Showing posts from 2022

What I Am Taking Into December

1. More rocks. Thirty of them, in fact.  Yes, we already had plenty of rocks here. But going over to the beach at our little camp to pick up a rock, and snapping a photo of it, and then bringing it back to sit in a bowl in the kitchen were nice breaks from revising in November.  2. Something I don’t have words for yet, but if I did, one of them might be “ease,” and another might be “soft,“ and another might be “strength.”  I just realized that both “easy” and “soft” are antonyms of “hard.” A better antonym of “ease,” I suppose, is “effort.”  (Welcome to my brain.) In any case, I am feeling a form of strength. With ease and softness. (That sounds like an ad: “Double-concentrated Strength: now with ease and softness!”) Maybe because 2022 held some really difficult (hard) experiences, yet here I am. I imagine/expect/am unbothered by the fact that the future will hold its share of challenges, and I’ll survive those, too.  3. Gratitude (hmm, I say this a lot). I appreciate being here (ali

What I'm Taking Into November

A thing or two. The maple with golden leaves. First. A more accurate sense of how much coffee I actually drink in a day. My husband is a master of self-discipline. For health reasons, he has decided to just drink one cup of coffee in a day, and a supplement that coffee with actual glasses of water. It’s almost the apocalypse, y’all. I have never seen him voluntarily drink water although I have occasionally handed him a glass of water and stood over him while he got over his objections and drank it.  Now, for whatever reason, things are different. He drinks one cup of coffee in the morning, and several glasses of water during the day. Which means I’m drinking the rest of the pot of coffee. Which means I’m also trying to limit my coffee drinking to at least the morning hours. Is it helping with my sleep? Sometimes. Second. A renewed understanding of the magic of revising one’s own words. I’m working on a novel. Yes, that one, imperfect and beautiful. Yes, still. I’ve had feedback thro

Imperfect and Beautiful, AKA, What I'm Taking Into October

I'm revising again.  I seem to revise a lot, which is fine -- it's one of the most useful, beautiful, and unpracticed parts of writing, in my opinion.  I also seem to write about revising a lot, which is also okay. September was a full month that included travel myself plus visitors here, plus celebration of love and family. Also: the need for (shudder) mousetraps, plus an empty well.  It was not a "perfect" month, not that I know what that really is. It held moments I wanted to embrace, others I wanted to sustain, and still others that I was happy to release. Now I turn my attention to revising a project that's been close to my heart for a long time. Being me, I want it to be imperfect. It will not be. So I'm looking around. Down and up. And I'm finding beauty -- and imperfection, even IN imperfection -- everywhere. Like this. golden birch leaves, sporting holes and generally appearing crumpled, lie on the dirt A reddened leaf curls un-picturesquely; behi

World Alzheimer's Awareness Month

September brings the equinox and autumn. It's also World Alzheimer's Month.   By accident (or a grand design of which I'm unaware), two of my Alzheimer's-related publications have come out this month. Here, read my review at Minola Review of Four Umbrellas: A Couple's Journey Into Young-Onset Alzheimer's.  It's an exceptional book by June Hutton & Tony Wanless, in which Tony shares insights into his experience of dementia. Here's an excerpt from my review: We all have a near-inexhaustible capacity to fool ourselves. No one wants to acknowledge their own mental confusion. No one wants to see dementia in the face that is resting on the pillow next to theirs. It took great courage to write this book. We should all read it. Statistics suggest that if you don't know someone with dementia now, you will soon.  Luckily, people -- generous, motivated, creative people -- with lived experience, people who love someone with dementia, and perhaps have cared f


I'm enjoying a hit-or-miss kind of September. Lots of hits of family and new experiences; lots of misses of being in my "upstairs office," doing work at the computer. I'll be back sometime later this month. Until then, enjoy. Rocks under water


