Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple Beauty

The greatest beauty is in the simplest things.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday -- A Great Read

What a great read.
I've just finished reading Invisible Boy by Cornelia Read. It was witty, passionate, gripping, taut, and sad all at the same time.
I generally don't read murder mysteries although I do enjoy them. This one came to me through a contest held by the gracious and talented Women of Mystery. I am so tickled my name was drawn.
I'd been looking forward to it since I won several months ago, but there were books ahead of it so it waited patiently on the TBR pile.
I am so glad it's number came up.

Two sentences:
"I finally slept okay, considering.
Dean woke up at dawn, his circadian rhythm still governed by some lingering neurochemical trace of childhood heifers and cornfields."
-Invisible Boy, Cornelia Read (Grand Central Publishing 2010)

As for me, well, yes I've been writing. I changed my approach on Dead Broke after realizing I needed another major character and that it required, at least for now, a prologue.
The problem is my new character doesn't want to do anything. She didn't do much alive and she is reluctant to change now that she's dead.

I am trying to forge ahead in hopes that she will blossom. I am sure she wants to.

Here are two from the prologue:

"The Guild Mother crossed the name off her list.
"We did as we could. Miracles are up to someone else."
Thanks for being here. For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- Alberta Summer

It's summer in Alberta and that means our provincial flower, the wild rose, is in bloom.
Our summer is all too brief. I'm happy it's here and I'm doing my best to show my gratitude by enjoying it as I can.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Friends

Cats just love my husband. He loves them right back despite his allergy.
The cat next door, Toad, spent a winter's afternoon looking at him with unmasked adoration as he cleaned the windows.
Click to enlarge and you'll see how taken Toad was.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Offerings- Begin Again Edition

Cold and rigid, like my WIP.

It's Two Sentence Tuesday time and I'm back with a bit of work.
Last week I didn't play along, not even at home, because I was a bit played out from getting a manuscript ready for betas. A Fly on the Wall is in their tender hands now. All I can do is wait. And write something else, of course, to keep my mind off it.

I'd set aside my current WIP some time ago to concentrate on AFOTW. By the time I dusted off the file again Dead Broke was cold and rigid.
I re-arranged a few things and it helped. Then I decided I needed to start over so I killed off three of the four chapters one morning. Later than day I resurrected them. I realized my approach had been wrong all along and I needed to back up and change perspective. Some bits in the chapters could be made to fit.
I've done a bit of writing on it, but mostly I've been thinking and sometimes rubbing my hands together as I giggle maniacally over an idea.

Ahh, it's good to be creating again.

From Dead Broke:

"The last bit out loud was clearly for my benefit. The carp tipped his fedora to me and swam away."

I spent many an hour on my deck these last few days enjoying the sunshine and a good book. The book is Elizabeth Hay's Late Nights on Air. It's set in the mid-70s at a radio station in Yellowknife, NWT. Hay brings the station, the people, and the north alive in her book and I found it captivating.
Two sentences:
"But she discovered soon enough. The enmity of newsmen is no small thing."
- McClelland & Stewart, Emblem Edition (2009)
Thanks so much for reading me. Two Sentence Tuesday is the brainchild of the Women of Mystery. Slip on over there for more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gratitude Monday--Bobbing Along Edition

It was a glorious Sunday. The last day of spring. We spent it as we've spent many a Sunday morning lately. Fishing.
The small lake we've been going to is not much bigger than a pond. It's in a hollow beyond a hay field. It's safe, protected, and often still.
An osprey guards it and has a nest high atop a spruce tree along the wooded south shore.
We hear birds call, a family of ducks patrols the south, a loon nests along the west edge.
Fish jumped. Huge ones and small ones and many in between.
We tried fly fishing, I did some regular casting, and we trolled along as we let the canoe take us where the lake's current thought we should be.
They taunted us, these trout, with their jumps and twists. It was their home and they called the shots.
We were just happy to be out on the lake.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Life Goes On

An ordinary day in Santa Clara, Cuba.

Enlarge the photo and you'll see laundry on the second floor and a woman hanging out the wash on the top floor.
This building is across the street from one of the most sacred sites of the Revolution. It looks over the wrecked train that Che Guevara toppled to cut off supplies to the military. Castro entered Havana a few days later.
Life goes on.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not a Thief of Time

Don't fear the spud.

