Book Hippo

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years Lessons

I am happy a new year is on it's way. My father's death half-way through 2010 gave me a rough year and then there was my step-mother's cancer. There were times I couldn't think straight but only felt sorrow. So I've adjusted to not having my father around and my step-mom is now cancer-free. I'm happy and ready to move on.

I look forward to a year of stability. Mainly so I can look back and see what lessons I've learned. I'll give an example: there is a woman I know from Korea. She told me a little of her background. Her mother beat her with a wooden spoon and with her hands when she was a toddler, by six years of age, she was living in the streets. I won't go into gory detail but I said once, "It must have taken you a long time to get over your anger at your Mom." She looked at me and said, "I'm grateful to her."

I wondered at this and asked how could she be grateful. "She taught me how not to live. Any time something comes up I don't know how to deal with, I think, how would my mother handle it, and then do the opposite." Well, I have to say that this Korean woman has no depression or bitterness or self-pity. She is the most accepting of other people I know and has a lot of friends.

She once introduced me to her brother. I asked when they came over from Korea. He said he was from Northern Canada. How did your brother come from Canada while you're from Korea? She said, "Family is not who you are born to but who you connect with. We are soul brother and sister. I must mention here that this is a man who likes to wear women's clothing. It made me think that if her mother had met him, she would have some foul words for him. So I imagined this woman thinking, 'what would my mother do?' and then accepting him...and finding a soul brother.

I tried her method. Not with my parents who never laid a finger on me but on someone who did hurt me because she herself had been hurt. She was ever hurting people around her. I don't necessarily take opposite actions but psychologically I try to think the opposite. When I'm confronted with an emotion brought on by some incident, I think 'how would this person emotionally deal with this?' Then I do the opposite. I found her method works well.

So during this year of, I hope, stability, I want to look back over my life and see what other people might have left me that I've missed. What other gems came my way that I was too busy to look into. I'd like to apply them to my life and see how they fit. That is my only New Years Resolution.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Teddy Bear

Hi all. It's Christmas day and I'm just waiting for my roommate to arise. We will open presents. It makes me think back to childhood and the Christmas when I was about six and we spent it at my grandparents. We stayed over from Christmas eve. When I woke and saw the tree, there was a beautiful teddy bear under it. I loved that teddy bear on sight and wondered who was lucky enough to get it.

It turned out it was for me!

I was so happy. It had a blue ribbon around it's neck and shining eyes. All day I could think of nothing except how lucky I was to get that teddy bear. I was a big collector of stuffed animals. I had so many that my brother an I called them, 'The Choir'. We used to set them up the way we saw choirs set up and sing in high piping voices all the hits we heard on the radio.

After a time, my brother became the main holder of my teddy bear. He became Superteddy and along with five other 'main' players. Supermonkey, Superhorsey, Superflower dog (a stuffed dog made from flowered material), Superdon (a dalmation piggy-bank) and Superchilipuff which was a toy I found on the beach one evening. There was no one around to claim it and I figured it would just be swept out to sea, so I took it and hoped I wasn't stealing. It had the body of a human but had embroidered eyes and wool all over it's body. I think it was real wool, too because when my dog chewed it up, I found instead of cloth, sheepskin.

Anyway, long after all the other choir members have disappeared, teddy still exists. My brother has him and his children have played with him. I know I should write 'it' but teddy was always a boy to us. He's very, very old and my niece and nephew have grown up, but I have to say, it seems that my brother was a better keeper of toys than I was. I hope teddy lasts another fifty years.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Warming Winter

I'm looking out the window as I sit in my chair, at the rain which is coming down like a waterfall. There was snow this morning but it's all melted and been washed away. The temperature is +4.

I can think back to the seventies when I first began planning to leave BC. The only thing I was scared of was what kind of weather I would come up against. In BC, when the snow level reaches 12 inches, the cities shut down all services. This happened once when I was in school. They sent us home and the banks and offices were sent home, too.

Later, in Ottawa, I found out that 12 inches happened about October 18th and lasted until April. I was crushed and wondered how I would survive, how would the city survive, when everyone would be sitting at home all winter. I still believed that everything shut down at 12 inches. Ottawans laughed at me and had good sport telling me all the horror stories about walking to work when the snow is18 inches. It was all true, too.

Now,  however, for the last five of six years, winters have been  mild. We have even had 16 degrees in November when no one had to wear a coat. Ottawans on the whole love global warming. But this year is the mildest we've had ever. Still above zero in December and rain. Skiers have to use machine made snow which melts but that's not my problem.

I just wonder where it will all end. Will we have a tropical climate about the 60th parallel in my lifetime? Already there are birds showing up in this part of the world which normally live in the Southern USA.

I have to admit that I am undecided on whether I like mild, rainy winters or would like a bit of snow. I could get used to it, they have the same in BC but somehow I also feel a loss of some intangible feeling that I used to carry through winter. Almost a sadness that something has passed. I don't know if I'm alone in this but I get I'll just have to live with it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mentally Challenged Meeting Place

I wasn't going to blog again for a couple of days but I saw something on TV and it set me off. In a place named Stittsville, just outside the old city of Ottawa limits, a woman saw a need for a meeting place for mentally challenged kids. Autistic and Downs syndrome can meet there and be accepted and loved and included.

