Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

So, another year comes to an end. I’m glad I didn’t make a big list of New Year’s resolutions for 2014, for I would be doomed to failure. My list is a mental exercise, at any rate. Maybe this year will be different, and yet, I have to say that I have had some successes this past year.
I finished the book I titled “Where the Forest Meets the Corn”, that I started to write last January, 1st draft at least. I have four other books available for Kindle on Amazon and made some sales, and had a good response to the free book give-away that also garnered more sales.

I started a second blog, Scattered Thoughts and Stumbles, where I feel I can talk about my MS and the challenges faced with having such a disease and an increasing disability. It was the outlet I needed to be able to keep writing, both fiction and this blog. It allowed me to write the kind of blog I originally funny and often quirky outlook on life and the world around me.

Creative Works

Not so good here, unless you consider crochet as a work of art. I’ve crocheted up a storm, especially for Christmas. Stockings and slippers for everyone, a couple of sweaters, lots of hats and mittens. I already have my notes made for next year; it’s never too early to start.

I miss my art table, as that one spot where I could leave art work in progress. I have one small table, and since I moved, it has become a collect-all space. I don’t think in the year and a half I’ve been here that it’s ever been clear.

I did start a painting, but as I worked on it at the kitchen counter, where I had access to the sink and could sit on my stool, it got set aside so I could use the kitchen for what it was intended. Hey, a girl’s got to eat.

I now have a new idea for some art and am in the mulling stage. I have some notes made but the rest is thinking and planning. The juried art show at the local art gallery is in early February, so no excuses for missing the deadline. I have entered this same show, not every year, but many times, since 1987. I can say with pride, that if I entered, I never missed a show. Entry is limited to four pieces and I have always had at least one piece accepted. We’ll see what happens this year.

I did paint a pair of Minion shoes for my brother, size thirteen, and saw him actually wear them when we met for lunch. Granted that was in a town far removed from where he lives. Maybe they don’t get worn very often, ( it’s so difficult to find a coordinating outfit) but painting them, and seeing the surprised expression on his face made it worth all the effort.

As the New Year approaches I can look back at the year with good feelings. My daughter is engaged to a wonderful man, and my son and daughter-in-law eloped and made their 10+ year relationship a more official one. So, I can say that seeing my kids this happy has made it a banner year.

Whether it’s the change in my health status, or the fact that I am more content, more accepting, the kids have been even more supportive and we’ve reached a new level of understanding. This might be interpreted as my learning to ask for and accept help.

I see nothing but good things for the coming year, and wish the same for all of you. When the clock strikes twelve, take a sip of your drink and consider it a toast from me.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas...Happy Holidays

It doesn’t feel like Christmas because the celebration with my family was held last Saturday. It doesn’t look much like Christmas either.

There was no white Christmas this year, except for the old Bing Crosby movie, which is a must watch tradition in my house every year. Originally filmed in black and white, the colourized version is very bright and the music a delight.

I was looking out my window earlier and saw the neighbour’s place lit up by the rays of the sun, the skies momentarily more blue than grey. There must have been a break in the cloud cover to let a bit of sunshine through; otherwise it’s been dull and dreary, the wind blowing hard and fierce.

I can see the tall tree across the way swaying, its bare branches in constant motion, and I remember last year around this time when we had the snow and ice storm. The tree that dropped all those limbs and branches on my roof during those stormy nights was cut down in the summer; otherwise I’m sure I would have been treated to another scary night.

It’s been a quiet day. I’ve talked to the kids and sent and received messages to everyone through social media. Tonight I’m having lasagna, compliments of my daughter. Later, I’ll sit back, put my feet up and enjoy some of my home made Irish Cream as I open the book I bought for my Christmas read. That’s another of my personal traditions, to have something new from one of my favourite authors as my final treat of the day.

Traditions, whether personal or family, are important. I started a new one with my family, inspired by my daughter’s in-laws, the gag gift. My granddaughter and I found a musical toy, a man sitting in an outhouse singing and...well...making fart noises. Sounds crass to some maybe, but it was cute and made us laugh, especially after all the kids’ talk of camping in the wild this summer where there were no bathrooms, let alone any outhouses.

So the recipient of the first family gag gift was my son. I plan to do a gag gift for one family member every year, and hope to select the person and the gift based on events that might occur throughout the months ahead.

Another year is coming to a close. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season filled with an abundance of love and laughter. Here’s wishing you all best life has to offer in the New Year.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to everyone. 

And especially to my wonderful family.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Holidays, Difficult Times

Divorce is always difficult, but never more so than at Christmas time. Kids are often caught in the middle of family needs and demands, contrary to the general mood of the season. The only other event that compares is a wedding.

When I was younger, and divorced, I worked in a profession (nursing) that requires staff to work 24/7, weekends and holidays. I worked Christmas and let my kids have their holiday with their Dad, paternal grandparents and the extended family. That had been the norm before the divorce, why should it change after?

I held the belief that Christmas was more than that one day. It is called the holiday season for a reason. The kids and I spent the entire month celebrating. We had a party to decorate the tree; we had breakfast with Santa at the mall, and partied at the library. Even shopping trips were fun, looking at the stores all lit up and sparkling, Santa’s village and of course, the music.

And yet one person’s actions can spoil things, and it’s a shame. As I liked to make everything a party, the wrapping of gifts was no exception. I had taken the kids shopping for gifts for their Dad and his new wife. I remember sitting at the dining room table doing a marathon of wrapping, everyone taking part. Who would have thought that a gift tag in my hand writing would cause such trouble? The kids had picked out the gift, wrapped it, and I did the tag, not thinking it would be upsetting to wife #2. It didn’t seem to bother her that I paid for said present...but now who’s being small minded? Consider my hand slapped. 

I just think we need to be careful what we do and what we say, as everyone’s feelings are close to the surface, for Christmas is a demanding and emotional holiday. Last year my kids made a very adult decision, and I think they were very smart. They decided that our family would celebrate early, not on the actual day or eve day. That left them free to make plans of their own, without feeling guilty or being pulled in quite as many directions.

So we met for our celebration on Saturday and had a great time. Good food, lots of gifts, and we even made our selves a batch of homemade Irish Cream.

I began a new family tradition. I am going to give one member of the family a joke gift every year. No one will know who it’s going to be. I picked my son for this debut year. When I am gone, or unable to complete this tradition, I hope they will keep it going.

Traditions are important, but they aren’t written in stone. When the dynamics of the family change because of circumstances beyond our control, we need to be flexible and learn to adapt.

Isn’t that what this Christmas spirit is all about?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

My Creative Christmas

I have always made presents for people, especially at Christmas. Those gifts depicted whatever craft I was into at the time. There was my macramé year, then pottery and ceramics, to name a few.

Sometimes I’ve done art work, but always there has been some element of knot or crochet. A few years ago I was ambitious enough to try for a sweater for every family member, but I’m beyond attempting that now.

Last year I made a hat, or a hat/scarf or hat/mitts, for everyone. The family picture was taken with each person wearing their hat. This year I went for slippers.

It’s my daughter’s fault for sending me a photo from Pinterest of a pair of slipper boots. I decided to make everyone a pair, and duplicate our hat picture only with slippers. Now, I’d already made 11 Christmas stockings, so slippers, no problem.

I tried the pattern that my daughter sent, and it was awful. I tried it so many times, making alterations, changing yarn, changing hooks. Still awful. I completed one pair to show her, and a second pair in the smallest size, just in case. Count...2.

