works

At a certain point early on, a child begins to understand that things happen for reasons.  Before that point, the whole world is magical.  Things just work.  The example I was given of this stage of perception was that young child opening the cabinet each morning and the cereal is just there.  No concept of where it had come from, the store or the farm.  No concept that it might not be there one day.  It just is.

     Gradually, understanding comes.  We begin to see the paths that lead to the ends.  As we grow, knowledge of consequences enables us to solve problems or reach our goals.  Still, there is some blindness in each of us.

     As adults, we know the fact that everything has an origin.  Whether that was a natural process or human intervention, whatis exists because of what was.Awareness of the fact usually requires concious thought that we don't often engage in our daily lives.  You roll out of bed in the morning, furious with your alarm clock, and you don't reall…

Japan, the journal: day 9-10

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Day 9

The tone in the apartment in the morning was full of energy.  With a toddler running around and playing, there was plenty of activity.  He danced to his favourite songs on the children’s TV programs while we talked with his daddy Noboru, and then we all had breakfast together.  Soon, the time came when we had to go.  Noboru dropped us off at the Nagoya train station on his way to work.  Day 9 was to be a day to explore on our own.  From the landmark giant mannequin named Nanachan that Maki had shown us when we arrived three days before, we found our way to the bus terminal.
We were to take a bus to Ise in Mie prefecture for a self-guided tour of Ise Jingu, a complex of Shinto shrines.  The bus ride was about two hours.  Thankfully, the bus was comfortable and not too crowded.


Mist was rising in the mountains that we passed on the way, giving an extra dimension to the layers of green and beautiful scenery.


In this smaller town, there was much less English signage, so our first t…