Diversity of Compassion

*revised from previously published on http://www.homelessguide.com/

The morning sun brightens Streetgirl’s long hair and tans her face as she stands at the ramp holding a sign that says, “BROKE + HUNGRY – PLEASE HELP – GOD BLESS – PEACE.” A line from the chorus of a Rag’N’Bone Man’s song is rolling repeatedly through her mind, “Don’t put your blame on me.”  The earworm has been wedged for days, but should clear out soon to be replaced by another. Last week it was The Beatles, “Here comes the sun.”

On the red light a female driving a black van and wearing a niqab pulls to a stop. She happens to lock eyes with Streets who beams broadly, because that is the way she is. It’s impossible to tell if the devout Muslim smiles back from beneath the heavy veil, but she is moved by the moment, reaching for her clutch and scooping out a handful of coins to pass to the panhandler without a word.

Soon after, a woman of Asian descent, behind the wheel of a small red car, silver electrical tape holding the side mirror together and rust circling the door; she stretches out her arm with an offering of two sweet clementine in hand. Continue reading “Diversity of Compassion”

We are Canadian

DSC_8156I took this photo late November 2012. Looking at it today, I am still stricken by the incongruity of the Nike symbol on the shoes and the Canadian flag hanging so prominent; bold statements in a harsh environment. Jeff is resting his bare feet behind this makeshift shelter when I snap the shot. Unbeknownst to both of us at the time, in the frigid winter of 2014 the homeless man will lose two toes to frostbite and never wear his shoes the same.

A Dog’s Eye View – What’s in a Name?

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My Homeless friend named Joseph

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”(Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare)

Let me introduce myself. The name is Keeba. Big Sister bestowed it when she chose me out of all other puppies at the busy pet store in Fairview Mall near where Mom and Sis used to live back in the year 2004. I’ll never forget that day! She took the name right out of the mouth of a man whose wife was appraising me first.  Freed from a crowded cage with 2 families thinking about taking me home at the same time sure did set my tail to wagging. If you care to look up the meaning of Keeba you will find it is as convoluted as I am.  Last  year we met a man at the park whose dog had the same name as mine (though there was no similarity) and he apprised us that it means Fang in Japanese which is simpler. Makes sense since I do have 2 protruding vampire teeth, pearly and more pronounced when younger, now rotting, grisly, and foul; factors of aging and poverty combined. Bit of a handicap too, can’t chew grass the way I used to.

(Time for a walk around the block. Will have to continue this chat about what is in a name another day, you know I’ve got lots more to say!)

Turn on the Heat

There is a row of shrubs growing along the back fence, Forsythia, named after Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804). It is one of the first plants to blossom in early spring, once a year and only for a few weeks. The yellow flowers remind me of my mother who loved all of nature’s beauty and had a gift for artistic arrangements. When I went outside today to walk Keeba I noticed that one of the bushes was flowering again, obviously confused by climate change. It certainly has been hot this fall in Ontario, but all good things come to an end and it is cool today and was cold this morning at 3 C when I woke up, so it would be nice if the landlord turned on the heat in this building.

Three weeks ago, on October 4th, Toronto City Council approved a motion to consult on amending the bylaw governing heating in apartments. According to the news reports, currently landlords are required to maintain the heat at no lower than 21 C and must do so by September 15th,, but this year with the unseasonable weather hovering higher than that for days, when the central conditioners were turned off tenants across the city found themselves roasting in their apartments and condominiums which prompted complaints and concerns. Continue reading “Turn on the Heat”

Much appreciated

Streetgirl was up at the Ramp on Saturday and spotted a pile of samples of Aveeno Yogurt Skin Moisturizing Lotion which were strewn upon the ground beside the garbage bag used by panhandlers who frequent the spot. Someone must have given them away only to have them tossed aside. She hates seeing things wasted, so decided to pick the jars up.

So, here I sit wiping the small containers clean of dirt and grass with a plan to keep some and give the rest away, while willing myself to write something. Not to fret, it’s not a block. I do have several pieces on the go, dozens of pages of scribbled words, organized chaos on paper, but it is the typing and editing that I need to focus upon. I am vexed too; after reviewing previously published posts it dawned on me that for years I have not been using quotation marks correctly and who knows what other grammatical errors I have made in the past. And who wants to correct them now? And no one told me either! Come on People, (as Keeba would say), when someone asks for feedback give it to them straight! I am confident in my ability to string the words and topics together so that you will want to read on, but I never said I was any good at grammar and I can take constructive criticism.

Now, rubbing the lovely smelling lotion on my aging hands I feel I must say thank you, to whoever had the heart to drop the cream at the curb.