It’s the jolly month of May. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. Everything is greening. Yet instead of jolly, I feel the beginning of a moody blue, a sense of foreboding, a dull ache behind my eyes. I like to close my eyes and dive into bed and hide beneath the covers. But I do not. My head is filled with swirling debris of useless thoughts going nowhere.

Unable to clear and dust my inner space, I started to do so to my outer world. I gathered up my ski pants, mitts, gloves, scarves, hats and headband. They’re washed and hanging up to dry and another load of various items are swirling in the washer. The kitchen floor is swept. The makings of a stirfry are prepped, waiting for me to throw them into the frying pan. I’m sipping a cuppa decaf. I crave a cuppa of anything when thus. I’m trying to stay on the narrow low caffeine path. I might stray today.


I did not stray too badly yesterday, having only an extra cup of decaf. I can rationalize that I’ve earned it, having taken my 90 plus mother for another medical appointment. It seems we’ve travelled a long and rocky medical path. Now we are on the last stage. I should be grateful that it is a much smoother and pleasant experience. I am and yet I can’t help but wondered why it wasn’t so before. I thought I had reconciled that I/we did the best I could. And whatever happened, I/we did alright. My mother will be turning 92 this July. She and my father are still living in their house on their own with minimal help from us.

I should have stayed with those thoughts but I’m not always in control. Bad thoughts and questions filtered through. Could I have done better as an advocate for my mother? Why didn’t I insist on this and that? Why didn’t I do this or that? If I had, maybe their health would be better today. So those thoughts go round and round inside. They immobilized my being. I’ve felt responsible for my parents’ lives most of my life. That’s what happened when I’m an immigrant child of immigrant parents. They do not understand or speak English well. I’m been their appointment taker and translator. It’s hard to be objective and not feel guilt.

So this is where I’m at in this jolly month of May. It’s 6:30 in my morning. I’ve been up since 5:15, unable to sleep more despite a little sleep aid last night. I’ve had my cuppa Orange Pekoe. I do want another but I’ll try a dandelion tea instead. I’m making a concerted effort not to let my strong emotions control me. I can. I can. The sun is beaming in agreement. I’ve tapped out my stored stagnant energy. I can breathe and move again to live another day.


Photo by Anna Shvets on

It’s a brand new morning, a brand new day. Rain is in the forecast. I hope the rain will fall. I can’t remember when we’ve had a full day of rain like in the good old days. Where have all the rain gone, long time gone? I’m feeling nostalgic and melancholic for the seemingly good and steadifastness of the past. I wonder if I am deluded. I wonder if it’s my advancing age. Nothing seems safe, steady or predictable any more. I’m feeling a bit weird, unhinged and anxious about our present world. Life has a strange overcast. I feel the disconnect, that sound of one hand clapping.

Instead of just talking about it and drowning myself in a sea of useless words and thoughts, I could sit down and do some real work. I’m going to find some antidotes for those thoughts and feelings. I think our mothers and grandmothers were smarter than us. They believe in the house beautiful and cleanliness is next to holiness. At least my mother did and I’m sure she learned it from her mother. I believe that, too, but somehow I hadn’t acquired their ability and skill. I’m up for the challenge of learning though. It would give me a sense of purpose. It would engage my mind and brain so that they will have less time to wander willy nilly.

There’s no time like the present time to start. I see the way forward each day is to clear my mind, empty it of overwhelm, be a blank canvass. It’s difficult to make a start when it is jam full of stuff. I will have to do it any way that I can – meditating, solving a wordle puzzle, do my daily drawing…and work from there. This morning I’m working on putting things away after I’ve used them. Having done my drawing, I’ve put my pencils and erasers back in their case instead of leaving them lying around on the table. If I do this habit enough times, it will become automatic in time.


I suppose everyone has heard Patsy Cline singing, Have you ever been lonely, have you ever been blue. What I’ve been feeling lately is restlessness and things shifting. I don’t like it. Nothing is the same and I’m out of sync. It’s nothing new. I’ve been here before. What is new is that I’m trying to stay the course and not freak out, looking for an out. I don’t think there are any escape hatches. I might as well buckle down and see how I can benefit from these periods from hell.

I think the universe is always listening and offers answers. It threw me a podcast on the very subject. I was paying attention this time and heard. I offer you this transcript on The Gift of Restlessness by Casey Tygrett, a spiritual director. I have to read it again for myself to digest it. Restlessness surely is uncomfortable. It is hard for me to define though it is an often enough visitor. Do you get these feelings? And if yes, how do you deal with it? I like to get rid of it as soon as possible. Sometimes I try to distract myself by calling someone but often no one is home. That tells me that it is a problem for me to solve and not run away from. But a fast escape is my natural instinct.

