Monday, April 28, 2008

Whirlwind of a Weekend!

In marked contrast to this past weekend, today was snowing (gack!) and full of duties such as sweeping up three days' worth of shrapnel on the floors, making muffins, baking a cake, and entertaining two five-year-olds by having them roll dough balls in sugar to help me make cookies.

I say it was such a sharp contrast because this past weekend I was at the SCBWI Canada East chapter's "Spring Thing" retreat-style conference where it was mostly sunny and I got to talk writing and illustrating with writers and illustrators ALL WEEKEND! Okay, so I was more than "at" the event given that I'm the chapter's regional advisor.

Let me extend my personal thanks here to the terrific speakers (Molly O'Neill, assistant editor at the HarperCollins USA imprint the Bowen Press; Tim Gillner, art director at Boyds Mills Press; and Elizabeth MacLeod, author of more than 30 books for kids and former editor with Kids Can Press). Thanks too to the many volunteers because without you (Alma, Michelle, Chris, Peggy, Caroline) the event wouldn't have happened, and another big thank you to all the attendees. I hope everyone returned home as determined to continue working on their craft as I did.

Returning home to everyday reality was a bit of an adjustment, but you have to think that you pretty nearly have it all when, after an exhausting and creatively invigorating two-plus days, upon your return your youngest child hands you a picture of a bright yellow flower with these words on it:
To moma
I love you.
I hope you had a great time at your conference.
I miss you.

To my wonderful family, the words don't do my feelings justice, but let me just say:
Right back at you...quadrupled!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wauby the Wooden Moose

Isn't he marvellous? He resides at roughly the intersection of Ontario's highways 12 and the 400.

Who made him? Why? How long did it take? Who put him there? So many questions, alas unanswered by the sign which only asked people not to climb on or hang from Wauby.

Hope I get to see the real thing soon. They should be coming out of the bush anytime now. I've heard reports of people around seeing them but haven't yet had the pleasure myself this year.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tag...with Books. I’m Game!

Fiona at Books and ’Rocks has tagged me for the book meme. Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences, so if my math is correct that’d be sentences six, seven and eight.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the blogger who tagged you (so in my case it’s Fiona and if I tagged you then you post here to my blog).

Here goes.

Nearest Book
The Law of Three, by Caroline Rennie Pattison, Dundurn Press, 2007

Page 123, Sentences Six, Seven, Eight

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do. How many times have you vandalized their house, Nathan?”

So go investigate that terrific newly released Sarah Martin mystery. It's a great read.

And now I tag these bloggers:

Patricia Storms of BookLust
Alma Fullerton of Procrastination Purposes
Rebecca of Rebecca’s Writing Journey
Janie Bynum of Sketchy Words
Katie Davis of Brain Burps

And as I'm writing this, turns out Rebecca tagged me too. So double the tag from her and back again...does that mean anything? Extra brownie points for both of us??? And now Alma's been double tagged too...tag is rampant today!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Buffleheads are Back!

Every year the buffleheads stop in on their way further north. They're hard to get a picture of because they're small and they're nervous of people. They're diving ducks and I love to watch them disappear and reappear and do it all again. Find more on these marvellous creatures at this informative website from Cornell.

The mallards, however, suffer from no such camera shyness. They were among the first waterbirds I saw.

As soon as they can squeeze themselves into the narrow shoreline melt they start nibbling, heads in the water and butts in the air.

The Canada geese were a close second.

And once again there are busted bugs all over my windsheild. Truly the sights of spring.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I've Been JOMB'd!

Andrea and Mark, the people who put together the fabulous resource that is Just One More Book, have posted an interview with me. How they made me sound like I sort of knew what I was talking about is surely a testament to their magic.

This is the link to the interview with me:

Be sure to spend some time there listening to the wealth of material on authors, illustrators, and kids books. For anyone who loves books it's got to be at the top of your list of browser bookmarks.

Thank you Andrea and Mark!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Melt Is On

I was out runnning errands when I drove by one of Bracebridge's many falls. It was a sight worth stopping for. All I can say is Wow. (And that I'm glad I live on high ground.)

This is the town's parking lot where I got out for a closer look at the Muskoka river. I have to confess to feeling rather nervous parking here. I had no desire for my Odyssey to go on, well, an odyssey. It looked like it would be fairly easy to set sail from this vantage point.

Yes, the town docks and walkway are completely submerged. River water would periodically splash up on the guard rails. Then I took some footage of the falls themselves. This is a still of the silver bridge in the background and the hydro generating station on the left:

I also took some movie footage with my digital camera. In an attempt to string together the clips into one movie I started playing with iMovie. I claim no expertise in any visual arena but I did come up with something that amused me in no more than about an hour (I had about a bazillion other things I should've been doing during that hour but let's put that time down to personal growth--har!).

