September Camping in Jasper National Park

The “view” from their campsite. That’s the bathroom building in the middle ground.

Wow oh wow I pulled off a last minute (for me), long weekend camping trip to Jasper. In September. With two longs hikes. If feels like I should get at least 3 medals and eighteen gold stars for this one. For being out there only 3 days, we covered a lot of ground. I have so many photos of trees, and mountains, and moss, and clouds, and rivers, and burritos. This post covers our campground set up, meals, and must-have gear. I have lots to say about the mountains, that’s coming too.

We were limited in our choice of campgrounds because of how late I left it to book. Which was fine actually. We have very limited needs and wants in terms of location. Wabasso had the only reservable sites left in Jasper that weekend, for all the nights we needed. So it was the perfect spot! HA! And it was fine (shrug). Most of the trees in these campgrounds have been cut down (pine beetle? renovations?), so they feel less like the forest I remember in my childhood. Gotta love the free firewood I guess?!

Wabasso Campground is situated in between Highway 93A and the Athabasca River. There are hundreds of sites, no hookups, full washrooms and loads of trails along here. In fact, if you wanted to stay close to your site for your entire visit, or use it as your trailhead, you have a lot of options. Always a reminder to be bear-aware, and hike in a group and carry bear spray if you can. Many of the trails along the River are bike-friendly and also so beautiful. Highway 93A connects up to other touristy spots like Athabasca Falls, Mount Edith Cavell & Angel Glacier (watch for a future post), and Marmot Basin (for downhill skiing). A large chunk of this highway is closed in the winter season, so be mindful of that when visiting.

PACKING AND SNACKING

Our camping setup hasn’t changed much over the years, ever since I got it just the way I like it. We have a simple tent and sleeping gear. That’s where most of the $$ is, to be honest. It pays to have a good sleeping pad or mattress and a warm bag. Our bags are army surplus because that’s what Dan likes. We bought our pads at a local shop and they roll up so small. As this is bear country, none of our cooking gear or food stays out on the table, so it makes sense to have the least fussy set up. We tried to set up our shelter but the wind busted one of the screws within a minute, so that came down fast. Packing light is also important due to the size of our vehicle. Mabel the almost-station wagon might look small, but with those seats folded down we have plenty of space for everything we need to bring.

Our camping food is simple, and repeatable. Eggs and toast for breakfast, along with pour over coffee. Burritos and our favourite noodles (recipe at the end) for dinner. And sandwich wraps with fruit for lunch on the trail. This simplicity means we need very few cooking items. Most of our gear is secondhand, or the good stuff Dan bought when he was still a bachelor. I have no gear tips other than keep your eye on the thrift stores for plastic or metal plates and cups, take only what you need (2 people = 2 plates), and get yourself a good, yet small, pot and pan.

LEARNING AND TAKING ACTION

Jasper National Park is located on Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 as well as the traditional lands of the Beaver, Cree, Ojibway, Secwépemc, Stoney, and Métis Nation. The First Nations and Métis people who called these lands home were forcibly removed from this area to create both Jasper and Banff National Parks. To learn more about this history, the steps Parks Canada is taking to reconcile with our Indigenous neighbours, and to see how you can experience Indigenous culture on your visit, please explore these links:

Nations of Jasper welcomed back to the Park – The Fitzhugh

The shady past of Parks Canada: forced out, Indigenous People are forging a comeback – National Post

History of Jasper – Municipality of Jasper

Here’s how to experience Indigenous culture in Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park Indigenous Partners – Parks Canada

Jasper National Park – The Canadian Encyclopedia

RECIPE
Dan & Lisa’s Camping Noodles

Ingredients:

  • One box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese
  • One package of your favourite vegetarian sausage
  • 1/2 bell pepper, any colour
  • 1/2 onion, any colour
  1. Cook your shells according to the instructions. We like to drain them while they are still very “al dente”, as the shells these days tend to loose their shape very quickly.
  2. Cut your sausage into pieces. Dice the bell pepper and onion. Combine all in a skillet with a bit of cooking oil or butter.
  3. Once pasta is cooked, drain, then add the Velveeta cheese package.
  4. Combine pasta with sausage mix.
  5. Serve hot!

