Gifts from the over the Rainbow

Those of you how know me know how long I have wanted a dog. I grew up with dogs, and I still miss my girls every day. The thing is, the girls were bassets, and they were *huge*, and a big dog would never suit our current living space. Or our schedule. Besides, I couldn’t…I couldn’t replace the girls. They were unique, and another basset just…it wouldn’t be the same.

I knew what I wanted. I wanted a female, black and white, Havanese puppy. Because I’ve never not had female dogs, and because I wanted to have some idea of what I was getting.

But it’s funny how the universe works sometimes. How the universe knows what you need before you know you need it.

We see a lot of animals come through the clinic, including a lot of rescues from the local shelter in various states of health. Some of them have tugged at me over the last two years, but none of them have been “mine”, I’ve never looked at one of them and gone “this is my dog”.

And then there was Proudfoot

Proudfoot who’s owner simply didn’t want him. Who paid to have him sent over the Bridge and then simply walked away. Proudfoot who was sitting in a kennel looking so terribly sad and confused. Proudfoot who came home with me to be nursed back to health and who was supposed to stay with me for a weekend at most. He was not supposed to be my dog. He was supposed to be temporary…

Who is now curled up with me as a type this, fast asleep.

I wanted a girl pup to be the spiritual successor to my girls from so long ago. I ended up with a 13 year old male rescue, who I would not trade for all the perfect puppies in the world even though he drives me crazy sometimes.

And I like to think…that somewhere, on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge the girls are watching us, and thinking “hey, we knew we sent the right one”.

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The Next Ten Minutes of 41….

Have you been inside the museum?
We should go…
Meet the dinosaurs

~ The Next Ten Minutes

It’s….been a long while since I’ve written anything. To be honest, that’s because I haven’t felt like I have a great deal to write about. It’s not that there hasn’t been anything going on, it’s that everything that was going on suddenly felt…overwhelmingly insignificant. If that doesn’t make any sense don’t worry about it, I’ve never claimed to be the most logical of people.

There has been….a lot….

So no, I’m not dead! Just…particularly quiet.

For my birthday this year we escaped the craziness of preparing for visiting family (more on that later), to take a long overdue visit to the museum. “Sue” the T-Rex is on display at our local museum until January, and for some reason that’s all I wanted for my birthday: to go see the dinosaurs. AJ even had her own dinosaur dress (thank you Barbie fashion!).

Let’s just say I now know how an ant would feel. Or a very tiny mouse trying to hide from a very large cat. I have never seen anything so big in all my life. And somehow it put everything in perspective. After all, we really are so very small. We are a tiny little blip in the infinite river of time. And in the face of all that, how big can all of our oh-so-big problems really be?

As I get a little older, my birthday’s have taken on a quieter turn as well. This past year has taught (and taken) so much that it’s nearly impossible to list everything. But the lessons, at their heart, remain the same: no matter how hard things get, always remember the things that are really important, remember the people who love you, and remember that every day can be an adventure.

Sometimes, it really is just about the next ten minutes.

 

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A Ship, A Sub…and 111 Years – [06/25/2023]

“When you’re in very deep water, you’re dead before you realize that something is happening, so it’s just not a problem.” – Paul-Henry Nargeolet

111 years ago a grand ship slipped beneath the ocean, taking with her 1500 souls. Her loss was so unexpected and so tragic that it left an indelible mark on the world. She changed how we thought, how we acted toward each other, and even the very face of the marine industry as a whole. It’s because of her that we have safety drills and iceberg patrols.

And those of us who continue to love her to this day, stayed pretty quietly in our little corner of the historical research world. The Titanica community is not huge, I imagine there are perhaps 100,000 of us world wide. Most of us are the armchair variety, content to watch our documentaries and delve into books of theories of a long past event. The rest of the world pretty much ignores us, after all we don’t have historical reenactments and replica battle uniforms. We’re a fairly quiet bunch (unless you get one of us going on the switch theory).

But in the last few days, the world has shone its spotlight back out to our little corner of obsession. And our little community has responded as best we can with grace and compassion.

Because we are also grieving. In a very layered and complex way, we are grieving.

The loss of the Titan sub was purely and completely avoidable. There were corners cut and safety measures ignored, and to those of us who know her history and her story – the parallels to the wreck the Titan was diving are all too obvious. These voyages should never have been happening in the first place. She is not a tourist attraction, she is a grave, and she has already been violated enough.

