About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Random thoughts on a rainy winter's night

Photo by Katherine Burnett

It is a super windy night on Prince Edward Island. We have been having bitterly cold weather the past week, and then today the temperature rose dramatically, sending a succession of freezing rain and then rain in our direction, which turned my world into a slippery, icy, slushy pedestrian's nightmare. On my walk home from work tonight I was wishing I was wearing ice skates instead of boots. On nights like this I think they would be more effective!

I am writing this post sitting in my living room enjoying a hot cup of tea and listening to the wind howling around the building. I have felt grateful for this cozy little apartment a lot over the past month. Living in someone else's house has its drawbacks in that it never quite feels like it belongs to me, but at this point in my life I am all about simplifying and cutting back on the things that are not necessary so that I can devote my time and energy to the things that matter most to me: my writing, and saving up for farmland. This little home is providing me with a roof over my head while I do this.

Photo by Katherine Burnett

When I was living in California I started what one of my favourite bloggers, Karen Walrond, calls a daily gratitude practice. Basically it is taking the time every day to consciously spell out a few things that you are grateful for. At the end of every day I would lie in bed and think of three things I was grateful for. Doing this helped me keep everything in perspective, and recognize that no matter what is happening, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Since returning to Prince Edward Island I have not done this as regularly, and one of my New Year's resolutions is to start doing my gratitude practice on a daily basis again.

Today I was grateful for the delicious, hot bowl of chicken soup that I had for supper made almost entirely with local ingredients grown and raised by friends. I was also grateful for a productive first day back at work after two weeks off. And I am grateful to be inside now, toasty warm, sipping tea and listening to the rain fall outside and the wind wrap her icy fingers around my house.

Photo by Katherine Burnett

Over the past few weeks I have had a lot of time to read. Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that I am a big time reader. I LOVE to read. People are always surprised when I tell them that I work often ten hour days and still manage to pack in two or sometimes three novels a week. Reading keeps my imagination alive and active, which is important for my own writing. The Christmas break gave me lots of quality reading time, and I read a few books that I want to share with you. The first recommendation is a new trilogy that I had never heard of. I am not generally a fan of anything that involves witches or magic. Call me closed-minded, but I just like to be able to actually believe the things I am reading, and I also feel there is enough magic in the real world without need for the surreal magic of witches and spells. Nevertheless, after a friend gave me a gift certificate for books over the holidays I spent over two hours combing the shelves at the bookstore for a new book, and not finding anything that was intriguing, so I had a chat with one of the bookstore's employees. A tip for those of you who are fellow book lovers: if you want to be sure of a steady stream of great book recommendations find a bookstore employee who loves all the same books as you do and let her/him recommend your next book. The recommendation this time was the author Deborah Harkness. I left with two books which I have literally been inhaling: A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. If, like me, your eyes glazed over when you read "witch,"stick with me! While there is magic and spells and all the rest of it in this trilogy, these are also great works of historical fiction--my favourite genre. The main character is a historian who is the descendant of a long line of witches. She is a researcher of alchemy at Oxford. The descriptions of the architecture, the art, music and literature is spot on, and will make you feel like you have stepped out of 2014 and into the period in history that Diana (the main character) is living in. The other thing about these books that I love is how thick they are -- these babies are mega thick, with over 500 pages each. I am a fast reader, and easily get frustrated at only being able to spend time with a story for a day or two before I am done reading. The thickness of these novels, and the richness and density of description and plot will slow you down, giving you plenty of time to savour the excitement of the story. Apparently there is a third book in the series on the way. I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Photo by Katherine Burnett

Another book I just finished reading (this evening) is called Days We Have Seen, by Peter Moore. Peter is an old family friend--he and his wife and two sons lived in a village in Cyprus when I was a child, and my parents and I used to take drives up to the village to visit them on weekends. I knew Peter to be a fine artist, but I never knew that he was also a master storyteller. In this book Peter recounts a number of stories of his personal experience living in Cyprus immediately prior to, during and after the Turkish invasion in the 1970s. I have read many articles and accounts of the invasion itself and the losses sustained, but very few personal accounts of the time immediately after the invasion, and what life was like in the refugee camps. My parents and I moved to Cyprus in 1984, so we missed the immediate aftermath of the war, and for some reason--perhaps because it was still to fresh and raw in people's hearts--we never discussed this period of history at school. The novel I am currently working on takes place around this same time in history, and never having experienced it myself, I am always looking for personal accounts to help inform my writing. This little book by Peter was well written, and is accompanied by some lovely photographs that he took of many of the refugees while at the camp. My only lamentation is that the pictures are not larger so that I could see the details more easily. I hope to have the opportunity to reconnect with Peter and his wife May, and see the original photographs in person when I visit Cyprus this coming year.

