Words for a New Year

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver


I read that Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, recently passed away. I’m not that familiar with her work, so in poking around the internet to see what else she wrote that I may have read, I came across her poem “The Summer Day”.

I realize that this is probably the most pintrested and quoted line she ever wrote (which says a lot, because she wrote so many powerful/inspiring lines!) But at the awakening of this new year, at this point in my personal trajectory, this was the question I needed to ask myself.

You see, I woke up, having reached a certain age, to find that I’m not all that comfortable in my own life because it was designed for different circumstances, for things that never became part of my story. And there was no room for some things that did. I spent 50 years knitting a life that doesn’t fit me and I feel like I’ve been working way to hard at it!

Then I read a poem, and it asked me a question that I realized it was time to answer. This time based on what is real for me now, what is possible for my life, and what I really want to do. And it doesn’t mean throwing everything out … it means knitting a new ‘suit’, one that fits who I am (still working on that) and all that I hold dear. One with enough stretch to comfortably accommodate all the wonder and joy that I have yet to take in. I will love, I will learn, I will create beauty, I will dance, I will sing, I will write.

What do I plan to do with my one wild and precious life? I plan to love it. That will do for now.



Of Tu-Tu’s and Tap Shoes

Ever since I can remember (and I can remember waaaay back) I have loved to dance. I have wanted to dance. As a teenager I had a secret nerdy dream of dancing tap.  But mine was not the kind of family that could afford things like dance classes and  tap shoes. I never even asked. I watched old musicals with extravagant dance numbers and televised ballets when I got the chance, hoping to just absorb something.

I dreamed of being a ballerina, as most little girls did. The closest I ever came was wearing a tutu in the school Christmas play in the second grade. Spinning around with my hair in a tight top-knot with a bunch of other little girls in colourful tutus – we were the northern lights. It’s adorable, but it’s not quite dancing. (If anyone has a picture of that, I would LOVE to have it!)

Fast forward a few decades and this evening I took my first dance class. Just a simple beginner ballroom class with my husband and four other couples at the Integris Community Centre. The cost is incredibly affordable, the instructors (Mark & Doris) are amazing and supportive, and the music was so much fun. The results were a little bit funny and really exhausting. The urge to revert to a comfortable eighth-grade-shuffle was strong at times, but we learned the basic steps for a waltz and jive tonight.

In spite of, or maybe because of, the fact I am still recovering from bronchitis and Randy is still coping with a muscle spasm in his back, we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. And we had fun. And that’s what it’s really about, because no one is going to show up at this point and whisk me away to star in the next ‘La La Land’ anyway. So the pressure is off!  😉  Can’t wait for next week.

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” 
― Martha Graham

Getting Real

Cabin fever.

Bronchitis and antibiotics and asthma inhalers.

Freezing temperatures (-25C the other night) or huge dumps of snow.

Haven’t done any writing in weeks.

Feeling lonely and exhausted and regretful.

An inglorious start to a new year.

This is where I’m supposed to bring it all together in some neat little package,  ‘staying positive’ or making it humorous or something like that. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in all that crap, but just now I need to allow myself to feel what I feel. How disappointed I am by the year behind me. How much it hurts and angers and humiliates me. (Too real?)

I need to recalculate, I know. I will. But I need to stop avoiding it; I think I’m going to sit with my sadness for a while. And I know I say this a lot, but … I’m going to see if it has anything to teach me.

i wish i had a river ...

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When life hands you a snowstorm . . .

…make a snowman!

He has one blue eye (water jug) and one green eye (Margarita mix, yeah!) He’s in the backyard, on the edge of the embankment overlooking the creek. He should be visible from the hiking trails, so give ‘im a wave if you see him there!

When I wasn’t building snowman today, I was shoveling snow. Mostly the shoveling thing. Oh yes. It kept snowing all night long and that means we had to clear snow 3 times in 24 hours. I don’t know what the official snowfall was, but on my deck it was around 24 inches in 24 hours. Overnight the temperature came up around 0 Celsius and the snowblower couldn’t handle all that wet snow in the morning – we had to move it all by hand.

*This snow storm feels just like a West Coast snow storm – tons of snow overnight and then the sun came out today and it was warm and melty (just for the afternoon. This snow will not be gone in a few days, it’s here to stay.)

*This snow storm is nothing like a West Coast snow storm – it did not bring the town to a stand-still. Trucks were out clearing first thing in the morning and life went on almost as usual.  Also, in Surrey this might happen once in a winter, maybe twice but possibly not at all. Here we know this is just the first of many likely snow storms. Button up, kiddies!

