The state of Friday

Of course I’m behind on my to-do list again. So I will leave you with an appropriate funny for how I feel about today. Adulting is hard.

Here’s to the weekend and catching up…cheers!

Making moves…to make a move

Unlike some people I know, I don’t have a lot to say. Well, yeah, I do, but it’s “all in me head” as Mr. Tweedy oft says in the movie Chicken Run.

its all in me head

Just because I have an internal monologue on endless loop (or, what is it called when it’s not a loop…it just goes on and on to infinity?) doesn’t mean I can blather on in public at will.

Since I’m also short on time, I’m going to have to save what little I have to say for my newsletters. I haven’t quite decided what I want to do with this blog yet. I hate to give it up because apparently I’ve had it for 10 years now.

But I also don’t see myself sustaining a weekly post while trying to keep a reasonably healthy writing career. I’ll continue to mull over my future course of action, but in the meantime, may I tempt you into signing up for my newsletter? Sign up here!

Need more incentive? I have giveaways in every issue (they’re quarterly issues, sent out 4 times a year). This next one is this cool package…

two picture books and a table runner

Come on, won’t you be my neighbor subscriber?

A Fall garden update

Happy Autumnal Equinox! Here’s a brief garden update.

Not a part of the garden, but the Spousal Unit has gone a bit mad propagating figs.
The grapevine has recovered nicely after he hacked it back earlier this year to save the fence.
Yes, that’s a tiny watermelon dangling in mid-air.
We will have enough butternut squash to feed a small country.
Ditto the acorn squash.
Here’s what that squash plot looks like from above. A bear could be hiding underneath and we wouldn’t know it. The tall, dry stalks are the remnants of corn.
The chicks are growing nicely eating the veggie compost. Waste not, and all that.

The tomato and bean plants look ragged but are still producing, as are the eggplants. Unfortunately, voles, ground hogs, rabbits, and other critters have ensured that we have very little fall crops. It’s depressing, but at least we have a good bit of green beans and tomatoes put up for the year.

What’s in the root cellar…doesn’t include all the veggies we froze.

True story!

Well, okay, it didn’t involve underwater creatures or a birthday, but it did have someone sh*tting on my parade, unprovoked.

It was the one and only time I got public praise from the head of this particular group, and, amidst the congrats from some lovely folks, someone who doesn’t even know me, jumped in to say, without acknowledging me, that all the other folks who had entered that same contest I did should also be commended…”all the other folks” who weren’t even a part of this private forum we were in and would never see the congratulatory wishes.

Some might say that Fish is well-meaning, but you can be well-meaning AND still be inconsiderate. And why? What purpose did that serve except to make 2 people feel bad (Octopus and Seahorse) and no one feel good?

Don’t be Fish!

p.s. I drew the cartoon, which is why it’s uncredited

Sour and delicious…like life

My husband has a friend from his graduate school days who used to say every time he sipped coffee, “Ah, bitter…like life.” (He’s an Eeyore kind of character.)

I wouldn’t say life is bitter; it’s more like sour and also delicious–just like a Cornelian cherry and rhubarb pie. What? You’ve never had one, you say? Well, check mine out…

Cornelian cherry is a dogwood, by the way.

good gravy, I look like I’m performing surgery and taking out polyps or something
mashing up the two ingredients together
Ahhh, pie is everything!

In case you’re wondering why Cornelian cherry-rhubarb, it’s because we didn’t get a big enough Cornelian cherry crop for me to do a whole pie with.

If you love pie like I do, you probably want to be my neighbor; I make very good pies. 😉 Have a lovely weekend!

Learn to write nonfiction!

Just a short post for this week because I’ve been extra busy. July to October is four months of non-stop veggie processing and I should never take on anything else during this time of year (besides my usual writing projects).

But I did take on too much this year, and one of the things is a Highlights Foundation class I’m guest-teaching for fabulous author Jen Swanson.

Jen has taught this class many times in the past and she is a wonderful, engaging teacher. This is my third…and possibly last…time guest-teaching with her. Like I said, I can’t say yes to summer commitments anymore if I hope to get any writing done.

As it says on the Highlights webpage:


  • You are working on a biography, history, nature, or STEAM/STEM-themed book for kids or teens. Let our faculty help you craft an engaging, nonfiction book for kids.
  • You love nonfiction and are eager to write TRUE stories. This workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of nonfiction children’s books.
  • You have an in-progress or finished manuscript and aren’t sure how or where to submit your work. Pitches, proposals, and publishing opportunities will all be explored during this workshop.
  • You enjoy online learning. This two-part course relies on LIVE Zoom interaction and contributions in the virtual classroom.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to write nonfiction books for kids, we’d love for you to join us!

