musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

a wee Irish tree...

St. Patrick's Day arrives this Friday and I will definitely be wearin' the green. I can trace my Irish roots all the way back to the 17th century when my maternal grandmother's Dickenson forebears, Daniel and Elizabeth, settled in Edenderry to raise their family. This year, instead of green beer (yuck!) or a tipple of Irish whiskey (Writer's Tears?), I'll be celebrating with something new and different – a wee, green St. Patrick's Day tree.

It's okay. I know you want to say it, so go ahead.

"What the heck is a St. Patrick's Day Tree?"

Well, here's the thing. Last Christmas, son J and I decided to decorate with a live tree instead of our old reliable artificial spruce. We simply couldn't resist this sweet little Grinch's Christmas tree. Isn't it adorable?

I figured it would be a cute conversation starter, take up just the right amount of space in my small living room, and then fade away into the compost bin after the holidays. But, no. Instead of fading away, little tree seemed to flourish.

If you know me, or if you've read my 2015 post about flower power, you'll understand how difficult it is for me to give up on a plant, no matter how sad or how sorry it may look. But once the Christmas season ended it seemed silly – and just a bit embarrassing – to display a Grinchy tree with a shiny red ball. So, off with the shiny red ball and on with a classic white bow tie, perfect for celebrating the New Year.

Little tree continued to thrive. And so when February rolled around, we traded in the formal bow for a jaunty red ribbon with Valentine heart dangles.

Fast forward to March, and our little tree grows fluffier day by day. Last week we dressed him up in a pale green bow with sparkly shamrock bangles. I think it suits the little guy, don't you?

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way

Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

We're already planning a special Easter outfit (photos to follow) but for now, we're enjoying this little bit of Ireland on our table.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

goodbye little friend...

January 24, 2001 - February 2, 2017

My sweet Sam passed quietly away this afternoon. He was the best and finest cat I've ever known and I will miss him terribly. The last few weeks were a great struggle for Sam - after sixteen years his mighty heart had begun to let him down - so I'm comforted to know he is finally at peace. I'll always be grateful for our time together, for all the smiles and laughter, for all he taught me about love and life, and for the chance to share his stories here on the blog. 

Goodbye, little friend. You were a Very Good Boy indeed.

More about Sam...

Sam enjoying his balcony, summer 2009

Watercolour portrait of Sam by Jocelyn, Ontario, Canada

stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

where's the sun?

As I publish this post, my countdown to spring stands at 53 days. That's nearly 1,272 more hours of shivers and gloom. I need me some sunshine! But since a trip to the tropics isn't in the cards this year, I did the (almost) next best thing and visited the Centennial Park Conservatory where just about everything is blooming and cheerful.

Gorgeous Amaryllis


Aloe Vera


Just a small part of the massive display of Cyclamen - beautiful!

These guys wanted sunbeams, too, but no luck. 

I felt much better after communing with the flowers for a while, even though the sun never did make an appearance. We're in for a long stretch of sunless days here in Toronto and I can feel myself growing more quiet and withdrawn by the hour. I may have to retrieve my SAD therapy lamp from the back of the closet and bask in some artificial rays. 

How do you beat the mid-winter blues?

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stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Books of 2016

Welcome to my surprisingly fulsome sixth annual New Year's Book List! I read a lot in 2016, surpassing my original goal of 60 books in early summer when I upped my goal to 100. I blew past that in autumn and kept right on reading. Grand total: 134 books. I'm honestly not sure where I found the time… but I know I've enjoyed myself (and Sam has enjoyed the lap time).

Here's the breakdown of how I read: 85 library books (Overdrive e-books); 34 audiobooks (about half with an Audible subscription and the rest Overdrive Listens); 8 Kindle editions; 6 paperbacks; and 1 hardcover. Included in those totals are 5 advance reading copies – thank you, NetGalley!

