Sunday, December 13, 2009

Embrace Winter

How we picture winter snow can be summed up in one word, quiet. The spring rain has ceased its patter, the summer birds are on holiday down south, and those rustling fall leaves are buried – all is reticent. When that blanket of snow covers the ground, the earth is tucked in for a long winters nap.

Most of us live and work in busy cities or suburbs, our schedules rush us from one planned activity to another, and much of our day is spent plugged into some type of electronic or motorized device. Our working world is in a constant state of humming, the computer hums, and the phone rings and the television is on. For real peace of mind, you need to venture out and escape that noise.

Snowfall is noiseless; the trees in their grandeur, heavily laden with snow stand still, regal and muted, even the cold crisp air is hushed. The sun bounces off of the stark white snow ready to lift your spirits. There is nothing controlling or interrupting your thoughts. Allow your mind to whisper to you.

Get the picture? Now get yourself in the picture.

Go for a snow hike, try some cross country skiing, or better yet, take up snowshoeing. This sport is easy to learn, relatively inexpensive and poses little risk of injury. Snowshoes are one of the oldest inventions of mankind and snowshoeing is really making a comeback with winter recreation. Although the original wooden frame snowshoes are still in use in large numbers, the more recent aluminum-frame Western designs are making the fit easier for everyone.

Snowshoeing allows you to venture off the beaten path, head out for the back country and tuck into those hard to reach places. The silence allows you to wonder as you wander, reducing stress as you trek on top of the snow. Your movements must be calm, graceful and light in order to reflect the conditions of the snow, which forces you to be more at one with things during the snow hike. Remember to pause, there is no rush.

Much like the pace of life, snow shoeing requires balance. To a large extent, the terrain locally is even and gentle. When you are faced with an uphill challenge, always remember the safest position is straight up. The tendency is to lean forward, which increases the chance of you falling on your face. The next instinct is to lean back, which can cause your feet to slide out from underneath you. Best advice is to straighten up, look ahead, plan for your optimum route and then go for it.

Take the kids, and be prepared, they will catch on to it before you do.

Some of the more popular areas locally for a day of snowshoeing include The Frink Centre, The Sandbanks, Vanderwater Park, and Presqu'ile Provincial Park. For more information and to find good snowshoeing areas near you, call the local parks and recreation centre, or go online at and be sure to read the section on snowshoe smart tips.

Always play safe, be responsible.
Prepare yourself; enjoy the solitude, peace and quiet this winter.

Publiblished December 2009 Issue County and Quinte Living

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Magic is in the Music

'Claire Notes'
Photo courtesy Claire McNeilly copyright 2009

From the outside in, the stage was set for the annual school Christmas Concert. The auditorium was a stir of proud parents, grandparents and friends dressed for the season, excited as they came in from the first very timely snowfall of the winter. As the snow continued to fall lightly outside, the stage inside was aglow with the classic Christmas setting and the busy swirl of activity that accompanies those last few moments before curtain call.

And then the concert began. The night was a mix of Concert bands, Jazz bands, Dixie bands and multiple choirs celebrating with us their talents

As I sat and watched my daughter standing in the front row of the choir on stage, I was at such peace. With a big, confident smile, I tapped my foot to the beat, I moved my hands with the conductor, and my body swayed naturally as it remembered holding my daughter when she was still a small child. My breathing and my heart rate aligned in unison with the thrum of the music. Every bit of me wanted to dance. Such healing. I looked around and noticed that I was not alone in my desire to move with this music. Heads were bobbing, people were singing, and some were swaying along with me.

At one point in the evening, Silent Night had its turn. For me, thoughts of a Christmas visit to my grandmother’s house came back. During this particular visit, the family was sharing downstairs after supper as I snuck upstairs to play the old organ that lived in the spare bedroom. I sat at that organ until I had Silent Night memorized. I was about nine or ten and I was so proud of myself. I loved revisiting that memory. I loved that this choir brought that memory to me this night.

The effect music has on us is truly magnificent. And further, what a gift these talented children gave to us all. It was so uplifting.

To Mr. David Reed , head of the choir at Centennial Secondary School, to Mr. Blair Yarranton who conducted the bands, and to all of the students involved in making that night a success, my deepest appreciation.

A quick add to this post: I was reading Meditations on Joy by Sister Wendy Beckett and a page rang true to this post, calling to be published here;

" Nothing can guarantee us joy, or coerce its presence. But for many people, music is an occasion when joy is likely to choose to visit us."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One Day I Saw Ty Conn

(This is being recalled from a very young mind...)

When my father would begin telling a story from his childhood, he would begin with “When I was a little girl…” which would cause an uproar of high pitched objections from my sisters and myself. He would simply smile and continue on, as he now had our complete attention.

I started this post at the beginning of November of this year when thoughts of my father return annually on the anniversary of his birthday. This story, however, is not about my father…

When I was a little girl, I lived in a small house on Pine Street with my father, mother and three sisters. Ours was a busy, full house. Lisa was the oldest, very beautiful and very bossy. Pam was next, also very beautiful and we envied her fashion sense. I was the third in the line of my sisters, a middle child that cried a lot, made funny faces and was very comfortable at the centre of attention. My little sister, Joanne, enjoyed the status of being the baby in the family. She was adorable and quiet and she was my main playmate. Next door housed our friend Jennifer, her mother, father and her little sister. Joanne, Jennifer and I were like the three musketeers on the block.

One day, a moving van pulled up to the house next to Jennifer’s and we were told that a new family was moving in – moreover, that there was a girl our age to play with. We were so excited for another friend to even out the numbers, to play on the swings in our small backyard, and to join in the sandbox fun. The moving truck came and went but the house remained still and empty for a painfully long day or two.

We waited…

Finally, there was some activity; finally we saw the girl! She was beautiful, she wore pretty clothes, and she had gorgeous, long wavy hair. I came to know her as Loris J Conn. Her new house was much larger than ours, her backyard was very large also, and she had a huge black dog that kept us away from that backyard. I was now very curious about this house, it was all a novelty. I should have envied Loris J for all that she had, but I did not; her house was always quiet, a sad quiet. I never saw her father. On occasion I saw her mother, but only inside of her house (I was rarely inside that house) and only for very brief moments. My memory always has her mother dressed in a fancy, oversized moo moo. I saw Loris J’s brother, her adoptive brother Ty, only once. I remember that day well.

Joanne, Jennifer and I were playing in the front yard. There were toys everywhere, mostly belonging to Jennifer. I was walking up and down the driveway mesmerized by a Fisher Price Corn Popper that I was much too old for, but I did not care. I walked and watched the different coloured balls as they took turns popping. Loris J joined in our play and then announced that Ty was coming for a visit. Play stopped as us girls became interested in the idea of a boy, a brother. We had questions.

Loris J noticed our ignorance concerning a brother, and with the authority she had earned, she explained what it was like to have one. We were fascinated. We learned that brothers were loud, tended to get into more trouble than their sister counterparts, and they were prone to peeing in their pants. I think I made a sour face when she said that last bit because she went into detail to support her claim. This was to be the first time I can recall hearing the word penis. I was both disgusted and curious. She smiled when she realized how little I knew about boys. She even demonstrated how much easier it was for girls to hold their pee. After that discussion, I was so glad to be a girl. It all sounded rather awful.

