Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, August 26, 2022


If you’ve been reading this blog long, you know that once a year I offer a 26-sentence long fiction piece written in acrostic form, prepared for a contest but happily shared with you. For this year’s challenge, writers had to begin with the letter C and the first three words, “Cautious as ever…” Each subsequent sentence must begin with the next letter of the alphabet, starting over after Z and ending with B. My entry, which did not place in the contest, is called “Retreat!” I hope you enjoy it. Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. No animals or columnists were harmed in the writing of this story. No pets of any kind reside at the Todd home.

Cautious as ever, I dipped my big toe into the warm bathwater and swirled it around. Delightful bubbles danced across the surface, promising relaxation at last. Easing myself in, I allowed the warmth to envelop my weary body in luxury as I lay back, water to my chin. Fragrances of lavender and lilacs rose to greet my senses, saturating me with feelings of well-being. Gratitude filled my heart at this chance to unwind at the end of a stressful day. Hess’s calming Concerto for Piano and Orchestra released its healing magic from my iPad while candles flickered from the vanity.

I let out a soul-satisfying sigh, then snapped to attention at the sound of a familiar meow. Just as I opened my eyes, a streak of black fur hurdled the side of the tub, and my placid bath became a whirlpool of helicoptering legs, claws, ears, and whiskers. Katie, the shelter cat I’d brought home against my husband Zane’s wishes, had apparently come looking for my companionship, discovered the bathroom door unlatched, and received more than she’d bargained for. Leaping for the edge of the extra-deep tub, Katie lost her footing and slid back into my bathwater where she flailed for freedom. My arms, legs, and torso were immediately covered in bold red scratches. No matter how hard I tried to rescue her, Katie resisted my help and fought like the ferocious beast Zane had insinuated lurked beneath her innocuous exterior. 

Opie, our happy-go-lucky beagle, scampered in to see what all the ruckus was about. Panicking even more at the appearance of the dog, Katie lunged for my brand-new yellow shower curtain and clawed her way halfway to the top. Quadragenarian that I am, I managed to scramble to my feet. Reaching for the nearest towel, I struggled to maintain my balance while also calming the yapping canine and the yowling cat. Swoosh! The soothing bath product I’d added to the water had formed a slippery film under my feet and down I went. Unfortunately, Opie decided it was all a fun game and ran off with my towel as I grabbed for the shower curtain, only to have the whole rod crash down onto my head. Visions of stars and cats’ tails circled my face in a dizzying display as the first movement of the concerto reached its crescendo.

With all the grace only a sopping wet feline can muster, Katie leaped out from somewhere in the middle of the fallen curtain and sauntered out the now wide-open bathroom door as though she’d premeditated the entire show. Xanthous billows of curtain fabric enfolded all my limbs, pinning me against the side of the tub. Yellowish dye bled from the fabric, turning the water an obscene color I did not wish to bathe in.

Zane, his eyebrows reaching for his hairline, chose this moment to stick his head through the door and ask if everything was okay.

As humiliated as I felt, I remembered exactly why I’d married this man when he silently untangled the curtain, gallantly offered me a hand out of the tub, and lovingly wrapped me in a fluffy dry towel.

Bubble baths are overrated. 


Friday, August 19, 2022

Free Summer Shenanigans

Scrolling through social media can quickly convince me that despite the high prices of fuel and everything else, everyone except me is enjoying a wonderful vacation. Everybody we know is taking in scenic new sights, camping at a lovely beach, or relaxing at the cabin while hubby and I stay in little old Portage la Prairie, working away.

I know that’s not true. But maybe you’ve felt like you’re the only one who’s not getting to do all the fun stuff. I thought I’d share some things I’ve enjoyed this summer right here at home—or mostly at home.

