Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'd Call It A Win

epic fail photos - Adventure Fail
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Well I'll be damned.

Rocky Mountain House made it to Failblog.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Rare Sighting

The rare and elusive Alberta Snow Snake in repose.

Thanks, Hilary. The snake is pleased.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday -- Plodding Along

The rewrite is coming along. It's slow. I distract easily. I was looking up another word for studded yesterday and by the time I raised my eyes from The Writer's Digest Flip Dictionary I'd forgotten what I went in for.
 Oh well, the search was fun.

Also yesterday I started reading Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson ( HarperSanFrancisco, 1991) Here's a sample:
"It is more disrupting to find that you have a profound nobility of character than to find out you are a bum. Of course you are both; but one does not discover these two elements at the same time."

This struck me for a few reasons including, but not restricted to, it's great to keep in mind when playing with characters.
The season has made me generous.
Here's a whole paragraph from Saintree

"The snipe dived again and laughed. Coyotes spread the news.  A hoot owl responded to a call. A woman's high –pitched scream told her a cougar was on the prowl. Those who slept wasted the deep, sensual beauty of a summer's night."

Snipe on a fence post.
Thanks for reading me. I really appreciate it.
For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gratitude Monday --A Golden Moment

We went for a drive on Christmas Day. We've been doing this for a few years now and each time out we've been blessed to see eagles.
Usually we see Bald Eagles but this year was different. We found a pair of juvenile Golden Eagles. I was grateful to see them and grateful we were able to get some pictures.
This  picture is barely adequate. If enlarged it will be blurry, but I got the shot. That's what matters.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Gone But Not Forgotten

I took this 25 years ago. It's some outbuildings at my grandparents' farm after they been abandoned for nearly 25 years.  I spent the first year of my life here.
I'm not sure what the buildings are though I suspect the one in the back is a granary and the one in front a shed.  Dad said they had goats for a while and said critters were often found walking on top of  the sheds. The farmstead is overgrown. Most of the buildings are gone. The land was recently sold.
There's no going back now except in my memories.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Return of the Light

The last few dying moments of autumn.

The first few moments of the new season.
Winter is here and it brings the sun.
Welcome the light.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday - Sun Rises, Days Get Longer

The days are expanding into summer.

The clean up on Dead Broke is almost completed. I thought I'd be done by now, but other things, notably serial laziness, got in my way.
On the good side  it does not appear to need much actual rewriting. Not to say my prose is golden, I merely mean I can't find anything obvious that needs work.
I know I just called that good.
It may not be.
In between corrections I played with the world-building for Saintree and sorted a few things out. I'm getting antsy to get back at it, but I promised myself I'd finish the corrections first. 
On the reading end I finally finished The Sun Also Rises. I think I liked it, but I have to say I'm not sure.
It's one of those books that has to sit with me, mature a bit, let its flavours gather.
Hemingway's spare prose has its appeal. He did a fine job of it. And the lack of description most of the time worked.
But I still don't know my opinion of it save for the part where he's discussing the use of steers to keep the bulls calm before bullfighting. That was a brilliant metaphor for the impotent Jake Barnes among the other men, especially those interested in Lady Brett Ashley.
From the brief conversation about the steers in the corral:
" 'What do they have them in for?'
'To quiet down the bulls and keep them from breaking their horns against the stone walls, or goring each other.' "
-Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (Scribner Trade Paperback, 2006)
My contribution to the cause this week:
" 'Relax, Eddie. Just relax.'
The whisper ran its hands up and down my body."
Thanks for being here. It's good to know I'm being read.
For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.
And speaking of the sun, Happy Solstice everyone.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- Powering Down

The power was off the other day. It lasted about 45 minutes.
It happened about 3:30 p.m. of an overcast day. That cut down on the number of things I could do, but after opening the blinds a bit more I had enough to see the notes well enough to play guitar for a bit.
It's relaxing, and I swear it helps me think.
But after 15 minutes or so my poor uncallused fingers cried so I had to quit.
So I napped. This gave me a chance to quiet myself enough to truly enjoy the quiet around me.
It's different with the appliances off. Even when I mediate now I am aware of what's humming.
On this occasion all was quiet. It was wonderful.
When I power came back on I set about restoring the assorted clocks and settings on the two VCRs and two DVD-Rs.
I enjoyed the respite from the plugged -in world, but I was glad to have lights and heat and all the other benefits of electricity.
I found out the next day that some poor fellow out to set up a nativity scene had caused the outage. He'd been stuck in his truck the whole time. I am grateful this fellow knew enough to stay put.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Money For Nothing

