Sunday, February 18, 2024

A Valentine Gift of Memories

 It was February 14th, and I was waking up in Niagara Falls. Not that I was surprised, it’s where I fell asleep. Just saying. Hubby and I went away for a change of scene, but mostly to re-connect with friends we don’t see nearly often enough. We had a good first evening of food, libation, and catchup conversation. Yes, getaways with long-time friends are always heartwarming.

There’s something else I look forward to on these retreats. And I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel this way. It sounds odd because most people don’t sleep well when they’re away, but I LOVE sleeping in a hotel. I always get a great night’s sleep. I know, right? But that’s the way it is with me. I’ve never truly duplicated the experience at home. No matter how high the thread count is, or the number of pillows on the bed, or the quality of the mattress, it doesn’t feel the same. Maybe it’s the duvet. I’ve had comforters, bedspreads – I love chenille – but I wonder if I should …. Never mind, I digress, as usual.

So, I woke up feeling good (naturally) and after stretching, squirming, and positioning my three pillows, I reached for my iPad. What’s new, I wondered. Just then an email came through. I frowned when I saw it was from my son. Strange for him to email me. This can’t be good, I thought. But I was very wrong because when I realized what it was, it made my entire day. That’s pretty great considering it wasn’t even 8:30 AM yet.

A few months back he’d mentioned an old cassette tape he’d come across. Had he found it in his childhood memory box? Most likely he rescued it from a junk box filled with once-favoured collectibles. I’m not sure. Anyway, I did recall making tape recordings with him when he was a toddler. The first one we made together was when he was two years old and a little chatter box.

The email he sent to me on Valentine’s Day was an audio file of one such recording. Now, every parent out there can imagine how precious it is to hear a recording of your child from over forty years ago. I mean, time just stops.

I texted him immediately. I’m not crying, you’re crying, I joked. I won’t deny how emotional I felt listening to it. Memory overload. I’m sure he felt the same way. Part of the recording was a conversation – as only a saucy four-year-old can converse – with his dad (now deceased). When he told his dad we’d gone roller skating that day, I cracked up laughing. Oh, I remember that day. A day I hadn’t thought of in…well, forever.

I loved listening to our duet of a song I’d made up for him when he was a couple of years old. We sang that song umpteen times on the drive home from his daycare centre. It eventually disappeared from my repertoire only to leap back to life when my granddaughters were toddlers, and I shared the song about their daddy with them.

Our memory is a funny thing. We couldn’t have every event of our lifetime constantly active in our minds. Some hide in the shadows until one spark brings them to light. Hearing that little rascal’s voice brought it all back. The bedtime stories, bathtime struggles, pets, and discarded apple cores. The journey of one precocious little boy.

And we’re still making memories.


Sunday, October 08, 2023

Road Trip


Suspecting it might be our last topless (the car, that is) tour this year, we took advantage of the warm temperatures last week and escaped to the Southampton area for a couple of days. Nothing puts me in a better frame of mind than to head north on Highway 21 through Grand Bend to Bayfield and Goderich. It’s my attitude-adjustment area. So I guess that would make Southampton my feel-good zone, and I looked forward to the brief but rejuvenating road trip.

I loved travelling along the water and stopping at our favourite beaches along the way. THAT, my friends, was the best part of the trip. My husband snapped this pic in Point Clark.

There’s something so comforting about being near the water. I spent a few moments on ‘my rock’ at Bayfield, a beach I frequented often for many summers. And in just those few moments of taking in the sights and sounds, I felt the urge to write something…anything. Nature has always inspired me. Especially bodies of water. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a river, lake, or creek. To be honest, even a bathtub of water has cleared minor writer’s block for me.

We’ve always enjoyed visiting Meaford and were delighted to see the town celebrating a scarecrow festival. Scarecrows everywhere! Even hanging from lightposts.

An all out effort throughout the town. Even in the residential areas. 

We stopped downtown to admire the displays and then headed to the rocky shore of Georgian Bay where I basked once again in the restorative setting. I believe I left my bum imprint on the rocks of at least five beaches. So, yes, it was the most relaxing of tours and the weather couldn’t have been better.

The evening temperatures were still favourable for a stroll along the beach. We walked down to the benches at the end of the main street in Southampton to catch the sunset. Words don’t do it justice and, alas, no pictures. I guess we were too absorbed in the magnificent view. That experience was more satisfying than the chicken alfredo I ordered for dinner. And everyone knows how much I LOVE fettucine alfredo.

Here and there were splashes of red along the road during our travels but it was too early for the trees to have changed colour. We’ll wait a a couple more weeks for that treat. 

I’ll share more pictures and memories of some of those beaches later. Maybe when the snow drifts turn to mind drifts and I remember standing at the shorelines of Lake Huron, gulping in the lake air, cool and refreshing, as receding waves suck the sand from beneath my bare toes. Yes, that’s when I’ll dig up those photos, slap them on Facebook and say, ‘back in October we ….’

