Gentle Spectrums: Bargains!

It is time I wrote a topic for Gentle Spectrums! Those folks should note “I’m in Gentle Spectrums” for our group draw (I’ll do it November 30).  Everybody else:  cast your eyes around your homes and please share your bargain triumphs!  Comment below, or write your own posts and give the link. This is fun, easy and outside the group’s draw, this topic will stay open as long as you’re keen to chime in.  My fiancé & I love browsing garage sales.  We choose carefully because our house is small.  Naturally, the subtopic could be books by itself, so I’m going to leave that out. Since Gentle Spectrums brings together a broad variety of subjects, I thought this would make a great subject.

At garage sales, charitable festivities, any place:  which items do you remember being excited about and glad to find?  Were they stellar prices, or a coup for different reasons:  rarity, sought a long time, something you use regularly;  a staple in your home?  We for instance, need to replace my cell phone charger and our phones are old.  Are there spots you visit frequently, or are these occasional?  Do you have a system?  We have lived out in the country five years and that is when we tried out thrift stores.  They provide a place to donate things you don’t need;  gifting browsers with the chance to find what *we* need at rock bottom pricing.  We visit one of these about every three months.  Garage sales need to fit into warm seasons around here.

It’s no surprise we primarily search for books but always have a good look at other miscellany.  One is considerably cheaper than the other but both are bargains.  We have found window blinds we needed, household plants to whom I eagerly gave a home, and all the planting pots we could need.  Free is good:  twenty-two hanging baskets and three flower boxes grace our home all summer.  (They are all inside now with us, still full of lovely blooms)!  Our spares will replace cracked ones.

Garage sales require that we start early and keep smalltalk short!  There is a lot of ground to cover. Yes, part of the pleasure is visiting people’s personal homes:  greeting our township neighbours and seeing a little of how other folks live.  However long-winded discourse must be avoided, or we won’t get to the others!  A nice prelude of acquaintance – good!  Somebody dragging on because you’re the first visitors in a while – snip that as delicately as you can.  Around here, hosts don’t all keep garage sales open until 5:00PM and in this town, we were surprised to find very few who run them on Sundays.

The real coup is a community who puts on a sale every summer. Ron drives the car along in increments and I walk my way to several sales on one street. They start Thursday so by the time Saturday rolls around, when Ron & I can go together; you’ll find several folks who have closed-up shop and left out an assortment of wares with a sign saying “free”. This is why I won’t need plant pots for decades to and I gleaned two filing cabinets! One is in this office, a miniature one stores our plant seeds.  In the city, I bought a beautiful ceramic basin & soapdish set that graces our sink today. We were glad to find CD stands, a restaurant style water pitcher that we use often, and a wide, crystal-looking vase.  I love it and it at last, replaced one our second cat knocked down when he was a kitten.

I recall a yard sale where a divorcing woman wanted to clear out REALLY good Canadian LPs from the 1970s and 1980s, right in my wheelhouse. I love Canadian pop and rock.  Unfortunately my mind leaped to how much those few dollars might tally up.  If I had done the mathematics and considered how rare it is to find good records; it was worth scooping up all.  I seldom have garage sale regrets but remember wishing we hadn’t pulled ourselves from that one as fast as we did.  I love the ones I did buy, like Manitoba’s own Tom Cochrane & Red Rider.

We usually bypass dishes because we don’t need any but once found an unusually ornate teacup and saucer, with a Japanese look.  It dates to at least the 1930s.  Do people give you the stories about what they sell or do you ask?  This woman said she had the teacup and saucer for years, as a gift from a wonderful person she dated; whom she decided not to marry.  A gorgeous box in our room with a map on the front of the wood, is a man’s jewellery box.  It belonged to a woman’s beloved first husband and I asked if she was sure she wished to sell it.  She said she did and that their children didn’t need it either. She is remarried and the box has a happy, calm feeling around it.

This is our first house, so we needed everything to do with yards. However one thing we needed, was much stabler chairs than we had been getting away with. So at that community sale our first year, two gorgeous white chairs with exquisite, maroon padded seats became ours. We should have put fliers atop them for a while. When we weren’t looking, our young cats discovered that they made comfy scratching posts. They stopped doing it but a few pockmarks were all it took. Still, they seat us daily. We were elated to find an ergonomic, high quality office chair last year;  the one I’m in.  I’ll bet it was $200 CDN somewhere.  This man asked for $5!  Our Siamese and white tabby share our older one.  We found four steel and decorative curtain rods a few years earlier, which are far sturdier than the bendy ones from stores.

Ron has acquired many tools he needed, like a vice and even a work bench. Not least, there were cat carriers and a good birdfeeder or two. I see we are being visited by a Grey Jay now!  Now:  please tell me all about your bargain coups.  Are you on the look-out for anything next spring and summer, or do you remain open to seeing what’s there?  I could use more flower baskets, their hangers, and cages or ties to prop up tomatoes.  Replacing our glass lampshade would be a good find, too.  We’re gladly using a spare cloth shade from some other garage sale.  Selecting items you might need is an art, isn’t it?

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Hands Of Man Concert!

Our generation has bonded over music.  It is easier to have musical tastes in common than books.  I have watched children of fellow music fans grow up, welcomed and have travelled widely to meet peers.  There are genres I love best – 1980s pop and rock are my expertise – but I love a whole lot of music, old and new;  including foreign language.  Therefore to say three ultimate favourite artists top every musician I enjoy, is to say they are highly energizing and personal to me.  It means no matter what finances are like, if they come to town we see them;  closely as possible.  With them, there is no such thing as a schedule conflict because these would be high priority;  moments we know will become the most jubilant of life long memories.  Mine heroes are:  fellow Canadian COREY HART (no longer performing due to chronic back pain), Norwegian A-HA (recently disbanded and scarcely came to North America even at their height), and Irish CHRIS DEBURGH (occasional appearances in Eastern Canada.  I am Western Canadian).

