Friday, February 1, 2013

Calling Me Home: Kim

For more than a year, we have been awaiting a special day that is almost here: the publication of Julie Kibler’s first novel, Calling Me Home, available for pre-order now and in bookstores February 12. If you are in DFW, please join us that evening for Julie's book launch and signing at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, The Parks Mall, Arlington. Click here for more information and to RSVP (which is helpful to Julie and the store in planning for the event, but not required).
Click for more info

Calling Me Home is our group's first published novel, and it marks a major milestone for both Julie and the blog itself. We started this blog more than four years ago as an outlet for some of our thoughts on writing, but also as a platform to help introduce us to you, our readers, as writers looking forward to publication. That time is beginning. In celebration, each of us is sharing our thoughts on home, how it calls us, and what it means to every "me" in our group. We hope you enjoy these posts, and we hope to see some of you February 12!

Sasha and I at "Big Trees" in 2009
By Kim

The idea that I was meant to be a writer came to me as a jolt – literally. I was eight years old when my parents located my grandmother’s childhood home, an old stone farmhouse in Galt, Ontario, Canada. Listening to the owner reminisce about his boyhood encounters with a poor starving artist (my great-grandfather, Carl Ahrens) and his pretty daughters (my grandmother and great-aunt), I learned much of the art my parents owned had been created in that very room. With threadbare carpeting and ugly faux-wood paneling on the walls, it hardly looked like a space to inspire an artist. I fought the urge to blurt out, “Why did you ruin a perfectly good studio?” The words not only would have landed me in a great deal of trouble, but they made no sense. I had no idea what Carl’s studio had looked like.

I had other strange urges as well; to pull up a corner of carpeting to see if the wood floors were still there underneath, to run outside and hug a gangly looking elm tree that waved at me through the window, to seek out my grandmother’s old bedroom. One impulse I could not resist. As I left, I touched the outside stone walls.

I felt an electric current course from the stones into my hand – a feeling I’ve never forgotten. At that moment I knew two things: I was going to write a book someday, and my grandmother was with me. We later learned she had passed away while we were at her old house.

Near Tobermory, Ontario
I imagine every creative person, whether their craft is writing, painting, dancing, or quilting, has a place that inspires them, a place where the muse speaks freely. For Carl Ahrens it was the forests of Waterloo County, Ontario.

‘Up north’ is where my heart resides. I know exactly the moment I first glimpsed Georgian Bay, because my camcorder recorded my exclamation of, “Oh, my God, look at that!” Next comes ten minutes of gushing remarks about the turquoise water, the lopsided windblown trees, and the rocky islands. I’m completely unaware the camcorder rests in my lap, recording footage of a Subway bag on the floor of the car.

I’ve been in Ontario four times recently, and I anxiously await my next trip. I don’t even care if it’s in winter. The bay has called to me ever since that first glimpse. Being there brings back memories of the best parts of my childhood in Maine. Quiet walks in the woods, rock-hopping on the coast, spotting the occasional deer, the smell of pine, night skies where the moon and stars feel so near you can touch them.

This is the spot! At Leith in 2007.
Unlike Maine, there’s also a deep personal connection for me, almost primal, to the landscape of that part of Ontario. I have many candid family photographs of the Ahrens family on the beach at Leith, near Owen Sound and a newspaper article claiming Carl christened a stretch of forest there his church. Much of the Bruce Peninsula is still strongly influence by the same Ojibwa tribe that adopted Carl as a young man. I first heard the sound of native drums and smelled the intoxicating combination of sage, sweetgrass and tobacco just outside of Tobermory. Many of Carl’s contemporaries also found inspiration in the landscape of Georgian Bay – TomThomson, Frederick Varley and A.Y. Jackson to name a few. The painting by Thomson below is a prime example. Some of the places I find most inspiring, however, have no family connection at all. The first time I saw the north shore at Killarney my immediate thought was “I want to paint this.”

Georgian Bay as interpreted by Tom Thomson
As a wife and mother of two living in Dallas, the idea of moving to the Georgian Bay is merely a daydream I indulge in when the words just don’t want to come. I remind myself that Carl, too, relied on photographs and memory for inspiration when illness prevented him from leaving his house for over a year, and still produced some of his best work. Hoping to do the same, I surround myself with images of my soul’s home. When that doesn’t work, I use one of the rocks I picked up from the shore as a worry stone, play my CD of Georgian Bay sounds, drink my Ojibwa Sacred Blend tea and dab sweetgrass lotion on my neck for aromatherapy. All senses engaged, I begin to type.

Photo credits: The photo of my daughter and me at Big Trees was taken by Wendy Miller. All other photographs by the author except Calling Me Home cover art. The Tom Thomson image is in the public domain.


  1. A beautiful and sensual post, Kim. Your personal photos bring back wonderful memories. I'm so excited for Julie. Can't wait to read "Calling Me Home".

  2. Calling Me Home is a STUNNING novel that is bound for the big time!!!!

  3. What a great story, Kim. I love how "connected" you were with your ancestors at a young age.

  4. I agree Ellen - it is a fabulous book!

    Thank you mom and Cindy!


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