Tag Archives: creative writing

The poetry of mac and cheese

from Food Babbles blog: http://foodbabbles.com/jarlsberg-macaroni-cheese/

Up at the ungodly hour of 5am on Sunday morning, I began reading the food issue of Room magazine, savouring the blissful silence at that time of darkness, and I suddenly got this craving for the perfect Mac and Cheese recipe (which I don’t have) because I almost never eat it.  Then after reading some great pieces in this food-focused issue 40.1 (Psych Ward Grub by Lucas Crawford, Snap Dragon by Sylvia Symons, Your Body the Fire by Rachel Jansen), I felt the urge to write a poem.  It left me wondering what the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe might actually be. I found one at the bottom, after my poem, but no guarantees it’s the ultimate.

Mac and cheese love

If it’s going to snow in Vancouver in March (for God’s sake)

I need to find a perfect macaroni and cheese recipe,

buttery smooth and steaming into existence a non-existent family.

Don’t forget the wieners.

Call forth childhood

when we’d eat them handed to us

by a fat man behind the meat counter,

blood specked phonetics on his white apron.

We’d pop the wieners round, packed firmness

chewy and fun inside our mouths,

my brother and I grossing each other out,

we’d open wide

revealing the gnarly, half-chewed mystery bits

when our mother wasn’t looking.


This time, maybe I’ll use white cheese, not cheddar

Snow Geese, not crows

clouds, not cream,

hold the gull droppings,

oregano as evergreens

parmesan, not pigeon

and finish with a delicate, breadcrumb topping,

like brown birds dotting a frozen lake from a distance.


I’m thinking now back to the time I made my version from memory

for you (lacking)

and you were mad

because (I now realize), you were actually hungry, the

way most of us never are any more (in the West)

for a good

meal, (with meat),

subtle flavours requiring conversation to identify,

the kind of dishes you’d always concoct for my visits

on your two-burner hot plate,

you, Jamie Oliver, you.

Nothing like what I had plated, something

to turn your nose up at

as if my making such a thing,

(suburban, mundane, less-than),

meant I didn’t love you the way

you’d imagined I did.


And with that, it may (not really) have been worth getting up at 5 am yesterday.

Check out this blog for their recommendations for making amazing homemade mac and cheese or if you’re holding out on me, and you already have the very best mac and cheese recipe, tell me what I have to do to receive it from you, point me in the right direction.

May your week be full of culinary surprises (in a good way)!

Using Imagery as Writing Muse

Rummaging through some papers, I found this image from a magazine stapled to something I had written on July 18, 1998.

I was in a writing group then that met monthly – or tried to –  and re-reading it brought me right back into the small living room in the house where we’d meet. It was an old house, up rickety stairs, rooms all chopped up.

I was thinking how much fun it used to be to sit in that group, a bunch of magazine pages ripped out haphazardly, each of us taking turns choosing which image to pick so that we could scribble away during a timed writing exercise, letting whatever words come to us as they came. It was a form of writing meditation.  I think 5 minutes was what we settled on back then.

I was thinking how much fun it would be to let other writers look at a photo on the blog and see what they could come up with. It’s kind of a nice idea, a way to share. And then, you could post what you’d written after your own timed five minutes at home. No cheating!

If you feel inclined to try and time yourself and write to the above image, and then add what you ended up writing into the comments, it would make things a million time more interesting around here. I could then add a new image every week with whatever I’d managed to come up with in my own timed 5 minutes.

Here’s what I wrote back then although I will admit, I changed a few things after sitting down to type it out before posting it here. I changed her name. I decided this woman was Turkish and so Isabella didn’t seem like the right name.

Gülçin, a name bestowed eighty-nine years earlier, reveled in the spicy warmth of the nicotine as it streamed through the shriveled opening of her throat, lingered for just a few seconds, and was then expunged, pushing its way against the afternoon’s hot wind like an apparition.

She was safe in her chair, her favorite place. That same chair that had balanced her when the roundness of her thighs had not crept round the wooden corners of the frame but had fit snugly, like foam, atop the smooth wooden cup of the seat.

Her cane, carved by her grandfather over a few months the summer she turned eight, had been her most constant companion in the last few years. She had remembered him sitting near the red rocks, and bits of grass at the cliff edge near their home, the sparkling sea like a rug as far as the eye could see to the horizon.

She’d sit on her porch, perched above the dusty street in that town she’d lived in since she’d married more than 70 years ago now, and she’d watch the youth pass by in the way a factory foreman might watch assembly line workers. She never barked out orders or even greetings. 

When a neighbor or familiar face passed, she’d remove the cigarette and blow the smoke between the space where her two front teeth used to be and in that subtle shift, they’d know they’d been acknowledged, they’d been seen. And it was enough.

Most of the time she would not even notice the strays barking, the wrestling of small boys whose bare feet raised the dust to feather their ankles, or the bustle of women, beautiful full girls, and slap-dashed-together mothers hurrying back from the market in preparation for another day of the cooking, washing, feeding, cleaning cycle. She was there and she wasn’t. She was with all of them and she was with the images of her past that greeted her just as real as company, adding excitement and grief, love and energy to what would turn out to be just another 12 hours, like the 12 hours before that, wrapped in heat and routine.

 She’d think back to her best friend as a child and the hours they’d spent playing in the back alleyways, listening to adults they knew only by the first names their mothers used to refer to them as they gossiped. Mostly they watched. Anything to escape the one room they each shared with three generations who had perfected the familial folk dance, weaving around each other, ducking anger, ignoring bodily functions and even the tears everyone would have preferred to have kept hidden if they’d had the luxury of privacy.

Usually around midday, she would sometimes feel the phantom lips of her deceased husband as if they were grazing her forehead. A tear-dropped wet bead of sweat would seep from beneath her white headscarf and slip over the band of folded skin that decorated her chest like a handmade necklace.

She had loved the memory of his lips. Not just because they had become as familiar as her own but because they embodied everything they had shared together; framing the rite of two-as-one even though he’d been gone for decades.

Happy finalist of Canadian Writers’ Union Short Prose Competition

nonfictionThis is pretty much the last place I have to plaster this news. Yeah, I know, I know. But, hey, it may be the first and last competition I ever get recognition from, so I’m running with it.

It came as a shock and a very nice surprise that I was recently shortlisted as one of 12 finalists in the Writers Union of Canada Short Prose Competition. This year there were 253 entries of both fiction and nonfiction stories of 2500 words or less. The contest closed in March so by the time the announcement happened in mid June, I’d almost forgotten about it. Almost!

It was very exciting to hear a voice on the other end of the line relaying such a positive message about a piece of my writing that I really believe in. That tells me that it’s important to listen to myself as editor, as we all must, because inevitably, what we feel about something in a story that is or isn’t working usually ends up being accurate, especially if we’ve been doing this writing thing for quite some time.

I’d written about a childhood friendship and its impact on me with references to the Japanese internment because my friend is Japanese Canadian and her mother and family were interned in the Slocan Valley during WW II. My story’s title is “My Perfect Friend”.

The pieces went through a first judging by a lot of volunteer readers who are writers and members of The Writer’s Union. The final jury was made up of writers Gail Bowen, Shauntay Grant and Eric Siblin.

The winner, Deepam Wadds from Sebright, Ontario won for her piece “Tender Fruit”.

The thing about being shortlisted is that it really sparks the motivation to keep going, although writing is just so much a part of my life that regardless of what’s going on externally, I’d continue to write. If that wasn’t the case, I would have given up a long time ago like a sane person. Definition of insanity. Einstein. Right. You got it.  I’m guessing, if you’re a writer, you can relate to this sentiment.

I read the short comments back from some of the readers with some very positive feedback. The comment I found most useful, however, was this one   “Engaging and visual, the story evolves smoothly and keeps the reader interested in the plot. However, midway into the story, the reader begins to look for focus – purpose for the story. The ending saves the story – provides the purpose – the comparison to the narrator’s own father. One way to improve the story would be to introduce the comparison earlier – and to develop it. Otherwise it seems an afterthought – only stated at the end. Fresh voice – with a bit of work, could be a very good story.”

I believe it’s the most insightful about what needs to be fixed. How I’m going to do that will take a bit of thought because I think it could end up changing the story quite a bit in terms of length and what needs to be written into it.  I won’t know that for sure until I get down to it.  When I feel like it. And I don’t really feel like it right now. Not that mood is ever the reason to not get into a piece of writing. Get back on that horse! That’s the correct thing to say. I often believe that way of thinking isn’t wholly accurate, however. I think mood should be listened to more often than not. But everyone’s got a different process. Follow your own. Nobody else has the right answer. I think when you figure that out, that revelation is a milestone.

And recognize that even when a story gets published, it’s pretty likely that you’re going to have wished you’d done something different. We hear about writers being beyond humiliated when they look back at some of their first storytelling attempts.

Is anything every really finished when it comes to the endless perfecting of the written telling?

Congratulations to the other 11 finalists. Might as well keep writing.

Memoir: Nobody wants to hear your half truths


Photo by Duncan Hull off Creative Commons

In order to write a memoir, I’ve sat still inside the swirling vortex of my own complicated history like a piece of old driftwood, battered by the sea. I’ve waited — sometimes patiently, sometimes in despair–for the story under pressure of concealment to reveal itself to me.Dani Shapiro

I often think about how much writing a memoir is like therapy.

Nobody wants to hear your half truths. That’s the polite word. Now I’ll say it the way I would offline: Your therapist doesn’t want to hear your bullshit. Your readers don’t either.

But more often than not, we don’t even know we’re fooling ourselves, do we? And that’s always where the work begins.

I think that’s the most interesting part about trying to write our own stories and trying to figure out what it is exactly about the story we want to tell that might hold any relevance, hold the kind of universal truths that great writing often unearths, in a show AND tell kind of way. How can we truly get to the truth, the ugly, vulnerable, messy truth that’s at the core of what can make writing so challenging and inevitably sets it apart.

It is the exploration and the analyzing that reaches into the pithiness of your most sublime or challenging moments. It’s the wrestling with what it all might mean through an introspective process that becomes explicit on a page.

You’re aiming to translate those times when you’re (ironically) rendered speechless, forced to stop what you’re doing because the ache of wistfulness mixes with glory and rises up like a crescendo of awareness into a hyper awareness.  At that moment, you realize that one fleeting moment will never come again, not quite like it did that first time and you feel overwhelmed in a happy/sad way. This is the stuff and the understanding, I think, of the kind of memoirs that we’re all wishing we could write (and read), if we have any inclination to write (or read) a memoir at all.

It’s this type of treatment of a subject that can quell the concerns about why others would have any interest in our little lives. Because you’re not writing about your whole life. You’re crafting the experiences of your life, or an experience, into a story as unique as a work of fiction by examining the realities as you experienced them. It’s a feeling that comes from a keyhole inside your heart that gets unlocked because you are able to access the emotion that was present when you were touched in a way that almost never happens or you “get” something like you’ve never got it before.

Being able to transform the ordinary into wonder is the work of poetry, through words, written as prose that germinates from the muck that is ever evolving self-awareness. And with any luck, that self awareness leads to honest revelation and your unique journey from A to B that happened as a result which you’ve miraculously (and I consider every published memoir a miracle) deposited onto a page.

At least that’s one aspect. A start. My current understanding. For me. Yours is likely different.

Esmeralda Cabral and I, are offering a workshop as part of LitFest New West called Mining Personal Artefacts as the Foundation for Memoir Writing on Saturday, May 14, 3:15 pm at Douglas College, Room 4247.

Porcupine Meatballs and The Artist’s Way


A friend of mine has been reading and doing The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Point me in the direction of acting like an artist. Show me the way. That’s not the book’s premise but it kind of sounds like it might be.


Another artist friend who lived on Salt Spring gave me the book in 2010. At the time, I flipped through it and never looked at it again.  But I did keep it.

A few weeks ago when I learned of my other friend’s diligence (she’s on week 12), something in me was motivated as well.

I was reading Week 3 – Recovering a Sense of Power, and a small part refers to shaming in childhood and how that can affect our expression of creativity, especially when it comes to finishing things, in adulthood.

“Many artists begin a piece of work, get well along in it and then find, as they near completion, that the work seems mysteriously drained of merit. It’s no longer worth the trouble. To therapists, this surge of sudden disinterest (‘It doesn’t matter’) is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.”

“If a child has ever been made to feel foolish for believing himself or herself talented, the act of actually finishing a piece of art (and this means art in the broadest terms) will be fraught with internal shaming.”

There was enough resonance in that statement for me that it got me off the couch in search of a yellow marker.

One of the tasks at the end of Week 3 is to dredge up some childhood memories. Favourite foods for example. For me I thought of Porcupine meatballs and Chocolate birthday cake with pennies wrapped up inside. Not combined. I recalled the joy of having one of those gumballs that come out of those machines where you slot in a quarter and out rolls a shiny pink molar-breaking tasteless piece of perfection. (Indeed, you are correct, it’s not a member of a food group). I also thought about tuna fish casserole with mushrooms and rice with melted cheese and chips on top that my grandmother used to make. (Sounds disgusting now but I loved it then). Baked potatoes with sour cream and bacon bits and grated cheddar cheese. Num. Num.

Favourite games? Snakes and Ladders. Chinese checkers. Checkers.  Candyland. 52 Pick-Up Stix. An imaginary “quicksand” game we played in Darryl McGuffey’s basement, the one that meant you had to leap from one piece of random furniture to the other because the floor was QUICKSAND!

Now I don’t know what it was about favourite foods but when I thought about my mother’s Porcupine Meatballs, my eyes got all teary and I stopped reading. They call them porcupine, I think, because rice gets poked into them and the rice can look a little like the quills on porcupines.  I hadn’t thought of those juicy round morsels of meat for ages and I got all choked up. The feeling came so quickly.

What the heck was  going on?  It’s Sunday morning and thinking about my mother’s homemade Porcupine meatballs led to tears running down my face. Oh god. That can only mean two things. Life has become extremely dull, Weight Watchers is getting to me, and I’m in more emotional danger than I imagine. Okay, that’s three.

I knew to really lean into the feeling, to let it happen. Then I thought about it, came up with two theories that made total sense, and eventually felt better.  No, I’m not going to tell you what it was about the Porcupine meatballs that induced emotion strong enough to make me cry. That’s for me to know and you to laugh about.

The point is…what is the point? The point is that books can be in your surroundings for a long time and then one day, they become the perfect book. You need to read that book. Have you ever noticed that? You can own a book forever and when it’s the right time to read it, you will read it. When it’s not, you will stop reading it. Profound eh? You spent 3 minutes reading this for THAT! Three minutes that will never ever come again. Forgive me.

Think back to your own childhood. Does a favorite food come to mind? I ‘d be curious to know what it is for you.

Oh, and this isn’t my mother’s recipe but it is a recipe for Porcupine Meatballs. I might just have to make it and see how it holds up to the memory.

Song of a Stranger

It was as if he was sent with metaphors chosen especially for meeting me, even though, of course, he couldn’t know when he left his place that morning who he might meet, if anyone.

I was sitting at a Starbucks down the street from my place, outside on the patio. It was a beautiful day. A cold snap, rare for Vancouver. Watercolour indigo a steady swath above. Sunshine and the overhead heaters warmed my face. The heat off the red brick wall helped conjure up tropical destinations. White Sand. Black Sand. Playa del Carmen. The Big Island.

He walked by me coffee in hand.  Black sunglasses, plastic Aviator style. Shiny black ankle- high, square-toed boots. I’m not always friendly in the city. I stopped greeting strangers as a matter of course within six months of returning from Salt Spring.  As he walked by, I looked up and said it quietly.


He responded in kind.


I wasn’t acting on any instinct about him. Just being polite. He sat down to my right and a sideways glance offered me a closer look.  Not sure why I looked. Maybe because he and I were the only ones out there braving the cold which wasn’t actually that cold.

The first words? Might have been about the weather. That’s how these things always begin don’t they? Nothing big. Just an intro, willingness.

“Nice out eh?” I said.

He looked over at me. “You’ve got a small window,” he said. “Between now and 2pm. After that it gets really cold.”

He put his hand against the brick. I did too and he was right. Campfires. Barbecues. The kind of straight-on heat that burns but in a good way. He had an accent. Eastern European? His words seeped out rhythmically as if he were talking a jazz tune.

I couldn’t tell how old he was. Maybe sixties. Barely there stubble on his chin and cheeks; kinda sexy. He didn’t bother to take off his sunglasses. He was drinking a venté-sized coffee. At least I’m guessing it was coffee, lots of milk, bit of sugar perhaps. He didn’t seem the kind to order a special drink.

A song from the sixties –Downtown – was piping out of the sound system.  That song took me back to the dining room of the house I grew up in. I can’t hear that song and not recall my sisters’ love of that song – the Petula Clark version. I imagined them buying the vinyl 45 in downtown Vancouver. They’d drag out that blue and white record player and plug it in. They’d remove the shiny black plastic disc from its sleeve, place it carefully onto the raised platform and then lift the needle encased in its white plastic arm and place it flatly over the thin silver totem that spun wobbly in the middle.

“Must have been  the late 60s?” he asked. “Motown?” “Detroit?” “Detroit a model city back then,” he said.  “Motor city.”

I didn’t think I’d ever met anyone who’d been to Detroit. I asked him why he had.

“My extended family lived just outside of Chicago,” he said. “Went through there all the time. The music. The cars dealerships.  Jimmy Hoffa.”

“Did you know it just went bankrupt?” I asked.  “Not sure what that means exactly.”

“Officially, you mean? Officially bankrupt?”

“Yeah, officially,” I said.

“It means services gone. Pensions cut.  Everybody leaving. Everybody who can that is.”

Then he changed the topic.

“I worked in shelters for a long time,” he said.  “The other week. I came across this homeless lady on the street. Outside the pharmacy down there. Guess they called the cops. It’s like when two parallel universes collide. When realities are so far apart that one thinks they’re helping the other but the other, the one who seems to need help, doesn’t understand, doesn’t know why someone’s bothering with them.  The police officer can’t really comprehend what might have transpired for the person to get them there and first thing this police officer says to the woman,  “I’ll take you to a shelter. “‘

“And the homeless woman, she’s staring at the cop wondering why this cop is bothering her. She doesn’t want to go to a shelter. Why would she?  Why can’t she just stay, just live her life.  It’s still a free country isn’t it? They are so far removed from each other’s realities that they have nothing to offer each other. Sometimes it’s like living in a parallel universe. Writing can be like that as well,” he said.

I hadn’t told him that I was a writer.

“Are you a writer?” I asked him.

“I used to write,”he said. “I used to have an urgency. Not so much anymore.”

“Only a writer would ever say something like that,” I said. “Nobody else would even think about that kind of thing or have that kind of experience.”

“I used to urgently scribble everything down,” he said. “Now, I  just don’t have the ambition. I like the ideas. I like the thoughts that arise. That’s the beauty more than the writing. Imagination: using it.”

“That’s what life’s like when you’re on a journey. You can be on a journey or you can be comfortable,”he said.  “You can’t be both.”

“Take people out of their cars, and out of their offices, strip away their titles and their routines and the majority would be lost; wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. They wouldn’t be able to handle the hours stretched before them and yet, we look at them, those of us observing, some with envy, some with disdain, and assume that because they have some place to be, that they’ve got it all figured out. It’s good to remind ourselves that they haven’t figured out anything more than you and I. Probably not. They haven’t figured out those things that are going to be critical in old age, to that place we’re all headed.”

“My thing, what I try to do now, is just be. I try to find a way to find the contentment, regardless of where I am. Forget the past. Don’t get stuck. Let it go. It keeps you back in a different type of parallel universe that never turned out to be no matter how badly you wanted it. Don’t go to the future either. Just be right now. That’s all there is to work with really.”

“I haven’t been content for too long in my life,” he said.

“Me neither,” I said quietly.

“Sure, a few years. I lived up north. Lived in a small town up north and at first I thought, this is it. I’ve found what I’m looking for. All nature and isolation. Nice enough people I guess. And then just two years in and I began to think, What am I doing here? How  is being here helping me develop as a person? And, that’s when I knew that I had to get out of there. So I left and it took me a long time to figure out what was next. I eventually ended up working in emergency shelters.”

I didn’t wonder immediately, but later I wondered if he’d ended up living in one himself. Is that how he’d come to work there? I didn’t ask.

“Thought I might find some pearls of wisdom there,” he said. “At least more than some other places where I’d have to spend the day to get money. And I did, occasionally, but mostly I found people who didn’t want to change; islands unto themselves.

“I asked him where he was from, originally that is.

“ I usually say I’m from a place where the cathedral is over there, history up the ying, yang, Mozart and other composers as neighbors. I used to walk down the street back home and sometimes I’d sit down on a bench and think, Mozart walked here. Mozart probably sat on this bench. I think I’ll sit myself down and see if any of his inspiration might still be left here. It might seep up from that bench into me. So what if I had potato soup for breakfast as a kid. So what if there was no such thing as no fancy coffee. Where’s the inspiration in that? I can walk down to the next Starbucks, and the next, and the next  and have the same coffee there, the same experience, the same food. I can warm up but where am I? How has the experience added anything?”

“Sometimes it’s good to be in the wilderness. Sometimes climbing Mount Everest, even when you’re in the city, is going to take you where you need to be.  I used to want to climb Mount Everest. Now, I go to Hollyburn. I find a spot that feels right and I sit down and I take it all in and it doesn’t matter whether it’s Everest or Hollyburn.  I’m thinking and observing, being a part of a place, just the same way I would be if I was at Everest because, in a way, I am there – especially if I’m in the moment.”

