books I read in 2020, 2021, and 2022

Might as well get caught up, I guess.


1. Yann Martel, Self
2. Carol Shields, The Republic of Love
3. D.A. Lockhart, The Gravel Lot That Was Montana
4. Nadia Hashimi, When the Moon is Low
5. Bernard Assiniwi, The Beothuk Saga (trans. Wayne Grady)
6. Claire Messud, The Emperor’s Children
7. Lynne Kutsukake, The Translation of Love
8. Shyam Selvadurai, Cinnamon Gardens
9. Jonathan Clements, The Samurai: A New History of the Warrior Elite
10. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
11. Gil Courtemanche, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
12. André Alexis, Childhood
13. Ian McEwan, Black Dogs
14. JT Leroy, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
15. Tony Kushner, Angels in America
16. Angela Carter, The Passion of New Eve
17. George Sansom, A History of Japan to 1334
18. Waubgeshig Rice, Moon of the Crusted Snow
19. Emily St John Mandel, The Glass Hotel
20. Shane Neilson, New Brunswick
21. Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves
22. George Sansom, A History of Japan 1334-1615
23. Zhang Wei, The Ancient Ship
24. Sarah Moss, Ghost Wall
25. M. G. Vassanji, The Assassin’s Song
26. Susan Choi, Trust Exercise
27. Sophie Mackintosh, Blue Ticket
28. Peter Høeg, The History of Danish Dreams
29. Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore
30. T.C. Boyle, Tooth and Claw
31. Heather O’Neill, Daydreams of Angels
32. Miriam Toews, Summer of My Amazing Luck
33. Haruki Murakami, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
34. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
35. Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
36. Sarah Moss, Cold Earth
37. Desmond Cole, The Skin We’re In
38. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot
39. Rob Spillman (ed.), Gods and Soldiers: The Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing
40. Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
41. Sarah Waters, Fingersmith
42. Natsuo Kirino, Out
43. Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard
44. Michael Chekhov, A Tale About Lies and How Swiftly They Spread Across the Earth
45. Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
46. Amos Tutuola, Feather Woman of the Jungle


1. Merilyn Simonds, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint
2. Umberto Eco, Baudolino (re-read)
3. Jay Rubin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
4. Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
5. Angela Davis, Woman, Race, & Class
6. Laura Pursell, Bone China
7. Michel Basilières, Black Bird
8. Idra Novey, Those Who Knew
9. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (re-read)
10. Arthur Manual and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson, Unsettling Canada
11. Sean Michaels, Us Conductors
12. Shauna Singh Baldwin, What the Body Remembers
13. Rudy Rucker, As Above, So Below
14. Orlo Miller, The Donnelys Must Die
15. Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (re-read)
16. Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Last Crossing
17. Yejide Kilanko, Daughters Who Walk This Path


1. Colm Tóibín, Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border
2. Casey Plett, A Safe Girl to Love
3. G.B. Sansom, Japan: A Short Cultural History
4. Josh Weil, The Great Glass Sea
5. André Alexis, The Hidden Keys
6. Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
7. Casey Plett, A Dream of a Woman
8. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World
9. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
10. Russen Hoban, Riddley Walker
11. Jane Urquhart, The Night Stages
12. Anita Amirrezvani, Equal of the Sun
13. Jamen Gould Cozzens, The Just and the Unjust
14. Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear it Away
15. José Saramago, Journey to Portugal
16. Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn
17. Carol Shields, Swann (re-read)
18. José Saramago, The Cave (re-read)
19. Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer
20. Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (re-read)
21. Colm Tóibín, Nora Webster
22. Carol Shields, The Box Garden
23. Kim Fahner, Emptying the Ocean
24. Drew Hayden Taylor, Take Us To Your Chief

the kitchenening, part one


Here’s the room with all of its trim removed.



The fake brick is still there, though. But not for long!


There it is, all piled in the doorway.

