Category Archives: Personal Life

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Favourite Food

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A table decorated for a fancy meal. The focus of the shot is one place setting upon which three white plates of various sizes that have green and pink floral designs printed on them are stacked on top of each other. The biggest one is on the bottom and the smallest on top. There is a light brown cloth napkin rolled up in a darker brown napkin holder that is sitting on the smallest plate. A clear wine glass is sitting to the right of the stack of plates, and there is a striped grey and red tablecloth on the table. Everything else in the background is out of focus, but it looks like there is a thick light brown candle surrounded by greenery of some sort in the centre of the table. Strawberries are my favourite food.

When they’re in season, I eat them every single day by themselves, mixed in with almond milk and a little honey or sugar as a fairly healthy dessert, as a topping for pancakes, cereal, or ice cream, in a mixed fruit salad, or occasionally as strawberry shortcake.

When they’re not in season, I buy frozen strawberries for smoothies and might buy strawberry jam to put on my toast, too.

I like the occasional bit of tartness you find in strawberries. I prefer completely sweet berries, of course, but it is fun to be surprised by other flavours.

They complement so many different types of snacks and meals. I can’t get enough of them.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something I’m Proud of Doing

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

This week’s prompt was a little tricky for me because I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately. January isn’t my favourite month of the year, and this one seems to really be dragging on.

I don’t know about all of you, but sometimes my brain likes to focus on the things I wish I’d done differently instead taking note of what I think I’ve done well in life so far. I will take this as a challenge to congratulate myself on how far I’ve come, though!

A white person’s hand and forearm has punched through a yellow wall and is reaching out for help with all five fingers extended. When someone needs help, I’m the sort of person who will leap to the occasion. That’s a positive character trait in many situations, but sometimes it can be taken too far if you don’t also look after your own needs or if the person who wants help doesn’t respect boundaries.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed that it’s slowly become easier for me to realize what my limits are and stop before I’ve been pushed past them.

As a hypothetical example, I can be available to do A or B for someone on the first Tuesday of the month from 7 to 8 pm but not be able to do anything outside of that time frame and never agree to do C, D, or E for them.

It’s a huge win, especially when the occasional person demands I give them all of the letters of the alphabet on any given day and hour of the week and I still stand firm in how much time and energy I actually have for them.

Not only that, but my guilt about saying no is decreasing, too, and I can now more easily end my availability to do A or B temporarily (or even permanently) for people who try to push past my limits one too many times.



What I Read in 2022

A drawing of 11 cardinals sitting in a forest filled with trees as snow falls all around them. The text says, “Happy New Year’ in a swirly white font. Happy New Year, readers!

In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 202120202019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

2022 was a year of me glancing at old reading habits and thinking about if I’m ready for them again. In 2020 and 2021, my interest in topics like horror, medicine, and anything too dark or serious crashed. I craved light, fluffy stories where everyone lived happily ever after. While I still have a strong preference for those sorts of reads, my brain seems better equipped now to handle a little more scary stuff, too, even while I’m still doing a lot of rereads and hanging out in the young adult genre.

Here are the books I’ve read (or reread) over the past year.


Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Michelle Obama smiling and posing for a photo while wearing a black dress and a string of pearls. “The Child Who Never Grew” by Pearl S. Buck

“Vintage Christmas: Holiday Stories from Rural PEI” by Marlene Campbell

“Happening” by Annie Ernaux

“To Walk About in Freedom: The Long Emancipation of Priscilla Joyner” by Carole Emberton

“This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown” by Taylor Harris

“The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree” by Nice Leng’ete

“The Annals of a Country Doctor” by Carl Matlock, MD
“Dreams From My Father’ by Barack Obama
“The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times” by Michelle Obama
“The Adoption Machine: The Dark History of Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes and the Inside Story of How ‘Taum 800’ Became a Global Scandal” by Paul Judd Redmond
“Three More Words“ by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
“Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings” by Mary Henley Rubio
“Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman” by  Julia Scheeres
“Been There, Ate That: A Candy-Coated Childhood” by Jules Torti
“Farewell to the East End” by Jennifer Worth
White woman wearing black-rimmed glasses and looking studious as she reads a hardback book. “Little Women” by  Louisa May Alcott
“Forever” by Kris Bryant
“The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck
“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan
“My Antonia” by Willa Cather
A Christmas Memory” by Richard Paul Evans
“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey
“Foster” by Claire Keegan
“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier
“Marmee: A Novel of Little Women” by Sarah Miller
“Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery
“Anne of Avonlea” by L.M. Montgomery
“Anne of the Island” by L.M. Montgomery
“Anne’s House of Dreams” by L.M. Montgomery
“Rilla of Ingleside” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Story Girl” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Golden Road” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery
“The Only Child” by Kate Nunn
“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” by Deesha Philyaw
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith
“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
“The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters
“Miss Jane” by Brad Watson
“Cold: Three Winters at the South Pole” by Wayne L. White


