Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy Birthday Gladys

How quickly the weeks , months and years go by. I am so happy to be in the quietness of a morning in my office to reflect a bit. The snow has not begun but school has been cancelled which really doesn't affect me at all but seems like a reprieve never the less.Today is a writing day.My work in progress is rolling along and I see being able to finish it by the middle of May.Spring has arrived even though the weather seems to be fighting it. March is a scrappy month. April approaches again this year bringing nineteen years of missing Zac and learning how to be in the world without him. Mom and Dad will come back from their winter in Florida. Mom will see her ninetieth birthday and we will continue to find our way through her savage disease, no longer having the gift of carrying on a conversation with my funny, anxious, loving mother. Monday I attended Gladys 95th birthday party. She sat in the middle of the large room at the Dr. Snow home and welcomed her well wishers. She looked radiant. In spite of some physical decline her mind and spirit shine brightly and grace all who know her.I look ahead to another book launch , market season, Word Spring , award ceremonies , royalty cheques and lots more. Summer will come and we will welcome our girls. Changes and blessings are on the horizon. Yesterday on my walk I paused to give thanks for the past , the future and the very moment of the present. I stood looking up at a beautiful blue sky surrounded by a pristine, bright, white snow cover and breathed in the present moment. Our weeks , months and years are of course made up of those present moments. May we be truly mindful of each one and the blessing of those moments tied together giving us the life we've been gifted with.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming

When I was a kid some show (can't remember which one) ended every week with the line'Keep those cards and letters coming.'Maybe someone in my generation will recall and remind me what show it was. It doesn't matter really but the sentiment is clear. Yesterday I received a lovely e-mail from a reader who had just finished reading Maple Sugar Pie.She took the time to tell me about selecting it from a book store, reading it and experiencing it. She said so many of the things an author hopes to hear. She mentioned that she now considered Maple Sugar Pie as one of her favorite books and planned on re-reading it at some point. I told her I would certainly re-read her e-mail when I needed a boost of encouragement. Every week I write letters and mail them to my granddaughters in Alberta. They have come to expect them but I don't think that lessens their value. Every week I put a stamp on an envelope and send a few lines but what I'm really doing is connecting, embracing and encouraging. I am telling my granddaughters that I think about them,that I care about them,and that I take a few minutes to tell them they matter. Their dad decided early on to keep the letters in a special place, to not recycle them (which is huge for him as he is all about cleaning up and recycling) because the letters can be re-read, can be treasured , can be valued. Written words sent to encourage and support are so special for the sender and the receiver. Keep those cards and letters coming!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Sorry,What was the Question ?

I just finished a CBC radio interview about the upcoming book club with The Sewing Basket in March. I only asked "Sorry, what was the question?" once. For a rambler who when asked a question can take off in a long distance answer that is not too bad. I paused for the correct word a couple of times which again isn't too bad. In the nineties I did a TV interview while fighting the battle to get the Peninsula Little league to allow girls to play. I referred to the backstop as the backdrop and was mortified. Somewhere in the archives that misspeak still reverberates.I heard it in the blooper's loop of my brain for years. I will listen to this morning's interview later but I think I'm in the clear for a similar embarrassment.I forgot to watch the Oscars. I am happy to hear as I write that Francis McDormand won best actress. I loved her performance in Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri.Now that would be a Mother /daughter book club with a dark and tragic theme filled with a mother's love, guilt, agony and determination.On Facebook this morning my friendship with my daughter Megan popped up . I thought how fitting to see her face and mine side by side seconds before my interview about The Sewing Basket which happens to be her favorite of my books. I am so thankful our friendship flourishes in real life. I am so thankful for her; her humor, her generosity, her scrutiny, her truthfulness. I mentioned in the interview the arch of the relationship between the mother and daughter . I am mindful of the arch in the relationship Meg and I have and see every up and down as a beautiful gift. And then there is the relationship arch with my own mother . Sorry, what was the question?

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Friday in the Office

I normally don't write on Fridays. I usually go across the river and spend the day with my best childhood friend , her sisters, her daughter in law and her grandchildren and some other friends, sometimes her nieces and their kids. We call it quilting and the day does result in quilts being made but is more about the lunch and the time together. Some Fridays I stay home for various reasons and today is one of them. I am quite enjoying the day. The March sun is shining and dripping and running water surround the house leaving a muddy mess that speaks of spring. I will probably walk up over the hill but am not anxious to leave my desk. I have been working for the last two days on a not forgotten but set aside manuscript. I did a complete re-write of it awhile ago and hadn't given it much thought recently. But after preparing two back burner manuscripts for submission I decided to devote some time to A Fear of Drowning. The rewrite is so much stronger than the previous draft. I have done some revisions and have some immediate plans to add to the story that is gripping me right now making me question whether I can tear myself away long enough for my wood road walk. And then in the middle of this I get a call about an interview for Monday morning about the Mother / Daughter book club in March featuring The Sewing Basket. I check my e-mail intermittently looking for the arrival of the interior of Headliner , my May release. My grateful heart swells with just all this, not to mention the blessings and gifts looming in the rest of my life. So back to work it is!

