All posts by Bridgesburning Chris

The older I get the more amazed I am at the simplicity of life and at the same time the complexity of it. I think sometimes we make the simplicity complicated by our own ingenuity and the insistence that something so wonderful cannot be simple. Perhaps our greatest failure is to make complex that which is not.

Handle with Discretion

“Though the big estates are interspersed now with middle-class homes, the overall impression is of money, carefully cultivated and preserved, vintage elegance harking back to a time when wealth was handled with discretion and material display reserved for one’s financial peers.” Kinsey Millhone’s observation in “C” is for Corpse

Sue Grafton is one of my rereads. You know, those books that become good friends, that bring you comfort and make you feel cozy all over just by picking it up? I highly recommend her alphabet series or anything else she writes, but it is her character Kinsey Millhone that provokes great thought for me. As I reread each book there is always something that stands out that did not the last time.

Yesterday was one of those A Plus days for me. The kind where wonderful things happen, one after another, and you end up driving along thinking, “I think I have everything I could possibly want in this life.”

And in that moment of absolute bliss came a mixture of emotion. I want to shout from the roof tops or stop every person walking along and tell them how perfect my life is, and then it occurred to me that so many people are in pain for one reason or another. There are problems, terrible sad problems.

Would my expression on joy be just that, an expression? Or was I thinking the world should just be happy because in that moment I was happy? Should I feel guilty at what I have and others do not?

I recognized that what I should be, and was, is grateful for my good fortune. I wondered how I could reconcile what joy I had with the poorer states of others. Loved ones, struggling, worried.

And then I thought of the above quote I had read yesterday, “when wealth was handled with discretion”, and it occurred to me that happiness and good fortune should be handled the same way. Not at all, SEE WHAT I HAVE? SEE HOW HAPPY I AM? SEE MY GOOD FORTUNE?

But with discretion, and gratitude.

Kinsey’s adventures are some of the best you will read, but her draw for me is where her head is at. What she thinks. What she observes. I think of her often throughout a day because in her I find a monitor of some sort. Not perfection but honesty that is clean, humorous, and core basic. I am not sure if that makes any sense to you but I do like how it rolls around my gray matter. I think I could write a book about the kind of person she is but Grafton pretty much has done that also with her book, “Kinsey and Me.”

What I realize is that our society is all about showing off what we have, what we do, where we go and who we know. The thought about discretion and being circumspect (another word that comes to mind in this), is appealing, and comforting, and proper somehow, though the idea of ‘proper’ seems to be shamed and scorned these days.

**In case you are wondering, no I did not win the lottery (yet), and nothing earth shaking happened, except a couple of very small things made me realize I am Blessed and Grateful. And I wish the same for all of you.

*** Yeah yeah I know, bad miserable days when nothing goes right will come again, but for now there is happiness!!

C is for Corpse

Ah That’s Better

The beauty of giving thanks my friend!

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

I think WordPress is playing tricks again.  I posted this earlier today and several people commented on it but it has disappeared into the ether.  All that’s left is the beginning of the post on Facebook.  Don’t you hate it when that happens? And I just can’t remember all I had written.

Anyway I’ll try again.

After writing my earlier post I looked back and thought about my day:

  • I woke up to a warm,sun filled house
  • I woke up knowing that my friends and family are all on my side
  • I had a walk in the bush with my lovely Physiotherapist
  • We ended up at a local coffee shop where we encountered a friend
  • I have so much for which to be grateful not the least for being alive as i know where my accident could have left me.
  • And I know The Architect would not want me to be…

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WHAT IF THE SOURCE OF ….

WHAT IF THE SOURCE OF WESTERN problems all stemmed from one evil? Societal restlessness, increased suicides and attempts, especially among the young, increased violent crimes, an increasingly hopelessness infused into each moment.

I wonder if we have let ourselves be duped, not unlike those of times long past who fell victim to purveyors of handy dandy things to make your life better, happier, bring you joy, ease.

You see I wonder if all our problems exist because of a collision of expectation and reality. Just like the anorexic young girl who cannot resolve her body image with that of skinny air brushed models we have been sold a load of nonsense about happiness.