Now I do try to sit with it all, feeling all the unpleasantness, fear. I’m letting them all rip through me. Nothing happens. They’re not lethal. I’m still here, tap, tapping, watching the words and sentences march across the screen. There’s a relief that comes from saying/writing it out loud. I’m out of the closet. I’m a mess inside out. I’m cleaning and tidying inside and outside. It might take me a long while. There’s pleasure in finding out. There’s pleasure in fixing/mending one small thing at a time. That’s what I need to do the next time these feelings come a-knocking. Mothers and grandmothers always knew the value of good housecleaning inside out.


January 18. The Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Another day enclosed in the grey. I tried dipping my toes into my fun list this afternoon. I didn’t have any nail polish on hand. Otherwise, I might have had some fun. I used to have a couple of bottles laying around forever and a day. I could have used them today. So I had throwaway regrets. Next, I tried origami. I have a kit I bought when I was in Japan a million years ago. The instructions were diagrams without words. It was a bit complicated. Maybe I should have started on page 4 instead of 22. As a result, my tulip is a little too top heavy.

Next, I played a little piano. I was not engaging so I gave up after 20 minutes. It’s really no fun when I’m feeling so blasè. I had been reading Babel and it was interesting but in my mood, a dark fantasy about colonalism would make my mood darker. I thought about resorting to John Grisham’s The Client, but I got onto YouTube and found this. I was engaged, caught up in the music and movement of this couple ice skating.

It wasn’t really what you would call fun but I was at least distracted from my grey feelings for a few minutes. Perhaps I should not try so hard running away from these feelings/days. Just accept and ride/ease them through without a fight/struggle. Perhaps there’s a purpose for them.


December 27. I’m having one of those early morning awakenings when I can’t fall back to sleep. It was better for me to get up rather than lay in the dark with dark and unpleasant thought and feelings. It is 7:00 am an -12℃ outside. I’m on my second cup of tea, have scrolled through social media and played today’s Wordle. It would be better if I could skip the scrolling but it’s become part of my morning routine for waking up. 

Surprisingly, my bad thoughts and feelings dissipated with my rising, turning on the lights, brushing my teeth and having my cups of tea. I am surprised only because I have been/am paying attention to when these moods come and go. They had been more frequent in the past. I like to think that I now have a better handle on them. Even though I know better and that I am not alone, I feel alone. I know I am not a failure but feel so in these times.

So this is the nature of my beast. I have accepted and befriended it. I am becoming a scientist in its investigation. I wonder how I can use it for my betterment instead of detriment. For one thing, it has made me realize that I can control it. I am not at its mercy. It has driven me to seek not only the why of its existence but also ways to work with it so that life can be as easeful, pleasant and meaningful as possible. I’m seeking ways of being kinder to myself with less self blame.

It is not the best time to be a think tank when I am being squeezed by my beast. My brain is in a thick fog. It would’t be able to figure out how to get out of a wet paper bag. The best activities for me would be to clean anything – like wash the dishes, floors, windows. I can still draw pretty good in these moods. Tapping out the words and moods is soothing and comforting. Cross country skiing is my newest, most fun and effective tool. My mind and senses are fully occupied. There’s no room for dark and ugly thoughts.

This is it, all that I’m able to write today. I had fallen off my writing wagon for a week. A week ago, I was bright eye and bushy tailed. A week ago it was sunny and bitterly cold, in the -30s ℃. But I felt oh so well. I feel better now just remembering how good I felt. I will hang on to the memory. My spirit dipped on December 24 when it got cloudy and up to -16℃ overnight from -34℃. We’re in for a stretch of clouds and snow ahead. I’m geared to make my own sunshine.

NOVEMBER – A New Month of Challenges

November 1, end of October and a new beginning. Though the October Ultimate Blog Challenge is over, challenges are not over for me. I’m the type of person who finds everything hard. At one point in my life I vowed not to let that word enter my vocabulary. It’s hard, too hard. I know I’m weak with vows. Now I am using the word with abandon. Life is just too flipping hard and if using the word makes me feel better, why not, eh?

I’m not like most women. I hate shopping. I have to gear up to go to Costco. Thinking about it fills me with yuck but it’s time and it’s hard. I need stuff and they have it all there and at a good price. I know having intentions doesn’t mean anything unless I follow through. So I made my list, got into the car and drove. Funny it wasn’t hard after that. I went up and down the aisles with my cart and list. An hour later I was through the checkout with $500 less in my bank account. The next challenge was to load everything in the car and get home.

I have to file the memory that it wasn’t hard after I get into the car. The trick was not to pay attention to my feelings but the need to do. That was my focus, too, on getting everything into the house. I was grateful for my workouts at the gym, that I have the strength and the know how. I thought on posture – hip hinge and squat, no bending over. I did pretty well though I worked up a sweat. Most things are put away though a few are still looking for a home. They might as well hang out until I reorganize and clean out some cupboard space. No point in stuffing them in wherever and then having to pull everything out again.

