Showing posts from 2023

What I’m Taking into September

A Fitbit. I’m learning a lot, which I’ll talk more about at some future time. But let’s just say I respond well to step counts. A proofed manuscript and cover of my novel, Making Up the Gods, which launches in one month!* A new refrigerator, plus a bar fridge that served in the pinch between a fridge on the fritz, a fridge that we ordered and paid for that never arrived, and at last a fridge that was delivered. A reduced need to worry about the house’s plumbing! Our septic tank is freshly pumped. Because we know how to have all the fun here, folks. (There’s more fun ahead, as is the way with household projects.) A month’s worth of memories with my sister, who helped proof my book and helped me pick up spices from Penzey’s in Minneapolis (not as easy as it sounds; those places smell great and hold the possibilities for a million meals). We’d seen each other briefly a year ago, but she hasn’t come up here for four years. It was great to have her here. A sense of possibility, a stirring o

Book: Breathe Cry Breathe

Breathe Cry Breathe, by Catherine Gourdier The subtitle of this memoir is “From Sorrow to Strength in the Aftermath of Sudden Tragic Loss,” and it’s an apt description. In a very short time, Catherine Gourdier unexpectedly lost her mother and her youngest sister in a traffic accident, and her father died of a broken heart a few months later. These are the kind of losses that prompt innumerable questions, perhaps especially “why?” Everyone affected by the death may answer those questions differently. Certainly each of Catherine’s siblings coped with their losses in different ways. If you’ve ever felt unmoored after a loved one’s death, reading this book will help you see that there is no one way, no right way, to grieve—there’s only your way.

August II (in September)

This year, August had so many rainy days that was easy to forget the sunny ones. Which isn’t a bad thing. Rainy days aren’t doomed to be bad days. No need to assign value judgments.  Especially because rainy days fill the well, the physical one from which we draw water for the house. In theory, I want to have the flexibility of spirit to leave my desk and play outdoors on “nice weather” days and leave indoor tasks for “bad weather” days. This summer, practice has shown me something different. Sailboat Races! I like my work, my indoor work, the writing stuff. I like it enough to miss being outdoors on sunny days—to skip the activities I could be doing—in favour of taking my last look at the interior of my forthcoming novel and then creating some draft marketing materials. I like finishing things, and meeting deadlines, and always (always, always) trying to exceed expectations—others’ and my own. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like being myself. I also feel like myself when I’m outd

August I

Here's how August has been, so far. Refrigerator thermometers and hopeful ignorance, the old lie: “I think it’s getting better.” Tying up many projects at once, tech support calls and coaching (“say this”) and revisions. New ideas simmering gently in the background. Fresh Ontario peaches in bowl rimmed in stripes of a summer day: the sky’s clear blue, the sun’s mid morning gold, and the green of mature birch leaves. Realistic purchases on unrealistic timelines. Stopgap measures, making do, gratitude for the ability to buy a temporary fix at a hardware store. A dry well, and other season-based solutions. Planning for future delights. A trip into new/old/familiar territory, reuniting with family. A side quest to explore a world of spice, special mixes for future delights. Return, but on a different schedule. Moments bottling the new ideas that have simmered for weeks. Afternoon snacks at Pleasant Time. Scheduled deliveries, more customer service conversations. A new refrigerator—new

Books in June and Beyond

Here are some (not all!) of the books I've read in recent months. This crop is so interesting and rewarding to read. Your mileage, as the saying goes, may vary. How High We Go in the Dark,  Sequoia Nagamatsu     “But my parents are telling me stories about a simpler life that I never knew, the kind where you could go to the beach and not worry about the sand or the city beyond it being swallowed by the sea, one where an earthquake never took away my father’s job and we still woke up on a tiny street in a quiet neighbourhood in a bustling metropolis where everyone grew old together.” This book is set in the near future, when scientists researching in Siberia find the body of a young girl in melting permafrost and thaw it out, thereby unleash a virus on the world. Imagine trying to sell that novel during the pandemic, which is what Nagamatsu did. And I’m glad!   The book ranges widely, beginning with the scientists and their backgrounds and continuing through a century or so

Still Constructing

Hi there--things behind the scenes of my wee website overhaul are edging ever-more closely to completion. But things behind the scenes are more complicated, and go more slowly, than one might imagine. Gray Fox on the deck. She hasn't been around much in the past couple of weeks. You'd think I'd have learned all this from watching those home renovation shows through the years. I guess it's different when it's your edifice (virtual or architectural) that they're renovating. It actually doesn't come together in a half-hour. We've had a tepid and muggy summer, when it's not cool and rainy. I've been solving problems right and left (refrigerators, most recently), and not getting outdoors near often enough. However.  On the up side, all the not-writing activities have allowed a seed to germinate. Perhaps. I'm fertilizing it and watching it, and meanwhile, working with it gives me ten or fifteen solid lovely minutes of creativity every day. It's

