Saturday, December 31, 2011

What is Time...

New Year's Eve is upon us.  It's still morning in Ottawa yet some places in our wonderful world are already celebrating 2012's arrival.

One part of me appreciates the human need to measure and track things like distance, space and time in set increments.  I can also appreciate and respect the measurement of time in natural cycles.  

Years ago, I came across in interesting quote about time by a lady named Sarah Ban Breathnach:  

"Chronos is clocks, deadlines, watches, calendars, agendas, planners, schedules, beepers. Chronos is time at her worst. Chronos keeps track. ...Chronos is the world's time. Kairos is transcendence, infinity, reverence, joy, passion, love, the Sacred. Kairos is intimacy with the Real. Kairos is time at her best. ...Kairos is Spirit's time. We exist in chronos. We long for kairos. That's our duality. Chronos requires speed so that it won't be wasted. Kairos requires space so that it might be savored. We do in chronos. In kairos we're allowed to be ... It takes only a moment to cross over from chronos into kairos, but it does take a moment. All that kairos asks is our willingness to stop running long enough to hear the music of the spheres."  

Deep and far out. Sarah is the author of a book called "The Simple Abundance Daybook" and has a web site:  

Once again and since I don't function well in large, noisy crowds, I will be ringing in the new year at home with family and felines.  We will celebrate with music, colourful Christmas lights, tasty treats and a bottle of Ice CuvĂ©e VQA.  

I will let my structured and creative sides merge long enough to explore New Year mandalas. I'm willing to try just about anything once.  

Another celebration will be upon us in less than a month.  The quiet, creative and brave Year of the Rabbit will make way for the Water Dragon.  With the Year of the Rabbit novel behind me, I look forward to exploring new projects and realms in 2012 and beyond.

Wishing a Happy, Healthy New Year to family, friends and kindred spirits.  

One problem is... I may not be able to help finish that bottle of bubbly for very long after midnight.  We may have to open it sooner.  Besides, it's already New Years somewhere in the world ;o) 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tis the Season

Yes, giftmas is upon us.  

Family and friends gather to share in good cheer, attempting to brighten up the long, dark winter days.  Some exchange gifts during their visits.  I think wine and chocolate are the safest and most-popular.  

People are scrambling for deals in the retail stores or online.  Good-hearted individuals and groups are making efforts to ensure the less-fortunate will have a good Christmas.  I am sure that we all feel for the children and adults who are struggling financially and emotionally this time of year - and beyond.  

As a single parent, I agree.  

Soon I will have to venture out into the malls to pick up a few items requested by my offspring.  One has a birthday just after Christmas and convinced me that only one present will bring happiness although it happens to be one of those expensive electronic distractions.  Since this child is working on a masters degree (insert gush of pride here), I will bite my tongue and strive to accommodate that request.  

We tried the pared-down gifting approach a couple of years ago.  I don't think it went over well. Now that we are in smaller living quarters, they are not impressed that we do not have room for our artificial tree. We'll work something out to decorate this petit apartment with festive colour and cheer.  It will be the first Christmas here and hard to measure up to our previous, spacious abode.  Even the cats  >^..^<  agree that there isn't as much room here to roam, lurk and express their own creativity

And lets not forget the significance of this time of celebration.  The gifting represents the gifts of the Magi who were delayed in arriving at the stable.  Their only GPS reference was the bright, guiding star.  They also didn't stop to ask for directions.  (pause for feminist quips)

The birth of the child represents hope for a troubled empire.  If one were to wax poetic and philosophical, the birth can represent a rebirth within ourselves to see our world again as one full of hope and joy, putting aside resentments and conflicts.  This is why we make those silly New Year's resolutions. Kudos to those who want to quit smoking and other vices.  Respects to those who want to conquer harmful habits and thoughts. 

We are an interesting mix of individuals but with some effort and collaboration, we can be unified in our goal to cure humanity of its ailments.  Two of the worst are fear and greed.  Hopefully the occupy movement and efforts by a few super-rich individuals helped give some consciences a stir.  Although some people can be shamed into change by positive peer pressure, I think the actions have to be fully their own choice.  Else, there will be a lingering resentment.  

It puzzles my pretty blonde head how people who have so much don't want to part with just a bit that would improve the lives of many others.  I challenge fortune and welcome the opportunity to be put in that position :o)  

In my novel, The Year of the Rabbit, the birth of a child also represented hope and joy.  Although baby Harry was the product of a shameful teen pregnancy, his arrival brought joy into many people's lives - especially that of lonely, young Sera.  

Coming full circle with the gifting theme, I will end this post with a discount offer for those who wish to purchase the Ebook version of The Year of the Rabbit, A Novel about Fate, Family and Forgiveness.  If you ventured out or online to purchase an EReader for a loved one, why not add this bittersweet tale to the list of books too? It's available in many supported formats. While considering, scroll down my Smashwords ebook page to watch a funny video of Geneva Tabby cat, my meuws, inspiration and distraction.  

If you have gathered any wisdom from this pensive post, it's that the world needs more love, compassion and... funny cat videos.  If you are not YET convinced about the novel, check out the comments from readers of the first print edition.   

Thanks for dropping by.  Next time, bring wine or chocolate :o) 



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prince Charming is in a coma

So, I've been following Once Upon A Time on CTV the past few weeks.  I am enjoying the fairy tale references and how the characters are thrown into present day life without a clue of who they really are.