Have you read any deliciously good books yet this year? If you have please leave a comment below! I am always looking for new ones to check out!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On the eve of a new year

The sun is filtering into the sea-facing windows of my attic apartment on this chilly winter's day. It is falling in a long column over the window seat usually occupied by one of my cats, over the back and arm of a moss green velvet armchair on which one of my cats is currently napping, across the brightly coloured, hand-woven carpet, the antique wooden chest that is currently my coffee table, and across my lap where I sit here typing, a steaming hot cup of lemon, honey, ginger and cinnamon by my side.

Outside, the eaves of the historic building I live in are decorated in a heavy fringe of pale blue icicles, the front steps are slippery with a crunchy layer of ice, and the snow banks are turning an otherwise flat cityscape into one interrupted by tall mountain ranges that shift location and shape fluidly, as the snow ploughs mould a new and surprising landscape every night while we sleep.

It has been a long time since I last wrote a blog post. I have been eyeing my blog a lot lately, and trying to decide whether to re-immerse myself in the journey of presence that I began when I started this blog a few years ago, or to begin a new blog. I began it as a way to share my journey with friends and family all over the world, but also to help myself practice presence on a regular basis. When I started it in the summer of 2010 I was in California, volunteering at Soil Born Farms leading field trips for children and youth, and working on developing my writing. I felt uprooted and unmoored. I am an island girl. I gravitate to small, tightly knit communities, a slower pace of life and a daily intimacy with the natural world that I did not feel in such a large (albeit stunningly beautiful) state.

In December 2011, I decided to return to Prince Edward Island, Canada. I had been living here from 2004-2010 doing my Master's degree in Island Studies, and then farming and working on developing new markets for a group of local organic farmers. When I left it felt like the right thing to do, and when I came back, I was certain it was the right thing to do, but returning to a country in which I do not have legal rights brought with the need for a lot of sacrifices and hard work. After finally finding full time work in May of 2011, I have had to dedicate myself completely to my day job, which left very little time for blogging or writing of any kind. I have told myself that I started this blog to remain present in a place where I felt out of place, and now that I am home I am so entirely present that perhaps not writing is alright, but in truth I have missed this blog, and all of my readers tremendously over the last two years.

So I am going to give this a second try. Turn a new page with the start of a new year. There have been many adventures over the last two years, but instead of recalling the past, I think I will focus on the present and future. As I mention at the beginning of this post, I am living in a sweet little attic apartment that I am subletting from some friends. I am also caring for their two cats, Kitten and Miss Mouse. The building I live in is one of the oldest in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and with that come lots of funky quirks that make this one of the most unique living spaces I have ever occupied. One of the perks of my current nest is that it faces the waterfront--a real treat. In the summertime I can look out and see the sailboats out twisting their sails on the shimmering water. At this time of year the water is frozen over -- a thick layer of ice and snow coating the harbour. In the evenings thousands of crows congregate on the ice. The contrast between the sooty bodies of the crows and the brightness of the ice is breathtaking.

Today is New Year's Eve. I live in the heart of downtown Charlottetown, and preparations are underway to ring in the new year despite the predictions for -34 windchill tonight. A friend who has an apple orchard is sending in lots of hot apple cider to keep those who do go out to brave the cold and take in the ice sculptures and street performers warm. I had planned to be among them, but unfortunately today I am sick, so instead I will be nestled in my cozy apartment sipping tea and dreaming about the year ahead.

I usually spend at least part of New Year's Eve looking through my journals from the last year, and making some plans for the year ahead. My plans usually involve colourful pens and diagrams, ideas, quote, dreams and sometimes drawings. Do you make a new year plan? What are some of your plans for 2014?

It is good to be back with you, friends! Here's to a happy and adventure-filled new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The next big thing

Last Wednesday my dear friend and extremely talented writer, Alashiya Gordes tagged me to be part of ‘The Next Big Thing’. It works like this: an author answers the ten questions below on his/her blog and then tags up to 5 other writers to do the same the following Wednesday. It has been far too long since I last wrote a blog post, so here goes. Thanks to Alashiya for prompting this one. She has been prompting a lot of writing in my life lately-pushing me beyond my comfort zone at a time when I have very little time for sleeping, let along writing. Thank you for that, Alashiya!