Ty showed up shortly thereafter, driven to the house by people we did not know. A procession of rather serious faces led Ty into the house without so much as glancing our way. I stood between Joanne and Jennifer, and we watched in awe as this boy, head down, a book between bookends, walked into that house. Loris J cheerfully excused herself and ran after them; we were not permitted to visit. Ty came and went that same day. I would never see him again.

Within a short time of that day, my family moved into a much larger house right around the corner on Bleecker Avenue. Jennifer’s family moved across town. Loris J and I went to different schools. That was that.

Twenty years later, I am perusing the books in the non-fiction section of the library when one title catches my eye, Who Killed Ty Conn. Written by Linden MacIntyre and co-authored by Theresa Burke, this book would explain in detail why this boy walked with his head down. A tragic story of abandonment, abuse and a boy whose wish it was to have a family. A story of poor judgment by the Ontario Child Protection Services, a story of the entitlements that come with position and money in our society and a story that reminds us that human attachment is essential to each and every one of us in our desire, our strong need to be loved.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Fun Theory

I started my run at lunch today a little slower than usual; it is getting colder out there. I told myself I needed a strategy to get moving. I searched through my IPOD for the selection of songs that have proven to make me run faster. Mentally, I knew I needed more. What to do?

At the beginning of my run, I saw someone I have known since I was seventeen. I stopped to have a quick chat. It was really fun talking to her and she lifted my spirits; I ran a little faster after that. Ah ha! An idea…Normally when I run I acknowledge most everyone I pass. Today I was going to do more than that. I decided I would surprise people. I would go that little extra.

“Beautiful day for a walk” I said to a small group of ladies. “Yes, it is” and they smiled.

“Good to see you out on the trail.” I commented to the mayor and his friend. “Keep running.” He encouraged with a smile.

“You win!” to those runners heading in the opposite direction – they laughed.

I passed a group sitting at a picnic table, and they surprised me by talking first. Someone asked about my running “What are you training for?” I answered “Life”.

In between these moments with fellow trail lovers, when I was running along the trail alone, I made a point to crunch every fall leaf I could. Before I knew it, I looked up and my run was complete. More so, I was smiling – that was so fun!

This all got me to thinking about The Fun Theory. Volkswagen has come up with this great little gem and the aim is to offer people ‘fun’ incentives to do the right thing. For example, commuters tend to take the escalator when arriving and leaving the metro, so Volkswagen turned the stairs into a giant piano with each step playing a different note. The use of the stairs went up 66%. That is fantastic! Check it out...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Missing Piece to the Puzzle Found and Lost Again

I am beginning to abhor his e-mail, and now the phone when the call is made in transit from one place to another – neither leading to me. His voice is often laboured from the walking and his attention is anything but undivided. This cheats me.

Once during an awkward call our voices, our breath, just lingered on the phone. He had called me at work which he knew limited me in my reactions, prevented me from being open and honest, prevented me from telling him to go fuck himself. He could feel my impatience; he began speaking rapidly to fill the void, to fill the silence, to suppress the frustration in me. He described where he was – I did not care – it was not here.

“I’m staring at a parking lot full of water” he said, which suggested to me that he must go now as he had arrived at his destination. I said nothing. After a brief pause, he attempted to fill the void again, he wanted to talk about anything, nothing - he just wanted to avoid the reality of this situation.

“There is a puzzle piece just floating around in this big puddle.”

“Ah ha!” I said “that is the missing piece to the puzzle.” in a mocking Sherlock Holmes kind of way.

“Ya?” he questioned, excited by my new tone.

“Ya.” I replied and instructed “Pick it up.”

“No. It is all grimy and grey.” He said.

“Hmmm." I am disappointed, "That is why it is always missing – when they find it, no one picks it up.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kim Echlin - The Disappeared

This post digresses back to the Writersfest which I attended in Kingston, Ontario in September of this year. Kim Echlin was an author there that caught my attention. It was during an On Stage event called ‘Women Without Borders’ where I heard Kim read from The Disappeared which was, at that time, long listed for the Giller. It was announced on October 6 of this year that Kim Echlin’s book made the shortlist for the 2009 Giller Prize.

The Disappeared is the current book that graces the top of the pile beside my bed each night. It is a love story between a young Canadian girl, Anne, and her slightly older Cambodian lover, Serey set during the Cambodian genocide under The Pol Pot Regime. They met in a café in Old Montreal, had an immediate and intense love affair and moved in together. However, as soon as the Cambodian borders opened, Serey was compelled to seek out his family there. He returns to Cambodia promising to be in touch as soon as possible. Many years go by and many letters have been written by Anne, but she hears nothing from Serey. Eventually she travels to Cambodia in search of her long lost love.

The language in this book is romantic, contains beautiful phrases and seamlessly flows from English to French, from Latin to Khmer. The chapters in this book are confined and epigrammatic in nature which perfectly parallels the settings described such as crowded bars, small bedrooms and inside rickshaws. It is told using both narrative and poetic writing.

I have read some mixed reviews about this book. The Quill and Quire’s Steven W. Beattie does begin admirably with “Great love stories are inseparable from tragedy.” Unfortunately, he notes that “the language is merely clichéd…it employs overheated metaphor to communicate ineffable desire”

But for the most part the book is receiving positive reviews like the one printed in The National Post by playwright and editor Frank Moher who says “The Disappeared is an expert novel, which manages to penetrate to the aching core of the Cambodian tragedy.”

All in all, I think this is a fantastic piece of love told through historical fiction, and Kim Echlin is definitely a Canadian author to watch for and certainly read.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Al Purdy A-Frame Project

"So we built a house, my wife and I

our house at a backwater puddle of a lake

near Ameliasburg, Ont."

Al Purdy In Search of Owen Roblin

Al Purdy is arguably one of the most important Canadian poets of our time. Al was born in Wooler, Ontario in 1918, raised in Trenton, and educated at Albert College in Belleville. At a young age, he headed west for B.C. and this was to be just the beginning of a lifetime of much travelling throughout Canada which is reflected in his writing. Many of his poems read like entries in a diary and the history that is told within is immeasurable. Al and wife Eurithe built the Purdy A-Frame house in Ameliasburgh, Ontario which would serve as a meeting place for hundreds of writers over many years. The whole edifice, Al observed, ‘bent a little in the wind and dreamt of the trees it came from.’

The list of people who travelled to the A-frame includes Margaret Atwood, Earle Birney, George Bowering, Lynn Crosbie, Dennis Lee, Steven Heighton, Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier, Margaret Laurence, Jack McClelland, John Newlove, Anna Porter, Elizabeth Smart, Michael Ondaatje and the list goes on and on.

A foundation has been developed to save the A-Frame for the purposes of developing a retreat for Canadian writers. The Writer - In- Residence program was designed by David Helwig, Steven Heighton, Karen Solie and Rob Budde.

This coming Saturday, October 17, 2009 from 10am - 1pm there will be a fundraising auction at the Al Purdy library in Ameliasburgh with the proceeds going to the A- Frame Trust Project. As Jean Baird noted in her announcement about the event “The auction will include small items, sentimental trinkets and household items /furnishings from the A-Frame as used/purchased by Al, Eurithe Purdy and the many literary visitors to the cottage. There are some volumes of old books and magazines that will be included in the auction.”

