January 10, 2006
Time out
Unfortunately, I will be taking a break from the blogworld. Like a phoenix, I am planning to give myself a new home. One that reflects me more accurately as I begin a new year, and a new journey.

I have found this place a great way to exercise my writing and just de-stress. I have made some wonderful friends through this medium. However, I have been feeling it was time to make a change for a while. Very soon, I will have a new blog in a new place. Turning 30 and a Half was last year. It's time for a new start.

Those who wish...you know where you can find me and I will give you my forwarding address.
December 06, 2005
And your name is?
From Char's site:

What does your name mean?

When I'm Sue, it's:

You are a humanitarian and idealist concerned with the welfare of
others and doing what you can to make the world a better place. A visionary with
strong intuition and wisdom you seek knowledge and have high aspirations.
Although at times preferring solitude your generous, compassionate and
understanding nature attracts many friends from all walks of life.

When I'm Susan, it's:

Charming, witty, original and idealistic you have a creative and inventive mind with great intuition. Your broad vision, perceptive powers and compassion gives you an instinctive understanding of peoples needs. You are a natural leader who has a talent for inspiring and teaching others and always display fairness, honesty and integrity. You are always seeking a new challenge for your vast creative potential.

My parents and brothers call me Susan. But my friends call me Sue. The nieces and nephews call me Auntie Sue. I pretty much answer to anything, well except Susie. Definitely not that.
November 26, 2005
Sunset on the River
Snow Geese
Guess what? I bought my camera. Instead of the D70, I chose the Nikon D50. It came down to the simple fact that the D50 felt more comfortable in my hands. And because of the savings in buying this model, I was able to splurge a bit with a zoom lense.

This morning, I took a walk around my neighbourhood to break it in, and was thrilled to see the Snow Geese were putting on quite a show.

Every fall, tens of thousands of these birds stop in this area on their way south. It is a breathtaking sight, to say the least and there really is nothing comparable than seeing a white mist rise off the bogs only to realize it's a huge flock of geese. The downside is that these birds make a significant amount of noise...and it's not uncommon to be woken up very early in the morning when they decide to do their fly overs. Majestic birds, none the less.

Walking down to the park, I noticed the trees had been knawed on by the resident beavers.

I tried to do some sunset photos tonight, but they didn't come out as well as I would have liked. At the moment, though, I'm still playing around with all the shiny buttons so it'll take some time to create the photos I'm home for.

In the meantime, I've jumped on the Flickr bandwagon and my site is here.
November 15, 2005
The Cenotaph

When I was at the service on Friday, I was snapping away a bunch of shots and when I got home, I noticed this man in the background. In every picture, it was obvious this was very personal to him.

Tonight was the final photography course, and this was my final project. I put the three shots into the main one of the cenotaph, and am pleased with the results. Thought I'd share here.
November 14, 2005
Some Soldier's Mom writes eloquently and heartbreakingly about the funeral of SPC Tommy Byrd, who served with her son, Noah.

Please take a few minutes and read it. This young man who gave his life was just so young. Born in August 1984. I will hug my nieces just a little bit closer next time I see them. They're both older than he was.

He leaves a young bride. Widowed at such a young age.

Here's another post as well worth a read - a poem written by a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan - called 'A Share of November Silence'.
365 days later
It's my first blog-a-versary on Tuesday but I may not have a chance to write then. One year later. I never would have believed the fantastic people I have met through this medium, nor the change or deepening of my perspective.

I wrote two posts in July 2004 but I have decided they don't really count. It was November 15, 2004 when I began writing daily. And since then:

  • 597 posts
  • 23,900 visitors
  • Averaging 60 visitors a day
  • Approximately 175,000 words written
I've had the trifecta of spotlights over the past year on certain posts when I was linked through Blackfive, Instapundit and even Hugh Hewitt. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I appreciate being part of Brian's Weekly Roundup. Because of this, I have met some people who have become true friends - Monica, Teresa, Trucker Bob, Kyra to name a quick few.

