Friday, July 31, 2009

Montreal, Jane Austen, and Other Topics

Thanks to Via Rail's temporary price reduction of train tickets, I will be going to Montreal for five days. I can hardly wait to visit one of my favourite cities. There's no doubt that I'll be immediately recognized as a tourist, since my clothing lacks style, I'll have to wear my running shoes, and my smattering of high school French may prove incomprehensible; nevertheless, I know I'll have an excellent time. There are many places I'd like to visit while I'm in the city so I went to the library to get a Montreal Guide. There was only one available - all the others were already on loan to other patrons. Perhaps Montreal is being inundated with les maudits anglais this summer. If so, then I hope Montrealers are still as tolerant as they were on my previous visits.

Before this unexpected opportunity arrived, I had been moping and reading, and fretting of course, as I often do when the Muse takes her leave. I recommend Carol Shield's short biography of Jane Austen, published by Penguin (2001) as part of the Penguin Lives series. If you are a writer, you will appreciate Shield's perceptive comments on writing and on the nature of a writer's life even if you don't like, or haven't read Jane Austen's novels. Though if you do know Jane's work, you will get even more from this book. Carol Shields writes clearly and without any academic frou frou.

And speaking of books and writers, my friend and fellow writer, Jennifer Ross' story, "The Colonial and the Cottontail" is now available in the Northern Roses, Southern Belles Civil War Anthology published by Wild Rose Press. The book is available through Amazon. I had the pleasure of reading and commenting on earlier versions of this story and am happy it has been published.

Now, I need to make a list of things to take on my trip, and of course paper and pens will be at the top, although usually I don't write much when I'm away from my home. Instead, I often get a new perspective on what I need to write, when I return. I hope that happens again, and I'll let you know if it does.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Emergency Department Adventure and The News from Calgary

Last night, I had the opportunity to see how the Emergency Department at St. Mary's hospital handles patients who are not bleeding but may be at serious risk. I accompanied The Viking to the hospital because his blood pressure was very high, and had been very high for over two days His bp was checked (still very high) and he was admitted to Emergency. Then we waited, behind curtain number 4, for three hours. There was only one doctor on duty and we did not see him, or her. After three hours of waiting, I asked if The Viking's blood pressure could be checked again. A nurse did that, and fortunately the b/p had come down close to what is normal for The Viking. So, he decided he might as well go home. Of course he had to sign an agreement saying that he was leaving without seeing a doctor.

All is well this morning, but I do wonder about a couple of things. If I hadn't been with the Viking, would they have checked on him sooner? Did staff expect that because someone was with him, that someone would inform them if there was a change that required their attention? I do know the signs of a stroke, but the staff at the hospital knew nothing about me. I am glad The Viking agreed to go to the hospital, though he is not sure he would do it again, given the care he didn't receive.

In other news, my friend Lori Hahnel, will be the Calgary Canadian Author's Association's Writer in Residence starting in September -- and her novel, Love Minus Zero has been nominated for a Calgary Public Library Literary Award. I'm thrilled for her, on both counts.

As for my writing, I had an encounter with the black dog, but have survived it and am doing a bit of work. That is also good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How Teenagers Think

As some of you know, I am the grandmother of two teenage boys. At times, it is an onerous task, at other times there is joy. Most times, there is confusion, my confusion that is. I'm quite sure that behind the volume of meticulously straightened hair which conceals the faces of F and S (my grandsons) there is a computer interface which automatically selects certain responses to information received from adults.

I can provide proof. A reconstructed conversation with S.

Me: When are you going to cut the lawn?
S: screen shows - No Signal
Me: Are you ever coming out of your room?
S: screen shows - No Signal

Thirty minutes later.
Me: You'd better cut the lawn, or else, when Mom and dad get home they'll be pissed off.
S. screen shows - blah blah blah, or else blah blah blah pissed off. Level 1 response required. Select a) yeah, okay, or b) yeah, in a few minutes.
S. responds Yeah, In a few minutes.

Thirty minutes later.
Me: Do it now, S!
S. screen shows - Now! High voice volume requires immediate response.
S. emerges from room for the first time in 18 hours and cuts the lawn, then returns to room and adjusts his internal computer screen to inactive listening mode.

Two hours pass.
Me: downstairs, in conversation with grandad and a long way from S.'s bedroom. - I hear there might be ice cream cake for Sam's birthday and that his present will be an Ipod touch gadget.
S. screen shows - blah blah blah ice cream cake, blah blah, present, blah blah Ipod. Bingo! Immediate response required!
S. emerges from his bedroom again. Yes, folks, it's a record, and says Hi - is there cake?