August Interlude

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Daylilies amongst the fading bleeding hearts

My favourite months are July and September, but oh how reflective and pensive I get about August. From the number of quotes and literary references I was able to find about August, I must not be alone!

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.” – Natalie Babbitt

I am also defensive about all that is still left of summer, but yet the feeling of summer slipping away begins nonetheless.

“The arrival of August means that summer is drawing to a close, and that’s exactly why it should be embraced.” – Amanda McArthur

“Don’t let your August be four weeks of feeling sad that fall is right around the corner.” – Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

My garden takes on a different mood as the late bloomers make their midsummer statement. The hummingbirds have returned to the feeders which suggests the waning abundance of blooms. And of course, the crickets start to sing on cue.

“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.” – E.B. White

“Caught in the doldrums of August we may have regretted the departing summer, having sighed over the vanished strawberries and all that they signified.” – Denis Mackail

As I write this, it is about the midpoint of August — but I have pushed the doldrums away and I am still eating lots of fresh blueberries (just excellent this year!). While summer fades, I find it also energizes me. What must I plan to do or savour before we really say goodbye to summer? I am sure there are others who would agree with me that August would be the better time to make “new year’s resolutions”.

“August is a time of growing up, of forgotten forevers, full of the sweetest intent.” – Meka Boyle

The previous two summers during the pandemic seem like a forgotten blur already. I hope this August is a pleasant interlude of seasonal wonders and is also followed by much happier seasons ahead. If thinking and writing could make it so….

Hometown

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Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

It often astounds me that I have now lived in my current city longer than in my “hometown”. It is getting close to twice the number of years! Although I only lived in my “birth town” for the first two years of my life, I often feel like I have two “hometowns” with the history and family stories associated with both. I have raised my children in the city I live in now and at times it can feel odd that it is their hometown, but not mine. I often wonder about moving back to my hometown for retirement years, but I know it would not be as I left it and I need to keep a perspective on that. I recognize that not everyone will have fond memories of their hometown, but I think we preserve a piece of ourselves in the places we grow up. It can mean so many things and involve many emotions. Maybe this is a needed thing. I have had a few very emotional reactions when I have returned to visit places that connect my past (self).

There is no shortage of songs about hometowns, returning home, a love left behind, etc., and I have a number of favourites that I wanted to round up for my blog.

I really like the messages and lyrics in a recent new song and nostalgic video created by this musician:

I still love this music video about Thunder Bay:

I love this sentimental one by Snow Patrol:

I thought this video was cool too — not a song about a hometown, but an animation:

Do you have a favourite “hometown” song to share? Do you have a song about your own hometown or another place you like to visit? What hometowns might mean to each of us can be complex and personal but the frequent question often is, “Where are you from?”

Nothing Good Comes Easy

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Somehow I was drawn to this song with the same title I have used for this post. (Also the first I had heard of this western Canadian band.)

Our family has often discussed how it has felt like “nothing has been easy” since and also separate from the pandemic lately. As we continue to encourage our adult children to keep plugging through challenges and their efforts to improve their lives, careers and relationships, I thought the lyrics of this song might be inspiring for them, or anyone really (lyrics are in text below the video). The lead singer of the band also talks about the song’s meaning here.

While I was looking more into this rock song, I discovered a number of different songs with this same title! This led me to more listening, inspiration, and certainly an interesting mix of artists and genres! Rock, rap, electronic, and country — Here are a few below in videos (with lyrics where available).

“It’s always music that I run to when my life gets confusin’ ..”

If you have had a listen to some, let me know what you have liked or which one is your favourite. All the musicians are from Canada, except for the McClymonts (Australia). Do you have a song that helps you when you wish things were easier? Does it help you push through to reach a good outcome? Do you believe that “nothing good comes easy”? Do you know any multiple songs with the same title?

