Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Writing Disabled Heroes and Heroines

In the September issue of Romantic Times magazine, there's an article about writing disabled protagonists. I was interviewed for it earlier this summer and I thought the article turned out really well and covered a lot of disabilities - from deafness to paralysis and lots in between.  As a follow up to that, Liz Fielding and I are blogging at the Romantic Times Blog today about writing her Matty and my Noah.  When I wrote Noah I had Matty in my mind, because knowing Liz had written a wheelchair-bound heroine (and that she ended up with a RITA award because of it) told me it could be done.  It was a lot of fun putting this together with Liz.

I think you might have to log in to the RT site to comment, but I'm not sure. But you can take a peek at the article anyway. :-)

Otherwise it is on to finishing revisions today.  And may I just make a comment on the weather?  It's hot.  It's supposed to get to 40C today with the humidex. And the same for tomorrow. We have a couple of portable air conditioners but it only keeps the house bearable, not cool. When I got up this morning our bedroom was still 25.5 degrees. It should clear off on Friday though, lovely, right?  Except it appears we're possibly on track for a direct hit from Hurricane Earl....

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer of Fun Continued: Cape Breton

Bras D'or Lakes, Cape Breton
This past weekend the fam went to Cape Breton Island camping. In the three summers we've been here, we haven't camped, not once.  We've taken our camper and used it while visiting family, but not actual CAMPING for various reasons.  It was great to go this weekend but being out of practice we forgot some things.  Like aluminum foil for wrapping potatoes.  A corkscrew.  Kleenex.  All things that are normally in the camper all the time but that we'd cleaned out and I didn't think to replace in the rush to pack on Thursday.


The kids had never been to Cape Breton before so I was really excited to go. It is a beautiful island.

Friday morning we got up and after a camp breakfast of bacon, eggs and fried potatoes, headed to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  It is heavy on the science aspect of things and there are tetrahedral/triangle designs in everything.  Bell worked with the deaf and linguistics first and then as you know moved on to the telephone, flight and hydrofoils. 

East Coastline
One of my favourite things though is the story of Alexander and his wife, Mabel.  When he was young and working with the deaf, Mabel was one of his students. They fell deeply in love. When you see the pictures of the two of them throughout their lives together, it is easy to see the affection between them.  Mabel was right there with him through all his crazy inventions - I think as much a pioneer as he was in some ways - definitely in spirit.
West Coastline

After the museum we started around the famed Cabot Trail.  We stopped and had a picnic lunch and carried on to Smokey Mtn, Little Smokey, Lakies Head, up around Ingonish and then you REALLY hit mountains on the other side. We're talking 13% grades for 4 or more km. We were actually getting a little worried as our brakes smelled VERY hot and there was some smoke when we stopped for a few minutes. Did I mention we stopped at shops along the way? Glass artisans, bakeries, pewter, gift shops.  It was 6:30 before we got back to the campground, and then still had to cook dinner etc....

On Saturday we headed to the Fortress of Louisbourg. It was really hot, so the dh opted to hang out with the dog - they did some walking trails near the visitor centre and then hung out in the truck with the windows down and a supply of water.  The girls and I took the shuttlebus to the Fortress, and made do with a quick tour.  It is amazing to realize that while it is huge it is really only about 1/4 of what was actually there in the 18th century.  At certain times it housed up to 5000, and had batteries on either side of the channel so if anyone tried to sail in they would get it from both sides.

We drove back to the campground and I had a nap while the dh relaxed and the girls swam in the pool. Then it was dinner and a campfire and packing up a few things as we left early yesterday morning. Good thing too, because we came home and spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool!  This is supposed to be the hottest week of the summer....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Even better than cover squee is....

A first sale!

Congrats to Soraya Nicholas on her 2-book contract to Harlequin Romance (a lovely line to write for, even if I'm a little biased!)!  Soraya was my Pitch Contest winner back in January and I can tell you that she has a lovely voice and really knows how to tug on the old heartstrings.  I'm so happy for her! She's worked very hard for this and has had a run of good news. I even told her last week that I truly believed it was only a matter of time! Little did I know that "time" was only hours away.

I was away in Cape Breton on the weekend and so didn't get the news until I got back. I am so pleased that she's going to be part of the Romance line!

Congrats Soraya - this is just the beginning. :-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cover Squee!

Just a quick interruption because I love love love sharing cover squee.