The largest one day influx of visitors to the site was when I hosted the Red Ensign Standard in April. Slightly over 3,000 people came that day. To be honest, it actually freaked me out more than pleased me. I like my little corner of the blogosphere quiet and tidy and prefer to have a decent idea of who's checking in on me. But being part of the Red Ensign group was a great honour and I appreciate the time I spent with them. There are many friends I've met through this association as well - Rebecca, Temujin, Rue and Canadianna to name drop a little.

Having said that, it would be nice if more people commented. But then again, I'm not too concerned. If you have something to say, that would be very much appreciated. I have a decent idea from the sitemeter who most people are. In fact, I can see someone from my old work looks on here from time to time and am surprised to not know exactly who it is. I have my suspicions though. ;-)

I have been fortunate to have mostly good-hearted, warm people around who have been a fantastic source of support through the challenges of the last year. When I originally thought about writing this post, I thought I would list some of the wonderful people I now consider true friends but I am incredibly lucky to say that there are just too many kind souls out there. I am truly blessed.

However, I have had three trolls in this time who have not had the courtesy to comment publicly but instead felt the need to spread their vitriol privately in email. One unfortunately was very recent, when I commented on a friend's blog. He chose to attack me so vehemently by email, personally slandering me that I very nearly wrote to my friend to request him to somehow edit and remove my comment. But I took a deep breath and reminded myself that one of the very basic freedoms we work hard to protect is that of free opinion and free speech. This man, even as hurtful as he was, chose to exercise his. And I exercised mine by deleting his diatribe.

I have read absolutely hundred of blogs over the year, and have 157 on my blogroll that I attempt to keep up with daily. It has helped me form a much more informed decision of many of the world's issues today. People like Heidi have showed me the unbelievable grace of living through the aftermath of losing her husband in Iraq. Or Some Soldier's Mom who was a favourite read of mine, even before her son was injured by a roadside bomb. Of course, can't forget CaliValleyGirl who has been a tremendous 'soul sister' through the trials of being a military girlfriend. And not to forget, ArmyWifeToddlerMom who has brought me a lot of smiles this past year as she raises Pink Ninja and Dash. It was because of her inspiration I started giving Hayley and Alex similar pet names. These have put things in perspective for me and helped me understand what it truly means to support the people who serve to make our lives safer. I've read many blogs of those over in the sandbox, and many opinions in order to form my own. I have seen many more that have gone dark, but still miss their insight greatly (Sgt. Devore, I think of you and Wendy often).

In another vein, I read The Scruffy Dog Review blog religiously and appreciate the 'inside view' into a writer's world. Devon and Colin both have been incredibly helpful and supportive in my quest to become serious with my creative side.

Personally, this year, those that follow this blog through my bumbling effort through life have seen my rollercoaster relationship with a deployed American Naval Petty Officer crash and burn, my mother's health decline and my own health issues, my redundancy from my previous job and a few other of life's trials.

Despite the dips, this has also been an amazing year. My grandnephew was born in January, lighting up our lives more than I ever thought possible. And I have finally gotten enough confidence to believe in myself and begin to write. Whether it will take me somewhere or just fill a void in myself that I haven't given proper opportunity to before now.

Either way, I am humbled by the experience and am looking very forward to the next year. Thank you for making these past 12 months the most enlightening I've ever had the fortune to be involved in.
November 12, 2005
Finn Slough
Finn Slough is a historic little community that exists in a tidal flat about 2 miles from my house. From first glance, it looks somewhat abandoned with old houses built on stilts, but a closer examination makes you see the heart and soul of this area. Inhabited now by approximately 50 fishermen and artists, the community was originally founded by Finnish immigrants in the 1890s. The history of the area is rich. Many battles over the true 'ownership' of the land, the people that live here now are dedicated to the enrichment of the area, despite controversy about the property lines.

