Help! I’m not ready yet! 4 ways to embrace autumn

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year. I haven’t been in school for ten years, but I still love the sense of new beginnings. But at the same time, autumn also makes me wistful, because it reminds me that winter is coming (no, I’m not a Stark of Westeros – just a Canadian). It’s an odd dichotomy. Tell me I’m not alone?

If you’re the sort of person who feels left out of all the hustle and bustle, who struggles with the transition because you’d rather hibernate until spring (much like turtleducks), here are some ideas for embracing the season.

Hit the school/office supply stores. The tricky part of this is coming up with a good reason to be there so people don’t look at you weird. If you’re a parent, you have a ready-made excuse to go roam the aisles, ogle the shelves, and stock up on all the pretties – the lined paper on sale, the new pens and pencils, the notebooks, the Post-It notes… If you’re not a parent, maybe you’re a writer (or thinking about being a writer someday), which is still a good excuse. Even if you do all your writing and planning on computer. Ahem.

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Birds of Odd Feathers Flock Together

Turtleducks are oddities, there’s no getting around that. Awesome as they are, they don’t quite fit in. I would hold that they are awesome partly because they don’t fit in.

As is natural for such odd creatures, Turtleducks turn up in odd places. Normal places may see them too, but odd places bring them in flocks.

One such place this Turtleduck likes to flock is Valley of the Moon (on Facebook here). Billed as “an historic fantasyland,” it’s a great place to go and act odd and have people like it.

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A Different Kind of Rejection

Two weeks ago, I started feeling really bad — almost like a flu bug but not quite: I was run down, severely dizzy, couldn’t think straight, and my head hurt a lot.  For a week I battled this until I found something in the back of my mouth: a little bump that hurt when I touched it.  It reminded me of previous bumps and what they were — jaw infections — so naturally I freaked out.

First, let me back up just a bit.  When I was 15 (for those of you playing along at home, that would be twenty years ago), I had extensive jaw surgery to correct severe TMJ.  In order to hold everything together while it healed, my surgeon put in 28 pieces of hardware: plates, wires, and screws.  And unfortunately, as of right now, I’ve had two surgeries to remove the hardware from the left side of both jaws.  Because they got infected and would have (most likely, not being dramatic here) killed me.  And the infections were almost impossible to cure because they were both on the metal, not in tissue.

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Never Turn Your Back on a Campbell

Yesterday, my husband and I attended the local Scottish Festival and Highland Games.  This was a third – twice, out in California, we attended the big one at Pleasanton.  We both have Clan Campbell shirts – everyone in California had a clan shirt (in comparison, we were the only ones who had them here, and had several people ask where we’d gotten them).

While on the bus, I had a woman sit in front of me, take one look at my shirt, and say “Oh no, I’ve got my back to a Campbell!”


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My Mother, My Hero

My mother is one of my heroes. Let me tell you why.

When I was very ill as a small child, and doctor after doctor couldn’t determine what was wrong, she refused to stop digging until she found the answers herself. (I was celiac, a disease that was almost unknown then.)

She went against convention and social pressures to raise my two siblings and me.

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The Fine and Elusive Art of Not-a-Carpet

Everyone knows that part of being an adult is the art of compromise. That there’s no “I” in “team.” Great things happen when we all work together. After all, they teach us that stuff in kindergarten–pick up, pick up, everybody do your share–and it’s reinforced throughout our lives. “Take one for the team” and all that.

But there’s another part of growing up that we don’t often hear about. The art of not being a rug. To me, it’s a harder lesson to learn. At work, in our friendships, no one wants to be the high-maintenance person. No one wants to be the selfish one. We can’t all agree on everything–there has to be give and take. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.

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Family History

This past Tuesday, my family got together and made decisions about who would get what was left of my grandfather’s possessions.  At his funeral, my aunt told me that she had my grandmother’s old typewriter and that it was her wish that I have it.  She felt that because I was the writer of the family, like grandma, that I would like that.  I was excited and so, so honored.  On Tuesday, I finally got to see it and take it home.

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An Urban Adventure: Kensington Market, Toronto

If you’re ever in Toronto, after you’ve visited the CN Tower and the other obvious places…or if you’ve just moved here and want to see what “here” consists of…or even if you’ve never been anywhere near Toronto…come take a walk through a neighbourhood. Any neighbourhood will do, they’re all different, but one of my favourites is Kensington Market.

If you’re taking the Spadina streetcar from the subway line, as we did, you enter via the bustle and strong smells of Chinatown – people hawking cheap t-shirts, designer knockoffs, herbs right on the sidewalk, sometimes pirated DVDs although none are to be found this time; there must have been a crackdown recently. Coming from the south, you turn off Spadina onto Dundas Street West, suddenly surrounded by quiet.

One short block later, you turn again and now you are in a different world.

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