Blessedly, I have borne witness to all three performing.  A-ha required travel in May 2010.  I don’t know if they have been to my city!  On October 5, just last month:  Chris DeBurgh at last returned to Manitoba!  My family’s appreciation of him goes way back and to our surprise, with England as his secondary residence, he personally told our audience that he credits Canada for his fame.  When his first album came out in 1975, he recounted that “Far Beyond These Castle Walls” made a good splash in a few countries.  He shot to stardom when his second album came out that year.  For reasons he didn’t explain, perhaps because he doesn’t know:  “Spanish Train And Other Stories” is an album we relished so much, it was – in Chris’ words – “a monster hit”.  He said he always appreciates us for that and seldom plays the United States.  A family of three drove all the way from Iowa to see him, from the seats ahead of us.  It happened a great deal with Corey Hart too;  Americans trailing him in Canadian cities, even to see him on talk shows.

The Hands Of Man - Back

I discovered Chris in 1986 as many did:  “Lady In Red“, from the very atmospheric album “Into The Light“, is too gigantically famous to miss.  However I can’t count the times an artist’s chart-breaker was not a real representation of their work.  For instance, “Into The Light” has one of three, multi-part oeuvres / rock operas that he has done.  If this classic ballad is the only song you know by Chris:  are you ever in for a treat, when you explore the rest of his stuff.  The same goes for finding many more phenomenal gems than “Sunglasses At Night” by Corey and “Take On Me“, by A-ha.  Nowadays it is easy to download any album.  In the beginning, I made a point of collecting every ounce of it before there was an internet.  FYI:  I am not old.  I was only 19 when I tried e-mail.  My forty-third birthday was yesterday!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, CAROLYN!

The Getaway

At about 14, Dad’s boyhood friend bought a cottage on a private beach along Lake Winnipeg and shared it with us for a good ten years.  I took holidays from my job without the family as often a I could.  All youths value time away from the folks…  a hectic family crammed, bugging us about dishes and when to eat.  I relished in a week of alone time with my cat.  I played records, swam, suntanned, wrote letters on the deck, and read.  It was this beach store to that had the brilliant idea of selling second-hand paperbacks for a quarter.  It is they, who bolstered the gothic mystery collection that squeezes into our home to this day.

Best Moves - Chris DeBurgh

The owner’s brother vacationed one street away and it is he who invited us over in the evening, to play Chris DeBurgh.  They had seen him in concert recently and raved about him.  I knew a couple of the 1986 hits but here was my introduction to “Spanish Train And Other Stories“!  The song “Lonely Sky” became a lifetime favourite, which I eventually taught myself to play on the piano;  which was a feat because I am not trained.  My brothers & I used to act out the very dramatic “Spanish Train“;  about God and the devil playing poker and then chess, to compete for souls!  I was too young to see him on his 1980s tours but eventually I got to know more of his music.  His albums have never stopped being created.  The trick was:  his visits to my city took about 16 years in between.  Finally, the moment came!  I took my Mom with me as a birthday gift, to see Chris perform on September 19, 1996.  The “Beautiful Dreams” tour mirrored the orchestra album of that name;  a new kind of recording for him and it was lovely.  However I longed to hear his songs in their typical style, with his band.  After 16 years, that moment came last month.

The special twist for our family is that Dad and my fiancé, Ron could join us to see Chris for themselves.  Also, Mom had three episodes of hospitalization for heart problems, culminating in bypass surgery this June.  Before the surgery, which replaced rteries and ended the scare of heart attacks, we were wary about her health.  When Chris’ ticket sale emerged in February, Ron & I bought four.  If her health didn’t improve, it would be a glorious memory.  If she beat the problem, it would celebrate her wellness.  Bypass surgery was a God-send and we sure were celebrating, when the concert finally arrived!  At last we saw all of this legendary artist’s colours:  orchestral, folk, rock, pop, and you bet there was story-telling.  While many sing about the size of a person’s “booty”;  here is an artist who uses his public reach for positive messages.  He described having Ireland, his band, and himself in tears one time, at the performance of his infamous “Borderline“.  It is about the nonsense of war.  His new album is “The Hands Of Man“, favouring us with subjects like a couple re-devoting to each other when their children have moved, medieval tales about ghosts and kings, and to my pleased surprise:  an empowerment song against societies that attempt to suppress women.  Look up the lyrics to “Keeper Of The Keys“.

The Hands Of Man

The most unbelievable thrill is that we sat in the third row, centre of the stage!  I didn’t guess the early ticket password, without fighting dial-up internet for prime seats!  We looked our dear performer in the face, saw every note played, and eventually he invited our audience to dance at the stage.  I most certainly skipped to the front with other ladies.  There was no getting any closer than that.  At the very end, in parting;  I got to embrace Chris DeBurgh, in a good Irish hug and kiss upon the cheek!  Ron was thrilled to find his music bolder and harder in person.  Seeing the riveting, acoustic “Spanish Train” performed in person was a high point and Ron was excited about “A Spaceman Came Travelling“.  From the same 1975 album – clearly a good one!

I like dance music but it lifts our soul, to experience music that means something important.  I give you the song very dearest to my heart, from the singer Mom & I were elated to see again last month.  It’s from the “Crusader” album of 1977 and I would have been a mess if he had played it.  If you are an animal lover, good luck hearing the gorgeous music at the same time without crying!  As you will see, is a protective message on behalf of someone else I love very much:  the birds of our world.

Just in time I heard the cry
And looking up I saw the snowbirds wheeling in the sky
They said “We are the last ones left”
And so I brought them in, I gave them comfort, gave them rest,

Just in time, to live another day,
Just in time, oh they’ll live another day.

