Thursday, December 31, 2009

Home at Last - 

(she said with a sigh.) It was a long haul. Yesterday, I braved Vancouver traffic to pick up my son, drive with him to Hon's for lunch, then drop him off at work before heading back to the grandbabies' house. I don't know that I would have made it without Maggie, my trusty GPS. No matter how often I go there, I still haven't the foggiest notion of the geography of Vancouver and its environs. Anyway, I did find my way back. Robin and I packed up and headed to Horseshoe Bay for the five o'clock sailing. We got there at 4 p.m., only to find that the 5 o'clock was already full, so we would have to wait for the 7 o'clock.

(I was tempted to say something here about men and their lack of patience, but that would be a very sexist thing to say, so I won't. I'll just say:  My husband has no patience.)  "I don't want to sit here for three hours," he said. "Let's go to Tsawwassen for the 5:45 p.m." I didn't even argue. I just made a U-turn and set off for Tsawwassen. At four o'clock in the afternoon. In rush hour. On the evening before a holiday. So instead of sitting for three hours at Horseshoe Bay, taking the 7 pm ferry, and arriving back in Nanaimo at 8:30, we drove for an hour and three quarters through rush hour traffic (which involved a good deal of sitting still in traffic jams) and arrived at Tsawassen too late for the 5:45, which meant we sat there instead, for over two hours, to catch the 8:15 The trip from Tsawwassen takes two hours, as opposed to the 90 minutes from Horseshoe Bay, so we got back to Nanaimo at 10:15.

Fortunately, we were still glowing with joy and excitement over the extra special Christmas present we (well, Robin - but I get to share it) had received from his sons and their wives. Robin's 70th birthday is coming up, and the kids knew we would be heading off to England in the Spring, so for Christmas they gave us brochures on Mediterranean cruises and cheques to cover the cost of tacking a Med cruise onto the end of our English holiday.

"Malta!" said Robin.

"Greece!" I added.

"Crete," Robin amended. Sure. That works for me. So now we have to work out the details. It would be lovely to add a touch of Italy to the stew, but that might not be possible on this trip. But I GET TO GO TO GREECE! Sorry to yell, but I've wanted to go there for a long time.

Happy New Year, everyone - and please check out Yoko Ono's New Year affirmation.(Thanks to Rebecca Woodhead for pointing me there.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This message says "I love you."

Okay. We haven't done the Christmas thing, but it looks as if that may not happen until after dinner, so I'll check in now. We went out to lunch - to a fish and chips restaurant (not a chippy - a proper restaurant with tables and waiters and everything.) Both the children are just getting over colds, so they didn't eat much - except Jasper really liked the mushy peas. When we got home, he went down for a nap, and Jasmine (that's she in the photo) set about doing some crafts. I mentioned pinwheels, and she commented "When I was a little girl, I used to make pinwheels all by myself!" Then her mom made a pinwheel for her (I guess Jasmine had forgotten how, in all those years since she was a little girl) and she happily pranced around the room, making a breeze to turn the blades. After that, I painted her fingernails pink, so she wrote me that message. I think I'll paint her toenails tomorrow!

Monday, December 28, 2009

WAR IS OVER - If You Want It

Browsing Twitter this morning, I came across John & Yoko's "WAR IS OVER - If You Want It" video, which is forty years old today. Then I was called in to work, so I'm going to let John & Yoko speak for me tonight.

I suffered a temporal disconnect while I watched the video. For a moment, I thought of John and Yoko as kids - as the next generation - I suppose because when the film was made, they were the age that my children are now. Then, suddenly, I remembered that John was older than I - that had he lived, he would be nearly seventy. Film is a disturbing medium. It belies - denies - age, decay, even death. Yet here we are, forty years on. John is dead, I am old, and we still haven't figured out how to settle disputes without sending our children out to kill each other.  I hope our children are more successful at learning to make peace.

Tomorrow morning, we will be sailing to Vancouver for a belated Christmas with the grandbabies. (My camera is already packed.) I'll try to check in tomorrow night, celebrations permitting.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finding my way back -

Ever since NaNoWriMo ended, I've struggled to write. I think I've been suffering from a tiny burnout - a fizzle, maybe. Did I mention that I've considered revisiting the memoir I started and abandoned a couple of years ago, as a springboard back into writing? Well, I have - and today I opened it up to have a look. It looks a little too much like "What I did on my Summer Vacation" for my taste, so I decided to (no, not delete it) go back to the beginning and start again, thinking not so much about History as about memories. I'm going to follow Natalie Goldberg's advice and back into the memoir, instead of facing it head-on. I'll still use all those facts I've been piling up, but I think I could make the memoir a lot more interesting than it is at the moment.

