Monday, December 29, 2014

A New Window

2014 is almost over. In two more days we will greet the new year. Through a new window we look ahead and through the old window we look behind at the year that is ending. I will not take the time to list or sift through all that happened in the last year. I will as I regularly do read back in my journal and put the days and months in perspective. I will also think ahead to what I expect the coming days and months to bring. I will prepare for some of the events ahead and believe that the things I look forward to will come to be. We have a wedding to celebrate, a book to launch and a book week tour to do. I hope these things become real experiences that I can document in my 2015 journal. I don't know of course what challenges or difficulties will be interspersed that could quickly change the events I have mapped out for the months ahead. I say this not with fear , worry or trepidation, just with a knowledge of how life has a way of unfolding in a manner we don't always predict. The new window offers a vast array of opportunity and each day will come with possibility and blessings and hopefully the strength we require. So on to whatever 2015 brings.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Look For the Light

This morning I got up earlier than usual. I got up before first light because my trusty furnace keeper was on a mission to deliver turkeys and chickens and stayed in Moncton all night. The house wasn't cold but I decided that I should start the furnace before it got cold. Usually with Burton's attentive patrol the fire seldom gets down to coals. I am spoiled in that way since he retired. The early rising gave me the gift of sparkling light. There is something about twinkling Christmas lights in the early morning that touches my soul. The lights give me a feeling of peace, hope and anticipation. Just like the excitement of Christmas morning taking time in the early morning to just enjoy what lies ahead is a wonderful thing. Today I will make scotch cookies for Caleb and Ashlie to take to Chester. I do wish they were staying home with us just as I wish Meg, Cody and the girls were coming but I understand they are where they need to be. I will enjoy my quiet Christmas knowing that if I am blessed with more Christmases in the future, they will be filled with years when we have everyone together, when we will welcome more grandchildren and our numbers will swell. Christmases past , present and future are what I celebrate in this early morning light. I look into the light and see it all and let my heart rejoice.

Friday, December 19, 2014

What a Day!

What a glorious day! The sun is shining brightly. There is just enough snow to cover the ground and trees and it looks absolutely beautiful. My home is warm and comfortable. Christmas lights are twinkling on the tree, on the railing and in the windows. Treasured decorations are on display. Gifts are all wrapped and waiting to be delivered to our loved ones. I am getting ready to whip up a batch of my mother's Scotch cookies. I may even need to do a few mocha cakes to make the season complete. I have a thankful heart for all the Christmases that have come before this one. My Mom and Dad certainly went all out to create wonderful Christmases for us when we were kids and many of those traditions came into our home as we raised our four children. I am also feeling peace today and taking deep breaths to truly appreciate the gifts of this day. I talked to my daughter for a few minutes this morning and even though she is so far away I feel such happiness when I hear of her little family enjoying and tackling the approach of Christmas 2014. Her new home is decked out with Christmas lights that I will not see but take comfort in knowing they shine where she is. Too sentimental? I don't think so. This is a day and a season to be sentimental and I embrace it all. My parents are in Florida doing their Christmas things in the sun amongst new found friends instead of family but I am so happy that they are able to do that. They will always remain a part of my Christmas. Later I will spend time with my friend Marlene in her new home. I will help her wrap, even though her wrapping standards are stricter than mine. I remember how the simple gifts we gave each other as kids meant so much to us; a sweater with puffy sleeves, three bags of ketchup chips. We will have supper together using the China Wok gift certificate I gave her last year with her Christmas present. How quickly the years go and how valuable our time together is.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Let Your Heart be Full

Step back and take a deep breath. Check on your well being and the well being of those you love. Do the things that fill you and let the rest of it go. Take solace in knowing that you did the best you could do and move on from here. These are the things reverberating in my muddled brain this morning. I feel somewhat like a wet dishcloth. The twinkling lights on the greenery on my upstairs railing offer me a quiet and soothing look at the beauty of this time of year. I take great comfort in the continuity of the decorations I pull out every year. They stay the same in the constant change of everything else. This morning I will join my friends in a group we call the 82 Moms(we all had babies in 1982)for a Christmas buffet at the Rothesay Golf and Country club. These girls have been a constant in the last few years. We meet once a month and as the months fly by and as we all meet challenges and greet joys in our lives we listen and support each other. What a gift this has been. So this will be how I tackle today; spend time in the company of friends, absorb some beautiful Christmas decorations, eat some tasty food and let my heart fill up from the somewhat limp and depleted state it currently finds itself in.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bayside Middle School

On Tuesday December 2nd I spent the day at Bayside Middle School. I had a great day. Students and staff were very welcoming. Thankyou Ms. Fullerton for inviting me and organizing my visit. I spent the morning with 21 students who were part of a book club. They had all read at least one of my books. What a joy it is to meet readers and see my stories through their eyes. I told the kids I would answer one of the three questions they wrote for me at the end of the morning. Kennedy-Yes you can have a signed copy of one of my books. I will send it in with Ms. Fullerton. Thankyou! Sydney-It was very difficult writing The Year Mrs. Montague Cried but I am very thankful that I had the time to do it and I am thankful that it became a book. Thank you for reading it. Kayce- The Memory Chair is about a girl who becomes closer to her great grandmother after seeing parts of her great-grandmother's life through memories she has while sitting in a chair at her great grandmother's house. She discovers a family secret. Jenna-I do not make a lot of money. My royalties are 10% of the cover price. Molly-Usually I know the title before I write the book. Sometimes I change the title. I google to make sure there is not another book with the same title. Ireland-It is hard to write a book. You have to take your time and do the work to get it to be the best it can be. Even after it is written you can see changes that could have made it better. Editors help you make your manuscript better. Kori-I met my husband in Grade seven. He became my boyfriend in Grade 9. I am not recommending that but sometimes it works out. We have been married almost 38 years so it seems to be working out for us. Lana- Getting through the loss of Zachary is something my family is still doing everyday. Hannah- I plan to try to write a book a year for the next twenty years. We shall see. Grace-I have not gotten a lot of negative feedback but when I do I try to accept what is being said. Sometimes negative feedback can be more helpful than positive. Mikayla-I like writing because I get to make up characters and work through a story with them. I love stories! Deanna-Thank you for your kind words! Madison-My life is similar to Amelia's in some ways. I have a big garden, farm animals and I love the Walton Lake and think it is a place of healing. Sarah-I love having dogs as pets. Chiamaka-My next book will be out in April 2015 Lauren-Writing had changed my life in several ways. I get to spend time doing what I love . I enjoy the writing , the editing, seeing the finished book and meeting readers. Heather-I have some ideas about what happens after the end of The Sewing Basket but I leave that to the readers imagination. Samantha-I love to swim in my spare time. I also like to knit ,spend time with friends, garden and go for walks in the woods. I also love to spend time with my granddaughters. John-Yes, my next book will have a body of water. The Saint John River is in my next book. Lake Ontario is in the next and my sixth book has the Saint John River again. Water and swimming is definitely something I put in my books . One page had no name I think it is Anya and I am probably not spelling her name correctly. Sorry! I plan to write a sequel to Ten Thousand Truths.The working title is Shame the Devil. In the afternoon I visited two classrooms . The time went very quickly .Thank you so much to each of the students and the teachers.

The Days That Matter

I have been away. I pulled off a major surprise and arrived at Meg's without her having any idea that I was coming. A few weeks ago Emma was in tears on the phone because she missed her Monkey and to add to her misery she realized we weren't coming for Christmas. For a few times afterwards she would always end her phone calls with 'See you next year Monkey' in a sad little voice that broke my heart. Her sad little greeting gave me the motivation to pay a surprise Pre-Christmas visit . It was wonderful. We made crafts, baked cookies and cupcakes, read books , went swimming and got lots of hugs and snuggles in. Paige was so excited to have her Monkey and her delighted little voice still echoes in my head. Last night she told Grampie'Monkey's coming back'. Oh I will be back for sure and each moment I spent with them is right here with me, each one now a memory to add to our collective repertoire. I used to say to my kids 'these are the days that matter'. That is so true. My brother in law Leonard died early Tuesday morning. He came to be with us on Oct 24th knowing that his time was short. He wanted to come home to NB to spend his last days with family. He did that. His older brother kept vigil as his life passed and he said his goodbyes. All our days matter. The sun came out briefly this morning filling my heart with hope. The clouds have now filled the sky and it is raining again after yesterday's heavy downpours but I know we will see the sun again. We will get through these next few days together. We can hold on to the fact that we welcomed Leonard home and gave him as much comfort as we were able to. We will tell our stories and reflect on the days that Leonard David White was given.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Deciding on December

I can hardly believe that today is the last day of November. This bleak and chilly month has passed quite quickly and so many days ended with stunning sunsets. We have a good ground cover of snow and yesterday my woods road walk on some of the trails Burton had not broken with the tractor, were challenging. As I knew it would, the road has taken on an entirely different look and feel as I make my way up to the 'park'. So as November comes to an end I look toward December. December can be difficult and the circumstances we have been given this year will not be easy, but as I think of the days and weeks ahead I am deciding how I will do December. I will take each day as the wonderful gift it is. I will fill this month with family and embrace the time I have to spend with each one. I will bring out boxes of Christmas memories and find a place to display them that will fill my heart with the feeling of home and tradition. I will look at that job as a privilege not a hardship. I will celebrate the day we were given our son Zachary 36 years ago, feeling of course the deep sadness that his life ended but be so thankful that we had him with us for twenty years. I will give gifts to the people I love, not worrying that I haven't spent enough or that I've spent too much. It is not the gift but the giving. I will cook a bit and each dish I take from the oven and set on our table I will be truly thankful for and thankful for each person that gathers around our table. Each day I will make the choice to be thankful, to be completely present and mindful of the blessings we have been given.