Then I went in search of other patterns, because I was not going to be swayed from my plan.
I found a pattern that looks like an Ugh boot, and they were better, but the sizing was limited and for some, the slippers would have been too big, and just sloppy. But that did account for 4 more pairs to add to my stash. Count...6.

One problem was finding a pattern for small kids, but bigger than toddler size. I found one pattern which was easily adapted for size, and now I had seven in total. I tried another pattern with very little shaping, made a few and rejected them all, but they added to my total. Count...10.

Thank goodness I finally found the perfect pattern. I made seven more pairs, all I needed was eleven, but the count was now 17. The last pattern I found was the best and the most easily adapted. I had extras, as you can see, and took them all with me to our gathering.

Everyone who got a pair made with the last pattern, loved them, except my grandson because red is his favourite colour and he wanted the original Ugh type pair I’d made for him (in red), which I’d discarded as I thought they’d be too big. So, he got 2 pairs.

Somehow, my daughter kept the original pair, and they will most likely find their way to a bag of donated clothes. I had made two different patterns in the same grey and pink variegated, and one granddaughter grabbed another pair for herself. Someone else must have grabbed another pair because I only came home with 2 pairs.

I got my picture of the family, with all their warm and cozy feet. I’m already thinking ahead to a theme for next year. Let the family be warned.

Cats in Art

Although I have not done any painting for the last year or so, other than an effort in the summer that ended up in the cupboard, unfinished, I still love to see what other people are doing. My style is abstract or mixed media collage and I so envy those artists who paint with some realism and a touch of whimsy.

I found these paintings that 
include two things I love, 
cats and quotes by an artist named Debby Faulkner-Stevens 
and thought I’d share.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Velma, Up to her Old Tricks?

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that after a series of car issues last year I decided to name my car Velma, in the hopes that it would strengthen our relationship and restore the trust lost in the events of last winter.

Things have been good, knock on wood. When my car got keyed in the fall I had Velma repaired and even got some of her age spots (rust) taken care of. We have been in a good place, as far as car-human relationships go, until today.

I ran an errand this afternoon and when I was in the car, ready to return home, I noticed a dash light remained on. I continued to drive, and worried the whole way that the car would quit and leave me stranded, (like last year).
The light was ABS, and I had no idea what that might mean. At home I shut off the engine and pulled out the manual. ABS stands for Anti-lock braking system. OK.

The book had a lot to say, but none of it explained what it meant when the light stays on. Apparently it is normal for the light to come on when you start the engine, and should go off almost immediately. But what if it stayed on? Nothing, nada, no info.

I started the engine again, just to see what happened, and voila, the light turned off.

I think Velma might have her holidays mixed up. Maybe she thinks its Halloween, time for some trickery. On the other hand, Velma might be well aware it’s the holiday season, and she’s just being a bit naughty, instead of nice.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Women Pumping...Gas

As independent as women get, there is one thing we hate to do, and that’s pump gas. I held out for the longest time, fueling up at the only station that had an attendant, but that was many years ago.

I was going out on Monday, an out of town trip and needed to top up my tank before I went. I had that internal debate, could I make it there and back or should I fill the tank and not risk it?

I filled up the tank, but it was not without a potential problem. We’re so used to the high price of gas I used to know in dollars, how much money it would take for ¼ or ½ tank. So here I was, just over a half tank and the cost of gas way down, I was confused as to how much gas I might need.

Shouldn’t be a problem, right? The gas pump shuts off if the tank is full, or at least it’s supposed to. I don’t like to be in that situation, fear it won’t shut off and I’ll spill all over the place. Maybe it’s a female thing.

I have a friend who makes a real production of filling her gas tank. First, she dons a pair of black gloves for the purpose, and then she gets out her book, writes down the cost of gas, the number of litres and her mileage. Once that is done she has to reset the gauges in the car. The one that tells her how many kilometres she can go on what gas is in the tank. All this seems like such a fuss and bother, but this woman used to drive to Arizona every winter, alone, and had her route planned out for overnight stays and gas fill-ups. I guess old habits die hard.

I have another friend, a married friend, who has never, and I shake my head even as I write this, never pumped her own gas. Her husband always takes care of it for her. I do get it, if I had someone to do it for me I’d take advantage. Hey, I did. One day my son was with me, in my car, and he asked if I needed anything, and I answered gas. He filled the tank up for me and I much appreciated being relieved of that chore.

There are just some chores we hate to do no matter how independent we might be, and pumping gas seems to be one of them.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The End, 1st Draft at Least

A year ago, in November, my son and his wife were out hunting, and if you know anything about hunting, it involves a lot of sitting out in the woods, and waiting.

These young people were positioned where a small wooded area served to separate fields of corn. While they waited, they talked, and came up with a title for a book, and texted it to me from their position out in the field. It was “Where the Forest Meets the Corn.”

I had an idea for the story and let it brew for the rest of November and December, and began to write the book this past January. I started with little plot or plan, something that is not my usual style, which may account for why it was such a struggle at times.

At any rate, today I finished the story of Detective Gage Donovan and his serial murder case. Its 320 pages long double spaced and 76,643 words in total. Now I will set it aside until well after the holidays. Set it aside for me, but give it to a select few to read, for feedback.

Once I have the comments from my readers, I’ll begin the editing process, which often proves a harder task than the original writing.

I’m done, and how nice to be able to set it all aside for the holidays. I poured myself a glass of wine to celebrate, and had a few crackers with a spinach dip I bought yesterday. See, I must have known I would finish it today.

But no good deed goes unpunished; I’m having an allergic response to either the crackers or the dip. My skin is itchy, with some red areas, and I can feel the tightness around my eyes. Damn and I was having such a feel-good, self congratulatory moment.

I think I’m going to have to go back to my old standby...chocolate. Bailey’s, some hot cocoa and some Lindt’s chocolate. Works for me.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Stockings

Years ago, seven years to be exact, I made everyone in the family a Christmas stocking. For my daughter’s family they were rag quilted, with button and bead trim. For my son’s family they were brown camo fleece with a cream coloured crocheted band on the top. There was a matching beaded trim, with each person’s name in alphabet beads.

I thought it was a nice gesture, and they appreciated it until they each did something to ruin it. They each had another child, one boy and one girl, now six years old. I didn’t have the fabric to make another, so the idea of coordinating stockings was lost.

I decided to make new stockings this year and found a great crocheted pattern and have completed 11 of these stockings, five for my son’s gang and six for my daughter’s. Every person in their respective family unit has a different colour.

My son has sage green, medium blue, navy blue, dusty rose and pale purple. My daughter got hunter green, dark purple, turquoise, red, dusty rose and pale purple. What can I say? The girls in our family are very into pink and purple, so I had to repeat.

I found great tags at Michaels Craft Store, made out of canvas, tea stained and with a grommet. So every stocking has the person’s name on it. It was a lot of work but worth it as this year has been a year of change for my family. My son and daughter-in-law eloped, making their 11 year relationship official, and my single Mom daughter got engaged.

No matter how you look at it, Christmas this year is full of happiness and joy.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Blue Whale Wine

I’m not much of a drinker, though I do like a cold beer on a hot summer day, or some Irish Cream in hot chocolate before bed on a cold winter’s night. I was in the Liquor Store recently, my once a year trip for the holidays.