I believe inclusion and acceptance is the most important thing for a child. They can develop only when they don't feel any hate or antagonism against them. Now what set me off is that it made me think of the attitude of most Ottawans, that you don't have to pay attention to the feelings of such people because there's something 'wrong' with them.

I get angry when I hear this and it makes me think back to BC when you heard of mental retarded children poking their own eyes out and such. People considered that a symptom of their condition when it was actually a symptom of the cruel ways they were 'kept' in institutions.

I have a friend whose son was born 'normal' but because of an allergic reaction to a vaccine became brain damaged. The doctors said this boy would never walk or talk. "Just put him in an institution. You can have other kids" This father looked around and decided that all the places recommended for his son were ghettos for mentally damaged kids and decided to quit his job and take care of his son himself. The wife went to work.

I will make a long story short. This brain damaged kid now runs 10K marathons and can talk. Strangely enough being brain damaged didn't affect his musical ability and he can play complicated pieces on the piano. Now this is what you can do with these kids when you take the time to communicate with them instead of just saying 'they can't understand' and such and leaving them sit by themselves.

So I just want to say that just because a kid is mentally disabled doesn't mean their emotions and feelings don't exist and aren't important to them. It's cruel to tell them that because they don't understand right away they are stupid and not worthy of consideration. That's my rant for today.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Favorite Christmas

Just because it's December, I've been thinking of favorite Christmas. So many Christmases stand out in my mind, there was the one where we couldn't afford presents. We enjoyed it anyway because my mom really liked Christmas and made it fun. I was a teenager then and I find my favorite Christmas happened in my teen-aged years, too.

I decided one year to spend as much as I pleased. I would buy everyone in my family a present. I bought my grandmother an elephant carved from wood with plastic tusks. For my sister I got a sugar bowl made in the shape of a flower. There were other glass pots shaped like flowers, too. I can't remember what they were all for but they were all held up by a strong, steel wire holder made to look like a flower stem. I got it in an import store in White Rock. It was from Russia and like all crafts from Eastern Europe, it was well-made and beautiful.

For my father I bought a sword. I think it was antique, although it might have been aged deliberately for sale. There were roses on the steel on the sword and although the sales lady didn't know where it was from, my father loved it. He 'knighted' the dog with it!

My brother got records he really liked.

The best part of this Christmas was hearing the feedback from my relatives. My Aunt said the gifts were unique. My grandmothers response will always be my warmest Christmas memory. She said that ever since she was a little girl in England she had wanted a carved elephant. She told me of looking with longing into store windows, staring at the carved elephants, but she never got one then. To think that I made a dream of hers come true will always rank high in my happyland thoughts.

My sister, newly married, said it was just what they needed for their home. They did not have all the little things a couple needs to live in a home.

This favorite Christmas taught me something about myself. I'm much happier when I give something to make somebody happy than to get something, although I'm excited about my presents, too. I guess that's what makes Christmas a great time is that it tells us that we're not so bad, that we aren't just a bunch of rude overworked boors pushing others out of our way. We're more than that, we're the people who can be made happy and satisfied by making others happy and satisfied.

I think that's a good thing to remember.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

End Of Camping Trip

Hi, I'll just finish up about my first camping trip in Algonquin Park. At some point one day, I noticed clouds gathering and winds growing. I was alone in my two-man tent. The wind and rain began to come down harder than a drunk falling on the pavement. I remember laying inside my tent, darkness coming and thinking, "there's nothing I can do, so what should I so?" I decided to go to sleep. I'm not sure that's the best action to take in a storm but I thought that if a tree fell on me, I was inside my tent and wouldn't see it coming anyway. So I went to sleep.

The next day a couple of fellows came through. "You mean you spent the hurricane in this little pup tent?" One of them asked me. I assured him I had. "It flipped over a few campers in the campsite and did half a million dollars damage to the towns." I felt very lucky when he said that, as I still do today. They moved on to their hike and I settled back to enjoy the feeling of having survived.

It was a nice day now. Hot and blue skies. Sometime around noon a couple of old people came to swim in the lake. It made me wish I was swimming but I had no one to save me if I started to drown so I didn't go near the water.

I looked forward to my rice; by now all my mashed potato flakes were gone. It's funny in the woods when you bring your own food how bland meals begin to seem tasty to you. Brown rice was now my favorite meal. I ate it without butter or any topping. That night, when I went to bed, I found I had a 'pizza attack' I could not think of anything else but having a pizza. I wanted to phone out but of course there's no phone at Provoking Lake. I slept and in the morning decided to hike into the store and buy some food. I hoped the the money I had, that I'd spilled mosquito repellent on, would be accepted by the store. Mosquito repellent takes the ink off of the money.

