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

Jessica, at it again

My friend Jessica Rotolo lives in Toronto and lives her life–and dances–like everybody’s watching! She hones her acting, singing and dancing chops at DramaWay. Jessica, along with two other DramaWay performers, just appeared in a music video by Noah Reid (for Schitt’s Creek fans, Noah’s character Patrick married Dan Levy’s David Rose.) For her part, Jessica says her life “is fabulous! When I met Noah, he was really nice to me. I liked his longer hair. It was great when he told me that my dress was really great.”


Noah Reid and Jessica Rotolo do the social distance thing high on a rooftop in Toronto.

HOME alone, summer issue

Look what’s out! The summer issue of Saskatoon HOME. Some summer reading you can enjoy at home. This is a fun issue filled with great inspiration, DIY projects like building with pallets, composting, and identifying birds in the neighbourhood. Meet a family who has built their own lake-like living in their Confederaton backyard, and a woman who bought her own childhood home and modernized her nostalgia. Learn about the Barr Colonists, that plucky bunch who arrived here as Saskatoon’s first tourists. And lust after the gorgeous pergola and gardens a young Rosewood couple have created to look spectacular by day and night. Get your copy at one of several racks throughout the city, or never miss an issue and subscribe for only $20 a year.


Putting the pain in pandemic

Get it? French for bread – pain. Rick’s been making loaves in the bread machine (finally using that flour in the pantry). Jim and I have been following our friend Pauline’s recipe for easy bagel knock-offs with lots of coarse salt on top. Turns them into a big pretzel-bagel cross. Then there was that jar of old bran buds, so yesterday we made muffins. We’ve been delivering to my parents. But nothing compares with the sourdough our friends Leon and Darlene just gifted us. This was almost too pretty to eat…but trust me, we did. There must be some psychological study underway about baking during a crisis. Maybe it’s all about the family and friends who give it to one another. That’s comfort food.

Small Reckonings review

It’s been a little nerve wracking to have worked with my story for so long, holding all my characters close, and then, as my friend Anne Simpson (who graciously blurbed the cover of my book) explains, it suddenly it gets dressed up and goes out into the world where people READ it! But when this review by wonderful writer Shelley Leedahl appeared on the SaskBooks site, I stopped holding my breath for a bit. Check out her impressive resume and you’ll see why I’m a little gobsmacked. Thank you, Shelley.

Shelley Author Photo 2020 colour

Shelley Leedahl


COVID cuts

Rhonda, my hair stylist, should be worried. We’re getting the hang of this. Rick cuts Jim’s, I cut Rick’s, Rick cuts mine (except for the front which I carefully craft myself and only have two big whoops chunks missing this last time). Gramma Doris gave us the garbage bag hack. Jim is the official photographer when his is done.