The commatologist grew up in the 1960s and 70s in a Vancouver Island mill town of 18,000 which at that time enjoyed the distinction of having the most bars per capita of any town in Canada. At exactly the age when I was old enough to explore their dubious charms, I left my hometown to explore the rest of the country. During a 9-month stint with the volunteer youth group Katimavik, I earned $1 a day while I learned basic carpentry skills, canoed on the Kawartha Lakes, practiced French in a range of unconventional settings, and explored the dubious charms of drinking establishments in southern Ontario, northern New Brunswick, Quebec City, and the Kootenays. At 21 I landed in the BC capital, Victoria, where I waited tables in a series of restaurants, married multiple times, raised two sons, and set the pace for my slow life by taking 22 years to complete a degree in sociology and professional writing at the University of Victoria.
I became a freelance editor by magic or divine intervention ten years ago, shortly before Lone Wolf and I found our farm. It’s my ideal job: interesting, challenging, portable, and different each day. As a bonus, I can work in my pajamas—an important component of slow life.
I’m writing two books. One, a local history, is still in the research stage (about 80% complete). The other, a family memoir, is in the procrastination stage (3 of 21 chapters complete).
My preferred ways to procrastinate are planning and digging flower beds, researching my dead relatives, and blazing trails through my little piece of the ICH Zone, accompanied by my love dog, Jake. (Jake is a working farm dog to Lone Wolf, but to me he’s pure love and good company. I emphasize love because, before we found him six years ago, I was convinced I wasn’t a dog person. Turns out I am.)
Lone Wolf is intensely private and suspicious of anything that runs on electricity. She grew up on a farm in the gravelly hills of southwestern Saskatchewan and has never wanted to do anything but farm. Following standard high school aptitude testing, the guidance counsellor at Vanier Collegiate in Moose Jaw advised her that, had she been a boy, she would have been ideally suited to farming, but as a girl, she should pursue a career as a hairdresser and/or aesthetician. She ignored his advice.
Pete and Tony are our two grown sons. They acquired these nicknames through my penchant for rhyming when I talked to them as toddlers. If I wanted the older one to hurry up, I’d use a French phrase, tout de suite, which sounds like toot sweet, and I’d rhyme it with Pete, so he became Toot Sweet Pete. The younger one was fond of Kraft Dinner, so I dubbed him Macaroni Tony.
Pete and Tony stayed behind in Victoria when LW and I moved to the farm. Fast cars are more their style than slow farm life. They visit a couple of times a year, but not too often because they’re afraid we’ll make them race around the fields toting bales.
April, so named because she came to us in April 2011, is our second cat. She succeeds Augie, who adopted us in August 2007 but lived a short life. We’ve also owned short-lived pigs named June and July, but we don’t name our pigs anymore, for fairly obvious reasons. As for cats, we’re running out of suitable months, so we hope April sticks around. She’s an excellent mouser.
Update: April died in 2018 and we now have a gorgeous black cat named Ember, short for November. She’s an even better mouser than April, and she follows LW all around the farm.
LW raises a new flock of 45 Brown Leghorn laying hens every year. They come by mail from Edmonton and arrive cute, fluffy, and thirsty at the post office in town, which is a 25-km drive. We don’t name the hens, but collectively, they’re the girls.
The rest of last year’s cast is in the freezer. New characters will arrive on the scene in May.