I enjoyed the hike in, even though I was anxious to have something really tasty. I bought peanut butter and cookies and a few other things and hiked back. Some people had set up a camp when I got back. Three young girls. I opened my peanut butter and found that although I hadn't seen any squirrels up to that time, peanut butter brought them all to my camp. They were aggressive, they probably didn't get peanut butter too many times, and wouldn't leave me alone when I ate it. I did put some out for them but that made it worse, they got bold and would crawl on me just to get some of it.

I have since read that there are few things that can resist peanut butter and  let me just say that it makes the best trap for cockroaches. I unfortunately lived in a place with roaches. I found that if you put an empty peanut butter jar half-filled with water and peanut butter on the insides, by the time you wake in the morning, Your jar will be full of drowned roaches because they can't resist peanut butter.

Back to my trip. From then on, I had to fight with squirrels to eat my breakfast and lunch. I spent a lot of time painting the scenery and reading the one magazine I'd brought with me. A MAD magazine. They had a spoof of the movie 'Tootsie' in it and I read it over and over again. I hadn't seen the movie but thought the spoof was funny.

Time to leave came up on me. I didn't want to carry so much out, so I dumped my Quaker Oats out for the chipmunks. I found I was carrying quite a lot of weight anyway but did manage to make it out finally. It was slow going. I camped for one night at a roadside campsite, eight dollars a night back then, and in the morning caught a ride to Toronto. It's the opposite direction of Ottawa but I hadn't been there for a while and wanted to visit the zoo.

The people driving me were very nice and bought me a soda to drink on the way. They dropped me off downtown and I made my visit. I caught a greyhound bus home two days later. I rented a room in a building and picked up the stuff I had in storage. I would go again in two years and have many other experiences. That's all for now. I will write of the next trip later.

See ya.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Peace Or Tolerance

Now that it's December, I can feel 'right' about thinking of Christmas. I love Christmas and all the decorations and lights. The way people are so kind at Christmas warms me and makes me happy to be part of the human race. But there is conflict at this time of the year for me. It stems from the idea of peace on earth and spirituality.

I'll regress a little. In the eighties I was an artist. A sculptor and painter. Ottawa's art scene at that time was filled with people who thought the sixties were still alive. They were what is called peace freaks and still spoke of the Vietnam war and talked of their opposition to nuclear war and violence.

Now, all that sounds fine. But in practice I found that if there was a person near them who was wearing an army uniform, they would invariably talk of how stupid he looked. And how his type should be done away with for earth to advance. I would make the point that earth would not advance if we were all engaged in killing each other. They would stare at me. "You don't believe in peace?" and then, I, too would be on the bad list with them. Once on the hit list they felt free to be rude and to shun a person. They would not talk to you, some even threatened. All their talk consisted of how stupid everyone was who did not believe in their philosophy of love and peace, how these people ruined the world. Again, I would find myself saying that the way to better the human race was to accept that we are all different and not to strive to have everyone think the same, but they would anger and again I'd be on the outs with them.

No argument worked with them. All things should be done away with so their beliefs could flourish. No religion. I'd say, "One of the basic ideas of a free society is to have freedom of religion." Anger from them. No war. "Sometimes to stay free one has to fight. You have the right to your opinion because people laid down their lives." They wouldn't hear of it. All I could see were people who wanted to destroy everyone they thought stupid.

Now, a few years later, after I had left art, I found myself at an exercise club. The YMCA/YWCA. At this club there was a group of people. Some whom I thought were stupid. Probably because of some psychological disorder interfering with their minds. But they were part of a religious club. I saw them being treated with tolerance and love. With goodness.

I thought back to those peace freaks and thought how much better to treat people with tolerance. Their lives do mean something. I discovered that as intolerant as the left wing is, the religious people had the idea that to give people care and concern and help, forgiveness and patience was to do the work of God.

There was no contest to me of what was the better way. There are billions of people on the earth. We need to tolerate each other. Besides, people can change and flourish with understanding.

So there's my fight each year at Christmas. When they talk of peace on earth, I think of the intolerance of the peace freaks and get upset again. But when I think of how spiritual and good people are to each other at this time, I happy again.

See you all next time. Over and out for now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Czech Republic

Here is my second and last interview with an author who has written a book in an exotic locale. This time, I talk to Cyrus Keith who is the author of Unalive, part of the NADIA Project. You can find Unalive at the following link:    It costs just $5.95 USD. Here's what Cyrus had to say.

First, could you tell us something about yourself?
OK. I'm a large, hairy Englishman by descent and 100% unashamed American by birth. I share my back yard with half the whitetail deer population of the lower 48 states, and though I do not shoot at Bambi, I do enjoy a good venison roast.

How did you come to choose The Czech Republic as a locale for your novel?
I needed a site on the other side of the world for a secret laboratory, plain and simple. It had to be remote from the U.S. and still have access to high-tech medical knowledge without standing out so far it would give it's secret away.
I also figured that with all the changes in eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it would be a simple matter of sneaking in with the right people and equipment, and in the confusion of change, this secret organization could be established and operating in full force before anyone who could stop them knew what was happening.

