It being the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s death, we’re bombarded with retrospectives of various kinds. I’ve been tuning in to many of them. I don’t know why I’m drawn back so intensely. Perhaps I’m reaching for a time I lived through, unbelievably half a century ago already, and to a 13-year-old Me.
John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy
Last evening, for example, I watched “Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy.” The assassination happened Friday and by Monday some 45,000 letters had arrived to Mrs. Kennedy at the White House. Over the next two months, the number reached 800,000. Among them was a letter from me. Handwritten. In green ink as I recall. Continue reading
Before I get completely submerged under the ripe tomatoes, ditto the grapes and the five-gallon pail of apples, plus the story I’m writing, I want to say something about last week.
I spent it at the Banff Centre in an intensive focus on short fiction led by Alexander MacLeod, literature professor and author of the Giller short-listed collection Light Lifting. I’ve never taken a writing retreat or week-long writing course, so I’m still feeling like a girl on her first trip to Disney. It’s a bit of a wonderful bubble one goes into, for sure. But the Disney analogy ends now: there’s nothing Minnie Mouse about carefully, brutally workshopping others’ writing (that is, learning to read), or being workshopped just as carefully and brutally. We all knew, of course, and tried to remember, this was where the benefit (a.k.a love) lay. Continue reading
Oh friends, I’d so hoped to be a regular blogger all summer, emphasis on regular, and I didn’t do so badly there for a week or two. And through the lovely days, things gathered in my head that I wished to tell you, but I didn’t get them spoken after all! Not that this is a tragedy of any proportion whatsoever, not for you or me; there are words enough swimming into everyone’s daily net and the ones that get away are rarely missed! A good thing, that. Continue reading
Filed under Books, Personal
My work priorities have shifted somewhat for December and January. Two weeks ago, N., the 17-year-old daughter of my husband’s nephew (which makes her our grand-niece I think), came to Canada from Paraguay to stay with us for two months, with the goal of improving her English. So we’re speaking our very best English and enjoying her being here and also setting her up with various local volunteer experiences.
“Papa’s Tagebuch” — 5 notebooks brought by N. for me to transcribe.
What this has to do with my priorities isn’t so much the presence of a teenager, however, but a time commitment I made on account of her coming. H’s father, who died before we were married, kept a diary for several years in the 1930s and then again for several years in the 1950s. His oldest sister had begun the work of transcribing these diaries for the benefit of the entire family. Thanks to her work, I’ve read the first two years of it in typed form — from Heinrich Dück’s leaving Russia in 1929 through the early years of settlement in the Chaco, Paraguay which included the deaths of his parents (his mother by lightning) and also his marriage. I confess I’ve been itching to read the rest of the diaries but my sister-in-law isn’t well and so she hasn’t been able to proceed. Continue reading
I’d anticipated writing a cheery post this week about Saturday’s trip to Dauphin, a small city about four hours northwest of Winnipeg. I was quite sure there would be something interesting to share — about the drive up, perhaps, or the afternoon reading I was doing at the Dauphin Public Library together with aboriginal writer Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair or the planned tour of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or dinner and lodging with friends.
But, unless I write fiction, there’ll be none of that. We didn’t go. All the highways to our destination were closed because of severe icy conditions, so there we sat Saturday morning just outside Winnipeg, which was as far as we’d been able to drive, making phone calls, making our decision to turn around (not a real decision, though, since there was no option but to cancel) and feeling disappointment seep into our spirits. Continue reading
Since joining facebook, I’ve somehow managed to pick up more than four hundred friends. I checked the number this morning and was surprised. I hadn’t realized it had come to this. Quite amazing it is, for someone who signed on in order to view photos of her grandchildren and who has the typical introvert’s friendship circle of about a dozen. (Though a baker’s dozen on days I’m feeling especially ebullient.)
Then again, not that surprised either, because “fb friends” is a new category, and unique, and it matters not that it counts relatives and people I’ve never met and people I’ve not seen for three or four decades. We’ve connected in some way, we’ve validated that connection, and I’m quite satisfied to call each one a friend, even if the adjective facebook may be required for technicality’s sake. Continue reading
I recently spent six days away, in the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan area, speaking at a women’s retreat, and while there anyway, enjoying a visit with two of my sisters and their families, as well as launching my new book at Saskatoon’s McNally Robinsons. The retreat was the main thing, of course, some 45 in attendance from Mennonite Church Saskatchewan considering the theme “Called to Rest, Called to Renewal.” And such wonderful women they were, blessing me with their warmth, participation, and conversation.
But I’m finding that the piece of Away that seems to hook the most curiosity when I’m asked about it — and answer — is the fact that I took the train to and from. It’s understandable, I suppose; I hadn’t been on a Canadian train myself for at least 25 years. So, today I’m blogging about riding the train. Continue reading
Filed under Books, Personal
It’s a good thing I promised to say something about the launch of my book, because I’ve slipped back into regular mode, meaning it feels somewhat distant already, so why go on about it? And we’re having wintery weather at the moment – yes, that’s snow caught in the grass – when just days ago, pre- and launch days, that is, it was gorgeous autumn. As if in the meantime a season has come and gone.
It’s good for me, though, to remember and also explain things to myself, and in addition, Shirley Hershey Showalter, in a FB post, said, “I hope you’ll describe what it’s like to launch,” so here I am, on about it. (She’s very close to completing a memoir manuscript for which she already has a contract, so her launch lies soon ahead of her.)
For me, then, and Shirley, and anyone else interested, this is about the launch of my collection of short fiction, What You Get at Home, last Tuesday. Continue reading
Mid-August, H. and I bought a small 5th-wheeler camper trailer, 21 years old, decent condition for its age, decent price for its condition, etc. etc. We hauled it home and while I washed the interior and began to scheme the things I’d need to stock it, H. (who’s as handy as he’s handsome) pressure-washed the outside and began to go through the plumbing and wiring and so on to bring everything into good working order. Continue reading
It’s been a frustrating couple of days, concerning my computer and internet connection, which I kept losing. It’s a long and tedious story, neither interesting nor original, I’m sure, as we all have our frustrations, if not about technology, about something else that doesn’t work properly and requires endless diagnostics and time to straighten away. It’s been going on intermittently for some months, but at this very moment, post today’s visit to the Apple store to confirm that the problem is not my computer, and my most recent call to our internet provider and subsequent adjustments “on the other end,” all the bars in the little fan at the top of the computer are full. So here’s hoping.
There’s also been a comment from my daughter-in-law Dayna’s blog tumbling around in my mind, for which I’m grateful. Continue reading