Homing by Stephanie Domet-A book review of sorts

There are moments in time that shift us, changing something inside us forever.    For some, this kind of change may come when they lose someone they love or if a best friend moves to the other side of the country.  In either case, an emptiness is felt when a person passes on.  But that kind of loss can also be felt when something monumental changes in a community as well.  When a building is torn down or is turned into something entirely different perhaps. There has been a lot of change happening in down town Halifax these days and there are those that are mourning because of its dramatic change.  The current landscape of the city is on the verge of undergoing a major facelift.   I have been watching it transform and I have been listening to those that are experiencing it’s growing pains.

I was presented with an opportunity to spend my lunch hour a week or so ago at the Spring Garden Road Library.  I was in the company of those that were experiencing a heartfelt shift of their own.  We were there to listen to Stephanie Domet read from her first novel, Homing.  This downtown Halifax library was preparing to shut it doors for good.   They would be moving to a new building in the fall.

And what a library it is going to be everyone.  I have been walking past the construction for months now and I will not pretend that I hate the idea of having a new library.  I am more than a little excited about it.  I know that almost all of my future lunch hours will be spent there as soon as it is open.  I cannot wait to find my new writing spot.  I plan on drafting most of my second novel there, as I know it will inspire me beyond my own imagination.  Check out this link for some of the early photos of this soon to be “place to be”.

Even with my excitement in full bloom,  I can still recognize that the closing of the existing library would be hard for some.  This was certainly a running theme in Ms. Domet’s presentation the day I went to hear her read. The well-known Halifax writer and CBC personality confessed to doing a lot of her writing at the Spring Garden branch and felt “proud to have been invited to help say goodbye.

I could easily feel the love she had for her special writing place and I felt honoured to hear her share such a personal side of herself.  I had no idea what her novel Homing was about until that day.  It was in fact a love letter of sorts to the Halifax library that she held so close to her heart.  The Spring Garden road location was a big part of the book as one of her main characters, Nathan, was trapped there as a ghost, waiting to passover.

Ms. Domet was only a few pages into the reading of Homing and I knew I would have to buy it afterwards, even though I went there to purchase her second novel, Fallsy Downsies.  I felt a sudden pull to know more about her characters Leah, Charlotte, Henry, Johnny Parker and of course Nathan the ghost.  I listened attentively then ventured to the back of the room to grab my copy of Homing and to have the author sign it herself.  I soon felt a sudden tinge of sadness.  Her sentiment, boldly written in my copy of Homing was telling.


I felt like I had a special little piece of history to call my own, even if the Spring Garden Library was never to me what it was to Ms. Domet.  I still enjoyed being present to watch those in attendance all bid farewell before unloading their shelves to move across the street.

After purchasing Homing, I quickly exchanged pleasantries with the author and even snuck in a gift to her by nervously handing over a copy of Sisters of Avalon then made a quick exit out the door before changing my mind about sharing.  I can only hope that she might find some time in her busy schedule to read my first novel.

I started reading Homing that very day on my 45 minute bus ride from work.  When I am reading something I enjoy, 45 minutes is only a blink.  Homing anchored me from the first page.  I hated having to read it only on the bus, but there was too much going on to find a day or two to fully dedicate to it.  I wanted to hide away and not come out of my reading nook until it was all done.  I felt like I was seeing a side of Halifax I had never experienced before.

I was only a little half way through when I decided I was just going to have to go to bed early one night and finish it in one sitting.  Her story almost read like a film script, jumping from scene to scene with no chapter breaks. Which was why I did not want to put it down.  Her flow kept me in the story from beginning to end.

It was not action packed by any means but I knew the story was going to punch me in the gut at some point and my reading breaks allowed me to breathe a little more while I prepared myself for some big emotions.  Grief, heartache and confinement were common themes throughout but I knew what I was in for.  I knew there would be tears and part of me needed that release at that moment in time.  I went for it and dug myself in deep as I prepared myself to feel some things I had been putting off for a while.

I commend Ms. Domet’s bravery for writing about such a difficult subject. Grief is not something a lot of us like to encounter let alone write about.  But she did it, with grit, and compassion.  My heart ached in many places as I finished those last few paragraphs.  I am not surprised that it got her the Atlantic first book award.  Well done.

Stephanie Domet’s reading of Homing was by no means an accident, she was of course invited to mark the last days of the library’s closing.   What made her visit fortuitous in nature is the fact that when she wrote this tale of having to say good-bye, she had no idea that she would someday have to say it again, but this time to the place that helped to inspire it.

Until next week.

R.H. Downs




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Rustic Ale’s and Dolphin Tales

Ahhhhh, September.  The month when I make my resolutions.  I always feel more alive this time of the year.  It stems from the back to school thing.  Throwing myself into a book was always and still remains my refuge.  I was the little girl who gave myself homework.  I remember being ratted out by my first grade teacher when my dad told her that he thought a first grader should not have to do so much work.  “Roger, she is giving herself the homework,” she said with a smirk.

I was also the child that did not relate well to my peers but got very excited and conversed regularly with Duso the Dolphin.  Duso didn’t judge and he was the favourite part of my day.  I have since grown to love chatting with people as much as I did with my little blue friend.



Even now, with my school days far behind me I still get that feeling of nostalgia for my years spent in a classroom.  I have come to learn that I don’t necessarily need a brown building to house me in order to satisfy my thirst for knowledge but I still miss it sometimes.  Instead, I make a list of the books I want to read over the fall and winter then go from there.  I look for events that might interest me and make plans for family weekends, date nights with my husband and plan a diva weekend of some kind with my girlfriends.  It is also Word on the Street month which is my favourite weekend of the month.  This year we are booked to sail on Theodore the Tugboat while the amazing Jill Barber reads from her new children’s book.

September is also the month when the Atlantic Film Fest is in full swing.  This year I am looking forward to seeing Danny premiere, and by Danny I mean the former premier of Newfoundland.  I already have our tickets.  Date night!!!  William D. MacGillivary and Justin Simms both directed this feature length film and I have been hearing great things about it already.

My diva weekend has not been planned yet as my schedule has been jammed packed with work, Sisters of Avalon prep for the national launch and of course family time.  But I have a feeling it might involve a trip to the valley, some rustic ale and possibly a Frenchy’s visit or two along the way.  Oh and a trip to the market for a pear and chocolate pastry thingy in honor of the original diva herself, my friend Trudi.  I can smell the apple orchards already.

This is also the month when I get an anchoring for my husband’s homemade red wine.  I enjoy the heat it brings to my cheeks as I sip from a large wine glass that is almost the same width as my head.  Size does matter people and one if often enough.

With so many things to look forward to I count my blessings one by one and promise myself to live in each and every moment of the good times.  Life can change with one quick breath or a phone call late in the night.  Last September I got that dreaded call when a family member was taken from us unexpectedly and he was only 27.  I will never forget my cousin Shannon and will enjoy this month in his honour by doing things we both loved, like taking in a film, drinking a pumpkin spiced latte and dancing in my kitchen to Madonna when no one else is watching.  Life is for the living as they say and those that have gone before us are reminders that it should not be taken for granted.  So if you are complaining about how cool the air has become and that summer came and went too fast, suck it up and put on a sweater.

Happy September everyone, until next week.


R.H. Downs




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Another Week

There have been many emotions floating around inside of me these past 3 weeks or so.  I got the wind knocked out of my proverbial sails recently by someone important to me and since then I have been wrestling with some dark feelings.  I am the first one who will post an inspirational proverb about not letting others define your well-being but sometimes being human takes over and I fall victim to my wounded ego and heart.

What to do?

After typing the above question I stopped writing for a bit because I did not know what to put after it.  I got distracted and moved away from writing as it was filling me with emotion again, I needed a break from it.  I then went to my email and there was my weekly message from Dr. Dyer.  You may not fully understand why this man is so important to me or that when I have moments of questioning he somehow turns up, formless but filled with the power to transcend.   Once again he came when I longed for a new direction.  His words are taken from this weeks newsletter.

“Be immersed in and surrounded by peace. Your Highest Self only wants you to be at peace. It does not judge, compare, or demand that you be defeat anyone, or be better than anyone

Go beyond the restriction of the physical plane. The purpose of the Highest Self is to assist you in this. Create an inner sanctuary that is yours alone. Go to this silent inner retreat as often as you can, and let go of all attachments to the external world of the ego.

Refuse to defend yourself to anyone or anything on the earth plane. Stay within your higher energy pattern. Use your inner light for alignment and allow those who disagree to have their own points of view.

Surrender and trust in the wisdom that created you. This trust is your corner of freedom and it will always be yours.”

These words were the silent breeze that I needed to pick myself up and get back to peace.  Today is also free yoga day at work and I will incorporate Dr. Dyer’s words of wisdom into my practice.  I ache to feel better and I know I am just about back to where I long to be.

Namaste everyone.  I will have something more wonderful to write about next week, I promise.

R.H. Downs





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In Search of Peace

Ok, where to start dear blog.  How much of myself do I want to give away this week?  Well, at the top of my emotional roller coaster ride is the deep sadness I still feel after hearing about the passing of our dear Mr. Williams.  I have not been this overwhelmed by the passing of a celebrity since Bobby was killed in Dallas.  Yes, that was some time ago and if that seems funny well it wasn’t.   I was very young at the time and the show might have been a wee bit too old for me.  But the grown ups in my life did not realize this at the time.  Bobby Ewing was my first crush ladies and gentlemen and every Friday night when I went to bed I dreamt of him very truly, madly and deeply.  Desire was one of the first human emotions that I remember feeling.  Freud could have fun with that statement but I did want Bobby Ewing to pick me up and put me on a white horse.  That was as far as my brain could imagine at the time.  In any case, when his character was killed off I cried for hours on top of hours.  My imaginary boyfriend was dead and I mourned for the first time as a child.

Fast forward 30 years later and I read, courtesy of Twitter, that Robin Williams look his own life.  I cried and tried to stop myself from feeling the loss that was so profoundly felt by many.  I then stopped myself from reading too much on social media, I knew it would overwhelm me and thought it better to ignore it if I could.  I did not feel capable of feeling grief in that moment.  But I did think about his spirit and wondered where it might rest itself.  What a tragic way to leave this earth, he deserved better.

Depression robbed him of a more honorable good-bye.   No one should have to take their own life but sadly sometimes people believe it is their only way out.  I don’t condone it but I understand how a person can get to that point.   I do not even want to put myself in the frame of mind  Mr. Williams and will not assume I know anything about his life other than he sure could make me laugh.  Obvious to everyone because he did the same for millions.  Imagine that for a moment if you will.  Being able to make so many people happy just by being yourself; a connoisseur of laughter and imagination.  I love that man and damn I wish I had a Robin Williams story tucked away in my back pocket.  The closest I ever got to him in my Toronto days was when my friend Renée worked on one of his films.  I got to hold a picture that she snapped of him while on set.  That’s as cool as it gets folks.

But if I did have a Robin Williams story to tell it would go something like this.

It was late fall when Mr. Williams came to town to work on “Death of Smootchy.”  I was in the middle of rehearsing a play I was performing in called Jacob`s Wake at the Village Playhouse.  During my downtime I liked to quietly run my lines at the most charming of book stores in Toronto’s west end.  It was at one time an old movie theatre and I loved how they left in some of the old theatre seats for its patrons.  I could easily find a secluded spot to read my script.   I loved the classic look of the red velvet bucket chairs that were scattered throughout the store.  However, sitting in them wasn’t as comfortable as I would have liked them to be.  I often got stuck trying to get out of them if I tried to do so in a hurry.  Case in point the day when I saw Robin Williams came into the store.  I heard he had been in town as a good friend of mine was doing camera work on a film he was staring in.  I thought about the many ways I could run into him while he was in the same place as me.   But those fantasies often involved him wrapping me in his arms and asking where I had been all his life.  A little far-fetched I now. But finally, here was my chance.  He was walking towards my corner of the shop and as he got closer I tried to jump up and look cool.  In my haste I somehow managed to fall further back into the abyss of my chair and I was stuck.

“Call 911, call 911 we have an actress stuck in a chair, actress stuck in a chair over here people.”

For some reason I was imagining Robin shouting this all over the book store, I was mortified in my own head.  Instead, I felt a hairy hand pull me out from the life sucking contraption.

“Oh my,” was all I could get out.

“My dear you need to be more careful of who you let hold that lovely tush,” he said in a very flamboyant voice.

“Robin, thank you.”

“Oh please, call me Mr. Williams,” he chuckled and with a sly grin he took my hand once more and kissed it.

I blushed, “Why, Mr. Williams I do declare,” I said doing my best Blanche Devereaux impression, I was a big Golden Girls fan.

He recognized my play and without blinking he said,”Why, Scarlett I just couldn’t take you away from Rhett, you have broken my heart.  I must go now before anyone else gets hurt.”

And off he went walking like a bowlegged cowboy after winning a duel.  He kept up his silly walk until he was outside the store and was gone from my life forever.

I wish that were a true story.  Imaging it somehow gives me comfort in a strange sort of way.  I imagine it so that I do not have to remember the way that he was taken from all of us.   The person that took Robin Williams life was not the man that we grew to love.  I hope the world can remember that most of all.


R.H. Downs


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Magic Island

My author’s (b)log, August 4, 2014 at 11:41am.  My spirit has almost caught up to my physical being after only being back to Nova Scotia from Newfoundland for a little over 24 hours.  The invisible part of me still remains in my home province, while my body sits listlessly on my living room sofa.  I am happy to be back in my own bed but I still miss the part of myself that will forever stay on my magical island, perfectly situated in Notre Dame Bay.  How could I not bring the Sisters of Avalon there first?  Technically they arrived in Corner Brook first to a couple of kindred spirits that were on my way from the ferry.  But my aunts on Long Island got theirs before most, that is the place where I was “reared up” or “knit” by my mother’s family.  These terms will be easily recognized by those that nurtured me during my formative years.

The Sisters Have Arrived!

The Sisters Have Arrived!

With only a couple of days of laying in strange beds behind me,  I moved on to Grand Falls Windsor.  I had planned a reading ahead of time with Madonna Crant from the public library in the town where my father grew up.  My dad’s family would get to share in the “official” launch of my first novel.  I wanted to share the love all around.   There were also several members from my Long Island family in attendance as well.  What a treat it was to have my second cousin Faith, visiting from Alberta, open up for me by reading a children’s story to all that were in attendance.  I felt honoured to have her share the day with me.

My Opening Act

My Opening Act

My boys were off getting into mischief with their other cousin Liam.  My youngest even said to me once, “Mommy I have too many aunts and cousins I cannot remember all their names.”  In our family we call this affliction “Daisy Syndrome.”  Daisy being my grandmother who gave birth to five boys and five girls and I quote her by saying, “Alma, Gloria, Shirley, Brenda, ahh f@#k it, Dulcie!”

You can probably understand why it was so hard for my Nan to get the correct name at first word.  The family soon grew from 10 to about 40 or more as the years quickly passed.  I spent most of my time around this lot with many role models to help shape me in to the person I am today.  My father’s family lived away from my tiny island and I only saw them mostly on special occasions.  But enough to know that they too were a “broody” bunch, my dad being one of a twin with 11 other siblings in tow.  Yikes, too many names to name.  As I grow older I am getting closer to this lot and I can see clearly now that my “sass” comes from both sides of the fence.  I was quite pleased to host my launch in the town of GFW where my dad was born and raised.  The “H” in my author initials stands for Hillier but I am beginning to realize that I have a lot of Clarke in my blood.  Be that as it may.

I was quite happy with my first launch of the Sisters.  A calm surrounded me that day and I was able to live in each moment and enjoy the people who came out to support me.  I have an awesome family.  Even those that are related to me by marriage feel like my own kin.  Carmel, Hope, Lily, and Sylvia thank you for being my family by choice.  What amazing souls you are.  You made my trip home extra, extra special.

From there I traveled back to Long Island to rest while I waited for my next “official” Long Island launch.  The couple of days in between readings gave me time to catch my breath and watch the stillness of the icebergs float by.  The sheer number of these ice monsters this year was marked as a phenomenon.  They were everywhere and they each told a story of their own.  The one just off the tickle from my magical island certainly made its presence known.  On the morning of my reading at the Long Island Tea Room it damaged two of the underwater hydro cables rendering the island without power.

A Fierce Berg

A Fierce Berg

I thought for sure the reading would be postponed.  But the tea rooms cook and my aunt by marriage, was willing to do her best to keep the day in check.  The islands fire chief and municipal council got together and set up two generators to run power to the tea room.  What a crew they made.  I sold 22 books that day and read to anyone that came out to listen.  It was a lot of fun to be honest.   Reconnecting with friends and family that you have not seen in long time has some very special power of its own.  I long to feel that energy sometimes and was able to bask in its glory that day.  What a gift.

The Long Island Launch

The Long Island Launch

The rest of my week on Long Island felt much the same as there were a lot of wonderful people home to participate in Long Island Days; a celebration that happens once a year to help raise money for the volunteer fire department.  A very worthy cause.  I was given the opportunity to set up a small table on the community grounds on Long Island Day to help promote my book.  Again, I sold 22 books that day but I also enjoyed seeing more familiar faces that I had not spoken to in years.  A couple of my teachers came by, a couple of friends from my graduating class and even family I had never met before.  Some strangers even.  I smiled a lot that day and enjoyed watching my boys help with the festivities.  They still say Long Island Day was their best day of the trip.  Community spirit is alive and well and that gave me great comfort.  And the squid rings were pretty awesome that day too.

A scoff at Aunt D's

A scoff at Aunt D’s

The last leg of the book launch was scheduled to be in St. John’s at a bakery downtown.  The thought of bringing the Sisters to the Avalon made me nervous and I did consider not going at all at one point.  But I had to pick up my husband at the airport and after not seeing him for three weeks I was more than happy to go even if it was just to get him.  There were for sure more people in that way that I wanted to see but the thought of reading from my book “in town” made my knees knock.  The launch would mean something different once the book hit Newfoundland’s capital city.  It would soon get real then.   The days leading up to my departure felt daunting.  I tried not to let it get to me but there were times when it did.  The ferry to our island also broke down for two days and if I had been on it when it happened I would have taken it as a sign not to go.  But I was safely on the mainland when it did and knew full well that the Sisters would travel to the Avalon regardless of the Long Island ferry situation

The seven hour drive in from Green Bay to “Sin John’s” was one I made with Bonnie Tyler, ABBA, Joel Plaskett and Conway Twitty playing over and over again until my voice was hoarse from singing along.  I sang my way across the province trying not to think of my “bad nerves.”  I stopped only for coffee and gas making it to my Uncle Rob’s house in time for beer o’clock.  That was the best bud light lime beer I had ever tasted.  The night proceeded with good food, great company and many glasses of wine.   When my head hit the pillow I slept better than any night previous on the island and boy, did my body need it.  I would have my partner in crime back in my arms the very next day and that great night of sleep got me even closer to him.

Sin John’s

Once my husband was with me to help take some of the heavy load off my shoulders, I was able to enjoy the big city even more.  We took in the sights, visited friends, ate pub food and he helped reassure me that my reading would go just fine.  The Rocket Bakery and Cafe at 272 Water Street was a perfect spot.  Even though my nerves were still a wee big gone, I held it together well enough to get myself through it.  I got some great feedback afterwards that I will put to good use for next time and I took solace in knowing that I could really let go and enjoy what was left of my last week in Newfoundland.

After thanking everyone for coming out and getting more than my fair share of hugs, a gang of us headed up to George Street.  My husband had never been there before and even though we heard many warnings that it is not what it use to be, we went any ways.  First stop O’Reilly’s Pub.  It was also our last stop because we managed to anchor ourselves in a little nook and cranny.  A fine spot for slinging a brew while we listened to the Irish Descendants.  Yes you heard me, the Descendants.  If I had planned the night to go that way it would have never have worked out as great as it did.  We had the luck of the Irish on our side as we danced a jig and sang merry a tune.  The last time I had seen the Descendants could be a short story all of its own.  It happened many moons ago in Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen Street. A co-worker of mine at the time, from just down the street at the Black Bull Tavern, introduced me to the boys after a gig. It just so happened that her father was one of their producers and she gave me tickets to attend the concert and introduced me to them afterwards.  I however, had one too many “sociables” that night and could not remember a thing about partying with the Descendants.  I did however, have a friend with me who was far more sensible than I and she got me home safe and reassured me that I did indeed have a good time.  Sorry for rubbing your belly so many times though D’Arcy, what can I say, I must have thought that it would bring me good luck.