Monday, November 24, 2014

All Right Everyone

Do you ever find your mind so overloaded that for a few seconds you do not even know where you are headed or what you are doing? That happened to me on Friday as I drove right by the ferry landing, deep in thought, totally forgetting my purpose. My Purpose. Now that's something to reflect upon this morning. What is it I have been given to do? I have reflected before on the role of being the mother, the wife, the woman. Interesting at best, exhausting at its worst, but challenging always. I am often heard muttering 'All right everyone or OK Everybody', sometimes to no one in particular or no one at all . I even say it when I am all by myself. Crazy? Perhaps , but I like to just see it as a strategy for keeping it all together. That one simple phrase speaks loudly to what I do everyday. Some call it multi-tasking but I think it is more like multi-asking. Is everybody on my list OK? My husband, my kids, my granddaughters, my grand dogs, family , friends, myself. These last couple of weeks as I check my 'Is everyone OK' list I have checked myself first. This is crucial because as far as I can see if I'm not OK, I can't look out for anyone else. I know that is not a new theory but it is certainly something we multi askers have to remind ourselves of once in a while. I am proud of who I am and what I am to others. Even though we are given difficulties we are also given so many blessings. So as this Monday morning begins I say OK Everyone, and for right now everyone including me is OK. For that I am so thankful!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When the Sun Sets

Friday afternoon as I came down from my woods road walk and into the open field, this stunning sunset stopped me short. I stood in awe of the fireball sunset and tried to take in its fleeting beauty. Before it disappeared I went in to get my phone and take a picture of it from an upstairs window. The brief glimpse of such beauty was a gift I received by being in the right place at the right time and by paying attention. It is the paying attention that I am most grateful for. What about when the sun sets? What gifts await us then? My first thought is rest. The night gives us rest and an opportunity to regroup. My family might say that my favourite phrase is 'I'll rally'. After the sun sets we get a chance to rally, to look at the day that just ended and look to the days to come. 'One day at a time" takes on a whole new meaning when you see someone faced with an illness that has been given a timeline. How different than sudden death, when the loved one was there when the sun went down and gone when the sun rose the next morning. On this Sunday morning I just ask for the strength to rally, to take this new day and soldier on as my wonderful military minded husband would say. I started this entry attempting to make comparisons to a sunset and life but have just managed to make myself cry. Crying is something I never make apologies for, so I will just cry a bit and then get to my day with all the hope it brings. I will fit in my woods road walk and maybe be given another beautiful sunset to reflect upon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When the Sun Shines Through

In one of the reviews of my first book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried the reviewer made the comment " Although death and depression loom, the encouragement to live and grow yourself with words is like a big yellow sun behind all the clouds." What better thought to hold on to during the bleakness of November and just before the solemnness of Remembrance Day. This morning the sun is strong. Its rays are flooding my office and I feel a hopefulness for the day and the weeks ahead. We know they will not be easy but we also know that they just as the sun waits behind the clouds there are blessings behind the difficulties. The blessing of family, of friends and community, the blessing of purpose,and the blessing of place. I will take the gift of today's sun and let it fortify me for the bleak days ahead. I have confidence that sunny days get interspersed with the cloudy ones.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Now it is November

How upsetting and overwhelming the last few weeks have been. A soldier was run down and killed in a vengeful act . Another soldier was executed at out war memorial and parliament was invaded by a young man with intentions to do more harm. In NB we have sentenced another young man who gunned down three RCMP officers to five life sentences. He did not in his calculated act of aggression consider the harm he was causing , the suffering to the families , the community and the senseless act of taking three lives. The harm that was done of course by both of these troubled young men was to our security , our confidence , our very faith in the values we hold. We know of course how fragile all those things are and we also know we have no immunity from the terrible things that happen every day ,everywhere. Then a man I daily allowed into my home through my radio, hugely disappointed me. Again I had to come to terms with the vast difference between what we hold on to as the truth and what the truth really is. The struggle is to find a place of truth that still allows us to have enough optimism to keep us going day to day. A balance of sorts that keeps us believing that the world is a good place. How fragile that all is. How quickly life takes a turn that completely takes the rug right from under you. This month of November, this bleak month of transition to winter, will hold a huge challenge in this house. We will try to keep it a month of family, a month of doing our best to comfort and support one another, and a month for accepting the good and the bad that life gives us. The picture I included today was taken the November day that Burton's tractor arrived. The last payment for this beloved piece of equipment was taken out on Oct 31 so we can celebrate the fact that it is now paid for, which is wonderful. Now if I can just convince him that he doesn't have to rush right out and trade it for a bigger one.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Holding on to Hope

My worry list seems a bit long these days. When considering the writing of a blog entry yesterday I felt too bogged down with the items on that list and felt unable to muster up much hope.This morning I feel more able to see the glimmer of the light my blessing list usually offers me. Hope is a powerful force that finds the surface despite what life throws our way. Hope does not change the difficulties but gives us the assurance that we can get through the tough stuff. I do not pretend to have any idea what a person needs to tell themselves when they are given a terminal diagnoses. So much of the hopeful things I hang on to have a timeline stretching into the future. I do know how quickly a life can be over and know first hand how a family deals with the days , months and years after the loss. I try very hard to see the present day as a gift to be savoured and enjoyed. We as a family are taking a journey with Burton's youngest brother.He has returned home to live out however many days he has left. We will take each day , which in reality is all any of us are given. So this day I take a deep breath, I add things to that blessing list and take comfort and strength from the people I love. Today ,I hold on tightly to hope.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another October Monday Morning

What a lovely fall and beautiful October it has been so far. I did have to wear my winter coat when I went down to get my granddog this morning but that's OK. We really haven't had to have the furnace on too much yet and when we have I welcomed that warm cozy feeling wood heat brings,as the days shorten and the dark evenings descend on us. Burton is in the woods and the winter's wood will soon be brought in. Caleb and Ashlie pulled the carrots yesterday so the garden has been harvested. The leaves continue to fall and cover the lawn and I will not mow again until spring. The leaves cover the wood road and the tall ferns are now brown and bending to the ground. The road is easier to navigate and Burton's daily trips with the tractor are creating more trails to follow. Biscuit, our new addition now happily follows me most days completely enjoying his new found freedom . His gait is quicker and he even gallops which is exactly the right word for his long legs. This morning I will read through my manuscript with the first round of edits complete to make sure every sentence and paragraph are what I want them to be. I hope to finish that today and get back to the book that has been in the forefront of my mind this fall. A few more weeks should finish that one and I will mull over what my next one will be. I have a few more market days before it closes on November 22. I have so enjoyed the weekly interaction with readers, buyers and passerbys. Even if someone walks away with a bookmark I am happy to have made a connection. So today I am reading The Memory Chair out loud to myself as if I were reading it to my class. How wonderful is that? I get to write and I get to read and after the reading there is no playground duty. I do miss the real students though but look forward to my next book that real students will someday hold in their hands.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Days of Being Thankful

We have just finished three days of being thankful. I would like to think that being thankful is something I am everyday. I know some days it is easier to keep a grateful outlook than others but if I take the time to process and reflect I can usually put things in perspective and clearly see how much I have to be thankful for. Being a list maker I sometimes list pros and cons when considering something and often list worries and blessings. Too much time on my hands? Maybe. But often when I see my worries beside my blessings the worries fade and take up less room in my head. Because really as more years on this earth keep teaching me,often the things we worry about the most are things we have no control over. Yesterday,we walked the roadways and paths of Kings Landing. We have been taking our kids on that walk for 28 years. It feels like coming home and just as home goes through changes, Kings Landing has too. I spent eleven summers volunteering there and most of the people I met are no longer working there or have passed away. I predicted that I would see Evelyn still there and was happy to run into her in front of the Morehouse house. It was great to see her. It was somewhat sad to see some of the changes and things deteriorating in buildings, bridges and fences. I hope Kings Landing gets the funding it needs to upgrade the facility. It would be such a shame to let this gem disappear. I certainly understand change. As my kids grew that growth was documented in annual Kings Landing pictures. My fashion and hair styles were also documented. Whenever we are lucky enough to have Meg, Cody and the girls join us for Thanksgiving we will also see our granddaughters in those pictures, as they grow. And I will always be able to find Zac on those roadways, in the houses and barns. When he was twelve he spent a week as a visiting cousin. In his costume which included pants way too short, held up by knitted suspenders and with a straw hat on his head he fit into the scene at the Joslin farm as if he were born in 1878 instead of 1978.So yesterday I took pictures of Chapin, Brianne ,Caleb ,Ashlie and Burton. I got in a picture so that in years to come my outfit and hair can be commented on. Changes will continue and pictures taken in the years to come will document them. We have had another Thanksgiving with so much to remember and treasure and so much to be truly thankful for.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fog Lifts and Gives Way to Turkeys

