Saturday, October 29, 2016

SiWC 1916 accommodations

On Saturday, October 15th, my husband and I went to Vancouver. Our first trip back since our move to Penticton last April. The first five days were catching up with a few friends (couldn't get together with some, unfortunately) and taking care of Franciscan obligations. (See that blog entry.)
Then, on Thursday a friend kindly transported us from the Accent Inn, Burnaby, to the Sheraton Guildford in Surrey for the conference.
My husband had to amuse himself while I attended the Surrey International Writers' Conference on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The conference was excellent as always. I didn't manage to connect with friends as I usually do, and that was the only disappointment.
It's so hard to get to all the workshops I like, while still taking the opportunities to meet with agents for pitch sessions and with fellow writers for blue pencils (editing). Still it's worth the effort.
I want to get the calendar in front of me before I tell you what workshops I did manage to attend. For now, here's just the mechanics of getting around.
When I first booked my room at the Sheraton, at the same time that I registered for the conference, I didn't know my husband wanted to come, too. Not to the conference, but to the Lower Mainland, and to extend the visit to include our Franciscan obligations.
As a result, the Sheraton room was not very "handicap accessible" and I didn't think to change that before our arrival. We spent the first night in my original room, but my husband had so many difficulties that they finally were able to give us another room where he could be comfortable.
The staff were exceptionally helpful for the whole time we were there.
My conference registration was for the whole package--which included most meals. They were varied and quite good, but spoiled by the excessively long lines to get to the "buffet" (aka cafeteria style). Surely a hotel of this size and quality can feed a crowd (I think we were about 700 or 800) in a more efficient way that this. I've been to many large banquets where the meals were brought to the tables by staff, so guests could all eat hot food together at the same time, without having to carry the plates ourselves.
Other than that, the weekend was great! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Franciscan Retreat 2016

It isn't easy to go on a real Franciscan retreat. First you have to find other Franciscans who are available all at the same time. Then, well, there are the usual arrangements to make of where and when and doing exactly what and for how long. And, of course, you can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. (Who said that? Lincoln? I don't know.)
So, to make it simple, my husband and I usually just do the retreat in our own way together, just the two of us. We try to make it mostly in silence,  but that isn't easy either. But we're getting better, I think.
This time, we're taking a few days before the Surrey writers' conference to spend time with friends and take care of a few Franciscan obligations while we're at it.
The best way to do a retreat is to go to a retreat centre, but we can't always do that. Maybe next time we'll go to the Benedictine monastery in Mission, BC, but this time we're just in a hotel.
We arrived in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon, after a 7 hour ride on a Greyhound bus from Penticton (leaving the house at 5:45 am, bus leaving at 6:20 am). We had time to book into the  Accent Inn  and then have a light lunch at our favourite restaurant. This was our home base for everything during our 5 night stay--including our retreat.
So, here's the retreat schedule you've been waiting for:
We began on  Monday night with Compline.
Then in the morning, we were in silence except for private morning prayer, then a reading from a book called Reconciliation by Martin L. Smith SSJE, followed by silent meditation on the readings recommended there. At about 11:30 we went for "brunch" at the above restaurant, and hung out until the maids had done our room. We allowed ourselves to use this time to assess our retreat choices and schedule, and make adjustments. The rest of the day was spent in a similar pattern. At about 5:30 pm we said Evensong. Then, more readings from the book and more silent meditations. Supper at 7:30 at the restaurant, followed by more readings and silent meditations. Ending the day with Compline, again. More silence until the next day. It's not perfect, but we try.

