The Idea of Christmas

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? ~~Bob Hope

I have to say those are mighty wise words. We go out of our way at Christmas time to spread  joy and love, and to perform acts of kindness. At this time of the year we make that extra effort, but who knows, maybe one day these things will flow effortlessly. Maybe one day, as Bob pointed out, we won’t just wait for Christmas. What a lovely world it would be. Don’t you agree?

I’ll leave you with a wintery photo I snapped the other day. A day later the rain took most of the snow away. It’s been a few years since we’ve had a white Christmas and today, the flurries are flying and the ground is back to being white again. It’ll be interesting to see what Christmas day will bring in regards to the weather.

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My wish for all is for you to enjoy this time regardless of what holiday you celebrate. May you find joy, peace and laughter in the year ahead.

A Christmas State of Mind

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~~Calvin Coolidge

Our tree has finally been brought in and decorated so it feels a bit more Christmasy at out house.  You might even say I’m in a Christmas state of mind.  Coupled with the fact that we’re getting our first *real* snow of the season, it seems like a day to take it easy and relax and enjoy the season.  What gets done gets done, and what doesn’t well…

I’ve got a few more little things to pick up plus grocery shopping before the “big” day. We’d planned to go shopping today,  but with the snow we’ll stay were where are. Tomorrow will be a better day for travel.

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The edits on my novel are on schedule to be finished before Christmas. Since they’re not due until January, I’ll give it another read through before then. It’s always best to have a bit of a break before reading it through a final time. But this is the place where I’ll have to resist the urge to keep fiddling with the sentences. It’s difficult to let that story go. There always seems to be something we can see that needs to be changed, whether real or imagined.

It turns out this wintery day will be a good day to tie up some loose ends while I’m in this Christmas state of mind.

How about you, are you in a Christmas state of mind? Are you all ready for the “big” day? What things put you in the Christmas spirit?

Busy, Busy Beaver

On the property across from ours, the beavers have been extremely busy as you can see from the photo. It’s rather amazing to know that these small creatures aren’t afraid to tackle something so large. This urge to chop down trees is something that comes natural to them. Funny, how they don’t shy away from such a big undertaking. We see plenty of evidence of the beaver’s work, but we’ve never caught them in the act. I think much of their work is done at night.

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Writing a novel is also a big undertaking. One that writers enter into willingly, regardless of the work involved. Rarely can an author say they whipped a novel up in a matter of a few weeks or months…(Yes, I know, some can, but many can’t.) For many authors it may take many months, maybe even years until their book is ready to be read by an editor. But once a book has been accepted for publication it doesn’t mean a writer can sit back and wait for those royalties to start rolling in. For those not involved in the industry, it’s difficult to understand what takes so long for a book to come out. I hear from people all the time, anxiously wondering why, if I’m working on edits for the book now, it isn’t coming out until next fall.

The whole idea behind the edits is to help make that story shine as much as possible. A writer often becomes immune to seeing the flaws in our stories and it takes another set of eyes to point out the imperfections and make suggestions as to how the story can be improved. We all want that book to be the best it can be, right?

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So this is where I am at the moment. No, I don’t mean I’m cutting down trees….The edits are going well and I’m pleased with how the story is evolving even further. It’s always exciting to discover something new in your work, something you overlooked while you were getting the story down the first time around. Did I say the first time? I guess I should say the first several drafts.

Christmas might be creeping up on me, but I’m very hopeful that I’ll have the manuscript sent back before then. What is it about Christmas that makes us want to accomplish certain goals? I can remember, as a child, that rooms were painted before Christmas or new flooring laid.—always before Christmas, regardless of how close to the big day that it happened. So long as it was done by then everyone was happy. Anyway, I’ll use Christmas as a deadline to have this round of edits completed. I’m pretty sure that I won’t get a whole lot of writing done once a certain little someone arrives anyway.

How about you, is there anything you’d like to accomplish before Christmas comes?

Let the Edits Begin

Seems as though the things we often expect to happen a certain way end up going off in a totally different direction altogether. Life is funny that way. This month I thought I’d have time to devote to my new writing project, but low and behold I received an email from my editor at Nimbus Publishing. It is time to start editing my new YA novel, “To Fly With a Broken Wing.”  Yippee!!

“If you could have the edits done by January that would be great,” she said.

“No problem,” I replied.

