Chapter 5 – Skywalker : My treat

Sophie stepped out of her car and into the light as the cyclist approached, she was striking to see with her military posture, flawless skin and her face and slips just slightly damp from the light misty rain.

The cyclist approached steadily, and his right hand reached for the brake as he saw Sophie standing close to his path. Satisfied it was safe to proceed he started past her silent figure, but then shuddered to a stop when he applied his wet brakes. Twisting his head back at her, he then walked his bike toward her.

Sophie watched him stand up his bike, take off his helmet and run his fingers through his flattened bike-head hair. Luke grinned at her, and his eyes shone.

Standing there along a bike path, in the light rain they looked at each other. Sophie trying to piece what her mother Stella had told her with this soggy cyclist who seemed to be gathering his courage to speak.

Excuse me, not to be weird or anything but I think I know you, not know you exactly but know who you are.

Sophie assumed the wonder woman stance, hands on her hips, her mind slightly stunned- Do you? 

 Is your name Sophie? A friend of mine talked about her daughter Sophie and you look like.. His eyes seemed to be beg her to agree.

Sophie nodded, he was right and her face seemed to lighten up, her brow relaxed and a slight smile surprised herself.

Luke was obviously relieved and his strong arms lifted her off the ground as he hugged her intensely. Faces almost touching, he looked into her eyes grinning with white teeth.  Sophie !, he repeated,

Sophie !  I am so pumped, uh I mean so happy to meet you. I was a friend of your Mom, Stella. I took care of her. I miss her and she loved you so much. She wanted us to be friends.  Can we talk? have coffee?  Can I give you my phone number?  Luke’s words just tumbled out.

This definitely was the Skywalker that her Mom wrote about, he was handsome, energetic and sincere. Sophie hoped she had found someone she could trust.

This time it was Sophie who stepped into  Luke, surprising him with the need and intensity of her hug.It seemed right, and neither of them broke apart. Standing there in the light rain, for the first time in a very long time, both of them breathed deep, slowly and easy.

coffee shopSophie finally pushed him back, smiled – come on Luke, I need to talk to you too, put your bike in the back of my car and let’s go.

 I understand you like to coffee.  I know just the place, my treat. 

**********************************

 

 

Down the street,  a man stood in the shade of tree watching their embrace.  He stood completely still, his nostrils slightly flaring, dark eyes hardening.

Then he spun around and climbed into his car. He tapped the wheel lightly, impatiently,  and then he drove away,  his binoculars glistening wetly on the passenger seat.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Day to Remember, A Day to Learn From

It is almost December 7, and that is a day to remember for anyone who has ever visited Hawaii, or any beautiful place like Hawaii is.

 

Why should December 7, 1941  be a day to remember, a day to learn from?

Let’s look at the event

USS Arizona battleship, photo from Wikipedia

There is only a small number of people now even alive who were there in Pearl Harbour, 1941 – 75 years ago. It was a desperate act by a small country against a much larger country. Japan did not have the capacity to make war against the United States for much longer than a year so they were hoping for a devastating quick war, but they underestimated the ability of the United States forces to recover.

 

Image result for natural beauty of hawaii flower

The tranquility, and beauty of Oahu was replaced by bombs, smoke, death and destruction on that morning and throughout the day of December 7, 1941.

December 1941,  Decisions were made and actions were taken that resulted in unimaginable repercussions back to the Japanese people, and indeed to the whole world.

After six months the Japanese were no longer on the offensive in the Pacific war. But war continued and the Americans wanted vengeance for Pearl Harbour.

Let’s look at what the event eventually lead to with respect to Japan

Image result for nuclear hiroshima images

Nuclear devastation in Japan

I believe on the basis of research that I did that American vengeance was the primary reason that Truman authorized the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th, 1945. Very little research was needed to confirm that the Americans had wiped out the Japanese air force, in fact the American bombers had removed their defensive guns from their planes more than eight months before as they were not needed. The Americans were bombing mainly civilians in Japan for more than six months but Japanese leadership were reluctant to unconditionally surrender, dragging out the ugliness and continued deaths.

 Thinking about the December 7 event;  how  does it apply now?