So I’ve been thinking about looking deeply into things. Pulling back the curtain. Showing what happens behind the scenes. Incident 1: When I was at the dentist early this summer, he poked and drilled while I sat benumbed and reclined. Then he brought me upright in the chair and handed me a mirror. He was excited to show me the series of cracks in my back molars (and several other teeth), the stains everywhere, and the big hole he’d created and was about to fill. Yay! Because I’m a compliant person, most of the time, I looked in the mirror he was holding, but I really didn’t care. I know I didn’t muster enough enthusiasm to please him, but then again, a. No one could (he was pretty enthusiastic), b. I’ve been disappointing dentists and dental hygienists longer than he’s been alive so I’m used to it, and c. Basically, making a dentist happy is not my emotional labour to perform. Consider the hydrangea, if that's what this is: it neither toils nor spins. It knows for whom it performs

What I’m Taking Into September

My courage with both hands, mostly. In September, I’m traveling for the first time since October 2, 2019. (I found a receipt in my US wallet.) I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do. But much of it is. So, a risk. Manitoba Maple starting to change Quantifiably reduced expectations. It’s really helpful to specify how many pages of an interminable project I aspire to finish in a month (and then cut that by a third), as opposed to hoping that somehow I’ll magically finish the whole thing and being disappointed when I don’t. I think this green plant is a lupin; it's spread farther in the ditch where they grew this year. Readying for next year? Wild blueberries, enjoyed this year and stored for next. I made a couple of awesome desserts, and we’ve got a stash of berries in the freezer. Since we had zero local blueberries last summer, a freezer full feels both magical and mundane.  Is the world, ever so slowly, righting itself again? Stabilizing? So, so slowly?  And if not -- or if th

The Perfect Word

The wee scene below caught my eye the other day, when it wasn’t raining and I was out for a walk A small yellow weedy wildflower grows through a crack in the asphalt. It made me laugh because it’s begging to be an inspirational poster on the wall of some business conference room. Then I started wondering which word it would illustrate. Persistence? Inevitability? Endurance? Imperfection? Maybe a phrase. “Allow space to grieve,” or “You can grow anywhere you want,” or “Imperfection is where the good stuff happens.” And of course, an obvious choice: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Nevertheless. Love it. So. Perhaps, just perhaps, there isn’t one perfect word or phrase for this photo. The “right” phrase depends on your perspective. And there are millions of those. I hope you’re enjoying your Wednesday, whether you’re the weed, the asphalt, the observer, the sun, or a fawn who’d like a little snack while crossing the street.

Summer Days

It’s Mid-August in a year that’s included fawns and chipmunks, squirrels and crows, clean water and clean new sheets, burgers on the barbecue, and The Great British Baking Show. And I’m enjoying it beyond all reason. Who wants to listen to reason in August? Morning sun breaks through clouds. Doe watches photographer while fawn gambols. Fawn gambols some more. Fawn butts doe's flank; surely s/he's weaned? Maybe not yet? Sunset lights up the evening sky. I was not a huge fan of the movie Grease , but Olivia Newton-John made the world better, and we will miss her.


I've been thinking a lot about grief lately. I imagine we all have. All of us humans. Eight years ago, I took my cute boots out in the canoe. We had fun.  Whether we are or aren't "coming out of the pandemic," we have definitely been IN one, and that has held grief. Birthdays missed. Hell, births missed. Deaths, too. All kinds of celebration of life.  As society changes, in whatever way it changes in the next 2.5 years, those changes can cause new pain.  Perhaps I didn't have a "productive" stretch during the pandemic. Perhaps I have redefined "productive" and live a far happier life, more connected to things that matter. Perhaps I have merely survived. No "merely" about it, though. In any case, I am considering today whether I (and we, as a society) have been misunderstanding grief. It's not like I haven't experienced it before, and I know more grief lies in the days ahead.  As does more joy. Make no mistake, I know that, too

Things I am Taking Into August

Bobcat on the septic field at dusk, from a previous year's August but not out of the question for this year. Helpful, positive, constructive input on a beloved project. A renewed and affirmed sense of myself as a writer, reviser, and editor. The recognition, perhaps again, that I am ready to simplify many elements of my life. (As in, how many bedspreads do we NEED in this house?) A newly crowned molar. One down, one to go! A fading bruise, the souvenir of a couple of days with chainsaw and loppers clearing saplings from under the power line. Bragging about that makes me feel gnarly. A cleaned out water storage tank in the basement. The experience of reading books ONLY off my own bookshelves for a month (it was wonderful). The re-recognition, born of looking at photos from previous Augusts, that the world moves in cycles. Apparently, August is often hazy. Apparently, I need to re-recognize that every year.   The sincere, if probably ineffectual, effort to refrain from saying, "

Sun and Fog in Late July

  Here we are, this place, this day.