At this close of summer, beginning of fall, come join us in a one-of-a-kind fundraiser. It promises to leave you Naked With Summer in Your Mouth.

The Al Purdy Library, Ameliasburgh, County Rd #19 in the village of Ameliasburgh. Continue through village to STOP SIGN and turn immediately left on Whitney Rd.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Autumn’s Splendour

Running the waterfront trail along the bay in Belleville, I stopped briefly to take in the view. My eyes were drawn to the new colours emerging on the leaves of the large oak trees, which then drew my gaze to the sun and the reflection it created off of the harbor, which finally drew my gaze to the Bay Bridge, that conduit that connects Quinte to The County. Many boats were out on The Bay this day taking advantage of these last few days of summer. This reminded me that fall, my favourite time of year, is here.

Many years ago, I moved out to British Columbia where I lived on the coast for 14 years. It is a beautiful part of our country, the ocean is awe-inspiring, the mountains are overwhelming and the people are generously friendly. All that was missing for me was the seasons. Typically, it felt like spring all year round. When planning a visit ‘home’ to Ontario, I generally booked a flight at the end of summer so I could catch some of the brilliant fall weather.

During one of my visits home, I met for lunch with an art teacher of mine that I had managed to keep in touch with over the years. He asked me what I missed about Ontario and I told him fall. I missed the beautiful change in colour that Ontario experiences, the cool crisp air and walking in the countryside crunching fall leaves under foot. Shortly after my return to B.C., I received a package in the mail from this teacher. It was full of colourful dry fall leaves which I immediately took outside, dispersed on the ground and proceeded to step on one-by-one enjoying that familiar missed crunching sound.

A few years ago, I returned to make Ontario my home again. Each year since my return, during the end of summer and beginning of fall, my excitement returns and is stronger than ever. My appreciation for fall is deeper. The feeling is similar to the stomach rolling excitement you have as a child on those few days just before the new school year begins.
Fall is full of comfort for me. It is that gorgeous time of year when I leave a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove, pull on my favourite wool sweater and ready myself for an afternoon hike, excitedly anticipating the colourful changing scenery. Upon stepping out, I breathe deep enjoying the crisp feel to the air known only to this time of year; that sweet smell of rain still trapped within the leaves on the ground. Time appears to slow as I enjoy an afternoon walk, taking in nature busying itself with winter preparations; nuts are littering the ground, squirrels are building a cache of supplies, trees are changing their foliage to rich orange, copper, gold and glowing shades of rust. Autumn’s splendour.

Returning home, I enjoy my well deserved harvest supper. Afterwards, I help myself to a hot cup of cider, grab my book and settle in by the fire for a night of cozy reading. My Great Aunt Emma used to request I read to her when her eyes began to fail. Each time I visited her school books from her days at the Plainfield single room school house would be out. One of the books stood out as special, worn and well used; it was the Ontario Readers Second Book in which she would request I turn to the poem September by Helen Hunt Jackson. Although she could recite this poem word for word all these many years later, she enjoyed hearing it aloud. I would start with the first line “The golden rod is yellow”, and she would join in for the rest. This stanza was most treasured;

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

Take comfort in this fall.

Janet Jarrell

Article published in County and Quinte Living

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Karen Solie

Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where she grew up on the family farm. She currently resides in Toronto, Ontario, of which she supposed jokingly, “You will love Toronto more if you can get out of it.” Her bio has an interesting work history; it states she worked as a farm hand, an espresso jerk, a groundskeeper, a newspaper reporter/photographer, an academic research assistant, and an English teacher. Karen has steadily become one of the key players in Canadian literary academia. In 2007 she was one of the judges for the Griffin Poetry Prize.

My post ‘Poetry Brigade’ scribbling about Karen at the Kingston Writersfest has her as a poet that stood up and stood out at her reading. She was wonderful to listen to, her work was original on many levels and she really connected with the audience.

During an open discussion with the other poets there, including Lorna Crozier (the moderator), Kevin Connolly and David O’Meara, she recalled a quote that she repeated to us affectionately (she could not source it and it is paraphrased) ‘If I knew where poems came from, I would go there.’ It was most appropriate and well received.

As Wordfest describes Karen’s most recent writing - “Her newest book of poetry, Pigeon, delves into the intersection of technology and the environment through explorations of violence, bad luck, fate, creeping catastrophe, love and danger.”

Click here to read Karen Solie’s Tractor

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Meeting Lorna

Oh my...inspiration. I personally met Lorna Crozier on September 26/09. She was delightful. Upon first seeing her, I thought her a frail, small, being. She walked into the Writersfest wearing a long brown peasant skirt, a belted top, a colourful long scarf, and her boots stole the show. She moderated the Poets Brigade beautifully- no boring questions, she was interactive and engaging.

Lorna Crozier’s voice has the grace and confidence her life experience has earned. The three attending poets, Karen Solie, Kevin Connolly, and David O’Meara, were great company for the much admired Lorna. As the Poetry Brigade wrapped up she announced with sass “Poetry rocks”.

I met with Lorna at the close of the Poetry Brigade. She was handing each of the mentionned poets back her copy of their own books and requested that they be autographed. She asked them to dedicate the books to ‘Lorna and Patrick as we share everything’. I found this admirable.

Lorna is accessible, generous and fun. Physically, she is small, yet she is strong and wily. We spoke, I asked for a photo with her, she agreed but she needed to excuse herself for a moment; shortly afterwards she made her way through the crowd and found me again, urging me to follow her to a better place to meet - I like her.

We talked a bit about The Sex Lives of Vegetables, her appropriate and non offending use of the word cunt, and her friendship with Al Purdy. The latter started a chat about Al Purdy. They lived a few blocks from one another in Victoria. Near the end of his life they spent a lot of time together. She spoke of an innocent, purely platonic and obviously shared crush on one another. Al, happily married to Eurithe, and she, happy with her partner Patrick Lane, loved to talk, share stories and she was the "sparkle in his eye". As she spoke of Al Purdy, you could hear, feel, how much she adored and admired her friend and fellow poet.

At times while listening to Lorna speak to other attendees, I found myself just watching her in her small frame with her abundant smile. I looked at her teeth and her lips coloured red, thin lips with all of the stories she has told. Her glasses were delicate, the wine coloured frames gracing the tops only wisping into a cat shape at the corners. Her eyes were piercing and sparkled. Her hair was curly, wiry, matching her personality. Her necklace caught my eye. At first it looked like an Inuksuk, though it could have been an angel.

Later that evening I attended an elegant affair mastered by Bill Richardson of CBC. ‘Speak easy’ was an intimate reading with the authors accompanied by a three piece jazz band. It was quite evident that Lorna and the musicians had prepared well for this evenings event. When she began to read from her memoir Small Beneath the Sky about the insects she endured while growing up on the prairies, the musicians used whatever instruments and shakers they had to simulate the songs of the bugs. She proceeded to make moths dirty, dragon flies sexy, and ants “recreate the Earth”.

When she spoke we listened.
When she stopped there was a moment of awe.
She was art.

Monday, September 21, 2009

That which makes us young again…

One evening last week my big black lab and I headed out for a hike at one of our favourite provincial parks. After an invigorating climb through trails up and down steep hills, poor Bailey was quite worn out. As he quickly approaches the 10 year mark in his life, we are seeing his age sneak up on him. He sleeps for much of the day, getting up after a long nap is quite laborious for him and his back legs are strained under all 120 lbs of him.

