Sunday, September 27, 2015

Amazing connections 1

Part 1
In the year that I was born, my grandparents and their friends built St. Michael's German Catholic Church two blocks from where I now live. It was an amazing feat for a small struggling group of immigrants. The church's interior is dominated by huge sad-eyed mosaics, created and installed by a Catholic nun and her assistants brought over from Europe for this project. I seem to remember that this artist was the birth sister of the first priest of the parish, but my grandparents are no longer here to confirm or correct.

(Why is it that by the time we're interested in family history, the family members that knew that history, and talked about it seemingly endlessly when we were kids, are no longer alive? I propose that from henceforth a compulsory part of grade school curriculum be to interview one's parents and grandparents and document this stuff!)

Part 2
My neighbour, Victor, celebrated his 90th birthday on September 4. All his contemporaries are gone now, and only his two sons remain to keep him company and give help when needed. When Victor was a young boy in the 1930s, the circus came to town. He told me about his class rushing to their schoolroom windows, all eyes on the empty lot across the street, all feet itching to get out there and watch the roustabouts set up the tents. (Note: alas, the circus pix are not Victor's; they're googled.)

 The kids would line up to see the wagons roll in carrying the big cats. 

No insurance concerns back then; the elephants were close enough to touch!

And where did this thrilling circus set up?
On the site where St. Michael's Church now stands.
Connections ~ MAGICAL!
Zirkus Magi

Thank you, Victor!
(And why did it take me 19 years to have a conversation with this interesting man?)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Can Predict the Future...NOT!

Actually I can predict the future a bit.
If this is your fridge, I predict a trip to the grocery store within the next six months.

There will be rain.
Your bedroom window is open and the outside temp is 0° (C. or F., take your pick). I foresee a blanket in your future.

You will meet a stranger.

As for these kinds of questions...
Will I get the job I've applied for? No clue.
Does my ex intend to come back? How the heck would I know?
What's in store for my life over the next six months? Haven't the faintest idea.
Will this month/year be better for me than the last? I got nuttin'.
? ? ? ? ?
This is disappointing coming from someone who supposedly 'reads' tarot cards. Many querents are looking for answers. Period. Never mind how they might improve their situation by trying something different or reorganizing how they look at the problem. Just yes, no or when, thank you very much.

So a failure as a fortune teller, then. But...
I'm quite good at asking questions and rummaging around in the card's images for ideas.

For instance, take a look at this Page of Pentacles from the AnnaK deck.
A few thoughts, in no particular order.
- Are you happiest working alone?
- Are there times when you feel a need to escape to a place of solitude?
- What are you hoping to extract from your work life?
- Is pulling golden ideas from the watery depths something you'd like to practice or cultivate?
- Do you find yourself fishing for compliments?
  • If you accidentally found something valuable, would you try to find its owner?
  • Is there a line of enquiry you hope to pursue?
  • Are you easily reeled in by tricksters/liars/cons
  • Is your station in life at odds with what you most enjoy doing?
  • What's your favourite time of day/season of the year?
- There is a type of grassy bulrush that is currently threatening wetlands. Are you concerned about its impact on the environment?
Are your first impressions of people dependent upon their haircuts, clothing, skin colour?
Do you need a vacation - preferably one with fishing, swimming, a lake?
Is it time to carve this year's jack-o'-lantern?
Is there something swimming around in your mind, just below the surface, that you're trying to pull out?
  • Are you snagged on an impasse at work, on a project, maybe healthwise?
  • Is solving fishy issues in your career field child's play for you?
  • Is it time to quit playing around and get serious?
  • Do you crave more play in your life? 
  • A flexible rod catches more fish. Are you being too rigid?
If you could go back to your childhood, would you?
Did you have a favourite hiding place as a kid? Or now?
Were you a loner as a child? Or now?
Do you have dreams where you show up inappropriately dressed for an event? Or, worse yet, naked?
Do you feel like a fish out of water in some situations?
  • What's on your bucket list?
  • Do you worry about how much manmade crap is being found in our lakes and oceans?
  • Are you happiest when it's sunny?
  • Would it be fun to set up or participate in a treasure hunt?
  • Is the anticipation of receiving something new more fun than actually having it?  
There are more ideas to be winkled out of this card, but that's good enough for now.

Happy perusing!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thoughts on solo travel

I have my own opinions and observations on this subject, but I'll try to be objective (yeah, right) and pluck ideas solely from the images on these three cards.

Three decks, one question to ponder:
What are your thoughts on solo travel?

