Deciding What Matters Most

I’ve spent a lot of time hating the pandemic, feeling like a victim, a captive, while reading about its progression though-out the world. The weeks/ months of isolation when we couldn’t be near family and friends took a devastating toll upon many of us. In the beginning months, I sat mesmerized, horrified, in front of the TV, listening as many of us did. Horrified and yet oddly fascinated at the same time. Was this really happening to the world? For many months the pandemic was my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. The uncertainty we found ourselves in as we tried to sifted through news reports and info–deciding for ourselves what was real and what was false.

I’m not getting into any discussions on vaccinations or even the handling of this whole nightmarish event, but rather, what struck me this morning was our ability to find some good in the chaos that is now before us.

As with everything that appears bad on the outside, there is usually something good to be found if we choose to. I think that’s the optimal word here–choose. We have to choose to see the good, no matter how hard we might have to look.

We can look at the many acts of kindness that people have been a part of, the sometimes creative ways they have come up with to connect with one another without “physically” connecting. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people have realized that the things they previous held precious in this world have now suddenly changed. We value relationships more, and time spent with loved ones, not just giving it lip service, but actually feeling it. I know I do.

I can only imagine that as we head into another Christmas season during a pandemic, we will find a way to make the best of what we have.

We always have a choice in life as to how we will look at situations and circumstances. My hope, is that each of us will find a way to create special moments and make the choice to enjoy what is there before us rather than longing for the way Christmas used to be.

A Tree Hunting We Will Go

I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where you don’t have to go far to find a balsam fir tree for Christmas. In fact, I worked in the Christmas tree industry for many years, so I know quite a bit about them. So what makes a perfect Christmas tree, you might ask this trees-pert? Okay, so that’s a word Hubby made up a few years ago, but I’m sure you get the idea.

The truth behind finding the perfect Christmas tree lies with the person doing the finding. Not all trees are the same. I’m sure you’ve noticed that while strolling through a Christmas tree lot. Some are tall, others short; thin, wide; missing limbs. I could go on. Some trees will hold their needles, other will shed as soon as you bring them in the house. Colours can also vary. And what’s more, each person has their own idea of what makes a perfect tree.

Today, we went with the little Bs to find that perfect tree for their house. What we discovered was, perfect or not, being together as family, sharing the experience, is what makes finding that perfect tree well, perfect.

As with many things in life, it is the journey and not necessarily the end result. It is the laughter and smiles, sometimes the little mishaps along the way, that we later look back on with fondness.

My hope is that Christmas 2021 will be remembered in years to come for more than just another Christmas during a pandemic, but ultimately, that will be up to each of us to decide what we make of it. Myself, I intend to enjoy this Christmas with the people who are able to be here to help us celebrate. It will likely be different than some of our past Christmases but different is only bad if you decide it is, in the same way that perfect Christmas tree you picked from a lot might not look all that perfect to someone else. It’s all in the way we perceive the world around us.

Keeping Busy

“Being busy and being productive are two different things.”

Having a certain amount of years under my belt, I have to say there’s a lot of truth to the above quote. My days have been super busy since I retired from my day job, and I’m grateful for that, but I don’t always accomplish the things I’d like to in. Mind you, I always manage to meet deadlines and most times actually beat them. But there’s always that “What if?” question dangling above me.

What if I used my time more efficiently? What if I set small, reasonable goals each day?

This week, I’m juggling several writerly things while trying to keep a balance in my personal life.

I also find myself on one hand, thrilled to have another book published, yet disappointed that this is my second published book during a pandemic. And I ask myself: Will THE FAMILY WAY even stand a chance in that scary COVID world? Regardless of the circumstances all author hope that their book will make a bit of a splash when it enters the world, not just a tiny ripple. Will this pandemic allow for splashes? Or will the many restrictions only allow for a ripple or two?

Today I was working on some preparation for the ARC for my upcoming book this fall, and I had to wonder what the future holds in store for that one. Will it become a third book released during a pandemic that doesn’t want to seem to go away?

Still, there’s not a thing I can do about it. Some things are out of my control. This is one of them. But I don’t intend to let this get me down. I’m not about to let this pandemic rain on my parade. I’ll just keep my head down and keep plugging along. What will be will be.

Sweet Covid Dreams

January is gone, slipped by when I wasn’t watching and now here I am holding February in my hands. It’s a good feeling.

I recently saw an interview on CBC with Margaret Atwood. Among the things they talked about, Margaret asked the interviewer if she’d had a Covid-dream yet and then admitted to having had one herself. I thought that was interesting. I had heard about people having Covid-dreams before, but I hadn’t had any myself. It made me start wondering if this was a big thing for people. I wasn’t sure if I should feel fortunate or a teensy bit left out.