They're back, and this time it's money.
The people who brought us the Amish Mantle Fireplaces are now offering new American quarters. These freshly-minted quarters are not circulated, in mint condition, and are free for $12 plus shipping and handling.
Act now and get 56 quarters (that's 14 dollars friends) that may someday possibly be worth something other than $14.
Like hell.
The $12 covers the cost of the Collectors Coin Chest and the entire first year of the aforementioned quarters.
The offer is through the World Reserve Monetary Exchange. Said body is not affiliated with the US goverment and lists an address in Canton, Ohio. If you follow the link you can spend a few minutes reading how they've hosed people out of their hard-earned money.
These jokers make me mad.
Every few months the Edmonton Journal runs a full page ad--as is their right in a free country-- of weasel*-worded nonsense offering a wide variety of completely useless products. The aforementioned heaters, US coins, uncut US banknotes, and some other products that I've blissfully forgotten.
The bottom third of the ad was devoted to where to call and what code to quote when you do so. Not only did it feature different toll-free numbers  for each province and territory, it was noted how many callers in each province qualify to get the free money.
While the first 92, 175 Ontario residents have a crack at it, only 306 people in NWT have the chance and woe betide the good people of Nunavut. Only 227 people can get it for free.
The ad reassured me that 26, 074 Albertans have this glorious chance before the 48 hour deadline is up. There may still be time.
I enjoy these ads simply because I know better than to believe anything about them. I can laugh. But underneath it I know many people believe these are really collectors items and will grow in value.
That saddens me.
They give their charge card numbers to these people with hope, I am sure, in their voices and in their hearts.
From the complaints I read about this and the other products offered they keep charging the card for a wide variety of expenses.
The only free money here is the money the company gets from its customers.


*I apologize to weasels and all members of the Mustelidae family everywhere. Weasels serve a  purpose. And they smell better than this offer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh Man! Another Politically Correct Move to Howl About.

Calgary city council members are making the big change from alderman to councillor.
On the whole, I find the change sad.
Sure it's inclusive. Except that councillor isn't any more inclusive than alderman.
Oh I know it's the word "man" that's throwing everyone.  Man means person. I wish more people knew or remembered that, or at the very least acknowledged it.
An alderman, I learned in school nearly forty years ago, means "wise older person."
On the one hand I recognize steps have had to be taken because we've forgotten the definition of man over the years. Women got to feeling excluded and society reinforced it with the silly notion that some jobs were only for men.
It got to the point of absurdity at times, though. I once heard a woman referred to as "female chairperson."
I think it was back in the eighties.
It still grates.
It's changed and I agree we must be ever-vigilant, but there comes a  point when we need to stop, take a breath, and assess what we're doing.
Meanwhile, there are some titles that are exclusive. To wit, werewolf. That's a wolf who's also a man, and in this case the man is specifically a human male.
"Wer" means man as in human male. Properly we should be women and wermen.
I say we should bring back this prefix. It would solve so many problems and take care of the inadvertent exclusion. 
Getting back to the lycanthrope dilemma. Rather than go with the tortured "female werewolf," that is, a  wolf who is a man who is female, I say we call her a wowolf. I've been doing it privately for years.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Twosomes -- Optimism Reigns

I've been optimistic lately for a number of reasons including, but not restricted to, the reminder that the common cold will run it's course no matter what.
Said course has kept me from doing too much reading beyond the daily and weekly newspapers, and cough syrup bottles. In another example of raging optimism one name brand I found on the shelf offers both a cough suppressant and an expectorant.
It got in the way of writing, too, so I've been editing a different manuscript than the one I was rewriting. I can still think well to find many mistakes and correct most of them.
This gives me hope.
Two non-contiguous lines I read concerning the ingredients of Nin Jion Herbal Cough and Throat Syrup.
Folium  Eriobotryae (Loquat) (Leaf)
Semen Aremeniacae Amarum (Bitter Apricot) (Seed)
As for my error corrections, well, they're not exciting, but they must be done. I'll get back to the rewrite of Saintree as soon as I can. For now I've opened up Dead Broke. It's been sitting a few months now and the mistakes are easier to find.
Here's a sample.

" 'I thought we didn’t need cash in heaven.'
 'Your security deposit will be taken out in other ways.' "
Thanks for coming by.
For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- No Place I'd Rather Be

I'm grateful for DVDs. I like recording shows for later. I can zip through commercials or stop when convenient to me, or see another scene again or hear a bit of dialogue I may have missed.
I am further grateful for shows available for purchase. I can watch favourites like the above time and again.
And yeah, I am very grateful for Firefly. 
A space western. Best combo ever.
What about you? Got a favourite you watch again and again?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Ready To Soar

A Bald Eagle prepares to take off from a tree.