We are grieving because we lost one of our own; there’s a reason PH was known as ‘Mr Titanic’, he has left a hole in our communal hearts that will not soon be healed. But we are also grieving because the ship that we love, which has already been through so much, is being shoved into the spotlight in a way that she does not deserve. She did not claim these lives, human pride and greed did, much like it was human pride and miscommunication that sent her to the bottom in the first place.

My heart goes out to the families of those lost. Unlike the passengers who walked her decks so long ago, these men knew the risks – PH especially knew the risks – but no matter how foolish your choices, you expect the companies providing you with those opportunities to  have been properly vetted, certified and checked. If you go skydiving you expect the company to have checked the parachutes. Their deaths were due to foolish decisions and bad choices, but that doesn’t mean their deaths are worthy of celebrations. Their deaths are not some kind of victory over the rich, or a blow to the idea of capitalism. All those things will go on, the world will go on, it will just go on without one foolish CEO (who’s wife has now lost 3 family members to the Titanic’s story, two of them just happened to be 111 years ago), one amazing 77 year old researcher, one billionaire, one father, and one 19 year old boy. That’s not a victory, that is simply a tragedy. A tragedy no more valid or invalid than any of the others that take place every day all over the world.

I am proud of my small corner of the historical community through all this. I like to think that we have shown that Titanic still exists in grace and elegance, as she always did and always will. And I hope the mocking spotlight of social media turns away from us soon, and allows us to grieve in peace. There are, after all, much bigger things for the world to worry about right now.

Rest in peace, to her, to them, and to all those they rest with.

 

 

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Technicolour Dreams – [04/29/2023]

Tonight I saw the local theatre college’s production of Joseph And the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and I had…an odd reaction.

I cried.

Don’t get me wrong, they were…mostly happy tears.  I did a production of Joseph many years ago and a lot of my reaction was just happy memories overflowing out of my eyes…

But it wasn’t all that…and the thing is Joseph is not a show that makes you cry! Joseph is a bouncy, kitschy ridiculously cheesy festival of colour that is designed to make you laugh, clap and dance in your seat. All of which I did (okay, so I still remember all the words even though it’s been far too many years since I even listened to the soundtrack)…but then they hit into the beat of the MegaMix at the end, and suddenly I found that there were tears on my cheeks.

My god the energy coming off that stage. If you could plug into that energy, you could use it to power a whole city. Every live show has energy but this one was …different. You see, most of the cast on that stage is graduating tomorrow. This was their last hurrah at school, this was their last time sharing the stage with people they are both friends and enemies with (trust me, theatre school breeds both, oft times in the same person)…and that’s it. They’re done.

Everyone in that cast is probably under 25…and tomorrow they go out and they take on the world. And I can promise you three quarters of them think they’re going to walk straight on to Broadway, that they’re going to have a Tony in 10 years or less and the performance world is going to fall at their feet. I know that’s how they feel because that’s how everyone who grads from theatre school feels. I know that’s how they feel because I stood on stage just like that, in a showcase very similar and even knowing that that’s not how it works, because I had good strong honest teachers who never ever painted the field pretty shades of pink … I STILL FELT THAT WAY.

And you want to reach onto that stage and say to these people “For goddess sake hold on to that! That thing that you’re feeling right now, that insane confidence, that connection, that LIFE…hold on to it, fight for it! Because you’re going to find that life kicks you in teeth more times than you can possibly count and for heavens sake GET BACK UP! Because you’re good, you’re damn good, and always remember that success at something else is not failure…but please, hold onto this moment. Hold onto who you are right now, because tomorrow everything changes, and you don’t even know that yet.”

It’s a weird complicated thing to be thinking all of that when you’re also dancing along to one of the most insanely catchy finales in musical theatre history…

But hey…like the song says “strange as it seems there’s been a run of crazy dreams, and a man who can interpret could go far…. Could become a star!!!”

