Tuesday, December 29, 2009

resolutions for 2010 part 2

Amazing that I forgot my own health! I just don't want to diet, and I don't want to exercise. But I really must do both. At least exercise. That's the important component. I don't binge. My appetite is not very large. I have a small plate that is set aside for MY meals (so that I avoid the "man-sized" servings that my hubby and son like to load up for me when it's their turns to make dinners). But, like it or not, I really must--for my own sake--lose about 20 lbs. Thirty pounds would be better, but I'm not likely to maintain that, even if I do achieve it. I won't go to Weight Watchers, because lectures don't help. I probably won't go back to Jenny Craig because it's too expensive. I could eat the Lean Cuisine dinners and Smart Ones, but they are very high in sodium and that won't help my high blood pressure. Losing weight is not easy! Exercise is something I can do (even just going for a daily 30-minute walk), whether I like it or not. If I don't want to do it every day, I must do it a minimum of 3 days a week. I must do it.

resolutions for 2010

This is a follow-up to two previous blogs: the one about reviewing 2009 and how I blew those resolutions, and the one with advice from the Guide to Literary Agents blogs.
So, dealing with the resolutions I couldn't keep this past year, how can I revive them in such a way as to make them more achievable? (After all, they must be worthwhile, if I tried to commit to them last year.) First: music--Maybe practising the organ every day is unreasonable. But maybe I can try to do a little once a week? How about a weekend "date" with the organ, either Saturday or Sunday or, if I miss those then any other day to make up for it? Let's try that. Second: reading--I wanted to track my reading, ie, take notes on titles and authors and other comments on each book I read. Rather off-putting, isn't it? How about just plain reading. Maybe I could note title and author of the books I especially want to remember. Last year I read the last two books in the Harry Potter series, and reread Anne of Green Gables, and a book by kc dyer titled Ms Zephyr's Notebook, and...some others...including at least one Anne Perry mystery. So, just because I didn't track them doesn't mean I didn't read anything worthwhile. The ones mentioned here were definitely all worthwhile. I could make plans to read particular books next year, but I'd rather not commit to that. Besides the books I've mentioned, I also do quite a lot of research reading. They do get tracked in my bibliography lists for whatever I'm planning to write. The third resolution has to do with writing, which, curiously, was not in last year's resolutions! One of the accomplishments was being a "winner" in NANOWRIMO. It would be nice to do that again! Resolution? No--just "would be nice to do that again". I also had a story published, and that wasn't even a resolution. It was a short story in an anthology: "The Fire" in Below the Canopy published by Polar Bear Expressions. But my middle-grade historical novel, Angels in the Flames, was rejected by two publishers: TouchWood Editions and Moose Enterprise. Can't send it out again until January (ie, a few days away), so I'm going through the manuscript to tweek it a little more. So, for 2010? Obviously, I'd like to get that PUBLISHED. And I should have one (or two) books to go to publishers before December 31, 2010. And some articles published. I wonder if I can have a web page by then? Good goal to strive for. And I think that's enough.

travel count down week 5

Five weeks? Really? What happened to week 6? Anyway, today is Tuesday, and it is 34 more sleeps until we leave. I'm still working on Hebrew and Italian every evening. My hubby has read a book about archaeology of Bible lands, and is rereading James Mitchener's The Source. We have to make sure we have enough "meds" to last the six weeks we'll be away. The recent "Christmas Day" foiled attempt to blow up a plane has caused lots of increased rules and regulations about what may and may not go on the plane as carry-on. If they make it any more stringent, they'll have to ban passengers!

literary agent blog

One of the blogs I follow is the Guide to Literary Agents. Looking at it today, I read Chuck Sambuchino's entry which asks the question (and answers it): "What is an Author's Platform?" It's something I was hoping my own blogs here would help me build for myself, but I still have a way to go to even get started with a "web presence", which is one plank of the platform. Chuck (as he identifies himself) gives credit to a book he's reading: Get Known Before the Book Deal, by Christina Katz.
Chuck answers the questions: "What is it?" (author's platform, that is) and "Why is it important?" The answer to the first question is: A platform is all of the ways that you are visible and appealing to your future and potential or actual readership. It is comprised of a web presence, any public speaking and teaching you do, the media contacts you have and your publications (especially articles). It is any means you make your name/book known to a viable readership. Chris challenges us to answer "3 key questions": "Who are you known as in the world as a writer now? How do others see you now? Who would you like to be known as in one year?" He warns us not to exaggerate or be unrealistic--especially in setting a goal for the one year frame in question #3.
I find these questions difficult, because I don't know how others see me. How am I known in the world? I'm not. How do others see me? I'd have to ask--and the trouble with that is that you never know if your friends are trying to be nice or trying to be helpful! And asking friends puts them on the spot. Asking relatives is more or less useless, unless there are other writers in the family. As for #3, "who would I like to be...in 1 year?" --That calls for another New Year's Resolution. The most important thing to remember for this is, to be realistic.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 in review, sort of

It's Christmas Eve, and quite different from last year! Thank God! No snow this year, so we'll be able to go to Midnight Mass. At 10pm, it's a bit early for Midnight, but that's okay. And today is a bit early to think of the end of the year 2009, by about a week.
I looked at last year's blogs for this time of year and was reminded of having to miss Mass. Also reminded of my resolutions!!! hahaha! (or should that be, hohoho?) I was supposed to practise the organ every day. Don't remember the last time I even touched the organ! Also, I was supposed to track my reading. Didn't do that, either! BUT...I have brought music back into my life, even to the extent of volunteering to sing with the St. Thomas choir at the seniors' home last Sunday. (I had actually given up all singing, and even listening to music, for a couple of years, because it made me cry. Over that now--for the most part.) As for the reading part, I've done more reading this year, I think. But no tracking of it. It might be useful. Anyway, I have a week to think about new New Year's resolutions, and I'm pretty sure they'll be different this year. That organ practice seems like a good idea, though.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

travel count down week 7

Actually week 7 was last Sunday, so we're on our way to week 6. Right now it is, I think, about 40 sleeps until we leave. I've been keeping up with my language study. I'd almost forgotten how to write in Hebrew, even though I hadn't forgotten how to read it. So, I practise reading and writing every evening. I can't speak it, though. I'm trying to build a vocabulary of sorts. It remains to be seen if any of this will be of use when we're in Israel. Unfortunately, I can't read/write a solitary letter of Arabic! I'm sure that would be useful, but I'm not going to tackle that one at this stage. Then there's Italian, of course. I was in Italy in March/April 2008, and used the few words I have while I was there--carrying my phrase book everywhere with me. I'm reviewing my Italian textbook and tapes every evening, too. Luckily there's no cross-over between Italian and Hebrew. I couldn't possibly handle Italian and Spanish at the same time. I mix them up terribly! Can't tell one from the other at all. Good thing I love learning languages. This is fun. For me. I'm told it's not fun for everyone, but then I hate sports and most people love sports. I guess I'm just odd.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

submitting mss again

Having received my most recent rejection for Angels in the Flames, I'm back at the market books again, seeking my next publisher. Coteau wants kidlit from May 1st to August 31st only. Dundurn wants fiction only in spring or fall. Those two were next on my list of Canadian publishers to target. But I don't want this ms sitting around until March! So, it's back to the books to look for the next one, and getting all the hoops in a row so I can jump through them as they come up: mss in Times New Roman, 12 point font; resume up to date; synopsis done; bibliography ready just in case. Seeking Canadian publishers first, as this is a Canadian novel. Keeping positive thought always. I'm so glad we don't do Christmas! :)

submitting mss

Every publisher has a different set of hoops for authors to jump through when submitting mss. On the surface, it looks like they all want the same thing: cover letter, sample chapters, synopsis, and SASE. But some want it by email, others want only hard copies. Some want one chapter, some want two, or three, or "at least three" or the whole thing or definitely not the whole thing. Most want a synopsis (or outline). A few want a resume. Fewer still want a bibliography for non-fiction or historical fiction. Some publishers sound really chatty and seem to encourage authors to tell their whole life story, others want "just the facts" relevant to the ms being submitted. Some won't take simultaneous submissions, some don't mention them and maybe assume that authors will submit to other publishers anyway. Then there's the question about multiple submissions. What are they? Well, I learned recently that some authors are so prolific that they might actually submit more than one manuscript to one publisher. Now, I do have more than one ms that I could submit, but it never occurred to me to submit more than one ms to one publisher. It's hard enough to find a "fit" for one ms at a time, for me anyway.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

disappointment again

Someone once defined golf as a long walk punctuated with disappointments. Well, trying to be an author is a lot like that, too. The manuscript that I've been working so hard on, for quite a few years now, has bounced back to me once again. So, Moose Enterprise publisher sent me back my post card saying that if I had sent an envelope big enough, he would have sent a more complete critique. But, as he didn't like it, I don't know if I really want a more complete critique from him. Seems to me I've already been that route with TouchWood Editions.
Next on my list is The Dundurn Group. I had sent it to Moose first (after the local BC houses) because they respond in one month or less. They were true to their word. Coteau Books is also on my list, but they don't want to see children's lit until after May 1st and only up to August 31st. So, if Dundurn turns it down, it'll go to Coteau after that. I have quite a long list of potential publishers in Canada, before I resort to US markets. (I think the story has a better chance in Canada because it is about a historical event in Vancouver: the 1886 fire.) Time for more positive thoughts! (aka prayers!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

