It’s exciting to hear that one of my Instagram friends is a nanowrimo winner with her 50,274 words. It is quite a feat. I know that for a fact. I’ve tried a couple of times to write that novel in 30 days and have failed. To win you have to come up with 1,667 words a day. I have trouble coming up with 500. It’s getting easier though. Stretching, trying for more does make a difference.

Talking about excitement, I noticed how my body felt the jubilation at the news. I felt hopeful for myself – that I COULD be a nanowrimo winner, too. I wanted to sit at my keyboard and start writing then. But I was right in the midst of mixing bread dough. Those 1600 some words would have to wait – probably longer than today. I have learned that excitement doesn’t get me very far. Hard work and persistence are the tools.

I’m waiting for the dough to proof. Meanwhile I’m sipping lemon tea and tapping out my meager words. The sun is shining through the windows, warming my back. Sheba is napping on her bed in sunshine. It is still morning. I am changing my routine a bit. Maybe it’ll bring me more productivity. I’m being conscious, paying attention – to everything.

My body betrays me sometimes. I hate it that I am such a truthful person. Life could be easier if I could lie – a little bit even if just to myself. But no, I can’t. I feel so disappointed and annoyed at the inability to accept myself as I am or to change so far. Maybe if I can change my body posture, I can change the way it feels. It doesn’t hurt to investigate and try. Fake it till I make it.


When you change anything, you change everything. I changed my morning routine, now I am not running behind. I’m picking up where I left off. My poofed bread dough, covered by Saran wrap, was in the refrigerator while we went out for lunch. Our lunch was longer than we thought – 3 hours. But it is all is good. The dough is warming up to room temperature on the kitchen island. I’m trying to finish my cast off thoughts here. Sheba got her lunch. Of course, now she is whining for her walk. She can and will wait.

My body now fed, is feeling much better. Food and blood sugar does matter. My thoughts and words are flowing smoother and easier. Life does not feel as heavy or serious. A little yeast helps everything besides the dough to rise. I will savour and remember this feeling. The next time my body gets too serious and rigid, I will remember the effervescence of yeast. I will be resurrected.

The dough is now warm and pliable. I best get on with shaping it into loaves. They will need to be proofed again before baking. Meanwhile Sheba and I can go for our walk. We have time before the bread goes into the oven. She needs chilling.



The trick with getting anything done is making a beginning. Elementary, my dear, you say. It is at that but a very important elementary point. So we’ve begun, Sheba and I. It is 2:59, not quite 3:00 pm. She rises and whimpers. I said no. Down. She does. We are both sitting, she on all fours, me on the chair. We will wait it out. The minute passes. She rises on her fours. I continue to sit and tap. Patience is a virtue. So is discipline.

I could easily become a hermit given my disposition and inclinations. I know very well it is not healthy to isolate myself socially. I was also brought up and trained to to live properly. Those things have saved me from myself. I always try to do the right thing or else it would nag at me. Even having bad improper thoughts gnaw at my conscience. I could never be a thief but I have sinned.

Sheba passed her test. 3:10 and I reward her with her supper. She is getting it. Obedience and Patience = food. I’m getting it, too. Consistency and Patience = success. Our successes comes slowly and in increments, sometimes sliding back and forth. The furry princess tries and does get on my nerve in the afternoons. At 11 years old she is still full of vim and vinegar. After eating, she energetically humps her bed. Then she wants to play, insisting that I play toss her squeaky toys with her. What a mad house! I lose my patience.

That’s how it is at our house. Most mornings I’m not geared up or look forward to doing anything. Today is a Wednesday, an exercise day. I have breakfast, pack my gym bag, vacuum a room or two and head off to the YWCA. I’m trained by habit and routine. It’s not a big deal or painful as in the beginning. Some ruts are healthy. It get things done. I repeat this every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sometimes I bored myself writing every day. What could I possibly have to say – every day. It’s a discipline I want to keep up – within reason, of course. It gives me clarity and direction. I hope I am not boring you. I write mostly for myself but I do appreciate the support and readership. I’m now pushing and struggling to increase the length and the quality of my writing. I’m doing the best I can. Today is not a day when words flow. They come slowly after much thought.

Another daily practice I’m doing is my art. It has been dormant many, many years. It came alive last year much to my own surprise. It has been mostly talk on my part. You know how it goes. It’s my passion but I was too this and that – all the usual excuses. It takes very little time to pick up a pencil or a paint brush and art. So that’s what I do every day, a little practice. It takes minutes sometimes, an hour another day. The thing is to begin and do it. I admit starting can be difficult. I just do it.




