Semi-Retired Hens: In praise of the best writing group

Semi-Retired Hens: In praise of the best writing group

One February morning last year, I shuffled along a snowy Toronto sidewalk, internally freaking out. I was on my way to the very first meeting of my new writing group. My friend Teri had set it up, and while I trusted her, I didn’t know what to expect. Would we all get along? Would I fit in? Would we be able to help each other? One year later, we have a name (the Semi-Retired Hens), our meetings are longer because of the ~30 minutes of general… (READ MORE)

“Freedom is the best thing” – Reading ‘Tove Jansson: Work and Love’

“Freedom is the best thing” – Reading ‘Tove Jansson: Work and Love’

Written by art historian Tuula Karjalainen, Tove Jansson: Work and Love, as the title suggests, focuses on Jansson’s life as it relates to her work and her relationships. I knew a bit about her life, and I knew that she did more than create the Moomins (I own a few of her non-Moomin books and love them dearly), but her level of dedication to her work was new to me. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be an artist. She worked at it diligently, and was prolific across many creative fields. (READ MORE)

January 2009, Calgary: Neighbourly.

There is a middle-aged woman in the building behind mine who I relate to. She has a big comfy chair by the window, and she likes to sit in that chair with her computer or a book or a crossword. There’s a lamp right next to the chair and a desk across the room, but she forsakes the desk for her comfort zone. I like her style. In the apartment above her, a cat often sits in the window and it hasn’t waved back at… (READ MORE)

November 2008, Calgary.

The boy crosses the street towards the School for Bad Children. It is cold but his jacket is unzipped and hangs from his shoulders. He calls cheerfully to his waiting teacher, “I just saw some of my old friends but I walked right by them!” And I think of all the worlds of meaning in this scene and that sentence. I am going to recycle the following: Some kids from the elementary school near my workplace have been installed as crossing guards. They stand at… (READ MORE)

Doris Lessing and wool-gathering

Doris Lessing and wool-gathering

I found an old post from a different blog (called “Wordscience” – not to be confused with another, more talented Samantha!), written in 2010 as I was reading the second volume of Doris Lessing’s autobiography. This excerpt has always stuck with me, and I thought it worthy to share here too: Impossible to describe a writer’s life, for the real part of it cannot be written down. How did my day go in those early days in London, in Church Street? I woke at five,… (READ MORE)

Some girls wander by mistake.

Some girls wander by mistake.

Recently I went down a Sisters of Mercy-induced nostalgia spiral, and this particular nostalgia spiral was of a different sort than usual, because it led me to a time period I’m not used to feeling nostalgic for. In high school I used to listen to Sisters of Mercy, but I also listened to all kinds of things. I used to look forward to ’80s “Retro Night” on the radio each Sunday, but I also dove headfirst into the short-lived swing revival of the ’90s, and… (READ MORE)