Tag Archives: inspiration

Don’t miss the beauty around you

Joshua BellI’ve never used a posting to just pass along something before, but I got this email recently and I thought it was so amazing I’d post it here.  After all, it says just what I’ve been trying to pursue in retirement; an awareness that there’s a world around us that we need to pay attention to.  I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did … and do feel free to pass it along to others.  Here’s the story.  Keep it mind as you read it that the children understood … as they usually do. Continue reading


Catastrophes and communities of care

I’m sitting here in the Red Cross office in Toronto ready to respond to phone calls from people offering help to the families affected by last Thursday’s tornado.  ToronadoWhat few people know is that Ontario gets almost 50% as many tornadoes every year as does “tornado alley” in the US.  Thing is, most of these hit in rural areas and there’s little damage done.  On Thursday though an F2 (150+ miles per hour winds) tornado passed right through Toronto, causing some damage in the city and lots of damage in a couple of suburbs just north of the city.  One 11 year old boy, Owen MacPherson, died after seeking shelter in a conservation area along with some other children who were with him at a nature day camp.  The tornado picked up the park’s gatehouse and flung it into the picnic shelter where Owen was hit.  2,500 people were evacuated, and over 600 homes were affected; roofs torn off, cars tossed like confetti, trees and telephone poles careening through the air.  All of this happening only a few miles from where I sat in comfort enjoying a good meal with friends.  So why do I have time, sitting here, to be writing?  Well, let me tell you a little about the storm and a little about what’s happened here since.  There’s lots to be learned for all of us I think. Continue reading


So here I am sitting on a plane at 35,000 feet winging my way home from Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The week we just spent there (we being David and I and my sister Fran and brother-in-law Ed) was part of my birthday celebration.  Before I share what I’ve learned on this trip I want to tell you that Santa Fe has just got to be one of America’s best-kept secrets (until perhaps today when I’ve shared this amazing place with all of you).  What’s so great about it?  Well, being a Leo, I’ll start with the sunshine NM skyand the sky.  There’s a kind of blue in the sky that I’ve never experienced anywhere else and the clear, crisp air which is almost always filled with sunshine … well, it just lifts my spirits.  Not surprising at all that this is a haven for artists.  The hiking is incredible, taking you through high desert red-rock mountains and canyons that often lead to the Rio Grande.  I am embarrassed to say that this time (we were there a few years ago too; will definitely go again) I was just at the very start of a hike when I missed a step, fell to the ground, and ended up spending the day seeing doctors, getting x-rays, and IMG_1827sporting a lovely new splint on my ankle – which was the end of hiking for this trip.  You can spend days and days wandering in and out of art galleries; my favorites were the huge wind sculptures not to mention the sculptures that you see pretty much everywhere you go, from the ones carved out of dead tree trunks to the ones that just cry “try this! try this!

And then there’s the food; every meal was an incredible adventure in tastes and textures … often accompanied by!”IMG_1832
the best Margaritas (at Gabriel’s … comparable to anything you’ll drink in Mexico) or the best Mojitos (at El Farol, as yummy as the ones I had years ago in Havana at the La Bodeguita del Medio bar (an Ernest Hemmingway favorite) you’ll find in the US.  The highlight this trip was two amazing evenings at the Santa Fe Opera (saw Don Giovanni and La Traviata … want to go back next year to see Madama Butterfly); it’s an open-air theatre and as you sit waiting for the opera to begin you can see the sun setting behind the surrounding mountains.  All breathtaking.  If you’ve never been to Santa Santa Fe Opera sunset 2Fe, do put it on your travel list if you can.  But it wasn’t just about what we did/ate/drank/saw; the truly best parts for me were the insights I gained along the way.   I wouldn’t have thought that architecture could teach me something about life, but it did … and I’d like to share that with you.  It’s about adobe!

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First Red Cross Emergency Call leads to critical thought

truckMy first Red Cross emergency call!  After all of these months of being on call but not actually called,  one ring of the phone and everything changed.   A few weeks ago we had a bit of a heat wave in Toronto –  temperatures well above 30 degrees celsius (mid 90s for those of you still measuring in fahrenheit) with a lot of humidity.  In these conditions the city will issue a heat alert which is primarily intended to protect seniors, children and others at high risk for heat-related illness.  People are told to avoid exertion, stay home if possible, and, if necessary, centres with air conditioning are set up for folks who have no other place to stay cool.  With that one phone call I launched into action to do my part. Continue reading

New identity? Definitely includes “grandmother”

Pam Brown wrote:  “becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.”  I’ll admit that the prehistoric part sort of concerns me.   I remember years and years ago when my first-born son Josh, about 4 at the time, asked me why people get married.  I gave him a far too complicated answer no doubt … about wanting the same things, loving each other, and commitment.  When I was done he stood thoughtfully for a moment and then said: “Mommy, when I grow up … if you’re not dead yet, will you marry me?”  I realized then that to him I must look very old, and I guess that’s the same with grandchildren; indeed, Art recently told his mother that Baubie was turning 80.  Ah – youth … and age  Recently I heard that a child was asked to define grandmothers and said that “grandmothers are people who are very very old … like 30 or 100“.  Okay, so if that’s the age cohort I belong to I can live with that.  Wise child.  I am grandmother to four absolutely amazing young children and the joy that they bring to my life is awesome.  Grandmother.  Yup, that’s a part of my identity that didn’t change with retirement.


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Bravo Toronto! … and Happy Birthday Art

Happy BirthdayI wrote this post almost a week ago, planning to post it last Monday, just a few days after my sweet grandson Art’s 9th birthday.  I’ve delayed it a couple of days to give myself space to honour Walter Cronkite.  And so …..

Did you know that there’s been a city worker’s strike in Toronto that’s now (as of July 17 … which is by the way also my grandson Art’s 9th birthday) nearing it’s 30th day?  That means that in this city of over 5.5 million people – a city which prides itself on its recycling and composting programs – we’ve all been left to deal with disposal of the garbage that we create ourselves.  I’m going to come back to the notion of dealing with the garbage that we create ourselves in a moment – which is what I’m really writing about today, but first I want to pause to congratulate the people of Toronto.

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And that’s the way it is

Obit CronkiteI awoke this morning (at least fully acknowledged being awake) to the smell of a latte and an invitation from David to watch Sunday Morning together in bed.  Cleary this was going to be an unusual day since that’s something we usually do while having dinner on Sundays since David’s usually out with his running group when the show airs.  The show was a tribute to Walter Cronkite who died yesterday, leaving a legacy that is quite remarkable.  Watching this show together was like reliving our youth; we had to keep pausing the TV to talk about “where were you when” as event after event was revisited and flashes of memories sparkled and faded.  Today I have to thank Walter Cronkite both for the part he played in my life and for teaching me something important as I watched TV this morning. Continue reading