And lastly, the critters of Vancouver

It was nice to see an abundance of Swallowtail butterflies. But since I never caught a photo of the underside of their wings, we couldn’t tell whether these specimens are the Canadian Tiger Swallowtails or Western Tiger Swallowtails. They’re gorgeous, whichever species they might be.

at the rose garden on Burnaby Mountain
on some random, roadside at Deep Cove

I think this is a painted turtle we found at the Dr Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Garden…but I don’t know. Any herpetologists in the audience? There aren’t very many turtles (being quiet…haha) on the western front.

And bizarrely, there was this dead (probably baby) bird. It looked like it might have fallen from a nest and was stomped on by pedestrians who didn’t notice it. Such are the little cruelties of life.

Lastly, I was was taken by this trimmed cedar (or juniper…can’t remember which) outside of a church which reminded me of the plants in Peter Brown’s book, The Curious Garden. Go look it up…you’ll see what I mean.

We’re done with the vacation flashback and will resume with the regular programming next week. 😀 Wishing you a weekend as wild and wonderful as this plant!

My alma mater: thanks for the memories

Nostalgia can paint everything pink and glittery. I think of my time at the University of British Columbia as my carefree days–and compared to having kids I guess they were–but they weren’t really. Taking challenging courses and trying to find my place in the adult world, as well as navigating relationships with the emotional intensity of a teen aren’t easy things. I’m sure it was actually a difficult time. But, I was also finally free of the shackles of an all-too-tiny high school that had felt claustrophobic the entire time I was there, so the euphoria of being in a bigger, more exciting, and less cliquey, world probably helped make the experience seem wonderful.

Anyway, sparkling rose-colored lenses or not, the campus is simply beautiful (if not some of the architecture), and so I like to visit it every year that I go see my family. And the 6 people who read my blog get to see the sights, too!

I found my way to this spot often. Besides the color and fragrance of the Rose Garden, the view of water and mountains could soothe any soul.

Within the rose garden, you can find a specimen of the famed Mr. Lincoln variety.

Have you ever seen the episode of X-Files where there was a sniper atop a clock tower? Well, the clock tower in front of the Main Library here was what they used for the episode. In the foreground is a brand new space dedicated to the indigenous population of the area. Back in the early 1980s, it was mostly an unused area attached to the Sedgewick Undergraduate Library where I spent a lot of time both as a student and then an employee for a year.

Speaking of spending a lot of time, the Buchanan complex of buildings housed a number of my classes and I still occasionally dream of wandering around them. They’re drab and dreary, really, but anything set against an azure sky (and viewed with the aforementioned rose-colored lenses) can look quite lovely.

And lastly, there’s the Scarfe Education building. I had a locker there for the entirety of my time at UBC so I have a special fondness for this otherwise unremarkable structure. Also, the cafeteria in the basement made a delicious French onion soup. The Spousal Unit claims I only remember places by the food I ate there. That’s so not true, but if a place had good food, I’m bound to remember it more than somewhere that didn’t serve good food, or any food.

Where is a place of your heart that you keep returning to?

The sights of Chinatown

While we didn’t move to Chinatown after immigrating to Vancouver, we spent a lot of time there. The shops sold meats and veggies my mom was familiar with for cooking. Speaking of cooking, my mom didn’t learn to cook until she was 35, when we immigrated. In Hong Kong, we either ate with family or we had a servant cooking. (It’s not quite the luxury it sounds like; the “servants” were more like live-in faux grandmothers.) And we went to visit a friend of my dad’s a lot. He was a bachelor who lived above a store and died there alone. I still get sad thinking about him 50 years later.

On the bright side, it was while we were visiting him that I was first introduced to Sonny and Cher’s variety hour. While mom and dad chatted with him, my sis and I watched TV and for some reason, it was often the Sonny and Cher show. It was also my first taste of the slightly risqué and American pop-rock.

But I digress. I try to hit Chinatown every several visit or so when in Vancouver to see my family. This year was a jaunt to Chinatown, and here are some photos.

When I saw this sign, the Bob Seger song immediately popped into my head…

Stores like this still proliferate…they bring back so many memories of my mom buying bulk dried goods to make weird soup concoctions.

Completed in 1986 on the outskirts of Chinatown is the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Garden. My sister and I both worked there for a while right after it was built. I think it’s gotten more beautiful with time.

(why yes, I did get my clumsy finger in the way in the lower right corner)

I tested the limit of my phone camera’s zoom feature on the lilies. I think it works decently, don’t you?

Vancouver’s Chinatown has changed a lot over the past 50 years but it will always hold a special place in my heart even if that affection isn’t always returned (I’m looking at you, Chinatown Storyteller’s Association).

Do you have a special childhood place that you still visit?

Book Giveaway: FOOTPRINTS ACROSS THE PLANET by Jennifer Swanson

Don’t miss this wonder new nonfiction picture book by my good friend and sometimes-teaching-collaborator Jen!

Writing and Illustrating

Jennifer Swanson has written a new non-fiction picture book, FOOTPRINTS ACROSS THE PLANET, published by  Reycraft Books on August 13th. She has agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Jennifer.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won…

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