Tag Archives: books

Underground Formation

Third time starting this post. A most efficient way of prioritizing what I want to write about before the blog glitches up on me again and vanishes into thin air.My recent Young Writer’s Craft evening for our local library went well. Six children attended with ages ranging between five years of age to eleven years of age. Three sets of siblings consisting of four girls and two boys. Two parents, one interested and supportive relative(mine), the librarian and myself spent the evening with these kids. We played some sensory games, memory games,discussed some shared interests, evaluated favourite kinds of books, made some word banks, wrote some summer graffiti on a poster… intentionally,…. created some graphic illustrations and labelled them, created a group story, dramatized some lines from the story using different genre styles, shared a great book and some storytelling and examined some memories in a basket. There were cupcakes also. Some takeaways like little journals, stickers and pencils were the final touch. Every child, every parent and the librarian thanked me for my efforts. My relative invited me over for coffee and snacks. The Word Garden, although very tiny seems to have some strong sporadic growth and is rooted nicely and may produce a harvest yet.

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Ever Bearing Berry Seasons

At about 9am yesterday morning I bought some wild black raspberries at our tiny farmer’s market. Gladly I paid three dollars for the large container. I know the young person selling the berries and I know she found them growing wild in this immediate area. As soon as I saw the berries I immediately thought of my mom and her berry picking excursions that usually included me very much against my will. At this point I started telling the group of neighbours gathered at the teeny market about some of the very close to the surface memories of my mom. They suggested I write about these preserved thoughts and as I have had a patch of dried up and fruitless writing lately I turned on the computer .I picked my usual late hours to produce this mixture of plucked recollections, revised a few words here and there and went by my old recipe of writing from the heart.

Throughout her youth, maturity and old age my mom was in tune with the seasons and made the very most of every available harvest. Berry picking was one of the most tedious things I could think of doing as I was not as motivated as she was by the hard work, strain, heat, exhaustion and endless boxes of berries from our own patch or from other commercial sources. I would rather read, act out stories, play with our puppies and daydream.

Despite this attitude I continued as the many years went by to  suggest to mom that if she would like to go berry picking I would go along or drive her to a local “upick” place as I knew it  would be fun for her. Once we were driven  by a farmer to the very back of a huge field and dropped off for the day so she could pick to her heart’s content. She was well over ninety years old, decked out in shorts and long sleeved shirt with a berry pail attached to her waist with a belt and jauntily wearing a sun hat and her favourite white nurse’s shoes and ankle socks. She was pretty impressive and caught the attention of several younger pickers working their way down the enormous patch. When she saw student pickers taking a break and resting she gave them a piece of her mind and told them they better get busy picking berries if they wanted to make any money. My job was to run the boxes of berries she picked to the end of the rows so they could be gathered up at the end of the day’s pickathon.That day my legs ached and I sweltered in the heat  in total sympathy with the  student pickers but she seemed  content and very proud indeed of her huge harvest. We drove around later to show the relatives what she had picked like  it was some kind of athletic achievement  to have the entire car full of  stacked flats of berries !

Another time at another upick farm and she was in awe of the size of the operation. It was almost impossible to get her to leave the place. She seemed to feel it was her responsibility to pick over the already picked rows to glean the berries missed by others. I pointed out that other rows were untouched and just hanging with ripe fruit but she was determined to give these so called picked rows another going over just for the challenge of finding berries other people, unskilled in extreme berrypicking missed entirely. She stood by our car finally with all the berries we picked and was a bit miffed at having to pay the  required full price by the owner.She had a point. These berries were the ones left by others, under the leaves and close to the ground. They had  been picked and salvaged, saved from waste by her expertise. These berries had been given the treatment her own berry patch was used to, a thorough going over, a picked patch, a job well done.