‘Old School’ Christmas Playlist

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I have a number of favourite Christmas music videos saved in emails. Yes, emails — a whole file of them and mostly YouTube links. Since I have a YouTube channel that I created to upload my “16 mm film archive project“, I thought I might as well make further use of that account. I don’t have Spotify or any other music sharing app, so I thought it made sense for (old school) me and I was excited to make my very own first public playlist online 🙂 At our house, we often like to have interesting or live music videos playing on the screen while we are doing other tasks nearby. My playlist is quite eclectic so I thought I would share on my blog as there might be something for everyone there: Christmas Favs. There are three that didn’t make the cut… yet. They poke fun at families at Christmas, but maybe there is one that might give you or your family a good chuckle or be needed at some point. Here they are as well:

Life’s Charms

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I recently attempted to “downsize” my jewellery box. I managed to part with a few things. It’s difficult to part with the sentimental pieces. My charm bracelet went back in the box, but it left me pondering about such bracelets in general. Mine is from my preteen years and most of the charms have some memories attached. Such a personalized piece of jewellery!

I was able to find an article that covered some historical aspects of collecting such “charms”, as well as a timeline of the different bracelet styles. I guess I was influenced by the “Bobby-Soxers” style of bracelets before the trend changed to the more link-type bracelets in the 1990s. It sounds about right:

For them, the charm bracelet was a way for them to keep mementos from their vacations, hobbies, and achievements.”

At first I worried about posting a photo of mine because of the personal “data”, but I will chance it.

Most of the “data” fits: I still like cats (upper left), I should ride a bike more, and I like Christmas. I am a sister, a best friend, a Virgo, and a graduate. A couple of charms are mementos from a trip to Toronto, but it was my sister who went to Hawaii. Nothing too exciting or extravagant, but a bit like a “bio” of the day. I couldn’t help make some connections to social media. Did these bracelets represent our identity similar to what social media would offer now? Were they a way to brag or compare “statuses” with others? Did social media kill the charm bracelet? 😀

If you have any thoughts or stories to share about charm bracelets, please do! Do you have one? Did you ever actually wear it? What did it mean to you? Do you still collect anything similar?

Lucky Shot

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My last post was about deaths associated with Covid-19 vaccines. I also mentioned my pending first dose appointment, which is now behind me.

I have been reading Ontario news reports of “vaccine shopping” recently. Some reports point to some preference for Pfizer over Moderna, for example:

Vaccine shopping to avoid Moderna shot is ‘alarming,’ unnecessary and potentially harmful, doctors say.

The above article quotes a medical officer of health:

…the science behind how Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work to stop COVID-19 infections is almost identical.”

So far, many of my family members who have had first, and now second doses, got Moderna. All have fared well, so I felt very confident that it would be a good vaccine for me when my turn came.

I had read and became aware that some individuals might be allergic to components of the vaccines, but that severe reactions were rare. I have never had allergies, so I didn’t give it much concern or further investigation. But as my vaccine appointment approached, I started to review the information to prepare for it and any potential issues. I am not even sure how I came across the details about vaccine ingredients, but I was quite startled to read that there is a component (Trometamol) in Moderna that may also be used in contrast dyes for MRI scans. The only time I have had a allergic skin reaction was after an MRI scan. I had given consent to the use of a contrast dye to improve the scan results. It wasn’t a serious anaphylactic reaction, but I will have to report such if I ever have a MRI again. Further poking around on the internet led to some confirmed cases of allergic reactions to contrast dyes and the Moderna vaccine.

I certainly thought about turning down the vaccine if it was Moderna. I did get some good information and reassurance from my local health unit, but I wasn’t able to get confirmation which vaccine would be administered on the day of my appointment when I called the day before it. I knew that Pfizer vaccines had arrived in our region though. I decided to go ahead with it regardless, but it did weigh on me. It wasn’t long after I sat down for the shot that it was communicated to me, “You will be receiving the Pfizer vaccine today.” I admit that I felt tremendous relief and I explained that to the nurse. The rest of the experience and care at the vaccine clinic was excellent.

But enough about me. We can be so overloaded with information and not always get the clarification and confidence needed to make a decision. And we don’t always know what is behind someone putting off a decision or making a certain decision. I felt that I was informed enough, but was I?

Sacrifices

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I started writing this post before the AstraZeneca vaccine got a “pause” as a first dose in Ontario. I started the post because I was struggling with the news of a first death due to the Covid-19 vaccine. And since then, there have been a few more deaths in Canada related to the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine and blood clots.