1) Tarot Nova ~ IX of Swords

  • Worries about plans, reservations, flights, seat assignments (I'm crazy claustrophobic) can keep you up at night.
  • Cold feet. I shouldn't have done this. I can't afford it. I shouldn't be taking all this time off from work. This is a terrible idea; what was I thinking? 
  • The what-ifs may make regularly scheduled appearances in your impressionable night brain.
    • What if I get lost and no one will help me?
    • I don't speak Italian (German, French, Farsi, Spanish, Hindi...). What if I can't make myself understood?
    • What if I am ill or get injured?
    • What if I hate being alone?
    • What if my house burns down while I'm away?
    • What if someone at home dies and I don't find out about it because my internet connection fails?

2) Silhouettes Tarot ~ 3 Pentacles

  • Your friends and family will be supportive and even delighted that you're brave enough to head out on your own.
  • Try to see things with the fresh eyes of a child.
  • You'll feel like an explorer, climbing new heights and surveying new territory. Right up there with Marco Polo and Jacques Cartier.
  • You can see a lot more of the world around you if you lift off and fly to a new destination.
  • There may be enlightening experiences, encounters with kind strangers that brighten your day.
  • Pack light; you have to lug that junk up hills and down dales. 
  • Jet lag will cease, and your body will once again be in sync with the light of the sun.
  • Each solo trip builds on the one before it; you'll accumulate street smarts and memories. By the time you've saved up your pentacles and head out on your third trip, you'll embark without a backward glance.

3) Byzantine Tarot ~ XII Hanged Man

  • You may feel that your foreign-ness and uncertainty marks you as different, like this upside-down naked guy. You're living one of those dreams where you've arrived, minus your clothes.
    • Take this time to look down at what's beneath your feet: stones that have been trod by pilgrims such as yourself for hundreds of years, or intricate mosaics set into the pavement. Perhaps youll see insects or flowers unknown in your part of the world.
    • Look up! Someone is waving to you from a balcony, you're in the flight path of a low-flying pigeon, that gargoyle looks like your first grade teacher.
  • You needn't get hung up on a set agenda; you are free to change the plan at any time. You're the boss.
  • If you are stuck on language issues, or hot and tired and lost somewhere, hang loose for a while.
    • Take off a layer of clothing (this assumes you have more than one layer on to begin with).
    • Sit on a cathedral step or lean on a fence post, and consult your trusty map.
    • Plop down in a cafĂ©, order something, do some people watching until you're ready to move on.
    • Go into a store, say 'hi' to the proprietor, and point on your map to where you want to go. 
  • If you're a woman travelling alone, there may be areas of the city that are unsafe at night because of unsavoury types hanging around.

Some personal tidbits.
At times, yes, it's a bit lonely. Especially in a romantic city like Venice, where couples (even those who look like they've weathered a few decades together) seem inordinately smitten with each other. This passes as soon as you encounter all those other cranky pairs bickering.
It takes a day or two to settle into a new environment, but then it becomes your own. Be patient.
Journeywoman's newsletter is a great resource for the solo female traveller.
I can't say enough good things about Untours. They've taken me happily and safely to Prague, Budapest, Florence, and Venice.

Happy travels!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

I met The Magician on VIA Rail

I love travelling by train.

Person-sized seats.
Big windows.
Enough air for everyone aboard.
First class graffiti-viewing.
Sneaking through towns by their back doors; peaking into backyards.
No security checks; no wondering if you might be hauled off by the authorities.
Free wi-fi.
That iconic whistle at level crossings.

Mid-August, en route to this paradise of up-northness near Kingston, Ontario,
 where all the guests, regardless of age, were required to participate in seaweed removal at the beach,

I was settled into my spacious train seat, happily eating a peanut butter sandwich, drinking steeped tea from Tim Horton's, and re-reading The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, when I heard the unmistakable squeaking of a balloon.

The steward on our car was an efficient, cheerful young man. He checked tickets, helped people find their seats, reset the wi-fi, trundled the refreshments cart up and down the aisle selling beverages and snacks.
And now here he was, twisting a balloon into a sword for the young boy in the seat behind me. And earlier, there'd been something about a wand and a magic colouring book, but it only dimly registered because my mind was in Botswana with Mma Ramotswe.

When this magic young man arrived at my seat with the snacks cart, I commented on his entertaining the kids (not exactly in the job description of VIA rail employees). He pulled out a deck of cards and proceeded to dazzle me with a trick worthy of any sceptic!

Wow, The Magician was on my train! This is the back of his business card.

Here are a few more sleight-of-hand parlour tricksters.
Golden Age of Hollywood
Halloween Tarot

Inner Child

Tarot of Jane Austen
Zirkus Magi

Ah, the magic of train travel!