Baby It’s Cold Outside

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Brrrr. Finders, the temps are dropping faster than my saggy hindquarters. All the leaves have turned, some glorious, some just withered and crispy waiting for the North wind to whisk them away. I’m working away here, tick tacking on the old laptop making good headway into a second book while sending my first around the world, which gets me to thinking about just how cold it really is out there. Tragedy steeped in hatred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. A Brazilian president that makes Trump look like a sweet feminist auntie. Migrants inching along a perilous path seeking refuge from terror now unwitting pawns in political strife that feels like a herald of the end of days. On and on and on. It’s all so…depressing. And the shrink in me does not use that word lightly.

It’s hard to think about my doodles, but what else can I do? What else can any of us do but carry on? The minutiae of life will not be put off by a world that seems to be cracking apart. That laundry pile cares not for your righteous rage and indignation (speaking of which I just read Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad and it’s a mad piece of good). The fridge will not be magically replenished while you protest. The kids must be fed no matter who wins in the next round of pivotal elections held around the globe. Bills gotta be paid even in times of tyranny. And so it goes.

You all know that this space is about joy and today I’m looking for inspiration. A little humanity in the insanity. Reports of random kindness, sappy videos that will dissolve me into a puddle, puppies and rainbows and unicorn sightings. The silly, the obscure, the unexpected, and the mundane. I’ll accept anything and everything even goofy pictures of your cats, creatures for which I harbour a deep seated mistrust. Dig down and find me the joy that I know is out there hidden under all the vitriol.

I’ll get the ball rolling with this. A meaningless ad for a meaningless product that somehow makes me feel hopeful and alive. Joy is where you find it, right?





It’s Not the Heat…

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…it’s the humidity. Oh, this wet, soggy armpit of a city where I now find myself. I tell you it borders on heinous to be a menopausal woman in this town right now. I’m like an oil slick from the moment I open my eyes until I lay my head down again to flip flop around like an old fish between the sticky sheets. It’s been weeks now of weather that people who are clearly suffering from some sort of derangement call “lovely.” I tell you I’m no good for it. Even at the height of my estrogen-filled heyday humidity and I were fierce foes. But here’s the best part: I have A/C. Its the only reason I’m still alive.

I have all the vigour of a very long and skinny wet noodle. I’m supposed to be writing and I am, I am, honestly. I finished a novel recently (please direct all prayers, vibes, and voodoo to the publishing powers that be) and I’ve started in on another, but the inside of my head is as muggy as the outside world. So I’ve turned to the words of others: Less by Andrew Sean Greer, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, The Path of Most Resistance by fellow Newfoundlander Russell Wangersky, and I have been momentarily revived and inspired. Then I step out into the wavy searing sunshine and a new round of wilt sets in.

They say we’ve a few more weeks of this mess to endure, and I suppose I shouldn’t grumble. It’ll be sleet and snow and power outages galore soon enough in my part of the world. So, distract me for a moment and tell me what’s happening where you are. Tell me what you’re reading. And tell me your secrets to keep cool. From my window I can see a young boy gleefully running through a sprinkler in nothing but superhero underpants. He’s the picture of glistening, goosebumpy joy. I’ve got a black thong and a pink shower cap at the ready. Cover me, I’m going in.





The Cure for the Common Chaos

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When last we met I was banging on about my first attempt at fiction writing. Full of hope and optimism I was. Oh, bless me. Turns out my fluffy beach read wasn’t pleasing to a single soul. Now it lives in a little blue folder on my laptop screen where even I agree it belongs. It was late autumn when I finally decided to put it aside. The leaves had turned and Old Man Winter was poking his gnarly fingers in my direction when I decided to see if I could do better. I tick-tacked away desperately trying to block out all the malaise found in the real world. Anytime bad news passed before my eyes or wormed its way into my ear I developed a bizarre syndrome, a cluster of symptoms—fatigue, irritability, restlessness, a twitchy eye and facial grimace, and a strange urge to let fly a stream of profanity every time Trump or someone like him spoke—for which the only cure seemed to be slipping back into the world I’d created on my screen.

While the wind blew and the snow swirled, I wrote and wrote and the next thing I knew I’d written another book. A book that may be prominently displayed on a bookstore shelf someday or simply take up residence next to the first one in the blue folder, but a book nonetheless. The early reviews from test readers are good and it’s caught the eye of a couple of publishing folks, but as everyone knows, even JK Rowling had to grow a skin thicker than a rhino when she started shopping her little wizard book about. Where it will go from here is a mystery.