The commercial for the following product irks the hell out of me.
It's a simple unadorned potato product ready for use and the ad for it starts out about how you don't have the time to mash potatoes. It is a sad statement on people's priorities if they can't even organize enough time for that.
McCain Purely Potatoes (TM) are clearly meeting a need and good for the company for realizing it and going after the market.
All that aside, the mere fact there's a market for potatoes that are already peeled and cut and ready to cook bothers me.
Seriously, how long does it take to peel a potato or three?
What delights me, though, is users of this product still mash their own spuds once they're out of the microwave or off the stove.
Consumers are being sold on the notion that they're saving time by using this product.
What are they saving? The potatoes still take as long to cook no matter who peels them. Any sitting afterward, or additions of milk or butter or garlic or what-have-you take as long.
It takes a few minutes to get the potatoes, and then peel, wash, and cut them. It takes not quite as long to get the package from the freezer and open it.
Fair enough. I'd say a consumer of this product does save 3-5 minutes.
But tell me something, how much money is it costing them to save those minutes?
A 10 lb. bag of potatoes is relatively cheap on it's own. Compare it against a ready- to- go product and those become some very costly minutes.
I think that's what galls me the most about the commercial for this product. It's not the humble spud itself; it's the idea that we don't have enough time to feed ourselves and underneath it is the suggestion that if you do have this time, then you are not part of the current culture.
You have time? What's wrong with you? Where are you failing in you life that you have enough time to peel your own potatoes?
I say enough is enough. Having the time to prepare your own food is not a sign of failure.
People, take a stand. Grab a peeler and take back your life, one spud at a time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A View from a Hill

This is the hill above Fort Assiniboine, Alberta. It's been cut down some over the years and the bottom curve's been smoothed out, but those are minor changes.
It's still the hill I rode down every morning when I went to school and the hill we took to get anywhere that requited going through the Fort.

Something about this descent calms me. I look out over the vast green forest, gaze at the sure steady flow of the Athabasca River, and let my eyes rest on the faraway rise to the south and it could be any year, any season.
Time has ceased.
I am any age and every age, but mostly I am young again. As I look out over this scene and into the village I am reminded that anything is possible.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Got An Award! Yay!

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff gave this to me. I was thrilled. I still am.

The four rules governing the award are simple.

1. Give it to five others.
2. Invent something about each of the five.
3. Link to them.
4. Link to the poster that gave it to you.

Nancy at Life in the Second Half is the spiritual founder of the Sensible Ideas Movement and has asked me not contribute.

The Bag Lady at Bag Lady's Blather will be taking over the world soon and promises to cook for everyone.

Reb at Sibu Pegasus Power will be photographing the Bag Lady's ascension to power and later helping with the dishes.

Redbush at Redbush's Brambles is spending the summer teaching bears to paint. Their first show will be followed by an auction, dance, and hibernation.

Lil' Nan at The Fifth Sparrow knows the secrets of the Universe and will be spilling all once the Bag Lady is in power.

Enjoy your awards, everyone. You've earned 'em.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gratitude Monday - Flowing Better Edition

The Weeping Wall in Banff National Park

We visited the Weeping Wall during our recent drive along the Icefields Parkway. I am grateful to pass along the waterfalls on it look healthier than they have in the past few years.
I love this spot. It's peaceful, protected, and shaded. There's a good-sized pullout on the opposite side of the road which makes for good viewing, and there's a very pleasant body of water along the road.
It's a nice place for a break during the drive and I take one there whether I need it or not. Water, running or still, restores my soul.
The Weeping Wall is flowing better this year. I am, too, for having seen it, and I am grateful for it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park from the lookout at Bow Summit.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tasty Tourists

Tourist try for that perfect picture of a feeding black bear.

Sometimes I think we've gotten too far away from nature for our own good. This is an all too typical sight. Visitors to bear country want to get a good picture and forget all common sense in doing it.
Bears, no matter how engrossed they are in their food, simply cannot be trusted. These men are doing something that no one should do.
As for my pic of them, I have a healthy respect for any bear. I used a zoom lens, shot quickly, and knew that the bear would have to eat his way through both of them before it got to me. I had plenty of time to get away.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Griz Along The Parkway

We were treated to a rare sight the other day as we drove along the Columbia Icefields Parkway.
We were blessed to see a Grizzly Bear.
This one is a young adult, we think it might be about three years old. Despite it's relative youth, it was huge.
The photo above shows off its shoulder hump. That's one of the distinguishing characteristics for telling a griz from an ordinary brown bear or a cinnamon black bear.

This shows griz in profile. The dished in look of the skull is another distinguishing physical marker. Brown and black bears have rounder faces.

Alberta Grizzlies are a threatened species. There are only a few hundred left in the Province due to the massive oil exploration here and up until recently, they were hunted.

We'd be a much poorer people without the grizzlies.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Twofer Tuesday -- Ducks In A Row?

A Common Goldeneye duck and her ducklings out for a late morning swim.