Six months in Penticton

My last post was about four months ago, I guess. I was still feeling like a novice in our new home, our new town, starting a new life you might say.
I still love the little apartment, plenty big enough for us, as we continue to get rid of stuff we thought we couldn't live without--our "Lazyboy" chairs, for example.
I still love to go to my "Cowork" office, and savour the many hours of just sitting at the computer and actually getting some writing done.
Since my last post, I have completed the book I was writing, sent off the synopsis and first 100 pages to the agent, Laura Bradford. Now I'm about 30 pages into the sequel--just in case I'm lucky enough to have her ask me to send the second part of the first book and the first part of the second book. Failing that, I have another series I want to write. Maybe she'll ask about that. That's a question I'll have answers for this time next week.
How come? Well, this is the week of the Surrey international Writers' Conference, and I have an appointment to "pitch" to Laura Bradford at the conference. Hopefully, it won't take me four months to report of the result of that appointment.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Life in Penticton

We arrived in Penticton on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016. We had been here many times before, visiting family, but never for more than a few days. Now, it is our new home.
Our daughter picked us up at the airport and drove us to our apartment. We'd seen the apartment before, but my husband didn't remember it at all. I had a vague idea of its layout, but it was still a bit of a mystery. Our youngest son had purchased the apartment several years before, with the idea of living in it weekdays to avoid commuting from their out-of-town home. It didn't work for them like that, mostly something to do with the dogs. So, they used it for occasional guests, and more recently rented it to their daughter while she studied and worked in town. However, when we told them we were selling our Vancouver house, suddenly this apartment became available. So now we rent it from our son.
Emily had no problem with the idea of returning to her parents' home while she continued her job and studies.
So, here we are. We downsized from a 3-story house to an apartment roughly the same square footage as the basement in the Vancouver house. We've now been here a little more than seven weeks, and still have boxes to unpack and things to find places for. It's a challenge but we couldn't be happier.
As for my writing, there's a wonderful place called Cowork, a place where I rent a desk for 8 days a month, 9am to 5pm., with free Tuesday afternoons. It's wonderful. Quiet. No one bothers me. Just me and my computer for hours and hours. I've finished the 100 pages the agent asked for, and am about 50 odd pages into the second half of the book. I want to finish it all before I send the requested pages to the agent. I want to be able to send her the whole thing immediately if she should ask for it. I can only hope.
Cowork is a bit of a distance from the apartment, but I walk to and from most days, about 45 minutes each way. There is a bus that can take me most of the way if I'm feeling lazy. And I have used that a few times, going. But I always walk home. No--once I caught the bus and took it the long way, just for the ride.
Buses run only once an hour, so it's catch it now or wait an hour or walk. So I usually walk.Gives me lots of time to think and prepare for what I'll write when I get in front of the computer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

life gets in the way

How can I catch up on all the posts I should have made January, February, March and now April?
It goes back to November 2014 when my husband suddenly went blind and everything that had to be done had to be done by me. Blogging was not top of the list.
Top of the list was learning how to cope with his blindness. This wasn't new to me, because in 2005 my son went blind and lived with us until he died that November. But then, I had lots of help. My husband could, of course, drive and run errands, and others also came to my aid while I was our son's primary caregiver.
Now it's different. My husband's sight has improved somewhat, but he still can't use the computer, or read, and he will never be able to drive again. Also, his spinal stenosis has progressed beyond all further surgeries, and he has difficulties climbing the stairs to get in and out of our house.
So, the house (our home for the past 44 years) has been sold and I'm up to my eyebrows and beyond with sorting and packing. Even with professional help (thank God for Lambert's Moving) it's still stressful and difficult.
That really takes care of what I've been doing since December--when we were forced to face the fact that we could not stay in this house.
As far as writing goes--I'd promised Laura Bradford I'd send her 100 pages and synopsis of my young adult mystery. I got up to about page 85, and I have the synopsis, but that's been on hold for several weeks now. When we get to our new home, in the small town of Penticton, BC, I'll try to get on with this job.
My UBC course had to be cancelled--even though I never did get around to doing that officially. I just couldn't get to classes, and so that just died.
I even had to quit my favourite volunteer job with the best elementary school teacher ever. I'd been with her since about 2002 or 2003.
So--blog followers, if you're still there--you aren't alone in the "neglected" category.
This time next week, our plane will have landed in Penticton, and we should be arriving at our new apartment. I'll have dozens of boxes to unpack over the next several weeks, but I'll try not to abandon my writing or my blogging altogether.
Thank you for your patience!