Monday, February 26, 2018

On a Sunny Monday Morning

The sun is streaming in through my office window.Earlier the sky looked grey with a drizzly rain.It is the start of another week, the last week of February. That is hard to believe . We almost have winter beat and it hasn't been that bad. We have had some cold, a bit of snow, lots of ice but the sun is strong and spring is on the horizon. I see so many blessings ahead. I hold in my heart the gifts Spring will bring. I also reflect on the gifts winter has brought.So many gifts and the choice each day to focus on those gifts instead of worries and concerns. Today I have the privilege of speaking to a group of Peninsula seniors. I look forward to sharing my love of place. I am so thankful for my home and my purpose and how it has changed over the years.I am no longer the little girl standing in awe at Louise Northrup's 100th birthday party. In awe of community, in awe of story and in awe of belonging.I don't expect Gladys will be there but she will be with me as I talk about the the stories of this place I hold so dear.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Day at St. John the Baptist/King Edward

I am recovering again the morning after . Oh boy I wear myself out on school visits but I always come away glad that I did them. Yesterday was no exception. I left home around 8:00 and found my way to the school along the maze of streets on the south end. I don't know if I've ever noticed the school before. I lived for awhile on Duke st when I had my first apartment but I guess I never ventured a few streets down and paid attention to the brick building housing K-8 students . I parked, went in and then was redirected to the teacher's parking lot which is kind of hidden off of Pitt st. Then I reentered an interesting building of ramps and railings and welcome classrooms. I presented to the 3-5 students first. They were wonderful. They sat on the floor perfectly still and attentive. Many kids asked many great questions.One grade three girl toward the end raised her hand and asked" Are we writing with you?" I explained that I wasn't doing a writing workshop with this group and she seemed a bit disappointed. I like to think she was one of several future writers in the crowd. The next group was 6-8 and it took awhile for them to all show up. One teacher seemed reluctant to stop teaching and bring his kids. That is not a bad thing. When they all got there I began and again they sat on the hard floor staying as quiet and still as any group could. "Were you good at L/A before you became a writer?" Good question. I did tell them I was an underachiever in school and described my path to finding or claiming my strengths.I had a quick lunch in a very typical staff room where teachers claimed a few quiet minutes and hurriedly ate their lunch. Then I faced the challenge of the day. Often times when I do writing workshops I have a smaller group who have been picked by the teachers because they like to write and will willingly participate. Now I am not complaining because I was happy to offer whatever I offered to all the middle school kids at St. John the Baptist/King Edward but let's just say it wasn't a smooth and easy two hours. Initially I was to have 50 kids for two hours. I strongly refused that scenario and took 25 for an hour each. I must say I am thankful for that adjustment as I may have left the building screaming after the first five minutes. Even though the two workshops were not the easiest I have ever conducted there were moments that shone through.Now I normally try to learn the kids names when I have a group of 25 or less but yesterday proved to be more of a challenge. Each name though lovely in itself, seemed unfamiliar and difficult to remember. My overworked brain could not kick in and I gave up after about six names. I do remember some: Jasmine, Marcel Mohammed, Danielle, Conner, Divia, Natalia, Tyson. Cayson, Jaden, Zachary, Alex, Brian, Braden, Willow, Jacob, Tiana , Aimee. Now listing them, they don't seem so daunting but believe me my head was not as clear as it is this morning. Anyway I got a bit of writing out of the kids. Tiana and Aimee wrote impressive 'I remember' pieces as did some others. We talked about why we write and things that get in the way of our writing . I read a bit and lots of good questions were asked.I did for two hours what countless teachers do everyday; try to engage a room full of personalities, backgrounds, struggles , challenges and abilities,try to juggle the class clown , the class introvert, the hidden geniuses, the underachievers, the unhappy, the unsure, the angry and the confused. Sounds impossible but yet it has its rewards. The students of St. John the Baptist /King Edward welcomed me and gave me a memorable day in their midst. I applaud each staff member and encourage each student as they enter that building each day. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of it on one foggy Wednesday in February.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Another Sunday for Mourning

Oh boy! It is with a heavy heart I write this morning. I will write and again as on so many Sunday mornings try to get out from under a blanket of sadness. It is the day after what has been for nine years the day of the terrible loss of a beautiful woman, wife , mother, daughter, sister and friend. A day when the terrible news of a head on collision rocked us to the core and left a hole so massive and so deep. Nine years ago a father and his two precious children died on a highway and left a grieving mother behind. Nine years ago a precious young man left his parents and sisters to mourn his loss. Ten years ago a man filled his truck with sand to cover the kind of ice we see on our driveways today and never made it home.Twenty five years ago a small girl died in her parents arms. This week high school students and teachers died in a gun attack intended to slaughter.In New Brunswick Becca left her family mourning a daughter , a sister and a force for kindness. They watched her and supported her in her valiant fight against Butterscotch and assisted with her legacy of kindness and courage. Through tear filled eyes I struggle with the sorrow of this all. I daily manage my own sorrow . I hold in my heart the sorrow of my kids, my husband , my friends and strangers. This morning I pray for the Schofields , and each family touched by the losses above. Columbine happened almost nineteen years ago just two days after my son died. I remember feeling sorrow for the parents of the boys that carried out that slaughter and held on tightly to the fact that Zac didn't take anyone with him. Will Becca's parents feel the connect of their beloved daughter's death to the Parkland shooting? May they take comfort in their daughter's lasting message of kindness. Perhaps that is all any of us can do as we find ourselves reeling from the magnitude of loss and sorrow. Be kind, be kind, be kind; to ourselves and to each other. Today I will figure out the best way to do that not forgetting, but hoping that the kindness Becca pleaded for will somehow lessen the burden of so much sorrow.