War is always disastrous and yet we continue to have war almost continuously somewhere on the planet. There is no such thing as a quick war either, and the scale of war is impossible to contain, and are never contained to armed forces. Civilians, children, adults, and grandparents who have never even held a gun are killed, livelihoods eradicated, and their homes destroyed. The demand for vengeance cycles back and forth, war is never worthwhile.

Thinking about December 7, does it have smaller scale meaning?

Image result for road rage pictures

Internet photo of road rage

I once watched a short film about road rage, where a small incident results in a chain of reactions back and forth, each more violent, more unreasonable in connection to the original. Eventually, and unbelievable they killed each other, each unable to stop the madness. This is just one smaller scale meaning.

 

Trying to identify a lesson from history to living now

December 7, 1941 is a day for me to remember that people are prone to mistakes, a simplification certainly as Pearl Harbour was an act of war. But it can lead past just simply winning the war, it leads to vengeance.  Vengeance, the eye for an eye mentality is the something that humankind needs to set aside.

Negativity I imagine could be like waves spreading out after a stone is dropped in the water. I mean that approach where we think, “why should I do that for that person because no one does that for me.”

If that is the lesson, does it make a difference to me?

In my personal daily life, how can I apply that? In my life I  can try to ignore the small actions that I consider slights that people do. They occur on the road, in restaurants, and really everywhere. Instead I  will love the surprise of holding the door for someone unexpectedly,  inviting someone else to take the line ahead of me, and try to imagine some stressful event that causes another driver to behave the way they have.

Image result for attitudeI  have a choice, maybe the only thing I actually control in my life is my attitude. I can breathe and let go, move on or I can continue the chain of slights and unforgiveness against the humanity around me.

Which will make me feel better?

 

Why blog about it?

What a world we could have if we were chain breakers instead. If we all did a random act of kindness once a day anonymously, that would be huge. It could be while driving, or even by simply picking up one piece of litter.

Just One small act, Once a day, it doesn’t need to be monetary, each of us can decide for ourselves what we do. Which will make us feel better? Which will make our lives better?

Image result for random kindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness – I think that is a lifestyle change I can embrace going forward,  once a day, in some very small way, I will do something positive expecting nothing in return.

That’s what I learned from December 7 and will try to apply in my life and by writing it down I hope it can become a habit.

For me December 7, is a day to remember, a day to learn from.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. What do you think? Should people learn history, recall history? Where do you find inspiration? Is this kind of post worthwhile? interesting? How can I improve my writing? my presentation? What did you like?  Your comments and suggestions are welcome.  

 

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Definitely Not Reality TV

I started my blog in 2010, and this post went completely unloved- doesn’t anyone remember Secret Squirrel?

Life and Random Thinking

Secret Squirrel

What is it about tv shows now? No attempt at all at reality and I guess the viewers don’t care.

The other night on CHUCK, the good guys hid out in the ventilation shaft again. Nice ventilation shaft, it must be 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide plus it has lighting every 3 feet. What building has ventilation shafts this huge, they all run horizontal and the covers are attached by what? Velcro? My first apartment in New Westminster wasn’t that large!

I miss the old days when tv made sense. like Secret Squirrel.

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It may be humble, but for me it’s home

This blog post will be about where I live. It is also an invitation from me to tell me about where you live, your city. Most of my readers have never been to my little spot on earth, and I have never been to been to yours either. Let’s share.

I will be including some links so you can check out some of my references. Feel free to open the links.

Starting at the beginning, I live in Canada and I live in the most western side of Canada in the province of British Columbia.  The best known city in BC (British Columbia) is Vancouver and I lived there until 1992 and visit it semi frequently because my parents and my daughter and son-in-law live there. I basically grew up there in East Vancouver, and Burnaby going to primary school, high school and university there and began the first third of my career there.

I then moved east, to a much smaller place, and it is where I live and I love this small town of Penticton. To drive here from Vancouver takes roughly five hours as you must drive through mountain ranges to the valley where Penticton is. Penticton could be described as half-way to Alberta, the second most west western province.

Penticton had many memories for me even before I moved here as an adult. As a youngster my parents brought me here to this valley in the summer time for summer vacation, and we camped in a tent  most times. Those are wonderful memories of buying fruit from road stalls (discovering cherries!) and climbing out of a tent and walking down to the beach of Okanagan Lake.  I was very lucky to have parents who took me on those trips.