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Everything Is Beautiful At the Ballet: Core Memory Unlocked

Up a steep and very narrow stairway
To a voice like a metronome
[…]
Everything was beautiful at the ballet
Raise your arms and someone’s always there
Everything was beautiful at the ballet
I was pretty..
I was happy…
I would love to…
At the ballet…

For a very big variety of a reasons, I took a job ushering at the two local theatres downtown recently. This means I have a chance to be around cool artsy time people a lot and I see performances I normally would never think to go and see and…hey, I get paid for it. It makes for some very long days (Monday clocked in at about 16.5 hours by the time I got home),….and some of the shows may not be my thing (er…Monday…Monday was …not my thing)….but usually it’s proven to be a bit of chance to anchor back to myself in the general stress and insanity that seems to be life these days.

And yesterday was Ballet Victoria’s presentation of the Dancer Theatre of Harlem out of  New York.

Now part of being an usher is making sure the theatre is prepped and the house is clean for the show to go ahead. Not the backstage part of course, that’s not our area, but the front of house part. So before every show a team goes through the house and does a walk through between every row of seats checking for any trash that’s been missed, any spills etc. And sometimes while we’re doing that, whoever is performing that night is doing sound checks or set-checks etc etc. So I’m up there with my colleague clearing the balcony ,and I suddenly look over my shoulder and realize that the dancers are warming up on stage. How did I know that? Because no matter how professional or high end up get, a studio-piano still sounds the same as every other studio piano for every dance warm up…ever.

I remember those warm-ups, though mine were never for ballet (more on that later), but my original tap studio had one of those somehow always-rickety always-not-quite-in-tune pianos that banged out our warm up rhythms before each class…

You don’t forget that kind of thing somehow…your heart remembers it.

The show was stunning. In a way that somehow made me realize I was crying. I’m still no sure why I was crying, perhaps it was a whole muddle of things trying to sort themselves out in my head. Or perhaps it’s just…what art done right does. Perhaps that’s it’s job, perhaps that’s what art is supposed to do.

I never wanted to be a ballerina, not even when I was little. Looking back, that was definitely something that played against me in my ever being a full-blown Dancer-with-a-capital-D (trust me, if you want to be a dancer you need ballet)…

But until I was standing there watching people watch the show last night, I genuinely forgot that while I never wanted to be in ballet, I genuinely like ballet. It’s…transcendent. It carries you off to a place where the impossible is effortless and even the most painful of stories can somehow still be beautiful. You could see that, in almost every face in the audience.

Very few things can do that.

But everything really is…beautiful at the ballet.

 

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The Most Wonderful Time – Victoria, BC – [12/25/2022]

It came without ribbons
It came without tags
It came without packages boxes or bags

It doesn’t feel like a year since last Christmas. I think that honestly this year I am emotionally ready for last Easter! It has been one of those years where both so much has happened and yet so little has changed that my head feels like it’s playing a constant game of topsy turvy.

I’ve watched friends go a little bit mad trying to figure out presents and surprises and magically moving elves (Freya help us who even thought to invent Elf on a Shelf?!), and I’ve sort of stood here bemused and tried to figure out the why of it all.

But, as has often been the case these last few years, this Christmas has reminded me of what this time of year is really supposed to be about. It isn’t, and never has been, about the Dolly in the Corner, it’s about everything else. It’s about the smile on a loved ones face, it’s about morning coffees and winter walks and even mutual annoyance at the weather. It’s about traditions that can bend without breaking and knowing each other well enough to realize when that’s necessary. It’s about stories and memories and…everything else that you can’t wrap up.

This has been a challenging year. I suspect it’s been a challenging year for everyone. Heck it’s been a challenging several years.

At this darkest time of year, I am again reminded that there is still the light of hope on the horizon. And perhaps because of that, my heart is full and at peace…and as they say, ‘that’s what Christmas is all about’

And now, as always, I say some words to the close and holy darkness…and I sleep

Merry Christmas everyone

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Invitation to the Picture Show – [09/24/2022]

There’s a light…over at the Frankenstein Place…

Over a decade ago, I walked off the stage for the final curtain call of Kaleidoscope Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show. I had no real idea at the time, that it was to be my last live show for 12 years. I didn’t know that I would look back on that production and feel physical pain at times because of the fact that it became a closing chapter.

So many things happened after that. What was supposed to be a flexible job with the cruise line became a full-time, long-term, commitment for my life. The initial promise I was given to flex around local performance commitments vanished when the corporate team changed and I realized – perhaps too late – that there is never any flex for any life outside the line.

Too short for the cast onboard and never home for audition season, I faced the cutting truth that my days as any kind of performer  – even a community one – were over.