Today there was a lot of talk between Randy and myself along the lines of ‘will we survive this kind of winter?’ ‘Do we want to learn to survive this kind of winter?’ In spite of all that and our incredibly achy backs, we had a good day. Shoveling snow. In the sunshine. And I have a snowman. All in all (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) a fun day!

Move North, they said. It’ll be an adventure, they said.

Today, this is happening . . .


I took that picture around 10 o’clock this morning and as I’m writing this it’s 5pm . . . we’ve just finished shoveling/blowing that same amount of snow yet again. Weather Network is predicting 25cm before the day is out (that’s close to a foot, for my American friends.) Now it is turning to rain. ish. Not quite sure what that is falling from the sky now or what it will be.

It was a fun Christmas, and I’m glad all of this waited until all of that was over with. But still, the coldest, snowiest months of the year up here are still ahead of us!

I will not panic. I have chocolate. And soup. And puzzles. I have a cozy ‘fire’ and Netflix and a guy who loves snow days (not the shoveling part so much. But at least he now has a new toy – his second-hand snowblower that I have christened ‘the little beast’, his truck being ‘The Beast’.)

With all this snow and cold weather, who knows. I may skate on a pond like I did in my childhood, I may try skiing, or snowshoeing, or take a ride on a snowmobile. Or I may just go into hibernation, anything is possible.

If you don’t hear from me for a long time, don’t worry … just send someone to dig me out in March. Thanks!



The local movie theatre is packed, but there is no movie playing this afternoon. Today we have come for a very different kind of show, for a concert not typical in a venue like this.

The violins and cellos are being tuned, musicians are warming up, the eager crowd is trying to find seats. The stage is simply and tastefully decorated with a garland of tiny white and blue twinkle lights. The house lights go down, the stage lights come up, The Northern Orchestra is about to begin playing Corelli’s Concerto No.8, Notte di Natale.

Northern Orchestra Christmas Concert
Northern Orchestra, Director Gordon Lucus


What was I expecting of an orchestra in a town of 4,500 people? To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this! Over the next two hours, Conductor Gordon Lucas and the amateur musicians and choir he directs will take us on a musical holiday journey through Corelli, Bach and a beautifully done rendition of Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’. All so wonderfully done. And occasionally you will hear the less experienced musicians rise above the more prominent first chairs and soloists (who are just amazing, I must add!) But that’s part of the charm, because everyone is welcome here. Everyone is honing their skills, or sharing their experience and proficiency, and it’s so wonderfully inclusive that I feel a bit verklempt just talking about it.

No, it’s not the VSO. It’s even better, because I recognize the faces of people I’ve met in the community recently, the names of people I remember from college and the children of people I went to high school with. And here they all are, pouring their hearts into this one standing-room-only performance in our little single-screen movie theatre. There are even home-made Christmas treats available in the lobby during intermission. And this, all this, for the very affordable price of just $10 ($7.50 for seniors).

And at the end of it all, we come home with full hearts, to our (finally!) decorated house and pour a glass of wine, throw a meatloaf in the oven, and offer up thanks for this amazingly different and wonderful Christmas….Vanderhoof style. And it’s not over yet!


Photo credits: Orchestra & Principle Violin, Karyn Schlamp – Randy Forgo
Photo credit: Concert Master, Kevin Teichroeb – Elise Forgo


Holiday Greetings from the Great White North!

Forgo Christmas Card 2018 image
This artwork for our Christmas card this year was done by local mixed media artist, Maggie Saito. She’s amazing! facebook.com/MaggieSaito 

2018 has been an adventure for us. Selling our condo, living with relatives for 2 months (eternally grateful for the hospitality and getting to make up for all the years of not seeing enough of a dear sister), travelling all over British Columbia like a couple of gypsies in a Westfalia, and finally buying our fixer-upper house in Vanderhoof and starting the ground-up restoration … literally. Somewhere in there we have found a little time for our writing and a smidgen of time for visiting with mother and other relatives and experiencing small-town life, northern style. We sincerely hope that 2019 will bring more of all that to us. We make plans, but life rarely follows them. Like I said, it’s an adventure.

To those dear friends we left behind, to new friends and followers in the blogoshere, to far-flung family we don’t see often enough and to the ones who have always been dear but are now also near . . .

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Elise & Randy

bungalow line drawing (3)