Poor Snow White / Miss Blanchard. At the urging of young Henry, she sat at the side of John Doe's hospital bed to read from the special story book.  She witnessed him stir back into consciousness.  Then a few hours later, he goes missing.  

I like how Emma and Snow play the part of the heroines, rescuing Prince Charming from the wilderness after he wakes and wanders off from the hospital.  Then, of course once returned, some beautiful blonde woman shows up to visit him and reveals that she is his wife.  Damn!  What timing and suspiciously seems to have been arranged by the evil queen / Mayor Regina Mills.  

The mixed-up show makes for an entertaining distraction from a lonely existence.  Recently, a sweet person comforted me due to doubts about finding a man whom I could trust in a relationship again.  Throughout the conversation, he assured me that I was smart, attractive and a strong Canadian woman.  That rang nicely to my ears.  Strong Canadian Woman.  

I like to think that I have become stronger over the years after keeping demons at bay while supporting my family, working full time and volunteering.  There are times when I wonder what ever happened to my prince charming, the ideal husband.  Well, in the darkest of times, it's hard to believe that those even exist. It's even more challenging as we enter the long, Canadian winter.  

Until Prince Charming wakes up or comes riding in on his white charger, I will be my own hero and evolve even more into a Strong Canadian Woman.  Merci, tres gentil monsieur.  

If you want to meet a heroine in the making, come read about Sera Fletcher in my novel The Year of the Rabbit.  

Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Fundraising for CHEO November 20th

Mark your calendars, open your hearts and wallets

The nice people at Ottawa Independent Writers will once again raise funds at their book fair for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.  A raffle for a basket of books donated by The Dundurn Group will take place with all proceeds donated to CHEO. In past years the raffle has raised between $200 and $300 for CHEO. 

You are invited to drop by the Ottawa Authors & Artisans Fair 2011 to purchase raffle tickets and browse the tables of local talent. 

Admission is free.

Date:    Sunday, November 20, 2011
Time:     10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Place:     Jack Purcell Centre, 320 Jack Purcell Lane (at Elgin) Rm 203

Sorry, they won't be selling raffle tickets prior to the event.  They want people coming down to the fair in person to buy them and... to visit the authors and artists at their tables. 

Our gal Florence T Lyon will be there, promoting the Ebook version of her novel "The Year of the Rabbit".  Do drop by to pick up some info and a coupon code that will save you money on a gift purchase - until December 24, 2011. 


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Once upon a time...

I enjoyed watching the premiere of Once Upon a Time on CTV last night.  

A pretty blond lady named Emma sees her life change forever when the son she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier finds her on her 28th birthday.  He keeps referring to this magical fairy tale book that he carries around.  When Emma takes him back to his parents in "Storybrooke" (of course) strange events occur.

I thought it was pretty clever how the story flipped back and forth between the fairy tale existence and modern times. Finally, we got to see how Prince Charming and Snow White got together, married (nearly ruined by the evil queen).  Wait a minute... wasn't that in Sleeping Beauty or... was it the birth of their daughter?  

Anyway, as in many a tale, there is a child that soon turns out to be the hero and saviour.  Emma was that child, thrust into the modern dimension after being hidden in the magical wardrobe.  Wait a minute...  Aren't they mashing fairy tales here?  What were their writers smoking or were they just getting lazy?   

Didn't we all grow up reading fairy tales and later, reading them to our own children?  They are great escapes based on tried and true formulas.  Usually things work out well in the end.  Emma and I have a few things in common.  I like to believe in happy endings but due to life challenges, I have become a little jaded about meeting my prince in shining armour.  

- - -

In my novel, The Year of the Rabbit, we learn that Matthew Fletcher had been adopted.  We also learn about a teen pregnancy and the struggles faced by the two families involved.  I like to think it has a happy ending.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Power of Laughter

I like to laugh.  I need laughter in my life and am a strong believer in the health benefits.  I like watching stand-up comedians on TV.  I like watching funny videos with my family.  What I don't like is if it's at someone else's expense.  That's just not nice...

I figured that it was about time I uploaded something to my YouTube account. I thought and thought what would be worthy to share with the world.  Then one of my favourite entertainers gave me an idea.  

You can read more about Geneva Tabby's influence on my writing in this blog post.  

Thanks for stopping by.  Chin up.  Keep smiling.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Vacationing and my train of thought

A few weeks ago, I took a much-needed vacation and little trip to a nearby city. I had planned this for months.  

I rode the train there and back.  A couple of relatives joined me for a few days so we could enjoy time together and get caught up with updates on each others' lives.  We even went to see a live theatre performance.  We ate well.  We drank wine and raised our glasses in good cheer.

The train rides were relaxing.  I watched the colourful landscape as it streamed by or I read a book. I also took time to record events, feelings and strings of poetry in a jot journal.  I was able to satisfy a yearning to travel by train and recall fond memories of vacations past.  

Trains are a common occurrence in my novel The Year of the Rabbit.  Trains provide entertainment for children who counted box cars during lazy summer days.  Trains brought people to visit.  They also took people away.

When I returned home to Ottawa and later to work, I was greeted by a pile of email and requests for my attention.  I took a methodical approach in attending to the issues of most importance.  I also took inventory of who or what  I wanted to keep in my "backpack".

I was tickled to learn that people had seen one of my posters about the novel and they wanted to purchase a printed copy of the book.  I was sad to mention that I did not yet have time to produce the second printed edition.  Perhaps some miracle will work its way in to my schedule this fall!