And then Covid hit. And the line shut down, and my job folded, and immigration happened and life…spun out of control for a long and challenging time…

And when the world finally stopped spinning quite so fast, I steadied myself, and found myself – at 39 years old – looking at the audition notice for VOS’s new staging for The Rocky Horror Show. And I thought…why not? Why not try? If I even make the chorus, at least I will have done something, at least I will have walked back out there again and tried, and after all this time, that alone would be worth it.

So Amras set up the camera and the tripod, and I dug out the voice (though my range has suffered from a decade of lack of use), that I used to welcome people to the Science Fiction Double Feature Picture Show all those years back…and when, after multiple takes, I was finally satisfied with it…pushed send.

And got a call back for Magenta…

And a second call back…

And then found myself staring in shock at the email that offered me the part. Not as big a part singing wise as I had ten years ago (I mean, only the Usherette can sing the opener, and I had that chance a long time ago – time for someone else to don that pillbox hat and rightly so), but a named lead…a fantastically fun part to play…

A lead…after ten years…

There was a point when I was in the midst of the dance call, when I *felt* my body remember what it was supposed to be doing, I *felt* that part of my brain wake up and shake itself down and go “oh, you need me now? Kay…let’s do this”…

And I find myself remembering what one of the cast members onboard said to me ages back when I had just finished sitting in at the piano bar

“You know this is what you’re supposed to be doing right? This is who you are. Don’t ever let them take that from you”

Welcome back…

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Choose your Own Path

It’s been a long while hasn’t it?

I wish I could say I have something mind-bendingly interesting to report, but the truth is life just continues on in it’s normally abnormal course.

Sometimes I think I have some idea of what I’m doing, but most of the time I’m fully aware that I don’t.

These last two years have been a perfect example of how life…doesn’t always go the way you planned. And also that life is desperately short and moves heartbreakingly fast, so it’s always best to grab onto the bits that bring you joy while you can.

Not that that’s always easy, but it’s always always important.

It’s also taught me that there really isn’t any right or wrong way to live your life. There’s only the way you choose to live it. And your choices may make absolutely no sense to anyone else, not even the people who love you the most. And sometimes trying to explain your choices? Even when you feel (or know) that you’ve made the right one for you? Completely impossible.

So stop trying to explain. At it’s heart this is your journey, not anyone else’s. No matter who walks the path with you, it’s still your feet on the path.

So listen to your companions at arms. Take their advise to heart if you find it rings true. Try your best to do harm to no one, especially yourself,

But don’t ever forget to enjoy your journey through the crazy wonderland we call life.

 

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They Don’t Get It – [03/10/2022]

The time has come, you understand to talk of many things…

I’ve been doing a whole lot of thinking lately as to why certain things make me so…angry isn’t even really the right word. Disgusted. Disgusted is a good word.

I warn you, this is not going to be an easy read, and it runs the risk of being divisive. This is going to get…rant-y.

I apologize in advance to those who might have different views than me, and I hope that one day, we may be able to discuss this civilly.

But for now…

Convoys…

And definitions of ‘restrictions’…

And the fact that it has come to this.

There is a new convoy due to flood into the streets of my hometown in the next week. My poor beleaguered city that is only just trying to recover from two years without tourism as the BC Health Authorities try their best to keep us safe – is about to be ‘occupied’ (their words) by a few thousand truckers who don’t like our province’s politics. Never mind that very few of these people are from this province, most of their funding isn’t even Canadian and they really have nothing to do with our provincial government and seem not to care that we voted that way for a reason.

Okay Shaughnessy…breathe..

These people – and their supporters – claim that the handful of provincial mandates we still have in place (which are/were already on track to being lifted if anyone bothered to read the timeline that’s been published for months) – are a violation of the charter of rights and freedoms and basically that ‘no one can tell them what to do’. I fully respect their right to protest but…but..

I wonder how many of these people have really stopped to think about the fact that the restrictions they are protesting are literally: ‘please wear a mask inside so that you don’t breathe quite as much on people in public areas’, and ‘please get vaccinated, and if you don’t get vaccinated, accept that that action will have a consequence’. No one has taken away anyone’s choice, there are simply consequences to those choices. Just like there are consequences to every choice. We are no longer under lock-down, and haven’t been for a very long time actually, the restrictions have been easing fairly quickly and as a result…the numbers are going down.