This trip I bought some whiskey for my homemade Kahlua and Irish Cream. I only make it once a year. I also bought a bottle of strawberry flavoured white Zinfandel, and sat down tonight to have a glass before dinner.

Part of having a drink at home, alone, is presentation. A nice wine glass is part of that. I know I kept some wine glasses when I moved, and think they are in the cupboard over the refrigerator.

My mood is much improved over earlier this week. A pleasant dinner out, some conversation, made all the difference. Today I went out with another friend, to a craft show in the village north of town, and then had a brunch/lunch at Wimpey’s restaurant.

The afternoon, when I got home; was spent crocheting, and tonight I enjoyed a glass of wine before a late dinner. I was too lazy to clear off the fridge, and my regular glasses are more geared to the grandchildren than to sipping wine.

I decided presentation doesn’t really matter. I’m sipping my wine from a small plastic glass, decorated with a blue whale, and it tastes just as good.

If the kids read this and are still looking for gift ideas for goes. I’d like just one of those stemless wine glasses, much easier to handle and set on the table. Also wouldn’t mind one tall glass, made of glass, for when I want to feel something more special. I drink out of one of those plastic glasses with the screw on lids and hole for a straw. Ok for water and some drinks, but sometimes you just want to feel...fancier. Nothing too fancy, guys, dollar store glass is just fine.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

More Word Search...What's in Your Purse?

I like to do word search and with this latest book there are more than a hundred puzzles, each with a different theme. I’ve been amazed at some of the topics. This one caught my eye, twenty four items that could be kept in a woman’s purse. I had to check the list; I got 10 out of 24.

Some of the items were obvious, like wallet, money, keys, notebook and pen, and of course credit cards. Those were 6 of my 10 items. The others were bandaids, gum, receipts and tissues. I am so boring, and so predictable.

Though the list contains some modern things, it is also outdated. It lists both cell phone and I-pod of which I have neither. It also listed cheque book, something I stopped carrying when I began using debit. Cheques are almost a thing of the past, except for things like rent, and to write VOID on for electronic bill paying.

For working women, the next two items might commonly be found in their purses, an address book and business cards. For the woman who cares about her appearance there was the following, makeup bag, mirror, hairbrush, and lipstick. I don’t wear makeup anymore so I’m more of a chapstick kind of girl, and I keep it in my coat pocket, not my purse.

Some of these items are no longer in vogue, since one can’t smoke in public buildings and have to venture outside, I imagine there are fewer smokers, and so fewer women carrying a lighter in their purse. Same goes for perfume, as so many buildings are scent free.

The last grouping of items includes hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and snacks. I had a friend who carried a hand sanitizer and used it frequently. And then there was my grandmother who was hypoglycemic and always carried nuts in her purse in case she felt her blood sugar drop.

The only reason I carry bandaids is that I was given this gadget, one of those promotional items, that stores bandaids on one side and pills on the other. My container is full of Advil, for my chronic pain, so I need to have some available when I’m out.

It was an interesting puzzle and made me think. I just bought a beautiful brown leather bag, that still sits on the chair, with all its tags, so if nothing else, this will give me the inspiration to finally change the contents over, from old to new. Maybe I should find something interesting to add to my purse, and to the list.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Word Search...Odd Fashion Items

I like to do word search puzzles, and find it interesting, all the topics they find to create a puzzle with a theme. Today it was Odd Fashion Items.

A couple were old fashioned as well. The hoop skirt like from the Gone With the Wind era, or spats which I think are from the roaring twenties. Then there was the girdle, something young women today know nothing about. When girdles were in style, so to speak, women did not have butts that jiggled and shook. Panties were also on the list, something else that seems to be out of style, leading to more jiggling and shaking. I don’t get the thong or no underwear thing, but then I’m old and old fashioned.

Hot Pants. I remember hot pants were big in the seventies. My sister-in-law, whom I love dearly, wore them the first time I met her, and I hated her on sight. She had that ‘thing’ some women always look so well put together and make it look effortless. That day it was a navy hot pant suit, navy hose, tight light blue turtleneck. She wore a fur coat and over the knee white boots. Of course I hated her, he looked like he was in love and she if she wasn’t careful she could break his heart. Lucky for him, she didn’t, and they’ve been married for 38 years. Funny, how clearly I can remember that day. First impressions, eh?

Back to the list. There are a couple of male fashion items listed, chaps...having a moment here, ok done...and cummerbunds. How many guys remember being groomsmen and wearing a tux with a cummerbund colour coordinated to the dresses in the wedding party? But it looked so good in the pictures. LOL

How many of you know or remember these? Rompers, muffs, bandeaus, or skorts?

Dickies were on the list, not so odd I’m thinking. Maybe that’s because I just made one for my son. The old style dickie was a fake turtleneck thing you wore under shirt, covering the neck but without the bulk of long sleeves and a full shirt. They were lame even when in style. The one I made is crocheted and can be worn under a winter coat, giving the wearer better neck protection than just a scarf. We do have a lot of cold and snow coming our way.

Some of the items are popular today...tank tops, uggs, and shrugs.

There was one other item, I’ve never worn them, or even seen one up close and personal, but I think we all have a visual, some more than others I imagine, the item is pasties.

And on that note, I’ve reviewed the list and am ready to do the word search puzzle.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

In Times of Need, Call Grandma

I had one of those wake up calls yesterday; literally, my daughter called and woke me up, needing a favor. Seems her daughter had been up frequently in the night, coughing, complaining of a sore throat. It had been going on for more than a week, so I think it was more a case of Mother’s Guilt than anything else. And we all know how heavy a burden that can be.

My daughter was doubting herself because she hadn’t taken her sick kid to the doctor, and here she was heading out of town, for an appointment of her own, feeling stress, and compounding it with Mother’s Guilt. So a call to Grandma was needed. How nice it is to still be needed.

The aforementioned child was dropped off to me and I was to take her to a doctor’s appointment, and watch her until her Mom could pick her up later in the day. I love these one-on-one days with the kids.

We started off with snuggles in bed, and watched the show Master Chef Junior that I had taped on my DVR. These are some amazing cooks, and some of them are only 8 or 9 years old. As I used to cook, more bake, with this girl, we had lots of comments about food, shopping and kitchens.

We dressed to go out and started our morning at Tim Hortons, for tea and a donut, its availability limited to the season, covered in candy cane sprinkles. We still had time before her appointment so we dropped in to Home Hardware. I found a couple of things, perfect for Christmas gifts, and as we weren’t so enthralled with the paint and hardware we didn’t risk being late.

Still early, we sat in the waiting room going through the fashion magazines, looking at pictures, selecting which item was our favourite dress, hair do, nail polish colour, you get the picture. Then we were in to see the doctor, very nice and understanding, who declared, of course, that our girl had a virus, and yes it’s going around, it will have to run its course etc. But he did give us a script for puffers that would help with the night time cough.

Next stop, get the prescription filled. I chose Walmart over a conventional pharmacy, so much more to do and see while we waited. And wouldn’t you know, it was lunch time and there was a McDonalds right there.

We had lunch and conversation and then toured the store. I picked out a couple of additional gifts for those on my list, but got tired and decided to sit on the bench in the aisle not far from the pharmacy. I had the pager thing and was waiting for it to signal our prescription was ready.

My granddaughter became my personal shopper as she flitted around picking up ornaments, hooks and other Christmas decorative items for my perusal. She brought me singing ducks, bears and penguins that had us laughing. She found one item that we agreed was perfect for her uncle, and we had to get it, figuring it to be the hit of our holiday get together.