Yesterday brought some heavy rain in the morning. The fog lifted in the afternoon bringing beautiful double rainbows which many people photographed yesterday and shared on their facebook pages. This morning the sun shines brightly, the air and the promise of a new week is fresh and inviting. Our troop of turkeys are enjoying a new found freedom now that they are allowed to roam at will through the mostly harvested garden. Their freedom will be short lived, but for today they are in their glory. I love the personalities of turkeys. They are so much more social than chickens and definitely not as nasty as geese. Last week was the 2nd annual Fog Lit Festival. From all reports it was very successful. I attended Words and Wine Thursday night hearing readings from Beatrice MacNeil, Gerard Beirne, Lesley Crewe and Jonathan Roy. Saturday I did a story time at SJFPL with some active and enthusiastic children. I was thankful for the musical offerings of the girls from InterActions. Yesterday I picked Riel up and we spent the morning at the BigTide Brewing Company for Books and Brunch. We enjoyed the good company of other readers and writers at the final Fog Lit event. Clyde Wray and Joan Hovey were the host authors. I enjoyed hearing the readings of Rosi, Annette, Max, Andrea, Rosalyn and Abby as well. Good job and congrats to all the organizers of Fog Lit. I am sure they are breathing a sigh of relief on this sunny ,morning after. So we look ahead to Thanksgiving. I wish our family celebrations could include Meg, Cody and the girls but we will hope for that for next year. Oh so many things to be thankful for! On this day I will, just like the roaming turkeys, concentrate on the blessings and gifts of the day and not let the worry of things to come and things beyond our control cloud this beautiful sunny day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On to October

As September comes to an end I look ahead to October . First thing, my beautiful granddaughter,Paige has a birthday. I wish I could hop on a plane and be there Saturday morning. On Saturday instead of getting to see my granddaughters I will be reading to other children at the SJFPL during a Story time event for the Fog Lit Festival. There are several other events that I want to attend. Check out the Fog Lit Festival at or Congratulations to Riel Nason for her Saint John Originals Literary Arts award. Louisa, Ashlie and I enjoyed the Gala on Friday night. I was very pleased to have been nominated . (Riel let me hold the award) Saturdays at the market have been great. Book sales are good and I have met some very nice and supportive people. This past Saturday I saw a former student and met her kids. Her daughter told me how much she enjoyed reading my book and shared her love of writing with me. It was so nice to see them. I often get e-mails back from readers. I got a couple of really nice ones last week. One said that she and her daughter really think Ten Thousand Truths should be a movie. Author Lesley Crewe who will be reading at Fog Lit just had her book Relative Happiness made into a movie. Who knows? I am still waiting to begin editing The Memory Chair. Writing continues on the book I am working on now. I am possibly on the last twenty pages. I will miss the characters I have come to know so intimately. I am thinking ahead to the next book though and as with most things, that will come to be when the time is right. So October stretches ahead and this last day of September begins . The drizzle and fog is so much different than the bright, sunny, warm days of the past weekend which were a wonderful goodbye to summer. October will bring the changes we have come to expect, the last of the garden will be harvested ( we ate the last of our delicious corn Sunday night), the winter's wood will start to fill the basement, the furnace will be on more than not , leaves will fall and the temperatures will drop.We will celebrate Paige's birthday from afar, look forward to our Thanksgiving weekend traditions , take our annual girls shopping trip and see what else October brings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Falling Into Place

I have not written on my blog since September 9th, my blog coach /daughter just reminded me. Being a very busy Executive assistant I'm not sure how she had time to alert me to that fact but with her prompting I tried again. I have been stumped by my blog lately as sometimes when I sign out I can not get back on . There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why sometimes my password gets me right on and other times it doesn't . I have tried a few times lately and not been able to get on and gave up. This time it loaded without even asking me for a password. Oh well, the joys of technology. Just ask the people in charge of New Brunswick's election yesterday. Apparently the electronic system that was going to make everything so much faster did not quite work that way. At this point they are saying that the Liberals won but we shall see. I am not going to talk politics though or dwell on my technical difficulties. Instead I am going to say what a beautiful Fall day this is. The trees are changing color slowly but each day the change becomes more visible and vibrant. The air is certainly cooler and I believe my last lake swim was two days ago. September is moving along. I got grant applications sent away and sent my book week contract. I look forward to the Saint John Originals Gala Friday night. Ashlie will enjoy the evening with me and as they say "it was just an honor to be nominated" no matter the outcome. I am participating in the Fog Lit festival and look forward to several of the events that the hard working committee and my friend Rosalyn Hyslop have organized for the 2nd annual festival. Burton is digging the last of the very poor potato crop. Good thing we are not as dependant on the potato as the Irish were before the Potato famine or we would be immigrating to another country. We had a great corn crop though and have been enjoying corn for over a month. Our new dog Biscuit is settling in very well after being with us for three weeks. He now runs through the fields looking like the horse of a dog he is. For a dog that rarely got outside unless tied on a chain I think he is really enjoying his new home. I am awaiting the start of the edits for The Memory Chair and will share the delightful photograph of my grandmother and her siblings(some of them, there were eventually 19)that was the seed for the story that took shape and will eventually be my fourth book. Now back to my writing and I will try to check in again soon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Watch Your Step

Yesterday I went back to the woods. If you have been a reader of my blog entries you will understand what that means. I have had this beautiful wood road behind my house for a long time, possibly since we moved here in 1981. Burton has done lots of work to make it a better road but for the most part I have always had access to the winding trail through the woods that I now find so enjoyable. Isn't that the way it often is? The beautiful things right under our noses sometimes go unnoticed or underappreciated. Soon, especially if these early morning temperatures continue to get cooler I will have to give up my lake swims. The wood road will replace the lake to give me my alone time and my daily perspective . Yesterday, I really had to watch my step. It was like wading into the unknown ,navigating through tall ferns and grasses trying to watch for the stumps, roots, uneven ground, wet spots and other hidden obstacles. As with most challenges it will get easier. I will learn what to expect. I will build confidence and know that a path I have done before I can do again. I will see the path change with the seasons and each time it will give me something I least expect. So now, I will get to my day of writing and later find time to take that walk and take whatever it has to offer me on this day.

Friday, September 5, 2014

So With September ,

Sixty six years ago Iva Wetmore married Leverett Bradley on September 4th . A few years later after two boys they had me a tiny ,premature baby that clung to life and beat the odds. Speaking of beating the odds a couple that have been married for sixty six years certainly beats the odds as well. I am so thankful that they are both still well and active. My son Chapin was born 29 years ago on Mom and Dad's anniversary. I love the month of September. I remember the year Chapin was born what a gift it was to be home with my new baby , three year old Meg, and Zac just starting school. Today my granddaughter starts school. I wish I was there but will have to settle on the pictures her mother sends me. This week I got back to my writing and enjoyed every minute of it. I am moving ahead with the book I am working on and don't want to stop at the end of each day. I hope if the writer finds it hard to put it down that the reader will feel the same way. I got introduced to my editor for The Memory Chair and look forward to starting that journey with her towards a finished book. I have to squeeze in pickling, making salsa , other harvesting chores, taking woods road walks again and as many September swims as I can get in. Burton has a birthday this month and I'll invite people( Yes I really will, Meg and Burton) to celebrate with a corn boil, to enjoy the ears of corn that are now ripening in our fourteen rows. What a treat to go out each day and check for the cobs (with the dry silk) that are ready to be picked. Burton believes the best corn is corn just picked and dropped in boiling water for seven minutes. So with September, comes family celebrations, first days of school, long days of writing , corn boils with friends, lots of harvesting and days of beautiful end of summer and into Autumn weather.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Looking Back, Taking Stock and Planning Ahead

Sometimes I step back and really try to get my head around where I am right now in my life. As a journal writer and list maker I am constantly looking back ,taking stock and planning ahead. My family hears the words "this time last week, this time last year" a lot. In the quietness of this beautiful August morning I take a deep breath and look at the place I find myself and I will try to put some of those thoughts in words for this entry. Yesterday, I sat amidst a huge crowd that filled every pew in the Trinity Church in Kingston to honor the life of a beautiful woman, a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Her ninety some year old father feebly walked down the aisle to bury his daughter and the stream of family that now must carry on without her filled the front pews. I have seen others leave long before those left behind are ready to have them go. We are constantly reminded how fragile life is and are told to be thankful for each day. The seasons of life change as quickly as the seasons themselves. As I prepare for another Fall season I think of what this one means for me. For twenty nine Septembers I entered a classroom ready to teach a group of new- to -me students. For many years I prepared for back to school for my four kids. I got myself back into the routine of early mornings, homework, school time bedtimes, packing lunches (to be honest Rita made most of my kid' s lunches back in the day when she ran the cafeteria at MCS)and Monday to Friday busyness. Now for the sixth year in a row my September takes me back to my office and my writing. The year I took off and wrote The Year Mrs. Montague Cried set the trajectory that now finds me ready to publish my fourth book and working on my sixth. I can't wait to meet up with those characters and their unfolding story when I sit down to write on Tuesday morning. The editing of The Memory Chair which we hope to have out in April will begin as well and maybe a look at the other manuscript that isn't quite ready to see the light of day. I will watch The Memory Chair unfold and become a book I can hold in my hands and add to the others in my book-ends. In May I will travel to Ontario and spend a week presenting in schools, libraries and who knows where else. I have been given these gifts; my health and well-being, the opportunity to do something I love, a place I love,and my wonderful family and friends. I am approaching another season ; sunny skies, crisp mornings,changing leaves, another harvest and so much more. "This time last year, this time five years ago." These things we know. It is the "this time next year, this time in ten years" that we do not know, but can only imagine and look forward to with the same confidence and assurance we get from looking at the past. Whatever it is that we will be given there will be gifts and challenges and we will find ourselves wherever they lead us. So for this day, I take time to be truly thankful and take the time to really see the wonder of where I am right now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Home Again, Home Again

