August 27 and day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The end is almost within reach. I do want to finish on a strong note. I’m fighting the clouds and the blahs again. The hibernation response got its hooks out, pulling me in. I’m fighting lethargy and sleepiness. The snacking response is not intense yet. I have that to be thankful for.

Wanting and doing are two different things. I’m learning that over and over. So it is August 29 and day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am not at all ending on a strong note. I’ve not completed day 27 and was missing in action for day 28. Just to let everyone know though, I was not sitting idly on my ass. I’m finding it difficult to think my thoughts and form my words on these autumn days. It is hard to perform cerebral functions. So I did what I could – the physical chores of living.

Those are not so easy either. It seems both body and mind were in cahoots together. I had to push hard to work my mind to move my body. So at least I could show up here at the keyboard, flexing and bending my fingers, tapping out the letters, words and sentences. Somehow thoughts are coming out. I am such a whiner but every effort is painful. Do you ever feel that way? Sometimes I do think, what if I don’t show up? If I was a bear, I could just curl up in a log and sleep till spring.

I don’t do it. I’m not a bear and one just don’t do such things. We are taught to never give in or up. One must carry on as best able. And so I do. I couldn’t make myself go swimming yesterday morning. I went today. I’ve finished shelling the dried beans for those winterish dishes. Somehow I was able to talk myself into cleaning the shower and bathroom. The greenhouse and the garden are watered.

I am lacking will power. I could not finish this post last night. I was ever so sleepy that I threw myself into bed and dreamt of driving through Manitoba and looking for a toilet in Chan’s Cafe. How strange dreams are. Now it is August 30 and day 30 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is getting close to bedtime again. We had a road trip to Elbow, Saskatchewan to put the boat away for winter. I will come back tomorrow and wrap up this up.

So it is August 31 and the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. August was hottest and driest of all Augusts known to me. August was hard! Here is its last day. A sigh of relief perhaps but partings are always such sweet sorrow. Even with its ups, downs and wind swept days, it is still the month of bountiful harvest despite some failures. I’m choosing to look at this month’s writing challenge in a positive light, harvesting my successess and learning from my failures. True I haven’t shown up every single day but I didn’t throw in the towel either. I’ve come back again and again whenever I could. I’m here now to wrap it all up.

I will have shown up 16 days out of 31 counting today. It’s not a great record but I have a beginning, a middle and an ending. I will probably participate in the next writing challenge in a few months. I am looking forward to it. It’s like going back to school, getting a new start. I have a few writing ideas brewing in my head. Perhaps I should write them down before they evaporate. Organization makes for possibles.


August 26 and day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is another beautiful sunny morning. I wonder whether it is safe to say that the dog days of summer are over. This is the summer when you have to turn on the AC one day and the furnace the next. In a way I do miss the heat. I did acclimatized after awhile so when the temperature drops, I really felt it. It’s been a roller coaster summer.

Haven’t life always been a hilly ride? It’s a journey of the good, the bad and the ugly trips. I’ve had many of each. In the end, when I look back, it was the bad and ugly that were the most memorable. With time and distance, the bad and ugly were mellowed. I was left with a sense of nostalgia for the times past. All the experiences taught me something but it takes time for me to realize that.

My first trip was my birth. Of that I have no memory. I was told I was a home birth and a difficult one, requiring a midwife. There is no kept record for I was born in a village in China. I have a cousin who is 3 years older. Her birth was a snap. Her mother gave birth to her on the side of a road. She was walking to her mother’s village, felt contractions, squatted and had my cousin. That is the story anyways.

My childhood in China was a fairly happy and secure journey though my father left for Canada when I was 2. I was raised in a matriach family, most of the men being overseas in Gold Mountain (Canada). I had a terrible 2 in that my left arm had a nasty burn that would not heal. I don’t remember the accident at all but I remembered playing and chasing the chickens in our courtyard just before. And I remembered my mother taking me to the hospital after they’ve tried all the home remedies. We had to go by a hired bicycle and it was our luck that we got the same bad driver every time. He could not stay on the road very well.

My mother said I was very good. I did not fuss or cry. I have no memory of the accident ,the pain or the treatments. Isn’t nature wonderful. I remember the bicycle rides and going through the arches to the hospital. My arm healed with bad scarring up to and a little past my elbow. I have full arm mobility. It’s on the inside so not very noticeable. I was very conscious of it from childhood up to adulthood. I would wear long sleeves even on the hottest summer day. I got over it when I entered nursing. I couldn’t wear long sleeve uniforms. So I got over it. And now, well, I couldn’t give a shit.

