Goodbye Sweet Pen

I was kissed by a seal the day I got this pen.

My favourite pen has died. It ran out of ink, writing in a coffee shop on Thursday morning.

I have a bit of a thing for stationery, especially Japanese stationery. I spent more time and money than was probably necessary in Japanese stationery shops like Loft and Tokyu Hands. However, this pen was not bought in such a place.

I got this pen in Monbetsu, a town known for its persistent fish smell, giant crab claw, huge bears, and a seal sanctuary. The day I got this pen, I was kissed by a seal at the seal sanctuary. The gift shop at the Monbetsu Sea Ice Museum provided me with this wonderful pen. It wrote smoothly, wasn’t too heavy or bulky, nor too thin. An excellent pen.

Although I’m sad that my pen died, I always get a thrill when a pen runs out. It means that I’ve been writing!

Thank you for your service, oh excellent pen. I wonder if I can go back to Monbetsu to find another one.

The Start of Extraordinary September

September is busy, mostly in a good way. This evening is the first chance I’ve had to stop and write anything down for a while. But for once I have some rather good excuses.

First, my story ‘The Springwood Shelter for Genetically Modified Animals‘ was published in Crossed Genres, along with their interview with me. Needless to say, I was pretty smiley about this!

Next Mr J and I flew out to BC for his family reunion. For me there was no ‘re’ as this was my first time to meet many of his extended family. They were incredibly welcoming, kind, and fun! Much Sushi-Go was played, until the word sushi lost/gained all meaning.

We flew back on the red-eye, went to work, and greeted my parents and God-Father that evening. It was their first time in Ottawa. We’ve been showing them around / being impressed at their tourist powers to see things we never do.

Something you don’t want to do right before getting married is have a sick cat. John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, became very ill two days before our wedding. We rushed him to the vet on Wednesday night. Thankfully, it looks like he’ll be fine after a stay at the vet and some undignified procedures. My first fiction sale really came in at the right time as it went towards partly paying Monty’s emergency medical bills. Monty also had impeccable timing, getting sick just before Mr J’s and my wedding, but thankfully not during. He was able to perform his duties as Best Man (Cat) remotely from home. Monty was chosen as he already had his own tuxedo. Right now he is curled up on a chair as if nothing ever happened.

John Montague, in typical repose, unaware of the worry he caused.

Speaking of the wedding, Mr J and I got married! I suppose I should be calling him Mr J-L from now on! We’ve combined our names. Apologies to any future children who struggle to spell their ridiculously long moniker! I will still be publishing under Verity Lane though, I think.

I won’t be sharing much about the wedding, except to say that I’m so happy! I felt and still feel like I’m riding a wave of happiness. I’ve always had a strong sense of when something will be a good path to take. This path gives me that feeling, and I’ll be holding hands with a most wonderful person as I walk down it.

That’s pretty soppy, I should probably stop before I turn into a Hallmark Card factory.

I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to blog again soon. September doesn’t get any calmer from here!

Such summer

When I told people I was moving to Canada, everyone wanted to talk about how cold it was going to be. I survived my first Canadian winter without much hassle. After living in a flat where a glass of water on my bedside froze while I was sleeping, Canada’s well insulated buildings and sensible snow precautions were a great improvement.

However, nobody warned me about the summers. Canada is certainly the hottest place I’ve lived yet. OK, Japan might be hotter in general, but certainly not where I was living. It rarely made it above 14 degrees in Nemuro.

My poor, soggy British soul isn’t sure what to do with all this sunshine. The thunderstorms are very satisfying though.

In other news, my latest Tofugu article just went live. I loved writing this one because it is all about my favourite things, books! More specifically, it’s about the books behind Studio Ghibli movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, The Borrowers, and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Writing about Howl’s Moving Castle got me all emotional. Diana Wynne Jones is my favourite author and her books are a large part of why I want to write in the first place. If I could ever write anything that comforted and enlightened someone as much as her books did for me, I would be a very, very happy person. I had a chance to meet her once at a Q and A session. She was as amazing in person as her books. To this day, I regret not sending her a fan letter while she was still alive. I am glad I got the chance through Tofugu to encourage others to read her books.

27 times around the sun

I’ve been around the sun 27 times. That’s a long way to travel.

It’s always been my favourite way to wish people happy birthday to remind them that they’ve travelled all the way around a star again. It puts birthdays in a cosmic perspective. It simultaneously makes me feel insignificant and as if I’ve achieved something. Both can be true at the same time I think.

