Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Go Jump in the Lake

Yesterday was a delightful day. The lake is certainly part of what makes a hot day bearable for me. As usual and for whatever the reasons might be I am planting about one hundred rows of assorted vegetables. Peas seem to be the dominant one this year. I am probably about half done planting the peas which will finish the planting job for me except for some bedding plants in the kitchen garden. I often think as I'm planting the kitchen garden how nice it must be to manage a small plot like that as most normal people do. Something propels me to optimistically drop seeds in a hundred rows believing I can maintain such an endeavor. Blind and misguided optimism which is of course what takes me to the keyboard. That being said I love the side benefit of tedious, hard work for getting my mind geared up for my next novel. Yesterday I jotted half a page of notes for a possible start in the fall. Dropping seeds with hope for harvest. I do sometimes wonder what I would do to fill my days if I didn't have writing and gardening. But the lake makes it possible. Yesterday in the scorching heat I established the plant five rows and go for a swim rule. I couldn't help but reflect on the gift I have of making such rules for myself. I thought of people being made to work in endless heat, dehydrated , undernourished and treated heartlessly. I thought of Nelson Mandela laboring in a rock quarry with no measure of freedom except for what he could muster in his own mind. I do believe in the lessons of hard work. I still, as I bend over the rows, feel the presence of my grandmother and the influence of my grandfather who maintained an impeccable garden year after year. As I bring my little girls home for another summer I hope some of that work ethic rubs off on them. And we always have the lake. How very blessed we are!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Inside and out

I am taking a few minutes to write a quick entry. I am feeling slightly torn between the inside and the outside. Funny how when the outside chores ramp up the inside stuff still needs to get done. Dust balls are billowing along the baseboards and dust is layering on surfaces. I have a huge bag of seeds waiting in the garden shed. They will not plant themselves. Grass grows long in the several sections I attempt to mow throughout the season. The list is long to prepare for the girls although I'm sure they could care less if the items get checked off or not. This feeling of so much to do with so little time feels very familiar . Every year I face the tasks feeling the same doubt that it will all get done. And some of it doesn't. The plan this summer is to replace the railing on the front verandah. It is beyond time for this but we shall see if it gets done. My boys(the carpenters in the family ) are way too busy with their own to-do lists. I decided to go ahead with furnishing the front verandah instead of waiting for the railing to be replaced. I started hunting on kijiji and am thrilled with my finds. Each item I went for is beautiful in its own way. Tables, rockers, chairs and hutches that have previously graced some other space in someone else's home have gathered to bring beauty to my neglected front verandah. I will hang some flower baskets and keep cut flowers on the tables all summer and take pleasure in the simple joys and the tasks that appear on my daily lists. Whether all the jobs get done or not I will take pleasure in the season and the good health that allows me to tackle each job. And the first job this morning will be to vacuum some of those dust balls and then get outside.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Something From Something Pretty Impressive Already

I have written about my son Caleb's undertaking to build something from nothing. I have also written lots about my son Chapin's building accomplishments and almost every day still walk down to marvel at the home he built. This past week has given me with a bit of worry in the back of my brain as my two boys tackle another building project. To be more exact this week they are unbuilding. They are deconstructing a large barn , hauling away the materials and rebuilding at least two if not more structures on the White farm. I think this is pretty impressive. Firstly I have always been impressed with the craftsmanship of barns in the past. Few modern barns can compare to the barns built in the last century. I hope they have taken some before and mid project pictures. I understand that the barn they are tearing down has already been moved and reconstructed once. I can't wait to see what structures they end up with. I am so proud of my boys and the two women who stand behind them. Together I see a future unfolding that will pay witness to a time when craftsmanship and hard work established farms and families. I look forward to being the matriarch in this and watching the years unfold every day, building something more from something pretty impressive already.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Almost Time to Get Outside

I love the rhythm of the seasons I have established since retiring from teaching when the rhythm was set in stone for me. Funny how I've pretty much adapted the same routine but with the gift of flexibility. From the day the teachers go back in late August or early September I go back to my office and follow a dedicated 3-4 day a week schedule of writing. I do allow writing related activities to usurp my writing time occasionally and also allow for family responsibilities, being a daughter of aging parents, a grandmother , wife and mother. Friendship sometimes requires interruptions as well. But I for the most part maintain a writing schedule that winds down at the end of May. Then I get outdoors. Some rainy days get me back inside but as June approaches I look forward to the great outdoors. I will get in the lake soon. I will allow the lake to give me the multitude of gifts it always has. I will swim often and kayak regularly. I plan on treating myself to a new kayak when my royalty cheque arrives this week. And the garden of course. It is time to get into the dirt. Before the girls arrive I plan to have everything planted and up and ready for the weeding and hoeing I so enjoy. I will don my bug suit and be outside. The lawn will be mowed regularly, giving me those wonderful moments of solitude while pushing my mower in circles, letting the noise and predictability allow me to spend time with my thoughts. I will sit on my back veranda and let summer fill me. The plan is to replace the railing on the front veranda and I hope to bring life to it when the railing is finished. The front veranda faces the surprisingly busy Waltons Lake Road. I look forward to choice of veranda, choosing the placement of sun , the desire for quiet privacy with chickens and dogs or active observation of neighbors, the cows in the pasture and lake goers. I have stated many times that our home changes with the seasons. In winter as I step off the veranda into deep snow and snowshoe to the top of the hill along a winding wood road it is a cabin in the woods with all the comforts of wood heat and cosiness. In summer it becomes our lake cottage even though the lake is not right outside the door. The lake defines our days of gardening and spending glorious time with our girls. What happens at the Lake stays at the lake. So today will be my last regular writing day and as we slide into June and into summer, it is time to get outside.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Birds of a Feather