travel count down week 8

Eight weeks from tomorrow, we'll be on our way. Feb. 1st, we board the plane to Tel Aviv, via Heathrow. Two weeks in Jerusalem, staying in a guest house on the Via Dolorosa. Then, we fly to Rome and take the train (probably) to Assisi, where we'll stay with some nuns for one week. From there, we fly back to Heathrow and stay in England for three weeks, two of which weeks we'll have an "English Country Cottage." One week is unscheduled. It's a big trip, and I can hardly wait. Brushing up my Hebrew & Italian. Fifty sleeps, I think, till we go. Coming home March 23rd.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

keeping it moving

Today, I packaged my cover letter, author biography, title page, table of contents & 3 chapters (1st two chapters & last chapter) and mailed it all off to Moose Enterprises, a publisher located in Sault Ste. Marie. I selected that publisher because they say they respond in one month. That's considerably better than the two-year odyssey with TouchWood Editions in Victoria! (Still, I am grateful to them for the critique. They sent the rejection letter on November 9th.) I mentioned to Moose that, if by the beginning of January they have not requested the rest of the manuscript, I'll be offering it elsewhere. More positive thinking needed here!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

nanowrimo 4

I did it. This afternoon, I wrote my 50,197th word of the novel, finishing the story as well. The goal was to write a 50,000 word novel in under 30 days. So it took me 22 days. Not bad, if I do say so myself. And the story is a story, unedited of course, first draft only, but it's done. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. I had no idea, when I began, how the story would end, so it was as much of a surprise to me as it would be to any reader. It's okay. Now, as to whether I'll actually edit it and send it somewhere, I need a couple of weeks to think about that. Then at the beginning of December, maybe, I'll reread it and see if it has any potential.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


In October 2007, I sent a novel, Angels in the Flames, to TouchWood Editions, a publisher located in Victoria, BC. I heard back from them in April 2008 that they had received the novel and that it was with a reader. In October 2008, I received a 3-page single-spaced critique of the novel, asking me to rewrite it and resubmit. By April 2009, I had completely rewritten the book and I sent it back to them on April 15th, I think. September, I emailed a query concerning its status. No answer. I emailed again a week or two later. No answer. I emailed them a third time in October, asking if they were receiving my emails. They wrote back saying the manuscript was still with a reader. November 9, 2009, I received a rejection from them. The publisher said she thought the rewrite had greatly improved the story and she enjoyed it. But they don't do books for younger readers. Now, of course, my first reaction was: "Why didn't you say that a year and a half ago?" But I'm really grateful that they didn't, because had they done so, I would not have rewritten it as carefully as I did. That being said, at the age of 71 years, I don't have all these years to spend sitting waiting for readers to take as long to read a book as I took to write it, only to tell me that their house doesn't do that kind of book. I find this experience really frustrating!! It's bad enough to get a rejection (even a "nice" one) but it's very upsetting to learn that it never stood a chance to begin with. BTW, yes--I did look at what they published and it seemed to me that my book might fit in with their list. But I was obviously mistaken.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Van Dusen Gardens

Yesterday I went to Vandusen Gardens to see Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall. Prince Charles was downtown doing something, so poor Camilla was given a wet and soggy walk in a garden. Not a good activity for November. She shook my hand twice. Once on her way to plant a tree, and once again on her way back from planting the tree. Then, she was taken to a tent and given a cup of tea--she didn't even get to sit down--just had to shake more hands while she drank her tea. (I could see her through the plastic wall of the tent.)
Went back today, and took out a membership in the VBGA. It seems to be a nice place to stroll, and I need the exercise. I love walking, but I hate walking without a destination or a goal. It's boring. Hopefully, now that I have this membership, I'll walk outside more often and not spend so much time just sitting in front of the computer or the television. Or reading, but that's a good thing to do.


Here is it Nov. 8th, and I'm still at it. So far, I've written 20,292 words. That's the quantity. Now as for quality, that's another question. The rules for nanowrimo advise that all editing be left for December. Do you know how hard that is for an English teacher?????


Thursday, November 5, 2009

nanowrimo 2

Despite being busy with visitations, ailing and dying friends, tutoring and volunteering, I'm still managing to work on my nanowrimo goals. My daily goal is 2000 words, but I'm doing more than that. So far, my word count is 11,913. The trick is following the plan (slightly modified) mentioned before: write 1/2 hour and rest 10 or 15 minutes, repeat two or three or four times. I find that even one such session, just the half hour writing, is better than aiming at 2000 words. So far, I haven't written fewer than 2000 words on any one day.

parish visitations

I'm a little better than half-way through this job that was supposed to have been completed by the end of October. But apparently, I'm doing better than some others who are doing the visitations! I'll try to get to it again tomorrow. Haven't had much time to do anything for the past week or two.

funeral #1

Tuesday afternoon we said good-bye to an amazing young woman who died a little over a week ago. Crowded church full of mourners and friends of the family. Sad celebration. Stayed for the service but not for the events that followed. Elizabeth had been a student in my Sunday School class several years ago. I learned more from her than she did from me. Wise beyond her years, even if she had lived to be a hundred. Her ninety-nine-year-old grandmother was at the funeral, saying only, "She's gone."

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I don't care what people say about Halloween being pagan, I enjoy seeing the little kids in their costumes, and am happy to give a little gift for the pleasure. I only wish that the interest in demons and devils and other unwholesome aspects would go away. I'm glad more parents come to the door with the children. Safety is a huge problem, with all the crazies and their fireworks out there. Someone said on TV last night that Halloween was the best and most important holiday. Poor soul! Never heard of Easter? (No bunnies, thanks. Eggs okay.) No, I don't count Christmas as my favourite, either. It doesn't even make the list, IMHO.
BTW, Hallowe'en is a Christian holiday, when you drop all the kidstuff like witches and ghosts, etc. It's All Hallows' Eve: All Hallows Day (November 1) being the day when we celebrate all the saints. But you knew that, didn't you!

nanowrimo 1

Yesterday, hubby & I attended the NANOWRIMO kick-off event at the Old Spaghetti Factory in New Westminster. About 70 of us were there, much to the surprise and apparent delight of the organizers. We all got home (I guess) in time for Halloween kiddies. But FrSr (my hubby) and I stopped off at St. James for Evensong and stayed for Mass. That meant that today (Sunday) would be totally free.
I woke up this morning dreaming that I had written 2000 words of my nanowrimo novel. Of course I hadn't because the event just started at midnight last night & I wrote about 120 words before going to sleep. So I set up to do the 2000 today. Someone had suggested that a good way to get started was to go to the chatroom and check in and make a commitment. So I did that. Also, in with the goodies they gave us at the event yesterday was a little writing trick I'd never heard of before. It's 30-10, or something like that. It works this way: you write for 30 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. Then write 30 minutes & take 10 minutes off, and so on until you've been at it a couple of hours. For me, I needed more than 10 minutes to empty the dishwasher from last night, make tea, take my meds, and so on. So the first 10 minutes was more like 15. But I made up for it the second break, taking only 7 minutes. This process worked so well for me that I actually overshot my goal by a thousand words. I wrote a total of 3,280 words of the novel.
For those of you who forgot what nanowrimo is, it's: National Novel Writing Month (November). I have to write a 50,000 word novel by midnight, November 30th. So getting a good start is all very well. The question is, can I keep this pace up? Sure hope so. Met a few people yesterday who have done it. If they can, so can I. (And so can you!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

in memory of friends

This has been a sad week. Two friends died, one on Monday and the other on Thursday. Both from long and difficult illnesses. For each it was a release from pain and suffering. For those of us left behind, it is a time of loss. The first friend was only a girl of about nineteen. The other was in her sixties. Both before their time.
I'll continue to light votive candles for them in church. I used to light them with prayers for their release from suffering. Those prayers have been answered in ways that we might not have chosen. Now the prayers will be for their eternal peace.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

day of rest

I'm taking the day off. I woke up this morning about 3 o'clock and made myself a cup of hot milk to get me back to sleep. Then I woke up again at 5, again at 6 and then the alarm went off at 6:30. The plan was to leave the house at 7:30 to go to matins and the early mass. Instead, I decided to roll over and go back to sleep. That didn't happen, but I did decide to take the day off even if I didn't sleep in. According to my Franciscan Rule, I'm supposed to attend Mass twice a week. Well, this week I went on Wednesday evening with the Franciscans to hear Brother Robert Hugh, then again on Thursday morning at St. James. So, although I usually try to make one of the two Masses a Sunday eucharist, it's not happening this week. Maybe today I can actually get a little bit of writing done. I spent all day yesterday at the Surrey Writers Conference, although not attending the conference. I just sat at the SCBWI table in the hall and chatted with friends while promoting the Society's work with children's literature. Gladys and I had a good visit, keeping one another company all day. And we chatted with several other people, especially Ken. It wasn't a "busy" day, but it was "out and about". Today, other than a visit this afternoon or evening to my friend in the hospice, I'm just going to do as I please. Oh, and I do have phone calls to make about the visitations, and I have a lesson to prepare for tomorrow. Not totally a day off after all.

