Wednesday, September 15, 2021


Writing--for publication, anyway--involves a lot of waiting.* You wait for pitches and finished pieces to be accepted or rejected. You wait to hear from editors. You wait for your words to appear in print/online. 

Waiting for the sun to rise.

Regular life apparently involves a lot of waiting too--even when you can schedule appointments and aren't hanging around to hear by text or phone (or when you give out your cell number more frequently than we do). I have two appointments still looming this month (one fun, one not so much but worthy), and even though they aren't today's problems, I feel their weight.  

Of course, it's possible to do things while you wait. 

Yesterday, while waiting, I had a cavity filled and learned how to resize a graphic in Canva. Monday, I watched a knowledgeable expert fix the washing machine. For several previous weeks, I've produced and revised words. 

The past couple of weeks have been full of mechanical things. I've asked many other experts for help, and although some of them are prompt in returning my woe-filled 2 AM emails, others aren't. Nevertheless, we have, for a limited time, ability to put water into our storage tank, and we know a few things that are wrong with our water system. Because of waiting, and because of doing things while we wait.  

Things like finally figuring out how to recycle and/or responsibly dispose of expired medications (ask your pharmacist; it's not that hard!). Things like finally culling books from shelves that have been inconvenient to access, and getting rid of an entire bookshelf's worth! 

But we're still waiting on semi-permanent fixes for many of these mechanical things. I'm looking at some requested revisions, running numbers, finishing things up as autumn approaches. 

But yes: autumn is approaching! And I'm getting less patient with the waiting. 

However, I've learned that doing things while I wait is its own reward. Things get done. I'm going now to do more. While waiting.  


* Also rejection, but this is about waiting.   

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

August’s Gusts Gone

Below are a few of the things I’ve been pondering this August.


New glasses do make a difference in how and what I see, and that changes my outlook. So many things that I think of as metaphors are also literal.


Related: in an article about brain function by Max G. Levy in Wired, I read this astonishing sentence: “Every thought that crosses your mind has, literally, crossed your mind, as millions of neurons in different parts of the brain chatter with one another. “


Here's a link to the article:


It’s nice to be invited to participate in something professional.

Related: It’s interesting (to me) to do a retrospective of my work in a particular form over the past seven or so years. I could see where external events influenced decisions (and I’m glad I made the choices I did), and I could also see where I began to push myself to develop skills I hadn’t had before. 


Waiting two years between dental cleanings is not a great idea. However, waiting two years makes the subsequent cleaning into, roughly, the tooth equivalent of having GoCleanCo do your house. Or so I imagine.

Seriously: Follow GoCleanCo on Instagram ( and prepare to be impressed by the hard work of cleaning houses. It’s reassuring to know that everybody has to scrub—crud doesn’t magically disappear for other people and not me.

And thinking of cleaning as “caring for your stuff” is thought-provoking. What stuff do I really want to keep clean? What stuff makes me wonder, “Why do I have this?” as I dust it? Good questions, especially as seasons change.


Also: I’ve been a fan of Ontario peaches for, ahem, decades. This year, I also found the nectarines. Holy Toledo, are they ever good. Almost makes up for missing out on wild blueberries, due to drought.


Speaking of changing seasons, it’s time for a few changes. I’ve enjoyed writing weekly here for several years. I’m scaling back—twice a month, plus I’ll pop in (as the influencers say) with news should any transpire. I am more active, for the present, on Instagram, so for more about my reading life, catch up with me there.

Meanwhile, thanks, August, for these ponderables. And welcome, September!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Things I Learned in July

I don’t like oat milk. I have tried. But I really don’t.

Fireweed is pretty, but I learned that some other July.

Straw hats! So much new-to-me info.

               You can find them to fit people who have big heads.

                They can feel “too hot” on a warm day.

                They do not have a convenient hole for a high ponytail (like Maggie’s
                #ponytailofjustice on FBI), so yours has to lie low,
                like a Founding Father’s.

Smoke (from forest fires) gets everywhere, not just in your eyes. Great song, though.

Oil cleansers, about which I’ve been skeptical due to their “flavour of the month,” gimmicky connotation, really do work to take off mineral-based sunscreen.

Consistently sitting down to meet a word goal can be a remarkably effective way to accrue words for your project(s).

Speaking of which, the review I posted last week, of Adam Pottle’s book, VOICE, came from some of those words. AND! When you enjoy something, it’s really nice to have the emotional wherewithal and time to say so in public.

Also, I have a very small social media following, but Sundays I share a #SundaySentence on Twitter (@shuniahwriter), and more quotes on Instagram, from a book I’ve especially enjoyed recently.

I love saying, “Here’s what I liked about this.” Selfishly, it’s good for me, and as someone with a book in the world, writers appreciate hearing from happy readers.

I liked taking a wee break from weekly posting here. I will continue the break in August—again, coming in if something specific seems to warrant it.

Be well, and take some time to look for fireweed and jewelweed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

New Review: VOICE at River Street Writing

I read VOICE: Adam Pottle on Writing with Deafness several months ago.  

Recently, I finally put into words some of my thoughts about it, and those appear at River Street Writing. 

