Monday, December 8, 2008


Well, it's December, and there's no doubt about it; Christmas is on its way. I hate the consumer frenzy of Christmas -- the running around town desperately trying to buy presents for everyone (many, many, many) on my shopping list, spending way too much money, wrapping up and mailing parcels, and negotiating with the extended family about where we are going to spend Christmas this year. Most years involve packing up and travelling to somewhere else to spend Christmas trapped in someone else's house for too many days. And all this preparation always happens at a time that is really busy for me at work, too.

It sounds like I'm a total grinch, doesn't it? But I'm not. There are some parts of Christmas that I love. I love to cook a big Christmas dinner and to sit down to it with lots of family and friends. I like trekking out into the woods to select and chop down a Christmas tree, and then bringing it home and decorating it. I love to choose special gifts for my children and partner, and a few close friends, and wrap them and deliver them. I like to go skiing at Christmas time, and to sit around drinking special hot chocolate afterwards and playing board games with the kids. I like Christmas lights, and this year I invested in the new low energy outdoor LED lights so I can be energy-conscious but still enjoy the lights. I get misty-eyed when I'm cuddled up with my partner in front of the Christmas tree listening jazzy Christmas music on a snowy night. I also like to make donations to several favourite charities at Christmas time. I'm very firm about taking time off from work for Christmas week and spending the time with family and friends.

So, I guess the part that I don't like involves the sense of being obliged to spend a lot of money buying stuff for people, knowing that even though I have tried to choose things they will like, in fact, they neither want nor will enjoy most of the stuff. As much as I spend, I still feel as though I did not spend enough to get them something "really good" -- I was too "cheap." Then afterwards, there is the worry about having become overstretched financially. The time pressure of trying to orchestrate it all, while also being so busy at work, is stressful.

Just as the media portrays the perfect body, the perfect family, and the perfect home, it holds up models of Christmas that are impossible to attain (consistently). For me (and many others, I think) Christmas is associated with feelings of guilt -- guilt about those I didn't buy for or didn't buy enough for; guilt about not showing up at, not or being invited to, or not hosting Christmas do's; guilt about substandard decorating or Christmas dinner efforts; and guilt about those who have so little while I/we have so much (and seem to endlessly want more). This sense of guilt, I believe, is manufactured quite intentionally by marketers to ensure we keep on shopping and spending so that they can keep on selling and profiting. (And the landfills keep getting more and more full, and the raw materials of the world become more and more depleted).

Spending money shopping is not a moral good. Spending time doing things with people that you love, however, is good. This year year I am simplifying Christmas.

Gideon Sockpuppet

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wrimo update

According to the NaNoWriMo home page, there are two days, 1 hour, and 52 minutes left until the end of NaNoWriMo 2008. I have written 19,061 words so far this November. That makes my novel 89,352 words in total now (300 manuscript pages). My monthly total is less than the 50,000 words that all good little Wrimos try for, but. . . my personal goal is to finish a first draft of my novel this month, and I am closing in on it. Whoo-hoo!

If you'd like to read an excerpt, click on the following link, then on my author page, click on the novel info tab:

Here's the first sentence of the excerpt just to tempt you: "As soon as Steven left the hotel room, he made his way straight to the liquor store."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oh Those Forums!

Okay, here's the story. This is November, the month that I am supposed to be devoting to writing 50,000 words of a novel. The eighth day is now drawing to a close, and how much have I written? 1773 words.

Here is my list of excuses:

1. I am working on completing the same novel that I started last year, and so I began by editing, which removed more words than it added.

2. My work, which is always really demanding, has been absolutely crazy this past week -- immovable deadlines, the annual plan and budget projections to complete, a grumpy boss, etc., etc.

3. I'm learning to play the guitar and I have to practice.

4. I'm in a fairly new relationship, and I love spending time with my significant other (not to mention my kids, friends, and pets).

5. I spend way too much time reading and contributing to the writing forums.

That's it -- now back to the novel...