Somehow, the idea of memories led me to think of memes. You know those memes we play with here on the interwebs? I used the "ten random facts" meme to jog my memory. This is what came to mind:

Dear Children -

Right up front - ten random facts about your grandmother:

1. She loved liver and onions. She served liver and onions for dinner once a week. Oh, I almost forgot - she liked the liver rare - but then, she liked everything rare.

2. She didn't drink, but she claimed to have just as much fun as the  drinkers at any party, and I don't doubt it.

3. I remember scooting around the perimeter of the living room, trying to get from point A to point B without coming within range of the pancake turner, which your grandmother wielded with deadly accuracy. If you take your own pancake turner and slap the couch with it, you'll note that it sort of twangs. It does that when it connects with your bum, too.

4. She loved to read, especially over breakfast - or when she was ready to sleep. She was forever falling asleep with a book in her hand and her glasses still on. I inherited that habit - I think we all did.

5. She claimed to be a baritone. I think she was really a contralto, but even that was surprising, considering how small she was - five feet, one and a half inches tall.

6. She always wore pajamas. No nightgowns for her, thank you. She probably thought only floozies wore nightgowns. That would have been in character.

7. She beat the boys at track when she was in high school. That's her story, and I'm sticking to it.

8. Her breasts were flat. She said they had collapsed when she underwent her Caesarean section. I think it bothered her, but we never really discussed it.

9. She loved to watch game shows - I think "Truth or Consequences" was her favourite. We went to see it one time, in Burbank.

10. She never used soap on her face. She spoke as if it were a matter of principle (that way lie wrinkles, etc.) but I suspect she developed the habit because she was allergic to several soaps. She used to mock the Ivory ads by yelling "99 and 44/100% pure LYE!" - and Palmolive took her skin right off.


You know, I think I may have stumbled on a useful tool. I've been working so hard on chronology, and on getting my facts straight, I think I've been forgetting what it's all about - making the memory of my mother real to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who never got a chance to meet her. Maybe I should browse the meme bank and see what else I can find. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to figure out why the first thing I came up with was liver and onions.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day!

And lookee here! I braved the Boxing Day crowds to buy a new camera - a Canon A1100IS Power Shot. It has more megapixels than I need, likely, and the door I have to open to get the card or batteries out is a little challenging, but other than that, I think it will be fine. Somebody made a comment a few days ago that made me realize that the fuzzy photos I had  been taking, just before my camera started clucking at me, were probably the result of camera malfunction, rather than an indication that I couldn't take a picture to save my life. Time being of the essence, what with the Hawaiian holiday coming up, I decided to replace my camera, rather than repairing it (I'll check out the repair option later, and if I can have the camera repaired at a reasonable price, I'll do that - and either give it away or keep it as a spare).

I took the above photo while I was sitting on the sofa, putting the camera together. It's in focus, isn't it? I used 4x magnification, and I think it did a better job than my old one did, even when my old one wasn't broken. So I'm pleased. I am also amazed that I had the patience and courage to shop today. First of all, the entire town is beclouded, befogged, mighty hard to see where you're going in. I drove slowly and carefully, stopped along the way at the tanning salon to work on my pre-Hawaii tan, and turned up at Best Buy at about 10:30 this morning. Finding a camera to buy wasn't difficult. Having no idea what all those numbers mean (except for the price) helps - I can pretty well choose at random, but the line-up to buy the thing was very long. Apparently Best Buy opened at six o'clock this morning for their Boxing Day sale, and some people had spent the night in the line-up outside the door. Some people are just crazy. It took me about twenty minutes to buy the camera and be on my way home.

I decided to stop at the supermarket to get some things for dinner (I have to leave for work in a few minutes, and I wanted both to pack dinner to eat at the office and to leave something for Robin to eat when he gets home). I had forgotten that all the supermarkets would be closed today. They were closed yesterday, too, which was understandable, but I figured I would be able to go shopping today. Wrong. I ended up buying a jar of Classico spaghetti sauce at the drugstore. I knew I had some spaghetti in the cupboard at home. That wasn't the dinner I had planned, but oh, well. The thing is, you see, that on Boxing Day you can buy a television or a camera (and probably a car), but you can't buy a loaf of bread - except at the 7/11. Hmmmph. I never thought of going there.

