Archive for the ‘Tuesday writing conversation’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 23, 2017

Resolution Blessing

by

Mattie J.T. Stepanek

Let our breath be gentle wind,

Let our ears be of those who listen,

Let our hearts be not ones

that rage so quickly and

Thus blow dramatically,

And useless.

Let our spirits attend and be

Most diligent to the soft

Yet desperate whisper of

Hope and peace for our world.

Let our souls be those

Which watch for the Lord,

Waiting with wonder and want.

Let our eyes be attentive

With interest and respect,

Let our minds be committed

To health and happiness,

Let our hands join

In helpful resolution

To being our best person,

Praying and playing and

Passing through moments

Of pain or memory-

Makers of pleasure

Touching the future, together.

Mattie’s poem is a shy reminder of our self-worth and potential as we shrive for a more beautiful future.  The music is appreciable, beautiful and engaging.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 16, 2017

 

The Senior Times

Pit Stop by Neil McKenty

On the Shrivers, the Special Olympics and floor hockey.

I was enjoying a winter holiday in Palm Spins, California, when it was announced that Sargent Shriver gad died.  I met Shriver, married to President John Kennedy’s sister Eunice, in the early 70’s.  I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Mr. Shriver was the founding director of the Peace Corps, the signature success of Kennedy’s New Frontier.  He directed Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, founded Head Start, created the Jobs Corp and Legal Services for the Poor.

He served as President of the Special Olympics, which was founded by his wife.

Writing in the New York Times, Bob Herbert said that  »Mr. Shriver affected more people in a positive way than any American since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. »

When I met Mr. Shriver in 1971, he struck me as an enormously enthusiastic and energetic man.  I met him to discuss an award the Kennedys were making to Jean Vanier, the son of the former governor-general.  Mr. Vanier was being honoured by the Kennedys for his work with the mentally challenged.

My boss at the time, the Toronto philanthropist and sportsman Harry  »Red » Foster, thought it would be appropriate if Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wrote a short statement to be delivered at the awards ceremony in Washington.

I called Mr. Trudeau’s office and he agreed to send a short statement to honour Vanier.  There was, however, one condition: The statement would be in both English and French and must be read that way.

I explained Mr. Trudeau’s condition to Mr. Shriver and he readily agreed to find someone who would be able to handle the French.

At the event, however, somebody dropped the ball.  To my exasperation, the statement did not get read in French.

I expressed my anger to Mr. Shriver.  He was upset as I was and apologized profusely.

As this was playing out, we were negotiating with Mr. Shirver’s wife, Eunice, for Canada to play a larger role in the Special Olympics.  We had a Canadian Special Olympics at Exhibition Park in Toronto and we had been invited to join the Kennedys for the first international Special Olympics in Chicago.

One of the most successful elements of our own Olympics was floor hockey.  We had convinced the National Hockey League to get behind this project and we were eager that Mrs. Shriver accept floor hockey into the American Special Olympics.

To that end, I had several meetings with Mrs. Shriver in Washington.

What a though lady she turned out to be-though in the sense she knew what she wanted and used any means to get there.  Smart, too.

I was not the only person who thought if Mrs. Shriver had been born later she might well have become the first female president of the United States.

She questioned me carefully about the suitability of floor hockey for the Special Olympics program.

I am writing this wile still in Palm Springs.  While here, I’ve talked to a number of Americans about the Obama presidency.

Most people seem all for it or all against it.  There is no middle ground.  As one of the naysayers put it:  »My husband had a job under George Bush and he lost his job under Obama. »

My own view is unchanged.  If the unemployment rate comes down one full point or more, Obama will win a second term fairly easily.  I mean, who is likely to beat him?  Michelle Bachmann, the poor person’s Sarah Palin?

Published in February 2011.

Jean P.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 9, 2017

Does Gratitude Impact our Health and Happiness?

An ”overnight” trip, took days due to a series of airline ‘mishaps’.  Instead of dwelling on the negatives, author Anna Bowness-Park decided to be appreciative of all that was good along the way – resulting in unexpected pleasures!

”Gratitude shifts our thoughts from the negative aspects of life to noticing and appreciating the positive incidents, even if they are small.

I thought about this on a recent, difficult journey to the UK.  What should have been an overnight trip, took three days due to a series of airline ‘mishaps’.  Though the marathon journey was worrying – especially as I had a meeting to attend – I decided to be appreciative of all that was good along the way.  That included expressing gratitude to the airline staff who were trying to make things easier for us, the taxi driver who tried his best to find yet another hotel we were supposed to stay at, and even the cleaners in the airport.

And it made a difference.  For the most part, I remained relaxed and calm, even enjoying some humour-filled moments.  When I got to my destination, I completed my meeting with no ill-effects, even though I had about four hours of sleep in three days.  What helped?  I actually prayed for gratitude.  I wanted to ensure that my time was not wasted in anger, frustration and criticism.  A recollected phrase, written long before the current challenges of airline travel, spoke to me about the impact that gratitude or ingratitude can have on our experience and well-being.

Are we really grateful for the good already received?  Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.