The first is for a UK Christmas anthology that I'm in with Barb Wallace, Susan Meier and Pat Thayer.  The cover is so pretty!  Hooray!


And then Maisey Yates let me know that I have a book out in Turkey this month, paired up with Raye Morgan.  So Hired: The Italian's Bride gets a turn in Turkish.  As far as I know this is my first Turkish release - sometimes delivery of author copies of translations is a bit spotty.

Carry on.

Slushing Through

I have to admit that work these days feels like trudging through slush. I had a fab summer and recharged the batteries which is good, because in typical fashion several things landed on my desk at once, all needing fairly immediate attention. While I determined to do a "chunk" on my wip every day as I went along, I have had to put that aside for a week or so. I had some admin that couldn't wait. My kids needed clothing for school, especially the eldest as by the end of the summer she had one pair of jeans that fit. I am in the middle of hefty revisions and I also received edits on another book. Yesterday's schedule ended up being 9 solid hours of work followed by shopping followed by me bringing clothes in off the line by moonlight and doing dishes before going back to work at my desk.

But there's something good about it too.  For one, I did my edits yesterday and was reminded of how much I love that book (Breathe, coming out in November). I came very close to crying near the end which is a good sign. I was dead tired last night but determined to do some work on my other revisions (and finally threw in the towel at midnight).  As I neared the end of the chapter, I wrote a line that had the effect of a choir of angels singing in my ear. LOL. It was just a line, an emotional beat of introspection by the hero. But it suddenly opened things up for a scene I have to insert later on. That one line works hard. It foreshadows. It carries thematic weight. It even sets up a good part of the hero's character arc. And I didn't even plan to write it.

Sometimes magic happens. That's the beauty of writing. You can plan a book as much as you want but you can't plan for these little nuggets of awesomeness. I could probably say that they are completely random, but I don't think they are.  I think that it is all in a writer's subconscious, waiting for the perfect time to come out. What is frustrating is when they don't come out and you feel like there is something missing. And that is why it is so important to refill the well.

Once I get past the next few chapters, I don't think the revisions are going to take me as long. I hope to finish the first pass tomorrow and then let it sit for a day or two before re-reading and polishing and sending it back.

The title of the blog has other significance too.  Check out my pal Jenna's post at The Pink Heart Society - she does the "Slushing Through" column each month. She's got a really wise, honest post up there today that I think all writers should read, whether they are published or unpublished.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anyone spare an umbrella?

When it rains, it pours. Edits arrived today on top of revisions so I am one busy chick.

However I wanted to point you in the direction of The Pink Heart Society.  Today is Pink Heart Picks Book Club day and I've read - and reviewed - The Cowboy's Sweetheart by Brenda Minton.  I also announced the book for September so go on over and have a gander.  I hope you'll pick up the next book and join us on the 28th Sept to talk about it.

Also I was up at 5 this morning so I finished off reading Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods and reviewed it on eharlequin. I learned a lot by reading this trilogy, and while there were bits that I wished had been further developed, I did enjoy the books, the setting, and the O'Brien family.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weekend

If you've been reading the blog, you know we've had a pretty great summer.  This weekend carried on that tradition - my sister and brother in law were here for the weekend.  My brother in law is also my husband's brother, so getting together is especially fun.  They were both here early Friday afternoon, and after a trip to the grocery store we ended up floating in the pool and then having a great barbeque. We went to the neighbour's for a while and then came back and had a fire in the fire pit.  Saturday was a big breakfast, relaxing, more pool time, and then all of us went to the track to watch the car races. We had never gone before and it was fun! There was a pro stock tour race on and it was a good time.  We came home and played cards.

They left yesterday morning, and then yesterday afternoon was the company barbeque at a nearby park.  We got home and I was plain old exhausted.

But it was a great weekend and now it is back to work with a vengeance. It has been a wonderful summer and there is really only a week left until school is back in.  I will be sorry in a way to see it end, but in another way I will be glad because the fall is hopefully going to be very productive and it will be good to get back in a solid routine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

WINNER of my store name contest....

I can't believe I forgot to do this!  I meant to on Monday....then revisions took over and my brain got overloaded.

SO without further ado, the person who has named Jess's crafty-type store in the new book is

ELLE CHAPMAN who posted on eharlequin with the name Imaginations.