Friday, October 23, 2009

a quick note

This month is as hectic as all the others, but it seems more so somehow. First, there's my tutoring schedule. It's only 8 hours a week, but it involves a lot of time on the road. An hour here, an hour there--or two hours. Then there's my volunteering, which isn't so much really. Just alternate Wednesday mornings at the UBC Farm, and one Sunday morning a month with the Sunday School. Kindergarten hasn't started for me yet, and I don't know if I'll be able to do much when it does, due to travel plans. (More on travel plans later.) But there's also the very sad duty of making daily visits to a friend who is in palliative care and not expected to live very long. We don't stay long with her, so we don't tire her out. Just pop in, massage her elbows and feet with lotion, maybe say a prayer with her if she wants us to, then she either dozes off or a meal comes or maybe another visitor. We leave then. Otherwise, besides a wonderful evening with Brother Robert, a First Order Friar from San Francisco the other night, it's been just everything as usual. No, I forgot! I'm also making daily phone calls and arranging visits for our parish visitations that must be completed this month. Oh yes, and there's writing, isn't there? And reading Harry Potter (the last book) and Anne of Green Gables (the first book). Gotta go now. Tutoring, etc.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

correspondence with TouchWood Editions

It's hard to wait for word from a publisher. On one hand, I kept telling myself that no news was good news. Still, I waited to learn about the manuscript that was "in the hands of a reader". The editor had told me this, and said that I could contact her if I had questions. Well, I didn't have any special questions other than, "Will you publish my book?" Rather than be a nuisance, I waited from sending the ms in April until after the summer was over, mid-September. But I got no answer, so I tried again a couple of weeks later. Still no answer. With businesses closing and the economy in an uproar, I was no longer sure that no news was good news. So, a few days ago, I tried again, this time also asking if the editor was indeed getting my email messages. Turns out she was. She responded within minutes, apologizing for being so slow, and saying that my ms was "in the hands of a reader." I responded right away, expressing relief at having had an answer, and saying that I could wait. Yes, I can wait. But it still isn't easy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

visiting Franciscans

Today, we celebrated St. Francis Day at St. James Church. A little early, but that's okay. Like many churches, we had a blessing of the animals. Our cat had the third blessing of her life. She loves going to church! She also joins my husband and me when we say our morning and evening prayers. A real religious cat. The church was bouncing with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Cats were in cages, for the most part. (Some daring children carried their kittens in their arms.) And for the first time, hopefully not the last, our church invited the Vancouver Police Department to bring their horses and dogs for a blessing. They actually showed up! We had four horses and one representative of the dog squad lined up on the street outside the church, and the priests went down and blessed each of them. The congregation watched from the church steps. After the blessing, the children of the church were invited to go down and pet the horses and police dog.
That wasn't the end of St. Francis celebrations. Our fellowship group had two visitors from England, who wanted to renew their vows while they were in Vancouver. So, we had a special Mass in the Lady Chapel for them. After that we had our fellowship meeting in the Bishops' Room, and some tea and cookies to keep us going. My son accompanied us to the Animal Blessing so he could take the cat home for us. We couldn't expect the poor little puss to stay in her cage for the whole afternoon!

pretty note

I keep forgetting to mention a nice little corner of my almost-non-existent garden. My partner at the UBC Farm last year gave me some plants in April. One was a little clump "michaelmas daisies". I've been watching it, because I didn't know what to expect. One nice surprise was that it burst into bloom ON St. Michael's Day, September 29th. I know they're called Michaelmas daisies, but I was surprised that they actually chose that day to bloom. Pretty little blue daisies. I'll look forward to seeing them every year on that day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

busy as usual

So what has happened in the past two weeks plus since my last blog entry? Well, Sandman in Penticton sent me a certificate for one night free there. Anyone want it? I don't. We plan to go to Penticton in a couple of weeks, and have already booked our reservation at Super 8. They have a very nice swimming pool and free breakfast. And beds in every room!!!
September always brings me back to my volunteer jobs. I've got my Sunday School teaching schedule and have had one session already. (Usually only once a month, so my next time will be October 11th, I think. Is that a Sunday?) And I'm back at UBC farm. We had our orientation day with a potluck lunch. My favourite meal is always potluck! Next Wednesday will be our first day with the children. My third volunteer job is with the kindergarten. It usually doesn't start until the new year. And something new: I've got a couple of tutoring jobs. One takes me to North Vancouver three times a week, and the other will start soon at King Edward Campus, I suppose.
This means that sleeping late in the morning will likely happen only on the Wednesdays I don't go to the farm. Maybe the occasional Saturday that escapes being filled up. Thursday mornings, my hubby & I lead Morning Prayer at St. James.
So there you are--just in case you were wondering why I hadn't been blogging lately. I'm busy preparing ESL & Sunday School lessons, and trying to get some writing done in between times. And, I have to read the last Harry Potter book!

Monday, September 14, 2009


I sent an email to the editor at TouchWood Editions asking about the status of my manuscript, Angels in the Flames. I had intended to send this on Sept. 15th (an arbitrary date) but couldn't wait. It's scary to ask about the status of a manuscript. What if the editor takes that as a cue to simply reject it??? Very scary. Think nice positive thoughts!

Monday, September 7, 2009


On Saturday night we went to the Keg Restaurant at New Westminster Quay to celebrate Pam's 60th birthday (niece). We usually see these people only at weddings (seldom) or funerals (more often). It was nice to have a birthday for a change. Chatted with lots of relatives we wouldn't know if we saw them in a mall!

franciscan bbq

Yesterday afternoon we drove all the way to Langley for the summer barbecue at Marilynn's house. It's become an annual tradition. That means we've done it once or twice before. Unfortunately several people were missing. It was a bit rainy, but we just had the bbq indoors. Marilynn's hubby did the cooking out on the patio. The rain seemed to hold off while he was there, and just started sprinkling when he got to the end. Always great to see these people and swap stories: this time it was mostly about summer holidays. There were 5 kids, ages roughly 7 to 11, I think, and they were fantastic. All of them bright and polite and thoroughly delightful. (The round trip to/from Langley, as about 120 km.)

Monday, August 31, 2009

good news

Today I got a letter from Polar Expressions Publishing, saying that my short story has been short-listed to the final round of their competition. As a result, my story will be published in their anthology, BELOW THE CANOPY. Winners of the final round will receive copies of the book, but I can buy one now with all taxes and costs paid. Later, the taxes and costs will be added on. First prize is $500, second prize is $250, and third prize is $100. The title of my story is "The Fire". It is not kidlit, but entering contests is always a good idea. Final winners will be announced in late November, 2009.

Friday, August 28, 2009

hotel experience never-to-be-repeated

The manager of the Penticton Sandman phoned me again today. Not surprisingly, he offered me a gift certificate for a free night at the same hotel. I told him that the experience had left a nasty taste in my mouth and I doubted if I'd use the certificate. I suggested a simple partial refund, but he said he was unable to do that, but that he would send me the certificate anyway. "Maybe you can give it to a friend." But I said I wouldn't inflict that on a friend. Anyway, I guess the certificate is coming.
One word of comfort was that the staff had a meeting on the issue, with two answers. The first is that they will monitor the bookings that come from Expedia and other similar booking agencies to see what exactly was booked, so the reservation can be entered on the local computer and guests won't be stuck with "whatever" when they arrive. The other condition that caused my unfortunate experience was that some guests who were supposed to leave, actually extended their stay and the staff didn't know how to handle it. Henceforth, new guests (pre-booked) will be given priority over those who just don't want to leave.
I cannot stress enough, though, that the staff of this hotel have infinite patience and courtesy. And that I do appreciate.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

hotel experience never-to-be-repeated

The manager of the Penticton Sandman sent me an email today, and later phoned while I was out. I don't know what he can do. I don't want a free stay in any Sandman, because I'm sure I'll never go into one again. As I said before, there is no fault in the staff. And the hotel itself was adequate (although lack of internet access is a bit 20th century in this third millennium). Their booking arrangements are inadequate. Apparently, just because you've registered online does not mean that the hotel has the information. So, prepaid booking online is not registration in the Sandman hotel. I guess direct contact with the manager of the hotel in question, and written confirmation of an actual room number, is necessary. I had the confirmation of the booking from the booking agency, which clearly stated it was for a twin-bed room, but the hotel did not have this information. If prepaid booking does not equate registration, what is it? Kinda useless, eh? Last year I travelled in Italy & the UK, and prebooked in at least four of the hotels I stayed in, although I didn't prepay. I had a bed in each of all four hotels.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Saw the movie today. I was amazed that they were actually able to get all of that huge book into one movie. They took a few shortcuts, of necessity, but it was still an excellent movie. Can't wait for hubby to finish the next book and then for those two movies to come out. Apparently, according to the last reports I heard on the subject, they can't get all of the last book into one movie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I've finally finished reading the book (couldn't put it down!), and am now ready to see the movie! We have the last book, but I have to wait until hubby finishes it. It won't be long, I'm sure. He's a faster reader than I am.

hotel, continued

I need to clarify that the reason my husband was not able to take the floor and let me have the bed is that while my back has two broken vertebrae, his back was broken in 5 places and he has far more health problems than I do. He's also 5 1/2 years older than I am, and walks with a cane. So, don't blame him! Chivalry has its limits!!

