Author: Monna McDiarmid

My blogs:

Keeping it for good


Seventh generation Canadian,
I am descended from Scottish and Irish folks.
Hearty, thrifty people
saving up for a rainy day

We grew up with a set of dishes
we used every day,
some chipped
some yellowed with age
and a set of good china that sat
like some secret
in the china cabinet.
We were “keeping it for good”,
for company,
for special occasions,
the holy trinity of McDiarmid family dinners:
Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving.

My upbringing failed me
or perhaps I failed it.
Choosing not to marry
meant no shower gifts,
no registries.
I am the kind of woman
who buys what she needs.

And I don’t believe in keeping
one damned thing
for good.
Ring the bell. Go ahead.
Use the good dishes for dinner every night.
Buy flowers for yourself.
Wear that dress.
Take your family to Disneyland.

What are you waiting for?

What the neighbours think
is truly
none of your business.

And also
about writing,
do not save it up.
Don’t hoard those sparkling phrases
in moleskins
stashed in boxes
hidden beneath your bed.

Spend those words.
Throw them down like rice at a wedding.

Revel. Rebel. Spend your joy.


A Decadent Paris Walk in the 6th Arrondissement

Today I’m going to take you on a guided tour of a walk I have done four times over my last two visits to Paris.

The 6th Arrondissement is saturated with tiny shops filled with gorgeous gifts, linens, dishes, jewellery, clothes and gastronomical wonders.

By metro: Arrive at either the Marbillon or San Germain de Pres metro stop.


1. l’Eglise de San Germain de Pres (Saint Germain Church)
Start at this beautiful old church completed in the year 558.
Address: Place St-Germain-des-Pres, 75006 Paris, France



2. Jules Pansu
Follow the street that runs by San Germain for another half block until you see Jules Pansu on your left. This store stocks wonderful pillows, tapestries and bags. It’s difficult to resist the charms of their animal cushions and my favourite is that of a cow wearing a fedora.
Address: 42 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010, Paris
Telephone: +33 (0)142 467 245
Website here



3. Laduree and the Laduree Tea Room
Continue to the end of this block. You will see a mint green coloured building ahead of you. There is a store where you buy macarons and tea (the rose tea is our favourite) as well as a tea room where you can have a meal (I like the tiny, perfect sliders) or just tea with sweet things. I highly recommend the salted caramel macaron. Please note that macarons are only really tasty for 24 hours so they do not make ideal gifts for those at home.
Address: 21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France
Telephone:+33 1 44 07 64 87
Website here



4. Tiany Chambard
As you step out of the exit from the tea room (not the shop), Tiany Chambard will be the very next shop on the same side of the street. This shop sells whimsical vintage jewellery and my favourites have been two wonderful lucite brooches ~ a cat and a dog.
Address: 32 Rue Jacob, 75006 Paris, France
Telephone:+33 1 43 29 73 15
Facebook page here



5. Fiaencerie Gien
Address: 13, Rue Jacob, 75006, Paris
Founded in 1821 (by an Englishman), this company sells beautiful ceramic dishes made in Gien, France, a small town on the banks of the Loire River.
Telephone: +33 (0)1 46 33 46 72
Website here



6. Henri le Roux
You’ll have to walk a little farther to get to the last stop on our walk. Continue up Rue Jacob for a couple of blocks and turn right. Walk two more blocks and turn left. Walk two more blocks and volia, you will see the shop on your right.
In this photograph, you will see paper fans in the window and these fans may remind you of Japan. In 2006 Henri le Roux sold his chocolate company to Japanese cookie company, Yoku Moku. My favourites at Henri le Roux are the SBCs (salted butter caramels) but the chocolates are also heavenly.
Access: 1 Rue de Bourbon le Chateau, Paris, France
Telephone: Phone: +33 (0)1 82 28 49 80
Website here
Enjoy all the delights that this walk has to offer. À bientôt.


Your one wild and precious life


With deep gratitude to the participants of Geography of Now.

There’s a voice
in our heads,
a nasty piece of work,
that says:
“Don’t you dare”
“You’ll fail”
“You’ll look foolish”
“People will think
you’re too big
for your britches.”

If you let that voice tell you how to live
you condemn yourself
to a life of

An existence
rather than
a life.

{People will judge you
no matter what you do
but that is none of your business.}

So what have you
been dreaming of?

What’s the first step
to creating it?

And how would it feel
to silence that voice
with extravagant happiness?

*The phrase “your one wild and precious life” comes from Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day.


A Gratitude List


For the faces
of Japanese children.

For freedom.

That my school day starts
at 8:30 a.m.

The chocolate wafer cookies
from Family Mart.

For gentle courtesy
and clear umbrellas,
school kids in bright yellow hats
and hard leather backpacks.

For blue skies after the typhoon
(the second in a week).

That people can change
if they want to.

For my work
and our small school.

Red shoes.
The films Amelie
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
Live Music.
My iPod.
My Beats.

in October.

Elizabeth Gilbert
Brene Brown
Sarah Selecky.

Rie Kono and her decadent balloons
at the Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art.
Our painting of Margo.
Our art-gallery apartment.

Tap water I can drink,
Kirkland Cheddar from Cost Co,
Kalamata olives,
Maison Kayser bread
and pumpkin soup.

Gentle vacations in

Megan, Laurie, Mom and Dad
and the concentric rings
of family and friends
that grow outward.

The man with the orange backpack.

The ability to create.

Jeans and black sweaters.
Anne of Green Gables.
The golden light in Italy.
Japanese toilets.
Silk scarves.
Cafe latte.
The Internet.



*Canadian Thanksgiving was Monday 13 October, 2014 and we dined on Kentucky Fried Chicken, not turkey. Sometimes, when you live far away from your home, it is challenging to honour your traditions. But I am grateful for many things and this is list is a way to give thanks.

What’s on your list?

Typhoon Doppelgängers


The afternoon
that Typhoon 19
arrived in Yokohama
we’d been urged
by school admin
to go directly home
but there were
a few more
emails to send
and a student
with a last minute
and so it was
after five
when we left
the building.

Darkness fell
like a net
and the afternoon mist
to its job as rain.
A colleague splashed
down the sidewalk
in pursuit of a taxi.

As we walked
through the park,
our clear
Family Mart
of the other
umbrella people
as they scuttled
for the dry
of the metro station

At the intersection
near our apartment
a young couple
held hands
waited for green.
The man in a black coat
and the woman in cream
leaned into each other
under a canopy
of merged umbrellas.
Beyond them,
the wets streets glistened
in puddles of light.

In that moment
what I felt
to be true
was that
we were this pair,
DP and me.
We may not look
like this
on the outside


it feels
to be us.