I’ve been thinking about the terrorist attacks in Paris all weekend. It breaks my heart, all this hatred in the world. My deepest sympathies to the family and friends who lost loved ones and to all the people of France. I grieve with you.

I rode 65 miles/104.6 kms yesterday and it was really amazing to see the support for France offered up by the other cyclists. We all have our country’s flags that appear with our names on the rider board and people riding in France were deluged with “Ride on” thumb’s up. One rider even commented on how wonderful the support was. Many riders added “PFP” or #France or some other tag after their name. There was even talk of having a group ride against terrorism. It was a supportive communal kindness I did not expect to find in an online virtual cycling “game” and it made me glad to be part of it.

This morning Bookman was out working in the front yard cutting back perennials for the time when the snow arrives. Even though it was close to 60F/15C today, the cold and snow will eventually descend. And since I do the snow shoveling I can tell you it is a giant pain in the backside to have the dead perennials and grasses flop over onto the sidewalk and freeze there. Unfortunately Bookman’s hard work gave him a pain in the back and he barely made it into the house before he was hit with a big spasm.

He sprawled out on the floor just inside the door and lay there until the worst of it passed. I got the heating pad and arranged pillows on the couch and stood at the ready to lend a hand as he slowly struggled to get himself upright. Water and ibuprofen soon followed.

Gradually his back began to feel better and he was able to get up and carefully move around. We had plans to do the rafters on the chicken coop today and it seemed as though they were in jeopardy. However, not long after lunch Bookman decided he wanted to give the rafters a try, he needed to move around. I did all the bending and lifting and ever so carefully we managed to not only cut all the boards to build the rafters but we put all five of them together too!

Five rafters ready to install!

Five rafters ready to install!

I must say we both feel rather proud of ourselves and like we accomplished something really big. The rafters are not up on the coop itself yet, I can’t lift them up alone and Bookman was in no condition to do any lifting anyway. So getting those up will be for next Sunday which will not be nearly as nice as it was today. It appears the weather shoe is about to drop and by mid-week we will be crashing to seasonal temperatures — hard frosts at night and daytime highs only a few degrees above freezing. As long as there isn’t snow we’ll keep working.

And now for something a little different. I’ve been thinking for a few months about wanting to try my hand at essay writing. I am not keen on the idea of writing an essay and then flogging it around to different websites or magazines trying to get it published. Nor do I want to purposely write commercial pieces with a specific audience or publication in mind. I just want to write essays on whatever I feel like.

I read an article at The Guardian the other day about how the internet is an ideal home for the essay. And I thought, hmm, what if? I haven’t made it past the idea stage to execution stage yet, but my plan is to create a separate website from this blog for the purpose of essays. I’d like to aim for two a month but I don’t know if that is too ambitious. It seems like it might be. I am thinking it would be good if the site were more active than just one or two essays a month from me, and wonder if any of you might be persuaded to write an essay? It could be a one-off or perhaps you enjoy essay writing so much you might want to write a few. In my mind, I am thinking posting one essay a week would be pretty decent. Topics will not be limited to books. My intent is a site for personal essay writing to explore whatever strikes my — or possibly your — fancy.

What do you think? Even if no one wants to contribute an essay I will still be moving ahead with it for my own personal experiments in writing. It could be a wild success or a terrible failure. But to me, essays are all about the process, the attempt, as the word “essay” implies. I don’t know when I will have this new venture up and running, but it is in the works and I already have begun a list of things I want to write about. It’s a little scary, a leap into the unknown for me, but no matter what happens, I’ll be glad I at least tried.