Sunday, October 30, 2005

In 48 Hours, or Less The Clock Starts Ticking

It's almost November first, and I am not ready for the NaNoWriMo adventure. I need to remind myself frequently that I'll never really be ready and will just have to do it anyway.

Fortunately, I was able to obtain Chris Baty's book "No Plot? No Problem! and have read it. I finished it while riding the bus back to Kitchener. I only hope I'll think his comments are still funny when I'm in the middle of the concentrated writing month.

I'll have to take a broom and chase my inner editor out of the room, into the hall and down the stairs. But I've had lots of practice in using real brooms and mops lately, so I should be up to the task.

Maybe I'll do that tomorrow.

A Bed, A Bed, My Kingdon for a Bed. Adventures in the T-Dot

I would have liked to start this with a compliment to Sleep Country Canada, but alas, I can't.

My friend, "the bear" was in desparate need of a new bed. We went to the Sleep Country store. We chose a bed. The bed was to be delivered on October 27th. It did not arrive on October 27th. I was there and I know they did not call and it did not arrive. However, Sleep Country said they did come to the bear's apartment building and no one answered their call. Fuck that! There was no call.

After I called Sleep Country, and the bear called them too (he was irate and I can't blame him) an arrangement was made. The Bed he ordered would be delivered by an outside contractor ( a cartage company) on Saturday morning between 10 a.m. and i p.m. The bed arrived at 9:10 a.m. and I just got to the bear's apartment building in time to discover the cartage company people waiting outside his building.

Okay, so the good news is. - The Bed is now installed. It looks like a Laura Ashley oasis in the midst of chaos, but it's there. I've provided the plain blue sheets and four large soft pillows. Maybe he'll sleep on it tonight. He'd better, because I've ensured that he cannot sleep on his despicable couch.

I didn't get to do much while I was in the T-Dot. I'd planned to see the exhibition of Russsian art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. That didn't happen because I spent pretty much every moment at the bears apartment. However, I did get to see some great scenery (of the male kind) while staying at the Day's Inn at College and Yonge. Maple Leaf Gardens is closed, but it seems that many hockey players still stay at the Days Inn. It's fun to see those bulky guys tucking into large breakfasts at the hotel. I tucked-in too. I had the breakfast buffet, a small splurge, and really enjoyed myself.

Coming into Toronto on the bus, one sees the waterfront. Well, sorta sees it in between the condominium towers. If the economy is slowing, it's not evident in the T-Dot. Every blank space downtown i s about to be occupied by a condo-tower. Maybe I should be glad I don't live in the T-Dot any more.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) will start soon and I am not ready. That could be a good thing.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Canadian Hero Comes to Town

I should say will be coming to town, but that would make the heading too long.

Stephen Lewis will be here, on November 3rd and will be speaking at St. Andrews Presbyterian Chuch, just down the street from me. Of course he'll be talking abou the AIDS crisis in Africa. He's been the U.N.'s special envoy to Africa for AIDS since 2001 and has worked tirelessly in his passionate and outspoken fashion to influence governments toward making effective changes. Rumour has it (and it's mentioned in this weekend's Globe and Mail article on him) that he may soon be fired for being direct and honest about the shortcomings of various powerful governments and the U.N. The Americans in particular are not happy about his honesty.

He's one of my heroes and true heroes are always in short supply.

On Monday, when the church office is open, I plan to pay the $25.00 which goes to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and get a seat for the evening. If the evening is sold out, and I hope it soon will be, I can look for Race Against Time (The 2005 Massey Lectures) when it comes out.

I only found out he was coming to town today when I saw a small squib about it in The Record but I hope that just means I don't buy the local paper often enough. He deserves an SRO crowd.

Sexy Posters Beside Lego Towers

I visited my daughter and her sons earlier this week and was treated to home-made chili for dinner. It gave us a chance to catch up on events in her life. Mine is fairly quiet at the moment.

It also gave me the opportunity to see my grandsons and this post is mostly about them-so if you are not in the mood to read a love letter-scroll down to the grunts'n groans section at the end.

Frank is 13 (and three months) and so far he is sailing through early adolescence and keeping vestiges of his boyhood close by. He has a poster of a sexy young singer in a bikini on the front of his dresser, and parked next to that is the Lego tower (city/space station etc.) that has been growing in his room for years. The current version of this fantastic world replaces one I accidentally toppled a few months ago. He and his brother Sam have collected Lego for years. In fact, they have so much of it that relatives are not allowed to give them more. When the edict came from on high ( 'mom says no') it caused great dismay among the male reli's.