No problem! Oh right, there’s this thing called Christmas coming up this month. I forgot all about Christmas mere seconds before I fired off the email. *gulp*

Okay it’s really not THAT bad. My editor is understanding and did add that if I needed more time it was fine, just to let her know. And truthfully, edits seem a bit overwhelming at first until you actually start addressing each comment and suggestion as you go. Personally, I’m just happy to be working on it and gearing up for the book’s release next fall. The exciting part is, the book is making progress. Edits have begun and, Christmas or not, I’ll get the work done. Authors are funny that way.

But it hasn’t been all work. I’ve been balancing things out as I go. A little shopping, a little gift wrapping, a lot of editing, a little decorating. If I play my cards right I’ll even get to watch an episode of “Grimm” this evening.

DSC02991A big thrill this week was meeting up with Donna Morrisey at a book signing. Donna’s new book is “The Deception of Livvy Higgs.” If you remember, I mentioned in an earlier post that she was on my list of authors to meet. Little did I know at the time our meeting would happen so soon. Yes, life certainly does throw in a surprise or two. This month has been busy with lots of authors doing book signings and I’m heading out again for one tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll either post about it on Facebook or my blog.

I’ve also had a disappointment this week. I’d been planning for months to get high speed Internet service, but it just wasn’t to be. I know this is difficult for many of you to understand, but here in rural Nova Scotia we don’t necessarily have the option for High Speed and that sucks. One company put up towers and many people can receive a wireless signal, but I happen to live in an area where too many trees are blocking that signal. I’ve got to say, dial-up makes life very challenging, and many times I have problems with pages loading, especially those blogs that have lots of photos posted on them. Then again, it can sometimes be impossible to comment when it does load. But I’m dealing with this challenge the best way I can. Some things are out of my control. I sometimes think the thought of something better makes us less tolerant for what we have. So perhaps now, I’ll accept what is and feel grateful to have Internet service at all.

Anyway, despite Christmas and the edits for my novel, I’m hoping to be around Blogland a bit more this winter. I have a lot to catch up on.

Has life given you any unexpected surprises lately?

What’s New!

I’ll admit, my blog presence has been a bit scarce this past while.There have been several reasons. Christmas being one of them, plus the company of my daughter and granddaughter these past two weeks (Yay!) and not to mention the distraction with the guitar contest I blogged about last week.

Just want to thank those of you who took part in the contest and to let you know what the outcome was.  I hadn’t planned to blog about the contest in the beginning because I  knew quite a few of you who read this blog are also facebook friends and had already voted, but in the end I knew it would take every last vote we could get, and well, when it’s family involved I guess you do what you can. Right? Starting out with over 500 votes behind, we were able to get within 20 votes of the leader in the end and had nearly 1600 people supporting our efforts!!! Pretty darned impressive if  you ask me. It only goes to prove that there are a lot of people out there willing to do something nice for someone even if  that someone is  a complete stranger.

Because the numbers were so close and because my nephew’s story was one that resonated with many people, Jimmy Rankin decided to give away two signed guitars… I mean how super is that? The whole reason behind everyone working toward this was to help lift my nephew’s spirits as he recovered from a broken back.

Not being an online person, my nephew still doesn’t know about any of this and won’t until the guitar is finally delivered to him. Bet he’s going to be surprised…

As to how he’s doing, he’s “amazed” everyone at the rehabilitation centre with how quickly he’s come along in his recovery and I’m really not surprised. Strength and determination go along way when we’re recuperating. He’s now out of rehab and staying with his parents, able to walk although the paralysis is still there. We’re all hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery. To be truthful, you can’t tell me that his recovery wasn’t helped along by the prayers of so many. For those of you who included him in your prayers, I thank you and so does Rob.

Next week I’m hoping to be back to regular blogging…  Happy New Year to you all!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.  ~Janice Maeditere

If you stop by here before Christmas–Merry Christmas.

Enjoy this time with family and friends, and above all do something kind for someone else this season no matter what holiday you celebrate,.

The Christmas Tree Owl

So I’m an advocate for thought-filled gifts. Most of you know that about me by now. I long ago gave up being impressed by expensive gift buying at Christmastime. I’m at the point in my life when I’m pretty much able to buy something if I truly want it. I don’t often “want” things simply for the sake of “wanting” but every once in awhile I’ll splurge on something that really catches my eye. Truthfully, that doesn’t happen often. My kids will tell you that. Okay, I do buy quite a few books, but books are a need, not a want, right? See, I knew you’d all agree.

I’m just not a shopper. I don’t particularly like to browse the stores. I like to go with a purpose in mind, get what I want and go home. Not much fun, huh?

