Sunday, 27 September 2015

I've learned something about carrots

Back in the spring, I dutifully thinned my carrots as one is supposed to, so that the remaining ones had room to grow. I tossed the toothpick-sized thinned carrots on the compost heap and ignored them. Now, months later, I went out to hack down some tall weeds that were sprouting from the compost heap, and I found several full-size, plump carrots just lying on the surface of the heap. My plucked thinnings had kept right on growing, above ground. They were a bit limp, but otherwise just like the carrots growing in the ground. Isn't that weird? I had heard, of course, that carrots remain alive after you pick them, but now I have proof of it. Gardening is so cool. I learn something every day.

Friday, 25 September 2015

For Whom the Eckhart Tolles

Reading A New Earth right now, and came across an interesting comment. Tolles talks about how trying to find yourself or enhance your identity through consumerism and things doesn't work. He says "Designer labels are primarily collective identities that you buy into. They are expensive and therefore 'exclusive.' If everybody could buy them, they would lose their psychological value and all you would be left with would be their material value, which likely amounts to a fraction of what you paid."

This is something I -- ahem -- buy into. I've never been able to see why certain names or logos on an item should increase the price, and in the end a designer pair of jeans is made of basically the same material in the same way as inexpensive ones. This is nothing new or earth-shattering...but then he goes on to talk about how we live in a world of conceptualization instead of a living reality. And it got me to thinking... Is my obsession with looking at real estate really just a form of consumerism? Am I trying to obtain, not a house, but a different identity? How do I think a new home to live in would change who I am? What in my life would be different? What about me would be different?

Well, the answer, of course, is nothing. I'd still be me, just living in a different setting. I picture the place I want to live, and really it's the lifestyle I want to have; I want to read, write, garden, and walk my dogs. A small and peaceful life, really. But the life I have now allows for all of those things. I read a lot, I write in snatches when I can, I walk my dogs every night, and I garden all summer. So...what would change?

I want to live somewhere quiet. I want lots of sunlight. I want a green place to walk my dogs. I don't want to be able to hear my neighbor blow his nose or smell what he's having for dinner. I want simplicity and cleanliness and no clutter. I want everything I own to be able to fit into a couple of suitcases. But really, if I'm honest with myself, it's time I want. Somehow, as I gaze at these cottages and cute turn-of-the-century houses, I imagine my life in them would somehow provide me with more time. I am not sure why I think that. It is illogical. The house would likely be further out of town and far away from things like grocery stores, so I would spend more time in the car. A house built in 1890 would likely take quite a bit of upkeep and care. I would still likely have to work, so that eats up the day, same as now (unless I could sell my current house for a fortune and find a new home for under ten grand...). So in light of all these cold, hard facts, why do I still persist in scrolling around the Internet looking at potential homes? I'm not seeking a change of setting. I'm seeking a more peaceful me.

The discouraging part is that, if I go, I'm taking me with me.

Another great review

Sharing this one because it warmed my heart, but I thank all of the bloggers on the "tour" who have provided reviews for my book. Even the one that was a bit harsh was useful and provided some great insight I can use in the manuscript I'm working on now. But all the others were lovely and generous and kind, and I'm happy to have made some other people happy.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


The book reviews are starting to roll in for Heart's Journey. So far I'm pretty pleased, and I appreciate the kind words being written. Here are two of my favourites!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Why do I hate holding garage sales so much?

Am I alone in this? Spreading my tattered belongings out for the neighbours to inspect, having people quibble over a quarter, having to interact with people, and then hauling half of it to Value Village afterward anyway...I really don't like hosting garage sales. I'm going to earn, what? Fifty bucks? I'd rather forego that and donate everything to charity instead.

There's something shameful about it, though I can't put my finger on why? I mean, the concept is fine, isn't it? I have stuff I don't want, maybe you need it, we'll exchange or we'll barter... I've even purchased a fine guitar at a garage sale before. But somehow, spreading my old stuff out causes the faint taste of failure in my mouth. These are things I thought I wanted but now I don't. I change my mind a lot, you see. These are things I once spent good money on. This is my taste in reading material but it was so lousy I don't want to cherish these books and reread them. These are the clothes I used to fit into...

Then again, you could see it another way, I suppose. So many people have given me flowers that I have no room for all the glass vases. I have so much leisure time that I've read all of these books and hundreds besides. My life is so abundant my house is literally bursting at the seams and something must go. I'm teaching my children to recycle rather than throw away...

Nope. Still not buying it (no pun intended). It's all going into a donation box somewhere. And Saturday morning remains free.

Friday, 18 September 2015

I Sound My Resounding Yawp...

...and it falls on deaf ears. Pulling a teenage boy out of his bed at 5 a.m. is like extracting a bowling ball out of quicksand using nothing stronger than a Q-tip.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Living Vicariously...

Someone I know has been reading Heart's Journey and we got to talking about it. This led to a conversation on the broader topic of bravery and how I admire people who dare to imagine life could be different and set about changing it. I wonder, sometimes, if I rationalize not doing bold and brave things in my own life because I can get my characters to do them for me. Never finished a PhD? Get my heroine to do it. Want to renovate a huge property? Let my character do it. Want to throw over everything and go homestead in the wilderness?  Stayed tuned for a future book...