Again I was glad to finally get her out of there and home for supper. After eating a warmed up dinner of leftovers and several cups of strong tea and a soup bowl of fresh berries with sugar and milk we would face the cleaning and snuffing of the berries. I would sometimes help for a short time and then beg off to go home with excuses of lesson planning or childcare responsibilities. Mom would spend hours cleaning, snuffing, preserving and freezing the fruit, well into the night and totally pleased with her product. These berries made their way into pies and jam for the family and anyone else who would drop in for a visit.

The work she loved on the farm was like this every single day. Involved, committed, determined it was like an industrial project yet fuelled by her love of nature, gardening, farming and family. There were many such excursions and many similar experiences with home-grown fruit and vegetables . All of them are ripe memories just bursting forth at the moment, poised and ready to be simply touched, held and admired for what they are worth. They are inspired by the one box of wild black raspberries gleaned in the bushes and brambles by my young neighbour, undaunted by mosquitoes and the heat. I think I got a deal.

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Write Now

When I see a recently retired friend, neighbour or complete stranger I rarely bring up the fact that they are retired. I don’t think I’ve really ever made much of the fact that they are retired as it really isn’t my business and there are so many more things to talk about. However ,when I am out and about and run into these folks I am almost without fail asked about how I occupy my time these days in retirement.

Answers vary. Sometimes I say I do artsy things but that really confuses people. Sometimes I list things like…I go to the theatre, visit friends, read, write, putter around, cook, take care of things, pay bills and play with my sister’s grandchildren.

This really concerns some people.

They wonder if this is enough for me considering that in the years previous to retiring from teaching elementary school, I worked non stop, raised my son as a single parent, dealt with a very difficult divorce, helped my elderly mother, lead drama workshops, gardened, walked my dog, supervised a couple of cats, had a tearoom, baked pies and tea biscuits for the tearoom, did community theatre things such as organize, write, direct and perform as well as volunteer for front of house, usher, set dressing, costumes, dresser for actors and promotion of productions, taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir, exercised with friends, fixed ( as in paid for) a never ending pile of old stuff in and around my very old house including several vehicles, rented a couple  of cottages, drove up north on adventures to entertain my young son on his summer holidays, cut grass, did yard work, took dance classes, drama and professional qualifications courses, hung out with several very good friends, tried dating again with very limited success because I am a” jerk magnet”, lost a pile of weight, gained the weight back again, worked on never ending decluttering projects, scrounged and saved to put my son through university and support him in his theatrical pursuits and generally coped with stuff.

Now I continue to do theatre things with my adult son, enjoy my extended family, visit libraries “for fun”, read obsessively, blog, write a bit here and there, go to book talks, poetry nights, theatre outings with the girls, stay up late, watch foodie programs, cook a little, go to small farmer’s markets, visit a bit with my closest friends, supervise the golden years of a very old cat, provide dog babysitting for my son’s bulldog at the drop of a hat, do errands, fix things as usual, grow a few things, sit on my recliner, my porch and my yard swing watching the world go by, cope with my arthritis issues, try to be as healthy as possible and sometimes I even make it to church.

However, I don’t make a big deal out of finding out what others do in their retirement because I am a tad sensitive to the judgement of such an inquiry.

I never ask. I just write.

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Catching Up With Appearances

The last couple of days I’ve been getting ready for visitors. Preparations involve cleaning, tidying up, decluttering ,shopping and watching the weather forecasts. The cleanup should have been ongoing like a routine already established but it is easy to overlook cleaning when I’m mostly reading during the day and watching international cooking programs well into the night.

Suddenly, with the realization that things need doing and how I have interspersed my reading through the day and food show watching during the evening with laundry, scrubbing the shower with a toothbrush, polishing up the cutlery, hiding old pots and pans, considering buying new pots and pans, buying nice fresh stuff to eat rather than making do with whatever surfaced, cleaning out the refrigerator, attempting to de-ice the sidewalk, buying extreme de-ice melt salt, giving up on improving the miserable chunky ice on the sidewalk and realizing that although things are significantly cleaner, better organized and presentable I could go on like this for several days before reaching the desired level of whatever I hope to achieve.

