Category: Literary Ramblings

Sometimes good things end and you are both happy and sad.

Something rather amazing happened this week. Well, both sad and amazing. I think I mentioned many posts (and months) back that I wrote an article for THIS Magazine called: Leaving A Literary Legacy about reading to my daughters. I have talked about this many times on numerous platforms since my diagnosis – that the thought of not being around to share certain things with my daughters leaves me feeling anxious and panicky. I remember when I was first diagnosed thinking: “But now I’m never going to get to read all of the Harry Potter books to my girls.” And while that may seem weird to some people (uh, what about how you won’t be able to stick around for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES??) it became kind of the pinnacle thing I wanted to do with them. I mean, sure, there are a million things I want to do with them and I’m still here so I’m always adding to the list which grows and changes as they grow and change – but the one thing that never changed was wanting to share these books with them. Also, physically, it was an easier thing to do than, say, anything that involved being physically healthy.

On Wednesday night I read the final chapter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to my youngest daughter – thus closing the chapter on one of the major post-diagnosis goals I had set for myself.

I know so much has been going on with the author of these books lately and I’ve read them enough times to see the flaws in them, but I’m not here to talk about that. The Harry Potter series got me through a really rough depression in my 20s. It gave me a hopeful narrative to get lost in. It gave me something to look forward to waiting for a new book to be released. I can’t count how many times I have read this series – both to myself and aloud to my girls. And the other night when finished reading the final book to my youngest daughter it felt like a major milestone was achieved.

I’m still here! I did it!

And then I thought: So what’s next?

I know it’s weird that my goals aren’t things like: be here for their high school graduation or their wedding. But I’m trying to be realistic. This past year was so hard physically and emotionally that being able to complete this small goal feels massive. I hope, years from now, that the girls will look back and realize has amazingly special it was to share this together. And how awesome their mom is at reading aloud. I mean, seriously, I even do (very subtle) voices. Someone should hire me to narrate audio books. All those years of going to Fine Arts schools and studying theatre was obviously good for something.

So now what?

100 Day Project – Days 43 & 44

The nice thing about putting my phone away is that I have been reading more. And I am in love with this book – The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. My edition is by Persephone Books and you can find a really good write-up about The Home-Maker here. I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m enjoying it so much that I am trying to slow down and not devour it. (Also I’m re-reading War & Peace right now so I am going back and forth.) There is a part where the youngest, Stephen, who is thought to be the devil incarnate but is really just young (five) and reacting to his mother’s dominating and bitter moods finds his Teddy that she has taken away and the description is just magical. I wanted to type it out for you but it is just too long and I don’t have the energy to do it justice right now. But the whole book is worth it for that one scene with Stephen and his Teddy.

Somehow yesterday I completely forgot about my blog until I lay down to go to sleep. I’ve been in discussion with the pain management clinic at the cancer centre and am now on a new plan to manage my pain. It seemed that no matter how much they increased my old medication it just wasn’t working at all anymore – and that happens. In the beginning (last June) I could take just a little bit and it would work but also lead to brain fog and drowsiness. Now I was taking much more and had no brain fog and rarely had any drowsiness and also I never noticed a difference – certainly not in my pain levels. Hopefully this new regime and new drug will work. Finger’s crossed. Whereas my hopes and wishes used to be wide and deep my hope for this summer is to be pain free and mobile enough to walk to the library (or that distance) with my daughters. I just hope that isn’t too much to ask.

100 Day Project – Day 36, Book mail is the best mail

We don’t get a lot of mail. Even though I foolishly check the mailbox at least twice a day we can go weeks without getting anything. When we do it is usually appointment notices from the Tom Baker Cancer Center (I know, I know, they are very much behind the times on that front) or letters from our Member of Parliament. But the last two weeks have seen a windfall of kindness arrive in our mailbox. I keep telling our girls that if they want to get mail they have to send mail but that doesn’t seem to motivate us to write more letters – something I am hoping to remedy soon.

