Saturday, November 26, 2011


One month till Christmas – yikes!  Put that panic button away!

Amidst 9 – 5 work, household chores and writing (most favourite on that list) comes the realization of how the days are closing in on the big event. 

Decorations are up at work and thanks to special elves on my own team who always come over and decorate my little corner spot, I came in Monday morning to see the first signs of Christmas on the floor.  That was the first reality check.  Since then there have been several this week.  Our work place is glad to support the Salvation Army in their gift and food gathering efforts for the Christmas and holiday season and so plans are now underway to surpass last year’s generosity.  Pam and I had a great day with others last year, helping out at the gift distribution centre sorting donations and marvelling at the generosity of kind-hearted souls who give so much to those less fortunate. Rumour has it that Pam has been called upon to lend a helping a hand and it will be great to see her at work again - she has a heart and flair for these activities, as well as a very 'motivating' attitude!

At home, I made a head start several weeks ago and ordered some special customized gifts for most of the adults on my list; they arrived safely last week and so I am able to cross off a huge chunk of names and breathe a little easier.  All that remains are presents for the grandchildren and one or two other gifts.

Today, though, is “Deck the Halls” day.  Plans are to get the tree up and all the surrounding decorations and then hopefully be able to sit back and enjoy them for the rest of the month!  However there is one four-footed curiosity driven creature living here who might not allow for much relaxing.  Last year, while he was still a kitten, Winston was found nestled fast asleep on one of the tree’s boughs mid way up it!  Being a little heavier this year might not be so good for the tree – which will come out of its box later today and not from a parking lot.

Pam and I plan to meet again this Thursday for one last writing get together before Christmas.  We are both very excited about where this newest adventure is going with Paul and Dorothy; new characters are on the scene and they will all have to dress very warmly!  As well, meeting Pam will officially start Christmas gift giving for me as I have had her gift for several weeks now, just waiting to be wrapped and presented.

I put coffee on to brew before I started writing this morning and my nose tells me it awaits , the first of many today no doubt!  Whatever you find yourself doing this week, if its Christmas related I hope its enjoyable for you.  With this time of year comes a lot of frazzled nerves as well and those who work in bustling retail are no less prone to it...perhaps more so because they have to deal with the public all day long.  We consumers at least can come home when we want and escape the fray.  So try and keep a kind word and patient spirit as the order of the day for those who are in need.

Let the countdown begin!

Cheers -


Monday, November 21, 2011

Love 'em or hate 'em

You either love them or hate them. Canadian indoor shopping malls. Personally I like them. When I worked in the retail sector for fifteen years, I rarely ventured into the mall except for a cappuccino or a lunch time dash to the bank or to pick up a sales item.

This morning I arrived at the mall early after dropping off my husband to pursue his own interests. Easy to park and in bad weather I can go underground. I made my way to the food court and bought a large coffee and Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich. Oh I know, it’s not gourmet but it’s adequate as all I intend to do is sit with my nose in a book for a while.

The sun warms me as it streams in the large picture windows and skylights light up the vendors offerings. I managed to bag a lounge chair overlooking the QEW and the parking lot. The sounds are muted but I can still hear soft music and murmurs of conversations. Not enough to disturb my reading. Christmas decorations are everywhere but not many people have started filling up the lots or in a spending mood just yet. Once Santa arrives tomorrow things may change but the retailers will have a hard time this year, not just with the economy in the dumper but they have to contend with the Internet shoppers.

The mall offers many amenities in a small village like atmosphere. A selection of good eating places, clean washrooms and concierge service. Carts for the wee ones and wheelchairs for those in need. A lottery booth for the “dream of millions” addicted and a fine group of stores to fill your every need. I may partake of the early morning walking group when the snow starts to fly.

Well the sun has moved so it is time to give up my comfy chair to a real shopper who needs to rest. Unfortunately there is no yarn store here so I must find my way to the local shop that has the nerve to be on a main street. Hope I can find a parking spot!

