Nancy Whelan

Books, Bills & Bios.

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Born in Toronto, Nancy grew up in the tiny silver mining town of Cobalt in Northern Ontario, trained as a teacher and first taught in Kirkland Lake. In 1960, she and her husband and three young children moved to Sooke where Nancy continued her teaching career on the Island. In 1965, the family moved to Entrance Island, becoming lighthouse keepers for two years. Nancy moved to the Parksville/Qualicum area in 1967 and taught in the district until retirement in 1989 when she started writing. Her work has appeared regularly in Island newspapers and magazines, and a few pieces in the Vancouver Sun.

That title pretty much describes my desk in what I call the ‘view area’ of my family room.

When I first looked at this spot some decades ago when house-hunting, it sported a rudimentary desk, but what truly grabbed my attention then was this corner’s ideal placement with easy access to the kitchen beyond. What better place to store helpful book titles, pay the inevitable bills, and write irresistible biographies of talented artists, writers and musicians or announce the what, where, and when of upcoming events?

Here I could sit searching for just the right phrase, watch the decreasing balance in my cheque book, or  enlighten the public about the talent of those wanting some exposure; or I  might spread the  knowledge and excitement of events that shouldn’t be missed. An equally important attribute of this site was that I could be working diligently at my labours and still keep an ear tuned to the bubblings and sputterings of a new recipe or the nagging beeps of a timer in the kitchen. Of course the house had other attractive attributes, but that desk in the corner is where I wrote the cheque for a deposit.

On a return visit to what I now considered ‘my house’, I measured that corner’s ample dimensions. It took a while, but I found the components that could be fitted exactly together into the corner to supply a writing area, a computer desk, file drawers, paper storage … and cubby holes! It just happened that the bookshelves I’d had removed from around the fireplace were the exact width to be cut and fitted to make two four-shelf bookcases, one at either end of the corner walls. Books on writing handy at the right, to the left computer instruction manuals, and on the ends, gardening, and diaries for inspiration from past travels and adventures – my very own Dewey system of organization.

After a year of seasons had passed in my ‘dream corner’, I realized I also had ‘the room with a view’. Looking diagonally from my desk to the huge window by the kitchen table I had the full scene of one of the best corners in the back yard. In the spring the crocuses spread their yellow and purple carpet and soon after that the wild red currant stole the scene for a few weeks. In summer the blueberry bushes and blossoms battled the invasive pink of a rugosa rose determined to be stage centre. Fall brought the almost painful display of deep red as the euonymus shrub took over. (Had to scoot to the gardening end of the corner for the spelling of that one!) Now that winter is nigh there remains only the green of the giant cedar, but colour is being replaced by action as the bird feeders attract waves of juncos and pine siskins; a pileated woodpecker latches on to the log feeder, and a bossy, raucous, Stellar’s jay lends his colour  to the mix.

I‘ve never been sorry that I chose this house with ‘the desk corner’ that inspired me.  A five-wheeled, brown typing chair that visionary people knew was just the right retirement gift those many years ago  gracefully accepted its place of honour at the desk, while always being amenable to scooting around the family room to provide an extra seat when people choose to gather in the room with the fireplace, refusing to sit in the forlorn living room with lots of seating but no hearth!

Last year a first-time visitor, an Oregon columnist walked in, looked around, and said, “I can see that this is the heart of the operation!” No truer words ….


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