Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After Christmas

It's a quiet sunny day, the trees are cloaked in ice and there is very little traffic in this part of town. The Boxing Day bargain scavengers are no doubt scurrying through the malls and snapping up things they may regret buying later. As for me, I prefer to stay home and I need time to recover from all the Christmas events. I had a four day Christmas this year.

It started on Friday, when D. and I went to his daughter's place in Embro for Christmas lunch. And while she referred to it as lunch, it was really a full-scale dinner and we didn't need to eat anything else for the rest of the day, or the next day, but of course, we did.

Saturday, D. arrived carrying a new microwave oven for me. On Sunday D. and I opened gifts and had a peaceful day.

Nancy and her family arrived home Monday evening and so we were able to spend Christmas eve and Christmas day together. Nancy and Gary and the boys went to Christmas eve midnight mass, but I was knackered and went to bed. However, I was awakened by the fragrance of home-made spaghetti and joined them for a snack at 2 a.m. Christmas day didn't start until about 9:30, when I got up and turned on the coffee maker, the rest of the crew emerged shortly thereafter and we had brunch and Nancy and Gary prepared the turkey dinner.

There is always at least one snag in every Christmas Day, at least in our family. Gary's mom lives in a long-term care facility in Waterloo, but the plan was to bring her to the house for Christmas dinner and then take her back afterward. Gary and his brother went to pick her up, but she decided she wanted to stay put. So Gary drove back to the house to pack up dinner for his mom and his brother and take it to them. Gary needed someone to drive up with him in a second car so that his brother would be able to come back after eating dinner. Are you confused yet? Well if not, you are the only one who understands what was going on. Frank senior (my former husband) volunteered to follow Gary. So, Gary set off in the family car, and Frank tried to follow him in his car, Alas, Gary forgot that Frank was following him and he forgot that Frank had never been to the facility. Frank got thoroughly lost. Fortunately he had his cell phone with him and he called Nancy for directions. It was dark and the long-term care home is in a weird part of Waterloo that is only accessible by taking a roundabout and then backtracking. Are you lost yet? Frank still was. I'm still not sure how he was able to follow Nancy's directions, but somehow he managed and things worked out. Dinner was delayed by over an hour, but it was still mighty delicious.

Frankie and Sam are ecstatic because, between them, they have enough money to buy an Xbox 360. In fact, Frank might be at the mall right now, checking out prices. I don't know what is so enticing about the Xbox and probably never will, but then, I don't need to know.

I do know it was a very special Christmas and I have the Minnie Mouse to prove it.

Happy New Year to all of you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Snow, Snow, Snow, Shop, Shop, Shop. Stop

We have snow. There is enough of it to go over my boot tops, should I happen to step off the sidewalk and into a snowbank. The effects of the storm were still here on Monday, so I stayed home, and of course by today, I thought of more things I needed to buy for Christmas. It always works that way for me. Sure, I do advance planning and the presents I ordered from the Avon guy have arrived as have a couple of other things. Christmas cards and a present to a far away friend have been mailed. But there is nothing like the urgency of the last few days before the holiday to put me back into a shopping frame of mind. And besides, it snowed.

So, I took the bus to the little mall at Bridgeport and Weber. It's not as horrendously busy as the big malls and I can usually find a bargain or two. The bus arrived almost on time and the driver was letting people off at shoveled driveways rather than at snow-burdened bus stops. It didn't take me long to spend almost $100 between Zellers and the grocery store. And it could all be carried in two very heavy bags. I still haven't found another something special for Frank and Sam, but that may happen when I go to the Highland Hills Mall on Thursday. I have to go there, the dentist's office is in the mall. But that may be another story.

I mentioned heavy bags, because when the bus came to take me home, it didn't stop in a more or less snow free area. And, there was an older (older than me) woman attempting to get off the bus with her walker. The driver did at least lower the bus. The woman took one step backwards off the bus and her foot sank into the snowbank. The young man who was waiting for the bus with me just stood there. I transferred both my bags to one hand and assisted the woman with the walker to reach the sidewalk safely. I don't blame the young man, he probably was not sure what to do, or how to do it safely. I do blame the bus driver, at least a little, for not stopping in a better spot. If I had had more foresight. I would have handed my grocery bags to the young man, then I would have had the use of both hands. My shoulder is a bit sore now, so it's time to stop shopping, for today.

I think I'll wrap presents and put them under my little green plastic tree while listening to Christmas music. That's a better way to spend the rest of my afternoon. As the song says, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Merry Christmas to all, and Merry Xmas too!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mortimer Bus Gang and The Murder

On Monday, I went to Toronto to get together with four people I hadn't seen in about five years. We originally met on the Mortimer 62 bus. We all lived in the same neighbourhood at the time and it turned out that we had, and still have, some things in common. Mostly, I think we share a belief in what I'll call the Canadian ideal.

We are a disparate group in some ways. We come from different parts of the world. Three of us chose to become Canadians, two of us were born here, and of those two, one is aboriginal. Our skin colours range from pale and somewhat pink after one beer, to very dark brown. Our religious beliefs and lack of belief, also vary. We all have children who were born in Canada.

When we reunited and shared some of our stories, there was much laughter and then some serious discussion of what should be expected from people who are Canadian. The discussion was prompted by the very recent murder of a young Muslim girl. Her father is said to have murdered her because she did not follow the rules of his culture and she would not wear the head covering. We were all appalled and saddened by the event, though some of us were less shocked than others.

It can be extremely difficult for first generation Canadians to accept the choices their children make, especially when the children break cultural or religious rules. Two of our gang told us of the ways their own children had rebelled and of their reactions as parents. They were angry, yes, but that anger was tempered by their belief that they needed to act in accordance with the Canadian ideal.

I don't think we defined what the Canadian ideal is, but perhaps we defined what it isn't. Tolerance of difference does not include accepting differences that are harmful or discriminatory to a person, whether the intolerance has it's origin in culture, in faith, or in race, it makes no difference. It is simply wrong.

If the Canadian ideal ever becomes a wide spread reality, and I'd like to think it can; it will happen slowly, over generations. I am an optimist, but as my friends have proved, I am not alone. If sixty years ago, a small and very disparate group like the Mortimer bus gang had met at a bus stop, would we all have immediately started chatting with one another? Probably not, because it would have seemed too strange, too threatening, both for the brown people (including a large very fit, dark brown man) and for the one pink person. I remain cautiously hopeful and "as Canadian as possible, under the circumstances."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Do I Avoid Thee. Let Me Count The Ways

It is the last week of November. If I could, I would get rid of November altogether. November is far too dreary with its short dull days and long dark nights. There is no hope of weather that would require shorts and tee shirts, but my summer wardrobe didn't get packed away until yesterday. Was I hoping for a summer day to appear in November? No, I was just avoiding the task. I'm good at that.

For instance, it took me about a year to decide to contact O****d magazine about a submission for which I had received no reply. I sent the magazine an email and then two weeks later another email. After no response to my emails, I sent them a letter. It, too, has not been answered. It occurred to me that perhaps I should send them an - I withdraw my submission - letter. But that would be pointless, so I can avoid doing that. Instead, I decided to revise the story, and I started to do that, but other events interceded. It's on the work list, but not yet completed.

I needed a new coat last year, and the year before that, but I postponed shopping for one and by January, all the medium size coats in my price-range had disappeared. Avoiding things has its benefits. I saved money and finally, two weeks ago, I did find and buy a coat. It was a close call though. If D. had not been with me I might have resisted because I didn't want to carry the coat home on the bus.

I have quilts that I need to take to the laundromat since they are too large for my small washer/dryer. But now, there is snow and ice on the ground. I think I'll wait.

There is a flu shot clinic today and I can't avoid that since it is the only one in my area. However, before the day is over, I'm sure I'll find something else to avoid. As I said, I'm good at it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Work/Play Ratio Might Need an Adjustment

Maybe it's the grimness of November, although we had sun yesterday, or maybe its simply the arrival of my second childhood, but in any case, I spend much more time at play than at work.

