Monday, December 31, 2012

Bells, whistles and gongs....

Tonight somewhere bells will ring, horns will blast, people will cheer and a new dawn will break!!! We will be collectively handed a blank page to start again. Already my husband and I are tentatively blocking parts of the new year into segments of who is going to be home and when, as far as the kids are concerned and who has to be away and when, as far as we are concerned and finally when can we take a few weeks for a holiday.

It's so wonderful to have options and time to "spend." Time to think and dream and write - all of which are free!!! Time to walk and talk and OK clean - again all of this is free, unless the vacuum breaks down. Time to challenge and discover and practise and perhaps preach :) again this can all be free.

I plan to try through my 365 day blog/photo challenge to revisit words I haven't used in years, find some new words, that I have never used and generally hone the linguistic brain. I also plan through the photo part of the challenge to try to do something everyday that "scares" me.  I know that I won't do it everyday - but even a few days here and there moves me forward.  As I have said before, I am a very shy person, so really something scary to me would be very easy for someone else, we all have our comfort levels.  Please post any "scary" thing that you do.  It will give me ideas!!

Well, there's no time to start like the present and a word that I have used from time to time is "tintinnabulation;" it means the ringing of the bells. I first read it in a poem by Edgar Allen Poe and I have never forgotten it. I happened to use it this December at a dinner party. Two of the guests were from Russia and they were looking for ways of expanding their English vocabulary. I was humbled here too - their English was impeccable and my Russian, non-existent. I suggested reading poetry and recommended The Oxford Book of Children's Verse.  The poems are classic and not that difficult or obscure as some poetry can be, and the language is rich.

Tintinnabulation isn't in there, but I used it as an example of a word that would probably never appear in a novel, however, it is perfect in the poem which is rich in onomatopoeia. Here is the link to the poem, The Bells.

Another favourite word is cacophony and we experienced a lot of that as my husband worked through his Christmas cold :)

Ring in the perfect New Year !!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fools rush in.....

Now that I have committed to posting a blog everyday for 2013, I decided that I really should become more involved in blogging communities - it's a great way to avoid housework and/or anything else you may not feel like doing at that moment, or that day, month, year etc....!!!

I joined a blog-a-day challenge a while ago just to expand my exposure to blogs and what was happening in the blogosphere (I must have spelled it correctly because there were no red warning lights err lines!!) In this group, there were a lot of posts on topics that I really wasn't interested in - gluten free diets, domestic violence, "fringe things." Although I can see why they would have a following and a lot of interest from people in those situations.

There were, however, a number of very helpful blogs on business, marketing and expanding your blog's exposure. I particularly liked a post today by Launch Grow Joy on 30 ways to grow your blog. Some tips I knew about and some tips I had actually put in place. But there were several suggestions that I hadn't even thought of.

I knew that there were huge blog communities out there, but I wasn't connected to them, probably because I didn't know how to do it. Fortunately this particular blog post listed the top four so I decided to join a few. was easy to join and upload posts to a profile. I'm not sure how one's post are "discovered" though. was a little too dramatic with posts more like those you'd find in the Enquirer. I decided to skip as well because it was a little too intimidating. I did though make some progress with to the extent that I found out that I already had a login there - when did that happen? and I filled out a form to be accepted as a blog contributor.

All this took most of the morning - fortunately everyone was still asleep, so that's my excuse for not vacuuming!!!

Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread - here I go again swooshing into uncharted territories and it had to be in a year with the number "13."

Have a spectacular day!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

They're at the post.....

......They're off or will be in a few days.  I have just agreed to join a 365 day challenge in my photography and blog writing groups.  It is a challenge that will combine both groups because it is to take a picture a day and post it in the photo group, which anyone can join with any type of camera and at any skill level - the idea is that the more pics you take the better you will become. And then to write a blog about it and post it in the blogging group, which again anyone may join.

I have written so far, including today, 176 blogs for 2012. To write a blog a day with a picture taken that day in 2013 would more than double my effort - I've got my fingers crossed.

Anyway, someone else posted a link to their blog post about others who have set themselves considerable blogging challenges.  Here is the link. This is an example of the amazing connectivity of the internet!!

I particularly like the one about the person who posted entries from his grandfather's calendar. Apparently his grandfather kept a calendar in the '60s and wrote something in each square everyday. His grandson now posts a square a day (or so) and writes a comment about it. Memories are made by the most common everyday things!!  There are lots more!!  I am always humbled by the number of amazing people out there doing amazing things and encouraging others to move out of their comfort zones and take on the world - or at least their small corner of it, thereby expanding it, themselves and everyone else involved!!!!

