Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers

MY BLOG POSTS COMMENT ON SOME ASPECT OF WRITING & READING.

The Ripening
The Ripening:
A Canadian Girl Grows Up

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self. Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare! "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Curva Peligrosa
Curva Peligrosa

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

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FLING!
Fling!

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

"Fling! is both hilarious and touching. Every page is a surprise, and the characters! I especially loved Bubbles, one of the most endearing mothers in recent fiction. A scintillating read."

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Freefall
Freefall :
A Divine Comedy

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
All This
All This

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Indicative of the title, the poems in All This range from the conventional lyric/narrative that captures an intense moment of emotion, an epiphany glimpsed briefly out of the corner of the eye, to the more experimental. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
No More Kings
No More Kings

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

Each finely crafted poem in this powerful collection comes alive on the page while she traces the days’ journeys with a painter’s eye, a musician’s ear, and the deft pen of a poet.

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
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Where is an expatriate’s home?

Since becoming a California resident in 1963 and an American citizen in 1974, I’ve grappled with what the word home means to me. Over the years, I’ve returned to Canada, my birth country, many times and have wondered what it’s like for people who always have lived near their family and their beginnings, who haven’t adopted another country or area as I have. How do they measure their growth if they never have the distance of time and miles between them and their families—their roots—that accentuate such changes?

When we evolve gradually over the years and we participate in these changes regularly, along with the family and friends we grew up with, the transformation enters us like food, nourishing imperceptibly, slowly. But for those whose visits to their original home are infrequent, scattered over long periods of time, letters, and long-distance phone calls, the meals resemble feasts, and they gorge themselves, not wanting to miss anything.

For me, the situation became complicated because what once had been our family home in Calgary no longer existed, and any subsequent residences also had dissolved. Thus, my trips “home” seemed doomed from the start because those places were no longer recognizable, and I had to adapt to wherever my family now resided. Therefore, I haven’t had regular access to the physical changes of the original structures themselves or to the people who inhabited them. So it’s a jolt when I do visit and there is much catching up to do.

But it isn’t just the places and people that have changed without me having constant access to them. Even Calgary, the city where I grew up, has undergone major changes, no longer the Cowtown I remembered from when I left in 1963. The city has transformed itself from an old-fashioned town with familiar landmarks, sandstone buildings of no more than a few stories, to a modern city. Glittering skyscrapers rise out of the downtown area like oil wells on the prairies—oddly out of place and surrealistic looking, glass-enclosed walls reflecting the bright Alberta sun, windows resembling hundreds of sightless eyes. The office buildings where I’d once worked—the Petroleum Building on 9th Avenue and others—seemed towering then. Now they’re dwarfed and invisible next to the newer ones, and some have been destroyed entirely. These major alterations are jolting and surrealistic. Each time I return, I have another huge modification to adjust to.

How, then, can I orient myself if I don’t have familiar landmarks to guide me? I’ve concluded it isn’t the places where I’ve lived that give me roots as a Canadian. I’m an expression of the landscape I was raised in, though I’ve now lived in California longer than I’ve lived in Canada. I’ve carried with me the prairie sky I grew up under, the distant Rockies helping to define it. The prairie sky’s vastness—a canvas that can hold hulking thunderclouds in one corner, hail in another, and shafts of sun in still another—contributes to whom I am today.

At the farm where we lived for a part of my childhood in Alberta’s flat lands, I recall lying in a wheat field, watching the cumulus clouds suggest endless images and shapes, entertained for hours. I merged with that sky and those images, less focused on the immediate surroundings. The sky pulled me out of myself, providing endless opportunities to speculate. No boundaries existed there, except for the horizon, no man-made obstacles to bump into or impede my vision, other than an occasional plane.

The geographical area where we grew up provides a foundation for all of us, whether we have spent those early years in a village, a town, or a city. The land, the place we inhabited as children, penetrates our pores and resides in our bones. While we may think we can leave behind whatever residue these early experiences have implanted in us, we can’t. Comprised of images that shape us from within and without, we are expressions of our past and the places where we’ve lived.

 

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Thanks to Mary Helen Sheriff and Author Talk Network for this post: “Book Marketing: The magic behind the fairytale of a book’s success”

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I always enjoyed listening to your stories as a young child and miss them as an adult. Reading this gave me a real picture of how your younger years were. I also remember as a child laying on the front lawn or in a school feild watching the clouds for ever. Miss you aunt Lily

    • Happy to hear from you, but you didn’t leave your name, so I don’t know which niece you are! By the way, the stories that mu friend and I did at a local radio station are available on my blog. Just look for the tab “Children’s Stories.” And thanks for visiting!

  2. Carole-Ann

    In your blog I love the way you express your past and so true for many of us, such a great talent you have to be able to express yourself..

  3. Thanks for this very thoughtful piece. Your last sums up the experiences of millions, whether rich “ex-pats” or refugees of war or immigrants looking for a better life. You words are especially poignant for me this week, since I just bought a house in Mexico.

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