P.S. I have been suffering daily spam attacks for the last couple of weeks, so for the time being, I've put the word verification gizmo back into play. I do apologize. I know what a nuisance it is - but so is the porny spam and the completely incomprehensible spam - oh, it's all a pain.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Wishing you and yours a peaceful and happy holiday -


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mist on the Mountain

There is indeed mist on our mountain - Mt. Benson, that is, which overlooks Nanaimo - and it gives an aura of mystery to the scenery  - not in this photo, of course. This looks as if it dates to maybe August. I have searched my archives in vain for a photo that shows Mt. Benson shrouded in mist, which is odd considering how often it is.

There was mist on Mt. Washington, too, when we drove up there yesterday to have a look at the view. Remember when we went to Mt. Washington the last time? That was back in June. We drove through a bright, sunny day, hoping to see the view from the top of the mountain, but when we got there, the mountain was shrouded in fog, and we couldn't see much at all.

This trip was almost completely different. The sun was shining - at just above freezing - and the road was clear until we got to Mt. Washington, when we found ourselves driving into a mist. About 1/4 of the way up to the lodge, a young man waved us down. We thought he was somebody who worked for the lodge, and that he was going to turn us back because of the weather, but it turned out he was just hitch-hiking up to the ski lift. So he put his snowboard in the trunk, hopped into the car, and rode to the top with us, assuring us that the fog didn't go all the way to the top. He was right. As we passed the halfway point, we came out of the fog, and I started muttering about how annoyed I was that my camera wasn't working. It was really quite splendid, looking down from the sunny heights at fog like whipped cream over the landscape. We parked the car near the ski lift, said good-bye to our stowaway, and went inside the lodge to buy a cup of tea. From there, we could look out through the picture windows at hundreds - hundreds! - of people careening down the slopes on snowboards and skis. There was even one man who skied sitting down. He turned out to be using something like this - It is called a monoski. I had never seen one before.

We all enjoyed watching the skiers, but we agreed that you would have to be crazy to come flying down a mountain on a couple of sticks. I suspect that we are getting old - but on the other hand,

I don't recall ever having the urge to do that, even when I was young. Of course, my favourite snow is on calendars, or on mountains in the distance when I know I don't have to drive over them.

We drank our tea, walked across the snow to the parking lot, and drove back to Nanaimo, having had our fill of snow for this winter - we hope.

I was trying to find a good picture of Mt. Washington to show you, and I ran across a set of webcams. I snagged this photo, but of course it's night now, and the mountain doesn't look the way it did when we were there. It looks quite festive, though, doesn't it?  If it's daytime when you read this, you might try clicking here to get to the rest of the webcams, or to this one by day.

We put Clarence on the train today, back to Victoria. The two of us will be working over the next four days, and then Christmas will start all over again when we take the ferry to Vancouver for a couple of days.

Meanwhile, La Boheme is playing on the television, so I'm very happy. Ah, Musetta is singing. Must go swoon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

 All Aboard the Santa-Kart!

TFE has worked his holiday magic. While the Poetry Bus is under repair (We know how long getting a car repaired can take, and a bus is that much longer) he has contrived to set the Santa-Kart on the road, and we are all invited to hop aboard. Price of a ticket? A poem.  Here's mine - (By the way, this photo is from TFE's blog, borrowed for the occasion with thanks.)

In Mid-Winter

Under cover of darkness,
swathed in silence,
await the slow coming
of the sun's new light.
Listen to your breath
caress the velvet night.

Sway with the new snow
on a scented branch;
mourn another chance gone by.
Make a gift of your pain
to the dying year,
and then, begin again.

On this first day of the earth's new year,
let us raise a toast to the future.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fiat Lux!

I lit the tree today, and for real fire I lit three tea lights (one of them scented) in a glass bowl on the coffee table, so my living room is full of Solstice cheer. Robin and Clarence have gone off to see the movie 2012, but I opted to stay home and feel the warmth here. It was a good decision.

When I checked the comments to yesterday's post, I found one from Karen, who invited me to read the poem at her blog,  Keeping Secrets. I did that, and decided then and there to pass the word on - do check out Karen's fascinating ballad. It captures the mystery of this magical season. I loved reading it.