Ironically I moved to the location of my summer vacations and I am a local, not a tourist. I have lived here more than twenty years and I enjoy all four seasons here, but especially summer.

Penticton is town nestled between two lakes, Okanagan Lake at the north, and Skaha Lake at the south. I spend more time at Skaha lake as I live close to it, about a kilometre or ten minutes walk. Most summer nights include a swim in the evening as it cools me off and it is literally a few minutes away whether I walk, ride or drive. Skaha lake has beaches all along its north side and the sand gets really  hot during the day but the shoreline is shallow so you wade until it gets to your waist and then you brace yourself for the plunge. It is a mountain lake after all and it gets warmer in the summer but it is always cool.

When I bike ride in the summer I tend to ride from lake to lake and ride along along the connecting channel between the two lakes to Okanagan lake at the north end of the city. I don’t dawdle but it is still 20-25 minutes to bike ride from end to end. That is a quick 8 minute drive for a car for the 7 kilometre drive, or if you measure it by street lights, there are four lights on that highway connector.

Penticton is a city of festivals. When I was young it was all about the fruit grown here but it has evolved so that fruit is secondary now to grapes and the wineries. There are all kinds of festivals, wine festivals, meadowlark festival, marathon festivals, Beach cruise (all about antique cars) and this is a favorite of mine as we had over 600 cars here in 2016, the Elvis Festival, a week long Peach festival in August, jazz festival. It seems like something is always happening here and a huge farmers market takes prominence in the summer on Saturday mornings downtown.

One of the funny things about our climate here is that when it rains, it usually happens at night. Perfect right? Penticton is one of a few cities in this valley all interspersed along the lakes in this valley, and the valley gets really hot towards the south end which is I think the only desert in Canada. If you are interested in more about the valley, check here.

It doesn’t feel like desert this morning. Sometimes we have snow in town by now but none this year, yet! My shovels are ready to shovel the driveway and snow tires are on the car. It was -1 yesterday (Celsius) and I had to scrape the windshield in the morning and there is frost to be careful of on the the roads and sidewalks. On the valley slopes you can see snow at the altitudes and before Christmas the city will undoubtedly have a blanket of soft snow. It is beautiful on the trees and it reflects the Christmas lights and magnifies the hush and silence when you walk at night.

This is the place where I live. It is a town of 33,000 where people recognize one another on the street and say hello. When I buy my coffee at Starbucks, they know my order and even the people at the grocery store nod their heads because they recognize me.

This is where my kids grew up and went to school, I finished my career here and it is my home. Feel free to click on the pictures to check them out.

I invite you to share where you live. I am curious to know more about your town, so please share your town with me.

 

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The Power You Have Now

carving pumpkinsWords, we use them every day and think nothing of it. But words can have power. They can encourage, educate, support, slash or inspire.

If you are like me, you might underestimate the effect that your words have on the people around you. I know I never thought about it, I’m not Winston Churchill or thought of myself as a person of influence, … but I am, and so are you.

A long time ago I was reminded of a forgotten conversation by a young man. He had been a camper when I was a camp counselor and he reminded me of a discussion I had had with him which  he never forgot. I was touched. I never knew my words could be memorable. He reminded me that we had had a discussion about music lyrics, and I had expressed my opinion about their importance and their effect. He reminded me of that, and I learned something that day. I felt good that I had said something positive, something memorable.

It’s not only the spoken word either. Written words of encouragement have impact also. A blogger I know (Spearfruit), but have never met in person has had impact on me and others. He takes the time in his replies to call me by my name, and he does it with others as well. He is taking the time to reach out and he is probably has no idea how that is appreciated by many who read his blog. A small thing, but it matters. A lot.

Featured Image -- 7407I shared a toastmaster speech called The Power of Words in a recent email to some of my friends and contacts. There were many youtube videos on this subject, this is not something I just discovered but it struck me that I notice the value of words from others but fail to see that my words have value also. You may feel like that also.

When a friend encourages me, I notice it and am touched. When I have the opportunity to speak up though to encourage someone else, I hesitate, worried I will feel embarrassed or somehow be misunderstood. What opportunities have I missed to encourage, or uplift someone because of my hesitation? Many, too many.

