Book Quotes: Shiny

July 31, 2016 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more. (Author’s note)


…she was the one artists would want to draw…She was the one who would someday know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf, how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near, how to purr throaty love songs in Portuguese and Basque, how to lay a vampire to rest, how to light a cigar, how to light a man’s imagination on fire. (p. 24)

It wasn’t a Gothic cemetery; there were no mossy angels weeping miraculous tears of blood, no crypts or curses or crumble. No poets or courtesans were buried here; no vampires slumbered belowground. … Even the dead loitering here spoke of dull things, like the one who worried she’d left the stove burning when she died. (p. 45)

(Goblin Fruit pp. 1 – 55)


Lips Touch: Three Times
by Laini Taylor
Toronto: Scholastic, 2009 Lips Touch


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Travel Theme: Pairs

July 24, 2016 at 8:15 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

These are pictures that I took when I was experimenting with capturing ground coverings, garden design and other such details. I thought they would work well with this week’s travel theme.


This is a pair of neighbourhood bears. This picture is from last year. The display has been added to since. I must get a new picture. I love the white tree on the left and the happy bears always make me smile.


This is a pair of grey frogs surrounded by grey ignoring each other. I wanted to see how much of the detail I could capture in a grey on grey on grey picture without resorting to black and white. I like the way the picture turned out. Next time I might manipulate the frogs some but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so then as this wasn’t my garden. However, it does belong to my mother’s cousin so she probably would let me play with it.


Here we have a bug couple (a couple of bugs). Look at the tiny detail on her shoes and what is he holding? Is it a flask? I see a green flask and a yellow love note. Again this Bug couple makes me smile. I love to take pictures of objects that make me smile. 🙂


“…the springtime of life isn’t a chain; it’s a pair of wings.”

~Sok-kyong Kang, “A Room in the Woods,” in Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton, trans., Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers (1989)

“When a pair of magpies fly together / They do not envy the pair of phoenixes.”

~Lady Ho, “A Song of Magpies” (c. 300 B.C.), in Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, trans., eds., The Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China (1972)

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July 17, 2016 at 8:15 am (Blogging) (, , , , , , , )

Early Fall Frost

Photo Challenge: Details.

“Great Caesar, Wanda, eliminate. Eliminate detail and use the spaces produced to carry out design.”  — Wanda Gág, Growing Pains: Diaries And Drawings From The Years 1908-17 (1940)

“Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail.”  ― Leonardo da Vinci

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The Ten Dollar Quilt

July 10, 2016 at 8:15 am (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

10 Dollar Quilt

This is my ten dollar quilt. I bought it for ten dollars when I lived In Weyburn, SK over ten years ago. It is starting to fall apart. There is wear and tear and holes I can’t mend.

It appears that it is an easy machine quilting pattern (see second picture).

10 Dollar Quilt - Center

The center is a plain flower with a white center and two types of petals. The borders are long rectangles sewn together. It is backed in spring grass green.


I bought it because I loved the black and white cow pattern border. I bought it because it was inexpensive and compact. It fits a child’s or twin bed.

I love it because it is light. I can use it in the summer or winter.

I love it because Lulu (my cat) loves it. She will only sit on my lap if I am covered with this blanket. As far as she is concerned, this is her blanket. It stays folded, when not in use, on a shelf in the tv cabinet and she will get all cozy in there for her naps.

I love it because it is full of stories. There is Lulu’s story. There is my story. There is the quilter’s story. There is the story of who the quilt was made for. There is the story of how and why the ten dollar quilt ended up at a second hand store.

There is always story.

Water & Rock

I am not here today. I am off chasing stories.

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. —Ursula K. LeGuin

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity —Gilda Radner





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Coming Home

July 1, 2016 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It’s a busy Canada Day weekend here.

My hometown is celebrating it’s 95th birthday and is hosting homecoming.

The last homecoming I was home for was in 2005 when our province, Saskatchewan, turned 100 and New Orleans was flooding. In between homecoming events my sister & I discussed the effects of Katrina and wondered at the race differences that were so apparent in deciding who tells your story.

An old neighbour had a hand that year in telling Saskatchewan’s story.

Naicam Mural

And now it is Homecoming again. I am writing this post a week early because next weekend I will be busy hosting family and attending a historical homecoming.

The town I grew up in is small. The 2006 census gives the population as 690 persons. The town is about 6 blocks long and four wide. It sits in the middle of an expanse of prairie farmland.