Serena Gundy Park Toronto - Dec 28, 2012

Life is a journey,  record each step - everyone needs some company along the way!!

Have an awesome day!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

May the fourth and in between...

I plan to post on May 4th as in "May the fourth (force) be with you," if I am spared!!  For several years now this picture or more correctly stencil has been on the postal storage box at the end of our driveway.  Obviously some graffiti artist crept by one night with a spray can and voila - Yoda appeared.

Yesterday my husband said that he thought that they had replaced the box and Yoda was gone!  Oh no!!  I had always meant to take a picture and now the opportunity had passed - so much for putting off until tomorrow that which can be done today!!

I decided to take a look at the box. Well, the stencil was still there, so I quickly snapped a picture. One of the reasons I wanted the picture was because I didn't want to have to "steal" a picture from the internet for the blog.  I never know when I am actually breaking copyright, so I try to never use anyone else's work.

Anyway, here he is in all his frozen glory.  If you look closely you can see the reflection of the photographer, (me) and the snowy scene behind - watermarking maybe.

The movie line and the date make a great pun.  I can't think of any other date that works as well. If there are some please post. I still like "The Twelfth of Never" and 'The Ides of March" The tenth (tense) of something might work - any ideas??

Have a mythical day!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Plumbers from the Realms of Glory...

....bring your pipes o'er all the earth....well, maybe just to our house.  Last night we enacted one of Murphy's laws - "If anything is going to go wrong, it will go wrong at the worst possible time!!

And so sometime about 1:00am the waste pipe from the bathroom sink just disintegrated!!! We can now look down the drain and see the floor - not all that picturesque. This is when I say - "Drat, I should have cleaned the bathroom yesterday and not left it until today."  But I was probably following another one of Murphy's laws or the laws of a close cousin - "Always put off  until tomorrow that which can be done today!"

So here I am waiting for a plumber, rather than Santa to come on Christmas morning.  Actually,  Santa came last night before the kids had planned to go out.  And now they get to sleep in this morning! That leaves the kitchen free for me to cook and wait for that blessed event - the plumber's call!!

I had been dropping hints for the past few years that the bathroom needed redoing. I thought a few gentle reminders might be better than having the hall ceiling fall on "his" head because of the leaking bathtub above :) Then again I might have secretly enjoyed the event!! I missed the pipe crumbling, last night because I had gone to bed earlier, but I heard the commotion as my husband tried to mop up with the help, if you can call it that, of the youngest.

There are a few other problems with the "loo" too!  I just wonder when they intend to raise their ugly, leaking, corroded heads :)

The picture is for those who believe in angels and the magic of holy nights. Some things just can't be bought!!

Have a magical day!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A solstice saved!!!!

I didn't write about the solstice yesterday because I wasn't sure that it was going to actually "be." However now that it "is,"  I can.  Does that make sense?

I just finished reading a blog by a woman who lives in BC and celebrates the solstice by making a maze out of cedar boughs, coring apples to hold candles and having the whole family walk the maze outside, while the house sits with doors and windows open to welcome the "new year."  Maybe next year.

Today I will walk the maze (really it's a grid, but I weave in and out of the throngs, so I can pretend) of shops at Yonge and Eglinton to start and finish my Christmas shopping. And tonight we will go to a Christmas party hosted by the owner of my office building. It will be an intricate pattern of food, people and since it's being held at a brewery - ale.

Also, at one point I will have to deconstruct the piles of "things to put away" that have formed curious pathways in various rooms of the house and vacuum the cat fur that has taken up residence there as well. I won't even mention the careful treading and sidestepping around personalities and topics of conversation that needs to be done at the various gatherings over the next few days too.

No wonder we celebrate the solstice with mazes!!

The picture is of Christmas lights on our street.  There is darkness so we can celebrate the light!

Have an amazing day!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thoughtless Thursday

OK if we can have wordless Wednesdays, I'm sure that we can have thoughtless Thursdays too...someone posted this video to my FB wall and I have to say that it is very cute.  It doesn't require a lot of thought and there are times when we just need to "veg out" and enjoy something that is quite simple.

We have had some very complex days lately.  Maybe it's time to just empty our minds for a moment and fill the void with something soft and sweet.

Have a very easy day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12/21/12 What not to read.....

As doomsday approaches, I picked up my copy of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and realized that this was not a great choice for recreational reading, given that in chapter three the world ends!! Then again, its Monty Pythonesque humour is uplifting!!

