My children’s story has been published!


When my daughter was little, we would make weekly trips to the public library to borrow stacks of picture books for bedtime reading. The story that Jennifer loved best of all happened to be the one that I had written just for her. It was about a little sprite of a girl named Abigail Bugsby, and we read it together many, many times over the years.

Contributor’s section

When Our Canada magazine, published by Reader’s Digest, called for submissions of children’s stories, I dug my Abigail Bugsby story out of storage, dusted it off, and sent it in. Lo and behold, the editor at Our Canada chose to publish it in their August/September 2017 issue, complemented with artwork by their talented illustrator, Bill Suddick.

If you would like a printed copy of Abigail Bugsby to read to your kids or grandkids, pick up a copy of Our Canada magazine, which you’ll find on newsstands across Canada this month. I have a subscription for a variety of digital magazines through Texture, and it’s in there too. Here are pictures of the original version I wrote (and illustrated) for Jennifer. My drawings were quick and rough, so it was a real treat to see Bill Suddick’s visual interpretation of Abigail!

Advertisements

What moves you?

It’s a typical day.

Same old. Same nine-to-five routine. Same rush-hour headaches, same group of maniac drivers on the road… when… all of a sudden, my attention is gripped by the sight right in front of me—mother nature’s magnificent ink pots of ruby, magenta, russet and amber spilling to stain the deep blue of the sky—right there before my eyes, waiting patiently to be noticed. In awe, I detour away from the traffic to a quiet road, park my car, and sit in worship of such a perfect sight.


When I see something that moves me like this, I am compelled to stop and take notice… and write about it. Everything about a sunset—the amalgamation of colour, the serene sense of peace it represents, the powerful expanse, the pull of it—is all too special not to be noticed and revered.

Writers have an all-consuming need to translate what moves us into words. When we see something that stirs our feelings, we simply can’t keep quiet about it. If we see something that makes us happy, we must write about the source of our happiness. If we see something that makes us sad—oh woe is the story we’ll write. If we see something that makes us angry—well, let’s just say it’s wise not to mess with a writer because you just might find yourself the subject of a very spirited editorial in a newspaper or other venue. We don’t just see things, we feel them to the core. Which drives our need to write.
If you’ve been down with a case of writer’s block or caught in a mood rut, perhaps you need to rub your eyes and take a fresh look around. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the simple yet astonishing beauty blooming in front of our noses every day, when our sights are ever-focused instead on the hustle and bustle of daily life.

A fat black and yellow bumble bee darting into and out of a clump of blossoms; the metallic flecks that sparkle in an otherwise plain stone; a lone ripple on the calm face of a pond made by the paddling of a mallard duck and her babies; the bouncing pigtails of a little girl playing hopscotch; cream-puff clouds on a blueberry sky. So simple, so precious, so easy to miss.


How many sights do you pass by each day without taking notice—sights that have the power to move you?

Open your peepers. There are miracles everywhere.

Random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk

“I think the problem with ISIS is that they’ve never learned how to chill out. Think how beneficial it would be if we shipped an army of yoga instructors over to their training camps in Afghanistan. I mean, why not?—They’re already wearing loose clothing, and their prayer position is almost identical to a yoga pose—why not just continue with some Downward Dogs and Warrior (excuse the pun) poses too?And while we’re at it, instead of fighter jets, the Western world could send over fleets of crop dusters loaded with weed. They could fly over the training camps and douse everyone in clouds of smoke. How much happier would our world be if all that rage and drive for vengeance was replaced with giggling fits and cravings for Doritos!”

 

Random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk


“I’m looking up at the beautiful expanse of blue sky above me as I walk, and I’m thinking how amazing it is that it’s exactly the same sky that I played under when I was a little girl. The same sky that I gazed up at to watch clouds drift by on a summer day. The same sky that blazed with sunshine on my wedding day. The same sky that sent down a gentle dusting of snowflakes on the day that my daughter was born. The same sky that’s been above me for as long as I’ve existed on earth. And for infinite years before me. The same sky that dinosaurs and Neanderthals roamed beneath.

Will that same sky be there for future generations to appreciate? I can only pray.

As long as men like Kim Jong Ugh, Vladimir PU-tin, Donald Grump, et al., exist—
men who delight in their power to make things go boom—who knows?

For now, I am looking up at that blue, blue sky, and I’m so happy that it’s still there.”

Random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk

Every day, I go for my exercise walk outside, rain or shine. I put on my headphones, listen to great music, and walk to the beat. I’ve found that I brainstorm some of my best ideas for new projects or stories while I’m walking.

I’ve also found that some really crazy-ass, random thoughts will pop into my mind for no good reason, and I’ve started writing them down, just for fun.