Here is my iMovie debut:

Obviously I have a lot left to figure out...but it was fun fooling around with the software. And trust me: if I can do this so can you!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Evening of Words, Music, Art & Wine

I had the pleasure of reading at the fifth annual Evening of Words, Music, Art & Wine in Dorset, Ontario on Friday April 11.

I read Let's Go, of course. Thanks to James Jones, Dorset's famed garlic farmer and the evening's MC, for encouraging everyone to browse the book to see Scot Ritchie's fabulous illustrations for themselves.

The evening included display tables featuring the works of talented artists such as stone-carver Elise Muller, basket maker Sheila Ziman, painter Vicki Dodds, fibre artist and storyteller Fay Wilkinson, painter Karen Sloan, mixed media artist Naomi Brinkhof, and the team of Kevin Vallieres and Tara Gilchrist-Vallieres, a woodworker and potter.

We sampled cranberry, cranberry blueberry, and blueberry wines as well as the Red Maple dessert wine from Muskoka Lakes Winery. Music performances by Zoe Chilco and Albert John Saxby kept us all entertained. Word is the evening will be broadcast on Haliburton's Canoe FM sometime in the future.

Thanks to Melissa Alfano for putting together such an enjoyable evening.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Complain, complain

If you've browsed this blog a bit I'm sure you haven't failed to notice that I complained about the snow an awful lot. Turns out I might have been justified in least a little.

Yes, I'm Canadian. Yes, I live in a rural area. Yes, I should be used to snow. But nearly 18 feet in one winter? According to this article in The Bracebridge Examiner that's how much snow my part of the world got this winter. The highest in the province!

All I can say is we're lucky we had two partial melts in there.

And speaking of melts, it looks like it's finally underway for real! For the last week or so it's been a pleasure to see these signs of spring:

* the beaver paddling along the narrow shoreline melt
* the sound of a woodpecker calling and hammering
* the call of the redwing blackbird! Love those guys.
* mud
* a pair of great blue herons flying overhead
* the mallards are back

And personally, as the highway snowbanks shrink, I find it fascinating to see how many guardrail posts the snowplows took out over the winter. This year they hardly demolished any. Good job!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Counting Cars

A train! This is always cause for stopping and rolling down the window, if at all possible, in my family. Everywhere. Even in Pickering.

So to park safely I missed getting a picture of the engines. But what's a train without CN boxcars?

And tankers, flatbed cars, hopper cars.... This train was terrific!

But when it had passed we encountered a serious disagreement. My daughter said there were 146 cars while my son insisted there were 165.

There is no winning for a parent in this situation.

Of Pickering, Power, and Parking Lots

This past weekend I found myself in Pickering, Ontario (last minor hockey event of the year). Being in the Greater Toronto Area in the last few days has made me realize that there are things I am not used to having to deal with. They are:

* Lack of parking spaces--everywhere!
* Lineups--everywhere!
* People running yellow lights--all the time!

At our hotel one night we couldn't find a parking space anywhere so we, being the savvy country survivalists that we are, spotted a space where a snow pile was preventing its use, got out of our car, kicked the snow mound to flatten it out, and proceeded to park over top of it. Hah!

The parking lot to the arena was under huge electrical power towers. The lines hummed in a most eerie way.

I have to confess, though, that it was more eerie to find out that those four dome shapes just visible in the haze in the lower left were the nuclear power plant. I knew it was around but didn't realize I would actually be able to see it!

The power towers marched on as far as I could see in both directions.

Most fascinating to me, though, was being close to the huge windmill (and one of those nuclear domes is slightly more visible in the lower left).

We wanted to get a closer look at this windmill so we asked a local for directions. He happily provided them (and possibly looked at us like we were weird seeing as he admitted he'd lived there his whole life and had never seen it closer himself).

The size of it is difficult to believe. Those are not evergreen bushes, they're full blown trees. Of course, at this location I was steps from the nuclear power plant. Time to leave.

It's great to be a tourist!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fun at the Feast

It was great to be in Toronto at the Feast of Authors. The food was good and it was wonderful to see so many people interested in books and writing. Thanks to all the organizers for such a terrific opportunity.

But when will I ever learn that bringing shoes out of hibernation that I haven't worn in over 10 years will only result in blisters!?!?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Come Feast With Me

April 3, 2008 is the Feast of Authors in Toronto. If you love books, over 80 authors (including myself) are appearing at the St Lawrence Market North in support of books, reading, this April’s 10th anniversary as National Poetry Month, and the Toronto Dollar’s 10th Anniversary.

Acclaimed author Joy Kogawa talks about the event in this article from The Toronto Star. More too at The Toronto Dollar Project or the Facebook Event Page:

The Particulars:

Date: Thursday, April 3, 2008
Time: 6:00 to 9:30 p.m.
Location: St. Lawrence Market North
Northwest corner of Front & Jarvis
92 Front St. E., Toronto
Admission: Free

For more information here are the Media Contacts:

Marilyn Hotta, Author Liaison
Joan Campbell, Publicity Coordinator