What is the value of communication?  Winston Churchill was a great orator, definitely but few of us will have the opportunity to uplift a nation.

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A walk together

You and I do have the opportunity though to brighten someone’s day, let them know you notice them,  that you appreciate the time they share with you, the phone calls for no reason, and that you didn’t hesitate to speak, and listen. Those opportunities are yours and mine frequently.

Don’t hesitate to speak up, and if you need help in building your confidence in speaking up, visit a Toastmasters club to learn how. You and someone in your life could be thankful you developed that confidence in sharing.

One day, someone may stop you and say ” You probably don’t remember this, but I will never forget that day when you encouraged me, it changed my life.

Won’t you be glad you spoke up, and used your power of words.

It is a Power that you have now, the power of words. Let’s all speak up.

 

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Skywalker #4 – Coming home to walls

Sophie was stunned. She was returned from deployment on a submarine for six months, her heart filled with stories to share with her Mom, Stella. But all that waited for her was silent walls, and not the homecoming she expected.

Sophie’s Mom Stella was gone, holding her tongue she had said nothing to Sophie about her terminal diagnosis fearing holding Sophie back from the most exciting opportunity in her naval career.

Sophie stood silent, unmoving in her apartment except for the racking of her lungs as she tried to breath from the tears. “Mom, I would not have gone, I would have been there, I love you, I need you” and her tears ran, and her heart broke with shock and it felt like she was knifed in the heart. The wound cut deep.

Sophie sat on the floor until the darkness forced her to her feet to turn on a light.

Sophie held in her hands volumes of letters that her Mom had written her, and mailed her. Wonderful gifts from her Mom, conversations from her Mom. The letters, sometimes two a day, were priceless – the last conversations and they were warm, and encouraging, even understanding how Sophie would be saddened and enraged. But Stella was gone, and it was non negotiable.

After the shaking subsided, and the tea had been replaced with something stronger – Sophie started to breath. She understood the why, her Mom was selfless, and the deployment had meant promotion and recognition by the naval brass for her only daughter. Sophie was proud of her achievements, and so was her Mom – but now it seemed so empty,  a flat victory.

Rain fell against the window, and it seemed right some how.

******************************

Sophie sat in her blue sedan, in the rain, car idling and window open so she could look out the window. She was looking intently for Luke,  the caretaker for her Mom those last days. Sophie wanted to thank him but she was also looking for something else.

The letters from Star, her Mom didn’t share that nickname often, indicated Luke was more than a male nurse, he loved her Mom, and her Mom loved him.

Sophie didn’t have any family now, and what she felt, what she needed, was hard to put into words but she was drawn, pulled invisibly to someone else who loved her Mom, that she could share the burden she carried.

Sophie knew that Luke knew her Mom’s laugh, her smile, and Sophie wanted to remember those intangibles with him. If the letters from Star were true, and she bet they were, Luke was someone special. They already had a connection. Luke loved Star like her.

Suddenly in the haze of the rain she saw the blink blink of a red bike light. Maybe it was this Luke, the one her Mom called with love in her letters, Skywalker.

A warmth in her heart told her it was him, but she hesitated still.

Dawn beckons

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Skywalker #3 – A revelation in the rain

my iron horse with lightsLuke aka Skywalker felt content, and wet. The rain, cold and soft, ran down his face and over his chilled face. Not exactly a grin, and not exactly a smile was on his face as he rode his bike along the paved path.

The path was cracked, with moss in the cracks and chunks missing here and there. Luke was soaking up the silence in the off-roadway path and nodded his head at the dog walkers and cyclists he passed.

The laugh lines around his eyes condensed as he realized that this was meditation for him. The misty rain and the cracked pathway seemed perfect to him and to his head space.

Crickets! He skidded to a stop, and rested his rear, which was sore from the bike seat. The crickets music to his ears as dusk approached. The crickets song clear and in harmony to him. The cool air in his lungs like a refreshing drink of water.

He saw her face, Stella, was there in his mind’s eye. (why was it so easy to visualize her face he wondered?

Stella had died months ago, but he remembered her daily still, but no longer with sadness. It had taken awhile but now he celebrated the memories, tasting them over and over.

The rain, the path, the crickets – he realized somehow that Stella was here and she was saying goodbye, he would feel her again but time for him to ride forward. Forward march! and his eyes twinkled, yes – onward, it’s time. The rain lightly fell like a cape.