Yesterday was a productive time. I finished final revisions to a story, wrote three letters, sent the story to three places and finally showered and dressed at noon. I could feel virtuous about that, except; I goofed off all weekend and so far today, I've played Scrabulous, ordered Christmas gifts, bought a lottery ticket, surfed the Internet and had two cups of coffee. I am also reading a Quintin Jardine mystery and Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes. Evidently, I have a lot to learn in that department.

D. will be here for tea and a chat this evening so now I must find the top of my desk and tidy my apartment. How did I generate so much mess in one day of work? Would I ever be able to find anything if I worked more often?

Play has it's benefits-- I've learned that qat is a valid Scrabulous word. But now I must make a list of things I have to do. Drat! Second childhood interrupted.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Remembrance Day Thoughts

Sunday is Remembrance Day.

I wondered what I could say as the day brings so many people to mind. Let's remember those Canadians who are currently serving in Afghanistan and around the world, as well as all the veterans.

A few people from the many I'll always remember.

My grandfather, John Wesley A. who served in World War One in the British Expeditionary Forces (from Canada) and never revealed the horrors of his four years in the trenches to us.

The men and women who lived in the Veterans' Wing at Sunnybrook Hospital.. I knew so many of them but some stand out in my mind.

Allistair H captained a destroyer (WW II) and liked to paint silk scarves.
Fred LeF volunteered before he was of age (WW I) . He had the world's biggest smile and adored I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
Connie, nurse (WWII) couldn't talk but could sing as loudly as Ethel Merman.
Fred K (WW II) loved to work on the potter's wheel, though he had Parkinson's disease and sometimes got stuck in one position for several minutes.
Arthur B. (WW II) the shortest man in his regiment. He wore the biggest hats and spent his time building beautiful doll houses and drinking smuggled-in wine, when he could get some.

The veterans I worked with at the community centre and through the CNIB.
Vi (WW II Women's Army Corps) lost almost all her vision but none of her memories.
Claire H. (WW II) a gentle man who reminded me of my grandfather and who coped with his infirmities with infinite grace.

The list in my head is much longer, but I cannot write all the names down,

"We'll Meet Again"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Great News and Grumbles

It's always best to start with good news and I have better-than-good news to report. It's terrific news! My friend Lori Hahnel's short story collection, Nothing Sacred, will be published in autumn 2009 by Thistledown Press. I'm delighted for her and know how long and hard she has worked. Talent, luck and pluck (bug the people who have your work) have finally paid off. This is her first book and there will be others. I plan to buy every one. Lori has also kindly said that I'll be named in the acknowledgements. Actually, she said I'd have a whole page, but that decision will likely rest with her publisher. I plan to have my own celebration when the weather obliges and I can walk to the store and purchase a small libation.

I'll try to make the grumble shorter than the good news. Why the heck is Mr. Harper running negative ads about Dion already, and who is funding the cost of those ads? What is he afraid of? The Liberals aren't chomping at the bit and ready to run another race. Maybe Harper thinks that he should call an election while the Liberals are still locked behind the starting gate. He'd better think twice about spending our money on that. And furthermore, a reduction in the GST is not the best way to give us folks on the bottom rung of the economic ladder a break.

That is more than enough about federal politics and although I have many more complaints I'll save them for another time.

In the last little while, I've acted as first editor for a friend who is writing restaurant reviews for Real Women Canada.(Although the review that is probably posted on the site by now was not seen by me due to a mysterious email glitch.) That means I'll be treated to lunch soon. I'm planning to have something decadent and be unrepentant.

That's about it for this post, except for this.

Three cheers for Lori!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gary's Art

My son-in-law has recently returned to drawing. It's something he did earlier in his life and now he's taking lessons and drawing frequently. One of his drawings has won a prize and he has also sold a commissioned piece.

You can see his work here.


I was thinking I ought to make more room on my book shelves, maybe by selling or giving away some of the books I already have. I was thinking that before I went to Toronto on Thursday and came home with another book. It's a small paperback so I can probably fit it in somewhere. Then, on Friday, a friend gave me a huge Oxford Dictionary of Canadian English and two large art history books. I'm delighted but the books are still on my kitchen table since there is no room for them on the shelves.

I may have the solution though. There are big sets of shelves in my bedroom and one set holds clothes that I have no room for in my closet. It's time to do a clothes purge so that I have more room for books. Wouldn't you do the same thing?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rejoicing for My Friend

Late yesterday, I heard from my friend Lori Hahnel. Her story, Art is Long, will be published in that Holy Grail of Canadian literary journals, The Fiddlehead.

Virtual champagne is now available to all readers of this blog in honour of Lori's success. I've happily been the first reader for some of her stories including this one and hope to read more in the future.

Here's looking at you kid! You are indeed, In Like Flynn.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Got Guilt?

If you don't have enough guilt, please let me know and I'll send some to you because I have plenty.

Guilt about not writing - guilt about not cleaning - guilt about not responding to facebook questions and friend's emails - guilt about spending too much money - guilt about not looking for a job. Need I go on? Probably not.

Therefore; let me talk briefly about the Ontario election and the very divisive issue of "faith-based school funding." I think John Tory was mistaken in choosing to emphasize that issue and now he has discovered that most Ontarians didn't agree with his stance. I certainly didn't agree. The next step in dealing with the issue will require a government with enough courage to phase out the separate (Catholic) school system, as Quebec has already done. That may not happen for a while but I think, eventually, it will.

Why not have one school system for all? It makes sense in this most multicultural society and then, it would also be possible to fund schools properly. That's extremely important for all our children.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Election Weirdness

The Provincial election takes place on October tenth. I wonder how many people will foget that due to Oktoberfest shenanigans?

I received a flyer in my mail box today from the P.C. candidate for my riding. There's a picture of McGuinty on the front, he's the face on the Wanted for breaking promises poster. The picture does not look any worse than my passport picture, and I suspect that Ontario still wants McGuinty and the Liberals. I looked at the local P.C. candidate's website in order to be fair, but it contains little except a couple of other pictures of him.

I'm not sure if Ontario wants to continue with first-past-the post election winners or choose the new and confusing system. I'm not even sure that I understand the proposal, but that could just be me.

And, interestingly, no one is mentioning Toronto's huge financial problems. Mr. Harper didn't mention them either, when he was in Toronto making a speech. He did however tell everyone that he is going to apply the $14 billion surplus to the debt.

All elected parties tend to break promises sooner or later and those that keep some of their promises sometimes keep the wrong ones. Thus sayeth the cynic.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Passport to Where?

At last, I have acquired my passport. It was a long struggle to find someone who was eligible to swear I was 'real' but I did. After submitting all the documents and the outrageous fee to the local office, I was told the passport would arrive in a couple of weeks. In fact it took only ten days to get here. Colour me astonished. I'm totally prepared now for a big lottery win. When that happens I can go anywhere I want, even to Calgary. (I hear the rest of Canada might soon need a passport to enter the Oil Kingdon).

The long process involved in getting the proof which shows world I'm a 'real' Canadian made me wonder how I got this far in life with so little documentation - no drivers licence, no employer card, no picture health card and so on. A few years ago, I didn't even have a social security card, or a birth certificate, thanks to a purse snatcher. Now, in addition to my new passport, I have a picture health card and a few years ago I replaced my SIN card and my birth certificate. I have lots of ID now. It will be all too easy for people to find me when I win the lottery. I'd better make a plan.

Speaking of plans, sometimes all the planning in the world won't prevent weirdness from happening. For instance, my daughter's lawn care company is required to post signs on the day before they use any herbicide/pesticide/product on a lawn. Naturally, she has this done by area, or neighbourhood since that is the most efficient way to do it. Earlier in the week, every posted sign in a certain neighbourhood was removed by person or persons unkown. Everything had to be reposted, jobs had to be rescheduled, time was lost, money was lost, but there's nothing she can do about it and that hurts. I wish I could fix the situation for her, but I can't.

I'd better go fix the story I've been revising, instead.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What are You Reading?

This morning, I read my friend Lori's blog and she mentions Nora Ephron's current book. As it happens, I've dipped into that book too, while at the library. I wonder if it would have been published if it wasn't written by a 'known' writer. It's slight and somewhat amusing in places, but that's all. On the other hand, The Blue Hour of The Day, Lorna Crozier's collected poems, is worth reading more than once. I hated to return it to the library

I'm in the middle of reading Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam. A couple of weeks ago, I read Thirteen by Evanovitch. It was far more entertaining than Ephron's very minor epiphanies.

