I Like That

I Like That
See, hear, taste, touch and inhale the wonders of the world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Take a Refreshing Hike

Elk Falls
On Saturday, August 22, 2015, my stepdaughter, Misty, and her son Niko, strolled along with Frank and me on a hike to the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge, a project by the Rotary Club of Campbell River.

Three dynamic things stood out for all of us; the wonderful wide well-tended paths; the spectacular views along the assortment of trails;

Niko on a trail 

Mushrooms on a log

Frank on a bench ~ family in background

Niko on suspension bridge

and the nerve-wracking heart-stopping sensations felt when we looked down, way down into the gorge through the gratings on the staircases leading to and from the suspension bridge and on the swaying bridge itself.

View of Elk Falls

Our visitors from Kamloops are avid walkers and encouraged Frank and me to relax on the benches offered at almost every trailhead.

View of original water pipes at trailhead

I’m a walker also, heading out almost every day but recently I ache with a persistent feeling of stepping on a thumbtack at the heel of my left foot. By the time I get home and sit down with my feet up, another throbbing presents itself from that heel to my knee.

Susan on a log

Note to self: explain my symptoms to my doctor next visit.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Hummingbird's Wish

Colette lives here
I notice a decorated billboard at my familiar feeding site and hover over it. I  recognize my friend's name. The sign looks happy and I trust it to be safe. I wave my wings over to a screened window and look inside. Many of the faces are familiar, but there seems to be one missing. My food and sweetwater provider is not there but I look further and I'm pictured on a bottle along side these words - The happiness of sunshine, hummingbirds and flowers, and infinately more.

Colette is celebrated

I hope my kind friend has filled my feeder this morning. I flutter around the side of the house and notice a collection of my favourite flowers. I flicker over and dip my beak into each pleasant encounter. I am startled by the sound of a banging door. I flap to my safe haven in the trees.

Colette's friends
Clusters of humans come into the yard and sit on chairs, stand to face each other, hug one another and lift drinks to their face. I feel that my familiar friends are sad; sad like me because my caretaker is not around. Colette's gentle hands provide me and the other birds with crushed and whole seeds sometimes jazzed up with peanut butter. She places flavoured drinks in the trees and always cleans the porch railings for us to perch on. I wish she were here. My friend’s presence provides a calm and caring oasis in a dangerous landscape. The energy of this group feels much like her. The have kind, sensitive and laughing hearts.

Colette my caregiver
I look carefully at an image of my buddy and realize she is two-dimensional. Even with her not in the yard, I know of her past, feel her presence and imagine that her future is bright, filled with blossoms, love and images of me, and her human friends, in her new place. For now, I am here and wish for the day I meet up with her – my generous human friend.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Take Me To Your Heart

By the time Frank and I arrived in Bennui, a small town in Jiangsu Province China, the final draft of our book The Little Red Book Teaching ESL in China was at the publishers. The experiences and strategies I learnt at this senior middle school could have filled another chapter.

My days in Benniu were filled with English conversation, reading, writing and listening classes. I shared my lesson planning and curriculum development with three other foreign teachers. I learnt a great deal from them including the consequences of putting my foot in my mouth, once too often. I’ll share that story with you another time. Frank's days were used in full retirement by venturing out to the nearest massive city. He explored there and made good friends.

Surrounded by my students, as in all the schools I had taught, was fantastic and offered great rewards. The enthusiasm of the young people and their kindness to me were sometimes overshadowed by the politics of the Chinese education system. Although the schedule and general curriculum were dictated by the school head master, using songs to teach the English language often enhanced our teaching capabilities. The students enjoyed the break from rote learning in their other classes.

We were often entertained throughout the year by attending music events put on by the teachers to promote their students’ talents. One of those occasions was a show where a group of fine boys sang
Take Me To Your Heart by Yin, Wen Chi/Ho, Chi Hung.

Being among young ones makes me feel young again.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Losing Colette

On March 22, 2015 ~ 3 Baha, 172 B.E., my sweet older sister, Colette, ascended to the spiritual world. When she was born, her qualities of glorious self awareness, wisdom and passion for life were transported home from the hospital on her older sister’s lap. From her beginnings, Colette was bathed in love and developed a strong sense of loyalty to those around her. Her youthful years were spent as a rambunctious and carefree spirit with mature clarity for her responsibilities as an older sister to her five younger siblings and a devotee to her older sister. She met her soul mate in high school and spent her married life as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend.

One of my favourite memories of her athletic playful character took place when our family lived in Thompson, Manitoba. She was ten years old; I was five. The great outdoors was our playground even in minus thirty-degree weather. We enjoyed a raucous game we called Cowboys and Indians. The partially built houses behind ours became the adventure landscape for our escapades. Colette was always the sheriff and we two younger girl siblings were her deputies, while our brother played the villain. We ran around hard and with purpose until called in for a meal by our mother.

I joined her in song one day when she announced that her boyfriend had proposed marriage. Going To The Chapel became her theme song for as long as it took her fiancĂ© to achieve his university degree. Afterward, she married the love of her life and lived peacefully in a small apartment filled with daytime sunbeams and the fragrance of familiar love.

