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Bona fide word nerd. Author of 3 award-winning novels for young adults. Somewhat lazy painter. Living & writing from a tiny rural village on Vancouver Island.

On Aging and Authenticity

Image purchased from CANVA

When I was seven, I wanted to be a writer. I would spend hours — days, even — at the old family IBM Selectric, writing numerous stories about horses and heroines. They usually featured girls my age who did extraordinary things, and they all had one thing in common: a hard time fitting inside the box. They were different, and nine times out of ten, the other kids didn’t understand them. They made fun of them, or they ostracized them. But by the end of the story, the girls had usually achieved some remarkable thing by themselves. And they’d done…

Gone to Pot

A photo of the author in her garden

There is a lot of talk about weed these days, especially here in Canada, where it has been legal for a couple of years now. It seems everybody is smoking it, growing it, eating it, or rubbing it all over their bodies. I’m not really into the ganja, but I know lots of people who are. My husband, for one, makes his own edibles and “micro-doses” to help with his chronic back pain. This will be our third summer growing eight plants on our property, and while I don’t participate in weedism, I do love the plants. So much so…

From the Diary of a Parentified Child

Unsplash Image by Sharon McCutcheon

I am nine when my father runs off with his 23-year-old secretary. He leaves a note on my mother’s pillow: I just don’t love you anymore. I know this because I find the crumpled piece of paper in the garbage can after my mother falls asleep on the couch. Then I read it in my closet with my Mickey Mouse flashlight.

The message is written in black marker and all the words are in capital letters. Even my father’s name at the end — Peter — is written this way.

My sister Allison says it sounds more final that way…

A Hard (Drive) Lesson to Learn

Images created with CANVA and GoGraph

A few years ago, I had a Big Mac attack. I preface this by stating I wasn’t parked out under the golden arches, pigging out on pseudo-meat inside a sesame-seed plastic bun. No, my Big Mac attack was all about my computer, and despite what I thought were good daily work habits, my laptop succumbed to Central Processor Arrest. Translation: it had failed to supply adequate circulation to its hard drive muscle and surrounding bits and bytes.

It happened, as these things often do, quite suddenly. I had been sitting in front of my…

When the Child Becomes the Parent

Image by Carol Anne Shaw

Last week my 95-year-old mother, Pauline, was admitted into a long term care facility about twenty minutes from my home. She has dementia, hypertension, kidney disease, and in the past year or so, has dwindled to just over 100 pounds.

A fall just after Christmas put her in the hospital. She had been on the floor of her apartment for a few hours before a neighbour found her, had broken her arm, and required surgery. Not a great scenario for a frail 95-year-old person to be in. Only a year earlier, she had fallen and broken her hip, requiring hip…

Confessions of Grammatically Challenged Writer

Image created with CANVA

When my first book was published eleven years ago, I was both surprised and thrilled. I thought I’d be able to dust off my hands, sit back down at my desk, and throw myself into the next book with wild abandon; that it would be as easy as Sunday morning.

It wasn’t.

Wanna know why? Okay then, here’s the embarrassing part. It wasn’t easy because it turned out I had a problem with commas, semicolons, and quotes — a big problem. My editor, an English university professor, told me he liked my novel, but that I had…um, a few things…

And Dancing in the Snow

Image used with the permission of Gurdeep Pandher

A little over a year ago, I was struggling with caregiving issues surrounding my (then) 94-year-old mom’s failing health. It had been a hectic month, and, as a result, I had been feeling cranky, frustrated, and just plain burned out. I remember coming home, kicking off my shoes, and collapsing onto my bed with a cracker of a headache. Instead of sleeping, I began scrolling, (as you do), and stumbled across an Instagram post by a man named Gurdeep Pandher. …

Healing Our Human Hearts

My mother, Pauline, circa 1943 (image provided by author)

My mother died just over two weeks ago. She was 95-years-old, and while I knew she was near the end of her life, it still came as a shock to learn she’d had a massive stroke. Earlier in the day, I’d spent an hour with her in the garden of her care home. We’d marvelled at the birds and counted all the spring flowers that were popping up under the almost-blossoming cherry and plum trees. It had been a lovely visit — one of the most enjoyable we’d shared in months — and after I’d kissed her goodbye and started…

A Farmers’ Market Misadventure

Free Image from Canva

A few years ago, my friends, Mark and Shannon, owners of a small artisan bakery, needed help working their stand at the weekend farmer’s market.

“It’ll be easy,” Shannon said.

“Piece of cake,” Mark agreed, pleased with his pun.

“You’ll get to eat as many cookies and macarons as you like,” Shannon promised.

“You can even have a lemon trollop,” added Mark. “But just one.”

“A trollop?”

“It’s like a lemon tart,” Shannon explained, then she and Mark exchanged mischievous grins.

“But trollop is a much nicer word than tart!” they singsonged in unison.

Before I go any further, I…

Mary Margaret and Mr. Darcy

Image created with CANVA

Mary Margaret Evans lives down the road from me in a non-descript house where the curtains are always drawn.

She is a bitter woman with a furrowed brow and a mouth like a zipper, the sort of person who doesn’t care for small children, or puppies, or Christmas.

But Mary Margaret loves Mr. Darcy, her cockatoo. The big white bird rides on her shoulder all day, even when she takes out the trash, even when it snows.

Not long ago, I spotted Mary Margaret in a stained turquoise housecoat at the bottom of her driveway. Mr. …

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