Sunday, August 28, 2016

Last Week #66 - Point A to Point B

It's been a good week for writing, a good couple of weeks. I've made some progress, getting from point A to point B without too many distractions (ie: Real Life). When I'm writing so much, blogging often falls by the wayside. Such is life, I suppose. Also, I find it's hard when my job has me spending eight hours a day in front of the computer, to stay in front of the computer to compose a post (I'm writing mostly by hand at the moment). I thought this week I'd share a bit of what I wrote from my work-in-progress, totally rough and unedited... written maybe three days ago.

As I sat in the car, I felt an emptiness in my stomach. How had it gotten to be so close to dinner time? I had spent so much of my Saturday with Ben and Kaitlyn. I glanced over at Ben, his brow slightly creased as he weaved through traffic.  I looked back out the window at the cars speeding by, the shops along the street, the people on the sidewalk. Everything looked the same but didn’t. Any of them could be anyone. Any of them could have shot my nieghbours. Anything could happen, even in quiet downs light mine. What were their stories? Were they connected to Ben’s? Connected to mine? There was a plot twist out there, somewhere.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Last Week #65 - Vacation

My son didn't want to be left
behind looking for turtles.
My family and I have just gotten back from a trip to the American South. We were there primarily visiting my husband's family. It's been nine years since we made this trip; post-marriage, but pre-children. Driving 14 hours to his uncle's house is a lot different with two little ones than it is when you're young and childless. I could talk about the long drive and the visits and the swims, but one of things that has really stuck in my mind is all the differences between here (Canada) and there. I didn't expect there to be a lot. I watch American television and movies. I have American friends and family. It's not as though I had never been there, but it had been a while. My Hubby and I made a few comments regarding the differences, and I think this is the first time I really noticed them and took note. I thought I would share some of the differences I found.
Family swim time.

Tires - Hubby told me something I didn't know as I took the wheel for the first time in the States. The "tire regulations" were different. Apparently, you can dig deeper treads into tires, once they start to flatten, so he wanted me to be careful while driving next to big trucks.. While I didn't see any tire blowouts myself, I saw bits, pieces, chunks and almost entire tires lying at the side of the interstates. Sometimes not just on the shoulders, but in the middle of lanes. It was a little freaky.

Wobbly Tires on Trucks - Which was something else freaky. Nothing like driving behind that transport truck and the tires just don't look stable.

Speed Limits - 70 mph is unusual for me. Our major highways have a maximum speed of 100 km/h, approximately 62 mph. 70 mph converts to about 112 km/h. So, driving 70 felt like speeding, but fine. However, there were SO MANY people driving faster than 70. I was on parts of the interstate where 70 was basically slow.

Cars At The Side Of The Road - Why? Why are people pulling over at the side of the highway? A lot. There were just so many. The exits, whether for gas stations or Rest Areas, weren't far. You couldn't make it a couple more miles? Stopping where people are zooming by at 80+ mph just seemed extremely unsafe.

Tim Hortons - I know it's a very Canadian thing to notice, but I missed Tim Hortons. There were some near the border, when we crossed into Buffalo. On the way back in Ohio, we could tell we were getting closer because there was Tim's, and we had to stop at one. 

Starbucks - Does not have lactose free milk, at least not in the ones that we stopped at. After 2, we stopped trying. It's not for me, but for Hubby. I felt bad going to Starbucks when he couldn't get what he wanted. Soy milk just doesn't taste the same.

Our favourite pool.
Wine in Walmart - We picked up some wine in Walmart. It was where we were suggested to go. Which is great, I think. We can get wine in our grocery stores here, and recently beer, but not Walmart. Walmart seems super convenient.

The Heat - I know people complain about Canadian winters, but how about Southern summers. Too hot to be outside? There are ceiling fans on porches! Every other person has to have a pool. I sweat without moving, in areas where I don't usually sweat. I felt like I was on fire, like I might actually get a sunburn (I had one once.) Also, the air conditioning is always cranked. Yes, I would not be able to survive down south without the AC, but I'm also Canadian; if I want to put a sweater on, maybe it's too cold inside. I think it might just be where you grow up too. I'm used to our winters; everyone down there is probably used to their summers.

Olympic Coverage - This is probably one of the things I missed the most. What I didn't know is that Olympic events aren't always aired live in the States. A neighbour of Hubby's uncle explained that because a network laid down a whole lot of money, they make these stories about the athlete, then air them with the competition. What? I have 4 to 6 stations airing the games as they happen. One major network and then the rest are the sports channels. Sometimes a station will stop Olympic coverage to air the Blue Jays game or another sporting event, then go back to the Olympics. Was it just the station that was chosen (not by me)? Are there stations in the US that air all of the Olympics? Please let me know if I'm wrong. Though, I did have to experience the opening ceremonies in the US. I missed CBC when that happened.

I found the TARDIS!!
I have to say though, everyone was nice to me. I was a little nervous, being non-white, going to the American South with their current political climate. I don't talk politics here very often, if at all. But I have to say that to one of his aunts, my husband pointed out that if a certain candidate won their up-coming election, I might not be allowed to visit again for a while. I don't know if that made a difference to her or to his uncle, but he wanted to show them real life versus abstract consequences. Besides that one short conversation, it never came up. Everyone we interacted with was kind. I didn't feel terribly out of place and I was treated like everyone else. I don't know if that's because we were staying in nice areas, as both families we stayed with are well-off. We went to science centres, indoor play parks, and shopping malls and I didn't have any problems. I hope that I'm able to go back soon and continue to always have positive experiences.

I am glad to be home though. I missed this country. Though the trip was a lot of fun and I hope we can do it again sometime, but I'm happy to be back in Canada.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Quote #59 - Ray Bradbury

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Quote #58 - Virginia Woolf

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Random #82 - Book Clubs

I don't do book clubs. I never have. Do you?

I don't like being told what to read. Or to have a deadline to read it by. It feels too much like school. Not that I didn't like school. I was an English major and read some fantastic novels, short stories, poems and plays over those years. Some I've since re-read, because I didn't feel like I got to enjoy them the first time around. I'd also have to go out and see people, which is not always something I want to do.

I was talking with a few people recently and they were discussing their book clubs. I mentioned that I don't belong to one and they were surprised, as they know I'm an avid reader. I told them the reasons why. They nodded, but provided a few different, convincing arguments as to why they found their book clubs enjoyable: 

- They read books they normally wouldn't, which I appreciate, I love discovering new books. 

- By listening to others, they gain a new perspective on a book, sometimes making them like it more than they did previously. I can definitely see that, though I've had the opposite be true too.

- They don't always finish the book. While finishing is preferable, it's not always necessary and the people they meet with have never made them feel bad for not finishing. That's great, but I know I'd put pressure on myself and then feel guilty if it didn't get done (even if I didn't like it).

- There's [often] wine. Well, right there, might be the most convincing argument of all.

After we talked about the book clubs (among other things), it left me wondering, should I look at joining one? One of the women there, about my age, with children, maybe next time I see here, I'll ask about her book club. Maybe I could just ask other ladies I know? I'm sure I could look online. Then again, maybe I will just stick to blogging about books. I'd love to know what other people think of book clubs. I'm still undecided.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Quote #57 - Alice Munro

"When you're a writer, you're never quite like other people... You're always finding you're way in this secret world."
- Alice Munro

Happy 85th Birthday, Ms. Munro!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Last Week #64 - Summertime Madness

This week was the last meeting of my writing group until September. It's always a little sad when this happens. However, the organizers have pointed out that when they did hold the group in the summer, numbers were practically non-existent, as summer madness ensues. Vacation plans, barbecues, dinners, outdoor activities. They feel, and I agree, that the two month break is nice with all the summer obligations.

During the group, I wrote a bit for my novel, which was nice. We talked a bit about book clubs, which got me thinking, and that's always nice too.

Below is a bit a wrote in response to a prompt, a combination of drawing a tight spiral and a Rumi poem. As always, it is totally rough and unedited, except for maybe spelling.

I pressed my toes into the wet sand. Usually, I hate the feeling of something between my toes, but this, this was good. It was cool on the surface and warmer as my feet sank deeper. I wiggled and pushed, letting myself slip slowly beneath the surface. The wet sand glided up the top of my feet, touching my ankles as a soft wave rolled across the beach. I watched as it receded, back into the salty ocean.

The grains tickled, but I didn’t want to move. I stared out at the blue of the water, reflecting the perfect clear blue of the sky. Nothing in front of me except my shadow and the foam-tipped waves of the ocean. Everything was behind me. I could feel the heat of the sun on the back of my neck, the back of my legs. If I paid attention, I could hear the voices of the others. Not many, but a few people who said they were like me, who needed to come to the beach in the middle of the afternoon.

I didn’t want to think about why the beach wasn’t more crowded. It was a hot, cloudless afternoon. It was just me and a handful of people. I wished I was alone, but I also wished I wasn’t.