So I carry on ignoring the Mayans, a little difficult to do since I live with two of them - my two youngest were born in Guatemala. The youngest is totally oblivious to the passage of time, often showing up for work at 4:30pm when I am ready to leave and wondering what the problem is. Hopefully one of his ancestors created the calendar and we have "bags of time" left. The middle child manages to get out on time, but skews her days by sleeping from 4:00pm to 7:00pm and then staying awake until 4:00am and waking up again at 7:00am for work.

I am quite used to people brushing their teeth at 3:30am before going to bed or making BLTs at anytime between 2:00am and 5:00am.  No one ever asks in our house, "Did you get a good night's sleep?" They could be decked :) - just saying. The eldest was born in Alberta. I'm not sure what his excuse is, except that he is an artist and well, enough said!

In spite of the time warps in the house, we did manage to get the tree up and decorated, a guest invited for Christmas dinner and now I have to buy a few presents. I plan to get back to creating that website, which I paused to write that book and I need to keep up the walking because there was an article in a magazine that came with the paper this morning about four women who walked the Camino. All projects are for after 12/21/12.

The picture - Mayans I know and love in spite of their shared secrets!!

Have a wonderful day!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Marley's Ghost...

...Bob Marley that is.  I just had to share.

Music soothes the soul.  We are all connected.

Have a wonderful day!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Drapes of Wrath

Today in 1939 Gone With The Wind premiered in Atlanta Georgia. I don't think that anyone who has ever seen the film has forgotten it. First there are the lines:

"As God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again. "

"Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day. "

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

"Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies. "

Then the romance
There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South... Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow... Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave... Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind... 

and finally from the title of the post, the humour....

Have a blockbuster of a day!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

How old is your postman..?

I have a love hate relationship with postmen.  For the most part I love them. The one that brings our mail to the house is a gem.  He waves to you on the street;  he smiles and he delivers the mail!!

Now letter sorters are a different breed.  We often get mis-directed mail.  I wonder how often letters for us are delivered to someone else's house. So yes we get mail; but it's maybe not ours.

Then there was the time, when I still worked from home, that I was desperately waiting for a cheque from a company in the US.  It was long over due.  I had called.  The cheque (check) had been sent. Well curiously, one day, as I was walking back from a neighbours,  I saw a piece of paper on the sidewalk in front of my house. It was an envelop addressed to me. I opened it and inside, sure enough, was the errant cheque. I was in shock.  How did it get there?  Anyone could have picked it up! It's still a mystery!

The postmen, where I work now, are generally good, if you can get one to come. For the last few months we have had terrible mail service.  The building's owner has called Canada Post repeatedly.  Apparently no one wants to work the route.  Well our location, in particular, is a rabbit warren of small businesses on three floors in two buildings. Other shops on the street have their own complications. There are apartments or offices above the shops, each with their own letter box. One unit, for example, can house several businesses as people patch together incomes to survive. We are a logistics nightmare.

Well yesterday topped it off. A post office worker or a subcontractor came down stairs to inform me that he had 4 large boxes to deliver. He looked around in horror. "This is it?" he said. "There's no elevator, no loading bay?" I knew the boxes would be big; but they would be light. I said that I would come and help him. I held the door open while he came in with one box. He dropped it on the landing and went back for more.  I picked it up and carried it down 2 flights of stairs. It was large, but light and easy. I went back for the others. The postman was stunned.  He said, "Where did they go?" I said that I had simply taken them downstairs myself. Then I paused, looked at him and said with a wink, "And I'm probably twice your age."  He did have the courtesy to smile!!

Oh well, before there were postmen, there were post-pigeons and this one doesn't look that happy either :)

Have a very easy day!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I had to post today, because this day will never come again.  Well, when you think about it no day really ever comes again; but this is the end of the double digit months. To date we just have 12 months and.....

1. 12 signs of the Zodiac
2. 12 days of Christmas
3. 12 apostles
4. 12 tribes of Israel
5. 12, 21, 12....coming
6. The witching hour of 12 midnight
7. High noon.."you ready?"..."I'm ready."
8. The basis of some parts of the imperial measurement system - 12ins to a foot. Twelve units make a dozen, unless you're a baker and 12 dozen make a gross.
9. Twelve step programs.....enough said.
10. There are 5 units of 12 in a minute and 5 units of 12 in an hour - in case you were asking.
11. There are 12 hours in a day and 12 hours in a night - both are not enough.
12. The twelfth of never or where do we go from here?