How did you come by your characters and are they based on anyone?
I only have a few Czech characters, but they're all good guys (mostly). My main characters are American, trying to unfold a grand conspiracy by a group trying to take control of world governments for their own purposes. I did my best to stay true to what I have heard about the generosity and kindness of common people, while keeping my bad guys as wicked and evil as I could, which, by the reviews I've received so far, are bery wicked and evil. Mua-ha-ha-ha!

Do you hope to visit the area you've written about?
By all means. I have heard from numerous sources that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I would dearly love to visit there. I stole my descriptions from as many tourist websites as I could find, and I am seriously falling in love with eastern Europe in general, and Prague in particular. I want so bad to
taste the local food.

Say anything you want to say about your novel.
In the second installment of The NADIA Project, the potential stakes are raised even higher. The lab where Nadia was built is no more. But when The Pinnacle strikes back at the government agencies trying to crack its secrets, a horrible truth emerges: the evil cabal of kingmakers is still building living weapons of mass destruction somewhere on the globe.
Jon Daniels and Nadia Velasquez must find the lab and stop it before a new wave of terror erupts across the world. In order to succeed, though, they must get through The Pinnacle's most deadly weapon: Jenna Paine.
All who stand between evil and the innocent are two ancient warriors, a misfit genius, a rogue FBI agent, and a living antimatter bomb named NADIA.

It all sounds so exciting. It's all at MuseItUp Publishing.
Bye all.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gender Difference

Many times I've caught myself trying to put my finger on the one thing that makes men and women different from each other. What mental process defines each sex. Each time I think I've got it, I have to pull back and think do I know any of the other sex with the same thoughts. First, there's the aggression. Well, women fight. Then there's the time I thought that women were more likely to turn down a job promotion if it meant that their children would suffer. But then I think of the men I know who have done the same. Mostly single fathers who are the prime parent for their little ones.
One night, I thought I'd hit on it. When men are the victims of a crime, they always say. "I'd like to have just five minutes alone with him." Meaning, of course, he'd like to fight him. Women say. "I'd like to give him a piece of my mind."
Then I remember years ago when I was young in Vancouver, BC. I took a self-defense course. They were teaching quite of few of these courses back then because the issue of rape was big in the media and women were demanding to be allowed to have a fair chance of fighting back. Now as I played street hockey with my brother as a child, I was always considered by many to be more aggressive then most girls. I thought I would do well. The teacher paired us up to learn some wrestling, to get us used to using our bodies. I was grappling for a time when I heard the teacher say, "You've got brothers, don't you?" I thought she was talking to me when I looked up she was looking at a gorgeous blond girl who had another girl at her feet on the floor. She answered, "I have seven brothers. They're all wrestlers and my father's a wrestling coach.."
I still had a bit of an attitude when the teacher paired me and her together. I thought I would have a chance to fight with her for at least a minute. Our hands touched. I was on the floor next thing I knew. She stood above me a smiled her beautiful smile. "Do you have a boyfriend?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "He's a wrestler,too." "Who wins your arguments?" I ask. "He puts up a good fight." she said.
So whenever I now think of gender reactions to crime, I wonder if somewhere out there is at least one woman who, when someone jumps out to attack her, turns and says. "All right. You're on."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Russian Locale

This blog features a fellow Muse author, Killarney Sheffield. Her novel, The Horseguard's Lady is due out in December. You will be able to download it from MuseItUp Publishing Website. Here is a bit about it and some questions for Killarney.

Lady Rosemary Wellington is your typical London debutante who faces a life of eternal boredom when she is betrothed to the Marquis of Joliemere. However her grandmother plans for her go awry when Rose decides to help her cousin, Princess Elizabeth, escape her own unwanted marriage. Rose finds herself kidnapped by the leader of a Russian group of Cossacks.
In steps our hero, Prince Dimity Peterlovsky. He has been put in charge of catching the rebel Cossack leader, a task that may not seem all that daunting, however it is a true test of his loyalty to the tsar. Life becomes even more complicated for him when he rescues Rose. He believes her to be Princess Elizabeth, which comes with a huge host of political problems. Now, his country is facing a potential war with Britain and France, but he has his doubts. Could she really be Sergei's ally? Or has he made a terrible mistake?

It is a romance. Here are some questions Killarney answered for me.

Could you tell us something about yourself?
Before becoming a published author I was a horse trainer, farrier and riding instructor. I had written a couple of articles for my local newspaper's editorial section on how the USA's ban on horse slaughter was crippling the Canadian horse breeders market and forcing breeders like myself and others to give up their life long passions. The paper editor loved my articles and complimented me on the fact that he never had to edit anything I sent him. He asked me if I had ever considered writing a book. I had a good laugh over that one as I had half a dozen novels already written in my computer but was too chicken to send them to someone. I followed his advice and subbed to romance giant Avon and was slammed with an instant rejection. Why? Well, apparently under 'author bio' they wanted to know if I had ever had anything published before not my life story. I joined an online crit group and was told to sub toa small publisher first to get my writing credits. I subbed to three small presses and to my surprise received three contracts! I went with MuseItUp because I had heard wonderful thing about Lea ( head honcho at MuseItUp Publishing) and was told she was a great mentor for writers like myself who need to learn the ins and outs of publishing.