This trip kind of took an expected turn. It wasn’t my intended journey. It is what it is.


It’s August 24 and day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Life can be tedious and challenging at the same time. The thing is I have to show up no matter what. The challenge is to do my best even though. It’s good to have mantras to keep me going. It’s good to remember holocaust survivors such as Edith Eger and Viktor Frankl. They have alot to teach us about hardships and humanity. No matter what we are facing, no matter how hard and hopeless things look and are, we always have a choice of how we think, feel and behave.

AND there’s always something we can do. There’s acceptance but it doesn’t mean giving up. A day has passed and I had not finished writing this post yesterday. ‘Life happens’ is a much used excuse but life happened. I had to choose on what is more important. I have only x number of time and x number of energy. I can’t do everything. But I haven’t trashed what I had written yesterday. They were and are important words. It is now August 25 and day 25 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m still tapping out the words, my thoughts. The day is turning out better and sunnier than I had anticipated. Hooray for the sun!

I don’t have a product to sell or a business to promote. Sometimes I wonder why I bother, why I’m here. It’s mainly because I love the written word. This is the place I come to vent. I can talk without interruption, without someone trying to influence my thoughts/ideas, telling me I’m wrong in my feelings. This is my place of meditation, of finding peace and grounding. This is the place I can come and yell unabashed: “Eureka! I’ve seen the light.”

There’s so much that is not right in our world. Still there is so much that is right and good. I don’t have to say, ‘Is that all there is?’ or ‘There is nothing you can do.’ There can be much more than what’s here. There’s a lot that we can do. You have to have the desire to do/want much more.


I like to live up to my words – as much as I can. Yesterday I said that I would like to prove the saying of ‘tomorrow never comes’ wrong. It gives me incentive to show up no matter what. I can always do my best for that day. I was thinking ahead to how to create space for a winter crop in the greenhouse. There is a noticeable difference in the amount and kind of daylight this week.Time is running out. There’s no tomorrows left. It will be September in just a week. The weather has turned cold. I need to act today to get some greens going and get matured enough to survive in the greenhouse hopefully till December.

It is hard to decide where or how to start. Seeing that we no longer need shade in the greenhouse, I took down the Scarlet Runner Beans. I had trimmd them back already but now they are all down. Oh, what a relief! More room and light. I should have done it sooner. But better late than never. It’s a learning curve, this being our first year of growing in a greenhouse.

Next I pruned back the excessive branches and leaves of the Black Krim tomatoes, giving them space for air flow. Now I can see how many of them there are.They’ve been very productive all summer. As you can see, there’s still alot and there’s one right up next to the roof. They are very juicy and sweet. We’ve been eating them since early July.

I’ve cleared up 2 planters of flowers to seed some lettuce and kale. This summer proved to be too hot for nasturtiums and sweet peas in planters so it was not hard to pull them out. I hope that it will not be too cold to germinate the lettuce and kale. They love the cool but I’ve had to turn on the furnace just now. As a precaution I did throw a row cover over them. Tomorrow I will seed more lettuce and spinach in modules inside. Covering all my bases.


August 21 and day 21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m starting to sound like a broken record. It’s another busy day. I don’t think I can finish this post but I thought starting might give me some inspiration. I’ve been feeling extremely busy and tired. I gave myself a pass from my aerobics class on Wednesday and Friday but I swam this morning. I rarely miss my Saturday morning swim knowing that the water always make me feel better. Most Saturdays I have the pool to myself. I had to share with another today.

Guess what? It is August 22 and day 22 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is raining in Saskatoon. I feel exquisitely tired, achy and grateful. It is not the best timing for rain for the farmers but I am sure we are all thankful for it. It’s not like we have a say in the when. And the yard and plants look beautiful in grey mist.

I like to stand inside the greenhouse (there is no place to sit) and just breathe in the sweet fragrance of the bitter melon. It’s especially restful on a rainy morning. My tiredness, aches and pains seem to ease in the warmth and breath of this living atmosphere.

I have 3 bitter melons on the grow, the third one just a baby. I hope it grows up. I disturbed the petals while trying to pollinate it. A couple of petals fell off.