I knew it was the right one because I read it and could visualize the sign straight off.  I see a whimsical font and maybe some lilacs and butterflies on it. It just felt right.  I'm also on kind of a one-word-title kick lately and while the book doesn't have one, it seemed to fit the store.

Elle - I'm posting on eharlequin as well but if you can e-mail me at donna alward at hotmail dot com (put that in standard e-mail format) with your snail mail address, I'll send you your prize!

Pillars of the Earth, Brothers, and what not.

The dh and I have been watching PILLARS OF THE EARTH.  We're enjoying it immensely.  In fact, last night I was so filled with horror and loathing that I believe I said to dh, that mother&*#$er has to die. Which he didn't so it means we have to wait for the next epi.  I told dh that I think Jack needs to discover something first and that Jack should be the one to do it.  But I haven't read the book so I don't know how it plays out.  Now, that being said, I heard from one person that she is very disgusted with the series as it deviates from the book so much.  Then I heard from someone else that it follows things pretty closely.  It made me think...how much creative license do you accept in adaptations, is it tied into the "spirit" of the book rather than literal, and is it also tied up in your emotions.  So if you LOVED it beyond words, are you less likely to accept deviations?  I see that Ken Follett is listed as a consultant. Anyway, whether it does or doesn't, I'm watching and enjoying. And my friend lent me the book so I can get to it at some point.  Being a good friend, I also sent her home with a few books - one being Pam Callow's DAMAGED and the other being my latest. :-)

After we watched the POTE epi, the dh and I watched BROTHERS. It's a movie starring Toby McGuire, Jake Gyllenhal (did I spell that right?) and Natalie Portman.  It isn't the flashiest of movies, it definitely doesn't look big budget, but it does hit you right where it hurts.  Sam (McGuire) is a marine captain and his brother Tommy (Jake G) is just out of prison when Sam is redeployed to Afghanistan, leaving his wife (Portman) and his two daughters on the home front.

It's a good story that explores grief and post traumatic stress disorder, with good writing and casting and a clever reversal of roles in the end. But by far the stand out part for me were the 2 daughters.  Those girls were AWESOME. I didn't see in the credits if they were real sisters or not but I cried several times.  It made me wonder if the writer had 2 daughters because I could really see my kids in them.  The youngest was a real ham, cute as a bug's ear.  The oldest seemed to see - and understand - everything which made her pain just heartbreaking.  In one part when Portman says "Daddy will get better," Izzy says, "Really?" with so much hope that it was like listening to my own. And when she said "I love you, Mommy..." I was a mess.  Really, really brilliant job with the kids, writer/casting director/director. 

Anyway I'm off to hang out a load of clothes and get back to work. Company arrives tomorrow, so tonight it is clean up the house night. :-)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Don't Do Waiting Well

I need to be working on revisions.  Yesterday was interesting as I had rewritten the opening and meet and then had to work at blending it in to the existing story that I can keep. At one point I think my brain was ready to explode, and I know I have to go back through this chapter again and smooth out POV issues etc. In one version I'd written parts of scenes in one POV and in the other version had switched - now it is deciding whose head I need to be in and getting rid of the head hopping bits. And then there's the layering....and since my editor commented I was a little narrative heavy it's layering around the action, rather than adding to introspection.

So, that's on the go today.

HOWEVER.

I am waiting for things. I don't do waiting well.  For example, I've seen the cover for BREATHE but am told that it went back to cover art for a few font adjustments and I haven't seen the final version.  I keep haunting Samhain's Coming Soon pages because as soon as they start putting up November books it should be there - the release date is November 2. I wish I could share the cover!  I'm stupidly excited.

Then I realized that I should be getting both my hardbacks and my 2-in-1 Cherish paperbacks (UK) of PROUD RANCHER, PRECIOUS BUNDLE any day now.  They usually come 6-8 weeks in advance of release date. I haven't seen the hardback cover for that either. I'd like to get those copies and send a few out for reviews and hold a contest in September.

Then there's the cover for the UK Christmas anthology I'm in with Susan Meier, Barb Wallace, and Patricia Thayer. It's going to be out in December, so I would guess somewhere around mid-September we might FINALLY get to see the cover of it.

I think the waiting for these things is tied up with revisions to be honest. Revisions are hard and sometimes the crows of doubt really start swooping. It is nice to see covers and hold books in my hands as tangibles. Something real I can see and touch as I go through a manuscript line by line trying to make it better. I realized this year I am a results-based person.  So seeing and touching the results of my work really helps to keep me going.

