Monthly Archives: September 2009

Living on the edge

Imagine a place that is close to everything yet away from it all. A place bordered by the Niagara Escarpment, the Royal Botanical Gardens and acres of lush farmland. This is where we live. We are situated just close enough to blow kisses to city folk from our front porch—yet far enough away to wish upon a star.

We are a neighbourhood of thirty-or-so homes with our very own distinctive sense of place in the urban collective memory. We shop at the farm across the street, even if Tim Hortons is only a hiccup away. We roam the Bruce Trail and enjoy the picturesque waterfalls that spill from the Escarpment edge into the valley town below. Our children enjoy wagon rides, tire swings, and mini golf. The sun rises on our radicchio and sets on our solar lights. We share this setting sun with wild turkeys and coyotes; birds of prey and bunnies.

Our homes are simple, yet they hold the imprint of more than one generation. Our neighbourhood is blessed with character and characters—and we know the footpath to each other’s castles. We are a modest and conserving group of neighbours, complete with weeds and well water.

As neighbours, we ‘catch up’ over the fence while sharing a cornucopia of tomatoes, pears, apples and pumpkins. We recount drought stories, war stories…and love stories. We are writers, rock stars, farmers, teachers, veterinarians, and skygazers; we are all kinds, all cultures and all ages. Garage sales, corn roasts and outdoor movie nights keep us connected and preserve a sense of belonging. The place we live contributes to our wellbeing as individuals as well as to the vitality of our little community.

We live in the simple and in the sublime. We’re a little bit country, and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. In the words of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith: we’re livin’ on the edge; you can’t help yourself from fallin’—in love with this place we call home.

B Jas 

Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge

Note: This post is a recent submission to the Royal LePage “My Great Neighbourhood” Contest. Please vote for my submission here! P.S. Great places make for great writing. Do you have a place you are fond of?

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A short story that I wrote for a workshop was re-worked (thanks, Maria!) and chosen for publication! It can be found on the Every Day Fiction website. Do I qualify as a published author even if the payment couldn’t get me a latte?


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The road to work is paved with whatever you want it to be

This blog is inspired by my not-so-inspiring commute to work.  And (why not?) En Vogue: back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now, yeah.

Okay, so the days are already shorter, the nights are cooler and the season we look forward to all year has zippered by. Back to work. Back in my car. Rolling past the same-old, leaving my thoughts by the roadside. Artlessly, taking every opportunity to read, I spend a good forty minutes glancing at and interpreting rented mobile signs—which surprisingly can pass the time and provide some unexpected entertainment.

Here’s what the local Dirt Depot has to say: “Hey Dads! We have Mums” (and they certainly do! Red, orange, and yellow).

Fall is here. The earth has shifted. The pumpkins have bodies. And here I am reading road signs on my way to work. We’ll call it research! My thoughts swirl in space and time. I contemplate direction. My direction. And I wonder IF I do not change my direction, am I likely to end up where I’m headed? This thought scatters as quickly as it gathered. Then, I find myself thinking about the endeavouring employee tasked with putting plastic letters on mobile signs. I wonder if he is laughing. Out loud. Especially this guy—dressing his sign with: “Our vacuums really suck.”

Today, I tell myself: “back to work” is a good thing. It means I am employed. I am eating. I am shopping. And I‘m paying the bills. And even laughing some mornings, finding humour in unexpected places—even if I am in my car and on my commute into the city…

Reading mobile road signs.

Drinking my steeped tea.

Contemplating direction… and the general course along which my thoughts have a tendency to develop.

Tomorrow, I may tell myself “back to home” is a better thing. Should that be the case, it will mean I have won the lottery. The jackpot of time itself.

B Jas

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Derailed, and getting back on track

You leave your writers’ group meeting full of anticipation, your mind buzzing with helpful critique and your fingers aching to get at the keyboard. That evening, you devote a couple of hours to your novel, and go to bed feeling that warm, self-righteous glow that comes from productivity. Your next meeting is in four weeks—not a lot of time to produce 20 pages.

The next day, your husband reminds you that you have company coming and the bathrooms need cleaning but he can’t help because he has an early morning tee-time. You sigh the sigh of domestically martyred women everywhere and put on the rubber gloves. When they come off later in the day, you’re too exhausted to check your email, let alone write.

Since you are also a freelancer, Murphy’s Law says that you will get three new projects the minute you take a vacation day to write.

Your sister’s cat gets sick. You need to buy a light bulb and new socks. And your dishwasher needs servicing.

By the time you emerge from this glacier of responsibility, you realize that it’s almost fall and you haven’t written a word in two weeks.

It’s official—you’re derailed.

When you realize that you’ve gone off the tracks, your first emotion is despair. You fret that you’ve lost whatever motivation you may have had to write; that you’ll never get another spark of creativity; that writing won’t make you any money anyway so why bother. The computer is a mute reminder of your thwarted ambition.

But then you feel a little better. It gets easier to not write. You watch reality television. You have dinner with your family. You shop for a new dishwasher.

You work and cook and clean and do all those things that keep your life going. You go for walks. You try a yoga workout. You become a regular visitor at

All of a sudden, you remember that you love to read. You immediately devour four women’s magazines, a collection of fairy tales re-told for adults, half a fantasy novel, and the Onion, all in one week.

You re-visit an old Alice Munro story. You finally get what Rust Hills meant when he said “a short story tells of something that happens to someone.”

One day, while you’re flipping through the newspaper, you are struck by an article about a dog who was found at death’s door after being abandoned by his owner. You think how interesting it would be to write a fictional take on the vet who struggles to heal the dog, while she also struggles to extricate herself from a love affair gone sour.

You get that ache in your fingers again.

You decide that So You Think You Can Dance is overrated. You go a day without cute-cat videos. You open up your work-in-progress to the place you left off nearly two weeks ago. You tell yourself you’ll write one paragraph before having dinner.

Three hours later, your husband asks if he should pick up pizza or Thai.

You’re back on track.


Filed under Life and stuff