what the trees told me

poplar and maple trees

I went for a walk last night to a special place. There are trees there that speak to me. They reminded me of things I’d forgotten. I remember now.

I appreciate my special poplar trees.

p.s. I’m going to be starting to post irregularly on this blog and my Kitchen Sink Wisdom blog. I’m hoping that the posts that I do write will be more meaningful. See you next time!


emelgy.tumblr.com screen shot

I had a thought-provoking conversation with Nicole Rushin on Google+ last week. She had posted this blog post, where she talks about how she came to write her most recent “about” blurb for her website. (Read the whole Google+ conversation here.)

In a recent webinar, Eckhart Tolle talked about the importance of telling your story.

Justine Musk asked in a recent post, ‘What is your one sentence?’

Robert Moss reminded me in his book, Active Dreaming, that a human being is an animal that must define itself or else be defined by others.

I have also had a couple of things happen that made me feel like I was dragging too much of my past into my present.

So, I rewrote my ‘About’ page and thought I would share it here.

Her post really hit home, because I’ve been struggling myself for the last couple of weeks with updating the “about” page here on emelgy.com. Unlike the “about” pages on my other blogs, Mirificationis and Kitchen Sink Wisdom, which have very specific subjects and were easy for me to summarize, this blog feels somehow amorphous. I haven’t quite been able to pin down – at least in my own mind – why this blog even exists. Until now.

Nicole suggested writing an email to myself – as if to a friend – so that’s what I did. Here’s what it said.

Dear Michelle:

I fear this is going to make you feel guilty and ashamed (because you’ll think it’s show-off-y and not at all humble), but here’s the deal: You’re writing this blog first and foremost for you. It’s your online journal or daybook.

Do you remember the first published journal entries you read? They were Harriet’s notes in the book Harriet the Spy, and you started keeping private notebooks of your own because of them. And then there was Go Ask Alice, the diary of a teenage girl who gets lost in the San Francisco drug culture in the 1960s… and a number of other Young Adult books written using the journaling device. More recently, you’ve enjoyed Sabrina Ward Harrison's art journals, full of her hard-hitting questions and luscious illustrations. Not to mention your current favorite blogs, which include The Bloggess and Chookooloonks – both first-person perspectives on their creative authors’ lives.

You like reading about other people’s stories for the same reason that you loved going to your friends houses when you were seven years old. It amazed you to see how other people lived. It blew your mind that you had choices – that not everyone lived the way you and your family did. Shirley MacLaine once said (in an interview with Barbara Walters), “Show me who you are, and I’ll know more about who I am.” (You liked her autobiographical books, too.). You want to know who other people are, and you want to know who you are. That’s why you write.

So stop feeling ashamed. Don’t care one whit whether anyone’s going to read this or not. Put your heart on the screen. Give a voice to the song that you hear running through your mind’s ear. Show people the things that you find beautiful. (Like that line from the Depeche Mode song that you love, “Let me show you the world in my eyes.”)

Maybe, just maybe, there’s someone out there who will someday find what you’ve written, and realize that they, too, have choices.

I’ve recently imported my Tumblr blog, A Little Instant Emelgy, here to emelgy.com. It’s going to take me a while to add titles to the blog posts and clean up any tags, but feel free to explore my archives for photos from my last couple of years.

Update: The Tumblr import didn’t work out so well. I’ve deleted all the Tumblr posts. Not sure if I’m going to try again, or just let the whole thing be.


avocado in blue glass bowl

I uploaded some new photo illustrations to Google+ yesterday, and I suddenly realized that I’d never really talked about Cowbird.com here on my personal blog. Cowbird is a community of storytellers. It was created by Jonathan Harris. (I think he’s awesome, by the way. You can see two of his TED Talks here and here to find out why.)

In February and March I tried to publish one story a day on Cowbird. In April I struggled to find time to continue doing that, but I haven’t abandoned the site. One of my favorite aspects of publishing there is creating the photo illustrations for my stories. A sample of some of my favorite Cowbird illustrations is below.

Beginning this month, I’m switching to weekday publishing only. See you Monday!

bunch of asparagas

cats on shelf

tree branches outside window


red tulips

bananas and nuts

white garbage bag in trash can

All photographs taken with iPhone, and processed with Camera+

welcome to the [name of website removed to protect the innocent a friend] blog, I think

blog comment by The Bloggess

Author’s note: I originally published this blog post on a (now inactive) blog that I created for a friend of mine, for his mixed-drink recipe site. The blog didn’t last long – I don’t drink, so I kind of ran out of things to say about mixed drinks. But I always loved this original post… plus (and this is my favorite part!) Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess (whose work I adore, and whose narrative voice (if I’m going to be brutally honest here) I was trying to emulate) actually commented on this post (see screenshot, above). Possibly one of the highlights of my brief increasingly longer life.


So my friend Bob* suggested that maybe he should have a blog for his mixed drink recipe site, and since I know all about writing blogs, I am creating this blog for him. At some point I really want to have this blog embedded in his actual site, but I’m kind of unclear about all that technical stuff. I just write copy. And I think WordPress works better for the crazy embedding thing (I’m probably saying that wrong, aren’t I?), but I’ve never used WordPress, and I can use Blogger in my sleep (I have at least six other Blogger blogs), so I created a Blogger blog for Bob.

Lots of people One social media guru has told me that Blogger blogs can be exported into WordPress blogs, and she better be right, or this blog is always going to be attached to the rest of my blogroll. Although there could be worse things.

So anyhow, have I mentioned that I don’t drink? True. I may tell you guys that story someday. But in the meantime – yeah, I don’t drink, so this should be a total disaster lots of fun.

