Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Audio book coming out in the fall

My book that's coming out this fall, Heart's Journey, is also going to be released as an audio book. I found this out after it had already gone to print and it was too late to change it. My unfortunate narrator is going to find himself faced with some Cree and Blackfoot words to tackle. I'm sure he'll do fine. I mean, what can go wrong with words like I'taamikskanaotonni and Sooyaisiihtsi?

Sunday, 28 June 2015

A lovely drive yesterday - Grand Bend to Kincardine

Explored an area of Ontario I'd never been to before. Lovely drive along Lake Huron, and a walk along the shore. Beautiful houses, beautiful fields, beautiful day. And a pig.



Friday, 26 June 2015

What else the garden is doing

The Asparagus from Outer Space

Look at what was in my garden. I swear I just harvested everything yesterday. It must be all the rain.

I sautéed it in lemon-infused olive oil with onions and peppers and stirred it into Orzo with some fresh basil for supper. Yum!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

My First Introduction to Jodi Picoult: Leaving Time

I am not what you'd call a big consumer, and most of the time I completely ignore advertising. But there was a poster on the subway promoting Jodi Picoult's latest book, Leaving Time, and it sounded interesting. I'd heard her name before but hadn't read any of her books. So when I stumbled across the book at the library, I checked it out without even reading the blurb on the cover.

Wow. I had no idea what I was getting into. I won't give any spoilers, but it was a powerful story, well written, and I totally didn't see the ending coming. A bit of foul language in it, but it suited the character, and Ms Picoult drew me into the plot to the point where I forgot I was reading and felt I was there. I will definitely read more of her work. It isn't often an author can pull me in like that. Usually I'm too busy picking apart the writing or distracted by the inconsistencies to really immerse myself in the story, but this time was different. I'm glad to have discovered a new author, especially one who has written 20+ books, so I won't have to wait around hoping for the next one to come out all the time. And she mentioned Mormons or Salt Lake City at least four times during the book, just casually dropped into the narrative, which I found curious and intriguing.

I will tell you one of the themes of the book was how elephants grieve. I think the images she painted will haunt me for a long time. The most poignant thing, though, was in the afterword, where she noted that 38,000 African elephants are slaughtered every year, and at that rate they will entirely vanish from the continent within 20 years. And I am horrified. My first thought was, "I have to call my sister the biologist." And my second thought was "My grandchildren won't get to see these magnificent animals." And my next thought was "We as a race have so much to answer for." The pain we have caused, the life we have taken, the suffering animals have endured at our hands. I want to apologize to nature for what we've ruined. The things we have done to the innocents. And I want to cry out with Enoch, "When will the earth rest?"

I only had a few pages left of the book when my bus arrived at my stop, so I got off the bus and sat right down in the sweltering bus shelter and finished it then and there. And wanted to weep all the walk home. When a book can do that to you, you know you have found a profound truth and a talented writer.

Book available

For those who are interested, I have compiled my Blog posts from 2012-2014 in two volumes, now available on Lulu.com. In case you want to catch up on past posts without all the annoying scrolling...  Thanks!  - K

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Brio Doesn't Like Thunder

We had a terrific storm here last night, with thunder like cannons going off most of the night and rain hitting the roof so hard I feared for the solar panels. Brio, usually intrepid and enthusiastic, who throws himself into every action with gleeful abandon, was not happy. He whined at the foot of the stairs until we let him come into bed with us, and then he spent the night turning restlessly, pressing his face into my back, and groaning. Poor little puppy. Poor little mommy, who got zero sleep until the storm abated right before the alarm was set to go off. As I dragged myself off to catch the bus this morning, Brio sacked out on the couch to spend his morning sleeping. I admit to a small twinge of resentment.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Information Overload

My husband and I went to see a movie Friday night with a gift card someone gave us. It's been a long time since I went to a movie (I think the last one I saw was the final Harry Potter), and I was looking forward to the whole ritual. Stand in line, chat with the ticket seller, get your oversized bag of sugar, find your seats, and watch half an hour of previews before the movie starts. That tingling thrill of anticipation when the lights go down.

The world has changed while I wasn't looking.

First of all, you don't have a line in front of a ticket seller. You purchase your tickets at a little automated kiosk (and I didn't have my reading glasses with me. I wasn't planning on having to read...) The oversized bag of sugar cost the same amount as the ticket, and frankly, I hardly recognized any of the candy on offer. Where are the Milk Duds? Oh well, I settled for neon-coloured Skittles. The same seats, the same sticky floor...but then...there were no previews.

This was weird. How am I supposed to know what movies are coming out so I know what to look forward to? Instead of previews, or the dancing bag of popcorn asking you to dispose of your garbage responsibly, there was half an hour of "Whip out your phone and play these games and we'll tell the whole audience how you scored."

And people were doing it. They were frantically swiping at their phones, shooting soccer balls at virtual nets and answering trivia questions, and their results were announced on screen.