Why did you use Russia as a background for your story?
Well, The Horseguard's Lady is the first historical romance I ever wrote and my third published with MuseItUp. It was originally written in 2001 and at that time it was not a locale common for a historical. Russia is one of those places that is so rich in history and stories that it just all fell into place. Though I have never been there the shows and books I have seen showcasing their beautiful architecture really drew me in. I have a travel tape from a tourist place showing the lovely domed towers on the palaces and well, I was hooked on Russia. Also I loved the story of Anastasia that Disney did. I'm just a big kid at heart and love Disney cartoons! Incidentally, I have scoured book stores looking for an authentic book of Russian fairy tales but have not found one as of yet.

Which character in your novel do you like best?
Hands down the hero's sidekick Victor. He is tall, blonde and from day one was the heroine's champion despite his cousin Dimitry's insistence that Lady Rose was a spy. The man is so funny I decided to write a sequel to The Horseguard's Lady titled The Horseguard's Cousin. It is Victor's story of love found. It is one of the WIPs I have on the go right now.

So there you go all, if you want to experience a rousing romance in the exotic locale of Russia, you can look up Killarney's book in December. See you all later.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mental Illness

It's been a long time since the 1970s when help for young people with depression or other mental disorders were treated to therapists who were engaged in guesswork almost all of the time. The main idea of the time was that depression was a personal failure which could be erased by facing up to your mistakes. The government left these kids to deal with this alone, there was no backup, no psychiatric survivors groups, nothing when it didn't work out.
In the eighties, a contest for the best stage play by high school students left Ottawa aghast, all the plays were about depression in teens and suicide. It was commented on but there were no steps to help these kids. In the nineties, with the rise in Ottawa of the homeless population, mental illness became, in people's minds, associated with crimes and the illness of 'failures'.
Just a while ago, we had an election. I was phoned by one of the parties. I told them I was not interested in any of their platform, I was only interested in when was somebody going to do something about mental illness in young people. The woman said she, too was interested in this subject because as a grade school teacher, she saw many children with mental disorders, who needed care but weren't getting it. She convinced me to vote for her party, the man running was very interested in the subject. He got in but when I tried to talk to him about it, he never answered my letters or even the form he himself sent around.
Last year a hockey coach's daughter killed herself for depression and a couple of months ago an MPs teen-age boy committed suicide over depression caused by being picked on. Why are we, as a society leaving these kids to suffer like this. It seems it starts very young when we 'streetproof' our kids, making them take responsibility for themselves when they should be being watched. A little while ago, in a city park, a man tried to lure a young girl away from the playground. She ran to her mother at her house. Good. But why necessary? Why weren't there adults present on the playground to intimidate any perverts from hitting on kids. Now it's just my own amateur opinion, but I think when we have kids policing themselves, putting pressure on them from an early age to keep themselves safe, they tend to think they're all alone. How many times do the feel the burden of coping with their troubles all by themselves? These things tend to become a habit, in my opinion, so they learn not to reach out, there most probably won't be anyone to help them. Unfortunately, in the case of mental illness, they are right.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Montreal Retreat

