I've been writing about home, family, and relationships for decades. In my mind, these things are all closely connected.
My family and I have lived in several different homes, made friends in each neighbourhood, and -- most important -- formed lasting memories of our lives and relationships in each place.
In each place we lived, and each time we moved, I wrote. About the homes and people we had loved and about how we changed as a result. And then I put the stories away and forgot them.
Several years ago – during a particularly tough time after a disabling car accident - my husband went searching for the lost stories, as a gift to me.
The editor of Arabella Magazine heard about the stories and asked if she could publish a few. I agreed.
It was great to have those forgotten stories: they became a book, titled A Good Home. (2013)
Of course, I was nowhere near ready for the big time. After a few months promoting the book, I had a relapse and my doctor ordered me home. I was miserable and felt isolated all over again, so my daughter set up a blog for me to communicate with other people.
And here you are, visiting my blog! Thank you.
I still write about home and relationships, but I often write about other people too -- their homes and creative passions.
And the first book to be written entirely since the accident -- An Honest House -- was published in 2016. Our Victorian farmhouse is a great character in this book, as, I hope, are my family, friends and myself. Set against the backdrop of our "honest house", the book tells the story of a family determined to survive and thrive despite some huge challenges. It's won a British award and high praise from many quarters.
I always return to my journals - the source material for An Honest House -- and this blog. They, too, are a way of "coming home". I hope you'll enjoy my blog, check out my books, and drop me a comment.
The book, the Arabella stories and this blog, are helping me to find my voice again. So are the hundreds of readers, reviewers and blog visitors who have written – marvelous, moving letters. I'm grateful for you all.
You’ll find here updates on my experiences since the book was published, along with the occasional poem and profiles of people I find interesting. All have a connection to "Home" in some way.
Do please visit my blog and leave a comment. I'd like to hear from you.
We were in the middle of a conversation some years ago when I casually said something about “being a black woman” and Kaye asked:
“Of course!” I replied. Then: “Wait …. You didn’t know that I’m black, Kaye? How is that possible? We’ve known each other for years!”
“Well,” Kaye promptly replied. “How would I know?”
“But how could you not know that I’m black?”
“Cynthia…. I’m blind, remember?”
Right. Of course.
But once I get a bee in my bonnet, Lord help us. So I kept going:
“Well, what about all the talks we’ve had about life and diversity, and social injustice and ….”
“Yes… It’s one of the reasons we get along so well. We care about many of the same things. But I still didn’t know you were black, Cynthia.”
Shock. Realization. Awe. Followed by peals of laughter from both of us.
“I think we can now conclude that I am a total idiot…” I finally said.
Of course, I’ve not captured the dialogue word-for-word here, but close enough for truth.
Diversity is a wondrous thing. In humans, nature and even ways of thinking. But after that conversation, I wondered what the world would be like if we couldn’t see each other’s colour, body shape and such things. If we could only “see” people through their character.
I thought about it again this morning when blogger David Prosser shared this link to a video of one man’s experiment. Here it is:
If you’ve never heard of Port Granby, you’re not alone. Once a thriving village and busy port, Port Granby is now a quiet hamlet on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s home to several families.
Three of those homes, built during Port Granby’s heyday (between the late 1850’s and early 1880’s) are on the Doors Open Clarington tour this year: Hilltop Farm, the March Hotel and March Cottage.
David March owned the latter two.
The records from that time usually showed only men as owners and proprietors of homes and businesses. So while there were certainly women in Port Granby, and David March probably had a wife, I haven’t found her name.
March, like many others of his time, was clearly a multi-tasker: between the late 1850’s to the early 1880’s, he was the local innkeeper, carpenter, builder, postmaster, grain dealer, elevator operator and “general merchant” (shopkeeper).
I’m told he bought March Cottage for his mother.
Today, both the old March Hotel and March Cottage are residences — owned by families who cherish their history.
Paul Sahota’s parents bought March Cottage in 1993:
“They saw it in the dead of winter and brought me to come see it on their second viewing. My mother sat looking out at the lake over the snow as my father and I tromped down over the bridge to the shore. As we drove away I asked my parents when they were putting an offer in, being so sure that it was the right place for them.”
Paul and his wife Susan took over the cottage nine years ago. It was a daunting task at first, but the family has enjoyed many happy times there.
“We love that it is spacious enough to host gatherings with family and friends in all seasons.
“We love the soft shaded lawn for playing croquet, frisbee, baseball and cartwheeling.”
March Cottage includes original features ( e.g. the family-room’s fireplace), and modern additions.
The family also loves the lake.
“We all spend hours watching the lake. We watch the waves (small and huge), the storms roll in, the many, many different shades of blue that the lake turns, the birds, ducks, loons, swans and heron come and go, the giant lakers, speed boats and sailboats move through the water and we watch for the calm when we can grab our kayaks and canoe and go for a paddle along the shore.
“The shore is a place to relax and get wet in the summer and, at times, an arctic adventure in the winter.”
The family will offer a warm welcome to visitors this Saturday:
“We have previously enjoyed other Doors Open experiences and are happy to share our little piece of Port Granby with the community. We hope people get a sense of the history and the beauty of our community.”
I’m a country girl. Born in the country, raised in the country, I love country villages and rural areas.
So I was glad to visit the village of Creemore, northwest of Toronto, last weekend. My husband, younger daughter, son-in-law, pet chug Julius and I stayed in a small farmhouse owned by friends of our older daughter.
We were surrounded by farmers’ fields, woods, birdsong, flowers, crickets and spectacular views.
It was also the weekend of the vintage festival and the village was dressed up for the event.
We walked along Creemore’s main street, stopping to make small purchases in the stalls and stores or to eat and drink. Creemore’s beer is deservedly famous.
Outsiders who have fallen in love with Creemore also help by building/buying houses there and spreading the word among their networks.
Well-known interior designer Sarah Richardson and her husband are among the influencers who are big Creemore supporters. Sarah, one of HGTV’s stars, renovated a home in the village for her TV series, and she and her husband recently built and moved into an “off the grid” house in Creemore — also televised.
When it comes to helping our villages survive and thrive, every bit helps.
Thanks to Hamlin Grange and Dan Leca for the beautiful photos.