March 22nd, 2013 writerspice
Lately I’ve been off my blog a bit. The solidity of the winter’s grip has made the days seem almost the same – blue sky, white snow – as if the deep-freeze is having an effect on time.
But it’s not like things aren’t happening: J. and I danced with new friends until the wee hours at the Alouette last Friday night, a bar that brought me mentally right smack back to my hometown of Blind River.
That same weekend, I won a return flight from The Pas to Winnipeg in a raffle at the Kinsmens’ Ladies Night. And the other day I actually felt a frisson of thrill when I realized that one day it will actually rain (as in liquid, falling from the sky!!!)
But, by far, the most exciting news, is this:
I’m thrilled and kind-of awed by this latest step in the process of making physical the story I’ve been occupying for so many years.
The art is a mixed media collage called Footprints by California artist Natalie Egnatchik that seems to echo so many of the themes of my story – footprints, water, swarming bees, a kind-of wild chaos that’s both natural and human-made. I really love what the designers at Brindle & Glass did with it (and thanks to my mom for finding the image) and I hope the world loves it too!
FYI: for those who’ve been asking, Swarm is scheduled for a Sept 2013 release.
February 9th, 2013 writerspice
Went out to Clearwater Lake this afternoon, a half-hour drive north.
In the summer, people tell us, you can see through its 40-some feet of water to the very bottom. These days it’s solid and white.
We met up with a few co-workers of J.’s and let our dogs run loose on the snow-packed trails. The four of them formed a quick pack.
Once we all walked out on the frozen lake, our view changed from snow-clotted spruce to huge ice formations made by wind and water. Beautiful and eerie, all at once. (Click on the photos for larger versions.)
February 2nd, 2013 writerspice
January 1st, 2013 writerspice
Griffy’s a trooper! Yesterday she rode 11 hours in the truck with us, using her floor litter twice, and sleeping most of the way. It’s super cold up here (feels like minus 32) so she hasn’t had any outside time (which is okay, since she’s mainly an indoor cat and we want to keep her away from the eagles in The Pas, anyway). She does like to occasionally watch the world go by from a lap though.
We covered Wawa to Dryden yesterday – that’s 800 kilometers or so – because the roads were dry and bare and the sky was clear. By the time we pulled into our hotel we were nearly delirious and didn’t do much for New Years – a hotel restaurant dinner, gin martini for me, shiraz for J., and a bit of reading back in our room (I’ve made the switch to an e-book, but that’s another post) before conking out around 9:30. At 2 a.m., a slurred, shouting version of Auld Land Syne from the parking lot woke me which is how I even remembered that we were supposed to stay up ’til midnight and watch the ball drop or something like that. Oops.
Today we’re getting ready to head to Winnipeg. Hoping to find a motel a wee bit north of the city, along the highway to The Pas. Tomorrow we arrive in our new town, get the keys to our house, and start unloading the cargo we’ve carried across a province that, in Europe, would likely be a few separate countries.
Onward, on this first, frozen day of a brand new year. Happy New Year! How did you all ring in 2013?
June 25th, 2008 writerspice
Today is the last day of school in my neck of the woods. And what that means is that my dear husband will soon be wandering around the house, watching DVD episodes of long-cancelled TV shows in the middle of the afternoon and generally attempting to find something to do. By August, he’ll be hanging around my office – I’m b-o-o-o-red… – as I struggle to maintain my fledgling career.
If he wasn’t a Luddite, I might expect some trouble from those comments, because the truth of it (what can I say? I’m a writer, I make stuff up) is more like this: canoe to be patched in the backyard, sailboat to be painted and polished, summer course to take, solo camping trip to embark on and a whole number of other things that, really, aren’t all that bad at all… I’m sure he’ll still find some time to catch those afternoon naps, closing his eyes against the glare on the TV screen.
And more power to him, I say. After all, who can resist the pull of the season of sun, when a few short months ago the view out our front door looked like this:
Now, instead of snow-shovelling, you might find us plowing through a medium of a different sort. One more watery, more blue, more relaxing, more like this (Lake Simcoe, a couple weekends ago):
HAPPY SUMMER, EVERYONE!
May 23rd, 2008 writerspice
Last week, I went to the countryside town of Uxbridge, Ontario on assignment. While there, I wandered into Bredin’s Bakery, bell jingling and old-fashioned porch door slamming behind me.
Inside, as a fourth-generation baker toiled away in the background, I tasted some cookies I’m pretty sure they are serving on simple china plates on a fluffy white cloud in, um, heaven.
Here’s a photo of a baked-goods buyer, perplexed over what delicious bit of paradise pastries she should purchase.
Either that, or she’s wondering what I’m doing, bent over, aiming a camera at her face. Ah, well. It made for a good shot of this simple bakery with delicious fare.
I’m glad I went. Who can argue with contented crumb-fingered sighs?
(And, yeah, okay, I guess this is me officially coming-out as no longer gluten-free – a long, controversial story that can be summed up by saying, nobody knows one’s body like the person who has to live in it).
May 8th, 2008 writerspice
Busy, busy, busy. Working ten-hour days this week, while the world outside shifts between grey skies and sunshine, edged in cold and warm, air weighted in moments with humidity. Off to Uxbridge tomorrow for an assignment, while another lies all over my desk like an exploded bomb.
In the midst of it all, bum sore from sitting on the hard chair, shoulder aching from moving the mouse too much, I take a break and wander over to Flickr, to look at some of my friend A.’s photographs.
They make me happy – these moments she snaps – how she can stop the everyday rush and grab the beautiful, the humourous, the graceful, the elaborate, the simple image out of the obliteration of time and freeze it into something extraordinary.
She certainly has the eye.
May 5th, 2008 writerspice
This Saturday, J. and I took advantage of a break in the rain to head out to Grant’s Woods, a 52-acre section of forest protected by the Couchiching Conservancy, a land-trust organization that oversees the maintenance of several important acreages in and around Lakes Couchiching and Simcoe.
With Ollie on leash, we wandered the 1.5 kilometre Trillium Trail, stopping at several numbered spots to learn about bittersweet vine, yellow birch, salamanders and other facts of the forest. Most of the trilliums are just about to bloom, their tightly-wrapped white flowers waiting for the sun, but we did see a few of the rarer red variety, wide open.
But what I love most about being in the woods on a wet spring day is the smell. Sweet and spicy, that heady aroma of freshly melting mud mixed with sprouting cedar and other awakening wild stuff always reminds me of the very best times in my life – living in a B.C. rain-forest, wandering through the woods behind my childhood home.
And this forest is especially special. Says the website:
“…it is the woodlands on this property that are its true value. Except for the removal of a few dead trees for firewood, this upland forest has not been touched for over a century. The result today is a fine old-growth stand with towering hard maple, white ash, red oak, white pine, and hemlock. The soils here are deep moist sands, ideal conditions to produce tall, straight, healthy trees. They also produce water – lots of small cool streams in shallow ravines, which collect together to form one of the headwaters of the North River. Indigo buntings occur along the woodland edges. In the shade of the forest, Christmas fern and spring wildflowers are abundant.”
With several more trails yet to explore and the changes of the seasons to watch, Jason and I will be back there soon. Maybe even for Mother Earth Day, this coming Saturday (May 10) when local bands will be playing in the gazebo, accompanying a native smudge ceremony by Mnjikaning First Nation elder and storyteller Mark Douglas, a spinner who works with husky fur, snake and turtle demonstrations and bird-nesting-box building for kids, alongside lots of other activities… (for more information, go to the homepage of the Couchiching Conservancy website and scroll down). A great way to celebrate mother’s day, if you’re in the area.
Photograph by Lauren Carter
April 14th, 2008 writerspice
This morning I loaded a mix of Yo Yo Ma and Danny Michell on my MP3 player and walked Ollie, our dog, up the hill to an old pioneer cemetery, stuck in a quiet corner a stone’s throw from a gas station and busy grocery store. In the east, the sun was climbing the sky over the slowly sinking skin of the lake and this is what I found:
March 3rd, 2008 writerspice
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a photojournalist for National Geographic. Last year I managed to somewhat fulfill this life-long ambition, when a story I pitched to their travel mag, National Geographic Traveler, was accepted.
In August, J. and I jumped in the car and headed back to that little bit of Europe, that pastoral paradise (pictured above) where we honeymooned in 2003 – Ile d’Orleans, Quebec. And this month, my brief piece about the island is making its public appearance, on page 114 of the March issue. Check it out!
Photo by Jason Mills