That’s right. What if our expectation of happiness is not real, but an idea invented by small time scammers who made delusion a big time business.

Just like the simple country folk in the frontier days, shelling out hard earned dollars or cents (cents were so much more valuable then) to a shyster convincing them that the purchase of a bottle of mysterious happy juice would make your life, heart, or soul better, we began, decades ago buying up and into nonsense that life was all about being happy.

By the way the purveyors of this nonsense, who kept saying, look at me, how happy I am, You can be happy just like me, were indeed happy as society shelled out billions of dollars in books, on courses, in classes, advertising. At least they appeared that way externally, though I suspect their inner souls were just as bleak as any.

In the sixties the cry was, I am trying to find myself. Who am I?

Then along came the big roll out. Meditation, examination, imagination, any ATION, and all you had to do were pay. Happiness became a product. Buy this, be happy. Happiness in a bottle, a pill, a house, a car, a dress,……Or the most dangerous, Buy This Book, Idea Psychobabble told us imagine, visualize, believe, and it will manifest. The use of the word Manifest in itself should be a crime. And for those who tried to MANIFEST and did not succeed? Well they just did not do it right. We were, and continue to this day, we are being sold a Bill of Goods. It only fills the pockets of the sellers who are scamming you me and future generations. Sure they are happy, laughing at our gullibility all the way to the bank.

Then we came to believe that we had to convince our children they are happy or rather they should be happy. That life is all about being happy. They are not allowed to fail, to feel the pain of loss and know that it is okay, a part of life that makes us stronger. And they buy our Bill of Goods and become confused, depressed, and fearful when they cannot quite grasp this feeling they should have. What is wrong with me, they say. I must be deficient.

The pursuit of the illusive HAPPINESS has gone off to a realm of ridiculousness and people, especially our young are falling apart.

What if it all could be fixed?

What if we made a society (and we can by the way) where key words became, DIGNITY, HARD WORK, DETERMINATION, PERSERVERENCE, KINDNESS, NON-JUDGEMENT, VALUE PERSISTENCE.

What if we retaught ourselves that it is okay to fail, that there is a dignity in failing and falling? That failing does not mean unworthy? What if there was honor in the struggle?

What if we let our children know that it is okay not to feel happy in any given moment?

What if the new word became Satisfaction? Not in the result but in the attempt to live a good hard working honorable life. (with heavy emphasis on the hard working) and at the end of each day to feel a satisfaction?

Life is messy, and hard, and at time so sad and lonely, and painful but there is a worth to life, a Satisfaction that must be earned.

Let’s take a huge load of our children’s minds. It’s okay to be sad, mad, even glad. Let them know LIFE IS HARD, but can be rewarding instead of setting up an illusion called Happiness. And rewards must be earned.

What if Happiness exists as a by-product of this thing called LIFE?

Extreme Images of A Storm

thekitchensgarden

Late yesterday morning I saw this great broody cloud coming over the horizon like a huge intergalactic mother ship, I dropped what I was doing and sprinting past the long list of work I should have been doing, I collected my camera, jumped in the truck and went storm chasing. I love these images. The skies here fill me with awe.

Here are the best of the images in the order that I shot them. storm coming

extreme storms

storm clouds

storm clouds

And then I looked back to the house.

astorm

And said Oh my God. There is no way you can look at that image and not think that all hell will soon be rained down upon my little farm.  But this storm did not bring much rain or wind -just an ordinary storm with dramatic clothing.  Those of you on Instagram with me  (cecilia_bwg) will have seen this shot in real time. Thank fully this time I had…

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How My Town in southwestern Ontario Canada became THE site for German Prisoners of War Graves.

My hometown, Kitchener, lies in southwest Ontario, surrounded by three of the great lakes, Ontario, Erie, and Huron. Its location makes it easy to traverse to Toronto, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Detroit, and lies just south of the beautiful north vacation lands of Algonquin, Muskoka and the Kawarthas.

All in all we are pretty lucky that whatever life style you choose to pursue it is available somewhere nearby. Big city, camp ground, fishing. We got it.

Kitchener at about 233,000 is a twin joined geographically with Waterloo with a population of approximately 133,000.