I wandered over to YouTube, looking for a musical selection to mark today, and I found this:

And just now, as I was making my way slowly through the long list of blogs I've been neglecting, checking up on my bloggy friends, I found myself at Roy's World, listening to "In the Winter's Pale" by Tim Story and Jethro Tull's "Ring Out Solstice Bells."  The world is full of music, isn't it? It seems as though every day brings with it a new sound. I hope you will pay Roy a visit, too, and celebrate the Solstice in song.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And today...

I spent my morning at the office, then collapsed into the afternoon, tried to nap, couldn't.  All last night, while I tried to get some rest in preparation for the 4:45 alarm, I kept waking up, thinking that I had heard the alarm. No, I hadn't, and I would go back to sleep, only, I gather, to dream again about my alarm going off. It was almost a relief to finally hear the alarm go off for real, about a minute after I had once again opened my eyes, thinking I had heard it.

I'm reading another of Natalie Goldberg's books, this one called Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir.  Yes, it's another book about writing, but this one is different, because it is interactive.  Natalie talks a bit about her own writing and writing in general, and then she says something like "Tell me about how a relationship ended. Go. Ten minutes." and at that point I put the book down and write for ten minutes. These cues come up at various intervals. I might read five pages, do an exercise, then read one sentence (like that last one, which constitutes a chapter in itself) and be sent off to write some more. I love this book.

After my pseudo-nap I drove to Best Buy to see whether I could play the pity card and get them to have a look at my camera, what with the holiday and my going to Hawaii next month, but no. I suspect that their holiday spirit is wearing a little thin, which is only to be expected.

Which reminds me: My daughter, The Christmas Queen, called me the other day to say "You know how to kill your Christmas spirit, Mom? Work in retail." I'm afraid the Christmas Queen, who does in fact work in retail, is seriously considering abdicating.

Tonight, Robin and I went to the Fox and Hounds for dinner. When I finished eating, I took out my notebook (I've finally found one that fits my purse perfectly) and wrote for ten minutes starting with "I am looking at..." These ten-minute writing sessions are just about all I can handle right now - as I'm in one of those all-too-frequent moods of mine in which I could crawl into a closet and not come out for a week. I don't know how I managed to get through NaNoWriMo. If I had it to do today, I would just throw up my hands.

Now I'm going to settle in and watch Oliver Twist on Masterpiece, then retire for a good night's sleep with NO ALARM at the end of it. I have three days off (THREE!), then I'll work through the holiday. Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice (Winter Solstice 2009: Dec 21 17:47 UT 9:47 PM PST, says Google) and our friend Clarence is arriving in the morning to spend the next couple of days with us. I have stuck by my resolution not to light the tree - I must have done a good job of it, because Robin was surprised tonight to learn that the lights were even on the tree - and I plan to have a little ceremony tomorrow night to welcome the return of the light. Mine won't be anything like as elaborate as the one that's already taken place on the other side of the world, but I may just borrow a bit of the poetry:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On This Day of Christmas...

...a good friend gave to me a big bag of crostili.  Have you ever eaten crostili? They are a  dangerously tasty Italian pastry.

I suppose I should put the confession right up front, so I don't chicken out and forget to mention that I'm pretty sure that the crostili were meant for Robin and me, but they came to me earlier today, so I ate some at lunch time. Then, several hours later, I came home from work, ate my supper, and decided to have crostili for dessert. The trouble is, they kept tasting like more (and more and more) -- and...

Well, I've been rehearsing what I was going to write. I started rehearsing in my head about the time I started eating crostili tonight, and I was going to say something like "I suspect there will be no crostili left by the time Robin gets home" but it's gone way beyond that now. There are no more crostili. I ate them up like a little Miss Piggy, and I fully expect to have gained ten pounds when I check my weight tomorrow morning.  And Robin doesn't get any crostili.  So I'm a pig AND a bad wife. Two strikes, and the night is young.

The one good thing that came out of this orgy of crostil-eating is that the hallway carpet is nice and clean. Every time I got up and went to the kitchen to grab some more crostili, I scattered crumbs on the carpet, so I started vacuuming them up. Grab, eat, spill, vacuum. Rinse. Repeat. I have an overfull belly and my vacuuming arm has had a workout. The rest of me, not so much -- but I deserve a rest after last night, when I got out my dvd "Walk Away the Pounds" with Leslie Sansone and the Stepford Wives. What with the snow and the rain and then not feeling well, I hadn't been getting any exercise, so I popped the dvd into the player and did the 3-mile walk. Oy. I really must get back to a regular exercise routine. That routine used to be easy.