Full Moon Picnic

Thanks in part to struggling for many years being a single mom trying to do all the roles, and being a working parent with depression, I haven’t been taking the time to craft personal rituals and traditions. This is something that is important and interesting to me, but it never won out in the time war.

Now that I have a better – yet incomplete – understanding of what I like, and what I’d like to try, I’m making the time for those activities. Hosting a Full Moon event has been on my wish list for some time now, and I finally made it a priority in October 2021.

October 2021, Full Moon Picnic on top of Queen Elizabeth Hill in downtown Edmonton

Picnic Details

What is a picnic without tasty snacks? Well, I’m not sure and I didn’t want to find out so I bought a bunch of “fancy” snacks from the local Italian Centre. It’s helpful to have a theme when working on any kind of party. Thankfully one of the names for the October full moon is traveling so I purchased snacks from other countries. Polish popped corn, Californian grapes, Italian cookies and chips. Everyone brought their own chairs, so I was able to set the goodies on a picnic blanket in the middle of our circle. The only thing lacking was light! It gets dark fast up here this time of year, and my single speaker lamp wasn’t cutting through the gloom well enough. Although that did make for a more atmospheric evening!

Full Moon Details

Each full moon of the year has a name, or multiple names. These are usually based on the traditions of our European ancestors, and the Indigenous peoples of this land. We no longer use the moon cycles to track other natural events, so the names often feel out of date. I think that actually makes them feel more special, and it helps connect us to our past, and the history of this land.

For a full list of all the moon names of the year, by month, I used this website: Time and Date. It will give you a really basic 2-3 sentence explanation, which was enough for me to start the event planning (the theme), and dig around for more information to share with my attendees. For example, a traditional name for the November full moon is the Beaver Moon, because “this is the time they become particularly active building their winter dams in preparation for the cold season.”*

New Tradition

We are excited to add this new tradition to the Not Ladylike Community event roster! I am brainstorming ways to ritualize the event, or aspects of the event. But again, as I don’t have a lot of experience with that, I am making things up as I go along. A lot of the full moon rituals I have been reading about involve more spiritualism than perhaps some of our attendees would be into. My next goal for these events is to offer a spectrum of ritual aspects to both appeal to my attendees and allow them to try something new in a supportive environment.

The Not Ladylike Community will be hosting Full Moon events once a month starting with October’s Full Moon (as pictured here). For more information, watch the Events page and our Instagram. These events are sober friendly, queer friendly, and for all ages.

I Quit Art Night

What happens when you want to quit an activity that you host?

A few months earlier, I got some strong clues that Online Art Night really wasn’t working for me. I had been riding the struggle bus for ages, so I quickly brainstormed a “rebrand”. Thinking I could re-ignite my enjoyment by changing up the format or the name or something. I literally don’t know. Like I said, I was struggling.

This piece of paper was the ticket to my liberation, but also made me feel really sad. I wrote down everything I wanted for Art Night and had to say “no, not for me right now, but thanks.”

I want to meet in person, and I want to meet in a bigger space than my home. I want to share resources and knowledge. I want it to be bigger than “just” a craft night.

– Me

When I created Art Night back in 2019 I did it in response to some other craft get togethers that had been popping up. Businesses, where you spent $70 to make a cutesy craft, get a signature cocktail, and have your photo taken in front of some shiny balloons. That concept did not feel empowering to me. It felt like another place where I didn’t fit in, and couldn’t afford.

I wanted to create a space for folks to come as they are. To bring whatever craft they wanted. To spend zero dollars and have a great conversation with a new pal. And sure there would be treats, and photo ops. But with like, zero pressure to perform and dress up. Something that would be more accessible to all folks.

But that didn’t work out. Covid is part of it, killing the in-person part that was so integral. And I still need to learn some hostessing skills. Or asking for help skills.