For now, the weather appears to be turning although given that there’s still snow in my garden I’ve decided to start in on yet another book. I shall emerge at the first sign of a daffodil and not before. At any rate, whether I wind up a published author or a deranged hermit or both, I’ve found a way to cope with what goes on outside the walls of my house. What have you found?


Hilarious Kermit The Frog GIF-source


The Write Stuff

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Well, dear Finders, I thought it was high time for a howdy do. I hope you’ve all been happy and healthy and tearing up this thing called life. It’s been a while since I’ve written, which seems a tad ironic to me as lately it seems I’ve done nothing but write. In between being laid up with some pesky health issues, watching the entire library of shows on Netflix, and nagging poor Rusty almost to death, I’ve been click-clacking away on my trusty laptop.

Here’s the news: For those who have ragged on me for a second book, today is your lucky day. Instead of writing about myself, mostly because my life is in the running for the most tedious yawnfest in history, I decided to give fiction a go. So, I sat down and banged out about 81,000 words, also known as a novel. The initial draft of the manuscript is finished and sent off to a few elite readers for the first round of criticism.

The first review is in and it’s a doozy. “I loved, loved, loved it. It’s wonderful. I laughed, I cried, I couldn’t put it down. Thank you for writing it.” Not bad, right? Well, hold your horses. Given that it’s a book about a young woman and her sister who happens to be a psychiatrist, and that the review came from my sister, I’d say the bias is about as big as Donald Trump’s racist, woman-hating, full of shit, scary as hell arse. Still.

At any rate, there’s a long road to travel between a draft manuscript and a book that you can wrap as a Christmas gift for 50 of your closest friends (see what I did there?). I have to edit again based on reader feedback. I have to begin the arduous process of finding an agent. I have to eat and drink and wail through the repeated rejections. Then maybe, just maybe, open a bottle of champagne if some sucker decides to take a chance of the greatest piece of literature ever written. I had a marvellous time writing it and I hope someone out there gets a chance to read it someday.

At the very least I know you crowd will always find a few kind words of encouragement for me. And this is very important to me because now that a night with Sam Shepard is out of the question (RIP, beautiful man), having a published novel with my name on it has just rocketed to number one on my bucket list. A drunken dusk to dawn prowl on the town with Justin Trudeau is a close second, which is actually far more likely to happen than the new number one.

So, wish me luck as I venture into the muck of trying to become a novelist. Although… an obscure book gathering dust on the back shelf at Chapters or body shots and gender based policy debates with JT. Hmm, tricky, very tricky.



French Foreign Region

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So, my lovely publisher and I had a long overdue, lovely chitty-chat on the phone the other day and she was kind enough to inform me that Finding Me in France is still selling in Canadian bookstores. Sure, many copies were used as fire fuel during the long Canadian winter, but still. In fact, the phrase “regional bestseller” was bandied about. Naturally, the important word here is bestseller. Or maybe that’s actually two words, I’ve no idea, which would perfectly explain why the words New York Times number one bestseller were not uttered once during that conversation.

Yes, said region may indeed be the back end of Canada that lies isolated in the frigid, windswept North Atlantic, but who the hell cares. Yippee, huzzah, hooray and ta da. Regional is a perfectly fine category, think California wine region or regional hockey champions. Any way you look at it, the book of doodles is a winner. Proof positive that France, public humiliation, and overuse of the word arse are the path to greatness.

Quite puffed up by this news was I. So much so that recently, while waiting in a small restaurant for a friend to join me for lunch, I engaged in some banter with two very impressive silver haired ladies. The jumping off point was the complete badassery found in our rejection of societal hair colour demands, and the landing was, “You two should buy my book.” Smartphones were tapped and next thing you know I was three bucks richer. Take notes, mes amis, that’s how it’s done.

Truth be told, self-promotion is not one of my strengths. Righteous indignation, moral outrage, justifying ridiculous expenditures, much more my speed. I don’t even have a single copy of my own book. Shameful I suppose. At any rate, people do often suggest that I should write another book. Possibly. Maybe there really is a shortage of good bathroom literature. I’m no fiction writer so I’ll have to mine this mundane life for something worth saying, not an easy task (ideas, please). I’ll keep you posted.

