Something making me happy right now is the BBC historical farm series. Starting with Tales From The Green Valley (or Tudor Farm) in 2005, Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, and Alex Langlands have been working and living together in the past. They made Victorian Farm in 2007, then Edwardian Farm, and Wartime Farm. After ten years, it’s understandably harder to commit to a whole year on a farm, so their last series was a more classic history documentary about the British railroad. There are related series to be found, but these five are the five with Ruth, Peter, and Alex, and those three together are why I keep watching.

As I watch the series again, in order from the beginning (I’m in the middle of Edwardian Farm right now), I’m thinking a lot about why they make me so happy. The chemistry between the three presenters is so good. In the Tudor Farm series, Peter was only brought in last minute. Alex was chosen as the young farm hand to do labour, but injured himself before filming began. He brought in his university friend, Peter, to help out. Because it’s the first series, it’s very different: five historians and only 30 minute episodes. But you can see the core of the show forming.

Ruth is older than the other two, and she’s a historian, while Peter and Alex are both archaeologists. She’s in charge of the house; they’re in charge of the farm. Alex’s first words in Tudor Farm are how he’s always wanted to be a farmer. By the time they get to WWII in Wartime Farm, the roles are set. Alex is the gentleman farmer, Peter is the blue collar farm hand, and Ruth is the keeper of the house. It might sound like a patriarchal system, but the lack of a marriage means a different dynamic. Yes, the woman does the cooking and cleaning, but Ruth’s enthusiasm for domestic chores makes clear how much this is her choice. Alex brings his own chickens from home to their Edwardian farm, and Peter is never happier than when he’s covered in dirt. The three of them are just so happy to be together on the farm, no matter the time period.

If nothing else, at least I’ll know what to do to survive when our civilisation collapses.

It’s been 11 months since Brexit and 6 months since the US election. The world is in a bad place right now, and Canada is caught–literally–in the middle. We are England’s daughter and America’s sister. We are a member of the Commonwealth and a major trade partner. But beyond that, the UK and the US are such large international powers that what happens to them affects the entire world.

I can feel it affecting me.

I published my first novella in 2013. For the next two years, I tried really hard to write full time, but I couldn’t write fast enough to make enough money. So I found a day job and gave up fiction for while. But in 2017, happy endings feel more important than ever. What I’ve been writing so far is short story submissions for anthologies, so I can’t share them yet. But I want to share something. We all need a few more happy endings in our lives right now.

(I wish that phrase didn’t have a sexual connotation, but hey, I write those kinds of happy endings, too.)

Two years ago this month, I started a project to create and publish a zine a week. A year ago this month, I finished, with 50 completed zines behind them. I’ve spent the past year trying to figure out what I want to do next. Sundays worked for me last time, so I’m gonna try it again.

It’s no surprise that I’ve drifted back into fiction this year. This is what I need right now. If you need a happy ending, too, I’m writing a serial inspired by Fleetwood Mac, updated every Sunday, and you can read along.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #7

  1. Weekends. Dude, they’re the best.
  2. A whole week off.  I went on a weekend vacation last week–Vancouver to Seattle on a cruise ship, then Seattle to Vancouver on a train. Because I knew I wouldn’t have internet, I decided not to worry. Then I came home and decided to keep not worrying for the rest of the week. Just take a few days off from making stuff. It was nice.
  3. What I ended up doing instead was a lot of thinking about what I want this website to look like. It was last May that I stopped making a zine a week. I liked doing it. I’m proud I did it. But in the end, it wasn’t working for me. I’ve been experimenting these last few months to figure out what’s going to work for me now. Even if it’s not what I’m doing now, none of this has been wasted. I have to do the thing to figure out if I want to do the thing.
  4. Last Sunday was the first time I’d travelled to the US since the election in November. Washington is literally right there across the bay, but the last time I walked around Blaine, I saw a man run across the street with a rifle.  And that was before the election. I wasn’t scared about being in Seattle. I was worried about being in this city I know well and finding it changed. I was worried that I would find a different America than the one I know from my friends, from my travels, from living in a border city. I was so happy to find that Seattle is well. Seattle is fighting. I took so many photos of the words RESIST, PERSIST, DEFY in shopfront windows: appliquéd on calico banners or written on cardboard in black Sharpie. It felt good to be there, instead of watching on the internet from afar. It helped me to know that we’re going to be OK.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #6

  1. I’ve had Wednesdays off the last few weeks because I’ve had no classes to teach. Of course it would be better to work and get paid, but right now, I’m just going to enjoy my mid-week break. This week, I spent the evening with my 1-year-old nephew while his parents had a night out. Turns out babysitting pays as well as my day job.
  2. I finished reading A DAY OF SIGNS AND WONDERS by Kit Pearson, a novel inspired by Emily Carr’s childhood. It was fine, a quick read, definitely more for kids. The paperback is designed with cover flaps, which do an excellent job as built-in bookmarks. I am vehemently against dogearing a book, especially borrowed from the library.
  3. I spent a lot of time this week working on my websites. Nothing I’m ready to share yet, but I always enjoy playing with code. I taught myself in the early ’00s by finding sites I liked and viewing source. Luckily, my taste is pretty simple, so I can usually make it look the way I want with good old fashioned HTML and CSS.
  4. After I used my last Starbucks reward, I deleted the app from my phone. They make it too easy to spend money. So I’ve been making coffee in the morning with a plastic pourover cone I stole from my parents’s basement. God knows how old it is, but it works great. It fits on the rim of a litre canning jar. It makes as much or as little coffee as I want. (Admittedly, lately, it’s been a lot.) The inadvertent theme of this week is simple and old fashioned. Might just make it the deliberate theme going forward.