My husband and I have been able to spend calm, quiet Christmases lately. Often we'll go for a drive. One such drive two years ago led us to this sight along a paved road less than 10 miles from town.
I was fortuante enough to get several photos of the Bald Eagle in the tree and in flight.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Assange-r than Fiction

It's regrettable that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has to stay in jail. Or be in jail for that matter.
He's been making governments nervous, apparently.  When I heard this on the news last night I couldn't help but think, "Good."
It reminded me how whenever we lose some bit of freedom in the interest of anti-terrorism someone invariably responds that if we don't have anything to hide, then we have nothing to fear.
Clearly, governments have something to hide.
I suspect it has little to do with their sacred mission to keep the world safe. In fact, it is in a government's best interest to ramp up the fear while simultaneously reassuring us they're doing everything they can to maintain a secure, safe world.
The sex charges against Assange seem a bit convenient. They appeared the last time his site made a big splash, then all was quiet. Now that there've been more leaks suddenly the sex charges are important again.
This brings me to the point I wanted to make.
Something bothered me about this the first time the charges became known. I apologize for my sketchy details and even sketchier memory but something similar happened here several years ago.
A fellow, Polish immigrant if memory serves, said he'd been recruited by and was an agent of CSIS. I think the agency was responsible for getting settled in Canada and I believe his agency work took place in Europe.
His first name was similar to Richard (but with an ethnic spelling) and I think his surname began with "P."
I cannot remember what happened, and my internet research skills fail me, but whatever it was went public, and CSIS disavowed all knowledge of him.
At the same time he was brought up on a sexual assault charges. The alleged victim was a young man, I think no more than 20.
Interestingly, when the Court day rolled around the victim did not show up.
I wonder, when Assange has his day in Court in Sweden will his alleged victims be there?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Twosome Times Two

I finished rewriting one chapter of the newly rechristened Saintree. I had good intentions of getting more done, but was ambushed by a cold.  It was yesterday before I managed to get back at it and even then about all I could do was re-read what I'd done  
Oh, I cut a few words here and there. I suppose I can be generous and call it work.
I'm throwing in a few extra sentences this week to help with the atmosphere of the selection.
 From Saintree:
The evening grew still. Even the coach driver was quiet. Volga listened to the clopping of the horse's hooves and felt compelled to count them. It helped him think.
Reading didn't fare much better as the cold's accompanying headache muffed up my concentration. I did get some done so here's a bit from The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway  (Scribner, 2006)
"Finally we went up to Monmarte. Inside Zelli's it was crowded, smoky, and noisy."
Thanks for being here. For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gratitude Monday --The Root of the Matter

I am so very grateful for echinacea. Specifically the e. angustifolia that my husband grew. We dried the roots and make our own capsules as needed.
Lately I've needed.
It's very good for taking out a cold and the like.
While I am in no way offering medical advice I have found that for me it works well. I still have a cold, but it would have been worse.
I hit it with echinacea, cayenne (filled my own capsules) and some commercial garlic capsules that I had around.
I have to be careful with garlic as one of the things it does is make blood platelets slippery. I already take low dose ASA and ginkgo biloba so it's best I watch what I take.
I'm grateful these things exist, that they work, and that I know about them. It makes having a cold almost palatable.
NB The medicinal part of e. angustifolia, as I understand it, is the root.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Favourite Fail

epic fail photos - Hanukkah FAIL

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This is my favourite fail ever.
I felt a need to share.
Happy Chanukah.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday--Where's Yogi?

A family enjoys a picnic in Yellowstone National Park.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Simmering the Cold Away

Turkey Soup. The creamy look is from blenderized potatoes.
Yesterday was soup day. Husband has a cold, I am considering one myself, and I wanted to warm up the house. Soup does that, literally and psychologically.
The carcass went in the pot before 9 a.m. and I let it simmer until mid-afternoon. Good stock takes patience.
We had some leftover boiled potatoes in the fridge. Rather than just chop and toss I decided to sic the immersion blender on them.
I'm glad I did. It made the soup thick and creamy.
Soup is a way to get shed of veggies and whatnot that may be wearing out their welcome. I was able to give a good home to a turnip who ran into a bit of bad luck and wound up in the freezer.
It was mushy and had to be used up quickly, but I think the freezing made it sweeter than it was originally.
The gentle simmer, the soothing, enticing smell, and the knowledge that the evening meal was taken care of helped me write, too.
It was a good day. Even the impending cold didn't seem so bad.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Change and Consistency