Seeing the band almost 15 years later was very different.  D’Arcy is no longer part of the band and the name should really be the Irish Descendants, The Next Generation but it did not matter.  We still had a fabulous time and  I can actually remember it all on my own as my new version of a “sociable” is to actually be sociable and not rub a strange man’s belly for good luck.  But no regrets right.

George Street

The day after George Street was spent driving only half way back to my island while we recuperated a little at my aunt and uncle’s cabin in Lewistporte.  I sold most of what was left of my books that night to my family members that wanted copies for Christmas presents.  I was overwhelmed and taken by surprise at their generosity and eagerness to share my book.   I wish I had not been so tired.  I crashed before the cabin crowd came to sing the night away.  I tried to stay awake but the fatigue of the trip had set in hard.  They understood but I still wished I could have enjoyed it more.

A few more days were spent on Long Island before having to say my summer farewells.  Saying good-bye to those that I hold near and dear will never get easier no matter how many times I visit.  It seems like every time I go back there are a few more residents that are not around any more.  There was a lot of sadness in the air this summer along with all the joy.  To reflect on it makes me ache.  I did my very best to not go there in my mind, even if it will never truly escape me.  I tried my hardest to choose love, forgiveness and happiness as the theme for the Summer of 2014.  I moved passed some old wounds while others were split wide open in front of me at times.  But as I sit here and wait for my spirit to settle back in to the Nova Scotia time zone I know one thing for sure, I will always go back for more.

The Cove

Thank you to everyone who helped make my trip home more memorable than I could actually write about.  There were side trips and suppers that were not included in this tale but that does not mean that they are not tucked away for safe keeping.  And they are for sure appreciated as much as the rest.  My pants are a little tighter from all the good grub but my heart is even bigger than it ever was before.  Until we meet again.


R.H. Downs a.k.a by the Queen herself as H.R. Downs (Wink, wink, Aunt D)

Courtesy of Maggie Muggins! #LoveThisSnap

Courtesy of Maggie Muggins! #LoveThisSnap









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Lounging on Long Island with Lora Lee

I woke up this morning in another strange bed.  Since last week I have slept in 5 different places.  I use the word “slept” loosely as I have not been sleeping very well lately.  One reason being that my nerves have been all over the place and two being that after 11 years of marriage, sleeping without my hubby next to me is taking some getting use to.  By the time he joins me in Newfoundland I will have to get use to sleeping with him  all over again.  But last night I had the opportunity to be the first person to sleep in my cousins guest room of their new home.   And what a home it is.  I fell in love with the place as soon as I walked in and saw the island in the middle of their gourmet kitchen.

Their house sits on the land where my grandparents once lived. It was home to their family of five boys and five girls.   When their mom and dad passed on, many heavy hearts hung in the balance.   Along with their grief came some resentment that their childhood home would have to be torn down in order to rebuild the structure that stands there today.   It is understandable to feel loss when someone moves on to the other side but holding on to grief can do funny things to a person.  I will admit that seeing my Nan and Pops house disappear felt like a punch in the gut but with time I grew to accept that a house, whether it is there or not, will not bring them back.  Nor will it erase the memories that are tucked away for safe keeping.

Walking into my cousins home for the first time did not hurt me in any way.  In fact, I felt like I could breath a special kind of air again.  I imagined my Nan sitting by the front window twisting her hair as she watched to see her youngest son pull up in the driveway.  I could see my Pop scrubbing the grease off his hands in the wash basin that was situated just outside their living room.  In a rare moment of silence between gabbing with my cousins I could almost hear the click, click, click of the damper from the Woodchief that once heated their old bones.  All of those memories came flooding back and I felt blessed to be in a home filled with so much love.

There were little things scattered throughout their new living space that added to my trip down memory lane.  One being the staircase banister that Pop built which now rests its ageless head under the corner of the island where we both laughed and cried together.  But my favourite moment of the visit came when I walked up the stairs to go to bed for the night.  The room where I had the pleasure of resting my very tired head felt very familiar all of sudden.  It reminded me of the nights I spent at my grandparents house with my Aunt B.   The cross breeze from the two windows that were wide open felt like a hug from the beyond.  I closed my eyes and slept better than I had in over a week.  I knew in that moment that it did not matter that there were new walls standing in place of the old because love was alive and well in the Rowsell garden.  To deny the magic of the power of spirit will only hurt the person who refuses to embrace it.  When you open yourself up to accept change, the past will reinvent itself and allow new memories to fill your soul.

Namaste to my cousins for allowing me revisit the old while enjoying the beauty of something new and wonderful.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs




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Memoris of a Tipsy Author

Okay so here it is.  The ramblings of a woman who has had a week of highs and well, highs.  I got my book two days before I was expecting them and it caught me completely off guard.  When my publisher brought me 8 boxes full of a books, that I actually wrote, I went a little haywire.  Colours of love flashed before my eyes as I unexpectedly had to autograph, yes autograph two copies of Sisters of Avalon.  My publisher wanted one for his mom and one for his grandmother, both Newfoundland women.  I wrote this book for Newfoundland women, thinking about them reading my words made want to throw up.  Oh Wow!  It was all finally happening.

Fast forward to two days later and I am now having a party for my Nova Scotia supporters a day earlier than I had planned on because of Arthur!  Hurricane Arthur decided to join in the festivities.  It felt as if I had summoned him just like I did in my imaginary tales of the Bride Sisters of Bridgette’s Cove.  When you read the book you will completely understand my reference and the significance of a hurricane named after the legendary King that my characters are tied to.

So, it’s Friday night and I am all for “breaking out da Barbies” as my old friend Mrs. Gimlet was on hand to commemorate the event.  She was twisted with lemon and two drinks later I was ready to talk birthing stories.  I apologize to the young woman who attended my launch and had to hear all about labor’s 1 and 2.   After having two children I sometimes feel obligated to tell the world how fraking life changing it can be.  Not to mention how demons can enter your body when you get mad at your husband for not taking off his jacket while you are trying to bring his son into the world.  But that’s another story.

Hours after everyone had left I was still at the top of the mountain unable to close my eyes as I watched Nurse Jackie, waiting to see what Arthur would bring me.   In the end we got off lucky as we kept our power and all our branches.   He was not necessarily as kind to others.

So there it is, my blog that was written while under the influence of Gin and becoming a published author for the first time.

See some of you in Newfoundland next week and be careful what you say to me, you just might end up in my blog.  Just kidding, well sort of.  LOL

R.H. Downs

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One Week

In one week I will be making my way back “home”, back to my beginnings.  Because I am about to embark on a journey that I have longed for, my ego has been trying to play games with me.  It is attempting to turn my excitement into fear as thoughts of failure try to worm their way in.  I fight these thoughts with my self-talk method.  I remind myself that no matter what, I will still have a beautiful life whether my book is a success or otherwise.  I tell myself that even if my first novel is not everything that everyone expects it to be, I am still a whole person.

I have spent this past year working very hard, often neglecting my social life and spending less time with my boys.  I have made sacrifices yes, but for the next four weeks I plan on making up for that time by giving my boys a summer they soon will not forget.  The freedom that awaits them on my tiny island is something very special.  I know this because I lived it for the first 18 years of my life. They will get to explore the magic of a place that I hold very dear to my heart.  Not to mention the precious extended family time that we all will have together.  That time will make it all worth it for me and for them.
Regardless of how my book is received or reviewed, I have been given the opportunity to share a piece of myself.  Putting myself out “there” allows me to step outside of my comfort zone and tell others that anything is possible.  Living a full life can still happen even when loss, stress and depression still linger behind the curtains.  That is the real message that lives inside my story.  I look forward to sharing it with anyone that will listen.  Look out Newfoundland, here we come.
R.H. Downs

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I Have a Confession to Make

Okay loyal followers of my E11ephantRoom blog I have a story to tell.   This tale will hopefully inspire.  Very few of you will know that Sisters of Avalon came very close to not happening at all this summer.  There were a few bumps along the way that I kept to myself as I have learned that writing and publishing a book is a process.  There are many other people at work behind the scenes that also have a hand in my journey.  I am blessed for each and every one of them.

Originally, back in the fall, my publisher and I both believed that we could have Sisters of Avalon ready for father’s day in Newfoundland.  That date however, got pushed ahead to the end of June, and now early July.  There were some editing issues and my book did not get the full attention that it needed.  The circumstances were all beyond everyone’s control, no blame was cast but instead we moved forward.  We leaped on to plan B.  As my mantra of the month states, “every obstacle is an opportunity.”

My publisher, a proofreader and myself worked day and night to get the book as ready as we could for my plan B launch.  The first edition of Sisters of Avalon is in good shape but I am betting a few things slipped by us.  That is why we decided to only do a limited run of the first edition.  We ordered 250 copies to sell only for my launch in Newfoundland this summer.  Of those 250 copies, 90 of those are for my Indigogo supporters.  Which means I will only have 160 copies to sell this summer.  The second edition of Sisters of Avalon will not be published until the fall, once it has gone through a more thorough round of editing.

I promise you there is a lot of great stuff in the first edition and I think you will enjoy it.  And look at it like this, those of you that own it will have a collector’s item that will hopefully be worth something someday.

Thank you for reading my confession, I hope I haven’t disappointed anyone.  I honestly worked my butt off getting this book ready for the promised 2014 summer release.

Happy Tuesday.

R.H. Downs






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A Mild Monday Meltdown

My blog is a little late today.  I am still recovering from my meltdown yesterday.  That can happen once in a while. Things were piling on top of things and I just exploded.  It was a culmination of too much sugar on the weekend, Sunday being father’s day and the fact that there was a slight delay in getting Sisters of Avalon off to the printers.

Let me start with the sugar.  I have come to learn that sugar makes me wacko, if I eat too much of it I get cranky and then crash, hard.  Saturday was a rainy day and I planned a day in with my boys.  We bought some treats and watched Muppet Movies until I felt like Miss Piggy.  By the way, she is one of my favourite muppet’s but I think she needs to give up on Kermit and start dating Fozzie.  Funny guys always make better lovers.  And that’s the kind of crazy thinking that happens when I eat too many gummy worms.

Then on to Father’s Day.  Yes, it is a scheduled calendar date that society has put upon us to spoil the men in our lives and that is kinda cool.  But for the past three years my dad has not been available to answer the phone and hear me cheer “Happy Fathers Day.”  My dad has passed on and I miss him not being around.  I imagine this day can be difficult for many of you that might be in the same boat.  I get through it for my boys and my hubby and make it special for them but I ache on the inside and I try my best to let it pass.  It gets a little easier every year but the longing to hear his voice is still there.  It always will be, I am sure.

The kick in the arse that pushed me down meltdown ally was when my publisher told me on Sunday evening that there was a delay in sending my book to print.  It did not get sent off on Friday the 13th like I had thought.  Go figure, superstition got the better of me.  Apparently,  some legal papers regarding copyright were not completed properly the first time around.  I let the delay get to me more than I normally would.  I usually see obstacles as opportunities but not on Monday.

My co-workers could tell when I walked into the office that I was not myself.  They were wonderful, as always, in their understanding that I was not having a good day.

In order to get out of my funk I vented to my husband, who always knows how to handle an over emotional “me.”  I am happy to have him by my side, especially on the bad days.   I also contacted my Diva friend, who always gives great advice.  I feel like she should send me an invoice after she reads my rants.  I am not sure what I would do without her.   She also inspired me to do a good deed and make an appointment to donate blood.  An odd thing I know, but that is just what she does.  She inspires.  And after finding out that donations are at a low this year I also encourage others to do the same.  You never know when the vampires will attack.  But in all seriousness it is a great thing to do.

So now it is Tuesday, the sugar has gone from my system, Father’s Day has long passed and my publisher managed to get things back on track.  As I type this copies of my book are sitting in a printing-house, I cannot wait to get my hands on one.   Now that my meltdown is over, I can reflect and be grateful for all that I have.   My crappy mood on Monday came and went, just like the tides as change is the only real constant in our lives.   I feel that it is important to forgive ourselves when we do something “human” so I did just that.  I let my ego get the better of me this weekend but I will not let it get the best of me.

R.H. Downs




Luckily, I have “tools” to help me through these situations.

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The Plan As I See It

My blog is a day late and a dollar short.  A day late because yesterday was not about me in any way.  Our country said good-bye to 3 very brave RCMP hero’s on June 10th, and that day was for them.  What a wave of emotion I have felt this week.  I know what loss feels like, but the shootings in Moncton brought more than just grief with it.  It also brought an overpowering amount of love and support for the families of these fallen officers.  I am so proud of my Canada.  Seeing all those brave men and women show their support was something I will never forget.  A sea of red marching for hope, love and peace.  I salute you all.  Namaste.

The dollar short reference was of course regarding  my Indigogo campaign which is now complete.  I did not raise my entire goal amount of five thousand.  But, I still have enough to do a mini launch in just the western and central areas of  my home province, Newfoundland.  I am ecstatic that I get to come home.  The love and generosity from my family and friends has taken my breath away.  I am blessed.

Out of the money raised, ten percent goes to Indigogo for administration fees.  Another percentage, not sure what yet, will have to go towards postage for those that supported me across the country.  I had 23 contributors from across Canada and the United States.  I had 22 from Nova Scotia, 1 from New Brunswick and 18 from Newfoundland and Labrador.  I even had 3 people sign up for book club packages.  That’s a lot of love from people who have not even read my book yet.  Thank you, your kindness has not gone unfelt.

Sisters of Avalon will be on its way to print this week.  I will be putting a schedule together over the next couple of days confirming dates for my visit.  I have one confirmed event that I can pass along now though.   Grand Falls Windsor Library on Friday, July 11 at 2pm and another at 7pm.  I will be doing a reading and book signing on that day.  Other details will be coming soon.  Your books will be delivered to you all one way or the other once I get to Newfoundland.

For those that reached out across Canada and the US, I will be posting your books as soon as they arrive at my door.  I look forward to hearing your feedback once you dive in.  Then the real fun begins.

Then there are my Nova Scotia supporters.  Look for an email coming soon regarding your delivery details.  I am going to try my best to personally deliver them to you all right before I hit the road for Newfoundland.  I have a feeling I am going to have a lot to blog about this summer.

I cannot tell you how much this journey has meant to me.  It is a dream coming true and I would not be able to do this without the love and support I receive on a daily basis.   Thank you all for that.  I look forward to performing my own good deeds along the way this summer, as I pay forward all the generosity that has been shown to me.  I think I will call my trip the Good Deeds Tour 2014, brought to you by Sisters of Avalon, the shining star of the granite planet!  Oh wait, that’s Blue Star right?  Heehee, private joke there for all my Newfoundland and Labrador friends.  There will be no Blue Star on my trip but maybe I will have a sip or two of a good ol’ Jockey Club while I am there.  But only one or two, I am going to be too busy looking for people to read my book.  If you know anyone interested, just drop me a line.

R.H. Downs





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The Grand Seduction-A Film Review

If you would like a run down of the storyline for this particular movie you can read Jim Slotek’s review from the Toronto Sun.  His journalistic outline of the film is very accurate in most regards, but I didn’t go see this film because I wanted to write something typical.  I went to lose myself in the tiny harbour of Tickle Head, Newfoundland.  And I did just that.

Tomorrow I get my manuscript, Sisters of Avalon, back from my publisher one last time to approve final edits before it goes to print next week.  I have 7 more days to make it the best it can be.  Going to see The Grand Seduction made me crave my Newfoundland culture even more than I already do.  I could smell the fish stage and taste the screech just as the characters on the big screen did.  As soon as the opening sequences started with the view of the harbour I was hooked.  I felt the warmth of the wood stove as someone’s “mudder” served them pea soup.  Ahhhh the flavours of home, there is nothing like it.

The film had a handful of Newfoundland greats that we all know and love, Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones, Gordon Pincent.  How can you go wrong with that threesome?  Then throw in some Mark Critch and you got a rocking kitchen party like no other.  I am pretty sure I saw Pete Soucy in the mix as well.  I even think I saw Corky from Skipper and Company.  Remember that one folks?  I miss Skipper.  I would also like to mention a new fella that was brought on the scene for only a few opening shots, Percy Hynes-White.  This young man was meant for the big screen, how could he not be with the likes of Sherry White and Joel Hynes for his parents.  Look for him sitting on the roof in the first 5 minutes of the movie.  I have a feeling there are many more films in that boys future.

As I giggled the night away I was left with wanting more of everything, more Newfoundland, more Mary, and maybe even a couple more phone sex conversations.  I have your attention now, I bet.  Yes the scene with Mary Walsh eavesdropping on a private telephone conversation with the lead character, played by Taylor Kitsch, was something else.  A “Nan” type character sat listening idly by not knowing what Kitsch’s “machine” was while Mary Walsh’s lip quivered at the thought of Kitsch’s “machine” getting overheated.  A cheap thrill but a thrill nonetheless.  Life is full of those silly little things that make us think of a time in our lives that once was.  This film gave me a lot of that.  But it was what I went looking for and I was not disappointed.

The theatre only had about 7 people in it but I plan on going back next Tuesday with a group of girlfriends so that we can all be silly together.  Most of my friends here are also from Newfoundland so I know when the gang of us get together to go see this we will have our own little kitchen party on the go.  There is nothing like home and there is nothing like getting a gang of Newfoundlanders together to have a “time”.

The Grand Seduction might not win any Oscars but it was worth my 11.99 on a Monday night.  If you are an east coaster missing home this film will give you a mouthful of something sweet.  A morsel to chew on until you can find the time and or money to get back to that place that just makes you feel whole again.  Newfoundland is not just the province I call home but it is where my spirit was born.  I wear my red, white, yellow and blue with pride and long to feel her breath graze my shoulder and whisper, “Welcome home missis, welcome home.”

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs


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Thank you, thank you, thank you…

It’s been a busy week.  I launched my  indigogo campaign igg.me/at/sistersofavalon a week ago tomorrow and boy, do I feel loved.   Not that I didn’t beforehand but I am overwhelmed with emotion and cannot wait to share Sisters of Avalon with you all.   I am guessing if you are reading this blog than you have already seen my campaign.  In any case, I am at 42% of my funding and still have a way to go yet. But for those that have reached out to help, you have made me feel extremely blessed.  With you by my side I know I can do this.  Seeing a dream come to life is a precious thing and I have not taken any part of this journey for granted.

My hubby has been by my side cheering me on, editing my book, recording videos and taking our boys out weekend after weekend to give me time to write.  What a household of great men I have in my corner.

My friends from far and wide have been reaching out and donating, even friends that I didn’t think I had, have come out of the woodwork.  I am grateful for the love.

My family, once again, you are holding me up.  Keeping me strong and cheering me on.  I am filled to the brim by your generosity.

With 9 days to go I still need you to share my annoying posts, keep them going until they reach enough people, I appreciate it so very much.

Bringing Sisters of Avalon to Newfoundland is my dream because this novel would not even exist if it were not for my home .  This story is my love letter to my birth province (even if the story line is rather dark).  Newfoundland is my beacon and I would be lost without its beautiful light.  This campaign is more than just about raising money for me, it’s about sharing a part of my soul that has been hidden for so long.  Three years ago, right around the time of my fathers passing, a light got switched on inside of me.  It was a glimmer of hope that came after a year of heartbreak and excruciating pain.  I knew deep down that if I didn’t find some sort of way out of this sorrow that I would lose myself in it forever.

I began reading books about finding my Dharma and began healing through my creativity, which of course was writing.  The Sisters of Avalon script came first, I wrote dialogue between characters that also felt pain but looked for forgiveness and happiness.  Then came the book, and I can tell you that the book became something entirely different.  All the darkness, sadness, and pain that was once inside me came pouring out.  I will apologize now to anyone who thinks this story will end wrapped up in a pretty pink bow.   It will not have your  typical happy ending, but will challenge its readers to look for their own happy ending, their own joy, and their own bliss.

