You are here

Beth Caldwell - The View From Here

To contact Beth, email her at

First, break all the rules

American novelist James Paterson took the road less travelled when he began to write books in the mid-70’s. After reading “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,” Paterson decided to break all the rules about how he crafted the books he wrote. He embraced “full-throttle freedom,” learned to trust the right side of his brain and “just let go.”

Apparently it has worked rather well for him over the years.

Swim on like a fish

Every day I have choice to make. Happy. Not happy.

The happiness balance is tedious, constant work. Sometimes I do it well; sometimes I do appallingly.

Today was one of those “not-do-it-so-well” days.

My Monday got turned around like the weather and I found myself in the linger of thoughts of all the things I haven’t done with my life, should already have done with my life, and all the in-between mud-and-sling scenarios.

House makeover is daunting

Clearly the long tooth of winter needs to go the dentist and have a root canal.

I will gladly pay the bill.

I hate to admit it but I’ve imagined slipping the dentist an extra $50 bucks to forgo Novocaine when removing said long tooth—just to emphasize how much of a pain in the posterior Old Man Winter has been this year.

A few weeks ago, the crusty old curmudgeon spawned a rebel in me that fought the hard fight against any further snow blowing of the driveway or shovelling of the back step, no matter how much snowfall arrived.

Open up your closet door

Technology. Entertainment. Design. In short, “TED.”

I’ve been a fan of TED for years. Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned have been from TED, a global platform of speakers who share their ideas—be they funny, courageous, ingenious, inspiring, or informative—in talks of 18 minutes or less.

There are more than 1,700 such talks, in 100 different languages, available to us online at

Dreaming of grass

George Home once said, “Patience strengthens the spirit, sweetens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy, subdues pride, bridles the tongue.”

Obviously he never spent a long, cold winter cooped up in this part of the country awaiting signs of spring.

I don’t know about you but my patience is pooped out and my disposition has run amuck. I’m sick of the cold and tired of defrosting the ends of my fingers each morning.

The day I’ve been waiting for

We were sitting at the kitchen table shelling peanuts and enjoying the salty taste, sipping on a “London Porter,” and reviewing the day’s successes after a pleasant afternoon of ice-fishing when he said, “The next time we go ice-fishing, I think we should go for trout.”

My heart leapt. I tried to contain my inner child-like glee because I’d been hoping he’d say that for weeks now.

Joys of blue-sky thinking

“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”

The late great Duke Ellington had the right idea.

Sadly, I can pout with the best of them, but I cannot read, write, nor play a lick of music.

When I pout, all my energy goes into finding a piece of chocolate I stashed in the cupboard, which then leads to the blues because I always eat more of it than I should.

Hmmm, not exactly the kind of productive energy transference Mr. Ellington was talking about.

“I’d stop eating chocolate but I’m no quitter.” Now that’s more like me.

Hooked on ice fishing

Ice fishing. I tried it for the first time two weekends ago, and all I’ve thought about since is how much fun I had and “When can we go again?”

Where have I been all my life that I didn’t try ice fishing until now? I live in Northwestern Ontario for crying out loud!

And not only did I just have my inaugural experience with the sport, but it also was only the second time I’d ever been in a vehicle on a frozen lake ice road—and the first time I’d gotten out and walked on water I might sail on one day or drive a motor boat across.

How cool was that!

Walking my path

Just the other day, during a quiet moment on the drive home from a wonderful day of snowshoeing, my good friend gently said to me, “And you have an anniversary coming up?”

I turned my head in his direction with a curious stare of pause.

“An anniversary? No. No anniversary,” I replied, returning to look upon the road to home.

My intuitive friend is a gem—and he knows what is coming. Alas, so do I. Yet I was trying to convince myself that two years post would allow the day to pass without feeling it so much.

Free to choose my own path

What if I had turned left in the hallway at the college I was attending in the fall of 1980?

What if I had turned left and found a lounge chair in a window vestibule, and plopped myself there during a cancelled class instead of going to the cafeteria for a big cornmeal muffin and a coffee.

If I had turned left on that November morning some 33 years ago, how would my life be different today?