A Day in My Life: Su Rogers

Between 6:00 am and 4:26 pm, I did the following not-so-brilliant but time-consuming things:

I went for an early walk access what traffic was on the water. Went in front of red buildinged (my computer doesn’t like the word ‘buildinged’) Adams and Knickle, onto the Public Wharf and subsequently onto the Railway Wharf before shooting up to Montague Street, going up-hill ever after back to my house. I watered the garden on my return, forgetting that rain was in the forecast, and pulled up some weeds and cleared yet more leaves and branch debris from the hurricane before going into breakfast.

Errands loomed. I bought some hot tea on the way to Bridgewater. I had a very long list of to-do’s and it was a good thing I fortified myself with tea because I found myself behind a long line of cars going 20K under the speed limit. I slowed down, sipped and took note of my surroundings. I noticed that once the front car got to the 50K zone in Dayspring it sprinted up to 70K.

The weather had turned to deep cloud cover and the river water was ruffled. Wipers were needed.

I picked up some ‘white’ black-out fabric to rejig curtains for my son’s temporary rental. The fabric is $8.99 a metre at Atlantic Fabrics in Bridgewater and 10% off today. He will enjoy a total black-out, I was promised by the person helping me. He does manual labour and he needs his sleep. Evidently there is an extremely bright light standard outside of the bedroom windows of his flat in the commercial district where he has taken up residence.

The saleslady said to me: “Why doesn’t your son do what our town counsellor did?”

“What was that” I asked?

She said with the most serene look on her face, “Why just have the light standards dug up and removed. He did not want to put up curtains so decided that the lights just had to be removed.” She elaborated that the community fought back and demanded that the standards be put back for safety reasons and now the ongoing struggle revolves around who will pay for them to be re-installed: the community or the counsellor. La lucha continua.

Further, I bought handles and knobs at Canadian Tire for a bureau I am going to paint for two of my grandchildren. The project is to turn a garage sale item into something funky and cheerful. I settled on a turquoise paint I used on a bench in my studio thinking there is lots of it left so why leave it to waste? My son is a single father now and needs a little help with some finishing touches after the move and I am only too happy to oblige. In fact, I am on board to help him get settled in any way I am able to. (I would do it for you, too, if you asked.)

I went to the Atlantic Superstore and while buying milk, being careful of the expiry date, I also saw some amazing bright red cereal bowls for 74 cents each. Who could resist? I bought them for the grandchildren and their father.

Returning home, I sent a text (I texted?) to a friend to make an appointment to have some tea and a chat tomorrow. No firm plan as yet. It is not easy to nail down a tea time.

I began to get nervous about using the word “texted”. So, off to google.

tr.v. text·ed, text·ing, texts
1. To send a text message to: She texted me when she arrived.
2. To communicate by text message: He texted that he would be late.

Lunch was a promised “Perfect Tuna Salad Sandwich,” a snipped recipe I captured from the Internet, along with some rhubarb tea made from my hard-won rhubarb patch in the yard. The tea recipe came from a well-spent $3 on a 1997 edition of Good Things: A Collection of Inspired Household Ideas and Projects. This was a good Frenchy-find.

Much time was misspent walking to the Fishery Museum of the Atlantic, not once, but three times back and forth from my house on the hill. The project I set out for myself was to photograph some items at the museum as reference material for a canvas I have been painting. The first time I clicked the camera, it left the message that I had not put my SD card in before I left home. Yes, it was sitting in my computer. Not pleased with myself, I walked home, retrieved the card and then walked back down the hill to the Fishery Museum. I got sorted out in front of the same display and the camera communicated to me again, only this time it said that my battery had just run out. Undeterred, I walked back up the perpendicular hill to get a second charged battery. Third time lucky.

Throughout the day, I had been reading, Steal Like an Artist: Ten Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (a very useful little read), Images of Lunenburg County (for research), and Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures, by Mary Ruefle.

One last item I worked on, something I relish, writing Trip reviews of restaurants, hotels, events. I would say I have more readers than do most poets in Canada. Every so often, I get a notice saying that 6542 (and mounting) persons have read my reviews and that they were helpful for the traveller. (BTW, my computer insists I am spelling traveller wrong, but I am a Canadian and it seems to favour the American. There it is again, another red line for favour.)