1. What is the working title of your next book?

Oranges Taste Like Freedom

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

From the experience of how the external environment shapes internal geography and vice-versa. And from my personal fascination with the very human desire to find a place to call home.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Historical Fiction.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Wow. This is tough. It would have to be actors from Cyprus, Greece, Italy or Israel. History tells its story across the maps of faces and in the eyes in this part of the world in a way that it does not in Western Europe or North America. Ordinary people who have known the experience of leaving one's home for good and learning to be an immigrant in a foreign land.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Multiple generations of women in a family explore loss, hope and reinvention as they move through constantly evolving internal and external landscapes.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Represented by an agency. Once it is written. I am very much still in the first stages of writing this novel so I am taking it one day at a time.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

As I say above, I am still writing this novel. I hope to have completed a first draft within the next year, and then begin the process of editing. I am hoping that small, consistent yet humble steps will get me to my goal.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There are many writers whose work has inspired me over the years, and that have inspired my interest in historical fiction and the exploration of internal and external landscape, and the relationship between the two. Some of these are: Lawrence Durrell's Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, Anne Michael's Fugitive Pieces, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, and most recently The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Reading an article by Ruth Gruber about her experience of visiting a Displaced Persons Camp in Cyprus in the aftermath of World War II, and learning that over 60,000 Jews were imprisoned on the island between 1945 and 1949--a fact that despite having been raised on the island, I was never told anything about.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The descriptions of place, history, culture, and the exploration of relationships and simple yet profound instances of common humanity that reach across the seemingly insurmountable (in the part of the world where I was raised, and at the period of history in which the novel is set) barriers of language and religion.

My nominations for Next Big Thing includes two writers, both of whom are making waves in the world of poetry and performance:

Daniela Elza was born in Bulgaria, grew up in Nigeria and currently lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two children. She holds two Master's Degrees: one in English Philology from Sofia University, and a second, in Linguistics, from Ohio University, and a PhD in Education from Simon Fraser University. Daniela's writing has appeared in more than 30 publications. Her book of poetry, The Weight of Dew, was published in 2012. (http://strangeplaces.livingcode.org)

Ahava Shira is a poet, storyteller, performer and long-time journal writer with 20 years experience as an artist and educator. She is the founder and director of the Centre for Loving Inquiry, where she supports women to develop their artistic and entrepreneurial passions and gain the confidence they need to share them with others. Ahava leads individual and group mentoring programs, has her own weekly radio show called Love in the Afternoon, is an active performer and speaker, and leads retreats. Ahava holds a PhD in Education. (https://www.ahavashira.com)

Check out these two ladies and their blogs to learn more about two writers who might just be the next big thing!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Disappearing, re-envisioning & a new name for presence

No, you are not imagining things. I am writing my first blog entry in over two months. 

Where have I been? Being PRESENT, that's where! It is interesting that the more present I become the less time I have had for writing about presence. I have been so present lately that I have been wondering if it isn't time for a reinvention or transformation of this blog into something new -- maybe even just a new name to better suit this new journey I am on now back on my home of Prince Edward Island. I haven't come up with a definite name yet, so don't you worry. For the time-being RoutesofPresence is still alive and well!

I wanted to write this evening for a number for reasons. First because I miss you all --I miss your comments and thoughts and reflections and feedback.....Second because I have a lot of thoughts and reflections about life that I want to share with you. And third because I have been coming across a lot of very cool things lately that I think you might enjoy checking out.

Let's start with 1.

Over the last two and a half months I have gotten SO many notes about this blog. Messages that begin with "when are you going to write another blog entry?" or "what's happening with your blog -- I miss reading it" have been filtering into my inbox steadily, and I just want you to know how encouraging it is to know that you value reading my blog entries so much, and that they are helping you to reflect and shed light on your own paths in life. THANK YOU all!

Which leads me to 2.

I have been thinking about a lot lately. As you already know, I am a pretty thought-filled lady. And lately my thoughts have been having a field day running wild with dreams and hopes and big life questions that seem to give birth to even bigger life questions the more I think about them.