When there's snow on the ground, and some on the roof, it's good to remember.
This is Fort Assiniboine, AB. It's where I'm from and where I don't get back to nearly enough.
It's grown a bit since I went to school there, but not so much as to be unrecognizable.
That's good.
Change is inevitable, but it's good to mix it with a bit of consistency. If I stand on this hill just right it looks the way it did every school morning from 1964 to 1976.
Do you have a place to return to?
Where do you go to remember?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Twos -- What I Got Up To

I'm currently rewriting the vampire western. I edited the hard copy and thought it really wouldn't take that much work to get it done. I've been getting antsy to get something published so I knew I needed to be careful. Antsy can lead to bad decisions.
Then one afternoon I awoke from a nap with an idea for another story. It was barely formed. I was left with the final scene of a dream, no idea what preceded it, and a vague notion. The scene stuck with me. The notion formed a bit more and it led to me consulting websites on world-building.
These sites got me worked up to form my new world and go back over all my manuscripts to see what else could be done.
I made notes on all of them.
I want to work on all of them at once.
This only sounds good.
I held myself to only going through the steps and making notes on all the others while I actually write the vampire western.
In the violent upheavals of rewriting I've changed the working title from Biting the Dust to Saintree.  I  think it's normally pronounced "Saint Ree," but in my manuscript the characters insist it's "Sane Tree." 

A little digital filter fun on a photo of Wyoming. It's kind of like putting a different working title on a manuscript. Both change how an object is viewed.

Two sentences fresh as blood from a neck bite:
"Since they'd moved to Saintree their children had embraced the life. Neither Eury nor Kid had taken their first human blood yet."
Reading took me to Oz. I love this book. I didn't read children's books when I was a child so I've missed out in some respects, but at least I've read it now. I can appreciate it more today than I would have 40-45 years ago. 
In fact there were a few times I found myself saying out loud, "This isn't a children's book."
Baum had an unceasing imagination and a gift of spare prose to the point of underwriting. It works.
A few more than two from  the scarecrow in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2005). Dorothy has just told him she wants to go back to dreary, gray Kansas. 

" 'Of course I cannot understand it,' he said. 'If your heads were stuffed with straw, like mine, you would probably all live in the beautiful places, and then Kansas would have no people at all. It is fortunate for Kansas that you have brains."
Thanks for being here. I appreciate every one of you. For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women  of Mystery.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- Food of the Gods

It helps me write.
It's a pleasant diversion.
And it's health food.
How could I not be grateful?

If you're wondering, the Latin for chocolate is Theobrama Cacao which means food of the gods.
Here's a link on for more:

Chocolate history.

How do you feel about chocolate? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Hogged

A young pig snuffles around for food near Santo Domingo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Tasty Way to Warm the House.

When this is what greets you outdoors:

The day warmed to a paltry -18C.

Roast is an appropriate response.

Lamb with garlic, apricot, and jalapeno, among other spices.

It was -35C this morning. I stepped outside for a quick few swallows of coffee. Bracing does not do the feel of it justice.
It's the kind of temperature that lends itself to things that take a long time to cook. Roasted lamb sounded like a good fit.
I wanted to do something different so I looked up assorted recipes for a jumping off point. Starting it at 450F without liquid might be fun. It was.
The above pic is how it looked after 20 minutes, uncovered.
I rubbed whole, old style mustard and olive oil on it so I guess I cheated a bit, but it felt right. I stuffed fresh garlic in the flesh, then chopped up some apricots and threw on a jalapeno pepper sliced on the long side. A few other spices such as parsley, cinnamon, black and cayenne pepper and paprika, plus some fresh (sort of ) lemon juice rounded it out.
After 20 minutes I poured some white wine over it, turned it down to 325F, covered it and cooked it another hour while I decided what veggies should be roasted with it.
Forty minutes after the veggies--potato, turnip, carrot--went in I took out the roast and let it sit. The veggies went back in at 350F for their big finish and 20 minutes later all was ready. The spice combination, for the record, is a keeper.
I should have taken a pic of the roast once it was done, but didn't.
The food was good, the house was warm and inviting, and all is well in my world.
Winter weather has its pleasures.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude Monday --Another Year

Today I turn another year older, and  I am damned grateful for it.
I'm alive, kicking, reasonably healthy, engaged in life, and looking forward to whatever the year has in store.
I'll only be 52 once this lifetime. I'm going to enjoy it.
Are you enjoying your age?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh, Deer, Oh, Deer