The first good thing was that my short story: The Mountain City Bronzes, was published on November 4th, so anyone who wants to buy can go to MuseItUp Publishing website and go to dark or new releases but it's only new until friday the 11th. I had already been ready for two days beforehand to get to Montreal. It was all planned. My roommate wanted to drive me there early, so we left at 8 AM. That means we couldn't have much coffee, we didn't want any "pee-pee drawers" on the way. We arrived at the Holiday Inn at about 10:30 AM. David came in to see that all would be well. The staff were very welcoming so he went back to the car and left. Then the front desk clerk wanted my credit card. Well, I'd already given my credit card info on the phone to reserve my room and I hadn't brought it. So between me and the clerk we decided that I would pre-pay for my room (easy to do) and I would leave a deposit which I could get back when I checked out. Done.
 So I went up to the 14th floor. I have to say the elevators were a bit scary. The doors on one took at least a minute to close and on the way up, the elevator car banged against the shaft a few times. Others at the retreat make jokes about the elevators, too. The whole hotel was under renovations. There were a lot of mattresses in the hallways and plastic covering things but the area we were in, where the restaurant was, was quite nice, there were leather chairs and a sofa to sit on. They had complimentary coffee in the morning and lemonade in the afternoon and evening.
I had brought my bathing suit since they had a pool but then realized I'd forgotten to bring my lock for a locker, so didn't bother going swimming. I had a nice snooze when I got to my room 1415 at 11:00. Around 5:30 PM I wandered down to the lobby to wait for everyone. We were all going to meet in the lobby and we would finally meet Lea and Litsa in person. I was so nervous. Muse writers are always saying we're a family but until I met these wonderful people it didn't quite 'get in there'. They were all so nice. I felt immediately welcomed and at home. These are great people to be with.
We went to a Greek restaurant. I went with Kevin Craig and his lovely wife Allison. Sandra Clark sat next to me in the back seat. We suffered Quebec drivers, laughing about the turns with no signal and other things these drivers are wont to do, and arrived without mishap, although we did pass a serious accident on the way. I forget the name of the Greek restaurant but we had a private room which was set out very nice. The next room had a wedding going on so we had to deal with music from them but our meal and speeches went well. Mine was the worst speech. I'm not so good at public speaking. Everyone else was funny and competent at speaking before a crowd. Heather Haven was the funniest. She's so vibrant. Christine London was a very good speaker, too. I enjoyed all the speeches. Of course the best speeches were Lea and Litsa. Lea's son was doing videotaping so I think all the speeches are on tape and he taped Lea crying when she got the present the authors had got for her: a necklace. There was also crying from Litsa when speaking of Karen McGrath. There was a picture of her and a dedication.
The meal was so good. I had the steak. So good. Lea came around with clothes pegs. We each put two on and whenever we saw someone crossing their legs, we would take one of their pegs. I thought I was doing pretty good to do five but Lea's daughter had a whole belt full of pegs and Christine London had about thirteen. So Lea's daughter won. Then we had six volunteers. Three were dressmakers, three were models. The dressmakers had to choose from wigs and hats and ties and toilet paper and make a 'dress' on the model. My model was Sandra Clark. I chose a purple wig and orange bow-tie and devil horns. Then I put the toilet paper on her like a hula skirt. She wiggled her hips and it all fell off. So Karen Cote (dressmaker) and Heather Haven (model) won. I think they'd make a good team for anything. At the end of the evening we all paid the waiter twenty dollars and then we headed off. I went back with Kevin, Allison and Sandra once again and we managed to find our way back to the hotel. I fell into a most comfortable bed and had a great sleep. I was to learn that others did not sleep so well.
We met for breakfast at 9:00AM. We had our own little room in the restaurant next to the lobby. I was early so I had a few cups of coffee and chatted with Chris, the waiter, he was interested to know about Muse as was two other waiters whose names I didn't get. Nancy Bell, Doug Bell, her husband and Charles Mossop were next in, then came the crowd. I sat with Sarah Durham and her gorgeous daughter Michelle. They were such wonderful people. This is such a caring group. I feel badly for all the Muse authors who didn't make it. Hopefully you'll all get there next time. After breakfast we went to Zellars. I went once again with Kevin, Allison and Sandra. It was so close we could have walked but it was better by car. Lea and Litsa had done a great job setting up the MuseItUp tables. I tell you these two worked their you-know-whats off for this event. I was impressed, even more so than usual. Lea and Litsa are really special people. When people began coming in Litsa was the greeter and got people interested in coming to see us all. We all had our spaces at the table. I sat between Christine London whose husband Larry was there. He was of great help to her. Getting coffee and stuff. Karen Cote was on my other side and her husband was there, too. Of course, I would forget his name, so embarrassing. He was of great help to her, too. Karen sold the first book at Zellars and it was her first print book to sell. She just had to hug the woman who bought it. I think I may have seen the start to a beautiful friendship. I gave out my bookmarks. That's all I had with me. Everyone else had so much stuff I felt naked but now I know how to go about it. Christine had pens and Karen had lip balm. Such good ideas.
We were at Zellars for three hours and had a good turnout. We made $800.00. So good. Authors came up to us, too. They spent a lot of time talking to Lea. At the draw at the end of our time, Lisa Forget's daughter won a prize. And then we cleaned up and cleared off back to the hotel. I took one of the flower arrangements intending to bring it back home and some chocolates. I drove back with K, A and S.
I made some coffee for myself back at the hotel and read my book: The War With Hannibal by Livy. I relaxed and then met up with everyone in the lobby. At six-thirty we all went to the restaurant just down the street which was St. Jean Boulevarde. There was no parking. So poor Kevin just let us off and went out to find some. He was gone quite a while and Allison was a bit concerned. He parked across the street and finally came back. It was a great meal. Such big portions and so good. We all got to know each other better and I'll say it again. Musers are FABULOUS people. We each paid our own bills. Now the rest of them were going to see a comedy show but I bowed out. I wanted to make sure I got enough sleep. So I went back to the hotel. I must be really dumb right now but I can't remember the full name of the person who drove me. I know he's an author here and his first name is Richard, his wife is Cathy. He took Karen Cote and her husband back to their hotel, The Marriott and then we went back to our Holiday Inn. It was quite a ride, none of us knew Montreal that well so we went the wrong way so many times but made it home. Well, even if I don't remember his last name, I can say he's a great guy, as is his wife. He's ex-military so has interesting stories to tell. He had met a couple of Presidents of USA and many of the people you read about in the paper.
So I went to bad at the hotel and to bed. Had a great sleep. Breakfast again, I didn't drink much coffee again as David would come to get me at 10AM. It was sad to say good-bye to all but it felt so great having met them that it came out even, emotionally. I went and got my bags and waited downstairs. I got my deposit back and David rolled in about 10:06. It was a great weekend, it's only too bad I can't do justice to it in my blog but Lea will put the tape of the first dinner online. See ya all later.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter On The Way

