Friday, December 14, 2007

Wedding in the Dominican

My nephew got married in the Dominican Republic. What a great excuse for an all inclusive vacation. I loved sampling the fruity drink of the day: banana mama, dirty monkey, the Titanic etc. Better was floating on the huge waves of the Atlantic, or swimming the saltwater pool. The wedding itself was very romantic, with three guitarist and a Fabio looking photographer. Guaranteed sunshine, lots of relaxation. I enjoyed spending the week with my brother and his wife too. I haven’t spent so much time with him since I was a kid. Hurray for celebrations!

Last Chance for Paris Launched!

Finally my new book Last Chance for Paris is out! What better way to celebrate than a party. Seconds before the official launch, okay, days actually,all our windows and our front door were replaced. Mortie the Jackapoo huddled, shivered and complained in my office as the house became an icebox.

Then we had to plow the rest of the house. We’d also installed new floors on two levels and the junk was moved to the next levels. For the party it all had to be placed or hidden.
There are things we’ll never find again.

Still on the day itself, all went well. A light sprinkling of snow made the world just a little bit more friendly and holiday like.

Lots of friends turned out and I sang the madeup country song from the actual story.

My baby left me for a body builder
She didn’t want to live with a pipe welder
I’ve got the tools
But He hangs around pools
I’ve got to get me a six pack
If I should want my baby back.
Oooh My beby left me for a body builder

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cover for My New Book

One thing we spent most of June evenings on was photographing my daughter Robin for my new book Last Chance for Paris.
She cooincidentally has a strawberry tatoo on her ankle much like my character Zanna. My husband Bob was trying to achieve the same light as the image the Fitzhenry designer originally chose. It didn't have enough resolution for the cover. Over and over we piled into the car, Mortie the Jackapoo, Robin, the model, Hunter, who wanted to spend time with his mom Robin and me the nanny for puppy and child. We chased the sunset in watery areas that we thought resembled Alberta. In the end the publisher and designer chose one of the first images which I will show here.

But on an off moment I took my little digital and caught Hunter posing like Mom. Consider it an outtake for the cover.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Franklin Gardens

On Saturday of Labour Day Weekend, I was slated to perform at Franklin Garden on Centre Island. First I needed to meet up with the other author Gwen Molinar from Edmonton and make sure she was set up properly at the story stage. I knew that we needed some promotion as on the island the author visits are not publicized much. The year before the flyer my daughter Robin had created for me didn't help much. What to do?

Well since the story I wanted to tell was The Biggest Little Dog, I decided to use Mortie as my walking advertisement. I cut up a t shirt of mine and used a permanent marker to write about my reading. Did it work? Well, sure it make me feel like I was doing something. And Mortie always draws a lot of attention. I had a nice crowd at Franklin and I enjoyed talking to them and giving away free books.

Magazine Travel

Finally a perk to working for the magazine. It feels like I have been slaving all summer on it. Hunter, Bob and I went travelling to Bruce Grey County to experience what they have to offer. We visited three museums, two beaches, four lighthouses, four waterfalls and hiked at two caves as well as Baldy's Lookout. I loved swimming at the beach and at the Westin Resort Pool.
Now to write about all that in two thousand words and do it justice.

End of Summer Roundup

Besides making the magazine run, I also wrote a shortstory based on my husband Bob’s adventures at Burlington Animal Shelter. He photographs the animals, mostly cats and helps the shelter upload the photos to their website so that they can be viewed for adoption. My story, called The Unaddoptable Pet, now needs some rewriting to make the character older. By September 19 it will go back for a final looksee. It would be good to say, here’s something new I wrote over the summer.

Just as the summer began with sadness so it ended. My favourite and pretty much the only aunt I have contact with, since the rest of my extended family lives in Germany, died of cancer. Renate Wildenburg in my mind will always be the beautiful 19 year old with the black up do that was so popular in the Elvis years when she came to live with us. Over the past years I have been e-mailing with her mostly about my mother’s condition but in between the lines I could read that Renate was also failing.

