Writing is a solitary pursuit--the imagination guiding the hand moving the pen. I'm pretty old-school, valuing the work of good editors and the revisions process before letting my words go public. But life is short, right? And sometimes, just sometimes, we need to spout off.

About me...

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A writer, mother, teacher, friend, I love books, blizzards and beaches, music from Hildegard von Bingen to the Beatles to Bonnie Raitt to The Brood; I love medieval churches, red wine, creme caramel, and roasted beets, and walking the woods and coastlines of home. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reduce, reuse and recycle...

"Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!"
So far at the door we've had a Viking, a computer, a banana, Bo Peep, a raisin, the Cat in the Hat, a boy-woman, a pint-size pirate, a pimp (maybe) and a vampire with an uncanny resemblance to Grampa Munster--to name a few, these among many other versions of Dracula and broods of witches. You gotta love it, this night of letting alter-egos out to play! Which takes me back to Halloweens when my kids were small (Zorro, bat, pirate, clown, Robin Hood, ghost, witch, crusader, hunchback...) and back, way back to trick or treating before Sobeys invented plastic bags. The days of big brown paper ones, useless in a steady Haligonian rain (when didn't it rain on Halloween?)when only the spoilt kids got pillow cases. Now those plasticized reusable "bags for life" make perfect totes for sugary loot: more expandable than plastic pumpkins, and just about guaranteed not to give out, let go, and spill a cache of hard-won candy in the middle of the mushy-leaved road. So long, soggy brown bags, bruised apples and teeth-gripping candy kisses! But maybe, just maybe, those days were more atmospheric?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The day before All Hallows Eve....

Nothing like slow, careful looking; a walk through the woods. Pine needled path, splashes of orange oak; diehard green flares between naked branches. A fallen log is an armoured alligator, pieces of sky mirrored in black water. Blood red huckleberry; bare-boned granite. Everything puts in time before bed: November's coal-blue sleep.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The wisdom of poets

Whew! Ages since I've blogged, sidelined by teaching, marking and whatnot, as they say all over our province. The mind races with story ideas, bits and pieces crying for attention, assemblage, and above all, concise expression. It's like trying to digest an Italian wedding feast without gaining weight, turning to lead or generally being paralyzed with sheer caloric intake. How to start, how to mine all the Stuff for gold, or even bronze.
More and more, poetry appeals as the ideal form, this affirmed by Mary Oliver who says, "Poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry."
Maybe a certain fasting helps? The fasting enforced by lack of time, trusting in survival of the fittest ideas. In the meantime, while keeping lips zipped,let us observe Oliver's advice:
"Athletes take care of their bodies. Writers must similarly take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems. There is nourishment in books, other art, history, philosophies--in holiness and in mirth."
Amen to that, sistah!

Monday, October 11, 2010


How is it, I ask, that Fifth Avenue and the Herring Cove Road share the planet? Just back from three days in New York, and as always, the shift between a magical city and the crisp, hair-shirted simplicity of home never ceases to amaze me. To be in Manhattan and then just a few hours later in the Spryfield Sobeys (not quite the sublime to the ridiculous, but close) causes a psychic earthquake. What you thought you knew (for instance: that NYC would be big and grimy and chaotic and the people rude and impersonal)turns out to be the opposite.
No better way on earth to learn about multi-hued possibility and perspectives than travel. Alas, I started relatively late.
The "problem" is that magical big cities are so highly, outrageously addictive--so much so that I'm already checking out Expedia. The world in all its glory: so much to see, so little time and disposable income. If I won a lottery I would become self-indulgently homeless: a walking, flying nomad--a global butterfly.
But but but...if that were the case I know what I'd miss: such things as potted geraniums, cut dahlias on the sill, the threat of frost, Thanksgiving turkey soup, my own bed, the reliably ordinary route of my morning walks, a favourite teacup....All these little worldly things that pin us down, locate and soothe us.
Visiting the sublime has that power: to illuminate the quotidian, to help us live in a kind of humility, the kind that equals gratitude.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

In Defence of Social Media...?

In the wake lately of so much cruelty and barbaric hate-full behaviour in the news lately, news of rape and voyeuristic bullying batted back and forth between the traditional media and Twitterdom & Facebookland, it's tempting to disconnect.
But is the taste for blood worse because of these new media platforms--or is it simply business as usual for those who like destroying people, whether or not the Internet breeds a crazy sense of impunity? Is the media still the message? (Lord love a duck, what would McLuhan think?)
In the oddest way, all this stuff has a way of forcing the creative person underground: that is, seizing whatever solitude and privacy is left in our world in order to do what we do. Focus on the ideas clamouring so quietly for attention amid the buzz of Out There. Surely it was easier to write a book three, four, five, twenty years ago than now. Even when the info is benign, it takes such herculean energy to tune it out and linger in one's imagination. Is it any wonder the world seems out of control?