Liz and I had a good meeting last Thursday with coffee and bagels to keep us company.It's good just to chew the fat with her and then we got down to business. Will try again in a few weeks before we are both busy with Christmas.

I have a new great nephew and his name is Finlay.Isn't that a grand name? My younger sister is a first time grandmother. Best to them all.

School is going well and I have another three more classes. My book review of Gold Fever .......TaDa.... I was given an "A". Need some work on my story before my final mark so here's to my new book. No details as yet.I'll keep you guessing.

Talk soon,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winters' Harbingers

Earlier this afternoon I caught site of the first Junco of the season.  This little slate-grey and white bird usually arrives from the Arctic to these areas just ahead of winter weather. (The photo above is borrowed from Google - no snow yet out my window!)  A small flock of them were industriously pecking away on the front lawn.  So even though this November still sees us enjoying warmish temperatures, the white stuff is probably not too far away. This afternoon is very dreary and windy – the sky is so heavily overcast I would expect snow, except that the temperature is hovering around 13 degrees Celsius!

I am glad to report that my eye seems to have settled back to normal, although I must be religious now with the nightly regime of ointment just before bed.  And I find when I wake during the night for that trip to the bathroom, I’m also putting in some drops to keep my eye from getting too dry.  Another follow up appointment with the eye doctor is scheduled for Tuesday so I’m hopeful for a good report.

Tomorrow will be back to work after a few days break – no more planned time off now until early December.  It felt so good to not be up so early in the morning.   Pam has been busy writing up a storm for her class room assignments.  As mentioned earlier we’ve decided to base our next Paul and Dorothy instalment on the framework of what her assignment has been.   We are anxious though to concentrate solely on the new adventure, but I have been unable to sit still and have drafted roughly five chapters and find I could just keep writing, but I must restrain myself and wait for Pam!

Hopefully this week our planned meeting will not be disrupted and we can outline some more for this story – tentatively entitled “Murder Most Conventional”.   And even if winter weather decides to make an appearance on Thursday, I’m ready because that other harbinger of winter – snow tires – were installed last week.



Usual November weather but good on the whole. At least here in Southern Ontario. I hear it's snowing out west.

Liz is feeling better and her eye is healing as long as she puts the ointment on it. We are having a get-together on Thursday to do out usual plotting and planning.

I watched the Remembrance Day ceremony from Ottawa on Friday and as usual I find it very moving seeing all the old soldiers. When it came to have the "Going down of the sun" it was spoken in three languages. English, French and First Nations. As I am hard of hearing I always watch television with the captions on. Some are better than others. CBC is the worst and this was a perfect example. When it came to the First Nations speaker the captions read.....get this..foreign language!!!! I was insenced but like a lot of things I probably will not do much about it. Glad I got that off my chest.

As promised, a review of Gold Fever

Gold Fever

A Klondike Mystery

By Vicki Delaney

Rendezvous Crime, 290 pages, $18.95.

Reviewed by Pamela Blance November 3rd/2011

Vicki Delaney is a critically acclaimed Canadian author. She has settled into rural life in Prince Edward County to continue writing three different genres of fiction. Her first three novels of suspense were published by Poison Press of Scottsdale Arizona. She is now writing her fifth police procedural featuring Constable Molly Smith. My favourites by far are the Klondike Mysteries published by Rendevous Crime which is set in Dawson City, The Yukon Territory, in the late 1900’s.

When Chloe, a Savoy dance hall girl, is found stabbed to death in the narrow, muddy, poverty reeking, Paradise Alley, the North West Mounted Police are called in. Sent to investigate the murder scene - an alley lined with the mean cribs of prostitutes - is Constable Richard Sterling. Then a high roller named Jannis becomes the second murder victim, and the red-coated Mounties are determined to get their man...or woman.