Perhaps also a miracle will occur in repairing or replacing the family Mac which bit the dust about the same time as Steve Jobs passed away.  Strange coincidences…  

My writing urges will have to be satisfied by limited sessions on my son's Macbook Pro or by sitting in quiet reflection and starting on another blank journal.  :o)  But how would you enjoy my deep blonde thoughts if I hibernated away in my solitary pages?  

One thing I made sure of when I returned to the daily grind... I started plans for my spring vacation.  

Thank you for reading this far.  If you like my writing style, you may enjoy reading The Year of the Rabbit, a novel about fate, family and forgiveness.  Sample some excerpts and enjoy feedback from people who read the earlier print version.  I'm pushing the Ebook version with a special discount until October 31, 2011.  No trees were harmed ;o)


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Frog Princes and Ancient Wisdom

On a typical Saturday morning, I'd be in my pajamas until noon, sipping coffee, writing, tapping on the keyboard or puttering around our tiny abode.  Yesterday was an exception.  On one of the coldest, breeziest autumn mornings in the Ottawa Valley, I took two buses downtown to attend an event at City Hall.  Did I mention this was on a Saturday morning? What in the world would make me sacrifice my cherished "me" time to venture out in this weather and subject myself to the eclectic crowds of weekend public transit?

Yesterday was 2011 Friends for Peace Day, at Jean Pigott Place. The 9th annual Celebrate Friends for Peace Day is on the first Saturday of October. Friends for Peace is a nonprofit organization and works for peace, planetary care and social justice. One of the organizers is a member of my writing group.  He's also a wonderful man, surrounded and supported by wonderful, committed people. 

I was hoping to meet a friend there as well.  Due to our loosely made plans and my forgetfulness to confirm, she was waiting at home for my call.  I have since apologized with intentions that we get together for lunch this coming week.  In a way though, it's a good thing I forgot.  If I were to apply the belief in fate or divine intervention, I could offer that something made me forget... for a reason. 

Don't run away!  Please continue reading about my solitary journey. You may find it interesting.  That's right, take your hand off the mouse or touch pad thingie and just scroll down.  Go with the flow...

The morning attendance was a little sparse.  Not many audience members were willing to take part in the dancing and vocalizing activities that encouraged participation on the stage.  To less open-minded folk, it may have seemed a little "airy fairy" and would require some "herbal inhalation" prior to engagement ;o^ 

With catlike elusiveness, I retreated to the back of the room where I chatted with acquaintances, toured around the silent auction tables and wrote down my bids on various items.  Aside from books and practical items, an adorable ceramic frog candle holder tickled my fancy.  He was the cutest frog prince I had seen in a long time.  Jaded, with a touch of bitterness and a sprinkle of dark humour, I figured he would be a crowning consolation for the number of toads I've had to kiss in my life time.  I chortled as I out-bidded a gentleman in line ahead of me.

The afternoon activities were well-attended, especially the Orkidstra performances and the awards ceremony with special guest, Mayor Jim Watson.  Ode to Joy, Lean on Me and other songs lifted our spirits and sealed the bond of peace and connectedness.  Peace and love were in the air :o)

During a lull, I toured around the exhibitors and made another round of the silent auction tables.  What's this?  That guy was outbidding me on the frog candle holder!  A strange, competitive force came over me.  I was determined to win that frog so I upped the offer once again before I turned to explore the exhibitor booths.

Carol's Jewelry Box booth appealed to my love for The Tree of Life, as relates to the Egyptian print still in storage since our move in May and... to the beloved cherry tree in my novel.  Carol's table was adorned with gem stone pendants in different colours and sizes.  I decided that a Tree of Life pendant would make a lovely souvenir - something to wear as a talisman while I write poetry, purple prose and inspirational blog posts ;o)  I'm wearing it now. 

While I was strolling around and smiling at folks, one of the exhibitors from the east coast engaged me in conversation about his involvement in Aboriginal initiatives.  He mentioned several services he provided and responded politely when I questioned if some of them were perhaps in the category of "new age" medicine.  We shared an interest in ancient wisdom by indigenous peoples around the world.  I expressed my interest in aboriginal mythology - especially the trickster rabbit (and took advantage of the opportunity to mention the novel as I handed him one of my business cards).  In response to the "Fate, Family and Foregiveness" description, he stated "Things happen for a reason" and suggested that I try his Australian Wildlife Wisdom cards.

"What? Are they like Tarot cards?" I asked, resisting the usual rolling of the eyes.

"No," he replied as he dug into his bag of tricks and pulled out a small flat box covered with what I could describe as a psychedelic pattern.  Inside was a deck of cards, each with an animal character on one side.  The box also contained a book with descriptions of each animal and what they could represent to the card holder.  He suggested that I find a quiet place to sit, shuffle the cards then pull one out and read about it. 

What's the harm?  I was tired from walking around and being surrounded by the noisy crowd.  Even for a peace festival, I was feeling a little overwhelmed.  I found a bench in the relatively quiet foyer of a side entrance.  I shuffled the deck.  I shuffled and shuffled then pulled out a card. 

It was the Rabbit. 

I laughed nervously then braced my cynicism as I opened the little guide book.  Without giving away details of my current life journey, one of the key things I took away from the description was the risk of having too many ideas or offspring (i.e. initiatives and creations).  I knew this.  I have felt this for months.  My pretty blonde head gets full of ideas and I've been juggling creative initiatives for a while.  I had wondered if or when one of the balls would have to drop or become placed in a back pocket for a while.