Two sheep looking curiously to their left hand side and straight at the viewer. “A Short History of the World According to Sheep” by Sally Coulthard

“The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe vs. Wade” by Ann Fessler

“Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World” by Danielle Friedman
“Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey” by Lillian Schlissel

Psychology and Sociology

The white portion of the image looks like side profiles of two people looking at each other. The black portion of the image looks like a vase. You decide which one you think it should be!“You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion and Why It Matters” by Vanessa Bohns

“Big Panda and Tiny Dragon” by James Norbury
“Winning with Underdogs: How Hiring the Least Likely Candidates Can Spark Creativity, Improve Service, and Boost Profits for Your Business” by Gil Winch

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Pluto and Venus hanging quite largely in the sky over a desolate stretch of highway at night. The planets look like they’re about to crash into Earth!“World War Z” by Max Brooks

“Ghost Stories for Christmas” by Shane Brown (My Review

“Semiosis” by Sue Burke

“A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot Series Book 2)” by Becky Chambers (My Review)

“Brave New World” by Aldoux Huxley

“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

“Veiled Threats” by Melissa Erin Jackson

”The Cybernetic Tea Shop” by Meredith Katz (Review coming February 9)

“Nettle & Bone” by T. Kingfisher (My Review)

“In a Glass Darkly” by Sheridan Le Fanu (Review coming January 12)

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

“On Sundays She Picked Flowers” by Yah Yah Scholfield (My Review)

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer

“The World More Full of Weeping” by Robert J. Weirseam

“The Future Is Female” edited by Lisa Yaszek (Review coming January 19)

“The Future Is Female Volume 2, The 1970s” edited by Lisa Yaszek (Review coming January 26)

Science and Medicine

Two doctors looking at a chart in a hospital hallway. “The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World” by Riley Black

“Tiny Humans, Big Lessons: How the NICU Taught Me to Live With Energy, Intention, and Purpose” by Sue Ludwig

“Vaccinated: From Cowpox to mRNA, the Remarkable Story of Vaccines”  by Paul A. Offit, M.D.

“The Heart of Caring:  A Life in Pediatrics” by Mark Vonnegut

Young Adult

A dad reading a book to his daughter. “Empty Smiles (Small Spaces #4)” by Katherine Arden

“Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona the Pest” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona the Brave” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona and Her Father” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona and Her Mother” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona Quimby, Age 8” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona Forever” by Beverly Cleary

“Ramona’s World” by Beverly Cleary

“Secrets of the Under Market” by Kristen Harlow

“The Lost Girls” by Sonia Hartl

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry

“A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. Williams


Have we read any of the same books? How was your reading year in 2022?

A Review of Reading Breaks

Title: Reading Breaks

Author: Everyone

Publisher: Evolution or the deity or deities of your choice.

Publication Date: Right this second

Genres: Non-Fiction, Humour

Length: Variable

Source: My imagination.

Rating: 5 Stars


Reading breaks are the hot new trend for the end of the year when everyone’s brains are tired and many of us don’t have the energy to read or write anything new. 


If you’re worn out as the year comes to a close, keep reading. Have I got a proposition for you!

Do not read that book. Do not write that review. I promise they will still be here in January. Do not listen to them whispering to you as you walk past your writing nook. Turn your head away and keep walking. They may whine a little, but they’ll soon adjust. Books, notepads, and laptops need breaks, too, even if they think they must always be attached to someone.

Go do something that energizes you instead. Maybe it’s a hike in a snowy woods with seventeen of your closest friends? Playing a new video game and not talking to anyone at all? Baking your family’s favorite recipes? Building something? Spoiling your dog, cat, rabbit, or other animal friend with petting and treats?  Taking a nap? Arguing with strangers on the Internet who are 100% wrong and desperately need you to remind them of that? The options are limitless.