Through my kitchen window

They're back, and this time they mean business.
Three deer visited me the other day and helped themselves to the assorted branches, plants, and other veggie matter that my husband cleaned out of the front yard.
The pile is right outside the kitchen window. It remains there until it becomes soil and then gets spread around as needed.
These young deer had other plans for it.  They seemed especially fond of the Sweet Cicely which tastes like licorice.
After taking the tastiest treats they moved on to the back yard for more Sweet Cicely, compost, and  crabapple.
Mom joined them after a bit. I wish I could have gotten more pics, but the back door was too frosted to shoot through.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And It Was Good

Bacon Weave =Food Porn

It turned out rather well. I should have added some more liquid in the afternoon. Possibly turned it down to 250F then as well. Clearly I will have to make it again and again until I get it right.
But the fat on the bacon kept the roast moist enough and I was happy with it.
Husband pronounced it tasty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weaving a Tale of Bacon

Small roast smothered in bacon. Yay!
Cooking things that take along time is a personal pleasure of mine.
I'm usually home. As long as I have an idea, and have it in time, I can throw something together like a soup, or a stew, or a roast.
It makes the house warm and inviting. Working with my hands to prepare food is soothing. It helps me think.
Sorting out what spices to use perks up my creativity.
Fiction writers use "what ifs" in their writing. I use "what ifs" in my cooking.
Fortunately, it usually works out.
The weather has turned wintry this week and I've been using it to my advantage. Yesterday I made a pot of beans from scratch. Between the quick soak and the simmering it took all day. That was fine with me.
I'd taken out some bacon for the beans and had so much that I actually contained myself and held some back. Normally I wouldn't, but I thought about making roast today and wondered, "What if I put a bacon weave on it?"

I had enough for a small weave, just enough to cover the top as opposed to rolling the roast in it.
It just went in, at 275F, a few minutes ago. It'll stay in for about nine hours.
It's going to be a good day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Twosome -- Oh, Deer

Inquisitive mule deer take an afternoon stroll around town.
Readers of my blog know that I recently faced a happy problem: which manscript do I edit next?
I decided to go with the vampire western. It's been sitting a while now and is in need of some attention. As I read over a hard copy yesterday I realized my gift for understatement. It needs a hell of a lot of attention.

Here's a wee bit from Biting the Dust:

" 'You're granddad is a full-blood. It would probably set his canines on edge to have to smell that saloon.' He smiled broadly. 'Or you.' "

Reading's taken a bit of a beating lately. I devoted most of my efforts to finishing the rewrite of The Legend of Shallal. I'm pleased to report I got that done last week and have since printed out a copy for my husband to read.
Once that was out of the way I turned back to reading. I'm about to start L. Frank Baum's, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2005)
I didn't read children's books when I was a child. I'm making up for it now.
From the inside jacket:
"As beautiful and vibrant as Oz is, Dorothy still wants nothing more than to go home. But only the all-powerful Wizard of Oz can help Dorothy and Toto get back there."
I've only ever seen the movie.  I saw it young and didn't care for it. The Scarecrow reminded me too much of a clown and the Cowardly Lion annoyed me.
I'm so looking forward to getting my mind changed.
For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Monday --A Good Problem

I have a good life.
The most pressing problem I currently face is deciding which manuscript to edit.
I am grateful for this problem.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday--Free As A Bird

A West Indian Woodpecker in a tree in an orchid garden in Cuba.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You

For all who serve then and now,
For those who one day will,
For every man, woman, and child who took up arms
and said: "Not on my watch, pal."
Thank you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two-Sentence Tuesday- The End is Near

I came very close to finishing the re-write on The Legend of Shallal on the weekend.  I spent most of Sunday at the keyboard, leftover Halloween sucker in my mouth, madly revising, rewriting, and making it somewhat better.
Two chapters remain. I had every intention of getting them done today, but I needed to go out for a few things and then I needed my glasses adjusted. Twice.
Instead of working on the end I realized I needed a scene added earlier. The manscript has gone from about 53,000, to about 40,000, and is now around 47,000. It may not ever get to novel length, but if the story is told as a novella, then novella it'll stay.
I wanted it wrapped up so it can sit a spell. And because late last week I got another idea that is currently attempting to kick its way out of my head.
I've tried to mollify it by making notes. It's calmed the kicks a bit, but it'll break its way out soon.