Sisters of Avalon is more than just a story, it is my manifestation of something I believed so strongly in, that there was no way my ego could destroy it.  It is my way of saying that when you allow yourself to break free from all the crap that is thrown at you, anything is possible.  As human beings we  get caught up in so much shit, pardon my lack of decorum, that we lose our spiritual connection to self.  We were all put here on this earth in the same way, and in that moment we are all infinite creatures capable of extraordinary things.  It took me 36 years to figure that out, and I am grateful for every moment that lead me there but now it’s time to let go of everything that held me back.  The path ahead of me is already laid out, I just have to be courageous enough to follow it and not “sweat the small stuff,” as they say.

Thank you to everyone who has joined me on this adventure, as I will forever hold your gratitude in my heart.


R.H. Downs


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My Indigogo-Sisters of Avalon Newfoundland Launch

Well everyone the time is near.   No,  not for the second coming but time for my book launch.

Just about one year ago to the day, I finished up a week-long screenwriters workshop on Prince Edward Island, where my script, Sisters of Avalon, got accepted to be part of the 2013 PEI Screenwriters Bootcamp.  My little class of 6, plus our mentor, Tom Shoebridge, made a very big impact on me that week, and set me on the path of becoming a novelist.  Mr. Shoebridge, eloquently told me that if I write the book first, than they would come to me for the screenplay.  I was overwhelmed by his encouragement and made a promise to him on the last day of “camp” to take Sisters of Avalon down a different road.  And what a journey it has been.

After my workshop, I started writing the outline for my book, not knowing really where I would take it next.  When a little angel stopped by, and tapped me on the shoulder during the late days of September 2013, I listened.  That angel found a way to let me know that I could pitch my idea at the Word on The Street festival.  When I saw the posting stating that there would be a limited number of spots available, I jumped in head first.  Being that it was late in the game, I managed to get the very last spot available.  I had a couple amazing angels taking care of me that week.

The day of the pitch came, and I was over the moon.  Not only did I land myself a coveted pitching slot, but I also won a contest that the festival was running to sail on the Silva with several east coast authors.  Starting my day out on the water with the likes of Greg Malone, and my fellow book clubbing  momma’s, was invigorating to say the least.  I got to chat up one of my favourite Newfoundland comedians.  He was a sweetheart, a real gem as they say back home.   Nothing like being out on the water and feeling the salt water spray on your skin.


The wind was blowing a wicked gale that day, but her breeze helped to calm my nerves.  The time came to pitch the publisher(s).   I stood at the back of a room, about 30 strangers in from of me and I let my story loose.  There was a presence with me in the room that day, and at some point during my ramblings to the panel, I felt something shift.  A voice from outside my head said, “my dear, that’s good, you got it.”  Than sure enough, there he was, Mr. Terry Biles, my soon to be publisher for Sisters of Avalon.  Terry and I agreed to meet in the coming weeks to discuss signing me for RedemptionHouse Publishing.

I eagerly began writing in October of last year, and many drafts later here I am, about to launch my first novel.  Not only was my story too big for my screenplay, but I came to find out it was also too big for just one book.  There are still two more books waiting in the wings that will become part of my Bride Family Trilogy.  I cannot make it stop, and nor do I want to. I am a writing addict, and the Bride family have become part of my psyche.  My clan of sisters live in Bridgette’s Cove, Newfoundland, a fictional place I created for my characters.  Even though I grew up in scenic Green Bay, my book takes place on the Avalon Peninsula, simply because my characters ancestry dates back to the times of Arthur, and the Isle of Avalon.  I wanted to tie both places together and link my story accordingly.   I have always loved stories that have an air of mythos about them and have brought some of that into the Bride’s story.   I cannot wait to share my book with you all.

Sisters of Avalon cover lrSisters of Avalon is set to launch in Nova Scotia near the end of June ish.  I have a group of wonderful friends who will no doubt help me plan a stellar book release, once the time comes.  But, and this is a big BUT, I fantasize daily about bringing my book back home to Newfoundland.  My publisher of course cannot make this happen as they are located here.  I know they would love to be able to say,”yes Renée, fill your boots” but it’s just not a reality for them right now.   Going back home to share my book with my island people would mean the world to me.  I have a large family, and many great friends who have supported me on this journey, who live in Newfoundland, and sharing this experience with them is very important to me.  Which is why my wonderful sidekick, helped me put an Indiegogo campaign together.  I knew very little about crowd funding until my hubby mentioned it, but when I checked it out, I thought, why not?  I am not one to give up on my dreams so I am going to give this Indiegogo thing a go, go!

If you have a second, and wouldn’t mind checking out my page I would greatly appreciate it.  And if you cannot donate than that’s ok, maybe you wouldn’t mind sharing it for me on your Facebook page or on Twitter.  I am even cool with you calling home and telling yer mudder about it too, lol.  I will take what I can get, and will sing your praises to the heavens.

Here it is, R.H. Downs Indiegogo campaign.

P.S. I would also like to give a special shout out to @jeffmacarthur for generously allowing us to borrow his equipment for our video.  Thank you Jeff.

And another thank you to David who reads my blog and sent along this little guy.  Thank you, your gift is a great treasure for this E11ephant lady.

photo (99)Namaste!

See you next week.

R.H. Downs

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Dear Dr. Dyer

Today I am being pulled back towards a work in progress, my Dear Dr. Dyer book.  I started it back when my father was going through his last days here on earth.  Writing has been and always will be my therapy.

I actually had the opportunity to give Dr. Dyer some pages from my early draft while he was visiting Halifax in June 2013.  I got to sit so close to him that I could actually reach out and touch his arm, but I didn’t.   I got to shake his hand instead and told him in person how much I truly appreciated the gift that he had given me.   My breath was all over the place that day, both centered and excited all at the same time.

I often channel Dr. Dyer when I meditate, as even the thought of his very presence brings me peace and contentment.  When I actually sat in a room with him  in “real” time it was a holy experience.  His words washed over me and filled me with great joy.  I live my life now believing that I am on a spiritual quest and it was Dr. Dyer who helped put me on the path I had been so desperately seeking.

My life completely transformed the day I found Dr. Dyer.  I grew up hearing only Christian stories about religion and the Bible but I never once knew “God” until I read Wayne Dyer’s words.  I still remember being about 14 years old and attending a church service in my little community.   A minister of sorts asked if I could feel God and I had to answer honestly, I was in church after all so I simply said, “No.”  I felt none of what was happening around me and was made to feel ashamed because of it.  I would be going to hell apparently.  I think the shame that was placed upon me for not knowing God when I was younger was what actually kept me from realizing what it all meant.  But now I know the secret to knowing God.  God is quite simply love.  Well, that’s how I feel on the matter and Dr. Dyer taught me that.

I have read Dr. Dyer’s, The Power of Intention, Wishes Fulfilled, and am currently reading his memoir I Can See Clearly Now.  I have listened to many of his lectures, mostly online with only 2 in person, so far that is.  I long to learn more about myself through his teachings.  When I am having a bad day, Dr. Dyer’s, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life is my go to book for guidance.  It lives on my bedside table and travels with me where ever I go.

I can see clearly myself, that finishing the book I started back in 2011 is a must.  I feel a strong calling to tell my story through my love letters to Dr. Dyer.  There is much to thank him for that is for sure.   I know now without a doubt that I was put on this earth to tell stories and I believe that there is always something to be learned from them.


R.H. Downs

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Oceanstone and A Foggy Rainbow

This weeks blog originally started out as a letter to my ego telling it to take a hike but as my week came to a close magic happened.  Magic in the form of a foggy rainbow.


Foggy Rainbow


Seeing this up close and personal took my breath away but I expected nothing less from the mystical breeze that blows over Oceanstone Seaside Resort.  This little piece of heaven has an energy that cannot be found any place else.  I visited Oceanstone for the fourth time this past weekend to attend a workshop with the equally breathtaking, Donna Morrissey.  I truly believe that the Universe answered my call when I prayed for a writing session with her before moving west this summer.   The marriage between Oceanstone and Donna Morrissey was one that was brought together by God.  I strongly believe that, as I take nothing for granted these days.

Upon arriving at Oceanstone, I was greeted by three different staff members each one with a lovely smile on their face.  They were all genuinely happy to be working there and it showed in the loving way that they greeted their guests.   The workshop did not start until 10am but I was there by 830am, eager to soak in the magic that stirs my soul and fuels my fire.  Barbara, the marketing coordinator, was the first person to say hello.  She didn’t scold me for being way too early but welcomed me as if I were her own family.

Barbara had to help ready things for the workshop but Grace was right there to offer me a coffee and agreed to watch my laptop bag while I went for a stroll down to the beach.  Breathing more deeply than usual, I filled my lungs with the kind of air that made them want to sing.  As I  slowly walked  along  the sandy shore singing “Face of the Earth” by Joel Plaskett, my eyes gazed upon the essence of a rainbow trying to fight its way through the fog.   The effort of the rainbow’s struggle was not lost on me.  I connected with nature’s story and went about my day feeling blessed and happy to be alive.

Back from the beach, I sat myself down on a very comfy sofa to enjoy the heat from the fire that Grace had roaring in the front room of the office.  I still had time to kill as I broke out my laptop and started writing.  I always write when I visit Oceanstone, everything just seems to flow better there.  The pull of the ocean was welcoming as I ached to put pen to paper.  I began a new project that took me back to writing dialogue, my old familiar friend.   I allowed the magic to flow through my fingers as I wrote what I predict to be a comedic hit someday.  A girl can dream right?  I always dream big at Oceanstone.

I managed to get some good solid work in before the other participants started to arrive.  Anxious to begin, I gathered my things and went inside one of the most amazing meeting room I have ever seen.  If Donna Morrissey was not so incredibly engaging I would have found it hard to focus.  The large windows that surrounded us could have doubled for seaside paintings.  Once in a while my eye would catch a longliner coasting the ocean blue.

The day really flew by as Donna had all 15 of us unlocking our right brains.  Some really beautiful words floated around that room, as one of Canada’s great writers revealed a side of herself that made us all want to share too.  Donna may be a little sprite of a thing but her personality is a hundred times bigger than her skinny legs and all.  What a woman, what a writer.  After attending a previous reading of hers a few months back, I knew what to expect and I was not surprised that she commanded the room once again.  An Evening with Ms. Morrissey.

After the morning came and went we took advantage of the beautiful day that was bestowed upon us and ate our lunch outside to enjoy a rare glimpse of the Sun.  The amazing staff at the resort once again went above and beyond serving us butternut squash soup, wild rice, with a choice of salmon and or chicken.  In my case it was both, I could not decide between the two and took a little of each.   I was not disappointed by my decision but could not finish all my chicken.  I did not want feel to logy for the afternoon session.

The wind decided to give the Sun a break and only let us have her shining brilliance for a few hours.  And like the celestial goddess, we only had Donna for a snippet of what we all really craved of her.  Many of us wished that Oceanstone would make Donna Morrissey a regular guest and offer more workshops, hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

Leaving my seaside pocket full of heaven felt like leaving a best friend as she went off to summer camp.  But in my heart of hearts I just knew I would be back.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit this little bit of Nirvana then I highly recommend it.  Thus far I have slept in The Treehouse, The Pines, and Dovekey.  Before it’s all said and done I am sure I will make my way through all of their unique and beautiful accommodations.  Oceanstone may reside in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia but it will forever live deep in my heart no matter what part of the country I am living in.


See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs










Filed under Uncategorized

Where Winter Sits (Revised)

Where Winter Sits

Warning: This story deals with sensitive subject matter.  

Kate could feel winter sitting on her back, resting its weight between her shoulder blades and reminding her of the burden she was carrying.  It was hard to stay motivated after spending the last 3 months hunching her back while pumping gas for her uncle’s petro station.  No one wanted self-serve, it was too cold to get out of their trucks.

The thick wool scarf that her Aunt Daisy knit to help keep Kate warm did it’s best to ease the burn of the minus forty degree weather but the days on end of wrapping it around her face wore away at its thick mane of protection.

Kate pushed her shoulders towards her ears one more time in hopes that the scarf would cover her nose and rescue it from completely falling off.  The winter had made her look like a circus performer in full makeup, red in the spots that stood out and white on the parts that got covered.  Her beautiful west coast skin was burning from the east coast winter that just would not quit.

“Fill her up buddy.”

If she heard one more person call her buddy she thought she might explode.  Inside the big blue down stuffed jacket her feminine parts got lost.  In a way she enjoyed the anonymity, but deep down losing herself inside her winter coat was becoming far too comfortable and she was beginning to fear its soul clenching arms.

Before she made the move to Labrador her only knowledge of its existence was from a picture on a map at her school.  It was not until her mother passed away and social services told her she would be moving east with her only living relative that she got to know the rocky province almost by heart.

Kate’s first day on the Labrador was one of the few balmy days that the north won.  To a first timer there could be no better place on earth.  Its lush colours from the evergreens made Kate feel like she was someplace foreign but it’s beauty spoke to her in a way that made her feel like she was part of the earth itself.  Like she really belonged there, even if she “came from away,” as the others often said about her.

Her mother’s great aunt, Daisy Pike, was a woman who never had any children of her own and saw Kate’s arrival as God’s blessing.  Her husband Roland always wanted a boy and Kate would have to do even if he shrugged his shoulders at the thought of having another female around.  Daisy was the master of the house while Roland was the master of his garage.  What Daisy said while she was inside her four walls would have to be even if her husband didn’t like it.  As long as he had his petro station he was content to let her rule the roost.

The rules around the Pike house were indeed not that hard to follow but they were different from most around the coast.  Daisy was a deeply religious woman, no scissors on Sunday and no booze or cigarettes ever.  Kate had never even known what rules were until she moved in with the Pike’s but she welcomed Daisy’s deep devotion to God and the stability of having a home that never changed.  She missed her mother and the west coast weather but she loved not having to watch her mom binge on the drug of the day or the man the hour for that matter.

Kate had no idea what a home cooked meal looked or even tasted like until she showed up on Daisy’s doorstep.  Kate was nine when her mother died from an overdose but Kate only looked about half her age as her tiny frame spoke volumes about her life up until that point.

“Well mother of God what have you brought to me today?”

Daisy asked for guidance as Kate’s big brown eyes looked up at her for hope on that first day.  After Daisy took a deep breath and held back the tears that were mixed with several emotions she brought Kate to her room and showed her where she could keep her things.  When Kate looked back up at her holding only a 7-11 grocery bag Daisy knew she had a lot of catching up to do with her little niece.  Daisy had no idea that the child’s life had been like something from a Dickens novel.

“Well then my girl, we are just going to have to go the Sally Ann and find you some decent things to wear.  Maybe we could even find you a book or two as well.  I use to be a school teacher you know.”

Daisy’s pride in her profession sparked something inside of Kate that first day on the Labrador.  Daisy had an air of calm about her that transferred itself onto Kate almost in an instant.  With her troubled brown eyes and her crumpled grocery bag Kate instinctively knew her life’s course would be changing.

Kate never spoke much in the beginning, her emotions were still locked up inside her leaving Daisy to guess at what her needs were.  At first Daisy thought that Kate was mute and left her alone until she was ready to break from her shell.  Hearing the sound of her own voice all day long made Daisy tired but she would not give up on God’s blessing, how could she, it was His will.  Daisy couldn’t wait for each and every Sunday to come to take Kate with her to church hoping for a miracle to occur.

Roland always tinkered in his garage on Sunday, he had no time for church going but he didn’t dispute the matter with his wife as long as she didn’t in turn urge him on to accompany her.  He promised to keep the shop closed as long as she was ok with him working there on his own.  It was their funny way of reaching a compromise.  It was also the day of the week that he felt most alone in the world with only the comfort of the pit to make him feel whole again.

The pit, as Roland called it was the big hole in the middle of his garage where the magic happened.  At least a dozen cars and or trucks drove over that pit in the run of a week to be worked on by the great hands of Mr. Pike.  God blessed Roland with the ability to navigate an engine like a brain surgeon would a patient.  The thing about Roland’s hands that boggled the mind of most of his customers was the fact that they were the size of large boulders and as tough as flint.  No one dared to cross Mr. Pike when he had a point to be made, they were terrified of his hands likening them to God’s wrath-never knowing what they were capable of.

When Kate came to the house she did not fear Robert like most did upon meeting him.  When she saw the size of his big hands she was intrigued by them, longing to have them pick her up.  Her big brown eyes had a way of pulling him in even when he didn’t want them to.  On that first day, standing in her oversized clothes Robert found it hard to turn her away.  Her hair was cut short and in a lot of ways she resembled the qualities of a small boy and that only made her even more endearing to him.

Kate held up her crumpled grocery bag and handed it to Robert and without saying a word he knew that she wanted him to look inside.  As Mr. Pike fumbled with the handles trying to open it, the weight of the bag took him off guard.  Inside, was a dirty stuffed puppy that had for sure seen better days and in under the puppy a metal object peered out that put a half-smile on Robert’s face causing Daisy to inquire about the contents?  It must have been something good to put a smile on her husbands rugged face she thought, “What is it Rol?”

“Something we can put to good use little one,” he pulled out the metal object that made Daisy question his expression.

“A wrench, sure what good is that to a little girl,” Daisy didn’t understand why such a silly thing would give her husband so much joy but she left it at that and went about helping Kate feel at home.




Part Two: Where Winter Sits


Roland waited until Kate was 13 before introducing her to his one true love, his Big Claw Gas & Garage.   Kate could see the pride on his face when he took her through the rugged door behind his counter.  Who would have thought that a broken piece of plywood would lead to a wonderland of hidden treasures?  Kate had seen the store front before, but always wondered what was behind the grease smeared door that she was never allowed near until her thirteenth birthday.

Kate was born on Canada Day and Roland thought it would be a good day to take her behind the mystery door.  She was more than ready even if Daisy protested.  “Dem savages will have her for sure if you takes her over dere Rol.  Leave her be.”

Roland didn’t give any heed to his wife when it came to what he wanted for his garage, he never did and never would.  Roland took his niece over to his shop and told Daisy not to worry, “dose boys knows what side dere bread is buttered on, don’t worry Daiz, no one will touch her as long as I got dese,” Roland held out his two fists which gave Daisy comfort and uneasy feeling all at the same time.    Roland’s hands bore witness to many stories.  Stories marked by the burns, scars and the small patches of raw skin nicked by hot engines and wires that sparked when they should not have.

Hands like Roland’s were great weapons but they did not bode well when trying to work on delicate machinery.  Roland got used to the blisters as his skin was thick as rubber and small cuts and scrapes didn’t even phase him.  He did not let the electric shocks stop him from getting into places that were intricate.  However, with Kate showing an interest in his trade he knew full well that her tiny hands would fit perfectly in some of the places that his could not.  With Kate by his side he would have the perfect partner.  He knew on that very first day that she came to him that she was as much a gift to him as she was for his wife.  He could not resist her dark eyes and the way she offered her only prized possessions to him.  When he felt the weight of her wrench in his hands he knew it was a sign.  Kate never spoke of how she got the shinny metal toy but when she saw the smile it brought to Roland’s face she knew it had bonded her to him forever.  He groomed her from that day on to be his little helper.  Bringing Kate to his garage for the first time was a rite of passage for both of them.

The giant whole in the concrete floor where Roland hid while he tinkered on the under bellies of the Fords and the Chevy’s was what he enjoyed talking about the most.  Kate could see that he had a little station set up down in the pit for his radio and his mug of tea.  When she looked more closely she could see his pack of Rothman’s tucked away behind the radio, a place where her Aunt Daisy never spy them.  His deepest and darkest secret laid inside that blue and white cigarette package.  If Daisy found out he smoked she would drive him back home to his mother.

Roland’s anxious hands could not wait to teach Kate how to drain a fuel tank, her first lesson of the day.   Roland worried that Kate wouldn’t take to his mechanics like he had hoped, and he thought some of the men around the shop would take offence to a girl learning what they believed to be only a mans trade.  But Kate took to the grease like it ran through her veins.  The men learned to shut their mouths once Roland laid down the law with his scared knuckles as he shook them loud and clear at anyone who dared to pass judgment.