After the trek in the woods, we headed down to the river for a dip to cool off. Although he is a gorgeous water dog, these days his uncertainty in his back legs prevents him from leaping into the water for that well deserved swim. I have to lead him into the water until it is deep enough and then swim with him. This was really therapeutic for both of us. I do adore him so.

Following the swim I got out, dried off and grabbed my book. I settled in at the river’s edge for a good read, but what happened next took me from my reading. Bailey found friends in the frogs. His whole energy changed. It was brilliant. My heart was light and my breathing made easy to watch one of my best friends acting this young and childish again. His whole body was youthfully wagging, his ears were perked with childish giddy and his tail was wiling his new friends on, “play with me”.

As I sat there and watched him play in the river, the old adage came to mind "You are as young as you feel" and I reflected on the things in life that make me feel younger.

Swimming – Anywhere, but preferable in the lake. River swimming is fun as the current pushes you along, ocean swimming is refreshing and awe inspiring, lake swimming is my favourite, in particular, Lake Ontario. Don’t forget to take in some skinny dipping whenever you can.

Listening to music – and sing along too.

Flirting –It is harmless and can really lift both parties involved. Keep it innocent and friendly and always stay in control of your behavior. Flirting can reduce your stress, boost your confidence and make you feel young and attractive.

Watching fireworks - whilst lying on the grass with your best friend.

Spending time with elders – this is certainly a win-win. The stories you will come away with are priceless and the history is quite remarkable. Thank you, Ted.

Watching comedies - Although he is infamous, I love watching Woody Allen. He is clever and neurotic.

New love - the kind where you feel like you can do anything! Whether you are just falling into love, or rediscovering it with your longtime lover, love makes your heart young.

Being completely ridiculous – going nuts until my teenagers have to give in and laugh hysterically.

These are just to name a few. Feel free to add to this list. What makes you feel young again?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Harvesting The 100 Mile Diet

During a recent hike near my home in the country, I came upon some puff mushrooms, a local delicacy that is delicious, fresh and free! This spurred my idea for that night’s dinner and today’s blog on The 100 Mile Diet.

I had guests for dinner and everything on the table was from my garden or that of local farms. The remark was made that we are actually living this diet. At the time, I was unaware of this movement and its Canadian origins.

The idea for this diet is truly simple, traditional and, in fact, Canadian. The history, as quoted from the website, started when “in 2005, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon began a one-year experiment in local eating. Their 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted, inspiring thousands of individuals, and even whole communities, to change the way they eat.”

I thought I would share how my family enjoys the harvest from our local area. To begin with, apples are in season right now and I am lucky enough to have a few apple trees on the property. We never spray the trees so, yes, as Joni Mitchell would sing, there are spots on the apples, and that does not bother me a bit. They are delicious right off of the tree.

The sweetest freshest corn I have ever had is from Roslin, Ontario. I have been all over the County of Hastings and nothing compares.

My eggs come from a farm that I pass on my way home from work. I always reuse my egg cartons and the farmer sells these eggs fresh that day for $2.00 a dozen. You can really tell the difference in these eggs, the yolk is dark almost orange.

I have my herb garden in pots on my little front porch, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, fresh and ready for each meal. I only take what I need. Some of the plants can be brought in for the winter. Others, like the massive mint and the taragon I have in the front garden will be dried.
My vegetable garden looks like my mind at times, utter chaos, but it is so full of amazing things! Tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, chives, hot peppers which came in handy when I made my salsa this year. (If you peek behind the tomatoes, you will see the salsa). I also have beans and rhubarb and peas growing around the perimeter of the house.

I get my honey from the Morton’s up the road. Our butter comes from Stirling, Ontario. Our milk, ice cream and most other dairy come from Reid’s Dairy in Belleville, Ontario, however our special cheese comes from Maple Dale. I have been able to source out local meat and managed to 'meet' some great people during that process. I enjoy visiting Wendy and Bruce each fall when I pick up my lamb (and maybe a rabbit or two). We also get our beef and pork locally. We know of a source for fresh chicken and turkey, but we prefer the lamb most of all.

Finally, I have found a local organic shop which allows me to order from other sources right here in Ontario for my grains and granola bars and cereal too. The less distance the food has to be transported, the less energy it takes to get it to your table.

If you are in my area, check the following links to make your 100 Mile Diet easier for you.

Farmers Markets Ontario. Find a farmers’ market near you.
Food Down the Road. Locator map, seasonal chart, local-food newspaper for Kingston area.
Ottawa Social Planning Council. Comprehensive Ottawa-area farm directory.

From all other corners of the world, seek out your local food, and then let me know how you do. I look forward to hearing about your harvest table.

With grace,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

International Literacy Day

It is distressing and staggering that in this day illiteracy is still alive and growing in numbers around the world. The immediate connection between illiteracy and poverty is clear. With specific mention to women, who make up two thirds of the illiterate population, this must change. The following is an except from UNESCO on literacy;

September 08, 2009

Objective:On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world.

Some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 72.1 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

As a writer, lover of reading stories and poetry, I support the movement to provide education to those without.

Further to that, I support Wendy Lee and her efforts to bring books to Cameroon, West Africa.
Wendy Lee is a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Cameroon, West Africa. Her project, Books For Cameroon, is aiming to bring 30 bilingual (French & English) libraries throughout regions of Cameroon. Their slogan, 'We are fighting poverty with literacy, 1 latte at a time.'

We can do it one book at a time...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Words Fail Me

This is a recording of Virginia Woolf as published electronically through The Book Bench with The New Yorker. I knew I had stumbled on a treasure when I saw this. Her words continue to inspire me, but there was just something so visceral, so palpable in hearing her speak her own words, listening to her pause and then emphasize certain words, it left me content. The next time a pick up one of her novels, I hope to hear her voice inside my head.

“This is presumed to be the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf. It was recorded on April 29, 1937, as part of a BBC radio broadcast series called “Words Fail Me.” Woolf would have been fifty-five at the time.”

(Partial transcript in this recording)

Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on people's lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today – that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past.

And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, ranging hither and thither, falling in love, and mating together. It is true that they are much less bound by ceremony and convention than we are. Royal words mate with commoners. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy. Indeed, the less we enquire into the past of our dear Mother English the better it will be for that lady's reputation. For she has gone a-roving, a-roving fair maid.

They hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change.

Although this was recorded over seventy years ago, much of the same is true today. Moreover, we are seeing her notion of creating a new language occurring as we speak. We can easily connect with people worldwide through the web, therefore our language, the rules around the use of this language and how we communicate with one another is constantly evolving. The definitions of the words we use accumulates as we assimilate how other dialects create new words, idioms and slang. Thus the need for an electronic dictionary just to keep up. Thousands of new words are added to our language every year, sadly some are retired also. For fun, a completely wonderful way to waste time, check out the Urban Dictionary.


1) well said
2) said in agreement
3) can be used as a greeting, hey whats up


1..and 2..."Yo u goin to that rocks tanite....word"

3. "word up"

Signing off, I say 'Word, to your mother."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No Previous Experience

I am always on the lookout for Canadian authors I have yet to discover. It was while reading a fellow blog called ChickLiteracy that I became intrigued by my next new find, Elspeth Cameron.

