Nov 28, 2008

What/Why am i writing???

Maybe it's a bit early to ask this question. My plan has been to just write whatever needs to come out, then figure it out later. Wait half a year then see if a bunch of bits and blurbs can become a bigger work of merit. This blog, a paid gig (now "Editor at Large") with, and one magazine article (Urban Baby) have all been great ways to test and build my skills, find my voice, generate a body of work that might later be compiled or built upon, gauge reactions, and simply be pushed to produce.

But already the two big writers' questions begin to loom. First, is anybody really reading? I have some website stats and some beautiful emails from y'all to know that the answer is Yes, but when I saw a dour guy on a bus one day with a black t-shirt that said, "Nobody reads my blog" I did wonder if that might be me.

But the real question is, is it making any difference? Is this what I want to write, and is it touching people in a good way? I sometimes get depressed by advice about how to be a successful blogger - catchy titles, tips, 5 steps to... My most recent post is something I've struggled with for a long time and want to share - the idea that we need could reduce our life stress so much just by leaving early rather than late. It was published word-for-word, but the title makes it sound trite and news-standy: The Secret to Finding Happiness in Five Minutes.

Now if that's the title and format that brings thousands of more people to my ideas, then great. Maybe it's just the purist in me that wants people to be searching directly for beautiful probing prose rather than five-minute fixes. But part of me wonders just how much I compromised my family's amazing soul journey to this new life - quite possibly the subject of an entire book - by translating it into a 4-step, 600-word recipe: It Can be This Good: 4 Steps to Living Your Dream.

Ultimately, when I look at the body of work I've shared with the world in these early days as an official Writer, I feel good. I feel like disparate parts of me are being expressed, and in a format and venue that shares my journey with others in a way that might inspire of provoke insight in them. It's a good start, has my creative wheels turning, and is fun. I have to be patient, and remember that blogging is not book-writing, nor even magazine-article-writing (my next goal is to get into Mothering Magazine, or The Walrus, or anything else you might suggest.)

So thanks for reading, thanks for indulging me in a bit of introspection, and thanks to those of you who have shared your reactions to my writing, offered suggestions, even constructive criticism. I don't pretend to be a great writer - don't even know if such a being actually exists, or if there are just a bunch of people like me with a story to tell and the spark and support to get it out there.

Nov 18, 2008

Queer, divine dissatisfaction

There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique...You have to keep open and aware directly to the urgency that motivate you. keep the channel open.... There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the other.
-Martha Graham

Nov 17, 2008


nothing like having a wife out of town for another long weekend to bring out the creative chef in the stranded man. striving to clear the fridge before she returns, i conjured up a wondrous 3-layered dish that had her wretching just hearing about it on the phone. but check out the health value, the political/eco-correctness of the local organic products, the low cost, the quick preparation time...

1. Boiled potatos - organic, biodynamic from Alderlea Farms CSA 7km away
2. Slopped on top of the potato: Reheated bean/millet/onion/garlic/corn soup, augmented with the rest of a bag of frozen pumpkin from our jack-o-lantern
3. Adorning it all on top, a steamed cornucopia of brussel sprouts, carrots and a type of cabbage looking more like bok choy

you can also tell a house that doesn't have the lady about. cycling home with one of galen's grade one buddies and his mom, i spontaneously invited them in for a quick tour of our property, which ended with an apocolyptic house viewing. I hadn't got around to cleaning up after an overnight visit from michael and his two boys, so in addition to a counter full of dirty dishes, the living room looked exactly like what you'd expect after being lived in by 2 men and 4 boys. Layers upon layers of spilled paint, playdough, puzzle pieces, cars, magic cards, books, paper airplanes, Leggo, Kinex, castle pieces, knights, dress-up clothes, cut-up paper, pistachio shells, African string instruments, a solitaire peg game, a shield, bedsheets from a fort, rocks, a half-naked doll, various bits of clothing, elastic bands, drums - those are the ones i remember. It was a fun 24-hour playdate...

my new friend commented about our beautiful property and politely turned down a lunch offer. maybe if she'd read the first part of this posting she'd reconsider?

Nov 11, 2008

Remember Peace?

Remembrance Day, my annual day of inner conflict. I am a Quaker, a pacifist, don't believe in war or violence. I believe that there are Peaceful alternatives to resolving or preventing conflict, and therefore that war casualty was a preventable tragedy. I truly honour and respect those who altruistically fought and died for a cause they deeply believed in, but at the same time i don't agree that they or the country they serve made the right choice of methods. So how do i express this sincere respect for their courage and grief for their death without endorsing their actions?

I've just published an article trying to tow this fine line: Honouring Peace, Not War - The Pacifist's Dilemma on Remembrance Day. Lemme know what you think.

We have a fire going on this quiet rainy holiday, awaiting two dear friends from Vancouver for an overnight visit. They're not the first, but are the first of 3 different visitors this week. Yeehaw, our rural escape B&B is up and open for business (with friends -i'm not advertising a new hotel here...), we are loving sharing this new way with y'all not only online but in person.

Visits here have such a different quality. So much time and space to be together. When we had visitors in Vancouver we had to make an effort to create time to be together, shuffle agendas, juggle. Here we have time, and we also have a lifestyle that visitors can be part of. Our last guests helped us harvest and process crabapples, care for the chickens, rake leaves. It's quality time together, sitting by the fire de-stemming crabapples while talking about life. Mavis doesn't know it yet, but she's here in time to help with the barn's hayloft floor project so it can be a kids' playspace, then a kindergarten lantern walk in the nearby Bright Angel park tonight.

Why read and hear about a life when you can be part of it for a while? Don't worry, we have 5.2 acres of fun things to do together, we won't run out of ideas. Who's next?

Nov 5, 2008

adjustment day

Got up with the kids at 6:30 and got back to work processing the Chariot-full of crabapples we harvested this weekend from the neighbouring schoolyard. Tart/bitter things, but juicy and seem to be making good jelly. The day went on to include a few jogs/bike rides to the school, hosting a playdate with galen's buddy phaelen, then his mom and younger brother, then the 3 neighbour kids and cleaning out the chicken coop poop.

Escaped briefly for a horrible grocery store trip to buy fruits and veggies - i'm in charge of snacks for zekiah's kindergarten class this week. I do admit to a big indulgence for the day - a day-old apple fritter.

Am anticipating/dreading (both a bit strong words) a weekend alone with the boys while sarah goes to vancouver to teach - our first real weekend alone, except one while still at the Ecovillage. This stay-at-home dad thing feels very real today. I actually don't feel like writing, am not tired enough to sleep, don't own a tv. Just an adjustment to reality day.

On the bright side, three more publications to share with you: