this is not a review: ‘the moon watched it all’, by shelley a. leedahl


It’s been a gorgeous week of moon-watching and, according to the premise of  Shelley Leedahl’s most recent picture book… possibly being  watched.

Leedahl writes “for all ages” although until now I was familiar only with her non-fiction for adults through which I’ve long admired her appreciation of nature. But I’m also a grown-up fan of picture books (and the moon).

Beautifully illustrated by Aino Anto (on over-sized smooth-as-glass pages), The Moon Watched it All  is the story of an orphaned boy, shoo’d away and unwanted by everyone he knows… a gentle soul who finds shelter in a chicken coop and who is eventually befriended by an elderly woman who lives alone and talks regularly to the moon.

My kind of people.

It’s also about loneliness. And how loneliness has no age, and family-like bonds can form in surprising ways and circumstances.

Leedahl is so good at not only writing FOR all ages, but about all ages.

The elderly woman in the story (“in a time before this time”) has been abandoned (it seems) by her children and her husband is ‘gone’. She takes comfort in nature, especially the moon, which is her ‘elder’, her counsel, the thing she clings to. The boy stays hidden for some time, fending for himself, and I like that Leedahl chose this path for him, showing the parallel between the two, that both are alone and abandoned but both are also capable on their own, that their coming together isn’t out of cloying necessity. Because the woman does eventually discover the boy and gives him a home and he’s helpful around the place and the reader can finally exhale with the rightness of it all but Leedahl doesn’t treat this with the expected sentimentality of ‘happy endings’. These are very much two different people building a life together… quietly, simply, respectfully, and with a silent gratitude the reader can hear loud and clear.

What a happy trip it would be to chat with a child as the book is read aloud, to ask questions, like why did no one want the boy and how must he have felt not only losing his mother, but then being abandoned and when he was living by his wits in the woods, what did he eat? (answer: “what the birds left after their fill of crusts and corn and seeds” ) and how did he feel in that chicken coop — and how did the chickens feel??? — and why was the woman so connected to the moon and what would have been the hardest part for the boy and the woman as they formed this new life as a family…

Because what Leedahl does best is tell a story that makes you actually sit up and take notice, to think about people… of all ages, and circumstances.

Which is so much more than telling a story.



wordless wednesday with words and music and a hint of pine


The couple in the parking spot in the alley behind my dentist. They must be in their nineties. He standing outside chatting to her through the driver’s window. She in the driver’s seat. The car parked at an angle across the only two spots reserved for the dental office. Me wondering what they are doing. He looking at me and asking if I want to park there. Me saying yes I do… and then him explaining that they are just there to get a xmas tree and his wife is going to stay in the car and me saying, well, okie dokes, but could she park so that she takes up only one spot and I can use the other? And he, finding this a reasonable request, turns to tell his wife in what feels, even in this alley on this cold day, like such a gentle manner and her face all sweet and agreeable and she moves her car back and I move mine in and I get out and by this time he has gone to the xmas tree lot that’s just there and I can see him, slightly hunched, hands clasped behind his back, looking for just the right tree and me thinking how I was so quickly prepared to be annoyed by the parking situation until their kindness and tenderness, especially with each other, and the fact that they, despite the difficulty of getting around this city, are looking for a tree on their own at some funky Yonge Street place and the whole alley and street corner smelling like pine and she happily waiting in the car and as if all this isn’t enough (& I’m not making this up…) the music playing through speakers at the tree lot is Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman.

Click on the song, inhale some pine, and it’ll be like you were there too…

Wee moments as gifts.




tiny rant: space vs oceans


Just a wee rant for a Monday, a nutshell version to suggest that if only a fraction of space money was used to clean up the oceans (forget even the lakes and rivers, just the oceans for now) wouldn’t that be a Grand Thing?

But it’s not likely to happen, is it.

I’m guessing space people and ocean people don’t share money, much less philosophies.


And is there even an Ocean Program????

I’m also guessing the answer is that space is sexier than oceans (to some). More fun to play with spacey toys and go where “no man has gone before”…

(ah, therein lies a clue)

And all that space junk hardware, rockets and lasers and wotnots, oh my!

So much more fun (for some) than keeping dolphins and whales happy.

But why aren’t we angrier about this?

I think it’s because everybody, no matter where they are, can SEE space, so maybe that makes the buy-in easier, the universal “sure, endlessly exploring space makes sense” attitude instead of the ocean’s hard sell (because so many people have never even been to an ocean and probably never will). This is what the ocean is up against. It’s simply a LOT more fun to see pictures of Mars,  a place you can actually look at from your chaise lounge on a summer night while having drunken chats with friends about the possibility of living there one day, so much merrier than to look at pictures of seas teeming with pollution WE’VE put there through our stupidity and short-sightedness.

Responsibility is such a downer.

And then there’s the not drunken imaginings part where, in reality, and in the not so distant future, very very very wealthy rich folk will be able to take a ride into space themselves. (Of course the drunken conversations then become about those rich bastards… and lottery ticket sales go up.)

Someone will say that selling space ride tickets to rich people is a money-maker. But does the space program REALLY need your sheckles??? Or, more valuable than that, do they just want to keep you oblivious to the giant waste of money that this kind of farting around actually is…

I don’t mean to suggest putting a stop to the WHOLE space thing, by the way, just the farting around part. If they could ditch that much and use the savings on ocean clean-up, that would be swell.

