Wednesday, 29 November 2017


At work they have a machine that dispenses steaming hot water, and they stock various herbal teas for the staff. I make myself a peppermint tea, put my nose in the mug, cup my hands around it, and am transported back to Grandpa's mint farm. A bit of heaven in the cubicle.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The only reason I'd ever get a cell phone...

I am one of the last remaining people on the planet without a mobile phone. I am of that vanishing breed who carries two quarters with me to use the pay phone in emergencies (and yes, they do still exist). I don't want the bother and expense and annoyance of a phone, I don't want to have to figure out apps and plans, and I don't want to have others be able to track me or my preferences at every moment. Most of all, I don't want my boss to be able to reach me at three in the morning (and she would, too!). So up until now I've avoided the whole thing.

There's only one good thing about mobile phones that might make me change my mind someday. They have incredible cameras on them. There have been many times I've wished I had a camera to hand, and the ability to capture intricate details. Today, coming home, the sky was awash in the most amazing clouds, thin and furrowed like a plowed field, with the bright glow of the sunset just starting, and I wished I could snap a picture of it before it faded. So lovely! My regular digital camera wouldn't have captured it, I know, and it's too bulky to carry around with me. So, yeah, maybe one day I concede I may get a phone. But I'd turn off all the apps and bleeps and connections and just use the camera part.

At some point I won't be able to buy movie tickets or get into the subway station without a phone. The world is just trending that way. That's okay with me. The day I can no longer function without it is the day I resign from everything and retire to a cottage by a lake somewhere, and if advertisers and government officials can't find me, oh well.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Shoes vs Bare Feet

So there's an argument going on on Facebook right now about the science behind why going barefoot is good for you. I don't follow all the "positive ions and engaging all the bones" talk, but I do have an opinion. I don't know the science behind it, if there is any. I just know that I feel better when I'm barefoot. Whether indoors or outdoors, I feel free and younger and healthier when I don't have shoes on. And if I have to wear them, I prefer sandals every time.

I remember in high school taking my shoes and socks off to walk home from school. I remember walking around the neighbourhood as a kid in my bare feet. I still run out to the garbage cans or to get the mail in bare feet in the dead of winter. I wander my garden barefoot (watching for thistles. My weeding isn't up to snuff). I love the feel of connection with the ground, the scent of earth, the touch of skin to soil.

I've heard that soil has organisms in it that contribute anti-depression qualities somehow, and this transfers to you through your skin. Whether that's true or not, I know I feel better when my hands are in dirt and my feet are directly on the ground. When winter drags on, I crave getting my hands back in the garden. I've been known to stick my head in a bag of damp potting soil just to breathe in the smell of it when winter has lasted too long. I just close the curtains first to the neighbours don't think I've lost it all together...

I have pots of green beans growing in my dining room right now, along with rosemary and a lemon tree. I harvest a mere trickle of beans, but the food isn't the point. It's the smell of wet soil, of green growing things, in the winter that I glean from them. It's a tonic and a promise, a bit of bright hope that spring will come again.

Monday, 20 November 2017

An interesting immigration story

We're doing some work to the house, and my husband hired a local handyman named Frank to do the high-on-a-rickety-ladder part. As Frank worked, he and my husband chatted, and he told my husband the story of how his family ended up in Canada. I found it so interesting, I thought I'd write it down here.

Frank's family was British, and moved to the American colonies just around the time of the Revolutionary War. In 1780, the town was collecting gunpowder from all the citizens with the idea of shooting off fireworks and cannons, etc. to celebrate the 4th of July. But Frank's family remained loyal to the crown and refused to donate any powder. The townspeople aimed all the cannons at Frank's family's house, but still they refused. And decided that Canada might be a safer place for Loyalists. And that's how they ended up coming to Canada.

Isn't that a fun bit of history? It's neat to me that the family has passed this story down through the generations.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

And Lo, it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished

Thank you to Thoreau for the title...

I can't believe it has been a week since my last post, and a week since the Royal Fair. I feel as if time has slipped by me when I wasn't looking. I haven't done much of anything in the seven days since. Hemmed some towels. Went to work. Watched TV. How did the days get past me?

One of my bosses explained it to me this way: when you are six years old, summer seems endless because it's, like, 16% of your life. So in relation to how long you've lived, it's really quite a chunk of time. But when you're 50, summer is only 2% of your life, so in relation it feels like it zips by. Or something like that, anyway. I have never been good at math.

