Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Milestone 2000 Views

When I was young I was a Girl Guide. I started with Brownies, got my Gold Cord in Guides, and continued on to Sea Rangers. Guiding, or Scouting, is an international organization, and at one point I had penpals from different parts of the world, a Scout in Mexico and another Guide in Germany. We exchanged letters between the three of us, and wore coins from each of our respective countries on a chain.

One of the positive elements of social media is the ease it provides in staying connected with people who live far away. It's unfortunate to have lost those connections because letter writing takes time and effort.

E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest take time, but I still think actual letter writing is more work. I have this quirk, ha ha ha, that I think letters should be long and full of news. I may start a letter and then stumble because I don't have much to say. Then there's the stamp, and going to the post office, more effort than pressing send.

Comments on social media are short and sweet, but that connection is maintained, and stays current.

I've lost those past connections and that is something I regret. Just as I regret losing touch with old friends from my childhood.

My siblings have maintained those friendships through the years, something I've always envied. Did the fact I went away to school make the difference? I think it played a part, but I think it's more I've always been a bit of a loner, a bit reclusive.

To write a blog is a commitment that requires dedication and a lot of creativity. My plan was to write something once a week, on Wednesdays, and I've managed to do that and more. Today I posted my 80th blog since I started last March and jumped right in with the A-Z Blog Challenge in April.

There is one aspect of blogging that I hadn't expected. The fascination with who my readers are, and where they live. I have kept track of all the stats on Blogger, the number of posts, comments, followers and especially the world map of viewer locations.

To date I have had over 2000 views for my 80 blogs, and have been read on all continents and in 34 different countries. That just blows me away.

I can't help but wonder who you are, what is life like in your country? I still love the international aspect of it all.

So this short blog is sent as a thank you to all my viewers. I feel this is a bit of a milestone, 80 posts and 2000 views. It's been an adventure for me, and I appreciate you taking this journey with me.

The End of October

The sun is shining but the air is brisk, a warning of what is to come. Our beautiful fall weather is almost done, for with November comes the rain and cold. The days will be shorter as the time changes and sunset comes earlier and earlier.

I wrote about autumn, in 55 words or less. This is one of the criteria for submitting flash fiction to a monthly story prompt on

It’s a challenge to write a story with one or more characters, a setting, and a conflict, let alone do it in 55 words. As I’ve been known to be wordy, I love this opportunity to use my words, no, more to choose my words carefully and succinctly.

Here are the stories I submitted for October, the theme was autumn.

A Change of Season

It was inevitable that our story would come to an end. It was called a summer romance for a reason.

Across the lake the leaves are a showcase in vibrant shades of red and gold.

Yet, as I walk to the dock; I see leaves turned crisp and brown, leaves that crumble beneath my feet.

An Autumn Affair

“Hi,” the little girl said. “My name is Autumn.”

Could her mother be any more obvious, I thought. “And when were you born?”

I was surprised when she answered July.

“Mommy says I was her fall baby,” she explained. “She sometimes calls me her little ‘Fall from Grace’, but really it’s Autumn Anne

Burning Leaves

Just once, every fall, I love to rake the dried leaves into a pile and light the match to watch it burn. Oh, the smell of burning leaves.

I feel the warmth of the sun, the fire, the brisk autumn air. As I tend the fire I let my imagination run free with possibilities.


Mr. Briggs has formed a community of writers from around the world who meet in this forum to share their work. I look forward each month to the next challenge, and to how my fellow writers interpret that challenge. It makes for an interesting read. Check it out.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Reduce, Reuse. Recycle

A number of years ago I volunteered to dog-sit an aging Black Labrador named Molly.

When we walked about the streets I was given a much different perspective on the goings in the neighbourhood.

What follows is what I wrote at the time.


In almost everything you do and everywhere you go, you are challenged to make things better for the environment; to be Eco-friendly, to make 'green' choices. One particular way of going 'green' is to go 'blue'.

Recycling is a 'blue' thing, and is associated with the use of blue boxes or clear/clear blue garbage bags. The use of transparent bags is so collection crews can quickly see if the contents of the recycling bags are in fact recyclable.