Frank is often dreamy, and apparently he only hears requests or orders issued from on high (mom or dad) after the third utterance. That's totally normal, I think. What really amazes me is how happy he is. He also has 'cred' with his friends who are almost all physically larger than he is because: he has a girl-friend (but not in the city), he does well in school (not outstanding, but quite well), he's studying Judo twice a week and he manages to do his chores. He's going to be allowed to dye his hair black Why black I don't know, but mom said yes. Maybe he's happier and more confident than some 13 year olds I've met because he actually has time to himself. Time to just be in that in-between world of of boyish imagination interspersed with real-world aspirations.

Sam, who is 11 and-a-little-bit is only showing one visible sign of being a teen. And it's not one he's happy with. But since he has an almost uncontrollable sweet tooth, he may have to live with the occasional spot on his face. He's going out trick-or-treating and will be wearing his medieval page costume. He's made a sword and shield to go with it. I'm not sure when he found the time, between books. He's a read-a-holic. Just can't imagine where he got that propensity from. Well, I can, but I refuse to admit any responsibility. Sam is also fond of clothes and chooses what he will wear very carefully. Things must coordinate or he is not satisfied. Dance and cross-country running seem to be his favourite activities right now. But he's a quick-silver child and that could change at any moment. Of course that's one of the things I like most about him. He also has the kind of charm that people (not just family) find irresistible. I hope he has no desire to dye his naturally red-gold hair black, but older brothers have influence.

Grunts'n Groans

I'll soon be literally grunting and groaning when I try to move my friend, the bear's belongings in order to get a new bed into his apartment next week. Can't wait till this adventure is over. Mind you, I did discover I have a latent super-shopper gene when I was searching for new sheets for his new bed. Or maybe I don't, and fate was just assisting me to find a 25% off sale at Zellers so I could get 4 flat sheets for $51 including tax. Mom woulda bin proud.

Internet searching is not all it's cracked-up to be or- Why can't I find anything?

I wanted to find out more about my father's father and his grandfather and so I've been net-trolling. No success yet. His father's surname is too common and while he had three given names, none of them show up. It's back to before square one, or maybe my aunt will remember something. There may or may not be an Acadian connection and that's one of the things that got me interested in the first place. If only people had kept to consistent spellings for names. They didn't of course, and so I've researched Girard and Giruard and Carriere and Carrier and so on with no luck so far.

I'm going to use Windsor, Ontario as the setting for my NaNoWriMo draft/novel-to-be. They (those lit-crit Gods) say that first novels always have biographical elements. So I might as well go with my inclination. Besides, Windsor is a neglected setting (never mind that there may be good reasons for that!) and other cities will enter the fray at various points along the way. Since I'll be using Windsor in the '50's and '60's I may have to rely on memory if my internet research skills don't help. Or, I could take a trip to the Windsor library.

I have a couple of themes in mind, but am not at all sure of the plot elements. Could I write a plotless novel. Doubtful. Robertson Davies said something like, his ideal work would be plotless. Unfortunately, I'm not R.D., so I must figure out at least some of the plot elements and I should try to do that before November first. So much to do, so much dithering to get through.

Maybe I'll think about that tomorrow.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Vintage or merely Old? The P.M. Speaks Out: Oktoberfest Farriers: Nagging Piano Tuners

And the last shall be first, or something of that sort.

Yesterday, I had my piano tuned. It's been nearly four years since its last tuning. I know, I shouldn't have waited so long, but other uses for money kept appearing. Thanks to a gift from my grumpy friend, the bear, I was in a position to pay the tuner. He got lost on his way here, but called to tell me what street he was on. Unfortunately, that didn't help since I didn't have a clue where the street was. It turns out the street was only about five blocks away. I guess I don't know my neighbourhood well, even after three years here.

During the tuning process, which took two hours, I found out a little about the man behind the wrenches. He's a fourth generation piano tuner who also plays classical guitar and rock guitar and he teaches and plays in a rock & country band that travels to gigs around southern Ontario. He very politely told me I should have my piano tuned more often. Guess there's a story there, but perhaps it's for another time.

Oktoberfest is winding down today, and soon I won't be jostled on downtown sidewalks. I did go to one quasi-Oktoberfest event last Saturday. The downtown market had two farriers (blacksmiths) demonstrating the art of making horse shoes. It was fascinating to watch and the younger of the two men was quite willing to chat away about being a farrier and teaching the art. I was amazed to find out that there are not enough farriers to go around. The popularity of horses is increasing and there are as about as many horses as dairy cows in Ontario, he said. It was comforting to know that a trade that's at least a thousand years old is still viable and that the best way to make a horseshoe that benefits the horse is still the very traditional way.