Some of the things I have been thinking about are:
1. How do I learn to trust in God's Will more? How do I bring my life so in line with God's Will that I no longer struggle with where I am in life but happily and gracefully embrace my current reality, recognizing that whatever is happening is EXACTLY what needs to be happening for me to be learning whatever it is that I need to be learning at any given moment?

Yes, that was just one of the questions I have been asking myself lately. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated as I have (not surprisingly) not come up with a satisfactory answer to this one yet ;-)

Another question I have been thinking about lately has to do with love and family. I feel deeply ready to be in a relationship with a man and to be raising a family together. So much so that I notice myself not really moving into the little apartment that I am currently inhabiting. At first I thought I was not really settling in because I kept expecting to have some part of my legal or work visa situation not work out, and to have to move again before I had really settled in.....but over the last couple of months I have realized that what is really going on is that while I feel deeply blessed to be in this little apartment, I am ready to be sharing my space with someone else. I no longer want to have everything the way I have always had it. I may struggle to adapt when I finally do get to share my space with another person but I am ready to struggle and adapt and come face-to-face with another person's way of doing and seeing things even when it is tough. I am ready to create a "we" space. To have crayons all over the living room floor. To share my bathtub with another person. To cook for two or three or four people instead of just one. To read bedtime stories and sing lullabies and trip over toys left in the middle of the floor. I am also ready to hold someone and be held. To make love. To have another person to share thoughts or ideas with before I fall asleep at night and when I wake up in the morning. To pray with. And to discuss the Baha'i and other religious and spiritual writings with. I have always really valued my alone time, and in many ways I still do, but I am noticing myself wanting to spend more and more time with others and less and less time alone, and I think this is another indication that I am ready to share my space and time. There is a quote that I read once about a potted plant needing to shatter its vessel if it was going to continue living and thriving, and this metaphor is resonating with me deeply right now. I am ready to shatter whatever is limiting my life from embracing and finding union with the life of another soul.

Maybe I should share the thoughts and reflections gradually so I don't overwhelm you. Some pretty intense stuff going on in this head and heart these days -- most of it positive -- but nevertheless rather heavy. Isn't presence lovely? ;-)

I think it's time for 3.

I have been coming across A LOT of very cool stuff lately. Poems, stories, photographs, videos.....you name it, I have been engaging with it! I will share a few of these things with you below and save some for my next entry -- an incentive you write again soon!

Cool things to check out:

1. This video is the coolest thing I have come across lately. It is an incredible conversation between rural and urban, young and old, east and west, and so much more. It is also about sense of place, belonging, love, home, and community. I am posting the link instead of embedding it because it is a vimeo movie.


2. A thanksgiving recipe from the Glowbal Group for


Link to the recipe: http://www.glowbalgroup.com/pumpkin-spice-and-everything-nice-a-creme-brulee-recipe/

If you try this recipe out let me know how it goes. It looks like a little bit of heaven in a cup to me!

3. This very cool transformation of a lightbulb. I found the photo on Pinterest but it originally comes from images.picsy.com. 

 Pretty cool, eh?

4. Ok. One more thing for this evening and THEN I promise to give you a moment to absorb all of this.....

This watch MUST have been designed by an Italian or a Greek. It made me smile when I saw it. I have added it to my very short wish list of totally unnecessary material possessions that it would bring me great pleasure to own since my own watch is heading towards its last days on this planet.

That's all from me tonight, friends! Hope you're all having a great week, and just in-case I do not get around to writing again this weekend, I wish all of you residing north of the Canadian-US border a happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Joy can't hide here

It is Wednesday night, early, early Thursday morning. I should be asleep, but when do I ever do what I should be doing? Tell me, friends, when?

This evening after I finished work I went for a long walk along the boardwalk that runs along part of the bay skirts Charlottetown, the capitol city of Prince Edward Island. It was a beautiful evening. The kind of evening that pulls you like some gravitational force out of your house to immerse yourself fully in the wash of its golden rays. I walked along the boardwalk slowly, feeling the breeze blow through the combs of my splayed fingers; listening to it play through the thick canopy of maples at the end of the boardwalk and watching it press the ocean into millions of tiny ripples of light and shadow lapping up against the boulders that are piled up as a breakwater along the boardwalk. The sky was clear blue. The ocean deep, inky blue, and the grass that sharp ripe green of mid-summer. Out in the bay at least twenty white mesmerizing sails swirled in the wind.

When I reached the opposite end of the boardwalk I turned around and started back, this time slipping off my sandals and rolling up my pant legs so that I could leap along from boulder to boulder, the sound of the ocean licking stone to my right. When I was a child I has a special place called "my rocks." It may be that everything is "my ______" when you are an only child, but these rocks were special. They were sculpted and carved out by volcanic activity and the relentless surge and fall of the Mediterranean, leaving an interesting landscape that to most people was just a rocky shoreline, but to me was "my house." My house had a bedroom and bathroom, kitchen (complete with salt water basin) and even a staircase leading up to my private quarters from the living room. I would enter my house and go straight upstairs to "my special room," a section of the rocky shoreline that was sculpted out hollow leaving a basin of stone into which I could curl like a fetus. From my bowl room I could peer out over the lip of stone and down to the waves below which would, on windy days, crash with a fury and recklessness that I loved, sending spray up into the air that would drift over me, leaving a salty mist on my lips and in my hair, and even leaving rings of dried salt crystals in the indentations around me that I would scratch at with my fingernails and dissolve on my tongue. I loved this little rock bowl, and would visit it often, sitting for long periods of time just listening to the ocean and often whispering Baha'i prayers into the wind. When I return home now I always visit "my rocks" at least once. I still crouch down into my stone bowl, but it is a lot smaller that it once was -- my body having grown to fill its curved walls. Still....I sit and listen to the ocean, and people pass by and probably wonder why a grown woman is crouching in a rock cavity staring out to sea . Of course it is the little girl with her head full of dreams, hopes, fears and the calming rhythmic lull of waves that is curled into that stone--the child that lives on  in each one of us at some level). There is always a story, and a trigger that brings it back. Like the leaping from boulder to boulder today. The texture of sandstone beneath my feet. The sound of waves breaking. And the smell of salt that is synonymous with home.

I walked the rest of the way home barefoot with my jeans rolled up and an awareness of how odd it must seem to those passing me on the boardwalk to see a woman with a strand of pearls around her neck and and dressed for work wandering along a boardwalk barefoot. The world seems to have certain expectations of us as adults -- the expectation that we will have grown out of certain ways of being, doing, and maybe even thinking. That a grown woman will not suddenly break out with a cartwheel or backflip in the middle of a beach or strip of inviting grass, for example. Or leap from boulder to boulder barefoot in her good clothes and pearls. It makes me smile because when I am out there on those boulders I am the boulders. I am the wind. There is no woman. I vanish and all that I am aware of is the elements of place. There are no pearls or makeup or hairdos. Just the air and salt water and that saturated, blinding golden sunshine.

I love that there is no line between me and the natural world. That I feel its wildness in my bones. That when I was out there yesterday boulder hopping I was thinking not of work or bills or to do lists or life goals, but about how it might feel to be one of those graceful white sails being filled with and harnessing the power of wind or a seagull soaring on wind currents high above my head. And as I think these things I wonder when and where (and why) we get such hemmed in expectations of what it means to be adults when in reality releasing the wild that lives inside --the wild that reflects that freedom of expression that is the natural world--is such an ageless expression of beauty and joy.

I came home and climbed the stairs feeling a deep contentment in my heart and body. A few years ago a dear friend sang at an academic conference that I attended here in Charlottetown. She stood up and sang in the middle of an academic conference. It blew my mind to watch her reclaim and express the joy she finds in poetry and song in the middle of this conference that although not openly stated, was so full of expectations about the right ways to communicate with the audience. She only sang one line -- "Joy can't hide here -- and why would it want to?" which she repeated over and over, pausing in between to let it sink in. Indeed, I thought. Why would joy want to hide?

Over the past few years I have been seeking out that joy in my life. Finding ways of giving it permission to reclaim its rightful place in my life. Yesterday evening returning home into my sun lit apartment I was deeply aware not only of the tremendous abundance that I have in my life -- abundance of friendship, abundance of the lush, wild beauty of the natural world, of fresh food, of love.....but also of the ever-constant presence of joy in my life these days. The conscious awareness of it not hiding but standing contentedly in the patch of sunlight in the middle of my living room floor.