But I digress. What I intended to say was that the crostili (by the way, crostili is a very short pastry dredged with icing sugar - the stuff of dreams) made me remember how when my mother baked pies, which she did often, she would put whatever pastry dough was left after trimming onto a cookie sheet, sprinkle the dough with cinnamon and sugar, and bake it. The result was romantically called Cinnamon Crust. I don't know which was better, the pie or the Cinnamon Crust (except when it was lemon meringue pie, because I'm not especially fond of that. Then it was definitely the Cinnamon Crust.)

So thank you to Franco for the crostili and for bringing back fond memories.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Unaccustomed As I Am To Public Writing - 

It feels like weeks since I was last here. I am pleased to report that I have ceased thinking of nothing but My Belly, the trials and tribulations thereof, and proceeded to My Navel, the gazing at. After feeling crappy for a couple of days, it occurred to me that my ailment might be stress-related,which would not be surprising, given the season, and even if it weren't, it was high time I got back to my practice, so I sat and meditated for a few minutes. It felt great. I've set my alarm for fifteen minutes early in the morning, so that I'll have time to get up and sit down.

On the other hand, I suspect I ate something I shouldn't have. And on yet another hand, I've just read the previous paragraph and realized that it sounds as if I cured my sick belly by meditating. No, no, no. First I felt better. Then I meditated.

Anyway, while lying around, I've gotten some reading in, and I've written a few holiday cards, which actually puts me ahead of my usual form for December. And I put the decorations on the tree, though I haven't turned the lights on yet (awaiting the Solstice, I am.) Best of all, I think I've figured out what to buy my Impossible-to-Buy-For Husband for Christmas. He doesn't want anything that he can't either eat or drink, and somehow buying him candy or whiskey doesn't feel very wifely, but I have thought of something that might just come in handy for our trip to Hawaii, so I'm going to get him that. I can't say what it is, because from time to time, I hear the sound of music coming from the next room, and I realize that it's music I've posted here at The Turtle.  He doesn't follow officially, but he does read my blog. (I'll be listening for this song.)

Thank you for your get-well wishes, friends. I'll be over to see you as soon as I can.

Oh, and about that clipart image at the top. I found it here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A.W.O.L. -

but stopping in for a moment just to say I'm a little under the weather. I shall come back for real when my innards start behaving again.  Meanwhile, I hope you are all having a happy week.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Little Enlightenment and a New Bookshop - Hallelujah!

(Channeling Estelle Getty) Picture it. It's earlier today. I'm sitting at The Vault, drinking a half-caf Americano, eating a delicious, fluffy spinach & feta quiche, and reading Natalie Goldberg's Long Quiet Highway -- all at the same time. Across the table, another book lies waiting -- but that's another story.

On the other hand, maybe I should tell you about that first.

I've been reading on Facebook and Twitter (courtesy of poet Kim Goldberg - no relation to Natalie!) that there's a new indy bookshop here in Nanaimo, and today (Saturday) is my day to check it out, because I don't have to be at work until one o'clock. Off I go to Heritage Mews, where I find Back Page Books nestled neatly into the mews, almost directly across from Mad About Ewe, the world's greatest yarn shop. Ignoring the siren call of the Ewe, I walk into the bookshop, where another kind of temptation (or six) awaits me. Before I even have a chance to check out the books, I see a huge tray of goodies sitting on a coffee table. There are cookies, carrot cake, brownies -- oh, all sorts of temptations. I ignore them, too (although I'm saying to myself Hmmmm. This seems to be my kind of shop!) and I proceed to look around at the books. There is a children's section right at the front of the shop. I regret having bought my grandchildren's Christmas books at Chapters before I heard about Back Page. I note the selection anyway, for future reference. Then I spot Poetry and head straight for it. A gently-read copy of Pablo Neruda's Residence on Earth (bilingual) catches my eye. I take it from the shelf and retire to one of several easy chairs scattered around the room, (The whole shop is only about a room and a half big) where I sit and read a poem before I finish my inspection of the books. There is a Fiction section, and Cookbooks, and I forget what else, but I've got my Neruda book , so I take it to the till, where I introduce myself to Richard, the proprietor, and let him know that he's being talked about in cyberspace. He is delighted to hear it.