As my new-found guide was preparing to serve a client, I returned the box and thanked him for the opportunity.  He shared a smile as I revealed that I had pulled the rabbit card.  In the midst of the noisy crowd, what I could discern from his advice was to take away the positive message from the card. 

I mulled that over as I departed on a quest for groceries.  After two bus rides in search of a particular store, I got off at the wrong stop.  I noticed a book shop.  Oooh.  What's the harm in taking shelter from the wind in here for a while?  Besides, I wanted to find a book on Jungian Archetypes so I could do some independent research.  As I browsed the crowded shelves, I felt at home.  CBC Radio 2 was playing in the background.  As I dug through the merged psychology and self help section, I pulled out a book with white and black covers titled "Second Time Around".  Author Anne Lovell provides advice to people on overcoming anxieties of failed relationships and how to build a strong, lasting and rewarding relationship for the future.  Ha! I scoffed bitterly. 

As I turned the book over, I half listened to the radio interview.  The interviewee said, "oh yeah... I also had a rabbit"  Hello?  What?  From what I could harvest from the conversation was that he had been or was a magician. 

Coincidence?  Perhaps.  I bought the book anyway :o\ and proceeded on my way to procure provisions for my family then return home.

Yesterday provided me with quite the little adventure blessed with encounters and opportunities.  After I ate dinner, I settled in to check email and perform some volunteer tasks.  One of the messages was from the silent auction organizers, informing me that my bid had won the coveted frog prince. I laughed out loud, nearly spraying Chai Tea on the Mac. 

Now... was that a lovely coincidence or the result of self-directed destiny?  
~ ~ ~

Thank you for reading this far.  If you like my writing style, you may enjoy reading The Year of the Rabbit, a novel about fate, family and forgiveness.  Sample some excerpts and enjoy feedback from people who read the earlier print version.  I'm pushing the Ebook version with a special discount until October 31, 2011.  No trees were harmed ;o)


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Supporting Earth-like Life

Recently in the news:  "European astronomers announced the discovery Monday, along with news about 50 other planets outside our solar system, at a U.S. conference. The most exciting of those planets is only the second to be confirmed as lying within what astronomers call the Goldilocks zone: not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to be present – water, of course, being the key to supporting Earth-like life."   

I appreciate their discovery and report.  My subsequent reaction is... Perhaps we all could remind ourselves, politicians, big dirty, power-hungry industries that we should be maintaining the support of Earth-like life here on Earth itself.

Just saying...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Writing as therapy

The novel received coverage in the Citizen's The Wrap last weekend.  Follow details in the blog for The Year of the Rabbit.  

I accepted an opportunity to promote the novel (for free, at that!) as well as recall and share a very challenging time in my life.  It's a small compromise of privacy compared to what I had to endure and reveal to strangers during the three-year criminal trial.  I consider myself a real life survivor.  

The article mentions my use of writing as therapy.  I have already heard from people who read it, who praised my courage and mentioned their own experiences with domestic abuse.  

I've been writing and speaking about writing as therapy for years, it seems.  I spoke of this in June at an arts event.   Writing out daily activities, memorable events, plans and dreams help me express joy, sadness, love, loneliness, curiosity and recognize a need for change.

The pen can be mightier than the sword. 


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy New Year

If you have school-age children, you will likely agree that this weekend is the one before a fresh new year.  

Those of us who remember our school days with some fondness will agree that the first week of September is more like a new year than is January 1st. 

I remember the promise of new clothing, new pens, colour pencils and wads and wads of fresh, blank paper!  I recall the surprise of seeing classmates who grew inches taller over the months and crushes who seemed even more attractive and swarthy due to their summer adventures.

Then there were the teachers, lockers, cliques, bullies and getting lost trying to find your classes.   I try to block out memories of the strict Math teachers and fondly remember the inspiring English teachers. Thank you Mr. Tremaine and Mr. Maul.  Thank you for making us sit quietly for ten minutes as you would read a selected passage.  You ignited my curiosity to read more works of fiction and quite possibly, a desire to write some of my own. 

Now-a-days, we're hearing terminology like "the inclusive classroom" where "... teachers will have to consider the many learning styles and needs they may have in the classroom. That means, going beyond the textbook."

Parents not only have to budget for "in" clothes, textbooks, student fees and non-skid running shoes; they also may have to go beyond the calculator or home computer purchase to satisfy the need for a smart phone or tablet

The times they are a-changin'.  

At least my children are older now and most can budget for their own needs.  It will be nice to see them back on a (a-hem -- mother-approved) schedule and moving their bodies a bit more regularly.  Parents of the younger, energetic sort will truly see this as "the most wonderful time of the year". Sorry, I just can't get the modernized, consumerized version of that song out of my head!

This blog post is brought to you with thanks to unions of the past who made this a holiday, Labour Day weekend.  

If you like my writing style or want to comment on this post, please "+1" it or -- comment on this post. To read some of my other writing projects, visit the domain for my novel, The Year of the Rabbit. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's your sign?

I hear that was a pickup line in the 1970s, "What's your sign?".  I suppose it was a good ice breaker that would hopefully lead into a more meaningful conversation or a night of hedonism  with a complete stranger. 

Well, since you were going to ask ;o^  I am a Leo.

