Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Life and Travel

Hello everyone. It's been quite a while since my last post. I've been on two trips which some might think complete opposites of each other. Both, however, were very inspirational and restorative. The first trip was the multiethnic conference in Grand Rapids Michigan. It was a long drive down there and back but the company was excellent. Things went quite well overall. I met and talked with a whole bunch of people who are interested in making my adopted denomination one which better shares power, resources, and leadership with all of the many diverse people who belong to it. If I came away with anything, it was a reminder of just how much room there is in God's kingdom. The workshops were interesting also giving a kind of overview of the many steps being taken to solve diversity issues faced by my denomination and others. With God pitching in and all of these good people and ideas, we'll get there eventually. What good one does by going to these events is somewhat difficult to quantify. While I've learned a lot myself, I find it hard to tell whether I contributed much. A whole lot of people took an interest in me as I went about with all my gadgets and such. I'm hopeful that perhaps, my perspective on people which isn't based on appearance may have given some folks there food for thought. Also, there were a number who were quite shocked that I could use an iPHONE and netbook. Perhaps, that will cause them to re-think any preconceptions they may have had of other ethnic groups. At long last, I finally was able to hear some of the resistance to change and inclusiveness up close. In some of the questions asked of presenters, you could hear the fear of change. How far would things go? What might have to be left behind? I still have material to go through from the workshops. I gave quite a number of people my contact information and very much hope to hear from some eventually. They're the kind of people who I'd be honoured to call friends.

My second trip was to Selkirk Ontario where I spent last weekend camping with five other fine folks including my friend Ron Schamerhorn. In contrast to the fast-paced hectic conference, there was plenty of time to relax and talk. I don't see most of these people between these excursions. However, over the years, they've become far more than simple camping companions due to the sheer dint of conversation we've had. Each of them is going at life a little differently. There's a couple who are trying to climb the career ladder while keeping a marriage going. They travelled with a friendly if excited little dog. As much as I enjoy petting her, I was also once again made profoundly thankful that I chose to go with a cane rather than a dog. They're like having a little kid around who you have to keep an eye on all the time. Not at all what I'd want in life without the compensations that come with raising an actual child. There was Ron, my friend who's pretty much in my position in life other than having a couple of nasty vices to deal with. He consumed far more beer than I did but seemed none the worse for it. Had I drank that much, I believe I would have been positively ill. He, on the other hand, maintained his faculties surprisingly well. The organizer of the camp is a happily single non-religious Jew who teaches mentally challenged kids. He very much enjoys these outings as occasions where he can say what he thinks without reprimand and blow off some steam. He's a very good cook even after alcohol has sunk its teeth into him. A polite Nova Scotian who has made Ontario his home was the last of my companions five. Always willing to help, he's the kind of guy who you'd cheerfully trust with your life. Very even-tempered and easy-going. There were a lot of differences but despite those, the group just seemed to glide through a most enjoyable weekend. It's interesting who fate throws together and who remains friends where others fall away. As usual, there were some misadventures. By the time I realized that my sleeping bag and pillow weren't in the tent, it was absurdly late and the man with keys to the truck where said articles were happened to be asleep. I thought I'd spare him the extra wake up since he hadn't slept well over the past while. I, for one, can strongly sympathize with what that's like and figured I'd be fine in my clothes. Drifting off more easily than I normally do, I was surprised to wake up shivering in the early hours of Saturday. It seems sleeping bags have their uses after all. Didn't think nearly so much wind would come into the tent as was the case. On Saturday night, I had a far more comfortable and solid sleep thanks to the sleeping bag and pillow. There was also the small but amusing incident, [to them], of my falling backwards out of a less than stable chair first thing in the morning with no alcohol required. The weekend was full of good-natured teasing and fun. I partially zoned out of a conversation and tried to reenter it with a bit of a non-sequitur earning me the nickname of Bananas. I profoundly hope that one doesn't stick. An annual trip with this bunch is something I wouldn't be a bit surprised to still be enjoying decades from now. Having a weekend with people who actually have time and inclination to talk to each other is an extremely enjoyable change from days spent in this apartment even if I've come to better terms with what passes for normal life.