Every so often, I’ll share these thoughts here because… well, why not?

A sample of the random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk:

“What’s it like to be dead?

I know that lots of people have died and been revived, then gushed about how beautiful death is and how sad they were to have to come back to life on earth.

But how about all the ones who didn’t come back? Is it possible that, during their journey through the tunnel, they kicked and screamed and told God to go find some other sucker? Might they have been screaming things like, “Blimey! Why didn’t I just eat that effing piece of cheesecake the other night! Like it matters up here what my ass looks like!” or
“It bloody well figures. Now I’ll never get to buy a Prada bag or Miu Miu heels! I penny pinched and plucked, and now my kid will be livin’ large—thanks to el cheapo!” or
“Shit! Did I turn off the stove this morning?”

And then again—just in case the powers that be are reading my mind right now—I take it back. I don’t really want to know the answer after all. I’d like to just forget about it and put my focus back on Diana Ross & The Supremes, OK?”

A churchy kind of poem

Spring is here… it’s the time of year when children begin to wind down the school year in preparation for summer vacation, and those in Catholic schools are getting ready to celebrate their First Communion or Confirmation.

My poem is for all the parents who’ve been there, done that,
and all of those who are about to.

Confirmation

Perched in church,
nephew’s confirmation,
swaddled in finery,
big family occasion.

Grandma on the aisle,
camera poised.
Grandpa hunched,
both eyes closed.

Cousins ahead,
aunties behind,
uncles a-twitch
in neckties that bind.

Impure thoughts,
flecked with guilt.
Long time since
confessions spilt.

Mind’s a-wandering,
what a sinner…
wondering what
we’ll have for dinner.

We sit. We stand.
We stand. We sit.
Unfold the bench
and kneel a bit.

We genuflect,
we sing a hymn,
we bow our heads
and pray to Him.

Ah, sermon’s over,
we’ve all been blessed.
Tumultuous minds
for now at rest.

We chatter, we shuffle,
our exit’s begun.
We burst through the doors.
Church is done.

 

What do you get when you put Jack White + The Edge + Jimmy Page together in one room?

The only part of the Grammys that I bothered tuning in to this year was when Lady Gaga and Metallica strapped their TNT together and proceeded to detonate on-stage. As for the rest of the acts? They just didn’t spark my batteries.

Don’t get me wrong—I do love Adele. And Carrie Underwood. And Alicia Keys. And that Bruno Mars guy isn’t half bad (his music aside; I would kill to have his flawless skin!). 

 

But most of the meh music of today just doesn’t do it for me.

There is nothing—and I mean NOTHING—that makes my atoms hum like the thunder of drumsticks gone berserk along with the furious keening of an electric guitar. Obvious, isn’t it, that I was a child of the seventies?

Which takes me to an extraordinary documentary on Netflix that I watched the other night, called It Might Get Loud.

If, like me, you miss the days when you’d turn on the radio and hear the kind of music that made you drop whatever you were holding in your hands to play air guitar, you’ll relish this coming together of Jack White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page, during which they share their love of insane guitar playing.

Talented really isn’t a strong enough word to describe these three men, and it’s stirring to see the raw passion they have for their craft. Driven by this passion since childhood—that they’ve achieved such heights is kismet. What’s fun about the documentary is the way it was filmed—it’s just the three musicians sitting around a coffee table in an old warehouse, sharing stories of their musical journeys and their love for music and playing guitar riffs together, with flashbacks here and there of different key periods in their lives.

Jack White is an absolute force to be reckoned with. And The Edge is, of course, The Edge. But … holey moley ravioli! … Mr. Jimmy Page is ageless when he picks up his guitar. The man is truly a guitar god. 

There’s no doubt about it. You’ll want the volume on full, even though It Might Get Loud.

Can you remember your very first childhood crush?

redhaired-boyHe had thick, dark red hair, and was king of the playground.

I was in seventh grade and new nothing about love. But I did know that he made my heart flutter every time I looked at him.

His name was Paul Warner. It was obvious that he was a popular boy, since all the other boys (and girls) gravitated toward him at recess like a pack of wolves to the alpha.

Boys like him never noticed girls like me—girls who wore their shyness like a cloak of invisibility. If he had ever glanced my way, I know I would have blushed ten shades of red and found the toes of my shoes to be suddenly engrossing.

daydream-girlI daydreamed often about Paul Warner throughout that school year; sweet vignettes that materialized in my mind whenever I should have been focusing on a math problem or listening to the teacher’s commentary on the Hundred Years’ war…

What if Paul Warner bumped into me at recess…and smiled at me…

What if Paul Warner turned around in class…and asked to borrow my pencil… 

What if Paul Warner took the empty seat beside me on the school bus…and…

Perhaps this first crush was simply an omen of my future—a sign that a different Paul was predestined to enter my life someday, the Paul that I would fall in love with and marry happily ever after.