For now all I can say is merci to anyone and everyone who threw their Visa down for me. Next time we’re going for the big prize, #62 on the Canadian good seller list.



Good Night, Nurse!

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From time to time I get emails from folks who’ve read Finding Me in France offering their reviews. They are incredibly kind and gracious and say things like, “Oh I laughed and laughed,” or, “You’ve inspired me to travel more,” or, “Overuse of the word arse gets tiresome.” That last one has been my favourite until now.

The other day I got a curious email from a name I didn’t recognize (let’s call her Florence). Her message was fairly direct, in fact, one sentence: “Does the name So and So (again, to protect the innocent) from Corner Brook (town in Newfoundland) ring a bell?” I saw that the email was cc’ed to So and So. Intrigued, I wrote back, “Yes, my head is always ringing with bells.”

It became clear that these two women worked together with the next reply, ” I have just put your book down…magical…laughing out loud in the middle of our recovery room for the last few days…driving So and So crazy…I think my two favourite Newfies should get together for a drink.” Either they both worked at a hospital or my book is currently being used as an anesthetic agent for major surgery. Continue reading “Good Night, Nurse!” »


The Prince and the Showgirl

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Sometimes I forget about that French adventure I had. It seems so long ago and so far away and then Bam! it comes rocketing back to me, sometimes in very fine form. If you’ve been hanging out here for a while or if you’ve read the goofy book, you’ll know about my fabulous neighbour who made living in rural France quite special, the fantastique Jean-Claude. JC divides his time between being the prince of panache in a small French town and the master of mayhem in Morocco. And, god love him, he carts my doodle collection wherever he goes.

Not long ago, while sipping cocktails in a Moroccan nightclub, he ran into a famous French musician and producer by the name of Patrick Derue. I imagine they chatted about the spectacles Patrick has put on in Vegas and France, everything from a Chinese version of Cirque du Soleil to gospel concerts, and then somehow, this unfolded…


Continue reading “The Prince and the Showgirl” »


The Last Au Revoir

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Well, the Big French Adventure has come to an end. What an interesting, exhilarating (at times, frustrating), up, down, and all around time it has been. I’ll tell you this: I admire anyone who can live here and not spend every cent they have on Meursault wine and pastries, anyone who can master both spoken and written French in less than 15 years, and, most of all, anyone immigrating to a foreign country without a sidekick who’s willing and able to manage European bureaucracy.

You know, someone asked me the other day if I thought the project was a success. I suppose the answer depends on how you define success. I’ve had unforgettable experiences, and met equally unforgettable people. I’ve seen many beautiful places, and while I haven’t seen a fraction of what I’d like to see in this part of the world, Europe’s not going anywhere and I know I’ll be warmly welcomed back. Overall, I’m far better for it, despite the deleterious effects on my derrière. Continue reading “The Last Au Revoir” »


Merci Monsieur

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I had planned to write a long and sappy, yet charming and witty post thanking Rusty/Big Red/My Better Two-Thirds for this adventure of mine (everything from funding the finding to feeding the giraffe), but then I remembered he doesn’t read my posts very often—bastard.

Regardless, I sat down to write my thank-you note, but I just couldn’t find the right words to convey my gratitude. I almost abandoned the whole thing, and then I got lucky. I found maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen on the internet, and rather than waxing poetic about my husband’s many gifts to me, I’ve decided to share someone else’s story—an ordinary couple who share an extraordinary love.

So, Neil, if you’re out there, you’re a first rate smartypants, a kind soul, and the best friend a girl could ever have. This one is for you: Click here, turn up the sound, enjoy, and then get busy with dinner, will ya?


Island Girl

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Okay, for anyone who’s curious about where I’ll be finding me next: think ocean and mountains and vineyards. Think temperate climate, totem poles, Chinatown, orca whales, and people who say please a lot. Come the morning of May 1st, I’ll be opening my eyes on beautiful Vancouver Island. Not exotic or exciting enough? May I remind you that I have never once set foot on Vancouver Island, and that’s as exciting as I’m prepared to be at the moment.

While many locales were up for grabs, we decided an immigration to yet another foreign country was beyond our energy expenditure capacity—code phrase for too bloody lazy. We have friends and work contacts there, and I hear that English is spoken in all the respectable hair salons.