I wonder how they survived it? My ancestors who came with nothing, worked extremely hard clearing bush and planting crops, raising children without the distractions of television and internet, and surviving when your nearest neighbour could be miles and hours away.

Why did they do it?

One side came from Scotland in the early years of the twentieth century. He was a grocer’s son. The other side came from Poland ten or so years before the second World War. His father had land.

Why did they do it?

How did they end up in such a desolate and wild country? I hope they came in summer and saw the beauty of a warm summer’s eve before they had to endure one of our winters.

I do love this place. I’m glad I grew up where I did. I just wonder a lot. I wander a lot. From here to there and back to here.

This Homecoming weekend, and whenever they will sit and listen, tell your children stories.

Wonder and Wander and come back home again.

Desolution 2012

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My Favourite Door

June 26, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Stirling Castle_Gate

This is a picture of my favourite door. I took it at Stirling Castle in Scotland in May 2010. Though, technically, it’s more of a gate than a door.

Doors open and close. They invite in and lock out. The doors of my house enclose my cave. I wish I had less windows and doors in my house. I like the closeness of a cave. One entry in and out. This way you always know who is coming. Are they Friend or Foe?

Perhaps that is why I like this gate door because I can see through it. If you look closely, you can see there is someone there. I didn’t notice the someone when I took the picture. I only noticed later when I was able to blow the picture up. I was focused on the door. On the stillness of the door. On the aloneness of the door.

This is me: still, alone, hiding behind doors.

In memory of my Scotland trip here is a Scottish poem about doors.

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

. . .

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
is there,
go and open the door.

For the rest of the poem, go over to the Scottish Poetry Library.

Don’t be afraid to open the door.

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Everything Old Is New Again

June 19, 2016 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )


My father was a digital man in an analog world. He weren’t no dinosaur.

He was an electrician and tv repairman. He started his career working on army airplanes and ended it fiddling with computers. He loved taking pictures and capturing movement with film. He had his own dark room once.

Sometimes I wish he were still around. Sometimes I wish I had been braver when he was alive. There are so many questions I couldn’t ask. So many skills never passed on.

I didn’t grow up with my father in the same house as me. Out of the nine children he had I always knew I was not one of the favoured. He did what he could with the resources he had and as a father, he did it badly.

And every father’s day, I try to forgive him his shortcomings and remember the man he was.


Record Player

My father was a digital man in an analog world. He weren’t no dinosaur.

I am a late bloomer and a late adapter. I am cautious. I take my time. I hold my heart in. If I’m not a dinosaur than I’m a sloth. Slow, quiet, and protective of my vulnerable areas.

Gradually I step out of my comfort zone. Gradually I try something new.

In my house, right now, alongside the smart tv, DVD/VCR player, computers and Apple box is an old fashioned record player that I’m not sure how to hook up. My dad would know and if he didn’t he would get right in there and experiment.

I long for a good old fashioned stereo cabinet like my grandparents had.

I have a small collection of LPs and 45s that I hardly ever play. I have cassettes that I play on trips because I only have a portable cassette player. The only music storage device I’ve never had is 8-tracks but they were mainly used in cars and I’ve never owned a car.

All I’ve done is expand my world. I am both analog and digital. I’ve gone from books to ebooks, 45s to MP3s, VHS to DVD to iMovies. Where will it stop?

What will I do on that day when I receive the heart attack inducing words “file cannot be found?”

Thankfully, I’ll have analog files to access.

Record Player 00

My father was a digital man in an analog world. He weren’t no dinosaur but me, I’m happy to identify as such.

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Pure Country

June 12, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Old Barn

This picture was taken one quiet Christmas Eve not too long ago. I was feeling nostalgic. This is my grandfather’s old barn. It is the only original structure left on the property my nephew now owns. My nephew never met his great-grandfather but he ended up buying his home quarter a few years ago. From generation to generation to generation the wheels turn.


These are my nephew’s son’s chickens. At five, he is responsible for seeing them feed and selling the eggs. He will probably be a farmer just like his dad and grandfather and great-grandfathers.

As things change (bigger farms, bigger machinery) so they stay the same (chickens to feed, crops to tend to).

Chickens Running

Pure” can convey wholesomeness, something undiluted, or simplicity.

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Fairy Wishes

June 5, 2016 at 8:15 am (Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

How to wish?