Throughout this day I’d been flogging myself wondering if I can get back into my studio and paint before dark falls….

Three Quick Reviews: Writing Guides for Women

Check Goodreads or Indiebound, and you’ll find a virtual bookcase of writing guides: books on verse, dialogue, and plot; books for academics, Christians, and preschoolers. Precious few, however, have been created for women. Of course, women don’t always need or want gender-specific writing advice, but for some of life’s changes and challenges—motherhood, for instance—tailored guidance can provide just the right incentive and inspiration.

In the first in our blog series, Three Quick Reviews, we suggest three women-centric books on the craft of writing.

Use-Your-WordsUse Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers
Kate Hopper
Viva Editions; 2012

In this excellent guide to creative nonfiction (CNF), Hopper draws on her life as a writing teacher and mother as well as on her memoir, Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood. She covers essential elements of CNF such as finding a voice, choosing a tense, reflecting on personal experience, and getting published. Hopper also advises on aspects particular to mother-writing: dealing with pain and fear, revealing details of family, and finding humor in the everyday. Many examples of published CNF illustrate how these elements work. Enticing exercises invite new writers to get started and experienced writers to hone their craft.

penonfirePen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Finding the Writer Within
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
Harcourt; 2004

DeMarco-Barrett begins with that gigantic, looming hurdle to a successful writing life: time. We’re busy. We have families and jobs and a messy kitchen and an urgent deadline. When could we possibly write? Now, she says. Write in those few minutes before the kids wake up or that single minute while the kettle boils. You don’t need a quiet morning and a cozy office, just a notebook and determination. In short, engaging chapters, DeMarco-Barrett provides advice on getting organized, avoiding distractions, mining your life for ideas, and polishing your drafts—even if that draft is written on the back of your kid’s homework.

writingpastdarkWriting Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction, and other Dilemmas in the Writer’s Life
Bonnie Friedman
Harper Collins, 1993

While not explicitly for women, Writing Past Dark, deals with emotional obstacles to the writer’s life felt, perhaps, more keenly by women. Friedman says she wrote the book because “I wanted a companion I could reach for” during the lonely writing process. Historically, women have been lonely, isolated writers indeed. But even now, the new mother who ekes out time for a blog, the single mom who gets up early to write poetry, the MFA mom in the midst of the “ten-year nap” who watches childless colleagues publish books and win awards—these women surely feel the envy, fear, distraction, and paralyzing writer’s block Friedman describes so beautifully.

Do you have a favourite writing guide? Can you recommend a guide for women or mothers? Do you have an idea for our next Three Quick Reviews? Add a comment to this post or email your idea to

A Day in My Life: Lesley Crewe

July 13, 2014

Up at 6:30 in the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Had a shower. Got dressed. Had coffee from a little coffee machine in the room.

Went downstairs to conference room and met Nimbus colleagues. Listened to other authors read from their books. Gave my own ten minute reading. Signed books, made plans with various bookstores etc.

Kissed Nimbus crew and other authors farewell.

Packed stuff and left the hotel. Drove to our daughter’s apartment. They went shopping. I had a nap.

Had a slice of pizza they brought back for lunch.

Wrapped gifts for our son, who is 33 today! Black and white polka dot paper. Sarah laughed at my wrapping skills and how I’m useless, but she hugged me several times so I forgave her.

Discussed ant traps.

Chopped potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms to make crispy packages in the oven.

Son came over to sister’s apartment and I kissed him several times until he told me to stop.

Watched the World Cup and saw Germany win! Sarah’s friend is German and sent a text, basically saying “Yahoo!” in German.

Husband, daughter, daughter’s fiance and son and I had rib steaks on the barbeque. We brought out one cake and two banana cream pies for birthday boy… all of us carrying them in a row. Son loves banana cream pie. He blew out candles.

Paul opened his gifts: new socks for work and a new set of pots. He’s gone through the old stuff we gave him when he moved away a decade ago.

Hubby and I talked about the day Paul was born. Both he and his sister have heard this story a million times. They roll their eyes, listen and nod their heads. They change the subject.

Talked to Sarah about job. Talked about houses for sale in Halifax and her wedding plans.

Washed up dishes that didn’t make it into the dish washer.

Said goodbye to boy, kissing him as he went out the door.