I am a Leo according to one Zodiac sign and a Rabbit according to another.  We don't have time to delve into the complexities of my personality type but some may assume that due to the Rabbit and Lion combination, I may be a bit of a passive-aggressive

According to one astrological source, the characteristics for Leo include:
  • Personal magnetism (Really?)
  • Ambitious (Meh...)
  • Strength of purpose
  • Creative (Yes!)
  • Never shy away from the limelight (Really?)
  • Warmth and enthusiasm
  • Eager to see their projects through to completion  (Check!)
  • Generosity of spirit
  • etc.
Leo's element:  Fire

According to an Epoch Times article, Rabbits are:
  • Creative, Compassionate, and Sensitive
  • Sophisticated 
  • Courteous
  • Stylish (Pfft!)
  • Good Communicators
  • Generous
  • On the Timid Side
  • etc.
The 1963 Rabbit's element:  Water  (Ummm, see the Fire reference in Leo above...)

In my novel The Year of the Rabbit, Sera Fletcher is also coincidentally a Leo and a Rabbit. You could venture to say that she is a derivative of her creator. 

You can follow a private discussion between Sera and Father Gio when he manages to invite himself to sit at her personal booth.  First, read this earlier excerpt about the Red Hare Restaurant

August 8th is Sera's birthday.  Mine is a few days later.  Kindly read my ramblings in another blog for a gift suggestion.  

I am delighted that you read this far.   So... do you come here often? ;o)  


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Comments widget is working again

Thank you Google / Blogspot for finally fixing the issue with the comments widget.  (recent blog comments were not displaying)

It's interesting (and frustrating) to witness what happens when there is an upgrade to one part of a bigger system. It's like a ripple effect or... unraveling a loose thread.  

Technology.  Don't you just love it when it works properly - and it's not being abused...


Monday, August 1, 2011

Nostalgia from the Large Print Aisle

It was the winter of 1985.  Due to being in the right place at the right time, I scored a  work term at a small town Public Library.  Those were fun, promising days.  I was able to use my creativity, satisfy a sense of order and learn what it was like to corral and calm energetic children during story time.  I also had a sweetheart who made my heart thump and my knees wobble.  Good, tender memories. 

I am not sure if the sense of order came before or after working in the library.  What I am sure of is the enjoyment I had touching, skimming and sorting those books.  The library brought in the local news paper to photograph the three of us participating in the government-funded program. 

Holding a pile of large print books and smiling coyly for the camera.
Although I enjoyed that work term, I did not pursue a career in library sciences since I heard that it would take years of college and the pay was not great.  I did not have the patience, money nor deep enough love to commit to that dream.  I was still not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up!  I later scored a retail job at our local Canadian Tire (Yay!) and box office night work at our local Cinema.  Still, the thought of someone, some day embracing a book I had written kind of appealed to my ego :o) 

I eventually saved up money, joined my sweetheart in Ottawa and continued working retail.  Working in "the big city" was a cold disappointment compared to the relaxed pace of a small town.  After a couple of weeks I registered for a word processing course (when a word processor was an actual computer!) and aimed for office work instead.  

A few months later, good Karma - and possibly a pinch of good work ethic from my stint as an office temp - presented me with more opportunities.  The Information Services department in a small organization created an Administrative Support position for me.  I used this thing called a dumb terminal that connected to this thing called a VAX.  I learned about computer operations, how to run batch jobs, perform backups and apply user permissions using ACLs.  I learned how to use a wonderful word processor called "Word-11" before it and other decent products were crowded out by aggressive brands offering WYSIWYG features - on a new piece of hardware with a new operating $ystem, of course.

Even with those windows of opportunity in the working world, dreams of a future with my sweetheart soon faded to black. I distracted my loneliness by making new friends and taking more courses.  I read to escape the pain.

My work life evolved in the exciting world of Information Technology.  In the blur of that late-1980s existence, I soon married a seemingly wonderful man and subsequently co-created three beautiful children. 

IT work provided plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and attend courses.  I became immersed in the world wide web, electronic mail then online collaboration tools. My aptitude and creativity were recognized and nurtured by a succession of superiors.  The pay has helped me as an eventual single parent.  I have been a valued contributor to the objectives of my work family.

I am toying with the idea of owning a cell phone (yes, I'm one of those hold-outs) or committing to a smart phone with Internet access.  I still cannot justify the cost and possible distractions.  Those small screens do not appeal to my reading preferences.  I have come to realize that my electronic skills, my love of pen & paper and appreciation of the QWERTY keyboard for creative writing will soon be augmented by the pinching, stroking and zooming techniques of a tablet. (A-hem... my birthday is coming up this month.  Nudge, nudge.)

In June my oldest child graduated from university (insert warm, gushy feeling).  I satisfied her gift request by purchasing an Amazon Kindle.  This device can "hold" thousands of public domain books.  This seemed perfect since she is an avid reader and loves the classics.  At least that is a small consolation as I lament the future of the printed word and methods we choose for publishing, writing and reading. 

Regardless of the potential for massive data storage and oodles of options for reading devices, I still enjoy the tangible book.  I like holding it, dog-earing special sections - gasp! - and - the horror! - writing notes in the margins.  Not that I would do this in books I borrow from the library but I find it interesting to see scrawls from previous clients.

Perhaps you do too? 


Thanks for reading this far.  If you like my writing style, consume some excerpts from my novel "The Year of the Rabbit".  Sera Fletcher, the main character loved to read and volunteer in her library.  The library also served as a refuge from the loneliness of losing her best friend.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Naked Journal

Do you gaze with delight or apprehension at the first blank page of a new journal? 

Do you fondle and covet the variety of journals while visiting a greeting card or book store?

