Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writers' Trust Awards Announced

And here's another nugget for today... The Writers' Trust Award winners were announced yesterday with Annabel Lyon taking the Rogers Writers' Trust Award for Fiction for her book, The Golden Mean.

How about buying books for whatever holiday you are celebrating this year?


Man Defends What He Supposes the American Constitution to Be

Gotta love The Onion. This had me laughing out loud.

Enjoy your day.


Monday, November 23, 2009

I just don't get it

I've already posted today (see below) but have just been listening to a report on The Current (CBC Radio) about the ongoing battle to ensure proper health care for First Nations children.

A law was passed two (?) years ago after a little boy died having spent his entire 2.5 year long life in hospital rather than living at home because the federal and provincial governments couldn't agree on who was responsible to pay for the child's care.The law states that the needs of the child should come first, that the child should received whatever care is required and that governments must haggle later.

Although this law was passed it hasn't been put into practice and the government is now trying to change it so that it only covers children with complex medical conditions.

According to the interviewees, Native families will sometimes be forced to put their kids into foster care because the kids are fully covered when they are in such care. White kids living on reserve are also fully covered.

There is to be a human rights tribunal in Alberta about this as it is a gross human rights violation.

That is, there was to be one. The feds are now fighting to say that there is no jurisdiction for such a case to be heard.

I'm sitting here writing this and I can't stop crying. I know this is true. I know that my fellow Canadians are allowing this to happen.

But it can't be true. We can't be like this.We cannot be a nation of people who turn our backs on the suffering of our brothers and sisters, no, who actually perpetrate this suffering through our bigotry and apathy.

I put myself in the position of a mom whose child is ill and in need of medical attention and my choice is to have my child go to live with strangers in order to get health care. To send my child away.

My tears aren't going to help.

But we all can. What is the difficulty in writing letters to government officials? Blogging? Tweeting? All we need is the tipping point.

I have a couple of links to post below but haven't yet found a link on the CBC site. As soon as I find it, I'll post it.

Edmonton Sun

Turtle Island


Missed deadlines

It's deadline day today. One of my students from my first class two years ago has till today to submit outstanding assignments and receive her diploma. (I am using she as gender neutral rather than as a statement of which gender this person is.) I have a feeling this isn't going to happen despite my emails of encouragement and a final extension.

Whether the student does or does not hand them in, the situation that got her here in the first place is most unfortunate. She is capable, has great attention to detail and always produces professional-grade work. She was top of the class or top three until the month before the end of first semester when she became ill. Although I do not know the exact nature of her illness, she was hospitalized. The work that wasn't finished that semester was never completed and deadlines continued to be missed throughout second term.

As time progressed, I began to believe my student was suffering from anxiety and/or depression and I had a few discussions with her about her tremendous abilities and the need to let things go. To do the work to the best of your ability up to deadline and release it onto the world. Eighty per cent right and on time is better than 100 per cent if the 100 per cent misses the deadline and the client walks away or the crisis boils over.

After more than a year of trying to get the assignments, this student was told that the 13th was the last deadline. She asked for and received an extension to the 20th and was supposed to contact me last week to discuss the outstanding work. By Wednesday I hadn't heard from her so sent and email again encouraging her to contact me.

She responded and outlined her many work deadlines that were swamping her. I asked for and obtained another extension to today. I also reminded her that, at this point, she could do no better marks-wise than a pass so not to agonize over doing work that would garner a top grade.

I have still not received that phone call.

It's really a sad situation though I am still holding onto hope that she might come through.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wish list for the holidays

In my house, it's not Christmas unless I get a book under the tree or in my stocking.

This year, I've requested (and I do have to request them as my bookshelves are crammed and no one could possibly know what I already have):

  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • Fall by Colin McAdam
  • The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
  • Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

I've been  thinking about e-readers but am not ready to take the plunge. The idea of being able to cart numerous books with me without the excess weight is appealing but reading from yet another screen is not. (Just wait my friend, someday you too may need bifocals! I am beginning to see the appeal of large type on my computer screen already.)

What about you? What's on your reading/wish list for the holidays? Are you or have you gone electronic?


Friday, November 20, 2009

When you lose your dreams...

I've been in a funk over the past two days about my writing. Here's what a friend wrote me:

"You have to love putting words on paper, believe a little bit in your own karma as a writer, plug away, throw your product out to the universe and let it find its place, then start all over again. Oh, and you have to laugh and find humour every day, and you've got to have a dream... When you lose your dreams, you die."

That's now hanging in my office.

I have pretty smart friends, don't I? And generous too.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sears and body Image

Having to find the name of those one-piece winter suits for infants (not the iconic snowsuit), I perused the pages of Sears catalogue this morning to discover what I wanted was called a pram suit. Lovely. Thank you.

I flipped through the pages of said catalogue and came to the undergarments section which I perused -- always on the look out for a good bra.

In the ultra-support section, I came across those draconian-looking girdles along with less-restrictive body gloves. Keeping in mind that these things are made to suck in fat, I was surprised to come across one that came in two sizes only. A small and a medium/large.

Guess what the waist measurements are?

Small: 28"
Med/Lg: 30"

Thirty inches is not only the largest size this body-shaping, breath-restricting, fat-holding onesie comes it, but, apparently, someone or ones actually think(s) that 28- and 30-inched waisted women need this type of garment.

Sears, are you kidding me? In my books, the only time 30" would be considered large and in need of drastic reduction would be something seen only in a porn movie. And 28" needing a girdle? Who is your audience?

We wonder why women have serious body issues.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why is it just when you're falling asleep...