For those who might not know a lot about Canada (Americans, I’m looking at you), perhaps describing Victoria as a mini San Francisco or Seattle with fewer guns and higher taxes will suffice, with apologies to my new home if the comparison is off. Of course, San Francisco, Seattle, and my bucket list restaurant—The French Laundry in the California vineyards—are just around the corner, and I’ll be plotting a plan for all 3 destinations as soon as I unpack. Continue reading “Island Girl” »


Mama Was a Rolling Stone

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Finders, it’s official: I’m moving. Again. I don’t mean across town, I mean to a different country. Exactly where is not important. For now, it’s enough simply to divulge the drama of the impending déménagement—that’s French for repeatedly doing things that might lead to complete physical and mental collapse.

In case I’m misunderstood, I’m in favour of further adventure; I just want the magical version of it, where someone waves a wand or wiggles a nose and it all comes into place while I’ve been off having a full body massage. 

To say this decision was not arrived at lightly would be the very definition of understatement. Rusty and I discussed and debated like never before and, like always, reached a consensus. We know how to do this by now. We celebrated 11 years together Monday past, and I was quick to point out that 132 months had passed and we’d managed to avoid killing each other, a major triumph in my view. We’ll see over the coming weeks whether I spoke too soon. Continue reading “Mama Was a Rolling Stone” »


Cover to Cover

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So a while back, a lovely Canadian journalist contacted me to do a profile on my shenanigans for a magazine called The Medical Post, a monthly publication exclusively for physicians that covers everything from tuberculosis treatment to travel. OK, Vogue it is not, but it is national and seen by almost every doctor in Canada.

Naturally, I had mixed feelings about having all my former colleagues learn about my abandoning ship, but the woman who interviewed me was so respectful and smart and she asked very interesting questions, so I thought this will be fine, cool even. I’d come off looking all groovy and wise and worldly.

And I did, mostly. Of course the goofy element was loud and clear, but what wasn’t loud and clear was that the cover would feature of picture of my head. Sweet hand of god, not much subtle about me now is there? I pictured me on the back page, you know, the one that nobody ever reads and gets used to sop up spilled coffee or line the compost bucket. I should have known when they asked for multiple pictures of me. So, neither subtle nor swift, me. Continue reading “Cover to Cover” »


Close Encounters of the Cerebral Kind

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Every now and then, I get to flex my writing and psychiatric muscles simultaneously, and this time it’s all glamour, all the time. I was asked by Canadian film director Kris Booth to offer my perspective on what might happen if 6 souls were thrust into space on a trip to Mars…and things went horribly wrong.

The movie, Red Horizon, is a contender for the Cinecoup competition, and with a grand prize of one million bucks to finance a Canadian feature film, there’s a lot on the line (you can vote for the film on the Cinecoup website).

I was thrilled to be asked to contribute, and I fully expect to pick up the Oscar for Best Psychiatric Advisor next year. So, while I’m picking out my dress, have a read of what I had to say here.



Hope Springs Eternal

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Ah yes, uncertainty. It seems it’s only human to desire the known and the sure. But that would be just too easy now wouldn’t it? And probably exceedingly boring. That said, I could use a little tedium right about now. I’m so used to the humdrum of my day to day life that all this excitement threatens to lead to some sort of radical action on my part, like baking or getting dressed.

We’re all over the map these days—one minute it’s Switzerland at all costs, the next minute it’s Canada or bust! There’s even been a brief, and I mean brief, consideration of a sojourn to the US of A. If Hilary Clinton calls looking for a personal therapist, I’ll put it back on the table. Otherwise, the land of the free will be free of me.

It seems the only certainty chez nous is a lack of certainty, but who the hell cares I say. No matter what kind of chaos life conjures up, there is one thing you can always count on: the passage of time. The sun rises and sets without care of what happens to be going on in my little life. Continue reading “Hope Springs Eternal” »


Overnight Sensation

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So there we were, living our dreamy yet slightly risky Swiss life. Risky because any time a couple lives on one self-employed income in a foreign (and expensive) country, well, there’s always the chance that things can change quickly, leaving said couple in a precarious position. One day we were rolling along on our skin tight budget. And then, literally overnight, as they say in my homeland, “There it was…gone.”

Neil’s major client, a beloved Canadian company for whom he worked joyfully for 15 years, has decided to close—a sad event for all involved. We’ve always known this could happen, and that uncertainty was a point of discussion at every point along the way in our Big Adventure Abroad. Continue reading “Overnight Sensation” »

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