Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Sweet Afton"

I’m sorry, but I can’t avoid talking about the weather. That is what we are all about in Canada. Extremes. The summers are hot and humid and in winter we freeze. Today, being January it is freezing.But everything is relative as there are many places in Canada that would be laughing at my description of cold weather.

I am sitting in my small office that is in a cut-off section in our bedroom. My desk is placed so that I can look out the bay window into woods and a pond. It is cold...(-17 with the wind chill of -20) When the pond freezes it is nice to watch the kids skate and play hockey. But like the birds and squirrels they have sense to stay home today and cosy up somewhere warm. However, the sun is shining and the sky blue, but it still does not tempt me to don snowshoes or skis.

Liz and I had a most enjoyable day yesterday revising three more chapters of Body Perfect. Cutting and adding but mostly cutting. We both feel that this is the real writing. Following the voices of the book’s characters they take on a life of their own once we read them out loud. We also made lots of notes for a new novel that we will start when BP is finished. After numerous pots of tea and a stop for lunch we finished the third chapter before Liz left for a snowy journey home to Guelph.

As you know I am on a nostalgia trip at the moment and when I was looking up some info on Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) Scotland’s national poet, known throughout the world as the person who wrote “Auld Lang Syne” and A Red, Red Rose.

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

This is just a few among many poems and songs that he wrote. My favourite was “Sweet Afton” When I was eight or nine I won an award for singing Sweet Afton from the Robert Burns Society and I still like to sing the words to this day.

Flow gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.
This was written in 1791.

So on Tuesday, Jan the 25th around the world, there will be Burns suppers as they are called, where they eat Haggis and (neeps) turnip and mashed potatoes and of course have a dram or two of good Scots whiskey to toast the bard. Oh, and of course the bagpipes. What Scottish event can you have without the bagpipes?

So,from a dead poet to a lunch of Thai food. How the world has changed. Son #2 has arrived to take his Mum for a birthday lunch. Yeah! Who needs to dust anyway!!
Talk soon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pillars of the Earth

Canadian weather – go figure.  Yesterday I left for work with the temperature at a frigid -22 c – and that’s without the wind-chill factor.   Today?  I drove home in pouring rain!  No wonder we love to talk about it so much.

Last year I mentioned that I had read Ken Follett’s  “The Pillars of the Earth”.  What an exquisite story, one I didn’t want to end (and no, I haven’t yet read the sequel) and so I was quite excited to learn a movie was in production.  The mini-series aired here about three weeks ago, an hour at a time.  So far I am enjoying it very much – except (you knew that had to be coming didn’t you?) that it really seems rushed.  No doubt in an effort to pare down a lengthy novel into the time frame required something has to be sacrificed.    Ian McShane as Waleran is well played.  Although I envisioned a stockier Tom Builder, Rufus Sewell fits the bill nicely and is very easy on the eyes!   Episode three airs later this evening (9pm on CBC in my neck of the woods) so I know where I’ll be in a few hours!  Pam is also taking it in and even though she hasn’t read the book, she commented that she also felt it was being hurried along.

So, from a leisurely read which gives you a chance to understand the texture of the story, and what makes the characters tick, to a fast paced piece of visual entertainment – which is better?   Unfortunately with the movie I don’t think we will get a real chance to explore the tapestry and inter-weaving of the characters.  However I will still enjoy the story in this format and if you're a fan of early British history, intrigue, and relationships,  you may want to check it out.

As Pam mentioned we are planning a day of writing this coming Saturday – weather permitting of course.  Hopefully we can be as productive as the last couple of sessions; we are both anxious to get this draft revised, and then do the next round of fine tuning.  Ultimately, there is another story, or two, that needs to be written around Paul and Dorothy, but the temptation to get ahead of ourselves needs to be kept in check.  Stay tuned for further details on how the weekend turns out.

Well, a few more chores beckon before I can settle in for the next instalment of “The Pillars of the Earth”.  The aroma of freshly brewed coffee beckons and I’m sure I’ll need at least one cupful to keep me conscious for the episode!  Truly I feel like I am burning the midnight oil at nine pm!