Here are two from the The Legend of Shallal:

"She felt her guts ripped out as the land splintered. Her body twitched on the chamber floor and then all was black to her as the island disappeared under the waves and the waves gave way to a calm sea that twinkled in innocence in the sunlight."
Our current bedtime story is Taras Bulba, by Nikolai Gogol (The Complete Tales of Nikolai Gogol, Vol. 2, The University of Chicago Press (1985).
I've wanted to read this since I first heard about it some 30 years ago.
Bulba is a fine figure of a Cossack. Passionate and intense. A true fighter. And frankly, the man is a complete butt. I'm glad we're reading it, and I hope by the end I can find some way to sympathize with him.

Two sentences:
"The pretty little hand of a Polish lady, smiling and sparkling, lay white as sugar on the railing. Illustrious nobles, rather stout, gazed at the scene with a dignified air."
Thanks for coming by. For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude Monday - Change Gives Time To Reflect

A time of deep reflection

I prefer standard time. I always have. To me the change to daylight is absurd. It makes little difference in many parts of Canada in the meat of summer as the days here are long. In the early spring and later fall it is plain stupid. Anything we may save on one end of the day is spent on the other end.
But that's all behind us now.
I'm happy to get the hour back. I can use it.
It's darker sooner. That's better for writing and better for thinking.
Soon it'll be darker in the mornings, too.
Winter will be along shortly and that's even better.
Cold dark days are the best for thinking and writing.
And baking.
And cooking slow roasts and stews that warm the house and fill it with wonderful toothsome fragrances that fill the body and fill the soul and are good for writing, too.
I'm grateful the fundamental absurdity of daylight time is behind me so I can enjoy the day for what it is, when it is.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Street Scene

Sweeping water down the street in a Cuban city.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday--Too Good To Be True

I was tickled silly yesterday to find one of my favourite full page ads in the Edmonton Journal. The Heat Surge(R) Fireless Flame(R) miracle heaters with the real Amish mantles are back.
A few changes have been made to the ad this season.  The lead photo is of the heaters in the warehouse rather than Amish men making the mantles.
The ad copy has been through yet another rewrite. Last year the original references to how well the heaters were selling in Florida and California was omitted. This latest version plays down the Amish angle while playing up how the first 3, 908 people to call get the heater for free (you only pay for the mantle) though there is a limit of two per household. Since it rolls from room to room  and needs only to be plugged in I do wonder why a household needs two, but I am sure I am just being an old stick-in-the-mud.
Here are two non-continguous sentences for your edification and enjoyment:
"Readers who beat the 48-hour order deadline are getting their new infrared miracle heaters free when encased in the Amish built real wood fireplace mantle."

"This new advanced heating system warms more than just the air, it heats objects like furniture, walls and people for a warm and comfortable home."
My contributions this past week have been steady, if slow. 
The rewrite is coming along and that's about all I can ask of it.
Here are two recent sentences from The Legend of Shallal:
"A valve opening directly over the chief pressure point was a logical solution, but a deadly one. It would wipe the life off the island, and likely wipe the island off the face of the ocean."
Thank you.
For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude Monday - My Own Steam

Me and my Focus at Twin Lakes last spring.
If I need to go to a store, I can.
If I wish to go out looking for pictures, I do so.
If I want to go for a drive, then I go for a drive.
The first two can be accomplished in several different ways, but they are easiest done with a car and a driver's license.
The third one requires access to a vehicle and the aforementioned license unless I can rook someone into being a chauffeur.
It's easier to do it myself and I am grateful for the simple pleasure of driving a car that I own.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday - Sacred Area

Sacred Site

The  interpretive fire trail on the way to Landslide Lake goes through an area sacred to the local natives. Several such areas can be found throughout the west country and are marked by clothing attached to trees.
Forgive me, but I cannot remember the reason right now and I can't find it.*
It always gives me pause to find one of these areas. It makes the earth seem that much more alive.

*ETA: The fabric is an offering to the spirits.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is It Just My Imagination?

Or does the leaf in yellow here look like the lips from

Halloween is coming.
Can you tell?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday -- The WIP Stopped Fighting

My current WIP was fighting every edit I offered it until the other day when something magical happened. It stopped fighting and started accepting. Mostly what happened is I've hit a section of the WIP that doesn't require as much work as the first few chapters.
This makes me happy. I needed a break. I was going through more chocolate than usual and stocks were reaching the critical refill mark.
Here's a sample:
" 'I understand,' " Shallal said. She was hand-feeding an old, horned hog. It grunted with contentment and licked her hands up to her wrists."
Reading got shuffled aside for most of the last week. The reason falls in equal measure of editing and letting Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True seep into my poor, overtaxed mind. It's a lot to digest.
It was Sunday before I felt ready to read anything again.
I've started The Hob's Bargain by Patricia Briggs (Ace, 2001) and was taken into the story right away. It's good to get away.
Here are two lines:
"My face hurt suddenly, and I saw Kith, his upright hand a few inches from my face. But the screams in my head continued unabated."
Thanks for being here. I really appreciate the attention.
Two Sentence Tuesday exists because of the Women of Mystery.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gratitude Monday - Somewhere Under The Rainbow