My husband and I, who don't have Smart phones or iPhones, looked at each other with the same thought running through our brains: We are dinosaurs. At some point we will no longer be able to participate in society. At some point we will no longer be able to print out plane tickets or watch a movie or talk to a live bank teller. Without the proper technology, we won't be able to access our bank accounts, track our kids' immunizations, buy food, read advertisements, read books, see our kids' grades, send letters to our families, or start our cars. It's all going to be done by some little handheld device. And if we don't run out and get that device and keep up with the advancement of technology, we will be left in the dust with the Brontosaurus and 8 mm film.

And I think that's okay with me. If advertisers can't reach me, that's all right. If I can't communicate with the rest of society, so be it. It will be time to retire to my cottage and grow my own vegetables and spend my last years re-reading my paperbacks by flickering candlelight. I refuse to join in. I refuse to rush out and buy whatever technology "they" tell me I have to buy just because someone has decided I need to. I don't want to evolve any further than I have already, thank you very much. The Amish said the same thing over a century ago, and because they have a close community, they can pull it off. Advertisers don't target them. They don't fret over Facebook posts or Tweet their every thought to the universe. They have chosen what kind of simple lives they want to live and they are quietly going about doing it. I think they're on to something.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

What I Would Tell the Property Brothers

I stayed up way too late last night watching HGTV home reno shows. Having renovated two houses myself, I like the feeling of sitting back in my comfy chair and watching other people have to deal with mold, rot, termites, leaky pipes, asbestos, damaged joists, runaway budgets, and lead paint and knowing that I don't have to solve any of it.

At the beginning of each show, the wide-eyed, optimistic home buyers/owners always give a list of the things that they are looking for and what is absolutely essential. I am always struck by the wide range of people's preferences, and how some things are vitally important to some people and not at all important to others. Some demand separate bedrooms for each child. Some are content to convert a garage into a bedroom for all the kids together. Some want huge rooms big enough to rollerskate in, and others want to downsize to tiny houses. One woman with four children insisted on having two dishwashers, two clothes washers, and two dryers. Good heavens, has she thought about what her electric bill will look like?

Anyway, after binging on an evening of these kinds of shows, I find myself rehearsing in my head what I would tell the Property Brothers was important to me, if I were looking for a home. This is what's important to me:

  • The yard and location are more important than the house. A house can be changed, but the location really can't. I want privacy, quiet, and green space, with room for a garden and my dogs and some shade trees.
  • The town needs to be smallish but still have a good hospital and library. Having a lake or river nearby to walk the dogs beside would be a plus.
  • The kitchen is more important to my husband than to me, but I think he'd like lots of storage and counter space. He doesn't care much about the high-end finishings, and neither do I. I just want a counter I can roll out pasta and beat bread dough on, that can take a licking and is cheap to replace.
  • I need natural light -- lots of windows, or a sunroom, or even a greenhouse. Airy and spacious.
  • I like Mission-style furniture, and we both like the simplicity and clean lines of Japanese and Scandinavian furniture. We both like natural materials -- wood, stone -- and earth tones.
  • We need somewhere to use as an office, because between my writing and his family history research and all our books, we're paper people. And somewhere to store musical instruments and sewing supplies.
  • And as we get older, we value the convenience of having everything on one floor, easily-accessible showers, and low maintenance.
That's what is important to me...in case Jonathan and Drew ever ask.

Sunday, 14 June 2015


To my new friend Lindsay, who stopped by the tent at the Highland Games, seeking a quiet place to nurse her baby -- you left your scarf on the chair. I brought it home and wish I knew how to reach you to return it. I enjoyed our chat! Maybe I will see you at the Cambridge Games.

Georgetown Highland Games

Congratulations to Alex, Zander, and Mathias on the medals they earned at the Highland Games yesterday in Georgetown, Ontario. For the first time I can remember, it didn't rain at the Games. It was a glorious sunny day with just enough breeze to keep it cool, and the turnout was one of the best I recall. It is fun for me, after thirty years of piping, to sit back on a blanket under the trees and dandle grandbabies on my knee and just enjoy watching, instead of lugging myself around in 8 yards of wool and fighting pre-piping jitters. I like watching people celebrate their heritage, remember their ancestors, and pass on traditions. I like the judges who take the time to counsel and teach each competitor, and I like the comradery when you bump into people you have known for years but meet only on the piping circuit. There is a secret thrill of satisfaction when people like Hugh Cameron or Bob Worrall recognize you and give you a friendly nod and wave as they pass. They probably don't know my name, but they've seen my face around, they know I am somehow involved, and that's good enough for them.

I am proud of the members of St. Andrews Pipes and Drums, who competed for the first time yesterday. This wasn't just their first time competing together---for most of them it was the first piping competition they've ever been in. They did a great job and have much to be proud of. Learning to conquer fear is the biggest challenge, and they all succeeded so well! I think it's a rare and precious thing, when a group of people dare to try a new experience they've never done before, cheering each other on.

