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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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.”


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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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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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Blue dot, green dot

Min and I went to see David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour at its final stop in Vancouver on Sunday night. It was pretty amazing. How often does one get to see the Bare Naked Ladies dancing on stage with Neil Young, Feist, Chantal Kreviazuk, and David Suzuki? It felt like a cross between an evangelical revival and the Vancouver Folk Fest.

Margaret Atwood appeared for a brief time via Skype, and a brief time is all Margaret Atwood ever needs to be inspiring. Along with her words on hope and the possibility of saving things, she said something along the lines of: “people like me are asked to say these things because we’re self-supporting artists, and therefore have no jobs, and therefore cannot be fired.”


We got home much too geared-up to sleep. But then we spent Monday afternoon in the woods, because Robert Bateman had told us we should. And he was right.


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Clover’s Luck

My Insklingers writing group compatriot Kallie George has a new book coming out after Christmas, called Clover’s Luck. It’s the first in her Magical Animal Adoption Agency series, published by Disney/Hyperion in the U.S. and by HarperCollins in Canada.


Kallie was kind enough to give my 10-year-old an advance copy, and here’s my daughter’s review:

I thought this was a really good book. I love Clover and the whole M.A.A.A. I especially liked the part when Clover turns green in the witch’s potion and she realizes she is lucky. My favorite characters are Clover and the dragon. I felt bad for the poor unicorn that lost its tail. If I had a unicorn (and if there was a witch disguised as a princess trying to steal my unicorn’s tail), I would kick that princess/witch off the face of the earth! I’m not such a fan of princesses anyway. It was a really good book, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

I am not such a fan of processes either, but I’m a big fan of Kallie and Clover. I think the entire series is going to be… well… magical.

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Hearing voices

I’m talking to myself this morning, practicing to be part of YA: The Trilogy at the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library tomorrow. There’s a whole slew of local YA writers presenting and reading, including Sara Leach, Carrie Mac, Melanie Jackson, and current VPL writer-in-resident Gabrielle Prendergast.

In the afternoon session, I get to talk about taking non-fiction “outside the box.” But mostly, this morning, I’m thinking about my first presentation, which must fit under the category “What IS Young Adult Literature and Why Should I Read/Write It?” My plan is to talk about voice and how it stems partly from place, then read a little from both Anywhere But Here and my newest work-in-progress.

I have 10 minutes or less in each session to be funny or enlightening or both. Totally doable, right? (Don’t answer that.)

I read an amazing YA novel over the weekend, which is part of what has me mulling about voice. The book is Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern, and one of the protagonists is Amy, a girl with cerebral palsy. Because Amy is bright, and has spent much of her life with adult aides, there’s a wonderful adult quality to her thoughts. One of my favourite scenes in the entire book is one in which she points out to fellow student Sanjay that his talk of “conquests” may actually be a problem in the girl department.


Amy is struggling with all the emotions every other teen faces, and so, despite her educated and adult thoughts, she still agonizes about clothes and kissing and her big crush — all in maybe even a younger-than-teen way. The two sides of Amy make her an entirely unique character.

But enough about Amy. Let’s go back to talking about me, and how I’m going to ensure I sound like an adult at the podium tomorrow. How does one pronounce “pedantic” anyway? Did you know I had an argument with an urban planner last week about whether one was supposed to pronounce detritus as “dee-tree-us” or “dee-trite-us”? The urban planner won.

You see why my solo practicing is necessary…

Feel free to stop by and say hi at YA: The Trilogy! And tell me if I pronounce things wrong.

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Catching my breath…

Whew! What a week!

I spent the first half at various writing-related events, such as a brilliant conversation between Elizabeth Stewart, Susin Nielsen, and Cory Doctorow at the Vancouver International Writers Festival.

That half of the week ended with a gala dinner celebrating the 75th anniversary of the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association. It was amazing — amazing! — to be surrounded by so much kidlit love. As fellow Vancouver writer Norma Charles wrote afterwards, “All these book lovers, they’re MY people.”

After that galavanting, I filled my Sexy Subaru with some of my closest friends and we drove up to Whistler for a girls’ weekend. I never talk as much or listen as well or laugh as hard as I do with these women. At one point, I had the same bite of apple cake in my mouth for a long, long time, because I was laughing so hard that swallowing would have been a choking hazard.

I may have to take my introvert self to a closet for a few days to recover, but I am so grateful to have such incredible professional and personal friends in my life. They all make me feel as if there’s plenty of hope for the world.

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The crazy, frantic, very busy, no-space life

We took the kids to see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day yesterday. They liked it, but I loved it. I thought it was hilarious. Even before the family got to the day in question, I was already scheduling their activities in my head.

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So they have a driver’s test, a prom, a school play, a birthday party, a book launch, and a job interview… all tomorrow?

I found it so funny because that sort of scheduling actually happens. Sometimes our family calendar has to be expanded to fit the entire, giant Mac screen, just because there are so many items on each day. Colour coded, of course. Stop at the bank (Min), car shopping with a friend (Min), buy groceries (me), phone meeting (me), buy new leggings before evening event (me), make dinner before noon because there’s no time after (me), cross-country practice (both kids, drop off by me, pick up by Min), followed by soccer practice (Min and one kid), with dinner in between (everyone), then evening work event (me). Yikes!

Sometimes, it’s best to look only one hour ahead on the calendar. And often, it’s best not to look at the calendar at all until at least an hour of writing is done.

Most days don’t fall apart. Most of them run just fine, without nearly the vehicle damage experienced in the movie.

But watching that fictional family cope yesterday made me think… maybe when cities are creating emergency response teams, they shouldn’t bother with the firefighters and paramedics. Maybe they should go right for the parents.

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