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Books are never finished. They are merely abandoned.
Oscar Wilde

November is National Novel Writing Month. My novel-in-progress is a little over 60,000 words, mostly written last November. I am trying to figure out how I am going to steal a little time each day from my 70 hour work week to write again during November. The novel needs to be nudged along. I would rather abandon it in a more complete state than the way it is now, in promising pieces.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Grow local

Today the sun shone, and although it is nearly the end of September, it was as warm and summery as August. I harvested the last of my carrots (small, stunted things. Note to self -- next year plant them farther apart or thin them). Then I canned them as dilled carrot pickles.

I also picked tomatoes, onions, kale, potatoes, and parsley, which I prepared for dinner. I picked some apples off one of my apple trees, and had hoped to make an apple dessert, and/or boil them up for jelly, but ran out of time. Oh well -- tomorrow's task (after work).

It is very satisfying to grow our own food, harvest it, and eat it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Frustrated Artist

I was looking at Chirtie's art on her blog again tonight. It brings a rush of feelings -- awe at her creativity that she shares so generously; curiosity to read about and view the techniques she explores; hunger to pick up my paintbrush; and . . . sadness.

Yes, I am sad. I am not painting. I haven't touched a canvas in ??4 years. I yearn to paint again -- to do any art. But whenever I get the creative urge, a big, huge wall impedes me. It is a wall of hopelessness. The wall is made of stones of excessive overwork.

This is what happens. An idea for a cool project pops into my head. Or maybe I see some new art material and think that I would like to try using it. And then, immediately, the voice in my head speaks to me in dire tones and says, "There is no point in even starting. You have no time to paint. Other projects you have started *years ago* are sitting around the house, unfinished, gathering dust. You can't do everything. You can't do art."

I should know all about this creativity-destroying nasty anti-art voice, because I am also a writer, and I have worked very hard to nurture my writerly self and protect it from the voice of doubt. And I *am* writing. (That god for that!)

But I also am caught in a loop of way too much work, and it takes a great amount of effort to even carve a little space in it to have a life. And that little space does not seem big enough for my artist's soul. I don't want a bite -- I want a meal. So if I can't have the meal, I won't even take a bite.

How's that for a sad, sad, circle?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Art Wall

This photo is of a floor-to-ceiling ceramic wall at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cool Art Blog

I wanted to share this cool art blog called Chirtopolis. This great sunflower painting posted there was done by an Edmonton artist and teacher. As well she has posted pieces of art produced by elementary school students.

Dr Sock

Saturday, August 16, 2008

On the Road>

I have been travelling south and east for two weeks in a thirty-year-old motor home with my partner and my teenage son. We have been fishing, hiking, and mountain biking, far from civilization and out of range of cell phones and the Internet. After several days, we head into a town or city, visit, shop, eat, and connect, then retreat again to the bush.

Right now, we are visiting friends at their rural lakeside home for a few days. We have enjoyed good food, red wine, and conversation. One of the friends is about to leave on a week-long canoe trip, so my partner has spent much of the day helping him prepare his boat for the trip. We have joked about role reversal, as the two men sit sewing a sail, and the two women lounge in lawn chairs, reading and drinking beer.

Tomorrow, we will depart, and head for the mountains. Then, we'll attend a music festival, then travel to a city where I have to attend a meeting, and then we'll drive back home. I am glad to spend three weeks this August travelling, as soon it will be September, and my work will be very busy, and there will be little time for contemplation.

Holidays -- It would be nice if more of our time was holiday time and less was work time. But, I guess that is called "retirement."

Gideon Sockpuppet

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dr Sock gets her feet wet

Tonight gideon sockpuppet, aka Dr Sock, dips in a toe. Picture this: it is a stripy sock-clad foot with individual repositories for each striped toe. And what will Dr Sock talk about in her little blog in the big global ocean of blogs? Hmmm. Writing. People. Love. Life. Art. And, of course, food. I leave you with the first few lines of a poem that I have just started. . . any suggestions about how to proceed?

memory becomes unanchored
did I climb to the birdman's tin shack
on a cliff above the river, two black eyes
blank toward tidal flats
each broken rung slippery
with tears or rain