We picked up the prescription, paid for our selections, including some grocery items, and came home. I was tired and glad to sit. We watched a movie and played games on the computer, a nice and quiet end to a busy day.

After she was gone I looked about my place, surprised at how much mess there was, or maybe more disarray is a better word, when we had spent so little time here. My crocheting was stuffed away and out of sight, the wrapping paper, tape and tags all set aside, the TV table pulled from the closet. Oh well, it was worth it.

First thing I did was check Pinterest. She was looking at hats and I showed her how to pin the ones she liked to my Knit and Crochet board. But she’s a smart kid; she started searches of her own and found sweaters, scarves, slippers, and moved on to kids’ rooms and decor.

I feel I owe her mother an apology; I may have created a monster. Next thing you know she’ll have her own boards and her own pins. It should be interesting, she has very eclectic taste.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Movie...Catch and Release

I watched one of my favourite movies yesterday, a romantic comedy called Catch and Release, and as always it left me feeling melancholy.

Here's the link to the movie trailer.

I love the scenery in this movie, the small town in Colorado at the base of the mountains. If I traveled, this place would be on my bucket list.

In the opening scene, Gray, played by Jennifer Garner, is at the funeral of her fiancé, after his untimely death during his bachelor party weekend. So, instead of getting married, she’s thrown into no man’s land, neither a widow nor a wife.

Gray moves into the house her fiancé shared with his two friends, all of them struggling to deal with their loss. Complicating matters is Fritz, played by Timothy Olyphant. He was a childhood friend of the dead man, who had moved to LA and found success. The two men had stayed close, often meeting on the west coast when the fiancé traveled for business.

The plot thickens, as all plots do, when Gray discovers her fiancé had a great deal of money in the bank, and was paying out a substantial amount of that money every month. No one knew where this money was going, until Gray finds that a woman in LA is frantically trying to get hold of her fiancé.

The ‘other’ woman arrives in Colorado, looking for the money that has been supporting her and her son for the last few years. Gray is devastated to learn her fiancé had fathered a child, during the time they were a couple, and kept it a secret.

This is one of those movies where the lead character has to rebuild her life. During the process she discovers who she really is, a plot that seems to appeal to me. The romantic interest is between Gray and Fritz, an unlikely pairing as she found him too cavalier, compared to her more uptight and less adventurous persona.

But the pain, for Gray, is more than the infidelity and the resulting child. It’s learning that her fiancé felt he had to leave her to be the fun loving guy he seemed to be when he was on the coast, when he visited Fritz. She starts to act out, and Fritz is there to help her find her more easy going nature.

All their relationships change during this time, the friend who had secretly been in love with Gray, the other friend who never took anything seriously, and Gray and Fritz.

Of course it has a happy ending, so no spoiler alert kind of warning is needed. Gray takes a chance and travels to the coast looking for Fritz. She finds him on the beach in front of his ocean side home, and suffers a moment of insecurity, questioning her actions.

I love the last line, when Fritz smiles at her and says. “What took you so long?”

I seem to be drawn to books and movies where people find this deeper understanding of themselves, and have the courage to change, to go after their dreams. I like to think it’s because I’m a romantic, but I fear it’s more of a sense of longing. I regret that I never took that chance and now find some comfort in stories where others took that risk and were rewarded with their “happy ever after”.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

I'm a Plotter

I’ve come to realize this past year that I am a Plotter.

That’s a writer who plans out their book, who knows going in all the major plot twists and turns, the who-done-it, how the story ends. That’s the opposite of a Pantser who writes with no real plan, who just writes and is never sure where it will all end up.

I’m not so die hard that I can’t make changes as I go along, but I write better when I at least have a gleam of where I’m heading.

I’m almost finished my book titled “Where the Forest Meets the Corn”. I was inspired by the title, sent to me by my son who was, at the time, sitting in that very spot. It was last November and he and his wife were out deer hunting, sitting on the edge of the forest. Marvels of social media, they came up with the title and sent it to me on Chat.

I was hip deep in my NaNo book at the time so I made a note of it and set it aside until “Hiding From the Night” was complete, first draft at any rate. When I finish a draft, I set the book aside for a couple of months, maybe let others read it so I have some feedback when it comes time to start the edits.

I was free to start a new story and I had the beginning, well, right from the beginning. As soon as I heard the title I had the idea of a body being found in a winter cornfield. It had to be winter because, for some reason, I like to start a book in the same year and season I am experiencing. Don’t ask me why.

So, winter scene, a cornfield next to some woods and a man out looking for his lost dog finds more than he bargained for. I had the opening chapters written quite quickly, the old farmer, his dog Max, the young woman dead in his field. I even wrote the scenes where the police began their investigation.

I had the detective, my lead character, but I didn’t have any idea why this woman had been murdered, or who the killer was. I had to start the work of filling out the details, which when I had a better idea where I was going, meant some back tracking to make things mesh.

I wrote all summer, but the story kept getting lost on me, and okay, life got in the way of my doing any consistent writing for awhile. But this fall it’s been better, and the story is coming together, one chapter at a time, one scene at a time. Basically I...ha, ha, ha...made  it up as I went along.

I sent the recent chapters to my friend, left her on a bit of a cliff hanger, and sent another chapter last night, same deal. I couldn’t send anymore because I don’t know how I’m going to end it, have too many ideas and need to think on it some more.

Yes, I’m a Plotter all right. If I’d started this book with my usual prep, I’d have had it finished long ago. There’s a lesson to be learned here, for me at any rate. I don’t have to have all the details so that I lose the spontaneity, but I do have to have an idea where I’m going.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Free Book Offer

Writing about NaNoWriMo made me think about the first book I wrote in the 30 day format. It was called "Left in Sorrow"

It was inspired by a widow I met that fall, a woman who was struggling to adapt to life alone, her changing relationships and her unknown future.

I felt sympathy for her, and began to research articles on loss. It was from that beginning that my story developed, all fiction of course.

I decided to offer the book for free, through Amazon for Kindle, from today until November 24th. Please take advantage of this offer, and if you do, I hope you enjoy the story.

Just click on the direct link to the right to be directed to Amazon.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

November, National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, or amongst friends...NaNo. It’s a worldwide challenge for writers to complete a novel, minimum of 50,000 words, in thirty days. And it is quite a challenge, boils down to writing an average of 1600 words a day.

What I like is the sense of community that it creates for writers. Last year a group of us met before the start date to discuss plots and characters, and then met again for group write-ins at the library. Since writing is usually a solitary activity, NaNo provides like minded individuals an opportunity to meet, on their web site, by offering forums to chat, get feedback, or find help.

I have always been a bit of a math nerd, what can I say, I love numbers. Every day the writers are to enter their word count for the day, and miraculously, on their personal page, they are shown a graph of their progress, total word count, and the average number of words they need to write everyday to complete the objective of 50,000 words. If one writes in fits and starts, that number can be daunting.

I’m proud to say that I completed the NaNoWriMo Challenge in both 2012, and in 2013. Both of those books have been published with Amazon for Kindle E-readers.

This year I had my new story idea, had pages of notes and research, but did not finish my book in progress before November 1st. I found myself in the same predicament as last year, and that time I shelved the incomplete work in favor of the new story. Metaphorically speaking, I shoved the unfinished manuscript in a drawer and forgot about it.