Absolutely full of character, though, and hard not to take too many pictures walking through. In my one-hour photo jaunt, I took somewhere around 150!

When the tide is out, the boats sit dry on the stream bed. When it's like this, it's hard to believe that in just a few hours, this will be an extension of the river again.

The local residents are doing a fantastic job of restoring some of the older buildings. This picture 'Dinner Plate Island School' is part of a movie shoot, and not a working school.

Other areas are not as restored, but hold just as much beauty and intrigue.

If you'd like to know more about this area, there are some great stories of the residents here and here. And more pictures here and here.
November 11, 2005
Always Remember
My niece just asked me 'How long are we supposed to remember for?', when I told her I attended this morning's ceremony. The answer is simple. Always.

Never forget. Never become complacent. These are the stories of my parent's and grandparent's generation. The new generations don't have that same bond and we need to work on making the history alive. My nieces have grown up in a world where they have never had to see a classmate go to combat, and therefore, it's something we work hard to make them understand. I tell my niece of the friends I've met over blogging who have served, and are doing so. And those that support them. I tell her - imagine your husband is at war right now, and you are raising your beautiful babies on your own. I want her to have a sense of the strength of those women - those military wives and girlfriends and not take for granted the fact that her worst issue is her husband staying out too often with the boys down at the pub.

Recently, when in the States, I had the opportunity to see a couple of soldiers returning from Iraq. In their uniforms, they were a sight to behold and the first time I had ever seen an OIF soldier in the 'flesh'. Sure, I've seen lots of pictures and even of those I actually consider friends. I felt emotional as I watched their families embrace them and those tough, young guys tear up in their arms. It was very moving.

Everyone was soaked to the skin and the CO's kept reminding their cadets to keep moving their fingers and toes, lest they lose circulation. I saw a few cadets lose their balance, and a couple instances, actually pass out but all seemed to be deeply aware of the significance of why they were.

I was happy to see many parents who did bring their children. It's important.

Richmond's Cenotaph. I'm not sure the exact number of boys we lost but these were classmates of my mother and her sisters. These are not just names to them, but living breathing friends they knew and grew up with.

Most of the names here can now be found in the form of street names in the city, but their stories are fading. James Gibbons was our link. He was my Aunt's brother-in-law and was shot down over France in World War II. He was just 19.
Ceremonies and the like

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Think of those words today. Think of what they mean and not just the flowing poetry they are.

After my ranting this week regarding the importance of this day, I found myself drawn to the doing something a little more than usual. So this morning, I bundled myself up and went to City Hall for the Remembrance Day Ceremonies.

The weather was absolutely atrocious. Without exaggeration, there were some areas of the street that were flooded and the rain was torrential with the wind whipping it at a 45 degree angle. But as was noted those that served, and do serve, do not get the option to chose what weather they go out in.

It was a beautiful ceremony, of which I will post pictures later once my fingers start properly moving again. One speaker noted as those that served in defence of Canada during World War I, World War II and Korea become aged, we lose our personal perspective in the true sacrifice that was made. Only 5 veterans from World War I are still surviving today, and the average age of a WWII vet is 82. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember.

Those serving as Peacekeepers and in Afghanistan, as well as other posts are few and far between in Canada. We don't see the military presence as often it is in other countries, and it's easy for many to put it aside.

A few posts worthy of note today:

The story of the poem, In Flanders Field is told here.

Scotland observes Armistice Day here.

The Guardian tells the story of a 104-year old World War I veteran who was a young teenager when he served on a battleship.

Thousands gathered in the capital of Australia to observe the 87th anniversary of the Armistice Treaty, another country that had a notable absence of WWI vets at the ceremony.

In St. Louis, a French ex-pat shares his story and memories of liberation.

The origin of the two-minute silence is told here.

The mother of a soldier killed in the friendly-fire incident laid a wreath in Ottawa in honour of her son's supreme sacrifice.