Just in time I read the book,
Such a revelation, we must give back what we took
Or the Earth will roar like a wounded beast,
The mountains will come crashing from the valleys to the sea

Just in time, oh don’t throw it all away,
Just in time, don’t throw it all away.
“Who will save this world of mine,
Will you save it just in time”?

Just in time, I saw the dawn
Watched the sun arising on a field of golden corn
And through the mist, a million Signs
Friends of the Earth, calling out to every man

Just in time, oh don’t throw it all away, no, no, no,
Just in time, oh we’ll live another day.

Ooh, how can I tell you how close we have come
That the end of our world has already begun,
There are so many things we will not see again
Every day there’s another one dying away.

Calling for help,
Help from your hand,
Hand coming down,
Down to the world;
World it is time,
Time for us all,
And all that is life,
To be living together before everything slips away!

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Does your kind of mystery exist?

Everyone who has discussed books with me for a minute knows my plea:  authors need to fill a gaping void of ghostly fiction for adults!  Rather than it be an easily buried sidenote;  new acquaintances (clearly unwary that asking me to bring attention to that which needs attending is like asking a cat to meow) suggested I more loudly highlight this genre’s void that needs filling.  I need to stop you, before you suggest the smattering of ‘cozy mystery’ fare that contains ghosts.  First:  believe me, I’ve looked.  Among the rare few creating excellent paranormal fiction – for adults – is Juliet Blackwell and I am already reading her.  Second:  I do not want a humorous, or “the ghost is my buddy and is no big deal” context.  Series like that of E.J. Copperman and Molly MacRae, the latter liked very much by me for non-paranormal reasons, do not fill my seemingly tall order.

In standard mystery, which is much more about each novel’s principal events than expounding upon cute career themes;  I already know about Barbara Michaels.  Much more suspenseful and even a little bit eerie;  without tipping over into the horror genre.  What I want are adventures, not necessarily mysteries;  that have emotional, suspenseful, awe-inspiring encounters with spirits.  I see so much promise with synopsises like these in children’s literature, it drives me wild with annoyance.  Don’t authors suppose that adults believe in spirits and love reading about them?  Or that if there were an atmospheric house in our vicinity, we wouldn’t leap at the chance to look around for ancients trails of existence?  Some people call it “antiquing” but believe you me, people over 30 want to explore exciting places and mystical possibilities!

How about you, dear readers?  What’s your favourite kind of mystery or adventure?  Is it a genre that is in ample supply, with your ideal parameters fulfilled?  Since there aren’t many protagonists over 30, set off on non-‘cozy mystery’ ghost adventures, here is my second most favourite book wish. I would just love a pure mystery:  that’s my kind of mystery.  No crimes, no police ruining the wondrous tone of discovery;  no stale, uninspired plot “found a body, who killed him?”.  If it isn’t a 30 to 40 year-old having the adventure, it can work:  as long as focus isn’t squandered on romance, going to school, or parental resistance.

Even some ‘cozy mystery’ authors for adults, like Sofie Kelly and Emily Chase, unfortunately aren’t focused on ensuring mystery drives their novels. We sit through chapters and chapters, watching them at their extracuricular activities, careers, whatever errands they run, and the main flow is constantly interrupted.  I also notice too many scenes relegated to coffee-drinking!  What I dislike even more are chapters allocated to seondary narratives, which Rebecca M. Hale and Mary Anna Evans do.  Perhaps it’s a triple name thing.  ;)  Humour is fun, if there is no ghostly atmosphere to spoil.  As long as there is excellent writing, plotting, and the pace is consistently adventuresome.  In Canada, my kind of mystery does exist to a fine degree!  Our best are:  Howard Engel, Mary Jane Maffini / Victoria Abbott, Gail Bowen, and Eric Wright.

Two days ago, with exception of a haunting element:  I did discover my very favourite mystery, containing all of my other ideal parameters!  It is a book published exactly one-hundred years ago, by Augusta Huiell Seamn.  This is a timely centenary celebration! “The Boarded-Up House” is set in 1905, ahead of its 1915 release, thus characters are plausibly alive to suit historic background stories that are mentioned.  I hope you enjoy my review, linked with this book’s title.  Please hit the ‘helpful’ button when you get to, will you?  :)  I don’t use posts for reviews, worried it disturbs subscribers, signed-up to receive notification of more general articles and personal writings.  I store my suite of reveiws in menus at the top of RIEDEL Fascination:  Canadian authors and my sum total.  I intend to offer a third reference, comprising my five-star reviews.

The Boarded-Up House” will certainly be among those!  Even with protagonists who are young ladies, Cynthia and Joyce:  I loved everything about this book.  I seldom encounter plots that soar along to an emotional climax, without ‘near-accident’ gimmicks clogging up the story’s flow.  Believe me when I praise that you don’t feel the book’s age as you follow these heroines.  There is subtle talk of buying expensive candles for 5c and their town is newly-founded but the whole tone could have occurred anytime.  A peculiar puzzle drives every page, every scene.

Now, lets let folks know how to find these “mysteries for the sake of mystery”.  Some would have you pay hundreds of dollars on-line.  Look to thrift stores and second-hand shops instead!  Those of us preferring real copies can find them for 25c, whenever shops have them.  For those happy with electronic copies, or determined enough to resort to that:  some of Augusta’s titles are free!  They were deemed valuable literary heritage and were scanned.  I have to tell you:  this is a mystery I read and read, thought about through the night, and couldn’t wait to continue!  Possibly simple in appearance, notice the void it fills by being a straightforward mystery.  Thank you, dear Augusta!  Happy one-hundredth anniversary!