People were posting at 12 mins past 12 for today - that's 12:12 12/12/12.  If you were born on Dec 12 2000, you would be 12 today.  Someone must have been born at 12:12 that day and I am sure that someone was born at 12:12 last night....awesome.

I took this picture last year on November 11, 2011 or 11/11/11.  It's the best I could do.  It's an empty bike rack. If one were to add bikes would it be counted as 12/12/12.  Just saying...

Have an awesome day!!!

PS I just have to add after reading the newspaper today that Roberto Alomar whose jersey as a Blue Jay was number 12, will marry his fiancé today. Roberto is the only Blue jay in the Baseball Hall of Fame!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Song of Joy...

Almost wordless Wednesday again.  The joy of music!!!

The magic of song!!!

Have day of joy!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Deck the halls.....

.....or at least the streets. My husband and I decided to go to the Christmas market in the Distillery district yesterday.  Well, for want of a parking spot the trip was lost.  It was mobbed.  There wasn't parking anywhere even in the many parking lots provided.  In fact there were line ups to get into every lot.  I wondered how they had accommodated over 7,000 people the night before for a massive Carol Sing-a-Long.

It was a fund raiser for the food banks and they decided to try to get into the Guiness Book of Records for the largest Christmas choir ever. Unfortunately Korea still holds the title at over 15,000 people. They would never have accommodated 15,000 people, unless they bussed them in. Anyway after struggling through the throngs of unparked cars, waiting for parking spots, we drove over to Front St. and the St. Lawrence Market area.  It was festive, but the day was grey and that damp raw cold that often defines Toronto in winter was penetrating. I snapped a few pics.  We walked around looking for a charming French cafe amid the sports bars and high end restaurants. There were none. How come? I have three right across the street from my office on Mt. Pleasant.

Finally we gave up and came home for salmon sandwiches at Chez Tomany. I salvaged what was left of the day by tinkering with my pics in Photoshop and making comfort food - roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. Here are the before and after pictures from Photoshop.

I had to shop out that annoying photographer :) So with a few flicks, actually quite a few flicks, of the stamper, she was gone.

Too bad we don't have a stamper tool for all of life's more irritating moments.

Have a great big shiny red-letter day!!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Procrastination station...

I am in avoidance mode. I know I need to start refining and polishing "the novel."  This is where the discipline comes in and I have always been a slacker.  Fortunately NaNoWriMo has lots of lists and mentors and tons of other help to give you guidance and impetus.  The problem is, you have to do the rewriting, not them.

Actually, I have started the rewriting and I realize that I need to read a few more books in the genre.  So now I have to define the genre other than "general fiction." One of the suggestions on the list is to talk to booksellers (anyone seen a bookstore lately?)  and ask them what is selling? or what niche you would fill in a broad category.

They also say that you need to read the blogs of agents, writers, publishers etc, really anyone and everyone in the industry to get a feel for the process.

I also know that I need to read some "better" books to hone the ear to a more sophisticated cadence and maybe word choice - except that it can't be that sophisticated or you are in danger of losing your audience and/or spoiling the naturalness of the characters.

So given this "to do" list that's maybe longer than the Nile, what do I choose to do on the one Friday night of the year that my husband is out at his company's Christmas party. (They excluded spouses a few years ago for austerity reasons and never re-instated us.) The kids are out, the cats are asleep (do they ever wake up?), the big comfy chair is available, the computer is powered to the max, all I have to do is open up that 50,000 word document and begin.....

Well suddenly I realize that I haven't heard Jackie Evencho sing and I think that last year she had a Christmas album out, so maybe I should just listen to a song or two to see if I want to buy the album, if it's available this year.

And then I decided that while I'm on Youtube, I might as well see who else is there. I tried to watch an episode or two of CSI, but I'm in the wrong geographical zone.  I sense that Rogers a.k.a. Big Brother is controlling my computer access. My taste (if you can call it that) in music is eclectic.  I keyed in Newfoundland folk music.  A few songs came up, but nothing I wanted to waste time on.  Now if I am going to waste time, it has to be something special.  The Irish exhale folk music, so I keyed in "Irish Folk Songs" Almost too many came up. I did though hit upon a documentary of Irish Folk music from the 1930's to the present or early 2000's anyway.  It was 1.5 hours long. This would take up a good part of the evening and really it was something that just had to be seen - wasn't it?

After the video, I was so much into right brain mode that, it would have taken the rest of the evening to get back to left brain editing, so I just listened to John McDermott until 10:00 when my husband came home and filled me in on the dinner that I had missed.

At this point, I rationalized that it is always better to write in the morning :) and went to bed.

Have productive day!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday...

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, this is an interesting pause in the "getting and spending."

Occupy the mall maybe:)

Have a great day!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

If I could......

There is another small challenge on the blog posting site that I visit from time to time.  Actually, I was encouraged to complete the novel writing challenge, by one of the other blog posters there.  He was doing the same challenge and finished on the Wednesday.  His enthusiasm buoyed me up and I kept going.  I wanted one of those digital decal awards.  We really aren't all that materialistic. Sometimes a simple token of recognition is enough!

The new challenge is to complete the line, "If I could learn anything....." What immediately came to mind was, "If I could only learn to keep my mouth shut..." I'm sure that there are courses out there that teach discipline and tolerance, however you still have to apply the lessons learned.

I have taken courses in piano and guitar, no course available can teach a tin ear to resound or keep the beat.

My father taught me to drive a stick shift, to drive on streetcar tracks and to drive up hill on icy roads. I have never owned a pair of snow tires. What I haven't learned is how to keep the car tidy, the oil checked and the fluids topped up. Thank heavens for little red flashing lights!

It's too late to take a course in "How to be a Better Parent," the damage has been done. Or "How to Resist the Sad Eyes of Stray Cats." We are overrun. Or "How to Remember to Do Everything that Needs to be Done in a Day." This would take an army's worth of discipline. Fortunately I studied philosophy so I have learned to rationalize. For example, if you forget to buy bread you can argue that since Saltines are made with flour and water they are like bread, so just butter them and call it breakfast!!

What I would really like to do is go back to school and earn a degree in fine art. I know that I could take an art course here and there and I have.  But I need structure.  I need the parameters of a challenge. Four or five years of doing art, of pushing myself to look at the world or life in a different way, would be amazing. It would also probably mean a divorce.  My husband thinks that I'm strange enough as it is.  I don't have to pay anyone to push me over the edge.  Maybe I'll just take a course in Photoshop. Then I could make the world a prettier, if not a better place. I could make this Primrose -

look like this, for example.

Now I couldn't make it bloom all winter......Hmmm I wonder if there are courses in omnipotence?

Have a picture perfect day or perfect picture day!!!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Catherine Wheel - repost.

I was concentrating so much on the novel challenge that I forgot to post for two of my favourite days. Nov 25 and Nov 30.  Here is a re-post for Nov 25.

Catherine Wheel Crochet Stitch as Worked
November 25 is the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria. In Christian lore, St. Catherine was martyred upon a flaming wheel for her beliefs. The story, not only stuck; it flourished, to the extent that many common things that we use today are named after St. Catherine and her "wheel."

Catherine Wheel Crochet Stitch Reversed
The "Catherine Wheel"  lends it's name to: a firecracker, a rock band, a medieval torture machine, a ballet, a window design, a move in gymnastics, a film, a crime novel and a very lovely stitch in crochet. St. Catherine is the patron saint of anyone who works upon a wheel - spinners, sewers, potters, machinist and I am going to add knitters with circular needles. Bus and taxi drivers are late additions and, strictly speaking, do not come under her patronage - but, you can always ask!

I have a soft spot in my heart for St. Catherine and for Alexandria. Alexandria housed the first library, which was destroyed by invading armies, sometime in late BC or early AD. Information about this is sketchy. There are some who think that a lot of learning is a dangerous thing. A great loss - I'm not sure that anything was gained.

I named my daughter after St. Catherine (also spelled Katherine) and her older brother is Alexander, and as a result I had to chose a name of Greek origin for the third child. Well, I happen to like Christmas and the feast of St. Nicholas is not too far away, so Nicholas it was. Also, and I just found this while researching for my post - as St. Catherine is the patron saint of young girls so too is St. Nicholas the patron saint of young boys. Serendipity is my co-pilot!

St. Catherine, doesn't have a lot to do with knitting - more with needlework. In France, she enjoys a real cult following among young women in the needle trade - seamstresses, milliners, maybe knitters. These would be mainly unmarried women, called Catherinettes, who send each other cards on this day.

All this folklore aside, St. Catherine was an amazing marketer. Her brand was not only cool (err hot) it had staying power. To die around 307AD and then to be the namesake of so many exciting things today, including a British rock group (1990-2000), how cool is that?

You might consider using St. Catherine in your marketing plans. Catherinettes made hats in her honour - think of a "hat day", serve anything round and enjoy.

