Write or Wrong

A number of weeks back this blog stumbled into existence. So far it has had little cohesion in the subject matter presented from article to article or in the timing of each publication. Thoughts on the American political system and the challenges it presents to itself and the world shared blog space with musings from alley wanderings. Each story would just work its way through the proper channels to my fingertips and the words would dance right on to the screen. Like a musical instrument, if you do not practice it you will be unable to play it up to your potential. To write well, I need to write often.

To be a good blog writer, you should perhaps be a reader of a wide variety of articles presented many different ways by all levels of writers on any number of subjects. In this aspect I was remiss so I started researching the whole blog phenomena and my potential place in it. Very quickly the information presented on the sheer multitude of blogs in the social media world was overwhelming. What do you want to know because right now somebody is writing about that very subject or something else entirely different with photos attached. Who is left to read what is written?

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It was easy to start getting discouraged. In theory, if you are going to devote a good portion of your life to something, perhaps getting paid a little stipend for your efforts would be a nice bonus. Who doesn’t want to be remunerated for partaking in a pleasurable activity? I perused through the travel blog and children’s story blog areas. I stumbled across a site that was rating the Top 50 Travel Blogs in the whole wide world. Some were inspiring and some dealt with maximizing your travel points. Others wanted to assist me in traveling with children or tell me where best to watch sunsets in Central America while traveling as a solo middle age woman. They are all so full of content, it seems almost impossible for one to break free from the crowd and rise to the surface. There is brilliant, unread literature scattered all throughout the blogosphere.

It just makes sense that out of this mass of media, someone would be offering you the opportunity to maximize the monetization potential of your blog writing. They can teach you the way to blogging success and of course it does come with a fee. Every “successful” blog writer out there advertises on their site that they have the winning system and are willing to assist you in one form or another if you provide them with a little of your hard earned cash. I am a natural sceptic in regards to people telling me how to be better as long as I pay them some money. I can do it myself for free. The people behind this one particular pitch though came at you a bit differently by providing some pretty in depth and interesting comment up front for free. What they have to say in regards to blogs having a business plan and a direct constant focus in content to maximize potential viewership and sponsorship really caught my attention. Currently I write unfocused and free.

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The last few days have been very introspective in regards to my writing path and where it might lead. Did I want to enter a much faster, social media world and see if I could compete? How many blogs and blog writers does the world really need? The alternative idea of spending the winter archiving previous writings while fleshing out some new children’s story ideas would be a very easy choice. Throw in a steady flow of life observations onto this space over the next few months and that would be the simple plan. I thank the website that offered to teach me how to make money off of my writing for planting a seed of thought. I will use the winter thinking about the kind of writer I want to be. If I think I’ve got the chops to take a stab at blog writing glory, I will be in touch with them in the spring and see what they have got to say. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep on writing and see where the current takes me.

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Remembrance Day Tale

Remembrance Day Tale

Mother Nature did her part nicely. Vancouver had absorbed an almost biblical 40 days and nights of constant rainfall but the skies dried up and brightened to an iridescent shade of charcoal. It provided the colour accent to match the mood of the crowd at the cenotaph. Another Remembrance Day had been recognized and and those gathered were solemn, reflective and thankful. An almost pleasant day was a blessing to the veterans.

Near the centre of Vancouver, there is a very large graveyard that has been in constant use since the early days of the city. With Fraser Street providing its eastern border, it stretches north and south between 31st and 43rd Avenues. Within its boundaries lie thousands of people, some recognized with 10 foot tall tombstones and others with just a small piece of stamped concrete to show that someone is buried in that spot. The lay of the land is undulating while still climbing the rise up from False Creek. The views of the North Shore Mountains and downtown are stunning. If being buried in a graveyard is where you want to be placed after you have finished living this life, Fraserview Cemetery is as nice a place as you could want.

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Unbeknownst to most people of this city, and something I discovered on Remembrance Day 2015, is that there is a veterans section in the quiet, northwest corner of the graveyard. A small cenotaph, a memorial and a path dissect the hundreds upon hundreds of graves. All are marked only with a plaque in the ground giving name, rank and date of birth and death. Sometimes the unit or branch served with is also provided. There are no tombstones making one resting place stand out from the others. The night before, all the veterans grave sites are marked with a small Canadian flag by local youth groups. This area of the graveyard is where we now go after attending the official ceremonies. What better place to reflect on our luck and fortune in life than to be where people are buried that died for you/us/me to have that opportunity for freedom.

While we mourn for those that have fallen, we know nothing of their stories. We walk through the graveyard, reading grave markers, wondering about the fallen ones families, their loves and lives. Noticing a gravestone with a date of death of Christmas Day or New Years Day makes you realize that war and carnage did not take holidays then as it so stubbornly refuses to do now. New graves are being dug elsewhere in the world while we introspectively wander amongst the fallen from past wars in this quiet city oasis.