Colette’s adventurous spirit was a true wonder. She was tomboyish in the meadows, on hiking trails, alongside fast flowing streams and fishing with her outdoorsman husband. At home, she was domestic and gentle with her first baby and again with her second. Her playful manner provided her boys and her grandchildren the pleasure of life to its fullest. She devoted her attention and purpose to those around her and rarely complained of the pains developing within her aging body.

Sixty-three years. Not a long time but a great time for her to have explored the abstract wonders of love, enjoy quiet serenity while sitting on a bench lakeside, full participation in galloping around with her children and grandchildren, holding hands with her husband, chatting for hours with her oldest sister and sharing her empathy with everyone she met. Her beauty and service are welcome in the life ever after.

Prayer For The Departed

O My God! O Thou forgiver of sins! Bestower of gifts! Dispeller of afflictions!

Verily, I beseech Thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.

O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount. 

– Abdu’l-Baha

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Bucket List Scratch

The smell of horse manure filled my nostrils and flowed through my mouth, blanketed my tongue and gathered in my lungs. I exhaled and drew in another welcomed breath. I closed my eyes and smiled with delight and anticipation. Tears filled my eyes as I walked toward Frank.

“Honey, this is an amazing surprise. I would have never thought in a million years I would be getting horseback riding lessons for my birthday,” I said

Frank shrugged his shoulders like it was no big deal. It is a life-size deal to me. I had commented, some while ago, that I’d like to learn how to ride a horse as one of my ‘bucket list’ items. Sometime in March 2015, I can scratch it from my wants.

I had only once, in my 20s, ridden a horse. That many years ago, the getting on part was the trickiest for me because I had to stand on a fence and kind of jump onto the large animal’s back. The group leader stuck my feet into the stirrups but they never stayed there. Once the horse started walking, I gripped the horn and worked feverishly to keep my running-shoe-clad feet in the slippery foot holds. On the flat open terrain the large beast bolted to a destination it only seemed to know. The thing followed the other horses in no particular order after the other riders trotted their steeds in various directions. When does this become fun? The posse sometimes rode in single file or scattered in all directions through the groves of trees and when going up hill. I was forced to nearly lie down on the horse’s rump during a steep descent, and pull my feet up onto the saddle in a yoga position when we splashed through a river. Rushing across an open field was the most uncomfortable. I had no control whatsoever of the mare. The adventure finally came to an end after the mount and I bolted across the yard. The horse’s destination was the barn likely to get something to eat. My butt was sore and I needed help to dismount. It wasn’t elegant.

So, now I’m going to get proper lessons. At an up coming ladies’ equestrian event, we’re going to be using English saddles (they don’t have a horn to grab onto), wear a helmet (never wore one as a kid on my bicycle) and I’m wearing the cowboy boots I bought on my last year’s trip to Montana. Just to be safe, I think I’ll sport a pair of Depends because they would provide soft cushioning for my derriere. Yahoo!

Step used to mount steed

One version of an English saddle

Some call this a good luck symbol

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Red Ball

“Do you know about the red ball?” I said.

I held the woman’s Indian Status card in my hand. There was one other guest at my Target cashier’s station at that moment.

“No,” she said.

“We are happy to remove the provincial and government services taxes from your purchase today, but you must allow us to carry your packages and receipt out to the red ball,” I said.

“What is the red ball?” she said.

“The red ball sits on Campbell River Band land and if you agree to meet the Target person there we can exempt you from paying taxes,” I said.

“Oh. Okay,” she said.

Target Red 
The overhead public address system announced my request. “Walk out on four, please. Walk out on four.” The response came back, “Sheila will be right there.” Everyone employed at this Campbell River Target store knows that a walk out means to carry the guest's purchased goods and the receipt to the designated location of the distinctive cairn.

A young work colleague walked toward me swinging a bright orange visibility vest over her shoulders. The guest was filling out the government form that detailed her band number and her personal information. When she was finished, she handed the slip of paper back to me.

Target cairn in the distance
I thanked her and turned to Sheila. “This is our guests first red ball experience. Can you take her there or at least show her where it is?”

“Yes, of course,” she said. “It’s a big red ball just across from the sandwich shop at the end of this building.” A picture of the distinct brand marker came into my head.

With Target leaving Campbell River I’m wondering if who ever takes over the retail space will offer the same privilege to our First Nation and Metis friends.

Susan the Cashier

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 The Year Of Endurance

The Year of Endurance

A great many of us declare a resolution at the front end of the Gregorian calendar. I love a good challenge and have declared 2015 my year of endurance.

The ability to live each day filled with capacity and courage entitles me to endure any incident bearing hardship. I bring forward the persistence I’ve gathered over the years to provide me with the tenacity to single out things that are meaningful to me. The pleasure of prayer and peacefulness grant me the strength to separate the happy and harsh environments we are all experiencing these days.  Today, for example, I attended a devotional in Campbell River and it gave me a sense of belonging, wonderment and opened my heart.

Endurance is the staying power to stand ready for all things that present themselves without light. An evil lurking in the shadows will be repelled by patience and spunk. Like-minded folks welcome a person with moxie and restraint. I invite you to practice endurance and show your persistence and pluckiness.