I am home again and this morning my mind is filled with all those clich├ęs about home. Home is where the heart is , there is no place like home; maybe not full since those are the only two I can think of. But I know last night as we drove up the driveway the words Home again , home again , jiggedy jig came to mind. Being still on Alberta time I slept until 11:00 and now I have had time to peruse the farm. Burton didn't do too bad of a job holding down the fort but I see lots of things to do for sure. So why am I sitting here writing a blog entry one might ask. Just because I want to and it feels like part of being home. Next week I will get back to work. I am thinking this morning of my daughter in law and several friends that are back to school today preparing for another year in the classroom. I will prepare myself and my surroundings for back to writing next week. I can hardly wait. Ok now I am going to get to the cleaning, the mowing, the laundry, the pea picking , the swimming and the just being home.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What You Duning, Grampie ?

As I write this entry this morning I hear the echo of the question Paige has asked many times a day in the last few weeks to either Grampie or Monkey."What are you duning,Grampie? What are you duning, Monkey?" Following along behind us she constantly asks us what we're duning. Good question Tiny Toad. My July days have been filled with doing many things. Yesterday Meg and Cody took the girls and went to visit friends in Halifax. Being alone and looking at the full day of uninterrupted hours to do anything I wanted was wonderful . I worked away at doing household chores with no "Monkey" interruptions . Oh how I will miss those, but the echoes will stay in my mind. Burton and I found ourselves filling the silence with what the girls would be saying .Today when the sun comes out I will get to the garden. I will fill wheelbarrow loads with the weeds that have gone unpulled.I will have quiet hours to let my mind wander. This morning I found myself longing to get back to my writing. I have not had time to give it any thought, but I look forward to getting back to work. August approaches and just like in my teaching days I feel the tug of September. I am anxious to get to the editing of The Memory Chair. We hope for an April launch. I have been selected to do a tour in May for the TD Canadian Children's Book Week. I will be told in a few days which province I will travel through and will be thrilled wherever the tour takes me.I am so thankful that neither Burton nor I have any trouble filling our days .On our PEI trip Chapin mentioned several times about being on vacation and stated that Burton and I were not on vacation because we are retired and on vacation everyday.I will give him that and would be the first one to say how wonderful retirement is but I would also say how wonderful it is that that stage does not mean sitting on a chair with nothing to do all day. Our days are full, our weeks and months ahead hold the promise of more of the things we love to do. For me there are more words to write , more opportunities to enjoy. For Burton there are more trees to cut, more animals to raise. Together there are more days to enjoy what our efforts have provided us ,the family we have created and the good health we now enjoy. "What you duning ?" We are duning just fine, THANK YOU very much!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One More Sleep

I have had my granddaughters for twenty-four sleeps. Some of them been hard fought for (One more story, one more trip to the bathroom) , some interrupted (calls for Monkey in the middle of the night) and some spent with family members at sleepovers ,but for the most part I have had a five year old and a two year old for all the days so far in July. Some things that I would normally attend to have gone undone but I have certainly been kept busy with other things. I will be so happy to see their parents arrive for many reasons and taking a back seat to the full time care of these delightful girls will be a welcome change. That being said, I am so glad we did it. Getting to know these precious girls and squeezing all our grandparent time into one visit a year is what we do and I am glad we can do it. I have seen Emma go from a timid swimmer to swimming underwater with no fear. Paige has perfected the art of using the toilet which for anyone who has trained a two year old will understand is an amazing accomplishment for us all. We have been blessed with countless hugs and many " I love yous !" Paige is talking even more than when she arrived and her sense of humor and facial expressions are priceless. Emma is a riot and when she is good she is very, very good. The rest of that saying is of course but when she is bad she is horrid. Of course she is not horrid but let's just say when she is not good you must grit your teeth and wait for the delightful Emma to return. She will start kindergarten in September so the little girl we know will be so grown up when she comes back next year. So one more sleep and our July days with just the girls will be over. I will get to my garden and possibly catch up on the weeding that didn't get done. I will have my alone swimming time and finally get my kayak in the lake. I will get my routine back but part of me will be so sad to see these days come to an end. I will never again get to spend time with my granddaughters just the way they are right now. Our July days will be memories and hopefully ones that Paige and Emma take with them and always treasure when they think back to their visits in New Brunswick with Monkey and Toad.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Water Fall Down a Rock

It has been quite a week. Last Friday was definitely the calm before the storm. Arthur came in with a vengeance on Saturday morning leaving a path of destruction in its wake. It certainly could have been worse but what it was,was challenging enough. All the trees that blew down left many without power, some still without it after seven days. The heavy rain caused Paige to comment on the gushing waterfalls around the Clifton rocks. She has been saying "Water fall down a rock" ever since. The beauty, wonder and destruction of nature through the eyes of a two year old. I have seen so much through the eyes of a two and a five year old in the last two weeks. During our time without electricity Paige kept saying " We have no powers". Dealing with the absence of the conveniences we have come to rely on so completely leaves us feeling that way for sure. By day 3 I had finally come to terms with the "new normal" and had begun to adapt. That is not to say I wasn't thrilled when we arrived home after supper at the Reed's Point Pub to turn the porch light switch on and discover we had our powers back. My role as full time "Monkey" to two little girls has been all consuming. The few minutes or hours of respite I get when Grampie,aunt or uncles take over has been very helpful in keeping my powers. I have been seriously involved in toilet training a two year old and her constant claims that she has to pee have been welcome and exhausting. Very few accidents and her pride in a function she has done without thinking and now is very aware of, has been fun to watch. Challenges of what the five year old will wear have been less entertaining but enjoyable all round. This intense time with my girls will leave me tired and thankful for my own time again but I am not complaining. I hope that the trip to NB will be something they do for many years to come. This year it comes with the memory of hurricane Arthur of water falling down a rock, of the glee a trickle of water brings and every other little joy my two beautiful granddaughters bring with them when they come to the farm.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Reflections From the Lake

I miss my wood road walks. I had hoped that they would continue but they have been replaced for a number of reasons. Bugs are probably number one but time is certainly a close second. My alone time and reflection time comes in the form of my alone lake swims these summer days. These are harder to get since I arrived back home with my granddaughters but I am trying to sneak one in, at least once a day. Today I was able to because my daughter in law came and took the girls for a walk. I quickly mowed a small section of the lawn that Ashlie and Caleb had not been able to get done before I got home, then jumped in the car for my coveted alone swim time. What a joy it was! I thought of the glorious summer days I had when my children were young. We would often spend the entire day at my Mom and Dad's beach on the Saint John River. Burton was usually away with the army for most of the summer so our days were free to enjoy the beach, have supper at Mom and Dad's and then hurry home to look after animals and get the kids to bed, then start all over again the next morning. What wonderful memories. Now I am in the position to provide such memories for my grandchildren. For the third year in a row I have brought Em to the farm and now her little sister has joined her. What a thrill to see them take such pleasure in the simple things a summer's day brings. Early this morning I watched as a raincoated , rubber booted Paige toddled across the yard following Grampie over to feed the pigs. The mud on her boots was a bit of a stresser for her but she was where she wanted to be. Later in the day the girls showed their monkey bar skills to their very enthusiastic aunts and uncles. They shrieked with glee to see Disco and Nellie. Em convinced her Grampie to take her for a lake swim( or a wade at least as he didn't go in with her today ) while Monkey got supper. They accepted hugs from their great grandparents and showed off their beautiful smiles and personalities to two people that watched their mother grow and were a huge part of her life. I was so happy to be in the middle of it all. Swimming in my solitude for a few quiet minutes I thought of how very lucky I am to be given my role in the lives of those I love. I strive to be the person I need to be so that I am able to be all they need me to be. I celebrate my wellness , my circumstances and give such thanks for the gifts I have been given. I am always aware of the fact that Zac is not in this circle as I so wish he was. Floating on my back I look to the sky and see a vastness much greater than myself and much beyond my comprehension to reason the why of it all, but take comfort in the power of that beautiful sky and the rippling water and let it fill me with the peace that makes truly enjoying these beautiful days possible.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Things I Love