Daisy didn’t like the idea of her niece being around the “savage men” as she called them but Roland reassured her that he would never leave her alone and chauffeured her to and from the shop whenever she asked to come along.  As Kate got older she longed for the rides to the garage and Daisy knew her Kate wanted other things that didn’t involve making a pie from scratch or stitching quilts with the United Church Women.  She reluctantly let Kate go her own way as long as she still went to church every Sunday which Kate would have done anyway even without the promise of getting to play at the garage.

It wasn’t until Kate’s first winter of pumping gas for her uncle that her play time began to feel like hard work.  It was a winter for the record books, it was beyond harsh as Shakespeare himself would have deemed it to be full of discontent accompanied with heartache that ran deeper than the snow itself.

Kate was 16 and blossoming for the first time into the women that Daisy longed for her to become.  Everything came late in Kate’s life including the desire to explore her sexuality.  She never fully identified with becoming a women or anything for that matter until her belly started to ache and her breast went from being pancakes to homemade bread rising in the oven.  She welcomed her uncles oversized gas jacket as it hid her lumps, as she called them, and her insecurity about it all.

When the cramps came Daisy prayed all night and day to God but she didn’t say a word to Kate about it.  Her aunt left a box of Kotex in the bathroom and then left her on her own to figure it out.  What Kate picked up about being a women at the garage helped very little now that there was a red stain on her “step-eens” as she heard one older lady call them one time at the Bi-Way store in Labrador City.  Other than that, her knowledge about a ladies undercarriage was very little.

On her first ever day of becoming a woman, Kate was in the bathroom for well over an hour before Daisy checked on her.  “Katie girl, can I bring you a cup of tea?”

A cup of tea, Kate thought, what the hell was a cup of tea going to do?  Kate may have not picked up much about her feminine whiles while at the garage but she certainly picked up a few colourful words.  She never really felt bad about thinking them as long as she never said them out loud she would be ok.  Her church never really frowned too much on cursing, it was more concerned with keeping your legs crossed while your pocket stayed open.  As long as she kept going and Aunt Daisy filled the wooden plate she would be just fine.  If she only knew what to do with the box of Kotex than everything would be even better.  Kate read the box then shouted to Aunt Daisy for a new pair of underwear then the rest she had to figure out as she went along.

Daisy didn’t have much knowledge herself about the matter of it all.  Her knowledge came from a nun who told her that when the blood came it was God’s way of punishing her for being a women and to keep her legs closed for fear of a lightening bolt striking her dead.  At least Daisy left that part out when Kate got her visitor.  The tea was her way of saying don’t be ashamed of yourself but she didn’t know how to say those words without appearing ignorant.  She didn’t want Kate to see the side of her that didn’t feel smart, like a teacher should be.  Daisy told her to stay home for a couple of days until it went away, even letting her miss church.

Those first two days off for her monthly became a regular occurrence as the following months came and went.  Katie wasn’t shamed by the blood just mostly inconvenienced by the amount of it.  Daisy did her best not to make Kate feel bad about being women, she just gave her the space she needed to figure it all out for herself.  Kate spent her time of the month lying in bed with her eyes closed while she explored the parts of her body that were growing.  Kate became excited by her own touch for the first time.  Was this what it meant to be a woman, she thought over and over again?  Kate really enjoyed it when she was alone with herself while her aunt and uncle were away.  When she had to leave the house that was a different story.  Winter would became her friend, as the many layers of clothing allowed her to hide her body, protecting her from showing the world that she was indeed a girl.

A switch happened as Kate began to put more time and effort into trying to protect her skin from the wind that loved to kiss her cheeks.  Her love affair with winter was bitter sweet.  It hid her curves but scared her face, making her appear rugged, which caused the customers to call her “buddy” and mistake her for a boy.  As much as it bothered Kate it reassured her Uncle Roland as he would not have anyone ogling his niece, be it a stranger or a neighbor.

It wasn’t until Kate put on a short skirt to wear to church that he began to worry.  Kate had not thought anything of her blue mini, it use to fall beneath her knee but her legs had grown long even if her hips didn’t budge an inch.

The skirt didn’t make it out the door.  Daisy told her to go back into her room and not to come out until her skirt grew, it confused Kate at first until she caught a glimpse of herself in the reflection from the bay window.   It was 8 o’clock in the morning but it was still dark outside in that part of the province.   Kate could see why her aunt didn’t want her wearing the blue mini.  Her image in the bay window was distorted enough that Kate thought she looked a super model even if it was only from the waist down.

Kate took a dress out of the closet and changed out of the blue mini.  The dress adequately covered most of her legs but it clung to her lumps and pushed them together making her shoulders want to fall forward in an effort to hide them.  Nothing seemed to work or make her feel appropriate for church.  She took the dress off and opted for pants and a nice blouse that her aunt had given her for Christmas.  It still had room for her to grow into and it gave her a square shape, fit for any pew or parish men.

There was one man in particular that Kate wanted to make sure steered clear of her.  Mr. Boreas may have preached a good word or two as pastor of their congregation but when heads were turned he presented a very different side of himself, especially to Kate.

“My Kate, you are looking lovely today,” he squeezed her hand firmly as she greeted him before service.  He had a way of making her want to crawl out of her skin but she kept her feelings to herself.  Her aunt thought that Mr. Boreas was a saint and would never allow anyone to say a bad word about him.

Even when Mr. Boreas preached from the alter Kate could feel his eyes on her.  His words full of hell fire and damnation all while his eyes did things that Kate was not even old enough to imagine.  Kate tolerated his longing gazes for Daisy’s sake and because she only had to put up with him for an hour a week at church.  Every now and again he would show up at the station to have her pump gas for him.

“Hi Kate, lovely day,”  he would always say, then hint at something inappropriate before speeding off in his black station wagon that sometimes was used for transporting a coffin to the graveyard.  Even his car gave her the creeps.

“My, you are getting too grown up for that jacket now aren’t ya?  Maybe you should take it off.”

It was comments like that that made Kate want to light a match whenever she left the gas nozzle in his tank.  That would really fill him up, she thought. But the good natured girl inside of her ignored his comments.  The worst part was when he would hand over his money to her, “Thank you Katie,” he would say while reaching in a little too close to “accidently” touch the inside of her breast.

“Opps, sorry,” he would say, as if he had done nothing wrong, “see you on Sunday.”

The first time he had touched her like that she ran to the bathroom and threw up.  Her body shook with anxiety and her stomach turned until it was empty.  She couldn’t tell Daisy, she wouldn’t believe her and if she told her uncle than she knew he would be sent to jail for murder.  For the time being she would not say anything, much like she did anyway.  Her silence was a mask that she wore to protect the people that she loved most.  As long as she only had to see Mr. Boreas once in a while she thought she would be ok.

Kate began faking cramps a lot more as time went on.  Daisy could sense that Kate was no longer interested in church and questioned Kate on her wellbeing.  “You are sick a lot on Sunday’s these day it seems.  Wouldn’t have anything to do with church now would it?”

“No, it’s not church,” Kate didn’t lie as such but she wasn’t being entirely truthful.

“Well if it’s not church than what is it, you aren’t sneaking off to meet some boy are you?  You better not be taking up with those savages at the garage.”

“No Aunt Daisy, don’t be so foolish.”

“I won’t have any of your saucy tongue now missy.  Tell me what’s wrong,” Daisy was not about to let up.

“Nothing, I just don’t feel well.”

“Leave her be Daiz, if she don’t want to go than that’s her choice, stop pushing it,” with Rol laying down the law Daisy left Kate alone and went off to church.

“Want to come with me to the garage, I will have you back before she gets home,” Roland was now speaking Kate’s language.  A day at the Big Claw always made her feel better, especially when she got to sneak there on a Sunday and work on an engine with her favorite person.

“Sure, let’s go.”

The solitude of the garage made both Kate and Roland’s day.  The radio kept them company as Eddie Eastman and Harry Hibbs played frequently over the airwaves.  They were Roland’s favorite singers and Kate knew to turn them up whenever they came on.  When Eastbound 401 started to play Kate went down in the pit to turn up the dial and when she did her tiny hand knocked Roland’s pack of cigarettes from its hiding place.  As the box of Rothman’s fell open Kate was expecting to see her uncle’s secret stash but instead something else revealed itself.  There was a picture tucked neatly inside the box.  When Kate pulled it out her head began to spin.  It was a picture of her uncle Roland and her mother.  How could it be, she thought?

“Katie, what are you doing down there?”

“Nothing Uncle Rol just turning up the radio.”

“Alright,” he called back.

Kate climbed back up and out of the pit after tucking the picture back into the blue and white box.  Her ghost like expression would be hard to keep hidden from her uncle which was why Kate ran to the bathroom as soon as her feet were steady enough to carry her there.

“Kate, you have been in there a long time now, we got to get you home luv.”

“Ok, Uncle Rol be right out.”

Kate splashed some water on her face then high tailed it to her uncle’s truck.  Once inside she kept her eyes focused on the snow falling outside and away from her uncle’s concerning watch over her.

“You still not feeling well my girl?”

“Yeah, I should go to bed when I get home.”

“Ok darling.”

Kate spent the rest of the day on her bed.  She laid there wondering about the hidden snap shot she saw earlier.  Her mother was only a young girl in the picture but Kate would never forget her mother’s smile or the dimple that was perfectly placed in the middle of her chin, Kate had the same mark.  Her uncle was standing alongside her mother with his arm wrapped firmly around her waist like only a man would do if he had loving intentions.  His eyes were fixed on her mother and were not looking at the camera but she recognized him by his hands.  There was no mistaking her Uncle Rol’s hands.

The next morning Kate waited for Roland to leave the house before coming out for her morning tea.  Daisy was humming a tune still stuck in her head from church and it took Kate a while to muster up the courage to ask her aunt the question that had been on continuous play inside her head, “did my mother spend a lot of time with you and Uncle Rol before she moved away.”

Daisy was taken off guard by Kate’s all of a sudden interest in her mother but she complied with, “yes, she spent a lot of time with me and your uncle while we were courting.  She always seemed to come around needing your uncle to fix something or another for her.”

Maybe it was all innocent then, maybe Kate was reading too much into the little picture hidden in the cigarette box.  She decided to leave it at that and went on to school.  While crossing the street outside her front door Kate recognized a vehicle parked a little ways down the street.  It was Mr. Boreas’ station wagon.  Kate walked to the other side of the road and pretended not to notice it there.  But when Mr. Boreas noticed her he started the engine and slowly stocked her as she sped up to get to school.

“Lovely day Kate, we missed you in church yesterday.”

“Yeah I was sick.”

“Need a ride?”

“No, it’s not a long walk.”

“Katie, come on, let a fella do a good deed.  There is too much snow to get through today my darling, hop in,” the tone in his voice suggested a lot more than just a ride to school.

“No thank you, I want to walk.”

Mr. Boreas hurried away leaving Kate to breathe a little easier knowing he was gone.  As Kate cut through the path leading to school her mind wandered on the picture of her mother and her uncle.  She thought she might have gotten the wrong idea about it and planned to sneak a look again the next time she was there.  Before Kate could finish her thought about the picture a hand reached out from the bushes and frightened her.  Before she had a chance to scream the hand was on her mouth, holding her from behind.  She couldn’t see who it was but the fingers that were now gagging her seemed all too familiar.   Mr. Boreas, she knew it had to be him.

The strength of her attacker was firm, much like Mr. Boreas’ hand shake and it only took him seconds to rip off her pants and push himself inside her.  Stealing her innocence was done and over with in about thirty seconds but it felt like an eternity to Kate.  As soon as the man behind her was done he pushed her hard down the embankment of the snowy path and was gone before Kate felt safe enough to open her eyes.  But it didn’t matter, she knew who it was even if she had never seen his face.  The smell of his hand was still on her lips, it was him, it was Mr. Boreas.

Kate crawled as fast as she could but kept sinking into the snow that now felt like it was slipping away from underneath her.  When she finally reached the road a passerby called out to her and when she cried out for help he came running.

“I gottcha, I gottcha,” the passerby said it over and over as he gallantly bent down to help Kate up but she was having none of that.  She screamed louder as he came at her even if his actions were heroic in nature.  Kate was scared and could not make sense of anything around her anymore.  In her state of mind the gentle man was still a man and the incident down the path was playing out over and over again until she lost herself some place deeper than the very snow that surrendered her.  Kate fell backwards and hit her head on a large tree stump.  Her damaged body laid unconscious in the snow and the passerby felt he had no choice but to bring her to safety, even if he knew what the consequences might be.

The man that picked her up and carried her home was one of the “savages” that Daisy always worried about.  His name was David or at least that was his “white” name.  If anyone with native blood wanted to walk freely in the streets of their town they had to adopt what was called a white man’s name.  There were a lot of Gordon’s, Michael’s and David’s it seemed.  He was David number 1 and he did his best to stay away from the trouble that came with having brown skin.  David knew that helping the pale, frightened girl might give some people the wrong idea but he took the chance and brought her home for help.  He took faith in knowing that once the tiny person in his arms woke up that she would tell her story and he would not be in it.

To David, Kate reminded him of a wounded animal, beaten by its prey.  Her ghostlike complexion saddened him as it bore witness to her lost innocence.  But the blood pumping through her veins told a different story.  The rhythm of Kate’s pulse was all too familiar a beat.  David’s own, animal like instincts could sense a kinship with the creature whose blood was now all over his hands.

“Oh my lord, oh my lord in heaven I knew it, get your hands off of her you beast, put her down now,” Daisy was speaking so fast that David thought could barely understand a word.  He could not get a word in to even explain where he had found her.  Before long the neighbors all heard Daisy’s yelps and slander towards the man that now had two shot guns pointed at his head.

David didn’t move a muscle but waited for a quiet moment to say only two words, “Get Roland.”

The tone of David’s voice was calm.  It was as if he knew what was going to happen next, like he had been in the same situation before.  One man lowered his rifle while the other one stepped back.

“He’s right, get Rol,” Daisy took Kate from up off the ground and with the aid of her neighbor she brought her inside to nurse Kate’s wounds all while trying to mend her own broken heart.  How would she tell Rol what state his Katie was now in?  He would have none of it and would kill the man that did it to her.  Which was the reason why Daisy doubted her own suspicions about David after she got to thinking about it.  If he hurt Kate than there is no way in hell he would ask for the man that would most likely kill him.  Daisy decided to leave her thoughts for the moment and concentrate on taking care of Kate.

“Oh my father in heaven, please watch over my Katie, she is in a fine mess Lord, but I know she loves you deep in her heart just like you love her.  Please God in heaven give me the strength I need to make her well again.  Amen.”

Praying always gave Daisy the strength she needed and without fail Daisy found the strength she needed.  When Daisy saw Kate’s torn pants she feared the very worse and when her fears were realized her heart wanted to collapse.  The helpful neighbor brought Daisy a shot of whiskey, Daisy drank it faster than holy water and put all her book learning to the test.  Kate would never get better from this but she would get stronger, Daisy would make sure of it.

Roland’s truck was heard two minutes before it actually arrived home.  There was fire in all cylinders as he rushed to Kate’s side.  He would check on her first then decide what he would need to do next.  Bobby told him at the shop that there was an Indian involved but to Roland that meant he would for sure find out the truth.  His wife may have thought of them as savages, she couldn’t help it, her father always called them the same.  But Roland knew them as his family.

Once Daisy reassured Roland that Kate would be ok he rushed outside to talk to David.  All the town were now at arm’s length.  “David, we need to talk, privately.”

When Roland uttered the word privately everyone turned and pretended not to be listening.  Roland knew enough to bring David inside his truck before they started talking.  “I know you didn’t do this Opie, so just tell me what you know, from the beginning.”

“Well I was going for a walk to see Old Pete for some eggs, but I ran into the lady from last year at Sammy’s and we got to talkin…”

“Not from the beginning of your day Opie, when did you first see my Katie?”

“Oh, right, right.  I heard her first, well heard something not sure what it was then I saw her, she was crying and screaming, I was so sad for her, I am so sorry Roland, I tried to help her but she was so upset she ran away from me and tripped and fell and hit her head.  I brought her home as soon as I could then they all thought it was me, as usual, blame the Indian, so typical.  I was just going for some eggs man, I swear.”

“Opie I know you would never hurt her.  But I need to know who did, did you see anyone, just out of the ordinary, like anything around that didn’t belong?”

“No, I don’t think so, wait a minute,” Opie closed his eyes and went quiet for a few moments.

“I remember now, that guy, you know the church guy, just moved here a while back.  I remember seeing him drive away really fast because he has that car, you know the one that looks like a hearse.  I still don’t get the car thing, why do guys need to ride around in cars all the time.”

“Thanks Opie, you can go home now.  I owe you buddy.  I gotta go and take care of some things now ok.  Anyone asks you anything about anything you tell them to come see me.  Ok?”

“Got it Roland, thank you man, I hope Katie is alright and I hope that the son of a bitch that did this to her meets his maker soon.”

“Oh don’t you worry son, he will once I get my hands on him.”

With that Roland was back inside to check on Kate again.  She had woken up but was crying so hard that she couldn’t get her words out.  Roland’s heart felt like it was being cut over and over again with razor blades as Kate’s cry hit him with such a punch that he could barely stand up.  “Daisy, give me a minute with her.”

Daisy did as she was told even if leaving Kate was the last thing she wanted to do.

Roland laid his hands out to hers and before long her tiny fingers found strength in his.  He wrapped her broken body gently in his arms and rocked her until she found her breath again.   “Who did this to you my girl?”

Kate took a deep gulp instead of a breath and caught herself falling deeper into her uncle’s arms.  The safety of her uncle’s hands was all she needed for the moment.  Once she found a single breath that she could call her own, she whispered a name into Roland’s ear.  It was the only thing he needed to know.  He stayed with her until she fell asleep then left to let Daisy have her turn with Kate.  She had no idea where he was going but she knew what he was about to do.  Whatever it was it would be in Kate’s defense.  As Daisy rocked in her chair next to Kate she sang a song from church and thought of Pastor Boreas and the sermon he gave the day before, “The Lord shall not have mercy on those of us that sin, he will bring the sinners to their knees and damn them to hell,” Daisy prayed that whoever did this to her Kate would be damned to hell, just like Pastor Boreas said.

When Roland returned home Daisy was fast asleep in her rocking chair.  Kate was awake but lying quietly holding her aunts hand in hers for comfort.

Roland’s presence brought his wife to her feet, “I will go put the kettle on for ya, stretch me bones,” Daisy left the two of them alone as she knew that was what her husband really wanted more than a cup of tea.

When Roland leaned in to place a single kiss on Kate’s cheek she moved into him and whispered something into his ear.  It was a question she had wanted to ask him all day.

Roland quickly stood up after hearing the shock of the words that had just been sung into his ear.  Before answering Kate he moved the right side of his lip up just enough to be considered a smile and said, “No, I am not your daddy, sweet girl…”

Roland hesitated for a moment before finishing his thought, “But I am your grandpa and I can tell you this, no granddaughter of mine will ever get hurt like that again.”

Kate ached from the top of her head to the very bottom of her toes but the tightening of her heart made everything else fall away for a few seconds.   Kate didn’t know why Roland had to pretend to be her uncle but she did know that he was now her Poppa.  For Kate, there was no better feeling on earth than knowing she actually belonged some place and to someone.

Kate’s true story would have to remain tucked away in a cigarette package while Roland’s  story would remain buried deep, just six feet below it.








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A Peak Inside my E11ephant Room

Ahhhhh Sunday, the day of the week where I try to rest if I can.  Today I take that rest in the form of writing my blog from the room I have named E11ephant Room.  It is the one and only area in my home right now that has not been deconstructed for our move west.  Along with selling my house, I also have a lot of polishing to do before my first novel Sisters of Avalon is launched  and I do not want to disturb its aura until publication happens.  I am superstitious in my routine when it comes to penning my work, so to speak.  But soon I will have to carefully pack everything up, decide what will come with me and what will get donated.  Thinking about such a task has put me in the mood for this weeks blog post.    I want to remember this room when I am old and very grey underneath my unnaturally colored, red hair.   Today I am going to practice the art of descriptive writing and tell you about the place where I sit and work my magic.

