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Beth Caldwell - The View From Here

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Memories keep the magic alive

“What if I choose not to believe?”

It’s a line from one of my favourite movies of the holiday season, “The Santa Clause.”

I’ve always believed in the power of mystery and magic. I have, of course, mailed letters to Santa for my children when they were small and I’ve been known to mail a “Dear Santa” letter written solely from me.

I’ve put down on paper all my wishes for the Christmas season, folded the letter into an envelope, and addressed it to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada” (after all, he does live in Canada, right?).

Learn to enjoy the moment

As I watched the thing jettison across my kitchen floor and catapult into the spare room, it reminded me of the “Tasmanian Devil” of the “Looney Tunes” cartoon series I used to watch on television when I was 12 years old.

Then the fur ball ricocheted back into the kitchen, leapt onto a kitchen chair, and launched itself through the swing lid of the garbage can.

Hind legs and a tail stuck out of the can as the thing clung to the bag inside, having caught itself mid-hurl when it realized the yucky fate at the bottom of the can.

Making happy a place called home

“Read many books.”

My history teacher in high school said those three words every time we left his class.

It’s been 38 years since I last walked past that teacher flashing his white-toothed smile and chanting his literary mantra to the group filing out of his classroom. But “Read many books” made me chuckle Monday morning when I looked at the pile of ongoing novels I have on the table by my reading chair.

Listen to intuition

Charles Schulz once penned, “Life is like a 10-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.”

I recently came across this quote in my stash of philosophies and lo and behold, it got inside my head and begged me to answer the question: “Which gears in my life do I never use?”

I’d like to think I use all of life’s gears and that I never miss a step, and that that is why I often feel like a gerbil running 24/7 on an exercise wheel.

Remember those who fought

My grandfather, John Murdock Caldwell, joined the 35th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery on Feb. 26, 1916. He was 19.

He was among the survivors of the Great War who returned home to family.

Grampa Caldwell passed away in the early 1970s when I was a teenager. Lucky me to have had him in my young life, where he made me feel very special and very loved.

I never asked him about his service in WWI but over the years, I’ve been fortunate to acquire some valuable keepsakes from that time in his life, including poems in which he laid out the reality of war.

Another squirrel story for the books

When my dad found a smashed tomato in the bottom of his fishing boat, I knew my latest war with the red squirrel would go public.

I was helping Dad winterize the boat and everything was just fine until he held up that oozing remnant of tomato and said, “How did this get in here?”

I swallowed hard and did a fast analysis of what fib I could reply with:

a). I don’t know;

b). I dropped it while delivering tomatoes by boat to a neighbour; or

c). The fish I caught while on the lake had the tomato in its mouth.

Cranky turnout of pet peeves

Although I treasure a patient, intentional path in my life’s journey, I’m reminded that sometimes I am an anomaly to that virtue.

Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to my mood.

Granted, I made the choice to ingest far more caffeine than I usually do on this, the “Writing Eve.” In fact, I hardly ever drink coffee after 7 a.m.

Three cups, maybe four, of heavily-heaped “Black Silk” into the coffee-maker at 5:30 p.m. have since become both my “glass of wine and whiskey,” as the song “Honeybee” by Blake Shelton (now playing on Songza) spells out.

The important stuff I didn’t know

Lisa Kogan doesn’t know how to do algebra and neither do I. As soon as it was acceptable to drop math class in high school, I ran screaming with joy down the hallway to English class.

Math remains one of my weakest skills—unless, of course, I’m figuring out how many days are left before payday or calculating how long it will be before the bag of chips I just ate migrates to my hips.

‘Biffy’, spider share spotlight

Never in a million years did I think I would call an outhouse with a roof and walls “deluxe.”

But having sat on a makeshift “box” out in the open in the middle of the bush on a very cold fall day, where anything with eyes can see me “do my do’s,” gives me licence to tout luxury in the upgrade taking shape in the wilderness camp where I spend some of my time.

Some would say I need to get out more but I can hardly wait to have to use the “loo”—and be able to go in and shut the door and latch it. It will be akin to a “Calgon take me away” moment.

It’s time for some honest talk

There is an old story about a writer who goes to his teacher and says, “Teacher, all the stories have already been told. There is no need for me to write.

“Everything that needs to be said has already been written.”

“It’s true that there are no new stories,” the teacher replied. “The universal lessons have been taking place for a long, long time and the same themes have influenced humanity since time began.

“But no one sees that story through your eyes and no one else in the world will tell that story exactly the way you will.