Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best of Christmas

The presents weren't the highlight of Christmas. I guess they never are. Enjoying the Spencer Smith Park lights are a tradition. Going to Hunter's Teddy Bear Concert is another. We took William and Jadzia to the free train in Gore Park, downtown Hamilton. Previous years it was Hunter. We liked taking him to the movie A Christmas Carol, in 3d. A new event was celebrating Jadzia's birthday, her first, a delayed event that took place on Boxing Day instead of her actual birthday on Christmas. The best part of Christmas was family for sure.

Harry Potter at the Science Centre--writing and its perks

Hunter appreciates the perks of the writing career. He told me how lucky we were when we attended the press release for the new Harry Potter exhibit coming to the Ontario Science Centre in April. You can see the television cameras lined up in the back for the sneak preview.
An owl delivered the message, smoke rose and the flying car appeared in the background.
Best was that we saw the Body show after which I had missed the press date for as I was teaching in Brant Hills School at the time. I fell asleep during my favourite star show in the planetarium, Hunter nudging me when I snored. He slept all through the drive home. Happily it was easy for me to stay awake. I have to agree with Hunter, being a writer is the best job in the world.

Leading up to Christmas

The holiday season began with a field trip to the Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington/Hamilton to get photos for the magazine. Jadzia and William enjoyed the outing among palm trees, koi fish and other exotic flora and fauna. Later in the month, we took a horse drawn wagon ride in the rain through Burlington and bought most of our gifts in the small, uncrowded, downtown shops that wrapped for us. Snow would have been nicer but it was still fun and free except for the shopping.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Death on Youtube

Lately, I've been feeling quite mellow and it has to do with the novel I'm working on.
Death on Youtube is about a girl who dies and has the clock turned back so that she can re experience her last 14 days, only with a difference.
Through her eyes, I see, hear, smell and feel things with a new intensity. Everything she experiences could be her last time. So she notices the pigeons nesting in the corner of the underpass for example. She watches the sunset and looks for shooting stars. (It's late August)
In honour of my character, 14 year old Jade, I'm posting my list of things I like to do:

Chat on the phone with a friend.
Walk my dog early in the morning.
Watch Youtubes of other people's pets doing crazy things or just being cute.
Look at the water (Lake Ontario from my deck) in the distance.
Drive along Lakeshore and see expanses of the water close up.
See boats and lighthouses.
Drink coffee and read the newspaper in the morning.
Read a book, anytime, anyplace.
Boil up something with brown sugar in it. I like to smell it and watch the bubbles break.

These are some of the more solitary experiences. I'll add to this list as the more social things come up, like visiting with my grandchildren.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Daringly Disheveled Office

Somewhere in this mess, my car keys might be buried. However, this is the way the office looked after I straightened for awhile and no key turned up. And I cleaned a hall closet and a laundry room and checked all my pockets. Emptied my purse. Checked in the washer and dryer. Dreamt they were stuck in a binder, but no.

So I paid $375 to have a new set "programmed". They don't even come with a remote box, sigh. Then there were the new winter tires, replacing the brakes, the tail lightbulb, the windshield wiper that smeared. The total bill was $1,600. Nobody better complain books are expensive to me. Or even author visits. After all, I need keys, a tail light, brakes and a clean windshield to get to them.
I'm now afraid to clean the rest of the office in case they turn up. They would need to be re-programmed you see.


A new morning that looks way better in real life than in photos. The sky looked a bit darker and the pinks and oranges more fiery.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Goodbye Radium, Hello North Battleford

The reasons I love Radium Hot Springs, are the scenery, the big horned sheep and of course the springs. In North Battleford, the business of my journey began. But first the hotel gave us money to gamble and the casino gave us cash to gamble. I was tired and needed to prepare so only gambled $5, thereby making a profit of $15. Next day the hotel gave us each another $10 for the casino. We only gambled $5. Those slot machines just don't hook me at all. I figure we won $30 all totaled by not playing further. A wonderful restaurant attached to the casino served us bison steak and spinach salad. Great prices. Another score.

