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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.

Ironing is a long-lost art

I like to iron. I like how the task takes all the creases and lumps and bumps and makes them smooth—a metaphor for life.

I like the bursts of steam—the warmth and the pssst; a bit of music to my ears.

Men used hankies when I was a kid, big square white ones, and it was my job to press my dad’s hankies; to make them perfectly flat, the corners lined up evenly. And if there was embroidery on the hankie, such as an initial or some emblem, that embroidery was to end up in the bottom right-hand corner (the rules very precise).

Can’t help being a hurrier

I am a hurrier. If a group existed where I could join in with other such flawed individuals to help me kick the habit, I would do so with an eager heart.

I would raise my hand and say, “My name is Wendi Stewart and I hurry.”

I can’t help myself it seems. I eat as if it might be my last meal. I brush my teeth in a frenzy that nearly removes the enamel from my teeth with each stroke.

I could have danced all night

My parents used to have parties when I was little—parties with lots of people; invariably my mother on the piano and a stack of records on the record player.

They danced. I suppose they drank, though I don’t recall that part. My sister and I watched, through the heat grate in my parent’s bedroom, strategically placed above the living room sofa.

We felt like spies while we stretched out on the floor on our tummies; our noses pressed to the grate as the cigarette smoke wound its way up through this strategic hole in the floor and around us.

Crickets are only charming in poetry

Do you remember being eight or nine years old and reciting Walter De la Mare’s poem, “Some One?” It was one of my favourite poems.

Someone came knocking at my wee small door;

Someone came knocking I’m sure sure sure.

Ringing any bells? I clearly recall standing at the front of the class, my knees knocking together, my head down, my voice most certainly something less than a whisper.

It’s quite a ride

I’m not a fan of midway rides.

Ferris wheels make me want to vomit—just at the top when you come over the edge and the world disappears. Roller-coasters are just too hard on my equilibrium, now especially but even when I was young.

I pretended to enjoy the “Round Up” at the Emo Fair and stood in my space with the grip of death on the bars on either side of me and attempted to look cool, but I wasn’t fooling anyone.

If only you knew ‘Stinky’

You didn’t know “Stinky.” You may have known “a” Stinky but not “the” Stinky.

You would have been better for having known him.

Samantha found Stinky in Guelph, in between the front doors of her apartment building. One of the heavy doors had closed on his tail, breaking the end of it and giving him a forever hook in his tail—a bit monkey-like.

He was an adolescent cat then, of no fixed address, starving, filthy, and sporting a dreadful odour. Hence, his dignified name.

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If I were rich (well, not even rich, just richer, but quite a bit richer), I would go to the hairdresser every other day to have my hair washed.

I would lie back in the special chair and she (because I prefer a she rather than a he, but I’m sure a he hairdresser is equally as gifted with magic fingers) would get the water temperature just right, use the perfect coconut-smelling shampoo or citrus (I’m a fan of citrus), and massage my scalp, without rushing, no hurrying at all.

Any troubles that I might have had would vanish—evaporate into thin air or wash down the drain.

Not a fan of August

At first glance, I am not a fan of August. In fact, August may be my least favourite month, though February may run a close second.

August feels like a month of shifting; the heat seems less intense, the bugs less vigorous, the days begin to shrink more noticeably, and I can feel a sadness creep up my spine that says summer is trying to get away—trying to sneak out the back door—even though I called out to August asking it to stay.

Voices my cure for a bad day

I was having a bad day—the kind of bad day that you know is going to settle in like an all-day rain, with not a single chance of sunshine; the sky all dark and grey and pressing in.

The day started out with a bad tone and chances were it was going to end badly. I was suffering from daughter-withdrawal and though it is a regular affliction, something from which I suffer with dreadful regularity, I still haven’t figured out the antidote aside of getting in my car and driving like a fiend until I find a daughter and hug her until she begs me to stop.

Reflecting on the ‘if only’

I was thinking of the definition of family the other day, wondering why it seems limited to “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household; a group related by blood or marriage.”

That seems a stark definition to me—lacking the soul and depth that the mere word family conjures up.

Family is the place where you lie your head when you rest, the place where you limp to when your heart is broken, the place you run to with exciting news, and it is the place where you slide into a hammock and breathe quiet.