It is 1:18 pm. Sheba and I are having a mini session of sitting, get down and staying. It’s what we do in the afternoon. Obedience training for her, patience training for me. She is momentarily distracted by the guy leaving for his workshop. There is some excited barks and prancing around. We refocus. Now she’s on her bed licking per paws . A quiet interlude. We will go to the park for her reward later.

It’s a beautiful sunny and warm day. A lot of the snow have melted. I should be jubilant. Instead, I am in an undetermined mood -somewhat despondent, somewhat mellow yellow. No, I’m not under the influence of drugs. Maybe languid is a better word. Energized is not my frequent state. It is no wonder that nothing seems to matter to me. To care takes a lot of energy, energy that I don’t have.

But in order to live and thrive in this world, one has to give a shit somehow. I know what happens when you don’t. You fall through the ‘cracks’. I imagine they are the same cracks that lets the light in in Leonard Cohen’s song, Anthem. All the same, I rather stay out of them. I’m experimenting on how to manage the energy that I do have.


I took time and Sheba out in the middle of this post. We went to the dog park and had us some time. Some days you just have to make that effort. Some days are made for sniffing snow and to look up at the blue of the sky. Sheba found a few furry bums to sniff, too. All the better. She did get into a scrap or two but it was all good. No blood was shed. We came home tired and hungry but also refreshed. So it was double the pleasure to sit with my tea, toast and jam while Sheba devoured her kibbles.

Now it is evening. I’m sitting with my wine, trying to tap the end to my mumblings. Perhaps the wine isn’t helping my thinking or writing. What I can say is morning is the best time for an energy burst. I indulge myself with reading in my tea time before breakfast. I’m still engrossed in Last Night in Twisted River. I love it. There’s lots on cooking in it since it is about a cook and his son. After breakfast I try to do the hard stuff – those chores of keeping house and lives in order. If I leave those for later, it doesn’t happen.

You must know by now that after lunch, my energy leaves town and me with it. Afternoon is the time I sit to tap even though I feel like napping. It’s working out. I’m succeeding and stretching for more. I’m learning to adapt my activities to my energy and time of day. It is a struggle but if I don’t struggle and stretch, I would end up being a puddle on the floor. I’m struggling now and will struggle to review and edit this – practicing to be patient.







I’m so irritated with others and myself lately. I wonder why it matters to me when someone is frequently late for a class. I’m not the one that is losing out. If the instructor is not voicing any objections, what does it matter – to me? Who am I to criticize? Am I so perfect? The question gave me reason to pause. I find myself applying that question to other situations and other people. It’s giving me great discomfort and dissatisfaction with myself.

Having asked the question, I am now conscious as they say. I’m trying to be less judgemental about situations and people. The problem is, it is having the opposite effect. I’m getting more and more judgemental instead. I am also getting a tad angry. It’s a good thing that I like talking on the keyboard. It’s soothing to see my thoughts march across the page without interruption from the sidelines. If there are other voices more valid than my own, I’m not hearing it. Ha! Take that, goody two shoes. I own up to my shortcomings. Do you?

There, I do feel better. It’s good to get things off my chest, not that I have a lot there. The dog is behaving better. It is 2:39 pm and she ‘s sleeping peacely on her bed. I am happy some of my efforts are working. She is not fussing for her supper yet. Consistency does matter in this case. I’ve been disciplining her to wait and not push the clock ahead for her supper. I used to give in to her demands frequently. She has been training us. Now it is time to take it back.

Yup, it is time to take it back – the control of my thoughts. In this world everything, big or small matters. The tiniest pebble can cause huge ripples that reverberates to the other side of the world. What anyone does affects the whole. Yet in the grand scheme of things, nothing really matters. Your life can be gone in an instant. So what does it matter if … and if….?

So, I shall sweat it no more. Some questions have no answers and some problems have no solutions. I have to give up my demands for them. Better that I spend the time pursuing excellence in living. It seems to my cynical and pessimistic view that the world has gone to hell in a handbasket. I don’t think I’m the only one. Here’s an interesting article about the future of humanity. I’ve only glanced through it. I’m too scared to read the whole thing.

I’m not above hiding my head in the sand, putting off bad news for awhile if not forever. These days I have my head in John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River. I love getting lost in thick books with strong, memorable characters. I love stories of times before emails and text messages, Facebook and other social media. Things seem more real back then. Perception is everything when everything and nothing matters.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my electronics and am as addicted to them as the next person. They can be wonderful tools. I’ve learned how to cook through Google. Social Media is wonderful for socializing and making friends. Sometimes I am confused when I see complaints about them. Don’t people know it is really we who decides how we use them, how much or how little? Ok, enough. I’m tired of my voice.