I am pretty pleased with myself for accomplishing this shopping trip today. I did not skip out on my afternoon walk even though the weather was grey and breezy. I brought out my toque and away I went. The fresh air and steps will help me get a good night’s sleep. Now it is almost 6 pm and it is quite dark already and raining a little. I have long complained about the darkness beginning at this time of the year. But I am noticing that it no longer bothers me as much or in the same way. I am learning to embrace, celebrate and use this time to rest and rejuvenate so that I am ready for the spring and the growing season.


It’s not my write day today but I feel like talking. When that comes, it’s good to listen. It’s another overcast and cloudy day. It had rained some overnight. I think it is going to be this kind of summer – cool and unpredictable. The forecast for Saturday is sunny and 34℃. Can you believe it? That’s 2 days away. By then things could change and anything is possible. Maybe not snow though.

I feel uneasy. It is a frequent visitor. Coming home from exercise yesterday, I had a sense that we’re living in a Stephen King novel. Something is terribly wrong with our world and we’re just watching and waiting and not doing. I’m feeling this discomfort of avoidance and helplessness. It’s a good reason to come to my keyboard and tap. It stops my mind from pacing uselessly back and forth. I’m focused on the words and sentences. With luck I can tap out some comfort and a course of action.

Right now there are things I need to and can do. They are the small acts of daily living. No matter what, we need to get up, dress up and show up for what is here. The yogurt needs to be made. The milk is close to its expiration date. It is an easy process. Steam the milk for 1 minute in the Instant Pot. Then cool for 20 minutes till it’s 120℉ or less. Put in a scoop of plain yogurt and ¼ cup of powder milk. Stir well. Pour into yogurt jars and place in yogurt maker. Cover and plug in. Leave for 4 hours till yogurt forms to desired consistency. Easy peasy. Not so if I don’t have a plan of action for uneasy days.

I can override my natural tendency for these feelings of unease. These are good times to pay attention to areas of need – like cupboards and closets. Sorting and cleaning my outer space gives me a sense of sorting and cleaning my inner space/thoughts and feelings. It can give me a sense of control and empowerment. Sometimes those areas are not the right thing to tackle. Then I’m ok to use escapism, like diving into a book that takes me completely away. The Chamber by John Grisham is such a book. It’s about death row, the death penalty, the KKK and racism – not exactly light hearted and a feel good kind of book. It was very impactful, making me rethink almost everything about life, how we are/were and how to go forward.

Now the morning is almost gone. I’ve got the yogurt yogurting. I’ve cleaned up the equipment I used in the process. Now to harvest some lettuce and radishes for a salad for lunch. The phone rang just now. A recording said it was Amazon and that they will be billing $35.00 to my account. Who are these people who are so technically capable of cheating us? Why don’t they use their abilities to help people instead? Such is the world we live in.


February 13. 6:11pm. It is -8℃ outside, 3.3℃ in the greenhouse. Today’s high in the greenhouse was 14.4℃ at 12:30 pm. The low -3.5℃ at 6:09 am. I think it’s helpful to track the highs and lows now since it is getting close to ?seeding time. I can’t depend on my memory alone any more.

It is almost closing time to the day and I haven’t made any progress in clearing my trouble spots in the house. I had intentions for the last week. When I start, I don’t know where to start. Damn! I look at an area and I’m stuck, struck motionless with a sinking defeated feeling. I’m wondering how the hell I can break loose.

March 3. 10:21 am. It is -18℃ outside and -3.5℃ in the greenhouse. It seems like we are going backwards, getting colder instead of warmer. I’ve been missing in action for almost 3 weeks. How time flies even when you’re not having fun. Life doesn’t have to be perfect. Most of the time it isn’t so what am I talking about? I’m thinking of Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese this morning.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Her words give me comfort. I’m reminded of Sheba and her soft animal body close to mine. Everything is as it should be. The sun still rises and will set and rise again the next morning. We are all in this together. I shall feel what I feel and not fret about it. I do not have to try so hard – not to feel sad, not to feel tired, not to…. I shall let the feelings come and splash them onto my watercolour paper, however they land. They are all lessons in this art we call life.


February 10. 9:19 am. It’s 5℃ outside and 1.2℃ in the greenhouse. It is grey, wet and slippery as hell on the sidewalks. We watch people walking cautiously, some on the street and some in the snow of lawns. Then there are the brave teenagers marching and sliding along. I have decided that I will not be stepping outside today. I am going to hunker down and mind my own business. I have many things to do – at my speed which is not fast.

It’s ill winds that are blowing. We’ve had rain, we’ve had snow….I feel like breaking into James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. When I listen to the lyrics, it’s exactly how I feel. We have rain and snow. I could use a little fire in me.

