Crabapple Mews Collective is an author collective made up of volunteer writers and editors. We draw on our backgrounds as writers, teachers, editors, booksellers, designers, academics, publishers and producers of kick-ass literary events to help bring new stories to readers.
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The State of Being Crabby Part V: Covid Chronicles from the Couch


What did 2020 look like for me other than jammies all day, unruly hair and finally submitting to a desperate Covid cut by daughter, Kristin, armed with a pair of kitchen scissors? Not much.

Until my doctor hit upon the right meds that would tame my relentless arthritis pain, conjuring up ideas for a new novel turned out be as illusory as a Republican’s search for truth. After accomplishing absolutely nothing, I soothe myself with the excuse that watching a year’s worth of MSNBC and CNN and listening to their pundits go on and on, I am now an expert on how democracy down south works (or doesn’t), so much so that an American friend recently suggested I write to President Biden with my prescient suggestions as to how to save their democracy.

If I did manage to happen upon a human with whom to have a conversation, I was horrified to find that my word search skills had deteriorated to such an extent I seriously considered taking a cognitive test. Man, woman, camera, TV. There! Aced it! Uh, oh, I forgot one, didn’t I? Commenting on Facebook was the most I could manage because you can literally type into Google ‘what’s that word when you wanna do stuff’ and it would spit out the word ‘motivation’. I love Google! In the parlance of a regretful car insurance rep, though, 2020 was a complete write-off.

I am feeling increasingly creative now though since my sorry joints are allowing me to move a little, but more in a ‘Man! I’d love to paint that wall red!’ kind of way. Which, I suppose, might have been expected after having just spent the last year staring at it.

On the plus side, indoors I didn’t have to experience the winter, on either side of 2020. And we do have a functional fireplace. On the downside, I really missed my grandkids. It’s true; they are way more delightful than the ones that birthed them.

But the Covid year was also a year of discoveries, even from the couch. And I’m not just talking about nature and travel documentaries. I discovered that neither my husband nor I can cook. And I discovered that Western medicine, when you’re hurting, is a worthwhile pursuit. Say yes to drugs!

But there were vices too and I most certainly did watch too much TV. Indulging myself wth ice cream in front of the soft, flickering lights of the idiot box also led to moments of gratitude—gratitude that Netflix filled the boredom, take-out restaurants filled the tummy and the elastic waistband of my pyjamas ensured they always fit.

Madam Spring, smartly accessorized with numerous vaccines, is on the way, the correct arthritis medication lets me move again without uttering a single expletive, and there are big kisses waiting to be planted on the cheeks of Jaxon and Erika. And even though another unremarked birthday has made me older than dirt, I know 2021 is going to be the best year ever!

Inge Bremer-Trueman

The State of Being Crabby Part IV: COVID Brain

The paper is late again. I’ve come to depend on doing the daily crossword as a way of passing the morning during the winter pandemic months: the first part of the morning, not the middle, not late morning. The crossword deals with words, someone else’s, surely a legitimate substitute for producing mine. This chronic, indifferent paper delivery schedule interferes with my routine and I am furious when it is late. I had reported the problem to the Herald’s voicemail several times, but nothing changes.

I plot my strategy. One morning I get up, sit by the door, alert with purpose, and I wait—finally the noise of a car. Looking out I see a small hatchback slide to the curb and stop. A man gets out, opens the car’s rear door and picks up a paper. He lopes up the sidewalk and tosses it onto the porch. It is 9:30 am. Aha! I bang open the front door and step onto the porch ready with a mouthful of invective. He smiles and waves. “Morning ma’am,” he says. “Warmin’ up. Single digits today. Have a good one.” And he turns down the walk.

I stand on the porch until he is gone, then go inside and close the door. His are the only words I have heard from a live human in days. My mood lifts. I put the paper down. After all it is only the paper. I do get it every day. Who knows why it was late, or what effort it took to get it to me at all.

Gratitude, a new feeling. I am well, my family is well, the temperature is rising and there is all day to do the crossword and perhaps find words of my own.