Just about every piece of trim will be repurposed: the window and door trim will go back into the finished kitchen, and the baseboards and plate rail will move into the new dining room (which will be finished off with door trim reclaimed from a closet upstairs, and new trim for the windows made to match the old).


There wasn’t anywhere to store this 13-foot piece of baseboard so for now we’ve propped it in the new dining room, behind the displaced living room couch, with a shelf bracket installed next to the door on which to prop it (and a bolt stuck through the bracket to prevent the board from falling on our heads).

the kitchenening, part zero


This is the original dining room of our Sears-built four square house. We put an addition on two years ago that includes a dining room, and since then this space has been mostly used for storage. We’re about to have it remodeled into a kitchen so I wanted to document how it used to be.

Above is the view looking west towards the front of the house and the doorway into the living room. We’ve got both rooms emptied out so that the living room can get a new ceiling at the same time (goodbye, crumbling stucco!) so please just imagine a couch and a stereo and a long coffee table full of books and knitting projects through there. This doorway is going to be closed off up to backsplash height, with a window opening left looking through. We’ll put a grillework into that opening later on, but it’s something we’re planning to make ourselves at the makerspace (link: Meta Makers Cooperative) to which we belong, so for now it’ll be finished off as an opening. Eventually there will be counter and lower cabinets across this whole wall, the fridge with cabinets above it on the left, upper cabinets (yellow!) to the right, and a high open shelf across the gap between them, above this opening.


Looking north, our beautiful window is one of the few original bits we’re keeping, along with the trim on the opposite wall door that faces the old kitchen, and the hardwood floor. We’ve opted to keep the original finish as is, even though it won’t match our teak finish lower cabinets, because we want to maintain its connection with the rest of our 1911 house.

This wall will also have counter along most of its length, with a gap for the stove towards the right and the sink centred below the window just as nature intended.


Looking east towards the back of the house, you can see the rough unfinished opening we left heading into the addition and our new dining room beyond. That doorway used to be a beautiful window with a bench seat where my houseplants went to die. The new room beyond it has eight windows and the plants now grow too quickly for me to keep up with. To the right of this doorway will be a floor-to-ceiling pantry in the slightly 1970s-ish yellow we’ve chosen for our upper cabinets.


To the south here’s a better look at the hideous fake brick that lines this corner where a wood stove was installed when we first bought the house 20 years ago. I go back and forth on which feature of this room I’m most looking forward to never seeing again, the stucco or this fake brick. I wish I had a photo to post of the pieces of mismatched marble (gray, black, and brick red) that were glued directly onto the hardwood under that stove. Most of those pieces got tossed into the pile of junk that got sealed up inside our concrete porch (RIP ugly marble chunks).

This wall will have a built-in bench against it, right from the door trim to the new pantry, where we’ll put a table. It’s going to be lovely to have room for a table in the kitchen again after 20 years, and I’m very much looking forward to having people over to play my family’s weird old German card game here. That doorway, which looks into the old kitchen, will also keep its original trim, breaking up the midcentury vibe of the new design but hey, that’s old houses.

We’ll clean up and repaint that iron grille over the heating vent, which will be underneath the bench. The front of the bench will be left open to accommodate it, so in winter whoever gets coldest (ahem, it’s not me, the middle-aged lady of the house) will be able to sit here and have heat directly onto their feet. At least until the cats find this cozy spot.


Here’s the current state of the floor in that corner, with glue blobs from the marble floor and finish burned off from the wood stove. For the time being we’re leaving the floor as it is, including this damage, because it’s part of the history of the house, I kind of love it, and most of it will be underneath the pantry, bench, and table anyway.

hey how’s it going, eh

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a space online to keep a little diary, out of the hands of billionaires? It’s been a while but I’m ready to write here again even if I’m the only person who looks at it.

looking down from the top of porch steps at a garden with a cat on the sidewalk

Here’s Girlie, one of our local stray cats, viewed from the porch behind the mess of our late summer garden. This is just after she tried to run up our young hackberry tree after a bunch of sparrows, because Girlie isn’t exactly clever about what’s worth her efforts.