Anita Odessa is a popular columnist at the Millbrook Times, where her humorous takes on life in the village illustrate her growing affection for life in the not-so-fast lane.
This spring, Anita took advantage of the lockdown to organize her 70+ columns into a memoire which has just been published through Amazon. The full title of the book is Babble From The Church House: My Village Life in Columns. It is now available in paperback and ebook at Amazon.ca and will soon be available from the local libraries.
The columns began under the title “The Church House”, a reference to the sprawling building Anita and her family called home. They were her response to a request for an interview from the former Editor of the Millbrook Times. Anita chose instead to write herself. It gave her control over the content and an outlet for her accumulating stories about raising her family in the 8,000 foot former United Church in this newly-adopted community.
It took a giant leap of faith For Anita to leave a partnership position at a prestigious Toronto law firm and move to this small, sleepy town and into one of its landmark buildings. While the move took courage, Anita secretly took comfort in the familiarity of that big yellow building, having explored it for years in a recurring dream. Even before it materialized in brick and mortar, it was sending her messages, gently prodding her in directions she could not have anticipated.
Lawyers are nitpickers by necessity, drawing lines in the sand. Moving into the church, Anita was instinctively protective of boundaries; this was her home. She used the sign outside the church to send not-so-subtle messages indicating the church was private property. The public, however, was oblivious. For many, this was a building with great personal significance: one where they were married, had children christened or said a final goodbye to a loved one. For others it’s not even what they’ve done so much as what they’ve fantasized about doing there…. Fortunately some of the uninvited guests have arrived bearing gifts.
As she became more comfortable with the interlopers, messages on the sign became more friendly. Anita was feeling like part of the community. She and her husband even welcomed the public into their home when they hosted fundraising concerts. In return, they have been embraced by the community, which has occasionally expressed its appreciation through anonymous construction repairs.
After leaving the church and her marriage, the content for Anita’s column, now running under the banner, Babble, became more personal, but the humour remains. Writing comes naturally to Anita, but she finds it requires patience to allow the stories to develop. The trick is to focus on the small things- they eventually connect to a bigger picture. She quips that she no longer has problems, she has “material”.
It’s been a bumpy road, but Anita’s not complaining: even after 13 moves in not many more months. Anita tells her story to encourage others to face their own bumps-perhaps they come for a reason, and her experience has taught her that you will feel better on the other side. She believes that in our hardest times we realize that what appears to be hurting us is really just giving us a chance to rise up. Perhaps this is particularly true in our community, which in her Foreword she suggests might be what the Irish refer to as a “thin” place, where the veil between heaven and earth is thin.
For more information or to order a copy, visit amazon.ca and search for Babble from the Church House. A reader review on the site would be much appreciated. KG