What are you reading?

Monday, September 10, 2007

What Category are You?

On Saturday, I went to a workshop for writers sponsored by the Toronto chapter of Romance Writers of America.

I had to take the 7:30 a.m. bus. There were a lot of other people on the bus, but only one held any fascination for me. She was in the seat directly in front of me. I'd been looking elsewhere when she sat down and all I could see was the back of her head. An amazing feat of hair architecture. Before seeing that, I'd assumed that teasing hair to such an extent had died and was not mourned. I was wrong. While the bus navigated the bumps on local roads, the hands of the woman in front of me were busy. One held a small mirror and the other one was used to apply makeup. I recognized some of the tools she used but not all of them - there were so many. Thirty-five minutes later she appeared to be finished and all her tools had clinked back into the box. Next came an assortment of pill bottles. She swallowed ten different pills then settled back in her seat, perhaps to gain energy for what would happen next.

As the bus arrived at the terminal, she popped out of her seat like a Jill from a box, and pushed her way to the front door. I never did see her face. Was she going to a job interview, or the film festival, or was she an alien among us? Only the shadow knows.

The workshop itself was good and the presenter was very professional (aside from a few personal digressions that were a tad on the long side) and interesting. Since I arrived after she started to talk, I had to sit at the back of a the room. That usually means that any power point presentations will be impossible for me to read, but her slides were clear, large and readable.

There were about 80 women in the room and one man, who of course received special mention. I didn't have a choice of where to sit and my table companions seemed to know each other very well. They weren't the least bit interested in adding to their list of acquaintances. Too bad.

At lunch time I spoke briefly to the women at the table behind me. They were both working on romance novels and they asked me what I was writing. Mainstream or literary I answered. What's that? What indeed. I tried to explain and probably didn't do a good job because I'm not sure how to define it, except to say that it isn't genre fiction.

It did make me think about the way that books are slotted into categories. Romance has a lot of subdivisions - romance Harlequin style, bodice rippers, erotic romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, fantasy romance (okay, maybe all romance is fantasy to some extent) perhaps there is even science-fiction romance.

When the presenter mentioned one famous writer of horror, Stephen King, and asked how many of us had read his fiction, only about 5 of the people there raised their hands, and I was one of them. That startled me. I do read genre/category/ call-it-what-you-will fiction of many different types as well as reading 'fine' or literary work. I like to think I'm an omnivorous reader, though others might say I'm a print addict. Each to their own addiction.

What category are you?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Home Again and travels with Google Earth

It's been an out-of-this-world week. D. and I went up to the family trailer on Tuesday and returned on Friday. While were in "the Bruce" the weather was fair and we did a little exploring. We went to see the Saugeen Falls and discovered that the river was so low that people were walking across and sliding down parts of the falls. Of course there are signs warning of slippery rocks but no one was reading them except older folk, like us. We also drove to Owen Sound, which is across the peninsula on the Georgian Bay side and walked the path beside the channel. It wasn't the part of the path that had been gentrified by the city,somehow we failed to locate that area, but there was a cool breeze and sunshine to enjoy.

On Thursday, we found a hidden treasure, at least that's how I've come to regard it. On the way back to Southampton we saw a small sign that said Amphitheatre and 'all welcome'. There wasn't much to see from the road, only a parking lot next to an old United Church and the location was just inside the Saugeen First Nations land. In any event, we stopped and parked because D. knew the river was close by. We found the amphitheatre and a lovely series of gardens in tiers with stone paths that led to a beautiful river outlook, there was also a nature walk which we followed until it became too steep for me. The whole place was peaceful and unspoiled by anything commercial. I assume that members of the Saugeen band tend the site and they don't ask for any donations. At the time we were both in that state of relaxation known to the family as 'camp head' and our visit to the gardens added to our spaciness. No man-made sounds disturbed our meditative state and we stayed until late afternoon.

There was food of course, and more food. Fresh picked local corn, new potatoes and strawberries from the best fruit and vegetable stand , a lemon meringue pie that somehow slipped into our cart when we were in the grocery store to pick up bottled water, milk, chicken and steaks for the BBQ. Excellent halibut fish and chips at a restaurant in Southampton. And, candied almonds D. had the foresight to bring in case we needed a snack, or two, or three.

D, had a grand time using his new digital camera and took at least 60 pictures. So we'll have green memories to enjoy when it's white and cold outside.

On the weekend we relaxed some more. I found Little Miss Sunshine on the Express DVD shelf at the library and we watched that and laughed ourselves into hiccups at the ending. I'd told D. that I'd like to visit the family cemetery which is located just outside of Highgate Ontario so he decided to see if we could find it using Google's Earth program. D. has a brand-new fast sophisticated computer and we found the area then zoomed in and zoomed in some more and then, after the fourth zoom. Poof! The computer cut out and rebooted. He tried again and the same thing happened. So I'm never going to download that program. We are reasonably certain of where the cemetery is since I have a map drawn by my mother, but it does not show up on Google earth, perhaps it is more heavenly than Earth-ly. Sometime in September we'll find out if my mother's map is correct.

Right now though, I have to begin de-relaxing (my new made-up word). It is, as D. says, time to do things.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Idol - atry Free

I was reading a blog on the CBC website titled - Stuff we’ve missed
The complete guide to missing out on major cultural phenomena. It mentions books and television shows like American/Canadian Idol. Summer television here in the one-channel universe makes me want to moan, stop, please stop. It isn't just a little 'pitchy' the Idol genre is bad verging on horrid. But lest you think I'm a complete highbrow snob, I'll admit I like watching So You Think You Can Dance; that is, I like watching the actual dance segments, but I could do without the other parts of the program.

I probably missed out on lots of major cultural phenomena since I didn't have a television for a number of years and there are lots of 'must read' books that I haven't read yet and may never get around to reading. Then there are books I started and never finished. I've also never attended a live rock concert that featured a major star, never been to a major league baseball game, or visited a major amusement park, but I have no desire to do any of those things.

Did you know that Gilligan's Island is now out on DVD as a 'classic' television series? My grandsons find it very funny. I don't. As for me, I'd buy a DVD of Dark Shadows, if I could find one -vampire soap opera, now that's classic TV. Okay, so it's not, but that Jonathan had charisma from his toes to his fangs. As for what will be a television classic, I vote for Corner Gas. Thank goodness CTV sticks reruns of CG on in prime time when it has a spare half hour between the endless Idol programs.

Now, I'm going to watch The Lavender Hill Mob on DVD, it's a classic movie that stands the test of time, and it has no bad singing in it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot - Or, How 93 Became 34

The weather forecast for today reminded me of that old Arrow song. Environment Canada's Website says it will be 34 degrees today, and when I press the convert to Fahrenheit key, 34 becomes 93 degrees. Maybe when Canada went metric it wasn't done to put us in synch with the rest of the world; instead, it was an 'evil plot' to make us think our weather is reasonable. We all know our weather is reasonable for only very short periods of time. I'd blame it on the Conservatives, but I'm not sure if they were in power then.

In the plans-gang-aft-agley department, I had planned to stay in Toronto for a couple of days this week. A friend invited me, then had to cancel when some of her family had to move in with her due to renovation problems. While I'd love to see her, I'm happy to wait for a more convenient time, and better weather.

O.V. finally replied to my query about an old story. So, now I know that both my contest entry and the old story need to be revised and sent out again. There are other writing projects to work on as well, but I've been lazy.My only recent accomplishment is the book review that's now up on My friend D. says I'm simply taking a short sabbatical. Thanks, D. I'll buy that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Naming The Man in My Life and Other Matters of Importance

Maybe it's because I now have a thesaurus, or maybe it's because I'm avoiding revisions, but today, I've been thinking about how women my age should refer to the men with whom they are romantically involved.

Introductions can be a little tricky. Do I say- this is my friend- and use voice inflection to put quotation marks around it? I'm not comfortable with saying he's my boyfriend since he is obviously not a boy anymore and anyhow, that word is entirely too cute. When I refer to him informally on a Web forum, I often call him my significant other. But I don't like the expression much. I'd use partner, but D. is averse to that one since it's often used by gay guys. Companion is rather appropriate I think. Best of all is amoroso, which appears in my thesaurus, but it's probably not good for use in casual conversation. Perhaps I'll just say this is D. and let 'em wonder.