Afterward, as we were relaxing back at the tents, someone pointed out to me that our band was all chatting and laughing and genuinely enjoying each other, while the band next to ours was all huddled together and receiving a stern lecture from their pipe major. I guess their performance was sub-par, and he was letting them know it. It was such a contrast to the happy group I was sitting with, and I appreciate the friendliness and family-feeling of our band. And I appreciate that I still feel it's our band, even though I no longer formally play with them. I am glad for the friends music has brought me.

Friday, 12 June 2015

The Gift of Books

An Amazon gift card for my birthday! The perfect -- really the only -- gift for me. I whipped out my list I've been keeping of books I want, compared it to the catalogue at the library to make sure I couldn't get them there, and debated for a couple of hours before finally making my choices. Such a lovely thing, to scroll through the website looking at books, admiring covers, reading blurbs, studying the authors. It's like being turned loose in a deli -- you want to sample everything.

I chose three: one of them a favourite I've read before and want to collect, one of them a book from the 1940s that I've had on my list for several years, and one a new one I just became aware of. Now to wait for their arrival, like anticipating a good meal...

Thanks Mom and Dad for the adventure!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Going Off Fossil Fuels

So in the newspaper yesterday it said Canada has agreed to go off of fossil fuels by the year 2100. Which is, um, 85 years from now. Isn't that leaving it kind of late? Apparent a global rise in temperature of more than 2 degrees would be disastrous, and so the G7 have agreed to cap the permissible rise in temperature at 2 degrees. Right on the edge of disaster. It brings to mind that story they tell of the man who wanted to hire a driver. He interviewed three men; the first two bragged about how close to the edge of a cliff they could drive without falling over. The third man said he didn't know how close he could drive to the edge because he always stayed as far from it as he could. Of course he got the job.

I'm glad they're talking about it. I'm glad they are setting goals. I'm glad they're acknowledging a looming problem. I just wish they would act a little more, and maybe be a tad faster about it.

Meanwhile, I'm using my curly lightbulbs and solar panels and taking public transit and using a push mower and turning off my air conditioner and switching to on-demand hot water heating...and wishing I could do something more. Give me the technology and I will welcome it. Give me an electric car I can afford that won't leave me stranded in the middle of Manitoba. Give me permission to build a greenhouse and raise chickens in my suburban yard so I can provide more of my own food. Give me permission to get rid of the grass on my boulevards and replace it with something practical. Change the zoning so I can install a small windmill. Let office buildings have windows that open. Help develop jobs in my community so I can bike to work...or make housing affordable where the jobs are. Require developers to install solar panels on all the acres of roofs they're building. Good grief, Mississauga only recently allowed the use of outdoor clothes lines. We need to get with it. My curly lightbulbs alone won't save the planet, any more than hiding under our desks in kindergarten with our hands on our heads would stop the earthquake from bringing tons of cement down on us. We need to demand our governments take decisive action now.

My soapbox for the day. As I sit at my computer in an air-conditioned office two hours away from my house...

Friday, 5 June 2015

Grey Matters

When I was in high school, they had us do an exercise in which we pictured ourselves at thirty -- what we'd be doing, where we'd be living -- and write a letter to ourselves. Not sure what that was supposed to accomplish, really, and I don't recall what I said to my thirty-year-old self, but I do remember vividly the feeling of "No way! Thirty is ancient! I'll never be thirty!"

Tomorrow I turn 48, and the prevailing thought is "How did I get here?" I still feel about fifteen (except when I wake up after a day spent hauling dirt---then I feel 130). I got my hair cut yesterday, and as I sat watching silver little hairs drift down on my black cape, I couldn't avoid the fact that I am now, well, old. Maybe not old old, and I hope to get a lot older, but still, I'm an adult now. I should probably start acting like one.

There are advantages and disadvantages, of course, to aging. I'm still figuring out what those are. Theoretically (according to the magazines) I'm at the top of my power right now... I say as I sit in my fuzzy bathrobe, eating cold cereal and thinking about my commute to work this morning. Um...I'm not sure this power thing is all it's cracked up to be. Still, I hope I've gained some wisdom as I've gone along, and I think my perspective, at least, has matured.

I am not going to go out and dye the grey hair. I am not going to Botox and detox my way to a younger look. I don't mind looking my age. I fully acknowledge that the wrinkles and sags are now a part of me, and the lines in my face are ones I've put there by the smiles and frowns I've made over the past 48 years--hopefully more smiles than frowns. I like being able to look at other people and see their histories and characters written in their faces. I wonder what other people read when they look at me?

A bit ditzy. A bit scattered. Some intelligence. Some experience. Some practicality. Hopefully some kindness and happiness.

If I were to write that letter now to my thirty-year-old self, I would have a better idea what to say. I think I would give me some encouragement and hope. Thirty is nothing. You have a lot ahead of you! Go for it! I'm cheering for you. And remember to smile more; your wrinkles will thank you later.