Judy Galbraith

The State of Being (More Calm Than) Crabby Part III: Gathering notes

On the completely unscientific crabby scale, I’m not that crabby. More calm than crabby. Between my concussion and the pandemic, I have been living a quiet life for five years now. I’m pretty used to it. But like everyone else, I’ll be happy when the pandemic over.

What I don’t want to do is go “back to normal.” Normal got us here. Normal needs to change. The pandemic, like a brain injury, is a good time to hit the reset button. Lately, I’ve been thinking about something the ecofeminist Charlene Spretnak wrote way back in 1991 in her book States of Grace. “An event of deep transition creates its own rules.” This is the time to think deeply about what the new rules might be.

As for writing, since my big crash I’ve been editing more than writing. Elaine and I finished Impact: Women Writing After Concussion (University of Alberta Press, September 2021). I also finished my novel, Patterson House (Inanna, 2022). Finishing these two works feels momentous. I will have a small and isolated celebration. Perhaps some tea.

And, although I rarely talk about work in progress, I will admit that I have something new on the go. Although it’s too early to know exactly what it is, if you want a preview, one story from it will come out next year in (M)othering, an anthology edited by Anne Sorbie and Heidi Grogan (Inanna, 2022). Meanwhile, here’s a photo of the notes I’m gathering to get back to that work.

But first, I have to do my taxes. Now THAT is something to get crabby about.

Jane Cawthorne

The State of Being Crabby Part II: Leaving worlds behind

In the world before now, I conspired with the Crabapple Collective on some writing projects. It was a joy. Working with this accomplished group of spirited authors provided solidarity. And a channel to stay connected with book publishing – a labour of love I once practiced full time.

One that’s hard to leave behind.

Before working as a publisher, I practiced museology for 20 years. But filling digital ledgers with stories about artifacts doesn’t resonate like making books.

Today I think about gratitude more than ever, the privilege of being safe and working from home never lost on me. I hope we can someday leave behind this state of hyper vigilance, and the dread of sharing breath with our loved ones for fear we might pass on a deathly illness.

For now I’ve stopped writing about object provenance and fiction. I fill my days with government web content assignments that immerse me in a world of online income assistance applications, steps for keeping exotic pests like rats and Bertha Armyworm out of the province, and why it’s important to wash your wellies before entering a barn.

At least we can always write.

Lou Morin

The State of Being Crabby Part I: Chasing trends

As a writer, it’s often tempting to pursue the “it” topic, the one that everyone wants to read about right now. For the past year, “it” has been the pandemic. And yet, although the pandemic has occasionally snuck its way into my work (seriously, how could it not?), I really don’t know that I want to write about it.

So what have I been writing about? Or maybe the question is how to write at all? I keep hearing from writers that the pandemic has made it difficult for them to write. I’m not sure if this is the case for me or not. I perpetually find it difficult to write. Writing is mostly a slow process and very often I end up with a thousand drafts. It takes huge shifts of energy to constantly move myself in and out of the “writing state,” which is a necessity when living with a partner and having kids and a grandkid. Plus, the mountains are always calling.

This is all to say that instead of chasing trends, I will continue to write about the topics that I’ve always written about. Women’s lives. Misfits. Mothers and daughters. This is what fires me up. This is what I know.

E. D. Morin

Prophet and Loss

K. Gordon Neufeld with Inge Trueman at Shelf Life Books, Calgary

Sunday, August 5, 2018, 2 – 4 pm

Inge is inviting all her old writing friends to an event she, along with Shelf Life Books, is hosting to welcome back to the neighbourhood fellow scribbler, K. Gordon Neufeld. After leaving Calgary, Gordon moved to upstate New York where he lives with his wife, Mary Jo, their daughter, and his beloved cats, many of whom, in moments of boredom and/or writer’s block, appear on Facebook. Gordon’s new book is called Prophet and Loss: Stories of Extreme Beliefs 

Gordon spent 10 Years in the Moonies and the story of his ‘capture’ and eventual extrication is told in his brilliant memoir, Heartbreak and Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon, A Cult Survivor’s Memoir.