One important thing occurred today.I went forth into the marketplace and after many trials and temptations, I purchased a new pair of jeans. The bank loan should come through soon.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Summer Daze In My Electronic "Cottage"

The magical delight of a perfect summer day. A few small clouds to define the sky; a light breeze to keep the temperature moderate; a long walk in the sunshine this morning; a traditional Canadian breakfast. Bliss.

And when I thought the day could not be improved upon, a surprise arrived. My friend D. called and asked if he could come over for a while this evening. When he arrived, I had to open the door wide because he was carrying a big box that contained a 20 inch colour television for me. After he'd installed it, complete with the better aerial, he proceeded to install surprise number two, a cable that goes from my stereo to the aerial. Now, I have a very clear FM signal for the first time since I moved here and I'm enjoying listening to a great concert on CBC radio 2 with absolutely no fuzzy sound or other interference. I can listen to the radio through the computer too and have a version of surround sound.

I tell you, it's all more than a little overwhelming for me. But, I like it, oh yes, I like it very much. Maybe someone should pinch me to make sure I haven't gone to Oz or La La land. On second thought, cancel that. I'll stay in my happy daze for a while.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Conrad Black Found Guilty - Now what?

The verdict is in and Conrad Black has been found guilty of some of the criminal charges laid against him. I know at least one person who is dancing around his living room as I type this. My friend D. worked for an American company for many years and when it was taken over by Hollinger Internationl. the pension fund was gutted. Dancing won't give D. back his money but there is likely some satisfaction in seeing Mr. Black get his comeuppance - and jail time too I'd assume.

Black gave up his Canadian citizenship so that he could sit in the British House of Lords. I wonder if that means he will choose to serve his time in a British jail? Maybe Her Majesty could speak to him - It's all rather a frightful mess, isn't it old chap? One ought to consider turning in the ermine.

At the beginning of his trial Black made comments about getting his Canadian citizenship back. I'm not sure how far things have gone in that direction. If I were the one making the decision I'd say no to him, on the grounds that we already have a more-than-sufficient number of ruthless business people with no principles, but without ermine capes. Maybe Black should give his cape to the next contender, but she who used to write for the Sun might not like that.

I cannot abide his uber right-wing ultra-snobbish nut cake (won't even type her name) 'wife'.

Sic transit dubious gloria, and it's about time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Official Old Fart (Fartess?) Day

Today's the day.

It didn't happen on my birthday. It didn't happen the week after my birthday when things finally slowed down and I could reflect on the aging process. Nope. It happened today when I opened my mail box and found the big brown envelope from Service Canada a.k.a. Human Resources Development Canada. It's my application for the Old Age Security Pension. The pension won't start until July 2008, but there's no sense in applying late for it. I'd better give them lots of time to get ready to send me the money. It will probably take me at least that much time to completely accept my official status as an Old Fartess.

In the meantime, I've had tons of fun quarreling with banks, investgating the ins and outs of locked-in pension money. (Some free advice here - never lock-in anything if you can find a way to avoid it. At the time my money was locked-in against my wishes, it was required by law.) I discovered that some tellers don't know much if anything about what the investment specialists in their own branch are and are not responsible for. I won't limit my sniping to just one financial institution either. Both TD Canada Trust and Bank of Montreal have provided me with incorrect information.

The guy at TD, who might be all of twenty-one years old, gave me not one but two out-of-date telephone numbers to call for information from the Federal and the Ontario governments. He's consistent, I'll give him credit for that. Now that I'm an Old Fartess, I have time to search for numbers and to wait on the phone; and after only 35 minutes I got a real person from the Ontario finance department who was polite, kind and informative.

I'm afraid it took longer to figure out the BMO problem, but Old Fartesses are persistent. After two phone calls to automated systems that accepted my account number but refused the password that works online but apparently not on the telephone, I paid an in-person visit to the bank. I asked the pertinent questions clearly and carefully, but the teller said I'd have to speak to the Investment Specialist and to do that I'd need to make an appointment. It'll take five minutes - or less - said I. Can't be done said the teller - make an appointment. So, this morning I kept my appointment. Yes, you guessed it the specialist didn't deal with my particular problem and couldn't answer any of my questions. Call the number on your statement. Oh gee - why didn't I think of that? After I got home I called the number, again, and again and again, and ... by pressing the number for the wrong department I finally got a human being. And, goddess be praised, he told me what I needed to know.

Because I'm an Old Fartess, it will take me at least a week to crunch the numbers and decide what I want to do to ensure I can survive in the minimal style to which I have been accustomed until the government's largess arrives next July.

For the moment, I have been saved from applying for work at the local Tim Horton's, or, worse yet, becoming a Kelly girl, again.

This Old Fartess thing is not so bad after all. It's keeping me laughing.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mail Woes, Telemarketers and Rabbit Ears.

I suppose summer is as good a time as any for a magazine to change locations. I mailed a submission to a certain magazine on June 14 and today, there it was - back in my mailbox. The magazine moved offices on June 19th. I used the mailing address shown in their website on the day I sent out my work. Perhaps I should be glad the submission came back to me and wasn't lost during the move. I wonder why they didn't pay to have their mail forwarded to the new location, at least for a month or two. On the other hand, maybe they didn't choose that option so that the mail flood would slow down and bills would be delayed too.

The only other mail I've received lately has been political bumph. That stuff arrives with great regularity. And I bet it won't be long before the phone calls start because there's a provincial election this fall. There will soon be a national do-not-call list established to help people avoid telemarketers, but political parties will be exempt.

This morning I received a telephone call from someone soliciting funds for TV Ontario. I'm a big fan of TVO, or at least I was when I had cable and could get the signal. I explained this to the caller. He then suggested that I should get someone to adjust my rabbit ears for me. I'll admit, there are things that I'm not capable of doing all by myself, but I'm pretty sure I know how to adjust an antenna.

Pretty sure, but not certain - because after all, I was pretty sure I had the right address for that magazine.

The only important thing I know for sure is that Tim Horton's is going to raise their prices. I think I'll get one last double double before that happens.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bookstore Bliss and some Writing Blather

Two days after my birthday, I received another present - a Visa Gift Card. I'd never seen one before, but the bookstore had no problem accepting it. Thanks to a friend who lives in British Columbia, I was able to purchase a Roget's International Thesaurus.. So, if I want a substitute for itchy I can use pruriginous, though it's an unlikely choice, or I can lean on a broken reed, rather than go out on a limb and so forth. I've always wanted to own one and now that I do, I'll try not to become a phrasemonger with an obtuse style who is over-fond of virgules.

Because many literary magazines close up shop for the summer months, it's been a struggle to find markets for some of my stories that need to go back into the world. However, after some research I've found places to send three of them and they've been mailed out. There was no mail of any sort in my box today, but I'll content myself with the thought that I've accomplished something over the last two weeks.

It was a lovely quiet weekend here in town. A big thank-you to all of the people who went elsewhere for the holiday, and to the city works department for not working on the side road during the long weekend.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Confusion Has It's Way with Me

I probably need to give a little background so that you can understand, or perhaps unravel my confusion.

First, I sent a story to Other Voices in July of 2005. I haven't yet received any mail from them about it, or at least I think not.

Second. I entered the Other Voices short story contest, (yes, that's me your typical writer/sucker) on March 13, 2007. The contest closed March 21 and I didn't expect to hear about the winners for a a long while. And there's nothing posted on their website.

Third, on June 21, I decided to send a -could you tell me pretty please what happened to my 2005 story - letter to Other Voices. Naturally I included an SASE and, in my letter, I gave them a choice of boxes to tick. That way, they; the editor, the go-fer, the strange volunteer, or whoever, might be able to give me some information, they could simply mark the page, slip it in the envelope and mail it back to me.

Is this too much detail? Maybe, but here's why I'm confused. Today I got one of my envelopes back from Other Voices. The date on the letter is June fifth, so it's been kicking around somewhere, Maybe it was in someone's purse, or under their lunch judging by the stains on the envelope. The letter says my work is not chosen for inclusion in the upcoming issue but does not mention which work they are talking about. Maybe it's the contest story. But there's no mention of the contest.