A sad thing for me is that I can’t tell my mother. She wouldn’t understand. And yet beyond the sadness it would cause I think it would help my mom release her own life or consciousness as it is with Alzheimers. I’d like to be able to share the news with someone who cared about her too. I’ll try to find an old photo in an album later to load in.

Summer Catchup

Sadly the summer began with a close colleague dying. Helen Keeler was the managing editor of Today’s Parent Toronto. By the time we all heard about her cancer re-occurring she was at peace with her death and let go. We all found it difficult to keep going and yet had to work harder without her sound advice and coaching.

Happily I had my grandson Hunter to distract me. Every morning I would work and in the afternoon we would have excellent adventures, mostly going to the pool. I had forgotten how much swimming puts me into a state of zen.

Mortie Graduates!

Mortie graduated from Puppy Kindergarten. He can now come when you call him if you have treats and nothing distracts him. He also sits, shakes paw and rolls over. Sometimes in anticipation of a treat he’ll bring out all three like party tricks.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Le Weekend

Mortie, the Jackapoo, did beautifully at puppie kindergarten. Last class Merve the trainer challenged me with the task of getting him to lie down on command and by that afternoon Mortie could do it. He just loves his treats, he'll bring out his whole repetoire of tricks to get them. Mortie will look, sit, wave his paw madly, lie down roll over--anything till he figures out what I want to part with some goodies.

But on command, in front of the whole class, I got Mortie to lie down on command. We got applause. Merve sat down and told me to teach the class. As if.

Then Mortie fell in love with the lovely black-furred brown-eyed shitz poo Maggie right beside us. He would no longer listen to anybody. Merve wanted to demonstrate "Stay" with Mortie but gave up. In fact he finally made Maggie sit at the other end of the room. Poor Mortie's heart was broken.

Then we needed to go to a pool party to say goodbye to writer/friend Rachael Preston. Mortie went into the crate, what a day for him. Broken hearted and no family to comfort him.

We left the party early to comfort him.

Now we have to work on the commands Stay and Fetch. Eat would be way easier. Bite me, that would be good too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The End

Yesterday I finished writing a book I call Avalanche, the fourth book in The Wild Life Series in Norway and Sweden. It's due there in August so it should be ready in time.

It's tough ending a book. There's such a feeling of dissatisfaction for me ,knowing the perfect version in my head is now an imperfect version on paper that needs to be re read and rewritten over and over.

I reread it today and found some astounding date and day errors. This kind of stuff always happens. As you reread you mark what day it is on a paper, then suddenly you're really into the content and forget to mark that the day has changed when characters go to bed and/or wake up.

So tonight I made more adjustments, making sure clues that I had inserted are reaped when solving the mystery.

Tomorrow I need to review the subplot, the romantic element. I'm sure that that problem gets solved way too early and needs to be stretched out.
For the most part the real rewriting will be after other writers have read the manuscript and commented on it.

Time for some creative panic now. What if something major is wrong? To complicate life a coworker at my magazine is seriously ill. I know I may have to jump in and write and edit things that I've never had to before. But her illness also wants to make me "seize the day" and not work myself to death.

My best hope is that Avalanche is sound structurally.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Clean Fishbowl, Clean Puppy, Father's Day Lobster.

I've been looking at our poor sad Beta triplets and saying I really must clean their bowls for the longest time. They are beautiful fish and ask so little. Just the occasional speck of food and clean water say once a month.

But it's a life threatening situation for them too. They don't like to be dumped into the sink, they don't like to be fished back out. On occasion they have leaped into the air and hurtled to the hard porcelain floor. Then I have to scoop them flip/flopping around back into their clean bowls.

Today I did it. No injuries. So encouraged, I also washed the Jackapoo Mortie. He whimpered and whined the whole way through. Then for a long time after he shivered.
So I took him for lounge outside in the hot sun. Hard to shiver after that.

