Friday, 29 May 2015

New Books Being Released this Fall

I have two books coming out this year, an historical fiction/romance set in 1862, and a children's book:

Stay tuned for more info!

Me and My Shadow

I was home ill for two days this week, most of it spent slumped on the couch or lying in bed (which is really unusual for me). Maple didn't seem to notice or care about the change in routine (he wouldn't notice if I moved to Istanbul). But Brio, poor fellow, didn't know what to do. He could sense I wasn't well, I think. Every time I sat down, he'd curl up with his head in my lap and gaze at me with worried eyes. He insisted on accompanying me to bed, where he lay snugly against my back, which is weird because he usually sleeps downstairs. I don't think he was more than an inch away from me the entire time.

Granted, he always follows me around the house, gently bumping the back of my knee with his nose from time to time as if to remind me I'm here. If I get up and go into the next room, he's like a cocklebur stuck to my ankle. Whenever I'm in the bathroom he throws himself down at the base of the door and whines in despair as if I've disappeared forever, and when I come out he jumps up in unbearable excitement. She's back! It's a magic trick! I feel like leaping out of the bathroom with my arms flung wide. "Ta da!"

It's comforting knowing he's there, a warm little ball of worry, looking out for me. Something soft and fuzzy I can always lay my hand on.

So why is it that, when I take him out on a walk, he's always straining at the end of the leash like a sled dog? When I let him into the backyard, why won't he come half of the time when I call him?

Silly dog.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Down for the Count

I can't remember the last time I was sick, but it hit me this weekend with a vengeance. Nasty sore throat radiating into the ears, swollen glands, and that horrible have-to-swallow-every-ten-seconds-even-though-it-hurts-like-crazy feeling. I know it will be a full-blown cold by tomorrow.

I did what I rarely do and declared myself defeated, took today off work, and went to bed with a stack of books, a pitcher of grape juice, and about a bucket and a half of butterscotch to suck on. I'm now hopped up on sugar but the throat is starting to ease a little, and yes, the cold is following close behind, as predicted.

Why is it that, when I call in sick to work, even if I really am sick, I feel like I'm fibbing? Is it because I'm admitting to frailty? Is it because I know there are sicker people in the world than I? I mean, yes, if I had to, if the fate of the world depended on it, I could drag myself down to the bus stop and go to work. I could sit with my head on my desk and be present in the office. Even though the office says they want us to stay home if we're sick, there's still the fact of all that work waiting for me, piling up like snow drifts, that I'll have to shovel when I go back. There's the guilt of letting down the team, feeling like a big wimp. I have to stay in bed today and drink chicken broth because my throat is ouchy. With a whimper thrown in for good measure...

When other people I know are ill, they seem to have no problem staying under the covers and telling the rest of the world to leave them alone. I think maybe three times in my entire adult life I've actually stayed sick in bed and let other people carry on for me. Even after I had surgery, I was still up every few hours to let the dogs out. (And that was a fun thing, let me tell you. Maple can't do stairs, and I wasn't supposed to lift anything over ten pounds, so I would coax the poor dog onto a cushion and then shove it with my foot and he'd toboggan down the stairs... But I digress.)

Why is it so hard to sit out for a day? Why is it so hard to admit I'm human? What is it in me that hates having other people bustling around me, cleaning and cooking and carrying on with life, while I have to stay put? What exactly is it that I feel guilty about? It's not as if I don't pull my weight every other day... Ah, but see, it's my weight to pull. I don't like other people having to fill in for me, and it's difficult to accept help.

And here we are, back again at the same topic I've expounded on before. Maybe it stems from a need to feel irreplaceable. Maybe it's just micromanaging. Maybe...odd thought...I like the hustle and bustle and scrape and mash of everyday life. I miss it. And so I'll rejoin it.

Right after I snuggle under the blanket and watch Chocolat for the eighteenth time.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Confessions of a Terrible Mom who has a Wonderful Kid

Son Number Two went out last night to a campfire with friends and was pretty late getting back. I totally clued out that he had gone out---the memory ain't what it used to be---and I locked the front door, not just the knob but the big bolt. And I went to bed. Son Number Two came home in the middle of the night and he didn't have a key to the bolt.

He could have banged on the door, or shouted up to our window, or knocked on his brother's window, or even phoned us to come down and let him in. But he didn't, because he didn't want to wake us or disturb the baby or cause the dogs to bark and wake the household. So sweet Son Number Two spent the night sleeping on the cement bench in the front garden instead. I didn't know a thing about it until I unlocked the door at 4:30 this morning.

I feel horrible for locking the door. And I'm touched that he would be that thoughtful and sweet. From now on I do a head count before locking up!

Friday, 15 May 2015

The Moods of Houses

When I was in university, I had a friend named Tracey. We met in Welsh class (that alone should tell you we were soul mates), and I remember the first time she invited me to her home. She lived in a bachelor apartment filled with golden sunlight, and most of the space was taken up with a Celtic harp, a spinning wheel, and a loom. And not just a little decorative loom, either, but a massive, intricate thing the size of a grand piano. I was transfixed by the instant peaceful feeling in that apartment. Simplicity, sunlight, and creative skill all came together in one place. It was as if I'd entered a secret realm, where she could surround herself with whatever reflected her nature and create the atmosphere most conducive to her well being. For someone who had grown up in a family of seven, the idea of having one's own space like that was fascinating. I didn't know such private worlds could exist. When she married and moved into a house, that same peaceful feeling (and lack of furniture) accompanied her.