A new Book of Remembrance is unveiled in Ottawa's ceremony.

John The Mad has a post up about Canada's Unknown Soldier.

North American Patriot reminds us it's a Matter of Valour.

To all veterans, no matter what country you hail from, no matter what length of your service, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
November 10, 2005
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada. It's a statutory holiday here. In the US, it's Veteran's Day and this is not a statutory holiday as they take their day in May as Memorial Day. (and if I'm wrong in understanding that, please feel free to educate me).

I will quite honest that I was like many Canadians when I took this day for granted. Sure, I wore the poppy and watched the ceremonies on TV. But a few years ago, I started to truly understand the significance of the event. When Todd came into my life, it also gave me a perspective into supporting those that served. Even though my relationship has changed, it has not changed my opinion of the military nor what they do. In fact, it has strengthened even more.

Last year was a very emotional day for me. I now had someone in my life that was serving in combat, and had become friends with quite a few others. It gave me much different view and I took a lot more pride in supporting those that served. I realized the importance of having the day to Remember. The day off that we can think of what has happened in order for us to live the life we do.

Considering this year is also the first year there will be no World War I veterans at the services in Ottawa, it becomes even more important that We Never Forget.

Growing up it was a day that made my Grandad angry. He would become very bitter and sad as it came close. My Mom would tell me to leave him alone and sure enough he would come back to himself a little while after. Now, as an adult I understand what painful memories that must have dug up for him. We remembered and were proud of him. But he lived it. Those were his friends that died beside him.

So with that in mind, I received an email yesterday from our Corporate King Of Purchasing (ok, maybe that's not his real title), who is based in Seattle, requesting all the Purchasing Managers be available for a meeting at 11am.

I emailed him back a polite note reminding him that it was a Statutory Holiday here for Remembrance Day. To which, the response was "It may be in Canada but it isn't in the US. While it may be Veteran's Day, we do not take a day off for this. That's what Memorial Day is for. I would appreciate you calling in from wherever you are."

Well, we don't have Memorial Day in Canada. Tomorrow is our day and that response bothered me greatly. My sarcastic side thought I should mentioned maybe we could reschedule to November 24 or 25th instead.

I am in a somewhat unclear position at my job. My contract currently ends January 2, 2006, and while they have made some overtures to having me here longer term, nothing concrete. This is now only 6 weeks away. Do I rock the boat here in refusing the meeting? In discussing it with other co-workers, I was surprised that they thought I was making a bigger deal than it should be.

One had remarked 'Oh, it's just a day for the Legions to make money anyhow, what's the big deal?'

I considered last night what I should do, and decided it was more important to stand up for what I believe in.

This morning, I responded to him 'Regretfully, I will not be able to participate in tomorrow's meeting due to Remembrance Day activities. I look forward meeting up with you next week to discuss these issues.'

I feel relieved. Tomorrow is a day I do intend to honour those who have served and are currently serving. In fact, I have two packages ready to mail tomorrow to my soldier through 'Angels In Camoflauge' and had held off because I wanted the postmark to reflect the day. Although, in some respects it's somewhat sad that the Post Office (which is also the 7-11) is open so that's possible.
November 08, 2005
Much needed
A first tonight. Ms. Thang phoned me all on her own (well, pushed the autodial button anyhow) to say Hi.

I haven't seen the kids in 3 weeks, but it's a lifetime. Usually I'm seeing them a couple times a week, but with my cold and their colds and travel, it just hasn't happened. I'd been sitting here reading my book when the phone rang.

'Hullo....Annie Sue', a little voice said.

'Hi sweetie, you called me!'

'Yup, I wanted to read a book to you.'

Holding back a cracking voice (hey, I'm feeling sorry for myself today, what can I say?) 'It's about doggies, and kitties and then there was a cow. The horse said he wouldn't play with them. The end.'

