We are Blind to the Enchanted World

Have you ever sat in the evening to watch the sunset? Looked into its white rays during the last twenty minutes of its descent? What did you see?

Every land is different, and I can’t speak for city streets where no trees or wildflowers grow. I’ve never sat to watch the sun set there. But I can speak for the country.

Many times I’ve taken a break from gardening or working around the yard to admire the last moments of daylight. The best place to sit to watch Earth’s magic show is in shade. From this viewpoint, I look towards the sun. This won’t work if it’s cloudy. When the sun is in clear sky, it illuminates what I normally don’t see. In fact, looking to the right or left as the sun sets exposes nothing special. I must look directly towards the sun.

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The Origin of All Hallow’s Eve

The only thing I knew about Halloween as a child in the 70s was I could dress up and gather candy from neighbours. My older siblings, children in the 50s and 60s, remember trick or treating, but they did not start as young as many do today. A friend of mine remembers going when she was five in 1953. Her mother didn’t trick or treat but recalls a Halloween party at school. My parents did not celebrate Halloween. They were children in the 20s and 30s.

The earliest record of trick or treating in Canada took place in Kingston, Ontario, in 1911. At that time, it was called “guising”. It was brought to Canada by the Scottish and Irish who dressed in disguises and went door-to-door begging for food or money. They paid for the treat by singing, dancing or performing a trick. Guising can be traced back to the 1500s.

Many attribute the origin of Halloween to the Celtic festival Samhain that began more than 2,000 years ago. It marked the end of the harvest (summer) and the beginning of the darkness (winter). The Celts believed the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead disappeared, and souls could cross over.

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How do I feel while fasting?

In my post on Friday (What is Autophagy?), I provided basic information on the health benefits of fasting, which includes autophagy. I explained I was shooting for a 3-day fast.

Let Me Explain Further

I’m aiming for a 3-day fast. I need to work up to that. Thursday and Friday, I did my first 27-hour fast. When I ate early Friday evening, I didn’t feel like I was starving. I was a little hungry, but because I had worked outside all day, I was tired. I’m renovating the goat barn, so there was lots of cutting, hammering and hauling wood.

Knowing I was working on this project all weekend, I opted to eat Friday night and have two meals each day. I didn’t want to exhaust my body. By the time you read this, I’ll be into another fast. My goal is to go from Monday 6:00 pm until Wednesday morning with only water and a few herbal teas.

How do I Feel?

After 12 hours of fasting, I feel like I usually do upon waking in the morning having not eaten since around six o’clock the night before: satisfied.

On the first day of fasting for 18 hours, I start to feel freer from my skin. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but the nearest I can explain it is ‘nothing feels tight’. I’m not talking about clothing. Perhaps it is due to some fluid loss, so maybe inflammation has decreased.

After the second day of fasting 18 hours, the noise in my head disappears. This has been very helpful given that besides the craziness that is happening in the world right now, life in my circle is a little chaotic with my oldest child moving back home, animals being added to the realm, my mother changing nursing homes and all the little things that can go wrong, like the thermostat in my truck sticking open.

The lack of noise in my head settles my brain. It slows things down and allows me to focus on the task at hand. Solutions come to me easier because there’s no static, and my brain takes time to consider the options.

There’s a calmness even when things go crazy around me and people get emotional. It’s like I’m listening, but I’m not reacting immediately with my own emotions.

Sleep is a dream. I normally sleep well, but sleeping while fasting is like being dropped off the edge of the world and floating in nothing with only a few dreams to entertain the part of my brain that stays active.

Sharper Minds

Fasting is supposed to sharpen our ability to think. Throughout the ages, those in the know have fasted to solve problems and to expand the thought process the well-fed brain is incapable of doing.

How long will this week’s fast go? I’m shooting for 30 hours.

99-cent Sale

The Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes

Until Friday November 27, 2020, the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes will be on for 99 cents at Amazon. Unfortunately, this is an Amazon Countdown deal and only available in the United States and United Kingdom.

Be kind to your future self.

What is Autophagy?

If you’ve read my novel Northern Survival and stumbled over the word autophagy linked with self-eating, you’re probably not alone. When I first heard it, I was the same way.

Looking up the definition on the Internet, autophagy sounds like a horrible thing.

autophagy: consumption of the body’s own tissue as a metabolic process occurring in starvation and certain diseases.

Who would subject themselves to that?

Looking further, this is what you’ll find on Internet health pages.

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells, according to Priya Khorana, PhD, in nutrition education from Columbia University.

“Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat. So the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.”


Who wants to clean out damaged cells to regenerate new ones? I do. I think everyone does. But there’s a lot more to autophagy, and it’s all good.

Here’s the few paragraphs where Olive talks to John about autophagy. This was several days after the plane crash, and with the lack of food, both were fasting most days.


Olive secured the fishing line to the end of the four-foot stick she’d brought along and plopped the hook into the water near the boat. He caught her eye, and she smiled with an ease that relaxed his muscles.

“This is my favourite kind of fishing,” she said. “Trolling. We do this for hours on the ocean. Sit back and let the fish come to us.” She lay with her back against the bow facing him and holding tightly to the rod.

“Don’t catch too many,” he said. “I want those growth hormones to kick in.” He grinned. “Tell me more about fasting and this autophagy theory. I need to regrow a few brain cells, recycle the cell garbage. I might look ten years younger by the time this is over.”