By recycling everything possible you divert a significant amount of waste from landfill sites. In my town, cans, bottles, papers and plastic containers can be mixed together and go loose in clear/clear blue bags or the blue boxes.

When recycling is put out for collection at the end of your driveway it is to be visible and accessible for pickup. This also means it is visible and accessible for neighbourhood viewing. It is amazing what those early morning joggers or dog walkers can learn about you and your lifestyle from that 'blue view'. As I walked my dog one bright summer morning, on garbage day, I learned a lot about my neighbours.

That must have been some party on Saturday night, lots of wine bottles, liquor bottles, pop cans and plastic party cups. I hope the noise didn't wake the baby next door. Cardboard boxes from disposable diapers, baby wipe containers and empty cans of baby formula show there's a baby in the house.

I see we're going to have a new neighbour soon; the sold sign went up last week. They must be sorting and downsizing in preparation for the move. Piles of old magazines are set out, all tied in neat bundles. Oh, oh, Playboy, I didn't think men ever gave up their collection of Playboy magazines. Must have been one of those “I will if you will' situations for there's a stack of Better Home and Garden right beside the Playboys.

Those three teenage boys down the street must be bottomless pits to feed. Pizza boxes, pop and juice containers, large economy size boxes of cereal, and lots of empty milk jugs.

I swear this dog feels honour bound to pee on every tree along our morning route. We've reached the corner and cross over to head for home. I'm doing my bit for the environment too. I've picked up, and am now carrying in a bag, all solid waste my canine friend dropped along the way.

My next door neighbour is elderly and lives alone. There's really little garbage, and next to no recycling at her place. Maybe I'll make extra for dinner tonight and run a plate over to her, check that she's OK and see if she needs anything from the grocery store.

Now my dog and I are home and I look at my recycling and wonder what my neighbours would discern about me. Doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, but loves junk food. Pop bottles, cookie boxes and ice cream containers. You can't see the chocolate bar wrapper I pushed down and out of sight. Good thing I'm walking the dog twice a day to burn off all those calories.

All those pieces of recyclable waste, that are the by-products of our lifestyles, tell a story.

So, do your part, recycle, but hide your secrets down inside of that transparent blue bag. You don't want that 'see-through' bag to be a 'tell-all' bag while it sits on the curb waiting for pickup.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Interpersonal Communication


I have noticed, in the last few years, the increasing number of scenes in movies and television that take place in the men's washroom. When did men standing at a urinal become the new thing? Somehow it just seemed wrong; two men having a conversation standing side by side having a leak.

Wrong, in my female opinion, and yet this trend has given the female viewing audience a glimpse into forbidden territory...that unknown territory that is the men's room.

Years ago, when the television show Ally McBeal introduced the concept of a unisex workplace bathroom, all the rules seemed to change, on television at least. On that show, about a group of young, city lawyers, the unisex bathroom became... almost an extension of the coffee room. They pushed all the boundaries of personal space and privacy; nothing seemed to be off limits in their bathroom. Work affairs, both professional and personal were openly discussed, and experienced in this environment.

Bedroom activity, on screen, was once referred to obliquely but never seen and is now openly referred to and viewed. Going to the bathroom has taken on new importance, but not in the bodily function 'go to the bathroom' kind of way.

Through the last few years there has been a repetition, in television and movies, of particular bathroom scenes, men mistakenly going into the female bathroom, angry women chasing men into the men's room to continue their argument, and most frequently of all, men having conversation in the bathroom.

Does a scene with two male characters talking, while standing at a urinal, add something to the plot? Does it tell the viewer something about these characters, about their relationship? They break all the rules of bathroom etiquette when they stand, side by side, talking face to face. Is this supposed to be an indicator of the depth and trust in their relationship? I don't know, I just know it feels contrived, like the scene was included just for the risqué factor.

Now, the increase in scenes with men fresh from the shower, wrapped in a towel, we know that’s for the risqué factor.

Speaking of going to the bathroom, with all this openness in television and movies today; there is talk, or overt references, about sex, going to the bathroom, or the time of the month, topics once considered the 'unmentionable'.