There was a dinner and evening at the Dam on Monday. It combined a brief board meeting with a fellowship evening for all the volunteers and was very enjoyable. Learning a little about the actual effect we as an organization were having was most interesting. I also got to talk with a number of people who I volunteer with at some length. Any opportunity to get to know people in a relaxed fashion is most welcome. Tuesday was unexpectedly free since the Dam was closed for a staff meeting. I spent it doing laundry, tidying up around here, and ordering groceries. I also got in a walk around the lake before the rain started up. It took a little longer to do this grocery order since I've tried to adjust things to have as little wasted by my week away at Lake Jo and other trips like this weekend's as possible. Everything arrived yesterday with only a few substitutions. I'll just need to get some fruit and vegetables once back from vacation. This Summer is certainly draining my cash reserves more than I anticipated but I'll manage to enjoy it without going into debt or anything. After 2012, I'll be out of my TV and Internet contract with Rogers and be able to scale those back gaining extra wiggle room that way. I don't use TV all that much these days and would switch to a basic package now if there weren't a penalty to pay for doing that. I may also be able to go with a lighter Internet package although that'll require some further consideration over the next while. It gets easier to understand what drives many of my fellow ODSP recipients over that edge of inpatient hopelessness where they stop caring if they go into debt and spend for a moment's enjoyment. I thank my lucky stars that my father taught me what being in debt was like before it really mattered. Not being compelled to spend on cigarettes or alcohol are two more precious advantages I have. I'm ever so glad that neither of those addictions have gotten the better of me. My nature drives me more in the direction of a clear steady mind that would rather escape into a book or game than a bottle any day. I'll never even entertain the notion of trying cigarettes, but certainly enjoy a good drink. Perhaps, I'm more cautious with alcohol than I need to be. Eight beers proved an extravagant enjoyment for my camping weekend while others consumed three times as much. I simply like to remember my good times and savour the taste of beer rather than any buzz. For a time after Janene walked away from me, I fell into the trap of using alcohol as a means to try to escape from time itself letting myself zone out rather than face yet another empty dull afternoon. However, I learned that the price was a kind of lingering heavy frustrated lethargy which prevented the enjoyment of more time which could have been better used were I not under its effects. I don't believe I'll fall into that trap again now. Patience and discipline are worth their weight in gold when you live a life like this.

It's Thursday afternoon now. I've been pecking at this blog entry for quite some time. The rain is hammering down on my balcony railing but none is blowing in through my open screen door. You almost feel like you're cheating nature hearing so much force, being able to stand out beyond your door without getting drenched for reckless impudence. I've grown very fond of my balcony. It adds a very welcome dimension of space which I couldn't have appreciated until I had one in my own dwelling here. Cabin fever would have been far more an issue for me over the last year had my apartment not included one.

Each trip this Summer has given me quite a lot to think about. I know that eventually, these experiences will make their way into my creative writing projects and autobiographical book. Events like the conference just have so much packed into them that it's hard for me to properly document them as they occur. Others like the camping trip demand a certain circumspection when blogging about them. This weekend, I'm off to visit Michelle and Jerry. They were the two friends who I haven't seen in eight years who discovered me on Facebook. This will be my first visit their way. I'll be staying overnight and beginning the process of teaching them more about their computers. Both Michelle and Jerry have managed to get onto Twitter themselves although I expect there are some finer points to help them with. I'll be bringing my netbook along to help give them more of a crash tour of what kinds of things are available and accessible to them. It'll be interesting to see how this more extended get-together goes. We've led very different lives. Neither of them are as well read as I am nor so prone to deep thinking. Especially when teaching them about computers, I'll have to be very mindful that they likely aren't going to know things that I've come to take for granted over the years. There should be lots to talk about as I become more familiar with what their normal lives are like, but I could be wrong. At least I've found two people who are interested in attempting serious friendship. That's more than I can say for most residents of my building. From force of habit, I remove the chain lock each morning on the off chance someone should knock. Nobody ever has though. It's simply a habit born of misplaced hope. Despite all the changes over the past while, I still often go days without opening my apartment door. I certainly won't be going out today with all the rain that's been coming down. Glad I got out yesterday with dad for a nice brunch at Symposium Cafe. Their burgers and martinis are still as awesome as ever. The staff are friendly as they always have been despite all the changes in management over the years. It's good to have a place like that which I can reach on my own.

In a little over a week, I'll be going on my trip to Lake Joseph. Things are pretty much in hand regarding that. I'll take up pretty much the same stuff as last year. Granted, there is a whole lot more on my netbook in terms of audio and music. I recently bought a bunch of Patrick O'hearn's music. I was impressed by a number of pieces I heard on Sky FM's new age Internet radio station over the past while and I hadn't added to my library of instrumental music in quite some time. If nothing else, I'll at least have a week among people who share some of my audio interests. Lets just hope they're in possession of more of their faculties than some notable ones were last time. A week of good conversation among people who have at least shared some of my experiences in life would do a whole lot of good. There's always the slight hope that I'll come away with some new friends or perhaps even something more. A very slight hope given the distances around Ontario people come to Lake Joseph from, but you never know. it's happened before to more than just me. There hasn't been so much as a nibble from either of the dating sites I'm still on. I've laid my cards out on those tables as best I might and done all that I think worth doing on those sites. Either it'll happen or it won't. Meanwhile, there are a lot of perks to enjoy as a single man. One of which is rediscovering and reading books one has read before. I've been going through the Rift War saga again by Raymond E. Feist. The CNIB digital library has them all narrated by a fantastic English guy who more than does them justice. I guess they've got some sort of deal with the RNIB these days. Long may that partnership continue. Those books have done a great deal to bring a sense of companionship and adventure to the many hours which have otherwise lacked this quality in real modern life.