After running a couple of errands, I fetch up at The Vault, where I order my coffee and quiche, sit down, and try to do four things at once. About halfway through my coffee, a third of the way through the quiche, I hear a voice (mine) in my head. It says:

You know, you don't have to do everything at once.

Shazam! It's like a bolt of lightning. No wonder I'm stressed out. I'm trying to live Sandra's Life: The Oxford Compact Version -- everything compressed into a space never meant to contain so much -- impossible to lift, much less read, but very, very full. I put my pen down, shove Natalie Goldberg to the other side of the table, turn away from Pablo Neruda, and concentrate on my quiche. It's good. So is the coffee, which I drink afterward. Then it's time to go to work, so I pack everything up and proceed to spend the next few hours in frantic activity.

Here I am now. It's nine o'clock in the evening. I'm listening to Mendelssohn and writing this post for the second time, because Blogger ate my first attempt. Somehow I worked on it for nearly an hour, and all I had to show for it was a single letter (s) on the page. I think it stood for the "s" word. If it didn't, it should have. I have to get up at 4:45 AM, so I guess I had better be going to sleep soon. Tomorrow I'll copy one of the Neruda poems into my sidebar. Meanwhile, I've had a great day. Now, if only that Aha! moment I had this afternoon would stick around. Sometimes I feel like the Tasmanian Devil from the old Looney Tunes cartoons.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Photo Shootout - Weather

I went to the Friday Photo Shootout site to make an announcement. I wanted to confess/complain that when I was taking photos at the Christmas party the other night, my camera started making a strange sound. Let's see. It was something like this:  "Erk. Erk. Erk. Erk. Erk."  Whenever I turned the camera on or off, that's what it would say. My friend Jane, who was also at the party, suggested that perhaps I should stop turning the camera on and off, because I might be exacerbating the problem by doing so, That made sense. I turned the camera off, and I haven't turned it on since. The problem seems to involve the mechanism for poking the lens unit out of the front of the camera. I guess this is when I say"Drat! I did not buy the extended warranty."

So the upshot of this is that I don't have a camera anymore, at least not for the moment. That makes posting to FFS more than a little problematic.

Then I noticed that I did in fact have a weather-related photo in my archives. Ta-da! The weather that I photographed is not the weather we have today, but it is weather. Rainy weather, to be exact - the kind of weather we expect to have here on Vancouver Island in the winter. What we actually have is freezing weather. I would like the rain back, please. And the warmth to go with it.

Anyway, it was a stroke of good luck to find a weather-related photo, but unless it happens that the FFS topics for the next few weeks happen to fit the contents of my archive, I shall be Photoless in Blogland. I shall try to either repair or replace my camera before I head to Hawaii in mid-January, because I have a feeling I'm going to want to take a picture or two when I'm there. ;>)

To see more Friday Photo Shootout posts, please click on the big black camera on my sidebar.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drive-by posting

You know, I was about to apologize for not being around and explain that, it being the season, I'm mostly at work and only able to get online when I'm on the verge of falling asleep, but really, we're all in that state right now, aren't we? Therefore, I would like to propose an amendment to the Christmas Act whereby Christmas is to be celebrated on January 25 by people whose names begin with A-D, February 25 by those whose names begin with E-H, etc., to spread the stress out a little. I find that with every passing year, I am more inclined to yell "BAH, HUMBUG!" and retire to my room for the duration.

On the other hand, there are parts of the holiday that do warm my heart - like the Kings College Cambridge music, and my three-year-old granddaughter, who said to her mother today "It's a surprise, but you're getting a new mug for Christmas, because your old one has a chipmunk on it."

When she could stop laughing, her mom said "Ah, that's a chip, not a chipmunk." I suspect that this Christmas present will be one that she remembers even when her children have grown up and left home.

So once a day, every day, I will sit and calm myself and remember that there are wonderful memories tied to this season -- both the memories I have from the past, and the ones yet to be made.

Chipmunk clip art courtesy of Webweaver.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I know I promised...

...that last night's post would be cheerier than the one before -- but things got so cheery, I didn't get here at all.  I went to a party, you see. I ate. I drank (after my fashion) -- and I danced -- again, after my fashion, which is to say, badly. I had a great time.