Maybe this shift has brought about a corresponding shift in interpersonal communications. I have just realized how often people discuss the status quo of their bodily functions in general conversation. A friend recently said to me, “I've been too busy to poop.” I could relate to what she was saying and knew the underlying message. She was busy, had no time for anything but the essentials and especially had no time for herself and, more importantly, no time to take care of herself.

I have also noticed how obsessed older folk can get with their aches and pains and their bodily functions. Perhaps it's due to the fact they have more, or constant pain, have to get up frequently in the night to pee, and feel 'off' if constipated.

When I was younger general conversation might have been about who got laid the night before, or who wasn't getting any. With women at work; the talk eventually gets around to sex.

I take back what I said before...I know why older folk are into bodily functions. You talk about what's familiar, right?



Monday, 21 October 2013

New Word...Gobsmacked


Now there’s a word that sounds just like its meaning.

Gobsmacked adj. Brit, informal utterly taken aback; overwhelmed with astonishment.

I read that word in a book I was reading and just had to look it up, to make sure it was a real word, not something made up.

There are a lot of ‘gob’ words in the dictionary. There’s gob, a shapeless or sticky lump. Which then leads to another British term, gob, meaning to spit.

Quickly moving on, we have gobble, a verb, to make the guttural sound of a male turkey. Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Gobbledygook. I love that word. Also spelled gobbledegook, it means wordy and generally unintelligible jargon. Maybe you’re thinking my blog is a bunch of gobbledegook.

Goblin n a grotesque mischievous elf. With Hallowe’en coming, I guess we’ll be seeing lots of goblins, and ghosts and other creatures of the night.

Gobshite n chiefly Irish, coarse slang a stupid or contemptible person. When I read that word I hear it in my head with a decidedly Irish accent, otherwise it doesn’t work for me.

Okay, one more, gobstopper. A large round hard sweet. That made me think of ‘jawbreaker’, those huge big bubble gums balls that practically break your jaw to bite down on, hence the term. But jawbreaker’s not made listed in my dictionary.



 This is basically how I feel today.

But the coffee's done and I'm going to pour myself a mug and take it out front, to sit and enjoy one of autumn's last days of bright sun, blue skies and bright fall colour.

Have a good day.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Genre Prompt...Western

My writing group had a new photo prompt for October's story prompt. It's titles Haunted House. My genre this time was Western. Now really, does this photo look like the setting for a western?

Stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century American Old West. Depicts society organized around codes of honour and personal, direct or private justice (such as a feud). Often set around the life of a cowboy or gunslinger

 Here's my story. I'll warn you it's long, just over 2100 words.

A Promise to a Dead Man

It was all for naught. The journey he’d undertaken, to keep a promise to a dead man, was all for naught.

Jesse Simpson took a moment and tried to come to terms with what he was seeing; comparing it to the image he held in his mind. He climbed down from the saddle and wrapped the reins over the branch of a grand old oak, dripping with water and moss. This was not what he’d expected when he’d come east in search of March Manor.

It rose; three stories high, eroded and empty. The gray brick and stone faded into the mist of a rainy November morn. The paint was peeling, the balconies sagged, and the once pristine lawns were now a jungle of weeds. It didn’t take long for the bayou to claim the land, he thought, not when the owners had abandoned their stake in it.

Alone in the eerie silence, cloaked in the damp and dew, it was silent but not still, he thought. He swatted the bugs away from his face, and listened to the hum of mosquitoes, the soft sounds of animals moving through the marsh. He’d take the heat, the open spaces of New Mexico over the dank and dreary humidity of Louisiana, any day.

But he’d made a promise to a friend, and was honour bound to keep it. In a strange way, he was glad his friend was dead, oblivious to what had become of his family and his home. Victims all of them, of a war that had turned brother against brother, father against son, and brought wreck and ruin to what had once been a prosperous sugar plantation.

Here he was in the heart of Dixie, and him a Union Sympathiser. He had never been east of the Mississippi before, had never been part of the battles fought on Confederate land. The ravages of battles won and lost had left scars still unhealed.