Just like with sewing or knitting, I hate going back to a project I’ve set aside. It’s hard to gather the same kind of enthusiasm. And with writing, you can get out of the feel, the mindset of your characters so you lose your edge. That unfinished book is still unfinished.

The one thing I truly hate about NaNo is the timing. You start November 1st, end 30 days later, often ignoring much of what’s happening in the world outside your novel. Things like Christmas.

The first year I woke up from my NaNo experience and was shocked to find I had little more than three weeks to prepare for the holiday. Talk about pressure.

The next year I did much of my shopping before November, determined not to be caught unprepared again. Who was I kidding? I’m a grandmother, my shopping is never done. There is always that ‘one more thing’ that would be just perfect...for someone on my list.

This year, for several reasons, I decided to opt out of the challenge. I want to finish the current book before starting another, and when it’s done I’ll have a good portion of the prep work done for the next. I have most of my Christmas gifts wrapped and ready, an ongoing source of curiosity for the grandchildren as they poke, squeeze and shake the presents in anticipation.

I find I’m looking forward to the holiday, feeling less stress about getting everything done. And, as a point of pride, I hate leaving work unfinished, whether it’s a novel, a painting or a crocheted afghan. At my age, and with my health situation, I need positives in my life. It’s amazing the sense of accomplishment I feel when I can get projects finished and out of the way.

For now, I’m going to plod on in my own fashion, with no looming deadline. But, to all those Na No writers, nineteen days in, more power to you, keep up the good work.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

"There's No Sun Up in the Sky"

Yesterday the sun was shining and the skies were a bright blue. With the temperatures hovering above zero it was cold, but bearable with no wind chill. Still, at this mid November date, it seems winter is impatient, and not willing to delay its arrival.

The weather channel predicted snow or rain for the next few days and I can see the snowflakes fluttering down, a light dusting of snow on the ground. The skies are grey, an ominous sign of snow and more snow to come?

I can feel the change in the atmosphere, in the headache and joint pain I woke to. How quickly those colourless skies can affect one’s mood, making one feel dull, dreary and depressed.

It makes me think of that old song “Stormy Weather” sung most famously by Lena Horne. “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather    gloom and misery...can’t get myself together...weary all of the time.” Granted the bad weather in the song represents the singer’s sad mood because “my man and I ain’t together.”

I was talking to a neighbour the other day and mentioned that I hoped the bad weather would stay away long enough for me to get my Christmas shopping done. Apparently, as I have almost completed buying for those on my list, the Winter Wizards decided they could give us a taste of things to come. Oh, joy.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Techno Peasant

Years ago I worked with a woman who was not enthusiastic about the new technology, and was not about to jump into the age of computers willingly. Her term, for herself, was techno peasant.

I bought my first computer when my daughter was in college, but never got into it until years later, and even at that point it was only E-mail and some internet play.

When I began writing I learned how to do research, how to format my work and of course had E-mail, but I avoided any other social media venues. I’ve gotten better, but it’s been by trial and error. I’ve had lessons from my children, lessons they’ve had to repeat, which is totally humiliating.

I had help from a friend who encouraged me to broaden my scope and try a blog. I followed her direction but at home I was confused. The book “Blogging for Dummies’ was a big help in getting me through. And now, here I am with two blogs.

Face book was something I didn’t have much of an interest in. I figured I was communicating with friends and family just fine on E-mail. Then my daughter sent me a ‘friend’ request. I tried it, looked up and old co-worker and reconnected with a friend. I was sold.

I’ve been getting the hang of it, but not doing it just right. I got an E-mail from my brother with a lesson in tagging which I appreciated. Last night my son was here and I got another lesson.

I’d never experimented with what all those options down the left margin. There’s one..Messages. He clicked on it and showed me that I read chat messages but don’t mark them as read. Oops, sorry about that. There was also an option Other that we checked and lo and behold I had two messages. One from a woman I worked with in the eighties, and another woman from the east coast who liked the stuff I pinned on Pinterest and wanted to connect, artist to artist.

I sent a message to the woman on the east coast after checking her web site. She is very talented and shows her work, art quilts, across the country. The other woman and I had a chat and caught up with each other’s lives.

The internet truly makes the world a smaller and friendlier place. I’ll be more tempted to try new stuff, click on those options to see what’s out there. Let’s just hope I don’t royally screw everything up in the process.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

21 Day Organization Challenge

I’ve been a little obsessed lately, trying to get my Christmas presents organized. I start my shopping early and cram everything into whatever cranny I can find.

I now have boxes full of presents, all wrapped and tagged, ready for my son to pick up and store until the holiday. My place may be small, but the kids have homes, and they’ve kindly given me a corner to store my overflow stuff in.

I need to reorganize my space, but find the thought of it daunting. Then I found this chart on how to be organized in 21 days. Thought I’d give it a try. Hmmmm 21 days from now is December 3rd, maybe it’s not the right time to start a three week long program.

I think it’s a New Year’s resolution kind of thing. I’ll print it off and post it on my fridge, mark off every day when done.

I’ll be so organized it brings a tear to my eye, just thinking of how proud my neat freak (and I say that with all love and admiration) daughter will be.

Funny, I can hear her voice in my head saying “ain’t never going to happen” and it’s probably true. But everyone can dream can’t they?

5000 Page Views

I’m late.

I’m late...not in the way you might think, that kind of late is way beyond my realm of existence. But I couldn’t help starting out that way.

My original thought was to begin with “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date,” the date being the 5000 views to my blog. A cause for celebration for me. 

Thank you to all who have made it possible.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Transitioning into Christmas

Autumn is a kind of transition month, summer into fall, fall into winter, but that’s just the weather.

Take sports, more transitions, baseball into football, into hockey. But some transitions occur all at once, as in October when we had the World series ending the baseball season, playing against the midseason NFL and CFL football leagues, and the beginning of the NHL hockey season. That’s a lot of sports.

Then there are the seasonal television shows. As Halloween came closer there were any number of scary movies, horror shows, and references to the ghosts and goblins, supposedly winding down with the big event on the 31st. Or so one would think.

I participated in a local fundraising bazaar on November 1st, and expected to have a quiet recuperative day on the Sunday. I was amazed to see some channels still hip deep in the horror genre of films. Cujo and Scream 3 were frequent offerings.

What did surprise me was the number of Christmas movies also being played. Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Defending Santa. Please, please, please, tell me we are not going to be inundated with Christmas movies for the next 2 months.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and I have my favourite movies that are a must see over the holidays. Over the holidays, the last few weeks of December, not November.

I’m not an American, but I use the American Thanksgiving as my marker, the earliest marker, for all things Christmas, almost. I refuse to put my tree up before December 1st, though that’s not such an issue anymore as I haven’t had a tree in years.

The stores have all their Christmas decorations out, alongside the Halloween stuff. Now it will be all Christmas until New Year’s and then maybe we’ll get a wee break before it is all hearts, chocolate and Valentines. But that’s commercialism I suppose.

In some ways I can’t complain, if the store hadn’t been offering Christmas stuff I couldn’t have bought wrapping paper and therefore have a number of my gifts wrapped and set aside.

I may get tired of the movies repeated over and over again, the carols playing in the stores and on the radio, and the commercials constantly flogging the newest must-have gifts, but I think Christmas all year long, shopping wise, as I start immediately after the new year.

I firmly believe in buying the perfect gift when I see it, have learned over time that even if I remember that gift idea, I’ll never find it again. It’s a bit of I have it right...trump as you go.