Oh, yes.  I composed an occasion-specific, humorous version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and led the assembled masses (100+ people!) in singing it. There was the usual mumbling at the beginning, but by the time we got to the fifth day, everybody had got into the spirit, and soon there was the bobbing up and down, shouting, and laughter I had hoped for. Holey Moley. I felt like Leonard Bernstein.  ;>)

Christmas seems to be busting out all over Nanaimo. Just a few nights ago, Robin and I went to dinner at the Fox and Hounds, where we enjoyed the beautifully decorated tree but had to shout to converse with each other, because not only was Elvis singing the dreaded Christmas kitsch at full blast, but somebody's child was operating the Christmas-themed music box on the bar, making the snowmen twirl around and sing. (That's what inspired me to photograph the poster at the top of this post.)

I take great comfort from listening to the CBC, hearing the various announcers stating, almost unanimously, that they can't stand  Christmas muzak either, then playing carols sung by the choir of Kings College, Cambridge (MY kind of Christmas music!)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Solemn Anniversary

It was twenty years ago today that Marc Lepine walked into  a classroom at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal. He separated the male students from the female students, and in the space of forty-five minutes, moving from classroom to classroom, he shot twenty-four women and four men. Then he killed himself. Of the twenty-four women, fourteen died.

(For news coverage of the event, click here.)

During his rampage, Lepine screamed "I hate feminists."

In the years since what has come to be called the Montreal Massacre, debate has flourished -- and continues to flourish -- as to the nature of Lepine's crime.  Was it symptomatic of a pervasive misogyny in Canadian society, or was it the isolated act of a deranged man? Will stricter gun control laws prevent a recurrence? Will relaxation of gun control precipitate more such tragic events?

I remember that day. I remember the feelings of sorrow and fear, anger and despair that overwhelmed me as I watched the news coverage. We Canadians like to think we live in a peaceful country where tragedies like the Montreal Massacre simply do not happen. The anniversaries, when we stop to look back at that day in 1989, are stark reminders that we have no special protection.

I saw a sign recently that read "Peace is not something you ask for; it is something you make."  As I reflect on the events of December 6, 1989, I feel the old fear, the old anger, the old despair again. I'm trying to keep that sign in the front of my mind, because all I can do, all anyone can do, is live my own life as peacefully as I know how.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

sympathy for the writer

I had a very stressful day, so I just sat and watched a movie to bring myself down to earth. I watched The Lake House (with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves).   The trouble is, all through the movie I kept thinking about how confusing the story must have been to write. It involves two people corresponding - and falling in love - while they are living two years apart. My mind hurts, and I'm wondering whether I'll ever be able to read a story or watch a movie without analyzing it. (I confess I find the idea of  time travel mind-boggling. However, I still love the movie. I'm just glad I didn't have to write it.)

Earlier today, I was reading my new book about writer's block, and I came to the part about how if you're spending all your time reading about writer's block, you're probably not writing, and maybe you should stop reading and start writing. Duh. It was about that time that I realized that all the books I've read about writing really say the same thing - just write. So I put down the book, pulled out my purse-sized notebook, and wrote for half an hour (at Starbucks) before I went to work.  I could save a lot of time and money by writing JUST SIT DOWN AND WRITE on an index card and pulling it out whenever I get the urge to buy a book about writing. I think I'll do that. I also think I'll pop over to Starbucks again tomorrow morning before work. I seem to do well, writing in coffee houses. There's background noise, but  none of it concerns me, and that allows me to wander off into whatever world I'm trying to inhabit at the time.

Where do you write? At home? In coffee shops? At the library? Do you need silence? Noise? Music?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Thank you very much -

Angel May (of Angel May's Growing Pains) has sent me a lovely bouquet. I shall treasure it.

That's a great thing about virtual bouquets. They stay fresh forever, don't they?

This one comes with homework. I'm supposed to tell you seven things that you probably don't know about me, then send the bouquet on to seven more people.   Okay. First things first. Here are seven things:

1. I am vain about my fingernails. That is only natural, I must say, because I have great fingernails! ;>)

2. I am afraid of flying bats -- not bats as such. (Oh, and not baseball bats. Mousey bats.) As long as the bat clings to a wall or sits on a wire, I think he's a cute little fellow, but the moment he starts to fly, I, too, fly -- into a panic. I think I hear the batty sonar, and it makes my ears crazy. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

3. I smoked a pipe for a little while, when I was very, very young.

4. I tried to learn to water ski, but I gave up after sixteen attempts to stand up. The fellow driving the boat said I was "very game". That was after the pipe smoking, but still quite a long time ago.

