May your tree be blooming

One of my favourite poems is by Richard Hugo and contains the line: “May your favourite tree be blooming in December.” It’s a rather melancholy poem in its entirety, but isn’t that a wonderful line?

In the spirit of December-blooming trees, I leave you for the season with these Christmas wishes:

May your inlaws be sweet and reasonable.
May your spouse be grateful.
May your turkey be moist.
May your mornings include quiet moments.
May your presents include books.
May your house smell of pine and cinnamon.
May your children be like sugar plums.
May each day be full of blessings.

See you in the New Year!

pink tree

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In which I’m grateful to be tone-deaf

My daughter and I have been watching The Voice, in which mainly young people compete to be the world’s next musical star.

While it’s all very exciting, I spend most of my time fretting for the ones who are kicked off early. It seems like such a harsh industry. Not only do these singers face the same sort of rejection and isolation that other artists face, but their hopes are restricted to a short window of their lives. If they haven’t achieved success by 30 in the music scene, it seems much, much harder to do so.

The show is making me thankful that I felt compelled, as a teen, to pursue writing and not music. In writing, you have decades to find your voice and hone your craft. You can reinvent yourself with each book. In music, you have a few years to try for stardom, and it seems as if you’re allowed to reinvent yourself with a song, but only if you’re already famous.

Then again, maybe the thirty-something country star will win The Voice, and prove all my theories wrong. I sort of hope he does. And not just because of his leather jacket…

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Winter reads

I’m planning to have plenty of reading time in the next few weeks, so I’ve gathered a stack of books. (Yes, I realize this may be a little optimistic, but let’s not pop my fantasy reading bubble just yet, hmmm?)

Just for fun, because I loved the meandering magic of the first book in this series:

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Because… well… the world might end while I’m not paying attention:

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Because all of my friends have been raving about it:

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And because it’s too intimidating to read while juggling everyday life:

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What do you think? Have I achieved the perfect holiday balance?

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My new imaginary pet

My writer friend Kallie George will soon be releasing the first book in her Magical Animal Adoption Series, and she’s just launched a new website. It’s the most adorable thing ever. I took the quiz and it turns out that I’m a suitable host for either winged horses or griffyns. (Maybe they like clean bathrooms and freshly ironed linens?)

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Once again, this website makes me think I should re-examine my writing choices. My friend Rachelle sets her books in Moscow and Prague, then she gets to go on “research” trips.

Where do I set my books? The Kootenays.

Now Kallie gets a magical animal website. What kind of website quiz could I create? Hmmm… a “would you eat maggots to survive” version? It’s not quite the same!

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Housework and hazard pay

1. Housework
We are still all about the ADLs around here. Min needs to test ten volunteers, doing two household tasks each. I’m pretty sure this was a trick to get me to clean the bathroom and iron his shirts. I’ll have you know that I am officially, objectively capable of both those tasks, though I lost points for (a) leaving the rag drawer open and (b) propping the ironing board with my chin while I adjusted my grip.

I would like to write the ADLs people to argue that ironing is in fact NOT a necessary activity of daily life. Unfortunately, I was only asked to take the test, not to write the test.

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2. Hazard Pay
If no one hears from me for the rest of the week, it’s because I’m hanging out with my one-year-old nephew. He is a funny, happy little guy. But holy busy, batman! How in the world did I write when I had toddlers in the house? Apparently, multi-tasking is no longer one of my ADLs. Wish me luck!

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My ADLs may have gone awry

My husband has been taking a course all week in the assessment of ADLs. That’s OT-speak for Activities of Daily Living. Basically, he’s assessing whether or not people can manage their lives independently.

There are physical components to this. (Do you have the shoulder range to comb your own hair? The back strength to wash your own tub?) But there are also plenty of psychological components. To live on your own, you must be somewhat logical and organized.

For example, if you dump all of your stuff on top of the desk when you come home, and then your phone rings but you miss the call because the phone is under the pile of dumped stuff, you lose a point on Min’s assessment scale.

If you begin a load of laundry, but get completely distracted partway through and don’t return to the laundry for several hours, you lose a point.

If you go downstairs to get a pen, then forget what you’re looking for once you’re down there, you lose a point.

Can you see where this is going?

Obviously, I am not independently capable of my ADLs.

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G.W.L.B.

There’s a new librarian filling in at the kids’ school until Christmas.

“Does he know you yet?” I asked my daughter.

“Well, he doesn’t know my name,” she said. “But today he said, ‘Hey, Girl Who Loves Books, come help this guy with his bibliography.'”

“So he knows you.”

“Yeah.”

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Drama

I was signed up for a CWILL BC master class on screenwriting on Saturday. Not because I have any plans to start scripting movies, but because (a) it’s always wonderful to sit around a table for an afternoon and talk writing (b) writer and master class instructor Elizabeth Stewart is lovely, as is her new novel, Blue Gold, and (c) screenwriters have a flare for tension and drama, which are not usually my strong suits.

As it turned out, though, my Saturday was chock full of drama. We took the kids for flu shots and not one, but BOTH of our little creatures went down in pale, shaking heaps on the drug store floor. There was throwing up and shivering and chest pain and overall, we were not the poster family for happy immunization.

We got them home, eventually, and they recovered fairly quickly. But by that time, I was significantly late for the workshop. I arrived at the UBC building to find the door locked, so had to call someone’s cell phone and interrupt the whole class with my entry.

Fortunately for me, the second half of the workshop was both interesting and entertaining. And then I went home… and Min set the stove on fire.

Because you know that movie I saw a few weeks ago? Well, sometimes real life days fall apart the same way.

This morning, I’m waiting for the stove repairman to arrive. After that, hopefully it’s onwards to a drama-free week!

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Amy’s marathon

Amy Mathers read Anywhere But Here on Monday, and I am a-flutter with the news.

Amy’s on a cross-Canada journey through books, reading one YA book a day and posting reviews on her website. The entire project is to raise money for a teen literature award through the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

You can read what she thought of Cole and his Kootenay adventures here. And you can follow Amy’s journey on her blog, here.

Thanks for reading, Amy. I am honoured to have Anywhere But Here included!

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Remembrance

I’m extra verklempt this Remembrance Day, because I’ve been researching and writing about the World War I battle of Passchendaele recently. I’ve read about soldiers trapped in miles of mud, covered in lice, drowning in shell holes, tortured by rats and rotting body parts. I’ve paged through a slew of non-fiction accounts as well as the fictional Generals Die in Bed, and I’m not sure which was more scarring. There was nothing at all pretty about Passchendaele.

I used to identify with the soldiers when I thought of Remembrance Day. I used to think about what it must have been like to march off to a war in which you were a tiny pawn with no role other than to shoot and possibly be shot. These days, I think more of the mothers. I can’t imagine how thousands of mothers survived having their children turned into soldiers and taken away.

There were almost 16,000 Canadians killed at Passchendaele. More than a thousand of them simply disappeared into the mud.

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