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Wendi Stewart - Wendi with an 'eye'

Wendi lives in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, but the farm on Rainy River in Crozier will always be her home. MEADOWLARK, her debut novel released September 15, is published by NeWest Press of Edmonton. She is the mother of four daughters who did the unforgivable: they grew up. http://wendistewart.writersresidence.com

Too Much of a Good Thing

Be careful what you wish for, was a common recitation of my mother's while I was growing up. She also said bad luck was as easy to find as good, so hope or ask for neither. I was thinking this morning of her stance on too much of a good thing while I was locked in a morning sneeze. I love a good sneeze, my eyes closed, the uncontrollable reflex welling up and filling my eyes until it is all released in a single achoo. A sneeze always seems like a good deal of fun to me.

His Legacy

I find myself, this morning as I sit at my desk, thinking about those people who helped shape my character when I was growing up. Not the idols whose pictures I taped to my bedroom walls. Not the athletes who inspired me to run faster and jump higher. Not the movie stars whose imaginary characters made me swoon, but those men and women who led by example, who quietly went about their day-to-day lives, their decency and integrity leaving a swath of goodness for those of us coming behind to follow.

What's in a cookie

I love oatmeal. It speaks to childhood and grandparents and all manner of remembering. I had oatmeal this very morning for breakfast. It's a happy start to my day. This wasn't so much a bowl of oatmeal; the method of cooking differed slightly. Instead of boiling it on the stove, it was baked in the oven in a shape roughly resembling what you might call a cookie. I didn't exactly need a spoon to eat this version of porridge, but I did have milk with it. It had oatmeal and eggs and chocolate chips, a bit of flour and sugar.

Who will evoke change?

I was reading, the other day, about Mary Wollstonecraft, a British novelist. She was considered radical in her time, leading the way in what we would later call feminism, but her views at that time had no title other than madness.

“I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves,” she wrote.

Jolabokaflod

I was reading over the holidays about a Christmas tradition in Iceland and though we have packed away our decorations and memories for another year, I couldn't help be fascinated and envious of Iceland's idea. It is called Jolabokaflod, which means, to you and I, “Christmas book flood” or the exchange of books on Christmas Eve. The Icelandic people settle in on the night before Christmas, under a warm blanket, in their favourite chair by the fire and open their gift of a book and read the night away. I can't imagine anything more delicious to all the senses.

Thank you, Charles Dickens

My children's Christmas art work is up, the creations from their early childhood.

Christmas lights are up. Nat and Bing are singing their versions of seasonal favourites to me.

The snow comes and goes. The pileated woodpeckers are providing their background percussion as I walk.

A deer bounds over the road in front of me; Gracie thinks of taking up chase, but reconsiders when I remind her of good manners.

Squirrels share jokes in the trees, their voices comical.

Our creativity can flourish as we age

Someone said to me the other day that she wasn't creative and wished she was.

I thought about that for a minute and then a few days later I heard Lynda Barry, an American cartoonist and educator, speak on CBC Radio about our creativity. We all have creativity within us, waiting and able, should we decide to tap into it.

I love watching my grandchildren create their masterpieces.

A pretend charcuterie

We were hit by the first winter storm last week.

It was a doozy or felt like it, but it was a mere sample of what is yet to come. I know Fort Frances is all too familiar with winter storms and I remember them well from my childhood, though at that time they were exciting rather than burdensome.

My power went out shortly after the heavy wet snow fell.

I trudged out to my shed and dug out the ramp and dragged my generator the thirty feet to the house and fired it up. I had lights and heat and water and was snug as a bug.

My friend, Jim Avis

It was my friend Jim's birthday yesterday.

On the morning of his birthday I like to sit with my coffee and compile my mental list of favourite Jim Avis memories and it invariably results in laughter.

That is the gift that friendship gives us, memories and stories we can relive over and over and no matter how long the days between visits, we are never really far apart.

I try to separate out my favourite memory and it just isn't possible, the list is too long.