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Special Historic Occasions

It’s my parents’ anniversary!  I shared a nice conversation with them today, which you can do with three people when you have landline telephones.  There was a lot to joke and chat about in earnest.  Even “Back To The Future Day” means something in our film-loving family.  My spouse & I just last week took them to see an uplifting and memorable music concert, which we raved about again.  I’ll finally blog about that;  stay tuned.  Our country, on Monday, October 19th, elected a brand new Prime Minister!  And in the RIEDEL family, we are joyfully in the midst of our whole string of birthdays.  Mine and Dad’s are next month.

1972 Birthdays

With my parents in my very first November.

When my parents married, they were nearly 30, which has become the norm.  I don’t know about you but when I hear of someone in their 20s marrying, my reaction is:  “Gosh, that’s young”.  We in our 40s are the gorgeous adults!  Those in their 30s are just grown-up, and the 20 year-olds are babies.  Not unlike other youth starting out with menial jobs and tiny apartments, my Mom & Dad married without owning a car.  Mom’s Grandma invited the newlyweds to spend Christmas with her in Swan River, so they took a bus.  They shared this memory with me because a very significant announcement was made on television that Christmas night.  My parents must have been watching the news with Great-Grandma.  They felt a surge of excitement over a baby who was born.  Prime Minister Pierre and Margaret Trudeau welcomed their first son, Justin.  This newborn is our Prime Minister today!

Margaret & Justin Oct-19-2015

Margaret & Justin conveying love and pride, October 19, 2015.

Because he and another leader were new in this campaign, our country really shook up our votes.  The NDPs, made popular by the late Jack Layton, were unseated and so too, our 9 years-long conservative government.  My two concerns are that Prime Minister Trudeau not pander to Québec heavily and whether or not he improves animals’ rights.  His family, at least in 2010, were fur-wearers.  It is my hope he cares about changing laws to protect the welfare of living animals;  the minimum first step.  Admittedly, with new candidates and debates not televised for this election;  his acceptance address was the first time I heard Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak.

I have to say:  I was moved by his gentle passion and resolve.  As a writer, I pick up on the words people choose.  It wasn’t the typical rhetoric of politics.  He said: “We have proven it was possible to win by being positive, not mudslinging”.  He thanked our former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper for the years he and his family gave themselves to our service.  He said opposing parties aren’t our enemies and he is going to listen to every Member Of Parliament in our House Of Commons.  Green Party leader Elizabeth May still has her seat, whom I also admire.  Now she has an ear who not only cares about our people but a Prime Minister who prefers learning from what others have to say, instead of pretending he knows-it-all.

Fits In With Other CDNs Oct'15

Justin fits in with other young Canadians:  October 2015.

Aesthetically but reaching profound layers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gotten other countries of our world to notice:  a member of our generation is leading us over here.  Wisdom, nobleness, and heart have nothing to do with age or appearance but I foresee our Prime Minister and his lovely wife garnering an affectionate celebrity, similar to our embracement of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper is fine-looking and young but unfortunately, belonged to a political party that feels stifling.  He was soft-spoken and seldom addressed us.  I have awaited someone for whom we would cheer and roar.  The way he leads us comes first.  What I’m saying is, our current generation across the world taking notice of him, is a very positive change.  The impression that governmental leaders must be fat, bearded, white-haired old men is gone.

I find myself in awe, that I now have a Prime Minister who is only 11 months older than I am!  We 1970s babies relate to one-another exceptionally well.  I am encouraged and uplifted by a Prime Minister for the first time since I was born.  I do thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family for their personal sacrifice in governing Canada.  Our new Prime Minister has already taught us to respect those who were not our political choice. What graciousness, what an example.  I hope the Harpers resume very happy lives in Alberta. Congratulations and God speed to our new hope:  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family!  I think I will be sentimental about his swearing-in on November 4th.  What a good feeling this is.

Justin & Sophie Grégoire Oct-19-15

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau & Sophie Grégoire:   October 19, 2015.

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Happy “Future” Day!

Today is special.  How could I have missed it?  A huge chunk of my family members, including me, have absolutely loved the “Back To The Future” films since the beginning.  We were children in 1985, when the premiering film travels back to 1955.  It’s coming back to me now, since this was such an awakening, prominent era in every facet of my life, that there was tons of trivia and side information about these wonderful films.  Little things, like fellow Canadian musician Corey Hart being offered an audition for the Marty McFly role, because his emotive music videos showed he could act.  How Canadian Michael J. Fox could not attend the red carpet premiere for the first film, the very one that skyrocketed his career, because he was in England for a mini movie of “Family Ties”!  There are deleted scenes that would have properly explained the modern hairdryer Marty holds, when convincing George McFly that he is an alien at his bedside.

Yes sire, my family loved these films so much that we chomped on every bit of footage and every ounce of lore we came across. We acted out the parts and wished we could relive the films.  We know every line to this day I’m sure.  The music soundtracks make us smile.  Film II came out the week of my birthday (another spectacular date – next month!) in 1989.  Film III was released a year later.  By 1992, I visited California myself and was very excited to personally devour a “Back To The Future” virtual ride and the genuine film set.

I’m much more passionate about the paranormal than science fiction but something magical about the dynamics and of course acting of all of the films, captivating us for a lifeitme.  This trilogy’s treatment of time travel is hilarious, enpowering, and inspiring.  Things the characters change have an instant, recognizable effect;  such as the photo of siblings erasing piece by piece.  These elements satisfy the core of what magic, fantasy, and paranormal-lovers relish:  that there are more workings and personal possibilities in the universe than the four corners of the normal world that we see. Therein is the enchantment and wonder.  Saving family, the underachiever rising above mediocrity, and not least of all the comedy held my heart for a lifetime.  Each of us remains more dedicated than ever to defeating bullies.  The bravery of presenting yourself to a lady you admire found empathy and cheerleading from most audience members too.

