Winter HOME

Take one look at Maureen Haddock’s smiling face if you’re feeling a bit blue about the state of the world. If she can’t give your heart a little life, what can? The winter issue of HOME is out for subscribers and in pickup racks around the city. If you’d like to read it online, go here. Lots of fun in this issue aside from Maureen’s cheerful gourmet giftgiving ideas. City historian Jeff O’Brien gives you a timely winter-themed look at hockey rinks, and if you’re feeling like a DIY project, learn all about building your own backsplashes. As we enter the holiday hosting season, give some (okay, a lot) of thought to how you can enjoy time with friends and family without endangering anyone’s health. And share in the beautiful results a couple now enjoys after living through the heartache of a planned renovation turned into an unanticipated tear-down. As always, if you have ideas for what might appear in future issues of HOME, get in touch! In the meantime, stay safe and well.

Meanwhile on Broadway

Just a little reminder that we’re Canadian. A few snowflakes on Sunday morning, then this just down on Broadway Avenue a few blocks from home.

Here’s the story from Mike McGuire, who was on his way to work. CTV News story by Chad Leroux, photo by Roxanna Kaminski:

“The most interesting thing that was happening before then was a few snowflakes, I was like ‘ok well if its going to snow that’s the thing I’m going to think about today’… then a moose runs by.“

McGuire said he grew up in an area where there were lots of moose, so this wasn’t his first in-person sighting.

He said compared to all of the other moose he’s seen, this one was a slightly bigger than average, and he suspects it is still fairly young.

Despite how unusual it is to see a moose in the city, McGuire said he isn’t surprised it happened this year of all years. 

“It’s 2020, a moose in the middle of Saskatoon is one of the least weird things you’re going to see,“ McGuire said.

The moose hoofed it around the city for a while until it was darted by conservation officers, hauled out of the city and then released when it was alert enough to continue its jog.

Sask Book Week is on

I had the honour of launching Sask Book Week last night with a reading from Small Reckonings to a wonderful audience of around 40 people, some local, some from as far away as Regina, Toronto, Indiana and California. Thank you everyone for coming and postponing your supper hour–though we did get a table-top view of one family who joined in over dinner! I wish I could have spent 20 minutes scrolling through and talking to everyone. I’m waiting to get the list of attendees since I only scrolled through at the beginning before everyone was present. Even my 89-year-old mom joined in for her first ever Zoom. Savannah and Emily were wonderful in their respective roles as host and moderator, and I was so happy with the thoughtful and thought-provoking (made me stop and think several times!) questions during the chat after the reading. Thanks to SaskBooks for selecting my novel as one of the books featured this week. Be sure and check out the other selections; for a peek at the lineup, click.

Autumn HOME is here

The fall issue is out, so read online or grab your copy at any one of many pickup sites around Saskatoon and area. We’ve got a fun lineup of features for readers, including everything you ever wanted to know about why bats are our friends. Check out a country music star’s penchant for repurposing and refurbishing, and get your tastebuds jumping with Maureen Haddock’s harvest-time pies. Ever heard of the Factoria scandal? Read all about it. There’s so much more inside so get your copy now.

A featured title for SaskBook Week

Well, this is pretty exciting! My debut novel, Small Reckonings, has been chosen as a featured book for SaskBook Week starting September 28. I’ll be doing a reading at 5:30 pm online to kick off a week of readings by a group of authors in whose company I’m proud to be. Ooo, what to read without giving any of the story away?

I’ve been thrilled with the reader responses I’ve been receiving and the photos people are sending to me from as far away as England, Australia, even Toronto…. to prove they’re reading, have read, shared on social media, or at least have held the book up for the camera! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to let me know what you think of the story. Here are a few of those intrepid readers:

It’s not hard

Wear a mask. For heaven’s sake. It’s not that big a deal to be a big deal.

And if you want to feel better about it, get in touch with this person. Brynn is making masks with the proceeds going to the Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

I wish I could talk with my grandparents about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Maybe a little bit of life lessons could be shared if we are willing to listen. My mother tells the story of my great-grandfather taking the team of horses in to town to get a casket for one of the children. A neighbour farmer caught up with him to tell him to get two more; his wife and another child were dead.

Makes us think twice now about how much we’d like to pop in to our local favourite restaurant for a noodle bowl.

J.R.R. Tolkien on dark times and hope

This is from a post by Tim Villegas who shares what Sam and Frodo can each us about living in dark times.  Sometimes everything you need to know has already been written by R.R.R. Tolkien. This “simple, hopeful message about our future” is Sam’s speech from The Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings trilogy:

“It’s all wrong. By rights, we shouldn’t even be here. But we are.

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.

But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back. Only they didn’t, because they were holding on to something…That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

Big Al and The Power of Disability

Our friend Al Etmanski is a proverbial gentle giant, both in stature, big of heart and presence of mind. He’s changed the landscape for people with disabilities and their families by action and by listening. If it wasn’t for Al, our son would not have a Registered Disability Savings Plan. A godsend for some many with disabilities who can feel more secure about their future because of the RDSP. I was trying to think of an appropriate way to describe The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World. In true Al fashion, the stories of others are shared along with how they have changed his actions and perceptions. This collection is like a really good bag of trail mix; it works together well and yet each individual piece is delicious, healthy and good for you! Ten valuable lessons in humanity, decency, love, living a good life, and belonging from each featured person abound in this book. You can finish the whole bag of trail mix for an immersive buffet, or you can snack your way through it, pausing to reflect and digest the thoughtful meals over time. However you choose to consume the insights in this book, you will finish up feeling nourished and replenished.

Al is a community organizer and author. He is an Ashoka Fellow and member of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He has received distinguished awards for his activism, including the Order of Canada. And he’s an old friend. We attended The Power of Disability Concert, a live-streamed celebration showcasing the release of Al’s new book and the power of disability through music, storytelling, and humour. Whenever Al came on the screen, Jim toasted him (we soon switched to club soda).

Published by Berrett-Kiehler Publishers, Oakland, California, 2020