Sagittarius is coming along.  We are now under the sign of Sagittarius and the pinwheel motif, that I am using, is another one of the symbols of St Catherine - remember the firecracker - it's a flaming pinwheel - how serendipitous is that?

Dinner? OK something round and Greek. How about Pitas? Here is a site with 19 recipes for Pita dips and sandwiches etc.

When I used to work downtown, I would hop over to Fit For Life every once in a while and get one of their stuffed pitas. I know that they lined it with Hummus and then added shredded lettuce, diced tomato, some slivered green pepper, sweet onion, hot peppers. Crumbled Feta would be good. You could also add some thinly sliced meat.  They had some killer sauces that went in too - sorry I can't help you there.

Enjoy - Carol

I WON!!!

At 9:45pm December 30, I posted a novel of 50,053 words to my Nanowrimo profile. Writing a novel has been on my bucket list for a while and with the help of National Novel Writing Month, I wrote one.  Now writing a novel and publishing a novel are two different things.  Still Nanowrimo makes you feel like a success.  As soon as you drop in your 50,000 plus words for validation, there are all these pop ups. You are given awards to post on your website and any place else.  There is a picture of a large group of people congratulating you and you get the opportunity to buy a victor's T-shirt for a mere $20.00.  Gotta have one. Here's the decal

And here is the synopsis of the book:

Woven is a novel of true stories. Penny has had a very traumatic experience, which has erased her memory. Confined to a facility and heavily medicated, she works at regaining her past.  What has caused the trauma and what she will discover about her life, should she succeed, are mysteries only she can solve.

And an extract:

I agreed to keep the journal. I promised that I would write something, anything at least once a day. My problem is I can remember very little. I 'm not sure why I can’t remember things like people, places or events. I just know that this is why I am here.  It’s all very vague, like floating in a sea of clouds.  Everything is white and without substance. There is this constant sense of falling. A sense that the clouds will give away and you will float into the nothingness. I clung to the pen in my hand for support. Opening the book, I admired the clean white page. Now what to write? I pause and think very hard. I have had this recurring image the last two or three days. I don’t understand it. But it's all I have to start with.

I will post the book's cover once I find a suitable picture.

Have a novel day!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Boast post....

Well I can now explain why I haven't been posting as regularly as before.  I have decided to enter another challenge and I am half way through.  I am a little behind in meeting the deadline, but I think that I am close enough to maybe make it.

If you haven't guessed by my recent posts, I have entered the National Novel Writing Month Challenge - which is essentially - write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. I am at 26,134 words. My only problem is that I don't know how to end it.  I need some help.  I am going to post the gist of the story and some excerpts.  Please post your comments - positive and/or negative and if you have an idea of how I should end it, please let me know.

I tentatively call the novel "Woven"  just as a focus. It is about a woman who is in therapy because of some recent trauma in her life and her therapist suggests that she keep a journal and write about the happier times in her life or even negative times, with a view to understanding and resolving them.  The book has two narrators, the woman and her therapist. The woman's name is Penny after the Greek mythological character, Penelope, the sister of Helen of Troy.  Penelope's husband has gone off to war and she is waiting for him to return.  It has been almost ten years and many think that she should remarry.  She agrees to once she finishes a funeral shroud for her father-in-law.  She weaves the shroud during the day and rips it out at night, so that it is never finished.

Woven has overtones of pressure to complete something and a hint that things are being unravelled.  Here is an excerpt.

"Well, I had come to England to travel so I decided that I should just set about to get some travelling done.  I flipped through the classified notices in The Times and one caught my eye.  It was a trip to Istanbul in a mini van for three weeks.  What really appealed to me was the price – just 30 pounds sterling, everything included.  I rang them up and there was still space.  I could bring the cash with me when I arrived to join the group, which would be leaving in three days.

The timing was perfect.  I had just enough time to get a few things, like a backpack and walking shoes and not enough time to get cold feet. I decided to ignore my fears.  I refused to think what if this...or what about that.....  I told Grace, the night before I was to leave that I would be gone for a few weeks.  I didn't want her to talk me out of it. 

So now it was Wednesday morning and I had butterflies in my stomach. I had packed the night before. I doubled checked that I had my passport, my 30 pounds in cash and about that much again in traveller's cheques, in case I needed it. Yes, I had everything. I walked to the front door, opened it and headed to the Underground station.

Although the ad In the Times had given the London location code of SW1. When I consulted my A to Z of London I realized that the street address was no where near the very respectable addresses in SW1.  In fact by accident or by design the notice had omitted a extra “1” The location was actually SW11.  Ladbrooke Grove – a rather seedy area of London, as I was about to find out.