For me especially, with the kind of crazy memory one sometimes hears about, there is a plethora of detail constants from film to film that are immensely titillating and satisfying.  We instantly know Marty is going to meet his Mother figure, waking from a head injury while she declares her time period’s year!  Children needing to lend him a skateboard or hover-board, the bully smashing into a manure pile….  all of the best comedy parts are reprised from film to film in and match each era.  After our re-enacting and my young, solo trip to Universal Studios itself, that was all we could glean from this phenomenal trilogy;  the first being the top film of 1985.  This is why a highly significant date escaped my sharp memory radar!

Back To The Future II

Has it really been thirty years?  Over this duration we have replayed some of the films from time to time of course.  It has been a very long while, or I would have picked up on this nugget for sure.  Guess what today is?  In the 1989 sequel, you might remember the premise that Marty and Doc Brown need to rescue family outcomes in the future.  The date of their travel is TODAY!  HAPPY “BACK TO THE FUTURE DAY”: October 21st, 2015!!!!

The only way I can think of to celebrate meeting a fictional date, is to invite reminiscence with me.  When a film is successful and stays memorable for us, what fun to enumerate the reasons, right?  I’ll conclude my contribution to entertainment history by saying:  I wish Doc’s cliff-hanger quote at the end of film I were true about us today.  “Roads?  Where we’re going, we don’t need any roads“!

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Is Canada ‘strategizing’ or choosing?

In my previous article, I described the way conservative party leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was elected again and again;  not representative of the average Canadian’s preference but as a result of familiarity and complacency.  His was a familiar name during the Liberal Party’s frequent leadership turnover and some folks are complacent about reading up on other candidates.  How many Canadians “just pick someone” or vote “same as before”, rather than doing a tiny bit of digging and inviting discovery of other options?

My beliefs and concerns are usually in line with the Green Party but they and the NDPs were long dismissed as too small to effect any electoral weight.  Isn’t it odd?  We mechanically viewed our choices as “A” or “B”, similarly to the Americans.  Then came Jack Layton.  Jack was inspiring and cared about people and change.  He challenged opposition comfortably but was supremely likeable.  On his deathbed, when he needn’t have given his day job any more thought, he wrote “A Letter To Canadians”.  His small party reached official opposition status in our 2011 election.

Does no one remember that we still considered the NDPs “too small to vote for” even then?  Eventually, when the election was inprogress, we could see Jack gaining favour but does no one remember being shocked at the Liberal Party’s decimation?  Micheal Ignatiuff lost his riding’s seat.  I remember thinking:  “I like Jack Layton but is voting for him helping unfavourable candidates win”?  The mathematics didn’t occur to me then:  a vote for what we want, is a valid vote away from undesirables.  I followed my gut and Jack did not see his surge of new seats as a loss.  He experienced a historic coup.

After his death, I was an undecided voter.  New NDP leader Thomas Mulcair isn’t for me.  He puts down other parties, instead of simply stating what he would do for our country.  It has reached the point of sounding childish;  the misconception that downplaying others will lift the spotlight on one’s self.  What’s more, he hovers over the few default issues that he thinks he is expected to harp about.  My family advocates exercising our vote.  When none of the major parties appealed to me, nor are their platforms applicable to me in most categories;  I found myself guilty of not reflecting what I really want.

How ludicrous not to consider the Green Party, with the platform that echoes so many of our ideals.  Their exclusion, censorship from television will not hide their clearly-budgeted platform from Canadians;  nor their names from our ballot boxes.  They are a valid, strong option whom we can choose.  Why minimize our vote by regarding it as a means to change out Prime Minister Harper?  ANY vote we cast elsewhere is a vote away from him.  As a matter of fact, it’s a vote away from all, except the party we choose!

Finally:  there is no such thing as “too small for our vote”.  Small becomes big when enough of us check-off that party, on the ballots we are handed….  tomorrow!  We will not limit our options to three parties that seem big – for now.  We will exercise our votes in favour of who we want.  Let’s surprise Canadians with the power of our choice again.

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Canadians Undecided About Monday?

There has been unbelievable hype over faraway elections of other countries.  We need excitement about the election of our Prime Minister….  NEXT WEEK!  The New Democrat Party (NDPs) and the Green Party discuss in their platforms, available on-line, that our voting process itself needs changing because it has never accurately represented what we want.  I immediately agree.  There are candidates for every region and the more Members Of Parliament (MPs) that win from a party, determines each provincial Premier.  The sum of all seats determines our Prime Minister.  Québec has a deluge of seats.  Many, many of our Prime Ministers were men from Québec.  I adored Jack Layton and voted for him before he died, with uplifting hope.  Otherwise, I am tired of male Prime Ministers who favour Québec!

What I appreciated about Prime Minister Stephen Harper is that he is from Alberta.  Unfortunately he belongs to the Conservative party, which has never been in line with my beliefs.  I enjoyed his prairie perspective and performance of piano from time to time but in Canada, there is no cap to whom we can elect.  We have had Prime Minister Harper long enough and it has begun to feel like a dictatorship.  Most personally for me:  he is not the one we have been awaiting, to improve animal rights.  On Myspace, I connected with numerous peers to help animals.  Foreigners urged everyone to write to Stephen Harper.  I had to say they were wasting their words;  that our best bet was the NEXT Prime Minister.  He was constantly re-elected.

I fear Canadians not knowing for whom else to vote.  This coming Monday, Canadians are at risk of sticking with the same name because the NDP and Liberal candidates are new!  We don’t know them.  This post is to persuade you to read, not simply choose the same Prime Minister yet again, or worse;  not vote.  The turnout in 2011 was appalling.  OUR country is worthy of hype.

