A Good Home, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, New Book - Myrtle Makes a New Friend

Her Royal Purpleness

You just never know what Myrtle’s biggest fan in New Zealand will do when a new Myrtle book comes out. She has been known to paint her nails purple, don purple clothes, and now she seems to be choosing purple jewellry or something.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Fan and her Purples

As I said, I never know. But I read her blog this morning, and am intrigued to see what comes next. Please click on the link below.


A Good Home

Follow the Garden Path…

Blog Photo - Garden Path and Greenery

…and you may encounter a Purple Turtle…. just published…..

Book Cover - Myrtle Makes a New Friend - Front and Back coverspread

…or a gardening memoir, to be published later this year. Details coming soon.

Blog Photo - Garden Path and Hostas 2

Blog Photo - Garden path CU of path into the woodlands

Thanks to Lauren and Jo, and to Hamlin and Clif, for their key creative roles in these undertakings.

It may be possible to create a book alone, but I would not want to even try!


A Good Home, Diversity in Small Towns, Welcoming communities

Living Where I’m a Rarity

One day, walking along the main street of a small town, I noticed a Toronto TV producer I knew. 

“What on earth are you doing here?” he asked, staring in disbelief. “Black people don’t live in places like this!” 

“What are you doing here?” I shot back. He, too, was Black.

Turns out he was there for a funeral, and I was there to visit friends.

We laughed and hugged. I explained that yes, there seemed to be very few people of colour here, but there were some. My own family had lived nearby in earlier years.

But I understood his question.  An hour east of Toronto (‘the most multicultural city in the world’), people of colour and even fairly recent immigrants are rare birds.

Blog Photo - Autumn trees and Driveway

When we lived on a farm in the 80’s, I went into the general store, chatted with the owner and said: “I’m so glad to meet another Jamaican!”

He turned out to be Welsh.  (Yes, there is a Welsh accent similar to the Jamaican.) 

We had a good laugh together and sometimes I visited his store just to hear a “Jamaican” accent. 


One county over from ours, only 5% of residents are people of colour. The stats for my county are higher, but not by much.

People of colour are so few that I go out of my way to say “Hello” when I see them. 


I’ve heard anecdotes about communities that are unfriendly to outsiders of any race. And I’d heard this disturbing rumour more than once in earlier years: that local realtors in a small town discouraged Chinese homebuyers because of an unspoken pact to keep Chinese people from “taking over” their town. 

True? I still don’t know. What I can say is this: I was at a sidewalk cafe with friends in that town recently, and just as I remarked on the rarity of people of colour there, four passed us, and then, 10 minutes later, another three.

I joked that they’d been sent by central casting, just to prove me wrong. But perhaps that town is changing.


When a Canadian town, village or farm area remains virtually all-white, what and who are responsible? Is it locals who are unfriendly, or people of colour who won’t leave the city or suburbs?

One obvious explanation: most immigrants settle in Canada’s big cities or suburbs.  More likely to find jobs and services there, many immigrants prefer to settle near relatives and others of their own ethnic/language group.

Blog Photo - Toronto from an airplane - credit Hamlin Grange

This pattern isn’t new.  In fact, it’s part of immigration and settlement patterns in Canada going back hundreds of years.

Then there’s the fact that some Canadians are “city people”, and some are “country people”. Some like big urban centres, and some like villages, small towns or farms.

I’m always in the latter group. Born and raised in a rural Jamaican village, I’m most at home when surrounded by trees, water, wildlife.  The place where I live now is like that.

On any given day, I’m more likely to see a dozen birds than a single human neighbour.

Yet, our neighbours are friendly, helpful and supportive.  (That matters to me even more, since I have a disability.) 

Local shopkeepers are much the same.

“Is everybody here this friendly?” I asked one, the first month after we moved here.

“You know… I really think most people are”, she replied.

“Black woman with a cane,” my husband teased when I told him later. “Everybody’s friendly to you.”

But once we’d lived here for a few months, he admitted  that I was right: many people are remarkably friendly, even helpful.

Of course, we’re both former journalists. We’ve worked in every part of this country and in many parts of the world. We’re unafraid of approaching strangers. We’re also used to living in rural communities; we feel at home there. Perhaps that makes a difference. 

Finally, we’re proudly, lovingly, confidently Canadian and we enjoy our right to live in city or country.  It’s both a privilege and a right.


Are some people in local towns unfriendly to outsiders of a different race?  That would be unfortunate for them.  Rural areas and small towns need new blood to thrive.

As for my own neighborhood?  Without knowing it, we ended up on a street where 25% of the families are people of colour.  I have no idea how that happened, but I’m thankful for it. I love small towns and rural areas, and I love diversity.

A Good Home, Writing letters

The Letters

I have written many letters to which no-one ever replied.

Not email letters. Real letters.

It’s frustrating, I tell you, and enough to make a person pledge to never send another letter. Why bother, when these people either don’t care or lack the manners to acknowledge my effort?

I don’t expect replies to greeting cards and I’d never think of asking if they were received. It’s enough to know that I sent them. 

Blog Photo - Greeting card Thank you

Close friends and relatives get affectionate birthday cards, ones that may contain the word “special” or “love”, or “the gift of friendship”.  Humorous cards are only for close relatives or other people I know very, very well.

Blog Photo - Greeting Card - Peonies

But letters: they’re a whole different matter. Letters require more thought, more effort, more time. One has to think what news to respond to, what worries the person last confided, what wishes and needs were expressed.  

So I settle down and write. 

And there I am, weeks later, months later, wondering why I never heard back.

If I’m concerned enough, I will check with the guilty party.

“Did you get my letter?”

I am always shocked when the answer is: “No. When did you send it?”

And there’s the rub. I can’t actually pinpoint when. Can’t remember when I addressed and stamped the envelope then walked to the mailbox to post it.

What I remember is writing the letter. It’s mentioned right there in my journal, for heaven’s sake! I wrote it.

Blog Photo - Greeting Card - Caribbean House and chickens

And those cards had been sent.


The truth revealed itself gradually, while I was doing that thing I hate: cleaning up my office and putting papers away. Opening boxes and large envelopes jam-packed with bits of paper and whole documents, many having only the most general connection.

An old receipt for gas. Don’t ask why. I don’t know.

An even older greeting card, kept for sentimental reasons.

A letter of reference from a former boss lies under a theatre programme.

It’s a collection of this, that and what-nots, evidence of a disorganized mind.

Blog Photo - Greeting Card - Market scene

And then I spy…

I don’t believe it.

A greeting card I’d carefully chosen, written in, addressed and stamped.

And then — there are more. Three more.  

Blog Photo - Greeting Card - Happy birthday

The get-well wish, the celebration of success, the expression of heartfelt condolence.

Four cards, never sent.

Blog Photo - Greeting Card - Faith

And then I saw the letters.

Several of them, thoughtfully handwritten, two pages or three long.  

Never stamped, never taken to the mailbox.


It gets worse. 

One day I caught myself writing a letter in my head.  And realized I’d probably done this with other letters before.

Written them, yes, but only in my mind.