View From The Glen

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yellow Wood

Just when everything is going along swimmingly - I love teaching, my classes are going well, I have a bunch of terrific novels in various stages of editing that I am thrilled and excited to be working on, the kids are doing well, and Spring is coming - change rears its head.

Not all change is bad, of course. This change isn't even a change. More the opportunity for a change. The question is do I want change at all?

I just made changes, leaving my corporate job for freelance editing and the life of a part time college prof. I am happy with them. All things being even, I'd leave it exactly the way it is.


But change doesn't always come when you are looking for it. Sometimes it shows up when you least expect it. And like the "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" in Frost's poem, you will always wonder what might have happened if you took the other path.

And so I am thinking.

(Don't worry - I will still be writing, editing, teaching. Some things are too good to give up.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Tonight, I am in the house alone. Andrew took the kids to Cubs and afterwards to a friend's house where they are sleeping over.

Tonight, I am working late to make up for taking two unexpected days off. It's March Break, and we decided to head into our capital city for a mini break. I took my laptop, somehow convincing myself I would find time to do a bit of work, but seriously, who was I kidding?

Tonight, I completed final edits on a manuscript. Edits I will look at again tomorrow in the light of day to make sure nothing slipped past my tired brain.

Tonight, I am preparing for classes tomorrow. I want to discuss the influence of Russian writers on 19th and 20th century fiction, and my memory is a little rusty. But as I get into it, it comes back to me, and I remember. It makes me sad and happy. Sad that so much of what we learn gets lost, but happy that it isn't really lost and if we dust it off, it's still there somewhere.

Tonight, I am ignoring the detritus that is my house after a hasty dinner, a bunch of unpacked and repacked suitcases, and a rushed evening, not to mention a week of kids being home.

Tonight, the only sound is the thrum of the washing machine, and the faint strains of Sergei Rachmaninoff's piano playing on the stereo (inspiration for the Russian literature).

Tonight, I am feeling a bit chilled, and am drinking hot tea.

Tonight, I am looking forward to a good night's sleep in my own bed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Where there should be fields, there are lakes.

Where there was a merrily burning wood stove, there are ashes.

Where there was ice and snow, there are patches of grass and pavement.

Where there were clean floors, there are muddy tracks and doggy footprints.

We are in Transition. Winter is bowing out, none too gracefully.

It's messy and soggy and damp and grubby.

But we love it.

Spring is coming.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coffee shops

I am sitting here at The Grind, a downtown coffee shop that, incidentally sells great panini lunches and conveniently has wireless internet. I just finished making grammar fun (I hope - did you know ghoti spells fish?) for my college comms class, and normally I'd be heading home to edit. But Anna won her class speaking competition and is participating in the school competition today at 1:30, and she has invited me to go. Since I am not going home only to turn around and come back (the joys of living in the country), I thought I'd spend an hour editing here instead.

Except....that's not what I am doing, is it.

And why not? Because I am nosy, and I'm far more interested in the people around me than I am in working. It's very distracting. Those three in the colleagues, or old friends out for a long-overdue lunch. And the man by the for a coffee because he's retired and this is a nice place to get away for an hour, or because he has nowhere else to go? The two young girls in thigh high leather boots and short skirts...trendy entrepreneurs or best friends skipping class?

Oh, I don't eavesdrop - I am above that - but snippets of conversation do float across the rom from time to time, and it fascinates me, probably more than it should, to hear what people are talking about, and to try and piece together not who they are, but who they could be. There is potential in everyone. It is no wonder writers write in coffee shops.

I've always had this fascination with cafe's. The Green Bean in Halifax was the first one I was introduced to back when I first spent summers in that amazing city with the navy. People played chess in the corners, and there was organic fair trade coffee way, way, WAY before it was mainstream. And artsy or subversive student newspapers full of idealism. Loved that spot, though I was never edgy enough to really fit in. The Cave too - for late night coffee and cheesecake where we talked about philosophy and politics deep into the night by the light of dripping wax candles in ancient wine bottles. Do people still do that? It seems so long ago.

Or the little coffee house (can't recall it's name) on Duckworth STreet in Saint Johns, NFLD, where I went every morning for two weeks to drink their strong house blend, eat a blueberry muffin, and write while I was in the city on an exercise.

Cafe Du Monde in Quebec City. The Bagel place in Kitsilano, Vancouver (where I first had bagels covered in baked-in asiago cheese - Mmm!) So many great coffee shops. So many great places to sit and people watch.

And write.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Late this afternoon, I sliced the top of my right index finger open on a sharp can lid while I was sorting the recycling.

Crap, that hurt.

Now I have cut myself cooking numerous times. But I knew right away this was something bigger. Maybe it was the blood running down my finger and into the white sink; maybe the flapping skin; maybe just the absolute moment of agony. I ran my hand under cold water, grabbed paper towel and wraped my finger up in it. Classic first aid. The kids were doing homework and asking me questions. Quesitons I did not answer. Instead - and why I cannot explain - I found it comforting to walk in circles around the kitchen, clutching my finger, and pausing every couple of laps to run under the cold water. It numbed the pain.

And then I started to feel faint.

I've cut my finger open, it's bleeding, and I'm going to faint, I announced, making my way giddily into the living room to the couch.

I lay on the couch feeling the sweat of shock over my skin, and the room began to fade in and out. And there were voices.

Will she die? (Grace)
No! (Erik, scathingly). Her eyes are opening.
We should put her in the recovery position. (Grace)
We should apply pressure (Anna)
Can we put her in the recovery position? (Grace)
Get some bandaids and paper towel (Erik)
I could stitch it up. (Anna)
No! (Erik, scathingly)
She could choke on her tongue. We should put her in the... (Grace)
She doesn't need the recovery position until she passes out (Erik)
You won't die, Mom (Grace, rather cheerfully)

Good to know the first aid training they did at Cubs paid off. They sat there, Anna clasping my finger to staunch the flow of blood; Grace touching my forhead to see how hot I was, and trying to convince the others to let her practice the recovery position; and Erik taking charge and telling me it would be okay. And gradually the room receded and stabilized again. They gave me fresh paper towel, a dry towel to wrap around it, and a hot cup of sweet tea.

And hey, we were able to save the whole finger. It still hurts like heck. And when I get up the courage to take the bandage off, we'll see just how bad it is.

Until then, thank you to my little first aiders!