Thursday, 29 June 2017

Spinning Wheel Parts

Today hubby and I drove to St Marys to drop some antique spinning wheel parts off with Reed Needles, a very interesting fellow who repairs wheels, as well as being a clock maker. It looked like a fascinating workshop to explore. Here was a man who had turned his passion into a living, and had carved out a quiet, peaceful spot in which to work. The room was small but filled with light and the smell of wood shavings, and I could have lingered all day if we hadn't been in a hurry to get back for a piping engagement this afternoon. I admire people who find ways to follow their hearts and who create with their hands, who keep old traditions and arts alive. I want to be able to live in a small village, with everything I need within walking distance and nowhere to go, no traffic to battle, no urgent schedule to keep. I want to be able to make a living with the work of my hands.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Letting Go

I've never been good at letting go of things -- old dreams, old friends, old habits. But I agree with the Buddhist attitude toward material things and remind myself that I'm going to be letting go of all of this stuff at some point anyway, unless I can take a U-Haul into the next life (and imagine what the fee would be for that!). So I'm currently trying to downsize a bit and I've set myself the goal of letting go of one material possession a day. I have to either discard or donate one item.

I'm primarily focusing on books right now, because that's my biggest area of hoarding. I run my finger lightly along the shelf (shelves. Oodles of them.) And I pause here and there and a) try to remember what the book was about, and b) remember whether I liked it. Surely I must have, if I've kept it all these years. Some of them are dear favourites which I won't part with until someone pries them from my cold dead hands. But some of them, though they gave me great enjoyment, are probably not going to be re-read and couldn't be called my favourites. So one by one I've been slipping them into the book exchange shelf at work for others to enjoy.

Some are in perfectly new condition and I could probably sell them on eBay and recover some of the cost. But I fear if I held onto them long enough to run the auction and package them up and then have to walk them down to the post office, I will chicken out entirely and end up keeping them. Better to let go quickly, without prolonging it. Because---contrary to Buddhist philosophy---I really am attached to some of these. Not just the words within them, but the actual feel and look and scent of them.

Other than books, there's really not a lot else to downsize. I've been pretty frugal over the years. But books are my passion. Choosing from among them is like trying to choose which child to let leave the home.

Maybe, like the children, the books will come back again...

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Baling Hay

My sister loaded her barn with hay yesterday, and even just hearing about it secondhand brought back instant memories. There's nothing so delicious as the smell of fresh-cut hay. I'm immediately six years old again and playing at Grandpa's farm. The chickens with their rusty-gate sound. The rooster that sounded as if he'd been cut off mid-yodel. The snuffling of pigs. The light filtering through the gaps in the barn wall, highlighting the dust motes (I used to think those little swirling specks were the sunbeams, and I'd stir them up with my hand to watch their patterns. And wonder why Jesus wanted me to be one of those. My friend Shirley used to yell the last syllable, and for the longest time I thought they were called sun-beeps). The hollow thunk of my feet on the back steps. The cavernous crunch of horses chewing. The heat and baked dust of the barnyard. The feel of the old tractor's wooden-knobbed steering wheel. Playing drums on the seed spreader. The hidden little pockets of play space behind the barn and in the old camper and even on the silage mound. And over it all, that magical scent of hay.

Grandpa's farm is gone now, paved over and buried under new houses. Even the street names don't reflect the fact that such a wonderful place existed there. It seems like one of them, at least, should have honoured what went before. I am so happy that my sister's children will get to form those kinds of memories for themselves on their new farm. Their experience will be different in some ways but the same in others, and binding it all together (with baling twine!) will be that golden, dusty scent of hay.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

New Book Coming Out - The Song of Copper Creek

My latest book is coming out in July. For a sneak preview, you can check it out on my website:

New book on my website

I'm happy with this one. It's more on the serious side than my other books, and some of the characters from Desperate Measures make a reappearance. Covenant did a great job on the cover!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

50th Birthday

So I thought I'd write something profound for my 50th birthday, something about the great experiences I've had, the lessons I've learned, the wisdom I've accumulated. But I woke up feeling basically as clueless as when I went to bed last night, with no great wisdom to impart, so I guess achieving half a century doesn't really change much. I'm your average plump, graying 50-year-old, who still feels 14 inside.