A writer lives multiple lives through her own characters, and maybe I am so wishy-washy and indecisive about the direction I want my own life to go because I am too busy living multiple stories already through my writing. When do I get to set down the pen and make a change for myself? As my friend put it, "It captures that moment when you dare to take your heart in your hands and walk through an invisible wall into a new life." That sounds both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Will have to think more on this.


A lovely weekend at a borrowed cabin with my husband. Beautiful area, pounding waves, lungs full of fresh air, simple food, and a perfect daybed on the porch where I could curl up with a book in the crimson glow of the sunset. You can't ask for more than that.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

My next book is out

Heart's Journey is available now at Seagull Bookstores, Deseret Book, and soon to be Amazon. It's an historical romance loosely based on the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862 in British Columbia. Let me know if you want to set up a signing or a book club visit in your neighbourhood!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Death by Lima Bean

I can't imagine a more silly way to go than by eating raw lima beans. But apparently these little dears that I've planted all over my garden are full of cyanide and it has to be cooked out of them by boiling uncovered to let the gases out. How to know when it's all been dispersed? And do I really want to fill my kitchen with cyanide gas?

I can't bring myself to eat them. Unfortunately, I don't know if I can even put them in my compost raw. So I think we'll just tuck this little experiment away and mark it up to experience... But if I need to bump off a character in my next book, I'm thinking lima beans would be a handy resource...



Friday, 4 September 2015


It's sad that we as a society don't respond to something huge until it is brought down to a personal level. Until we can put a face on it and call it by an individual's name. We seem incapable of comprehending massive struggle, but we can relate -- and get riled up at last -- when shown how the struggle has impacted one particular person. In this case, one very small boy and his family, his grieving father. That we can relate to. That we can get outraged about. It's unfortunate that we couldn't act sooner, bigger, broader, so that the tragedy wasn't brought about in the first place. Saddest of all is that at some point the media will turn its focus on the next big world crisis and our fickle attention will be drawn elsewhere. It happens every time. Because there's always something else coming along.

Can I go stop the fighting in Syria by myself? No. Can I do anything significant for the refugees fleeing across Turkey, Greece, Europe? Not really. But I can speak kindly to my family. I can befriend my neighbours. I can watch out for the elderly I meet on the subway. I can help the struggling young mother at the grocery store. I can teach my children to treat others kindly and with tolerance. I can write to my politicians. I can read and learn about world events and increase awareness. I can pray. And in the face of such overwhelming things, the only words I seem to be able to pray right now are O Come O Come Emmanuel.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

I'm renaming my grandson

Have you seen the movie The Incredibles? Do you remember the bit toward the end that shows the baby Jack-Jack exploding into a raging ball of flame?

That's my grandson.

You have never seen a temper more full of fury than this kid has. I watched him last night while his parents were at band practice. For the first five minutes he was golden, jolly, happy, smiley. His whole body lights up when he grins. Then he started getting hungry and acting tired, so I fixed him a bottle. But he has this thing about lying down -- he won't do it. He wants to be up and about and involved in whatever is going on, even if nothing is going on. If you give even the slightest hint that you are trying to get him to sleep, his suspicions are aroused and he explodes. He squinches himself into a ball of absolute anger, scrunches up his fists and face, and lets out the most amazing scream...which is endless. Half an hour later, I'm at my wit's end, frantic to find what will pacify him. Nothing. He's inconsolable. The scream goes on and on like a bandsaw in my brain. And it's for no apparent cause that I can figure out. I start chanting in desperation. Oh my word, I'm flunking grandmotherhood. The neighbours will think I'm peeling his skin off and call the police. There is no way this noise is coming from such a tiny body. How does he do this?

In desperation, I took him outside -- and it was like turning off a switch. Dead silence. He hiccuped into absolute stillness, as if nothing had ever happened, as if he had never melted down into a demon child for the past half an hour. He became an instant ball of passive putty.

So we stood and stared calmly at the water fountain for a while, and then we sat in a lawn chair and gazed at the trees for a while, and then I gave him his bottle and he fell asleep for four hours.

Grandson, whatever animator designed Jack-Jack had you in mind. But one thing is certain -- when it comes to being outdoors, you and I are just alike.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Seen (Scene) on the Street

A man walks down the sidewalk in front of my house, holding a dog leash in each hand: on one side, a mighty Great Dane the size of a pony. On the other, a Yorkie the size of a gerbil. His and hers? Yin and Yang? Trying to balance out the universe? Secretly prefers the Yorkie but doesn't want the other men in the neighbourhood to think he's wimpy? It puts me in mind of the race horses that have a companion animal - a goat or a cat - to keep them company. Or maybe the Great Dane considers the Yorkie an animated squeak toy.

Another lady has a golden puppy who has gone in circles around a slender tree and wrapped his leash in a tangle. Instead of simply unwinding the leash, the woman is walking round and round the tree after him.

People. Ya gotta love 'em.