Driving at dawn towards the school, I saw a huge bull moose dash across the highway. Beautiful! No time for a photo. The sun rising behind me turned all the wheat to gold and the frost tinged scrub to silver. Almost the best part of the day.

I didn't impress the grade elevens of Turtleford Community School much. I hope the grade twelves learned something at least. You can't really force someone to write and I feel so sorry for them when they won't even pick up their pencils or pens. How sad that they will never know the power, the magic and the fulfillment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Horn Sheep and Lussier Hot Springs

We decided to take the hotel manager's advice and drive up a steep logging road, White Swan Park, and find a natural hot springs. (free) Cattle drifted onto this gravel pathway around a cliff and deer scampered across. Pine trees blanketed the hills as far as the eye could see. If you weren't gripping the handle of the car door or biting your nails, the scenery dazzled you.
the end was a pool of sulphur smelling water among the rocks along side a fast running stream way hotter than the regular commercial hotsprings at Radium. Nothing aches when you soak in a hot springs. You can't feel stress while you're floating.
One of the reasons I chose Radium as our holiday base was the abundance of Big horn sheep. The animals you see gamboled along just outside our hotel. We hiked along a trail beside them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Working Vacation

Right now we're in Chateau Europe which has this lovely view from the balcony. We're waiting for the manager to bring us our restaurant certificate for the Saltzberg. We're also heading for the hot springs before our dinner. A few blocks away a herd of curly horned sheep ran along side us on the highway. Yesterday we enjoyed turkey dinner at Heritage Place, a historic village in Calgary. We took a cold steamer boat ride through ice--it's the last ride of the season-- and hitched a train tour. Don't you just love those old black locomotives that belch smoke out in huge clouds? Something romantic about them.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My new favourite school: Canadian Martyrs

This week I'm visiting two grade 5 classes at Canadian Martyrs School in Burlington, one in the morning one in the afternoon. These pictures are of my morning bunch as they write character sketches on their stuffed animals. What I love about the students is whether they like writing or not they just seem to get right at it with enthusiasm and a gusto for learning. Makes my job fun. I fel lucky this week.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sandcastle Contest

Just for the record
this was the winning sandcastle
but all of them were fabulous.
I just like digging holes and watching them fill with water.

The summer went by so quickly

It's now almost October
and I haven't said anything about my great summer. Camping in the rain turned out to be one highlight. Lots of hiking with all of my current grandchildren. (There's a new baby coming in April. ) Great roasted marshmallows and Polish Sausages. One canoe ride in thunder and lightning--next morning we paddled in almost not rain. These two shots should be in reverse order the keen on the roaders at the beginning and then the pals sleeping on top of each other later. Other highlights were cottaging with friends and watching shooting stars, judging the Burlington Sandcastle Competition again, swimming on Labour Day Weekend--it finally stopped raining, and taking part of Telling Tales Story Festival in Westfield Village. I refuse to believe summer's over so there may be more posts mixed in with my school visit to Canadian Martyrs.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Celebrating 142 years of Canada

Fireworks are such a glorious celebration. It's difficult not to forget yourself and enjoy them.
For Canada Day we met up with friends and walked to Spencer Smith Park.  With the rain spitting down, it seemed as though the evening might be a bust.  But instead, the clouds cleared and accompanied by such songs as "What a wonderful world," the colours and lights exploded against the sky.  What an inspirational spectacle of exileration. 

Gone to Soon

Here's my young looking boss and friend Tiziana Buttignol holding her grandson.  I told her she looked like a filmstar breezing into Toronto for the festival.  Although I've worked for her five years, most of our communication is by email.

Not surprising, I suppose, that I learned via email of her death Monday June 29.  A heart attack should only happen to overweight smokers or 92 year olds who have no one to look after them. It's not fair.

And I still catch myself going to email her with ideas or articles I've seen that maybe could translate into a piece for our magazine.  Her emails seem so alive to me.