I spent the morning unburdening myself of paper (i.e. cleaning out my filing cabinet), then took myself for cajun chicken and buttermilk biscuits (I did warn you yesterday). Then I walked to Valu Village and tripled my wardrobe -- four pairs of pants, three shirts, and a skirt -- for $66. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. And then the cashier asked me if I wanted the Seniors' discount. Yep. How's that for a kick in the chops? Today of all days, you have to ask me that? Luckily my first response was to laugh  out loud, which tells me I think I'm okay with this aging thing after all.

Trundled home again, threw out old clothes which were too threadbare to even recycle (I have a rule about tossing old things if I buy new ones), and fell asleep for a while on the couch reading a book. I'll spend this evening quilting and watching an old movie and accomplishing nothing much else. So it's a perfect day. No cubicle, no boss, no deadlines, no commute. Just a rainy afternoon and my puppies curled warmly beside me on the couch. Lovely.

Monday, 5 June 2017

I'm pulling a Mrs. Morgan

When I was 18, my sister and I went to Britain and travelled around, staying with a few acquaintances, and one of these was Mrs. Morgan. She told us she had recently gotten £20 in the mail that she hadn't expected. So when she went to the store, she decided to indulge in a little extra treat, because she had that £20 windfall. Then she went to the next shop, and she told herself she could afford to splurge a little there, because she had that £20 windfall. And so on at the next shop, and the next. By the time she got home, she had spent that twenty pounds several times over.

Today I was out for a walk at lunch and decided, "Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm going to just treat myself a little." So I bought a slice of cherry cheesecake and ate it on the bench in the park. I don't do that kind of thing often, and it was lovely. And then I thought, "I'm going to be home alone tomorrow, everyone will be gone to work, and I'll want a little celebration on my own for my birthday." So I bought some tapioca pudding (my favourite) to eat tomorrow... And then I thought maybe I'd make a special dinner for myself, because it's my birthday... And well. It was Mrs. Morgan all over again. By the time the birthday is past, I fear I will likely have celebrated it several times over!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Taking a Stand

Turned on Facebook this morning and found the announcement that a bunch of U.S. cities are honouring the Paris agreement on climate change no matter what the federal decision is. I am proud of these mayors for their commitment and their backbone. You have to do what is right, no matter what anyone else is doing. You have to draw your line in the sand somewhere, and it was encouraging to me to see that these mayors are doing so.

And then I saw President Trump's tweet about not agreeing to anything that doesn't support the U.S.'s interest. And I'm wondering how saving the planet isn't in the U.S.'s interest. Where does he propose the U.S. go when the world becomes uninhabitable? How does he expect the country to carry on functioning when the resources and systems of the earth collapse? The U.S. is part of the larger world ecosystem. Baffled that he doesn't understand that what is good for all is good for the one. Puzzled that he thinks economics and finance are the only things worth protecting.

It comes back to the Buddhist philosophy that we are all one. If I look after your interests, it is simultaneously looking after mine. Like the old saying says, if you carry someone across the river, you get across it yourself. We are to love our neighbours -- not "as much as" ourselves but as ourselves. They are us. There is no us and them. The other citizens of the earth---including the animals---are us. We humans are part of the ecosystem we are trying to protect.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Shoe on the other foot

Usually it's Brio comforting me when I'm sick. This time it's Brio's turn to to feel unwell, and I have to say, there's nothing quite so tugging-at-the-heartstrings as a sick puppy. He spent last night curled on a blanket on the couch, his nose buried against my leg, and now and then he would roll his eyes up to look at me so pathetically, ears drooping. Poor little delicate muffin! I'm sure it's just something he's eaten -- he's always nosing around the yard -- and he'll be fine in a day or two. But it brought home to me once again how much I love this dog and how comforting he has been to me over the past four years.