I didn't participate in any other Oktoberfest events, mostly because I'm not fond of Festhalls filled with drunken people singing Ein Prosit numerous times, or worse yet, Eee I Eee I Eee I Oh.... Eeek! I will admit to liking Walter O. (the polka king) and four years ago I went with a friend to hear him at an Oktoberfest event. We were early, and ended up sitting at a table with Walter and members of his band. He's friendly and unassuming, but I wouldn't go to a crowded Festhall to hear him again.

The Prime Minister is getting testy about the softwood lumber tarriffs and the money Canada is now owed. I'm glad to see him taking a stronger stance. But, will it do any good? It seems that NAFTA decisions (curses to the administration that brought that in!) just don't count if you are America's El Presidente shrub and you say they don't. It's abuse of power, plain and simple, and there is no one to call them on it. We are far too intertwined with the Americans to do a heck of a lot about it. Right here in the heart of money-generating Ontario we have a shortage of electric power and have to borrow from the American part of the grid, frequently. God knows, we should be working fast to change that. But, it's only happening in small increments. Meanwhile we keep gobbling power at an enormous rate, as if we have an inexhaustible Canadian supply. We don't.

Oh yeah, and as for the first topic - vintage or merely old. There was a display of vintage cars by the downtown market this morning. I guess I am not vintage but merely old, since most of the vintage cars on display were from well after my youthful days. I did appreciate seeing a 1972 Jaguar E type. Not that I saw any in Windsor, where I grew up. Car town was Ford, Chrysler and G.M. with the odd Studebaker or two thrown in here and there.

At least it's now apple season and sweet red peppers were 3 for $1.00 at the farmers market. I thought a new house plant would be a fine idea too. Maybe I'll be able to keep this one (an 'aluminum' plant) alive for a few months.

I haven't had to turn the heat on yet, maybe because I'm generating enough of my own by ranting away.

Monday, October 10, 2005

NaNoWriMo Entering the Fray

Here we go folks.

This is my second try at posting this blog entry. I've officially entered the National Novel Writing Month free-for-all. So in the month of November I'll need to write at least 50,000 words. Maybe being part of NaNoWriMo will help me get through a first draft of something approaching novel length.

NaNoWriMo - Onward the Timid Writer

While I was in Toronto last week, having fun and assisting a friend, I kept thinking about National Novel Writing Month, and the opportunity it presents. Of course, I thought about NaNoWriMo last year too, but I wasn't ready. I'm not sure I'm ready now - but I've signed up, so I suppose this is a semi-public declaration of intent. Or maybe an admission that my insanity level is about to rise as November looms and I have to keep my promise to myself.

In a way, November is the ideal month to begin since the weather is usually more than icky and there are no big events as far as I know. I also have a 300 watt floor lamp now that will help keep the gloomy SAD beastie away, or at least banish him to a corner. Maybe I'll be able to develop a consistent writing routine instead of being so damn sporadic and lazy. Deadlines have always helped me focus and get through things. I hate them, but they work for me, or is it that I work toward them?

I should try to write an outline before November arrives, so I have some kind of framework to throw lots of words at.

At least one good thing happened last week. I finally persuaded my friend 'the Bear' to buy a bed. He's desparately needed a new one for over a year, but wouldn't shop for one by himself. After three hours at a Sleep Country store he made a decision just in time; I was afraid we were going to have to sleep in the store. The salesperson was amazingly patient and understanding and should get some sort of award.

My daughter and her family are celebrating Thanksgiving up at their trailer since this is the second last weekend of the season. And Sam is still waiting to see the results of the Grand River Life Writing contest in the age 10 to 16 division. It's likely that someone older will win (Sam is 11) and I do think they ought to have two age categories for teens, but I'm delighted that he entered his charming and funny story.

It's time to consider working on the novel outline.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Arrival of "The Slender Volume"

Thougt I'd post an update before going to Toronto on Tuesday for some fun and some drudge-work.

Yes, I have my copy of Ten Stories High, and it is a slender volume of 85 pages. Probably the size of some poety chapbooks.

I didn't have that jump-up-and-shout feeling when I finally got it, but I did get a quiet glow for a while. Apparently, the Niagara Library system will have copies on their shelves, so it's somewhat possible that an unsuspecting reader may come across it someday.

It's a perfect autumn day, so I'm going to postpone some cleaning and trip preparations and savour the moment.