Jesse wondered what the house had looked like when Theodore March, the younger of the two March brothers, had been in residence. Of course, that was six or seven years ago, at the beginning of the War Against Northern Aggression, as these Southerners liked to call the Civil War.

Theodore March grew up pampered by wealth and luxury. Jesse had a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that his friend Teddy and that man were one and the same.

They had met in a saloon in some hick town in Colorado in 1862. Teddy had been gambling, and had relieved the fresh-off-the-trail cowboys of a great deal of their money and what was left of their goodwill.

Accused of cheating, and out numbered, Teddy had been in serious trouble when Jesse opted in to the fray, to even the odds. He’d watched the game from the bar, watched as the cowboys had drunk themselves into the bad temper that came with losing. Teddy had played smart, stayed sober and had luck on his side, for a time.

The ensuing brawl had caused some damage, to the bar and to them. When the sheriff suggested they leave his town, while the cowboys were temporarily taking up residence in his jail, the two had hit the trail, with no particular purpose or place in mind.

They’d forged a friendship as they rode west, days spent on the trail, nights sitting and talking by the light of a camp fire. They worked ranches, trail drives and took any odd jobs that would get them from one town to the next.

Despite the differences in their background, they had one thing in common, domineering and disapproving fathers. Jesse had grown up working the family farm in wilds of Wisconsin, and suffered the ongoing wrath of his father’s heavy hand. At sixteen he’d had enough, and was big enough to fight back. He left and never returned.

Theodore and his father had reached a moral impasse that had been brewing for years. He objected to his father’s treatment of the slaves on the plantation and his use of money and power to influence and control. His brother was his father’s shadow. He surpassed his father’s inhumane treatment of the plantation workers, excusing his behaviour as just the randy antics of youth.

The war had been imminent and his father was politically and morally aligned with the South. He expected his sons to join the cause and was willing to buy them rank in the Confederate Army. Theodore had refused, and his father had responded with an ultimatum, agree to his terms, or get out. So he’d packed a bag and travelled north on a Mississippi riverboat, ultimately making his way to a Colorado card game.
Jesse walked along a broken path to what was left of a set of stairs, and hesitated. He didn’t need to enter the house, there was no one left to hear his message. His debt was paid with the journey, yet he felt his obligation had not been met.

The sounds of the marsh faded away and he thought he could hear music, the tune striking some memory in the back of his mind. Where was it coming from? He looked about, but saw nothing.

He wasn’t a fanciful man, but at that moment, when the air blew cold across the back of his neck and a chill ran up his back, he had to wonder if the house was haunted. He gave a rueful laugh, caught up in the ghostly spell of a misty morning, he decided.

Tall, dressed in a black suit, wearing his best hand tooled leather boots and black Stetson; he looked and felt out of place. He was a man used to being in control, but at that moment he felt uneasy and unsure. In an unconscious gesture of reassurance, he touched the gun he wore about his waist, a gun it was his habit to wear.

He’d made this trek east for his friend, to deliver his dying words to the father and brother. Teddy may have thought he’d left Theodore long behind but truth be told, he’d missed having family, missed the lazy days on the bayou. He may not have wanted to be part of their fight, but he’d been restless these last few years, wondering and not knowing how March Manor had survived the war.

They had challenged Lady Luck too many times and won, until that fated day their luck ran out. As they crossed the Rockies from Los Alamos to Santa Fe they were caught in a sudden snow storm. Teddy’s horse had shied and skidded on the loose rock, falling with Teddy’s leg trapped beneath.

Jesse had done the best he could, and considered it a job well done that Teddy survived the ordeal, let alone kept the leg. They had finally put down roots; albeit reluctantly. A vagabond life was not suited to a man with difficulty walking and in constant pain.

Teddy had dusted off his law degree and opened a store front office in Santa Fe while Jesse signed on with The United States Marshall Service.
Pride was a deadly sin for a reason, Jesse thought. Teddy might have thought about going home, but then dismissed it completely. He would not go home a cripple.
Lost in the memories of his friend, Jesse was startled when he heard the music again, this time he recognized the sad and mournful notes, remembered Teddy singing them when he rode the trail.