Inge will also give a short reading from her novel, Winging It, book 3 in the chronicles of Sonja Pfeiffer, carhop, drag racer, aspiring pilot and a complete failure navigating the intricacies of successful relationships.

See you there!



The book men should read

A wonderful review of Writing Menopause appears in the most recent issue of the journal, Canadian Woman Studies. We’ve been waiting for this one and are thrilled.

Writing Menopause is not the book you read to find medical explanations or treatment suggestions for night sweats. It’s the book you read when you want to know how menopause feels, how it is experienced by women like you and not like you. It’s the book men should read if they want to better understand the women in their lives.

Laura Wershler’s full review is on our Inanna Publications page – click on the Reviews tab to read her review.

Congratulations to Roberta Rees!

We’re delighted to announce Roberta has been nominated for her non-fiction piece in Writing Menopause. “Evie’s Massage Parlour” is on this year’s shortlist for the Alberta Literary Awards James H. Gray Award.

Help celebrate all Literary Award shortlisted authors and hear readings of their work:

Edmonton – Audreys Books
Sunday, May 6 at 2 pm

Calgary – Rose & Crown Pub
Wednesday, May 16 at 7 pm

The awards gala will be held on Saturday June 2, 2018 in Calgary during the Writers’ Guild of Alberta annual conference and AGM.

Fingers and toes crossed. And as Roberta writes, “my hat goes off to women”!


Vancouver Writing Menopause Event

The long anticipated Vancouver Writing Menopause book event happens on March 29, 2018 at the Vancouver Public Library, Kitsilano Branch. This “revolutionary collection of work” continues to be relevant, giving voice to an often stigmatized and yet highly universal life experience. Four local area contributors – Rhona McAdam, Leanna McLennan, Jane Silcott and Taryn Thomson – will read from the collection, along with co-editor Jane Cawthorne.

Kitsilano Room
Vancouver Public Library – Kitsilano Branch
2425 MacDonald Street
Thursday, March 29, 2018
7 to 8:30 pm

Books will be available for purchase (cash only). Please come out and join us for a wonderful evening of readings and conversation!

Writing Menopause Tour, Reviews and More

This fall marks the wrap-up of Writing Menopause’s official book tour. It was a cold, rainy evening in Calgary last Thursday, but some 50 people showed up regardless. Many thanks to the Single Onion poetry reading series and Shelf Life Books for hosting us. Readers included E.D. Morin, Rona Altrows, Susan Calder, Shaun Hunter, JoAnn McCaig, Carolyn Pogue, Roberta Rees and Lori D. Roadhouse. Thanks to Lori D. for emceeing this event! We stayed until after the bookstore’s usual closing time and were finally, gently kicked out. All in all, a great night.

Mom Egg and other reviews
“I wish Writing Menopause had been on my nightstand, too,” Bunny Goodjohn writes in this month’s Mom Egg Review, a literary journal about motherhood:

[Germaine] Greer’s feminist voice was brilliantly hard-edged and stark. But Cawthorne and Morin would have added fifty-five more to the mix, and I might have been not only informed and ready for a fight but also entertained, validated and prepared for what has become the most challenging and rewarding period of my life so far.

Goodjohn’s is just one of several articles that were published about Writing Menopause since its publication four months ago, including:

Menopause Goddess Blog writes in their review, “It’s breathtaking. Literally. And hot-flashing, mind melding, heart touching, beautiful. I actually think ALL women would love this book, not just those of us who are approaching, well in, or past menopause.”

And in E.D. Morin’s article “In Praise of Older Women” on The Mixed Zone, an online journal that reports on women’s sports, she talks about the collection and explores the power of women at this stage of life. “As older women, we know what it’s like to get through hard things, long projects. We’ve gotten to the other side of childbirth, the other side of raising kids.”

Women’s Writers, Women’s Books also gave us a shout-out. Friend for the Ride provided an interview and book giveaway.

And Lower East Side Librarian’s Jenna Freedman was inspired in this way: “The story Drenched by Leanna McClennan led me to ask my boss if we could have a menstrual hut in our new library building. She didn’t have any luck, but maybe I will.”


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