Her laugh settled him further, and he listened contently while she explained the self-eating approach to a healthier, younger self. In truth, she could have talked about anything, and she’d have had his attention. Her easy-going nature was addictive and time passed without notice.

I stumbled onto vital information about fasting two years ago while researching the Keto diet. I had known about the practice, but I had never considered it seriously as a way to get healthier. Exploring fasting further, I came upon autophagy and it’s incredible benefits to the body.

In early 2019, over the course of four months, I slowly reduced the amount of food I consumed and reduced my three square meals a day to two. I had even eliminated snacks when I was more intent on seeing results.

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The Day I Hit the Wall and Lost My Toenails

I was 12 years old when I hit the wall. I had been hiking all day, walking many miles into the woods to a collection of cabins where we’d spend three nights. I was with about 16 others, but we had broken into smaller groups, hiking with friends or those who hiked at the same pace.

While I was used to walking and hiking with a pack, this day, I had set a pace with a few older friends, and we had gotten lost. After two hours, we found our way and continued onto the camping site. A program leader and a few others started back to find us since we hadn’t arrived and it was getting late. We met up with them, and as we told stories about where we had ended up, I kept chugging along, adjusting my pack on my shoulders and anticipating a break because I was tired.

Then it happened. Without warning, I was lying in the bushes, collapsed and crying. I had no idea what had hit me. I struggled to rise, but the leader told me to stay down.

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Metric vs Imperial Measurements

The main characters in Northern Survival, Olive and John, are different in many ways. One of those ways that causes friction at the beginning of the story is their preference for their country’s measurement system. I thought it would be great fun to compare the two and use them as an argument point.

Northern Survival

While Canadians have been using the Metric System for decades, it hasn’t completely erased the Imperial System still used in the United States.

Using kilometres is pretty standard, but it’s not uncommon for a Canadian to say, “It’s a mile up the road.” I don’t know anyone who knows their weight in kilograms or their height in centimetres. They’ll say they’re 150 pounds at 5 feet, 7 inches. Baking remains in Imperial measurements, too. I don’t know how much 100 grams is, but I can guestimate a cup of flour and a teaspoon of honey.

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Flight of the Graveyard Fairy

The heat from the grass and forest permeated the still air in the small clearing and when I breathed in, nature’s energy filled my lungs. Closing my eyes, I heard a slight rustling of leaves high in the trees and a distant cry of an unknown bird. Here, far from the city, people and motor vehicles, the earth relaxed, time stood still and the body felt at home.

As I made my way towards the headstones dotting the burial ground, I wondered if I had enough time to capture images of every marker. The kids were eager to get to the blueberry field and didn’t want to linger at yet another graveyard. They followed close behind, asking if that person was related, or what did the little lamb on the stone indicate and how much longer was this going to take?

To be honest, my kids didn’t often complain when visiting cemeteries even after they’d been dragged through several dozen. Something always appeared to entertain them even if it was just a hapless toad hopping across our path.

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Sharing the Evening Meal with Family and Friends

Family Christmas meal
The table with only the three youngest kids. That’s me with a fork in my mouth.

I come from a large family. Let me size it up for you. I’m kid number 10 of 11. My parents have 29 grandkids. While my mom’s family is small (she has only 4 siblings), my father’s family is immense. He has 16 siblings and almost all of them had at least 2 kids. To say I had many cousins doesn’t do it justice. We live in the same province as my dad’s family, so we visited each other often.

At my family’s peak, we had 12 people living in a small (think very small) home. Mom was an excellent cook, and everything was made from scratch. We were a boisterous bunch, and we weren’t forced to eat in silence. By the time I got into double digits, some of my older siblings were married and had kids of their own.

My siblings, their spouses and their kids came to my parents’ home for Christmas day. That meant the kitchen table was always full and we filled the living room and flowed into the hall and closets to find a place to eat when the eating time came.

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Food for the Trail that Lasts a Long Time

Travelling Food

At the moment, my characters in Healing Stones (Castle Keepers Series: Book 4) are travelling through Yikker Wood. They left Inglenook about two weeks ago, and they won’t reach a settlement to buy supplies for another three days.

This means they must carry all their food in packs or saddle bags on their horses. They could hunt, and they may resort to that, and they’ve picked mushrooms along the way to add to their dwindling supplies.

Starting Out

For several days after they left Inglenook, they ate biscuits, bacon, eggs, bread and meat, but those perishable goods are gone after 14 days. This is the point where I scramble to find food for them to eat, so they won’t starve.

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The Fog That Inspired a Story

Fog5x5It had been a glorious August day in 1990. I had set out in my twelve-foot row boat around noon. The sun was shining and the water was placid. As usual I was alone, settled in the centre seat with my fingers wrapped around the blue oars. My boom-box sat on the seat in the stern on top of a sweatshirt and towel and beside my sneakers.

Most of the time I sailed barefoot. I loved the feeling of cool wood and salt water on my skin. I could climb in and out of the boat, walking through knee-deep surf, without worrying about wetting my rubbers.

Rubbers…I don’t recall owning a pair back then. I either went barefoot or wore my ocean sneakers. These were old sneakers I wore without socks to places I couldn’t go barefoot.

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