As predicted, I listen to fewer audiobooks now that I'm not commuting to work every day. I was surprised by how quickly e-books on my iPad have taken over as my preferred way to read. The Toronto Public Library at my fingertips without ever leaving the house. I still seek out my favourites in hard copy for the keeper shelf, though.

And speaking of favourites, here are my five-star reads of 2016, listed alphabetically by author's last name:

The Corpse with the Garnet Face (Cait Morgan #7) by Cathy Ace
The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (review)
Kaleidoscope (Joanne Kilbourne #13) by Gail Bowen
A Dark and Stormy Murder (Writer's Apprentice #1) by Julia Buckley
A Cast of Falcons (Birder Murder #3) by Steve Burrows (review)
The Chemistry of Death (Joe Tesla #3) by Rebecca Cantrell
Murder in Containment (New Scotland Yard #4) by Anne Cleeland (review)
We Wish You a Murderous Christmas (Year-Round Christmas #2) by Vicki Delany
Negative Image (Constable Molly Smith #4) by Vicki Delany
Unreasonable Doubt (Constable Molly Smith #8) by Vicki Delany
Fire in the Stars (Amanda Doucette #1) by Barbara Fradkin (review)
Do or Die (Inspector Green #1) by Barbara Fradkin
Reading up a Storm (Lighthouse Library #3) by Eva Gates (review)
On the Head of a Pin (Thaddeus Lewis #1) by Janet Kellough
The Murder of Mary Russel (Russell and Holmes #14) by Laurie R. King
The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett
The Queen's Accomplice (Maggie Hope #6) by Susan Elia MacNeal (review)
A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12) by Louise Penny
Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson
Strange Things Done by Elle Wild (review)

Here's my complete 2016 reading list in order of reading with most recent pictured at the top. Click on any group for larger image.

I know I say this every year but please don't ask me to choose a favourite – it would be impossible to pick just one from so many wonderful stories – but do come find me at Goodreads where we can compare book lists. 

Currently reading: Shallow End (Stonechild and Rouleau #4) by Brenda Chapman (NetGalley ARC)

Next up: Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell

Impatiently awaited library holds: Buried in the Country (Cornish Mystery #4) by Carola Dunn, and The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn.

What are you looking forward to reading in 2017? Recommendations are always welcome because there's no such thing as too many books.

Happy New Year, all ... and happy reading!

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stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, December 07, 2016


The things I love best about this time of year are simple traditions that fill me with joy and put smiles on the faces of the people I love. Unpacking my snowman collection or wearing a pair (or two) of festive earrings is sure to kindle my Christmas spirit. My son J (that's him in the Santa hat) loves taking part in a local Santa Claus parade. He's been riding, walking and now rolling for over ten years.

Choosing the perfect Christmas tree is a tradition J and I share. This year our "perfect" turned out to be decidedly quirky ... but it makes us smile and we love it.

We had a few minutes of concern when Sam the Cat first noticed that shiny red ball, but after studying it thoroughly, he seems to have decided it's not worth his time. Unless there's turkey and giblet gravy involved, Sam is not exactly full of the joy of the season. Or maybe he just doesn't appreciate hats...

(If you're a fan of the wonderful Clement Clark Moore Christmas poem, click through to read last year's epic tribute, The Sam Before Christmas.)

This week I'm looking forward to the second year of a new tradition - candlelit Christmas tea at a lovely local tea room with my daughter-in-law, my best friend, and her daughter. Next week, brings a reunion lunch with some old friends and a ramble through the Christmas displays in the conservatory at Centennial Park. 

And then comes the big day! Our traditional family-all-together celebration happens Christmas morning over brunch. This year everyone will be coming to my place and I'm so excited I'm practically bouncing. The menu is planned and just as soon as I stop tweaking it, adding "just one more thing", I'll go shopping for ingredients and get started on my baking. Meanwhile, I'm savoring every minute of anticipation and making memories along the way.

Whatever your traditions, whatever you celebrate at this time of year, I wish peace and happiness for you and yours. See you in January with a record-breaking books of the year post!

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What are your favourite traditions? Share them in a comment!

stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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