Nearly every night, as soon as I turn out my reading light, ideas for my manuscript pop into my head. I never, ever remember them come morning so now keep a notebook and pen on my night table. Sometimes my thoughts are "fix it" things -- something I've written that's missing the mark and my brain has somewhere registered this without my conscious knowledge and then -- viola! -- the light goes out and the "fix" appears. Other times, a scene will appear to me and I have to do some extensive scribbling so I don't lose it.

Such was the case last night and I can't wait to tackle the new scene this morning; I'm so energized.


P.S If sometimes is one word, why is other times two words?

P.P.S. Down another three pounds for a total of 29! How cool is that?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What is it with those vegetarians?

Overheard at a coffee shop...

A middle-aged man and woman, each with their own newspaper. The papers are not the same. They chat about what they are reading without looking away from their pages or worrying about interrupting the other.

Man: What is it with these vegetarians?
Woman: I don't know. They don't eat meat.
Man:  Some of them eat fish. Fish is a meat as far as I'm concerned.
Woman: There are different kinds. Some don't eat anything with eyes.
Man: Harrumph.... Black-eyed peas have eyes.
Woman: Well, yes.
Man: Or is it black-eyed susans.
Woman: Black-eyed susans.
Man: Ah.

I don't know. This just cracked me up.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Love, Handbag

The mall downtown sent me a rather clever postcard yesterday.

The photo is of a purse on a pink background. It is a lovely purse. Just the kind I'd love to own.

The message reads:

I hope you remember me.

I'm the handbag that held your gaze when you passed by, not long ago, on the Lane. In those brief seconds I could see our life together like we'd already lived it. Long strolls in the city -- weekends in the country -- always holding each other close.

I'm still here -- waiting for your return. I hope we meet again. Who knows what wonderful things lay in store for us.

Until then, I'll remain an empty vessel, alone and unfulfilled.

With love and anticipation,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm old

I am officially old.

While in the kitchen, I thought of something to add to my latest go at a manuscript. I raced to the computer to get it down before I forgot. When I turned on my screen there were a couple of emails waiting for me which I answered. One asked for information about tickets for a play which I found and sent off. I then got some lunch, sat down to watch tv while I ate, chatted with my daughter on the phone, checked my son's schedule for the day, got a drink and then wandered back to work and remembered I'd had a wonderful idea for my friggin' MS.

An hour ago.

What was it?

I have no idea... oh wait! Something about the flu.

The flu.


Nope. Not coming.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh, Pachelbel!

Taking the low-road from Maya, here's a rant on a piece of music that I love -- like everyone else: Pachelbel Canon in D Major.(the actual version)

The Amazon Wal-Mart price war:

And at the end of the day, who pays? Not the big stores, that's for sure.

The Amazon Wal-Mart price war:

The 10% Factor

I've done it! I've done it! I've dropped 10 per cent of my body weight! Yea!

To my heart: You are welcome.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Dreams and Goals

Bad Writing Contracts

Bad Writing Contracts is a consortium urging writers to boycott Transcontinental. Info was sent out today by the Nova Scotia Writers' Federation along with info about how to have your contract reviewed if you do enter into one with Transcontinental.

The link is above.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Teaching boys about condoms

My son was home-schooled through high school. Not because of any problems but because he was miserable and bored.

I give you this background not for any political reason but so you understand that the logistical part of sex ed has been denied him.

Oh, we've talked about sex. Responsibility, pleasure, safety. He knows the score. (I hope.)

When my late bloomer announced that he was finally ready to date, however, I realized that, at some time in the foreseeable future, safe sex and condom use would no longer be relegated to the realm of academic discussion. And then I wondered: What if he was too shy to purchase them?

When my daughter was in high school, the health office had a bowlful of them that kids could nonchalantly walk beside and scoop up as needed.

What resources would my son have?

None. Just me.

So, I bought a box of them and brought them home and told him to pay attention. I proceeded to show him how to use one by slipping one over my fingers. (What can I say, we didn't have a banana in the house.)

He was, in a word, mortified.

He told me that I had scarred him for life.

He announced that he'd be in therapy for years to come.

And then, last night, in front of a friend and me, he told her all about it, laughing. It has become one of those things we share and tease each other about -- like we do about almost everything.

It seems my presentation is no longer mortifying and, because of it, he has no excuse not to be safe.

Sometimes, as a parent, you have to do something risky to get a kid's attention. Another discussion about safe sex wouldn't have had the same impact.

And I feel pretty good about this.


Calorie burn calculators

I walked to Clay Cafe yesterday to meet my daughter for a few hours of clay painting. When we were done, I walked back home.

It's a 3.3 km walk in each direction.

Today I tried to find an online calculator to figure out how many calories I burned. Each calculator gave me a different number and spanned the range from over 200 calories to over 1000 calories. Really?

I wouldn't have thought it would be that difficult to figure.

Anyone know of a reliable source?


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

There's coffee all over the friggin' place

Can someone tell me why the makers of coffee machines are incapable of creating a carafe with a spout deep enough to enable the pourer to fill a mug in under 15 minutes without leaking all over the counter?

C'mon people.

At $130 you should be able to provide an adequate spout.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Arar—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)

Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Arar—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)


Down another four pounds this week. Take that, Mom! HA!

On another less glorious note, I mistakenly thought my writer's group was to meet yesterday and bused over to Clayton Park only to discover that our schedule had a hiccup and we're meeting next week. I took the opportunity to have lunch with my daughter so it made the trip worthwhile.

Today, my son starts his new job as a server (promotion from host/busperson). It's the first time he has to bus to work so of course I had to call him to make sure the bus arrived on time so he wouldn't be late. (Okay, I know I worry too much but wait till your kids are at that age when you have to start treating them like adults. It's not that easy.)

Now, I'm going to do a bit of yoga to get the day off to a good start, do some laundry and get down to some work!

Have a great day!