***

After all we have been through and sacrificed since the pandemic started, I know that I can’t be okay with a single person dying because of the Covid-19 vaccines. Medical officials have attempted to reassure that there will always be some risks with vaccines and that the risk still remains low. If I lose a loved one because of the vaccine, I am not sure such reassurance will help me feel better. Hearing a political leader or famous person say they are 100% fine that they took a certain vaccine probably wouldn’t help my grief much either. Sure, we choose things in our lives on our own accord that pose various elements of risk and we can lose close ones to such, but I am not comfortable with those comparisons when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccines. These vaccines are supposed to reduce risk, prevent sickness, help us all live, help restore our lives and work, etc. We are told this. We are getting a sense that being vaccinated will lessen restrictions on our lives and that not being vaccinated could limit our choices and opportunities ahead, even though not mandatory… yet.

But no one should have to die taking it, whether to help themselves or the greater good — That is where I stand. If we are supposed to be okay with the “sacrificial lamb” kind of thing when we hear about deaths due to the Covid-19 vaccines, I don’t think I can be. Is anyone responsible for these deaths? Should anyone be? Who should apologize for bad outcomes?

I don’t have any expertise or theories in this — just writing from the heart. I have an appointment soon for the first dose of a vaccine and I want to be excited, but I still have some trepidation because that’s me, I suppose. The constant “unknowns” about this virus and now the vaccines can seem so heavy at times, but I will keep turning my thoughts to summer and beyond. I do hope that those who had “AZ” as a first dose will also navigate successfully ahead through the second dose phase. Let’s get through this!

Sampling

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No, not in the food sense of sampling. I only recently learned that it is also a term used in the music industry. Not sure how I missed that. Whereas covers of songs don’t require permission from the copyright owner, sampling does. I found a full explanation here: How Music Sampling Works.

From the article,

Few deny that it takes talent to sample a classic song effectively and use it in a new, creative way. And the practice has played a major role in shaping the entire genre of hip hop. But sampling has had a longer history and more complex legal implications than many people realize.”

Why did I get so curious about this? A Melanie song that was “sampled”, of course! It started with a video shared to a Facebook group for Melanie fans. It was an Australian hip hop band, the Hilltop Hoods, performing a song live that sampled an original Melanie song (The People in the Front Row). From what I gathered, it might be their signature song. I have never been much into hip hop and maybe it is just the pandemic isolation, but I want to be on this boat at a dance party singing along with music that includes Melanie lyrics! 😀

Such fun!

About a name

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I love stories about how people got their names. My mom told me she had a different name picked out for me, but my 3 older siblings liked Sheila better than her choice (Beverly). It hasn’t been confirmed, but I have a suspicion that this popular hit song in the early 60s influenced the choice of my siblings:

I recently listened to an older Tommy Roe singing it and I think I prefer his older voice (and some happy dancing here!):

I don’t meet many Sheilas, and if I do, the spelling is often different. I have learned that my name is of Irish origin and that a sheila means a woman in Australian slang (an internet search confirmed that it is not derogatory). It doesn’t seem like there are very many famous people with the name Sheila, but I remain fine with that. I like that there is a song of my name.

Readers, were you named after a song or a famous person? Your children? Do you have a good story about how you were named, or any good story about a name to share? How about a favourite song that is based on a name?

A conversation with Melanie

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Stephen Hurley and I first connected online, then later in person, because of education advocacy events and gatherings. Even though my involvement in education has lessened since then, I have continued to connect with Stephen because of music! Most Saturday nights for a number of years now, I have “met” Stephen on The Dock — his specific music related broadcast on VoicEd radio. (More recently, Sara Candela, has joined him in hosting this fun and interactive global gathering around a topic or theme in music.)

Over this time, Stephen became well aware of my favourite singer, Melanie. I would like to think that he now loves her music as much as I do! But it still came as a big surprise when he contacted me that he would be interviewing Melanie in March! Yesterday was the big day! I listened to the full recorded interview as soon as it was available. Well done, Stephen and Melanie! Some great stories were captured about the music industry, Melanie’s career over the decades, and her current musical pursuits and performances in spite of a pandemic!

Having said all that, I am so excited to link this interview on my blog! Here is the link to information about the interview and the recorded audio from Stephen’s podcast segment, On The Edge: https://www.spreaker.com/user/voicedradio/melanie-safka

Thanks again, Stephen! Here’s to more musical connections and journeys!

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