Have you checked out the duck pond at Island Park recently? Wow! With its three fountains, a waterfall on one end, and the platform bridge on the other, this creation is an absolute piece of heaven on earth. I’ve taken to sitting on a bench and simply staring. The beauty of the flowers and the trickling of the water soothe my soul and mind. Kudos to our local Rotary Club, the City of Portage, Norquay Nurseries, and anyone else who’s had a hand in making this little miracle happen. Well done!

Our ten-year-old grandson slept over recently. Since it was an unplanned stay, he wasn’t equipped for swimming. But sometimes grandmas have to spoil a bit, right? We walked to Red Apple and bought him some new trunks, swung around to Mike’s Grocery for ice cream cones on our way back, and then checked out the splash pad at Simplot Park. What a delightful way to cool off on a hot summer day! Again, many thanks to our city’s Parks Committee, Simplot, and all the volunteers who worked so hard to create this terrific play space for our community.

This one wasn’t “free,” but Hubby and I took our son and his family to see Manitoba’s Passion Play at LaRiviere. The production celebrated its twenty-first year this summer, although I don’t know if that includes the pandemic years or not. We hadn’t gone in ages, so the live orchestra was new to us and a brilliant addition. The wonderful production in their gorgeous outdoor setting held the boys’ attention surprisingly well. We enjoyed perfect weather and no mosquitoes with an exciting drive home through a wild thunderstorm. Glad I wasn’t driving! It’s too late to take in the event this year, but I highly recommend it for next time. You can find information on dates and prices on their website, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

I also ventured out for some wild sasktoon-picking one Saturdaymorning. Doused in bug repellent, I wasn’t bothered by mosquitoes but found the berries quite sparse. While in the bush, I was startled by the sudden crashing of a large animal taking off from its nearby hiding place. Although I didn’t actually see it, I sure hope it was a deer. Not sure what I’d have done if I’d found myself face to face with a bear. Throw berries in its face? Whatever it was, the ruckus flushed up some really pretty birds, so there’s that. All in all, the hour or two provided all the communion with nature I need until next year. I ended up with enough berries for two dozen muffins plus two servings with ice cream.

If all that’s not enough, I’m happy to sit on my deck with my nose in a good book and a cool drink within reach.

How about you?


Friday, August 12, 2022

Spoiled ... Rotten?

Opportunities to spoil my grandsons are few, so when Rascal Number Three slept over recently, I served food he liked, took him shopping for new swim trunks and then to the splash pad, bought him an ice cream cone “even though we had some at home,” and let him watch too much TV.

Every once in a while, I feel as though God spoils me like that. I experienced one of those days last month.

Oh, it didn’t begin so promising. With a major thunderstorm and three inches of rain overnight, I couldn’t wear the summer dress I’d planned (I know, boo hoo.) Then I needed to detour around a couple of lakes on Lorne Avenue to make my nine-a.m. optometrist’s appointment. His bill was more than I wanted to pay, too. But his news almost made it worthwhile—no change in my eyesight, and no need to return for two years.

Then the fun part began. I picked up my friend Amanda and we headed down the highway to Winnipeg. When you get out of town as infrequently as I do, this alone is special. We yackety-yacked for the 75 minutes it took us to reach the restaurant. Her mother-in-law had invited me as a guest author at her book club’s monthly meeting. They’d just read my novel, Bleak Landing.

I met six delightful new friends who asked brilliant questions, listened intently while I yammered on about my work, and purchased six of my books! They paid for my delicious lunch, reimbursed my mileage, and gifted me with a Chapters gift card. Is it any wonder I left the restaurant feeling spoiled?

I dropped Amanda off at her mother’s for an hour’s visit while I bummed around in Grant Park Shopping Center. At Winner’s, I treated myself to a new scented candle (Vanilla Bean!) and a package of Crayola’s “Colors of the World” pencil crayons. When I was a kid, any crayon box with 16 or more crayons included a pinky-peach one labeled “flesh.” A few years ago, Crayola came out with their “Colors of the World,” helping kids understand skin comes in many colors, all of them beautiful. My 24-pack ranges from “Extra Light Rose” to “Very Deep Almond.” Now I need pictures of people to color, or better yet, a visit from my youngest grandsons so they can join me. I’m proud of Crayola for making these available. 