Next on the agenda was Father's Day supper. I heated up lobster for six, we bbq'd steak for the non shell fish lovers and enjoyed a great dinner together.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mortie Goes to Puppy Kindergarten and a funny book

So after a long absence while in Vancouver, I attended puppy kindergarten with Mortie the genius Jackapoo. After the puppies all visit with each other,Merve, the instructor, has the owners and dogs demonstrate sit and come. Let' see there is a beagle,Simon, a doberman pinscher (forget his name) complete with bandages on his ear, a black poodle type dog, Maggie, and a caramel coloured poodle, Zoe.

Most of the dogs eventually came although they get distracted by the rows of dogfood on either side of them. Mortie and the doberman probably respond the best. The new trick we learned today was "Down". After the puppy gets to you, you stand up and save the treat in such a manner that he/she lies down. Then you give the pup the treat and say "Good down." (Such pigeon English)

Tall dogs have no problem with this command because they have to lie down to reach the treat. Short Mortie types can just reach down. In a moment when I thought no one was looking, I told Mortie to shake and he did. Merve then bet me Mortie wouldn't be able to lie down on command next week. If he did, I could have Merve's job.

The challenge was on. Never underestimate our Jackapoo. This afternoon he was bounding for me on "Come" and hurtling himself to his tummy on "Down". The funny thing is I'm not sure Mortie knows the difference between all the commands. When he sees a treat he just tries out all his tricks out on me. He looks intently "Look", sits, holds out his paw just in case I want to shake and then, if all else fails, slumps down.

Still by next week, I'm pretty sure Merve can hand me the reigns of his class. Afterall Mortie got the trick in a few minutes. After a whole week, I think I can teach him to wave to people from the car.

By the way I'm reading a funny book not available on the book stands 'till August.
It's called A is for Angst by Barara Haworth-Attard. It's almost like a Canadian version of the Snogging books except of course it's in Canadian. None of that off putting British slang. Well I'm sure it's not off putting to the Brits.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Alzheimers' ,a Donut Party, and Facing the End of a Book

After being away a couple of weeks I knew I wanted to visit my mom who suffers from Alzheimer's. I also was in charge of my six year old grandson Hunter so of course needed to combine the two. Then I added my puppy Mortie, bribing them all with a trip to the donut shop first. It was fun to watch Hunter agonize over his 12 choices especially when he had just one choice left--turned out to be another sprinkles donut.

We then visited my mom who was shouting at the people on the TV when we arrived. She said she liked them but they should put on a dress or pants. It was an AIDS/Africa special. Her talking level is only shouting now. She enjoyed selecting and eating her two donuts, one double chocolate and the other maple. Then we left for the splash pad at Lasalle Park. Nothing quite as fun as all those colourful showers and sprinkler systems. I waded through in my jeans trying to convince Hunter to try the ones I would have had I been wearing a swim suit.

Then I had to go home and face the end of my book Avalanche--also the end of the Wild Life Series. I feel I'm in the agaonizing position of the main character Zanna who needs to make a choice. Continue living with Dad in the beautiful Rockies where there seems to be nonstop lifethreatening disasters but where she'll also be with her twin brother Martin and loyal wolf/dog Paris and boyfriend forever, Tyler. Or move to Paris, France with her Mom who shipped her away in the first place over an argument about tatoos and a boy.

It seems simple here on a blog. Zanna and I are crying through this segment, we thought her parents might be together forever. Really they were only getting along well because they knew their time together was limited.

And so I wrote four pages and still didn't decide. Maybe tomorrow I can finally type The End.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Swimming and Face Book

So close to the end of Avalanche, the last book in my Wild Life series for Norway and Sweden. I'm actually writing the resolution and dealing with all the emotional wounds and arcs for all four books. Ahh! So when my daughter Jen invited me swimming, of course I said yes. Water helps the right brain.

I dressed baby William in his swim diapers and board shorts, a t-shirt and a hat and off we went to the pool. Three lengths or so and then William fell asleep. We headed back up to the condo where Jen gave me a facebook tutorial. She also made it so that my blog would automatically show up on the facebook. So what do I do about unknowns wainting to be my friend? What about identity theft? Maybe I should go back to finishing Avalanche.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Home from B.C.