The up side to that practice is my costs are spread out over the year, the down side, and now that I think about it the down side may outweigh the good. One, I can’t resist that last minute shopping when so many cute things are displayed, and are often on a preholiday sale, and two, I have to store all those early purchases and often lose track of where I’ve stashed them.

That’s why I’m wrapping early, searching through all my usual storage spots so I don’t miss anything this year. I have a few bins I’m putting the wrapped gifts in and will send it all to my son’s, as that’s where we’ll be opening presents this year. It will be his problem, LOL, keeping the kids from the usual touching, and shaking and begging to open just one.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween Memories

One of my Halloween memories, from when I was a kid, was from the year I broke my arm. I was playing jumpsie at school, fell and broke both bones in my left forearm. The cast was heavy and very awkward, bent as it was with right angles at both the wrist and elbow. I went as Little Red Riding Hood, and wore a simple dress and a red hooded cape. I remember being pelted with apples by some of the boys from the neighbourhood, but that was the worst of it. I was in Grade 5, so maybe 10 years old. Times such as they were, we went out, knocking door to door, without any need of adult accompaniment. The good old days.

I wasn’t one, as an adult, to dress up for Halloween. It has never been one of my favourite holidays. But, there was this costume dance my husband and I went to, before the kids were born. I was working at the hospital so I borrowed a set of surgical scrubs for us both to wear, complete with lab coats. Wanting to be a bit more creative, we went as a famous pair of married doctors...Masters and Johnson.

Are you shaking your head in confusion? So were most of the people at the dance. But the old boy looked great, with his fake hunchback, the grey in his hair and beard. And just FYI, Masters and Johnson were famous pioneers of research from the late fifties, their topic was human sexuality. It was a bit tongue in cheek, but what the hell, it was fun.

I remember another Halloween when we were living in the country. My neighbour had these adult clown costumes and her husband and I dressed up and took the kids on a round of the village. They got candy, and at a few stops we beverages. First time I got a hangover from taking the kids door to door. We had our favourite spots to go, as country people are kind of traditional.

The general store gave out candy and cans of pop, and one friend gave homemade fudge that was so popular you had to get there early or miss out. We could trust the apples and homemade treats, because they were handed out by friends and neighbours.

I remember going door to door with my now thirteen year old granddaughter on her second Halloween, first time trick or treating. She wore a white unicorn costume, a white fuzzy coat, on the hood a sparkling horn. She was barely walking, but like most kids, she finally caught on that if she opened her bag, someone would give her candy.
There you go a scattering of memories taken from six decades of Halloween. May the goblins be good to you.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Auto Correct and Spell Check

I’ve never had a problem with the auto correct feature on my computer. In fact I use it when I’m not sure of the correct spelling, like are there two ‘r’s’ in referred or two ‘m’s’ in accommodate. I’ve never had an issue with the correction changing the meaning of what I’m writing, not like some of the mistakes I’ve seen, usually when texting. I guess that’s because I type, I don’t do the thumb thing in texting, don’t own a cell phone.

I found this joke about auto correct and had to laugh. I’m an old nurse, what can I say?

I count on the spell check feature when writing for those words that don’t get corrected automatically. I see that squggly...and there it is...squiggly red line and make the appropriate correction.

But what about the spell check on E-mail? I find it very annoying as it picks up on everything and offers alternatives for what it perceives as a wrong word. It doesn’t recognize newer terminology, like Facebook or texting. So, who, I want to know, updates spell check?

It’s like the dictionary. There are new words in the dictionary, added with each updated edition, that are now accepted as part of the English language.

One of those new words (not in my dictionary, but I can see it coming) is ‘twerk’ a stupid word in my opinion for a silly action, started by a foolish singer. I should try it out in an e-mail and see what spell check comes up with, twerp comes to mind, an absurd, stupid or contemptible person, close but not quite the same.

On my E-mail short forms are not recognized, or at least not all of them. When I write FYI, for your information, spell check tries to change it to FBI. It wants to change texting to tenting, and my name to debt. And most annoying, it doesn’t recognize contractions, so every ‘ll, ‘ve or ‘m comes up as a spelling mistake.

More signs of the times, I guess. As a writer I appreciate the new technology. I remember typing, really typing, typewriter not keyboard typing, and being so angry when I reached the end of a page and made a typo. Thank goodness for Whiteout, which became some kind of erase tape, which now is a simple backspace. How did writers do it in the ‘old days’?

But technology is moving too fast for some of us to keep up. Does Windows 8 sound familiar? I’m content with my older versions, my APP-less programs. I couldn’t make the adjustment, to Windows 8, probably because I don’t have the cell phone and have no experience.

One of these days I’ll have no choice, but until then, I’m an old dog, avoiding the new tricks.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

My Keurig Coffee Maker

I really do like my Keurig coffee maker; it makes a perfect cup of coffee every time, something I could never do with a drip coffee brewer.

In the beginning, I was infatuated with the machine and the varieties of coffee, tea and hot chocolate, but had to give up the sugar laden flavours for plain cups of coffee. And once I got back to the plain, I found I preferred it as I usually take my coffee with cream and no sugar.

The thing is, I ran out of my usual brand of K-cups, the medium roast from Costco, and as there isn’t a Costco handy I needed to find another source or solution.

My neighbour has a machine like mine and found the K-cups expensive, which they are compared to the cost of making a pot of drip coffee. She uses a reusable cup, and fills it with a fine grind coffee.

I decided to give it a try and bought a Solo type of reusable K-cup at the dollar store. It works well enough, once you get used to the fact there are always some coffee grounds left in your mug. The problem for me is cleaning the thing.

I am conscientious about recycling and emptied out the store bought K-cups, putting the grounds in the garden, or in the compost, or the garbage, and recycling the plastic ups. It was a pain in the ass, but I saved the cups and only went through the messy process about once a week.

The reusable K-cup I have has an irregular bottom, so it’s not easy to clean and as I have to clean it twice a day, I need a better system. I needed to do some research.

I found that you can buy disposable paper filters for the reusable K-cups, but the cost is about five cents each. Then I came upon a Y-Tube video of a man making his own filters from regular pleated paper filters, a lot of effort though much cheaper by far.
Then I saw another video of a man cutting a used K-cup and inserting it in the reusable cup. For a removable filter that’seasier to clean?

I tried that last one, as I still had a few K-cups. I made myself a mint, white chocolate drink and drank it while I cut the used cup so it fit in my Solo reusable holder. I tried it this morning and it didn’t work. Some of the grounds stayed in the liner, but most of them were underneath and in my mug. Back to square one.

I have a trip to Costco in my immediate future so I can make a coffee purchase at that time, in quantity, if I’m smart. But first I need to complete my research and try the No Name coffee cups available at No Frills. I hear it’s cheaper than Costco, but I need a taste test.

As much as I love the Keurig, someone needs to come up with a better system, for as it is today, it’s not as easy as it looks, not if you care about the environment. It’s a good thing I only drink two cups a day or I’d really be in a quandary.

I’ll do the research and get the box of $24.99 No Name K-cups; problem is they’ll most likely cost me much more than that. I find it hard walking through No Frills without buying way more than what’s on my list. I do love a bargain.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Comfort Clothes

I could feel the difference as I started to wake. Pulling the comforter close around my shoulders, my hands tucked inside, I sought the warmth but too quickly nature called and I had to get up.

