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.
One of the nicest things to do in Ontario’s early autumn, is to go for a drive in the country. We drove north of Bowmanville then east to Baltimore and Warkworth in Northumberland County. Northumberland County is east of Toronto, and is an area of outstanding natural beauty — especially in autumn.
I often write about people’s love for their homes, and sometimes about love of country. Today I’m writing about a young woman who is running a fierce election campaign to represent the part of Toronto that’s been her home for her entire life.
To do so, she has to defeat candidates who are older and more established.
My friend Isabel has a knack for bringing different kinds of people together.
I was at a lunch at her home a couple years ago when she asked: “Have you met Tiffany?”
I hadn’t, so off I went to say hello. And the more we talked, the more impressed I became.
At 36 years old, Tiffany Ford has a calm and confident presence often associated with a much older person. Already a successful trustee for schools in her area, she helped to increase both funding for her area’s schools and the power of the parents’ voices.
But Tiffany puts more emphasis on the needs and strengths of her community than on blowing her own horn.
“A lot of people are not listening to our community,” she says. “They are acting on presumptions, often negative stereotypes.”
Ward 7 — in the northwest part of the city — is striking in its diversity, from extreme wealth to extreme poverty, from the well-established to newcomers.
“It’s not all gun violence and bad schools,” Tiffany says. “That’s part of it, but there’s a lot more to our community. For example, we have a university here. We’re a diverse community.”
You can hear the pride, passion and protectiveness in her voice when she says “our community”. For her, this is home.
“It’s the only home I know,” she points out. “I was born here, raised here, and never left.”
And now, she is running to represent her home area — Ward 7 — on city council. Her rivals include powerful, well-known and well-funded candidates. But Tiffany believes she can do a better job representing her community than any of them.
“Living, growing up and working here — seeing the community from the inside — I am able to critically analyze issues through a lens that others can’t.
“I also have a deep passion, a deep love for my community. It makes me want to inspire the people around me to have a strong sense of belonging here, to help them bring about change.”
Tiffany wants more affordable housing and childcare in the area, but also puts a big emphasis on economic development and accessible transportation.
Since we first met, the more I’ve seen of Tiffany Ford, the more convinced I am that she’s destined to be a great leader. I’m not the only one.
Recently, Isabel Bassett and Velma Morgan hosted a reception for Tiffany. An impressive diversity of women and girls of various ages, ethnicities and professions, along with student volunteers, came out to support her.
When Tiffany addressed us, when she talked about why she is running to represent the community, you could have heard a pin drop. Hers is a refreshing combination: expert knowledge of her community, confidence in its future, and the certainty that she must — and will — be the one to represent it.
To say we were impressed and uplifted would be an understatement.
To find out more about Tiffany and her campaign, please visit:
Myrtle — who lived in our family’s hearts for 28 years, captured the imagination of S. African illustrator Jo Robinson, then, in the last year, charmed thousands of children and adults around the world — is on the move.
First, she returns this autumn as “Vertu”, in French. The text was translated by Myrtle-lovers Jean Long and Jessica Charnock, that creative duo whom you’ve met on this blog.
Here’s Jo’s draft of the cover:
Then Jessica emailed: Would Jo and I permit her to make a wall hanging of Myrtle?
Jo and I were giddy with excitement, of course, and Jessica proceeded to hook the Myrtle the Purple Turtle rug.
And what-do-you-know? Her wall hanging won “honourable mention” at the huge show and conference of the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild last May in our nation’s capital! Congrats, Jessica!
In the just-released Autumn issue of the Guild’s magazine, Myrtle’s story and wall hanging merit a whole page of their own.
Jo’s joyful response:
“I was blown away the first time I saw that fabulously-made Myrtle wall hanging. It is awesome that the Purple Turtle part of Cynthia Reyes’ lovely and loving family is honoured in such a way and by such a talented artist – Myrtle is a great and brave little purple soul and deserves it. Huge thank-you to Jessica and congratulations on placing in the competition! It will always be first with me!”
There’s a Myrtle sequel already written. Daughter Lauren joined me this time to write it, and Jo, despite a challenging year, is doing her part again — she’s well on her way with the illustrations and we expect the book to be published within weeks.
It appears that when Myrtle seizes the heart, inspiration strikes. Jessica, Jean, and our entire family are cheering Jo on as she approaches the finish-line with her part of the story.
Blogger Sally Cronin is a great friend to independent authors around the world, helping us launch and promote our books through her site. Now, Sally has just launched her own book, Tales from the Irish Garden. If you read her first magical garden “Tales”, you know you’re in for a treat.
Congrats to Sally and illustrator Donata Zawadska!
On life’s journey, we both welcome and release friends. How to do it with grace is the challenge many of us face.
People change. As we travel toward new horizons and as we ourselves grow, we may lose some of our friends. And whether we are the ones saying goodbye, or we’re the ones being left, it can be a wrenching loss.
Carol Hand shares a wise and reassuring perspective on the changing nature of friends and friendship through this short poem, below. Thank you, Carol.