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

Jesse carefully made his way past the house and was not surprised when he came upon the family cemetery. Surrounded by a metal fence, almost covered in vines, he found the gate and stepped into the deeper shadows of raised tombs. He’d never seen anything like it, more used to headstones, or a plain wooden cross.

The crypt he sought was ornate, with fancy grillwork and a statue of an angel on top. He remembered Teddy telling him the crypt had been commissioned after the death of his mother. The old man would have been buried alongside his wife, as that was the custom here. The water ran high and close; and the marsh gave back in times of flooding, any bodies that were buried underground.

The family that lived together, he thought, together for perpetuity in their stone house of death. He found their names carved in the stone pillar, and ran his fingers over the marker worn smooth by the elements.

William March, Teddy’s brother, born in 1837 and died in 1863 at the Battle of Vicksburg.
“Well, old man,” Jesse said, “Your son fought for the Confederates like you wanted, and lost. In the end, you all lost. Did he make you proud, dying a soldier’s death?”

Jesse thought about the great Mississippi River. Teddy had taken a steamboat on the river to get away, and William had taken it north to die. Did the father think of that when he looked at those muddy waters?

The father had died a year after the war had come to an end. It had been bad times, being on the losing side of the battle. Slaves were granted freeman status, and suddenly the old man had lost his workers, and what was left of the land the new regime had whittled away to nothing.

Reaching in the pocket of his jacket, Jesse withdrew the letter he’d carried with him for months. Teddy had written it on his deathbed, literally with his dying breath. For what? Hoping for some peace, and wanting, no, needing that father’s approval?

“You thought him a coward and cast him out. But you were wrong. He was one of the bravest men I ever knew.” Jesse crumpled the letter in his fist and turned to look at the house, shrouded still in the mist and rain.

“He believed in the rights of all men, didn’t dismiss them, or mistreat them because of their colour or station in life. He had a code he lived by that never wavered.”

Jesse took the letter and shoved it through a slit between the pillar and the door, and stepped back. He removed his hat and stood, turning it around in his hands, restless to be done and on his way.

“I was in Taos, sent to the aid of a sheriff beset by a gang running wild in his town. The troublemakers decided to rob the bank, wanted to ride out with their pockets full, I’d guess. The sheriff and I stepped in to stop it. When all was said and done there were three shot, the sheriff, an innocent bystander, and one of the gang members. And there were two dead, brothers as it happened.

“I returned to Santa Fe, and that trouble followed me. Turned out there were three brothers in that miserable family; and the third was hell bent on making me pay for killing his kin.” Jesse let his gaze wander, the image of that last fight etched forever in his memory.

“They would have had their revenge that day, if it weren’t for Teddy. They called me out, the brother and two of his friends, and I figured I was done for sure. Then that son you considered a coward limped his way out to stand with me in the street. He was better with words than he was a gun, but no way would he let me face that fight alone.

“I killed that third brother, and one of the men standing with him, Teddy shot the other. But they got Teddy, gut shot so he didn’t die right away. He lingered long enough that with his dying breath all he wanted was to make peace with the family.”

Jesse shook the rain off his hat before putting it on. “Goodbye old friend.”

He rode back to town, turned the horse in to the livery. He knew what needed to be done now and walked back toward the hotel.

Jesse couldn’t bring Teddy’s body home for burial in the family crypt, but he could bring him back to the family fold…by having Teddy’s name and place of death engraved on that stone pillar, along side those of his parents and brother.

There was no one left to object, or care, he thought. No one but him. He’d do right by the man who had stood at his side and died in a fight that wasn’t his own.

And when it was done, he’d return to the place he called home, grieve for his friend, and get on with his life, his debt paid.
As he walked the streets the words of the song that Teddy had sung so often ran through his mind like a litany. “Swing low, sweet chariot coming for to bringing me home.”

Monday, 14 October 2013

Foibles and Quirks

Don’t you just love how some words sound?

