Saturday, 29 March 2014


Was walking the dogs this morning and saw the first robin of the season. Woohoo! Spring is officially here. Like, bam! overnight. Brio saw the bird at the exact same moment I did, and instantly froze into a classical "pointing" position, one foot up, eyes riveted to the robin. And he didn't flinch a muscle until the bird flew away a full two minutes later. Geez, what kind of dog is this? Poodle, my eye.

Now the first robins I sighted last spring were on March 10, so we're well over two weeks later this year. Usually our "last frost date" is around Victoria Day, May 24, but I'm thinking I'm not going to plant anything outside (other than cold-hardy things like lettuce) until the end of May, to be safe. Which means I should start my tomatoes and gooseberries indoors the second week of April. So exciting! I'm sure we're still in for more cold and snow meanwhile, but we're finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Up and Down the Rollercoaster

Okay, so here it is, what, a couple of days later, and I can see signs of spring:
  • It got to about ten degrees today, which feels absolutely balmy. I didn't even bother with a coat today.
  • The snow is almost gone from the grass.
  • The dogs got their spring haircuts, so now they look like chihuahuas.
  • The gardening spam emails are starting to fly.
  • The oleander has a million little flower buds on it.
  • I found rabbit poop in the backyard.
So we may have weathered this after all! It's amazing what a little sunshine and warmth will do to my mood. It's almost embarrassing -- one minute I'm lying like a bag of wet laundry on the couch, unable to function, to think, to blink. All I want to do is sleep and cry. And suddenly I'm up and baking French bread and writing and running errands. Sheesh, you'd think I'd be tougher after 25 winters in Canada!

I definitely need to find a solution to this Winter Blahs thing next year. I need to bank my money and my vacation time and take off three months to spend in southern Italy or something. Like the spindly tomato plants I will soon have growing on my kitchen counter, I need sunlight. I crave summer. I can taste it coming.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A ditty for the day

I sit inside my padded cell
and look out at this frozen hell
and wonder if all we said we'd do
when 'hell freezes over' will now come true.

Temperature -21 today... This winter will never end. We have entered the next ice age. I have no motivation to do anything. Including breathe.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Writing: Don't Try This At Home

I sent in a new manuscript a few weeks ago---a year's effort---and was told that the publisher has decided not to "do" dramas this year. They are focusing on romance and suspense instead. So I'm to put this manuscript away for now. This isn't a refusal. In fact, it's a refusal to refuse. I have to give them another shot at that one in a year or so, to see if they've changed their focus by then. Meanwhile, I need to dash out something else instead to put in their hands by August or September.

Panic. Fury. Desperation. Sorrow. Resignation. What can I do but try to rise to the challenge? So I went into the bedroom and looked at the row of binders on the closet shelf. Other people keep clothes in their closets. I keep books, journals, musical instruments, cans of latex paint, and about twenty-five thick binders of past writing efforts (having outgrown the stuffed filing cabinet ages ago). Was there anything worth reviving from one of these binders that I could polish for Covenant?

What ensued was a week or so of self indulgence, self criticism, and nostalgia while I browsed through my old half-finished works in search of something worth developing. Some dated back to high school, and others were clearly written while I was in the frazzled-new-mother stage. I gotta say, while I think my writing even years ago wasn't that bad, my imagination was downright appalling. What was I thinking when I scribbled some of these? How cliché and predictable can a person get? Did I honestly think these saccharine stories were any good? Where on earth did I get those ideas and why on earth did I actually develop them? More to the point, why have I kept them and hauled them with me from place to place all these years? It's a good thing I can't speak to my younger self, or I would soundly discourage me from ever trying to write anything again. We are our own worst critics...but unfortunately my criticism didn't kick in earlier!

Okay, so once the tears and muttering were over, I decided they weren't all that bad, and from the pile of stuff that needs discarding I have dredged up a couple that I am exploring as possibilities. They will take months of rewriting, and even then I'm not sure the editor will want them. All I can do is dress them up as best I can, slick down their hair, wash their faces, feed them a last good meal, tell them to stand up straight, and march them off to judgment. They deserve a chance at life, at least. It's like launching your children, sending them out to face the cold cruel world armed with nothing but crayons and an aluminum lunch box.

Think about that---I give birth to the thing, but someone else takes charge of it, names it, and sends it out into the world. Once it's in their hands, it's out of mine forever. I've got six months to gestate. It will be a close thing...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

A foot of new snow and more still coming down. I'm getting the decorations back out and making eggnog.

Brio looking out the window, wishing Spring would come.


Meanwhile, Maple just can't get motivated...He's been in this position since September.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Blame Farley Mowat

Okay, so two days after I said I'm taking a break from the computer, I'm back. It's because I read a really good book by Farley Mowat called High Latitudes, and it got me thinking. And when I think, my fingers automatically reach for the nearest keyboard.

The book was written in 2002 but it's about his travels through the Arctic in 1966, visiting various Inuit communities and recording what the people thought and felt about how things were going in their world. And time and time again, the conclusion was the same: they wanted to work, they wanted to better their circumstances and provide for their families, they wanted to be left in peace, but white men wouldn't let them. White men exploited their resources until it was impossible to hunt or fish anymore to support their families. White men moved them from place to place, broke promises, broke up the culture, devestated their ecology, took their children, all under the guise of "helping" them and bringing them into the white men's world. Only they weren't brought in, they were left abandoned and floating around the edges, unable to participate fully but unable to go back to the life they had known and enjoyed.

