Nightmare on Reading Street

“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”     Stephen Fry

It is easier to open a fridge than a book in this technology era.                                      Once upon a time, the library card gave access to a whole building of books. Now it opens a universe of libraries. A year ago I purchased an iPad, with hopes to download books, to avoid the extra weight caused by my book choice indecision while traveling. I often carry four books. I also like to underline favourite passages, I like to turn pages, and leave a dozen bookmarks, so I can go back to those pages. How was this digital book transition going to work for someone like me, with an ongoing love/hate relationship with technology.images

A friend helped me download Overdrive, a gateway to the public library. We downloaded the app, but were stumped with my out of date card. Next day, I renewed my physical card, and with bravado let the librarian know I planned to download books, and read them on my device. She handed me four instruction sheets to assist. I also booked an iPad session held at the Apple Cathedral, in Marketplace Mall.

At home, after ninety minutes of followed instructions, repeated log ins and passwords, two ebooks loaded. I was elated. With a sense of accomplishment I proceed to the next phase of my plan.

At the Apple Main station, Matt the minister announces that this is a Basic iPad workshop. (He was not interested in ebooks.) To cover all the bases, I book a genius bar appointment as well, to clarify issues sure to surface in the one hour service. All my technology products are the Apple denomination. Are androids the Baptists I wonder?

Matt explains, that with bluetooth, I could get a meat thermometer app, that will signal my phone when the steak on the BBQ is done. (Could I not look at the steak/cut it?)  I could also ask Siri to book an appointment, or cancel one. I want to ask if Syri will cook dinner for me, I’m hungry. My phone dings, and I hope Siri reads minds, and ordered pizza for me, but no, the genius bar tells me that they will be ready for me soon. Craig-Mod-quote-540x540I respond with a text message. While Matt is praising Siri, my phone dings again to say I should make my way to the front, the genius is ready for me. I respond again, that I am still in workshop. Shortly after they tell me, they are passing up on me and I will need to rebook. I excuse myself from the workshop, and walk ten paces to the young usher I first spoke with on arrival. “Something is wrong with the system,” I say, I had let him know that I was at this workshop, and had responded to the messages … “How can this communication be so one-way?” He apologized, put my name back on the list, but I don’t want to wait another hour … He inquires as to my issue. I want to know if I can move pictures from my iPhone to my iPad. He tells me it does not need a genius to figure that out … The answer is No, I cannot do it. Thank you.

I return to a frustrated Matt, his connection was severed. I suggest, that this is precisely what us mere mortals, of the greying crowd deal with regularly and rather than sell me a meat thermometer app, I want to know how to reconnect without messing my settings.

How did I ever grow up without computers? When I got home, with my iPad updated, I discovered that one of my books had disappeared. (It has since reappeared and I am happily reading.)

Technology, it’s everywhere … helpful and daunting at the same time, almost like God.

“If you drop a book into the toilet, you can fish it out, dry it off and read that book. But if you drop your Kindle in the toilet, you’re pretty well done.” ― Stephen King

Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head, Grief as an Out of Body Experience

Pick Me Up, I’m Falling Again

IMG_5699Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”
― Samuel Butler
Is it just me, or does fall come more quickly every year?
The overachiever tree along my bike path turned yellow a week ago and by now has dropped most of his leaves, unaware that the world is not quite ready for its glory. The back to school busses have increased the local traffic, but at least a few tired moms smile with the return of school structure.
Thankfully I haven’t seen the geese heading in the other direction, I might have to shoot them.
When I lived in Australia for two years, I realized that I actually missed the distinct changes of season. It was hard to complain when every day was near paradise. The Ozzie’s lame lament about their cold was spitting in the wind. The first winter proved to match temperatures with the prairie summer I had left behind. My school teacher sister had been reluctant to miss summer to visit me down under in the cold season, only to discover that an Australian winter was similar to a Canadian prairies’ summer.
I think each passing fall makes me realize I am truly more in the autumn of life than spring or summer. I have matured into foliage.IMG_5640
Having grandkids could be considered one of the qualifications. Instead of begrudging autumn’s arrival, lamenting the lost long summer days, I want to choose to embrace the season’s gifts. I enjoy the settled peace of September. Fall brings it’s own new beginnings … unlike the artificial New Year, where I feel coerced into resolutions of new direction.
Fall transitions naturally … the change in weather invites me to try something new, read a book, try a course, dust off my hobbies. I stopped at the Michael’s craft store on a cloudy day this week, and with forecasts of single digit for next week, I bought a knitting book! Not any knitting mind you, but arm knitting, it’s a loose weave, where the upper limbs turn into a kind of giant cat’s cradle game. She must be going bonkers, I was thinking of myself, as the negative voices in my head chastise me for starting something new again, that I might not finish. And I talk back, it is better to start ten things with enthusiasm, perhaps finish one of them, than not start at all. Much of the enjoyment comes from the possibilities of the dream, I could envision lovely scarves.

DSC_0962I recognize an unspoken longing that perhaps this next season will meet expectations, that desires be met, and I realize This is Life. Live it as it is, where it is, in this moment, in this season. I cannot go backwards in time … I don’t know what lies ahead, but I have this day. I choose to make the most of it.

All photos by Jocelyn

Walk a mile in the North African shoes

IMG_0430Thoughts from North Africa …. as the third call to prayer goes out.

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Welcome to Tunisia, “Mahrahabba (welcome) You are not tourist here, you are our guests, you are family.” Right hand pats the heart three times, as the man in the red checkered scarf looks deep into my eyes. I wonder if he is hoping for a large tip.

Ancient roman ruins abound in this country, as do artifacts from generations since. Coming from Canada, where anything over 200 years old is considered ancient, I can hardly fathom the large stone blocks fashioned into the massive amphitheatre  that held up to 35,000 spectators in the third century. “The monument of El Jem is one of the most accomplished examples of Roman architecture of an amphitheatre, almost equal to that of the Coliseum of Rome.”  (Unesco World Heritage -El Jem.)

IMG_0336What was it like to live in ancient Roman times? … I could only imagine as we viewed the arena. The gates of life and death were pointed out to us at a previous site, as the guide explained how the animals, prisoners, and gladiators were brought into the arena, likely to face their final battle … they may have been killed in the colosseum, but apparently were not devoured in the presence of the audience … that surprised me, but perhaps that was something offensive to some of the more sensitive members of the audience?

What was it like? And what is it like to live in this transitioning country today? I have not been here long enough to answer that question. I am taking it all in. Tunisia has been described as post revolution—in fact today is the anniversary date of the revolution. When speaking with some of the locals, I ask through a translator, how has this revolution impacted the ordinary person. Many say they have not seen any benefits yet, as prices have risen and unemployment has increased.

I sit with my daughter, we have been invited to taste zagoo-goo, a special dessert made for the prophet’s birthday. (Two holidays fall in sequence: the prophet’s birthday on Monday, and the revolution anniversary the next day.)  The dessert is made from a paste of ground nuts and a creamy thin overlaying. To my surprise it is not as sweet as it looks—it looks like it should be chocolate pudding with whip cream, decorated with sprinkles.

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Two months ago, this neighbour  serving zagoo-goo asked my daughter:  “What is it like to live with love?”

A profound question.

What is it like to live with love? The question haunts me, it speaks of the deepest longing we have as a human being. For the lady, it was equated into the love of her husband … but it seemed to go deeper. This country is enchanting, the mix of ancient and modern, and yet the eternal question …

What is it like to live with love?

 

(Photos by Jocelyn)