The temperature must have dropped overnight; there’s a chill in the air. When I looked out the window I expected to see rain, as I shivered with the penetrating dampness. It’s not rain but frost, and that does not bode well for what is to come. I hate the thoughts of winter, the cold, the messy roads, scraping the windshield so I can drive the car, and the boots and heavy coats.

The skies are a dull grey, the night lights still shining despite the hour, the daylight not strong enough to trigger them off. It’s quiet for I can’t hear the birds, can see no one stirring in the neighbourhood. Even the squirrels seem to be sleeping in, waiting for the sun to come out and warm things up?

Checking the weather station I see we are expecting rain, this afternoon and every day for most of the next week. Oh joy. Maybe it will be like last week, scattered showers that seemed to come and go quickly, the daytime temperatures warm enough to fight off the bone aching chill. I fear we will not be so lucky this time.

The first thing I reach for is my old black hoodie. It’s my comfort clothing, the way a good bowl of homemade soup is comfort food on a cold day. I say it’s black but there are shades of black, and my old sweatshirt has faded with numerous washings to almost a charcoal grey rather than black.

I wore this in the days when I painted and crafted more, can see the splotches of paint and glue, which makes it ‘at-home’ wear, not for public viewing. The cuffs are frayed and worn and I fear I should keep my eye out for its replacement.

I love this old hoodie because it is long enough to reach my butt and keeps my back warm and covered, just as the hood does when folded at the neck. I like that I can clasp my hands in the front pouch, seeking warmth or pull the long sleeves down to cover hands and arms.

On cold and damp days, when it rains or when it snows, on days when my bones ache and I’m not feeling my best, and on days when I feel in a miserable mood, I reach for that old sweatshirt and find comfort.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sudden and Unexpected

It’s amazing how often those three words are used together and most often when speaking of the passing of a friend or loved one. Sudden and unexpected, with no warning, with no chance to prepare or say goodbye.

A man I knew of, more than knew, died last night. He went out for coffee with his buddies and collapsed getting into his truck. Efforts were made but they were unable to revive him. He was 52 years old.

I know exactly what that feels like as I’ve been through it twice.

My father had a fatal heart attack when playing tennis. And my ex-husband died after a cardiac arrest when playing hockey. They were 65 and 52 years old respectively. Prime of life, as was this man last night, with a wife, kids and grandkids left to make some sense of it all.

I met this man off and on over the last nine years, though; because of his quiet nature I probably never had a real conversation with him. He and his wife were my daughter’s ex-in-laws. Very nice people who never forgot she was part of the family, and never forgot they were grandparents to her three kids.

This loss will be devastating to those kids. They have had too many losses already in their short lives. My heart goes out to my daughter who had the difficult task today of telling her kids their beloved Poppa is gone.

Her young son, six years old, had many questions. And isn’t it telling of the kind of kid he is that one of his concerns is that Nana will be alone now. Breaks your heart doesn’t it?

There will be many questions, and anger, as that is a stage of grief, before the formalities of a funeral are completed. I’ve always thought, especially in the case of my father, that sudden was better. My Dad was not a man who would have accepted or tolerated being sick or disabled. He had trouble adjusting to his decreased skill in tennis and golf, let alone an ongoing infirmity.

My ex-husband, though his death was sudden, had a known heart ailment having had a triple bypass ten years previous. He was fit and active and doing all the right things and yet....

I can’t help but think of that band aid thing, if it’s ripped it off all at once, the pain is a shock but over quickly, or do you ease it off, a bit at a time, an ongoing pain but to a lesser degree over a longer period of time. The end result is the same, once that band-aid is off you’re still left with a wound that will heal with time, but with a scar, the memory of what happened.

I’m glad the kids have a recent, happy memory of Thanksgiving with their Nana and Poppa, little did they know it would be their last.

My sincere sympathies to the family, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, and he will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Boost Your Immunity

October has shown us more of a November style of weather, cold, rainy, dull days, perfect for getting a cold, cough, flu or some other seasonal bug.

I had a cold early in September that stayed beyond its welcome, but finally seemed to go away. This week, after having pain along the side of my neck and behind my ear, I saw the doctor at the walk-in clinic. I’m becoming quite a regular there this fall. Turns out I have an ear infection.

I had to laugh, not that an ear infection is funny, but that I have one. I don’t remember ever suffering this particular thing before, though I should be well experienced as both my kids had chronic ear infections, one to tubes and both to an adenoidectomy. Getting rid of the adenoids which were blocking the nasal passages did the trick for my kids and two of the grandchildren.

I’m back on antibiotics, same as before only bigger dose and for a longer time period.

So it was timely when I got a notice from Pinterest with a series of pins, all based on natural ways to build your immunity. It’s obvious I need something more than the Vitamin C, D and B Complex that I already take.

Maybe I’ll check out some of these other suggestions. From everything I’ve heard we’re in for a nasty winter, cold and lots of snow, much like last year. Good thing my friend and I hit the used book sale last weekend, I see months ahead of snuggling in, a warn drink at my side and a good book.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Surprise, Surprise

We’ve been blessed with a few days of gorgeous fall weather. The sun has been shining, the skies a bright blue, with temperatures that ran from cool to warm, much better than the cold and colder that is right around the corner.

This past weekend was our Thanksgiving holiday and it was a doozy. Instead of a big turkey dinner, my son and his in-laws were getting together at his place for a barbecue. As they frequently do, embracing the concept of ‘one big happy family’, my daughter, her family and I were invited to join them.

I should have figured something was up when, the Monday before, my son was fussing that his sister had not confirmed her attendance. He’s not usually that uptight about such things. I was blasé and just said for him to text her again.

Turns out there was a bit of a mix-up, in that she thought the invite was for the weekend before and she’d missed it. Anyway, they got all that figured out and she assured him she’d be there.

So, there we were, four generations of family, sitting on the deck having a wonderful afternoon. Just before we were ready to eat, my son and his partner came out and handed everyone a photograph, actually a composite of photos...of their wedding. Surprise!

You can imagine the shock, the tears, the smiles, it was something else. We immediately made them put their rings on and pestered for the story of how this came about.

If you’ve read any recent blogs you know my side of the family had a small Thanksgiving celebration a couple of weeks ago. We chose that day because my daughter had been watching her niece and nephew for the weekend. Their parents, my son and his, ha ha, bride would be there on Sunday to pick up their kids. It seemed logical to make it a family event.

They arrived back from their ‘weekend’ all smiles and laughter and we had a great evening. In retrospect I know I should have suspected something as they had that look, you know, of the bird who swallowed the canary.
I know many parents would be upset to be excluded from such an event, but I totally understand and know it was the right thing for these young people to do. After ten years together they wanted to be married, but they didn’t want a wedding, and all of the fuss that goes with it.

They’re homebodies, and family oriented. They like to spend their time outdoors; they camp, hunt and fish, and like to walk in the woods to the back of their property. What can I say, their favourite colour is camo. LOL.

I love them both dearly and I only needed look at the pictures, to see the expression on their faces to know that they were not in the least bit nervous, but relaxed and enjoying every minute of the quiet outdoor ceremony...and their weekend away. No fuss, no muss, no bother.

Imagine, my son lied to me about where he was going and what he was doing. Haven’t had that happen, to my knowledge, since he was a teenager. They said they were going north, and even gave me the name of a real resort, as they know I like to Google stuff.