Well I guess that pretty much brings you up to date. Not much has happened on the writing front although I've done a little work on the online dating chapter of my autobiographical book. Also, I've come up with a few new place ideas for enchantment's Twilight. Nothing tremendous, but I'll take every little bit of progress I can get these days and be very thankful for it. As to insomnia, I've been doing quite well in the sleep department lately. All the activity of the past while has gotten me feeling very good about things in general. But for a lack of creative ideas, I feel at the top of my game.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reflections At Rest

Hello everyone. I don't ususally write blog entries this close together. Nothing really spectacular has happened. It just feels right that I do. I've been up sincearound three AM. It's now just approaching seven. I'm out on my balcony using my netbook. May stay out here all day if it keeps nice like this. There's a wonderful breeze coming in over the rail. I'm listenning to CBC Radio1 and enjoying a bit of a racoon's breakfast. A muffin, a small handful of smoked almonds and some dried mango slices. I didn't think of how thematically appropriate such a breakfast is. Tomorrow, I'll be headding off to a place where I hope to help very different flavours of Christian people come together to better form the delicious blend of life that God wants our dinomination to. Unfortunately, making that happen is a whole lot harder than making my tasty breakfast was.

I'd now finished both eating breakfast and hearing the news and weather. Sounds like today's going to be nice and somewhat cooler than yesterday. Persumng I'm not catching up on missed sleep via dozing, I'll likely head out for a walk at some point and spend most of the day out here. Hopefully, some extensive use of this netbook's keyboard will help my notetaking abilities at the conference. The workshops all sound very interesting. Can't remember which ones I checked when filling out the registration form but I imagine I'll receive that info at the conference when I get there. I think I'm pretty much ready aside from a small amount of packing I'll do today. I met all sorts of interesting good people last time and expect that'll happen again this year. There's wifi available so I'll try and blog dayly rather than post one big one at the end of the event.

In those long small hours I've already passed through today, I decided to hear a favorite movie of mine called Snowcake. Alan Rickman plays an Englishman who was involved in a fatal accident while giving a young woman a lift. Driven by gilt and responsibility, he goes to see Vivienne's mother. She turns out to have Autism and reacts in completely unexpected ways to Vivienne's death. The acting in the film is first-rate. Sigourney Weaver plays Linda Freeman, the autistic mother, very well as far as I can judge having never met anybody at all like her. I've found a deep and welcome sense of humanity prevailing, a sense that if we're willing, there's the possibility of at least some earthly redemption for mistakes of our past. We can become better people. I find the same sort of hope and restoration in movies like Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and stil an all-time favorite, Stranger Than Fiction. Perhaps, I'll take that one in again later. I think it's going to be one of those somewhat long, drifting solitary but nonetheless very enjoyable days.

The confirmation package for my week away at Lake Joe has come in. While most semsible people were sleeping peacefully, I gave it a looking over. LThey added a few different offsite trips. Independant bands are playing all summer as part of a nearby concert series. YYou can have dinner there and it may very well prove an enjoyable evening. They also have a five-pin bowling excursion. Not overly up my alley, but I might partake. The traditional Legion trip is also on offer. That's a definite must. Provided a good bunch of people choose the same week, I ought to have a better time than last year. Thanks to my conversation with John Morgan, I know at least one bright fellow into good conversation who'll be going at the same time. Haven't seen Grlpreet in quite a spell. It'll be good to catch up.

Not much else to write about just now. Had an excellent bunch with my father and his neighbour Jim who joined us. Got my laundry all done and I don't think packing wil take more than fifteen minuts or so. I anticipate a rather neventful day online. However, I could easily be wrong there. Haven't checkedemail or Twitter in over eight hours. One never knows.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Life Goes On

Hello everyone. It's another tuesday morning. Life is certainly moving along. In three days, I'll be heading off to a church conference in Grand Rapids Michigan. I've been gathering things in accesible form like the schedule and information about the speakers. It's all going on my netbook just like two years ago. Yes, shocking as it is, that much time has truly passed. Events like this certainly have a way of putting one's life in perspective. Back then, I had no idea that I'd be in my own apartment. Going into this, I feel at least a little more knowledgeable than I was last time. Still, it's such a different world and there's loads to learn.