This morning I am preparing to leave home for a trip west to see my girls. I am reminded of that delightful commercial( I don't remember what it is advertising) where the little girl recites all the things she loves. I have been repeating this morning how much I love my home. At one point I referred to the character Amelia Walton in Ten Thousand Truths who had not left home for over thirty years wondering if in fact I would be content to follow her lead. Of course not. I do not want to go to that extreme. I love going away but I do hate leaving home. I love going out to see my girls, Meg and Cody. This time my sister in law Louisa is going with me and we are going to two family weddings and will get to join Elias and Mary in their celebrations. I will get to see Meg and Cody's new house and meet their neighbors. I get to bring my girls home with me. It will be great. I have done all I set out to do to get ready. The garden is all planted, (Burton says he will weed a bit) flowers and the yard looks good, the lawn is mowed and Ashlie is keen to keep it that way. All my writing goals have been met and I am free to go. But I love my home. I love watching each row in the garden change daily. I love my lake. I love my dogs. I love my husband(that was not an afterthought). I love what each season brings to my Walton Lake home. So this morning I take a deep breath and get ready to go. I will enjoy what the trip brings and keep the vision of coming home in my mind ,confident that the things I love will still be here when I return.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Day of Wearing Red and Remembering

The sun is shining this morning and for that I am grateful. Yesterday, the day went from sun to rain to a beautiful rainbow as Moncton buried three of their RCMP officers. A week ago today the terrible act that took their lives and the terror of a city locked down in fear, left behind an unforgettable scar. After a beautiful, moving and overwhelming show of support on the streets of Moncton and in the Coliseum all affected begin again this day to deal with the tragedy. For the wives, children, parents, siblings , extended family and friends in the days, months and years ahead the loss for them will always be present. I pray that they will find their way through those days as best they can, supporting one another and may we not forget their sacrifice. I spent yesterday afternoon in the company of four classes of Grade 5 students at New Maryland Elementary School. Most of them were wearing red to honour the fallen RCMP officers. The librarian, Mrs. Cook had just finished reading them The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. They came to me with lots of questions and comments. I spoke to them about my story of loss and tried on such a sad day in our province to share my experience of living with that loss. I talked about the balance we all must find between joy and sorrow, fear and hopefulness, laughter and tears. As always I looked into young faces and saw such a clear understanding of this aspect of life. I believe in the power of narrative to open dialogue about the difficulties we all face. In a bright, colorful, vibrant building I got to share my writing and a bit of my story. Thank you so much students and staff of NMES for allowing me to spend a part of such a sad day with you.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dear Author

Yesterday ,I left the beautiful Kingston Peninsula on a Saturday,something I seldom do , to go to the city. I was attending the Dear Author reception at the Saint John Public Library. A few weeks ago I participated in the judging of Dear Author letters that had been submitted by Grade 9 students in the area. They wrote to an author whose book had impacted their lives. We selected ten winners and yesterday we met to give out the awards and hear the students read their moving letters. Congratulations to the winners! In preparing for my remarks I chose to write to an author that has influenced my life. I read the following letter. Dear Lucy Maud Montgomery, I would imagine that you have received thousands of letters from readers since your book Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908.Today, I am writing one more and telling you how that book, your writing and your life has influenced me. I will begin with the book. I have probably read Anne of Green Gables at least twenty times ;so many times that as I read it I can predict what is on the next page and could probably recite most of the dialogue. As most readers did, I fell in love with the chatty, imaginative, resilient character of Anne, the generous, loving and insightful Matthew and the practical, cautious and caring Marilla. For me though, I think my passion for the book was deeper than just the love of the characters. For me, one of the things I loved about it the most was the words. I still thrill while reading some of the long beautifully crafted sentences and the wonderfully unfamiliar words. There is such music and rhythm in the words. In my first book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried , Taylor writes in her journal about her experience with the sentences and words she encounters when she starts to read Anne of Green Gables. The Year Mrs. Montague Cried Pg. 47 November 22 For me, the other powerful aspect of the book Anne of Green Gables is its sense of place. From Anne's small bedroom , the farm of Green Gables, the Haunted Wood, the Lake of Shining Water, the school house, Avonlea, and PEI itself ; I saw such beautiful, secure, and predictable places. For a young girl who moved too many times and too often, I found in the pages of this book something I so longed for ; staying put, putting down roots that wouldn't be yanked up, being known in and being connected to a place. The Kingston Peninsula ,where I summered as a child and on which my family finally stayed put when I was in grade seven, became this place for me. It was my Avonlea. I happily chose to raise my four children there and still call the peninsula home. I read about Anne's experiences in a one room schoolhouse , her differences with the stern Mr. Philips that ends with the smashing of her slate over Gilbert Blythe's head after Gilbert makes his teasing "Carrots" remark. I saw Anne love going to school again when a new teacher , Miss Stacy comes to Avonlea. This firmly implanted my desire to become a teacher. I greatly admire you as a writer. Despite a life that provided many challenges and little encouragement, you sat down and wrote. After the writing , you set about to get published and even after rejection and discouragement , persevered to become one of the most well known Canadian and international writers of your time. Anne's love of telling and writing stories throughout the series of Anne books also led me toward wanting to be a writer. In my second book Ten Thousand Truths I included an acknowledgement to you. I am one of the world's hugest Anne of Green Gables fans and hold Lucy Maud Montgomery in high esteem. Rachel is my Anne Shirley and Amelia Walton is my Marilla Cuthbert. I applaud the author's determination and tenacity and feel honored to join her in the ranks od Atlantic Canadian authors. May some young reader care about Rachel Garnham as much as I cared about Lucy Maud Montgomery's famous red haired character. Thank you , Lucy Maud Montgomery for writing your books, and sharing your life with the readers of the early 1900's and the readers of the generations that followed. Thank you for giving a little girl in the 1960's a book to love and dreams to dream.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back From the Rock

Burton and I had a great trip to St. John's where I attended the TWUC's On Words Conference and AGM. It was my second trip to NFLD having gone in 2012 for the Atlantic Book Awards (where I won the Ann Connor Brimer Award ,just saying)We didn't have as much time to enjoy what St. John's has to offer but we did visit George St. a couple of times. We had a lovely supper with Karen and Bill Squires at Greensleeves on Friday night. I went to the Margaret Laurence lecture to hear Guy Vanderhaeghe. His warm and moving talk was an inspiration to everyone in the packed room. I did two signings where I met several very friendly Newfoundlanders and some book buyers. All the best to Samantha.Saturday night we went to the dinner and dance. Boy, do writers ever love to dance. We were led in several Newfoundland dance steps and we were certainly put through the paces. Overall it was a good experience. As much as business meetings are not my favorite way to pass a few hours it was informative to see first hand the running's of the union and to meet the staff and National Council. All the best to outgoing chair Dorris Heffron and congratulations and good luck to incoming chair Harry Thurston.I will certainly consider going to Winnipeg next year although I can't imagine that the dancing will be as good. So now I am back home, June has begun and I must get planting. We went to Sussex for seeds yesterday and so for the next few days I have my work cut out for me. Hopefully I will also get in the lake. I guess we missed a lovely weekend that probably would have gotten us to take the plunge. Thanks to Caleb and Ashlie for mowing the lawn, making garden rows and doing some other chores that certainly made coming home seem even nicer. * Adding to my entry later in the day I am pleased to announce that Burton and I took our first lake swim. For anyone that knows me you will know why that rates an announcement. I am so happy to be back in the lake!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Seeds for Sowing and Food for Thought

Tomorrow is my last writing day before garden season. I am writing my entry this evening after a day of writing so that I don't have to take any time away from my day tomorrow. I am really having a hard time thinking of letting go of my fall, winter and most of spring routine when I can go to my office four days a week and get to spend time doing what I have waited all my life to do. I miss lots about teaching but not at this time of the year, when with summer holidays in sight students and teachers struggle to keep focused. I loved the last day of school feeling but the lead up was always challenging and while I was teaching and raising my kids every bit as busy as Christmastime. So this feels much different. I will stop writing tomorrow and put my energies elsewhere. Firstly, Burton and I will travel to the TWUC On Words Conference in St. John's, Newfoundland. When we come back we will set about sowing seeds. Lots of seeds, in five large sections of ground. Two more sections than last year. Burton is expanding our garden now that he is fully retired. We are happy to be planting more and will try to supply Dave Wolpin at Kredl's Corner Market with whatever excess we produce. He has a very impressive policy of taking produce from local non chemical- using farmers and I applaud his vision. We will sow the seeds and then tend to the gardens every day. I will spend long hours of weeding, hoeing and harvesting. In June I will take some time away from the garden to go to Alberta for two family weddings and to visit Meg, Cody and the girls. At the end of that month I will bring the girls back to the farm for the month of July. Garden in the morning, beach in the afternoon is the plan. What fun we will have! While I am away from my desk I will not be far from the story I am currently working on or from thoughts of the one to follow. I will let my mind wander as I grow the food to feed us , our family ,some friends and some Kredl's customers and to see us through the winter. When I get insight or the characters push through while I am gardening and show me something that belongs in the story, I will run in and jot those thoughts down. I will return to my office in September and get back to it. In the meantime I look forward to taking my books to the market most Saturdays throughout the summer , to meet readers and talk about this wonderful thing I get to do called- being a writer.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