I have been trying so hard, for 6 months now, to not look at Twitter. It hasn’t been working. Even from this side of the border, the US govt has my brain so fucked up. I can’t sleep. I’m eating crap. It’s really hard to convince myself the future will be better. This isn’t all the US election’s fault. Brexit stole an entire continent from me before I even had a chance to use my British passport. And my chance to find a job and save for a house was gone before I graduated university. The thing I struggle most with in therapy is “should” statements. “I should be settled by 35.” “I should have met someone by now.” “I should know what the fuck I’m doing with my life before it’s over.” I can’t stop these thoughts. I know they don’t help. Even typing this now is making me cry. Life should be better. And I don’t know what to do to make it so.

I literally (and I use that word correctly) said this morning that I was giving up on the vampire story. I’ve been trying to write something short for an anthology submission, and the deadline is today. I thought I would write this weekend; I didn’t. This morning, I finally said, meh. Vampires just aren’t my thing. I shouldn’t feel bad about not writing this story.

But I did feel bad! I felt like I failed. I felt a lot like at the beginning of the month when I did this exact same thing. I didn’t dictate this time around. I just sat on my couch with my laptop and wrote directly into Scrivener. Because there is more than one way to write a story. You have to keep moving to find the way that’s going to work at that moment. Today, it was getting annoyed enough with myself that I wrote the thing out of spite.

I am not complaining. This is story #3 in 30 days, since I decided to try writing fiction again. The next deadline is at the end of the month. I hope to come back and tell you that I didn’t second guess myself again, but I think we all know how this is going to end. But at least I’ll get story #4 out of the struggle.

I’ve had a fly in my house for three days. I don’t know how it got in. All of my windows have screens, and my door is only open when I leave the house or when I come home. So today, I left the door open for a few hours hoping to convince the fly to leave. It was a nice day–blue sky and sun–but when it started getting cold, I had to close the door. The fly had not left; it was in my shower. There’s a tiny window in there, but it’s frosted, and it wasn’t open.

There’s freedom through the open door, little fly. Go. Be wild. There’s nothing in here for you.

I’m getting to the end of my list of Emily Carr books to read. Today I finished reading the catalogue from the 2006 retrospective. Most of what I’ve read so far has been biography or Emily’s own words, whether true or not. I think it was right to read the criticism second because I’m finding answers to the questions that came up while I read the primary sources. Next I tackle Gerta Moray’s massive PhD thesis on Emily Carr and her cultural appropriation. It’s more timely than ever as Canada barrels towards the celebration of 150 years of confederation, as we wonder if anything has changed.

What I am looking for I must work out for myself. It is between God and me. Laziness made me desire to look at the pictures of the others, to try and pick up short-cut recipes that others have used…instead of going straight to the thing itself.

The more I read about her, and the more I look at her pictures, the more I love how Emily Carr painted the land and the sky, not the totem poles. She found herself very late in life. My favourite paintings are from the 1930s when she was in her 60s. It makes me feel good about the future, that it’s never too late for great things to happen, and I need more of that hope in my life.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #5

  1. It’s been a weird spring, weather wise. I have a quilted hooded sweatshirt that I stole from my mom that is proving to be the perfect spring jacket. Some days I wear it with a quilted vest on top (the platonic PNW uniform). I always have my North Face packable rain jacket for when the weather changes for the worse. Short or long-sleeved layers underneath if there’s sun or clouds in the sky. Layers are essential here, and I’ve pretty much got my spring wardrobe set.
  2. I used to love messenger and cross-body bags, but I’ve been using my MEC backpack as my daily since last summer. It means I always have an umbrella, my notebook, pencil case, but also room for snacks, water bottle, even a few groceries on my way home from work. But this week, I’ve noticed a lot more tension in my neck and shoulders. I’m worried I’m carrying too much every day. So I’ve been doing slow neck circles, matching movement and breath, stretching wherever I happen to be. It’s only technically yoga, but the smallest step back into my practice feels huge.
  3. On Tuesday, I stopped at Nature’s Fare on my way home from work. Because many of their products are local, handmade, organic, natural, they don’t last as long as processed food. If you go before closing, you can find stuff marked down more than half-off for quick sale. I bought some grass-fed chocolate milk and locally-made kefir, then mixed them and made ice cream when I got home.
  4. On Wednesday, a day off, I visited my grandparents. They’re moving at the end of the month, after 40 years in their current house. I saw them on Sunday, too, and brought home a couple of bags of frozen vegetables and fruit from the summer, as well as half a dozen vegetables and herbs in pots. Wednesday, I brought home containers of rice, pasta, and flour. Their new house is smaller (though not by much), but mostly it’s just easier for them if they don’t have to move all this stuff. I’m going to miss my grandma’s garden this summer, but all I have to do is open my freezer to find a reminder of last year’s harvest.

Pretty sure I’m officially a vlogger. Four videos today:

  1. May 06
  2. and May 07  are both, inexplicably over 16 minutes long, and I had to wait to upload them at home because the wifi where I was staying this weekend couldn’t handle them. That gave me a chance to drop in a bit of video of Saturday’s hail storm.
  3. May 08 is today’s video, one week after I started.
  4. In between waiting for videos to upload, I pieced together a few tiny clips I made on Saturday’s hike into Follow the Arrow. I spotted the first arrow on a telephone pole beside my bus stop. And then I just kept finding them along the trail. It’s filmed with the front-facing camera, in bright sun, so it’s not perfect, but that’s the point of this project. I’ve been shooting tiny pieces of video since I got my first digital camera in the mid-2000s. It’s time to actually do something with them all. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done.