“I went to university for a few years,” he said, changing the topic again. “I wanted to take Paleontology. I didn’t know that you had to believe in Evolution. Nobody said I had to believe in Evolution to pass a Paleontology exam. It took me about four or five years to recover from university. Now that I’m older I realize none of that stuff matters.”

“Well, what do you believe?” I asked, not picking up the obvious.

“Creation. I believe in Creation,” he said.

I didn’t say a thing. Who was this guy? Was he Jesus? Is that how it works? Does Jesus show up dressed like a regular dude? Jesus as shape-shifter?  Was I in some old episode of that TV series, Touched by an Angel? Was there a hidden camera? Imagine if it were true. Think about what it might be like if Jesus could just decide each day where he wanted to touch down. And of all the gin joints in all the world he found me, in Starbucks no less. Was he lost, too?  This ain’t Jerusalem, I’d think to myself, sarcastically.  But maybe all the same to him. They don’t call him the Holy Ghost for nothing. Now here he was, right beside me, because I was one of his blessed children and he could feel the need. “You’re on a journey, every journey important in the seeking. At least, you’re paying attention. You’re still asking questions. Is that what Jesus would tell me?

We’d spent more than 45 minutes talking. I was freezing. I needed to go home, needed to pee.

I stretched out my hand and told him my name.

“Really nice talking to you,” he said and grabbed my hand as well.

“Bystrich,” he said.  “Parents called me Bisquick when they were in a hurry.”

He laughed at the memory.

“Tell me your name again,” I said. “Can you spell it for me?”

“Bystrich. B. Y. S.T.R.I.C.H.”

He spelled it out as if he’d just hummed a song we’re all singing aren’t we?

Serendipity and Speaking of Mothers

I’m a huge proponent of paying attention to serendipitous events when the little tinker bells get set off. Ding. Ding. Ding.

Much of  Sunday and Monday of this past long weekend saw me deep into a story that I’ve been working on about my mother.  I was re-writing it trying to add more depth, pulling seams that might unravel buried moments in time.

Now pay attention. Here’s where serendipity comes in. A few days ago, I noticed an event that was happening at River Market that had something to do with storytelling and healing. There was a workshop component. It said that it was a fundraiser for the businesses that were lost to the recent Columbia Street fire.

Four women were presenting. First up. The founder of Royal City Writers who is the speechwriter for the president of UBC. Next? A doctor who is an actor and a film maker. Then, an actor/writer/producer and the founder of something called the Mothership Stories Society who happens to be a New Westminster resident. And last, Elee Kraljee Gardiner, host of Thursday’s Writing Collective in the Downtown Eastside, and a woman who must have huge amounts of energy given all that she’s involved in.

When Marilyn Norry, the founder of Mothership Stories Society got up on stage to speak,  I couldn’t believe it. Everything she was speaking about was relevant to what I’d just spent the past three days focused on. I realized that she’s the one who developed the idea that grew into two books and a play that I’d seen in North Vancouver last year at Presentation House; a play that had eight actors performing stories written by women who were telling their mothers’ stories. Serendipity with a capital S!

gordandIasbabies(Of course I’m the redhead on the right)

When it came time for the breakout groups, I sat in on hers. Three other women were in the group. I kept thinking that I had met one of the other women before but couldn’t place where that might be. Don’t ya just hate that?

Turns out she’s a scriptwriter for television. So, okay, there’s no way I would have met her related to that. She was wearing a red Baywatch jacket which she said, they were told, they could wear anywhere they wanted as long as they never wore it to a beach anywhere in L.A.  because someone might mistake them for a real lifeguard.  I thought that was funny.

There’s no way I know this woman and yet she seems so familiar to me. She grew up in New York and has lived and worked in L.A. Now, she lives in New West and in her words, I wouldn’t trade this place for anywhere…”  She’s lived here four years.

We exchanged cards and decided that it was a great idea to get together as a way to keep focused on continuing with the exercise.

So, New West, I’m opening my mind and getting rid of the “attitude” towards you.  Childhood was another lifetime ago. That was then. This is now. You’re not Salt Spring. That’s painfully clear. But, it’s been two years already. Since I’m here, a little acceptance and a little participation is long overdue.

As an aside, here’s something I wrote about my mother after she passed away.

If you’re interested in writing your mother’s story, Marilyn Norry hosts workshops.  You can put your mother’s story right onto the Mothership site.