I should make some birthday cards to that effect. Also, probably ones thanking my mother. She’s cool.

Cuteness levels have risen 250%

John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich
John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich

For just over a month now, my days at home have been much less lonely thanks to John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwhich A.K.A. Monty. I have become very dull as all I do now is talk about how awesome he is in poorly articulated sentences. He is best cat. Best cat in world. Soft cat. He is best cat in world.

We adopted Monty from Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue. Everyone we dealt with through the whole process was wonderful. They really care about the cats they rescue and foster.

For a former stray cat, Monty is remarkably chilled out. He loves cuddles and, when he’s not sleeping, he follows me around the flat. Mr. J has been trying to teach him get in touch with his inner hunter using a laser pointer. Monty just rolls over onto his back. He never scratches or bites and even likes having his fluffy tummy rubbed. Best cat in world.

Right now Monty is napping on the sofa. It is tempting to go join him, but I’ve got Japanese to study and a novel to write. I’ll just nap vicariously through him.

Best cat in world!!!
Melted Monty

Oh! Canada Again

I’m back home in Canada after a month in the UK. As expected, it is cold. The icicles outside my window reach from the roof to the windowsill. I don’t think they count as icicles anymore. They are more like columns, or prison bars. It’s the kind of weather that makes your face hurt when you go outside.

Not that I’ve actually been outside today. No, instead I’ve unpacked, done laundry, cooked tomatillo chicken chilli (slowcooker I love you), built myself a standing desk out of boxes and a photo album (I miss all the standing up from my teaching days), caught up on Woman’s Hour, done the washing up, finished off and submitted a Tofugu article, drunk more tea than is probably healthy, made a “creative consistency” progress chart out of masking tape, half built a paper model of a Japanese castle, started job hunting, and watched a lot of Youtube videos. Productive procrastination.


Behold! Desktron!

Standing desk isn’t the name of the monster. It’s actually Frankenstein’s standing desk.


I managed to write a bit too. Not as much as I want, but it’s a start. I don’t know why I have such gut scrunching fear whenever I go to write. Once I start it’s fine, but the starting is excruciating. Yet I want to be a writer. I want to get these stories out of my head and onto the page.  Tomorrow I will write more, and the next day even more, and so on. That’s the plan.

New Year, New Determination

So far 2015 has brought me two things. First, metal pins in my face. I’m currently recuperating after dental surgery. The positive thing about this is that it’s giving me a lot of time to do things, like update my poor neglected website. The negative thing is: ow.

The second thing 2015 has brought me is determination to get things done. 2014 was a pretty packed year. I got engaged, moved my life between three different countries, and was payed for writing for the first time (living the dream!). Still, I think I was fairly lazy last year. I still haven’t made progress in some big areas. So 2015, let’s do this.

Even though I’m shouting into the void a bit here (hello void!), I’m going to try to use this site to hold myself to account by posting more regularly.

Here are my goals: write consistently, study Japanese consistently, waste less time.

Here’s to a consistent 2015 and the alleviation of dental pain!

Notes from the fog

Life in the fog (without Internet)

It is very foggy in Nemuro. That is something of an understatement. To understand how foggy it is here, first you must know that the locals have not one, but two words for fog that aren’t used elsewhere in Hokkaido. It’s so foggy that people had to find new ways if taking about fog. The Japanese for fog is kiri 霧 (きり). Here in Nemuro it’s jiri (じり) or gasu (ガス).

The fog can make you feel colder than even the snow or wind. It’s a damp cold that settles in your bones and makes you feel old. My heater is whirring and I’m all bundled up, but I still feel cold. I probably will until July.

In other news, this blog post is coming from my phone as I only have limited Internet these days. Rationing my usage has been a bit of a struggle. I’m trying to save it for essential things, like my blogging, booking my journey home and only very cutest videos of fluffy creatures. It’s tough. I am getting more writing done though.

Green fuzzy research

Marimo! Aquatic friend!


A little preview of my next article.

After a rather miserable couple of days (brought on by bureaucracy), part of my cheering up programme was a research trip to Lake Akan. Fondling fuzzy green balls and bathing on a rooftop is a good way to spend an afternoon. The other part of the cheering was talking to wonderful people on Skype. I am very glad to be living in the future.

Between loved ones and moss balls, I think I should be able to face the upcoming week. Hopefully.