I’m sitting here in my dining room in the aftermath of a snowstorm, realizing as I look out at the thick layer of snow outside that there’s something like 10 weeks until I’ll see grass again. It’s bleak. But that’s okay – instead of letting the weather get me down, I’m thinking about the things I’m looking forward to this year. Simple things, mostly; I don’t have any grand plans or life-changing goals.
Writing: I’ve plotted out a Christmas story that I might be able to get done for the fall if I can find the time to do it.
Editing: It’s work, but I enjoy it. I’m lucky because the authors I work with are awesome, and I look forward to working on the new stories they come up with.
My dad’s 80th birthday: Don’t tell him, but I’m already working on my speech for his party in March. I hate giving speeches, but I love my dad to bits, and he deserves to be celebrated.
My fave TV shows returning: Outlander, Stranger Things, Killing Eve, The Crown, Dead to Me… After reading all day in my day job and then doing freelance work in the evening, I love to lose myself in the next chapters of these stories I’ve been following – especially if I’ve had a bad day and I need to just veg out.
Summer vacation: It’s not Disney World, but we might take the kids to Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto this year. I think they’ll go crazy for the rides and the water park. I always enjoy creating special memories for my girls, and we don’t have to go far away or spend a ton of money to do that.
What simple things are you looking forward to in 2020?
A long time ago, before I had kids, I had a lot more time on my hands (and a bit more money) to devote to my hobbies. Back when I met my husband, 20+ years ago, we were both deeply into 1960s music. I went to memorabilia shows and bought vintage collectibles related to my favourite classic bands, the Beatles and the Monkees.
Here is most of my collection – trading cards, magazines, postage stamps, buttons, cake toppers, a record case, etc. My favourites are the adorable Monkees finger puppets. (There was no Peter Tork puppet, since he’d left the band by then; I ended up with two Mickys since one of them had boots and the other had a complete necklace.) Eventually, I put everything in a box and stashed it in my closet. I sort of forgot about it until recently. I probably won’t add any more to it, but I still think it’s groovy.
Do you have a favourite collection, from the past or present?
Here in Canada, today is a public holiday celebrated in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday. The long weekend is traditionally when Canadians plant their gardens and open up their summer cottages.
Why do we celebrate Queen Victoria? She has a special place in Canadian history. When Victoria became queen of Great Britain in 1837, Canada wasn’t yet a country. It was made up of a few separate British territories known collectively as British North America. Victoria gave royal assent to the 1840 Act of Union, uniting Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Quebec). She then signed the 1867 British North America Act, by which the provinces Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada were united as the Dominion of Canada (the rest of the provinces joined later). She also selected Ottawa to be the capital of Canada, as it was sheltered from potential American invasions and stood on the border between English and French Canada.
Victoria reigned for over 63 years and her legacy can be seen everywhere. Her reign brought in an era of artistic, social, religious and political change. Here in Canada, three Canadian cities are named after her: Victoria, Regina (“Queen City”) and Victoriaville. In fact, all over the world, lakes, mountains and cities have been given her name.
And did you know it was Victoria who popularized white wedding gowns and Christmas trees?
Today is my dad’s 79th birthday. He’s almost and octogenarian, but I certainly don’t think of him as elderly. He still has that sharp physicist’s mind and he hasn’t slowed down – he hikes, canoes and camps in the summer and skis in the winter, and he goes to the local climbing gym every week. He looks after my kids often and bounces on the backyard trampoline with them. He’s all kinds of amazing.
Dad’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day, so when I was a kid, we would usually make him a green birthday cake. My sister and I would cut out leprechauns, tape them to metal skewers and use them as cake decorations. Here’s a photo from about 1975. I’m the cutie on the right.
All these years later, I’m so blessed to still have my wonderful dad around to talk to or see just about every day. Hope your birthday is awesome, Dad! You’re the best.
Today is Family Day here in Ontario. Family Day takes place on the third Monday of February. It’s also observed in New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia; it’s called Islander Day in PEI, Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, and Nova Scotia Heritage Day in (you guessed it) Nova Scotia. Most of us in the private sector get the day off, but federal workers don’t. Banks and most stores are closed.
It’s a fairly new holiday. It all started in 1990 in Alberta, when Premier Don Getty created a February holiday so Albertans could spend time with their families. The date was chosen to coincide with Washington’s Birthday, to avoid disrupting trade with the United States. Over the years, other provinces adopted the holiday – often as a campaign promise at election time, as happened in Ontario in 2008.
Before that, there was no public holiday between New Year’s Day and Good Friday, which was a mighty long three-month gap filled with a whole lot of winter. The real value of Family Day is that it gives us something to look forward to at the point in the season when we’re fed up with the snow and cold and aren’t sure we can take much more.
If the weather cooperates, a good use of the day off is to enjoy winter activities with your family, such as skating, skiing, sledding or snowman building. If you find it too cold to hang around outside, museums and art galleries are open. Or just putting on a fire and playing board games with the kids sounds good to me!
If today is a holiday where you live, what will you be doing?
It’s a brand new year, a time when people traditionally make resolutions to do things better. But how many people actually keep their resolutions? It’s too easy to slip back into old habits. And maybe January isn’t the best time to try, for instance, cutting back on junk food – especially up here in Canada, where, let’s face it, it takes a lot of chocolate to get through the three months of frigid weather, windshield scraping and snow shoveling ahead!
For me, the key to reaching my goals is small steps. Large goals like “lose ten pounds” or “write a novel in three months” are too much. I break my goals into manageable chucks, write them down and consult my list as I go. I might only be able to write two chapters of my novel per month, but if I keep that modest target in mind, by the end of the year I’ll have a completed manuscript. Since I have so little free time during the week and have to make up for it on weekends, it helps to break those days into hours and plan what I need to get done. I don’t usually achieve everything on my list, and I beat myself up when tasks are left over at the end of the day (or week).
I suppose my New Year’s resolution should be to sit back and look at my list of accomplishments, small as they may be, and give myself a pat on the back for doing the best I can.
May 2019 bring you peace, happiness and wonderful surprises.
Here’s why. Friday evening, I was carrying a load of laundry down the stairs when I slipped and landed hard on my bottom. I felt the impact travel up my spine to the base of my skull. After sitting on the step, whimpering in shock and pain for a minute or so, I got up and carried on. But I suppose my body isn’t as resilient as it used to be. I woke up Saturday with an aching neck and shoulders. Still, I didn’t want it to slow me down. I went with my family to a Christmas bazaar at our local Orthodox church, but before long I felt dizzy and had to sit down for a while. (Those Russian ladies were so friendly and sweet, offering me tea and asking if I needed anything.) Thankfully, the dizziness went away, and I decided what I really needed was rest.
When I got home, I curled up and watched Bridget Jones’s Baby. (Funny movie! I recommend it.) I’m not used to sitting around on weekends and I can’t really relax. I hate not being productive and knowing I’m falling behind in my to-do list. I had shopping, cleaning and baking to do, as well as editing for clients and a bit of research and writing for myself. I had trouble sleeping and ended up watching Iron Man in the middle of the night (not quite the right thing for putting you to sleep, I’ll admit).
So I slept in way too late on Sunday, putting me even further behind in everything, but I was still too sore, stiff and tired to accomplish a lot. I’m sure I’ll be fine in a few days. Who knew that falling on your rump could be such a pain in the neck! So that’s why I have no time for blogging today.
Oh, wait, look at that – I blogged!