Now, this author is by no means new to the world of Canadian non-fiction or biographies or academia, no, Elspeth is simply new to me. Having authored such biographies as Robertson Davies: An Appreciation, The Other Side of Hugh MacLennan and Irving Layton, A Portrait (I have reserved the latter, it shall be my next read), she manages to tell her very own life story with ease. I was absorbed in this book from the start and finished it the next day.

No Previous Experience is an intriguing and engaging personal memoir by Elspeth Cameron about self love, which she discovers rather late in life (not unlike me). This life account is a gripping and honest story about turning your back on the socially constructed expectations and really finding your happiness. For Elspeth this is discovered through a relationship with someone who is her intellectual and emotional equal and who also happens to be a woman.

Although this story is most known for the ‘coming out’ of Elspeth Cameron, for me it was less about the lesbian relationship and more about, well, the relationship. She fell in love with someone. She struggled with judgment and self doubt and a myriad of other outside forces that whispered their interference. She was still married at the time to her third husband. She stayed in this abusive relationship to her husband, managed to get out, but then returned, full of hope. This, for me, is likely the strongest element of the book that I related to, for I, too, have had such relationships. I, too, have either stayed out of fear, or left and then returned, only to find that this was a mistake. It was after reading this book that I was able to see that it was hope, not weakness, that made me return, and it was time for me to let that go. There was just something about reading that lesson, sharing it with the author, that empowered me.

Elspeth Cameron is reminded, and in turn reminds the reader, to cherish female friendships, to hold them closer than any others. In the book, Janice Dickin McGinnis is this life changing female friend and she says to Elspeth,

“Our society is set up to keep women from connecting. We’re all trained to think catching a man is a big deal. Says who? It’s men who want to get married. Women are the ones who sue for divorce. In 80 percent of cases these days. I think. As long as we buy into this, women will view other women only as competitors for the big prize. Divide and rule. That’s what the patriarchy has managed to accomplish. Behind this, of course, is a tremendous fear of the power of women.”

A strong message delivered with courage and honesty, I recommend to you No Previous Experience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


From the blog for Namaste Publishing

The Meaning of Namaste

Namaste” is a Sanskrit word that acknowledges the inestimable value of each individual. It is often used to greet and honor others. Translation: “As I acknowledge and honor the Spirit within myself, so do I acknowledge and honor the Spirit within you.”

The extended meaning of the word has been written as: “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.” To all our readers, I say, “Namaste”.

I honor the place in you which is love, love of truth, of light, and of peace.


Monday, August 10, 2009

The "Hello" Connection

Running along the waterfront during my lunch hour today, I was drawn to the people there, in particular, their eyes. On this sunny hot afternoon, the trail was peppered with kids out of school blading, biking, and many were escaping the heat in the river. There were walkers, a few runners and those using the memorial benches that are intermittently placed along the way. There are times during my run when I come in rather close quarters with others enjoying the use of the trail. At these moments, when my eyes connect with someone else, there is always a friendly hello, may it be by way of a smile, a simple nod, or the word uttered outright. (I wonder many times how loud I am since I listen to rather fast loud music during the run).

I commonly enjoy this familiar connection with the strangers I share my day with. I was reminded that everywhere I have lived or visited I have had this relationship with the locals. I scanned my memories for all of the different places I have been in Canada where I have made this connection. From the small fishing towns in British Columbia, to the bigger cities on the Island and even in Vancouver, a simple ‘hello’ connection was always reciprocated and appreciated. Here in Ontario, I, above all, enjoy my ‘hello’ connection in smaller towns as it can lead to a discussion and then a friendship. I have experienced this friendly connection in many average sized towns, in addition to the larger ones enjoying the response in Ottawa, London and Kingston. The only exception being Toronto where I was pursued by many of those I ‘connected’ with, some just looked at me as if I were a crazy person, some pushed me to accept a flyer, and one stranger scared the hell out of me after he followed me onto the subway. It was dangerous. I quickly learned not to practice this human relationship there! But don’t get me wrong, I still love that city. This is just a warning, ‘when in Toronto…’

Toronto aside, I continue to make my ‘hellos’ part of my day.

Of special note today, I met a blind man wearing large dark sunglasses playing a striking bongo under the train bridge. He was not busking there, just playing. I had to pause my IPOD as I approached. He played beautifully. He could hear me coming; he turned, smiled and nodded in my direction as I slowed my pace. I uttered my ‘hello’. He stopped playing for an instant, raised his hands to the bridge he was under and praised the acoustics of this location. We chatted briefly, inconsequential daily stuff, I did advise him that the train was due in a few minutes, he was excited about that. He made me excited about it too. I could envision his sensation when the train rushed by, the thunderous noise the train would make, the shake it would create in the earth under the bridge, this man was excited to experience this, feel it.

I resumed my run with a smile and an uplifting that I really cannot explain. Although I could not see his eyes, I saw this man, and we connected.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Change your thinking
Let new experience
Be your torch
Chloe liked Olivia
Your torch now lit
Let this experience
Change your world

Take the torch
With courage tell it
Forge ahead of all
Chloe liked Olivia
She will forge further
With courage tell her
How to take her torch

Take truth and freedom
Your mind to the edge
“Fullness of expression”
Chloe liked Olivia
Full of expression
Step out to the edge
Freedom equals truth

Quote from A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf

Freedom to express, try The NaiSaiKu Challenge

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Read Good Writers

I am up early, enjoying a rather cool but sunny summer morning quietly. I go for The Globe and religiously seek out and remove the Book Review section first. I scan this section for key words that catch my eye, pull me in and this determines which of the articles I read first (however, I will eventually read the entire section).

Al Purdy’s name jumps out and I settle in on ‘Shadows and footsteps’ by Alex Boyd. The main point of his article was to read and respect the writing of good authors that have gone before. To paraphrase, read good books, be humble and this will make you a better writer. “Young writers need to be inspired and to admire older writers…meeting them can be a very different experience.” He goes on to recount a meeting he had with Al Purdy in Toronto at the library where Purdy had been giving a reading. After waiting for his turn to speak with the author, Boyd mentions to Purdy with some energy that his poetry was along side some of Purdy’s in Ink Magazine (not very humble I might insert here). The lanky rather complacent Purdy responded with a blunt “Great” ending the conversation and leaving Boyd a bit deflated, and disappointed.

I know a little of what that can feel like having met Al Purdy’s wife (and co-author to a few of his books), Eurithe, earlier this year. It was at an affair for the late Al Purdy where many well known authors and peers of Purdy were speaking. Afterwards, I was looking forward to meeting with Eurithe, who was surrounded by the crowd. I went and got myself another glass of wine while I waited; there was much wine available at this writer’s event, as it should be. Eventually, my opportunity to speak with her came, and I did my best to suppress some childish giddy that was emerging. I also reminded myself that it might not be a good idea to mention that I and a friend had snuck about her property searching for the famous A-frame house they lived in there and attempting to catch a glimpse of the life known to Al Purdy. I am sure some of this energy escaped as I approached and blurted out something in admiration which was met with a quiet “Great” that finished the meeting. I watched in a bit of astonishment as this spry 82 year old woman turned and sprang up the stairs towards the wine and cheese.