5. My recording career began and ended when I was five years old. I recorded "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" in a booth on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

6. My first celebrity crush was on Mario Lanza, with whom I fell in love when I was eight. He was much older.

7. I am always hungry. I started to modify that statement to read "I am nearly always hungry," but changed my mind. With very few exceptions, I have always felt at least a little hungry, and even when I didn't, I could eat. (If I am sick and I lose my appetite, I am REALLY sick.)

Okay. That's it. Everything you wanted to know about me but were afraid to ask.

Now to the fun part - passing it on:

1. I am delighted to be able to send a bouquet to Eberle, and to her alter egos, Platypuss and Pinky, whose new blog, Platypuss-in-Boots, is a joy to read.

2. Although she has a houseful of  awards already, I would like to send a bouquet to Poetikat, because there's always room for flowers, and she certainly deserves them. Maybe she can keep them over at Kigo of the Kat. She's only just started spending time there, so perhaps there's still room for some flowers.

3. If you haven't been to visit Doc Pammy DuMond, D.C. at FeelingFabulousDarling, I recommend that you have a look there. Pam is a chiropractor with some excellent advice for those of us who spend way too much time sitting at computers. In gratitude to her, I proffer a bouquet.

4. Julie of Literary Jules is another newcomer to the neighbourhood,  and again, I recommend that you pay her a visit. She is a great hostess with some fascinating insights. From me to you, Julie.

5. John Hayes has a new blog. It's called The Days of Wine & Roses, and it offers All Poetry, All the Time.  I applaud the blog and its theme, and I hope John will find room for a simple vase of flowers there.

6. Elizabeth Stelling (ChefE) at TMI is one of the busiest people I know, and I would like to send her a bouquet in recognition and appreciation of her hard work both at Friday Photo Shootout and at her own blogs.

7. Jeanne, of The Raisin Chronicles, is an inspiration. I have been shamefully truant from her blog -- along with pretty well all my favourite places -- during NaNoWriMo, so I offer her a bouquet with thanks and apologies for my absence. I'm B-A-C-K!

I'm away now, to drop off notes at these seven blogs. Thanks again to AngelMay for the bouquet and the opportunity for a little introspection.

Bat clip art from

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Home again, home again....

...after a delightful, if short, visit with Angel May. We talked and talked, and we ate and ate. It was perfect. A lot of our talking was about writing, both hers and mine, and about our insecurities around writing. We spent part of yesterday at the used bookstore, William James Bookseller, where I bought books about writing by Natalie Goldberg (a long-time favourite) and Lawrence Block. I also bought The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Beating Writer's Block, by Kathy Kleidermacher.

I thought it might be useful some time - but it turned out to be immediately helpful. There are some great suggestions and exercises in there, and inspirational quotations, too.

AND: The author recommends blogging as a writing exercise. Ms. Kleidermacher is now one of my favourite authors.

Note to Angel May: I see that the book is available on Kindle.

Note to self: Remember to take a larger suitcase when you go to visit Angel May. You should know by now that when it's time to come home, you always end up struggling  to fit half a dozen newly-purchased  books into your suitcase, which was full when you left home.

I didn't write as much as I had planned on the boat, but I did write some, and I spent time gazing out the windows at the scenery, which I should do more often. Then I sat down and wrote about what I saw.

Now it's back to work, and back to writing at my usual place.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Room with a View

Okay, this isn't the view from my room. It's the view from the balcony -- but it is the view that I saw first thing this morning, because I am living in the lap of luxury, being pampered by my dear friend Angel May. We have only two days together, so we are making the most of them by talking and talking and talking. In a few minutes, we're going to wander downtown and do a little window shopping. I bet we'll end up in the bookstore again, though where I'll put any books I might buy, I do not know.

I was sitting on the ferry yesterday when I realized that NaNoWriMo was well and truly over. It was a strange feeling. I think there should  be more than one NaNoWriMo a year, because I seem to respond well to the carrot/stick approach.

This post is just to let you know that I'm alive and well and luxuriating on the Olympic Peninsula. I'll check in on all my bloggy friends as soon as I can.

Blog Archive