Ultimately I believe that there is a future here. Especially considering we are going to need a lot of solidarity and mutual aid foundations moving into our uncertain future. Community Craft Night sounds like a thing I could get behind. But for now, Online Art Night has come to an end, “not with a bang, but a whimper.”

16 Spooky Books to Read in October

Autumn means pumpkin spice, warm clothes, and spooky books. The evenings are getting darker in Edmonton/amiskwaciwakahegan, and colder. It’s a perfect opportunity to snuggle down into my pillow fort and scare the pants off myself.

Even if you don’t get to ALL of them, you can at least put some on your TBR list. They are all backlist titles, some mainstream and some maybe more obscure? Who knows. I have no idea what’s trending right now or ever. However, they should be available everywhere books are sold and at your local library. Do everyone a favour and support your local indie (BIPOC owned if possible) bookstore.

Now, on to the list! Additional content notes beyond “scary” are indicated where applicable.

Horror

I am not an avid horror reader, but I manage to find a few each year to scare the crap out of me. Body horror freaks me right out, but it always manages to sneak through my filter. Gadammit. Mostly atmospheric and haunting. That seems to fit my tastes more these days.

Monster of Elendhaven (2019) by Jennifer Giesbrecht. Death, decay, murder and mayhem. A bit of a twisty plot, but worth it in the end. CN for

Ring Shout (2020) by P. Djeli Clark. But what if the Ku Klux Klan were actual, literal monsters? A crafty story that weaves horror alongside low-key commentary on racism in our society and history.

Mexican Gothic (2020) by Silvia Morena Garcia. I started out not loving this book, but it slowly snuck inside my brain and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Vibes like The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – super isolated setting, strange cadre of secondary characters, a confused narrator who doesn’t know what to believe. Some gross body horror in this one, and attempted rape.

Middle Game (2019) by Seanan Mcguire. Gore, time travel (sort of), weird ass power dynamics. This was my favourite book read in 2020. There is a sequel coming out in 2022. Hold my calls.

Monsters

What Big Teeth (2021) by Rose Szabo was not my favourite, but it hits a lot of recommended lists, so I guess I will include it here. After being sent off to school, our narrator returns home to her family of weird monsters. They don’t seem very happy to see her and you can tell right off the bat that there is something bigger going on. Unfortunately the narrator doesn’t follow her grandma’s instructions and weirder stuff starts happening. It takes a lot of teen angst to solve the problem and save her family. I want to include a content warning here for “non-consensual body contact” because I don’t know what else to call it.

This next one hits a lot different from What Big Teeth and feel much more grown up while still tracking a teenage monster. Mongrels (2016) by Stephen Graham Jones is similar with the family vibes, but instead of following a wealthy legacy family, you’ve got an impoverished one living out of their car and whatever shady rentals they could find. Moving from town to town because they’re werewolves and that isn’t considered neighbourly. The main character is a kid who may or may not grow up to be a wolf like his aunt and uncle. The angst is real my friends, and it was precious and fearful. I enjoyed the family dynamics in this one immensely, and continually caught myself holding my breath for how they would get in trouble next.

I wasn’t sure where to sort this next one, but I guess it kind of fits under monsters and that is only sort of a spoiler! Sawkill Girls (2018) by Clare Legrand starts out with the favoured trope of “unsolved missing girls”. The setting is very relevant and very perfect, and the shape of the story feels like a creepy-ass fairy tale. But much, much better. Bonus points for a super diverse cast.

“Girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

Sci-Fi+

Horror is a sub-genre in science fiction, but sometimes there are books that are mostly science fiction with a bit of horror. Where do those get sorted? Here, they get sorted here.

Black Sun (2020) by Rebecca Roanhorse is the start of what is going to be an epic series. Heavy in fantasy, it follows the imaginary Indigenous people of a south-american inspired world. There are warring clans, a failing priesthood, richly detailed rituals, and enormous crows you can fly upon. Lots and lots of gore in this one, holy crap.

Six Wakes (2017) by Mur Lafferty. A locked room murder mystery, but the locked room is a space ship. A crew of clones wakes up in a mess of blood and gore and their own murdered bodies. Their recent memories have been wiped and the ship’s data is inaccessible. The book switches between unreliable narrators, and you are left guessing at every turn. There is a BIG reveal that was very satisfying.