I was not, however, disappointed in Eurithe herself, although I may have been a little in me. From what I have read about and by the Purdy’s collectively, they are everything that it is to be humble. Al Purdy himself was met with some harsh criticism in his early days from some great authors like Irving Layton who called Purdy’s early poetry crap of some sort. I am sure Al took that to heart, being a ‘sensitive man’. This humble man and great writer did improve working hard at the craft and surrounding himself with other great writers. He went on to spend a great deal of time with Layton and many others meeting at times at the aforementioned A-frame house.

I guess my point is, if Alex Boyd thinks authors have a role to play, he should come right out and say it. Maybe he is just warning us, reminding readers that we may form our own story about the authors we like, and then come to be disappointed when we meet them in person. I am not too sure. Either way, I do think it is important to read good writers, and I do think that can make you a better writer yourself.

Some wonderful suggestions…

Taxi – Helen Potrebenko (set in Vancouver in the 70’s – this book is a great insight to human nature and culture).

The Blue Hour of the Day - Lorna Crozier (although I also suggest you read everything by this author)

True Stories – Margaret Atwood (provocative cover image depicting a heart that looks like a vagina or vice versa – worth seeking out)

I am off to discover a new to me poet and author Jeanette Lynes from Nova Scotia…

Happy reading and writing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lambent Lament

The golden rod has returned
To the lambent field
It stretches high, higher everyday, waiting
In the lambent field
As the golden rod has returned


Finding "The"

As I sat at the piano

Counting my fingers through

The basic notes

I felt someone with me

It was Hannah Schmitz

And she was counting her words

To The Lady With the Little Dog

It was the same.

Her young lover was teaching her.

Again, same.

Now, I am on my own

As she was on her own

And I am finding 'the' on the piano.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time Has Told Me

Life is messy.
Life is difficult.
Life is chaos.
Life is beautiful.

The more we try to understand, analyze and control life, the more we realize this is futile. We have Darwinism, Freudianism, Marxism, Existentialism, and if you were to look critically at any of these you find yourself into yet another ‘ism’, if it only be that of criticism.

(photo jam343)

Control, tame, limit, contain, dominate, master...these are all terms that allude us when we think of life and growth.

Life forges on, around, and through. It appears as chaos. That is beautiful.

Time Has Told Me - Nick Drake

Time has told me
You're a rare rare find
A troubled cure
For a troubled mind.

And time has told me
Not to ask for more
Someday our ocean
Will find its shore.

So I`ll leave the ways that are making me be
What I really don't want to be
Leave the ways that are making me love
What I really don't want to love.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Uriel's Gaze

I feel You gazing at me
What message do You scribe
From what divine source do You abide
Uriel, sitting with St. Peter, amidst the heavens
From Your divine source I shall abide
The message You do scribe
Feel me staring back at You


Still gazing at The NaiSaiKu Challenge

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Odyssey of Ali Howard

I decided to check up on my facebook today. I have found that Facebook is a world of its own and every now and then it gets interesting in there. Sometimes it is a friend request from some long forgotten boy from the past, sometimes it is an invitation to an interesting event, and then sometimes it is an update from one of the groups I follow.

This one caught my eye - Ali’s Facebook Group - what is going on with Ali Howard? She is in the Vancouver Sun. I clicked on the link and read with some inexplicable sentiment sitting in my throat.

She takes to the water tomorrow!

This led me to my own blog, to re-read an article I posted back in March of this year when I first heard about this inspiring girl.

Ali Howard

To recap, she is swimming the entire length of the Skeena River (610 km) starting at the Sacred Headwaters and finishing in the Pacific Ocean. Ali’s purpose on this adventure is to raise awareness of the importance of the Skeena watershed. The river is one of the longest un-damned rivers in the world, the swift cold waters mean big healthy fish, and it is one of the longest runs of wild steelhead on the planet!

Something about this story makes me a little bit home sick, makes me proud of having some connection to B.C. and, since she is originally from Ottawa, Ontario, just makes me proud to be Canadian. OK, I got a little wishy-washy there – but I really do throw my support behind Ali. I am once more struck with the awe of this venture and the gusto with which she has pushed forward.

Again, feel free to e-mail this new Canadian female inspiration at .

And again, good luck Ali on your odyssey to become the first person to swim the entire Skeena River.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Employ Your Creative Mind

Last night I was invited to a very charming gathering at Fields On West Lake – better known in The County as The Red Barn.

The Red Barn is a romantic heritage spot in the middle of nowhere at the centre of everything. When asked to say a few words about this special place, the owners actually choked with sentiment; their passion for this inherited property was clearly evident.

When I arrived, I noticed the beautiful old century brick home surrounded by farm land and that locally famous barn. Upon entering the barn, I was delighted with the surroundings. High ceilings, large windows allowing plenty of natural sunlight in, and those hanging lamps that made for dreamy lighting later in the evening.

The focus of this gathering was on the ‘Creative Mind’ which in essence encourages and supports creative ways to exist in the County, or as I heard a few times during the evening 'igniting our Creative Rural Economy'. There was a wide variety of people in the audience, from farmers to wine makers, local shop owners to publishers, artists to authors, quite an eclectic group.

My favourite presenter was the very lively Peta Hall who delivered the most memorable quote of the evening (in my opinion). After briefly listing the many places she had visited around the globe in order to find her home, she related that upon coming to the County she felt instantly welcome. She was thrilled with her luck, loved this place and the people and said she felt as though “I landed my bum in the butter.”


In these days of big box stores, over consumerism and the need to sell, sell, sell, this meeting of creative minds served as a confirmation of sorts for me.

One can certainly live on, by and through their true passion.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Slow Down Busy Backson

I am driving back to work after spending my lunch hour in a hurry picking up supplies. I am picking up the last minute supplies for summer camp, vegetarian options for a BBQ at the neighbors’ tonight, and the gift ideas as the BBQ includes a birthday. My mind is busy; I am ‘Busy Backson’, as my daughter has pointed out from The Tao of Pooh. My window is down, it is lovely out and I am listening to Rufus Wainwright; okay, I admit I am singing along with him as if I know him personally.

He will fall from the stars, Studio 54


I see the familiar lights of a police cruiser up ahead, followed by what looks like traffic mayhem. The police escort a long line of cars in a funeral procession as it slowly makes its way through the busy lunch hour traffic on this main street. Traffic slows to a standstill. Lights are blinking, mourners dressed respectably in appropriate funeral attire with matching stoic expressions have their eyes straight ahead, driving, following.

Life seems to slow along with this convoy, time slows too. I am in this moment.

Better pray for your sins, better pray for your sins

The line of cars appears endless at this point. The funeral home is located just over the crest of the hill off of this main street, so I am well aware of the fact that traffic will remain still for the duration of this procession. I find myself sitting up straight, feeling calm and open. There is this unwritten respectful human law whereby we are to remain so, allowing the mourners to stay together en route to the cemetery.

I watch the cars pass by, I look into some of the cars at the people inside and then my eyes are drawn up. I find myself looking around at the scene. The sky is a bright blue contrasted by the white of the clouds, some parts are dark with pending rain and there is a breeze, a more than welcome breeze.