Thinking over my Vancouver, BC vacation—my highlights have to be: staying with Norma Charles, fellow kids’ writer, and Brian Woods, her partner in life and kayak, we always had great chats; going to see a play called “Unhinged” on Granville Island. It was a very funny story about a bunch of women and how they raised their teens. Going to the hotsprings at Harrison. No one can be stressed in a huge pool of very warm water. Rollerblading in Stanley Park. I rested a lot while my husband Bob took amazing photographs. The park has so many interesting sights from totem poles to cruise liners, aquariums to horsedrawn wagons. I hope to post at least one later. And then coming home to family complete with two great grandsons, one six, (Hunter with two almost in adult teeth), the other four months, (William with two almost in baby teeth) and my cute well-trained Jackapoo puppy, Mortie. Of course it was nice seeing Jen, Robin, Craig and Adam too.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Vancouver Trip So Far

The weather and scenery here are heavenly. I had a great interview with Priya on CBC West Coast Live when I first got here, then went immediately to autograph Beauty Returns at Vancouver Kids Book Store.

The students I met from grade 6, 7, and 8 in Coquitlam at the Poirier Library were super, enthusiastic and attentive. After that I picked up Deb Loughead, another writer, from the airport and we sight saw (is that a verb?) together. At her residence there were seven baby skunks near the outdoor steps. When I get home I'll upload photos that I took of them. We also saw the head of a seal poking up over the waves in Spanish Bay. He's just a speck on the photo.

We enjoyed a kiddy train ride in Stanley Park through huge dark trees. We loved the gaping vistas of oceans, sailboats and steamships passing by.

Everything in BC is eyecandy.

Margret Atwood delivered the Margret Laurence address which was kind of a highlight of the whole Writers' Union AGM.

Tomorrow will hold more meetings

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mortie Goes to Puppy Kindergarten

Mortie visited Hunter’s Senior Kindergarten class once and continues to escort Hunter every morning so we expected great things when he attended kindergarten actually designed for dogs.

Not so. He did a number two on the store floor while we registered. He did number one in the actual classroom while waiting for the trainer: Merve.

He did not enjoy listening to Merve, in fact he yipped and yapped and yanked all the way through. I know he will enjoy it more next week as today he had a private lesson to catchup. Next week he’ll meet other dog friends to socialize with. His big lesson today was to focus. We tell him “Look” and hold a treat in front of our nose. When he does rivet his eyes on the treat, we give it to him and praise him a lot. “Good Look, Mortie”

Mortie caught onto this command immediately. So much so that when Merve just used the word look in one of his sentences, Mortie would rivet his puppy eyes in Merve’s direction. For no reason at all, I’d catch Mortie staring at me, hopefully.

Merve also made us buy Mortie some excellent treats, a new collar and leash. We’re going on a walk now to try them all out.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Worst Blogger in the World.

I want to catch up. I do. So many things have happened that I haven’t blogged to the world. First I spent a week in Sudbury and Manitoulin Island. With the students there, we created a story about my new dog Mortie.

By the end of the week, I read the new picture book at Alexander Public School, the same place that I set Slam Dunk Robot at. Back in Burlington, I told the story for Hunter’s birthday to his kindergarten class. Now my publisher has it and says she likes it: The Biggest Little Dog.

Also I’m closing in on the end of the fourth book in the Last Chance Pass Series. My main character Zanna is hunting through town with her wolf/dog Paris, her twin brother Martin and her ranger boyfriend Tyler for the kidnappers’ hideout and hopefully her father, if he’s still alive.

Soon she’ll hear the helicopter overhead. Is it just Skylon providing the escape chopper as demanded by the kidnappers? I think not. I think it’s the Mounties, more specifically the Emergency Response Team. They’ll drop down on a rope and surround the kidnapper’s hideout. Very exciting for me. You can understand how hard it is to pull away just to blog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

St. Elizabeth Seton students are great!

Yesterday started off full of hect. I wanted to spend some time getting organized for an author visit at Newmarket Public Library at 1:00. I had mapquested how to get there but of course those details were lost and I had to do it again. Also my husband Bob was sick which meant I was on new puppy detail. Mortie doesn’t quite have the toilet training thing down. And I was delivering my grandson Hunter to school.