So, I still don't know what happened to the story I sent in 2005. Maybe a few months from now, I'll receive another food-stained envelope.

The contest had a rather hefty fee which includes a subscription to O.V. They'd damn well better send me the journal.

This situation calls for a Tim's coffee and something sweet.

Enjoy the long weekend.

Monday, June 25, 2007

When I'm Sixty-Four. The Birthday Blog

This morning I woke up thinking of that Beatles song and it stuck in my head until after I'd had my coffee. Well, I thought, I'm not crossing over into outright geezerhood until next year, so I'll just keep on enjoying my birthday celebration. It's been a lively and lovely three days.

D. and I had a wonderful time in Port Stanley. The inn we stayed at is right beside the water and had more than the usual conveniences, including a double Jacuzzi. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant then went to the theatre. The play, Don't Dress for Dinner, was quite funny and we had front row centre seats, so we didn't miss any of the nuances. I have no idea how the actors remembered some of the very complex and funny dialogue, but they carried it off very well. Even the weather cooperated. It was sunny but not too hot during the day and cool overnight.

Tonight we were at my daughter's place for barbecued salmon, salads, and strawberries dipped in chocolate. I could sing, 'heaven, I'm in heaven.'

I'm still here on earth, but it was pretty close there for a while.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nancy's Twenty Seconds of Local Fame

My daughter was on the six o'clock local CTV news last night. I didn't know she would be and I missed it. But, they showed the same clip on the late local news at 11:30 p.m. and on the repeat of the late news at 6:00 a.m. this morning. So, I caught the clip twice. One of the Nutrilawn trucks is clearly visible so Nancy is happy with the free publicity. I imagine though, that she is not happy with the weather. A lot of lawns have already gone dormant because we haven't had any rain in ages. Showers are predicted for later today and the temperature has dropped so maybe we'll be blessed with rain.

In other news, oh- there isn't any. No more mail of any sort has arrived. I'll be in Port Stanley next weekend with D. in honour of my birthday. I'm going to enjoy myself and not think about turning sixty-four.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Fat Envelope, But Don't Hand Out the Bubbly

There was a fat envelope in my mailbox this afternoon. I rushed upstairs to open it only to discover a certain American review had returned all the pages of my story. And there was a tiny, I do mean tiny piece of paper, not even 2 inches by 2 inches tucked in the middle saying thanks but no thanks. I know I indicated in my submission letter that I sent a copy of my story and not the original. It's also the fourth rejection in two weeks (though two of the rejections were for the same story). So, I guess it's true - litmag editors are clearing their desks in preparation for the fall onslaught. And I guess it's also true, as the writer-in-residence said, that some writers paper their walls with rejections slips. That's a bit too masochistic to suit me. I've made a note in my story tracker and in my day book so I know I have to send the story out again, eventually. And now, I think I'm going to rip the slips into itty bitty pieces.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Alas, Camp Head is Fleeting

The weather wasn't perfect while we were away, but it didn't matter. There was a fresh breeze by the lake, so fresh that we needed jackets and hats, and the sky was a deep blue with no pollution smudge on the horizon where the lake and the firmament meet. There was also ice cream, a scoop of butter pecan for me and two scoops of Tiger Tail for D (no Raisin Bran was allowed anywhere near the campsite). We had a camp fire on the second night since everything was soaked on the first night and there was no dry place to sit. There are ways to start a fire, when the wood is wet, but I've promised not to reveal them.

We decided to eat out on the first night, well actually, D. decided I shouldn't have to cook. So, we went into Port Elgin and spotted what looked like a very nice place to eat. Maybe it was too nice for the likes of us. D. and I were both wearing jeans, and he had his baseball cap on because of the wind. We went in - the waiter looked us over - and asked if we had reservations. It was all of 4:30 in the afternoon and only three tables were occupied, but he said they were full. Okay then. I bet that fresh fish they claim to serve is really from the freezer. We found a place that served fish and chips and didn't mind our attire. And, we didn't have to tip, either. Take that - Monsieur actor/waiter/ snob.

My mood improved when we visited the chocolate place in Port Elgin. They have truly delicious handmade dark chocolate, a perfect dessert since one cannot acquire extra pounds while on vacation. Yes, I made that up and it might come true since we did lots of walking.

There's no good writing news. Grain rejected a story of mine, but at least the editor wrote a personal note, (yes, I grasp at any straw that comes my way) though it took me hours to decipher it. And I didn't win, place, or show in the Ten Stories High contest this year. I'm trying not to stew about it. Maybe as D. says, I just wasn't the flavour of the month, this month.

I've just finished reading, Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church: Eyewitness accounts of how American churches are hijacking Jesus, Bagging the Beatitudes, and Worshiping the Almighty Dollar by Becky Garrison. I liked it a whole lot. Garrison writes for The Wittenburg Door, a religious satire magazine. In fact, it's the only magazine of it's kind, as far as I know. As the editor of The Door says about Garrison's book - "you've got to care what happens to America, and you've got to care what happens to the church to write successful religious humour" and she does. In her loving but abrasive way, she cheered me up.

Now, it may be time for more ice cream, to finish the job of restoring my good humour.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Harper is not a "Leader" He's a Major Jerk - (Expletive Deleted)

Even if you are one who leans to the right politically, how can you, or anyone else, support Harper?

This morning, the air here is so bad you can taste it, but hey - we shouldn't even try to meet the Kyoto goals, because it would hurt our economy. Does it matter if we can breathe? Evidently not.

His party is spending tons of money on despicable ads that say Dion is not a leader. If Harper sees himself as a good leader he is totally out to lunch, and he's probably sharing that meal with the evil shrub (a.k.a. Bush).

Now, his party is blaming Hillier, the head of the Canadian Armed Forces, for the minuscule amount of money, $4,500, allowed for military funerals. That makes me gag. I hope every veteran speaks up about this injustice.

I'm going to go for a large dose of alternate reality on the weekend. Johnny Depp, please take me away. Then, on Tuesday I'll go away, for real, up to Port Elgin.

Maybe that'll restore my good humour.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Case of "Camp Head"

Early Friday evening my daughter drove us to Camp Kenoris, which is just north of Port Elgin. After being in the fresh air for a few hours, I came down with a case of "camp head." That state of mind where you can remember your name, and maybe the names of your immediate family, but, nothing else seems to have any importance. It's a very serene feeling.

We had a camp fire on Saturday night. The stars were hidden by clouds and after the boys went to bed, Nancy and I sat and watched the flames and talked for a long while. We went in when it started to sprinkle and fell asleep listening to the peaceful sound of rain on the roof.

The smell of wood smoke lingers on my navy hoodie. Maye I'll wash it tomorrow, then again, maybe not.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Politicians. Eeek! They're Everywhere. Please Hand me a Broom

I wonder if politicians are born, or if some virus produces them. If genus politicus is produced by a virus, then someone ought try to find a cure.

Harper went to Afghanistan but, unfortunately, he came back. He hasn't said much since then, or maybe I've managed to ignore whatever he's currently spouting. I wonder if he wore lipstick with his flack jacket? I don't like him, but politicians closer to home are beginning to annoy me more than Harper does, and that takes some doing.

There's the school board member who lives in the same apartment building as my Viking. He likes to get on the phone and shout at people, beginning at 4 a.m. This is more than annoying for D. because he, like me, sometimes has trouble sleeping. I wonder what is so important that it needs to be discussed so often, at 4 a.m? This same politician votes against every budget increase, except board salary increases.

And right here in my building, there's another member of the species. He lives in the apartment right below me. He knows who I am, but, he never talks to me, never even says hello, except when it is politically expedient. This morning I ran into him bright and early and he actually spoke to me. Why? Because tonight condo owners will be electing new board members. My downstairs neighbour ran for a seat on the board last year. He talked to me just before the election and asked for my vote. And now, one year later, he's talked to me again. I didn't vote for him the last time, and I won't vote for him this time either. Thank goodness for secret ballots.

I'm not going to think about politics at all, this coming weekend. I'll be up at the trailer with my daughter and her boys and with any luck we'll sit around the fire at night, and I'll go for a walk later in the evening and look at the stars.