At times, I find starting a new journal quite intimidating especially if selected pages are already inscribed with words of wisdom and inspirational quotes.  I have a Celtic Mandala Tree of Life journal that has remained untouched since I purchased it in early 2009.  The cover art and section pages are beautifully designed.  It seems like the crisp, lined pages deserve something better than weekly updates, mundane ponderings and the occasional scribbles of bad poetry. 

While running errands with my daughter yesterday, I was lured by the siren call of the journal display in a local Carlton Cards store.  I oohed and ahhed at the colourful, intricate cover designs offered by the "Paperblanks" selection.  "The journal as functional art" statement caught my fancy.   Carlton Cards was having a sale so I bought two!

Lately, I have found that starting a new journal is like beginning a new phase of a journey or fresh path in one's life.  Do you pause with cautious deliberation before expressing your next words or actions?  Do you jump in with glee, poised with your favourite pen and a mind ripe with ideas?

This morning I completed the pages of a cute little journal I started last autumn, just as we were entering the gray and brown days of November.  That journal helped me navigate thoughts and dreams through the dark, long winter and into the refreshing days of spring.  This morning I transcribed recent observations, accomplishments, social engagements and family outings in that beloved book.  The last page was reserved for a list of goals and dreams. 

I look forward to listing them again in a fresh, new journal.  I look forward to recording the progress of those goals and writing with joy after I realize some dreams. 

Who would have thought someone could dedicate a blog entry to the subject of paper journals?  With the increased use of computer keyboards, smart phones and tablets, I wonder if people will lose that special connection between inspirations of the mind, the hand sweeping with the ink of a pen onto the receptive, blank page.  Will our expanding digital world present different writing skill requirements for school children and eventually eliminate the need for cursive writing?  Although most people can learn to type and transcribe more quickly by using a keyboard, I find that a scary thought.

I will continue to supplement my digital, keyboard writing activities with those of the pen and paper journals.   As I shared with a group of art lovers over a month ago, writing is a form of expression and ongoing therapy and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.  Well, I am taking a bit of a break since releasing the novel and gathering strength to publish an electronic version. 

Of course, intimate contemplations will only be expressed through the loving caress of pen on paper.  Perhaps that special, untouched Tree of Life journal can some day receive final revisions of poetry or inspirational essays. 

Thank you for reading this far.  If you like my writing style, you may enjoy excerpts from my novel, "The Year of the Rabbit". 

Saturday, July 23, 2011


After hearing about people displaced by forest fires in Northern Ontario, earthquakes, droughts, famine and violent acts occurring in other parts of our mixed-up world, I suppose I shouldn't complain about this past week's heat wave in the Ottawa Valley and most of Ontario.   These bigger events offer stark reminders as I reflect, offer thanks every day for what I have in food, safety and shelter. 

As for the weather, Environment Canada says we're supposed to see some relief soon. To aid in this transition, I invite followers, readers and lurkers to enjoy an excerpt from The Year of the Rabbit's Chapter 1.  This is where Father Gio meets Sera, his newly discovered biological daughter.  Well... imagine his surprise!  

Come experience the refreshing breeze from Georgian Bay and sit under the shade of the "famous" cherry tree
Now excuse me while I primp and prepare for a Summer Social with my writing group this evening.  Once again, I stepped up to the plate and volunteered to coordinate tasks.  At least this year, it won't be raining!  We will enjoy a meal near the water, get to know other members in a relaxed manner and perhaps take a walk through the Arboretum.  That will provide us the opportunity to "shake down" our dinner.  It will also give me a sense of relief and connectivity to like-minded humans and nature after feeling imprisoned in the concrete city all week.   I look forward to hear some light readings, appreciate the shade of trees while accompanied by a trusted guide book

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Follow me

No, I'm not some self-absorbed, wanna-be cult leader :o)

I AM a recently published author.  I want more followers.  If you have a Google account, you can follow this blog.  See that "Follow" button at the top of this page?  See it?  Please click it.  Ahhh, thank you!

Now that I have your attention (she coyly purrs), hop on over to the Year of the Rabbit blog and do the same thing.  

Follow Florence on Twitter.  She's a deep blonde too.  

Thank you for stroking my ego.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

We are our environment

After work on a Friday night, I attended a book reading and discussion led by Dr. Ian Prattis, hosted at Planet Botanix on Bank Street. 

Ian read from "Earth My Body, Water My Blood", a collection of work he edited based on the initiatives by students in his last class on Ecology and Culture at Ottawa's Carleton University.

"The book is organized around the great elements – Earth, Water, Air and Fire. The fifth great element – Space – is to penetrate humanity’s consciousness about a better way to live with Mother Earth. This research into establishing eco-communities reflects the shift in mindset required to salvage the global ecosystem for human habitation. Our present values and patterns of consumption are the architects of the present global ecological emergency. We are our environment. "

Ian had praise for the students he taught and expressed joy at the creative ways they were carrying on with the work. Judging from the comments and questions raised by the intimate audience, it seemed that Ian was preaching to the converted.  Regardless, he reminded us that we could still be participants in change and become mentors to younger generations. 

In addition to purchasing a signed copy of the book, I acquired some walking tips from Ian who is also a teacher of Buddhist meditation.  I hope to learn more as time allows and apply it to the calming times of my busy, urban life.

On the second bus ride of my slow journey home, my apprehensions were echoed by fellow riders when the rainfall increased its intensity on the windows and rooftop.  I was indeed prepared with an umbrella that I pulled from my bag but sighed at the fact that I was wearing sandals.  The dark, windy walk home from the bus stop was not pleasant.  I was bombarded by the elements of water and air plus a bit of earth due to the sandy grit that embedded inconveniently into my soggy sandals. 

