Had a lobster roll at the Station Cafe in Montague and I am sure it was delicious, but I honestly couldn’t tell you since I couldn’t tell the difference in taste of the lobster, the roll, the lettuce, the dressing, the potato salad, the coleslaw, or the strawberries. Oh well, it’s a good reason to go back another time when I can taste and smell again. Thanks, Blanche Moyaert , for making this weekend memorable and the most fun couple of days I have had in a very long time. I can’t think of a better way to start the second half of this particularly miserable year… So fortunate to have friends like you and Gail MacDonald looking out for me and cheering me up. Not sure what I would do without you or all my other dear friends who check in on me, drag me out, and keep me from drowning myself in misery or work. I would love to name everyone who’s dropped a line or two or more expressing concern, support, and lots of love. Even if I am unable to acknowledge every single message, please know that I truly appreciate you all for the comfort you have given me with your virtual hugs. It will still be a long time before I can truly embrace the truth that the two individuals who were nearest and dearest to me here are gone and I will never see them or hear them again. I am terrified that I might one day be unable to remember their voices, the times we shared together. I grasp at every recollection I have of those times, everything I have that reminds me of them, and waves of grief just wash all over me again… And then it’s like when so much grief and pain slammed me, first, when the one brother I was closest to died just two months shy of his 20th birthday… I never had the luxury of time to mourn his death and I could not speak of how I felt with anyone, then the deaths of two women in my life back in the Philippines who understood me maybe even better than I understood myself and who always stood behind me and beside me through some of the best and worst times in my life. Yet, these two recent losses have affected me so much more, probably because they were the ones who always had my back and were beside me through the best and worst times of my Canadian life. So losing them has left me feeling completely vulnerable and utterly alone. In a way , that became a good thing because life has opened up a new level of friendship that I have always been reluctant to cross. I am slowly learning to accept the fact that I need to learn to trust people more, that I deserve to have wonderful friends with whom I can be myself and know that I can trust them to accept me with no judgment, that not everyone is going to take advantage of my trust, and that it is possible to love despite the sorrow or the hurts or the scars in my heart. This is possibly one of the most difficult lessons I am learning, and there are many I have yet to learn better…to trust completely, to love without fear, to stop judging myself, to know that I am enough, to believe I am loved, to understand that there are people in my life who truly care for me (like my new-found family that found me and embraced me, and adopted me, Miguel James Mccristall and Jenny Luczka and the girls ), to accept help when it is offered, and to ask for help when I need it… And that last one in particular, I am learning better because of Martin who is another person who is not just a colleague, but has become a wonderful friend in our five-odd years of working together. I think COVID has turned my brain to mush, stripped my heart of its defenses, and made me unusually reflective. I wonder if this side-effect has been observed in other cases! I think I have said my piece for now and revealed more than enough to make up for my past reticence and reluctance to bare my soul. Could be an additional effect of watching fireworks up close, more sugar than I have had in the past year, and Cardigan mosquitoes.
The system is broken0
Of course the system is broken. It has too much of a bias for colonizers who have left the nations they colonized much worse than they were when they were discovered. They taught people how to be greedy by stripping land of its natural resources without any consideration for what might happen. They taught people how to be corrupt by offering greater benefits and favours to those who would bow to them and do whatever they wanted, selling out those who would not. They taught people how to be selfish by taking whatever they could and leaving so little that natives had to fight for what was left just to survive. They taught them false idealism by promising a new life if the natives complied with their every wish, then brought the natives to their homelands where the natives were out of place and made to work at menial tasks for meager wages then denied equal status. They settled on new lands and decided it was theirs, taking whatever they wanted and killing the original landowners, making their rules and governments and forcing the native survivors to work at more menial tasks with little or no pay, stripping them of their dignity, their loved ones, and their ways of life. This broken system, this colonial mentality is what most nations are built on. Of course it needs to be fixed, but not with people who still carry this bias in their minds and in their hearts. Not with people at the helm who think they are more privileged than others, who think others are less important or less significant or less human than they are. It needs to be fixed by people who are willing to take apart what is wrong and build something completely new, inclusive, radical. Something that will recognize the interconnectedness of everything–of humans and nature–that for humans to survive, they need to be in harmony with each other and with nature, because everything we need to survive comes from nature and other humans.