Foibles, for example. When you read the meaning, the word sounds exactly right.

Foible: n a minor weakness or shortcoming in personal character or behaviour; a quirk.

Quirk, another word that sounds like its meaning.

Quirk n an odd or peculiar trait; an idiosyncrasy

Where a dictionary gives you the meaning of words, a thesaurus gives you synonyms, or words with a similar meaning. Isn’t it interesting that when you look up foible or quirk in the thesaurus, you get peculiarity.

Peculiarity n a distinguishing characteristic.

I remember one night when my daughter called and asked what I was doing. I answered truthfully, I was reading the dictionary. Though I couldn’t see her, I knew she was shaking her head, thinking that was a quirk of mine.

When I write I keep a dictionary and a thesaurus close at hand. I prefer looking the words up myself rather than using the options available on the computer. The risk is I get side tracked with some interesting words and their meanings.

Back to foibles and quirks. I’m reading the meanings, and much as the dictionary links the meanings of these words there is a difference. Would I rather be quirky and thought odd, or to have foibles and be thought to have a weakness in character.

I think I’d rather be thought of as quirky, though at my age, eccentric would more likely be the word used. Wait a minute, maybe I should look up eccentric first.

Eccentric n deviating from established convention; odd.

I have a quirk; it has to do with shoe stores. I hate going into shoe stores and much prefer buying my shoes in a department store. Why? I don’t know. I think it has to do with the inability to just go in, grab my size and try it on without having to sit and go through the whole process one shoe at a time with a hovering sales clerk.

I also hate beauty salons, but I think that comes from being forced to look at myself in a mirror the whole time. Prolonged exposure to the mirror and all flaws are revealed.

I have a friend whose quirk is reading the last few pages of a book before she reads from the beginning. That one gets me, why spoil the suspense. That’s why you reread a book, so the second time you don’t have to rush through it to see what happens.

I just finished reading Nora Roberts book Angels Fall.

The main character is a young woman named Reese who is travelling alone across the U.S. She was the sole survivor in a spree killing that left twelve people dead, those people her closest friends and family.

That is a scenario that would leave anyone with some quirks, for sure. In Reese’s case it was a tendency toward OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) where her safety was concerned. Her new habits involved things like leaving the lights on and triple checking the doors were locked when she left her place, and at night.

She had some other peculiarities that some people might find hard to accept, or annoying to put up with. In true Nora Roberts’ style the man she meets is very supportive, and handles the whole situation with humour, acceptance and understanding. A truly fictional situation I’m afraid.

I’m sure we all have friends or family with some foibles or quirks, some are just easier to live with than others. But who wants to be perfect?

I’d rather have quirks, it makes life more interesting. But foibles is so much more fun to say.



Friday, 11 October 2013

Nearing NaNoWriMo

Wenesday, I spent the afternoon with my writing group, sitting on a patio in the warm October sun, with bright blue skies overhead, and a sometimes brisk breeze tossing the leaves all about. The resident black squirrel came for his usual treat of peanuts, as did the blue jays, and we were entertained by their antics. Even a small chipmunk stopped by for a visit.

Conversation centred on NaNoWriMo, that's National Novel Writing Month. It's an annual, world wide challenge for writers to complete a novel, minimum of 50,000 words, in the 30 days of November.

We all completed the challenge for 2012, on the first try for three of us. We laughed and joked about monitoring each other's progress on the NaNo website. You enter your word count and it keeps a running total, and informs you how many words you need to write daily, from that point on, to reach the required number of words by the end of the month. There are chat rooms, forums, and so many fun things to encourage and support the writers.

Create Space offered free paperback copies of any completed novels, and kindly gave each writer until June to prepare a cover and complete the edits on their book. Believe me, writing more than 1500 words a day does not allow much time to edit as you go. It's called a rough draft for a reason.

With all that I had going on last spring I didn't get the edits completed in time, and I'm sorry to say, could not take advantage of this opportunity. I had really wanted to see what my book looked like in print.