'Okbyeloveyou', and then there was silence.

I expected her Mom to come on the phone but nothing. I waited to sounds of a rustling phone and her talking far away.

Her voice came closer and she said 'Hullo...who are you?'

'It's Auntie Sue, sweetie'

'But I said bye. You're s'posed to go now. Mommy, she won't GO!'

Then a click.

So phone manners have a bit to go yet, but hey, it's her first time actually intending to call me and doing it on her own. Gotta love it! If only she knew what perfect timing it was!
A lesson in creativity

I began my third course today in Creative Writing. I have found an online course structure that has been the best so far in pushing me and teaching me in a way that has motivated me beyond anything I've ever tried before.

These courses are all offered through Ed2Go - an online school with reasonably priced 6-week syllabuses. I have used them before to learn HTML, Web Page Design, Photoshop and Digital Photography, but had shied away until now on the creative writing course load.

Since September, I've taken Write Your Life Story and am midway through Writeriffic: Creative Training for Writers.

Today, I began The Craft of Magazine Writing.

Two lessons are released each week, on Wednesday and Friday (although you can usually access them Tuesday and Thursday). There is usually a short quiz, supplementary reading and an assignment. Some assignments are quite quick and others, like this week's one very difficult.

The last assignment was to pick something out of a newspaper and write 400-500 word story based on a fictional account of the article. I couldn't for the life of me find anything in the newspaper that struck me but as I fell asleep last night, an idea came.

The result? Something I was actually quite happy with.

The picture in the paper of an elderly lady was simply titled ‘Violet May celebrated her centennial birthday amidst several friends and relatives’. There was no story. No words to honour the life that she had led.

As she sat there looking at the picture on the table, she thought to herself ‘Do they know all I’ve seen? Have I done a good enough job reminding them of road I’ve walked?’

She was born at the turn of the 20th century in a small native village called Harbledown. Violet was the child of a Da’naxda’xw woman and an Irishman who’d come to the savage world to seek a new life. In those early days, she’d played on the beach while her mother caught oolichans close by. Her brother had a cougar for a pet and they had loved that big cat they’d called ‘Polly’.

She’d been born before the Wright brothers even attempted their first flight, and when Canada was a dominion, rather than a country. She had listened to her elder’s stories in the long house, hearing the history that was her own. When she was 10, the missionaries had decided the longhouses were to be banned. No more gatherings. To think she had lived long enough to see the traditions being returned to them warmed her heart. Her great-grandchildren were being taught of the old ways.

Violet thought back on her life. She’d buried three husbands. Good, decent men. Her first love left her on the fields of Europe in World War I. She had been widowed young, with 2 small children. Her second husband was, a kind gentle soul raising her two babes, and two more before being tragically killed in a logging accident. The loggers today had it easy, she mused. They had no idea what it was like in those days. More young boys lost that way than any other, she thought sadly. By the time, World War II had ended, she’d been widowed twice and was a grandmother for the first time. That was when she met Bob. Her third and final love. She missed him so. To think they’d been married for 25 years and he’d already been gone for 30.

As she thought of the party her family had held, her heart smiled to think that at least 70 people there were her direct descendants. Her own flesh and blood. She had lived to see five generations and she felt truly blessed indeed.

It's a composite of a bunch of stories in one, so not one real person but I think I'd like to expand a bit. I can think of some interesting ways to go there.

But tonight I'm unplugging. No more NaNoWriMo (21,300!), no more anything. Just going to try to relax and read my book and try and get my feet back on the ground.
To realize
To realize
The value of a sister
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
who has given birth to
A premature baby.

To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one-second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when
you can share it with someone special.

To realize the value of a friend or family member:
November 06, 2005
Don't try this at home
For anyone still remembering the 80's fondly, here's a little reminder of the past.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from cdnsue. Make your own badge here.

Steal this button and link to me!
Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006

  • The WeatherPixie