*This response was because of what is happening in the world now and how disenfranchised and marginalized groups of people–blacks, minorities, LGBTQ, indigenous, and others–are rising up and raising their voices. It is a cry we cannot and should not ignore.
Rare cold allergy?2
I came across this article and wondered how rare cold urticaria is, because I also have it. Anyway, here’s the article. I’m grateful I never reached the point when my skin would flare up the way hers does–but then I’ve been careful about exposing myself to extreme cold since I was diagnosed.
I was diagnosed with cold urticaria in 2000 and have been taking medication for it since then. I had just recently returned to teaching after a stint of other jobs. I had been assigned to an air-conditioned classroom, which I thoroughly enjoyed because I do not like the heat.
While teaching one day, my hands started itching. I ignored it. That went on for several days, but the itchiness became worse. I thought it might be that I was allergic to chalk, so I requested that all my classes be relocated to classrooms that had whiteboards instead of chalkboards. Still, the itching persisted. After a few more days, the itchiness intensified, climbing up my arms to my elbows. My feet also started itching and that itchiness climbed up my legs to my thighs. I was so uncomfortable and worried because it was distracting and I tried so hard to hide my scratching. I would tap my legs and arms with pens, my hands, rulers, and almost anything I could use to suppress the itching.
Eventually, I noticed that my hands and legs had started to get mottled with raised red maps. That was when I finally brought it to my doctor, who diagnosed it as cold urticaria and prescribed low-dose allergy medication. With the medication, my itching does not flare up, but if I shower with cold water, my feet start itching; if I wash dishes with cold water, my hands itch; if I walk outside in winter without gloves, my hands eventually start itching; but as long as I don’t forget to take my medication, the itching is limited and controlled. The worst part, of course, is that I love winters and cold weather.
I leave my windows open a crack in winter so that my room (and my whole apartment) stays nice and cool, and in summer, I throw open all my windows and balcony door and keep four electric fans circulating the air and cooling it down.
People ask me if would ever go back to the Philippines and my answer is always an emphatic no. I know I would not survive in the heat–I visited once in January–the coldest month of the year there, averaging 18-20 degrees Celsius (perfect summer temperature here!)–and was walking around in shorts and tank tops or light shirts while everyone around me wore jackets and sweaters while I was dripping sweat. I slept with a window open and a fan facing me directly while my friends spent the night covered with blankets. Was I ever glad to come home to PEI where it was winter!
Cold urticaria be damned, I will have my deliciously cold sheets and cool rooms!
This review for Welcome Inn just in1
Cindy has an interesting writing style, a flair for vocabulary, humour, and telling a tale. The story of “Welcome Inn” is a fast moving, well-crafted plot with twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages. The eight chapters are appropriately titled beginning in the fall with thanksgiving and ending in the spring with births. They say write about what you know and Cindy clearly writes from first hand experience as an immigrant to PEI. Her humour shines throughout and I love her writing of the youngster educating the senior about the Internet! Keep up the good work, Cindy!
~ Marilyn Rice, Author of several books, including Look After Each Other
I would love to read and share your reviews of any of my books! Please log your comments in Amazon or send them to me on any of my blogs, Facebook, of by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Farewell, Sr. Lucy Togle, OSB0
Dear Sr. Lucy,
I was thinking about you last week and I told myself I would have to write you, to tell you how I was doing, to ask how you were doing. I wonder if I was thinking of you out of the blue because you were thinking of me.