It’s the summer of 1898 and Fiona McGillivray had come to the Klondike gold fields in the Yukon Territory the year before to set up “the finest, most modern establishment in London, England, transported all the way to Dawson.” She is the proprietor of the Savoy Saloon and Dance Hall with her Glaswegian partner, Ray Walker, another of the many characters who found their way to the Yukon with dreams of getting rich. There were many such saloons on the main street of Dawson City, but none like the Savoy. It was Fiona’s own private gold mine.

Fiona was born on the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. Brought up in the “big house” as companion to the local Earl’s daughter, she educated herself on the speech and mannerisms of the gentry. She was often called Miss Muckety Muck by those who did not like the way she led her life. Leaving Scotland under questionable circumstances for the streets of London, Fiona would be looking over her shoulder for the law for years to come. She was very beautiful and learned to live by her wits. Well aware of her appearance and the effect it had on others, she took every advantage it provided.

Dawson was teeming with tens of thousands from all over the world that summer. They put up with the poverty, dirt and mud; being rich one day and broke the next. As quickly as they found their nuggets of gold they spent them on drink and women, or lost their bags of gold dust at the gambling tables. They had been lured there by the promise of ‘lumps of gold are as easy to pluck as potatoes from a well-tilled Ontario field’. Many were there with families who tolerated the ramshackle huts or tents they lived in, with the promise of riches beyond their imagination.

This novel is the second in the Klondike series and is full of interesting and well rounded characters. The era shows the hypocrisy of the Victorian age laid bare for all to see-just as it had been in London. Women could not even show their ankles and always deferred to men. But not so the “percentage girls” who spent long hours dancing and putting on theatre shows for the miners as well as being available to dance with them for the price of a drink all night long.

Constable Richard Sterling, the tall and handsome Mountie is enamoured by Fiona, but his feelings are not reciprocated. He is also very fond of Angus the twelve year old son of Fiona who would like to be a Mountie one day and follows him everywhere. Young Angus has befriended Indian Mary, a native woman accused of murdering Chloe. Her necklace was found at the scene of the dance hall girl’s murder, but did she kill her and Jannis as well, and why?

The build up to the conclusion has all the elements of tension and conflict that a good mystery should have. It also has a surprise ending. Delany has woven characters from Fiona’s past into the story and I was completely captivated to see how the to see how the characters evolved. It is obvious to the reader the amount of research used in this novel.

The third book in this series “Gold Mountain” will be out in April 2012. I look forward to more from Fiona MacGillivray.

Vicki is a member of Crime Writers of Canada, and Capitol Crime Writers. She is also on the board of Wolfe Island’s Scene of the Crime Mystery Festival.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ouch, ouch and more ouch!!

Liz has been such a brave soul with her eye problems. Just thinking about it.....more ouch. Hope it heals soon and she is back as good as new.

Homework is piling up and I am putting it off until I can wake up. I forgot about the “fall back” an hour last night and I was up at seven am. Could not understand why I was dropping off to sleep at eleven am. Managed a two hour nap and I am good to go. Well almost.

Learned how to add tension from my novel writing class this week. We are half way done but I still have to beef up my story some more and also write a book review. If I get an “A” on the book I am reviewing I will post on here. If not then you will never see it!

I picked up our new business cards last week. Liz and I have decided to share a card as Jamie Tremain only needs one card. They look smashing.

Waiting today for my great niece to have her first baby. My sister, the baby of five siblings will be a grandparent for the first time and she is so excited you could peel her off the ceiling. There are, I think, fifteen grandchildren and Caroline’s will make sixteen. I wish my parents could have seen them all together but we are now scattered to the winds. England, Scotland, Holland and Canada.

When I took a walk on Friday morning the leaves were still hanging on to the trees but dropping. A lonely discarded pumpkin had been thrown away and bunches of what looked like wild blueberries but it could be anything. The birds will love them.