Only one of us completed the necessary work, and I'm green with envy. She has a book, with a beautiful cover, her name displayed across the bottom, and the printed pages bound neatly together, tangible evidence of her hard work and creativity. It's (ha ha) a novel experience for most of us.

Only one other writer in the group has had this experience, and I'm sure she'd agree the thrill never goes away.

If I can complete the challenge this year I won't miss out on this offer again.

The rules for the challenge are simple, you can't start to write until November 1st, but you can do research, outlines, characterizations, whatever is your planning style, prior to that date. Knowing that the first day to write is only weeks away we have all been thinking about this year's story. We shared our storylines and enjoyed a lively discussion.

Writers can't help but give feedback. Give them a story idea and their imaginations take flight. It's amazing the number of different perspectives you gain from such a discussion.

I have always found that when I verbalize an idea it changes as I speak, becoming more structured, more workable. Sometimes I just need to stop it swirling about in my mind, like that cartoon characterization of the man with the birds flying in circles over his head. Now that I think about it, that cartoon depicts someone who's a little crazy, oh well, it still applies. LOL.

I have a couple of nonwriter friends who patiently listen to my ramblings as I work out a story line or a problem with a plot. I trap them in a restaurant under the guise of a friendly dinner out.

Last year, in September, I started a book that was a challenge for me. I wanted to try something new and decided on fantasy, inspired by the fantasy writer in our group. About 10,000 words in, I had a female character who had inadvertently been given the power to change time, and was in danger from those who wanted to deprive her of the key to do so.

I had been so enthusiastic I started writing without my usual prep work and found myself stumped, as I hadn't really thought it all out. So I went to dinner with a friend and gave her a quick overview of what I had written thus far. I'll admit it was probably not as short and swift as she might have liked.

She peltered me with one question after another, and I could barely keep up. It was apparent I had written myself, or my heroine, into a run for her life and had no idea how I was going to save her. All those questions, from a reader's perspective was just what I needed to get me back on track. I went home and wrote the prologue, the story of how this magical key, that allowed one to shift time, had passed from ancient to modern times. It gave the background for what was to follow.

Unfortunately, that book was set aside and still sits in that dusty drawer of unfinished work. To be honest it's on a flashdrive, but that doesn't give as clear a picture of abandonment. I set that book aside to start my NaNo novel, and learned not to start a new project so close to November.

One day I'll pull it out and rescue that poor girl.

So, back to yesterday, I got feedback on my new storyline, started my story binder and added all the notes from our discussion. I still have a lot of work to do before I start writing, especially some research, but that's okay, I have twenty more days to get it organized.

And FYI, if you read Wednesday's blog, the spider was there on the wall when I went out, and gone when I got home. Amazing how uncomfortable I was with that small bug taking up residence over my bed. I'm relieved it's gone, though I did shake out the linens and pillows on the bed before retiring.

"Itsy bitsy spider went........"?  

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Spider on the Wall

Oh, to be the spider on the wall. I know, you’re thinking it’s a fly on the wall. That’s if you’re talking about being able to see and hear what’s going on in a place you wouldn’t normally be able to see and hear.

I’m talking the eight legged, scream when you see it, shrieking ‘kill it, kill it’ kind of spider.

I’ve been on my own for a number of years, without a spider slayer to come to my rescue, and have managed fairly well.

There’s the rolled up magazine swat, the toe stomp, and my usual, the squish it with a tissue or wad of toilet paper. The problem with squeezing the spider in the tissue is the possibility the spider has not been killed, but is lurking in a fold of tissue, just waiting for you to release your death grip. So, you have to check, right?

Once there’s been verification that the spider is contained I dispose of it with a quick flush down the toilet. No sense in taking any chances.

At the other apartment they used to spray the windows and doors every spring and fall, not that I thought it did much good. The worst spot for spiders there was my car’s rear view mirror. For those of us who were not out on a daily basis there was usually a web reaching from mirror to door that had to be removed.

It was a standard joke that one day we’d come out to see spider webs entirely covering our vehicles. There was a danger in these spiders, the ones that took up residence behind my rear view. Last year I thought I’d disposed of the strands of the web and was driving along with my window down when the biggest spider came out from behind the mirror.