Alas, Paul Warner was never in the cards for me.

girl-dreamingSeventh grade reached its denouement, my family and I eventually moved away, and life rolled on. It wasn’t long before I was head over heels in love with my very first celebrity crush (that’s a story for another day). Paul Warner became as distant a memory to me as Scholz’s star is to Earth.

Although Paul Warner knows nothing of my existence, nor will he ever, I do hope that life’s been good to him. After all, there will always be a special place reserved in my heart for my very first childhood crush.

Now tell me—who was your very first childhood crush?

How creative are you?

I was reading an article the other day about creativity and the personality traits of creative people, and it brought on one of those “Aha!” moments—it described me to a tee, as well as all the other writers I know. I think it would be rare to find a writer who isn’t a creative type—think of all the entertaining stories in this world we’ve read or the articles that have inspired us or taught us something we hadn’t already realized.

CreativityAre you a creative type? Read on and see if you identify with these traits:

  1. Creative people are intuitive. We have powerful instincts and are attentive to them, even when logic tries to tell us we’re wrong. Our intuitive nature is necessary to the type of work we do, because it helps us seek out and acknowledge our own truths rather than accepting what we’re told to believe. We feel a driving need to share the truths we discover by writing about them.
  1. Creative people have a directed purpose—a destiny that must be followed. We eat, sleep and breathe our passions. Without them, we would feel unfulfilled. We have a vision and, by George, we cannot rest easy until the entire world knows about it. And then… we have another vision. And another. Our only release is death. Maybe?
  1. bird-with-big-hair-copyCreative people are unconventional and won’t hesitate to open our minds to the most irrational of thoughts. We have a hard time conforming to “you should” and “you’re supposed to.” It’s not that we’re trying to be difficult, it’s that we’re bombarded with ideas that make us question why things have to be the way they are. We have a need to walk the path that deviates—“just to see what happens.” When we hear a different beat, it piques our curiosity.
  1. Creative people can see the big picture from many different angles. We visualize what isn’t yet there and we see infinite possibilities. We imagine a lot. And explore. And play with. We’re known to frequently stumble upon unique uses for ordinary things because we’re never content with the first draft of anything. Our imagination is as borderless as our universe. We love, love, love to dream.
  1. sense-of-humorCreative people have a great sense of humor. We like to seek out the fun in everything we do. We never did leave the “play” part of our childhoods behind. Because we look at things from so many different angles, it’s easy for us to see all of the humor in life. Many of us think our own jokes are uproariously funny, and have no idea why the rest of the room isn’t laughing too. (Ha!)
  1. Creative people are not motivated by financial rewards. Of course, if our passions generate money—bonus! But even if they don’t, our mission is still GO. We are rewarded emotionally and spiritually when we do what we love, and there is no price tag on that.
  1. feelings-and-emotionsCreative people are hyper-sensitive to feelings and emotions. We feel very deeply; we allow our feelings to guide us and we have a need to translate those feelings into words or art or what have you. When we’re happy, we’re HAPPY! When we’re sad, we’re SAD. When fresh ideas nuke our brains, we erupt into fits of manic glee and then we’re off—immersed in yet another thrilling new project.
  1. differentCreative people are not threatened by anything that’s “different.” Original concepts delight us. Unique intrigues us. We are extra-motivated when we see any of our fellow creatives cracking through the barriers. Different is the secret password that opens doors to all things possible.
  1. Creative people are independent. We don’t like to be told what to do. We do our best work when we have freedom to express our ideas in all their crazy glory. Try hemming us in and we’ll fold faster than a bad hand of cards. You want proof of this? Just observe the creative student whose teacher insists that they NOT color outside of the lines!
  1. Creative people love to learn. Learning something new—whether it’s a hobby or an informative topic in a magazine—stimulates our idea fountain and gives us something different to chew on. We source fresh ideas while we learn—and we pursue new opportunities to learn like vampires on the prowl for blood banks.

yellow-flowers-in-rocks-copyCreative people bring something extra special to the table of life. A beautiful painting, a thought-provoking story, a delightful stage production, a captivating song, a mesmerizing choreography, a remarkable invention… creativity brings a feel-good glow to daily living. When doors to creativity open, we step into a beautiful otherworld that has no borders, a place where we can be free to discover all the possibilities.

How to like exercise, believe it or not

As is evidenced in my New Year’s Resolutions post, I’ve been fighting to stick to an exercise routine for the better part of my life, while the Demons of Sedentary cackle in my face as they pat down a fluffy couch in front of the TV for me to lounge on.

healthy-person-woman-sportJoin the gym. Avoid the gym. Do 30 walking lunges. Take 30 steps toward the instructor and lunge at his throat. Get moving. Screw moving. Year in. Year out.