When you walk into my Mom and Dad's home, there is an instant recognition of beauty and peace and...I don't even know the word for it. Love is in that home, in tangible ways you can perceive. Other people have commented on it too. Even when my parents were away in Hungary for a year and a half and my cousin was house-sitting, you could still walk into their home and feel that same feeling. Their spirit was still there, in the very fabric and walls. It goes beyond the lovely artwork or comfortable furnishings. It's a house of comfort.

Little parts of you rub off on your home. The spirit you carry within you leaves its impression on your surroundings, and then vice versa. I can't explain it well, but I think it's a real phenomenon, and it isn't necessarily anything to do with decorating or paint colour or the arrangement of objects. You can walk into a beautiful, magazine-spread-worthy house and instantly tell if the people within that house are happy or not. Some of the most lovely houses leave me cold, and some of the more humble and unimpressive places open their arms and draw me warmly in.

I'm exploring this concept in the book I'm writing right now, about a home renovator who inherits a house but doesn't know from whom. She goes to see the place, bewildered and puzzled, but she can sense the impression the previous owner has left upon the place. The home welcomes her, has only good intentions toward her, opens its arms to her, and she decides to fix it up and live there while she unravels the mystery of who her benefactor might be.

I don't know what sort of spirit is in my own home. I'm so used to it, I'm not sure I can perceive it as well as an outsider could. I know my house is lively, has its noisy moments, and there is always some kind of creative activity going on, whether that's music or dance or art or cooking or writing or growing things. Life here revolves around books, good food, and good conversation. Somehow there always seems to be room for one more. I try to keep it simple, and I try to provide space for every person's interests (which is why there's a piano in one bedroom, a stack of musical instrument cases in the dining room, trays of seedlings on the kitchen counter, and a drafting table crammed in next to the crib). I may not know what sort of impression my house is picking up, but my grandchildren will be able to tell me someday. They're picking up that same impression right now.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Meaning of Doggedness

Now I know where we get that word. Today I took some Mother's Day time to myself and took the dogs on a peaceful ramble through the local woods. Cool breeze, lovely sunshine, budding trees, and a carpet of beautiful trillium in bloom. It's a walk we've done frequently. But today Maple, my Shih Tzu, found it too difficult. By the time we were halfway there, he was stopping to lie down in the shade, tongue lolling. Three quarters of the way, and his head was down and ears were back, and you could tell he was just pulling for home out of sheer determination. When he started limping, I picked him up and carried him the rest of the way.

He scrambled up the step to the house and went to collapse on the kitchen floor, spread eagled on the cool tile. He was grinning, though, as if to say "I made it!"

It's sad when your sweet little puppy starts to age. I'll have to modify the walks for him. He just isn't up to what he once could do. A sad reminder that we are all getting older. But also a reminder that we can still grin and, tongue hanging out, declare ourselves unbeaten.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Mother's Day Poem

I wrote this many years ago and recently rediscovered it. Felt appropriate for Mother's Day.


For a moment the earth stops spinning,
all other thoughts recede,
time slows, heart stills, and only two
remain in this world of our joint making.
I hardly dare touch fragile fingers,
the head an over-ripe peach,
soft fuzz showing my fingers' shape
no matter how carefully I hold.
The rise and fall of concave chest
restarts my own awed breath.
Infant eyes, liquid solemnity,
bring wet patterns to my own cheeks.
I cannot comprehend this familiar stranger,
how something weak and malleable
possesses such strength within itself
to tear from me and live.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

A Rant about Mobile Phones

I am probably the last person in Canada without a cell phone. I’ve never wanted one. I just don’t see the appeal of having a buzzing, expensive gadget to babysit 24-7, and I really don’t want to be that accessible. People have asked me: “What if your kids have an emergency and they can’t reach you?” To which I reply: “I work two hours from home. If it’s that dire an emergency, what good am I to them from this far away? They can get to the hospital and I’ll catch up with them when I get there.”

People ask if I find it limiting, being “out of touch,” but I find it just the opposite—it’s freeing. When a phone rings on the bus or in the middle of a church meeting, I don’t have to dive for it in a panic; I know it isn’t mine. When phone companies compete for my business, I don’t have to worry about researching and choosing the right plan, or downloading Apps, or learning new technology. I don’t spend hours hunched over my frantically-moving thumbs. I’m not tempted to check for text messages while driving or to rudely answer calls during conversations with live-and-present people. I not only save money by not having a phone, I save time. And I can relax and be in the moment, whatever is happening, without feeling I have to step back and snap a photo of it.

Am I missing out on anything? Maybe. Is it anything I care about or can’t do without? Nope. Having fewer worries and expenses? Priceless.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

For those who are wondering...

...that rectangle outlined in the middle of the garden (see previous post) is the asparagus bed. We are gathering handfuls--bouquets--of asparagus every day. Had it on homemade pizza last night. Will have it with risotto tonight. One of the best things about spring.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Mother's Day Gift Came Early

My lovely husband gave me six cubic yards of garden soil and weeded my garden for Mother's Day, and my wonderful sons helped him move all the dirt to the garden. What troopers! What a lovely gift. Just what I wanted.