Rainbows are fine things.
I've always enjoyed them and been grateful for their promise of leprechauns and magic and maybe all the other special things we have in life but forget about because we've forgotten how to see.
What do you think about when you see a rainbow?
This is from a recent trip out west. It's across the road from the Nordegg.
I played with it a wee bit.
Camera filters are fun and good for the creative side. They can bring out the stuff we've forgotten to see.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Don't Know Anything

Open your mind to a wealth of possibilities.

My philosophy of life is simple: I don't know anything.
Not literally, of course. I mean this in the sense that I don't know everything, I am not always right, and there is more than one way to look at things.
My point in looking at things this way is there is always something to learn. It might be a new way to view a problem, or an issue, or even a ripping good rumor. 
It by no stretch means I am opinionless. Just the opposite. But after nearly 20 years of reporting I am good at keeping my opinions to myself.
Rather than argue with a person who comes out with something outlandish I usually listen to what's offered.
Am I swayed?
I rarely argue, but I also rarely encourage. 
I might hear something I didn't know from useful information to a  new twist on a conspiracy theory. To a writer the latter is useful information. You never knows what nugget will be perfect for a story.
The point is this, if you argue all the time because it is your belief that you are right and everyone else is wrong, then you will close your mind to a universe of possibilities and wonder.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday -- A Glorious Mess

Writing has gone slowly this past few weeks. I'm in the midst of rewriting. I've added a character. I'll probably excuse a few other characters from the story somewhere down the line. What was chapter two is now that plus 2A and 2B.
Currently it is a glorious mess. I think that's good because mess can be cleaned. But for now, I'm going to go along and make more mess and worry about cleaning it up later.
Here are two fresh efforts from the WIP:
"She harnessed her mind and put it toward complete relaxation, to melting into the ground and the tree and becoming the earth until she and it had neither beginning nor end.
The earth whispered in her heart and set an arm around her soul."
I finished Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True  (Harper, 2009) yesterday. There's a lot to absorb.
Here are two:
"Six months before, that remark would have pissed me off. Would have put me right on the defensive."
Thanks for being here.
For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gratitude Monday-- The "Canadian, Please" Video

I'm grateful to be Canadian. This video sums it up.
Turn on the CC to get the lyrics.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photo Finish Friday -- Penguin Beach

Penguins on the beach at Punta Norte, Argentina.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Black and White Issue

 I've been honored again. Thank You.

The civic elections are coming. Next Monday voters across the province get to have their say about who runs their towns or cities, counties/municipal districts, and school boards.
I vote. I have always voted and I will continue to do so as long as I can mark an X.
For me it's a black and white issue. If you don't vote you don't get to complain about the results.

A black and white issue: no vote, no complaints
 It galls me no end that people refuse to cast a ballot. Some are lazy, others don't care, and still others invent some lame excuse about not knowing enough about the candidates or issues to make an informed choice.
You make me sick.
At least those whose excuse is apathy are honest about it. It still annoying, but they aren't hiding anything.
Here in Canada like many other free countries we're free to not vote without repercussions.
This brings up the other laughable point.
Non-voters who say they aren't casting a ballot because there's no one to vote for, ergo they claim not voting is a gesture of protest.
You sicken me almost as much as the people who hide behind ignorance.
If there were consequences, such as in Australia where voting is mandatory, then not voting is taking a stand. Here, it's an excuse for being lazy or apathetic.
I honestly don't care about school board. I have no hamster on that wheel. But I will still vote because it is my duty, because it is my right, and because they might do something with my tax money that I don't like and I will want to complain about it.
In some countries people risk their lives to vote.
Here, more than half of us can't be bothered.
I've wish each and every one of you apathetic excuses for citizens could spend five years in one of those countries. Maybe you'd appreciate what you've got.
On Monday move your lazy, apathetic carcasses, hold your noses, and make a mark for the candidate you believe in or the one who offends you the least.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Happy Thanksgiving

I thought I'd change the spirit of Thanksgiving around a bit and try to come up with something for which I am not grateful.


Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and family.


-wild turkey photo by Mike Mayrl

Friday, October 8, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Cuba from a Mogote

Mogotes can be found near Vinales, Cuba. We climbed partway up one, maybe 50m, and then went though a cave complete with bats and out the other side.