But then low and behold, I had a dream of my own just last night. I’m pretty sure this whole interview with Margaret Atwood was playing on my subconscious and, who knows, maybe I’ve had them in the past but just didn’t remember them. Dreams are like that.

So here’s the dream:

We were visiting my son and his family. We hadn’t seen them for quite some time due to restrictions. In the dream, I noticed that my daughter-in-law’s sister was also there. I immediately began counting to see if we were under our number of 10 for gatherings, and as I counted, I came up with 11. (Not sure how, as that still would have only added up to 8, but strange things happen in dreams, right?)

I was getting a little agitated at that point but then suddenly the house had more people and I knew we were WAY over the 10 person limit. I told my son we would leave, but as we stepped outside there were people sitting on the grass and lounging around. I mean really? Why did he invite so many people over, the twerp? I was getting really upset at that point. Once again I took count. There were over 30. I knew someone would report them for having a large gathering, but not only that, I worried about our chance of exposure to the virus. He had put us all at risk.

What was wrong with this son of mine? He’d been so sensible in the past

But then I woke up, as people often do in dreams, before finding out what the conclusion was. Think I’m going to track down that son of mine and get to the bottom of this covid-dream, find out who he thinks he is having a house full of people over during a pandemic. Sheesh! he is in trouble.

I’m curious to know if any of you have had a covid-dream yet. I wouldn’t mind hearing about it if you have.

Special Delivery

Have I said how much I love my publisher? It is true. Here is just a small example as to why.

Awhile back, my awesome publisher sent out a special delivery package to my granddaughter who is in another province and won’t be able to make it to Nova Scotia for Christmas this year. It will be the first time in ten years that we won’t get to see her. 

The outside packaging was a little beat up when it arrived in the mailbox, but the wrapped item inside made the trip quite nicely.

So many times, it is the small things that end up meaning so very much. This special delivery went above and beyond. Thank you Kate, and everyone at Nimbus Publishing!

So, what’s inside you might ask? I can’t answer that before Christmas, wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, you know.  You’ll have to check back in with me after Christmas to find out. But in the meanwhile you’re welcome to guess.

Hoping you all have a happy and safe holiday. 

 

Merry Bookmas to Me

I have no illusions that Christmas is going to be like every other year. In fact, I’m positive. How can it be? We’re in the midst of a pandemic. My family will not be able to come because of the restrictions that I don’t expect to be lifted in time to save Christmas. However, we’re making plans to celebrate later when it is safe for everyone. Disappointing? Absolutely. But we’ve all lived through disappointments. I refused to say that Christmas will be ruined. When we are able get together again the important part will be the actual getting together. That can happen anytime and we don’t need Christmas to do that.

So this Christmas, I decided to pick up some books to celebrate. I mean, if you can’t be with family, then spend your time reading. Right?

Here are some books I’m very anxious to get to, and to top it all off they’re from local Maritime authors. WALLS OF THE CAVE as been our for awhile now, but it’s one you shouldn’t miss. I’ve had BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE for a few weeks now and I just picked up BOY WITH A PROBLEM yesterday when I was in town. I’ll be reading them over the Christmas break.I’m sure I don’t have to remind any of you that buying local books, helps to support our local authors. And don’t forget our local books stores while you’re at it. Whenever possible support them as well. I know plenty of people pre-order books through Amazon, but did you know you can also do the same at your local Indie bookstore? Just saying.

And to satisfy my “young at heart side” THE HERMIT by Jan Coates and THE RISE AND FALL OF DEREK COWELL by Valerie Sherrard: two great novels for kids. I’ve already read the HERMIT (loved it) and am part way through THE RISE AND FALL OF DEREK CROWELL (loving it!)

These are just five books that have been taking up place in the Best household recently; five out of all the wonderful local Maritime books that are out there just waiting to find readers.

I’m not sure what your Christmas is shaping up to look like this year, but I hope you’ll consider giving either yourself, or someone on your gift list, a book from a local author. And because I’m always happy to promote other authors, please feel free to leave any book recommendations in the comment section of this blog. If you’re an author, feel free to give your own book a shout-out. We’d love to hear about your book.

2020 Pumpkin People

The Pumpkin People Festival was held this past weekend in Kentville. This year’s theme was Fables, Folklore & Fantasy. We didn’t have time to look them over properly but I grabbed a few shots while driving through.

You can check out their site here to find out more information.  Kentville ‘s Pumpkin People 

Hey Pumpkin People, did you forget there’s a pandemic going on? Where are your masks?

You wouldn’t know by these characters that COVID 19 was even a thing. (Sounds familiar?)  I mean, what about the six-foot rule?  Maybe?  I can’t tell the the people from the pumpkin people!

