January 31, day 31 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I don’t know what the fig happened. I was awol (absent without official leave) for a few days – January 28, 29 and 30. I didn’t mean to. Really, I didn’t but my days got shorter. I ran out of time. I ran out of energy and I never had a plan for those kinds of days. But I am showing up to wrap up the month and the challenge. I will have a beginning, a middle and an ending to the month and challenge.

Did I fulfill my goals for this month and the challenge? The answer is yes and no. I did not show up every single day. I did not worked through the whole Unravel Your Year workbook. I looked back on most of 2021 but not ahead to 2022. I am not much of a planner. It shows up in different areas of my life. Maybe it’s something I should work on, eh? If I had a plan B, maybe I could have shown up here every single day. No use crying over spilt milk. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

I’ve come back over and over. I have done the best I could. Life is about flexibility. It’s a little of this and a bit of that. It’s a potpourri of successes, failures, boredom, elation, stumbles, falls and everything that is possible and imaginable. I am very happy that we have the UBC platform wherein I can do my mumbling, stuttering and sharing. It’s a great place to meet others from different parts of the world and in different walks and stages of life.

I’ve taken on more than I can bite for this January. Besides the UBC, I have a weekly online adult learning course from our university. The subject is on the goddesses of India. There are no examines but the subject is very new to me. I have also signed up for an in-person watercolour class. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It still is but it’s 2½ hours every Saturday for 8 weeks. Learning something new is very exhausting – for me. After the class, I’m no good for anything cerebral. I ski to unwind. Then I am done for the rest of the day. I have 3 classes under my belt now. I’m starting to have a feel for that sweet spot. It is also very easy to fall down and into making mud again. I try not to feel too elated or too downcast. This life is a journey of ups, downs and monotony. They all contribute to the texture of my days.

Today I say farewell to January and the UBC. Much thanks to Paul Taubman our maestro and to all the members of this community. I appreciate all the visits, reads and thoughtful comments. It’s been a fun and rewarding month.


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.


It is late afternoon, the day after the storm. Happy to have some sun off and on during the day. It’s playing peek-a-boo. I’ll take what we can get. I’m feeling a bit deflated and despondent. I’m feeling with the weather. What is out there is in here. We had quite a storm yesterday with wind and snow. I thought the greenhouse held up well considering we had no sun at all yesterday. The sensor showed that we had above 0 temperature till after 2:30 and the lowest temperature was -1.2℃ at 6:48 am. We had survived -6℃ before. So I was surprised to find the scarlet runner beans looking poorly but not the cucumbers. I was sure the tomatoes would be ok. They were under heavier covers. Not so. I lost 3 of the first 4 planted and 3 or 4 of the others. 10 or 11 survived.

On second inspection later in the afternoon, the cucumbers are not looking good any more. It’s a good thing I had moved my 2 trays of seedling into the house. I still have one Gateway cucumber and lots of Long Keeper and Black Krim tomatoes left. Alas I only started 3 Red Alerts, the early variety. Never put all your eggs in one basket.

This was a good learning experience. It showed the ‘cold’ spots in the greenhouse. The sensor was placed under the covers yesterday. It probably didn’t show the true temperature. The buckets of water had thick layer ice in each except the ones that had covers over them. Next spring I will not plant tomatoes, beans and cucumbers till 2nd week of April. The greens were just fine overnight, even the newly seeded and germinated. They just had a crop cover over them. They are a sure bet for early spring along with other cool loving crops like radishes, daikons, carrots, kohlrabi…

It’s a learning experience this year with the greenhouse. It’s trial and error. It is the time to have fun and be daring and try new things. I think you have to fail a little to get wisdom. I’m not at all discouraged. I’m just feeling the end of the day sag. I’m experimenting with making paper pots for transplanting tomatoes. It’s fun and the paper is free. The pots are deep for the roots to grow and they will hold the pot together. You have to give them time to develope before handling them or else they will fall apart.


The other day I wondered why I am still so caught up with all my stupidity on my clutter. I have been retired for 7 years and I am still writing on and on about the same things. When am I going to stop? It feels rather bizarre. I feel my life unlived. I need to stop. Right now! I can hear Caroline Myss‘ voice shouting. Stop it, right now! But you know that I won’t. I have committed a year to doing Stephanie Vogt’s A Year to Clear.

I haven’t made great progress. I am taking those ‘baby steps’, a phrase I hate with a passion. Let me rephrase it to little steps. No point in using words and phrases I do not like. It is important how we talk to ourselves. It could make or break us. I AM making progress. I feel my path clearing before me. It’s like being on the ski track. I am getting to be a better skier, too. Not speed wise though. I’m still mincing along, like a Chinese maiden of yore, on bounded feet. I’m using less effort and steadier, though I did tumble straight off today. I landed flat on my back. My head thudded in my soft snow.