The pale green love seat where I tuck my back and cross my legs is the right amount of comfortable. My not so tall appendicular skeleton fits perfectly from one end to the other, but only when I am sitting up.  I would not be able to take a comfy nap on this thing which is why it is the perfect piece of furniture for writing a novel.  No chance of dozing off let me tell ya.

The pink and wine coloured knitted throw that covers its cushions was a wedding present from my lovely aunt D in Newfoundland.  Having it close by makes me think of all the wonderful things that have been handmade for me over the years.   It gives me comfort and I am grateful that I am so spoiled when it comes to my family back home.

To my right is a wooden high back bar stool that I found in a yard sale last summer.  It is a darker shade of green, more emerald in tone, and it doubles as my side table where I keep at least 11 or 12 books.  The authors include Chopra, Dyer, Ondaatje and even some of my own writings hand written into the many journals I have been given over the years.  One of my favorite books that I keep in that pile is 642 Things To Write About.  It is an exercise book of sorts, listing  just at the title suggests, 642 things to write about. They even include the blank lines for those that need them.  I am more of a blank space kind of girl.  I do not enjoy having the lines there to tell me how big or small I should write.   Yes I have boundary issues when it comes to my writing.   But this is my go to book when I am not feeling creative.   I take it out and start scribbling and wait for the power of the divine take over.  It always helps the juices flow.  Thank you Miss. Maggie Muggins for that one.  A thoughtful birthday present from a neighbour last year.  It always helps to inspire me.


To my left is a tall book shelf that also doubles as my husbands beer cupboard.  Yes that’s right, my husband brews what he drinks.  His delicious and wonderful ales are on tap at our bar, Boxwood Brewing.  But don’t be fooled, we are not rockin or rollin on the weekends.  Most nights it’s me in my pajama’s and Mike in his black cap.  I drink a scattered pint now and again but I know where it has come from and I know where it has been.  My favorite is for sure is Vanilla Blond.  It tastes like Cotton Candy married Mill Street Organic and gave birth to my favorite summer refreshment, after lemon water that is.  Once again I am off topic, that’s what a Vanilla Blond will do to me.  So yes, sometimes there is more beer brewed than my husband has kegs for which is why some gets bottled and live in my shelf cubby.  In our house it’s Ales on the Shelf instead of Elf on the Shelf, heehee.  I had to say it.  These bottles stay in the bottom cubby until they are ready to drink.  You would never know they were there though as I have placed a cute little white piece of fabric over that one section.  I like to hide the liquid gold that lys behind the curtain as it really does not go with anything else that is in my room.  Oh wait, there is also a carboy of beer brewing in the corner but I try to pretend it’s not really there.  The one thing that is a must in our new home is that I get a room that does not smell like fermentation.VB

As you travel up from the beer cubby in my book shelf, you will find other great book titles belonging to Shakespeare, Julia Cameron, more Wayne Dyer and the many copies of plays I once studied in university many moons ago.  Even if most of my acting days are behind me, I still enjoy reading through the odd play now and again just to remind myself of some of the great lines I once carried across the stage.  My plays all sit across the top row of my self while in front of them is the first and only trophy I ever won.   It was awarded to me and 3 of my closest friend back in 1989 at the Triton Winter Carnival Talent show.  Miss. A, Miss. B, Miss. D, along with myself as lead, performed (by performed I mean danced and lip synced)  to Debbie Gibson’s Staying Together while we wore very silly outfits and I have a picture to prove it. Sorry ladies.  Those days were all kinds of fun and I feel blessed to have shared them with you.

Doing Debbie

Yes back in the day we dressed liked that and actually won 1st place of the coveted title that we lost the year before because we performed to Madonna’s Lucky Star.   The talent committee deemed us unfit because dancing to Madonna was a sin.  I laugh as I remember all this but yes this is a true story.  Debbie Gibson gave us a much cleaner image the following year.  But what those lovely judges did not know was that inside my jean jacket I wore a white shirt that had a tiny black playboy bunny that rested itself just above my left breast.  It was my way of showing them that I was still corrupt underneath my acid wash.

Back to my shelf, just underneath my display of dramatic literature, rests a few of my father’s books.  Books were his own personal form of currency that he read and traded for more of his favorite works like King, Brown and Grisholm.  A few of those lay on that shelf along with one of his personal favorites titled A Soldier First by General Rick Hillier.  Dad liked that one simply because he enjoyed being asked if he was related to General Hillier as it always made for a great conversation starter.

There is also an old copy of Virgina Woolfs The Lighthouse that I love opening as it has that old book smell.  You know the one, and if you don’t I suggest going to an antique book store and try breathing it in.  There is just something about it that makes my stomach turn but at the same time I enjoy it.  For a few seconds anyway.  That shelf is very special to me as those few books make me feel like my dad is still in this room with me, whispering great lines into my ear.  A picture of him rests beneath those books on the next shelf below.

As I move from my book shelf to the wall directly in front of me I have two long shelves mounted to the wall.  The first shelf has a red and black ceramic elephant on it raising its trunk along side a framed picture of a yellow butterfly and on its other side is a picture of myself and Joel Plaskett.  Joel has his arm around me, and all I think about when I see it is how much I am grateful to be wearing high heels.  That boy is a tall glass of water.  A friend of mine said I should have offered him a sandwich as there is not much meat on his bones but his talent is of course immeasurable in size.  I love his poetic twists and turns through the songs that play whenever I write, and right now he sings, “Harbour Boys” as I finish typing this.  Joel is always in the background when I write, inspiring me when I feel stuck.

Along side Joel and I is an autographed Raj Binder bobble head that was also given to me by a little friend for my birthday last year.  Mr. Sam you made my whole birthday month buddy.  I swear Raj is always winking at me.

Joel and Raj

As I bring my eyes to the shelf adjacent to the one mentioned above, there live six elephants and a wooden giraffe hanging out next to framed family picture.  Three of the six elephants are gold in colour and were all given to me by my boys.  They love adding to my collection.



That shelf also has the first two elephants that were ever given to me.  Miss. W gave me a tiny wooden elephant that was hand carved by some fascinating person on her many travels all over the globe.  Her world adventures are many and she always managed to send me a post card or two along the way, all of which I have kept along with the tiny elephant that started it all.  I have had that little guy a while but never sought to build on my collection until the second elephant came along.

I had seen my Poppa Elephant in an Avon book that my sister-in-law was selling and mentioned how much I loved him. He stands about as tall as a soda can, with his trunk in the air.  He too is wooden with a mirrored overlay draped on his back with a glass tea light holder on the very top.  I had the honor of receiving him a few days after my father passed. Dad heard me say how much I loved this elephant and had my sister-in-law order it to surprise me.  The real surprise was that he had left this earth before he could give it to me.  But when Mom passed it along and told me that Dad had bought it for me, it became more than just an elephant.  It became the inspiration for my collection and with that elephant comes the strength of knowing that even after death my dad will and is still with me.


That wall is also filled with various pictures of my boys and I have a what some would call a dream board, I call it my visualization wall.  I have pictures of elephants, butterflies, as well as great pieces of art work,  mostly created by my boys.  There are also pictures of the many different people who inspire me. One of the first things that went up there was a poster that my cousin Shannon made for me.  It looks like a movie poster with a scenery of Newfoundland and Sisters of Avalon written across it.  He also put actors names on the top to make it look like an actual movie poster.  I asked him to do this for me back when Sisters of Avalon was still a film script and I needed an extra push to finish it.  I didn’t have an ending and needed something visual to help relight my fire.  It inspired me so much that it went from being a film to a trilogy about the Bride family of Bridgette’s Cove, Newfoundland.  Shannon may not be of this earth any longer but his inspiration lives on and I keep that poster up now for him and always will.  I did not put a picture up of my wall because I like to keep that bit of myself to myself but here is a picture of my cousin Shannon and I when we were wee little lasses.  That boy always made me smile, well, when he wasn’t making me mad that is but we loved each other no matter what and always will.


My E11ephant room has 11 elephants and I love each and every one of them as they all have their very own special story to tell.   They will come with me when we move and have a new place to call home.  This room that I sit in now will be someone else’s office, bedroom or whatever they want it to be really.  In any case, it has served me well for the time being and the inspiration that it houses will still be mine in the form of a published novel.  This room is what I have made it and even though it cannot come with me I will always appreciate the time I spent in it.  A new E11ephant Room will take shape on the west coast and with it will mark the beginning of another book and hopefully many others to come.  After all, it’s not the room itself that is important but the work that is done in it as my roots will grow wherever I decide to plant them.




See you next Tuesday

R.H. Downs

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May Cause Miracles by Gabby Bernstein

From time to time I can feel myself being pulled towards something, an energy that is far greater than me, and even though it cannot be seen I make a conscious decision to go towards it.  Call it God, the Universe,  the Devine or what have you but either way I listen because to ignore it would be a sin against myself.

Three years ago I answered a similar call and found the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer and because of him I am now living a more fulfilled life.  I am a spiritual being living  a human life and I have a dharma to fulfill and believe that God is flowing through me.  My God does not subscribe to any one religion but encompasses all and can be defined by one little word, love.  To love is set yourself free from all that holds you back, jealousy, revenge, grief, these emotions  hold us back from living a life far greater than we can even imagine.

Even with Dr. Dyer’s words to guide me I sometimes still end up in a funk.   Lately I have been feeling stuck, like there has been something holding me back.  I feel like my energy is being blocked by something and it will take more than my morning fiber to release it.   In times like these there is only one thing to do, mediate and ask for guidance so I did.   What appeared almost instantly in front of me was Gabby Bernstein.  She was coming at me through, Facebook, Twitter, emails from Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra.  Gabby Bernstein is an inspirational teacher who lives her life guided by A Course In Miracles.  If you are interested enough in what I am writing about you will look it up and find or not find something in it for yourself.

I soon found myself answering the call of the energy that was pulling me and picked up Gabby Bernstein’s book titled “May Cause Miracles” described as “A 40-day guide-book of subtle shifts for radical change and unlimited happiness.”  I am only on day two but after day one I felt compelled to share my journey.  My mantra for day one was replacing fear with love.  Throughout the day yesterday whenever I felt fear guiding my decisions or trying to take control of my emotions, I repeated my mantra until I felt the fear slip away.   And it worked.  Despite all the stress that was circling me yesterday I still managed to get through my day feeling a little less stuck than I did the day before.

Day two started with a little bump in the road and I felt myself slip a little until I read my mantra for day two, I am willing to see love.  When I say these words out loud something begins to shift and I stop all the other silliness from seeping in and taking over.   My stress still exists but I do not give it the power to control my mood, my day or my life.  I have faith that these few little words will help guide me, I am willing to see love.

There are 38 days still ahead of me and I look forward to unblocking whatever it is inside me that feels trapped.  I know it will free itself and in turn I will feel whole again, ready to climb the mountain that is my life.   Beauty, love and hard work lay in wait but with teachers such as Wayne Dyer and Gabby Bernstein by my side I know I am on the right path and you are all welcomed to join me.


R.H. Downs

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In honor of April being National Poetry Month I present to you a little poem this week.  It was my easy way out of writing my blog as this week has been CRAZY busy.  Have a little read,  think of your favorite poet and jot down a line or two of your own if you are so inclined.  Enjoy.



This week will be a free fall, too many things on my mind.

This week will be a free fall as I discover a different mountain to climb.

I close my eyes and imagine myself at the top

With many obstacles on the way forcing me to stop.

I recognize the bumps in the road as lessons that must be learned

But know that they will require a special kind of energy that have not yet had a chance to burn.


As the mountain stands in its grandeur I can hear something call out to me, tempting me to move my feet.

I do not move, I am stock still and I can feel the wind blow through me as if I were a thin white sheet.

Its drafty breath reminds me that it blew my way to help me move on, and on and on.

I open my eyes, the mountain still stands like a beacon of light urging me not to stay too long.

With my first step forward I know I am on the right track

As my mountain falls into Shavasana and I lay straight and flat on my now restful back.


P.S. If you have never tried yoga before than you don’t know what you are missing.



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Captain’s Blog: My Nova Scotia Bucket List

Captain’s Blog: The year, 2014, the crew is about to discover uncharted territory as Critch, Kent and Majumder make their way to the studio for CBC’s season finale of 22 Minutes.  

The audience is anxious, waiting for something funny to happen, the actors read their lines, laughter ensues.  My first conclusion of the night is that yes, alien life does exist in this quadrant.   These special earthlings called “comedians” make reference to Harper, Ford and  Marois as if they came here from some other planet.  I am amused and fascinated by the short clips that keep unfolding before me.  My favorite line of the night was in reference to a man they call Shatner, and I loosely quote, “William Shatner is set to market a new line of women’s jeans called (and say the rest out loud for the full effect) SHATNER PANTS!  It was the joke that kept on giving for the rest of the night.

My Captain Kirk impression may not be the best but for some reason that silly little joke stuck with me after last night’s taping of one of my all time favorite shows, 22 Minutes.  I had the privilege of sitting in the audience last night after my wonderful friend Kim got us tickets for a girls night out.  Any night out with my friend Kim is always fun but last night was extra special as I got to cross off one of my things to do before I move west.  I have lived in Nova Scotia for 11 years and have only had the opportunity to go to one other taping in the past and I desperately wanted to go again before my big move.

The evening did not disappoint.  The studio audience was intimate and the cast and crew had such a sense of ease about them that I felt like part of the 22 Minutes family.  The free wine at the door also helped but hey that’s show business for ya.  I only sipped a little as I spilled most of it in my usual clumsy way while I made my way to my seat for the night.  It wasn’t the most comfortable chair I ever sat in but it was good enough for me as I soon forgot about my discomfort as the laughter took over.  They played their filmed skits as the actors found their comfort and sound levels for the evening.  The skits are always enjoyable and you will get to see them tonight once it airs but the most enjoyable part of the evening were the in between bits where the actors bantered back and forth with one another and the audience.  The Shatner Pants joke had a life of its own throughout the evening as the line grew from pants to Shatner Shorts, and Shatner Skirts.

Mr. Majumder is the master of getting the laughs in between taping segments.  Him and Ms. Kent played off one another like a well oiled machine.  Mr. Mark Critch is usually along for the ride and often steers the ship himself but last night he had a special bit to get ready for as rumors of a surprise guest was circling the air.  I couldn’t wait to see who it would be.

Another favorite moment, although I will say it was too short a stint, was when Dame Cathy Jones came on stage to tape a short news item with Susan Kent.  I call her Dame as she is comedy royalty in my books.  God it was so hard not to stand up and do my impression of the Friday Night Girls.  “It’s Friday night, let’s break out da Barbie’s Cathy.”  I said it in my head but so badly wanted to shout it from my seat.  Her presence gave me goose bumps.  If I ever got a hold of her I would squeeze the shit out of her, I loves her I do.

And just when I thought my cheeks couldn’t stand any more from being in the up right position,  out came the surprise guest, or shall I say guests, Rob and Doug Ford.  I have purposely not bought into watching any of the Ford antics as it makes my eyes roll but its hard not to hear the endless parade of jokes that surround these creatures from the Planet of the Apes.  However, last night I gave my eye rolling a rest and allowed myself to enjoy the wonderful impression that Mark Critch did of the Mayor of Toronto.  But what I really enjoyed the most was the fact that Mark McKinney played Doug Ford.  And there it was, comedy gold right in front of me.  I am a  big Kids on the Hall fan for sure so what a treat it was to watch another one of my favorites perform.   They ended the night with a chicken wing and a crack pipe, need I say more.

As the cast and crew wrapped for the season they still took the time to stay and mingle with all their fans.  During the last taping I attended I was too shy to stick around and shake hands with the gang but this time I let go of all that and said, “Frack it, I am going in.”  That was when I got to taste the icing on the cake.  And here is where I have a confession to make.  I have secretly been infatuated with Shaun Majumder for years.  When I first moved to Toronto from Newfoundland back in the early 90’s I had a severe case of the homesick blues.  Things were not going well for me but one afternoon while sulking because I still did not have a job, I turned on the TV and there he was, “a little brown Newfie” as he called himself and he made me laugh so hard for the first time in weeks that I couldn’t help but fall in love with him.  No need to sound the alarms or anything, my husband of 11 years is aware of my silly crush and accepts its fully.   We both have our lists.  But back to the icing that I was telling you about.  You see I have had the pleasure of working with the lovely and talented Susan Kent myself during our theatre school years.  Susan was and still is one of the loveliest people you will ever meet.  Whenever she was around everyone in the room was happy to have her there and last night was no different.  When I approached her after the show she instantly remembered me and then proceeded to hug the beans out of me, and I her.  As we posed for a picture together with the other cast members we briefly chatted as she introduced me to her new crew.  When I turned to leave Shaun was right there and as I went in for a simple squeeze he planted one on my cheek and I thought I was day dreaming again.  But no, my friend Kim was there too and she confirmed that yes, Shaun Majumder kissed me and yet another item got scratched off my Nova Scotia bucket list.

Thank you Kim and 22 Minutes for a lovely night out.  I hope you all enjoy the show tonight when it airs on CBC.

22 Minutes

22 Minutes


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Where will I be after the smoke all clears?

I sit here on the edge of reason about to make a giant leap of faith and I feel as ready as I ever could be.  There is such possibility before me and I cannot wait to begin this new chapter of my life.  I am afraid to tell you my loyal and beautiful readers that “Where Winter Sits” Part 2 will not be out until much later on.  It has turned into something bigger than me at the moment and I must put it to bed until I can find the right time to dedicate to it.  I promise that my story has life and I will share it with you when it is ready.  The reason why I must wait is because I am about to move my life and family across this great country of ours and plant my roots in the west coast earth.  Thinking about it makes my breath bubble up my chest.  I am ready for this even though it is going to be very hectic for the next while.

I am also in the midst of planning my cross Newfoundland launch of my first novel, Sisters of Avalon and I can feel every hair on my body stand up when I say it out loud.  This is the moment where a dream comes true for me.  I get to put something out there that is very personal to me and I get to do it with my family.  And not just my husband and two kids but my family from all across Canada starting from Newfoundland then right on through to BC, “the arse end of her” as some would say in my world.

I will get to hug, squeeze and smile at faces I have not seen a in very long time.  What a blessing that will be for me.  After so much loss in my family these past few years I cannot wait to feel the love.    Like many in my family, I am missing those that held my heart for almost all my life as they have passed on to that great other side.  My heart has been marked in such a special way by their departure from this earth that I feel I must love as much as I can and while I can.  Every day is a gift for me and I cannot wait to share it with those in my life that I have not seen for a long time.

Right now I am packing up, well mostly giving away everything we own.  I am donating my worldly goods to a local charity called Beacon house as I have seen first hand the great work they do for my community.  There will be pieces of me all over the HRM and in a way I think that is pretty cool.  Enjoy my Just Fab shoes someone.  I hope those black stiletto’s serve you well.  I only ever had them to look at, there is no way so much women could stand on those tiny things and survive.  I was meant to be a buxom babe and not a skinny bitch or so I am told.  Well some might say I have worn the bitch badge a couple of times, right Jolene (a private joke between friends).   I have been given many labels in this lifetime some of them I ignore while others I smile at while sticking my tongue firmly inside my cheek.   I see nothing wrong with being a full figured women, I own my curves and they serve me well.  But let’s be honest even if I were a skinny bitch I still couldn’t wear stiletto’s without falling flat on my face.  I don’t know how you ladies and some gentlemen walk around in those things.  But I digress.

Our house will go on the market within days of this blog going live and we are confident it will sell.  Once it does we will be heading west stopping in a select few places along the way where we know friends and family await.  I am blown away by all the great support and feedback I have been getting to help out with readings and such.  I am in the planning stages right now and once everything is in order I will announce the dates. There is still editing to be done and a house to sell but it looks like I will be in Newfoundland in early June and stopping in key locations along the way.  I will most likely be starting in Corner Brook first then heading east from there. I will post more details as they become set in stone.

Well there you have it, my free fall for the day.  My apologies for promising the second part to my short story and not delivering.  I will publish it one day.  For the next while my blogs will be chronicling my life from this point on.  My good-bye to Nova Scotia will be bitter-sweet as this province has a piece of my heart that will forever stay with me.  Many great things have happened here for me and I will share some of those events in the coming blogs before we officially move our wagons west.