If you’re still feeling guilty, think of the ideas you might find if you step out of your routine and try something new. Or maybe you’ll find no inspiration but simply come back refreshed and ready to work again in January.

You are not a machine. (Well, at least not most of you). The trees are dormant now and the bears are sleeping in their cozy dens. Surely you deserve to rest, too.

(In conclusion, reading and writing breaks can be necessary parts of the creative process. I’ll be back next week with a genuine book review. Thank you all for reading my silliness today, and Happy New Year if we don’t speak again for a while!)

A Photo Essay In Memoriam of a Tree

A tree with a damaged trunk. It’s branches are straight and covered with green leaves. From February of 2020 to January of 2021, I published a series of posts showing what one of Toronto’s parks looked like in every month of the year. Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, NovemberDecember and January to read those posts.

Two of the trees in that park had been badly damaged in an ice storm in late 2019 or early 2020, and I chronicled their response to losing branches and having their trunks damaged in my early posts. In May of 2021, I shared an update on them. One seemed to recover pretty nicely while the other was deteriorating.

I am both sorry and relieved to tell you all that as of the end of July 2022, the tree that never recovered was cut down by the city.

Here is a photo of that tree in June of 2020. Even from some distance away you can see the massive wound on it’s trunk from where at least one large branch was torn away. I am not a botanist or an arborist, but it otherwise looked good in 2020. It still had most of its branches, and they stood up straight and firm.

For the sake of comparison, here is a photo from May of 2020 that shows many branches it lost. I’d guess it was about a third of them.

A large tree that has a massive branch lying on the ground. It’s probably about a third of the size of the tree’s other branches.

In retrospect, I wonder if the tree was sick before this storm. You often see small branches torn off during storms, but generally not such large ones in healthy specimens.

A large tree that has huge cracks in it’s damaged trunk.

In August of 2020, a large crack began to form in the trunk.

A tree with a large hole in its trunk. The branches have begun to bend downwards. it looks very unhealthy.


A month later, the remaining branches began to bend. I no longer felt safe walking underneath it and took all of my future photos by zooming in from a safe distance. Many of those branches were big enough to kill you if they fell on you.

A tree that has a large, dangerous hole in the trunk and drooping branches. the leaves have begun to change colour for the autumn.


It’s hard to see in this photo, but by October of 2020 the damaged portion of the trunk began to look wet and like something stringy was growing in it. Maybe it was some sort of mould or moss? I quietly observed from a distance, but things were not looking good.

Zoomed-in photo of a deeply cracked and mossy trunk.

Here’s a zoomed-in photo of it from 2021. It’s hard to see, but it looked pretty bad in person.

The  deterioration continued from there slowly but steadily each month.

A sickly, large tree with many drooping branches.

The tree did sprout new leaves in 2021, but they were noticeably more sparse than they had been in previous years. The branches began drooping more heavily as well.

An arm-sized branch that has fallen from a tree.

2021 was the year when branches began falling from the tree over and over again. I’d held out hope that it would recover in 2020, but by last year I was seeing more and more signs that it may not.

A tree stump covered in sawdust.

As of late last month, a stump and some sawdust is all that remains of that beautiful tree.

Yes, this was a good decision. The danger it posed to visitors to the park was growing stronger with each passing month, especially for anyone walking near it on a windy day.

With that being said, I will still miss hearing the wind rustle its branches and the shade it provided on hot days. When it was healthy, its branches were so large they even provided shade for the picnic table you can see in the distance of one of the above photos which is kind of amazing when you consider how small trees are at the beginning of their lives.

I wish it could have survived. May it Rest In Peace.


Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Real Life Event That No One Would Believe

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. This story happened about five years ago when my spouse and I were walking down the street on a warm, sunny day on our way home.… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What You Do When You’re Not Feeling Well

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. This week’s prompt didn’t specify what sort of illness we might have, so I’m going to assume it’s a contagious and common one like a cold… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Unique Talent You Have

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. Not everything in our world is poetic or beautiful by any means, but my unique talent is finding the poetry and beauty in situations that at… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something “Lucky” That Happened to You

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. About eight years ago, my spouse and I spent the day at Toronto Island with some relatives who were visiting from out of town. If you’ve… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something New You Learned Last Year

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. Last year I learned some new tricks that helped me avoid fainting after receiving vaccinations. My body has never liked needles, so I have a long… Read More