Leaning on his bike, slightly damp – his mind wandered. The brown eyes of the girl at the hardware store invaded. He smiled, onward he would go – Hardware Ho! and he chuckled – Stella – I’m going to buy some lightbulbs, lighten my world with a new love, her name is Alison, and you’d like her, you really would because she’s practical.

The tune of the song Yesterday by the Beatles filled his mind. ” I believe in yesterday, why she had to go, I don’t know… ” and he sighed.

Settled, relaxed and resolved, Luke straddled his mechanical steed, and pushed for home, the flashing red light on his bike like a beating red heart, steady and bright. Beating strong.

Nature's art

 

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Growing Apples

Today I am reblogging an inspirational post. I read it and it spoke to me, I hope that it speaks to you also. Thank you each of you for encouraging me to write.

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert August 23, 1993 Vintage Dilbert
August 23, 1993

One day I stopped to think about growing apples. I was munching a delicious, juicy apple and took a big bite. As a result I got an apple seed into my mouth. I spat it out into my hand, with the intention of throwing it away. But instead I looked at the apple seed. Really looked. It was dark brown, almost black. It’s shape reminded me of a candle flame. A little dark brown candle flame…

I realized I was holding an apple tree in the palm of my hand. A little seed with the potential to become a beautiful big tree; a tree that could grow thousands of apples in its lifetime. Thousands of apples, each containing several seeds, each capable of growing a new tree which again could produce thousands of apples. Why then the world wasn’t filled with apple trees?

It is…

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Where is summer?

 

linden garden viewI should not complain but I want Summer to last longer. The cooling nights, and windier days are harbingers of frost, and dates with a snow shovel.

To be fair, the days are still in the high 20’s celsius but now when I jump in the lake I look around at 7:30 and I am a lonely Canuck braving the waves. You can’t count the odd child, as they are immune to temperature – I don’t know why, but  it is truth.

I know many of my readers are not that knowledgeable about Canada. It’s not all snow and ice, especially here, you might think you were in Napa valley when you visit my home town. Vineyards, lakes, and beaches not lions, tigers, and bears! Oh my, see here the aerial view.

Summer, summer, linger longer please I beg you. I love not hearing my furnace run, wearing shorts and picking fruit in my yard.

Autumn, wait a little longer before you knock all the leaves to the ground, and bluster in fine voice against  my windows.

It’s been a good summer,  and I’ll grasp her hand as long as I can, and when she returns, I’ll be waiting.

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I have come unglued, finally

rio 3I suspect that I am not the only one that has spent an abnormal amount of time glued to the spectacle that is the summer olympics.

Soccer, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, rugby, diving, plus plus, and now I confess, at last the closing ceremonies.

It’s a people show. You watch teams win and receive a medal and, if you are like me, you wish both sides could win, that there were more medals for these amazing people.

rio 2Now it’s no surprise I enjoyed the beach volleyball, and for more than the reason you think (I saw those raised eyebrows!) – two people in great shape covering a court, making great saves and diving all over the place. It’s all action, and these athletes are in super shape. They know they look good and enjoy being young and admired, so they should. Those abs were earned!

What I also liked about the beach volleyball was the sportsmanship. The teams are always hugging their teammate regardless of whether the point is won or not. These teams travel together, share meals together, compete together, train together and win or lose together. At all times these partnerships are uplifting and encouraging one another. One bad attitude and the team is broken. rio 1Wow, I can learn from beach volleyball players. When you hit the sand, hit it smiling and get up, dust yourself off and play the next point. Enjoy the game, and keep supporting the team.

So much people watching, and many stories of huge athleticism. A marathoner from Argentina, Federico Bruno, stood out as he finished his marathon race in pain (read more here) but managed to finish the race. He ran the last 12 kilometres in intense cramping pain but finished by crabbing sideways and still finished the race in under 3 hours beating other competitors. An runner has strong leg muscles, those cramps would have been torture.rio 4 He managed to finish somehow. Another opportunity to learn for me.

Life may not go as hoped for but do the best you can, and in my marathon I will keep it in mind. glasses moving

How about you? What did you learn from Rio?

Thanks for reading, and commenting, your suggestions are welcome.

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