hotel experience never-to-be-repeated

When you book into a hotel, do you expect a bed? Actually, I don't care what else there is. They can keep their television and coffee making stuff, although I do usually make use of both. I don't miss them if they aren't there. I don't even mind if the biffy is down the hall. The hotels I stayed in in Europe last year lacked all those amenities, in fact. I hardly noticed. Because I always got a bed.
But on Friday, August 14th, my husband and I booked into the Penticton Sandman and I experienced the most intolerable situation I've ever seen in any hotel. My husband had tried to get us into the two or three hotels we've stayed at in on other occasions. Unfortunately, all were full. So, after a long search, he found a vacancy at Sandman, so he booked and prepaid online. That was on June 22nd, for our August 14th arrival.
At the desk, I handed over the printout that said we were registered there, and there was no problem. The printout stated clearly that we were booked into a room with twin beds. (For various medical reasons, I need a separate bed.) When we got to the room, we found that there was only ONE bed. For some odd reason, we had a fridge and stove "kitchenette". But only ONE bed. I immediately went back to the desk and said there was a mistake. But no. There was no other accommodation. (Prepaid reservations, notwithstanding!) So, I asked, could I have a cot brought in? No. There were no cots. After some time, it was finally conceded that I WOULD HAVE TO SLEEP ON THE FLOOR! So, on the nights of August 14th and 15th, I--at age 70 (I'll be 71 next month)--I slept on the floor in a hotel! I did take a photo, but it'll be a while before I get a chance to scan it into the computer. I'll post it here (and on Facebook) as soon as I can. I think everyone needs to know, that just because you've booked AND PREPAID, doesn't mean you'll get what you paid for.
Last year I stayed in a total of 11 hotels, and over my lifetime I've stayed in hotels as far east as Moscow,USSR (1975), as far south as Mexico, and as far north as Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Never before have I been given a room but refused a bed. AND, by the way, had to pay over $100 a night for the privilege.
To their CREDIT: the staff at the hotel never lost their courteous attitude. I think they were embarrassed by the situation. For our third and last night of stay at the Sandman, we were moved to the room next door (rm 212 to rm 210) and we had our twin beds. That was, after all, all I wanted.

1st half of August 2009

Well, let's actually start back in July. The last week of July was really interesting. We had Vacation Bible School at St. James, and not only was I up to my neck in it, but also my husband and two of our sons. It was St. Paul and the Underground Church in ancient Rome. We had so much fun with it, that we might just do the exact same one (with our own innovations) next year. We'll see.
August started off with a writers' group meeting at Queen Elizabeth Park. Only three of us actually turned up, but it was interesting and helpful, IMHO. Unfortunately, I never think of sunblock, and so got baked to a crisp! One night of discomfort, eased with cucumber slices on my face, and it was only a memory. Tough skinned cookie, that's me.
Two weekends away: one at Rivendell Retreat Centre, on Bowen Island--our retreat in preparation for my husband's profession into the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis. I had my profession (with preceding retreat and confession) in May of this year. The only difference for my husband's profession was that I got to officiate, having been given permission because I was professed.
The second weekend away was our annual family picnic in Penticton this past weekend. Members of our (deceased) eldest son's family were conspicuous by their absence. No one's fault, just hard to get everyone together all on the same weekend. We have to make a more concentrated effort next year to see that each of our children's family has at least one adult representative at the picnic. We also try to get together at Epiphany (in January). This year we have had the two extra "reunions", those being the TSSF professions. I think we've seen more of each other this year so far than in many years in the past. So, no complaints.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

new link added

For those who are enjoying the 3 minute online retreat from loyolapress.com, I've added www.missionstclare.com for the daily office. Makes daily worship at home much easier.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

spoilt brats

While I truly do love children, I have little fondness for spoilt brats. Why? I think it's because throughout all my childhood, from early memories when I was about 5 years old right up to my high school guidance counsellor in grade 10, I was labelled as a spoilt brat. I got to be an expert on what a spoilt brat was, because I wanted to know what it was I was accused of being.
That first memory, when I was about 5 years old (maybe four years old), was of being in a queue to see Santa Claus in a department store. A lady asked me if I was going to ask Santa for a doll. I said no, because I already had nine dolls. She put her nose in the air and said loudly to her friend, "Humph! She's obviously a spoilt brat." To this my mother took exception, and hastily explained to the snooty lady that the reason I had nine dolls was because our house had recently burnt down, and neighbours gave me dolls and dresses. All mine had been burnt in the fire, and we were still basically homeless. But I, homeless or not, I was a spoilt brat.
That last time I recall the accusation, from the high school counsellor, occurred when I went to see her about which courses I should take the following year. My mother and step-father were alcoholics, and there was not a chance in the world that I would be able to take post secondary courses anywhere, certainly not in a university, and so I needed to know which courses would help me get a job as soon as possible, so I could support the "adults" and myself. The counsellor didn't glance up to look at me when I entered her office. She just took a file folder off the top of a heap, read my name aloud, I responded. She opened the file and read "only child", and commented, "Humph! Obviously a spoilt brat." I sat stunned and waited while she grilled me about my friends and courses, and announced that she had an address for me to go and apply for a job as a clerk typist in Vancouver's poor end of the business section--near Main & Hastings, for those of you who know the area.
So, what is a spoilt brat? Well, if you're talking about me, it's a homeless child with more dolls than she knows what to do with, and who has no siblings to help with useless parents.
Being homeless, or almost so, means never having friends from one year to the next--always being the "new kid" and therefore the one who is the butt of jokes and/or who is left out of games. Even those who are the "last one chosen" have it better than the new kid who gets left out of the game altogether. We're the spoilt ones, remember?
Having no siblings was sometimes seen as a blessing by some kids I went to school with. They fought with their brothers and sisters. They complained about their brothers and sisters. They were jealous of one another, and seemed to really hate each other. BUT, let an outsider (like me, for instance) say one word against said siblings, and then the family closed ranks and the outsider was pushed off the planet altogether. Out in the cold all alone, I'm a spoilt brat.
So, what can a person do to avoid being a spoilt brat? First of all, one needs parents and, if possible, siblings. Then, it seems to me things fall into place IF these parents (and older siblings if there are any) teach the potential spoilt brat that he/she is NOT the centre of the universe and does NOT have the right to write all the scripts for the rest of the world. In other words, a child needs to be socialized. And that means (I know this is unpopular) he/she NEEDS to be disciplined. Disciplining a child does NOT mean being unkind or abusive. That is inappropriate behaviour for anyone of any age. It means teaching by example. An example of what? Of courtesy, not demanding one's own way all the time, not expecting to be first or have the best. This is tricky, because if parents always give way and take last place and settle for worst, they have to understand that the example they are giving is not what it seems to be. If the child never has to obey, he/she learns that obedience is never expected and never needs to be observed. If the child always goes first and gets the best, he/she learns that this is their entitlement and it's the way it should be. And now you have a spoilt brat. (Regardless of how many toys and siblings are available in the family.)
Spoilt brats come with excuses for bad behaviour which their parents have taught them. "He's over-stimulated" was one I heard today. Huh? He has to be bored before he'll cooperate? Or, "He has special needs." Guess what! I've never met a human being who didn't have special needs. But in a class of 30 kids, if your child expects to get special attention, that means that 29 other children must be neglected. If you truly feel that your child is that special, then either homeschool him or get him a tutor. Do the school system and all teachers (and all other families in your neighbourhood) and keep him away from public schools. If, however, you love your child so much that you hope others will at least like him and want his company, then do him a great favour: Socialize him and discipline him. This is the greatest favour you can do him--and the rest of us. Otherwise, you're raising a spoilt brat. I've been there and it's not fun.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

catching up

More than two weeks have passed since my last entry. The weather has been SO hot that I can barely tolerate in--and I usually love the heat. I spend most of my time in an attic room I like to call a "loft", but today I can't even go up there. The temperature is 98 degrees Fahrenheit--it sounds more than 31 or whatever, celcius. I remember once being in Madrid when the temperature was 40 degrees celcius. It was evening, and y'know, it was not as hot as we're having it now.
This week, my hubby and I, with the help of two of our sons, are busy with Vacation Bible School at St. James' Anglican Church. It's "Paul and the Underground Church". We're having a lot of fun, and it seems that the kids are enjoying it too--and learning a lot, too. Our rector, Fr. Mark Greenaway-Robbins, is playing the part of St. Paul, chained to a "guard" behind "bars" in the baptistry of the church, currently a "jail". In the nursery room downstairs, black plastic coverings have converted the usually welcoming area into a "cave" where the Christians hide their church. In the Upper Hall, we have a marketplace where the children can spend their denarii on making mosaics or learning about Roman Numerals or making wreaths and leather bracelets, among other things. During marketplace time, there is usually a two-minute drama, such as the freeing of a slave or hiring of an architect to build the emperor another villa. The day starts and ends with a worship time, consisting of learning some songs, and spending time in small groups ("families") setting up for the day and summing up the day. The programme is produced by Concordia Publications, and we're having a lot of fun with it. We chose that programme mainly because it can all be done indoors. Our church is located in the poorest postal code in Canada, usually called the "Downtown East Side" of Vancouver. To use one of the local parks, we'd have to clear away hypodermic needles and avoid possible intrusions by the prostitutes and drug-dealers. These people are always welcome in the church, but we don't have to take the children to play in their territory.
We still have three more days of Bible School to go, but so far we're having a blast!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

short story

There's a website: http://www.polarexpressions.ca where we can find contests for poetry or short stories. So, a few days ago I wrote a first draft of a short story, polished it today, and faxed it in to the contest. Keep positive thoughts!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

family fears

This morning I woke up, not to the alarm which was set for just after seven, but to the phone ringing a minute or two before the alarm. A stranger asked, "What kind of car do you drive?" The conversation that followed led me to believe that our car might be stolen. By the time I got to a window to see my car safe in the driveway, I had learned that it was actually my son's car in question. For the next hour, my husband and I were torn up with fear for our sons. Neither could be contacted by cell phones or otherwise. Eventually, it turned out that the car was not stolen. It had been left at the home of a friend of a friend while they went off to Alberta in search of a job. How did I find out? The police were involved, and the friend's friend's roommate had the information.
Now, my sons are not kids. They're middle-aged men, and don't have to call "Mommy" every time they want to go some place. But it would be nice to have a phone call once in a while, so that we don't go through agony for nothing. Of course, I'd rather go through agony for nothing than have it turn out to be something worth agonizing over. Moral of the story: let family know when you plan to be away from home for more than a day. It's just the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Would you want your mother to go missing for a couple of days???? Check in from time to time as an act of common courtesy and kindness.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

writing short stories, etc.