My spirits dropped the closer I got to the address I was given. Buildings went from freshly painted to never painted in just a  few blocks. Litter increased noticeably. Rubber tires rested against broken fences;  rubbish bins spilled their ugly contents everywhere and dogs whined.  What had I done? How could anyone run a respectable business in these conditions.  I was almost ready to turn back when I saw the van just a block away. A small group of people were milling about, my fellow travellers, I thought. They looked like young adventurers, not deadbeats.  I walked towards them, relieved."

All comments welcome!!

Have an amazing day

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo update

NaNoWriMo a.k.a. NaBloPoMo.  Now that would be National Novel Writing Month which actually started out as National Blog Posting Month.  November is a month of "mo's" or is that Movember. Anyway an editorial in The Star today said that last year more that 250,000 people signed up on the NaNoWriMo website  with the intent to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. (Glad November is a short month :) and as The Star said "a staggering" 36,843 people completed it. That's 36,843 new novels in just one month.  No wonder you need electronic devices to store them.

I have to believe many are just drivel and the challenge does have it's nay-sayers.  Certainly a cookie cutter approach to writing - 1,640 odd words per day with forums to cheer you on, comes a little too close to the concept of yards gained in football perhaps or hamburgers sold at MacDonalds. But as the editorial goes on to say, "If an arbitrary deadline and word count... is enough to inspire many to pry themselves from their couches, turn off their TVs and spend some time cultivating the qualities of a novelist - thoughtfulness, discipline, persistence, introspection and empathy, among others - then good. That's not a bad way to spend a month."

And it's free!!!

Long live the novel and I might add - long live the longer sentence!!

Just as an aside, NaNoWriMo is organized by area and as of today 16,000,000 words have been written in the Toronto area alone. Boggles or is that bloggles the mind.

Have a novel day :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Today is a repost from another Remembrance Day...

Remembrance Day is the one day of the year that I read "In Flanders Fields." It is all about being connected, about paying back in some small, more like infinitesimal way, the great debt that we owe to those who did not make it back from the many battles that had to be fought, so that we could be a democracy, so that women could be considered "people", so that people could be gay, or right or left or what ever they wanted to be and  pray to whom ever they wanted, and say whatever they wanted, without being destroyed.

Given the quality of life in other parts of the world, where people just do not have our freedoms,  we have to say, that if it weren't for uncle Bob, cousin Bill, my grandfather, your great grandfather, we would be as closeted, as subjugated, as shackled, as "they".  One day is not enough.  But if it is just one day, that we publicly acknowledge our debit, than make it a day that is full of love and rich with meaning. Make it a day that we really celebrate their lives - and somehow have this gratitude, this love,  pass through time and touch their souls!

I have often thought... What is it about this poem, "In Flanders Fields" that has endured?  It has never been replaced. No one has ever said that they have found another poem, song or story with more meaning, more cadence, more emotional "pull" than the few lines written by a young man from Guelph, Ontario during the first world war. In fact, this is such a moving piece that it has taken on a life of its own - in song and dance, perhaps what better place than youtube, for all the world to see and acknowledge.  Now I know that we will never forget.

Sorry there will be no comment on knitting or dinner, just a comment on the title of the post. It is the last lines of a poem by Wilfred Owen actually orginally penned by Horace - The poem is a very graphic description of the ugliness of war and the poet ends by saying: do not tell your children -
The old Lie: 
Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

Translated - "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country" - there is really nothing sweet about it.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Just keep Mooooving

I have been a little remiss in posting, many apologies.....I could say that I was adjusting to the time change....or I have a few things brewing that may surface shortly....or that I am just lazy....that would at least be honest.....anyway - it's all of the above.  But I have to post this picture of a car that I would love to have or a business that I would love to have - painting these cars...or using these cars for advertising. Just imagine all of these "zip cars" covered in really cool graphics.  So not only do you make money by renting out the cars, you also make money selling their "bodies" for advertising.

Just think of the transformation - and the distraction - of a fleet of these cuties - Oreo cookies, Crocs, Champagne, Chocolates, anything digital.

No longer will we have to deal with boring old cars, we could turn our roads into the transportation equivalent of Pinterest!

No wonder they are called "smart" cars!!

Have a moooooving day!!!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ice, Wine & Dine......

We went out yesterday for a small event on a short street in Toronto - Elm St. They were hosting a tasting and entertainment venue with "nibblies" from the many and varied restaurants on the street. They spiced up these treats with street performers, ice sculptures and of course a parade of the curious, ourselves included.  Here are some pictures:

These period pieces fight for survival amid the crush of high rises.