We have been fortunate with the weather as other parts of the country have bitter cold and snow. It will come soon enough. In preparation for the weather my knitting needles have been clacking as I try to get a start on some Christmas presents. Scarves, mitts and Cowl neck warmers are about the extent off my repertoire.

If Liz is feeling up to it maybe we can meet later in the week for a brainstorming session.
Have a good week,
Talk soon,

Eye'm Relieved

Corneal abrasion – two words that have been with me for about 12 years and which reared its very ugly and painful head this past week.   Ever since first scratching my eye several years ago, I've had to be careful when waking up, that I don’t open my eye lid too quickly because the abrasion has never totally healed and if I'm not careful  and spring my eyes wide open its akin to ripping a band-aid away from an unhealed wound – major ouch!

This has happened on occasion over the years and usually the discomfort settles down by the time I’m dressed and ready for work.  Not so much this past Wednesday.  With left eye watering, I made the drive into work, hoping that it would ease off.   Imagine a pin scratching your eye with every blink, that’s what this feeling is for me.   By mid morning it was minimally bearable and I hoped that a good night sleep would give it time to heal up enough to be ‘normal’ – for me.   And sure enough when I woke Thursday morning, there was no discomfort and I began to feel very relieved.

Off to the office.  If only I didn’t need to use a computer for work!  As soon as I logged on and the screen came to life the pain was back in full force.

For those who know me well, they are aware of 2 things: - 1) I don’t run to the doctor and will put up with a lot before making an appointment; and 2) I am extremely squeamish and cowardly when it comes to anything ‘eye’ related.

By 9:00 I had called my eye doctor and secured an appointment for just after lunch, assured they would refer me to an ophthalmologist if needed, but that I would be seeing an intern and that the visit wouldn’t be covered by OHIP.   By this point I would have paid anything, been seen by a robot and gone to anyone they recommended.

The intern, Violet, was an absolute angel; very kind, understanding and gentle.  She confirmed the abrasion had enlarged and needed to be covered.   Says me, “Not like you can put a bandaid on it.”   

“Oh but we can.”

That’s when the major apprehension kicked in.  At first I voted against the contact lens band-aid, hoping a treatment of drops would suffice.  Then my own eye doctor came in just to double check Violet’s diagnosis and plan of treatment.  After talking to her I hesitantly agreed to allow her to put in, and then remove, a contact lens after a 24 hour period.  Antibiotic drops and other eye drops were prescribed and off I went.

Without going into a lot of detail, let me say the next 24 hours were the most painful I have ever experienced and would not wish it on my worst enemy – while the contact lens did alleviate the scratching sensation, the drops stung like blazes and there were times I wanted to put my head through a wall to stop the pain.     I was very anxious to return on Friday to have the lens removed!

Poor Violet, she had a real problem patient on her hands with me when it came to taking that sucker out of my eye.  Every ounce of determination was used up to not bolt from that chair and/or be sick to my stomach.  Finally, it was out..relief!    Until I blinked a couple of times and there it was..the scratching sensation.

Diagnosis...very small improvement in the size of the abrasion – treatment moving forward – another contact lens for 72 hours and back to see them on Monday (tomorrow).   Fortunately, this time, the lens was a little smaller and more comfortable and when I worked up the nerve to put in the antibiotic drops, it didn’t sting!!!

So by the very appearance of this blog, it must be apparent that my vision is much improved and there is no discomfort.  I will actually be glad to be back to work tomorrow and catch up on Friday’s undone tasks.   And at day’s end it will be off the eye doctor once again and hopefully there will be a major healing going on with the scratch and no more contacts will be needed.

I do want to say a big thank you to the team at my optometrist's office - Brisson Leis, Violet, Dr. Thomas-Parel, Dr. Leis, and the staff behind the front counter - for excellent care and concern.

Unfortunately, this whole episode meant a cancellation of a planned meeting with Pam Thursday evening to move ahead with Paul and Dorothy, but ‘eye’m’  sure we’ll soon be back on track!



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