Facebook is one of those sites which I find very annoying to deal with. However, every time I get close to thinking about deleting my acount there, something happens to stay my hand. This time was no exeption. A couple who I inadvertently lost touch with around eight years ago found me thanks to my Facebook profile. Michelle used to attend a youth group for blind people back when I was growing up in Mississauga. She's a very simple soul who had the misfortune to slide through the cracks of the education system. Enough sight to make teachers think she was being lazy and not give her the help she needed. She's very short and if you heard her, you'd swear on your life that she couldn't be any older than thirteen or so. However, in reality, she's as old as I am. Get past the appearance which I'm told is child-like and the voice to match, and you'll discover that time and adult life have indeed left their marks. She's amazing when it comes to travelling around on public transit. When she wants to do something, she has a surprising degree of stubbornness. Last saturday was a prime example. It was absolutely pouring out there. I called to warn her of this but she still insisted on coming over with her saintly husband Jerry. He would have preferred to stay home and dry but Michele was quite determined to get together with me. I believe I was able to make the trip a worth-while one for poor Jerry. I only met him once before we fell out of near orbit and drifted into separate directions. It's ironic. I've been pushing as hard as I could and hoping to find new friends around here. Who'd have thought that my social prospects would improve for the Summber by having old friends chance upon me?

Michelle and Jerry both have computers but haven't gone very far yet in learning to use them. I certainly have the time and inclination to help them more into the digital age. They, in turn, are quite willing to help me go into Toronto and hang out with people in the blind community there who I've also lost touch with. I've never been very comfortable using public transportation on my own. It takes months to even try to learn a route somewhere for me. These two have been doing it non-stop and don't even have to have instruction to learn a new route. They'll just get up and go wherever they like. I wouldn't have thought of asking them to go so far out of their way to include me. It adds at least an hour to whatever trip they'd make. However, they just up and offered to do it with a simple natural manner which completely surprised me. Unlike most people I've dealt with over the past while, they have lots of time on their hands. Now, I have some sense of how other people feel when I offer my time as I have. I'll happily take them up on it. In turn, I'll spend the time it takes to help them make better use of their computers and take advantage of the online world. My father was good enough to drive us between the mall and my apartment during the rain.

We spent the afternoon and evening mainly chatting and catching up on what befell each of us over the past near decade. I introduced Jerry to margaritas, a favorite drink of mine. Michelle doesn't drink. The highlight of the visit was thanks to Twitter and Mushroom FM. I sent a tweet into Lulu Wells, a broadcaster from South Wales. Within five minutes, she mentionned my guests by name live on Internet radio. It just blew their minds that this sort of thing was possible. They want me to go over their way and teach them to get in on Twitter and internet radio. I'll be quite happy to do this. There are dead spots in my week which such excursions would fill very nicely. After a very good first visit, I walked them back to the mall and the busses with my Trekker Breeze. It took a while to lock on but I know the beginning of the way quite well even without the Breeze now.

The church had a barbecue on sunday which very nicely polished off the weekend. I've been marvelling over the past couple days how life seems to be filling in for me. So many things are sliding into place. I just got a call from John Morgan this morning. Now there's an excellent reason to miss a chunk of Lulu Wells's excellent extra Bear's Lair broadcast on Mushroom FM out here on the balcony. Haven't heard from John in quite a while now. He's kept pretty busy. However, he'd like to see about Sandy and also see me and the new stuff I've been masterring over the past while. I ran into Sandy as both of us were headding out to different places recently. He sounds alright but hasn't taken any steps to get back in greater touch with me. I don't have his number so John plans on buzzing him when he comes over eventually. Both of us are busy over the next while but we'll get it together at some point soon. It's so damned good to be able to say that. I've spent so much time with no scope for hope or change. That dead time seems to be well and truly over. God seems to have found me new engagement with people at last. Now, I know I'm in the right place at the right time. This need not be a box where I've simply been stuck away by society to slowly rot. There are possibilities to do good and enjoy it in turn. I just needed the right people to come along to hook up my engine to the great machine of life.

It's getting close to noon now. I'll be packing up my netbook and taking my gear inside. The breeeze coming in over the balcony rail has ben very nice. It's time to head in and make my brunch. Haven't had bacon and eggs in quite a while. After brunch, it'll be off to the Dam. Tomorrow, I'll be at Symposium Cafe having lunch with my father. Got a load of laundry to do after that among other chores. My world certainly does keep turning. Wouldn't have it any other way.