PS: Sheba was right on the money. She woke at 3 pm on the dot and said supper time!


I am feeling more at ease with life and myself. Hooray! I’ve noticed that I am not walking on egg shells any more. You know that feeling, don’t you?  That any minute now something is going to happen. Or the feeling that you should have done something but you haven’t. It’s hard to rest wrestling with all those fears. Now that they are gone, Sheba and I don’t have to keep watch over our shoulders. We can move on.

Having said that, it is a bit strange that I am having some vivid dreams lately and remembering some details. Last night the guy had to reassure me it was a dream. I was screaming. I think I let out 2 or 3. A man was coming in through the basement window. I could see him putting his leg through. I couldn’t find my voice at first and had to work very hard getting the screams out. Apparently I succeeded! I wonder if my dream came from the book I’m reading, John Irving’s Last Night in Crooked River. It is a very good read. I’ll try not to read the ending first as often I’m unable to wait.

I seldom dream about work but last week I did. I dreamt that I had mixed too much potassium into an intraveous bag. I was trying to retrieve it and prevent it from being administered. That was all that I could remembered. I’m not sure why the dream showed up. It’s been 4 years since I’ve stopped working. Such an incident had happened many years ago. Only then it involved a dialysate solution. It was a REAL nightmare. I was happy I had good instincts and paid attention to my unsettling nerves.

The order for amount of potassium to be added did not feel right. I was assured that was what was ordered. I paced and muttered to myself all night. I had lined up the vials of potassium on my drug counter. I couldn’t make myself break them open, draw them up and put it in the solution. I checked and checked. It wasn’t till morning before I could detect the error in transcription from the Doctors Order to the medication sheet. I had not yet started the morning cycle of dialysis. Big sigh of relief.

I wonder how long things stay in our psyches to pop up in our dreams years later. I hope my psyches is cleared now and no more bad dreams in the night. It is very hard to bring out a scream in a dream. Maybe I am twice as scared in dreamland. I used to dream about ghosts sitting on and paralysing me. Only it felt very real to me. I couldn’t scream or move but I could blink. I would blink furiously to prove that I was awake and not dreaming. I would struggle to reach the lamp. If I can turn the light on, it would scare the ghost away. I would stretch and stretch. The lamp is knocked over. The cat jumps from the bed. The weight is off me. I could move. But when I looked over at the lamp, it was not knocked over. It was where it should have been.

The mystery is still a mystery. Were my ghostly visits dreams or were they real? I’ve had no more dreams or visits from Casper or other ghosts since. It was been a long time ago. I guess we do lose our sensitivity to their presence as we age.



The phone rings. It is Annie following up on how my mother is doing. She works for A Home for Mom. In March I had been looking at Preston Park assisted living as options for my parents. My mom’s health had taken a sharp turn. It was time to think of new realities. Preston Park seemed to be perfect. It was in their and our neighbourhood. I’m sure I did 3 tours of both Preston Park 1 and 2. They both have excellent social programs, attractive physical space, and friendly staff and environment. It was pricey but I felt it was affordable and worth it.

The trouble was I was the only one in the family who was interested. But it was helpful going through the process. I can rest easier knowing that I tried, thought of options and investigated. Still I welcomed Annie’s follow-up call. Someone else cares and is showing interest in helping even though it is part of her job. I know it is our human nature to run away from knowing that our parents are declining. It is the other unspeakable besides dying. I would run, too if I could but I am the oldest. I am retired. I don’t have children. Those things seem to qualify me for many things exempt to those married, with children and jobs.

Annie is glad to hear my mother is doing better, stronger and steadier on her feet. She and my father are still able to stay in their own home. I have arranged for snow shovelling service for them through The Crocus Co-op and lawn mowing through Saskatoon Services for Seniors. So far, so good. Saskatoon Senior Services offers homemaking and housekeeping services, too. My mother feels she can still do those and enjoy doing them. My father can still drive so they can get out to their neighbourhood mall, shop for their groceries and see friends.

I know that December with Christmas is at the doorstep. I will be very happy to have a quiet boring holiday season and winter. Peace and contentment are the gifts I cherish the most. Health and creativity are my on going goals. The snow may fall and the wind may blow. If I have a roof over my head and the furnace to keep me warm, I shall be happy. There’s bread to be baked, soup to be made, all that yarn to knit, quilts to sew and a whole slew of art classes to watch and do.


