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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.

Relishing the music of Yo-Yo Ma

Do you know Yo-Yo Ma?

He doesn’t call me at home to ask advice, nor do we meet for coffee to exchange stories, but I do consider Yo-Yo Ma my friend. I’m not sure he is aware of that fact but I don’t think he would mind me saying so.

He plays the cello in my ear while I sit at my desk, pen in hand, as I create a world for which I can find a solution. The magic he creates with his cello calms my busy brain and allows it to focus; allows it to rest and quiets it so my own limited magic can happen.

Some musings at 30,000 feet

I find myself travelling again.

I was aboard a flight last week—doing my impression of a sardine. The man sitting next to me was typing on his laptop and his elbows were spilling over into my seat, though he tried to contain them.

His legs are twice as long as the space is designed for.

I try to be the last one boarding the aircraft to limit my issue with confined spaces (we don’t like one another). I watch passengers drag their carry-on luggage onboard—bundles and bags that clearly exceed the limit that the rules allow (rules that few travellers heed).

Where are you, sleep?

When I sleep, or rather when I try to sleep (“try” being the operative word in that testimony—a word that comes laced with the potential for failure), I tend to think and recall every wrong turn I’ve made.

The morning comes with hope, positive thoughts; a sunny disposition. But at night, before my brain flicks the “off” switch, it takes a stroll down memory lane and all the oops events come out to play.

Beth, my favourite writer, posted something recently on Facebook about a brain giving a dissertation at 3 a.m.

Don’t sanitize kids from the truth

I heard the expression on the radio recently that we “sanitize” the lives of our children.

It’s true that memories of our own childhood sometimes get roughed up a bit with literary licence when we compare our stats with “kids today.”

As the distance from our childhood lengthens, the difficulties sometimes increase proportionately—a bit Monty Python-ish if you remember one of their skits, in particular, where each tried to out-do the other with how poor they were.

The same old me underneath it all

I got my hair cut last week.

I’m well aware that this fact is of little or no importance to you but it got me thinking (as things tend to do). For instance, I always go to my appointments such as the doctor, the dentist, and the hairdresser armed with supplies to pass the time. Would it kill me to just sit quietly and wait; to empty my head and just relax?

Apparently, the risk is far too great.

Never hesitate to lend someone a hand

I had a friend visit me for a couple of weeks recently. She is the kind of friend who fits right in; who doesn’t alter a space in which she is in but rather enhances it.

The best part is she has a serious helping of silly ingrained in her cells. And what could be better than silly?

Alison is a chef, a maker of incredible food, following a plant-based formula. She believes, after thorough research and committed study, that we can find the answers to our health problems in how we fuel our bodies.

‘Hope to’ list growing

Thanksgiving has passed. I ate enough turkey and stuffing and fixings to sink the ship a few times.

The pumpkin pie was exceptional, if I’m allowed to say so; the pumpkin grown in my own garden, which somehow makes it more noteworthy, almost noble.

If Rod Stewart is knight-worthy so is my pumpkin.

Sir Pumpkin. Has a nice ring to it. Much better than Dame Pumpkin (but that’s a discussion for another day).

Helping to make life more bearable

Kurt Vonnegut said, “Go into the arts. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.”

That seems an almost defeatist way of looking at life but it’s true. Creativity is known to soothe the soul; to be in the tool box for rehabilitation.

Yet the first programs we cut from education, when the money gets tight, are the arts programs. Rather, we tend to educate our children to become consumers, as if that is the only way to pursue a meaningful successful life.

And while we do so, we educate the creativity right out of them.

I’m aching to be a candle of light

Many of you will have seen the video of six-year-old Alex from New York on Facebook reading a letter he wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama about the boy in Syria.

He asked President Obama to bring Omran Daqnees to Scarsdale so Alex can give Omran a home. In his letter, Alex cited all that he and his sister, Catherine, would give to Omran: a family, shared toys, safety, help, understanding.

The images of Omran in the ambulance are haunting. The everyday reality of war and destruction that has been the whole of this wee boy’s life is staggering.

We’re all butterflies in the making

I watch people. I think I’ve always watched people.

I look for clues in how they hold their hands, or repeatedly pull on a ball cap as if they are trying to keep their thoughts contained or massage an eyebrow to control a worry.

I look for sad, for weary, for signs of hurting.

I’m not sure why but I do. I create stories in my head, complete with solutions for what I imagine is going wrong. Perhaps I watch to remind myself we are never alone in what we feel.