On Friends and Family

My last blog entry was on the topic of being a mother. Today on my woods road walk I pondered the topic of friends and family. The more I thought about it the more complicated it seemed. The book I am working on right now is basically about a family that has had some severe dysfunction which resulted in estrangement and separation mostly caused by misunderstandings, feelings of betrayal and years of pride and stubbornness preventing anyone from getting to the root of it all. I realized on my walk that I had in the five hours of standing at the market and talking to several people been witness to a lot of situations in which friends or family are living that same scenario. Boy it's hard maintaining healthy, active and positive relationships with family and friends. Mothers /daughters, sons/ parents, daughters/ fathers, sisters, friends ; all types of relationships that have unravelled. Without giving any details, in talking to people yesterday, I saw and heard of them all. For myself I spoke to a friend that over the years I have drifted apart from. It makes me sad that our friendship is not what it once was. Maintaining relationships with friends and family takes a lot of work. Relationships change of course and distance plays a part in that change. Sometimes the distance is geographic and sometimes it is emotional. It is all very complicated. Sometimes family is not even anyone that is related to you. Sometimes the best father or mother ,sister or brother is one you find, not one that shares your DNA. We can not be all things to all people. When hearing ,seeing or sensing some of the pain or in some cases the pain they so carefully protect anyone from seeing, I wanted to be able to say something that could fix things. In the book I am writing I am trying to do that. I can dig deep and see the causes and manipulate my characters into situations that might bring about healing. In real life it is not so easy and I realize that I can only try to do my best with the relationships that I have. I fall short in so many cases, but I will keep trying.

Monday, May 12, 2014

On Being the Mother

I am writing this morning on the day after Mother's Day. I probably can offer nothing more about being a mother than what has already been said a million different ways on cards , and Facebook quotes but here is my take on being a mother. Having children is not for the faint of heart, but who really understands that when they decide to have a baby. I try not to be the voice of doom when I congratulate the newly pregnant, who are happily awaiting the birth of their first child. " Do you know what you are getting yourself into? " does not seem like a supportive and congratulatory comment. Don't get me wrong , I wouldn't change my choice to have kids but I did not know how heart wrenching being a mother is. Of course the heartbreak of loosing a child is an agony beyond explanation and telling new parents of that is not something I would ever do. I am talking more generally of a mother's heart and the burden or privilege of being a mother and holding that child in your heart forever. Each bump in their journey is a bump you take right along with them. From rushing to pick them up when they fall on their first bike ride to giving them comfort when they have their first broken heart, the job of being the mother never goes away. This morning I acknowledge that role and think of the mothers that I know right now dealing with difficult situations in their children's lives. A close friend of mine is watching as her strong and vibrant son is debilitated ,suffering from a terrifying brain ailment. I am watching someone I love trying her best to support her daughter through a difficult time .I am hearing of a childhood friend now travelling to another province to claim the body of her son and discover the circumstances of his death. I did not intend to make this entry so dark and overshadow the sunny and flowery greetings that yesterday's Mother's Day brought to many .Happy Mother's Day and to mothers everywhere I say Stay Strong, Stay Well, and Stay Thankful for each joy motherhood brings and be proud of the job you do, being the mother.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

To Market, To Market

Yesterday another season opened for the Kingston Farmer's market. The market has long been a part of my May to December weekends. I also launched all three books at the market. The top picture was taken on the day of the launch of The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and the other picture of Alida and me was taken at the launch of Ten Thousand Truths. Years ago I sold quilted items at the old market , now known as the Original Kingston Farmer's Market. The Original tries very hard each year to stay open and viable. The new market has certainly taken most of the vendors and shoppers and continues to grow every year. Market loyalties and politics are a long and changing story. For years Burton and I faithfully had our breakfast at the old market. Every Saturday we looked forward to a hug from Alida and a delicious Al and Alida cooked breakfast. The change came when Al passed away suddenly on a Thanksgiving weekend. I now spend my May to December Saturdays at the new market. Their breakfasts will never measure up to breakfasts that the Nutters served for many years. But I got my hug from Alida yesterday. She now walks through the new market as a shopper, greeting her friends and neighbours and many people that will never forget her dedication to a market and her love for her community. I am so thrilled to be able to stand at a table and offer three books that I have written. After years of my life being consumed with teaching and raising my children I now have the time to dedicate to my writing. I love sharing that writing and meeting the people face to face that will read my books. Yesterday I sold books to a wide range of people. I often get asked which one is my favorite or if they were just to buy one which one should it be. It is a difficult question to answer. Yesterday more people bought The Year Mrs. Montague Cried , close to the same number of people bought Ten Thousand Truths and two people bought The Sewing Basket. This morning I had two lovely messages from two of the buyers, who had already finished reading the book they had bought from me yesterday. It is this interaction that will continue to get me up early on Saturday morning and stand for 5 hours. See you at the market!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Boring is in the Eye of the Beholder

My dear and supportive friend (you know who you are) , the one who said she would wait and buy my book when it is on the Discount table at Indigo, made a remark about my boring blog entries the other day. She is funny and delightful and such a kidder.(I hope) No really, I don't mind having boring blog entries just as I don't mind having a boring life. I take great pleasure in the boring, mundane and ordinary things in my days. Thank you for the ordinary day is a quote I embrace. There is more to the quote but essentially every day that is ordinary is a day to be celebrated. Yesterday I heard from my publisher that "The Memory Chair" will be released in Spring 2015. I am thrilled .My goal of a book a year for 20 years may seem to have a glitch but not really if writing a book a year is my main goal. I am on book 6 so I am ahead of myself. So today on this wonderfully, ordinary day I will write, do my household chores,take my walk and enjoy the boring. *-No sarcasm was used in this blog. I really think my friend is dear and supportive and find her sense of humor delightful.I found her remark funny and not the least offensive.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Research With a Wedge of Gouda

Today I drove in the rain to meet Hetty of Armadale Farms in Roachville. She very generously gave me a few minutes out of her busy day to talk to me about her family's immigration from The Netherlands , their dairy farm and the art of cheesemaking. She answered all my questions as I worked through the facts I needed to know to realistically write how my character Jen evolves from a city girl with no knowledge of a cow except that the milk in a carton comes from one somewhere, to a passion for farming and a desire to begin a business she can proudly run at home while raising her four children.I will now take what she told me and try to write that into my story in a believable way. This aspect of the plot is just a small part in the book's big and complicated story which goes back to 1945 up to the present day telling the story of the lives of a family; lives intertwined with sadness, dysfunction, anger, resentment, heartache and blame which finally comes full circle to bring them back to the farm which could possibly be the place to bring healing and forgiveness. I am anxious to get to the writing as I work through how best to tell the story that keeps unfolding as I write it.That is what I love the most about writing, starting with the seed of an idea and letting it grow ,the many sprouts vining out and reaching in so many different directions. My mind is definitely heading to the gardening mode. The rain will stop, the ground will dry and the tilling and planting will get done. I will spend countless hours weeding, then harvesting the bounty of 2014.But today I write. Thank you Hetty and Armadale Farms for the help and for the Peppercorn Gouda .

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Computers, Writing and Cheese

I have my new computer and the learning curve has not been too treacherous. I did have a bit of difficulty getting back on to my blog but it seems that I figured it out or simply kept trying until something worked. I had to change my password and maybe that had more to do with privacy issues than it being a new operating system. I am talking like I know what I am talking about but I really don't. All I know is I am back on my blog. I am quickly writing an entry before heading out for my walk. I have been writing like crazy for the last two days. I would really like to keep at it but my dogs are waiting. I will stop for the day but let my mind wander on my walk to keep the story moving. On Thursday I am going to Roachville to meet with the owner of Armadale Farms. I am interested in hearing of their experience in starting a cheese making business. Part of the storyline in the book I am working on involves a young woman who starts her own cheese making business. I look forward to the research and the cheese.I will write a longer entry next time Megan(my blog coach)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cenotes,Sinkholes and New Computers

I have been away.First of all I finally bit the bullet and addressed the computer problems that have been frustrating us for quite some time. Time for a new PC so I am waiting for it to arrive and I hope the transition will not be too difficult. In the meantime I am without a computer and am using my daughter in laws to catch up a bit. I have also been away literally. Burton and I spent a wonderful week in Mexico. We went to the Yucatan Peninsula to attend our friends Cheryl and Sheldon's daughter's wedding. In the words of their adorable granddaughter, Layla ,we were at "Shelley and Nick's lovely wedding".It was certainly lovely, as was the setting. We enjoyed swimming in the Carribean Sea several times a day as a warm up for our Walton Lake swimming. (it was much warmer and a lot wavier) and also took a dip in a Cenote or sinkhole. Our guide warned us that it would be leg numbingly cold but in comparison to my first lake swims and last lake swims of the year, it was nothing.After returning home I ventured up the wood road and experienced sinkholes of a different type as the deep snow melts. It is a challenge to navigate the wood road right now, watching for mud holes and knowing at any moment your foot could break through the crust and as happened yesterday you find yourself with one leg in a hole up to your knee.I am reluctant to give those walks up and will take my chances until the road finally dries up.Then of course it will be planting time. In the meantime I wait to get my new computer up and running and will get back to work on book #6 while waiting to hear from my publisher about book 4&5.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Off the Beaten Path