Looked at houses for sale on the computer. Made Sarah look at the ones I liked.

Watched her and fiance get ready for bed and kissed her goodnight.

Got ready for bed too. It was very hot out, despite the fan in the window. Husband turned and lay his head at the foot of the bed to catch the breeze. At some point in the middle of the night, he forgot where he was and tried to get out of the bed.

He kicked me in the head.

“Sorry! Sorry!”


We struggled with the sheets for a minute and went to sleep.

A Day in My Life: Linda Roe

I awake too early this morning, 2:17 a.m., and spend the wee hours on the couch in our lounge…our two cats cuddled up with me, purring and cleaning themselves.

The day begins at 7-ish with an instant coffee, which has been a habit since my Correctional Officer days in Ontario. I worked seven different shifts in the beginning of my ‘prison career’ which screwed up my sleeping patterns, for life as it turned out. Yes, instant coffee is now a habit first thing every morning.

I hear Peter in the shower; the day has really started now. Gazing out the window at Lunenburg Bay, I see there is a fog bank on the water looking like a row of mauve coloured hills. It is clear in the town, wonderful. The air is fresh and exciting. It’s going to be another good day and I’m looking forward to it with gusto as I have a ‘project.’

I feed the cats including a stray we’ve named Chowder and the outdoor birds and bring in another old wooden window from the garage in prep for doing a sea glass ‘painting.’ The sea glass I have collected over the last five years finally has a purpose. Apparently in the early days of Lunenburg, the town’s midden was located on the banks behind the houses on Pelham. Large boats are stored there now. Over the years, the glass and pottery bits have been rolled over and over by the wind/wave action and voila, jewels are created. Emeralds, amber, diamonds, sapphires and the odd ruby are at your feet for the picking. Give me sea beach treasures over a dress shop any time!

The sash window frames are from our beach stone cottage in Western Shore. The windows are probably older than the cottage with years of paint literally falling off around my feet as I hoist them up to bring them inside. I have discovered ten layers of paint; two shades of blue, two shades of green, two shades of white…pink, turquoise, silver and beige. Without much effort these frames will look ‘distressed,’ the popular look of today.

Time flies and it’s now the lunch hour. Together, my husband and I watch the noon news, finishing off our lunch with a mug of tea before heading back to our individual pursuits. Back to my frames I go but first, I must feed the neighbours’ cats. Their owners are away camping in Queens. Peter goes back to working on the edits for his books.

It’s odd sometimes where your mind wonders while performing small tasks like sanding wood. Today mine slips back to Ontario; to my sons and grandkids; to my art student coming tomorrow with his latest project; to my long-dead parents; to our coming trip to Ireland. Yes, the head is a busy place, much like an airport terminal at Christmas!

Before I can blink it’s supper time and I ask myself, “Why are we always eating? Eat, Eat, Eat.” I despair at my thoughts, at myself, as millions are starving and here I am complaining about too much to eat. I shake my head and forgive the inner me.

I finish off this happily productive day by re-sorting out all my sea glass and broken pottery bits. It give me pleasure to re-use and re-cycle. Two glasses of wine are poured and another joyful day is complete.

New from Demeter Press: birth of the uncool

Demeter Press, based in Toronto, has published books on motherhood since 2006. Their catalogue includes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and many ground-breaking scholarly works. Due to recent loss of grant funding, however, Demeter is at risk of closing. They need support — through books sales — to continue their engaging and important work.

birth of the uncool, published by Demeter in 2014, is a stunning collection of poetry by Canadian writer Madeline Walker. Based on Walker’s lifelong quest to be “elegant, distant, hip, and stylish,” the book explores her embrace of uncool in her fiftieth year. The following is from her chapter on motherhood (reprinted with permission).


birthuncoolI know the gene bequeathed
is not my fault.
I ask forgiveness anyway.

Scientists announced
they’d almost isolated the little fucker in their
slick white labs. If only I could
have swiped out that gene,
surreptitiously, from the soup
that made you, spliced in
something else — and extra love gene

But then, what loss? What might
we have missed? Your smoky
intensity, blue depths, brooding
passions? Your courage to climb out of the
tar pit? The wisdom that comes of suffering?

Demeter’s books are 50% off until July 15. See their catalogue or Facebook page for more information.