Better pray for your sins, better pray for your sins

A friendly looking gentleman decides he needs to cross these lanes of traffic right now on foot. He cuts through in front of my car, stops and gives me a quick wave and a smile. I nod, bemused and smile back. He continues on, managing to stop and go his way through the cars safely to the other side. He does go right through the funeral procession, although it is evident that he is unaware of this fact. I watch him the entire time. He is interesting, and I am interested. I am interested in the fact that he is oblivious to the funeral procession, I am interested in his friendly face, I am very interested in the fact that from the waste up, he appears to be a sheriff of some sort. He is wearing a dress shirt, vest complete with shining Silver Star and a black cowboy hat. In opposition, and to complete his look, his attire from the waist down consists of jean shorts, pink tube socks and what appear to be women’s shoes. And Rufus is singing…

Wearing tube socks with style, and such an innocent smile.”

Thus my smile, my bemused smile.

I am grateful for these life moments that remind me, force me to stop, breath, and look at life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shine On Me

(dreamer by neslihans)

Summertime, a favourite past time
The favourable past we attempt to live by
Which haunts us so
We icon against Marilyn herself

What was done, has been undoneAdd Image
It's undoing now done
And so I, too, am done.

The favourable past, which must be left in the past
As now IS our favourable time to live by

The NaiSaiKu Challenge

Monday, July 6, 2009

Love Your Writing

Over the weekend, as I sat outside on the summer kitchen porch, I wrote. I had risen early that Saturday morning (unlike me), snuck about the house to make strong coffee and attempted to not wake anyone with my putterings. Let me be clear and honest, this was not out of respect to allow the family a sleep in, but rather selfishly to afford myself some quiet time.

The strong coffee was grande in these early hours and I began my morning hiatus reading Nino Ricci’s The Origin of Species. I had waited in a rather long queue at the local library for this book, eagerly and excitedly signed it out when my turn came round, only to find a copy new-to-me for sale at the same library. Out of pure and raw need to possess (Buddha I continue to fail) I now have both copies in my possession. I don’t really understand my happiness at this.

Anyways, I was reading away, and drinking my breakfast when I was inspired by the early morning air, the smell of basil nestled in the pots about me, the wind as it messed about my hair; whatever it was that made me put down the book and pick up the pen (I have taken to carrying a journal with me wherever I take the book I am reading). Whatever made me write was known only to me and God at that moment (yes, I am paraphrasing Ezra Pound here).

I wrote pages. I wrote short poems, ideas, dreams, everything that made my pen move. I did not hold back. I was unabashed. I was lost in it. Other than the small death of love making, or the out-of-control laughter that grabs me at times when I am with my family and the closest of friends, I have nothing that absorbs me more than that steady hum of the pleasure of my writing. That is what writing is to me.

Writing is my chance to purge the many ideas that well up and are residing inside my head, waiting for their turn. The pen is my voice, the paper the air. I am free to speak my mind. It is my free voice to use and let it all out.

I am no stranger to the spoken word; I am not shy to speak out, by any means. I am well aware of the rules by which we are governed with this spoken word. For example, once uttered and heard, words cannot be taken back; swearing around elders is questionable at best; and generally when you talk about someone behind their back, they are likely standing just behind you – yes, behind your back (sorry Mrs. Turner). In writing, one affords themselves a carte blanche of sorts as it can be put away for one’s eyes only (one hopes!).

When I am in this free moment, this euphoric state of mind, when I give myself the liberty to say the things as I think, when I liberate my mind and desires, I really feel awe – like I could do anything. These are my moments – I am writing for me. I am generous with me, unselfishly generous.

Now, it is confession time – although I have not practiced for almost a decade, the Catholic girl is always inside, talking to me. She confesses now.

I do not allow everyone to read what I write.

This I have grown to be ashamed of. It is in the aftermath that the voices creep in, the judgement is laid down, and my ideas are reconsidered. This is the cross I have to bear. “Oh, that would offend my mother.” or “I cannot say that as so-and-so may think I am referring to them” and “What would the neighbours think?” and so on, and so forth…

My best work happens during chaos, when there are no limits and no rules. Therefore, I encourage myself first, and then you also, love your writing. It is your gift, it is your voice, and it is your freedom.

Write for yourself alone. Be generous with yourself, your ideas, and if you have the courage, share what you can afford to the world (or at least with me, I promise you I will read it, my appetite is ferocious these days).

As I write this, I am sitting propped up in my bed, surrounded in comfort which includes the CBC airing a medley of Frank Sinatra tunes, and oh how I love Frank Sinatra tunes…

I’ve got you under my skin
I’ve got you deep in the heart of me
So deep in my heart, that you’re really a part of me
I’ve got you under my skin

I’ve tried so not to give in
I’ve said to myself this affair never will go so well
But why should I try to resist, when, baby, will I know than well
That I’ve got you under my skin

I’d sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of having you near
In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats, repeats in my ear

Don’t you know you fool, you never can win
Use your mentality, wake up to reality
But each time I do, just the thought of you
Makes me stop before I begin
cause I’ve got you under my skin

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alma gêmea

(Syrup and honey by 6eternity9 via devantArt)

We soften each others fears
Allusions, illusions
Aimlessness, lives together
Twin brain, twin soul, soul mate
Aimlessness lives, together
Alluded, illuded
We soften each others fears

Still 'illuded' by The NaiSaiKu Challenge


Thursday, June 25, 2009


(CityGirl by monislawa via deviantArt)

The weakness comes in waves
When it washes
I am faced with two choices, swim or succumb.
Do I endure or cave to my own desire?
The latter is pure instant pleasure
So I succumb
The need subsides – temporarily
The weakness creeps in again
I can see it watching me
I feel it poking me, tempting me
I taste it as I swallow
I know it is there, stalking me
It can be overwhelming
All encompassing
The weakness comes in waves

Sometimes we bend the rules...The NaiSaiKu Challenge


Friday, June 19, 2009

'There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation'

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Broadcast Date: Dec. 21, 1967

Clearly, a man before his time. His compelling leadership haunts Canadian politics. Since his departure as Prime Minister, we have yet to be lead with such charisma. I was all of 14 at the time of his retirement in 1984 and just starting to pay attention to politics. I knew that we had a love affair with Trudeau and that the nation was now going through some withdrawal of sorts.

At the time, I was attending a Catholic school, I had been brought up in a conservative town and I was not satisfied with the conservative stand on some major issues. I was eager to see positive movement with respect to the right of women to choose in abortions, an issue that politicians continue to fail to resolve, let alone take a stand on. Further, I was eager to see change in attitudes with the myriad of issues surrounding homosexuality. Again, we were and remain, disappointed.

Over the next few years, candidates came and went vying for the Chair. I clearly remember listening to Brian Mulroney belt out his platform at Century Place. The crowd was much more smitten - for lack of a better word - with the beautiful Mila that day and absorbed very little of Mulroney's so called promises. Later, I attended a rally at Centennial Secondary to hear John Turner defend his ‘Reign of Error’ (I actually owned a copy of this book, my father was not impressed). All the while, there was this sadness in the public; we wanted Pierre back!

Trudeau’s prolific reign as Prime Minister has left Canadians hungry for another passionate leader, one whom can really inspire, unite and motivate us. We are still waiting…

The following is an excerpt taken from the CBC Digital Archives

Trudeau's Omnibus Bill: Challenging Canadian Taboos

"There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."