Now the rest of us have the most difficult job of putting out an issue without her at the helm. 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sean Cassidy comes to Bruce T. Lindley School

Thursday, June 18 Sean Cassidy came to my local school where Hunter attends grade 2.  We were pretty excited since we love Gummy Toes and Sometimes it's Good to be Small.  We also love his art in Wake up Henry and especially Hannah Bear's Christmas.  Not knowing his schedule, I einvited him for lunch.  Lots of times, authors and illustrators have to drive straight off to avoid the rush hour crush. But we were lucky.  I also attended the "readings" which were more  interactive drawing and reading motivational talks for the young and restless.  I loved how the kids got right into it, bums in the air, tongues hanging out in concentration.  My photos don't quite capture their enthusiasm and total absorption.  I drew too and that was fun.  Sean taught us all to draw expressions, happy, sad, angry and then by mixing up happy mouths with angry eyes to show other moods.
Although I always enjoy author or illlustrator talks, I really didn't expect to have so much fun.  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Snakes and lizards Ontario Science Centre

Today we were excited to attend the press sneak preview of the Snakes and Lizards exhibit at the Ontario Centre.  It was baby Jadzia's first visit and she liked the Sparks section especially the baby portion with the blocks.

The we went to Budha Dog for Today's Parent Toronto.  We love hot dogs and this was a sufficiently different kind of place, very eco and local produce.  Our conscience was fine eating 10 of the suckers.  Afterwards we had Polish pastries and William totally got into his cupcake.

Mustang Mortie

When we first got Mortie, he hated car rides.  He got over his fear to some extent on our road trip to New Brunswick.  This year he's really enjoying the breeze through his fur in the Mustang with the top down.

Ride Mortie, Ride.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Trip to Ottawa--a writing perk

Whenever kids ask me why I write, I'm a little gobsmacked.
I actually wonder why everyone wouldn't  want to write.  I find I'm always explaining the world to myself--it's very therapeutic.

But what about the travel perks?  The other editor with my magazine, Alison Wood, became too busy to do a feature on travel to Ottawa so, with some arranging with we had a press adventure pass and a free hotel for a couple of nights.

Of course when I travel for Today's Parent Toronto I need to bring a young person and Hunter's always up for the job.  He's a great traveller and enjoys museums, weird food and pools at any hotel.  

He also likes to pose for weird photos.  These won't be in the magazine: Hunter posing over the Eternal Flame so that it looks like he's on fire, Hunter's head poking up in a Polar bear diorama at the Museum of Natural History.

So we had a great mini holiday.  I won't say we made a million but memories are worth a lot too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Visiting Sudbury

Today I met a great group of students and teachers at Cyril Varne Public School.  I always have fun presenting but it's nice when it seems the students are excited too.  It's wonderful to talk about a book set right in Sudbury (Slam Dunk Robot) to kids who live in Sudbury and have visited Science North.  The teachers also prepared a fabulous pot luck.  Apparently one box of Ritz crackers, with one can of condensed milk and a bag of square Skor bits baked up in a long pan for who knows how long transform in to the most delicious square ever.  And I've eaten at many a potluck and shower before.

I forgot to take out my camera and have a photo taken with the kids.  But I rushed over to Science North immediately where I was asked if I'd like to hold something.  I got to pat Rosie.  See the photo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Great character, wonderful read

Instead of working day and night, I'm enjoying some reading lately.  I loved Home Free, Sharon Jenning's new book with Sumach.  It's set in the 60's and she's able to capture snippets of the oddity of that era.  The way our parents talked to us or handled abuse or even how acceptable harsh discipline was in that era.  But I love the gutsy girl--which is how the whole series is named.  She wants a friend and becomes an even better one to the secondary character and to the reader.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mortie learns to drive

Because we were leaving our jackapoo Mortie with Jen and Adam and because William is crazy for cars, we succumbed to buying a silly carbed for Mortie.  We kind of knew he'd prefer his old chewed up one and we were right.