I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Trees in Leaf - Smog alert

Even the largest trees are unfurling their leaves, just in time for the first smog alert of the season. Apparently, it's the earliest smog alert in the history of alerts for this area. That isn't progress. Meanwhile, Ontario is not closing its coal-fired generating plants because we, the people of this smoggy part of province, require more and more energy.

I try to use less electicity; but, since the sections of my windows that open are very small - it becomes difficult when there is no air movement. This morning, it's 26 degrees in here and by the end of the day, if I don't turn on the central air conditioning it will probably be 28 or 29. And the air quality is bad. I'm searching for a small fan that would fit in my bedroom window. But I know I'll have to use the central air conditioning when the temperature rises. It's only May 9th and that could mean a long expensive summer is ahead.

Maybe I'm grouchy because the fire alarm in the building went off this morning. There was no fire, just an inept contractor.

Or maybe I'm cranky because there's been no mail about my fiction.

On the plus side of the ledger, there's food. Turkey burgers from the famous butchers in New Heidelberg are delicious. He who likes to cook grilled them for our Saturday supper. I'm now a convert. And there's another good dining experience in my future, since I'm invited to my daughter's place for Mother's Day. She isn't cooking, her sister-in-law is arranging for Chinese food for the gang. I'm hoping for a good-luck fortune cookie.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Errol Flynn, and The Suit

Errol Flynn has popped up a couple of times in the last few days. First, he appeared in a very funny short story written by my friend Lori Hahnel. The story was snapped up 24 hours after she sent it to Humanist Perspectives. In the writing world, that's almost as fast as Flynn's sword play. Then, on the weekend, D. and I were searching for something to watch on television early Saturday evening and stumbled upon Errol in the original version of Robin Hood. I hadn't seen the movie for at least 20 years and was charmed by Flynn all over again. I also appreciated the fact that while there are lots of fights in the movie, gore does not spatter the screen.

Tuesday evening, I got to see another very handsome young gentleman, in person. Frankie, my oldest grandson was confirmed last night. For the occasion, he wore his new tailored suit. It's black with a grey pinstipe and he chose a black shirt and a black tie with white stripes to compliment the suit. His bright pink braces and his current hair colour, dark blonde with sparks of red made him stand out in the crowd, that and his broad shoulders will turn him into a girl-magnet. Last I heard though, he already has a girlfriend, so the other girls can only sigh and hope to catch his eye. Frankie dreams of being in a rock band and is saving his money for the purchase of a bass guitar and an amp. Who knows what he'll actually become? I don't, but I hope I'm still around when he gets there.

I wish Flynn was still around too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

June Callwood and other less important thoughts

June Callwood died a few days ago. That is, her body left this earth, but the life she led and the way she changed the lives others will be remembered. I know how much difference she made to the lives of women and I'm glad we had her with us for a while. She chose to die at Casey House, the hospice she founded for people dying with AIDS. It was the first hospice of its kind and when she conceived the idea there was a lot of opposition to it. But she prevailed. She was also a compelling writer who used her words to promote social justice causes. I'll miss her, a lot. She is one of those who inspired me to try to do things that would make the world a better place for those people who lack power in at least some small way.

Sometimes I have trouble deciding what my priorities should be, but things work out most of the time. For example; today I went for a wander through the shops in uptown Waterloo. It would be good, I thought to find a summer skirt, or a decent pair of summer shorts. But the price tags were shocking. Then, I popped into Wordsworth's Books Store, one of the last independent bookstores, and found a couple of things. A paperback version of The Paris Review book of People with Problems (a fiction anthology) was on sale for $5.99. How could I resist that? Then I picked up the current issue of The New Yorker magazine because there's an article titled "The truth about aging." The cover blurb about the article says - The ranks of the elderly are growing. Why has the medical profession turned its back on them? Atul Gawande on a coming crisis. I have to read that, I mean, it's research isn't it? So, I ended up spending about $13.00 and not buying any clothes. I think June would understand.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Paranoid - Who me?

There's been nothing in my mailbox for ages and ages, but I don't think the mail carrier is holding anything back. He's a nice guy, everyone in the building says so. But he was on vacation so maybe the substitute carrier can't read addresses properly, or maybe no one wants to tell me anything. All right, I can live with that for a little while longer.

But other things are making me a bit crazy. Secret things. Like the meeting that's scheduled for April 27th in Alberta.

This was posted on the Council for Canadians website:

"The leaked document of a prominent Washington-based think tank obtained by the Council of Canadians reveals that government officials and business leaders from Canada, Mexico and the United States are scheduled to discuss bulk water exports in a closed-door meeting at the end of the month as part of a larger discussion on North American integration.
Titled the “
North American Future 2025 Project,” the initiative being led by the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Conference Board of Canada and the Mexican Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas calls for a series of “closed-door meetings” on North American integration dealing with a number of highly contentious issues including bulk water exports, a joint security perimeter and a continental resource pact.
According to the document, a roundtable on the “Future of the North American Environment,” is planned for Friday April 27 in Calgary, and will discuss “water consumption, water transfers and artificial diversions of bulk water” with the aim of achieving “joint optimum utilization of the available water.”
"This is just the latest in a series of closed-door meetings that grant the business sector privileged access while shutting out the public,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “The document is damning not just because it outlines a process that lacks transparency and accountability,” says Barlow, “but also because of what is being discussed by governments and so-called corporate stakeholders.”
The document also reveals that “trilateral coordination of energy policy” and the development of “North American security architecture” are being discussed by high-level government officials from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico."

Almost all the experts who are contributing their thoughts are American. That's the thing that begins to make me paranoid. They, the Americans and others have already got their mitts on a lot of our natural resources. Now, they're eyeing our water and I'm angry. I hope a lot of other people will get angry about this too. But will it be too late? Will there be more than just 'discussion'? Will an agreement take place behind closed doors that we have no say in. Just wondering. And that phrase "North American integration" gives me the full-blown heebie jeebies.

There was even paranoia on the screen this weekend. Hoax, the movie about Clifford Irving (starring Gere, yum) shows not only Howard Hughes' paranoia, but Irving's as well. It's good though.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hogde Podge - Middle of the Night Musings

Yes, it's 3:30 in the morning and I am wide awake. Boy I hate that! It's become more common as I get older and older and older. (No snide comments, please.) You'd think I'd be able to sleep, since D. was here earlier and we had a lovely time, but no. Maybe tomorrow night. So, I might as well put some thoughts here. Fair warning: they won't be in any particular order.

The Media: Canada's women's hockey team has won gold at the World's. I'm very pleased about that, but I couldn't see the game, since I live in a one-channel universe. The information appeared on the CBC website, for a few hours. If it had been a Canadian (men's) hockey team winning the Stanley Cup, I'm sure that information would have been prominent on the website for much longer. Discrimination, yup. I sure think so.

The Bank: A couple of weeks ago, I took $70.00 in quarters to my local bank branch. I asked the teller to deposit them to my chequing acount. Today, I received my Line-of-Credit statment in the mail - and there was the $70.00 added to my credit balance. What was it I said to the teller? I'm starting to wonder. Thanks to on-line banking I soon fixed the mistake, but I'm not going to visit the same teller the next time I have coins to deposit. The ATM is very reliable, but one cannot deposit coins in it. Maybe soon.

Belinda S: Belinda Stronach is/ will be leaving politics (for now). OOOooh shocking - not! Maybe Magna will buy out Chrysler Daimler and rescue Windsor in the process. I was looking at real estate prices in Windsor, my home town, and they are so low it's incredible. If I wasn't so attached here, I'd consider moving, if I could find the right condo. But Kitchener-Waterloo is now considered to be the Calgary of Ontario, or so CKCO, the local CTV station says,

Afghanistan and all that: It's more than painful, it's heart-wrenching to hear about the increasing numbers of Canadian troops dying in Afghanistan. Should they be there? Truly, I'm not sure. If they can help bring stability - yes, perhaps, but that goal seems so terribly unlikely. Our troops are supposed to be peacekeepers, that doesn't mean they won't have to kill (when it's an absolute necessity), and I resent the commentators who don't understand that, but we seem to be taking a more aggressive role and I can't find that acceptable.