I took this while taking a quick rest during the nearly straight up climb.
Among the crops grown around there are tobacco and sweet potatoes. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bearing the Truth about Yeti

Most things have a basis in reality, albeit a thin one in some cases, but still a basis.
Lycanthropy accounts for werewolves.  Porphyria gives us a leg to stand on for vampirism.
Zombies have their anchor in Vodun, as Canadian ethnobotanist Wade Davis wrote about in The Serpent and the Rainbow.
But what about the humble Sasquatch?
Yeti, Sasquatch, Abominable Snowman, have been around a long time and pop up around the world from Tibet to California to our own Canadian Rockies.  Some 21 years ago hunters called the newspaper I worked at to tell the tale of seeing a Sasquatch one fine Saturday in the bush.
I didn't cover the story so I've forgotten the finer points, but I do recall that we decided it was probably a bear. A bear looks awfully human standing up and at a distance.
Photo by my husband Mike Mayrl.
 But there is a legitimate basis for the legends, at least in Tibet.
Mountain climber/adventurer Reinhold Messner spent a great deal of time there searching and wrote a book about it.
Mike and I read it years ago as a bedtime story. In it, he describes an encounter with a Yeti and later finding out about a Himalayan bear called a Chemo. It is his position that the Yeti is this bear.
No, that doesn't explain our Sasquatches, but it does give a reasonable basis for the legends, and that's what matters.
Like I said, I believe there's a basis in reality for everything, but that does not mean everything is real.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Other Other White Meat

I've recently gone back to eating pork after years of listening to my MIL insist to her alternative therapy clinic clients that it's too much like human.
I presume she meant it in the sense that pig bits can be used to replace human tissue , but it bothered me so much that I went off pork for years. I still ate ham and bacon, but I couldn't manage the uncured stuff.
But now that I can enjoy the other white meat I find the marketers aren't keen to let us know about the other other white meat.

Lawyers for the (American) National Pork Board sent a 12 page cease and desist order to ThinkGeek over its canned unicorn meat slogan
Suggested Unicorn recipe here.

Yes, it's old news, an April Fool's joke, but I was really looking forward to some canned unicorn meat this winter.
And let the record show the porkers were only protecting their trademark, as well they should.
But dang, now I really want some unicorn.
Hilary at  The Smitten Image gave me this for my Friday post and I'm tickled silly over it.
Thank you, Hilary.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday - Making Me Think

Carrots- could they grow in a sea shell field?
As I've said in past weeks I'm rewriting my first manuscript. It's slow work and somewhat frustrating, rather like coaxing carrots to grow in a field of sea shells.
It's good practice, though, and a good exercise. It's also making me think.
Thinking's fine if I can get a break from it, but I'm reading an intense, thought-provoking book right now so there is no respite.
Two from my current read, Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True (Harper 2009)
"When  I go back to our dorm, I stood, bewildered, before our broken typewriter case--passed my finger over its sharp, smashed edge. Turned and stood there, studying my brother as he slept, mouth agape, eyes shifting behind the lids."
From my WIP The Legend of Shallal:
"It stirred her. Whispered a secret to her that she could not understand."
Thanks for being here. For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.
Hell, see 'em anyway. You'll be tickled silly that you did.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- Putting the Yellow in Yellowstone

I'm grateful for the trip to Yellowstone, and for being able to take as many pictures as I did. I could have taken more and maybe another time I will.
This is the petrifed tree. It's by itself on a hill and it's fenced off to keep it safe.
I can see a distinct "Sam the Eagle" face in it which was brought out even more by using the color extraction filter. I'm grateful for the chance to play with those filters, too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Lined Up for Fall

Theh sun catches some trees after a rain highlighting their new fall colours.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fire Trail

A controlled burn was done in the West Country this past summer. There were several reasons for it including an attempt to stop the mountain pine beetle.
The forest regenerates all on its own after a fire, but years of fire suppression messed up the cycle. Another reason for the burn was to sort the cycle out.
Life has started again out west and in respect of this, and to explain why fire is good, an interpretive trail has been set up at the start of the Landslide Lake hike, about an hour and 45 minute drive west of Rocky, or just a few minutes east of Saskatchewan Crossing along the Icefields Parkway.
Two trails, one 400 m the other 2km have been built. We took the shorter one on Sunday.
Here's what it looks like.

 The start of the hike.

 It looks eerie, but it has a good feel to it.

 This is what you see on the way back to the parking lot. The trees are touched by fire, some killed, others charred. Either way, it's closer to natural than not having fire.

 A moody, almost ghostly look.

 Life comes back for a brief moment. This blossom to the right is paint brush.