February 11. 9:47 am. It is -19℃ outside, -6℃ in the greenhouse. Tepid sunshine. What a difference a day makes. Yesterday afternoon it was 5℃ outside and 15.9℃ in the greenhouse. You think that was something to cheer about. It was not. Yesterday was very hard, hard for me. I felt like soggy spaghetti noodles with brain fog. Moving and getting things done were very difficult. I started out making curried beef in the Instant Pot about 11 am. It was soon clear I couldn’t quite get it together. Good thing for frozen pizzas on hand. I did get everything into the Instant Pot for the curry beef by 3 pm. It felt like a huge accomplishment by the time I got the cleaning done.

I’m feeling a little more together today. Lunch is ready. I just have to take the pot of beef and stick it into the Instant part and plug it in. My plans for the day? None except to mope along as best I can. No skiing in the park today either. It’s probably icy and treacherous as hell. Navigating the streets and sidewalks are hard enough. We might go out to the nearby golf course tomorrow afternoon. They, hopefully, will have groomed trails.

Beef and butternut curry

The curry was quite delicious. I followed this recipe for the spices and used what ingredients I had on hand – ground beef, onions, garlic, butternut squash, Swedish brown beans, frozen tomatoes and frozen greens. I browned the hamburger, then threw in the rest with a jar of pork broth into the Instant Pot. Used stew and meat button for one hour.

February 12. 9:32 am. -14℃ outside. -5.5℃ in the greenhouse. Sunny. I have to say that I’ve been more affected by the freedom convoy affair than the pandemic. I’m wondering what ‘freedom’ they’re fighting for. I’m a Chinese immigrant whose grandfather escaped death by a hair and whose grandmother was jailed in his place in the Mao regime. I remember hearing gunfire of firing squads killing dissidents who dared saying anything remotely against the government. So I am wondering what is the freedom that these freedom fighters are fighting for? Freedom here is just another word for chaos – to do as we please, irregardless of others. We might as well do away with need for driver’s license, a business license, a professional (doctor, engineer, pilot, nurse, teacher…..) license, visas, passports of any kind, rules of the road, airway….Let’s get foolish. Let’s go backwards….

Ok, I’ve had my rant to clear all my chakras for the day. Meanwhile…my seeds of early Red Alert tomatoes, eggplants and peppers have germinated. I haven’t done by daily draw yet but I am quite pleased with the ones I have done. Yesterday I started to add watercolour to my duck drawing. Though not perfect, I am quite happy with it. Colours clear, no mud created. No mud, no lotus. In this case, it is what I want.


Happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese family and friends wherever you are. The morning is awashed with bright sunshine. It is only -24 degrees Celsius, quite a bit warmer than yesterday’s -40 C. My world looks so white, clean and peaceful. And yet it is not. The Coronavirus is still a threat amongst us. life and death goes on.

I hope I am not sounding morbid and pessimistic. I am not. I am feeling a bit strange and in limbo. It is not something new. I do go through such now and again. It’s a discomfort, like something is hanging over me that I’m avoiding. It’s because I’m such a procrastinator, always putting off little things until they get big. It’s true that you can put things under the carpet, but not out of your mind. They will nag and nibble at you. That’s what I’m feeling. Every time I resolve things, I vow not to let it happen again. I might as well save my breath. It does happen again because I am only too human.

It doesn’t mean that I should give up altogether. I am here at the keyboard earlier in the day. I am trying to have a conversation again. It’s good for our mental health to talk, to voice and share our ideas. But I’m not really in love with the way we communicate nowadays. For some people keeping in touch means ‘copy and paste’, sending stickers/videos/clips/attachments on Messenger, Instagram, text messages. Most of the time, there are no explanation or personal message. It doesn’t tell me anything about the sender or why I’m getting it.

We should not assume what we find interesting and useful would be the same for another. Think again before you hit that SEND button. Am I doing a service or disservice? Am I really being thoughtful or am I really thinking of myself? Different strokes for different folks. I think it would be good to remember etiquette is the same on all communication tools. I hope that I am also respectful in what and how I am communicating, but maybe I’m not. Perhaps those ‘unfriending’ on FB was a message. We all live with the consequences of our actions.

I have done well today. I hope I can keep it up and build on it. It is after lunch. I have done Chinese takeout for my parents and ourselves. It’s a chance for me to check on them without appearing so when I drop off the food. It was my mother who used to drop off stuff for me New Year and other occasions. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Children become the parents and vice versa. My brother will be dropping supper for them tonight. We celebrate together somehow.

I have skied 3 laps around the park this afternoon. An extra lap for prosperity. I’m trying to build stamina and speed. I did not gain any speed but am keeping my time under 11 minutes/lap. You would think I was training for the Olympics. LQOL (laughing quite out loud). It was quite lovely today being at least 10 degrees warmer and less wind. It was easier breathing and I didn’t get quite as frosty as yesterday. Scroll on the arrow to see.