                                       Okay, maybe they’re sticking to their own bubble.

If you live in the area you can still check them out as they’ll be up for a few more weeks. To everyone out there I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving despite the pandemic.

FYI next time I’ll be posting an interview that I did with author Melanie Mosher who will be talking about her new middle grade novel, A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye.

 

A Whole New Wall

I recently saw a spot on the evening news drawing our attention to the Aylesford Wall which happens to have been painted by local artist Larry Lee back in 2013. I’ve posted photos of this wall a few times in the past, if you want to check them out they’re Here and Here. There are more photos in each of these posts and you can see more of the details of the artist’s work. FYI the second link had better photos as the first post had photos taken in winter.

 

If something good has come out of this pandemic it might very well be our rediscovery of the beauty in our own part of the world and our appreciation of what already exists in our own backyard. There is so much to see and enjoy. 

Have you had the opportunity to rediscover your world since the pandemic arrived? Please share if you have. I’d love to hear about it.

Super Moons and Flying Squirrels

Sometimes life gives us a chance to pay more attention to the world closest around us. Despite what many of us have been thinking and feeling these past couple of months, pandemics are apparently good for some things. It’s forced many of us to stay close to home and appreciate what we have in our own backyard. I also think we’ve stopped taking life for granted, especially those people in our lives that we haven’t been able to see or spend time with for months now, with that ever looming question hanging over us : When? When will we be able to hug our friends and family? When will life go back to some sort of normalcy? 

Patient. We’ve been told to be patient. Let me assure you, writers are patient people. We have to be.

Thankfully, we’ve made some fun discoveries during our self-isolation. Yes, there have been times of uncertainty and many sleepless nights, not to mention how much we miss seeing the kids and grand kids, and wondering how long it will be before we can visit our granddaughter who lives in another province. But hope is out there and is something that keeps us going. The world is filled with many wondrous and beautiful things.

I’m not sure how many of you had the chance to see the super moon earlier this month. It was a lovely yellow as it came up across the lake. Quite breath-taking.

And while we were out discovering things in our back yard, Hubby found a flying squirrel in a dead tree on our property when he randomly tapped on it. He got a bit of a surprise when this little girl popped her head out. We’re thinking it’s a “she” as she appeared rather plumb and  a quick search on the internet told me they have their babies in May and June.

I was quite tickled to get a photo since they are nocturnal which means you don’t often see them during the day.

As we trudge through this pandemic, I hope you are making some wonderful discoveries where you live. With all the great weather we’ve been having recently, and summer not far off, I am looking forward to making many more discoveries in the weeks ahead.

The Season for Birdhouses

When I was young people built birdhouses in the spring hoping to entice some feathered friends to move in. Most of those neighbours were swallows, but sometimes other birds would take up residence. Hubby still builds birdhouses and with all the extra time on his hands I’m sure construction will continue in the weeks ahead. Last year we had a family of chickadees as well as the swallows.

Here is the latest duplex that Hubby made completely out of recycled material. I hope the birds appreciate his efforts to reuse.

I realize that this house probably does not exemplify the meaning of physical or social distancing that is so important at this time, although I think so long as the birds don’t object they will be fine. In fact, I’m willing to bet on it.

In some ways I consider myself fortunate during these times of the COVID 19 pandemic as we have 7.5 acres to roam around on. Our property also boarders a lake. Yesterday, I sat by the water’s edge, felt the warmth of the sun on my face, and for a time I stayed totally present. I didn’t think about what all was going on in the world, the all the worries about the future and exactly what the world would look like when we finally come through to the other side. I didn’t fret about the launching of my book this spring which is obviously on hold. I pushed away my sadness of not being able to visit with our grandchildren in the coming months and the reality that rural living means poor internet access for many of us. We are not even able to set up virtual visit.

So I sat there yesterday, taking in the beauty and feeling totally grateful for the moment and the entire day which couldn’t have felt more perfect. The air was quiet and I could hear the sound of water trickling from one place to another. There was a trio of Canada geese peacefully maneuvering their way across the water. Ducks quacked and fluttered their wings. The geese honked.

As I sat there looking out across the water, I thought about the people who lived in our home before us. I thought about how much harder life was for them back then and how hard they had to work. They did not have any of the modern things we take for granted these days; washing machines, dishwashers, TV, computers. I wondered if they ever had the chance to just sit by the lake watching and listening or if they were just too busy to appreciate it all. I thought, what a shame it was if they didn’t.

As it is important for us to remain hopeful during these uncertain times, please remember that there have been many before us who have faced adversity and came through stronger. We will too. I will leave you with this wonderful symbol of hope.

 

Stay strong. Stay at home. We will get through this.

 

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