Starting Over

  The allure of a clean slate: the first vanilla ice cream  of the year, peepers sharing their froggy angst,  fireflies’ did-you-see-it no-there-over-there winks,  the sharp head-clearing scent of  fresh-washed pines, a dog’s fur  coarse beneath your fingers. Back indoors, how can I  breathe, with the old everythings crowding every room? Toss it all into the air, atomize it with the sheer force  of your joy, send it higher and higher until you no longer see it  though it will still exist In someone else’s fresh start ________ I found this in the Notes folder on my phone. Can you tell that I've been removing many of my things, old things, broken things, WHYYYY? things from the house this spring and summer? Can you tell that my refrain while doing so has been, "Get real, Marion!" It's worked pretty well, actually. Yes, I'm also trying, a little, to move on from MAKING UP THE GODS to do serious work on my new novel and a nonfiction project that's more amorphous a

We Have a Cover!

My debut novel, Making Up the Gods, is coming in October, 2023 from Latitude 46 Publishing.  And I'm especially excited to show you the cover! The cover was adapted by a collage created by Thunder Bay artist Erin Stewart.  Here's a description of the novel: Simone, a retired widow, would live a quiet and isolated life, if not for the lingering ghosts of her family. One day, Simone is visited at her home by a man named Martin claiming to be her cousin. When Martin asks if Simone is willing to sell her cottage by the lake, a proposition made sweeter by the prospect of a condo in Florida, Simone, though pleased at the thought of a cousin, also questions his intentions. From what part of her past has Martin emerged, and why now? The burden of making a decision is all the more difficult because Simone has agreed to take care of a friend's nine-year-old boy, Chen, for a short time while his mother enjoys a much-needed vacation. Simone finds her match in Chen, a curious boy grievi

Books from Spring, 2023

On Instagram (and sometimes to Facebook), I post about books I enjoy. Usually on Sundays, sometimes other days, and about once a week, give or take. But because not everyone is on social media, I also post some here.  And note that these musings are less reviews than appreciations. I post about a book because something about it strikes me--perhaps the writing, though the storylines may be problematic; perhaps the plotting, though the book itself didn't inspire much reflection; perhaps the novelty (often for books in translation), even though I'm sure I'm only partly understanding the author's intent and their world, however grateful I am for the glimpse.  Which is good for me to remember about all books I read: I may be only partly understanding the intent. And I sometimes miss what isn't written, so I appreciate others who point that out. But as I've said before, I do try to read with a generosity of spirit.  And here are some recent books.  Shelterbelts Jonath

On Letting Go

I jotted down a few random thoughts during the past week and only as I was readying this post did I realize they all have to do with letting go. (I'm sorry if that gave you an Elsa earworm.) Letting Go of Electronics The first has to do with recycling. I take seriously the "reduce" and "reuse" parts of responsible, ecological living. Still, sometimes, you gotta recycle, which always makes me feel as if I'm getting away with something. Figuring out where to drop electronics, specifically, gives me some exponential version of that feeling. Because sometimes you put random electronic items that are long past their useful life into a box, and only occasionally (once in ten or more years) do you wonder what to do with them.  To be clear, we're not people who go through electronics quickly. No "latest" version of anything in this house. These items weren't just "obsolete" in technology terms; they were actual decades old in human years,

Under Construction

This place probably looks a little different. For the first time in some 15 years, I'm updating and moving some things around. Never fear, it will settle down soon!

Words Mean Things, With Examples

I think a lot about words and what they mean.  The persistent ice of early May, 2023. I also think a lot about how writers are not their work. And recently, in my very own life, I've used words that confuse a writer with their work.  A couple of weeks back, I had the chance to bond with a bookseller over the writing of a famous author. “Oh, I hate Famous Author!” I said. Far too loudly, in fact. And I felt yucky. Understand this: I do not know Famous Author. I actually don’t hate Famous Author. They’re possibly a perfectly nice person. You know, maybe. Of course I imagine that the elements of their work I don’t like are proof positive that Famous Author is a showboat, and I so I have actual reasons why I don't like them, and why I don't think we'd be friends.  Maybe, maybe not. Many Famous Authors (and Famous Others) are horrible people.* Maybe this one is too. But maybe not.  And let's be clear, Famous Author gives zero hoots about my opinion or potential as a best

Resources for Mother's Day

My first book, REVERBERATIONS: A DAUGHTER'S MEDITATIONS ON ALZHEIMER'S , collected personal essays about my mother's dementia and how our family responded to it. Click here to download AlzAuthors's special guide to its resources about caring for mothers. Dementia (in all its forms, including Alzheimer's) can be a lonely illness. The person who has it can find socializing difficult. Their family members are likely not specialists in dementia and may need help figuring out basic skills for caring for adults.  Sometimes, people in the dementia community just need companionship. Not professional intervention, necessarily--just proof that others have experienced or are currently experiencing what you're going through. Feeling seen and heard somehow makes it easier to return to life with a fresh perspective and new energy. And often, you gain a few insights or learn a few techniques that can help everyone. Organizations like AlzAuthors help new caregivers find compani