But in the absence of all that, revisions still need to be done so I'm going to dodge my critique partner's whip and get back to it....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday....ack!

Today's post is short because I have a massive to-do list. Two items are checked off already - I am working on a proposal and did up a blurb for it, which sounds simpler than it is but I'll be cryptic and say I can't tell you why; I sent an e-mail to someone I needed to be in touch with about distribution. I still have to put together a joint blog I'm working on that has to be turned in this week, I need to write a chunk on the WIP and I need to work on my revisions.  Add into it a smashing headache (I took tylenol 4's at 5:15 this morning, as it wasn't just my head but my whole body that ached) and I think this is one of those days I'll just have to push through.

Some posts to check out though:  Kate Walker's blog as she's quoted me in her series on conflict, and Tote Bags 'n' Blogs as my CP Michelle Styles posted about the Librarian event at the recent RWA conference.

Now back to my second cup of coffee....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Word count

In yesterday's comments Morton asked how I do my word counts.  Not being sure if she means how I calculate them or how I get them on the side bar, I'm going to answer both questions. :-)

Most publishers are making the move to computer word count so that is what I do.  It does take the guesswork out of calculating words per page and multiplying it.  Mills and Boon have been using computer count for a while now and so I've been spared the task of using the page count method.  It must be mentioned too that different fonts mean different words per page.  It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

As far as the word count meter on the sidebar - I use the NaNoWriMo meter. This is the link and after you put the code in your sidebar, you can simply click on it and it links back to the site.  Easy peasy.

It is shaping up to be a busy week for me.  We have a little bit of back-to-school shopping to fit in at some point, in addition to hitting revisions and company coming next weekend.  But it is good to be busy. :-) Hard to believe summer is almost over.  I just wish the breeze didn't die off at night.  Last night someone had a campfire and there was no breeze so our smoke alarm went off at nearly 10 p.m.  I had to turn off our air exchanger and close the windows which made sleeping quite....hot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Year Older

Today I'm another year older but the numbers don't seem to bother me anymore.  Made it through another year healthy and happy, a few ups and downs but hey, that's life. Lots to be thankful for - fab husband, love where we live, food on the table, great kids and furbabies. Doing a job I love (most of the time, lol).  It's all good.

We kind of celebrated last night as our neighbour officially started her holidays so the four of us went to the pub and had dinner and drinks on the patio.  She mentioned my birthday which apparently secures free dessert and Kate Hardy eat your heart out, I had the world's most fabulous Creme Brulee.  The waiter took a group pic and they printed it and put it in a card for me to take home.  It was lovely.  Then we came back to our place and played some cards and hung out.  It was a great early birthday and a nice way to kick off K's holidays.

Today is groceries and laundry etc. but I do believe my dh is making barbequed ribs for dinner - his specialty.  The kids had some prezzies for me this morning that have made the house a little prettier.

My sister also called this morning and they are coming for a visit next weekend so we're looking forward to that - the first time she's going to be here for an extended visit and not just a few hours.  My sister is married to my husband's brother, so it's always good times when we get together. :-)

For now - the sun is shining and the washer has stopped so it's clothes on the line time.  I expect it will be pool o'clock later.....

Friday, August 13, 2010

When it all comes together....

Most of you know that I like to have a theme song...well, I've got it for Fortune at Fiddler's Cove. Pink's Glitter in the Air. I dig this song a lot and couldn't believe it was Pink when it came out.  I remember an awards show several years ago right after she began her career where her behavior was eyebrow-raising. In recent years though her music has showed a maturity and a sense of humour that is wonderful. This song is beautiful.  And I knew it was right because when it came on in the car last night, I could SEE things play out and I had to blink several times.  Yep, this song is for my heroine for SURE.

I'm off to get some work done before the kids have friends over later so have a good weekend.  You can still send suggestions for the craft/artisan shop over the weekend as I'm going to make a decision on Monday. :-)

For now - happy Friday the 13th and have a listen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some bonus stuff....

I am doing admin this morning and have added a few things to my site.  First I've listed a few workshops that I've given or am giving over the next year.  If you're interested in hearing more about any of them, check them out on my Press Page and then give me a shout for more info.