The Dread Nation series by Justina Ireland is a YA duology. I preferred the first title (Dread Nation 2018) to the second in the series (Deathless Divide 2020), but both are very well done. The American Civil War is over, but geez those zombies wreaked havoc on the entire country and most folks are just doing their best to rebuild their lives. Black girls are trained to be body guards for the white ladies, and the tenuous “okay slavery is bad, but can I introduce you to our indentured servants” is a whole mood. Shit hits the fan soon after the book starts, and the location swiftly changes to a creepy town way out west, where folks are hoping to escape the hoards that have swept through the cities of the east. But things are weird out here too, what’s a zombie killer to do? Lots of action and a mystery, but also really sweet friendships and characters you really give a shit about. And terrifying, terrifying zombies.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (2019) by P Djeli Clark. Y’all, I put P Djeli Clark on all of my book lists. Sometimes twice. This felt like a buddy detective movie, with the more experienced Agent from the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities showing the new guy how it’s done. But this time they’ve got a haunted tram car that seems to defy their skills. It’s a novella set in a beautifully crafted world that you will be craving more stories from.

Short Stories

If you want a little bit of fright in small doses, might I suggest grabbing a short story collection. Here are three of my recent faves. Unfortunately, I don’t have exact content notes for these ones, so reader beware.

If you liked Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and want more stories set in this universe, Tales of the Peculiar (2016) by Ransom Riggs is literally that. The story that stuck in my brain was about wealthy cannibals who strike an arrangement with peculiars whose limbs grow back. Shocking and delightful. Creepy more than scary, it offers a deeper look into the world and history of Peculiars.

Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite (2020), edited by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C Parker. Even the scardiest cat enjoys vampires, I know it. An assortment of stories by a variety of authors offers up something for everyone. A bit of haunting, gore, psychological, campy, it’s all in here.

And to close out the fiction show, let’s tip our hats to one of the masters of the spooky book, Edgar Allen Poe. His Hideous Heart (2019) edited by Dahlia Adler is filled with spectacular re-tellings of Poe classics.

Non-Fiction

This is a section I didn’t think I needed until I remember the precious gift to humanity that is Mary Roach. She has written two glorious titles that deserve a mention on the spooky list:

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

I read a handful of spooky books every year, and I consider this a sub-genre that I thoroughly enjoy. While I might never be into the slasher stuff, there are still a lot of horror titles to choose from that offer up a story I can get behind. Ask your questions in the comments, or include some of your favourite spooky books!

Family Scrapbook Tradition

FAMILY SCRAPBOOK TRADITION

HOW IT STARTED

Christmas 2016 is the date of the first scrapbook. That much I know. I asked everyone to either write their favourite thing(s) about Christmas or something you are grateful for on Christmas.  I think my plans were initially to create a book every December holiday we spent together. That changed in 2018 when my sister and her family moved to Dubai in the middle of summer. There was no longer a guaranteed time of year we would be together. And so the tradition pivoted. And I think it’s stronger – and more fun – for that.

THE SCRAPBOOK FORMULA

Each year I pose a new question to answer. That’s what lives on the first two pages of the book. A little preamble, and the set up. The rest of the book is filled with photos and answers. I have been using our Instax instant camera in order to simplify the project, and ensure it gets completed in a timely fashion. There is no waiting for a photo to develop at a lab, or print at home. The photo is taken as I read the question, and then they fill out the card. Each family member gets to choose their journaling card, and they write their own answer there. I especially like this for the kids because we get to watch their printing and writing as it changes over the years. The final two pages are where I get to be a bit more creative. A bit of shimmer or glitter. A big sticker. I learned from the first year (and from a lot of experience) that flat is best in these types of books.

THE TRADITION CONTINUES IN 2021

The layout of the book is much the same as in years past. But the introduction and question has changed of course.

“This past year has no precedence in our lifetimes. But we made it. We overcame obstacles, we saw some wild stuff, and we learned we could do tough and amazing things. This year we answered: What is something I did this year that I am proud of.”