So…they are complaining about one major restriction and one fairly minor one. That’s it. Just two things.

And this is where I get…irrational.

Because I have to wonder how long these people would survive under actual pandemic restrictions, actual fear with regards to the consequences of breaking those restrictions.

When you have stood at a window and gone “honey, when will they let us go home?” and known that no one can give you an answer….when you have been confined for nearly two months to an area the size of your average college dorm room, unable to leave the premises for 48 hours at all (in some cases not even issued with a key just to make sure you stayed put), and when you are allowed to leave, you are only permitted to do so for set meal-times. When you are forcibly separated from your spouse during that time and so forced to deal alone. When you don’t have access to a consistent method of communication, neither internet nor phone, during that time. When you must submit yourself two twice daily temperature checks (which are mandatory and logged by your employer). When you wake each morning fearing another panic attack and fall asleep each night in tears and cannot reach out to anyone or show weakness to anyone because after all, you’re still a representative.  When you are not allowed outside except for set “fresh air breaks”, and even if you were it’s too hot to stay out for long. When you are cut off from the entire world and cannot even call your family with any reliability. When your hands are so raw and dry from required handwashing (always checked, always monitored), that they are nearly starting to bleed. When you are required to be masked *every moment of every day* except when you are in that little tiny space.  When even a sniffle means that you had to be sent to the doctor and confined completely for weeks. When you have no method of entertainment, or real comfort and very little to keep you sane. When restrictions prevent you from even trying to get home because even your own country treats you like a plague carrier despite the fact that you have never been sick. When you are stranded and cannot even call for supplies and start to worry what happens if you actually run out. When your family is not worried about whether or not you are going to be able to visit for Christmas but are actually frightened that they may never see you again, because it’s a very real possibility that you may die out there.

When you come back from what so many said must have been an ‘easy street isolation’ with so much emotional damage that even two years later you still have flashbacks and cracked pieces that may never completely recover or disappear completely.

When you have lived through that…then we can talk. Then I can respect your opinions on restrictions, and freedoms, and what is and isn’t ‘right’..

Until then…no. No I will not respect your temper tantrums and your honking horns. I will not respect your ‘right’ to blockade small businesses and hold up obnoxious signs.

Because you have no idea what ‘living with restrictions’ really is.

And I really hope you never will.

 

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Why….? – Victoria, BC – [02/26/2022]

When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you don’t know who’s going to die ~ Dr Who

You think you know what it is to feel helpless. And then suddenly something massive happens, and you realize you really had no idea at all.

Amras and I have dear friends on both sides of this horror. Most, thank heavens, are safely out on contracts. But not all.

But that’s not what this is really about.

I’ve never understood war. I still don’t. You can explain to me a dozen times over why this is happening, and I still won’t understand it. Perhaps I’m too naïve, perhaps there is always the part of me that’s still that little girl standing in the mud at the Cenotaph, trying to figure out…why? Why do people have to go out and kill each other? Just…why. To this day, no one has an answer for me.

You can explain to me a million times over why no one seems willing to help a country that has done nothing except try to join an alliance that was within their rights to want to join. People are saying it was because they had figures in government that leaned towards a certain despised political party ; and for all I know that may be true – but look anywhere in the world and you will find people with those leanings in positions of power. Heck, even look in Canada and you will find it. It’s tragic, and sickening but it’s sadly not uncommon. So why them? You can tell me it’s about resources…and I’ll ask again…why them? Is not peaceful trade for those resources an option? You can tell me that lending military aid will bring about WW3, and I will believe you, and the thought terrifies me because yes I know what that would mean…but that will not make me feel any less guilt ridden about them being left to die

The old song says “what is it good for? Absolutely nothing”…and I can’t help but side with that.

When you have civilians being forced to take up arms to try and fend off an army that is so very much bigger and stronger than they are. When musicians are putting down violins and picking up rifles…because no one else will help them. There has to be something wrong with that. Can’t you see there something wrong?

And then there’s me. This one little person in Canada who is looking at people on all sides saying “well if you’re so worried go and do something about it”…who has no money, no useful talents to lend, who isn’t even sure if she can give blood to the red cross…who is stuck just standing here, thinking of that one dear friend who may or may not get out through Poland…

Who is just standing here with the mental equivalent of her best shoes sliding in the mud of the Cenotaph and crying…

Because still…no one can explain to her why…

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