I took time to read about Green Party leader Elizabeth May, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.  Everybody targets the issues of health care, crime prevention, jobs, the environment….  What we need to do is think about the changes to our country that are most vital to us personally.  I listened to my heart and did this search:  “Animal rights + each name”.  A photo of Justin Trudeau’s family wearing fox fur hats, coats, and blanket blinked into view.  I read his response to backlash.  Ugh.  As long as Canadian companies process the bodies, it’s okay…?  He may have wonderful qualities but isn’t the person to save animals.  Thomas Mulcair inserts a line about animal welfare in his platform, which I appreciate.  Elizabeth May gives us a whole detailed page.

Her website doesn’t stop at “Talking the talk”.  She host an abundance of petitions for change, including equal pay for women, affordable housing, safe drinking water.  Her platform covers a whole lot more than environment concerns.  Nonetheless, here is what lifted my heart and got me excited about my country’s choices.  SHE IS GOING TO ASK THE HOUSE OF COMMONS TO REMOVE ANIMALS FROM THE ‘PROPERTY’ CATEGORY!  SHE WILL ASK THE HOUSE OF COMMONS TO RE-WRITE LAWS, SO WE PROTECT ANIMALS AS LIVING, BREATHING, INDIVIDUAL LIFE!

I have awaited this all of my life and tear up, that we are close to realizing it.  Instead of charging criminals essentially for mistreating ‘a shoe’, they go to jail for harming A SENTIENT LIFE!  Dear God, we have needed this.  I used to consider the Green Party too small to use our votes but that’s untrue if we vote for them!  With one seat on Capital Hill, Elizabeth May passed bills and broke records.  Every country questions what their leaders did with the time they were bestowed.  Did they make any difference?  Read on Elizabeth May’s website that she has never taken her party’s sole Member Of Parliament seat for granted.  Imagine if she grew bigger and became our leader.

Undecided?  Instead of another man favouring Québec, how about a woman who made a home on both coasts?  There can be so many more seats, we stop thinking of the Green Party as “too small to consider”.  It makes me happy that on Monday, there is an option that lets me put my heart into my vote.  Dear Canadians, choose someone to stand behind and use your power on Monday, too!

*  Read for yourself Elizabeth May’s platform.  She isn’t solely about environmental and animal welfare, paramount decisive factors for me.  The Green Party’s plan, backed-up by a budget, includes medicine in our health plans and makes attending university ~ free!  THIS matches my picture of my home country.

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A good friend, or a doormat?

I am a sociable, vocal, outgoing, confident person.  Those who know me in writing, across the internet, see that.  There is one exception that might be the same for many of you:  I’m reluctant to broach confrontations!  My fiancé is the same;  something has to darned near be killing us before we have the guts to tell a neighbour, for instance, that something they do isn’t working for us.  I thought this might be the case with our west neigbhours because the lady & I are friends.  However when there was an issue with our previous south neighbours, who weren’t friends, it took us just as long to speak up and ask if they would compromise.

I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation but one thing that might bite, for not overcome it in this lifetime, is conflict resolution!  Tonight, I believe I dodged that karma and brightened it up a good deal.  I dragged my fiancé with me for support, sharing points with him even though I spoke.  The thing people like us are timid about did occur.  They weren’t as understanding as we hoped.  We had to state our position repeatedly and firmly.  The outcome isn’t ideal but I am very proud that we grew brave enough to march over there and be direct with them.

I think people timid about facing colleagues, Mother-in-laws, and neighbours – all tricky – get the warped idea that we are “being good friends” if we bottle it up / don’t rock the boat / keep the peace.  That compounds with discomfort over an unwanted reaction.  Well, the response *was* a polite argument again in the present scenario but we survived!  We’re just proud and relieved we did it!  Feeling miserable, worrying about “bothering” other people instead of being honest about what’s bothering us, doesn’t make us good friends.  It makes us doormats and we needed to change that.

What were the issues?  From 2011 to 2013, the south neighbours caged a Border Collie at their back door;  overlooking our whole property!  We couldn’t take a step without her wailing.  If we hid inside and she went nuts over something else;  the sound pounded our walls.  We felt trapped.  Simple rights, like sitting in a lawn chair to read or have coffee, were ruined.  They refused to move the dog to the opposite side of the house and finally moved to another rural street.

With our friends west of us, their sons have ridden dirt bikes without cessation for 2 1/2 months.  If they went someplace else, on a proper trail, we wouldn’t care.  However one has vision problems and their Mother doesn’t trust them to go far.  We’re being reluctantly understanding that she obligates them to ride in circles in front of our residential houses.  We could handle it *if* the kids rode twice a day, for a half hour at a time.  They don’t.  A third disadvantage is not leaving my sacred hours in peace and serenity.  I could handle them riding after 4:00PM.  We would happily go inside and ignore them.  Alas, we were told “depriving kids during the day is outrageous”.  Is it not summer for us too?  Do I not work from home, pay or no pay?  Today:  they rode from 11:00AM to 5:30PM!  There was no more than 20 minutes of quiet in between!  Six and a half hours?  This makes us party poopers?

Other neighbours vented today that they are sick of the riding but aren’t comfortable telling those folks.  The solution offered a short while ago, is that they promise quiet on odd hours and could ride on even hours.  For example, I have until 10:00AM to suntan or write my book in the grass and open air (one reason we bought this property).  At 12:00, 2:00, 4:00 the children may ride.  I was honest that this is more staccato than I care for but politely accepted giving it a try.  I can somewhat visualize my day!  This is less than what is reasonable and what we deserve but what is important is that we spoke up!  I am no doormat.  Maybe, in ways we won’t foresee, this will establish a level of respect for us that wasn’t present before.