Sculpture at Trentham Estate by Robin Wight

(orginal photo by Susan Rushton) Sculpture at Trentham Estate by Robin Wight


  • Blow on a dandelion puff and make a wish. Then say:

“Dandelion, puffs away,

Make my wish come true some day.”

          Once all the “whiskers” are gone, your wish will come true.


Fairy Porch

  • Make a wish when you see three birds on a telephone wire. Watch out they are not a murder of crows. The rhyme below is the one that pertains to crows:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.

Eight for a wish,

Nine for a kiss. ..


  • Make a wish on the first star you see at night.

Star light star bright,
The first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.


  • Make a wish with another person on a chicken’s wishbone. Each takes an end and pulls until it breaks. The person with the largest piece of bone gets the “lucky break” and their wish. My baby brother always cheated at this.

Fairy Cottage

  • Find a penny, wear it in your left shoe, and your wish will come true. This is getting harder and harder to do as country after country stops producing pennies!


  • Hold your breath and make a wish while crossing a short straight bridge. Careful there are no trolls underneath.

Fairies in the Garden

  • Wishes made on Midsummer’s Eve (June 19, 2016) are most likely to come true.

What you wish for is up to you!




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Coveting Trolls

May 29, 2016 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


I was six or seven or eight. I had just started Grade One or Two; who remembers clearly what happened fifty years ago. I didn’t have glasses yet but they would come very soon! I was poor but I didn’t know I was poor (yet). Yes, my best friend had more stuff then I did but I didn’t covet her stuff. I had enough stuff even though most of it was second hand. Most importantly, I had unlimited access to books via my local library.

This was the perfect life. What else could I possibly dream of wanting?

My best friend was just like me. Her birthday was in May, mine was in April. She lived just down the alley from me. She had no father either. Her father had died, mine had left. That put her a little higher up in the social structure of the town. However, she was first generation Chinese-Canadian so that put her closer to being my equal than my classmates with lots of money and two parents. Her mother worked. My mother worked. Nobody else’s mother worked. We had a lot of unsupervised time and a lot of responsibility. We had to not cause trouble and be perfect.

I may have been poor but my mother saw that I never went hungry. Best of all was the all I could eat raspberry patch at the bottom of our garden. I still can’t get enough of raspberries, summer or winter.

I could go exploring at the local graveyards or go sit and daydream in the gazebo at the forest just inside of the town limits.

When I was tired of eating raspberries and running around unsupervised outside I could grab a book and read under the bed which was my favourite reading spot.

This was me in the 1960s.

Life was perfect!


That’s when they moved in. Every few years, my small town got a new policeman. He moved in with his family to the police station across the street from us. The police station was a single story red brick structure attached to a two story brick house. We hadn’t really paid attention to who lived there before because they didn’t have any children our age.

They did now. Three little girls (Lynn, Leah, & Laura) who were the same age as my sisters and me orbited into our lives and my best friend and I morphed into a threesome as Laura joined our group.

And now there were three little girls who were inseparable. We camped out in the bushes and trees across from the police station to gorge ourselves on candy and trade secrets. Laura was an outcast too because her dad’s constant moving made it hard for her to fit in.

We thought she had the coolest dad, we two who had no dads at all. He locked us in the jail cell one hot summer’s day (it was much cooler in there) and we played with our dolls and eavesdropped on muted adult conversations.

You would think that life would have continued to be perfect.

But…Laura had something I suddenly wanted.

Wanted so badly.


A troll doll is a type of plastic doll with furry hair depicting a troll and they were one of the biggest toy fads in the early 1960s. They had candy coloured hair and wore no clothes (usually).

Laura had, what seemed to me, hundreds of troll dolls, clothes, and accessories like this troll castle.

I coveted it. I coveted it all!

Oh, if only they were mine. I would make them dishes and feed them colourful mini marshmallows just like I did with my Barbie.



But it was not to be. My mother didn’t waste money on fads. I didn’t get my own troll doll (that’s s/he above) until I was in my forties. S/he has place of honour in my kitchen with the bottles and the lucky frogs.

It’s still a fine line. How to decide what is a need and what is a want.

I no longer covet troll dolls but oh, some days, it seems I covet so much else.

I try to remember I have a perfect life. I need so little. I don’t want many things.

What I want is so much more intangible and part of it is wanting what I use to have – simple needs and simple wants and a library next door to feed my insatiable habit for the written word.

That is enough.

That is perfection!

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