Public aquariums are beginning to get on board insofar as offering a nod to how deplorable the seas have become with pollution. But they could do so much more. It would be good if pollution was their entire focus at this point. Forget the selfies with rainbow fish. Forget the happy tra la, tra la, of an outing to pretend all is well. Instead, have every aquarium dedicate a proportional amount of space within its walls/tanks equal to how much of the oceans, lakes and waterways are polluted. If the oceans are 70% polluted then 70% of the aquarium’s tanks should be filled with floating garbage. Forget the happy fish and clean water displays. They belong in the history museum.

The oceans need us. And vice versa. It’s the ultimate symbiotic relationship and I cannot believe a space ride beats that in anyone’s mind at this point.

(What can we do besides rant? We can write governments. We can write aquariums too for that matter — not insignificant. And we can stop buying single use plastics… opinions backed by spending habits are powerful.)

Also, we can stop thinking that if all else fails we can move to Mars.


Photos courtesy of the following articles:

A Sea of Debris: Oceans Governance and the Challenge of Plastic Pollution

Our Plastic Ocean

say their names


Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student


It’s been 30 years.

Sadly, violence against women continues.

And, sadly, it’s probably up to women to do something about that.

“Let’s not pretend that being hopeful is an easy or straightforward pursuit. Hope can be a fracturing, even a traumatic thing to experience… Experiencing hope may bring oxygen to a stifled set of lungs, but hope also brings the realization that if something else is possible, then the stifling wasn’t necessary or inevitable. Experiencing hope means running the risk of a kind of crushing disappointment and agitated torpor… cruel optimism. So yes, it’s complicated to be a hopeful feminist killjoy, complicated and necessary.”

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy,  by Erin Wunker




this is not a review: ‘deep water passage’, by ann linnea


The first time I read Ann Linnea’s Deep Water Passage, I had never kayaked and was more interested in the idea of solitude and running away into the woods. Boats were incidental.

Since then I’ve become the owner of a boat named Lulabelle and spend summer mornings on a pond communing with swans and so have gained some enormous respect for the physical aspects of what Linnea must have experienced as she circumnavigated the entire coastline of Lake Superior… she was the first woman to do so. It took her 65 days.

A really lovely aspect of the book is that it was written before social media and cell phones and pictures of EVERYTHING and people setting out on adventures for the sole purpose of writing books about their adventures. Although that may well have been Linnea’s intention… it doesn’t come across that way.

There are NO pictures. Not one.

Often, people who undertake this kind of extraordinary challenge, do so because of something they need to work out in their personal life and Linnea is no exception. The inner journey becomes a subtle undercurrent to the stroke stroke stroke rhythm of the story, the thing that moves it forward.

The tension isn’t found simply in how she fights ten foot waves, wind, rain and cold, we know she survives it all, it’s more this other, inner quest, that begins to overshadow the physical hurdles, coming to her as an almost surprise, presenting her with questions and decisions she knows she needs to make about what she wants to return to and who she’ll be returning as. The questions come in forms she didn’t expect and one of her greatest worries is about her kids, that they won’t welcome a mother who is more herself.

“For six weeks the importance of truth-telling
had been hammered into me by the lake…
The message I [had for] my children was correct,
there was more I was supposed to learn.”

That said, and despite the feat of paddling a notoriously tough and unpredictable lake, it remains the kind of book where not much happens.

You really have to like inner reflection and weather.

Two of my favourite things.

There is also dampness, and aching wrists, sore bodies, the immense peace of cooking a simple meal over a fire, breathing deeply and sleeping under a sky chock full of stars.

By the end of the book it occurs to me that the real story is the one I read the first time. The one that doesn’t require understanding of how a paddle feels in your hands. The real story is the old story, the every-story, the timeless one we’re all writing our own version of… a personal story of the what’s it all about, alfie nature that anyone can relate to and a story that can be revealed and realized via any journey for the price of wanting it enough.

Lake Superior just happens to be Linnea’s blank page.

“There comes a time in our lives when we are
called to believe the unbelievable. If we allow ourselves
to believe, we open the door to the infinite possibility
of who we might become.”





How is it possible the same brain that can make a nest from leaves and spit,


a nest that will stand up through snowstorms, rain, thunder, lightning and gale force winds, cannot seem to remember where it hides its nuts and berries and seeds and wotnots?


I’m wondering if it’s similar to the way someone who’s able to do complicated math… and understands highbrow philosophies


but is never sure whether to turn left or right when exiting a public bathroom…



wordless wednesday postcard

What did we do before google?

Who else in a the snap of a finger could tell us the history of why we call piggy banks piggy banks?

Turns out it comes from the word pygg, which (according to Wikipedia), “is an orange… clay commonly used during the Middle Ages as a cheap material for pots to store money, called pygg pots or pygg jars.”

Somewhere down the road the jars took on the shape of the animal.

I don’t remember ever having a piggy bank until a friend made me a pink one with gold wings in papier mache. I was an adult by then but I took pleasure filling the flying pink pig with coins. Then one day, I don’t know why, I gave it an appendectomy and took the contents to the bank.

I have the pig still, a gaping hole in its side (too sad to show in a pic) and still toss in loose change… but it’s so much easier now to get them out when I’m short for the pizza guy.


Who gives away their piggy banks???

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Elizabeth Yeoman