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My Stuff: M.A. Appleby

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M.A. Appleby

writer, author of Winnie the Bear

1. If your house were on fire, heaven forbid, what's the one item contained within that you would try to take with you? (People, pets and computers not included.)

One thing that is important to me is a handwritten note my late father gave me. I worked on a book for many years about Harry Colebourn and Winnie the Bear. My father was a friend of the late Fred Colebourn, Harry's son, and I was rather nervous about whether my dad would like the story I had written. At the book launch at McNally's, he handed me the note, which said that he had read the book and it was "a most remarkable book." That meant the world to me, so I framed the note and it now has a place in my office. I am thankful that he got to share in the success of "our story," as he called it.

2. What's the one clothing/fashion item you can't live without?

Important clothing items for me are my smart wool socks, which are considered to be the height of fashion here in Wolseley, or at least that is what we tell each other as we visit in our drafty 100-year-old houses.

3. What's your favourite knick-knack and why?

When I received my allowance as a child I would take the bus down Academy Road to the Hobby Horse. I went as often as I could to buy miniature furniture. I collected wooden tables, chairs and cabinets with doors that opened, as well as a fireplace and mantel made of plaster and a bookshelf with little tiny books. (I have all of my toys from childhood in the '60s -- my Chatty Cathy, my Easy-Bake Oven and my troll collection.) Now, like many adults who have children, I have been able to embrace my hobby with the encouragement of my daughter (or is it the other way around?) and there is a room in the attic called Miniatureland. There are houses, forests, a lake and a little log cabin, all fully furnished. Now my old furniture has a home in a neighbourhood.

4. What's the oldest thing you own?

The oldest thing I own is a 22 million-year-old turtle-shell fossil. My friend Marci, in Michigan, gave it to me as a going away present when I moved from Ann Arbor back to Canada in 1989. The carapace (top shell) looks unlike any kind of modern turtle shell that I have seen. I have loved turtles ever since I was a shy small child, and I have come to recognize that their structure is an introvert's dream.

5. Describe your most beloved piece of furniture.

My most beloved piece of furniture is a music stand of my great-grandparents given to me by my great aunt. It is a wooden cabinet with shelves inside for sheet music. I imagine they used it in the latter part of the 1800s. My daughter has been learning to play the flute. I will have to make some space in the cabinet for her sheet music. It is significant to me that the only physical object I have of my ancestors relates to the creation of music.

6. Is there an edible item we'll always find in your pantry or fridge?

Regarding one item always found in my fridge, my friend Dani said "that is a no-brainer." The question is, indeed, easy to answer -- red grapes.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2013 E2

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