How did that relate to my situation?  I noticed the little moments of kindness and goodness on this journey, and was grateful.  This opened me up to recognize and experience more goodness.  I treated others with kindness and they reciprocated.

In popular, one aspect of the experience highlights this.  During this long, drawn-out journey I made friends with a young women who was looking after a small child.  We teamed up together, looked out for one another, and in the ensuing days developed a beautiful friendship that I would not have experienced otherwise.

Gratitude allows us to move through life with more grace, affording greater rest and peace.  It opens our thoughts to notice the good all around, even in trying circumstances.  How can that be anything less than health-giving?

For many of us, Thanksgiving this year will be a time for travel, long lines and inevitable delays.  It’s a great opportunity to try out these ideas.  But whether we are travelling or not, committing to a language of gratitude for the everyday things of life opens our eyes to new possibilities and makes a huge difference to our health and happiness.”

Anna Bowness-Park, author.  Story found in Grateful News, October 2014

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 2, 2017

 

The Wild Swans at Coole.

by

W.B. Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

Any suggestions of subject for the blog or just comments and ideas. linesarestillblazing@gmail.com

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

April 25, 2017

Even in Portsmouth

by

John McKenty

I was born in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1948, but moved with my family to the village of Portsmouth shortly after it was annexed by the city of Kingston in 1952.  It was a union, I later discovered, given little attention by the villagers who went about their daily lives as if they were still a recognizable entity unto themselves.

While Portsmouth, with a scant population of five hundred, had the usual small-town amenities, such as a grocery store, a drug store and a barber shop, it also had two rather rowdy hotels and two maximum security prisons, one for the men and one for the women.  Many a parent in the village reminded their male off-spring that staying too long in the former could result in a stay in the latter.

With the prisons standings as a stark reminder of what can happen when one’s life goes astray, it was around this same that Kingston building contractor Harold Harvey, troubled by the frequent sight of children playing in the streets or just hanging around with nothing to do, founded the Church Athletic League, an organization that offered youngsters the opportunity to play recreational hockey, softball, basketball and bowling.

The one stipulation was that all participants must attend church or Sunday school 80 percent of the time.  Based on his belief that ”a child brought up in church is seldom brought up short,” the Church Athletic League was Harvey’s valiant attempt to set the youngsters of Portsmouth and the city, as a whole, in the right direction.

When the Church Athletic League began its first season of hockey in 1951, it had 100 boys registered.  From there the number grew at a rapid rate causing Harvey to come up with a plan for a new outdoor rink to be built in the old quarry in Portsmouth, the same site where inmates from the men’s maximum security prison had once hammered limestone into building blocks.  It was here where hard labour had once been intended to teach the incorrigible about the error of their ways, that young boys were now to learn the rules of fairness, co-operation and team work.

It would be the summer of 1960 that the Harold Harvey Arena was constructed at 42 Church Street, directly across from where my family lived.  Being close at hand it wasn’t long before my two brothers and I became ”rink-rats” at the venerable old arena which began life as an open-air affair, before eventually being closed in.

As rink rats our job was to sign the team in and out and collect their rental fee and then at the end of the day to clear the ice of snow and put on a fresh flood for the next day’s activities.  When there was public skating, we were to don the official rink sweaters and go out on the ice in a bid to impress the girls and to discourage the boys from playing tag.

In exchange for our meager efforts we were given free ice time and a bit of money.  With the money I made, I saved up to buy my first set of CCM ”Tacks”, the skate of the pros, the skate of my dreams.  Unfortunately, the price of my dreams was always greater than the size of my savings and, as a result, my first pair of ”Tacks” turned out to be a used set.  They were beat-up and far too small, but it didn’t matter.  They were ”Tacks” and I was going to cram my feet into them no matter what.

Back in those days, everyone in Portsmouth had their skates sharpened at Baiden’s Hardware, a retail operation overseen by Henry Baiden and his younger brother Bill.  The only problem, according to the villagers, was that Bill knew how to sharpen skates correctly, but Henry, on the other hand, didn’t.  Thus, before anyone took their skates I to be done, they peered cautiously around the corner of the store’s front window to ensure that Henry was busy, while Bill wasn’t.

It was a ritual I followed faithfully for I didn’t want just anyone messing around with my ”Tacks.”  That’s the way it was back then.  Little did I know back then that my infatuation with my skates would eventually lead me to write a history of the CCM company.  But life can be like that.  You never know what will happen when you follow your passion.  Even in Portsmouth.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

April 11, 2017

 

 

 

Catharine writes:

One third of Neil’s listeners were francophones. During that first referendum he kept everyone talking on his CJAD open-line show. He also interviewed Premier René Lévesque on the show more than once, with the last time being only a couple of week before Lévesque’s death.

A well-known Montreal lawyer later told me that without Neil’s efforts to keep people listening to each other there could have been violence on the streets of Montreal.

My question is: is there anyone out there in the United States in the midst of this divisive election keeping people listening to each other? The most divisive in US history. Is CNN doing that with its’ panels of commentators from both sides? My impression is they are trying hard – what do you think?

Got something you want to share on the blog e-mail me at: linesarestillblazing@gmail.com

To see all the videos of Neil’s TV show, visit the YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrJeanpl

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 28, 2017

Are Books Dead?