The concept rings true, however accurate it is. Summer has fled and here we are, digging out the boots I swear I just put away last week. Frost has killed the nasturtiums, I can smell someone's wood stove when I'm out walking the dogs, and we had our first dusting of snow the other day. Thoughts turn to hardy stews and egg nog. Mmm, egg nog. God's way of apologizing for winter. For that season where you struggle into five layers to walk to the bus stop, struggle out of them once you get into the overheated bus, struggle back into them when you reach the subway system and walk through those cold tile halls, struggle out of them once you reach the overheated train, struggle into them to walk from train to office, then struggle out of them again when you reach your airless cubicle... Just to repeat the process in reverse at the end of the day. I wish someone would invent an inflatable suit that you just dial up or down without having to put on or remove anything.

But before you know it, it will be spring again, the layers will be cast aside, and I'll be sketching garden plans and trying to find my secaturs and knee pads. And as I emerge back into sunlight, blinking dazedly and feeling like a displaced mushroom, I'll be wondering how I managed to reach this age already without knowing how to sharpen a lawnmower.

I saw an ad for a t-shirt today; it said "Irony: the opposite of wrinkly." I'm thinking I might buy one. Goodness knows I'm wrinkly already. I could use some irony in my life.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Kissed by a Cow

I went with a friend to the Royal Agricultural Fair in Toronto today. It's my favourite autumn activity -- rows and rows of interesting vendors, Superdogs, a petting farm (where I always marvel at the soft, dainty muzzles of the alpaca, goats, and sheep), the thrill of Percherons and Clydesdales, the perky little Hackney ponies, sharp-hipped cows, and a million other things to see. I ate a potato pancake with lox and sour cream for lunch, managed to resist the maple cotton candy, and debated for a while before giving in to my first taste of poutine. (After almost 30 years in Canada, I figured it was time to try it.)

At one booth, which was selling sprouting supplies, the saleswoman put down her sprouts, picked up her Celtic harp, and sang for us, which was magical. I loved wandering along touching alpaca sweaters (made from, not made for) and admiring carved wooden bowls and beautiful oil paintings. Talked myself out of buying fuzzy slippers and darling knitted hats for the grandkids (a bit pricey). Enjoyed the Frisbee stunts of the Superdogs. The furry Angora rabbits. The soft-as-marshmallow stuffed animals. The colourful John Deere-themed quilts. Too much to mention!

I go every year, but it's as if it's all new and fresh to me every time I go. That smell of hay and manure makes me nostalgic, and that velvety touch of the cow's nose as it eats from my hand so gently still melts my heart every time.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Mindfulness in Daily Life

I don't do much on social media, but I do belong to one group (now a closed group) on Facebook that's all about finding beauty in the earth and promoting handcrafting and rural skills. After being bombarded all day with scary, depressing, and hysterical news, this Facebook group is such an oasis of peace. The contrast is stunning -- people building each other up, supporting and cheering for each other, people posting beautiful scenery they've come across in their rambles through forest and moor. They show the shepherds' crooks they've carved or the pottery they've made or the wool they've spun. They announce the birth of piglets and the rescue of burros. They encourage each other through illness, loss, and house moves. They teach each other foraging skills and offer accommodation to anyone passing through their part of the world. They share recipes and suggestions to minimize waste and support the planet. It's just a genuinely kind, friendly, compassionate group, without an unkind word, and I'm really pleased to have stumbled across them, a peaceful place to take time out from a chaotic and angry world.

I've discovered something else from this group that I didn't expect to find, too. Since others are posting photos of beautiful spots they've discovered on the planet, I find myself watching for beauty I can share as I walk the dog or go about my day. I'm alert to loveliness in a way I wasn't quite before, with the added incentive to share it with someone else. It changes my outlook. It expands my awareness. I look for handmade crafts and tools that I may have overlooked before. I see the beauty hidden in a fallen tree or a paw print on stone.

I'm grateful to the person who started up this group, and I'm grateful for the men and women spread across the globe, from Europe to Mongolia to Australia to the Northwest Territories, who contribute to this group. They are such a refreshing change and give me hope for the world.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Weaving Update

I've finished my second set of tea towels. I miscalculated somehow, so the last towel ended up just over half the length it was supposed to we'll pretend it was meant to be a face cloth all along!