Writing short stories has never been a goal of mine. My mother wrote them all the time, most of them excellent but only one got published. I've written a few, but without success--that is, I wasn't satisfied with them. Right now, there's a competition with the deadline July 15th. I'm aiming to get something sent to them. It's only 750 words maximum, so.... That doesn't make it easy, just not a long term commitment. I'll write a story and send it off. Maybe I'll write some more, just to have ready in case another competition comes along, or I spot a market for short stories. In preparation for this competition (www.polarexpressions.ca) I downloaded the winners of the last competition and have been reading them for inspiration and an idea of what these judges are looking for. It's a Canadian publisher, and there's no entry fee, so what can I lose?
As for the "etc." in the heading, it's to do with a goal I've set for myself. I have been keeping up with it for a few weeks now, and it's working for me. That is, I must write at least 500 words every day. That is EVERY day. AT LEAST 500 words. So far so good, but that's not the goal. The goal is to work it up to 2000 words a day. I've been over 1600 words, but have not yet reached 2000 words in one day. Some days, just getting 500 is a struggle. The above short story accounted for that minimum yesterday. That's just the first draft, of course. Most of the time this month I've been working on a middle grade novel. Some days it flows, other days it doesn't. But at least I'm writing every day now. For a while there, I wasn't.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What to do?

One of my faults is that when I have a story/article/book out at a publisher's, I have trouble focussing on writing anything else. How unprofessional of me! How can I be a writer if I don't write? So, I have three projects on my plate: MXME is the novel mentioned in an earlier post; Stepping Stones is a non-fiction book I did for my second ICL course. It's been around to a few agents and publishers, but no bites--just nice rejections. Nice rejections are nice, but they aren't as nice as acceptances. Besides, I have some problems with the book myself. I can think of several ways it can be improved. So that's the second project I've been tinkering with. The third is not a children's book, but a religious non-fiction one about the psalms. I now have four memory sticks, one for each book including the one at TouchWood Editions. Today in one of my email messages I get from writers' lists there was a very good idea. That is to challenge oneself to write a certain number of words every day and keep a record of it. So, I've inserted a page in the front of my private journal and labelled it "Daily Word Count". I'll list the date and the number of words written (in one of the above projects) and see if I can do better than I have been doing. I'd also count query letters, if I actually write any.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

health stuff

Everything happens at once. A couple of days ago, I had an appointment with my physician to get a referral letter for my ophthamologist. By the way, I said, I had been bitten by a nasty bug. So I had to go to the emergency room at the hospital to have it checked further. My hubby had come along because he had a rash that the doctor should look at. And a sore finger. Would you believe that meant he had to go to the emergency room, too. For the rash. For the finger he got an appointment with a plastic surgeon! Well, we know all about emergency rooms in Vancouver hospitals. So first, we went to have something to eat and to pick up some reading materials. Yup. Four hours at emergency. Don't know what my hubby got out of it, but I had my blood tested THREE times! And a prescription for antibiotics against a possibility of Lyme disease. And I have to contact another doctor about it. But that's not all. No, next day I had to get into see the dentist due to a throbbing toothache. Then to another dentist for part one of a root canal. So if I haven't blogged much, now you know why.
Oh, and those antibiotics: I can't have any dairy or calcium within 2 hours of taking the capsules (1 twice a day). So meals and pills are a real juggling routine. Grrr. I'm not used to having health issues. Don't like it. :(

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Someone asked me what "MS" meant in the blog about the kindergarten. It stands for Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating disease that seems to come and go with attacks when the person is tired or not well, and then goes into remission. Sometimes that remission is total and the disease seems to have gone away, only to rear its ugly head when the person is in a weakened condition. That's why I'm glad my friend is taking this rest. It's necessary.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

kindergarten cancelled

Unfortunately, the kindergarten teacher of the class I love to visit, has taken ill and will be off until next September. The teacher has MS, and I worry about her. I hope this time of rest will be enough to build up her health, and I'll get to be with her class next year. She's probably the best teacher I've ever seen in a classroom. Her patience and skill are unparalleled. She's kind and loving yet firm with the children. They know exactly what is expected of them, and as a result they excel due to her guidance. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be in her classes over the past five years, and I look forward to joining her again next year. I pray for her strength and good health.


At 5:30 pm, Saturday, May 30, 2009, at the Vigil Mass of Pentecost, I was professed into the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis. Many of my friends and family members asked me what that meant. It's quite a long story, and is best described in the link provided on the left hand side of this site. For me personally, it means an important milestone on my Franciscan journey. Sometime back in 2004, I think, I got interested in the Order, and my husband and I began to look into it, attending a few of the Fellowship meetings and asking questions about it. This was called being an "Enquirer", as seems appropriate. After sending a long autobiography of my spiritual journey and answering a number of other questions on the questionnaire the Order sent me, I received a number of booklets and sheaves of papers of Franciscan formation instruction, and was received as a Postulant. Every month for two years to the best of my ability, I sent in a report to my formation counsellor and visited with my spiritual director, as required by the Order. This was longer than usual, due to family difficulties (two deaths, one of my grandson by drowning and then my son from cancer). Eventually I was invited to apply to be a Novice. I did that, and continued with the monthly reports and spiritual director visits for another two years. Last February, the Order elected me to profession, but I still had one more step to take: Being admitted to the Order at a ceremony in the context of a Eucharist service. This was fulfilled last Saturday. My family and friends supported me in full force. Some drove long distances to attend the service. I was very grateful to all of them. After the very beautiful service (in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament in St. James Anglican Church, Vancouver, BC), we had a small reception in the Bishops' Room in the church, followed by a family dinner (20 people) at a restaurant. So now, I get to affix the letters TSSF to my signature.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

children's safety tips 2 & 3 & 4

The second tip on the RCMP site is that parents and caregivers should always insist that very young children hold the caregiver's hand continually while walking to and from stores, play grounds, etc. Older children must remember to stay very close.
The third one is similar, in that children must not wander off, not even play hide and seek. But if the child gets lost or separated, he or she must know to tell someone "with a name tag" such as a cashier or security guard (preferably a woman).
Fourth, children should be encouraged to travel in groups, and use the buddy system. (I would warn that travelling in groups isn't always safe. Someone could go missing and not be noticed for a long time.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

children's safety tips 1

In the RCMP website (try http://www.rcmp.grc.gc.ca/ and go on looking for children's safety tips) there is a list of about 15 tips for keeping children safe. Today is, apparently, Missing Children Day, and so this list is how to keep children aware of how they might help themselves if they are in danger. On the news tonight there was an event when kids could have a booklet put together with all sorts of personal information, such as blood type, finger prints, a lock of hair, etc., to help police if necessary. Parents are advised to carry this "passport" everywhere, even when travelling. I'd think it might be a good idea to have a second copy of it in a safety deposit box.
The first tip for the children is that they should all know by heart their full name, address, telephone number, and their parents' places of work and contact numbers. I was rather alarmed a year or two ago when I found that my youngest grandson did not know his own address. I'm sure he didn't know contact numbers or work places, but I didn't ask, so I could be wrong. And this is only tip number one!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

my next novel?

MXME: A year ago November, a publisher who shall remain nameless was sitting opposite me in a restaurant. A group of us were chatting over lunch. I was relating a story about my childhood and how it came about that my family moved to England in December 1948. The publisher said he thought that was a good story. He repeated this to me several times, and finally said, “Do you hear me? I said that is a good story.” I responded, “When a publisher says to a writer, ‘That is a good story,’ I assure you that the writer hears that.” I promised to write the story and send it to him.
Well, I’m a slow writer, but the following October, I had enough of it written to take it to him at a writer’s conference. (I had an appointment with him for that purpose.) Instead of looking at the manuscript I had brought, he SOLD me another book and said he wanted me to read it and take his course. I was annoyed that he hadn’t even had the courtesy to look at what I had brought to the appointment, and more annoyed that he sold me a book I didn’t want, and still more annoyed that he wanted me to take his course. He knows nothing about me, my education, or my background. I’ve taken many writing courses—night school, correspondence, etc. The best courses were the two I took from the Institute of Children’s Literature (see link on this page). I continue to read about writing and to attend conferences and workshops to keep learning, but I balk at being badgered into taking one specific course in order for a certain publisher to see one manuscript. I’m sure that if I were to sell the book to that publisher, he would get far more out of me than I would get for the sale of the book. I’ll write the book, because I agree with him that it is a good story, but he’s last on the list of publishers who’ll get to see it.

birds and bees

Last week I went birding again. This time in Penticton with my daughter. It was the Meadowlark Festival. We had two birding mornings, first at Max Lake and then the next morning at Marron Valley. Other than a battle I nearly lost with a clay cliff that required climbing, the two events were great. Even the sighting of a young bear at Max Lake. Good thing we didn't bump into his mother! We capped the events with a relaxing cruise on Okanagan Lake. Spending time with my daughter Catherine and Bill, then with my son Steve and Monika and their children was a very happy way to spend a weekend. At the same time, I gave my hubby a few days on his own. :)
I returned home on the Sunday evening. I should have spent Tuesday morning at kindergarten. But unfortunately, the teacher is ill and is on health leave until next September. So, praying for her recovery, I hope I'll be back again next term.
On Wednesday morning, it was UBC farm with the grade five children. This week the lesson was about pollination, and we spent some time with the bees.