Considering that the weather is turning slightly foul and my visitors are travelling a far distance it is chancy whether or not that they will arrive tomorrow or postpone until next week. Either way, until they get here I can continue to move piles of neglected tasks around, scrub more corners with a toothbrush moderately improving my environment while finishing up reading the current three novels I’m engrossed in and binge watching foodie programs.

If this pace is maintained I will soon be worthy of starring one of those trendy home makeover programs that shame the  messy culprit with the before scenario and then praise the final results. Not only that, but another showcased skill  I could aspire to also would be a so called expert on cooking in New Zealand, Iceland, England,France, Singapore,  and diners and dives in the States, lifestyle and cooking tips from Toronto, Canada and  a soon to be informed individual on African cuisine. Not only that but I could discuss the merits of older style books by Thomas Hardy,Margery Sharpe, Willa Cather and Laurie Lee, just to name a few. I think the program would have an appeal, especially  among those of us truly glad to have visitors, only once in awhile.

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Standstill

Hate the shed door.

Not really

a nice feature

keeping

garden tools in the little den

Poor cat, bipolar perhaps, but a hit and miss bird watcher like me.

Been sorting

out

some books since 2012 and still

not done

Stuff.

Watching neighbour feed the birds, a ritual everyday and the birds love it almost as much as the squirrels do, dependable creatures in a way.

The summer it will be too hot but that is when the door to the shed will get fixed

unless

it takes a few more journals over the years

to write

about how

much I hate

the broken door and how

the garden tools are still

in the little den

salvaged pots of fall plants primly sit with artificial lit ones and only a few dry leaves on the pointsettia beside the jug of bittersweet and the amaryrillis despite being too deeply planted inches up

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Into The Books

Looking for many hidden dragons and finding the gorilla sneaking into the zoo keeper’s bed were just a couple of the adventures I shared with a three year old child yesterday. Among other things such as little pigs making big messes and needing hidden kisses from a mother racoon we also considered how to detangle the horns of the wild reindeer so that they could be harnessed to fly. Worries about everything a three year old and her parents might worry about such as going to school and deciding what costume to wear in a parade and listening to the wisdom of a very cool laid-back grandma were covered in depth.It was a very full story hour or two and intense enough for my over sixty years old self. However,it was a precious part of her three year old day along with her special gifts, family and fun around her. This little patch of the day, shoulder to shoulder finding ourselves inside the storybooks together, sharing the stories,art and wonder. The blessing for me was to hear the tiny sighs and laughter responding to my telling and pointing out and questioning either the obvious or the insightful. You had to have been there.

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Thankyou, Ruth!

Inspiration can come along in many ways and today it was in the country library. It was a combination of several things such as the neat and orderly setting, the book lined walls and the familiar folk gathered there . The author we all celebrated there today is a gentle speaking, delightful senior that held our interest and also charmed our hearts with her book launch.

This writer has been writing a variety of articles and material for many years. She is published and has been nominated for awards. Today, she read from her most recent book which just happens to be historical fiction. It is rich with material from her own heritage as well as her knowledge of farming in the pioneer days.

The energy in the library, as she lead us through the chosen excerpt from her book was the kind of sensation you feel when something meaningful happens on a very good day and all seems for the moment peaceful, calm and positive. Being part of the group there today and enjoying the overall experience I came to the realization that she had given me a boost as a writer but I think there were connections  with everyone gathered there.

Respectful admiration, community and family support, good humour, down to earth conversation and practical discussion were the artistic vibrations resonating in the small but packed to the gills rural library today. Chairs had to be brought in from the nearby hall to accommodate the crowd, all of her books were purchased, signed and her own son gave up his own copy to a delighted fan and it was all topped off with a delicious cake ( made by her daughter, no doubt) and glasses of cider. We were all there to celebrate the love of writing that this author shared with us.