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Opportunity To Share!

Are my blog subscribers back from vacation?  In my previous post, “Where Solace Has Reached Us“, I invited everyone to share a book, film, television show, person…  any memorable moment that impacted you.  I’m utilizing this as a prize draw for my reading group, “Ethereal” but this discussion is open to any interested person!  With your comment or a link, say:  “I’m with Ethereal” or “Just sharing”.  Heck, if my Ethereal people remain busy;  I might draw among all who leave feedback!

Is there a book, film, show that wasn’t normally your forté but reached you and you were glad you encountered it?  A title, person, event that changed your life, or comforted you when you needed it?  Was there a message that felt like it was meant for you at the right time?

I gave the example of books that uplifted me when our senior cat passed away and when our young boy passed away far too early, last year on July 31, 2014.  They are “Your Psychic Pet” by Richard Webster, “Straight From The Horse’s Mouth” by Amelia Kinkade, “Deadly Apperances” by Gail Bowen, and “The Wishing Jar” by Penelope J. Stokes.  That novel was an oddity because I’m no fan of general or ‘coming of age’ fiction.  It hit me in a personal way that eased my heart.  Here’s a television example I didn’t give in the original post.

Touch Poster Season I

Television executives do a poor job of preserving shows that are special and rare;  favouring hospital and police dramas.  There are a million of them!  A show starring Canadian Kiefer Sutherland that lasted two years, was “Touch“.  It was a profoundly original, metaphysical show about a non-verbal autistic boy seeing patterns in the world.  He knew when and where one person would affect another to a giant degree and ensured events proceeded as they should.  Receiving a phone call, catching a bus, people intersecting in a park.  He knew simple incidents would prevent disaster and urged his Father to help set fate right.

What this show did for me, though fictional, is make me much more easygoing about mishaps.  A missed bus might save my life or someone else’s, for example.  I am much cooler, thinking these little things have a reason and the universe is working as it should.  It has made me more accepting:  a television show that producers cancelled quickly!

Are there titles or moments that were life-changing to you?  Something outside your norm that resonated with you at the right time?  I’d love to hear your story.  Please comment, or leave a write-up link.  Discussions are always unlimited for anyone reading my posts.  In terms of a prize draw, I give until WednesdayAugust 26th.  :)

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Where solace has reached us.

I’ve been graced with solace from time to time and am eager to know my readers’ stories too.  I’m going to use this as a drawing opportunity for members of Ethereal (please note your participation below) but my intention is to share this discussion with everybody.  If this topic resonates with you, link a write-up in response to my post, or elaborate in the comment box here.

Can you think of a time when literature, film, or any event you encountered by chance;  brought you solace when you needed it?  Enlightened your life?

Twice, a book I’d never heard of lifted me up from despair on the two occasions our family cat passed away.  To us, this is the most major circumstance of our lives;  no commonplace situation.  Along with our parents and feeling like they are our children, our kitties are dear, equal members of our family.  Exactly twelve years ago the first died at a good old age.  This was nonetheless difficult because Thumbelina was born in our home and by my side from ages 9 to 30!  Our family knows animals understand everything we say and are feeling, reasoning individuals.  But I had longed all of my life for a way to prove it to others.  I searched for pictures of cats with Jesus or any books about meeting them in Heaven.  I made a discovery that was more immediate than that.

Mother-Daughter 1985

Sandy grooming her daughter, Thumbelina in 1985.

Somewhere between the subject of spirituality and intuition, a silly title came up that would make nearly anyone scoff.  I’ve thought the author should rename it:  “Your Psychic Pet“!  I looked past the whimsical cover, ordered it, and found the deepest beliefs of my soul spelled out:  animals do understand, answer us, and the subject of “animal communication” was nothing new!  I’ll leave you to consider my review on that book and will simply say that for the first time since her Earth-shattering departure;  my heart had a reason to soar.

In four days, a traumatic date this time faces us on July 31st.  In 2014 this child was happy and young.  Our dear Love unexpectedly left the physical world, with no sign of anything amiss until shortly before he died.  Four years old, as happy as always.  It seems to have been a heart defect at birth.  After no longer wondering if we could have saved him with a vet, even after understanding this was the outcome no matter how fast we’d reacted;  we deal with the grief that someone so happy, strong, and important to us was gone so soon.

Lovey on March 8, 2014.

Our son Lovey, on March 8, 2014.

My spouse & I browsed garage sales, striving for anything to smile about.  There was nothing we needed so I considered one lady’s only two books.  If they had mystical content and weren’t romances or sappy general fiction;  perhaps I would enjoy them.  I dismissed one but the other, “The Wishing Jar“, looked promising.  However I couldn’t concentrate on its description because this was a pushy sales-type, who wouldn’t stop chattering!  It looked close enough so I paid $2.00 but was irritated after we were in the car.  The synopsis indicated a ‘Kodak moment’, “coming of age story” after all!  So annoyed was I, every time I saw this book, I thought I’d best read it and be done with it.

Late in the book it becomes a little metaphysical but one part made it count preciously, made all of it worthwhile.  A Great-Grandmother wrote in a journal about losing her 1 1/2 year-old sons.  She said it killed her, to find herself that amount of time later;  a duration that was about to become longer than the sum of time that her sons lived.  How wrong and horrible that felt.  Well dear readers, that spoke to me in the most personal way it possibly could, with exactitude, because that is one thing I dread.  Time going by without someone I love most dearly, surpassing the time when we were physically alive together.  I tear up now thinking of this.  However, knowing even a fictional book understood, gave me solace.

Love on March 3, 2014.

Our boys McCartney & Love, on March 3, 2014.