Rivendell Retreat

Retreat at Rivendell, arriving Thursday, May 21, 2009 (Ascension Day), Friday, May 22 (Derek’s 4th anniversary, leaving Saturday, May 23rd. Focus for Day 1: psalms; focus for Day 2: discernment; focus for Day 3: Gospel of John, chapters 13, 14, 15 & 16, to be continued for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday (May 24, 25, 26 & 27). May 28 & 29 to be devoted to reading the Book of Acts 2:1-11, as concerning Pentecost.
Hopefully, we can make this May Retreat an annual event for us. In fact, we signed up for three nights in May 2010.
The retreat was very restful and comforting in a few odd ways. First, when we woke up on the Friday morning, I put on some music (on my computer) hoping for an uplifting hymn. Instead, by random selection, we got "Nearer My God to Thee"--the hymn traditionally linked with the men on the Titanic singing it as they went down to their deaths in the ocean. It was a stark reminder that May 22nd was the anniversary of Derek's death by drowning. I lost the battle with tears. We listened to that hymn, and then I turned off the music and we said our morning prayers. The day passed in prayer, meditation (at a labyrinth) and reading. At 5pm the bell summoned us to the prayer room. The readings (listed above) included Psalm 139, the psalm read to my son, Frank just before he died. (Derek's dad.) Although these reminders of our grief were unexpected, they were also blessings. We had deliberately selected this weekend because it coincided with Derek's anniversary, but we had not expected the music and readings to occur so serendipitously.

Monday, May 11, 2009

scbwi spring event 2009

Ken is doing a great job as the new Regional Advisor for SCBWI/Western Canada. I have to pat myself on the back for choosing him, and thank him for taking on the job. Saturday last, he put on a really terrific convention. Our previous events have always been only from 10am until 3pm, cost about $30, and had a couple of speakers. This one was from 9am till 5pm, had 5 speakers and cost about $75. Soon, maybe we can bump it up to 3 days and more speakers. He also has other events downtown that I haven't seen but hear they're really good, as well as the monthly critique groups at his home. Wow! Great work, Ken!
I did get to the Saturday event and found it very helpful. The editors who were speakers there were Kalley George of Simply Read Books, Crystal Stronoghan of Gumboot Books, David Stephens of Tradewind Books, Alison Acheson of Coteau Books and an instructor at UBC teaching writing of children's literature, I believe, and Jared Hunt of Gumboot Books. Each speaker covered a specific area. While the talks were going on, these editors also did one-on-one critiquing with participants who had submitted work in advance. Unfortunately I wasn't well enough organized to take advantage of this service. Next time!

keeping out of mischief

I don't know why I'm so busy. At least, why I can't get to the blog more often. I knew when I started this that it would certainly not be a daily thing. But twice a month is not quite good enough. Weekly would be all right, IMHO.
So what have I been doing this month. Well, the kindergarten teacher hasn't been well, so I haven't been to kindergarten for a couple of weeks. Hopefully, I'll be there tomorrow morning. I miss those little folk.
I did get to the UBC farm last Wednesday, though, and that's every two weeks now. We learned how to make compost tea. A most unappetizing brew, indeed. Then, watching the youtube video from the City Farm on how to start a compost, I learned a fourth way to make compost tea. I also learned that we haven't been composting exactly right. So, we may have to start over if this lot isn't cooking properly. I haven't put in enough paper. Didn't put in any sand at all. And maybe been adding too much in the way of food stuff and coffee grounds. Okay. If at first we don't succeed, we're like most other people--or at least we should read the directions.

Friday, May 1, 2009


The National Novel Writing Month isn't until November (1st to midnight of the 30th), but I signed up yesterday. That made me the 1008th member in Vancouver. Other than committing to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November, I'm not sure if there are other expectations. I know they also have a TGIO party, probably in December. TGIO stands for "Thank God It's Over", as apparently writing about 2000 words a day is a bigger challenge than it sounds. I signed up because I like a challenge. Also, it seems that it's a good exercise in getting writing DOWN, and I might learn something from this. It's writing, and that's what counts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

earth day

April 22nd is my third son's birthday (happy birthday, Dave), but it is also earth day. Today I had an especially good earth day. To begin with, it was the Wednesday that I spend the morning with the grade 5 girls at the UBC farm. We weeded, planted, transplanted, seeded, watered, etc. What better way to start earth day? But it didn't end then. My farm friend partner, Charlotte, offered to give me some plants. So I drove her home, and we put together a few pots of this and that for me to take home. She gave me strawberry plants, winter jasmine, thyme, oregano, chives, lemon balm, and michaelmas daisies. She also gave me a yogurt tub full of red wiggler worms for me to start a compost box. I won the box several years ago, and used it for a few years, but eventually the worms died and nothing was happening. So, today, Frank found the box under the back porch and cleaned it out for me, and I put in a layer of strips of newsprint and potting soil and dumped in the worms. I moistened the soil a little, and now I just hope things will cook there as I add vegetable peels and eggs shells and coffee grounds. On the way home from Charlotte's, I stopped at David Hunter's Garden Centre and bought potting soil, garden gloves and a planter. By 5:30 pm, everything was planted, with Ken's help. Ken cleaned up the front garden and the "laundry tub" planters, and now the place is beginning to look like someone lives here, and cares about the place. Yup! That's what I call a good earth day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

5th of 5 hard questions

Now we come to the challenge: "How will you make sure that your work grabs and keeps your readers' attention every bit as well as your own favourites capture you?" I'm sure I never deliberately write boring pages, but I'm equally sure that sometimes what I find important or fascinating might not seem so to others. This is why critique groups are so useful. Constructive criticism is priceless. As writers, we have to have tough skins in order to listen to hard truths about our precious words. And we need the tenacity to stay with the task of producing worthwhile stories, so we don't waste our readers' time nor try their patience. If we can't do that, then what use is our work?

4th of 5 hard questions

This is more about us as writers/readers: What compels us to write fiction/memoir/poetry? I am not sure I can answer that. I write all sorts of things, mainly because I find that I like to put my thoughts down on paper. (Yes, paper. I prefer to write in notebooks, and only type onto the computer what I want to submit for others to read--such as this blog--but mainly to print it out or send it out for publication.) I write fiction if I feel that I have a story to tell. I write memoirs only for my own reading or for family. The title of my memoirs is If Anyone Should Ask. I write that only when I need to get past a dead zone in my writing. I don't believe in "writer's block" but sometimes writing is harder than other times. Poetry: I rarely write poetry. I don't think I ever feel compelled to write that.

3rd of 5 hard questions

The third question asks what makes us come back to our favourite genres. With the books I've used as examples, it's the character. We care about Harry Potter and about William, (odd--I just noticed that these names are the same as the two princes--coincidence!). In my favourite adult books, the Anne Perry mysteries, I care about the detective, Monk. The same goes for other mysteries, which seem to run in series rather than stand-alone books. My three favourite types of books (genres?) are 1. children's books, especially middle-grade fiction. Harry Potter is the only fantasy that I like. Normally, I prefer historical middle-grade. 2. adult mysteries, especially Anne Perry and Dick Francis. 3. history, especially biographies. So, why do I keep returning to these genres? I love kids' books because they are usually better written than adult fiction. Adults put up with long boring sections (we just skip over them, right?). Kids toss the books aside at the first long-winded passage because they can't guess how long the nonsense will carry on. I enjoy mysteries, because they demand that I pay attention to every word. If I don't, I could miss a valuable clue. So, in both these cases, I guess that the rule is not to waste words! As for history and biographies, I just like to know how things used to be and how people lived in by-gone days.

2nd of 5 hard questions

The second is harder than the first. It asks us to examine the books written by our favourite authors and select techniques ("what do they do") that grabs attention and keeps us turning pages. This is not something that I can answer off the top of my head. One thing that springs to mind is that the author makes me care about the main character. Maybe, as with Harry Potter, he's unfairly treated by people who should care for him. With my favourite character, Richmal Crompton's William, he just gets into trouble because he misunderstands the adult world, or is put upon by his elders, and he responds as an eleven-year-old boy would. Another important technique is to build a mystery. The reader has to care not only for the character, but also care about what will happen next. Then these questions have to be answered with just enough held back to keep the reader coming back for more. With Harry Potter, we need to know how he'll survive the threat to his life by the evil Valdemort (spelling?). And, how will all the magic of the world of Hogwarts come into play? With William, the stories are quite short, so it's just how he will get through the problem of the day.