I'm still editing A Fly on the Wall. I had a particularly sticky problem in chapter eight that took a while to sort out. Or, to make the photo relevant, I had trouble getting all my ducks in a row.
I eventually sorted it out. The rest of the corrections in logic should be easier.
Here's a freshly edited passage:
"Brelyan turned on his stomach and buried his face in the pillow. What was he missing?"
Our current bedtime story is from The Complete Tales of Nikolai Gogol, Vol 1. (University of Chicago Press, 1985)
We decided to read Gogol after my husband found a reference to him in one of my cookbooks. Gogol's Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka sounded like our kind of stories.
A quick internet search sealed it. In the second picture Gogol looks quite a bit like my husband. I ordered both volumes and offered them as my husband's birthday present.

Here are two sentences, and two extras from The Fair at Sorochintsy:
" ' Why it looks like two men: one on top, the other under. Which of them is the devil I can't make out yet!'
'Why, who is on top?'
'A woman!'
'Oh, well, then that's the devil!' "
Thanks for being here. For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- Reflective Edition

Waterfowl Lake, Banff National Park
Still lakes in the early morning offer grand reflections of their surroundings. On Saturday we were up and away early enough to catch this sight on Waterfowl Lake.
It's moments like this that make me as reflective as the still waters. I am grateful for many things, including how close I live to the Jasper-Banff Highway.
This road, also known as the Columbia Icefields Parkway, runs through Jasper and Banff National Parks and offers the most stunning mountain scenery in the world. I can be in Jasper, Banff, or Lake Louise in a few hours, or I can drive along the highway for the sheer joy of seeing the sights and still be home in the evening.
What sights are you grateful for?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- A Quiet View

A nearly deserted street in Camaguey, Cuba.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sandhill Crane

We get sandhill cranes around here. A local lake just a wee bit north and west of is a know breeding site for them.
It's more likely to see them feeding in fields in the evening, but they can be found at any time of the day.
This one is an immature crane. It was having its elevenses in a field just outside of Rocky.

Intent on feeding.


The other profile.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Time to Wake Up

Crescent Falls

I had big plans to sleep in this morning. I figured I was good to, say, 6:30 a.m. at least.
The Universe, however, had other plans.
The phone rang. It only rang in my mind, but it's just as insistent there as it is in real life. The Universe's call is just one ring although I suspect it happened twice this morning. The first one was part of a dream. The second one was about 20 minutes later. It left no room for doubt.
I tried to stay in bed anyway, but the best course of action when the Universe calls is to answer.
That said, I love the mornings, especially this time of year. The air is fresh and cool and sweet, the birds are singing, the light is new though muted, and there is peace in my world no matter what else is going on around me.
Perhaps the Universe wanted to remind me of this. Perhaps it's got something up its sleeve for later on.
Whatever happens, I'm awake and ready for it.
Anything similar ever happen to you?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Twofer Tuesday -- The Write Hat for the Job

It was nagging at me for quite some time, but I was unsure what to do about it. I felt the need for a hat. Not just any hat either. It had to be a fedora. The question was, where does one go to get it?

The nagging grew more intense late last week as I got stronger pulls to work on all four of my novel mss. even the one that is unlikely to ever see the cold light of day.

Then we went to Red Deer last Friday ( a central Alberta city 50 mi. to the east) and as we approached the feeling intensified. I must have a fedora. Now.

I was walking through a mall when I passed a hat store that always seemed to be overfilled with ball caps. But this time as I walked by a shelf display teeming with fedoras threw itself at me.

I'm pleased to report the fedora and I are very happy together. I wear it as I take chapter notes on A Fly on the Wall. Stray scenes from other mss. flow into my mind with suggestions on just what I need to do to satisfy them.
The hat keeps them in check, corralling my thoughts and organizing them into a chute for later launching. It's a good hat, and it's helping me write.
I still have the chew toys as needed and pick out a tune or two on the guitar as needed, but the hat is helping me get it done.

As I said earlier I'm taking chapter notes. This is my way of finding all the times I was repetitive, or contradictory, or simply made no appreciable sense. I also see more mistakes and have the sense to fix them as I find them.

Here's a bit from A Fly on the Wall:

She moved her head in closer to his. "I think she's got a drop or two of the blood in her, that's what. I studied Cryptozoology, you know. Crosses and half-bloods and miscegenation, if you will. Happens all the time."

I'm currently reading some Philip K. Dick. Why, oh why didn't I get to this man sooner? Science fiction is my first love and I'm just now getting back to it after years of straying.
We went to a bookstore during our trip to Red Deer and I bought two of his books: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? ( the inspiration for Blade Runner) and A Scanner Darkly.

I had a quick look at both before consigning them to the TBR pile, but the second one called me. I had to read it.
Here are two sentences :

" 'The receptor sites in his brain are what I've read usually goes first,' Donna said placidly. 'Someone's brain where he's gotten a bad hit or like that, like too heavy. ' "

-A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick (Vintage Books 1991, copyright 1977)

Twofer Tuesday is the brainchild of the Women of Mystery. Go on over and say hello. You'll be glad you did.