Monday, November 18, 2019

New blog name!

In a shocking turn of events, I've decided to change the name of this blog from "Little house on the circle" to "Jeannie Prinsen." 

One reason I made this change is that there are numerous other blogs out there with "little house" names, such as "Little house on the hill" and "Little house on the corner." I also thought it would be easier for people to find my blog if it had my name in the title. And basically I just felt it was time for a change.

But besides the title (and the font!), it's really the same old blog. I haven't been posting much in the past several months--for reasons I've explained in recent posts--but I'm hoping to be more consistent with this in the future. I hope to see you back here again soon. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Five Minute Friday: UNKNOWN

For the first time in a while, I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt.

This week's word is UNKNOWN.


There's a thing going around Twitter right now that says,

There's only ONE MONTH left in the decade. 
What have you accomplished?

When I first read this question I thought, OK, what goals did I set for myself and meet? What projects did I embark on and finish? What aspirations did I strive toward and reach? And I realized I didn't have many of those. 

There were a few small things, like writing poems and having a few of them published. That was gratifying.

But the things that stand out in my mind from the past ten years aren't achievements; rather, they're life-altering passages in my and my family's life:
  • My mom's illness, cancer diagnosis, and death in 2014.
  • The sale of our family farm.
  • The loss (and partial restoration) of a significant relationship.
  • The death of my uncle this summer.
  • My dad's hospitalization this summer and subsequent move to a nursing home last month.

A decade ago these were all unknowns. I could never have predicted even one of those things -- and I wouldn't have wanted to. Now they're in the past, but they aren't completely over and done with. They've had a shaping effect. They've reminded me of what is really important in life: love and relationships. They've reminded me to help when I can and to accept help when it's offered. They've reminded me that in the valley of the shadow -- the valley of the unknown -- God is with us.

I'm not going to list my decade's worth of accomplishments on Twitter. Instead, I'm going to enjoy the people in my life and do the work I'm called to do, recognizing that the coming decade will have many unknowns of its own to be faced and walked through.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Thanksgiving: gratitude in all life's seasons

It has been a long time since I've written on this blog. There have been many reasons for that. Thanksgiving weekend seems like a good time to get back to it: to provide a few updates of what's been going on and, in the process, give thanks.

Family life has been very, very busy with lots of emotions and details to process. On August 13, five days before our family's trip to PEI, my dad had a fall at home and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He was admitted and underwent various tests that showed poor heart and kidney functioning. Dad was in hospital the entire time we were in PEI and for several weeks after that. This sudden crisis meant that our PEI vacation had a very different tone to it: I spent several hours in the hospital most days, keeping Dad company, talking to staff, etc. We were glad to be there to support him and help my brother out as well. After consultations with the hospital staff we all concluded it probably was not feasible for my dad to live at home any more, so we had a family meeting at the hospital and submitted an application for a nursing home placement.

In early October, seven weeks after Dad's admission to hospital, he moved to a nursing home in Charlottetown. I haven't been down to see him yet, so I don't know exactly how the transition has gone; but I'm very thankful that this move happened, that he has a place where he can be well cared for. Dad is stoic about all this, as he is about most things. I remember when Mom died and he moved to the apartment, he said, "I'd rather be at the farm, but since I can't be, I'm glad I'm here." There is a lot to be said for that kind of attitude at his time of life. Aging brings so many losses: as a friend said to me the other day, when we're young, change often means an opening up of life and options, whereas when we're older, change often signals a closing down and narrowing. It's not easy. But my dad is a wonderful person and I think he still has a lot to offer the world with his kind, quiet spirit.

Once we returned from PEI at the end of August, it was time for school. Jonathan settled back into high school life like a duck slips into water; he was eager to get on the bus and see his EA, Dylan (who calls Jonathan his "partner in crime"), and to connect with old and new friends. I'm grateful that he likes school so much and is so happy there.

Allison resumed university classes again in September as well. All along she'd been taking exclusively online courses; she'd completed 10 credits after two years of part-time study. But this fall, besides an online course in Clinical Psychology, she's also taking an on-campus course. She decided she wanted to take Linguistics, and that's only offered on campus. So she now goes to campus two days a week for class and tutorial, and is really enjoying the material she's learning. I'm grateful that she chose this new venture all on her own and has been successful with it so far.

On September 9 I had my long-awaited eye surgery (I wrote here about the preparation for that) to correct my double vision, which I've struggled with for a number of years. The surgery was done under general anesthetic and took about two hours. The surgeon detached the eye muscles on the inside corners of both eyes, adjusted their position, and sewed them back up again. I get a little squeamish when I stop and think about that -- but it was actually very straightforward and went well. My eyes were red, runny, and sore for several days, but every day got better. I've had two follow-up appointments and everything is as it should be. The double vision is not (yet) 100% resolved -- it can take a couple of months for the eyes to settle -- but I can now see perfectly with my glasses on, without the stick-on prism I was wearing for six months in preparation for the surgery. I'm thankful. Even if my eyes never reach perfect alignment, the improvement has been amazing.