Good bye for now.

R.H. Downs



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Where Winter Sits

Part 1

She could feel winter sitting on her back, resting it’s weight between her shoulder blades and reminding her of the burden she was carrying.  It was hard to stay motivated after spending the last 3 months hunching her back while pumping gas for her uncle’s petro station.  No one wanted self-serve, it was too cold to get out of their trucks.

The thick wool scarf that her Aunt Daisy knit to help keep Kate warm did it’s best to ease the burn of the minus forty degree weather but the days on end of wrapping it around her face wore away at its thick mane of protection.

Kate pushed her shoulders towards her ears one more time in hopes that the scarf would cover her nose and rescue it from completely falling off.  The winter had made her look like a circus performer in full makeup, red in the spots that stood out and white on the parts that got covered.  Her beautiful west coast skin was burning from the east coast winter that just would not quit.

“Fill her up buddy.”

If she heard one more person call her buddy she thought she might explode.  Inside the big blue down stuffed jacket her feminine parts got lost.  In a way she enjoyed the anonymity, but deep down losing herself inside her winter coat was becoming far too comfortable and she was beginning to fear its soul clenching arms.

Before she made the move to Labrador her only knowledge of its existence was from a picture on a map at her school.  It was not until her mother passed away and social services told her she would be moving east with her only living relative that she got to know the rocky province almost by heart.

Kate’s first day on the Labrador was one of the few balmy days that the north won.  To a first timer there could be no better place on earth.  Its lush colours from the evergreens made Kate feel like she was someplace foreign but it’s beauty spoke to her in a way that made her feel like she was part of the earth herself.  Like she belonged even if she “came from away,” as the others would say about Kate.

Her mother’s great aunt, Daisy Pike, was a women who never had any children of her own and saw Kate’s arrival as God’s blessing.  Her husband Roland always wanted a boy and Kate would have to do even if he shrugged his shoulders at the thought of having another female around.  Daisy was the master of the house while Roland was the master of his garage.  What Daisy said while she was inside her four walls would have to be even if her husband didn’t like it.  As long as he had his petro station he was content to let her rule the roost.

The rules around the Pike house were indeed not that hard to follow but they were different from most around the coast.  Daisy was a deeply religious women, no scissors on Sunday and no booze or cigarettes ever.  Kate had never even known what rules were until she moved in with the Pike’s but she welcomed Daisy’s deep devotion to God and the stability of having a home that never changed.  She missed her mother and the west coast weather but she loved not having to watch her mom binge on the drug of the day or the man the hour for that matter.

Kate had no idea what a home cooked meal looked or tasted like until she showed up on Daisy’s doorstep. Kate was nine when her mother died from an overdose but Kate only looked about half her age as her tiny frame spoke volumes about her life up until finding the Pike’s.

“Well mother of God what have you brought to me today?”

Daisy asked for guidance as Kate’s big brown eyes looked up at her for hope on that first day.  After Daisy took a deep breath and held back the tears that were mixed with several emotions she brought Kate to her room and showed her where she could keep her things.  When Kate looked back up at her holding only a 7-11 grocery bag Daisy knew she had a lot of catching up to do with her little niece.  Daisy had no idea that the child’s life had been like something from a Dickens novel.

“Well then my girl, we are just going to have to go the Sally Ann and find you some decent things to wear.  Maybe we could even find you a book or two as well.  I use to be a school teacher you know.”

Daisy’s pride in her profession sparked something inside of Kate that first day on the Labrador.  Daisy had an air of calm about her that transferred itself onto Kate almost in an instant.  With her troubled brown eyes and her crumpled grocery bag Kate instinctively knew her life would be changing for the better.

Kate never spoke much in the beginning, her emotions were still locked up inside her leaving Daisy to guess at what her needs were.  At first Daisy thought that Kate was mute and left her alone until she was ready to break from her shell.  Hearing the sound of her own voice all day long made Daisy tired but she would not give up on God’s blessing, how could she, it was His will.  Daisy couldn’t wait for each and every Sunday to come so that she could take Kate with her hoping for a miracle to occur at her little church in the cove.

Roland always tinkered in his garage on Sunday, he had no time for church going but he didn’t dispute the matter with his wife as long as she didn’t in turn urge him on to accompany her.  He promised to keep the shop closed as long as she was ok with him working there on his own.  It was their funny way of reaching a compromise.  It was also the day of the week that he felt most alone in the world with only the comfort of the pit to make him feel whole again.

The pit, as Roland called it was the big hole in the middle of his garage where the magic happened.  At least a dozen cars and or trucks drove over that pit a week to be worked on by the great hands of Mr. Pike.  God blessed Roland with the ability to navigate an engine like a brain surgeon would a patient.  The thing about Roland’s hands that boggled the mind of most of his customers was the fact that they were the size of large bolder’s and as tough as flint.  No one dared to cross Mr. Pike when he had a point to be made, they feared his hands like they would God’s wrath-never knowing what they were capable of.

When Kate came to the house she didn’t fear Robert like most did upon meeting him.  When she saw the size of his big hands she was intrigued by them, longing to have them pick her up.  Her big brown eyes had a way of pulling him in even when he didn’t want them to.  On that first day, standing in her oversized clothes Robert found it hard to turn her away.  Her hair was cut short and in a lot of ways she resembled the features of a small boy and that to Robert made her  more endearing to him.

Kate held up her crumpled grocery bag and handed it to Roland and without saying a word he knew that she wanted him to look inside.  As Mr. Pike fumbled with the handles trying to open it, the weight of the bag took him off guard.  Inside, was a dirty stuffed puppy that had for sure seen better days and in under the puppy a metal object peered out that put a half-smile on Robert’s face causing Daisy to inquire about the contents.  It must have been something good to put a smile on her husbands rugged face she thought, “What is it Rol?”

End of Part One



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The Man in the Leather Hat

As he lowered himself into the seat beside me I smiled at the familiar scent of old spice mixed with tobacco.  It is not a scent most would find terribly pleasing but it reminded me of my father and with that memory comes comfort, a peace that only a daughter could feel after having lost a dad that meant the world to me.

The man in the leather hat and brown winter jacket said hello as I felt my smile catch his eye.

“Good morning,” I said.

Then off he went, bending my ear until it ached for a moment of reprieve.  He started out talking about the weather and how hard it is to shovel now that his knees were cursed.  From there he went on about having to take the bus downtown to see a decent doctor because every single one of them were crooks except for old Dr. Miller who was about as old as he was but still managed to practice.  I didn’t dare tell him that I worked for the university medical school.  I just let him go, breathing in his musk while closing my eyes so I could pretend that my dad was sitting next to me.  It’s the little things that cheer me up as I give myself permission to retreat into an imaginary place where my dad still lives and breathes.  I know I cannot bring him back but I can still allow him to wash over me, as a person’s spirit will always and forever stay intact as long as you let it.  I allow my father to stay close as I venture into a world where I do not want to be without him.

“The best place to get a cheap breakfast is on the Bedford Highway.  What’s the name of that place now,” he half asks the question to help break me from the trance I am in.


“No that’s not the place but they serve a great pork shop dinner, can’t think of the name now,” he says.

I start paying attention again as he rambles on about how much he loves a good meal of fish and bruise but hasn’t had a meal of it since his wife passed.  I ask if he is from Newfoundland and he tells me he grew up there but moved to Nova Scotia after falling in love with Maggie, his deceased wife.  “We use to go back all the time before she got sick.”

His story takes on a sad tone as he reminisces about Maggie, his one true love.  I don’t ask him any questions, I just let him talk about her in the loving way that he does.  I smile again after being reassured that love can last a lifetime.

“You remind me of her, your smile, it made me glad that I sat with you.”

“Funny that,” I said, “you remind me of someone special too.”

The universe has a sneaky way of bringing those together that need a little pick me up sometimes I guess.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs

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My Mental Health Day

Needless to say that the winter of 2013-2014 has been beyond wicked.  For all you snow bums out there I know you are enjoying yourselves and I applaud you for embracing your inner winter spirit.  When I was a kid winter meant sliding down the big hill, riding in on the pond on ski-doo and trying not to fall in the salt water while traipsing from ‘copy pan’ to ‘copy pan’.

As an adult winter means going outside in my jammies to start the car, making sure my boys are wearing more than a t-shirt to school and trying not to let the winter blahs turn me into the beast that Belle fell in love with.

It is the last day of February and I never thought I would ever see it come and go.  But it is finally here and I mark it by taking a Mental Health Day to help burn away my winter slump.  I had to, it was that or find the nearest snow bank to jump off.  The beast had been rearing its ugly head and I needed to find a way to tame him.  Getting away somewhere nice and hot is not a realistic option for me right now so the next best thing would be taking a Mental Health Day.

I am blessed to have an employer and a husband who supports my mental health as well as the rest of my well-being.  By Friday, which was the last day of February, I needed a Mental Health Day badly.  There are too many details to go into as to why things are all a flutter in my life right now but that is a story for another time.  For now I want to share how I did my best to pick myself back up and kept on grooving.

Speaking of getting into the groove, my morning started with some classic 80’s Madonna, the stuff I loved before I actually fell in love with great music.  Don’t get me wrong I love Madonna, always will but she is a performer, and not a musical genius.  But I always turn to Madonna when I need her the most. Lucky Star and Holiday will always get my party started.  I danced in my kitchen by myself while I made myself breakfast.  Coffee, fresh from my press was for sure involved and after I got my grove on and filled my belly I decided to de-clutter, that’s right I cleaned, well sort of.

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Cleaning doesn’t always appeal to me as a way of trying to make myself feel better but purging is different, it ignites me.  I removed items from my closet that I had not worn in the last month or so.  If I had not some how held it against my body in some fashion in the last few weeks or so then it went into the bin bag to be graciously handed over to someone else who needed it more.

When I clean out my closet it always makes me feel lighter, like I am making room for bigger and better things.  3 bags full and then off to the shower I went to continue on with my day of self-love, and not in the way any of you dirty minds might be thinking.  I just took an extra few minutes to enjoy the hot water as it washed away my somber thoughts.

For lunch I decided to take myself on a date to a place where everybody knew my name.  Tom’s Family Restaurant.  I have worked there on 3 separate occasions as a hostess and I somehow cannot stop going back.  The food and the people who work there always make me feel like I am at home.  I had a few of my favorite foods, greek salad, calamari and for dessert the ultimate coconut cream pie.  The waitress tried to take my last bite of creamy goodness thinking I was done and I almost wrestled her to the ground.  “I am just waiting for there to be room, don’t take it, noooooooooo.”

Good thing she knows me well as we laughed at my threat to tackle her.   The ladies and gents at Tom’s really know how to make working hard look easy even though being on your feet day in and day out can really do a number on your body.  They take it in stride and do their very best to make your experience memorable.  I will forever feel connected to that place no matter where my life takes me.

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After my delicious and very satisfying lunch I picked up my kids from school and took them on a play date with some good friends that we had been too busy to see for a while.  A kettle got filled as my boys used their imaginations and my friend and I got caught up on the comings and goings of our lives as the hot tea warmed our chilled bones.  There is nothing like the smile of a friend to make you feel better about everything.  Good friends get you inside and out that is for sure.  There was also a couple of blocks of british chocolate involved with our little rendezvous.  But we were careful not to let the kids see, they just do not appreciate it the same.  You have to let it melt in your mouth, and my kids “don’t got any time for dat.”

As supper approached we made our way home where I cooked lasagna from scratch for my family.  We celebrated our family fun night by watching Treehouse Masters, and Toy Hunter while we ate dinner together in front of the TV.  We don’t allow that throughout the week and it only happens on family fun night so it is always enjoyable when we get to chill and dream about building a treehouse one day.

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The night came and went as we all settled in and slept in our warm beds.  After a day of doing wonderful things to cheer myself up I rested knowing I am blessed.  Good food, family and friends are the 3 F words I love most.  Without that love that holds me up I would be nothing but a spec floating lonely from moment to moment.  I use my Mental Health Day as a tool to remind myself that each and every day is a gift and what I do with that gift is what is most important.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs


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Picking Fights while Picking Berries

Happy Tuesday everyone.  I have a little taste for you this week.  A taste of the Original Sisters, lol.  The characters that I write about this week are two generations before the Sisters of Avalon that will be introduced in my soon to be released novel.  Enjoy the appetizer.


“Anita, dere’s a good spot of em over here la,” Dulcie called for her sister.

“Ol’ on to your horses maid I got a few here to pick first, no need in rushing it Dale, berry picking is all about taking your time, what have we got to rush for anyhow?”

Anita was always the voice of reason, she knew how to breath in and out without letting twenty things take her mind from whatever task was at hand.  It was the first good berry picking day of the season and Anita planned on enjoying every minute of her time in the raspberry bushes.  Like she said, what was the rush.  There would be plenty to do back home once the men got back with the fish but that all would have to wait until Anita’s two metal buckets were full of fresh raspberries.

Picking the precious red jewels carefully from the bushes was always key in Anita’s mind.  She wanted their juices to stay intact until she was ready to allow them to delicately ooze out while the heat from the stove stewed them to perfection.  She would make her tarts and pies first, the berries later in the week would be solely for next winters jam.  As her hands reached in and over berry after berry her hands itched from the pollen but she didn’t care.  Anita lived for berry picking season and could smell them in the air when the berries were finally ready for picking.  It was her gift, as it was handed down to her from her own mother who loved the land and it’s gifts of plenty just as Anita did.  Her sister Dulcie was always reluctantly dragged along to increase the size of her bounty but Dulcie couldn’t pick as fast or as well as her older sister.  “Two buckets to one,” Anita would say every time they went in the woods together and it sprung from her lips again today as they picked over the bushes near Bride’s Hill.

“Yes cause I can’t stop eating em, and I am not going to ider,” Dulcie was not afraid of her big sister even if Anita stood two feet above her.

“I knows you eats em sure, you would eat the funks if you could get at em,” Anita didn’t hold back any punches either.

“Now watch what you’re playing at missy I don’t have to pick dese berries if I don’t want to,” Dulcie’s lips were red from all the berries she pressed against her mouth, hand over fist.

“Den don’t pick em, sure I don’t care.  I can fill up all tree of da buckets faster than you,” Anita stood stock still as she was confidant in her berry picking abilities.

“Fine pick em den,”and with Anita’s threat still warm on her lips, Dulcie left in a contrary huff leaving her still empty bucket for her sister to fill.

“Fine go on home den, Tommy will never die while you are still living you spiteful cow.”

Dulcie didn’t even look back as she traipsed through the long alder bushes to make her way back to the path that would lead her back home.  As she muttered this and that under her breath she felt a sudden pang in her stomach.  The berries must be at work, she thought.  Listening to her gut was Dulcie’s gift but she sometimes misread the signs.  If she had not told herself it was the berries she would have realized that it was something entirely different.  Her gut was telling her to go back to her sister, to not be so foolish but she was too filled with the spite that had been passed down from her father to know the difference.  Her gut was hushed as the only thing Dulcie wanted to hear was the sound of her rubber boots sloshing in the mud as it meant she would be near the main road soon.  She hoped to catch a ride back to the Bight with the mailman.  She knew his horse and buggy would be passing by soon and he always liked to pick her up whenever she found herself along his route, which was at least once or twice a week if Dulcie could help it.

Dulcie walked while the knots in her stomach kept trying to tell her to go back to her sister.  She ignored the pain while hoping to hear the sound of horse hooves on gravel.  The sound never came but the pain continued to spread along her side forcing her to slow her pace until she couldn’t walk any further.  It was in that moment that she realized it was more than the berries.

“Oh dear Jez-us, not now,” Dulcie looked to the heaven and screamed out in agony as the torment inside her wrapped itself around her back forcing her to sit on the side of the road until she could make her way back to her feet.

Dulcie grabbed her stomach and wished she had not left Anita. Dulcie knew full well she would hear Anita’s scorn as soon as she found her still sitting on the side of the road.  But for the time being she would have to wait it out as she did not have the strength to continue on.  Dulcie thought she must have missed the mailman already and would rather be rescued by him then her older sister.  Thinking about him helped take her mind off the pain for a moment as she dreamed of being a fit enough women to find her way into his life.  She knew her mother would never let her marry him but she continued to dream about his strong arms lifting her up onto his carriage.  For a second she thought she could smell his scent but it was just her mind playing tricks on her as the pain got worse forcing her to surrender and pass out on the dirt that felt like it was sinking beneath her plump bottom.

“Wake up maid, what are you doing sleeping here on the side of the road,”Anita’s voice stirred Dulcie from her unpleasant rest.

“Oh I knows  I shouldn’t have left Neata but you knows me when the devil sets in.”

Dulcie was more than glad to see her sisters swollen and red stained hand reach out to pull her to her feet.

As Dulcie felt some relief from her pain another feeling of dread fell upon her soul as she saw the mailman’s horse and buggy waiting patiently just down the road, his back carriage lined with three metal buckets of raspberries.  Anita’s berries.  The mailman must have found Anita first before getting to her.   As she looked up there he was attentively looking on as Anita stood in wait of her sister.

“Matthew is going to give you a ride back with my berries.  Don’t dare touch one of them until I gets home or else.  And minds I’m telling ya,” Anita was ready to give up her seat on the buggy for her ailing sister as long as the berries got home safe.

Dulcie was grateful for Anita’s help in that moment and couldn’t wait to share the ride home with Matthew.  Her pain was still circling the inside of her stomach but Dulcie couldn’t feel it over the butterflies that had now stirred themselves insider her at the thought of sitting next to Matthew.  She would thank Anita for her help later.

As Matthew and Dulcie slowly started to leave Anita called out one last time to her sister, “And next time don’t be such a contrary ol witch and maybe you won’t be left to the demise of your monthly visiter.”

Just like that Dulcie’s grateful heart turned to spite as she vowed to get back at her sister once more.  Those buckets of berries might not make it home after all, Dulcie thought and with that the only word she could think to say out loud to her handsome driver was, “sisters.”

“Sisters,” he said back and it was the only conversation the two of them had the whole way back to Tickle Bight.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs


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My Ghost Story

The eerie, whistling wind brings out the writer in me so on this St. Valentine’s Day I give myself an hour to write as a gift to myself.  The rest of my day will be spent enjoying chocolate, good food, white wine and my lovely family of two little and one very big man, my husband.  There are red hearts pinned all over my house and chocolate pretzels, hand dipped by my two little Valentine’s.  They have been extra sweet to each other today which is really the best gift I could hope for.  Sibling scobbles are a daily occurrence at our house.  But oh well, they will grow up just fine right?

But even with a house full of chocolate the wind is calling to me harder and I abstain from having one more bite of heaven.  I am reminded today of a time 32 years ago when out on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland the Ocean Ranger sank and took with her its 84 crew members.  I was only 7 years old and had a very active imagination to say the least.  I had not learned how to write stories the way I wanted to yet so I often invented them, even today I still have a hard time letting go of some of the stories I told.

My stories often bled into my dreams and I was plagued with vivid nightmares at least once or twice a week.  My mom and dad took turns helping me chase he hag away.  I swear I have a 101 nightmare stories that I am sure Stephen King would love to write about if he ever got a hold of me.  But on this one night on Feb 15, 1982 I had a dream that still haunts me every year on this date.

Inside my child like mind I saw and felt a raging presence that was only in black and white, there was a heavy fog and the wind was in my ear much like it is today reminding me of its power and strength.  As a child the blowing gales frightened the living daylights out of me but in my dream I only bared witness to it and felt nothing.  I was an observer watching over something deadly and heartbreaking but I never felt the ache from that until I woke up.

Before my tearful cries came to stir my parents I watched as the stormy waters washed over a strange platform.  I knew in my mind that it not a boat but something that was made to rest on top of the sea but I had no idea what.  The toughest part of my dream and the part that I can still see clearly in my mind was a man, wearing a grey sweater, his faced covered in a thick black beard that made him look like his eyes were missing.  I saw a look of death over him as he jumped from the bouncing platform into the hungry sea.  I screamed and then he was gone and I found myself wrapped in my dads arms under the bright light of our living room.