I came, I saw, I filed: I came to the conclusion that I needed a filing cabinet. We shopped (the Viking loves the challenge of finding a bargain). I saw the wood, well parts of it are wood, filing cabinet I wanted. I purchased it. Then, after D (my Viking) had assembled it for me,I filed all my documents. Bliss ensued. Then I realized that a number of my short stories were languishing in said filing cabinet. Another project looms, but I must try to get at least a little sleep.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Travels and travails in the Big Smoke and Other Short Adventures

Late Wednesday evening, (technically, it was Thursday but only by an hour or so) I received an e-mail from a dear friend in Toronto. Her mother had died that night. On Thursday morning, my friend's cousin called and told me the service would be on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. and gave me the name of the funeral home.

So, I took the bus to Toronto and then the subway up to Steeles and Yonge. The information on the Chapel's website indicated that it was 'a couple of blocks west of Yonge', so I decided to walk. It was a good thing I'd given myself plenty of time as the Chapel was about a quarter of a mile away and on the other side of the very busy road. I had to backtrack to the stoplight; however, I did arrive in time.

The rabbi who spoke about my friend's mother had a tendency to repeat her name and then say '____ is here.' I began to wonder if she was going to rise and appear before us. Fortunately, the friends of the almost-departed who spoke when the rabbi was finished were generous in their praise of her and gave us loving anecdotes that I'm sure my friend will cherish.

It was a rather long day for me, but I did manage to visit The World's Biggest Boookstore before taking the bus home. Friday night is not the best night to be on the bus. It was full and I ended up in a seat that slanted sharply toward the floor. But at least I got on. Some folk were not so fortunate and had to wait for the next one.

D. and I had a relaxing weekend and watched Marie Antoinette (the Coppola version) on pay-per-view. It was vacuous. Marie has almost nothing to say, and neither does the Dauphin (Louis), but the costumes and settings were eye-catching. I'd give it maybe two stars, just for the visuals, certainly none for the dialogue. Now I'll have to go and find out who the screen writer was. Damn curiosity. [Edit: it was Sofia Coppola.]

Sunday, we went shopping for a filing cabinet. The box containing the parts is now sitting on my living room floor and the pieces will be assembled sometime this week, when D. is available. I could do it, at least I'm pretty sure I could -- but he has much more fun doing that sort of thing that I do, and I hate deciphering those strange nonsensical diagrams manufacturers of furniture-in-a-box provide. It will be great and maybe even motivating, to have all my stacks of paper neatly filed in one place. I tried to make an appointment with the file fairy, but she stated that she is busy with other more urgent requests until 2010. Even minor deities have their priorities. I suppose it will take me about half a day to get everything filed, counting my personal financial stuff which is already in a small plastic file box, my stories and other writing, and my miscellaneous collection of stuff I might need/want to look at sometime. But I don't have to do that until the cabinet is assembled. Once it is, it will no doubt nag me to fill it.

The short adventure occurred yesterday(Monday). I decided to get my hair trimmed. It was just a little too long at the back and wouldn't curl under for me. My hairdresser's shop is only a few blocks away, so I went in on the off-chance that she could give me a cut. She could. I discussed, or tried to discuss, what I wanted. If I was smart, I'd have said - a little off the top, the back and the sides - isn't that what men tell their barbers. But I said shorter... I don't think I said bald, but I feel kind of bald now. My hair is shorter than many a man's. It won't require much care, so I suppose that's an advantage, and a woman on the elevator told me she liked my new haircut. But maybe she said that because she has very short hair, too. One thing's for sure, it won't be as easily snarled during certain, um, activities.

I'm a woman and I can change, if I have to, I guess. (apologies to Red Green for changing the gender in his slogan)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Round 'em Up - Head 'em Out

In the last week or so, I've been revising short stories that had wandered back home and I have two of them back in the mail. Maybe they'll fare better this time. I decided to enter a couple of contests since Customs and Revenue Canada kindly forwarded my tax refund. Usually, I don't enter contests because the entry fees can be high, but a little cash on hand has modified my opinion for the time being. And besides - it doesn't take eight months, or a year, or two years, to hear the results. Maybe I'll even enter a third contest this spring, if I can finish revising another story before the deadine. Why not be a big spender, temporarily?

Speaking of spring, it seems to be lurking close by, tempting us and then disappearing. Yesterday the snow banks diminished and its still mild today. If this weather continues, I may have to buy rubber boots. I was looking at some bright yellow ones in Zellers, but they turned out to be children's boots. Why can't I have bright yellow rubber boots? It would be fun to stomp in puddles while wearing them. Snow is predicted for the weekend so I guess I'll keep my staid old black boots close by, for now, and my daughter has told me to ask the weather gods not to send spring too early, so I suppose I must do that.

Saturday, I got a ride to the Chapters bookstore and used my gift card to buy two books about writing. Since I didn't know how much money was on the gift card, I chose two paperbacks. After paying for them I found out I still have $40.00 left on the card. Wow! I can't wait to get back to the store and spend the rest of it. I purchased "The First Five Pages: A writer's guide to staying out of the rejection pile" by Noah Lukeman, and "The Sound on the Page" (great writers talk about style and voice in writing) by Ben Yagoda. I've dipped into both books and think it likely that "The Sound on the Page" is the one I'll enjoy more.

Now, it's time to herd another story into the revision corral.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Reunited with Elvis

It's not that I meant to neglect Elvis. It happened because I've been a lazy so-and-so. I have an Elvis CD in my portable CD player and I listen to it when I'm on the treadmill in the exercise room downstairs. My friend Lori gave me the disc some time ago - it's got very early Elvis songs on it, and was recorded back when he was with Sun records, long before his music, and he, himself became overblown and um, over-stuffed. Lately, I'm a bit on the over-stuffed side too, so I had to get together with Elvis, and the treadmill today, before things get completely out of hand.

I think Elvis was wise and didn't know it. All the songs I listened to today seemed to have "messages" for me. That's All Right Mama was there to cheer me up and You're a Heart breaker, applies to the editors of more than one magazine. So, thanks, Elvis, wherever you are. We'll be getting together again soon.

Nora Ephron had a message for me too. I saw her yesterday on Oprah. Yes, folks, I watched Oprah, because I'd seen the promo saying that she and a couple of older actresses would be on the show. Ms. Ephron was promoting her book about her experiences with aging, and I'll bet sales will go through the roof. One thing she said stuck with me - she said, she's learned to enjoy carbohydrates, especially bread, now. Well, she should have come to me, long ago. I've been appreciating carbohydrates for years. Yes, indeedy, and I have the proof of that right here in my chair. It helps that we have some excellent bakeries in our area and I've also had the benefit of homemade spaghetti and meatballs this weekend. Now if only it was as easy to appreciate getting into a sweat on the treadmill as it is to appreciate all those lovely carbs, I'd have it made.

Maybe in an alternate universe.

In the meantime, I think I'll have a toasted tomato sandwich on light rye with mayonnaise and a dash of salt.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Saved from Vista, at Least for Now

Last week was the week when Word disappeared. Sure, in the beginning there was (the) Word, but then I couldn't access it at all. After many trials and tribulations somehow, it's working again. But it has led me to think about eventually purchasing a new Windows Vista program, since the problem originated in Windows.

All was well in computer-land, indeed, I even managed to file my taxes online today. That pleased me, since I'll get a refund. But now I know where some of that refund is going. When I printed out the 25 pages of my tax return (who knew it would take 25 pages for a low-income persons tax return?) the ink began to fade on some parts of the page, then on more. Apparently my long-lasting printer cartridge has finally reached the end of its life span. Admittedly, it has lasted longer than I expected. My HP printer is already obsolete, according the the HP site. I bought it in September of 2004. The cartridges cost $82.72, plus tax, so I'd better get one before they also disappear.

I've spent some time researching short story markets, and some more time researching the best place to buy a new printer cartridge. Then I went to the library to return some books and see if they had any by this year's Writer in Residence, Elizabeth Ruth. They do, but canny folk have already reserved copies of her two novels. Her bio makes her sound like an interesting choice, so perhaps I'll submit a story for an appraisal. First, though, I have to take care of my printer problem.

