a peek inside the fishbowl

15 Oct, 2020


Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

From time to time I experience a wee identity crisis as it pertains to this blog. Now is that time. What I’m doing here? Who is reading? Why do I keep it up? What’s it all for, anyway? Sigh. I ask myself all these questions and then I talk myself down from the ledge.

If you’ve been reading long enough you know that I don’t exactly stay on topic. In fact, there is no topic. The “what am I doing here” question is hard to answer. I do know that when I’m really into cooking I post recipes, when I’m thinking about my health, I post about that, when we’re doing fun stuff around town I write about that. It’s an unpredictable hodge-podge for sure, but that’s just a reflection of what’s going on upstairs (*taps brain*).

I used to earn a good living off this blog, for sure, but it started from a different kind of place. A place where I just wrote about… us. Now it seems I’ve come full circle. I am happy about this. The Fishbowl is my place, my space. It is my living room, workshop, and water cooler. I don’t know exactly who’s reading anymore, but I see there’s a core group of Fishies who keep coming back when I post something new. It’s like it was in the very early days. I’m glad you’re here, my friends.

Can I confess something to you? My secret fear is that all of my writing will be lost. And honestly, I’m not sure how to preserve 20+ years of blog posts. I am so afraid that I push it away and refuse to think about it. Let me know if you have any advice to share.

When the blog started, almost 22 years ago, it was all about our baby. Then there was another baby. Amazingly, those babies grew up to be pretty amazing young adults. You catch a glimpse of them sometimes, but I don’t write about them in the way I used to.

They live their own lives and have their own stories. If they want to share those stories, they can. And they do, but in their way and on their terms.

That being said, a lot of you have been reading for a long time. You watched my babies grow up (!), and for those people, and because this blog is ultimately a family diary of sorts, I want to share a general update here.

Our youngest is studying art history at Queen’s. She just called me (on the phone! not a text!) to tell me about a great shift she had at work. She’s living in a house with some friends right now, not far from campus, but since 100% of her classes are online it turns out that location doesn’t matter very much. This group has become her “bubble” and it sounds like they’re making it work and are safe about it. From where I’m sitting, she’s doing really well, and by DOING WELL I mean, she’s cooking and eating and caring for herself, as well as her collection of houseplants. She is keeping everything alive, including herself… and others! She has regaled me with stories of how few vegetables her roommates eat, which does my heart good because it means SHE LEARNED SOMETHING FROM ME THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT.

The eldest daughter is living at home with us, this year. She’s in her fourth year of the concurrent education program at Queen’s and has one more year to go after that. Her classes are also all online, and there’s no need to be on campus, ever. She’s here because her housing situation collapsed over the summer due to unforeseen circumstances. I think she was bummed that it came to this. We have always talked about independence and making it on your own etc. etc., so to find yourself at home after living on your own steam for a few years must be a shock to the system. Selfishly, I’m happy to have her company. She also has a very good collection of houseplants. We’ve been doing puzzles together, which is awesome because doing puzzles alone is kind of lonely. We watch movies in the evenings sometimes and have good discussions about them. She is good company.

The days are pretty quiet here at Casa Fishbowl. Weekdays find me at my desk, downstairs, in our home office. The eldest is in her bedroom, doing schoolwork and participating in Zoom groups with her classmates. Mark is often at his dad’s, who has lately needed a bit more care. At the end of the day we sometimes come together, crack open a beer, cider, or a can of fizzy water, and do the New York Times crossword together. It’s become a bit of a thing, and I like it. I make dinner. We walk the dog, wash the dishes, make popcorn, and watch something on Netflix. And then we do it all again the next day.

6 Responses to "update-ish"

1 | Lynn

October 16th, 2020 at 10:12 am


So lovely! I have been thinking of doing a post like this – what is life like on a daily basis these days? Where is everyone, and how are they doing? It’s so nice to have a catch up with your family virtually!

As for the blog, I am currently in the process of exporting and formatting all of Julie’s old blog posts so they can be turned into a book. I also do this about every three years for my own blog. Perhaps this could be a good thing for you to do to – to bind them into something you can hold and read feels really special and like a family history that will persist over time.

2 | andrea tomkins

October 18th, 2020 at 2:45 pm


I am just overwhelmed by the idea of doing a blog export. Most posts I want to keep, but some I don’t (eg some contests and giveaways of days gone by). And then there’s the pre- WordPress posts! When I started it was straight up HTML and I rolled my own code. Gah.

3 | Jinjer

October 18th, 2020 at 8:49 pm


I read your blog but do so via Feedly so that’s why you don’t see me as a subscriber and I’m usually in a hurry so I don’t comment often, but I do read ALL your posts as they pop up in Feedly. :-)

4 | andrea tomkins

October 23rd, 2020 at 3:35 pm


Thank you Jinjer! I’m glad to know you are reading along! :)

5 | Jen_nifer

November 15th, 2020 at 4:16 pm


I am so glad to come across this family update!

6 | andrea tomkins

November 18th, 2020 at 9:54 am


Thank you Jen! I’m glad you’re reading. :)

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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