Joy in Work

It's the little things, mostly. Duty. Integrity. Lately, they really have been bringing me joy. For example.  Yesterday, workers showed up for an appointment, did their work (and more!), chatted and listened to us respectfully, and solved some problems. They even celebrated, in an appropriately distanced way, with us when they had finished. More than a year ago, an worker collected a file, as was her job, and put it where it was supposed to go. Almost two years ago, other workers watched disturbing events happening and recently chose to tell the truth. We are hearing from them  and people like them. A little more than six months ago, technology with roots deep in the 1990s bore fruit, and recently, we all got to see that fruit and can watch it continue to thrive.   Some days, joy is hard to come by. Sick people get sicker. A sick planet ditto. Household systems, and the households surrounding them, age and eventually fail. Always.  Birch trees, like lilies of the field, neither toi

Today in Gratitude

For a few years, I've started the morning (after water and coffee; let's not be ridiculous) with a notebook and a pen. I review yesterday and prep for the day.  ("People" say to do this at the end of the previous day. That makes me anxious. I'm doing me.) One element of this time is a list of three things for which I'm grateful. I have excluded some items from this list (my husband, coffee) except in special cases, because I'm grateful for (and to) them every day.  The purpose of the exercise -- and I have to say, it has helped during these past seven or so years -- is to notice NEW things to be grateful for. Recent items from my list: dental insurance, people in positions of power and authority doing the right things in public, being my own boss (haha), and sunny mornings. I also often gauge the quality of sleep the previous night, because it helps me set reasonable expectations for the day. And yet, those lists don't tell the whole story. Here are so

What I'm Taking Into July

Senses. I tried to list them in an order that made sense to me and came up with this, so far: gentleness, openness, curiosity, wonder/awe, competence, diligence, appreciation, understanding, gratitude, duty, and generosity.  I anticipate (ooo, anticipation?) continuing to think about them this month. Along with why and how I pay attention to them. Monday's sun peers out from behind a relatively low gray cloud shortly after rising. The sky holds criss-crossed white clouds higher. The sun reflects from the surface of Lake Superior. A fling with store-bought guacamole. Full of flavour and good to soothe a hankering for guacamole. No match for my sister's, made from scratch, of course, though part of my enjoyment of her guacamole is being on vacation and sharing it with her. A similar fling with local gelato. I enjoy it a lot. But I don't need to enjoy it all the time. Which is good to know. Moments of contentment, joy, connection, and sadness. It's been quite a month and w

It's a Lot

And by "it," I mean many things.  What do I do when it's a lot?  A pretty evening sky. A few things. I do my work, for starters. Yes, it's hard to focus. But I'm lucky to do what I do under the few constraints I have.  Some pretty yellow flowers. I do active looking. I look for pretty things, for things that inspire gratitude, for things that restore my faith in other people. For example, I look for people being nice to each other.  Some pretty wild roses. I do targeted actions. Yes, voting. Yes, donating. Yes, engaging gently with others. And learning--how Supreme Courts work in two different countries, different approaches to protecting women's rights.  That's it; that's that. That's what I've got these days. Is it enough? For now. For today.  

Moon, Solstice, or Aurora?

When I woke up at 3 a.m. today, I wasn't especially happy to be conscious, but I was curious. What had awakened me? I didn't remember dreams, bad or good.  Then I saw how light the sky was. (Our bedroom blinds don't block everything.)  As I lay there, I reviewed the options. That light in the sky: It could be the moon. It could be the solstice. Or it could be the aurora. I got up and tiptoed to the window to look. Turned out, the sky was just that light at 3 a.m. on June 22 this year. Thanks, solstice!   But as I tried to go back to sleep, I thought about the differences between the moon, the solstice, and the aurora.  The moon is full every (wait for it) month (not exactly, because our measurement systems aren't accurate, but still). The full moon isn't always visible from our bedroom window overnight, but it is visible several times a year. The regularity is comforting, even when we can't see it. The solstice happens twice a year; one in the darkness and one i