And you, friends? Is your joy hiding? Or have you found ways of giving it permission to emerge and inhabit its natural home front and centre in the heart of living?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A new home

I still do not have my curtains up, but it is beginning, slowly, to feel like home. Since moving into my new apartment life has been non-stop, full-on--it has been as life should be--full of the experience of living. I have had little time for writing lately. When I come home I manage to get a few more things organized, sometimes a bath, and then promptly pass out in my makeshift bed which is composed of a sleeping bag and two thin pieces of foam on the floor. Still....with a good deal of effort, lots of contributions from friends and the arrival of a suitcase of my belongings from California my space is starting to turn into something resembling a space that I can inhabit instead of a dumping ground. While my dear friend Ahava was on the island this past week she helped me gather some essentials and put together a small set of shelves to get my clothes off the floor (WHAT a brilliant idea!). She also gave me a beautiful painting which I will write about another time because it warrants its own blog entry.

I live in the heart of downtown Charlottetown. With all my windows propped open as they are now I hear the throb of the city in summer: live music, stragglers heading either to or from one of the city's many bars, the sound of motorcycles speeding by, wind in the trees, cars, and this evening some rather live recorded music coming from God only knows where. It is loud downtown--something I have not yet gotten accustomed to. The noise keeps me awake at night. And yet I love the convenience of being so close to everything. Being able to sit, as I did this evening, on Victoria Row -- a pedestrian only street -- and have a cool drink while I listen to live music and read my novel, and then stroll leisurely the one block home in five minutes. Yup. There are definitely advantages to being downtown.

I have been in so many spaces since arriving back on the island that it is hard to settle down and allow myself to nest. Part of me keeps expecting this space to be gone soon too. But this evening as I sit here watching the last of the light fade I am trying to let myself dream into this new space and life. To absorb all the change and consider my surroundings. Dogs bark. More cars. The recorded music that, if it does not get turned off soon is going to keep me awake yet again. The fading lilac and rose from the sunset. The deep blue sea of the sky. It is time to wander down to the basement that has a sign on it "enter at your own risk" and unload my last load of laundry before I collapse into bed.

Hoping you are all well! Greetings from the heart of summer on Prince Edward Island.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Apricots taste like sunshine

This evening is a list kind of evening, if you know what I mean. But it is also a gratitude Monday, so here's what I am feeling grateful for today. Add your list below if you feel like sharing!

1. The fact that I am currently lying on my bed barefoot with a lovely breeze blowing over me after a lovely, relaxing bath.

2. My parents. I am feeling very grateful for their love, support, and continued presence in my life.

3. The fact that my parents are sweet enough that they will forgive the fact that they are number two, after my bath ;-)

4. Prince Edward Island. The sunshine. The rain. The snow. The gorgeous flowering bushes that are all over Charlottetown. The beautiful snaking salt/fresh water rivers that meander inland along the green banks and red beaches. The people who are endlessly kind and generous. The rich culture, amazing visual artists and musicians. The stunning sunsets. The dunes. The red soil that is so rich. The farmland that I hope to farm again some day. The farmer's markets. The windmills. The lighthouses scattered along headlands. The blue herons. The eagles. The foxes. The frogs in ditches that sing on summer evenings. And so much more.

5. Chilled apricots on warm summer evenings that taste like sunshine.

6. My flatmate Minnie who is an incredible cook and baker, tells the best stories, loans me her baking sheets and ignores every bit of advice I ever give her, and rightly so since she is in her 80s and I have no business giving an 80 year old any advice whatsoever anyway.

7. My prayer book, and the waking up early yesterday to drive out to the country, climb a hill and say morning prayers with my dear friend Honeylyn for our parents.

8. The breakfast that Honeylyn and I had together looking out at the river in New Glasgow after our morning prayers yesterday.

9. All the amazing people that have stepped forward to donate random bits and pieces for my new tiny apartment downtown that I move into this coming weekend.

10. Sunshine. Pure and simple.

11. Ann and Stephen--because they are family, they have been there for me through thick and through thin, and are still standing to tell the tale, and no matter what I write in this blog at least one of them always takes the time to read it, which really is quite miraculous.

12. My friend Louise. Because she doesn't actually have to communicate using words to convey either her love or her absolute disproval. And because she not only reads my blog -- she also expects me to read hers, and rightly so.

13. The computer that I am typing this blog entry on-- with functional buttons and screen and all.

14. The fact that I am going to bed before midnight tonight no matter what.

15. Alanna and Sonjel. For recognizing that the best birthday gift would be a rental car so I could get out to the countryside that I love so for a day. And just for being so much fun.

16. The fact that I am learning when to stop, as I am going to do right now.

Sweet dreams friends!