Illness fell shortly after I wrote this blurb on the 12th:

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On the weekend I felt like I was in a comic strip.

My parents have a smallish-medium sized wild backyard. It’s a maverick backyard because it’s the only one from amongst its neighbors which has a back fence totally lined with trees. There must be at least 15 – some growing into and out of the fence. And then there are three cherry trees (oh those cherries are the best) and a huge maple tree. Huge.

So you can imagine what it looks like in the fall.

So I went out on Sunday and proceeded to fill up some leaf collection bags. After packing down three extra-large bags, I leaned my rake against the shed and looked at my handiwork. Right at that precise moment, a HUGE wind blew and I kid you not, those trees all cooperated and decided to dump their remaining leaves on the ground.

I felt like Charlie Brown. Good grief.

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And I did get a good grief of an illness for most of a long week. There’s nothing better than a bout of something bad to make you appreciate a ton of things a ton times more.

I knew I was finally beginning to recover when my sister made me laugh without it hurting on Thursday. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her waving the latest issue of the Muslim Girl magazine around while delivering a spiel on winter and sparkly snowflakes (MGM has this whole fashion spread on winterizing your hijab).

It was so good to laugh again. And breathe.

I always think I’m a devotee of the four season balance of Canada’s climate; I grew up tobogganing on Montreal’s hills and skating on High Park’s Grenadier Pond. I even grew-grew up to live close to Ottawa’s Rideau Canal – the longest skating rink in the world. I thought it was fun to spent -30° evenings on the Canal with the rest of the crazy Ottawans once or twice a week. When T.O. friends visited that’s where we’d take them – come freeze yourself on the Rideau Canal!

I always think I’m a devotee of the four season balance of Canada’s climate. But I really am not. Winter is harsh here. With global warming, it’s weirdly harsh. It can do a number on your respiratory system every year.

I’m in Los Angeles as I write this post. And after having already spent some time seeing the benefits of living in a climate that’s even-tempered (except for the occasional, but extremely angry, earthquake “tantrums”), I’m seeing the potential of living unfrozen. You would be out more. Taking pictures like this more:

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and this one:

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I’m really enjoying being out here, pretending to be knowledgeable about photographing nature ;).

The experience I’m out here for – a conference on diversity, tolerance, openness – is really intensive and thought-provoking. Two phrases stood out for me today:

1. “Sparking Compassion”. The simplicity of this – and its inherent assumption that everyone is spark”able” – is beautiful to me.

2. “We don’t fear the people whose stories we know.” This reminded me of something I heard Amir Sulaiman say once in a prelude to one his spoken word performances: we have to keep telling our stories because if we hide them, they don’t exist and then it becomes easy for others to make up our stories. He meant the good, the bad and the ugly. And today, while viewing a powerful historical overview of American civil rights, I saw the connection between keeping our stories alive and keeping justice alive. In saying/showing/writing/blogging the truth of your experience you are adding to a collective anthology which is organically shaping and creating a new discourse.

The time for the discourse to solely consist of Muslim civil rights groups ambulancing to “the scene” to conduct a rescue mission is slowly fading (though, unfortunately, their services are still much needed – and of course, to be lauded). But now, more than ever, it’s storytime.

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