5 hard questions

One of the lists I subscribe to is Writers Online Workshops.com. It's interesting, but last year I made a mistake and signed on for a course, and paid for it, only to find the course had already started and I would be unable to catch up (while traveling). I immediately sent them a message that I wanted out, but nothing happened. So, I'm quite leery about signing on for any more courses from them. I have no reason to believe that they aren't legitimate, but I'm not happy with their lack of response (and lack of refund).
Anyway, the title of this post is "5 hard questions". It comes from a short article that appeared on their site today, "5 Hard Questions You Must Answer to Succeed". I agree they are hard, but important, so I'll try them out here. First, "Who are your favourite authors and why?" That's not too hard, but my list is quite long and changes as years go by. Of course, I love JK Rowling. I also enjoy Eric Walters. My favourite all-time author is Richmal Crompton, who wrote "William" books for her nephew over 50 years ago. In fact, they're set mostly in the 1920s, I think. I remember being grateful to her when I lived in London, England, 1949-52, in terrible conditions.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

At last!

Last night I had 2 hours sleep. It took all day yesterday to finish writing that novel that was supposed to be done "by Easter". But, I worked on it as much as possible during Holy Week and Easter Weekend, then yesterday I just stayed up until it was not only finished but printed out ready to send to the publisher. Then today, after kindergarten, I just had to sleep for an hour or two, thereby being too late to get to the post office. So it won't actually get into the mail until tomorrow afternoon, when we're in Penticton. But it is done. Hallelujah! Now, just praying that the editors at TouchWood will like it enough to actually publish it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April catch-up

I've been keeping busy trying to complete the rewrite of Angels in the Flames. There's a lot of new material for a rewrite. It's a total make-over with many additions. I have two more chapters to get down and revised and re-edited before I can resubmit the novel to TouchWood. I still hope to get it off to the publishers by Easter, but time's a flittin' and I will have to work many hours to get it done. This morning I was at kindergarten and tomorrow morning I will be at the UBC Farm with the grade five children. Tomorrow evening is the service of Tenebrae at St. James, but it's quite late so we might not go. Thursday morning we won't go to Mass, because we'll be at the evening Maundy Thursday service followed by our vigil. Then there's the long service on Good Friday, beginning with Stations of the Cross at 11am, and the venerations will last until about 3pm. The next day is Holy Saturday and we'll go to the Vigil Mass, and then it's Easter. For me to finish that novel by then .... Well, it won't be easy. Can I do it? We'll see, but if I were a gambler I wouldn't bet on it. I can but try.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

UBC Farm Friends

Last Wednesday was farm visit #6. We worked on seedlings and planted more seeds. But most interesting, we made a trellis of alder branches. Each time I do this "volunteer work" I learn so very much.

research continues

When I first completed my novel, Angels in the Flames, I thought I had done all the research possible. I had found all the information there was about the Vancouver fire, 1886. But, having been asked to add more about the little boy in the story, I've found that I need to know a lot more about that strange afternoon. And I've been learning a lot lately. Yesterday and the day before, I spent many hours in the Special Collections of the Vancouver Public Library, researching the Squamish (Coast Salish) native people, the Chinese in Chinatown, and a town near the Squamish village, called Moodyville. So much rewriting to be done, and in so little time if I'm to keep my promised date of "by Easter". So the novel is still progressing, ever so slowly. Good thing I love research.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Saturday afternoon I attended our SCBWI critique group. I didn't bring anything to be critiqued because most of what I've already written has been critiqued by members by email. I'm still struggling with a few of the chapters. Talking about it to the other writers helped a quite a bit. It's great to network, anyway. On Wednesday evening, I'm going to attend a meeting of the Editors Association of Canada--BC. David Stephens, senior editor at Tradewind Publishing, will be the speaker. The topic is writing and editing children's books. He was one of our speakers at our SCBWI Fall Event in 2007.

the past ten days

The past ten days have been mostly devoted to family and friends. I taught Sunday School last Sunday. It's odd having the children only once every four or five weeks. I have a hard time remembering their names, and that's not good. Tuesday, March 10th, was my first day at kindergarten this year. It's fun helping them with their reading and writing. It amazes me how well some of these little ones can read. They love counting things, too. It was day 69, I think, so day 100 will be coming up in a few weeks. I have to think of something I can bring for day 100. Last time I brought a package of 100 paper clips, and the teacher set them out, ten at a time on pieces of paper. Another time I gave them a roll of 100 pennies. I'll have to think of something different this time. This coming Tuesday is in spring break, so I won't see the little ones again until March 24th--the day before my next UBC Farm day.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

UBC Farm Friends

Yesterday was our Visit #5 with the grade 5 kids at the UBC farm. We, my fellow volunteer and I, had only two girls. So the four of us were kept quite busy, especially as the girls had the "chore" of being the reporters of the day. This meant that they were given the use of digital cameras, and had to go around and snap the work being done by their classmates. Stacy, the coordinator, first gave the girls a short course on how to take the photos and gave them lots of hints on what to look for. So, while the four of us had to work on our garden plot, the girls sometimes took off to take photos. Nevertheless, they were very good at doing the necessary work. We had to check the wireworm trap (a potato on a stick buried in the earth). Then, we dug in some lime to raise the pH of the soil, and planted a row of broad beans and covered it with a plastic umbrella to keep them warm. I expect they'll have sprouted by the time we see it again in a few weeks time. The tulips the girls planted last time are now up, one even has a red bud visible. Then, in the greenhouse, they made more paper pots and filled them with potting soil. We needed ten pots to plant the seeds of the snap peas, sweet onions, radishes and one other vegetable that I can't remember right now. After the farming session, we ate some pumpkin muffins that were made from pumpkin harvested and frozen last Fall. I hope the kids love the farm days as much as I do.

Stanley Park

Catching up on last month's activities! It was the month of birding, but also the month of Stanley Park. First, on February 15th, I went to the Vancouver museum to see the exhibit called "Unnatural History of Stanley Park"--documenting the changes the park has gone through over the past 150 years (more or less). A few nights later, at the Vancouver Historical Society meeting, we had an information session on the plight and future of Stanley Park's Hollow Tree. It has been dead for over a hundred years, but has recently started tilting and the Parks Board had voted to cut it down. The tree, about 1000 years old (yes, one thousand years old) is well-loved and has always, from day one, been one of Vancouver's most popular tourist attractions. The men who spoke at the meeting are part of a group who have researched the possibilities of saving the tree as it has been for the past century. They also have raised most of the money to save it. The Parks Board has reversed its unanimous decision to destroy the tree, and work is now progressing to save it. I think the link is http://www.savethehollowtree.com . Finally, on February 28th, our last birding field trip, I went with our instructor and classmates to see the varieties of birds around Lost Lagoon, in the forest, and in Vancouver Harbour adjacent to the Stanley Park seawall. The big treat of the day was the barred owl in the forest. One event I wish hadn't happened is that a gang of irresponsible "runners" ran me down, yelling that we shouldn't be on the forest trail. Actually, I was OFF the trail but the hooligan that ran me down--literally flat on my back--was cutting the corner. One of his fellow runners came to me later and apologized, but the guilty one didn't bother. At age 70, I don't bounce as well as I used to. My companions were very concerned about me, and the woman who had driven me to the park offered to take me home, but I refused to let my day be spoiled by one unfortunate incident.

TSSF profession

Today I received a letter from the provincial chaplain of the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis, saying I have been elected to profession. It's a long journey. About four and a half years ago, I became an enquirer. Next, I spent at least six months as a postulant. I've spent the rest of the time as a novice. This means that all of this time I've been learning what it is to be a Franciscan by reading about St. Francis and studying the formation literature. To keep on track, I've been obliged to send my formation counselor monthly reports of my progress and my adherence to my Franciscan Rule of Life. Also, as part of following my Rule, I've had to study scripture and consult monthly with my spiritual director and go to confession at least once a year.
So now, I have just to have my profession service and send a copy of my certificate.

Monday, February 23, 2009


One of my favourite volunteer jobs for the past four or five years has been with the kindergarten class at Carleton Elementary School. Usually the teacher phones me in January and I go one morning a week until school finishes at the end of June. Last year, I had to bow out for the month of April because I was traveling in Italy and the UK. So, when the teacher didn't phone me this January, I thought maybe she decided to do without me altogether this year. Or, worst case scenario, she was ill. (She has MS, and so her health is a concern.) However, great news! She phoned me last week, and I'm on for Tuesday mornings. There's no greater way to start a morning than to have a five-year-old climb on your knee and say, "Mrs. Jones, will you p'ease read me a 'tory?"

can't be everywhere

Unfortunately, being with the birdwatchers at Reifel last Saturday meant that I had to miss my Franciscan Fellowship meeting. Oh well. St. Francis is said to have preached to the birds, so maybe he wouldn't have disapproved too much.