At 58, I’m SO done with this tug of war.

It was a tug of war because exercise was always about the goal of looking hot. Exercise to be skinny. Exercise to banish cellulite. Exercise to sculpt long, lean legs. Exercise to show off bikini abs instead of having to hide your gut in a suit that looks like a body bag from the county coroner’s office.core-exercise

Joining the age 55-60 club changed my life on so many levels. When they say, “you’re not getting older, you’re getting better,” what they should be saying is, “you are getting older, but that’s a gift because you’re also getting smarter.” Suddenly, I don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not I look hot. What I desperately care about is doing my best to remain on this earth for many, many more years while enjoying the best of health, being able to fend off the aches and pains that so many in my age group and older have to deal with on a daily basis, being here to watch my future grandchildren grow up and being able to roll up my sleeves and play with them without pulling something.

The kind of exercise I need to do to be hot, involves a pricey gym membership, using machines that I don’t really enjoy using, working with an instructor who’s going to force me to do stuff I hate doing, joining classes where everyone moves like professional dancers while I stumble over my feet like an idiot. Never liked it. Don’t like it now. Will never like it. Ever.

BUT. I’ve discovered the kind of exercise that rewards me with the health benefits I need to extend my life, sleep well, raise my serotonin levels, strengthen my lungs and heart, burn some calories, grease my joints and muscles, and give me an overall feeling of well-being.

walking-1449015412a6dIt’s called walking. And I don’t mean going for an afternoon stroll through the park.

Since last fall, every single day, no matter what the weather is like, I dress appropriately, hook on my Sony Walkman that’s loaded with 800 of my favorite tunes, and I walk briskly for 45 minutes or so. I try to keep pace with the beat of the music, which gives my heart and lungs an excellent workout, and gets the blood flowing. The nicest bonus is that it’s not just about the exercise. I’ve also discovered the joys of being “in the moment.” While I walk, I’m also absorbing nature’s gifts—flower gardens and trees, blue skies and sunshine, rain pattering against my hood. I’ve never appreciated the seasons more since I’ve started walking with all of them.

I’ve also never felt better. Once I’d gotten into the habit of going every day without fail, I’ve actually begun to crave this feel-good midday break, and look forward to hearing the tunes that are up next on my Walkman.

The key here is that taking a brisk walk while listening to music is the one activity that I really enjoy. I’m not pushing myself to do a daily workout that I really don’t feel like doing. I’m doing something that makes me feel good on several different levels and that I look forward to doing. Am I going to look like Heidi Klum a year from now? I’ve never looked like Heidi Klum and I never will. But I’d say that I look pretty damn good enough for my age, and that’s good enough for me.

If I can live a good, healthy life in the years ahead by choosing to participate in an activity that I enjoy, and that helps make me a happier person—well that’s what I’d call hot.

hoodie-scarfA CROCHETED HOODIE PATTERN FOR WINTER WALKERS

My daily exercise walk has made me realize that I actually prefer walking in the winter months, a time of year that I used to despise. And why is that? Because of the awesome hoodie scarf that I crocheted to keep me as warm as a mug of hot cocoa with melted marshmallows.

It’s easy enough for a beginner to make, and if you use a soft, bulky yarn, it will keep you warm in any weather. Here’s the pattern:

bear-in-hoodieMy Warm & Fuzzy Hoodie Scarf

Approx. 8″ x 80″

3 balls of soft, chunky yarn; 6.5 mm crochet hook

Scarf: Chain 22

Row 1: (dc, ch 2, dc) in 4th ch from hook, *sk next 2 chs, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in next ch, repeat from * across, turn.

Row 2: Sl st in next ch-2 sp, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, sc) in same sp, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in each ch-2 sp across, turn.

Row 3-120: Repeat Row 2. Fasten off at end.

1Hood Assembly: Fold scarf in half with wrong sides together. To make the hood, starting at top of fold and on one side only, use yarn needle and yarn to sew through both thicknesses for about 10 inches. This creates the back of your hood.2

Hood Front Edging: Place a marker in 15th row down on each side of hood front.

3Row 1: With right side facing, join yarn in end of marked space on right side, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, sc) in same sp, *sk next row, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in next row, repeat from* around to other marked space. End in last marked space with (2 dc, ch 2, sc).

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Optional: Add fringe to scarf ends if desired. Here’s a link to an easy fringe tutorial at wikihow: http://www.wikihow.com/Add-Fringe-to-a-Crochet-or-Knit-Project

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: