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A Puppy for Bruce

Those who know me well know that I’m an animal person. Not a crazy cat lady type, but I do enjoy having a dog in the house.

When I got a puppy named Bobby about thirty years ago, I hadn’t had a dog since high school. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that someone (not me) teased that poor dog mercilessly, and that gave him a whole lot of attitude. I truly loved him, but when you can’t trust a dog not to snap at someone, it’s hard.

I’m not sure when I first learned about rescue websites, but after Bob’s demise, I adopted a PBGV, a breed I’d never heard of before. Higgins was a sweetie who must have been an owner surrender because he was so well-trained. He was gentle and kind, and little kids could go face to face and he’d just smile and give them kisses. Sadly, congestive heart failure meant that Higgins was only with us for a couple of years.

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So, I Wrote a Book

Over a decade ago I took a year-long writing course called A Novel Approach. Over that year, we were led through the process of writing a book. It was exhilarating, challenging, and sometimes downright gruelling when writing 3,000 words between classes, but I did it.

The book I produced was just okay, and using feedback from my instructor and beta readers, I rewrote it and then offered it to my adoring public, aka kind friends who supported me.

A couple of years later, needing a writing challenge, I pulled out my manuscript and rewrote it in an entirely different way. Feedback was warm, but I wasn’t bowled away by rave reviews.

Last fall, I retired from my job and decided to fill my newly-free time with writing a second novel. I built the frame, and partway through adding some muscles to those bones, I happened to dig back into my files and noticed the first book I’d written. Curious, and finding any excuse not to do the hard work of brand new writing, I read it.

Well, guess what? It wasn’t that bad, so I decided to go back to it. I reviewed it once, editing each paragraph, adding, deleting, tweaking descriptions and dialogues, and correcting typos. Then I went through it twice more. There was a lot of work to do.

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Guest Books

Don’t forget to be friendly to outsiders, for in so doing,

some people, without knowing it,

have entertained angels.

Hebrews 13:2

A while ago, I cleaned out a small desk. Along with dried-out pens, and outdated waste schedules, I found a Visitor’s Book.

I bought that visitor’s book nearly twenty-five years ago. Like the ones my mother had, it was meant to keep a record of those who visited and shared meals with us. Alas, the most recent entry is 2007, so the book was a bit of a fail, but the names that are there remind me of good times.

There’s the signature of my husband’s buddy, recording a happy visit after they hadn’t seen each other in years. There are names from a reunion of friends, long ago teenagers, from a summer job I’d once had, and folks who came to my dad’s 70th birthday party. As well, there are signatures of family and friends who came to our daughter’s nursing graduation party, and others who attended another daughter’s wedding rehearsal meal. Most precious of all is the writing of relatives no longer with us.

But the memories in my book are so few compared to my mother’s. Her books are a genuine archaeological site; and layers of family history are revealed when the pages are turned.

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Little Fort in the Woods

We recently travelled 900 km/560miles to visit our grandson Nolan. And his parents, of course.

We’ve had some nice, low-key days together with nothing planned, and they’ve unrolled according to our moods. We played a day-long game of Star Wars Monopoly, ate at a local Mexican restaurant, and enjoyed a movie night. Those activities were all good, but my favourite thing was spending some outdoor time with just-turned-twelve-year-old Nolan today.

The weather was cold and windy, so we bundled up in warm winter coats, hooked the leash to the dog, and set off for Nolan’s woods.

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Baloney: Just Hotdog Pancakes.

Who eats baloney these days? Do kids even know what it is? There are much healthier sandwich fillings, but baloney lovers know there’s nothing like nutrition-free squishy white bread and thick-sliced baloney to tickle nostalgic taste buds.

But what may seem delicious, nostalgic, and “right” to me may have a different twist for you. Should that bread be spread with butter, mustard, mayo, or perhaps all three? And what about the filling? Just baloney? A Kraft cheese slice or two? Or maybe a leaf of iceberg lettuce.

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Once Upon a Cookbook

So, here’s a story for you.

I don’t have to tell anyone that COVID shut down life as we know it in early 2020. At my job in a Greater Toronto Area Emergency Department, we came face-to-face with stuff in pretty short order. It was hard, it was scary, and it was real. For the next year, we rode the waves of that pounding storm.

Finally, in April 2021, with COVID numbers going down and vaccination rates rising, it was time to take a deep breath and look ahead to summer, hoping that COVID would soon be behind us. Feeling that relief and optimism, a couple of us were chatting at work one day about the lockdowns and all the cooking people had done while stuck at home. One thing led to another, and we hit on the idea of a departmental cookbook — like, what were we all cooking when the restaurants were closed? We talked about old favourites and how some of our index cards and cookbook pages were covered with stains and spatters. This somehow evolved into the thought that our cookbook could have actual pictures of well-loved recipes, not just typed-out versions, and voila! We had an idea for a unique book, plus it would be so easy to ask our co-workers to snap a picture of their recipes; no laborious copying-out required.

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To Remember Autumn

I usually write a short story — often a memory — to post here, but not today. The weather has been quite wet this October, so I really tried to enjoy the nicer days when they came along. That meant camera in hand when walking the dog.

Some of the pictures I took follow; different memories than the written kind. In the winter, when it’s cold and the snow is blowing, I want to remember this beauty.

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The Saddest Part of My Favourite Month

October is my favourite month. We are usually blessed with gorgeous big skies, spectacular red, orange and gold leaves, and cooler weather. The only part of October I don’t enjoy is having to empty my summer plant pots.

Before beginning the task, I take one last look at the plants who have bloomed their little hearts out for me all summer.

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July 1, 2021

I spent much of today, marked “Canada Day” on my digital calendar, in deep thought. While I’m proud to be a Canadian, and very thankful to call this country home, what I have learned over past years about our history has given me pause. Facts that have been revealed, little by little, were put under glaring spotlights recently, when some of the dear, innocent children, buried at forced confinement institutions, were at last found.

This afternoon I finished my second reading of Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve by Alexandra Shimo. Shimo, a Toronto-based journalist, made a plan to spend several months living on the Kashechewan reserve to research a water problem. What resulted is part memoir, part history, and she gives first-hand insight about life on that reservation.

I highlighted as I read, and I’d like to share pieces of her book with you. Although long, what follows are just a few words that taught, shocked, and broke my heart. Putting myself in place of the people who must live with these injustices, I wonder what kind of person I would be now if I’d experienced a fraction of what so many live with daily.

” . . . from the nineteenth century onwards, First Nations were confined to poverty in six ways. They were moved away from mineral wealth. They were displaced from natural resources including forest, lakes, and rivers. They had their land stolen through “theft” and “fraud”. They were stopped from establishing their own industries on traditional land. They were obstructed from opening other businesses. They were excluded from jobs off-reserve through racism.

“If you take away a community’s ability to generate resources, and then remove an individual’s ability tyo make money, then . . . you end up with the current situation of First Nations: racialized poverty. . . . Ninety-two of Canada’s one hundred poorest communities are Aboriginal, according to Statistics Canada.” Continue reading “July 1, 2021”

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It’s a Green Garlic Day.

I am very sad to say that I have profited by someone else’s misfortune.

Some locals may already follow my cousin’s daughter on her Reverie Farm IG account, as I do. I’ve enjoyed watching her business (on a farm between Markham and Stouffville, Ontario) grow and develop. Things appeared to be ticking along in fabulous fashion until . . . COVID. It kicked out the legs beneath lovely social events hosted on the farm — weddings and beautiful evening solstice meals — and that meant change and diversification.

At one point I watched a new bed of garlic being planted, and I anticipated the purchase of a nice stash to use over the winter. And then, a few days ago, there was a sad new post. Because of a problem I won’t get into here, the garlic wouldn’t grow to to maturity and she was offering green garlic for sale. I bought some. Continue reading “It’s a Green Garlic Day.”