You are definitely one of the most memorable people in my life. You have done so much for me, from when I was still in high school and you were the assistant principal. I think you also taught a class or two, occasionally. I don’t remember much, but I know you encouraged me to keep writing and entrusted with special projects. You listened to me and paid attention to what I was doing. I did not think you would remember me after I had graduated. Au contraire. You were the principal when I visited the faculty room one day, when I was picking up my younger sister, who was in her freshman year in high school. Out of the blue, you asked me what I was doing, if I was working.
I was not.
“Good,” you said. “How would you like to teach in the high school?” you asked.
I was a bit flabbergasted and not sure what to say. I had a degree in mathematics for teachers up my sleeve, but I had not mentioned it. Despite my degree, I had not really thought of getting into teaching. I had been thinking of taking my master’s degree, but had not acted on it because of my personal situation at the time.
“I need an English teacher,” you said.
“Okay,” I said, excited. I could not believe my luck. I did not think I would be back to teach at my alma mater. The invitation to teach was an honor and something I also needed, not having a job just then.
“By the way, what was your major?” you asked.
“Mathematics for teachers,” I said, hesitantly.
“That’s okay,” you said. “Come in next week to do some paperwork. I want you to go to Ateneo so you can enroll for your masters. Fr. Galdon will be happy to have you.”
“Okay,” I said. “Thank you!”
“You should start reporting here in May,” you said. “We have planning workshops and seminars before classes begin in June.”
And just like that, I found myself enrolling at the Ateneo de Manila University, meeting Fr. Joseph Galdon, S.J., who has since passed through the pearly gates, and attending two summer courses, one of which was a methods class for teaching English. All of a sudden, from an intense focus on math and numbers, I was back in my milieu with several other students, most of whom were already teachers and taking a summer course for professional development.
When I was done for the summer, I reported right back to SSC and you introduced me to the other English teachers. I was happy to meet former teachers, who were equally happy to welcome me into their fold. Later, I would hear from co-teachers that I had been labeled the principal’s pet–again–because I had been given that label first by classmates, then by co-teachers. I tried very hard not to spend so much time in your office and, instead, spent more time with Me-an or Tita Medy when they weren’t too busy.
In that first year, you called on me time and again for help in editing and planning little projects. You made me the adviser for the drama club. You invited me to be your co-editor for the first literary chapbook of student works. Later in the school year, you invited me to interview some new teacher applicants. I had to take a maternity leave when I gave birth to Bianca Margaret in October and was back teaching in January. At the end of the year, you told me you wanted me to head the English area.
Things moved very fast after that. During the summer of my first year as subject area coordinator, you encouraged me to revise the curriculum for the English area. You also let me implement the initial survey for my master’s thesis, which would be a longitudinal study, following all the students for four years as they practiced using journals in English classes to learn creative writing. As part of revamping the curriculum, you let me design and introduce independent classes in public speaking for all levels and I became their speech teacher because you knew I had been a proficient public speaker in high school. You also let me start a Reading Circle and a Forensics Guild, for which I served as adviser for the first few years of their existence. In my second year of teaching, you also started to send me to other branches of SSC to deliver all kinds of workshops and seminars to other teachers as well as selected students. Because of you, I got to travel more around the Philippines–something Mrs. Cova continued when she became principal and you moved to Bacolod. I was happy to visit Bacolod to deliver seminars and workshops there. It was at those workshops that I gained a few new friends, including one who later raised Bian. I was happy to know she was studying where you were principal because I knew she would be watched over, nurtured, cared for, and loved.
We used to exchange letters quite frequently, until I became so busy I did not have time to even write. For that, I am sorry. I wish we still wrote and many times, I would have the urge to write. In fact, I did write a couple of times after I left teaching at SSC, but never received a reply from you.
Now and then, I would hear news about you. I always prayed you would continue to find happiness and fulfillment in your work.
Today, I scrolled down my Facebook wall to see what friends had been posting throughout the day and very close to the top, I saw this notice shared by Charlie Azcuna. I’m glad she shared it, because I had been thinking of you and now, I must say farewell.