Well indeed the storm raged yesterday. It was late coming making us wonder if the forecast was correct but then came in with gusto. We weathered the storm nicely, snug and warm and with no loss of power.This morning the sun shines brightly and the snow that drifted is still blowing about. I got out and shovelled the walkway, the path to the basement door, the pig shed door, three quarters of the chicken shed where snow had blown in from the small opening that leads to their yard and watched as my husband labouriously moved the snow off the driveway . Then I snow-shoed through the field up through the pig yard where the fenceposts that enclose it poke out only a few inches through the deep snow.Wearing snowshoes I could zig zag in through the woods that I only see the edge of from the wood road. Off the beaten path for sure. I could see where some wildlife had moved since yesterday's snowfall. I made my way up the hill in through stands of trees and small clearings. Coming out on to the trail I was overwhelmed with the beauty from a different perspective. I was euphoric and actually found myself brought to tears. I heard a piece on CBC recently about the Happiness project. 100 days of happiness. I really don't think it should be a project it should just be what we aspire to every day.I don't even think it should be called happiness. I think the key is to be present, be grateful, be aware of our existence in the huge scheme of things and stop long enough off the beaten path to truly appreciate the path we are on.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ready, Set ,Go

I just got back from a few days at my daughter's home in Alberta. Emma invited me to her dance recital and I couldn't let a mere 4913 km keep me from going.It still amazes me that I can be in Alberta in the morning and back in my own bed at night. I quite enjoy flying and my air miles earned flights yesterday took me from Edmonton to Toronto to Halifax and finally to Saint John. Three different sized planes, the last one being about the size of a good sized travel trailer. You could stand in the aisle and touch both sides and could go right up the the pilot and ask "are we there yet?"The plane before was a huge luxury Boeing with two aisles , pods in first class(not that I got to sit in one)and several flight attendants not really attending to you unless you were sitting in a pod. Maybe someday I will experience that.For each successful take off and landing and staying in the air in between I am thankful. And I am thankful I can get out to see my granddaughters so easily.Paige is getting language at a rapid and amazing rate. She has a couple of words that her dad contributed to her repertoire and although HUH? seems cute at first it could get a bit annoying and hopefully she will refine her questioning techniques. She has "Why" down pat for sure. Another one of her favourite phrases right now is "Ready, set , go" as she sends toys flying from any surface to the floor.To be exact she seems to be leaving out the "ready" but very enthusiastically calls out the "set,go" part. So this morning as I enjoy being back home I am reflecting on my days with the girls and looking to the days ahead.Here is my "Ready, Set ,Go". Write today, big storm brewing for tomorrow,waiting to hear from my publisher with hopes of a book coming out sometime in 2014, waiting for results of application for CC Grant, trip to Mexico for friend's daughter's wedding, facing the 15th anniversary of life without Zac, our 37th wedding anniversary,and SPRING. I know according to the calendar spring is here now but let's have some spring weather. I am looking forward to seeing the ground again and seeing buds start on the trees and shrubs.So today I say with Paige "Ready , set ,go" and let's see where everything lands.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Waiting For Right Now

Another beautiful but very cold Monday morning. The sun was warm as I walked down for Nellie but the wind and the biting cold not so much. I must say like many others I am waiting for warmer weather.Yesterday on my walk (for those of you who are sick to death of my wood road ramblings you can stop reading now)I was caught up in my thoughts when I found myself thinking I had not even noticed walking a certain stretch that I always enjoy.It made me think of how we do that. We get so caught up in thinking of what we are waiting for or worrying about that we forget to enjoy what we have right now.To find a balance in grasping where we have been,anticipating what is ahead and actively enjoying what we have right now is the challenge.I missed a beautiful stretch of the walk by not paying attention. I stopped and looked around me and took in as much of the beauty as my brain could process. I thought of what I have right now, how I got to where I am and where I hope to go. How quickly the already travelled part goes, how fleeting the present and how uncertain the next stretch but I am thankful for all three.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bayside Middle School

I finally got to Bayside Middle School. After two cancellations we decided to go with today thinking if we planned for Wednesday or Thursday we might have another storm day. I had a wonderful visit. I spent the morning with 24 kids, three groups of eight and each group had read one of my books. That was the first time I had that configuration to present to and it was great. Some of the kids had already read the second or third book and most were eager to trade books so that they could read another . The feedback was very good to hear. Again great questions were asked. Some of them were; Where do you get the amazing ideas? ( How can you not love that one?) Did you ever get in trouble at school like Rachel did?(I had to admit that yes I certainly did)Why do you like to write sad stories?(Not sure of the exact answer to that one) From your experience what advice would you give to writers?(Write!) Would you suggest writing stories based on dreams? (really liked that one as my daughter and I both have some really bizarre dreams that would either be really good books or not)How did you get the courage to write The Year Mrs. Montague Cried? (Actually I need to find courage each time I present or talk about The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and am extremely grateful that I am able to find that courage and more grateful for the rewarding experience it always turns out to be)I talked about the sanctuary of my lake and my wood road and then quickly realized these city kids had no idea what a wood road was.Not a road made out of wood that would be a wooden road but a road through the woods. I got home very tired from a draining but enjoyable day and thought a nap might be in order. Instead I took my three happy dogs up the wood road. Quite a bit of snow had already fallen and it was snowing steadily making the woods look like the perfect setting for Lucy when she entered Narnia through the wardrobe and met Mr. Tumnus.Luckily there is no White witch who makes it always winter and never summer but today I enjoyed another winter walk. Getting up early and giving up a day in my office to the students of Bayside Middle School was well worth it but I must say I am very glad to be staying home tomorrow and getting back to my writing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You Decide

Again today I had the pleasure and privilege of taking another walk up my wood road. I say the pleasure because as I have previously stated it is a beautiful ,enjoyable walk. I say privilege because I am blessed to have a piece of property that affords me this luxury as well as the health and opportunity. I could really go on at length about this. Do we really take the time to count our blessings? On my walk to day I thought of how many times recently I have heard people complaining about this winter, how long it's been ,how cold it's been how hard it's been. In this winter wonderland that is my wood road followed by my three very eager dogs bounding in and out of the snow it occurred to me that I am grateful for this season just as I am grateful for the three other ones. I will be sad to give up these snowy walks. Soon it will be a muddy walk and eventually a buggy walk. Each season brings its own beauty and its own challenges. It brought me to the thought that that is what life is like. I could list the sorrows, the worries the hardships I have been called to face. I could certainly list some situations I wish were different or could change .But oh what blessings I have been given.The way we look at anything is a choice we make . You decide to see whichever side you choose.We sometimes get caught up in the complaining and in the negative dialogue. I choose to choose not to. Today I was given another day. It was a beautiful winter's day and for that I decide to be truly grateful. Just an add-on after today's walk.(Friday) I know some of you may be saying enough with the wood road already. Sorry I can't help it. I believe if everyone had their own wood road or a comparable place and took a quiet walk each day there would be fewer problems in this world.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Did You Put the River in the Book?

Figurative or literal? Good exercise in that when you are presenting to Grade one students.Yesterday while I was doing an author visit at Morna Heights Elementary I asked the teacher accompanying me to jot down the questions as the students asked them. I always get home and try to remember the wonderful questions kids ask me and finally thought to have someone record them for me.I had talked about the covers of my books , the lake and river aspect of each story and how I had put the Walton Lake in two of them and the Saint John River in one book.This led to the curious question of a little boy in the back. How did I put a river in the book?I realized he was taking what I had said very literally.Priceless! I explained it as best I could and hopefully he doesn't expect that when the book is opened water will come gushing out.Some other great questions asked yesterday were; Did you just start writing or did you ask someone who was already a writer what to do? (Grade 3)When you write books do you use a marker or a pencil?(Grade 2)What would you like to do except write?(Grade 4)The answer to that right now. Nothing. I spent the afternoon with Grade 5.They had recently finished reading The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. I walked in to see every student with the book on their desks or in their hands. They were anxious to meet the author and have their books signed. The principal had very generously bought a book for each Grade 5 student.What a great afternoon we had. I talked ,I read , they talked,they asked questions, they wrote a bit.We laughed and almost cried. (teared up for sure)I am including a picture with this entry, of the book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried on a desk.The desk is an antique one that is in my den not a desk at Morna Heights Elementary School but the photograph reminds me just how privileged I am to have been given again the opportunity to see it in another classroom and in the hands of young readers.Thankyou to Mrs. Keilty and her students.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hockey and Book Clubs

Sunday morning on the last day of the Sochi Olympics and what are most Canadians doing? Watching Hockey.I am writing a blog entry, listening to hockey while my husband watches it downstairs. I have no worries that if Canada scores I will hear a loud announcement from below. I care. Of course I want Canada to win but I don't care very much. I did enjoy the excitement and dramatic play of the gold medal woman's hockey game. I even left my office when Poulin got her goal in the last 54 seconds to go downstairs to watch the end of the tied game and the overtime when they were able to execute a win for the gold. What I care more about are book clubs, people reading books and even more, people reading my books. I care about that a lot. Yesterday I met with a Mother /Daughter book club. I t was a beautiful almost spring like day so it was understandable that their numbers were down a bit but the girls and moms that came were so kind. I really enjoyed the questions, discussion and comments.Afterwards three of the girls asked me questions about their own writing aspirations and I was happy to offer whatever encouragement I could. Perhaps they will find time and a place for their writing in their lives a bit sooner than I did.So here we are part way through the third period , Canada leading 2-0. Chances are that Canada will get the gold.We will all know soon enough one way or the other.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Snow Day