This year’s book makes six in total. Six years. Wow. Wowzas.

LESSONS LEARNED

1. You can start a tradition any time. Like, literally. Today is a great day to start that family scrapbooking tradition you’ve always wanted. You haven’t missed anything. Don’t lament about the memories you haven’t captured. Get excited about all the memories you are going to capture

2. Keep it simple so you are more likely to finish it. Making a formula to follow every time helps. If you think that will make it boring, change up something within the formula – colour or pattern of paper, order of photos, one or two more “creative” pages – but keep the main outline of the book the same.

3. Keep it flexible so it can change if your life changes. My sister moved halfway across the damn world and we still make this work.

Daily Pages – My New Creative Habit?

Daily Pages – My New Creative Habit?

I joined a Daily Pages challenge in September. This is my experience with the Challenge, and a little bit about my current feelings and future in scrapbooking.

What are Daily Pages?

Daily Pages are a “creative self-documenting habit” started by rukristin. Their purpose is to help you cultivate a habit to get your stories down in a small book. A wide variety of folks make Daily Pages, and I have seen all types of materials and supplies go into them. It’s less about rules, and more about: “there are no rules – just do it”.

Why a Challenge?

Y’all I needed a kick in the butt, and an email reminder every day that someone else sent me was (at this point) the kick in the butt that I needed. It’s no secret that I have been struggling with scrapbooking for many years now, and this provided a low key way to use what I have and be a little bit creative every day. And forget about the label “scrapbook” for a while.

What Supplies To Use?

The best part about Daily Pages is that it’s completely defined by each person. And the point is to use what you have. But seriously, to actually use what you have. There is a joke about scrapbookers (and this pops up in every craft), that buying and holding on to supplies is half the fun. For some people it’s all the fun. I still remember a long-time customer at Treasured Memories who bought our Month Kit every month and had never used any of them!

Now, I haven’t purchased new supplies in a long time. Okay, maybe the occasional sticker, but nothing like back in my heyday. And as most crafters know, it is practically impossible to run out of the fun stuff. Glue yes. Stickers and glitter and paper and rhinestones? Never. I may not have a lot of the latest and greatest, but I still have some really cute stuff that I loved enough to buy.

What am I trying to say here? I am trying to say what I am always trying to say. Use what you have.

Thankfully the Daily Pages Challenge actually got me going through my supplies again, with fresh eyes. Everything is still completely unorganized, but there are less things in bins and more things stuck to paper. Winning!

Nontraditional Scrapbooking

I feel very unconnected with the scrapbooking world because I don’t do it like most other folks. This creates a weird feeling in me, as I used to define myself by my scrapbooking. I worked in a scrapbook store, I taught classes, I blogged about it, and I scrapbooked daily. There is still a lot of pressure (self-created) to be in this space somehow.

I need to redefine it and how it works for me. This hobby of artfully arranging photos and paper for the purpose of memory-keeping and creativity.

FURTHER READING

Summer Memories Scrapbook (Not Ladylike)

Daily Pages

Treasured Memories, the best scrapbook store ever!

Autumn in Edmonton

This is just an excuse to post some of the photos I have taken recently. They aren’t great photos, but thankfully this isn’t a photo blog!

I love to explore Edmonton throughout the year, but it really comes alive in the fall. The leaves start to change colour, the golden hour is warm and cozy, and the long shadows creep and tease. Our River Valley is a feast for the eyes.

A few blocks from our home is a large ravine, with a small creek running through. It is dense with mature trees and a lot of trails. Follow those trails north far enough and you reach our River Valley, which is a natural area larger than you can imagine. It stretches for 48km along the North Saskatchewan River, and there are trails along all but a small section. If it’s views you are after, you are in luck, as we are also home to the High Level Bridge, a 110 year old train bridge that towers over the river in the heart of downtown.