Let’s get two birds done with one stone. I thought Hunter would enjoy showing off his new pet and Mortie could tinkle on the school grounds. Rushing around to make lunches and find socks, the normal routine all made us late. Mortie hated the car and kept whimpering. A sudden brake caused him to fly down and then he went to the bathroom all over the car. Who knew such a sweet little puppy could be such a stinker!

Well, okay. Smelly car for an hour and a half drive to Newmarket. Luckily, I had this new car Scotchguarded so everything came off easily. Also I have a moon roof which I opened so I wouldn’t die of doggie pollution.

I didn’t organize myself that much for the visit but I arrived early and the three grade eight classes from St. Elizabeth Seton also got there a little ahead of schedule. What a nice change!

The boys filed in first and I thought, man, no girls in three grade eights? But no, then the girls arrived. It was a story well venue with stair/seats that circled me. Everyone sat down quickly, no fuss. Another nice change was that the teachers had started reading Beauty Returns to the classes. So maybe what I talked about made a little more sense to them. All the students were attentive and some made great comments along the way.

In case any one of them are reading this the book where the horror story “Consequences” is in is called Horrors II edited by Peter Caver. The Newmarket Public Library has a copy. Oh, oh, or maybe it’s The Horror II. Can’t check I still have the book in the car. Never mind you can check it out. The librarian, Ms Hoffman will know.

Lots of the students commented on my site which was so nice. I wish I could visit more students as interested and interesting as they are.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mortimer, our new mouse dog.

After our trip to Florida, we came home to no dog. No dog welcoming us back. No dog to pass tidbits of human food. No dog to walk. No dog snoring in our bedroom. The house felt very hollow.

I visited the local animal shelter where we had found Sputnik but they only had two huge mastiffs that never stopped barking. My sister in law Donna suggested and I searched for Cairn terriers, the breed Sputnik was. All of the Cairns lived somewhere south of the border. It was unclear whether Canadians could adopt them and even if we could, the adoption fee was often as high as $400 US.

Why not try a breeder? The Cairns cost between $700 and $1,200 there. A good friend told me her niece had Jack Russel puppies but as I did research and accepted the fact that we’d have an extremely lively dog, I suddenly understood that they were not “hypo allergenic” the way Sputnik was. Oh, oh.

I went on The Net to find something close and discovered a Jack Russel Poo which crosses the hypoallergenic with the hyperactive. The ad said the pups didn’t shed. More research and a final call to a dog training friend told me that you could never be sure, you actually had to experience the animal.

So we picked up Willie whom we have renamed Mortie. We didn’t want him to have the same name as our latest grandson. We are allowed trying him for three days and now, even though he does cause some itchy eyes, no one wants to return him. He’s way smaller than we had planned on, really a Paris Hilton carry around pup—the danger of shopping on the internet. And he yaps. But oh my gosh, he’s affectionate. Loves to sleep on top of me as I write or nap. He’s bright too. Always intrigued by everything going on I’ve taught him to sit and sometimes stay. Next we’re working on teaching him to write.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Road Trip

For March Break suddenly we could see a parting of everyone’s works schedules. Hunter was off school and I was dying to check on my mother’s house in Florida. And some of my friends were going too. Because Hunter doesn’t have a passport we had to drive. Three days there, three days back.

Holy Toledo ( we drove through Toledo and we taught Hunter that expression) for once we had great weather. At the end of the first day, we stuffed our coats in the trunk and broke out the sandals. By the second day, we were looking for hotels with outdoor pools. We settled on an indoor one.

And the third day we arrived. Highlights were we saw alligators at Myaka State Park, tons of them. We rode on the spiffy cart bike you see in the photo. We visited Burlington writerGisela Sherman at her hotel in Sanibel and swam in the gigantic pool. We visited Bush Gardens for two days and enjoyed great shows, the Rhino Rally as well as lots of parrots landing on us and feeding from our hands.

Beach time was great! Dolphins even performed for us. We buried Hunter in the sand and made him a merboy complete with a sculpted tail. “Hey People,” he’d called to shell seekers strolling by, “I’m having a little trouble getting back to the water could you help me out?” No one helped the stranded merboy.

