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!

Time is the…

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I stumbled upon this song and video recently: Time is a Killer. It features REM’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, so that might have been the draw for me, or the pandemic is drawing me to certain songs. The song is written and also sang by Rain Phoenix, River Phoenix’s sister. The song is likely a part of her healing from her loss. At first it seems a bit dark, but also soothing in a way. The lyrics start on a sad note and perhaps speak to some sad realities of our times too, but I was happy to take it all in. I ended up really appreciating the last few statements about time in the lyrics (below in bold). But, here are the lyrics from the beginning:

Everybody’s dying
To know
Where we go
When we die

Everybody’s crying
For those
Who go
Before their time

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Everybody’s lying
When we say
We are not
Afraid

Everybody is trying
So hard
To be
So brave

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Time.

Everybody is blaming
The other
When things
Don’t go right

Everybody’s judging
Each other
And picking
Fights

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time is the mirror
Time is the healer
Time is the teacher

(Songwriters: Kirk Hellie / Rain Phoenix)

I have written thoughts about time inspired by a song before on this blog: Who Knows…?

Readers, feel free to share a song or quote that resonates with you about time.

The Day After Groundhog Day

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As 2021 rolls along, as well as a pandemic, I still aim to find some celebratory moments in the special days on the calendar. Although every day can seem like “Groundhog Day” lately, the actual Groundhog Day yesterday had slipped my mind until I saw mention of it on social media!

Since I am a big Melanie fan, the day after Groundhog Day also has significance to me — It is Melanie’s birthday. This past weekend she live-streamed a performance just shy of her 74th birthday! Her commitment to making music is quite remarkable and all three of her children have musical careers. Speaking of which, Melanie also wrote a song called Groundhog Day, but it is an expression about returning to her career after a few years of being more focused on motherhood.

People will most likely remember Melanie with the mention of her pop-style hit in the 70s, Brand New Key. Fans know there is so much more to her musical palette. I often suggest listening to the contrast between Brand New Key and Beautiful People.

If you would like to do so:

A fun live performance of Brand New Key:

A couple of other ways to enjoy Brand New Key: One of her daughters who is an established country singer covers it here; and for a different experience, the music of the song on a 100 year old organ here!

I have posted to my blog before about her song, Beautiful People (If you look for it…). What is more beautiful than Beautiful People?: Watching her record the song — from the initial attempts to the final product!

Melanie has had different styles of music over the decades and her songs continue to be an important part of the stages of my life — and now during a pandemic. I hope she has many happy returns of the day!

Bag or Wrap?

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Photo by Hert Niks on Unsplash

I actually like to wrap gifts for others — as in using flat paper to fit the present or the box that I put the present in, especially at Christmas. I suppose it is because my memories of childhood of are removing wrapping paper from my gifts under the tree. It is part of the anticipation, right? Also, “presentation” matters to me when I give a gift to someone special. Again, perhaps it is my past experiences that make me feel that a present in a gift bag doesn’t measure up at times. That’s not to say I haven’t selected fancy gift bags and/or jazzed them up some. At Christmas, I do start wrapping early so I can enjoy it. Rushed gift wrapping is not where I like to be.

When did gift bags become such a popular alternative? Was it prompted by environmental concerns first, or was it because bags provided a faster and/or an easier alternative? Most wrapping paper and tissue can’t be recycled, so an alternative makes sense. If wrapping isn’t one’s thing, an alternative makes sense too.

So I am torn at times, but I still do a combination of wrapping and bagging (with the odd cloth bag too). I still feel compelled to put that really special gift in a box, with tissue, and then continue with wrapping paper and ribbon. I love using gift tags made from cut-up Christmas cards from previous years. Perhaps I will have to come up with a more environmentally safe wrapping material alternative. I remember using the comics section from the newspaper when I was a kid — I think they were in colour back then though.

Open to suggestions!

My Vinyl

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Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

Music has been of great comfort during this Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also led to a lot of going through boxes and collections of things and making some decisions — keep, donate, or toss?

I have written before about my “45” vinyl collection and I think I might be ready to let it go now. From time to time, I pull out the index card in the storage tote to check if I really did buy a certain title or not when different songs or bands come up in conversation. I could probably keep that list. But as I look through my collection of forty-three 45’s, I really don’t think I would ever play many, if not most, of the songs again (on turntable or otherwise). There is a lot of high school in that little tote!

I have two that I think I would listen to again for sure — my first purchase and my last!. I mentioned those two in my first “45” post — From Melanie to Squeeze! But I can find both on YouTube for a good listen or a live performance.

So I may finally weed this old collection down to few and figure out where to donate the rest. Muskrat Love, anyone? Bohemian Rhapsody? Oh, but I do have a stack of Beatles 45’s that I got from older members in my family so maybe I will hang onto those…. Will I get to this same stage of letting go with my “LP” collection?

Do you have a song or two that makes you instantly think of high school? Good or bad, or both? Do you still have the song(s) handy? If so, in what format do you listen to them? Did you ever play the B side of 45’s? Do you have any “45” advice for me?

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