We found Hunter loved driving down the stairs in the car. William enjoyed sitting in it.  We even placed baby Jadzia in it to lure Mortie just to try.

Finally we stuffed his old bed inside and he sleeps in it just fine.
I notice he has removed the windshield though.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Saskatoon Zoo

Because the heritage site was closed, we visited the zoo instead where it was admission by donation.  I couldn't find a slot or box for a donation so I will donate to my VISA instead.

All the animals were enjoying the sun.  I couldn't capture it but my wolf was actually grinning.  I think he was happy for me because I finished the Wild Life Series.

Tomorrow it's back to the schools.  

Museum closed for construction

In the morning we caught up on laundry with the promise of a GEM of a tourist attraction according to the CAA magazine.
It's a heritage site and the hotel concierge agreed it was not to be missed.

As we drew closer, we read the signs telling us how the construction would be complete in  early 2009.  Too late!

See the irate woman who turned to brass waiting

The sunshine was dazzling though and these statues were cool.  We'll be back in 2011 to see if they're finished.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wandering the streets of Saskatoon

When you're strolling though an unfamiliar city, you really don't want to spend every moment in retail situations soyou really appreciate the statues and other art. The Chief holds something in his hand resembling an onion but I didn't see an explanation for it anywhere. I love the lone cowboy riding through and those newspaper boxes would make me want to read the news.

Saskatchewan Gang put on a signing

First I looked through all my suitcases and bags, then I searched the car. Finally I had to accept that I lost my handouts for my Ten Top Tips session at the Saskatchewan Putting the Pieces Together conference. I copied the document from the computer onto to a memory stick and Bob rushed off to copy more.

My sessions room was the Jolly Friar which seemed kind of cool but I when I saw an overhead instead of a data projector, my mouth went dry.

Still no need to panic, it had just landed in another room. A couple of minutes later an image was up and the teachers drifted in. Standing room only--I heaved a sigh of relief. Sitting all day on a Sunday preparing a handout and power point presentation is worth it when there's a crowd and it's appreciative.

Then, finished early enough, we headed to McNally Robinson bookstore which looks like a great place. My heart wasn't broken when my books weren't there--I'd googled in advance and didn't even look or bug the clerks. I was still high from the Ten Top Tips session. So I just relaxed and enjoyed listening to my Saskatchewan friends read: Linda Aksomitus, Beverley Brenna,
Myra Guynur, Alison Lohans, Arthur Slade, Ed Willet, Mary Harelkin Bishop and Judith Silverthorne. I spelled all those names by memory which isn't bad even if it's not correct. I'll edit later.

I sat by a huge Happy Writer cake and the smell overwhelmed me. So hard to resist swirly white icing on chocolate.
Treated myself to a copy of almost everyone's books. Tomorrow I have a day off. No searching for papers, books, gathering miscellaneous and worrying about getting to a school on time because Princess Leaha, our GPS, is rather an optimist.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Schools, great writers and movie deals

Catching tigers and growling for me--the younger set at Brevort Park School were great. The older kids were enthusiastic and good participators too. On to Lakeview, where we talked about the Beauty books and Last Chance. The grade 6 & 7s seemed to enjoy themselves. I don't know about grade eight. They were quiet, too quiet.

Then I finally met the eight Saskatchewan authors I've been emailing for a while. They presented their new works at the Saskatchewan Reading Conference in an intimate roundtable style with some extremely keen educators. I want to read all of the author's books and I wish that Ontario students could experience Saskatchewan through these amazing reads. The authors were: Arthur Slade, Beverley Brenna,Mary Harelkin Bishop, Muyna Guymer, Alison Lohans, Lidna Aksomitus, Edward Willete and Judith Silverthorne.

In between sessions, I found out a movie producer wanted to see the book I finished just last week: The Nine Minute Disaster Zone. I love the idea of the possibility but know people look and rarely buy.