And, I have neglected adding anything to my recipe corner for a while.  So this morning I added 2 more recipes - Beef on a Bun and Roast Beef with Red Wine Gravy.  The beef on a bun features in One Dance with the Cowboy, though Jen makes her sauce from scratch.  Which you can do. But while I was away our hostess Joyce made it using commercial barbeque sauce and it was SOOOOO good.  The leftovers were even better as the sauce had really soaked into the beef.  So I've put the "easy" version on the site. 

And the Roast Beef recipe is my "Company's coming, I want to make something special" recipe. It's a little extra work but very, very worth it. And it's not difficult.  It's just a few more extra steps than the regular throw it in a roaster, add flour/water/gravy browning to the broth for gravy. I'm nearly inspired to add my recipe for potatoes that I serve with, only I need to make them again and actually MEASURE as at the moment this recipe goes more like "fill the pot with potatoes, add a dollop of...."

So check out the Recipe Corner.  :-)

One of these days I'm going to have to set up a place for knitting patterns too I expect...

Now it's on to addressing envelopes for the post office run...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Working away....

I'm still looking for a name for my crafty-type store for the new book.  For details - the owner's first name is Jess, it's situated on Lilac Lane in the east coast seaside town of Jewell. I'm looking for something kind of whimsical. I thought of Lilacs and Lollipops but that sounds like a gift shop to me.  Someone suggested Art Attack which I think is very clever but says more Art Gallery to me (filing that one away for future reference). Then I thought Bluebells and Cockleshells, but that's for the skipping rhyme, the Mary Mary Quite Contrary rhyme is SILVER bells and Cockleshells.  Sigh.  All suggestions welcome!  And there is a prize involved if I choose a name someone's suggested....

I also have working titles for all 3 proposed books in the series.  The first one - you'll notice the sidebar word count meter has changed - is Fortune at Fiddler's Cove. 

I keep working away at it though in small doses.  Today the 3 female members of the family are all getting their hair cut (pampering for me, back to school-ish time for the girls) and then it's off to Staples for school supplies before the mad rush begins.  Yesterday we went through any unused supplies from last year and also clothing. The good news is the youngest only needs indoor shoes and a few pairs of jeans/yoga pants. The bad news is the eldest is going to be naked if we don't do some serious shopping.  The one good thing about the eldest is that we can shop both in kids and ladies' sections so we have some flexibility.  But the clothing trip will wait for another week.  And tomorrow my editor is phoning about revisions so I can have a clear plan before I launch in.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Honeymoons and Marriage Counseling

Today I'm at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs talking about the Honeymoon phase of starting a book.

Revisions also hit for The Rancher's Ready-Made Family which, unlike the honeymoon phase, is more like counseling to save a dying marriage...

In other news, the holiday antho Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses has been pushed back to December.  When I have more news I'll pass it along.

Monday, August 09, 2010

PHS and Petticoats...

My husband worked from home for a while this morning as he had to do some work banking in town and the bank doesn't open until 11. I used the time to do the household chores waiting, get some mailing items ready, file away everything from the last book and do general admin stuff.  He's gone now and I'm going to have some lunch and do some actual writing before taking the cover off the pool for a swim.

You can catch up with me today at Petticoats and Pistols talking about what western titles are on my TBR, and at the Pink Heart Society for Male on Monday.  If you're a fan of True Blood you're not going to want to miss it.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Readin' and Watchin'

Holidays means busy but I did manage to watch a few movies and read a few books.

WHIP IT - Directed by Drew Barrymore and starring Ellen Page was surprisingly good.  I'm not a roller derby girl but this was a pretty good movie with a solid cast.  Plus, I now get to hear the dh say quite comically - Home of the Squealer. 

FAME - don't waste your time.  There are a few performances which are fun but literally no character arcs. It's a movie with very little STORY, and all the good voices and great dancing can't camouflage that.

I read BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY for the Pink Heart Picks book club - you can check out my review at the Pink Heart Society.  I really enjoyed this book!  I don't read a lot of Blazes so it was great to pick one up and find it so entertaining.

I also read TAMING HER IRISH WARRIOR by Michelle Willingham, and it was really great.  I love a spunky heroine who can look after herself.  I really didn't know how it was all going to come together in the end either which was great. I'm looking forward to her next...

MY SOUL TO LOSE by Rachel Vincent was intense for a YA. And really different as the heroine is in a psychiatric ward! She got the details quite right in that regard and I'd be interested in reading more in the series.