Back at home, tanned, and at my desk again.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

So Long Sputnik!

Sputnik is Russian for fellow traveler and the name of our Cairn Terrier. She traveled along side us for 12 years since we first found her at the animal shelter. She loved to leap up stairs and benches, to beds and even picnic tables. She also loved to run. My favourite memories of Sputnik involve her circling the soccer field as she tried to follow a seagull flying overhead. Also when she tried, on that same field, to keep up with a couple of greyhounds chasing a ball.

She had short legs but a huge heart and spirit.

I loved the sound of her toenails on the floor, or scratching at the bedroom door. I loved her soft snore at night and the sound of her lap-lapping at the water. She had a deep throaty bark that she seldom used unless someone trespassed on the park just behind our backyard or our front lawn.

Squirrels made her go beserk. She forgot she couldn’t fly or climb and she would scramble up trees and stone walls after them. Sputnik loved the snow but only suffered water sports for my sake. She’d follow me out into the water with a disdainful look on her whole body.

Sputnik escaped near death from a strange blood disease about five years ago at Christmas. She needed a blood transfusion from some Labs and she had to take a course of prednisone. I drove to Guelph Animal Hospital every day to talk her into living.
“How can you sit here and not eat anything when just over your head there’s a cat sitting?” Despite 50/50 odds she made a complete recovery.

At Christmas this year she also fell ill, her breathing became heavy and she wouldn’t eat. But suddenly after a course of antibiotics and a bath and everyone returning from various business trips—Sputnik began to eat again and run and breathe.

Only not for long. She had a lump that grew and a trick back leg and panty breathing. We took her for a car ride, fed her lots of treats—her last: a forbidden chocolate croissant that she quite enjoyed. We parked right in front of an overhang where a couple of squirrels darted and zigzagged through the brush. Sputnik could not lift her head. I did not try to talk her into living this time. Her time had come.

We took her to the vet and she lay in my arms, leaning on me heavily in utter trust and fatigue. She slept through her sedation and right through her death. Even as the doctor carried her away her soulful brown eyes kept watching me, faithful and true.

Good bye fellow traveler. You deserve your rest but I will miss you very badly.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Welcome William!

In the worst snow storm of the year on Valentine’s Day, my grandson William slowly began his entrance to the world. We didn’t mind. School was cancelled, most businesses were shut but we shoveled ourselves out with a mission. We knew there would be a new member to our family by the end of the day.

True to McNicoll tradition, we packed up toys, two laptops, movies, sudoku puzzles, and lots of food and drinks (this is the way we always travel) to wait it out at the family centre at Joseph Brant Hospital.

Close to midnight we headed home convinced William didn’t want to begin his new life outside the womb ever. At 1:30 a text message on a phone told us differently. 2:00 AM we headed back, snuck through Emergency as the hospital was locked up to the general public now, begged for entrance and headed up to delivery. Again we waited in the family centre until another future grandmother told us she’d heard a baby cry. Since the only other patient was her daughter and she hadn’t had her baby, she felt by default it had to be ours.

We ran down the hall in time to see William wheeled out in his little glass gurney, his father Adam snapping photos as the nurse tilted it every way for a better view. He cried his desperate newborn cry which made me want to scoop him up immediately.

Wonderful! Perfect healthy fingers and toes, dark unfocussed eyes, a mat of brown hair.
We look forward to getting to know him better.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Waiting for William

Two or three days after my daughter’s due date and William still hasn’t arrived. (Yes we know his sex and name already) All the anticipation! Our phone warbles twice for long distance and for some reason, Jennifer’s calls. Don’t we hate telephone marketers or wrong numbers especially if they warble twice!

I can’t wait to meet William!

And yet I do.

I finished editing or totally re-writing an Alternative Pets article complete with fascinating information on exotic animals. I had to design a matching quiz which was a lot of fun. It will nice to see the “Pour” that’s magazine and book talk for the actual design of the page, complete with text and tons of photos of the animals.