Ah, yes.  I was becoming one with my environment.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Call of Duty?

My knuckles are gradually healing since an encounter with a neighbour. 

This Canada Day I chose to remain cool and comfortable at home while listening to the festivities, interviews and Royal sightings on CBC Radio.  I had no desire for "being there" among thousands of noisy, sweaty bodies in downtown Ottawa.  I enjoyed hearing that Rick Mercer was among the celebrities in Kandahar, marking the last Canada Day that the troops would spend in war torn Afghanistan.  I was proud to hear about new Canadian citizens being sworn in on that special Day.

I appreciated the down time in my new home after a hectic week of obligations, appointments and meetings.  I wrote, sorted through digital photographs from two offspring's recent graduations. (insert fuzzy proud feeling and a big sigh of relief!)  I shared news, thoughts and pictures with friends and relatives via email while reading their updates on family, health issues and recent accomplishments.  I followed up on activities to promote my novel.   It was a satisfying way to spend the warm day in the privacy and quiet of my little apartment.

That was until...

It started with what sounded like random drumbeats coming from our neighbour's place.  This was not the usual boom, boom, boom music vibrating through the wall and floor that we unfortunately share.  After a half hour, I concluded it was either the sound effects from a action movie they were watching or... a video game.  The sound grew louder and louder.  The gun fire became more intense. 

The sound of machine guns vibrating through our home became too much to bear.   Those who know my history are aware of my aversion to loud noises and violence.  I once again state my appreciation of family, friends and professionals who helped me get through the rough times and PTSD

After another twenty minutes of this barrage, I braved myself to seek out the source.  Dressed in frumpy, casual attire and without makeup, I had to go out of my way to knock on my neighbour's door. There was no answer yet I could hear the hoots and male grunts from inside accompanying the gun fire. 

I knocked again.  No answer. Augh! Frustration.  I had to wait for a lull in the video game combat in order to knock again and again and actually be heard. 

Finally, the door opened.  I was greeted by a good looking, buff young man (oh my!) wearing shorts and no shirt (oh my, my!).  My frustration was briefly overcome by flirtatious thoughts.   I was next aware of how haggard and unfeminine I must have appeared.  

Not wanting to let primal reactions distract me from my objective, I breathlessly introduced myself.  

He returned my greeting.  

I stammered nervously and politely, conveying to him that we shared the same wall and... and floor and... and... I could hear - I could FEEL the sound in my apartment.  

He apologized, said they'd turn the volume down, adding that they were just kicking back and getting ready to head out soon.

I thanked him then turned to leave.  He wished me a Happy Canada Day.  I think I grunted in response. 

Things have been pretty quiet since.  As I rub my sore knuckles and wring my hands, I shake my head at the entertainment and lifestyle choices of a few.  I think about those new Canadian citizens who escaped war zones in order to make a better life for their families.  I think about Canadian and Coalition soldiers who have risked life and limb, striving to maintain peace and order in Afghanistan.  Let's hope that disruptive actions of a few do not interfere as others adapt and heal, settling peacefully into their new homes. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Another Public Speaking Event

On Wednesday, June 29th I was able to stand before an audience of 38 people.  Since the majority were those I knew and felt comfortable with,  it wasn't a stressful experience at all.  My voice was loud and clear.  The audience was in the palm of my hand.

I have become quite at ease with this group, relaying announcements about membership benefits, up-coming events and using the new services on our web site.  It helps when you speak about that which you know!

The only snag for this latest occasion was that I had somehow misplaced the printed notes from which I was planning to read.  As a lesson re-learned from a previous event, I had even printed it in a large font.  It just isn't like me to be unprepared for meetings or presentations. 

Winging it, I grabbed a printed copy of my novel, found the passage of intent and read a short, intriguing excerpt to the crowd.  The response was very good.  You can read about the event and a surprise encounter in the Year of the Rabbit blog.

If you're looking for short bursts of blondness, you can also follow my nom de plume on Twitter.  It's a gradual art, learning to express with only 140 characters on your pallet!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Public Speaking

The past three months have kept me occupied with my family's move, the release of the novel, navel gazing and lately... preparations for a public speaking opportunity.  The latter started three weeks ago when a talented writing friend and local author contacted me.  She was scheduled to present at an Arts Night event but unfortunately had to cancel.  She suggested that the organizers consider little ole me as her stand-in for the Writer Artist portion. 

On one hand, I was flattered and saw it as a serendipitous opportunity to promote the novel.  On the other hand, I saw it as an Oh-my-gawd! a public speaking event?! That's the hand that immediately clasped my face and gaping mouth.

Standing and speaking in front of twenty or more people is a lot more difficult than pounding out a few paragraphs in a blog post or email newsletter.  I can perform satisfactorily when speaking in front of a group if I am relaying announcements or technical instructions.

I admire people who can perform in front of an audience, speak clearly then with grace and intelligence, handle challenges as they are thrown at them.  Those who know me, will know that I had done my best to prepare by listing out the order of speaking topics related to the art of writing, gathered appropriate props and chose an excerpt to read. I am anal about planning and preparation.  Those who heard me chatter nervously lately will know that the last time I presented formally at an event like Toastmasters was almost 20 years ago when I was eight months pregnant with my youngest child.  I hadn't persisted with opportunities to continue since. 