If I get started right after dinner I can make it all the way to the High Level Bridge to watch the sun set over Edmonton. It’s a beautiful site, one that makes my fear of heights well worth it. These views always get me thinking about the future of my city, especially that the climate crisis might change them forever. The walk home gives me a lot of time to think about how I might take action in their favour.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

These are the traditional and contemporary homelands of the Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Tsuu Tina, Metis Nation (Native Land), and many other First Nations and Inuit people now call this place home. White settlers have done a lot of terrible things to eliminate these people and their rich cultures from the land we all call home. This genocide continues and is perpetuated by systems steeped in white supremacy. We must freely admit these truths so we can become proper neighbours, and all enjoy peace and friendship in this beautiful place.

Third Quarter Books (2021)

Looking back at my summer of books, I can’t say for sure if it was typical or not, in terms of sheer numbers. But I will say that I read loads of amazing books. No duds? Well, let’s take a look.

A few breathtaking non-fiction, a sweet literary fiction that I stayed up late reading, an essay collection that broke and rebuilt my heart, and surprising no one (again), a whack load of science fiction to round it out.

I’ve been starting to think about my reading habits along the lines of “but what would I recommend?!”. It has helped me talk about these books more eloquently. I cannot write reviews, nor do I want to. But I can at least try to tell you why I loved a book. And why you might love it too.

At 22 books read over the past three months, I don’t think I can cover them all off here. But let’s do a few of the top titles.

I’ve been hearing amazing things about Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer Series for ages, and I devoured it whole. Best science fiction I have read in ages. Fully realized worlds, clever alien life, and characters with the biggest hearts.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer should be on your TBR even if you’re not into plants or climate science or whatever you think this book is about. And if you can get it on audio all the better. It will open up your eyes and heart to the world around you. It was a gift to read.

I read a lot of books about death and disease this quarter. I mean, I purposely chose and finished books titled The Plague and The Next Pandemic. Perhaps others might find this shocking, considering the pandemic we are literally dying from right now. But there is nothing quite like the prospect of an untimely end to laser focus the stuff you like. The Sixth Extinction was all of my archaeology, anthropology, ecology, earth sciences, climate science dreams come true.

And then sometimes you need a palate cleanser. Enter The Switch by Beth O’Leary. Talk about endearing. You’ve got a burnt out overachiever living in the Big City who switches spots with her literal sweetest Grandma, who is bored with her small town life. I stayed up late (far too late) to finish this one. It was cute, but not sickly sweet, and made me want to meet all of my neighbours. Even the annoying ones.

There was only one dud. That’s pretty good odds. See you next quarter.

Summer Memories Scrapbook

Okay okay, so I have been scrapbooking, and blogging about scrapbooking for 16 years, give or take. And I have no idea what to write anymore. It’s all been said by me or by someone else, who is probably way smarter than me (at least in terms of writing about scrapbooking).

Now making videos is something I’ve always enjoyed, but need a lot more practice at. So welcome to this studio vlog of me building a mini scrapbook layout.

HOW TO BUILD A MINI SCRAPBOOK LAYOUT

Again, much smarter people have written much more eloquent words than I have about this, but in essence, building a mini scrapbook layout is the same as building a larger traditional page, say a 12″ by 12″. Except smaller. (Wow, no kidding.) I love mini books because I have to be very judicious in the materials I choose to tell the story. Judicious aka picky. It’s perfect.

I am building this book as I go throughout the summer. Each page measures 6″ by 8″ maximum, and most of the photos are 4″ by 4″. I have bought ZERO NEW supplies, other than adhesive. Working in a scrapbook store for over a decade means I have loads of lovely supplies to choose from, and I have no desire to buy into any trends (in scrapbooking or otherwise).

Step One: Go shopping in my supplies for literally anything that strikes my fancy AND might look nice with the photo

Step Two: Start shuffling those items on and off the page to see what actually fits, eliminating 90% of them.

Step Three: Glue everything down, add journaling and the date.

I love this hobby.