As a mother there is nothing better than to see her child happy and settled. To know they have someone in their life who is a true partner, a best friend. I wish them nothing but the best.

And I’m going to have to put my mother’s ears on again. I can’t believe they slipped this by me.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Sit Back and Read

I was in Walmart yesterday and saw the latest J.D. Robb book was out, and I wanted it, but couldn’t justify spending the $32.99 for the hardcover edition. It requires patience or a lot of money to keep up with my favourite authors.

Novels come out in hardcover first, then after a time, which depends on sales I would imagine, the paperback edition comes out. The process could take a year or more, hence the patience.

There are close to forty books in the “In Death” series by J.D. Robb and I have almost all of them in some form or another. Hardcover books I’ve purchased new or used, paperbacks obtained the same way, and then there’s my Kindle.

The cost of $32.99 was too much, but the $15.99 for the Kindle version was OK. I bought the book, and considered it a gift from the Thanksgiving Turkey this holiday weekend.

My bookcases are overloaded, again, even though I had downsized last year when I moved. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve accumulated more. A few book sales, the consignment shops, pass-alongs from friends, it didn’t take long.

I get free or cheap books for my Kindle through Pixel of Ink. I signed up for the daily E-mail of their books, some free, some discounted. I’m always surprised at the cost of E-books. It’s a bit of that old fashioned thinking of paying for something I can’t hold or see. You can get a cost savings over the hardcover prices for a new book, but there the bargains end. Only occasionally do the well known authors have sales on their books, in this format. So, if I want copies of older books I seek out the used bookstores.

When I published my first E-book I priced it at $4.99. I was told this was a reasonable price that people might spend for a new author. I’ve since reduced the price to $2.99 hoping that might have made it more attractive for readers to purchase.

Everything I’ve read supports that you have to do the work to be a success. You have to get your name out there, have reviews published, and be active on social media. For those of us who just like to sit back in our solitude and write, that’s not easy to do.

I’ve had some sales, and I’ll admit it’s a bit of a thrill to know there’s someone in the U.K. who purchased three of my books. For me, it’s the sense of accomplishment. I had an idea for a story, and spent the time to write it. I was dedicated enough to see it through the editing phase, to let others read it and take the feedback given and edit again. And I was brave enough to put it out there for others to read and judge.

For me, that represents success, no matter what the number of sales.

Since my family has already had our turkey dinner, I’m going to sit back this weekend and enjoy my new book, my own personal and private celebration.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and family, have a great fall weekend.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Cause and Effect

Yesterday I wrote about The Domino Theory. Not what I intended to write but something I remembered when I was going to write about cause and effect.

The cause I had planned to write about was my Mallet Finger, and the effect...the changes I’ve had to make to adapt to having a crooked finger.

Last month I twisted my pinkie finger on my left hand and ruptured my extensor tendon. So my finger is permanently bent at the distal joint. I can straighten it, but it slowly bends again. Oh my god, I just had a flashback to one of my favourite movies, French Kiss.

In the movie Kevin Kline’s character has had a bit of an extensor problem of his own, not a pinkie if you know what I mean. Meg Ryan’s character is teasing him, playing with some silly replica of the Eiffel Tower, one of those toys that you push from the bottom and the toy collapses, and when released it stands up straight.

Sorry, but the scene just came to mind and I’m sitting here laughing. This is what happens when you watch a movie over and over again. But I digress.

I had hoped that after some time, when the inflammation from the injury was gone, I would be used to the shape of my finger and it would no longer hurt. Every time I catch it, or jam it, it aches.

My first concern was how I was going to manage crocheting. I have to hold my fingers differently and this has caused a strain in my ring finger so that it now aches. I hope as time passes this positioning of my fingers will become my new normal and I can work without pain.

More cause and effect, I can’t get a good grip on a jar when opening the lid. Who’d have thought your pinkie was so instrumental in getting a good grip. Part of that is pain, so I hope it eases.

Then last night was eye opener. I never knew I was such a creature of habit. I’m reading in bed, one of those oversized paper backs, and I feel a pain in my finger. Here’s where the habit part comes in. When I read I hold the book in my left hand, the bottom edge of the spine in my palm, the book resting on my three middle fingers. My thumb holds the left side open, and you got it, my pinkie holds the right. In doing that the pages of the book press on that ruptured tendon. Now I have to figure out a different system.

The injured finger swells up throughout the day so I’ve taken to sleeping with the splint on so I don’t twist it in my sleep.

It’s a little finger, who would have thought that it could become such an annoyance? It’s a good thing I’m not a ten finger typist. The last two fingers on my left hand are usually curled under and out of the way, as I type with no more than six fingers.

The damage to the finger is permanent so only time will tell if the pain will ease and I develop subtle new ways of doing things. It’s embarrassing to admit how I hurt my finger, so needless to say when the phone rang today and I was in the bathroom, I let it ring. That’s what call display is for, right?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Domino Theory

When I was working, I wrote a team building exercise called The Domino Theory. I figured, with so many departments working together in one facility, each staff member needed to be aware of the effect their work behaviour could have on their co-workers.

I had the title written across the head of a paper with a short and sweet explanation below. It went something like this:

The Domino Theory
How you do your job can have an effect on how others do theirs.
Are you a positive or negative influence?

I had one of those instamatic cameras (we are talking a number of years ago, remember) and would take a picture when I saw something that was causing a problem. I worked in a long term care facility with many departments, and staff working all hours.

Here’s one of the examples I remember.
Large food carts were sent up from the kitchen to the resident units, with extra small carts as needed. Everyone is on a schedule, nursing to deliver the meals, assist with feeding and return the trays to the cart. The dietary staff go back to the units to fetch the supposedly full carts back to the kitchen to clear the trays, and wash dishes, trays and carts for the next meal.

You could see the system start to fall apart when the dietary staff took the cart away before it was full, leaving the nursing staff to pile the food trays on the small carts, often in a precarious jumble.

Nursing staff would have to return the small carts to the kitchen and they often just shoved them in the dish washing area, making the job of the dietary staff more difficult if trays fell off or the carts blocked the aisle.

It was my thinking that all of the staff were busy, and they might not be aware that something they were doing was making work life difficult for someone else. How did that one nurse on the third floor know the dinner trays she’d stacked unevenly on the top of the cart would fall off and make a mess in the kitchen? Common sense you might say, but things get rushed and we all need a reminder of why we are to do things a certain way. But now we have an irritated dietary staff, late getting their job done because they had a spill to clean up.

I hoped that by posting a picture of the not quite full large carts, and the overloaded small carts, with no blame, no other comment but the Domino Theory, the workers from the different departments might have a better understanding of the concept of interdisciplinary team.

I hoped that after seeing the pictures and understanding the cause and effect of their actions, the dietary staff might wait for the cart to be loaded, or better yet, pick up and load a tray to help. And the nursing staff would make a better attempt to get the large carts loaded and be more careful how they loaded the small carts and where they placed them.

Every person needs to do their job to the best of their ability for the facility, company, whatever the workplace might be to run efficiently. It’s no different in an office environment. Workers need to submit reports and stats, so their manager can then make her reports to her supervisor. It’s all a team effort.

I guess, in a way, it comes down to that Golden Rule, treat others as you would like to be treated. And it doesn’t have to be a work place thing. Take my living situation. We all use a common laundry room. The expectation is that you leave the washers clean, and you empty the lint filter on the dryers. I’ve never had a problem, we’re a pretty considerate group here.