I've been enjoying this birding course very much. We've had two field trips so far. The first was to Boundary Bay, where we sighted hundreds of birds, mostly bald eagles and dunlin (which I've always called sandpipers, and they are a type of sandpiper, I'm told). We also saw redwinged blackbirds and three kinds of sparrows, also a few harriers and assorted ducks. The great blue heron didn't attract a lot of attention because, apparently, they're very common. Gulls weren't even mentioned.
Then last Saturday we went to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary. The paths were paved with well-fed mallards, hoping for a handout. I checked off twenty-one different species of birds on my checklist. A few notable ones were common mergansers, hooded mergansers, cormorants, coots, woodducks, pintail ducks, green-winged teal, and most especially the sandhill cranes. The last bird of the day wasn't even on our list: the black-hooded night heron. Only one bald eagle this time.
Next Saturday, it's off to Stanley Park. I hope to sign up for the next birding course, beginning in April.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday evening

I signed up for a birding course, the first session is Wednesday evening at Kitsilano High School. We saw lots of slides--an amazing number of slides of various birds. I had no idea that there were so many different varieties of birds in the Vancouver area. The next session will be Saturday morning at Boundary Bay.

Wednesday morning

This was a morning with the grade fives at UBC farm. We observed the farm bed, checked soil temperature and compared it with the air temperature (not much difference today), both around 3 degrees. We pulled a few weeds and checked the wireworm trap. No wireworms in the trap! Maybe it wasn't deep enough. Then, our chore was to shift soil from compost box #2 to #3 and from #1 to #2. #1 is "give" new materials; #2 is compost in progress; #3 is "take" completed compost. After that, we made compostable pots for the kids to plant snow peas and take to school. Then there was a lesson on how to test pH ratings. We had a yogurt cup of soil from our farm bed. We tested it with two different measuring devices. One didn't work at all, the other one showed that our pH was about 5, I think. On a scale of 1 to 14, that means it's mildly acidic. Next farm meeting, I guess we'll learn what to do with that information. Being that all this farming is 100% organic, we won't be just adding some commercial chemical to sweeten the soil, if that's what it needs. After the lesson, we were served soup made from potatoes, leaks and garlic from the gardens, and flatbread--don't know what they used for that. It was all delicious, whatever it was.

Tuesday research

Tuesday afternoon I spent a couple of hours researching the British barque, Robert Kerr, celebrated in 1886 as the ship that saved Vancouver. I'll be able to make use of that in one of the chapters in Angels in the Flames. In fact, I think the book was incomplete without this information.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Other writing is for the new publication for St. James church: Pax. I've been assigned to write a 600-700 word article on Latino Lunches that take place in the crypt on Thursday mornings. So I've contacted the woman who is in charge of them, interviewed her last Thursday, and enjoyed one of their lunches. Now, the article is almost done. But I have another assignment as well, to write a 250 word piece on one of the ministries in the church--haven't decided which one yet. Oh yes...the deadline is tomorrow. (Good thing I have a secret extension!)

Vancouver history

Still working on that novel, Angels in the Flames. One of the chapters I'm adding to the original novel (at the suggestion of editors and other advisors) is about the British barque, the Robert Kerr, that was in Vancouver harbour at the time of the Vancouver fire, June 13, 1886. I've contacted the Maritime Museum to see what they have on the subject, and I have an appointment with the librarian/archivist next Tuesday afternoon to learn all about it. Meanwhile, I have to work on other chapters so as not to get too far behind. I need to have the whole book done (all rewrites in order, etc.) by Easter.

Not even a little bit easy

The snow and the electrical problems and the basement kitchen were only a few of the problems Frank had to fix. In the midst of working on the kitchen pipe, another pipe burst--downstairs bathroom hot water. It flooded not only the bathroom but also a downstairs bedroom with lots of boxes on the floor, and a wool carpet. What a mess! Still not totally under control there, either. Nothing is easy. Not even a little bit.

Easier said than done

This past week has been very busy and next week promises to be more so. Some of the time was spent with a sick friend, so was time well spent. The rest of the time was mostly busy-ness. It all started in December, during the snow and icy cold, when some of our electrical heat went out, and my dear hubby had to try to find the problem and fix them. That didn't involve me much, but he has so much pain while he's doing physical work that I suffer along with him. That job was ALMOST done, when a water pipe burst in the basement and a kitchen sink there was in serious trouble. The snow in the driveway and side streets made getting parts for repairs difficult if not impossible most of the time. The job is not quite done yet, because not only the pipe had to be fixed (replaced, of course) but the entire kitchen cabinet had to go. We got a new one, and he installed it. Easier said than done. Because it was for the basement, we didn't go all out and get the best to be had. Instead, we got a damaged one for a discount. That means more work. Still didn't have a counter top for it. They were very expensive and didn't come in the size we needed. So, Frank made the top and we tiled it. Still not quite done--needs grouting and sealing and some touching up. Then the sink can be connected. Easier said than done.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

ball now in editor's court

I've sent off a letter and resume to TouchWood Editions, giving the status of the manuscript. I have to keep working on the rewrite of the novel so as to have it all done by Easter, as I've promised. Positive thoughts only are allowed.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

UBC Farm Friends

Yesterday morning was different. Last September I started a new volunteer job: spending a Wednesday morning every couple of weeks with grade 5 children at the UBC Farm. It's been quite an education for me. Yesterday we came back together after a month away, but this time we met at their school, Henderson Elementary. We spent most of the morning planning our garden plot (1 metre by 3 metres, and about 2 feet deep--How's that for Canadian measurement, mixing metric & Imperial). The children had been studying which vegetables are good companions and which do not grow well together. We, the "Farm Friends", had been sent the materials by email so we wouldn't be too far behind them. One of the teaching points was a Native idea of "three sisters" which was a garden of corn/beans which would use the stalks of corn to grow up/squash which has broad leaves that would block weed growth. We didn't want to have corn because it's too slow for the children to enjoy. Placing strips of coloured construction paper onto graph paper, the children plotted out what they would grow. It was very useful. After this exercise, the teacher collected the "maps" so that the seeds could be ordered so we could start planting in the spring. Our next meeting will be February 11th at the farm. After our planning event, we were served an amazing "pot luck" lunch provided by the children of the class in their classroom. I'm learning so much with this volunteer job, and meeting wonderful people of all ages--most especially grade five children.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

catching up

It's not like I'm busy! I read a little, I watch tv a little, and I write a little. Too little. And some days (not today) I walk a little. Today it snowed again, and here we thought we were through with that stuff. The forecasters say that this will be more typical of Vancouver snow: just a dusting and then rains away the next day. Sure hope so! The past week has been sometimes fog and sometimes sun, but always cold. I'm ready for spring (but this is still January). We had planned to go to a movie today, but the snow was a good excuse to pass on that. We wanted to see "The Reader" and then go to a discussion on the story at our favourite bookstore, "Vine & Fig". Guess I'll have to read the book, because we're not likely to chase down the movie.
Today I've been writing most of the day, trying to get my novel in shape to send to TouchWood before the end of the month. I had set January 15th as my deadline date, but having to rewrite the entire book is not very easy. And I want to have it just right for this submission.

Monday, January 19, 2009

fellowship meeting

Today we attended our Dogwood Fellowship meeting for TSSF. Even though I'm almost ready to be professed in the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis, I renewed my Rule of Life today at the meeting. So, today is a date I have to remember when I send in my report. Another date I need to remember is Jan. 17, 2006, the day I was noviced. These dates are required in the report to be sent in for my application for permission to be professed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


We had our family Epiphany brunch last Saturday. It was well-attended, even though the out-of-town members couldn't get here due to snowy highways. Even so, we were able to include them by telephone during the event. We had our usual brunch, eggs benedict with asparagus, cooked by my dear hubby. We played a gift game, a variation of the "circle game" we usually play. Then, I handed out the WorldVision catalogues and told the family that each of my children's families had $100 to "spend" as their gift from the Magi. They made their choices, the out-of-towners made their choices by phone, and I placed the order online. This is my way of giving gifts with the Magi, instead of by that evil elf who claims to live at the North Pole. That one, Old "Saint" Nick (really, Old Nick, because he is NOT a saint, definitely no connection to St. Nicholas whose feast day is December 6th), Old Nick teaches greed and deceit. The Magi gave gifts to Jesus at Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th. In our house, we totally ignore the commercial Christmas. We send cards to friends and loved ones, and go to Mass (except this year).

long time no blog!

It's almost two weeks into the new year, and I've been neglecting my duty here. This year has not started off so well. Snowed in until just a day or two ago, I finally got to Church this Sunday. It was my day to teach Sunday School, teaching about the baptism of Jesus. The "activity" (if you can call it that) was to make hot chocolate. It had to be the sort that could be made by simply adding hot water, because the lesson was to prove that "a little water makes all the difference". It wasn't all that simple, because most hot chocolate mixes require hot MILK. I found the kind that claims to take just water, but it wasn't very good. The lesson went okay anyway. And then yesterday evening we had a meeting of Family Ministry members concerning the Sunday School curriculum and related issues. It was a good meeting, even if two of the six members were absent.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Finally got to church! New Year's Eve: We attended 6:30pm mass, followed by a potluck supper at St. James. It was a great evening, until we got home. Backing into our parking spot, we got stuck in the snow and had to get help to dig us out. The good part was that we were already home, except for a metre or two. If you have to get stuck in the snow, I recommend it be done at home. That was about 10pm, so we still had a couple of hours to go before the new year. We did our usual thing: a lot of noise (banging pot lids) at the back door to let the old year out, then more noise at the front door to let the new year in, a cup of cheer, a New Year's kiss, and that's our celebration. Happy Hogmonay! And lang may your lum reek!