Let's Go To Your Place

June 4, 2013

Driving up to Hornby Island, British Columbia past uniform forests created by the forest industries on the rolling hills of the east coast of Vancouver Island alone with the dog. My oldest son, Henry, was in Florida amid the angst of starting a professional golf career while plagued by yet another injury, my youngest son, George, was having hellafun at the Sasquatch music festival, and my husband, James, was cycling diagonally across France with long-time comrades.

Writing Is Like Prospecting - For My Friend Nadine Schuurman

March 2, 2013

During an interview on CBC radio a geologist expressed that the hardest part of prospecting was maintaining the belief that what you were looking for was out there to be found. In the sleet and mud and cold, out on a limb, repeatedly coming up empty. In this way, writing is like prospecting.

Dirt: A novel

July 26, 2012

When I first heard David Vann had a new novel coming out I was filled with excitement. His first book of fiction, Legend of a Suicide, was one of the freshest, most exhilarating pieces of writing I'd read in a long time. Five short pieces nestled around a novella told the story of a father's suicidal decline in the far north, with the lives of his young son, ex-wife, new wife and new wife's family circling around the madness.

Women Are Not Chimpanzees

July 26, 2012

From the halls of the École Polytechnique in Paris, in a country where women are still resolutely women first and mothers second, where breasts are a female sexual organ first and a mammalian gland for feeding newborns second, and where adult-oriented parenting goes hand in hand with one of the highest birth rates in Europe, comes the bold, adamantine voice of Elisabeth Badinter, a philosophy professor, author, mother of three and famous (even notorious) feminist essayist.

Who Are We Telling Our Story To?

February 5, 2012

Who do we think we're telling the story of ourselves to? Do other people live, as I do, with the vague sense that the story of my life is performed in front of a witness other than myself?

In my case, I wonder, is it some notion of God? Is it a residue structure from early childhood, when my mother knew all? A close friend of mine lost her husband, also a dear friend, just over a year ago and it seems clear among many other things, he was the one witnessing her life.

Belly Fat

October 28, 2011


On the way back from taking Henry to try and launch a golf career, I sit in the airplane and look out the window, my hand jammed under the belt line of my jeans.
Why is that belly fat always cold?
That belly was swimming in the salty, warm, turquoise ocean of the Florida Gulf Coast only hours ago. White sand, shells rolling in the gentle tidal motion, one strand of seaweed penetrating a modest one-piece.

Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl

August 1, 2011

As every woman who has had an amniocentesis test knows, the procedure is a haunting and morally uncomfortable one. A long needle penetrates the taut skin of the pregnant belly and a hard-edge white line shows up on the ultrasound screen as the needle invades the uterine sac where the fetus floats, utterly vulnerable and unaware that it is being tested for health problems. The fact that the pregnant woman has been informed that the procedure has a slight risk of miscarriage makes the moment even more emotionally freighted. If the results of my own two amnio tests had told me something was wrong, I did not know then and still don’t know what I would have done (cross that bridge etc.).

Breathing the Page by Betsy Warland

July 31, 2011

I’ve been going through a wordless patch. This week was the first anniversary of my stepfather’s sudden death. The deer had eaten everything we’d left on his grave, so I bought Shasta daisies, black-eyed Susans, Spanish lavender and golden oregano, carried a chair for my Mom to sit graveside, and dug new holes in the dirt our family had shovelled last year. The sandy soil had an abundance of stones, and I started using them to build miniature walls around each plant, creating a topography that took me back to childhood cities I constructed for my turtles with blocks my stepfather made me. Who knew then what moment I was practising for.

Mother of All Mothers by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

July 30, 2011

The time I had set aside to rewrite this review was spent at the clinic with my son, getting him antibiotics and a tetanus shot after a skateboard accident left sizable deposits of his skin on the neighbourhood pavement. Even now, when my children are older and in many ways can take care of themselves, I want an allomother. My children aren’t self-provisioning yet, nor would they have been back in the “old” Pleistocene days, when allomothers often made the difference between life and death.