 

This question about the future of reading arises now because of an essay by Scottish fiction writer Ewan Morrison entitled “Are books dead and can authors survive?”

Morrison goes on to explain: “”E-books and e-publishing will mean the end of the ‘writer’ as  a profession.  He argues that every information stream that has become digitized has inexorably slid toward free no-charge access. We’ve seen it happen with music, we’ve seen it happen with movies, and even with long-distance telephone calls.

In other words, the public now demands its media to be free.

I must admit in my own case, I read fewer and fewer books.  Instead I read upwards of half a dozen newspapers a day including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Montreal Gazette, the Globe and Mail and the Irish Times.  I read the last to keep abreast of the dreadful Catholic sex abuse crisis in Ireland.

However, I do belong to a book club.  We meet once a month in each other’s home, have a lively discussion and enjoy refreshments.  Our last book was a biography of  Pierre Trudeau.  Our next book will be a biography of Lucy Maude Montgomery.

What was the last book you read?  Are you reading anything now?

Is reading in decline?

Are books dead?

What do you think?

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 21, 2017

Because spring has arrived, here is a poem translated to English from the Irish language.

Anois teacht an tEarraigh

Spring is now coming

Now with the springtime
The days will grow longer
And after St. Bride’s day’
My sail I’ll let go
I put my mind to it,
And I never will linger
Till I find myself back
In the County Mayo.

In Clare of Morris family
I will be the first night
and in the Wall on the side below it
I will begin to drink
to Maghs Woods I shall go
until I shall make a months visit there
two miles close
to the Mouth of the Big Ford.

I swear
that my heart rises up
as the wind rises up
or as the fog lifts
when I think about Ceara
or about Gaileang on the lower side of it
about Sceathach an Mhíle
or about the plains of Mayo.

Cill Liadain is the town
where everything grows
there are blackberries and raspberries there
and every sort of fruit
and were I to be standing
in the center of my people
age would depart from me
and I would be again young.

There is always wheat and oats
growing barley and flax there
rye in branch there
flower-bread and meat
the folks who make moonshine
without a licence selling it there
the pride of the country
playing and drinking.

There is sowing and plowing
and fertilizing without manure
and it’s many the thing there
of which I have not yet spoken
kilns and mills
working without rest there
with hardly any talk about a pennys rent
or about nothing of that sort.

 

 

Written by the famous Irish language poet, Antaine Ó Raifteirí.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 14, 2017

cover-inside

How in the world did Polly Noble, a bubbly little girl with freckles, born just outside Dromore in January 1837, live to become the subject of a biography more than a century later in Toronto.

It was on her father’s farm, an old Coach Road between Dromore and Enniskillen, that Polly spent an idyllic two years with her parents, George and Jane Noble.  Then disaster struck.  On January 6, 1839, the Big Wind rose out of the sea and swept across Ireland, wailing like a thousand banshees.  It flattened whole villages, burned down farm houses, and finally killed her father.  It changed Polly’s life forever.

Two years later, Polly’s mother, Jane, married William Fleming, the handsome widower across the road at Bridgewater Farm.  Soon Polly began to walk back and forth the mile or so to the one-room school run in Dromore by the Kildare Society.

But she also found time to plant potatoes, milk the cows, look after the goats, pull flax, chase the hens and run bare-foot in the meadows.

Then disaster struck again.  The potato crop failed and famine and typhus threatened Bridgewater Farm.  Like thousands of others the Fleming decided they must escape.

They packed what they could and traveled by horse and cart to Londonderry/Derry, drinking in their last views of the green fields and hills of Ireland.  On the 14th of May, 1847, along with four hundred and eighteen other passengers, they boarded the three-masted sailing ship Sesostris.

After an appalling voyage, during which some of the passengers, including Polly’s darling little brother and sister died, they docked at Grosse-Ile, the quarantine station on the St-Lawrence River, about an hour from Quebec.  After three years in Montreal,  where she met her future husband, Polly was now ready for her next adventure in a vast unknown land called Canada.  Her destiny would be linked with a dozen children who had called their mothers, one of them a future mayor of Toronto.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 7, 2017

The Blackbird of Derrycairn

by Austin Clarke

The Blackbird of Derrycairn by Austin Clarke. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Stop, stop and listen for the bough top

Is whistling and the sun is brighter
Than God’s own shadow in the cup now!
Forget the hour-bell. Mournful matins
Will sound, Patric, as well at nightfall.

Faintly through mist of broken water
Fionn heard my melody in Norway.
He found the forest track, he brought back
This beak to gild the branch and tell, there,
Why men must welcome in the daylight.

He loved the breeze that warns the black grouse,
The shouts of gillies in the morning
When packs are counted and the swans cloud
Loch Erne, but more than all those voices
My throat rejoicing from the hawthorn.

In little cells behind a cashel,
Patric, no handbell gives a glad sound.
But knowledge is found among the branches.
Listen! That song that shakes my feathers
Will thong the leather of your satchels.

The poem is about the dominance the Catholic church held over the government in Ireland.