But Kitchener was not always so named. On June 28, 1916, 346 people voted to change from the name Berlin to Kitchener. We were two years into the First World War and the change was to prove loyalty and ‘stem backlash against a city with deep German roots.) *The Waterloo Region Record June 27, 2016.

I have never had much interest in cemeteries until recently when my quest for ten thousand steps a day took me to one nearby here in Waterloo where I currently abide (the city that is not the cemetery). That stirred enough interest to visit Woodland in Kitchener where most of my family and friends have final resting places. I’ll tell you about Woodland some other day, but for now I must relate my surprise on day when I came across this:

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Somewhere in the past I remembered hearing about people being interned during the war. I knew the Americans had interned Japenese after Pearl Harbour but I did not think beyond that horror.  In researching the above sign I discovered:

  1. Canada operated prison camps for interned civilians during the First and Second World War.
  2. Canada operated camps for 34,000 German Prisoners of War
  3. The camps at Lethbridge and Medicine Hat Alberta were the largest in North America
  4. There was a camp for Japanese Canadians in British Columbia
  5. The British Government did not want so many German prisoners in Britain as they posed a threat should hand to hand fighting take place in Britain itself, and would provide added support for the enemy if freed.
  6. In each of the Great Wars Canada hosted about two dozen camps across the country
  7. The CBC did a number of articles at the time that can be found in their archives.
  8. While it was generally felt POWs were treated better in Canada there are still some horror stories and some mysteries.
  9. I found out that people who had escaped Nazi Germany in the year before ‘the troubles’ and found their way to Britain considered themselves safe.  However upon declaration of war many of these people found themselves interned as a precaution in case they were spies. Many of them were sent to Canadian camps
  10. The scariest I think was a camp in New Brunswick which housed Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany.  They had been deemed by the British as ‘dangerous enemy aliens, and ended up in a camp with Nazi soldiers, the very enemy they were trying to escape. A wall was finally built to keep the Jews safe.

The 187 dead were brought together in 1970 from thirty-six sites across Canada. Kitchener was chosen since it had largely been a German city and located where family from Europe could easily travel to visit the graves.

I read that many died of ‘natural causes’ such as cancer but that just didn’t sound right. As I walked among the stark white stones I notice that most were between nineteen and twenty-five years old.  Then one day I found an article that said many of those in northern camps were put to work logging and that an unusually large number of ‘accidental’ deaths occurred. No one seems to have questioned this.

As I walk through this little garden of foreign death I consider that it does not matter that they were the ‘enemy’, but just young boys that died way too young and my heart breaks a little for our history.

And when I think of today and all the countries crying out that they will not accept Syrian refugees because there could be a spy or terrorist among them, my heart breaks for our current times.  Have we learned nothing?  I wonder.

 

World Access in Isolation

World Access in Isolation

depositphotos_2823384-Access-denied

I should start by saying this is not a complaint. Merely an observation.

It seems almost paradoxical. The way of things today I mean. Everywhere you look people are focused only on the device in their hands. Out on the streets heads are bent as fingers fly across small keyboards. Are they even called keyboards anymore? No one makes eye contact anymore. Okay there are some.

I used to comment it was only the young people ( meaning anyone younger than I), but I notice on the streets, in stores, in cars (a no no) eyes are cast down and some of them belong to pretty old people. If you speak or otherwise engage and the head comes up, the eyes seem out of focus if they meet yours at all.

What I find strange is that at the very same time we have personal access to people across the world. Which in my mind makes this little planet that much smaller. Each week I come face to face in real time with my cousin in Scotland, my BFF in Winnipeg or Mexico or the west coast or the east coast or points between, wherever this Gypsy Road Warrior chooses to be, and then halfway around the world to my friend freshly recovered from an accident and still brave and back as good as new Judith Baxter whom you know as growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com who lives in New Zealand.

I am pretty sure the outcome of this will be a world of folk unable to engage in proximal reality, physically close together. Even with skyping or messaging our reality becomes that face on the screen. Social skills lost.

How will next generations be able to interact? Will they be able to tolerate another human in close proximity? Will they be aware of trees, skies, breezes, natural beauty at all?