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The sky begins to darken and we gather our things and prepare to mount our bikes and ride homeward. A lone car parks along the inner roadway of the cemetery adjacent to the veterans section and and an elderly couple get out. She holds his arm firmly while they navigate carefully through the grave sites searching for one in particular. They come to a stop, then the gentleman squats carefully and wipes the fallen leaves from a certain grave, one amongst hundreds getting some personal remembrance on this day. I drift over and respectfully ask them if I can invade their space and moment with a loved one.

It’s my fathers grave the son tells me. He died in 1936 but it was the First World War that killed him. Dad was gassed when in France and he had trouble breathing the rest of his war shortened life. The family owned a business in south Burnaby and I went to work with my dad everyday until he died when I was six. The son continues to talk while I and his lady friend listen, his wife died in 2012 he adds to the story. He looks into the past while he recollects how his older brothers used to beat on their fathers back with thick rolled up towels as he lied across the table. They would break chunks of gas damage from his war ravaged lungs that he would then cough up in spasms. The stark memories of a child 80 years ago vivid, the anguish in his voice real and now.

I thank them for their time and tell him I am honoured to know the story of his father. I explain that we come here often to reflect on life and liberty and enjoy the view. From now on we will visit his father personally every time we come to the graveyard. He thanks me for stopping and having an interest in remembering his father and all the other veterans. With that we say our goodbyes, they return to their car and me to my bike. In a graveyard of unknown victim’s of war and sacrifice, one man now stands out to us from his fallen comrades. The life long love of a son for a father he barely knew resonates through my mind as I digest his heartfelt Remembrance Day Tale

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Remembrance Day Fail

Remembrance Day Fail

Walking by the church, there was a funeral going on
Veterans standing on the stairs, trying to stay strong
Young men still inside their heads, had seen tragedy and death
And now another soldier, had taken his last breath

When duty called they answered, they didn’t ask the cost
Did they know the price of war would mean a generation lost
And all the generations since, do they remember or even care
That those veterans at the church still smell death upon the air

Would the men and women of today sacrifice their lives
What would they think of friendly fire if it killed their husbands and their wives
They really care, they feel the pain but not in their back yard
If lunch is late or coffees cold, they figure life is hard

The veterans fought to give the life and freedoms of today
How few remember, how few care, what would the fallen say
To know they fought, to know they died, to see them dying still
And what it means to many is enough to make me ill

So go ahead, shop till you drop, just don’t fall in a trench
Knee deep in mud, artillery fire, trying to save the French
But if you know a veteran, say thanks and shake their hand
So you can live your life exactly as you planned
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Remember the wars, remember the veterans, remember the sacrifices. I cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to be in battle. The thought of having other people shooting at me to kill using guns or bombs, artillery and other weapons of small scale destruction is just not a rational one to a sane person. The concept of individual combat to the death or being a bit player in a large scale military manoeuvre while under fire is beyond frightening. Multi year campaigns through extreme weather. Attack, retreat, kill, destroy, repeat.

I guess the “War to End all Wars” wasn’t as successful as perhaps first believed. War seems to still be as popular as ever. Maybe the scale of the conflict isn’t as large but a fair sized portion of the globe has some type of war for a multitude of reasons going on. Resources, geography, religion and stupidity are some of the justifications that a percentage of mankind thinks war, even a limited war is acceptable. I just can’t accept that the people dying in these current wars really want to die anymore than the veterans we so honour on November 11th wanted to die. Even a promise of everlasting paradise doesn’t quite seem like a good enough reason to die in war.

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This year for Remembrance Day, I’m going to think of Vimy Ridge and Dieppe and mourn the brave Canadian souls who fought and died in the two world wars, as well as Korea, Afghanistan and so many other locations around the globe. I will also reflect on all the soldiers who fought for the other side. I will not forget those that are dying today in conflicts around the world. War is not the solution, why do we keep killing each other trying to prove that it is.
So while those of us who actually remember will spend a few moments of our time wearing a poppy and shedding a tear, many will be grateful for the long weekend. They are not quite sure why they got Friday off but it’s awesome. War happens in other times and other places to other people. It’s going on for millions and millions around the world today and there will still be war tomorrow. The wars of yesterday seemed to have solved nothing. So for all the combatants on all sides and all the civilians who seem to increasingly take the brunt of the carnage, I’m going to remember. I’m going to remember that they are human and that they probably really didn’t want to die. War and the reasons for it are pretty fucked up. So when you remember to pack your car for the long weekend to go shopping or camping or visiting or whatever you do on a long weekend in a free country far away from the madness, please don’t forget. Those veterans on the church steps remember.

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