I have been building most these layouts as the events happen, and before I have my photos printed. It’s totally possible! And it helps me from getting too far behind and playing catchup. Because that does not work for me. I keep the photo up on my phone display so I can remember the colours and layout that I’m working with. I have a bunch of blanks cut out of typical photo sizes (3.5″x5″, 4″x6″, 4″x4″) that I use in place of the photo while I’m assembling the page. Once the photos are printed, it’s only a matter of adhering them to the page. And voila! A finished page in a magical amount of time. Past Lisa did all the work. She’s pretty awesome.

WHY MAKE A SUMMER MEMORIES SCRAPBOOK?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have a hard time with summer. Here in Edmonton where I live, the kids are off school for July and August. The warm weather starts showing up in June, and by the middle of August the mornings are already getting chilly. We have dozens of amazing festivals throughout the summer, and activities that are best enjoyed in the heat. Not to mention I work a full time job, and share custody with my ex so I see Lucas every second week. I don’t want to do the math because it makes it too real, but that leaves only four weekends to make the most of the summer holidays. Gee, that’s not depressing or anything.

Usually when Lucas heads back to school, I am immediately filled with regret and guilt that we didn’t “do more”. So I started creating summer memory books. To remind myself about all the great things we did do over the summer. And to push the boundaries of those moments. I love that part of scrapbooking. Not only do I get to live the moment, I can also relive it when I build the page. It’s my scrapbooker’s high.

Second Quarter Books (2021)

Second Quarter Books (2021)

Another quarter of the year down. Summer usually brings for me depression, envy, and doubt in myself as a mom. This year I am countering that with a goals reset and a Summer “would be cool if” List. And more books of course.

Here’s what the last three months looked like for me books-wise. 

I read 24 Books in total between April and June.

  • 1 non-fiction
  • 5 Canadian authors
  • 4 Indigenous authors
  • 17 Women authors
  • 12 POC (person of colour) authors
  • 3 short story collections or essays > I achieved my goal for the year

FAVOURITES

I read a lot of memorable, gut-wrenching, laugh-out-loud, gasp-inducing books this quarter so I couldn’t pick one favourite. So I picked 5.

  • Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark
  • Mind Spread Our On The Ground by Alicia Elliot
  • Burning Roses by S.L. Huang
  • Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather
  • How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

Three science fiction/fantasy/horror novellas, and two essay collections. I’VE GOT A THEME AND I’M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT! Ha!

TRACKING NOTES

I have been tracking some demographics of the authors in relation to the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. These goals were set to help me stretch my subject matter, and not just read the same old white dudes. But now I can see the white supremacy in that and I don’t know what to do.

SPEAKING OF WHITE SUPREMACY

For white people living in Canada who are confused/angry/sad/etc. about the uncovering of the graves of Indigenous children at former residential school sites and just now realizing that you live in a super racist country. Hello. Welcome.

I have not been posting about this to social media lately, because I don’t want that to be my activism. Because social media is not real life, and the folks who control it are not my kind of people. I know that I don’t do enough in real life, and I know that book-learning will only get me so far and I am upset with myself for that. But here we are. I get stuck in my own head, that’s no surprise.

If you are a learner like me, here are some books by Indigenous authors I have loved and learned from this quarter:

  • Unsettling the Settler Within by Paulette Regan. It is very academic, but if you take it slow it’s really good.
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is a poet and a botanist, and she combines science, the heart of the living world, and Indigenous knowledge so beautifully.
  • This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples. An openly gay Ojibwe man living on a reserve, trying to find some online hookups, while he’s being haunted by a ghost of a boy who’s taken up residence in a dog.
  • Indians on Vacation by Thomas King. It’s mostly a story about an elderly husband and wife bickering on vacation, but also somehow pokes at a deeper story.
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Epic fantasy inspired by pre-Columbian Indigenous cultures of the Americas. Gods and gore. Ooh baby.

While you’re learning from Indigenous folks, don’t forget to pay them.

WHAT’S UP NEXT?

Climate crisis. I’ve got a book on the go right now (by an old white guy) that is getting me fired up about the mess we’ve made. To be honest, it doesn’t take much. I’ve already started looking for more material by Indigenous folks, Black communities, and vulnerable communities in the Global South (aka “Third World”) where it is hitting the hardest. Any recommendations are welcome.