I got a snow day today,something I haven't enjoyed for awhile. I was supposed to be doing an author visit at Bayside Middle School. I must admit I was not looking forward to it. It's not that I didn't want to meet the 24 kids that have read my three books as a book club. I really was looking forward to that as well as meeting with three of Miss. Fullerton's Grade 6&7 classes. The reason that I wasn't keen about going was that I was exhausted from yesterday. Yesterday, I spent a busy and enjoyable day at Westfield Elementary School. I did seven, half hour presentations with students from K-5. The kids were fantastic.I started out a bit shaky facing a crowd of kindergarten kids after they had had a four day break,had lots of snow , were ready to celebrate 100 day and have a belated Valentine's party.Kindergarten is not my comfort grade level. I am in awe of how the teachers that choose to begin our children on their academic journey keep their sanity.Note to self (something I already knew but forgot)DO NOT ASK KINDERGARTEN KIDS IF THEY HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.From my shaky start things got much better. As always some of the kids questions were insightful and sincere.One grade 5 class came to me anxious for me to read the last chapter of Ten Thousand Truths to them. Their teacher had just finished reading up to the last chapter before lunch. The looks on the faces of the kids anticipating the end of the book read by the author was thrilling to me. My eyes fill with tears as I write this. What more could an author ask for than to see her work make a deep connection with readers? In the afternoon I did a writer's workshop with 16 kids. It was great. As always I am encouraged that telling and writing stories will continue with our youth despite the gloomy predictions. So today, I get a snow day to re-group.My Bayside visit will be re-scheduled and I will by then be ready and pleased to be there. My exhaustion is a good one but further proves that I stopped teaching at the right time.My energy is now for writing and on this snowy day I am in my office ready to get to work.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another Monday Morning

On my way up the driveway this morning from getting my grand dog for the day I thought of how Monday mornings have such a bad reputation. I know how hard it can be to get up on Monday mornings and go to work after the weekend. Most Sundays I have a family dinner for my kids and other family members or friends. Most of the 10 people at my table last night had to go to work this morning.I don't let anyone help me with the dishes on Sunday night and we usually get right to a game of dominoes (which is currently our game of choice)but often don't finish it because people are thinking of having to get up for work the next day. I clean up after they leave because I don't have to work the next day. That is not entirely true .I do work on Mondays.I write on Mondays.And again I say "what a lucky duck I am ". On this beautiful February morning I get to walk down my driveway, back up ,have breakfast ,write in my journal, write a blog entry and then get back to work on the ending of the book I am working on.After lunch I will take the three dogs up the wood road and then get back to my office until the sun sets.I don't believe we should wish our life away and for those at work today I encourage you to enjoy those working days and take pride in the job you do. Life comes in stages and each stage brings it's own gifts.The stage I find myself living today is great and I love Monday mornings!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In Good Company

I've been to Toronto and back.From the airport I took a shuttle to the Sheraton Centre and was warmly welcomed by my niece,Rebecca . We walked to her condo and had a lovely cup of tea. (a very maritime welcome)Later she walked me to Casey's Restaurant where I met members of KidCrit. In the very noisy atmoshere of a busy restaurant I attempted to make conversation with the authors sitting near me. It was wonderful to meet Wendy Whittingham, Don Cummer, Catherine Egan and Karen Bass.Catherine and Karen were also participating in the CANSCAIP mass book launch. The next morning my niece Rachel, who was also in Toronto,visiting her sister, and I met Anne Fullerton and had a wonderful breakfast at the George St. Diner. Anne is a former student who is following her dream to be an editor (and movie extra) and has left her NB home to live in Toronto.Anne was actually my first reader and editor for The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and was a student in the class "Mrs. Montague " taught that year.Anne and I walked to the Toronto Convention Center for the OLA Super Conference. I signed books in the OLA bookstore. I presented with 27 other authors at the CANSCAIP book launch which was a terrific experience.That night Rebecca, Paulo, Rachel and I walked to Chinatown and had a delicious meal celebrating Chinese New Year. Saturday night we went to Massey Hall to hear Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt.I experienced lots of other Toronto pleasures;St. Lawrence Market, the subway , a street car ride, a couple of cab rides, a walk to the waterfront, a picture taken with the Jack Layton statue, a walk by City Hall at night(no I didn't see Rob Ford) and so much more. Good company all around and a visit to remember .Thank you Rebecca and Paulo for welcoming me to your home and your city.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wood Roads, Toronto, and Contentment

I just returned from a place that I am sure is among the most beautiful in the world; in my world anyway. I took a few minutes from writing to take my old dog, my two adorable grand dogs and myself for a walk up the wood road behind my house. I can not even begin to explain how standing partway up that hill on my way to what we call the park and gazing through snow covered trees at the vast blue sky above fills me with contentment.I heard someone talking on CBC yesterday about contentment being the key to happiness. I believe that to my core, although I sometimes stray from the confidence of that knowledge and let worry and concern take the forefront. Usually my very wise husband reminds me that there is no value in worry and the walk up the wood road always serves to reinforce that and bring me back to my senses. I have certainly over the last few years while on this walk given lots of thought to the difficulties I must face and the challenges faced by the people I love, but as I walk that winding road and as each turn brings more beauty, by the time I reach the top and then make my way back down the thoughts that take over are always of gratefulness and an overall glass certainly half full or perhaps even flowing over perspective . Perhaps there is magic on this wood road which explains why Burton who rarely goes a day without taking his tractor and chainsaw up this road can remain so grounded in what really matters. I also am always given on this walk a clear look at where I am going in my writing and I got lots of help today. I can't wait to get home next week and get back to work.That brings me to the Toronto part.I leave tomorrow and on Friday I am participating in the OLA Super Conference Mass Book Launch. I know I've already mentioned that but this time tomorrow I will be in Toronto and getting ready to meet some fellow authors for supper. Part of me will still be here on the Walton Lake Road . For sure I will be happy to be at the events in Toronto but I will be happier still when I get back home and am given another afternoon to take another walk up the wood road behind my house.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fog Lit Writers' Awards

There is a lovely dusting of snow on the ground and when I look out the windows I have that fleeting feeling of Christmas excitement that I always feel after the first snow. I am thinking it may be because I was away for Christmas and didn't follow the usual traditions that complete the Christmas cycle for me. It may be because I still have Christmas decorations everywhere. So today I will put them away. Yesterday, I was pleased to participate in the Fog Lit Writers' Awards.In October, the first Fog Lit Festival was held. As part of the Festival's mandate they conducted a writing competition and the awards were handed out yesterday. Congratulations to all the participants and all the winners.Congratulations to two MCS students, Gywneth Moir and Jilly Richard on their winning entry. I was invited to read, as was Gerard Collins, author of Finton's Moon and Moonlight Sketches.Gerard is on tour and has been maintaining a very busy schedule. He conducted a writing workshop at the library in the morning.Mary Barlow from Indigo was the master of ceremonies.Mary is such an advocate of local authors and good books of every kind. Riel Nason introduced Gerard.Wayne Hansen provided two beautiful musical performances . The winners read from their winning entries. My friend and fellow writer Rosalyn Hyslop has been instrumental in the creation of the Fog Lit Festival and works tirelessly with the Fog Lit board to plan and carry out the events. There is no doubt that Fog Lit will continue to be a major force in the literary life of Saint John and surrounding areas.Watch for what comes next as they forge their way. Thank you again Rosalyn for inviting me to be a part of yesterday's celebration. To all the winners,keep writing and believing that your voice matters.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Where is Winter Hiding?

What a lot of weather we have had in the last few weeks. We have had days of bitter cold, a major ice storm, heavy snow, heavy rain,and mild temperatures. Today it feels like Spring. The snow is mostly gone and the fields are bare.There is mud everywhere and the driveway already has the deep ruts that the spring thaw always brings.I know winter is just hiding ,not gone for good. Saturday, I have a reading with NFLD author Gerard Collins at the Fog Lit awards. Winter is predicted to return that day.We will see. I am a chicken when it comes to driving in bad weather (just ask my daughter )and have already enlisted Burton to drive me into the city for the event if the weather is bad, but not bad enough to cancel. I do love the fact that I don't have to drive in bad weather if I don't want to but haven't figured out how to keep all my loved ones at home when the roads are bad. Enough of my over-obsessive worrying. I am moving along nicely with the book I am writing right now . I see clearly my way to the end although my characters sometimes veer me in different directions when I least expect it. (Like black ice ,if I stay with the weather/driving theme)I have a very busy schedule ahead that makes actually finding time to write a bit of a challenge. At the end of this month I go to Toronto to participate in the OLA Super Conference in a Mass Book Launch with The Sewing Basket. In February I have three WISP visits and a library Mother /Daughter book club visit.So today I will get to work. It is Christmas in my book and I am contemplating giving them a power outage that lasts for a week or throwing in a huge storm that forces them all together for a few days.Nothing like being storm-stayed to work out some major family issues.