Those unforgettable words made famous by Pierre Trudeau in 1967 caused a tidal wave of controversy that rippled across the entire nation. Trudeau's Omnibus Bill brought issues like abortion, homosexuality and divorce law to the forefront for the first time, changing the political and social landscape in Canada forever.

A young, charismatic Pierre Trudeau, acting as Justice Minister, has introduced his controversial Omnibus bill in the House of Commons. The bill calls for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. Trudeau makes an appeal for the decriminalization of 'homosexual acts' performed in private, telling reporters in this CBC Television clip "there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." Trudeau goes on to say "what's done in private between adults doesn't concern the Criminal Code." The other controversial parts of Trudeau's comprehensive Omnibus bill concern revisions to abortion laws, making it legal for women to get one if a committee of three doctors feels the pregnancy endangers the mental, emotional or physical well-being of the mother. The bill also calls for the legalization of lotteries, new gun ownership restrictions and would allow police to perform breathalyzer tests on suspected drunk drivers if they have reasonable and probable cause.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


(via deviantArt)

Say you are a bird
Bare your mind and body free
There are no limits
Be open to your imagination and your visions
There are no limits
Bare your mind and body free
Say you are a bird

By the way, and certainly related, I recommend to anyone watch The Notebook again.

Still 'open' to The NaiSaiKu Challenge


Why do we blog? Or, I guess I should ask, why do you blog? I suppose there are a myriad of reasons for doing so, there must be for there are millions of blogs out there, literally. If you have ever looked at the catalogue of blogs, you know what I am talking about.

I am quite fascinated by the many blogs I have stumbled upon; some I quickly dismiss, some I am indistinctly interested in and visit at random, and then there are the few that I visit regularly. I am sure, if I permitted myself more time, the list for the latter category would be much longer.
Of note, something that truly fascinates and inspires me is the many different approaches to blogging. I have come across some really beautifully decorated blogs that say nothing in particular and, conversely, I have come across some rather crude looking blogs that truly have something to say that captivates me. This, of course, is all my own personal opinion and subject to my perspective on, well, everything.

I started blogging as a way to discipline myself into writing more often and further to allow others to read my writing, moreover, to criticize what I put out there. In some deluded fashion, this is giving me confidence in my writing. What I did not expect to get from the feedback was the inspiration to keep going.
One aspect of the feedback that I have been grappling with personally is the blog awards that are floating about. I have received a few of these awards but they have strings attached. This last point defeats the purpose of the award, in my own limited opinion. However, I do want to celebrate a few blogs that I visit on a regular basis that I believe make a difference – if only to me.

Here I celebrate;

Kenia at
because she is fantastic, positive and genuine. I visit her daily. Her feedback is food for me.

because she does inspire serenity and touches many people with her story.

simply because I am inspired by the way she sees the world.
because she says it the way she thinks it. We should all be so free (and young!) Sometimes she scares me and that is good too.

I am going to stop there for now. Like I said, this list would be much longer if I could spend more time online reading.

Who would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Temptation, failing
Succumb to thee, desire
Do not placate me
"The safest path to hell is the gradual one."
Do not placate me
Succumb to thee, desire
Temptation, failing

Still 'tempted' by The NaiSaiKu Challenge

"The safest path to hell is the gradual one."
Quote from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Insight from the Dalai Lama

"We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection."

(I'm with you by archlover via deviantArt)

Early Saturday morning, as my girls and I were shuffling around the house readying ourselves for a day at the beach, I was presented with a hug from my teenage daughter. This moment of affection truly had a lasting impact on me, lifting my spirits for the rest of that busy day. I reflected on the significance of this simple gesture. I am not sure if she realized the effect it had on me, as it stayed with me.

I have come to understand our desire to be loved and appreciated has derived from a fundamental human need. The need for human affection. Extending human affection to the people in our lives by way of a simple touch, a warm hug or a soft kiss has a positive impact on our relationships. This basic physical interaction enhances the health and well being of both the giver and the receiver. A true win win! By being open to affection you invite those around you to show their affection in return. Furthermore, by extending yourself to your loving partner, your independent teenager, or whoever is important in your life, you are helping maintain the longevity of that relationship.

Somehow, I stumbled on this quick blog relating to Human Affection and I thought I would share the link. I like the quote and the way it was interpreted too.

It is simple and sweet - love and be loved today.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


(via deviantArt)

Unfulfilled hunger
Visceral semblance
Lascivious look
Unfulfilled hunger

Janet Jarrell

Monday, June 1, 2009

Nino Ricci The Origin of Species

As the site reads,

“Nino Ricci's newest novel, The Origin of Species, is the winner of the 2008 Governor General's Award for Fiction. Set in Montreal in the 1980s, it tells the story of one man's search for love, meaning, and guilt-free sex while trying to get over the scars of an ill-fated trip to the Galapagos.”

I have been waiting in the long queue at my local library to read this book. The last time I checked, my placed had dropped to 4th in line. I have been busy with other books, so I was none too concerned about the wait. But then I noticed, while looking at the upcoming Writer’s Festival in Elora, Ontario, Nino Ricci is on the list of readers.

Again, just another motivation for me to stay in touch with these local festivals.

The Elora Writers' Festival, June 7

It is written.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

"From where I am," the sun said, "I can see the Soul of the World. It communicates with my soul, and together we cause the plants to grow and the sheep to seek out shade. From where I am – and I’m a long way from the earth- I learned how to love. I know that if I came even a little bit closer to the earth, everything there would die, and the Soul of the World would no longer exist. So we contemplate each other, and we want each other, and I give it life and warmth, and it gives me my reason for living.”

“So you know about love,” the boy said.

Photo courtesy of Claire McNeilly


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Excerpt from the introduction;

Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.” And it’s true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all of the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far…

…But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.

Paulo Coelho
Rio de Janeiro
November 2002
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

…”and you understand why you are here.”


Monday, May 25, 2009

Writer's Festival a Success

So, there I sat in the beautiful, open space upstairs at Books & Co. in Picton, Ontario surrounded by many familiar faces. The faces did not belong to friends or family, (well some were friends) but were familiar because they were pictured in the pamphlet we were all given to peruse at the beginning of the night.

I was quite excited about the evening’s readings. We began with Lisa Gabriele reading from her new novel The Archer Sisters. She was fabulous to listen to with a very engaging voice full of energy. Her reading left us laughing and clapping in appreciation.

Next on the docket was Shani Mootoo. I was most eager to hear her read as I have read her writing before. In particular, I have read an excerpt published in a recent issue of ROOM magazine from her upcoming memoir. Shani read from Valmiki’s Daughter and it was at this point in the evening when I told myself I would like to work harder at my writing. She left me feeling both inspired and humbled.

The evening readings finished with a very honest Andrew Pyper reading from The Killing Circle. I say Andrew is honest because he sees and writes the honest feelings in people, good, bad and ugly.

After the readings, we all went downstairs to mingle and have a chat with the authors. The authors were very receptive to meeting everyone. I noticed other authors scheduled for the rest of the weekend were there meeting their colleagues, encouraging one another, and sharing stories. I’d say the evening was a success.

I'd like to again encourage you to see your local listings and attend readings in your area. It is well worth it. A few more coming up are listed below. Thank you to Divawrites over at for passing these along.

The Elora Writers' Festival, June 7

Eden Mills Writers' Festival Sept 18029, 2009

Keep writing,