Through my tears and hiccups I told him my dream, in the same detail as above.  He rubbed my back and told me it was just a dream and that I was ok.  He tucked me between him and my mom and I slept the rest of the night in their bed while I am sure they slept very little.

The next morning my parents went about their usual morning duties, mom got the fire sparked up in the Woodchief while dad put on the kettle for their morning tea and coffee.  As soon as the kettle was switched on then went the little red button on the radio.  They both went about their days as per usual.  I do not remember exactly when my parents found out about the disaster but I do remember that when dad heard the news that he turned to mom and said, “My God, that was what she dreamt about last night.”

Dad went white as a ghost, as mom brushed it off as nothing, “just silly dreams is all.”

Either way, be it fact or fiction I still feel that night long ago out on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.  The Ocean has many gifts to give but she sometimes takes back and unfortunately our hearts always go with her.  I cannot even imagine what the families who lost loved ones went through, it was a terrible disaster that haunts many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to this day.  It was February 15, 1982 but for some it still feels like yesterday.  I pray for them and I hope that you will too.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs


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My Village, My Tribe

This weeks blog was inspired by watching a new favorite show of mine called Downton Abbey, I am currently watching season 2.  The show I watched this week revolved around wounded patients returning home from the Great War.  One soldier was deeply depressed and didn’t want to leave the hospital but because the doctor didn’t regard his condition as being serious he told him he would have to leave.  In doing so the depressed soldier killed himself.  Yes I am fully aware that this is a fictional show and that the Great War happened a long time ago but I still believe our society has not fully comprehended the seriousness of what depression does to a person.   I will not hide behind my veil anymore, so prepare, this one may sting a little.

Mental illness has run deep around me, I have wrestled with this perpetual demon for as long as I can remember.  When I was a teenager it was labeled teen angst.  When I was a young adult it was called being in my twenties.  When I was in my thirties it was baby blues when really it was postpartum.

The day I realized that my “baby blues” were more shades of grey  then blue, was when I started my acting career up again after having boy number 1.  I was asked to audition for a PSA on postpartum depression.  I picked up my sides the day before I was supposed to read.  I started reviewing my papers as I sat on the bus back home and hid the tears that were flowing from behind my Jacki-O style sunglasses.  Numb to what was happening to me as I read further I decided right then I would not be able to do the audition the next day and risk breaking down.  My come back to acting was again put on hold for a little while longer.

I didn’t run to my doctor, my mother or my husband.  I kept trying to hold it down as long as I could without exploding.  It finally erupted 6 years later after my father passed.  To accurately define the moment of impact would be difficult.  There was so much leading up to it that each moment blended into the other until I couldn’t see anything except for a blur in front of my face.

What felt like an eternity of low days was indeed roughly about 25 years out of my now 39.  Not everyday was shrouded in dark shadows, there was a lot of good in there too.     A big chuck of that good came when I met my tribe of girl friends after I had boy number 2.  Without them I do not think I would have ever gotten to the point in my life where I could have openly admitted that I was depressed.

Before having boy number 1 I had moved to a province where I knew no one.  My husband and I came east for work and to be a least a province closer to my family even if I was in Nova Scotia and they were still in Newfoundland.   Meeting people in my early thirties proved to be difficult at first.  It wasn’t until a friend from home came to visit and hooked me up with another one of her friends who had boys close in age to mine that things started to shift.  My blind “friend” date was a hit and she introduced me to other momma’s that she had met at play group.  PLAY GROUPS were my saviour back in the early days of being a mom.  Who knew?  I certainly didn’t.  But when I did what a difference it made in my life.

I had found myself a tribe of women who became my village.  We would babysit for one another, we changed each others kids diapers, cooked each other meals, and handed out tissues on the days that one of us felt like the world was crashing down.  There was no judgment, no back biting and no harsh words of “get over dat my dear and stop being so soft.”

We always got through the worse days together and because of that we were able to offer a kind shoulder and the advice we all needed to hear.  We encouraged each other to see our doctors, to do yoga and to just simply breath.  In fact, it was one of my tribe members who brought me to my doctor on the day that I finally hit rock friggin bottom.  She made the appointment, drove me in her car and held my hand as we cried together.

On the lighter side of things, there was always someone who had a square of chocolate hid away in the freezer for special occasions, be it good or bad.   We had “girly” birthday celebrations a plenty and had our own kitchen parties marked with silly pictures (that never go on FaceBook) and nights at the theatre where we pretended to be sophisticated and worldly.  I also have a friend who had her own cupcake business so on the really bad days there was nothing better than her peanut butter, triple chocolate,  cups to put a better spin on my day.  Self medicating at its best.

Our babies have become little humans going about their own little lives and dramas and we do not get to see each other as much now that they are in school.  We still know that we are and will forever be there for each other.  And that kind of medicine is just as important as anything that comes from a little yellow bottle.  Combing friendship with the help from my doctors was the recipe I needed to finally get my life on track.  My vision is no longer blurred, my bad days are just that and I know that when things sometimes become over whelming that I have tools to help me get through it all.

I wish that same combination for anyone out there who is still struggling.  It’s tough, I know.  The first step is embracing it.  When I finally wrapped my arms around my depression and acknowledged its presence in my life things changed.  I think owning it and then telling someone about it did the trick.  Being able to hear yourself say it out loud can be a defining moment.  When you put it out there, you are letting it go.  Letting go can be really good sometimes, so let go and don’t look back.

See you next week.

R. H. Downs


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Twitter Bug

In the world of Twitter I am but a lonely spec waiting for Horton to hear my call.  I am referring of course to the very famous Dr. Seuss story Horton Hears a Who.  My analogy was carefully chosen for a couple of reasons but mostly because I too feel like a tiny spec in the grand scheme of the Universe.  Here I am, an emerging writer, anxiously awaiting my first novel to be published and feeling grateful for the opportunity that my publisher has given me.  However, I have been told that if I want to continue on this path I must align myself with the social media gods and write profound statements daily to make myself known.

I have stayed away from the almighty Twitter up until now because it seemed silly, I often said it was a waste of my time, my energy and my creative juices.  But putting it off any longer would be wrong according to those  that want me to do well for myself.  So I did it, I signed up last Sunday and what a ride it has been.

I have opened myself up to a whole new community of writers, publishers and positive role models that I enjoy having influence my life.  I only follow those that I want to hear from and ignore all the negative jibber jabber that Twitter can for sure generate.  That is the stuff I want to stay away from and what I feared most about signing up.  I don’t particularly enjoy “haters” and was afraid of falling victim to that side of it.

This past week alone I was able to do my part to help #BellLetsTalk raise money for mental health and enjoyed all the positive press that Bell brought to light around this very serious issue.   Well done Bell, I may not subscribe to your business but I do support you whole heartedly on this one.

I also discovered different writing workshops, grants, and other programs that are available to me as a new writer.   At one point I felt so overwhelmed by it all that I had to put restrictions on myself as to how much time I should spend perusing the Twitter feeds.  There is just so much great stuff out there that I probably would not have found out about if I had not signed up.  My summer reading list also got a lot longer as I found other writers that I had not even heard of until Twitter.

I am still getting my feet wet when it comes to what it is I am supposed to put out there but I know I will get it with practice.  I enjoy being the new kid on the block as I prepare myself for the future of promoting my own novel.  I am learning as I go and when that time comes I will be armed and ready with Twitter at my side to guide me.

Most of you may have already signed up ages ago but if not don’t be afraid, you’re only 140 characters away from saying something really great or insanely stupid.  Either way, someone out there will read it and for a moment in time you will be heard.   And who knows, maybe you will even change someone’s life for the better.  It’s worth a shot right?

Until next Tuesday

R.H. Downs


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A Short Story if I May

I thought I would try something a little different this week and share one of my short stories with you.  Sometimes I hear a calling, a voice,  and I am compelled to write whatever it is that wants to flow from my writers veins.  This was one that came to me this week when I was pondering the state of our health care system and how it mistreat’s people with mental illness more often then not.  I won’t get into the rant I had in mind, instead I will share this short story.  Take from it what you will and remember that caring for our minds is just as important as caring for any other part of our bodies.


“Move,” she said.

“Move where?”

The voice came out of nowhere and startled Maria.  It had been a while since she heard that familiar cadence.  Maria was speaking to her cat, a stubborn tabby, who often sat on her lap whenever she started knitting.  There was no one in the house except for her and Charlie, aptly named after her father who was equally as tenacious during his days among the living.

Maria’s father had passed away one year ago and she felt like his spirit had landed inside Charlie on his way back  after heaven rejected him.  She wondered sometimes if the voices in her head were the spirits that her father had brought with him upon his plummet back to earth.  There was no way God would have let him through the gates after all the things he had done.

Every time the voices came Maria would be instantly pulled back into her father’s dreadful life of pain and misery.  Not only his pain and misery but hers, from picking up the pieces of a broken home and a broken heart days on end.  There were times when Maria longed for a sibling, anyone who could help share the heavy burden that Charlie put upon her tiny shoulders.  But then her selfless mind would kick into gear making her feel guilty for wanting to put such a laborious saddle upon someone else’s back.  Oh, but to not have to feel alone in this would have been a welcomed gift for Maria.

When Charlie was ripped from the earth and laid before the Goddesses above they too felt sorry for him and his tragic end.  They sent him back to Maria, as a way to redeem himself to her in the form of a tabby cat.  Maria knew instantly what the Goddesses had done when the sick and dirty kitten just showed up on her doorstep three days after her father had passed on.  How could she not know when that was how her father had always shown himself to her so many times before, proving to Maria that the Gods did have a sense of humor after all.

“Ok Charlie, let’s get you cleaned up, again.”

On Charlie’s first day with Maria she soaked his matted paws in warm water next to the dirty dishes that had been piling up since her father passed on.  The first sign that grieving had begun.  Soon everything in her house would be dirty as a way of rebellion against the pain she was feeling.  When grief is met with the shame of feeling happy because someone you love is gone, it can make for an interesting recipe.  Mixing such strong emotions together can lead to a very severe mental breakdown.  Or as some would say,  “going off your rocker.”

Hence the voices that Maria heard daily and the fact that she believed her dead father was living inside her cat.  Well, to the outside world one might see this as having a breakdown of sorts but to Maria it was all together something else.  It was her way of connecting with her father in a place where she could be safe and not get hurt.

“I know that it’s you dad, no need to play games.  Your dead, I’m not.”

Whenever Maria would challenge the voices they would go away for a while.  Once Maria learned that trick  the pain started to go away.  Little by little it started to leave, it trickled down the sink like the warm bath water she would bath Charlie in each and every day.  A cleaning ritual that both Charlie and Maria got use to until the day came when Maria forgot to do it.

A new family had moved in next door and had invited Maria over for a barbecue.  The invitation had taken her by surprise but it was accepted with a grateful heart as Maria enjoyed the happy company of the Sallis family.  They did not know about her father like the last neighbours who lived there, those neighbours  had  shunned her for allowing her drunk father to come to their exclusive neighbourhood.   Now that both her father and the old neighbours were gone there was hope.  As Maria sipped on her glass of lemonade in the Sallis backyard the voices changed their tone.  They no longer picked at her for not having a life outside her work as a CGA for a popular technologies company.

Work was a place where Maria could hide her condition without anyone suspecting she regularly talked to her cat and that he also talked back.  It wasn’t like Charlie could pick up the phone and call her at work; she was safe there until it was time to go home.  Maria always took on everyone else’s overtime as a way of not having to face her lonely house and of course her talking cat.

The Sallis family caught her on the off day that she wasn’t legally allowed to go into the office.  It was Canada Day and everyone would be celebrating.  A time when Maria usually liked to hide the most, as on those type of occasions her father’s antics often got worse.  Holiday’s were only special to Maria because it meant she got to go downtown and see the handsome men in uniform hand over her dad.  Charlie was extra ripe on those days, covered in a mix of blood and vomit.  Those were the days she got to hose him down in her backyard while the neighbours pretended they were not watching.

There would be none of that today, she thought, the Sallis family filled her plate with pork souvlaki and enough Greek salad to feed an army.  Maria thought she was dreaming at first as such a kind gesture felt overwhelming.  No one had cooked her dinner before, or no one that she could remember.  Maria’s memories only ever went back as far age 13.  What happened before then still needed unlocking but that wasn’t something Maria ever wanted to do.

When Maria’s belly was full she thanked her hosts and slowly walked back to her little house on the crescent, thinking for the first time in a long time how great it was to feel alive.  The breath of fresh air that she inhaled set something free inside her as she looked up at the pink sky that would soon be donning flashes of red and white.  Maybe I could sit outside tonight and watch them from my backyard.  The thought of watching fireworks had never thrilled her before that night.  Most times the roaring of the skies above often set her father out her door screaming as he thought someone was coming after him with a gun.  The delusions of a sick man.

As Maria fixed herself an iced coffee she stared out her kitchen window to see Mr. Sallis carrying his four-year old daughter asleep, on his chest, up the stairs and to what Maria assumed would be her bedroom.  Maria thought that she probably never ever got carried so valiantly like that to her room.  Her father barely was able to carry himself.  Most nights it was her tucking him in.  How the sins of our fathers lay heavy upon our chests, she thought.  Maria prayed that the Sallis daughter would never have to feel that kind of pain.  Maria always could feel more for others than her own broken soul.  A blessing and a curse in some ways.

The skies above her cried out and broke Maria from her prayer.  It was time for the show.  As Maria made her way outside the wind blew a gentle breeze that kept her door open long enough for Charlie to slink his way outside to join her.  Something that Maria never allowed him to do in the past.  She was always careful never to let him escape.  In her mind she knew he would get himself into trouble and come back in a state of wanting.  But tonight Maria was off her guard, her full belly and the twinkling lights above kept her distracted long enough for Charlie to get away so that he could hunt for some fun of his own.  Maria didn’t even notice that he snuck out behind her until she saw a familiar creature climbing on the top of her neighbours back fence.

“Charlie,” she called.


There it was again, the voice, she didn’t want to respond to it out in the open but the mocking wave of his tail made her stomach churn as she knew he couldn’t wait to rub his clever escape in her face.

“You couldn’t wait to get away from me could you?”

Maria called after him like the mother she often was to her own father.  She was angry at his demise.

“Come back here now Charlie.”

Charlie looked away, ran to the end of the fence and leapt to the ground never saying another word.  He would be gone for the night.

As Maria sat down in the one and only lawn chair in her backyard a thought had crossed her mind, what if he doesn’t come back.

Maria knew he would and along with him the voices too but for tonight the drama inside her head would take a rest, a much-needed and well deserved rest.  Tomorrow she would most likely spend part of her day bathing Charlie while spending the rest of it at work, away from the voices and enjoying the take away lunch that Mrs. Sallis had prepared for her to take home.   A silver lining among the dark clouds of a life spent caring for the only man she ever loved.

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs


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An Evening with Ms. Morrissey

I would like to introduce to you one of my favorite Newfoundland writers, Donna Morrissey.  If you haven’t read one of her 5 titles yet then I highly recommend you check her out.  I had the honor of meeting her this past week and it was a moment in time that I soon will not forget.  But before we get to the ramblings of the evening itself, allow  me to provide you with the back story of how I fell in love with Ms. Morrissey’s writing.

Two years ago my family and I moved from Nova Scotia to Ontario to be closer to my dad who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  If anyone knows anything about this type of the C word then you know that beating it is a rare thing.  Needless to say we were in for a year of broken hearts and making the best out of a rotten situation.

Anyone who knew my father knows his love for reading was second to nothing else when it came to his favorite thing to do.  My dad introduced me to The Thorn Birds and Gone with the Wind long before I should have been reading those titles.  But dad knew I was hungry for words and what I was reading at school did not feed my soul as adequately has it should.  He loved asking me what part I was reading and when I would tell him he would always entice me by saying something like, “Wait til you get a little further in, something real good is about to happen.”

That year in Ontario was a blessing for my family.  I got to spend my dad’s last days with him and we created some lasting memories through all the aching tears.  One of those memories for me was when dad gave me Kit’s Law, Donna Morrissey’s first novel.  He had already read it and told me that he was sure I would love it as much as he did.  And  he was right.  To call it a page turner would be an understatement.  I got completely lost in the book as it took me back to Newfoundland and allowed me to connect with my dad again in a place where cancer wouldn’t get the better of us.  It was the only book I read that year other than Dr. Dyer’s The Power of Intention.

While reading Kit’s Law, dad and I did our usual thing where he would ask me what part I was reading and we would talk about it and he would tell me to wait until such and such happened.  It was our own mini father/daughter book club and I cherished those moments more than any words can describe.

I began reading Ms. Morrissey’s book Sylvanus Now a couple of months ago as homework for myself while writing my first novel, Sisters of Avalon.  My story is nothing like that of Adelaide and Sylvanus but I wanted to emerse myself into reading a book that captured the Newfoundland culture in such a way that it would transform me back there even if I was not physically there myself.    I knew that by keeping Donna by my side I would have a trusted companion to go to when I needed a taste of the Newfoundland air that I so greatly miss.   I often tell friends that Donna is who I want to be when I grow up.  We have similar backgrounds; we both grew up in out port Newfoundland, we both now live in Nova Scotia, we have both lost a parent to cancer and she published her first novel at 40 and I am getting pretty close to that same colourful number myself.

Last week when I saw the marquee outside the Catholic school near the university where I work, I took it as a sign from God, I mean how could I not.  Donna Morrissey, January 16, 7-8:30.  It called my name and when I mentioned to my husband that she was coming and that tickets were 25 bucks he bought me the ticket without hesitation as a gift.  He knew I should go as well.

This particular reading was being put on by the Alumni of Scared Heart and I kind of felt like a gate crasher sitting there with all the Nuns and past students from the school.  The irony of it all was not lost on me as a heavy part of my book revolves around the Catholic Church, well my second book is a little heavy, this first one is more Catholic light, it’s the third one that might really upset the Pope.  But I think it’s safe to say that his excellency will most likely not read my trilogy.

As I walked through the great doors of the school a statue of Jesus welcomed me with open arms.  I swear I could hear his voice in my head saying, “Now missy be careful what you put in dat book of yours, you don’t want it to come back to bite you in the …”  And yes Jesus had a Newfoundland accent in my head but what can I say, he is all-encompassing.

I respectfully made my way past the towering shadow of the Man Himself and made my way to the room where Donna would be reading.  I grabbed a glass of vino and dashed to the very front row where no one sat but me.  My first interaction with my favorite author came when she looked at me and wondered why no one else sat in the front row.  I told one lady, jokingly of course, that it was just for me.

When Donna got started  her comfort level with this room full of strangers was inspiring.  I am sure she had done this sort of thing a hundred times over by now and it showed.  She commanded that room like the Captain himself.  I was hooked for the night and could have listened to her read the entire volume of The Deception of Livvy Higgs.  I will save that one for my summer reading list for sure.

When Ms.  Morrissey read, her itty-bitty body spewed out a voice that was thunderous.  Her characters leapt off the page and came into the room with us.  Her larger than life personality came roaring out and there would be no stopping her for the night.  When she dropped the F bomb a couple of times I could see from the corner of my eye that a couple of ladies in the audience got a little tight-lipped.  Oh well, that was nothing compared to how the room went up when she talked about losing her erection.  Almost died I did, I had tears rolling down my face.  She was fierce and she got away with it in spades because she is a very lovable person.

When she told the story of her mother and her battle with breast cancer the tears started again.  I am not sure how she got through that story without bawling herself but she did.  Her strength was transcending.

When the reading was over and the questions were answered I grabbed my 15 seconds or so with her to tell her how much her work has inspired me.  She graciously autographed a book for a friend of mine who couldn’t make it and one of the other audience members offered to take a picture of us for  me.  I jumped at the photo opportunity and with wine soaked lips I told Ms. Morrissey that she was my soul sister.  After I said that she put her hand on my head and tasselled my hair.  Donna Morrissey fondled my head, and I liked it!

A couple of pictures later, then out the door I ran, I didn’t want the nuns to find out that I had crashed their party.  I also had to catch my bus back to Sackville or risk having to wait another hour before catching the next one.  When I got home I couldn’t get to sleep.  My head raced with the beautiful language that was still spinning in the writing cockles of my mind.  What a thrill it was for me to be in the company of Ms. Morrissey.  If you ever get the opportunity to go see her yourself I am telling you now, you will not be disappointed.