What is even better than regular mail you ask? Why, book mail of course!

The first parcel to arrive came last week. A woman I have kind-of known for years through knitting and blogging circles asked if I wanted an extra pair of circular needles for sock knitting because she had too many. I said yes, of course, and eagerly awaited them. Then she saw my Literary Witch post about not having any Virginia Woolf books in the house and added a copy of A Room of One’s Own to the package. Of course the day after she went to the post office I wrote about having found a copy of this book on our bookshelf but, to be honest, this version is prettier so I will keep it and pass my other copy along to someone else. (Or return it to a Little Free Library where I think is how I got it in the first place.)

Ingrid from Gladstone Press – a new (2018) Canadian publishing company whose tagline is Old Books, New Looks – contacted me and asked if she could send me a copy of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. This arrived yesterday and reader it is luscious. The paper is so nice I made everyone in the house touch it (with clean hands of course) and kept rubbing it on my face so I could feel the softness. Mister said it was the paper equivalent of 300 Thread Count sheets. (Do we even know what that feels like? I’m not sure). Ingrid is not paying me to tell you all this as she gifted the book to me out of kindness but I’m just THAT into paper that I feel justified in rambling on about it. (As a child I had a large paper collection. I just really like pretty paper.)

There is even a map of Clarrisa Dalloway’s journey through London. I don’t know if this is a normal thing for copies of Mrs Dalloway to have but I was suitably impressed. I compare this new publishing house to such high quality imprints like Persephone Books and Virago Modern Classics – except it is Canadian which makes a big difference to the pocket books of those of us who would like to be collectors of high quality classics but can’t actually afford to be. (Although I do spend an inordinate amount of time on the Persephone and Virago websites window shopping.)

The Gladstone Press blog also linked to a really interesting article about The joy of reading Mrs Dalloway during lockdown which is well worth the read and has put this book at the top of my reading pile (I won’t lie, the feel of the paper helped a lot with that decision).

Last week I also received a copy of Winter Wren by Theresa Kishkan whose blog I have been enjoying for years. Theresa and I recently had a couple online conversations about the joys of novellas and she kindly sent me this one. I didn’t realize until she sent it that she and a partner have their own small publishing house called Fish Gotta Swim Editions that specializes in novellas. I’m not going to talk about this much yet because I plan to do a full review once I have read the book.

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)

100 Day Project, Day 28 – Literary Witch: Zora Neale Hurston

It was 12:30pm today when I realized that it was already lunchtime and we were still doing school work. Then the afternoon followed with our daily chore and spring cleaning out the front closet (including mopping inside the closet which probably hadn’t happened in years). Even though it felt good to get all of that done I was so sore and exhausted afterwards my whole body shut-down into some weird semi-conscious state where I was napping but also aware of everything that was going on around me yet physically unable to move.

At some point I did get a chance to pick this week’s Literary Witch and put Virginia Woolf away for now to make room for Zora Neale Hurston. This card brought back vivid memories of when I first read Their Eyes Were Watching God in an American Literature class in university and it being so different than anything I had read before. Coming from a very white conservative prairie city I just hadn’t been exposed literature that was so vastly different from anything my small world view knew about. I had spent junior high and high school reading Stephen King, John Steinbeck, and Thomas Hardy. My knowledge of the American Civil War came from the pages (and screen) of Gone With the Wind. Zora Neale Hurston blew me out of the water.

I remember reading Their Eyes Were Watching God a couple times the summer following that American Literature class. Laying on my couch in my basement apartment trying to avoid the sweltering Montreal heat. At some point before leaving Montreal I passed the book along to a friend and haven’t read it since.

This week’s card calls me to focus on stories: my own and others. And to listen – also to myself and others. I need to listen to my needs – some days I need to listen to my body and some days I need to ignore it and see how far I can push myself (which in a sense is listening to my wants because I don’t want to always have to step back and be that sick person). Times are also changing in our little family as people are growing and maturing. As the voices of my children grow older I need to start listening to them with new ears.

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)