The reading of the novel excerpt went well except I hadn't thought to print it in a larger font so I didn't have to hold the paper close to my face (d-uh) and block it off from the audience (d-uh).  Well, there was a microphone, so couldn't they audience just listen to my voice and follow along with the story?  Sure but this temperamental device was tormenting me with it's persistent projections of p-words.  Augh!

It's a good thing the heavy rain that Friday evening kept other prospective attendees at home so that I was speaking to a smaller welcoming group of art lovers.  I was relieved to see friendly, familiar faces in the crowd.  I even sold three copies of the book.  It's a start... My primary goal was not to sell the books; it was to promote the story and share my experiences with writing as an art, an outlet and a form of therapy

That week, that night, I ventured out in more ways than one.  I look forward to exercising my "voice" and sharing more experiences with others. 

Thank you for reading this far ... and for listening too!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Walking on the Farm

I took an early morning walk around the Central Experimental Farm.  It was wonderful to feel the earth, the grass and soil under my feet. It was a treat compared to the workweek concrete and asphalt of downtown Ottawa.

I found a large patch of trees in a central location.  I stood refreshed by the shade and breeze.  The sound of the rustling leaves blended well with the "swishing" of distant vehicles and at times, nearly drowned out motorized annoyances.  What a perfect spot for quiet reading, creative writing or sketching if you don't mind the occasional company of chattering birds. 

Did you know...?  There are approximately 280,000 farms in Canada today and only 3% of Canadians live on farms?

The location I visited is not as picturesque as the Arboretum yet the refreshing rustling of leaves and welcoming shade reminded me of trees I have known and trees about which I have written

Thanks for joining me on one of my short wanderings.  Perhaps you would like to read an excerpt from my novel - one about trees and the important role they played in The Year of the Rabbit

If you purchase a print on demand copy, you could bring it with you on one of your own nature walks or visits to the beach.  Soon you will be able to read an electronic version of the novel on one of them newfangled smart phones or eBook readers ;o^  

Thank you.  Come again.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Ideal Man

So I was writing an early morning blog post for the novel, reflecting on the coming celebration of Fathers' Day.  I was in the process of sharing the description of Sera Fletcher's father, Matthew.  

In the process, I think I described my ideal man.  

Hmmm, a goal for next year perhaps?  Meh... We'll see.  I'm not expecting "perfect".  I'll accept one or two flaws like... he has too much money.  Or - he only wants to give me a back rub with no ulterior motive ;o)


Saturday, June 11, 2011

How do you like them apples?

In an effort to push more fruits into my diet, I am forcing myself to make more visits to the basket on our dining room table. 

The new rental home is shaping up with less boxes lying around.  I don't like our small kitchen though.  Due to my avoidance of using the new stove and the horrible humidity of this past week, we have been ordering a lot of pizza lately.  At least it's good quality, Colonnade Pizza :o)

As I bite into a Cripps Pink apple, I think about and appreciate the fruit so simple as an apple.  Apples are sturdy, portable, reliable fruit packed with fiber, vitamins and natural sugar.

Last weekend, after I unpacked more boxes from our move and sorted dirty laundry, I managed to sit long enough to enjoy watching The Cider House Rules on TV Ontario.  It's a beautiful, touching story that I discovered had many themes similar to those in my novel, The Year of the Rabbit.  (teen pregnancy, adoption, abortion, apples, love and... breaking rules)

In The Year of the Rabbit, the apple appears many times - mostly as a symbol of innocence and discovery.  It leads Sera through thoughts of life after death then the accidental revelation of her true paternal origin.  There is another scene where its innocent influences cannot prevent Sera from acting on uncontrollable rage.  

So... have I tempted your interest in reading the story?  Visit the YOTR blog for more excerpts and links on where to purchase your copy of the book.

Thanks for dropping by.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mission Accomplished: Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Smaller Home.

I am relieved to say that I have satisfied one of the goals I set over a year ago

My family is settling in to our new, smaller place.  We are being creative with placing items according to need and... aesthetics.  I aim to continue to provide my children with a happy, healthy home now that the dark, emotional clutter is far behind us.  One little bird is spreading its wings, getting ready to leave the nest.  The others will need more encouragement...

Home is what you make it.  

Home is where the heart is.  

In my novel, The Year of the Rabbit young Sera loses her family home due to sad circumstances beyond her control.  She finds a new home at the Red Hare Restaurant which is owned and managed by the Young family. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Take me away from it all

More like... take it all away from me (as in, things I willingly want to part with...) 

Our recent move to a smaller abode has proven to be an exercise in making choices and efficiently managing our living space.  The whole family has learned to have some forethought before making acquisitions.  I encouraged the young people to take a look at The Story of Stuff video.  My goal over a year ago was to downsize our material possessions and I am happy to say that we have almost met that objective.  I was so happy that the treadmill and encyclopedias found new homes :o)

We have just a few more days to clear out and clean up the old place. It was a happy, clean and bright home for seven years.  It provided us with plenty of space indoors and out.  Now we need a home that is secure and affordable.  Soon the offspring will spread their wings and leave the nest.  Some may need a little nudging ;o) Hence the plan to move to an even smaller place in two years!

Thanks for dropping by to read my blog.  It has been a challenge to find time for posting my deep blonde thoughts during this uprooting and being "off the grid" for five days.  Stay tuned for updates related to Father's Day, finding the perfect man :o) and blog references to my recently released novel "The Year of the Rabbit".  Don't be afraid to follow the rabbit.  I won't lead you down a dark hole but into the lives of small town folk in the 1970s.  Just imagine!  No Internet, no computers and no cell phones.  Ah, simpler times...