It was a horrifying little book, really, when you stop to consider the impact of the things Mowat related. Families displaced and broken up, connections to each other and to the land broken irreparably, language stolen, way of life disintegrated. The people he interviewed said they no longer knew who they were or how they fit into the world. Parts of it made me want to weep. Things went on in the Arctic that rival the worst tales of genocide and cruelty going on elsewhere in the world today. We just don't hear about it in depth because it's remote, involving a relatively small and quiet population. Textbooks tend to gloss over it in the name of progress, dwelling only on the explorations and extraction of resources and military might and high adventure, and not mentioning the loss of life and livelihood, the trash left behind, the fragile places ruined. Certainly the true extent of the destruction isn't taught in our schools.

No one can possibly make this right, give back their dead, reconnect their families, restore their happiness and their culture. And no one can fix the devastation of the environment. Some steps have been taken and some gestures made, but once sorrow of that kind has been experienced, the memory of it can't be erased. The saddest thing is that we haven't learned, as a people, as a species. We continue to hurt and destroy, all the while thinking that we know best. I heard a quote once somewhere that said something like "Other people's cultures aren't failed attempts to be you." I look at the Crimea, at the Sudan, at Somalia, at...geez, pick just about any continent...and it's all about one person taking something for himself no matter what it costs someone else to get it. We're spinning through the giant universe on this tiny lump of a planet, arguing over microscopic specks of dirt. The longer I live, the more I think Dr. Seuss was a genius. His Yertle the Turtle was bang on.

I watched a TV show the other night about a twenty-something chap in a kilt who left society behind and now lives as a forager in the pacific rainforest, completely off the land. He has entirely divorced himself from "civilization." And I totally understand. There are times I want to join him. And yet there are other times I think it's worth hanging in there, to see if I can have any impact and help even in a small way to change the broken world around me. Flee or fight? I'm balancing on the fine line between them.

Friday, 7 March 2014

March Break!

Good news! The temperature is supposed to get up to above freezing this week! I can hardly wait. I have next week off of work and will spend it taking my kid to the orthodontist and doctor and catching up on housecleaning, yes. But also doing puzzles, reading, writing, napping on the couch with the puppies, and maybe some day trips to go bowling or something. Maybe I'll go to the community centre and stew myself in the hot tub for a while. And definitely making lavender cookies. A week of lovely possibilities before me!

I think as part of my mental health break I am also going to restrict my use of the computer for the week. True "down time" will rejuvenate me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We are constantly bombarded with input and noise, and it sounds peaceful to make it all stop for a while.

So have a good week, everyone, and I'll be back in a few days!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

If you can't get out of it, get into it

I heard that phrase once, and it seems appropriate now. We are experiencing our 64th day of snow in the last 92 days (or something like that). The temperatures remain in the -30s and two feet of snow obscure my garden. The wind nibbles at my house, at my face, at my sanity. I've worn completely through my woolly gloves. My lips are chapped from rubbing against my own frozen breath on my scarf. I despair of spring ever coming. I don't mind snow, but six months of it is hard.

So if I can't beat it, I have to find a way to embrace it. I checked Farley Mowat's High Latitudes out of the library to read about the Arctic. I took Brio out for a long romp in the snow. At work they encouraged us to find conferences to attend, and I found one that appeals to me in Anchorage, Alaska. I'm looking at real estate in Fort Frances. I'm thinking of trying snowshoeing.

Will a change of attitude lift me out of the doldrums? I don't know. But chewing on the windowsill waiting for the weather to break is not helpful. I have to try something.

On a brighter note, the orchid I rescued from the garbage over a year ago is blooming, seven stunning waxy white blossoms like round-winged moths, delicate and graceful. A sign of life, of hope, on my frigid windowsill.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Show is Over

Last night was the final production of Joseph. What an energizing thing to watch! I wish I were sixteen again so I could fit in, join in, and share this amazing experience with the kids. They had a party afterward, and since I always look for any excuse to dance, I teasingly asked my son if I could party with them (since I had to wait around to drive them home afterward anyway). He looked aghast and said, "No. You can sit in a corner and read." Tee hee. But he's right. This evening belonged to the kids, and rightly so. They've earned it. I heard one of the prop masters say that she had nothing to do. The kids had everything down pat and she no longer had to do anything -- the kids ran it all like clockwork.

There was some talk amongst the adults about putting on another musical but this time with all ages in the cast, but I don't think it would be the same at all. The kids wouldn't have the enthusiasm and spirit that they put into it when it was just them and the show was theirs alone. They bonded together over this show, and that was, after all, the point of the whole thing.

What will come out of this besides fond memories? Maybe some new friendships. A sense of accomplishment. Maybe an awakening to talents and interests they didn't know they had. Certainly on my part I will never look at a teenager I don't know in quite the same way again. Who knows what lies within them? Who can tell what great things they are capable of? The only way to find out is to give them opportunities like this and then stand back and watch...and applaud.