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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

We don’t need masses of ‘stuff’

Christmas is in the rearview mirror; just about out of sight now.

Last week I was packing up and heading home from Vancouver—from a city that boasts about its moderate temperatures and claims winter doesn’t happen.

I was seriously misled. The sidewalks were covered in thick ice, with ruts and bumps that make walking treacherous for those unsteady on their feet or while pushing a stroller or trying to get around in a wheelchair.

The intricacies of good manners

We were discussing good manners the other day, my daughters and me, and the conversation circled around the importance of learning to extend respectful kindness to those we encounter in a day.

We have made it more of a challenge for our wee ones these days to whom we instruct, it seems, from birth not to speak to strangers. The chanting of danger, danger seems more a course of action than please and thank you.

At the end of another year

The days leading up to the New Year can be considered the days of good intentions, but it seems I squeeze in as many poor eating choices as I can manage before the calendar turns over.

At some point during the pre-holiday preparation I seem to give up. “Why fight it,” I say, as I devour my weight in miniature cream puffs (profiteroles I think they are more accurately to be referred).

I may be exaggerating but the intent is accurate.

My Christmas ‘want’

I was at a mall in Vancouver last week—a really big mall comprised of three levels; a shopping maze that even the brightest of us would struggle to find his/her way from.

I’m fairly certain a GPS should be standard issue upon entrance to the mall.

I wasn’t shopping, not really. I wasn’t referring to a list and checking it off and walking with a purpose. Rather, I was meeting a friend and the mall was halfway between us and allowed for walking without getting snowed or rained on and without getting wet feet.

My wish for Christmas

I am compelled to take photos of old abandoned houses. I can’t help myself.

I used to have my camera in my car specifically for this purpose whenever I was behind the wheel. Now I have an iPhone that simplifies the process, though the quality of my photos may have slipped into serious decline.

I’m especially drawn to those derelict buildings whose front doors hang by one hinge, ajar, as if saying to me there is nothing to hide; the story has found its end and the details are beneath the crumbling walls and sagging roof.

Embrace the power of laughter

“I laughed so hard my water broke . . . and I’m not even pregnant.”

A story goes with those words—words I recently found inside a card at a card shop, but not just any card shop. Let me explain.

Le Tablier Blanc was a card shop on College Street in Toronto. My friend, Allison, and I were out for lunch, having a catch-up as old friends do, never running out of stories to share and making plans for future stories.

On our walk back, we popped into Le Tablier Blanc a few blocks from Allison’s home.

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.