Will they lose their humanness? I read a prediction from a very science type on Quora that ultimately that is exactly what will happen. I am also sure that if someone from the nineteenth century were to glimpse our world as it has become they might also deduce we had lost our humanness already.

Times they are changing, as the saying goes.

Having said all that, I am most grateful that those I love around the world are as close as ‘this’ and we can look in each other’s eyes and raise a glass of red wine as we chat about any old mundane thing that crosses our minds.

My Near Perfect Day which was not a day at all but a morning, and, far from perfect, unless you are the really really optimistic sort.

 

I love the neighborhood I moved into almost a year ago. It is a lovely subdivision with wide lawns and large mature trees, and has a peacefulness about it that makes going for a walk pleasant indeed.

I have been considering finding a church to attend for some time now, although I am not sure why, but the thought persists often enough that I first considered what church it should be. You see I have attended and joined many churches in my lifetime; christened in United after birth, baptized in water at age thirteen in the Baptist Church, converted to Roman Catholicism through RCIA at the age of fortyish, and joined the Salvation Army at my last unfortunate attempt at marriage. The Church remained, husband did not. I was happy and active in each of my churches, largely I believe, because I am comfortable in my faith, and I will not argue ideological differences that some cling to in attempts to say their church, their God is right and no one else is.

Anyway, I decided to look for a church that was within walking distance. Yes, I drive, but the thought of walking to church has a certain appeal. There is a lovely little United Church just down the hill a little over two kilometers away, so about one and a half miles each way. I watched for signs each time I passed it to see what time service started. Last week I noticed it was a ten o’clock  service.

So this morning I awoke, put on my Sunday best and headed off twenty minutes before ten, enjoying the walk on a lovely not too warm sunny day. I came to the parking lot first and noticed only one vehicle, which I thought strange. A few more steps took me to the front doors where a sign read, ‘Closed July and August.’

Maintaining my Sunday Best Approach I decided to head back up the hill intending to stop at a Timmies, A Tim Hortons (Canada’s addiction) and treat myself to breakfast and a latte. The day I figured was not completely lost.

Now Tim’s has booths, all of which were full, and tables and hard on your butt chairs, and two delightful faux leather stuffed chairs by a delight faux fire. I take my breakfast, latte and napkins to the comfy stuffed chairs, pull out my tablet (free wifi), notebook and pen, prepared to continue research in my present endeavor. Ah. Perfect.

Balancing my tablet on my lap, holding my coffee, I reach for my pen. In the blink of an eye, or in the more modern phrase, in a nanosecond, my latte is spread down the entire left leg of my virginal white pants and in a wide arc around my reading chair.

You all hear about how nice Canadians are so while I kneel to start clean up a young couple come over and help with the mop up. Then a young worker shows up with mop and pail. I head off to the ladies room to try and wash some of the coffee from my pants as another worker calls out, ‘don’t worry I will have another free latte here for you when you come out.’  You see there is still a certain perfection to the day. Unfortunately the washroom has an automatic tap and only an air hand dryer.

So I throw handfuls of water on my once white now brown pants then use thin bits of bathroom tissue to mop up the floor. When I return back to the counter the young lady has my new latte ready.

I decide to sit at a proper table and chairs to work, but find the urgency to get my pants into a good soak a soon as possible is, well urgent. So I gather all up and walk the remaining one thousand steps home, still savoring the beautiful day and gardens and parks.

My clothes are now clean and wearable again and now I head off to see my Auntie, and while the Nursing Home insists I brighten her day, I have to say she brightens mine. So I guess all in all, this is still a pretty perfect Sunday.

 

This is my Job

This is a life. Thank you Celi!

thekitchensgarden

Farming these acres is my job.  A job I chose. A job I chose and grew to love. Being a woman farmer is what I am all about. A woman who farms not a farmers wife. I am the farmer.  The grower of food. cows

And I am still a relatively young woman.  In the peak of her working life. This is not my retirement or anything, I am not old enough for that – not by a long shot – this is my job. This is not a hobby or just something to pass the time. This is my job of work. It is a small enterprise on purpose. I like to fly under the radar. My food revolution is spreading by word of mouth. My job has impact.  I feed people.  I invite people to come and experience farming. This is my job. sow

It is not 9 – 5. It is…

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