An excerpt (note that these are mostly my feelings): 

And wow, this book. It combines creative nonfiction, memoir, and sage writing advice. Searingly honest, it’s full of rage and beauty and a palpable, energetic love of the written word. It’s transparent and full of longing to be “heard.” It commands and rewards a reader’s reflection. 

I highly recommend the book, and I notice that Adam will be the writer-in-residence at Sheridan College soon. For the review (and other interesting topics on River Street Writing's website and blog), go here.  

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Later, Awhile: of Straw Hats and Visors

 OK who's thinking of alligators and crocodiles, as well as headgear?

Light blue golf visor, the kind held by a
sproingy cord around the back of the head,
with a pattern of birds; and a straw hat.

Settle in, I'm about to extend a metaphor.

I've always had a big head. Possibly also metaphorically, but I'm talking about physically. As in, it's hard to find hats to fit. 

Luckily, my sister has kept me well-stocked with adjustable golf visors, which are awesome. They keep the sun out of my face and let me stay cool--they don't retain the heat a baseball cap would. 

However, lately I've found that visors give me a headache if I wear them too long. Also, they don't protect the top of my scalp from biting bugs or the sun. (It's been a while since the part in my hair burned--THAT's not fun.). 

So I've "adopted" a straw hat from my husband, just to try it out, and I like it. I'm sampling other straw hats, just for grins. 

The point is, sometimes what was working fine doesn't work so well anymore. Maybe it will again, someday, and maybe it won't. The thing is, I want to be open to other options.

Which brings me to seeing you later, gator. 

I'm going to ease into summer by taking a step back here during July. I'll be around other places online (Twitter and Instagram) and I'm available by email.  

But in the spirit of my previous post about when a pandemic is "over," I'm honouring the many and varied changes that have happened in the past few years. 

For example. I'm down to one recurring work client, this year facilitated and supported by a grant, and I hope to continue that trend. I want to best support the novel I'm working on and the novel that's out getting some eyes, as well as my book. And Shuniah House Books. And I want to read things. And be outdoors, because my enjoyment of last summer was hampered, somewhat, because of healing wrists. 

I'm happy to keep up with some commitments, while I'm stepping back from others, and contemplating in general how I can contribute to a more just future.   

See you, perhaps only briefly, in August, unless something big happens. Because the world looks different--so it should be different. I'll start with me. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

When is a Pandemic Over?

Not yet. 

Not even later this afternoon, when all the people in this household will be fully vaccinated, or two weeks from today, when our immunity should be ramped up and ready to go. 

Not even when this country reaches some magical number of vaccinations or some magic percentage of the population vaccinated, which will in theory (or reality) mean that we humans can no longer transmit the virus in this country.

Or any of the above in any other country, either. 

Not before the world has access to vaccines. 

But not even then.

Increasingly, I'm understanding that the pandemic may never be over. Not for those "long-haulers" who continue to experience the effects of the disease. 

Certainly not for those, in my extended family and not, who lost loved ones and were prevented from the social rituals of mourning that we humans have developed to accompany us through those difficult times of life. 

But--ideally--it won't be over for all of us. When do we stop grieving a parent? When do we stop feeling proud at graduating, at finishing a project, at publishing a book, at winning a race? 

Never, I hope. I don't want to "go back." And so I don't want to stop being proud of those scientists who foresaw the need for new types of vaccines and were ready to tailor one to this particular virus. 

And maybe because I'm ghoulish, or because I write fiction and personal essays and thus always poke at my inner life to see where it hurts, I don't want to forget. I don't want to "get over" the losses.

I don't want to take things for granted, to stop feeling grateful on the day when it is safe (as opposed to "I feel safe," which is irrelevant) to be with people without masks.

So, when will it be over? Your mileage may vary, but I hope we all carry the experience of this pandemic with us. 

(I know, I write about this a lot. Sorry/notsorry. It's on my mind.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Open Gate

Yesterday I met online with some people about a future event. An online meeting? Be still my heart. 

Trust me, a meeting about the future is a big deal--a bigger deal than it might seem.

We can now plan, tentatively, for future in-person events. Thanks, science of vaccines! (Get vaccinated.)

For the past fifteen months, I haven't thought much about the past or future. I haven't often allowed myself to reminisce, no "gee, remember restaurants?" or "oh I can't wait to"s. 

On occasion, sure. Watching TV--"was this filmed before the pandemic or in the early days?" "nope, they HAVE masks but are taking them off, when was that?"

But mostly, it never felt like a useful way to spend too much time. 

That meeting, though, opened a mental gate. In the evening, I suddenly remembered the joy of having someone else bring me food that they'd cooked. The food didn't need to be gourmet or expensive or fancy. Just the act of being elsewhere, in a new environment with different surroundings, and food on the way. 

Since then, we've had more than one similar conversation in this household, ranging from wandering the aisles at a library or bookstore, to "stopping in" for coffee and a scone, to dawdling in Canadian Tire. (That last one wasn't mine, so much.)

I'm still not eligible for my second dose, though I anticipate an earlier appointment than originally scheduled. I'm still leery of living too much in the future or dwelling on the past too much. And I'm determined not to re-enter a world that's "back to normal." 

But it's nice to know I can still look forward to being part of the world again--a new world we can create.