HARBOR LIGHTS by Sherryl Woods got read a few days ago but I made a critical error thinking it was second in the trilogy when really it is third, so now I'm reading FLOWERS ON MAIN. I don't think it's truly going to matter.  I do enjoy Sherryl's books.  I have to say though that Kevin had so much patience with his family, who while caring and meddlesome were also, I thought, at times callous and even mean. In particular, when Georgia's parents were visiting and they began teasing Kevin about Shanna at the dinner table - that was just plain insensitive and I would have told them so. I wish Kevin had. I would have told the lot of them to butt out and grow up.

It did leave me wondering though if there is another book, because there are more family members.

Four books for the month is not a very good record, but I've had little time to read to be honest. We always seemed to be on the go. Now that I'm home for the rest of the month of August, I hope to log a lot more reads. I'm very behind on my count! I've got a few on the go that I hope to finish this week.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hey, Heads Up

Hey, just a heads up that Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage is on sale at amazon for a STEAL. Like $1.32.

New Brunswick Day

While we were away we left the dog at my inlaws.  They are doggy people and we knew my mother-in-law would spoil her to bits. It was perfect for Dreamer as she did what everyone should do on vacation - ate way too many treats and went swimming nearly every day. Anyway, last Thursday we packed up again and drove up to their place to spend the long weekend.

I should mention too that Dreamer got a puppy cut for summer.  At first I mourned the loss of her gorgeous coat. She no longer looks like a Duck Toller.  BUT, there is virtually no hair to vacuum and when she goes swimming, she's dry in no time flat.  Plus - it's been hot.  It's GOT to be more comfortable for her.  She looks like a puppy!  Still, I'm looking forward to her hair growing out a bit.

It is always a good time there.  For one, it's pretty relaxed. They're on a beautiful spot - nearly 5 acres on the river and there are other kids across the lane who my girls LOVE hanging out with.  My husband fixed their deck and steps, we ran errands and spent most evenings on someone's deck laughing wayyy too much.  We also celebrated my youngest's birthday - her grandfather cooked chickens on the barbeque and we had salads and cake and prezzies.  It was fun!

On Saturday night we went to a neighbours for a potluck barbeque, which was such a fabulous time.  We took hamburgers and hot dogs and as the grill was heating the sun was just right over the river and I took this picture, which I love. We finally went home shortly after midnight, while the girls had a sleepover.

Monday was New Brunswick Day but the dh had to work Tuesday, so we missed the celebration, which I am told was a whole lot of fun.  In the afternoon the husband and I came home while the kids stayed to spend some time with their grandparents and I'm told the majority of their time is spent running with the neighbourhood kids.  They are going to be exhausted but with tons of stories to tell.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mountains and roller coasters

So...more about vacation.

We left Kamloops on a Wednesday and drove back to Calgary to stay with other friends. I have to stop for a moment and say that I was disappointed at first at our rental car.  It was a Camry and I thought it was a little gutless (this is what I get for driving either the truck or our Infiniti which has more pep than I know what to do with). However when the gas bill for the entire trip - and that includes the 1600 km to go to Kamloops and back plus all our city driving - was $116, I was sold.  Holy shazaam.

We stopped to take a pic at 3 Valley Gap - you can see why.  It was 1 in the afternoon and I couldn't believe the lake was so still at midday.

In Calgary we stayed with the family we used to camp with.  It is always a guaranteed good time, and they have a new house which is gorgeous. There's a park up the street and the kids disappeared right away. The first full day the kids had a birthday party to attend and when we returned, my brother in law and his wife had arrived (they came a day behind us).  Of course the BIL brought Rock Band with him, so the fun began again.  Now we had the "adult" band and the "kid" band and I think the kids might have done better than we did.

On the Friday we went to Calaway Park, which is an amusement park in Calgary and strangely enough in all our years there we never went, not once.  It was so COLD that morning that I wore yoga pants and a hoodie, but by the end I was in a t-shirt and boiling hot. My eldest and our friend's youngest did rides together as my eldest is not the daredevil type. MY youngest, however, is game for anything, and is the same age as our friend's eldest, and the two of them went on EVERYTHING.  Things that made me step back and say no way - and they are both 10.  They had a marvelous time and the best thing happened in line to the roller coaster - I ran into old friend Vivi Anna (who writes for Nocturne).  We spent a few minutes catching up after the ride. We were smart and packed a lunch, but I couldn't resist buying each family a bag of mini doughnuts.  SO GOOD!