I’m not a naturally enthusiastic or happy person. I don’t wake up with a song in my heart and dance on my feet. It’s more of a grumble in my throat and a stumble out of bed. Enthusiasm and joy comes slowly as the day unfolds. I didn’t relish heading out in the dark of this morning to swim. It was the memory of past great swims that got me going. Then the rest was easy. The warmth of the water, my weightlessness, the movement of my limbs – the flow. From experience I know that if I do not make the effort to rise above my nature, I would have less of everything – joy, health, etc.


Not so much after-lunch cleanup to do today. Leftovers are always great for that.  Besides being less prep and cleanup, I find them more flavourful. As you can guess, I am not a fussy eater. I don’t have fanciful discerning tastes. Maybe I should develop some and stop my many ‘good enoughs’. It probably won’t ever happen. I can’t fuss.

I’m just not that kind of a person. I could never make anybody jump through hoops for me. Nor can I make a salesperson, waitress/waiter ‘work for their money’. It’s a demeaning behaviour. It embarrasses me to see someone do that and enjoy it. I was an audience to such a display. I didn’t want to watch but I couldn’t help but see my friend’s smile. The waiter had to tell and describe to us all the desserts offered. We could have very well gone to look at the dessert case. It wasn’t like we had to walk a mile. But then that is just me. It’s no big deal and it was his job. Sometimes no big deal bothers me a lot. I should get over them.

It is 3 pm. Sheba has been fussing but I’ve quieted her. She is still quiet. I will wait till she barks again before giving her food. It is not like she is starving. We can both learn to sit and stay together. Do you know how difficult it is to stay in the moment? I always want to get to the next moment. My mind is already there. That’s what winners do, right? Always a step ahead. Or that’s what we’re led to believe.

I’m always thinking ahead of what I should be doing, where to go, what to striving for. It makes it difficult to be HERE. It is as if I, by myself in this moment, am not enough. I’m trying to change that. It takes patience and time. It is really difficult if you don’t know what the problem is. I’m beginning to understand just the tip of it. It’s like peeling an onion, a layer at a time. Oh, sometimes I do cry with the layer. Change is painful.

Sheba has been rewarded with her supper. She waited till I had poured it into her bowl. She did not rush at it like her usual self. You can teach old dogs new tricks. I am not so sure about myself. I am not consistent with her or myself. Therefore, our bad habits prevail. What I must do with her supper is 1) She has to wait till 3 pm at least. 2) She must sit and wait till I’ve poured the food in her bowl. Do I have the fortitude?

Her barking can make me cave in. It does make me cave in most times. She knows it. But today she has demonstrated that she is capable of doing a down/staying if only for a few minutes at a time. I had demonstrated I had patience to repeat the procedure a few times till Sheba herself stayed down longer each time.

We both can do it. We just have to stick to it. One layer of the onion peeled.



It’s that time after lunch again. The gruesome cleanups and put aways done. Tomorrow is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the USA. It must be Thanksgiving today then. I wish all my American friends and relatives a Happy Thanksgiving. It’s strange that we celebrate their Black Friday. Why don’t we just do the same with our Thanksgiving? We can just pick a date in the middle somewhere.

I don’t usually participate in the mad shopping frenzy of Black Friday. But we’ve just roasted a ham in my cheap roasting pan of many moons. It is hard to clean and does not have a rack to drain the fat off. Lately I’m  wondering why I am so thrifty and maybe cheap. I can overcome my Chinese genes if I give it a go. So here’s to practicing.  I’ve ordered a Lagostina Roaster at 70% off. Pretty good deal, heh? I wonder how they could afford to do that. Who cares. I am still getting my being thrifty fix.

I’m getting my afternoon sleepy eyes. Best to put the kettle on for a cuppa. Maybe I better hang up the wash first. Breaking up jobs/chores is a good thing. I get to stretch, get a little exercise and refresh my brain. It makes the day/life easier. I’m rediscovering the joys of not multitasking. I’m enjoying putting the dishes away, one at a time. What is the rush and how busy are we really? Does a full life mean that literally – full of stuff and to do’s?

I have to confess that I DO envy the beautiful people and their beautiful full lives. Who wouldn’t, looking on? But if I was to have all that, would I like it? I like some emptiness in my space and my time. I like room to move around in. I like X large T shirts. There’s room to breathe in them. I don’t have many friends. I can handle only a few. I can’t deal with crowds. In essence, I have the perfect life for me. It is not that my life is small. It is I have small wants.

my sister and mother

It is not material things that I coveted. I never had birthday parties and presents. We didn’t celebrate Christmas in the early years. It was not in our Chinese tradition. I wonder if the way I grew up made the difference. I never felt the lack. Later in adulthood in conversation with my sister, I learned she did. She talked of our growing up in poverty. I was shocked. I had to ask my mother if we were poor. Of course!was her reply. We only had dried anchovies to serve with the rice. Your father would bring home a piece of meat and I had to make it last.