Now I’m rewriting Last Chance for Paris—which is pleasant enough. No major work, just adding some more glacier/climatology detail all of which is stuffed in my head anyway.

So go ahead William, take your time. Babies and children should never be rushed.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hect, hect, hect but exciting hect

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged in so long! Very exciting to me is that my Norwegian Series, A Wild Life will be coming to Canada. At least book one will for sure. The decision was made just last week. In Norway and Sweden it was loosely titled Last Chance Pass, in Canada we thought for a while and came up with Last Chance for Paris. Paris is a hybrid wolf-dog who turned up under the cabin. “Habitualized” animals often end up being shot by humans as they end up causing too much trouble once they lose their fear of us. It remains to be seen whether Paris can survive the four books I’m writing.

The third manuscript was e-mailed to my Norwegian publisher and I needed to make a few minor changes this week. River of Ice should be out in Norway and Sweden sometime this year. I have one very exciting book left to write. I can’t wait to get to it. Only this week it seems I’ll have to concentrate on my magazine writing job and also making some changes on the first novel for Canada. Too many things, too many things. All fun, I wouldn’t trade any for the world but they all can pile up and threaten to avalanche and suffocate me. Avalanche, did I say avalanche—that’s what will happen in my last wild life book. Or will it be my last.

Last Friday I visited a great school in Port Colbourne called St Patrick. I’ve never met such a friendly principal. I liked watching parents play board games with their kids at lunch. There are so many updated boardgames that look like tons of fun. Uno that shoots out cards for you, junior scrabble where the words are already laid out for you, you just scoop the letters and get triangles to keep track of points, and Clue where there are little standup characters. Have to sort through our board games and maybe start over on them.

I should practice guitar and singing every day because I really want to be able to sing Kyle’s lullabye. I want to go skating again. I haven’t even walked my cairn terrier Sputnik today. Tomorrow all that will happen. But at least, today, I blogged.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gliding on the ice, a Zen experience

For Christmas I bought my grandson Hunter brand new ice skates with a helmet compete with a face protector—the idea being I would also take him skating. Spencer Smith Park has an outdoor artificially refrigerated rink right on the lake near the new observation centre and when we saw it was operational, Hunter and I rushed over. By that time school had let out and the rink had grown crowded. Still we laced up along with my pregnant daughter Jen (I had to lace up all three of our skates).

Turns out balance on ice is not such a natural thing. But Hunter groped the sides and inched along totally backflipping onto the ice in death defying moves. The helmet saved him. I asked the “skating police” as we called them how to help Hunter learn since we weren’t allowed using pylons or skate aids, whatever they are. They said he should continue edging along the outside, holding on. Within about four skating sessions he’d be soaring wildly across the ice.

Well, Hunter hearing this believes he will be performing triple turns by the fourth time out so he’s nagging to go skating again and again.

Today was our second time out and I skated backwards and forewards to keep him company. He got a glint in his eye when he saw the backwards skate. I told him it was easy, you just wiggle your bum. So that’s what he did. By the end of our skate he was shuffling through the centre of the ice and falling a lot less and of course, doing little bum wiggles backwards.

Skating outside at Spencer Smith, watching the grey waves rolling in and gliding across the ice is just the most lovely peaceful thing even with the teen bucks zipping in and out around us. Two more times till triple twirls.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kyle’s Lullaby

Today with the help of some talented musicians, Angela McKay and Brian Wice, I set the poem in Beauty Returns to music. It was intended to be a lullaby which one of the main character’s Kyle sings to a crying baby. Then when Kyle dies, at his funeral, a fictional character Angela (based on the real A.M.) sings it and the congregation joins in. I had tried various melodies out in my head but as I can’t read music, it was hard to latch on to one. It was the most wonderful experience to have two experts help me and have it come alive in Angela’s voice. She is the person to whom A Different Kind of Beauty is dedicated and in Beauty Returns she is acknowledged again. Singing with her and strumming chords, I thought we sounded really good and the lullaby, lovely and moving just as I’d hoped. It’s wonderful to still be surprised by life like this. I mean here’s a whole other artistic avenue for words.