Friday night was the 40th birthday party for the BIL - complete with far too many chicken wings (hot and barbeque and jerk, mmm!) and a really good chocolate cake with buttercream icing. We got a few gag gifts like an over the hill bib and some Old Geezer temporary tattoos that had us all in stitches.

On Sunday the girls and I went to church and caught up with everyone.  Honestly - this was one of the highlights of my trip.  Along with driving along the Shuswap, this was when I really felt like I was coming "home". The only thing that would have made it better would have been if we had sat as a choir (they don't in the summer).  But otherwise it was the same old banter and the same laughs.  The new minister is fabulous and dang it, I really miss that church.

My friend Joyce had the idea that we should go to Peter's Drive In for supper.  This is another Calgary landmark that we kind of ignored - I ate there once back in I think 1999 on Christmas Eve, came down with a stomach bug that was going around and let's just say it left a bad taste in my mouth.  We had a good laugh about it but now we're convinced that we can't go to Peter's without something happening.  We opted for the take out line rather than drive thru, so our friends were through before us and then we decided to not try to snag a picnic table but go to a park to eat.  Unfortunately my dh and I are not familiar with that part of town, ended up crossing the Centre Street Bridge and turning around in Chinatown before finally figuring out where they were.  It was a tense car ride but we all had a huge laugh about it afterwards.  I didn't take this pic; my husband has a few on his phone. This would be out of date - there's a HUGE EnCana building going up right now...

Monday we had coffee with one of the teachers from their old school - we've stayed in touch since moving and it was great to see him!  We returned to "Grandma and Grampa's" (it was so lovely to be adopted when we were so far away from family) for a day.  Grandma made the world's best beef stew and a cake she is noted for and we ate far too much - and then stayed up playing cards again.

And then it was back to the airport and the flight home - and 36 hours of patting the cat and doing laundry and packing all over again....

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Holiday Pics

So, since the 15th of July I've been on holidays.  We went to Alberta and British Columbia and were home for a whole 36 hours to do laundry and reassure our cat that we hadn't totally abandoned him before going to the inlaws for 5 days of fun. We got back yesterday afternoon. It has been crazy and fun and I'm a little tired from the late nights but also very ready to get back to work - and the first week of July I was convinced I never wanted to work again, so the break was a very good thing indeed.

Going back to Calgary was interesting.  I have to admit that the city itself isn't the draw.  We lived there for 12 years but at the point of our leaving I was ready to be done with being crammed in a city again.  There's just too much farm girl in me. However we stayed with friends while there and it was quieter than I expected - not to mention that the company was second to none.  :-) We picked up some things at the new CrossIron Mills mall, ate chinese food, played Canasta in the garden.

On the Sunday, we left early in the morning and drove to Kamloops, BC.  We could have flown, but we were all looking forward to the drive through the mountains once more.  The moment you get to the edge of the city and look west over the fields and foothills to the mountains - THIS is the Alberta I miss (even more than the 10% lower sales tax). 


We had a truly gorgeous day to drive, stopped in Golden BC for lunch and again in Salmon Arm at DeMille's Market - a fave tradition as we picked up Kurt's Sausage, buns at the bakery, fresh BC cherries, and Gort's Gouda cheese. 





We love the Shuswap Lake area, and so driving this route did actually make me a bit "homesick" for the west. As we reached the first part of the lake at Sicamous, with the marina to our left and the lake spread out to the right, my husband sighed and said, "The most beautiful place on earth".  I couldn't dispute him at that moment.  We had many good times camping in the Shuswap.

An hour past Salmon Arm is Kamloops and the home of my brother in law, where we stayed for 3 nights and had the most awesome time playing Rock Band on the PS3.  Everyone took turns on each instrument though my weakest was guitar and strongest the drums. Monday we all went walking near his house (this is the view from the path) and there were good times sitting on their deck with something cold to drink - Kamloops can get pretty smokin' hot. My sister in law and I drank spritzers and we generally just relaxed.

It seemed like no time at all and we were packed back in our rental car and driving to Calgary once more to stay with other friends...more on that tomorrow.

Meanwhile copy edits came while I was away and I am working on those as well as making sure we have some clean clothes, food in the house, and cutting the grass - as well as consoling a very miffed cat who has complained very vocally about our extended absence.