This is a week of author related activities. It has been a busy few weeks of events connected to writing. I launched book six , went on a week long Hackmatack tour, had a WISP visit and did a bit of writing. I started back at the market and each Saturday brought lots of writing talk and lots of book sales. On Wednesday Cathy and I drove to Fredericton for the 2nd annual NB Book Awards. Lots of writers and supporters filled the room at Memorial Hall and celebrated writing and writers in New Brunswick. David Adams Richards in his understated brilliance gave a keynote address that inspired us all. Today I will head to the city and spend the weekend hanging out with writers and those of like minds at the WFNB's WordSpring event. I remember the first time I made myself attend such an event. I was still working hard to convince myself and others that I was a writer. That does become easier with each published book but as a rule we writers are introverted, cautious and full of self doubt. But something propels us to put ourselves onto the page and toss that caution to the wind. We gather to celebrate writing and writers but let's remember to be kind to one another. Let's congratulate award winners and short listed authors but let's make sure we celebrate and support all writers at every stage of the game. As a director on the board of WFNB I am pleased to play my part in that remembering that the real work takes place alone at our keyboards and in our notebooks. Claim your status as a writer, claim the credit your work deserves and claim the opportunity to share that passion with others.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Book by its Cover

In the last two days I have received two posts from two readers sending me a picture of Maple Sugar Pie and a kind review after reading it or as they prepare to read it. The day before I got a lovely message from another reader who took comfort and pleasure in the shedding of tears the book brought to her . I know this doesn't mean its topping the New York best seller's list but the value of these posts and messages is huge to me. The other enjoyable part of seeing these in my Facebook feed is the chance to see the cover. I am so pleased with the cover. I love the coloring, the simplicity , the subtle references to family, food and memory. I love seeing Gladys. I love the crumbs, the white plate and silver cutlery, the pie in the corner and the tattered recipe. Yesterday I dug a tattered recipe out of my own collection. I considered re-writing my mother's Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe onto a new card but thought of how treasured her handwriting already has become and how more treasured it will be when she's gone. Oh how many rhubarb custard pies I have enjoyed at my mother's table. Yesterday I pulled a golden brown pie from my own oven and served it proudly to my Sunday supper crowd. What an honor to do so. The significance of the title Maple Sugar Pie does not become clear until the last few pages. I am not even sure how it evolved . I don't think I knew it from the start. What I did know was the value of food and memory , of food and connection, of food and love. So each time I see the cover pop up in my news feed I feel again the joy of writing the story and seeing it unfold and the joy of a cover that meshed that all together.

Monday, May 15, 2017

My Riches

"It all started with a kiss." This was Brianne's grandmother Nancy's response yesterday when I told her the large crowd gathering was her fault. She beamed the whole time her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren milled around her. We had a wonderful Mother's Day supper at Chapin and Bri's house last evening. It was so nice to see my daughter in law caught up in the excitement and stress of the first hosting of a large family event. We have all been in that same frenzy when we think every little detail matters when really the people who gather are not looking at dust or imperfections but enjoying the hospitality, good food and fun. I sat back and enjoyed every bit of it. Sitting beside Nancy I absorbed her pride and her joy in being in her granddaughter's new home. She kept saying "This is quite a house". And of course she was complimenting the structure ,the d├ęcor and the accomplishment but more than that she was giving voice to her joy that her granddaughter had a home built with love. At one point as the large crowd was swarming the island and dishing up their suppers I made reference to what a treat it was to just sit back when usually I was in the middle of providing Sunday supper." That is your riches" she said. How very true her words are. Above anything money can buy my riches lie in my loved ones and the moments we have together. Mother's Day with all the advertising, all the hype and pressure is often difficult for so many; those who have lost children, have longed for the gift of motherhood, those who no longer have their mothers and so many more. Just a day and sometimes a disappointment or sorrow when the key is of course to celebrate our relationships every day. Love your circle, hold each other up and claim your riches.