I still live like that – making things last. I’ve never felt poor. I’ve never gone hungry. In some ways we were rich. We had a roof over our heads and we got educated. Education was the thing my mother stressed and valued most. She did not have an opportunity to go beyond grade 3 in China. In my opinion my mother is very educated. I am sure she got her PhD in Life.




David Cassidy died today, the radio announcer said. He was 67. Holy cow! I thought. That’s young. I had to sit in the car till I Think I Love You finished playing. Not that I was such a fan of his or the show, The Partridge Family. I don’t know what it is really. Every time I hear of a celebrity dying, I’m surprised or something.  Stardom doesn’t protect them from the very ordinariness of being human and dying. How silly can I be?

I find it very sad when you see how young he really was then and now at his passing. The song over, I got out of my car. I am leaving all that behind. So long, David. I hope you find that love up there.

So it’s good bye celebrity news and hello Sobeys. I had lunch and my ordinary life on my mind. What to make? I had meatballs on my mind. It’s been awhile since I’ve done any grocery shopping. The guy had taken over that duty. Now I’m always a bit lost inside a grocery store, never mind not our every day one.

I was in a bit of awe in this Sobeys. Walking in, I picked up a black shopping basket. I see a woman picking up a made to order sushi dish. Interesting! I thought and cast my eyes over the glass that separated the sushi maker and me. She smiled a greeting at my curiosity. I was tempted but I moved on. More food making stations. There was soups, pizzas, pasta, empadas. My mouth started watering at these sites and smells. I remembered my mission and sauntered further into the store. It was much further in that I found my ground beef. $7 for a pack of extra lean. It was a much better deal than the ready-made. I could make a whole lot more meatballs.

Heading out, I passed more temptations. Oh! a Starbuck right in store with a very nice sitting area. Lots of windows. I could just very well sit here, pick up some sushi and maybe an empada, order a latte. If I had my laptop, I could just sit and tap away after my meal. It was so quiet, too. Not a table was occupied.  Wow, I should grocery shop more often. Who would think I could get excited at Sobeys? Obviously, I’m no celebrity material.




Life, at times, seems to be made up of many necessary but tedious tasks – like cleaning and tidying up. Here she goes again! I can hear you say but it is so true. It is 2:27 pm and I’ve just sat down after preparing lunch, eating it and then what I detest the most, cleaning up. Now I’m writing about it. Ha! The tedium. I really want to have a nap now.

But I know the value of order and discipline. My nature is that I don’t really have a driving desire to do anything. If I have my druthers, I would probably be singing Freddy Fender’s, wasted days and wasted nights. I’m one of those people who needs inspiration, challenges and goals. I seldom plan. I might be in a neater, if not better place if I did. It is never too late. That’s what they tell me. I’m inspired to go that route now.

My plan is to have a plan for the day. I’ve been operating on it for a few weeks now. I’m doing the obvious, the hardest and most hated stuff. What is difficult for me is cleaning up and putting stuff away in a timely as well as neatly fashion. When I was in Grade 1 in Hong Kong, one of our assignment was to get a note from our parents. The note was to identify what they thought our worse trait was. Well, my mother thought mine was paper clutter. I dropped them wherever. It was like a show and tell. I was reprimanded by my teacher – very severely I felt at the time.

Obviously, it hadn’t helped me. I am still that clutterbug. I’m changing my ways though. I’m working on the dishes. After washing and drying, I’m painstakingly putting them away where they belong or finding a better place for them. You’re wondering, What’s so painful about that? Well, for me it is! It feels like I’m going against the grain or my nature. It’s like torture. I wonder if I have some kind of disorder.

Things are getting a little easier though. You can see some surface on the dining room table and my desk. I’m ridding my junk mail (hard copies and emails) faster. I’ve lived many days feeling as if I have something needed doing but don’t know what. FINALLY that dreaded feeling is gone. I’m feeling more at ease.

Hmm. I’m feeling more alert and focused. It helps to identify my problem areas. It is nice to see progress. That is why I come here each day to tap on the keyboard. Some days I have great thoughts, exciting news and projects. Some days I am sad or angry. Then there are the doldrums. There is a lot of it in life. When they are taken away from you, that is the time when you see what treasures they really are. So I don’t mind them so much. They are restful. Maybe it is what mindfulness is – learning to sit and stay in the mundane and tedious until they are no longer so. Until you see what jewels they are.