Autumn is certainly in the air. Winter will be upon us before I am ready for it. The thermal rock wall is almost finished. It is used to moderate the temperature inside. It will absorb heat from the sun during the day and release it at night. I still have lots of growing things inside that’s taking up space – the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants not to mention the cucumbers which are still very productive. I have to think about finding space for and how to start a winter crop. Maybe tomorrow. And you know what they say about tomorrow. Maybe I can prove them wrong.


August 18 and 18th day the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am aiming to improve a little each day by showing up every day and a little earlier. This summer when it isn’t hot, it is cold. I woke up to 10℃ whereas only a couple of days ago, it was 21℃. I have no control over it. I best adapt as all living species have to. It is a good day to cuddle up to the keyboard. Yesterday I travelled down memory lane and Winnipeg in 1967. I will travel again today down the same highway but maybe to a different year and destination.

As with all trips, it will take time to gather my thoughts, memories and photos. I will have to search through my mental bags, find and sort out my stories. My day has taken me to other directions. Those trips will have to be saved for another day. Instead I will talk about the trip I took today. It is out to Sheba’s old haunt in Furdale, the dog park out by the river. She and I had many happy days there in our younger years. It brought back so many memories and feelings. If it had not been for her, I would not have discovered it or wanted to venture there.

It is August 19 and day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Yesterday got completely away from me. I’m still trying to finish this post. So yesterday the guy and I went out to Furdale. It felt strange to go without a dog. This time we went with ice cream pails. We were hunting for chokecherries to make wine. It did not take long to find them. They were plentiful and we went back today for more. I think we got enough chokecherries to make a batch of wine, some syrup and some to give to our friend who introduced the idea to us.

I hope to show up again tomorrow. I will try my best. There’s a lot of chokecherries to clean and freeze. I’m tackling a bit at a time. I have 2 cookie sheets of chokecherries frozen but there’s alot more to be done.


August 17 and 17th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Time is marching on so I must not tarry. Time waits for no one. I thought I would change my routine and come to my keyboard earlier. Someone asked posed the question “WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME?” in her post yesterday. It did get me thinking about how I’ve lived my life. Have I lived it? Was/am I adventuresome or was/am I a stick in the mud?

When I was 17 I certainly did not feel confident or adventuresome. Indeed, I felt very lacking in those areas. Back in Grade 7 and 8, boys asked me to dance at school dances. Grade 9 seemed to be the cutoff date. I became a wallflower so I stopped going to dances. I envied everyone else for their normalcy. I became aware of my differences, my Chinese-ness. Our life was the cafe, school and home. We had none of the travel out of town, to the lake, get-togethers with other people in town except with our cousins.

Thinking back now all these years later, it is a wonder to me that I was sassy enough to invite myself to a penpal, Gail’s home in Winnipeg. We had met on the plane to Japan when both our mothers and us immigrated to Canada. Our mothers had exchanged addresses and kept in touch. In my teenager’s loneliness I started writing to Gail. In 1967 the Pan American Games were being held in Winnipeg. That was my reason to ask for an invite for a visit. I’m not sure if I had any intentions of seeing any of it.

My friend’s grandfather Harry had a restaurant on Main and Portage called Chan’s Cafe. I had the audacity of asking for a summer job which I got. More surprising than anything, my mother agreed to let me go. So I headed out on the Greyhound Bus to Winnipeg. I never did see any of the Pan Am Games. Mostly I waitressed the afternoon to evening shift the whole summer till it was time to come home for school. Gail had the day shift. I never saw much of Winnipeg except the airport. My friend’s father had one of the cooks drive me home after our shifts. Gail’s mother felt responsible for me and didn’t trust me coming home alone on the bus. The cook taught me to drink coffee, smoke and showed me the airport.

I was a very young and innocent 17. I couldn’t get into trouble if I had wanted to. I can’t remember if I worked 6 or 7 days/week. When you are working an afternoon/evening shift, there isn’t too much time to get into trouble. But I had a clandesdine date or two if you can call matinees that. That’s when I saw Clint Eastwood in The Good, Bad and Ugly. The other matinee was with Kirk Douglas. I can’t recall the name but Kirk was butt naked in it.


August 16 and 16th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It seems I can only show up every other day. Even that is difficult though I have so much good intentions. Now I’m showing up every 3rd day. The heat of this summer is very tiring. I try to do my best to show up where and when it is most important. I was sorely tempted not to show up for my exercise class today. But keeping fit is important for staying active. The class was in the morning and a good way to start the day. It would limber me up for work in the garden after. I bit the bullet, pack my bag and got in my car and went.