Thank you for encouraging me, trusting me, and pushing me forward and upward. Thank you for believing in what I could do and believing I could do anything you asked of me. Thank you for providing me with opportunities to grow, improve, and serve others. Thank you for understanding me and not putting me in uncomfortable situations. Thank you for watching over Bian, taking her under your wing, and giving her the same opportunities you gave me. Above all, thank you for allowing me to work closely with you on several projects that were mutually dear to us both.
Dear Sr. Lucy, I will always remember you because of the many ways you have helped me become the woman I am.
You have earned your rest. May it forever be a peaceful one.
Look Who’s Doing a Special Performance0
So excited for the March performance of the PEISO because my youngest son, Justin Amador, Suzanne Brenton Award Winner, will be performing solo!
Wild Threads 20190
Written during the Wild Threads Writing Symposium 2019 in Charlottetown, PE, for the participants’ open mic on August 25th. The pièce de résistance.
walking into the bar at Peake’s Quay
i find a few people
a friend, and another, and another
then strangers pour in
sitting in a corner
a high school kid
at her first dance
leaving at first chance
knowing it would get better
it had to get better
a good sign
then the lounge
again feeling alone
unsure what to say
until he sweeps into the room
fills the void
no need for other talk
no room for other talk
George Elliott Clarke
loves to talk
in the presence of literary god
venturing minuscule offerings
lapping up momentary patting
atta girl! good boy!
we intellectuals we!
played a guessing game
too many strange titles
in the presence of
exclusive elusive agent
atta boy! good girl!
a short walk
jars bones awake
trotting to the Carriage House
are dead ends
with Hilary and Craig
but Laurie Brinklow
twinkled and glowed
luscious words gushing
from godly gullets
that barely reached
thank you, Keith
early morning coffee
thank you Liza-with-a-Zay
hello Brent Taylor-who-works-in-VA
Pauline Dakin’s on today
Julie P-Lush won’t play
Anne Simpson ramps on
a saggy mattress
extending the metaphor
until George (still on Toronto time)
sweeps in on golden sandals
Craig Pyette does play it cool
stretching the hour
quick sixty Simpson minutes
with Patti at lunch
pop thoughts on cards
rainbow story arcs
paranormal (L)arsen mystery
did the ghost do it?
poof! typing magic fingers
Julie P-Lush came out to play
Julie P-Lush did end the day
all of her listeners in awe of her art
shared all their big dreams and opened their hearts
and so over lobsters and oysters and steaks
down at the Row House the writers partake
of laughter and cheer and chatter and make
new friendships and memories to keep them awake
all night as they slave for their open mic takes.
Poem written during the Wild Threads Writing Symposium 2019 in Charlottetown, PE, during a workshop session with Anne Simpson on August 24th, and delivered at the participants’ open mic on August 25th. Also with a great suggestion from George Elliott Clarke!
All in place.
Rings. Rings. Rings.
Spotless. House dust fears.
Mop and broom.
No. Spoken dissent.
Empty. House staring
Staring house. Empty.
Five thousand fires and counting0
This poem was written during the 2019 Wild Threads Writing Symposium, Charlottetown, PEI, in one of George Elliott Clarke’s sessions on August 23rd, and read during the participants’ open mic on August 25th. With some really great advice from George and some techniques from Anne Simpson’s workshop on the 24th.
Five thousand fires blazing
children of the jungles fleeing
Into the world
Down from the north running
Feet burning on ice
Up from the south crawling
Hair dripping with fire
Ten years is five is one counting
Giants out-shout giants mouthing
Words will not rhyme
people of the world stand watching
Beneath the shadow of hate
Millions of shards of colors reflecting
Black, brown, red, yellow, white
Is this the beginning of human destruction?
The continent lies silently burning
Bonfires march across the world
Sparks and embers leap exploding
Hearts, minds, bodies lying cold
Remnants of reality
Settling ash-like in the frost.
Always be grateful for everything.
The good things
the bad things
the in-between things
They all add up
to what life