That is what I felt in the room and I can best describe it as inspiration. A young person in attendance today shared her appreciation of this author with me and it was glowing, enthusiastic and appreciative. Now, that’s energy!

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Confession

It may strike some of you as odd that my printer is in a black shopping bag in the backseat of my car. It has been there now for over a month….uh, make that…two months. Thinking it was in need of repair I took it to my tech savy nephew to check over and advise me on it’s glitches. Although it was given a clean bill of health I just left it, abandoned and bagged. If I didn’t bring it into my study I couldn’t hardly use it, could I?

With no printer in the house my excuse for not working on my writing stockpile convinced me to just let it stay there for the time when it would be needed and work would then commence. It is not totally alone out there as I tend to keep things from garage sales and various projects awhile in my car until can deal with them.

With the chaos caused by my son’s belongings returning home for storage in the so called empty nest and then being claimed again in several carloads going in another direction I felt the need to sit in my  recliner, drink hot milky tea and eat fig newtons ( my favourite)  while reading Graham Greene, Mary Stewart, Katherine Webb and Laurie King . Visits from his bulldog also occupied my concentration and composure. Coping as best as I can with the commotion my printer and garage sale stuff faded into the background.

Any theories on this behaviour might reveal my underlying procrastination problems. Tomorrow, if not later tonight after I finish this blog , I will get the printer out of the car and place it on the desk beside the computer and hook it up like a normal person trying to develop a writing stockpile. I believe I have been cured or maybe I have just seen the light.

Once that simple act is done, the next step will be to use the new writing program purchased with my laptop…over two months ago. Ignoring the unfamiliar features and widgets on the program that intimidate me I will forge ahead and make use of the parts of it I understand. Most of the program is fluff stuff and I will never need it and despite my buyer’s remorse I will carry on with writing, filing, editing, saving and printing.

Time to make hay after the drought and being lost in the wilderness .

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Serendipity Geek

Something I would never do just for fun would be to list my favourite books. I don’t think there is a job posting available for this  that would pay me to do this either, but no doubt someone does this kind of thing for a living. Working in the book industry in any way would be a pleasant experience except for the ruthless culling of books not making the best selling lists. It seems like a great loss to me to just toss out a book because it isn’t trending well in the current market. Then again, the monumental selection of books, old and contemporary is mind blowing, overwhelming and fascinating. A method I have used in selecting books to give them a try is rather laid back. Mostly, I read the ones left on the library table by someone else or if they are in the sale barrel marked down, way down. Finding an interesting book left forgotten or on purpose on a public bench or in a taxi sometimes turns out well but may not be the most sanitized source.

I have surfed bookstores looking at each and every shelf until a title or author speaks to me. Sometimes this works but due to the expense of books it is risky and not advised. Recently, I’ve taken to reading book blogs and copied down titles recommended by reviewers and with the help of my helpful community librarian tracked many of these books down from the far reaches of the inter-library system within our province.  Once in awhile I still venture into the dark recesses of the second hand bookstores with an attitude of adventure prepared for finding something unusual, out of print and simply amazing. The appeal of  finding old literary treasures makes my day. Obviously this method  of book selection defies list making, as it should.

It is a magical thing when you find a good book that seems to be meant for you. The connection between the author and the reader can’t be restricted to a list. It happens.

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Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Made hot milk tea today and I kind of liked it. Made it twice. Making it again, right now. It just seemed to be that type of day. Cool enough to walk. Warm enough still to wander around a closing greenhouse. Long enough to do some never ending found laundry left by a flown the coop son. Time for a historical bibliography to be read fully in parts and skimmed in detail. A visit for coffee next door and a visit in the lane to talk about the kids. Emails checked for news pertinent, personal, comic and sad. Snail mail rerouted returned yet again, rerouted once more. Addressed wrong. Milk tea however, nice, even twice, perhaps thrice.

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