It's been almost luxurious, staying home, most of the time, for a few days, watching the snow, and doing a little of this and a little of that. I could get used to it again with no problem, but I think next week I'll be back in the office for some of the time. And before long, the spring lawn care season will arrive. Think busy, think very, very busy.

I'd better write some more and fart around some more, while I still can.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Slowest Typist in the East Forges On

I was going to title this post, Slowest Typist in the World but, having heard from my friend Lori, who also claims to be the slowest typist, I had to settle for a lesser title.

Its slow going because I'm learning to use a new and complex computer program. Or maybe I'm slow because I haven't done this sort of work for a long time. And I"ve never imported and exported information between two very different programs. It's more than three years since I worked outside my home. Excuses, excuses, just ask, I"ve got a million of 'em. The good news is, I haven't yet been fired. Then again, it might be hard for a daughter to fire her mother; though so far, she's had no difficulty in pointing out any errors. I think I'm improving s l o w l y.

In other news, the story that I revised and resubmitted to ye famous literary mag has been rejected, again. This time it was returned by a dfferent editor who had not read the first version.

Maybe there will be good news tomorrow, if not, there'd better be chocolate. And if no chocolate comes in the door, courtesy of my favourite Viking, this writer will finish off the Chapmans no sugar ice-cream that resides in the freezer. I wouldn't want the treat to gather ice crystals.

There will be enough ice crystals on my scarf tomorrow, if the weather forecast is correct.

I go to bed earlier and earlier, now that I'm working. In fact, it's time to go there now. Goodnght.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Grumbles and Accolades

I'd planned to update my blog sooner. In fact, I had updated it, but somehow the updated info vanished into cyberspace. So what's been going on? Plenty.

I enjoyed my trip to Myrtle Beach with my daughter. We were fortunate not to run into much snow while traveling through the mountains. I was the map-reader/navigator and I only made one mistake, but that took us onto a narrow winding two-lane highway for many many miles. At times, we could see the Interstate highway that we were supposed to be on, but it wasn't accessible until we reached a larger town. It was late by the time we found the hotel/conference centre. We were sure we were getting close when we passed the Mytle Beach information centre. But it is more than 60 miles away from Myrtle Beach itself. Deceptive advertising, I'd say.

The hotel was fine and there were even some perks, like cozy bathrobes and a very warm swimming pool and a salt-water hot tub. The hot tub was the perfect place to relax after a long day of listening to presentations and looking at screens. Or, almost the perfect place, if one didn't listen to the other people using the hot tub.

I went down to the beach twice and said hello the Atlantic ocean. It returned the favour by sneaking up on me and soaking one foot. There weren't many people walking the beach, but any good shells had been collected earlier in the day, I think. Or maybe I just couldn't spot any worth putting in my pocket.

One of the things that struck me as we travelled through the Carolina's was the contrast between the huge well-kept houses and commercial buildings and the abandoned houses and commercial buildings. I wondered why the buildings were allowed to stand and deteriorate. Why not pull them down since they are a fire hazard? I don't know the answer.

Another thing that impressed me, but not necessarily in a good way, was the size of the meals offered in restaurants. Larger is better - seems to be part of the American way. Even when we asked about the size of the meal, the server seemed to assume we wanted to know if there would be enough. Enough was never a problem. And even when we tried to make healthy choices, we were often foiled by the lack of information. A chicken dish that was noted on the menu as a healthy choice arrived swimming in some liquid that resembled butter, but wasn't. As my daughter said - the meal lingered on long after it had been eaten and gave her persistent indigestion.

But I have to praise the customer service people in the U.S. They impressed me with their willing attitude. Maybe it's part of their training, if so, it's a good idea. In only one case did we receive bad service. Well, actually it was no service, but I think that was an exception to the usual good service found in retaiI outlets and restaurants.

For example, we went into a fudge emporium, and the young man, the only staff person there, made the production of fudge into a show, complete with a running commentary that involved the audience. He was good, so good that a couple of the other potential customers who were watching asked him if he'd auditioned for the entertainment centre that is part of the shopping complex. He said he hadn't because he liked selling fudge.

It took me a few days to recover from the trip and while I was in recovery mode, my daughter asked me if I'd like come in to work sooner than I'd expected.

So, last week, I began my training. I'm in the office each afternoon and it's very strange to 'go to work' every day. Maybe I'll adjust after a while. But, at the moment, four hours per day seems to be a lot. Learning a new computer program is quite a challenge and I hope I'm up to it.

You might be wondering where the accolades come into this. We went to see A Note for Scandal and I thought it a wonderful film. Judi Dench is amazing in it. I hope she gets an Oscar for the role. Plus, any woman of her age who is willing to do a scene that takes place in a bathtub ought to receive a special award for courage. I'm younger than she is and I'd never consider it! That could be because I have more wrinkles in some places than she does.

A few more days of staring at a computer screen that is too far away will bring even more wrinkles, no doubt. After the person who is training me leaves, I plan to crawl under the desk and see if there is enough cable to move the screen closer to me. There is also an ergonomic keyboard and I haven't adjusted to using it yet. It's possible that I will. All things are possible, but some are less than probable. Maybe I can request a regular keyboard, instead. Maybe I'm not meant to be an ergonomic person - because, while the alphabet keys don't present a problem while using the ergo keyboard, the numbers do.

Will an old dog learn new tricks? Well, she'll try.

Off to work, perchance to type the right numbers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Road Trip

It's official. We are going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina by car. At first, we were going to fly, but I like this plan better. It makes the trip longer, since we will be away for eight days. Nancy and I haven't had this kind of adventure since we went to New Brunswick by truck and trailer, back when she was single.

I haven't been to the Carolina's, or to any other part of the U.S., since the late 1980's. Yikes! Can it be that long ago? When I was there the last time, I stayed on one of the out islands, but this time we will be in the heart of Myrtle Beach, not on the ocean, but close to it. When we are not attending the training seminar, we plan to walk on the beach, swim in the hotel pool and eat. Okay, so the eating part is my idea, but I'm sure I can convince Nancy that we need to have some Calabash style sea food. After all, she's trying to convince me to take a bathing suit - and that may mean experiencing the horror of trying to find a new one. I can't quite remember how old mine is. It doesn't have any kind of support for 'the girls'. It's a plain navy Speedo. I don't want to be covered in flowers when I swim.

I'm making lists of things I need to do each day before I go. Laundry appears on the lists several times and so does - take American money. If an American wants to give me money, I'm all for it. Maybe I'll be able to write a piece about the trip after I return. Or maybe, a certain fella I know will be so happy to see me that I'll have to wait a bit to get down to writing business.

And speaking of writing, I now have a business writing assignment and I'm also trying to get a couple of stories back out in the mail. I guess I should get to work, in between loads of laundry.

Take care y'all.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Recommended Reading

A few weeks ago, a friend recommended a book called The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossein. It isn't a new book, since it was published in 2001 but it certainly is relevant. The story is set in Afghanistan and reading it gave me a different picture of that country and its peoples and the long long roots of hatred between groups. The only quibble I had was that one of the characters seemed too good and selfless to be true.

Then yesterday on one of the internet bulletin boards I read, I found mention of this blog by an Iraqui woman. I only hope that she can continue to write and remain anonymous and safe. I haven't read all her blog entries yet, but I plan to. Some of her blogs were published in her prize winning book, Baghdad Burnng

Here's the link.

Monday, January 01, 2007

For 2007, I Promise Not to Make Any New Year's Resolutions, Until Next Week.

Last night, I thought about making one of those lists. You know the kind. A list of resolutions for the New Year. But then I recalled how often I've made that kind of list and decided not to make one. I resolved to go to bed instead. That seemed like the kind of decision I could follow-through on. Naturally, the phone rang midnight and it was my daughter wishing me a very happy 2007, and once I'd found my voice, I wished her a brilliant year.

2006 was a year of changes for me and I'm still adjusting to all of them. It doesn't even feel like the New Year is here yet. So, maybe, for me, it isn't. Maybe I'll make some lists next week, when I've recovered from all the holiday hoopla.

I have a brand new 20 inch computer monitor, so at least I'll be able to see the resolutions I make, before I break them.

Happy New Year!