Oh and yes, I must check out the Weather Network to see what’s in store for tomorrow!  One never knows what the day will bring, but at least it’s encouraging to see the days beginning to lengthen.   Whatever the day brings, I’m sure there will be something worthwhile to talk about.



Sunday, January 16, 2011


2011 is a year of many milestones for my friends and family and I want to celebrate all of them.
I turned sixty-five this month and I am now officially a senior citizen. I have been told there are many perks that come with that moniker.I already had the hearing aids and glasses and my hair has been grey/white for some time.Because I don’t see very well I have ignored the groves and wrinkles on my face until I looked into one of those 5x magnifying mirrors...yikes it’s scary and we won’t even talk about the body.
I am looking into all the wonderful discounts for the aging person. 10% off at the drug store if I manage to get there on a Tuesday. Restaurants and movies and even cheap bus fares if I decide to use them. The local college have great discounts that I will be looking at in the fall. All in all if you have your health and your marbles it’s not a bad deal as we all know what the alternative is. This is the new .....50, 55. Whatever, maybe I will take up..., Oh who knows, the sky’s the limit.

I know of two babies to be born this year; a niece and a friend. Two weddings, one for the first time and the other, a second go at marital bliss. My friend Claudia will be fifty... my sister Rosemary seventy!!!, and the woman I call my other mother, Bertha, will celebrate ninety five years young. And seventy five years driving a car!!!She just renewed her licence. My oldest grandson will be sixteen and hopes to get his car licence. Perhaps I will ask Bertha to give him some lessons!

One more milestone and it is a biggie for me and my husband. Our oldest son will be forty!!!! This brings such a flood of wonderful memories of when he was born and a toddler. He has turned into a fine human being, husband and father.
Oh yes, one more.. In June, forty five years of servitude for me. Just joking Peter!

On June the 10th, Liz and I will have been writing together for four years and hopefully we are nearing completion of our books and are steps nearer to publication. We have a date next Saturday to have a get together to work on a few more chapters.

I officially retire at the end of July and friends and co-workers keep asking me what I will do with my time. Just imagine getting up every morning and be able to sit at my desk and write. I will manage to squeeze in some cleaning and cooking of course,but mainly just write.

Talk soon,

Monday, January 10, 2011

A spooky New Year to you!

My reading throughout the holidays was sporadic but I did read an author whose books I have avoided for years simply because they are mostly horror stories. I have a bad enough time getting to sleep at night so I picked my vacation time to read my first Stephen King. If it kept me up at night, I could sleep in the morning. And he did.. keep me up and I did sleep longer when I eventually got to sleep.

Still not my favourite genre as I was really spooked. The book I read was one I picked up and put aside for later. Not sure if I wanted to start a 732 page novel, I remembered reading somewhere, that if you want to write, Stephen King is required reading. The book I started was “Bag of Bones” written and published in 1998. This was a yellowed, dog eared copy just asking to be read.

It took me nearly three weeks to finish as some nights I did not want to get back to the story. Two nights in a row I dreamt what he had been writing and it chilled me to the bone. He is indeed a master storyteller and I am a new fan. A reluctant one... so I will read his books as a writing lesson and try not to get so emotionally involved. He covers every range of emotions and his characterization was wonderful. The dialogue was spot on and I could hear the voices talk to me in their particular idioms and accents. Those of you who read Stephen King will know what I am talking about.

New Year has Liz and I “off to the races” and we have our writing work day planned for later this month. We need to finish the 2nd draft and then it will be a polishing 3rd draft before we are done. It feels like we have been writing this forever but what writer is ever satisfied with their work. I think we will know when it is truly finished.

I treated myself to a vacation day today and I could get used to this lolling around, maybe ,for a day or two but then I have to find things to do. I have a few projects on the go and with the revisions I have lots to keep me going. I am very optimistic about 2011 and want to wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year.

Talk soon,



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