Grandma wisdom

My son and I flew to Edmonton on the weekend for my grandma’s 90th birthday party. She had a fall recently and is still a bit bruised, but that didn’t stop her from partying it up. She outlasted me by at least an hour, and I hear they started cleaning up the room around her.


After ninety years and two long-term relationships, four kids, several foster babies, multiple businesses, nine grandkids, and thirteen great-grandkids, there’s not a lot that phases my grandma. She has the same bemused, off-hand way of discussing everything.

On her home-care help:
“How’s she going to find the sugar if she doesn’t take the blinking lid off the sugar bowl?”

On her nephew’s gender identity:
“Oh yes, he goes by Lisa now.”

On having a New Year’s baby:
“All the doctors were drunk.”

On her accomplishments:
“Well, of all my children and grandchildren, there’s none of them in jail. I can be proud of that.”

Personally, I think she has a wee bit more to be proud of than our lack of incarceration. And here’s hoping I’ve inherited some of her genes.

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Jangling change

Alright, break time’s over.

During my high school years, I waitressed at my parents’ restaurant. My dad would walk around the place either whistling or jangling the change in his pocket.

When we chattering waitresses teased him about it one day, he said a past boss of his had passed the strategy along. Check on your employees often, but always let them know you’re coming. They start working faster, without any confrontation.

He’s tricky, my dad.

Yesterday was the kids’ first full day back at school and my first full writing day. So, I did exactly one hour of work and then I went shopping.

Productive, no?

But now I hear the jingling and the whistling in my head. Time to get back to work! Strange how I learned all my productivity lessons more than two decades ago, while serving burgers.

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What it’s really like inside my brain

1. The strike is over! Schools are opening on Monday. Glory, hallelujah!

2. I’m going to drop my kids off at school, and then I’m going to drink coffee in silence, and write, and finish reading A Tale for the Time Being, and have a pedicure, and call my mom and have an actual conversation. That could be all in Day One. Days, glorious days of writing are stretching into my future.

3. Am I a bad mother for feeling this way? Kids need education, right? It’s good for them to go back to school. Yup, not just good for me. Good for them as well.

4. Unless there’s an earthquake. Oh my goodness, what if there’s an earthquake? Then they’ll be crushed beneath falling bricks, all because I wanted to drink coffee by myself. I am the most selfish person ever to exist on the earth.

5. I should homeschool.

6. Then I would go insane.

7. It may be too late for that particular worry.

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A non-writing accomplishment

Apples, from our own backyard. We planted a little apple tree two summers ago, and this is the first time it’s offered significant fruit. It’s a columnar tree, with barely any branches.


If it had branches, I’d be tempted to climb to the top and chain myself there, just for some quiet time!

Instead, I’m going to gorge on apple crisp.

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Writer in pieces

I’m on the final pages of Ellen in Pieces, the new grown-up novel by Caroline Adderson.


Isn’t the cover the most fabulous thing ever?

I say the new “grown-up novel” because I know Caroline more as a kids’ writer. She lives nearby, we attend CWILL BC meetings together, and I’ve read her chapter books. So I knew she was smart-funny.

But I didn’t, until this week, know that she was sharp-funny, wicked-funny, or raunchy-funny. And it turns out she is. Also, capable of writing scenes of chest-crushing sadness.

I’m going to look at her in a whole different way now! And I’m also going to look up her backlist…

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In which I lose my marbles

This school strike sucks for those of us working from home. It just plain sucks. Because I (a) don’t really make enough to justify full-time care for my kids and (b) given the choice, would rather not subject them to the Lord-of-the-Flies-supervised-by-texting-teens scenario going on at the day camp across the street.

All of this equals a LOT of extra time with my children, followed by work hours late at night, during which I heap curses on Christy Clark’s head.

Today, in an attempt to reintroduce my feral children to the use of their brains, I made them both complete pages from a math workbook. Unfortunately, this involved me having to relearn long division, so I could help MonkeyGirl.

(The fact that I’d forgotten how to do this means I was right all along. You actually DON’T need fifth grade math in order to live a productive life.)

Fortunately, I have this to look forward to. Brought over by my freelance writer friend Rachel yesterday, for an afternoon of commiseration:


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The dangers of writing non-fiction

Me: We have to get you some new long johns for soccer.

MonkeyGirl: Why do they have to call them long johns? Why not soccer pants?

Me: Actually, there was this heavyweight boxer named John Sullivan. All the other boxers wore shorts, but he wore long pants, so they called them long johns…

MonkeyGirl: I didn’t want to hear the story, Mom. I just want you to call them soccer pants.

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In the news…

First of all, I’m going to Ontario for next May’s TD Canadian Children’s Book Week! That was my first choice of destinations, so I’m very excited to be heading east for a week.

And, while I’m sharing, there’s a lovely review of When the Worst Happens in Kirkus. It’s left me all a-flutter.

There’s a teetering pile of research material on my desk for my next non-fiction project. Maybe the kind words will inspire progress!

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Small town returns

My hometown of Creston is ridiculously friendly. But because I haven’t lived there for twenty years, I find walking down the main drag disconcerting. Everyone says hello. I’m never sure whether it’s a random greeting, or whether we know each other, so I end up making an expression somewhere between “good morning, stranger” and “wow, you look great after two decades” and I look like a lunatic.

Speaking of lunatics (in a good way), Min and I stopped by the town tennis courts in an attempt to continue my fledgling tennis education. I was wearing sandals and a sundress and I think he may have been wearing a bathing suit. We did not look like professional players.

Nonetheless, the varied (and I mean teen-to-senior-citizen varied) group of friends playing there motioned us over and invited us to join them. When we declined (because my lessons have yet to take effect and I am horrible) one of the men yelled, “tell them about the tournament on Saturday! We need two more players!”

That’s right. Tennis players in Creston are willing to enter tournaments with strangers in Birkenstocks.

See what I mean about ridiculously friendly?

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