I’d never seen a spider in the mirror before; obviously wrong in my thinking they spun at night and went somewhere else to sleep during the day. I almost had a car accident I was so surprised. It is not recommended that you try to evict a spider while driving.

Needless to say while shopping I bought some bug spray and gave the spider a warning that he should find another home.

Maybe it’s the dampness of living by the lake, maybe it’s the season, the rain and drop in temperature, I don’t know, but they are in abundance.

Back to the spider on the wall. I’m in bed reading the other night and I see this black spot on the wall, right up against the ceiling. It wasn’t moving but I knew it was a spider. I couldn’t do a quick kill as it was too high, and of my reach. With my recent back problems there’s no way I could move the bed or climb on to it to stand.

So, I kept on reading, and kept a wary eye out for any movement on his part. In the back of my mind I was hoping he’d move along and down the wall so I could kill him more easily. Typical, I got no cooperation.

I have one of those fuzzy long handled dusting things and considered using it, but I’d tried that once before and the soft texture traps, but doesn’t kill. Maybe the broom, but again with the soft bristles and then there’s the risk of knocking the spider off the wall and into the bed.

It’s been two days, and it hasn’t moved. I’ve kept my eye on it and have had a bit of restless sleep. What to do, what to do?

I have these thoughts that it’s up there dead, why else has it not moved. So I should be able to get it with the broom.

My other thought is it’s not a boy spider but a gestating female. Has she got a brood of babies in there, ready to be born? I fear I’ll look up and see my wall covered with spiders looking for a new home. Any decent mother would have her babies in a protected place I’d think, and as there’s no nest and no web, I’m hoping for the dead male spider scenario.
Maybe I’ll do some research about spiders. I’ll definitely look up that pin I found on Pinterest, about how to get rid of spiders. I think I pinned it to my board with other household tips.

He still hasn’t moved. I have to go out tomorrow, and with any luck he’ll be gone when I get back. Oops, that raises the question of where did he go?

My son said he was going to drop by before work one day, so guess what kiddo? You’re the newly appointed Spider Slayer.
Sons like to feel their Moms need them, so it’s a fair trade.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Autumn Splendor

I have always loved the fall season.

It's a time of beginning in many ways, even though it's the end of summer and will lead us toward the end of yet another year.

I love the crisp cool air, the smell of burning leaves and the splendid colour of the trees.

Another thing I've always loved about fall was the start up of groups and classes. The lazy days of summer are over and it's time to get back to other interests, things to do to fill the long winter nights to come.

In the complex where I live there's a knitting, a yoga, and a card group. I used to be more of a joiner, maybe it was because I needed the break from housework, the kids and work. Classes were an opportunity for female bonding and some socialization. It didn't matter if it was knitting, an exercise group or ceramics, I've done then all. It was a chance to be me, not the wife, not the mother, not the nurse, just me.

Those roles are behind me now, except for the mother, that stays with you forever, and gets better when it becomes grandmother.

I now get a lot of my learning and things to do from the internet, and have more projects on my 'want to do list' than I will ever find the time or energy to complete.

Autumn brings us Thanksgiving, which in Canada is next Monday. Early in the season compared to the American holiday, and I like that there's a break between these feasts of turkey with all the trimmings.

Fall brings an end to the growing season, particularly apples and the pumpkins grown for Hallowe'en.
The Farmer's Markets are resplendent with the last of fall's bounty, and all those apple and pumpkin pies, need I say more.

Fall is the time for that last hurrah at the cottage.

A chance to bundle up, sit on the dock with a cup of coffee and enjoy the beauty of an October sun as it sets over the lake.

A last bonfire, roasting marshmallows.

Raking leaves.

Officially closing the doors on another summer.

For those without a cottage there are studio tours, Fall Fairs and Festivals to celebrate the harvest.

I like to take a day and drive north, driving the back roads to take pictures of the countryside, stopping at some of the village shops before they close for the off season.

It's that final breath of air before the wind and rain, the damp cold of November drives us inside to prepare for winter.


 Happy Anniversary John and Yvonne