My husband at his favourite activity - menu hopping!!

The highlight of the day, though was a chance to go into a beautiful old building on Elm St. that is owned by the Arts and Letters club, which began in 1908. The building has an historical designation so it will be preserved. Here is a picture from the inside.  All lovers of the Arts welcome (for a price). Actually as clubs go, the membership is not that steep ($2,000.00) for the first year and then a thousand annually after that. All of the Group of Seven were members.  I haven't checked to see whether Margaret Atwood is one - just a thought :)

Above is a picture from inside the great hall.  It looks like an old church or medieval castle, which has been beautifully preserved.  We need to keep more of the old Toronto, high rises are just so soulless.

Have a very special day!!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

"I have had my vision..."

"Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision." –Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927) 

And now for the best last lines - these are the crusts - first & last lines - you just need to add the filler :)

1. "I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth". –Emily BrontĂ«, Wuthering Heights (1847) 

2. "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." –George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945)

3. "But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing." –A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner (1928) 

4. "The old man was dreaming about the lions." –Ernest Hemingway,
The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

and the classic end to everything...

5. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day. –Margaret Mitchell,
Gone with the Wind (1936)

There is something about words that is enduring. The wordsmiths work their art and hammer out phrases, lines, sentences.... in the forges of their minds, creating intricate pieces that live beyond life itself.  The words out live the worder and go on to give haunting images, soulful angst and unmeasurable inspiration to every new writer, diarist, poet, scribe....

Please post your thoughts and/or closing lines - looking forward to reading your work!!

Have an inspired day!!

Friday, November 02, 2012


In honour of NaBloPoMo - National Novel Writing Month -  I found a site that has collected some of the "better" worse opening lines of a novel, after "It was a dark and stormy night...."

Since 1982 the English department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. Here are this year's winners.

10) "As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber he would never hear the end of it."
9) "Just beyond the Narrows the river widens."
8) "With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description."
7) "Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the east wall: "Andre creep ... Andre creep ... Andre creep."
6) "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex change surgeon to become the woman he loved."
5) "Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store."
4) "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do."
3) "Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."
2) "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word "fear," a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies."


1) "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the green sward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, "You lied!"

and some of the best!!

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” — Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” — 1984 – George Orwell

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” — Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” — Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C. S. Lewis

“I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.” — I, Claudius – Robert Graves

You can find more here.

And from the ones I have read and loved -

"A few miles south of Solidad the Salinas river drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green."
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish." The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

"I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning."  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Persig

"1802 - I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with." Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

"It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him."
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller.

I thought that I would just give a little impetus to anyone out there who maybe contemplating the challenge.

And it case you need a picture. Please post your own favourite first lines.  Here's a site that lists many.

Have an inspiring day!!


Yesterday there was an article in The Globe about a "Dreamachine." This is a device that has been around in some form or other for over 50 years.  Well, two Canadians from Ft. Erie and Niagara Falls, respectively - have decided to do a commercial run of about 650 machines that will be available on-line for about $400.00.  Gotta have one!!!

Basically a Dreamachine is a lamp - such as a table lamp that has a "lamp shade" with various cut outs on it. When the machine is turned on, the shade rotates at a speed of 78 rpm - maybe a use for old turntables - the resulting patterns are said to create a significant neurological change in the brain of anyone sitting close to the lamp with eyes closed.

Timothy Leary used one as did, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Kurt Cobain to mention a few. It apparently creates something similar to an LSD experience in that it opens other worlds to the imbiber - can I say that when it's just light?

Margaret Atwood was given one and said that it was good for "lateral jumps" in the thought process and also good for overcoming writer's block - if you have one.  I'm sure that Margaret has never had writer's block :) When asked about the machine's cosmic claims, she said that so far there was nothing; but, "I'll write home when I get there."...always a good sport!!

Anyway the article is in the Arts section of The Globe & Mail for Thursday Nov 1, 2012.  I probably can't link to it, as you now you have to sign in and pay to read on-line. I get to read on-line free because I still subscribe to the daily rag - but others - well you'll have to try and see. The article is a great read about how an idea comes together with the two people actually developing the product.  It's a case of the Dreamachine mechanics jump starting ideas and lots of Deja Vu and happenstance - you know the stuff engineers and other vertical thinkers never experience.

Light through a bottle - not actually a dreamachine; but maybe a little lateral thinking, definitely surreal. Postcards from the edge - maybe.

Have an amazing day!!