A popular Canadian series by Gail Bowen, surprised me with highly personalized insight recently.  In “Deadly Appearances“, the protagonist spoke of a husband’s random death.  She explained that they kept out of trouble, were careful…  that this “felt like a metaphysical sneer against cause and effect, from the universe“.  If someone is young, well cared for, if you are respectable and God knows how much you cherish your loved-one;  they should live a good long time.

The stories sympathized with the shock and unfairness of reasonable security being broken.  The animal book addressed the pang over decades of separation, when one species finishes long before it’ll be your turn to see them again on equal ground.  All three books lifted me off of the ground in my life.  I’d like to hear about relief or joy that presented itself to you, readers!  My examples are being lifted from sorrow and if you merely drop by to support the major day July 31 is for me, I’m certainly grateful.  However please chime in on the root topic in any manner you relate.

Is there an uncanny story about choosing the person you married, an invaluable friend for life, the inspiration for your career;  a hobby or talent you wouldn’t have considered without the book, film, person, or event that sparked it?

In all sincerety, Carolyn.

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“A RIEDEL Clue” One – Solved.


*******  Which mystery legend, débuting in 1910, was born in India?  *******
A person no longer living, considered British.  Birth name is not the one we know.  If you were thinking Indian or Hindu:  steer in another direction.  This is a popular, English language author.

Only one person guessed but I hope most of our group tuned in and that I entertained you.  I prepared this riddle last year, thinking an English person’s birth in India was a rarity.  I have gotten a leg up in my world history, I must say!  I additionally discovered the birthplace, surely a highly specific slam dunk, is an author’s Mecca!  This brings us to our region in question.

This photograph that has been paired with our posts.  I wonder;  was it chosen -in all of India- because it is pretty, or is it a clue?  The lines of text were likely considered the sole provider of clues.  But if the mysteries we read were linear and obvious, we wouldn’t like them, would we?  LOL!  Our winner used the two rounds of word clues alone but there was another way.  Book heroines do utilize the chief focal point (a ‘body on the floor’).  However….  they also look elsewhere.  If you hover or click on this mountain photograph:  you see its location!

Mussoorie Library Established 1843

It turns out a”writer” or “author” is a staple there.  But if you search “MYSTERY AUTHORS BORN IN MUSSOORIE?  The answer to our riddle is first on the screen.  Our subject is seventh in a second page with a little eyeballing too;  a ‘golden age’ page.  See if you work it out as we go along, before reading the conclusion.

Patricia Wentworth 1878

She is Dora Amy Elles, born November 10, 1878 in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India.  In 1901 she married George Dillon, an Irishman serving in the Indian Army and in 1906, returned to England as a widow.  She wrote novels under a penname and her first in 1910, was an instant success;  winning ‘best first novel’.

My next clue if there were another round was:  “Many of this author’s titles contain a colour.  In her series, her heroine’s name may be considered a colour and a metal“.  For how many of you would that have done it?  Is the answer leaping to mind with that?

Patricia Wentworth Parasol

Dora Amy Elles married George Turnbull, also an officer and dictated her books to him.  The heroine of her last thirty-two was Miss Silver!  Retired governess turned professional sleuth.  This series of mysteries proved to be an instant success, enduring until the present day.  Who is it?


Grey Mask

The smiling lady looks too sweet to generate a cover like this, doesn’t she?  I propose a fun conclusion:  those who find the solutions, share how they did it.  I love knowing.  I hope you found the angle I demonstrated, helpful.

The solver of our riddle is Neeru, whose blog isA Hot Cup Of Pleasure!  I teased that she felt compelled to work hard and not miss an answer that pertained to her country.  Well done!

I invite anyone not keen on riddles or prizes, to create one.  I start broadly and plan two more clues honing in.  More creativity is better than one.  :)  Let’s hear reactions from our group and everyone who has been our audience!  I can’t tell how many you were, besides the two who commented.  To all, thank you for playing.

P.S.  Happy eleventh birthday to you, our dear little kitty, Spirit!

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“A RIEDEL Clue” – One & Logo


Riddle 1 has been solved!  To add your names to the bowl, there is no choice but to e-mail your guesses and hit upon the right one.  If you have numerous suspicions, please don’t hesitate to send a list.  You lose nothing.  There are no further rounds.  Someone has found it can be done with the information we have.  :)  AlyshaeB(at)hotmail(dot)com.

India Flag Stamp

*******  Which mystery legend, débuting in 1910, was born in India?
(An author;  not a fictional character).

A person who is no longer living, considered British.
Birth name is not the one we know.  That is a pseudonym.  This helps your fact-checking.
If you were thinking Indian or Hindu:  steer in another direction.
This is a popular, English language author.

India Flag

There is a valuable clue in this post, I did not plan.  It is not part of the text.  To rephrase any more would be unfair to the sleuth hoping to walk away with a prize, without any draw!  Mwahaha….

Sunday, July 19 is our cat, Spirit’s eleventh birthday!  They are our children.  I hope you join us in wishing him well.  :)  I will announce the winner of what we always hope is a draw (except our sleuth waiting in the wings), on Spirit’s special day!


This is a good time to refresh you on a year-long puzzle:  our “My Kind Of Mystery” 2015 logo!  E-mail anytime you figure out which book this is and author, from now until June 30.  It gives you an extra name in the bowl at our year-end prize draw.  In case you missed it:  our 2014 logo, partially used for “A RIEDEL Clue” at the top of this page, belongs to “At Bertram’s Hotel“, Agatha Christie.

P.S.  How do you like this year’s logo?  I love the whimsy and suspense, blended into a mysterious setting, leaping with vivid colour.  I haven’t read this novel but it sounds very much up my alley.  When a used copy became available, I made certain it had this cover that appeals to me so much.  As someone not into graphic arts, I was also pleased with how our text came out.

My Kind Of Mystery 2015

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