But I digress.

I left McNally-Robinson for last, knowing that once I entered a bookstore, my remaining 45 minutes would pass in five. There, I found a copy of Genevieve Graham’s newest book. Graham writes excellent Canadian historical fiction.

Amanda and I yackety-yacked all the way to Portage. Later that evening, her hubby dropped by my house with a potted flower for our yard! Could this day get any better?

Apparently, it could. God had not yet iced the cake.

While I’d been out, The Word Guild announced the shortlist for the 2022 Word Awards. I felt so honored to learn that both novels I released in 2021 made the list: The Last Piece short-listed for Contemporary Fiction. Rose Among Thornes short-listed in three categories: Historical Fiction, Best Cover, and Social Justice! They’ll announce the winners next month.

It was still July, but I felt like a spoiled grandkid on Christmas Day.

Which do you enjoy more—being spoiled or spoiling others? May both happen for you this week


Sunday, August 7, 2022

How My Garden Grows

Terrie, Terrie, quite ordinary,
How does your garden grow?
With beets and beans and lettuce greens
And cucumbers all in a row.

My tomatoes look dreadful and I don't know why.

This time of year, I love how every meal preparation involves stepping out to my garden for something. Given the skyrocketing food prices and the decrease in our household income this year, I thought it prudent to jam-pack my little garden with vegetables and keep my flower budget to zero. I took the geranium I’d barely kept alive indoors over the winter, divided it into three pots, and said, “God bless you.”

My resurrected geranium. Where there's life, there's hope.

Then my son gave me a lovely potted calla lily for Mother’s Day.

Then my sister-in-law gave me twenty bucks as a hostess gift, saying “Get yourself some flowers.” I bought a pot with a beautiful red/white/purple combination.

Then my friend gave me a gorgeous coral impatiens plant.

Then another friend gave me a pretty pot of pale purple calibrachoas.

I know, I’m spoiled.

Meanwhile, the geranium I thought I’d killed began showing delicate signs of life in all three pots. By the time they amount to anything, summer may be over, and it’ll be time to take them indoors for another winter. But still.

I also have three perennials faithfully doing their bit: daylilies, hydrangeas, and sedum.

All that to say, my “no flower” summer has turned into just enough flowers to bring joy to my soul and to demand their fair share of attention.

As for the vegetables, our cold wet spring made for a slow beginning. I planted the first week of June and finally harvested our first picking of lettuce on July first. By the next day, you couldn’t tell I’d picked at all. My spinach has been rather disappointing and the carrots even more so. Will they suddenly take of?

Zucchini is quickly taking over. I’m using them in stir-fries and salads and hope to freeze some for baked treats and soups.

Green beans showed up next, and I hope to harvest plenty for eating and even more for the freezer, but we’ll see. I planted way too many cucumbers, then thinned them to half. I should thin them to half again, but don’t have the heart. I’d love to harvest enough dill pickle-sized cukes at once to fill several jars, though. Most years, I save a week’s worth of pickings only to fill two or three jars. My last blood pressure check said I should avoid salt, so hubby will eat the pickles. Do you suppose I can make enough for his work-day sandwiches for a whole year?



Which brings me to the dill. I planted some new seeds in case last year’s didn’t come up voluntarily. It did.

I’ve got lots of beets, too. I throw the greens in salads until it’s time to pull up the root. We enjoy eating those cooked as a side dish, plus I always put several bags of beets in the freezer to use in borscht come winter.

Of course, can you even call it a garden if it doesn’t include tomatoes? I planted six this year. It’s already August and I’m still looking forward to biting into my first toasted tomato sandwich. Something to look forward to, I guess.

I hope you’re enjoying your own or someone else’s fresh garden produce this summer.