Hard things are not quite so hard when you have developed good habits/routines. I have been going to the YWCA for my aerobic class and swimming regularly for years. I know from experience that even though I start off feeling tired and not excited, I end up feeling great after. I have established set grooves which I can slip back into after falling off the wagon. I was glad I made the effort. It was a good class and an opportunity for a bit of socializing, an important thing in these times. It got me out of the house and onward to my day.

I have to admit I have periods of despondency with Covid and climate change. It doesn’t make me feel better knowing that we are all in this together. However, since this is what’s here and there’s nowhere to run, I am facing and accepting. There’s no alternative except to do the things I love and are passionate about. I am a minimalist by nature. I like to ‘make do’ and live frugally. Perhaps it’s from our life in Canada as an immigrant. We didn’t have alot of money. My father had to borrow money to bring my mother, sister and I over from Hong Kong. The money was like an insurance that we would not be a burden on the government.

We/I have always been self sufficient. My mother always had and still have a garden. I got the bug and other things from her. I love experimenting and trying new plants and ways of growing. They are endless. I get tired but I never get bored. I am often excited and awed by the wonder of growing things. It is so rewarding to see some of our harvest.

CEREMONIES/RITUALS – a season for everything

It is August 13 and day 13th of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. As usual of late, I am having difficulty finding the words. My brain is in a fog and my body slow moving. I am feeling the harbingers of summer leaving and autumn approaching. I felt a sudden twinge of the ‘blues’ and a sense of dread out of nowhere yesterday. Can you feel darkness? That’s what I felt, not seen and not spoken of. I gave myself silent comfort, thinking it is probably the changing of the guard – those forces that are ushering in a new season. Perhaps I should hold a ceremony of a sort.

I believe in ceremonies/rituals. They give me a sense of connection, direction and a reason to be. Every morning this summer I do a walk-about on my property, visiting the greenhouse, the garden and flower beds in the backyard. Then I meandered to the front to see how everything is growing there. This is my morning walking meditation – the greeting and giving of thanks to the gods above and those in the garden.

I’m learning important lessons in the garden this year. We are all familiar with the saying, There’s a season for everything but do we really understand what it really means? For one thing, I have forgotten that the saying came from the Bible, from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

What I take away from it is everything is changing. Nothing is static. I must learn not to hang on to everything so tightly as I have been doing, but to let go when it is time. There’s a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. And so I plucked up the Armenian cucumber vine. It was past its best by due date. It has given me many cucumbers and now its leaves are full of white powdery mildew. Letting go is never easy. After trimming off much of the leaves, it took me another day before I could say goodbye. Now it is chopped up and in a bucket for the garbage as mildew is not suitable for the compost. Everything looks much better now. The bitter melon and peppers said thank you for the extra elbow room and light.

SOME THINGS ARE JUST FOR ME – a meditation for one

It is the 11th day of August and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’ve missed a day again. Time is elusive, hard to grasp. It’s like holding onto water. It slips slides away faster, the harder you try to hold onto it. Before it does today, I’m sitting down, my fingers are on the keyboard, to have this conversation. I’ve come back from grocery shopping with my parents. I’ve unloaded and carried theirs into their house. Mine are sitting on the kitchen floor. No perishables. They will be alright.

Sometimes you just have to drop everything just to have some time/things for yourself. You can run yourself ragged if you don’t. I have that habit of doing, of being productive, of doing/giving for others, trying not to being selfish. Sometimes I end up feeling neglected, resentful with mean thoughts. It’s no one’s fault except mine own. I recognize my flaw, my incorrect thinking. Now I try not to fall into that hole as much. Now I try not to share all of me and what I have. It is nice to keep some thoughts/things just for myself.

It was difficult not to give this bitter melon to my mother but I fought the urge. I told myself I had given her one already and there are 2 more little ones growing on the vine. And she has been complaining she got too much fresh vegetables. Everyone is giving her so much. So I kept this pretty one and cooked it just for myself. It was quite delicious, not that bitter at all. Pretty good for my first adventure growing and cooking a bitter melon. I hope I will get a few more than 2 though it is getting late in the season.

I know I inherited/learned this trait from my mother. She’s always giving/sharing all of her stuff. It’s hard to refuse. I’m trying to learn to be gracious about it. After all, they’re gifts and she is almost 90. It probably makes her feel good she can still give. Like mother and daughter, we find it hard to take. She is learning, too, to take as well as give.