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 Brontë, 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!!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Celebrate November 1

Well, it's still raining and it rained on Hallowe'en too.  We didn't have a lot of kids out and the ones that braved the steady pour looked very wet.  This is so sad.  Hallowe'en is one of the few holidays that kids from all backgrounds can enjoy together - they/we need a break!!

On the holiday site that I visit from time to time, there is a list of celebrations for November 1, such as,

National Author's Day
Electric Light bulb Patented - Thomas Edison in 1879.
No Driving with Cellphones Day NYC Law 2001
World Community Day
All Saints Day
National Family Literacy Day 
Snug Hugs For Kids Day
Cider Day
Hello Kitty's Birthday
International Coaches Day

There is a "Write a book in 30 days Challenge" just starting so if you have ever thought of writing, this may be a good place to begin. Then you could celebrate National Author's Day, as one!

Electric light bulbs are like wells - you never miss them until they run dry. We never miss (or celebrate) a source of light until the power is cut. It's probably time to be reminded that there are communities out there that still work - read, study, knit etc.. by oil lamps.

People still use cellphones while driving...maybe it's time to ditch the car.

All Saints Day is like the odds and ends drawer for spiritual people. It's a day when all the forgotten holy men, women and children - canonized or not - could be remembered.

National Family Literacy Day is probably an excuse to calm the kids down after all the candy from Hallowe'en - Let's all just sit quietly and read books!

Snug Hugs for Kids Day is a donation drive for clothing etc to keep kids warm during winter. It was started 19 years ago by Merlin stores in the US - certainly a worthy cause.

Cider Day - I can identify with that and maybe even Cider Vinegar Day - time to celebrate with some fish and chips!!

Hello Kitty anything, I have a problem with. Extensive branding of "things" for kids just trains them to follow the herd. We can't raise individuals with unique thought patterns, if everyone feels that they have to have what everyone else has. I must see if there is a National Individuals Day - but then who would be brave enough to be themselves - maybe just too "freaky."  :)

International Coaches' Day - volunteer time and personal funds poured into sports for people of all ages is certainly something to celebrate - just don't get me going on our current mayor and his use of public finds to support just the team that he coaches during the day when he is supposed to be in council. Too bad that so many who work very hard are soured by one rotten egg!!

The picture is for World Community Day - build places where people can interact. This is at The Brickworks in Toronto. I am so pleased that my daughter completed her Bachelor of Community Design degree this Spring from Dalhousie.  There are similar programs at other universities in Canada. I am just thrilled that there are courses now that will teach people both to interact as individuals within a community and to build communities that support this individualism!!

This is my rant for the day!!  Now to say a prayer for the little known and/or remembered St. Eulalia, patron saint of Barcelona - "wish I were there - how good are your transporting powers these days?"

Have an amazing day!!