See you next week.

R.H. Downs


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“I would like to thank the Academy…”

Today I am in a “Scrappy Happiness” frame of mind and its time to hang from my mindful monkey bars.  That is a twisted metaphor to describe how I am feeling at the moment.  I am stuck between the ordinary and the extraordinary waiting to be discovered.  Yes I shamefully threw several Joel Plaskett titles in there but what can I say, the man can spin lyrics like the greats.  I feel extremely blessed to have seen him perform more times than I can count.  Today I need a break  to have some fun with words and listening to any song by JP gets me inspired to do brave things.

I have been knee-deep in writing Sisters of Avalon and I love it, but I won’t lie and say it’s been easy because it is a lot of hard work.  I am trying to do a couple of  balancing acts at the moment.   I shall grant myself permission to pat myself on the back a little and will say this, “so far, so good.”  I still however have a bit of ways to go yet before I can take that enormous breath of final delivery.

This week I have hit the point of no return, there is too much written now to change the direction of any major character so whats done is done.   I am at the top of the mountain where the shit hits the fan and my characters must head to their rightful places, which waits for them at the end of my book. I love where I have ended up with this story some 7 years later.  Yikes!

This week has been tough, and I will admit that now that the week is finally over.(I really wrote this on the weekend and not this morning).   Back to school, back to work, back to writing less now that the holidays are over. I miss my holiday writing routine.  So today I needed a little pick me up for my writers blues.  I decided to pull a page from the ever wonderful book by Julia Cameron called “The Artist Way” and do a fun writing exercise for myself.

Warning!!!  It will be a long and tedious blog this week and I realize that technology has stripped some of our ability to read more than 3 paragraphs so if you do not get through this one I totally understand.  And to the handful of you that read my blog I would like to add that, if you plan on reading my book then this will be a good chance for you to get ready for some long wind, lol.  Today’s blog is the closet you will come to seeing my true writing style.  So if you have gotten this far you might as well just read the rest.  Grab a glass of wine, coffee, water or even a beer and get ready for a long’s winters blog.

At some point very soon I will have to write my acknowledgement page for my book.  A page where I get to thank the many people who have helped me along my journey.  There is a long list that is for sure as I have had many blessings placed upon me throughout my lifetime.  I thought, why not write that page today. Why not tell all those people out there how wonderful they have been to me and how much they have helped me get to where I am at this very special moment in time.

As a young girl I loved watching all those award shows where real movie stars got up and thanked everyone that made their special night possible.  That was always my favorite part.  The glitz and glamour was of course appealing to my young human mind but my ego enjoyed that part the best and not the real me.  I don’t really care who is wearing who anymore and if I were asked that question ever in my life I think I would laugh hysterically.  I would probably have to talk about my shoes though, I always have some killer shoes that I like to show off.  I probably only paid ten bucks for them at Value Village so they still would not be pretentious enough for the Hollywood Red Carpet I guess.  But I digress.


The word acknowledgment seems too cold a word to use.  Its fourteen letters are just too official and I would like to call it my blessings instead.  When I actually get to do this for my book, it will look a lot different from what it does here.  The editor will have his or her own way and direct me on how it should really be and that’s all fine and dandy so today I am going to do it the Renée way and have some fun.  So here goes folks.

First, I would like to thank the Academy.  Long Island Academy that is.  My little school on the long Island that I was reared up on.  And I don’t mean that as some kind of euphemism it simply means the place where I grew up.  I really did not understand what that island did for me until I was long gone from it.  My mother can tell you that I asked my dad regularly if we could move away and live some place else.  I vividly remember when my Uncle Rob moved to Alberta, me asking dad if we could all go with him.  It didn’t happen and although that made me sad at the time I am so glad they didn’t listen to me.

That island, my Long Island made me into a very colourful human being and I wear all my colours with a lot of pride.  And before anyone goes thinking that I am gay, and I could see why you would think that based on the statement above, I am not.  In fact I am not straight either.  I am neither.  I hate labels, it’s the only thing I really hate in life to such a big extent but I do.  I am in fact just and only that, the I am.  What I choose to put after those two letters is what is really important in life.  So I choose wisely folks.  That is a blog for another day though, I promise.

Back to my island and my school.  I thank you because without you I would not have learned to love the way I do today and I am blessed for that.  So see, I really do get to thank the Academy and I am wearing a white t-shirt and a pair of black track pants.  It’s after Christmas people and I bet a lot of you out there are wearing them too.  No fancy shoes on right now all the same, maybe later though.

Blessings come in all shapes and disguises.  Which is why I would like to thank all of those who said the mean things, who broke my heart and who said I wasted my life by getting a BFA, and  I quote one of them by saying the very thing that stuck itself to me for a long time, “sure dats nothin but a bachelor of fuck all…”.  To them I say thank you and share a new favorite quote of mine by Zig Ziglar.  “Don’t be distracted by Criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”  You were all my blessings so I thank you for being the hot wind at my back.

On to a more happy blessing and if you have read my blog before you will know that I owe so much to this man, Dr. Wayne Dyer.  I could go on forever and have even written a book detailing all the blessings he has contributed to my life.  That book will hopefully be published some other day but for now I will stick with the Sisters.  I cannot thank him enough for all the light he has brought into my world.  Namaste Dr. Dyer, Namaste.

I absolutely have to thank the PEI Screenwriters Bootcamp, 2013.  My acceptance into their coveted little gem of a program was key to making all this happen.  I met a wonderful man that weekend who scared me shitless (sorry that was really the best way to describe it).  His name is Tom Shoebridge and his many years of experience in the Canadian media arts world intimated the crap out of me.  The day I had to read my writing aloud for him and my 5 other peers, gave me an extreme case of stage fight.  Holy Frack, I am really doing this, was all I could think.  But I did it.  It felt like I was reading to him for an entire twenty minutes for sure when indeed it was probably only 4 or 5.  When I was done I held my breath and prepared for some heavy constructive criticism, which I of course always welcome.  But that day he told me I was meant to write books and from there my confidence grew and I made a promise to him on my very last day there to write Sisters of Avalon as a novel first, “the script will come later,” he said.

I took Mr. Shoebridge at his word and am grateful for that.  You have blessed many Tom Shoebridge and I will forever be in your debt for the blessing you handed me.

Before I get too far ahead of myself I cannot and shall not forget my S of A and I don’t  mean Sons of Anarchy which I do indeed confess a profound love for.   Kurt Sutter is a great episodic writer and I will really miss the show when it ends.  And yes, Charlie Hunnam is not bad on the eyes either.  I know you are thinking it, well I am thinking about them, I mean,  him.  Sorry, just got a little flustered there.  Oh right The School of Fine Arts!

Corner Brook, NL, and the place I called home for 4 years after highschool.  It was in a time and place where social media did not exist and I thank my lucky stars for that every day.  I cannot imagine what would have ended up on Facebook.

Every once in a while some random picture that was found in someone’s old box from a trip back home will get scanned and tagged without any warning to anyone that it is coming.  When I see a notification like that I hold my breath for a second.  Lol.  Thankfully those breathless moments have not resurfaced, not yet anyway.  I do love the ones that celebrate the fun and less drunk moments in my life.  Bring on the bleached blond sun-in photos with the big bangs though.  I love those pics from high school and my first year of university.

This school of “fuck all”, as quoted by a drunk family member, was so much more than fun times and embarrassing moments.  It’s where I felt my true freedom for the first time.  No more parents, no more island, no more put downs for being different from the rest.  A place to let my creative expression thrive and put my hangovers to rest.  Yes I partied, a lot, and yes I studied, a lot, and yes I had fun, a lot, and even though I made countless mistakes in those 4 years I think I can say I have learned from most of them.  Which is why I am glad those mistakes didn’t end up on Facebook because I don’t think I would have been strong enough back then to live with my own shame.  I can now, even when it pops up from out of no where.  We all do things in this life that we wish he had not, trouble is we very rarely give ourselves permission to forgive.  If you cannot forgive yourself, no one else will either.

My wonderful arts school allowed me to grow as a person and to find myself along a road filled with mistakes, challenges and beautiful friendships.  The relationships I built during those 4 years have changed the direction of my life and put me on a path I look back on and smile.   I was blessed to have met many talented individuals who have made their mark on the Canadian arts scene while others have gone on to become amazing mothers, fathers and even bee keepers.

When you are allowed the freedom to be yourself and are surrounded on a daily basis by creative people your whole world can change and that is a blessing for anyone who is given that opportunity.  Thank you Sir Wilfred Grenfell School of Fine Arts,  to all those who said I was wasting my time by going there I say, “You really don’t know fuck all!”

Now for the sappy part, its time to get your tissues out.  To those that have come and are now gone from my life you have been the hardest blessings of all.  Through your passing and with the pain of your loss I am still blessed.  Blessed to have had you shape and mold me as a person, and to have loved me unconditionally.   To my Nan and Pop Rowsell who gave me sweets to make me sweet.  My Nan and Pop Hillier who gave me fun Christmas’s away from home, to my Uncle Jack who always called me baby girl, my Uncle Gary for making me try shark for the first time, my cousin Shannon for always making me feel like I was his Madonna, my Aunt Brenda for all her selfless love and of course my dad for his gift of words. My Dad made me fall in love with reading at a very young age and he knew he raised a writer.  It’s a shame I didn’t know that until after he passed on.    I love you all and hope you are keeping one another company in the heavens above.  I am sure dad and Uncle Jack are totally arguing about how fake hockey is.  Uncle Jack always knew how to get dads goat.

Ok put the tissues away.  It’s time to thank my girls, my tribe of girlfriends who got me through the tough motherhood days when staying home and raising kids was considered a blessing and a curse.  Kena, Trisha, Angie, and Trudi.  The four of you have kept me strong and grounded through the good, the bad and the very ugly days of wearing pajamas days on end.  Love ya sista’s from other mista’s.  There are many other friends of mine that have blessed my life in so many other ways and I am sure you all know who you are as I make sure to keep in touch with you even though we are all scattered across the miles.

And to my loving family, and there are too many of you Rowsell’s and Hillier’s to write about because if I do I will lose any of you that are still reading this really long blog.  I am little bits of each and every one of you.  Through your kindness, cooked meals and knitted sweaters I have learned that I will always be loved, well feed and I will never be homeless as you have all found a place for me in yours hearts.  I love you and always will.

To my Momma, brother, sis in law and little nephews, you have given me strength to stand on my own two feet and love you back in the way that you love me.  As long as you are by my side I know that you will be all that you can be for me as long as I live.  Thank you for the countless blessings you have brought into my life, with many more to come I am sure.

To  my very special little family of men.  To Mason, Zander and my partner in crime Mike without you I would still be a Long Island girl pretending to be stuck in the 80’s.  You make every day a blessing in itself.  I love you despite your dirty socks, smelly butts and the pee that is always waiting for me on the toilet seat.  I gladly overlook all of that because without you celebrating a dream come to life would mean nothing to me other than just some words on a page.  You have been on the journey with me from day one and with many more days to come we will be stronger together and take on anything that the Universe has in store for us.  I love you, stinky socks and all.

There it is, and if you hung in there for all 2800 words then I commend you and if you didn’t then oh well…

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs


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My Writer’s Block

Now one would assume that my title suggests I am experiencing some trouble putting words on the page but in fact my writers block is something entirely different.  I do not have any trouble whatsoever when it comes to writing my very first novel.  The problem I have is actually finding the time I require to do it.  Don’t get me wrong I am over half way to finishing my labor of love but I am at the point where I just want to dive in head first and not come out until it’s done.  I know where my characters are going, I have a solid ending and I just want to inhale that big breath waiting for me at the end of my achievement.

I just cannot seem to turn off the voices inside my head,  they are screaming for me to let them out.  My dreams take me to the places I am writing about on a nightly basis and I feel that I will not be able to turn them off until my work is complete.  There are never enough hours in the day.

The flow of creative energy that runs through my veins is a gift that has been placed upon me.  I know this for certain.   I am but the instrument through which these stories are being told and if I do not get enough time to allow them to adequately come alive I know I am going to burst.

Turning the writing switch off is really proving to be difficult.   I need help I think, or someone to pay my bills for me while I write full-time.  And that is indeed  my end goal.  I dream that my ability to write  will hopefully give me the financial freedom I need to create new stories everyday 9-5 and not have to worry about the world falling down around me.  After all, this is the first book in a series of three.  My obsession with these characters will not disappear after book one I am afraid.  The Bride’s from Bridgette’s Cove will be my alter ego family until the day I die.  I have been bitten folks and thankfully it was not by one of the Salvatore brothers.  But then again, nah, never mind.

See you next Tuesday.

RH Downs

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The Year of RH Downs!

That is what my hubby said to me last night after a very low-key but fun New Years Eve!  He squeezed my hand and made me smile at his sentiment.  The faith he has in my dreams coming true is unshakable.  My number one fan.

Here I sit reflecting on 2013 if only  for a brief moment.  If I think about it for too long I will for sure get stuck in the grief of losing too many very  special people this year.  I am sure most of you reading this will share my pain.  It is a very tough road through grief that is for certain.

As I wipe my tears and let that thought go for fear of being consumed,  I am also reminded of the many gifts of love I have in my life.  I am blessed beyond words, I know this, and I allow myself to live in that for as long as I can.  Yes I fall, and I have bad days sometimes.  I am human, but if I didn’t fall I wouldn’t be able to look for a reason to get back up again.

I am very rich in spirit and surround myself by those who are equally as rich and often times richer than myself.  Together we help to pick one another up when one of us is feeling down.  I cannot always be there in person sometimes but I always have them in my prayers and wear them on my heart.

I allow myself to own my grief and use it to forge through into the birth of a brand new year.  I know there will be challenges ahead but I welcome them with the faith that good things will come and I will do my absolute best to give them all back, ten fold.

This is not a resolution as I tend not to make them but more of a new chapter in my life.  Or shall I say a new book!

Happy New Year Everyone.  I wish you all great joy and blessings for this new beginning again.  Laugh, sing, dance and do yoga regularly and I promise life will feel a whole lot better.


RH Downs


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My Irish Eyes are Wishing

I have been in the “snooze” zone all week trying to get back to my day to day life in Nova Scotia.  After running round the “rocky road of Dublin” last month, and by Dublin I mean Newfoundland, my version of Ireland, I am a little zonked.  Ahhh, Ireland!  I often reminisce about the brief time I spent in Dublin and Galway back in my early twenties.  It was the late 90’s and my favourite accessory at the time was my Monica Lewinsky beret.  Judge me by that statement if you will but my love for that beret had absolutely nothing to do with promoting adultery.  It did however, have everything to do with a little white stain.  I will try to put this as delicately as possible but there is no real polite way to say a pigeon shat on my hat in Trafalgar Square. (My ode to the Dr.)  When I was told by the locals that pigeon excrement was a good sign, meaning I would be back again someday, I did not believe them as the British tend to take great pride in “taking the piss”.  Weather it was a joke or not I completely did dream and still do, of going back again some day.   I would love to take my family with me next time around.  My husbands roots are also soaked in British blood with many a pint to his name.  It is a shame that he has never been.  Oh what fun we would have together.

I know, I know.  I started this lazy blog talking about Ireland and then ended up in England.  I love both places equally. Both countries tickled my fancy so I will not take a stance on loving one more over the other.  I did spend more time in England but I also managed to spend a long weekend in Ireland over my spring break while studying theatre abroad.  Two days in Dublin, two in Galway then one more day in Dublin before returning back to Harlow.  It went by way too fast.

A classmate and I travelled together and God am I ever glad I was her sidekick.  I will not name, names but she was the kind of person you can only ever have a good time with.  She was unstoppable and I always loved being in her company. Men hung off her every word and she always said what I was thinking but was afraid to say, at the time at least.   I admired her strength of character and her sensuality.  When she suggested we should spend our spring break together my first thought was hell ya!  I knew I was going to have a great time with her as my travel guide.  We were never “bessie mates” during our years at theatre school together but we always accepted one another for our very different personalities.  I loved that about her most.  She was a few years older than me and had a lot more worldly experience, being that she grew up in the city and I grew up on an island.  I could not wait to soak in her karisma while we explored the rolling hills of Ireland.

We had no plans or reservations as such before leaving.  We got a cheap rate at an agency in Harlow Town and I held my breath most of the flight as I was a newbie to air travel.   I was more of a water girl at the time. Before we even left Stansted, a handsome gentlemen at the airport recommended we hit Copper Face Jacks near Grafton street before our night was over.  Men just had a way of always talking to my travelling companion and I enjoyed watching her flirt, she was a natural and taught me well.

We managed to find a decent hostel not long after we arrived in Dublin.  We lightened our backpacks, freshened up the best we could then off to Copper Face Jacks we went.  It was still pretty early when we got there but the magic of CFJ’s was that upstairs was a decent pub while the downstairs turned into a dance bar later in the evening.  We managed to get a great spot upstairs in a booth.  It was not long before we had a few blokes asking about our accents, “You American?” was always the first question.

“No, Canadian.” was always our reply.

“Even better,” was the usual response after declaring our nationality.

The Irish boys were full on with getting the rounds in and I drank Guinness for the one and only time in my life because they were buying.  It was the first time I ever left a bar with a guys phone number and he was proper Irish with a big O in his name and everything.  O’Brien if I remember correctly.

By the time the dark ales were all gone, the floor below our feet was buzzing.  The thump, thump, thump was calling my name.  I went wild and danced the night away while having a very brief love affair with a Finnish boy whose name I could not pronounce.  He looked like a blond Christian Slater and for some reason I thought that was attractive during my early twenties.  I really am an 80’s girl at heart.   He loved dancing as much as I did but our love affair only lasted as long as the music played.  There was a language barrier due to living parallel lives but he managed to scribble down the name of a cafe in Dublin and wrote 2pm on the paper.   My favourite part of the night was when he proclaimed “I want to put you in pocket and take home, call your parents and say no more Renée.”

That statement may come off as creepy to some but his intentions were all well and good as I could not actually fit into his pocket.  Go figure.  So I had a proper international date to look forward to but I somehow managed to mess it up and I did not show up at the right place.  I accidentally stood up my Irish/Finnish Christian Slater look-alike.  Oh well, it was not meant to be but I will fondly remember being spun around the dance floor by a boy who wanted to keep me as his very own pocket pet.

The second day and night in Dublin were spent immersing ourselves into the world of theatre.  We took in a matinée performance at the Abbey of the Importance of Being Ernest which felt epic and portentous all at the same time.   We later traded in our hoity toity corset watching ways for darker quarters in an underground theatre.  The performance blew my mind and perspective wide open.  The fresh off the boat, Long Island girl lived a little more that night and met some very cool cats experiencing a very different lifestyle from her own.

Then off to Galway to enjoy a very different view of the Irish countryside.  The bus ride alone was spectacular in itself.  I could not shut my eyes.  I wanted to see everything from the shops to the sheep.  It was all new to my young mind and I did not want to miss a thing.

Galway was more about drinking coffee and chatting with the locals for me.  I enjoyed the stories from the fishermen at the pub who talked about tough times much like our fishermen and women were talking about back home.  If I closed my eyes I could have easily been back on the rock.  Ireland felt very close to home like no other place could or ever will I am sure.  I was often asked for directions from other tourists while I was there because they said I looked like I was a local.  I took it as a compliment, pale skin and all.  I would chuckle and say, “Sorry I am not from here.”

My travelling companion and I agreed to do some exploring on our own while in Galway and I felt completely at ease in a place that belonged to me much more than I actually did to it.  I visited antique shops, ate about a pound of butter (the Irish know how to do their dairy) and walked the streets until I was dead on my feet.  Experiencing as much as I could in the few days I had there was my only focus.  I soaked in everything that I could and did not regret not one minute of my time spent in Ireland.  Unlike my weekend in Paris when I slept through everything, but that’s another story for another time.  For now I will conclude my walk down Temple Bar and hope that the dirty pigeon from Trafalgar Square will keep his promise and someday bring me back to England and of course Ireland.

Until next Tuesday,

R.H. Downs


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