We’re barreling along right into our busy season, and we’re taking a deep breath in now as we roll up our sleeves to dig in. It’s a very satisfying feeling to see all of the rows of notebooks stacked neatly on our shelves, packing supplies for online orders ready to go—although the to do lists still seem pretty long some days, and most (/all) days the upstairs apartment is chaotic.

In other news, it’s recently gotten pretty cold here in Toronto. I suppose I haven’t acclimated yet, so I’ve been siting around hunched over in the Chan-family-mandated extra sweater and scarf and blanket, trying to convince Chicken to come and sit on my lap and provide me with some extra warmth. When I complain that my eyes are shrivelling up from the dry heat, Jon goes AHA! so the heat IS turned on high enough. 

If it wasn’t clear, I’m a spring flower. 

But I’m otherwise embracing all this cold weather with a stack of holds from the library. Naomi is now two, and as our bedtime routine for the kids has gotten smoother and Naomi now (mostly) goes to sleep easily on her own, I’ve been quasi-committing to an hour of reading a night.

I’ve always been more of a here and there sort of a reader, a few minutes before bed, while waiting to pick up Caleb, at the doctor’s office. But as life has gotten busier, I’ve realized I sometimes need to make an effort to slow down. This was also inspired by a recent morning at a cafe, where I brought my iPad and notebook and things in preparation for getting some work done, and two tables down from me was an older Asian man who read for almost two and a half hours straight, as other people came and went, in singles and in groups. He took an occasional note with a mechanical pencil in his margins, but other than that, sat perfect comfortable in his large winter parka and headphones without a glance sideways.

To me, with my sometimes squirrel like attention span, as I flit from giving someone their break in the studio shop to taking something out of the freezer for dinner to looking up something to answer someone on social media to responding to a question on slack to changing a diaper to picking up Caleb from school to trying to answer that email before the end of business day and not at 11:30 pm to packing up a bag to take the kids to a music lesson—sitting beside this man who was reading a book for nearly three hours was an impressive display of a incredibly focused mind. 

Some nights it’s been tough: an hour of reading! It sometimes takes me half that time to come down off all the bustle of the day. My secret is to prepare with a tasty snack to keep me in my reading chair long enough for my brain to shift gears. However, I’m realizing that focus and attention are becoming more and more important in this age, that habits start small, and that a good story is worth it.

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November 28, 2019 — wonderpens



wonderpens said:

Yes! I had read all my life without thinking twice. One day, we opened the shop and then the year after had Caleb, and time got away from me completely. As we exited out of those hairy infant years and Caleb grew into a toddler, I began picking up books again realizing something was missing, and so by the time we had Naomi, I had begun to realize how important it was to make the time, as you say, with a conscious effort. I even read ebooks as I nursed Naomi in the dark (now wondering what I had done with all those hours nursing Caleb).

And yes, alas, that is indeed my pantry, which is, like I myself am, a work in progress.

Marcy Penner

Marcy Penner said:

I used to be able to read for quite a long stretch right before bed. That hasn’t happened in a while unfortunately (I always say, “once I get into a good routine again… maybe” but it never seems to happen). All your reading posts on IG have inspired me to have a book live in the kitchen where I can steal a few moments here at there! I’ll have to take what I can get right now!


wonderpens said:

Yes, I’m a big fan of having books around. If I’ve left my book upstairs, it’s sometimes too much work to go up to get it, but if I have a book in the kitchen-—short stories, a book I can just dip into—-I can spend a few minutes reading while my water is boiling, or while I’m stirring something on the stove. While I was nursing Naomi, I did have an ebook on my phone, and then it was also nice to have when I was waiting in the car, or in a pinch, however now that I’m no longer nursing, it would take me forever to get through an ebook on my phone just through small moments and so it’s been a while with an ebook. I’m with you: take what you can get!

Wm. Anthony Connolly

Wm. Anthony Connolly said:

Little moments of willed stillness and concentration has helped me in the past; it is both a symptom of our times and my own peculiarity to find it difficult as you say here. Seeing others (the man in the parka) helps to model a willingness to limit technology and the task at hand.
Loved this piece. It slowed me down to wonder about my own pace and distraction. Thank you from a fellow Canuck living south of the border.
Happy holidays.


wonderpens said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and write. It was a such a poignant sight that it stayed with me for a week—-and still now, here I am writing about it. These days, it seems easy to intake information quickly and from all different sources, and sometimes more challenging to focus on one steady thing in front of us, but how important the ability to do that is.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!



Loved the first commenter’s remarks, as well as the post. Reading was always a huge part of my life until one day, I realized it wasn’t anymore. I made that conscious effort get back to it and have been well-rewarded with hours of pleasure and the relaxation that comes with being wholly involved in a book.

Ouch, is that your pantry? You have nearly as many containers as I do! DH is always confounded at how many containers I have in my kitchen, but hey, I use them all the time. There’s no such thing as having too many!

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