Our failures lies not in our falls but in not getting up. I rolled onto my side. Got my skis out from underneath me. Bent my knees toward my chest and got up almost gracefully. It is very satisfying rising with my boots still attached to my skis and my feet in my boots. Hooray, I am risen! I will have to practice in leaning forward more. I am still falling straight back, right on top of my skis. Amazing! And the day was so beautiful, the trees casting shadows in dappled sunlight on the snow. The dogs across the back alley barked as we circled around the park. I did my usual 2 to the guy’s 7.

It is almost the end of the day. I am tapping and waiting for supper. My sourdough chocolate chip cookies are in the oven after the roast came out. It’s not the baking and roasting that is labourous. It’s the dishes and cleaning up after. I did a whole mess of washing dishes, pots and pans today. I made Chinese steamed buns this morning. Then there was lunch and the cookies. I try not to think of how much work or time it all takes. I said to myself, OK, it’s a process. Do one thing at a time. There is no rush. No need to count how much you have accomplished. It works pretty good. I got into a flow, washing one dish, then two, a pot, a pan and so on.

Now I need to set an intention to sew another mask tomorrow. I have the pattern and material ready and set out.


Well, hello there.  It is Thursday and I have a story for Friday Fictioneers. We gather each week to tell stories of 100 words or so according to a photo prompt. We are hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields of Addicted to Purple.  Anyone can join in if so inclined.  Here’s my 100 words.

PHOTO PROMPT © Marie Gail Stratford

It was a long ways down.  Her hair fluttered across her face. The moving traffic below made her dizzy.  She pulled back from the edge, stumbling.  Her heart caught in her throat and she had to bend over to catch her breath.

Tears streamed down her face.  She was not good for anything.  No brains.  No looks.  No money.  No courage.  How was she going to face everyone, anyone? She was such a failure.  Now what?

She stood and wiped her eyes and blew her nose.  An anger rose in her.  She had, still has something after all.  Her stubbornness.



For a few weeks in February, I biked the hilly streets of Lake Havasu in Arizona.  I struggled up the streets, concentrating so hard I barely noticed the houses and yards.  At the top, I would rest and gathered up my courage before I could take the steep plunge down.  Each time I was sure I would take a tumble and fall.  But I never did.

Back home on level ground, with both feet beneath me, I slipped and slid.  My feet flew out beneath me.  I hit the snow-covered ground.  My head snapped up and then banged on the hard ice.  My jaw opened and shut.  I felt indescribable pain reverberating through my head.  I moaned and writhed in the snow.  I heard Sheba whimpered near me.  I was sure I was dying but I didn’t.

Just now I tried a session of nail trimming/grinding with Sheba.  She was good with the muzzle and leash, but no way was she going to have a pedicure.  So I failed – today.

Tomorrow is another day.  And I have as much spirit as my furry baby.  It is a little worn out and limp lately.  Life seems to be full of cares and people needing caring.  But I know I still have it in me all the same.  I can still rise and shine.  I can triumph.




I drank too much wine last night.  The intentions I set prior all went out the window and you could say that I have failed.  On top of that, I fell asleep early and woke up at 1:30 and could not get back to sleep till dawn.  But by 7, Sheba’s insistent snout in my face got me up again.  It was her breakfast time and there was no denying her.

I’m feeling a little out of sorts, not quite myself, seeing the world with slanted eyes, telling myself stories that are not quite true.  But I am not punishing myself any further.  I am going to tell myself a different set of stories , filling myself with kindness and comforting myself with a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.  I do deserve it.

So I am making progress, one step at a time.  I have hoped and pined for changes in the past.  But I have failed over and over to realize those dreams, not recognizing till now that success is in me.  I have to be the change I want to see, as Mahatma Gandhi  wisely said.  Change is a lonely street, for no one can do it for you.  And people might not like you for it.

I am taking a deep breath.  And I tell myself another story.


What is success?  What is failure?  I tend to think in black and white.  Sometimes I see in black and white in times of stress – life in Kodak moments.  But that is not how life is.  There are many shades of grey in between.  There are other spaces between success and failure.

You would think, looking at the picture above, that I’m a successful gardener.  And you would be right.  I am successful for that much, but as for the rest of the garden….We hope to do better next year.  It is in the other spaces in between success and failure that give rise to our better selves, where we are motivated to do not perfect, but BETTER.  There are no spaces in perfect, no room to grow.

My teachers in high school had such high hopes for me.  They pushed me to go to university, when all I want at the time was to be a secretary.  So I went to university.  I succeeded in finishing two years, but not in getting a degree.  I dreamed of being an artist and a writer.  I did not become such, though I dappled in both.  But I did end up being a secretary for awhile, until my heart became discontented.

I became a nurse then, not because I want to serve mankind or such noble causes.  I was bored and felt unfulfilled.  I wanted to be an executive secretary, but I did not have that kind of persona.  I could not move up.  I was a failure!  And so I moved on.  I became a nurse….now for more than 30 years.

I’m still trying to write.  Now it is purely for my own pleasure, for my own growth.  I started this blog with an intention of a thousand words every day.  But I am falling quite short of a thousand words!  But I am writing.  I am still working towards my goals.  Maybe I will have to change my goal to a thousand posts a year.