Bob suggested that maybe I try to relate some stories to the LCBO’s latest Food and Drink magazine, so I decided to walk to my local LCBO** to get one.

When I left my apartment I was feeling kind of groggy from a long afternoon nap, which I took because I’m PMS’ing, and I think I was also high on Extra Strength Advil or something, because I couldn’t figure out which way to go to get to the liquor store. (Because there are two ways I could go – not because I’m a politically incorrect word for a developmentally challenged person, or anything.)

As I’m walking to the liquor store I’m thinking that it’s really convenient that they put a women’s shelter right next door, because then all the angry husbands could totally stock up on liquor for their murderous stakeouts and WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING WHEN THEY PUT A WOMEN’S SHELTER NEXT DOOR TO A LIQUOR STORE?! Just saying.

I’m always kind of nervous whenever I go into the LCBO, because I hardly ever buy alcohol, and I’m afraid of getting carded. Have I mentioned that I’m over 40 years old? I should probably not be too scared of being asked to show some ID, eh?

So I needed some kind of reason to be at the liquor store – besides nabbing one of their magazines, that is – and I thought, This is great, I can pick up a bottle of vodka to use as bed bug*** repellent. Which is a really, really long and involved story, but basically I have to go to a bed bug-infested apartment building next week for work, and I am totally freaking out about the whole bed bug thing because they can climb in your clothes and travel back to your home with you and presto, your home now has bed bugs too. And I’m guessing I don’t want that to happen to me. And lots of people okay, someone I work with has mentioned that spraying alcohol on your shoes and clothes will scare the bed bugs away. In theory.

(I think she uses rubbing alcohol in her spray bottle, but I am all about saving the environment and I’m pretty sure rubbing alcohol has nasty additives in it, and vodka is all pure and comes from potatoes, or something. Or is that rum? Whatever. Anyhow, so I needed a bottle of really, really cheap vodka to put in my bed bug spray bomb.)

They have a nice selection of vodkas at the LCBO, but OMG WHEN DID MICKEYS GET SO EXPENSIVE??! (Did I mention I stopped drinking over 20 years ago?) So anyhow, I wanted to buy an all-Canadian product, but the only mickeys I could see that were Canadian were, like, all in plastic bottles, and have I mentioned that plastic makes my PMS worse? Never mind. Basically I just hate plastic. So I was all, like, which is the cheapest vodka that comes in a glass bottle? And the answer would be Absolut.

(The bottled-in-plastic Canadian vodkas were slightly cheaper, although upon closer inspection I noticed that both brands – which I totally can’t name here, and not because I don’t WANT to mention them, but basically I forget what they’re called and I also forgot to take my BlackBerry with me when I walked to the liquor store, so I couldn’t make a note of them at the time – were both bottled by the same distiller, which sounds like of dodgey to me, and suspiciously not at all like some kind of Canadian vodka market monopoly.)

So armed with my Swedish vodka I went to the cashier, and have I mentioned that the cashiers in a Canadian liquor store have absolutely no sense of humour probably deal with a really difficult clientele all day long, and aren’t always the friendliest bunch? I asked my cashier where the Food and Drink magazines were, because normally they’re, like, piled all over the exit area, but apparently in this store they keep them in tiny, neat little racks near the entrance. Which is in a different place than the exit. As if they’re trying to make it easier to catch alcoholic shoplifters improve the traffic flow, or something.

So I went back to the entrance to get my copy of Food and Drink, and not wanting to bother the nice cashier again, I slipped through an empty cash lane, and set off a discreet alarm. And tried not to run (or look back in shame) as I quickly left the store.

And when I got outside, I was all, Dude, where did I park my car? Because I don’t think I’ve ever walked to a liquor store in my life, and I totally forgot for a moment that I hadn’t driven.

And then I was all embarrassed AGAIN, thinking how I must appear totally hungover or something and I don’t even drink, and I decided to walk the other way home. Whereupon I missed my street, and had to turn around and retrace my steps about a block later. True. I am SO never walking to the liquor store again when I am high on Advil and afternoon naps, I can tell you.

So I think I need another nap now, to recover from my afternoon…

Suggested drink recipe: Backfire (As in, A lot of things about this blog post could totally backfire.)

*Not his real name

**The LCBO is Canadian-speak for liquor store. In Canada we don’t sell alcohol at the corner variety store, the way they do in the States. The government runs the LCBO. Yeah, it’s kind of fascist. Have I mentioned that the LCBO has not endorsed this blog, or anything? We pronounce it “Ell See Bee OHH,” just like it sounds. Not “Lick-bo,” or something. Although I could try to start a trend, if you like. Oh, and you can’t get beer**** at the LCBO. Just wine and spirits. Canadians buy beer at The Beer Store. That’s what the store is really called. The government must think that beer drinkers are not as bright as wine and spirit drinkers, or something. But anyhow, you can also buy wine at some grocery stores. Not quite sure how they work that. Whatever.

***I should probably point out that, at the time I am re-publishing this post (March 2012), I know an awful lot more about bed bugs than I previously did. And by the way, vodka will probably kill bed bugs on contact – as will rubbing alcohol – but it’s not instantaneous, doesn’t work as a repellent, and can damage fabrics. It would probably be really responsible for me to direct you to this government site about bed bugs right about now, so that you can get some accurate information.

****As you can see from the comment screenshot above, an anonymous commenter kindly corrected me on the “LCBO not selling beer” point. I should rebut by saying that I think (think!) the LCBO only sells imported and artisan beer. Not the popular local swill (i.e. Molson’s or Labatt’s) that comes in two-fours (cases of 24). (I think.)

Added later: This is so cool. A photo of a Beer Store in Stratford, Ontario. Taken by one of my favorite bloggers. WARNING: Adult content.