Monday, September 11, 2023

My Summer Timeout From Writing


I enjoyed a refreshing respite from the office this summer. When hubby and I weren't motoring around Southwestern Ontario on fair weather days, we spent time together at home. Mostly he worked in the yard while I watched. I think he prefers it that way. He loves trimming, cutting, and planting, so I leave him to his pleasure without thought of ‘helping’. He has an incredible green thumb and I LOVE his garden of robust, colourful flowers, not to mention the picture-perfect vegetables he leaves on the kitchen counter for me to oooh over. His offering of green peppers and tomatoes became stuffed peppers for last night’s dinner and it appears I’ll have to dust off my squash recipes soon.

With no writing schedules or deadlines to worry about, we welcomed long afternoon visits with family, friends, and neighbours.  And I especially enjoyed a fun shopping trip with my teenaged granddaughters. We had a great time together as they spent their summer wages on the 'must have' apparel for the new school year. We even took in a movie while we were in London. You guessed it...Barbie!

And, of course, I occupied many pleasurable hours reading. I should say re-reading. Yes, I plucked some old favourites from my bookshelves. That's a comfort thing, right? Reading your favourite books again? It's like eating mac and cheese or drinking tea with milk and sugar. Anyway, it makes me feel good. It had been forever since I read a Stephen King novel. Noticing that The Green Mile had been added to the Netflix movies list urged me to select that particular book first. I admit that after I’d finished the book, I watched the movie again. They couldn’t possibly include everything in the movie, but I was satisfied.

Then I reached for To Kill a Mockingbird. Loved it – again. And I'm not sure how many times I've read Margaret Laurence's classic, The Stone Angel, but it was my next choice after Harper Lee. Then I moved on to Nina George's first book in the Death Trilogy, The Little French Bistro and, of course, I then re-read the other two books in the series.

I'm currently captivated by the first book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. As happened with King’s The Green Mile, I turned to the film for comparison. I’d only read a hundred pages or so when I spent an evening with Netflix watching some episodes from Season One. What a love story! When I’m finished reading The Outlander, I'll return to recently released publications in search of more favourites to add to the collection that I'll reach for again in years to come.

My idyllic summer was made even better by an invitation to a book club meeting. There’s nothing more exciting than meeting readers and answering their questions, and it’s especially interesting to hear their perspective on the storyline and characters in Old Broad Road and On The Rock. To make the evening even more perfect, the members also requested copies of my memoir Hazards of the Trade. What’s not to love about book clubs? A shoutout of appreciation (and a warm hug) to the welcoming members of all the book clubs who have invited me to spend an afternoon or evening with them.

It's been a relaxing summer, but now my leisurely timeout has drawn to a close and I’m back at the desk. And that's okay. I'm looking forward to the business of writing, deleting, writing, and deleting some more. Because from all that writing and deleting, I'm hoping a new story will emerge.

Hoping you had some sublimely memorable hours this summer, too, whether it was reading, travelling, or spending precious time with family. 🥰

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Halloween 2022


I always fuss over what to buy for handouts. I’ll never forget the year I bought juice boxes, and what my granddaughters said about my handout choice. Juice boxes? Nana, you actually bought juice boxes for Halloween? I thought it was a great idea. I still do. But I didn’t buy them again. If any of you know of a healthy snack that’s an appreciated treat, let me know.

When we lived in the country we didn’t have many children come to the door trick-or-treating. At a discount store I purchased colouring books, crayons, little crafts, and fun toy thingies. I invited the children in to pick out what they’d like. It really didn’t go over as well as I’d expected. Back to the sugary treats.

This year when I bought cans of pop I wondered if kids still drank cream soda, orange crush, and root beer (they do! Root beer is the favourite), bags of candies (next year I won’t get any licorice), wee boxes of smarties, those little chocolate bars – which  I had to re-stock before the 31st  (eyeroll) – and  boxes of potato chips. I second-guessed myself as I put them all out on folding tables in the foyer. I’ll give the smarties and little bars to the toddlers, pop or chips to the older ones. Then I considered giving out a few candies with a can of pop, some chocolate bars with the chips… And so it went.

That night it took only a couple of trips to the door for me to change my mind about everything. This is

Friday, October 28, 2022

My Imaginary Friends

 I miss the people from the pages. Do other authors feel the same about their characters? They must. We get inside their heads, and that’s as close as you can get to anyone. Someone questioned this point, though. Do we get inside the heads of our characters, or do characters live inside our heads? I firmly believe in the former. There were days when I needed to write but, uh uh, their voices were silent. But then my characters were always very much in control. Of everything. It was all I could do to keep up. To a non-writer that probably sounds crazy. Think what you will.

At a book club meeting to discuss the Newfoundland series, one of the members thought it was hilarious the way I pondered – in the same manner they did – how a character might react in a different situation. You talk like you don’t know these people any better than we do. You made them up! I prefer to think of it as giving them life. Whatever. Okay, maybe I do give my ‘creations’ too much lead and that’s why I never know what will happen next. I’m definitely a pantser, not a plotter.

Yes, I miss the gang from Old Broad Road and On The Rock. Who wouldn’t? Sylvia Kramer, especially. It was the whole lifestyle that she’d built for herself in Newfoundland that I admired. We became quite close over the time it took me to write these novels. I might have connected more solidly with Sylvia