Lately in Ottawa, things have not been all well. A prominent politician's son committed suicide. That, and the fact that so many around me have cancer, has meant that I've been a bit blue. You might think that the fact that winter's coming would add to my morbid frame of mind but I find it's been the opposite. I'm looking forward to the snow. I'm anxious to go out in the first snowfall of the year and just enjoy it.
As a child, I loved the snow and all the stuff you could do with it. It was especially great when I took my dog out in it. She would try to eat any snowballs I whinged her way. It was quite a good time.
In Ottawa now, there are many things to do in winter. We have Winterlude in February and I go to see the ice carvings, they are quite near my home. I admit they aren't as impressive as the ones they have in China but they're always nice to see. I don't go skating on the canal because I haven't skated since I was a child but I can go down and watch others skate.
Well, I'll close off here but just after I tell you one more thing. On November 4,5,6, I will be in Montreal at the MuseItUp conference. My short story, The Mountain City Bronzes comes out that weekend. It can be ordered from the MuseItUp Publishing website. It's one more thing to pick me up this winter and even if this pales before all the grief of the families left behind by cancer and suicide, I'm grateful for it.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Hi People: Well, it's coming up to November and my horror story will be released by MuseItUp Publishing that month. It's entitled 'The Mountain City Bronzes'.

So I've been thinking about the origin of horror and the feelings of horror. I think it goes way back to the start of the human race. We all fear crime and loneliness but to be considered horror, it must have a supernatural element. When the first humans started speaking, they probably talked of three things. God, ghosts and gossip. Now the experts will tell you that they talked of hunting and I'm not arguing but I don't think they only talked of that. They must have amused themselves around the campfire with supernatural stories of magic (gods) of thunder and the elements. Ghosts because we all fear dying. Supernatural creatures like the Mongolian Death Worm may have come later but I truly believe that the fear we have when we read a good horror story or watch a horror movie is that primitive fear that may have been the first feelings of the human race.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Algonquin Park Part II

In the morning, I cleaned up the mess left by the raccoon. I went down the path past the outhouse to where I had hung my food. I was rather proud of the way, without ever having done so before, I had been able to throw the rope over a branch way up. I was certain  no bears could get me food. Remember, never get between a bear and it's food, and your food is it's food.

I made a breakfast and sat around enjoying the outdoors. Some people came along. Two adults and one boy. He told me that there were no bears in this area because the lake was at the bottom of an incline and bears can't move down an incline. I actually believed him then, but I'm not sure I do now.

I found I liked cooking over an open fire and I like washing dishes in the lake. Sometime around lunch, a very English voice said, "Hello." I turned to see a young woman, out on the trail alone like I was. She said she was walking the loop and would I like to join her. I did. We went the loop and then I suggested going to Faya Lake to eat lunch. We went down and sat in the sand at the lake and watched the water. We talked, I told her about Tom Thomson, the most famous visitor to the park, who was rumored to be still buried in the park. She said she would go see his cairn if she could. Then she snapped my photo. I like the thought of being someone's story. When she got home she would show this photo and say, "This was a girl I met in the park."

Well, that's all for now. I'll get back to it later.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Time Off

Haven't blogged for a couple of months, just taking time off. My flash fiction piece is in June's Apollo's Lyre. It titled, 'The Corner Restaurant'. Even if you don't want to read my story, you might wish to give the e-zine a try. Come November, I will be in Montreal for the MuseItUp writers conference. We will be signing bookmarks and will be available to meet the public. I will tell you where we will be in a later blog, nearer to the time.
I won an honorable mention certificate in a poetry contest and waited to receive my certificate, over a month later, it arrived. It was stamped: missent to India. Well, at least I got it. See you all later.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Great Camping Trip

Hi all. I remember in the early nineteen eighties how I became infatuated with Tom Thompson, especially his days in Algonquin Park. I decided to go there myself for some camping and spend time on the backpacking trails. I put all my goods in storage and on July 1, 1982, I went on the bus to Whitby, Ontario, the farthest the bus would take me.
Once there, I found I had missed the bus that would take me to the park by ten minutes. I wondered what to do, there wouldn't be another bus until the next day. I went into a restaurant and had something to eat. When I came out, I noticed two young men with camping gear. I asked if they were going to the park and would they drive me. They were not going to the park but said they would drive me. One lifted my pack into his car and mentioned that it was a bit heavy. I'd put everything I thought I'd need in it.
Arriving at the park and helping me on with my pack, he said it again, he didn't know how I would manage, it must be two hundred pounds. I thanked them and went onto the path.

It was agonizing walking with that pack and I was still on the trail when it began to get dark. I heard footsteps and two people came into view, an older man and his smaller, younger wife. I asked them how far to the nearest campsite. The man said I'd never make it before dark. He offered to carry my backpack back to his car and take me to their campsite and then in the morning they would take me in their canoe to the portage where it would be a small matter for me to get to the campsite. He took my backpack, commented on the weight and off we went.
I ate with them that night and set up my tent. The next day they took me across the lake and I went along the portage as planned. I made it to the campsite where two men came up to me and said how worried they had been about me. They had left at the same time as me and thought I should be there but I never showed up. These two set up my tent and had me down to lunch. My campsite was on a ridge while theirs was just feet away below me by the lake.
They went swimming after lunch, yelping at how cold the water was and had me down to tea after dinner. The rest of the time I spend exploring the area. At the end of the weekend, these two men packed up to leave and asked if  I would take their food as they didn't feel like packing it out. I was happy to, they had cheese and margarine and other goodies. I had brought mashed potato flakes and rice and Quaker's Oats. After they left I could feel the aloneness but after all, that was one of the reasons I'd come, to get to know nature.
That night, I left the margarine out on the stump and heard some kind of animal out there. The next morning, the tub was gone. I was to find the empty tub when I was leaving, licked clean by raccoons.
Anyway, I'll tell the rest of the story at another time. Bye now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


If I could gather all the bitterness in the world and put it in a bottle, I would label it EXCLUSION. I especially think this is the reason why the mentally ill get into so much trouble with the law. They are pushed around and abused and picked on, stared at and such. They have no one to talk to about it, no one who is sympathetic to their plight. Everybody 'understands' why people feel upset with them.

I wonder how much their trouble making would change if people were nice to them and accepted them as people who have a chemical 'condition' that renders them unable to control certain aspects of their minds. It's just a thought. Treating people decently might get big dividends for society.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Good-bye, Good Riddance

Most of us in the Western world are happy with the news that that supreme source of evil, Osama bin Laden has got his just dues. It just goes to show that justice is done when a society concentrates on doing so. Let's hope that there are no 'little' Osamas waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is Horror Natural?

I once worked with a woman from Romania. She was puzzled at the Western love of horror movies. Coming from a country under the dictator Ceceascu she knew all about REAL horror. She asked me, "Why do people pay money to scare themselves?" It was something I'd never thought of before but have thought a lot of since. I wonder if it doesn't come from millions of years ago when we were small and there were many big creatures that liked to eat us. Somehow we wish to recreate this feeling because it feels normal, we've lived with horror for so long in the wild. It's just a thought. I know I'd never convince her that it is fun to be scared but that is just what our instincts have left us with.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hi All

We all need tolerance and the best way to get it is to be tolerant yourself. Never mind if someone isn't as smart as you, they often have other qualities in them.
I'm lucky to live in a city with diversity. There are many ethnics groups here and I find many of them have a better understanding of what it means to be free than native born Canadians. They love it here and that they are guaranteed their lives.
I just feel that so many Canadians forget how important freedom is and how we stay free. They don't vote, for one. Also, they seem not to remember that others are entitled to the same freedoms as themselves. They'll see someone who is 'different' in some way, or not mainstream, and they'll say he/she should be locked away. I remember being told how there was a tribe of Natives, very poor, who lived by the highway, people complained they had to see this poverty when they drove by. So the government moved them away from the highway. How cruel.
There's so many people on the earth now a days that the only way to get along is with tolerance. So many people just need kindness to get through. Why is it so hard?
Well, I'll stop ranting. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Character Creation

I've done quite a bit of genealogical research and I've found that the people I've found practically cry out to be 'characters' in stories. Sometimes just their names are interesting, take for instance Mag Scurr in The Dress Lodger by Sherri Holman. She was a real person fictionalized.

One thing I've found interesting is signatures. I have many documents with signatures and I find getting a good book on handwriting analysis can give me great ideas for characters. One of my ancestors had a signature that told me he was generous with money. His bride's signature, on the other hand, revealed she was tight with a buck. What great tension!

I'm going to pick up this topic in future posts. See ya all later.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow Day

Hey, there's lots of snow in Eastern Canada. I went out before it began and shopped. Tonight I going to work on some of my stories. They come together well with good critiques. I was thinking today of when I worked as a gardener in BC. Out there, this will be the last month of winter and my work would start soon. Well, I'll be back in a couple of days.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Hey folks, we got through the blizzard. I didn't go outside at all that day, I did genealogical research. I found more on the Dobson line in Westmoreland. Isn't genealogy exciting. I'm finding that the new year is beginning the right way, I'm feeling overall more hopeful than ever and I think good things are going to happen. My publisher MuseItUp has won a whole bunch of awards so I know I'm in with a great bunch. I can hardly wait until my story 'The Mountain City Bronzes' comes out in November of this year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hi All

Hi everyone, this is my first blog. I'm a writer with MuseItUp Publishing. My first title will be coming out in November 2011. I know that's a while away but I'm hoping to let people know me through my blog.

My big hobby is genealogy. I'm descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, an ancient king of Donegal, Ireland. He began the clans of McLaughlin, O'Neil and Doherty and maybe others I don't know of. I have also found ancestors in Belfast and Limerick. It's because I like puzzles that I like finding about the past and it makes me more interested in history, especially Victorian England. It all helps me in my writing because history lends itself to fiction.

Well, that is my introduction. I hope to see you all later.