So it has been a full, stressful few months, but there have been many things to be grateful for along the way. I look out my window at this moment and see multi-coloured trees against a gray sky. A yellow leaf floats to the ground. There is beauty everywhere, in the everyday and in all the seasons of life. 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
~ Lamentations 3:22-23 ~

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Five Minute Friday: AGAIN

I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. 

This week's word is AGAIN.


This summer I decided to go gray again.

I've been colouring my hair for the past ten years, and I just decided to quit. I was at the point where I needed to colour it almost every three weeks in order for it to look acceptable, and it was getting very tiresome.

Here's what it looked like prior to my decision to quit colouring (pic from 2018):

The last time I coloured it was April 2 of this year. Here's a picture from June 8, two months into the going-gray process:

And one from June 23:

And the latest, from July 25 (front and back):

I've gotten quite a few compliments on how it looks -- many of them from women younger than me. Some women my age have told me they're doing the same thing as I am, while others have said they're "not quite that brave" yet or "can't quite let go." I completely get that. Everybody has to make their own decision, whether it's about hair colour or anything else.

When I decided to do this, I thought I might not like the process or the outcome. I wondered if I'd look at myself in the mirror and gasp, "Oh my gosh, who is that person??!!"

But I haven't had that experience -- quite the opposite, in fact. I find I'm far more accepting of my image in the mirror: I'm not constantly checking my hair, wondering if the gray at my temples is too obvious or if the back is fading faster than the front. I feel more like myself again. It's very freeing.

Is there something you've been thinking about doing that might make you feel more like "you" again? I'd recommend you go for it. You won't know until you try.

Monday, July 29, 2019

What I've been doing - summer 2019 edition

The summer is flying by, and I've been neglecting this blog shamefully.

No, wait: scratch that. No shame, and no shoulds. It's been a busy summer so far, and I just haven't had much opportunity to compose posts. That's life. In this post I'll share a little bit of what I've been up to, under the categories FAMILY, WATCHING, READING, and WRITING.


my Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sigga

On July 10 my uncle (my dad's brother) Charlie MacEachern died in PEI after a long illness. His death leaves a huge void in many lives. He was so funny and upbeat, the kind of person who made your day better just by showing up. And he always did "show up" for the people he loved. He was a great support to my dad, calling or dropping by almost daily, and will be very much missed by all of us. 

Uncle Charlie and Jonathan, 2018:
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good"

I was able to go to PEI for Uncle Charlie's celebration of life service; my sister-in-law Caroline suggested we go together in her van, and she visited her sister in Truro, NS while I was on the Island for four days. It was good to be there with my extended family and share memories and stories about my uncle. My brother Lincoln and I sang "You Raise Me Up" at the service; my Aunt Sigga chose this song specifically, and the words are certainly fitting for the kind of person my uncle was to everyone who had the good fortune of knowing him.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be.

In news from the other side of the family: my mother-in-law broke her ankle in May, so it's been a long process of recovery for her. After surgery in mid-May, she's been recuperating in the convalescent wing of a retirement home here in town, and hopes to get home to her own house this weekend. We've all pitched in to help support her during this time, but her own determination and upbeat spirits have done a lot to help the recovery process along. 



I saw two movies this summer that have already become absolute favourites: 

Brooklyn: based on the novel by Colm Toibin, about a young Irish girl in the 1950's who moves to Brooklyn, New York to work.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society: based on the novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, about a young writer in post-WWII London whose life is changed when she receives a letter from a man from the Guernsey Islands, asking about books and telling her about the Islanders' experience under Nazi occupation during the war. 

I need more movies like this in my life: touching and delightful but with some substance to them. And if they have a large proportion of former Downton Abbey stars (as Guernsey does), so much the better.



After watching Brooklyn, I read the novel by Colm Toibin that it's based on; I really enjoyed Toibin's simple storytelling and how the novel captures its place and time so vividly.

I also read Hannah Pasch's Millenneagram: The Enneagram Guide to Discovering Your Truest, Baddest Self. I'm definitely not the target audience for this book, and I don't think I or anyone else has ever applied the word "baddest" to me -- but I liked Pasch's irreverent yet encouraging approach to the enneagram system of personality types.

If you're interested in seeing what other books I've read in the last while, you can check out my June "Quick Lit" post HERE



My poem "Departures" was published this summer in Juniper Poetry, an online journal; you can read the poem HERE. This poem is a special one to me because it's about the death of my mom, so I'm happy that Juniper liked it enough to publish it.

My prose poem "Along King Street" was June's featured poem on our local library's Poetry Blackboard, a site curated by Kingston's Poet Laureate Jason Heroux. You can read the poem HERE

"Along King Street" is also going to be featured in an outdoor poetry installation during Kingston's "Vibrant Spaces" event next month. It will be one of five poems displayed along a poetry path -- and in keeping with its subject matter, Jason told me they'll be sure to set it up within view of the windmills. 


Thanks for stopping by to read this update. I hope your summer has offered you lots of opportunity for rest, recreation, and rejuvenation in just the right proportions. And if you've been reading, watching, writing, or doing anything interesting this summer, let us know in the comments!