some brought flowers

So, Euclid’s Orchard is well and truly launched.Maybe it began to feel like it was actually in the world when I saw the sign in Talewind Books earlier in the week,


and certainly when my publisher Mona Fertig and her husband arrived for lunch yesterday on their way back from Savary Island,


and, well, the day before that, when I baked the desserts that were waiting to be packed up for transport down to Sechelt.

just desserts

Two apple galettes (“One apple tree remains under my care. It’s a Merton Beauty, bought as a tiny plant at a produce store in Sechelt.”), a peach and blueberry galette (“…that road led back to the foot of Poignant Mountain, forgotten and then found, lard pails stained by blueberries…”), and a dense chocolate torte that uses 2 Tbsp. of flour so it’s easy to make it gluten-free with rice flour for those who don’t eat wheat. A round of Brie, a jar of last year’s pepper jelly, fierce with Vietnamese peppers, and a few Merton Beauties to have with the cheese.

The Sechelt Library opened its doors, set up chairs, long tables for those desserts, tea and coffee, and lots of posters of Euclid’s Orchard‘s vivid cover. I wondered to Margaret Hodgins (the Chief Librarian) if anyone would actually come but by the time she introduced me, people were spilling out of the doors. It was so wonderful to talk about my book and read passages to people I’ve known forever and new faces too. To talk about how math came late to me, after a visit to Brendan when he was at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute above Berkeley in 2013—he’d told us that he and Cristen were expecting a baby and I saw for the first time how we move forward in time, how we anticipate the future and how the past is hovering still, as potent as anything, that we are everywhere and nowhere simultaneously, and that Brendan knew equations that might help me to know this more deeply. To know him more deeply, as a man, as a father. And it was the Sechelt Library that had the copy of Joy of Math dvds that I brought home and diligently watched on my computer screen, understanding about 30% of the material but realizing how beautiful the structures are. (At least one person came to me afterwards to say that he was going to have a look at the Joy of Math. T. Kishkan, math recruiter?) I’d asked for a screen to have behind me as I read and on it a series of images passed quietly, some of them photographs from the book, and others of those strange presences who hovered as I was writing the essays: my grandmother and her first husband in the early days of their marriage; my grandfather’s sisters (I think they must be); the dusty streets of Drumheller, circa 1913, when my grandmother arrived with her 5 children after a long ocean voyage; an ultrasound of a beloved grandchild; my mother in a garden as a small girl; a funeral gathering by the house my father grew up in, though three years before he was born. I felt them in the room as I felt them last fall.

Anyway, it was wonderful, all of it. Some brought flowers.

jane's bouquet


harrisons on the woodstove

After the reading, Bev Shaw sold books and tucked a copy of the little keepsake John printed into them. (It helps to have a husband who is a letterpress printer, among his other accomplishments.)

keepsake with linocut

People ate and talked and I thought how the whole evening was a gift. A year ago, I wasn’t sure how the future would unfold because of what tests and scans had revealed. That’s all in the past now, part of the never-ending story that I am constantly listening to, trying to tell.



morning postcard from Berkeley

I’m at the table in the kitchen-sitting room of our pretty suite in Berkeley. There’s some blue sky — and a squirrel in the eucalyptus tree in the back garden. John found this place somehow and it’s such a gem, after a few nights in motels (though the Victorian Inn in Ferndale was pretty fine).



It’s quiet. We had breakfast in the bright kitchen and will head out shortly to explore Berkeley where I haven’t been in almost 40 years. And this evening we’ll meet Brendan for dinner. It was fun to open the door for him last night and to catch up here — a glass of wine, some baguette dipped into California estate olive oil and then dukkah –before walking up to Shattuck Avene to have Nepalese food: lamb, chicken, sweet potato and quinoa kofta (and the leftovers are in the fridge for lunch). Already I’m accumulating little treats to take home. The IGA in Madeira Park does not rise to dukkah!

postcard from Centralia, Washington, via Michoacan

A day of driving, enroute to Berkeley, California, to visit our son Brendan who is spending the fall term at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute ( We’ve stopped for the night at Chehalis, just a little south of Centralia; both towns have old-brick historical centres and that sense of being true places, once you leave the freeway and meander the quiet streets. In Centralia, a laudromat advertised that they cleaned horse blankets. Having once had a horse, and having tried to wash his blanket in the family washing machine, I know that this is a service much appreciated by equine households everywhere.

We were very hungry when we arrived. John had done his homework and immediately said that there was a Mexican restaurant in Centralia which was highly recommended on the Internet. Las Tarasca. We found it.


It was warm and bright and the food came right away — large platters of pork carnitas, chiles rellenos, with three fresh homemade corn tortillas each. And a little dish of salsa verde. We ate every last morsel and I still had room for a portion of the flan, dark with caramelized sugar. Here is John drinking an amber Dos Equis amid the brightly painted chairs. The familia Ayala comes from Michoacán — that province’s loss is Centralia’s gain.