Now I’m not for a moment suggesting that everyone should stop buying gifts for one another, nor am I saying that a costly gift cannot be a “thought-filled” gift, because it can depending upon the circumstances. We all know that. There are many things that factor into our gift buying, first and foremost getting something we know the other person would like and want.

I’m no expert when it comes to gift-giving. But one thing  I can honestly say is that the gifts that have touched my heart the most, in many cases, have been quite simple. And cost more in the way of time and consideration than money.

Today, I was unwrapping ornaments and came across this “Christmas Tree Owl” my daughter made me last year, and the little poem that accompanied. (I’ve mentioned that this family is big on writing silly poems.) It is a snapshot of that time and place, and will forever be looked back on with fondness— Miss Charlotte’s first Christmas.

I wonder what memories we will make this year?

The Christmas Tree Owl
 
Twas the week before Christmas, and you can be sure
Things were much busier than ever before.
There was a new baby, just eight months old
Charlotte Rose was her name, as the tale goes.
 
When it came time for bed, she’d hoot and she’d howl
For little Miss Charlotte was quite the night owl.
But sooner or later, not before  nine
She’d drift off to sleep with on final whine.
 
Once all tucked in, then Mommy would act
Working hard though the night on this Christmas gift craft;
A little owl for your tree as your yearly reminder
A sleeping baby, you know, there ain’t much that’s finer.
 
Since it’s Christmas, and we should all be filled with some Christmas spirit, can we share with one another our stories about a thought-filled gift you once received or gave?

A Recipe For Fun

1.Take three friends

2.Throw in a little red ribbon and a few jingle of bells

3.A trip by car

4. A cup of Tim Horton’s coffee

4.A heaping serving of restoration

5.A ginormous portion of laughter, not to mention plain old silliness

6.Add one author

7. A copy of Bitter, Sweet

8.Good food & good conversation.

Add ingredients one at a time, place inside the most gorgeous Nova Scotia day you can find. Stir.

Here’s what you end up with.

The coffee at the Tim Horton’s might not have been the best (for the love of all that is holy with coffee, get the order right. One black, two cream, no sugar, One cream with sweetener… Gah!) but the rest of the day turned out to be great fun.The ladies in the photo have been friends for many years, but the three of them had not spent time together since the seventies. Talk about a giddy bunch. I suppose that’s to be expected. Once you make it past 50 it takes less and less to amuse you. Having turned 50 last year, my friends can vouch for the fact that I’ll laugh about pretty much anything. But there are worse things, I’ve been told.

After a quick cup of coffee we went off to St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg. It’s hard to believe that this church survived a fire ten years ago. Luckily, there was enough of the building remaining and the determination to rebuild this beautiful centuries old church and bring it back to life. A lot of hard work went into restoring this fine building that was originally built in the mid 1700’s. To attend a service is to truly experience this church to the fullest. I felt as though I was in the midst of a fairy tale as I gazed at my surroundings. After the service which lasted nearly two hours, I might add, we headed off toward Mahone Bay for lunch.

Driving through the town of Mahone Bay is always an experience in itself. Seems as though there is always some festival going on—great for the tourists, you know. Remember back in October when I  wrote a post about the Scarecrows and posted a few photos? If you’ve already forgotten you can check out the post here. Not to disappoint, Sunday was the Father Christmas Festival. Yup,  good old St. Nicholas was everywhere. I have a few photos that I took as we passed through that I’ll publish in a later post. I only wish I had been able to get a few more shots in, but lunch was awaiting us, and well…Lunch was awaiting.

Have you ever had the feeling that you draw attention where ever you go? I just have to say that if four woman with jingle bells tied fast to their wrist with red ribbon..well…can you imagine? Mind you this isn’t something that I would normally do on my own, but…what can I say? I’m a follower, not a leader. Nor did I want to be left standing by a a pile of rocks overlooking the bay. I just wanted to fit in gall dang it all! Which I think I did pretty well. Besides, they struck me as a bunch who wouldn’t hesitate to leave me stranded by the roadside with nothing but the sounds of jingle bells and laughter in their wake. Too late then to remember I’d forgotten the cell phone. Before the day was out I had convinced Doe to take a signed copy of my book home with her to Ontario, making her vow that she would promote this book like it was her very own. (Enough begging and pleading and even the toughest nut will crack.) She finally gave in when I promised to throw in a bookmark. I felt fortunate not to have had to resort to arm twisting, nor was throwing a temper tantrum necessary.. She’s such a good sport. A real dear (or is that deer?) Sorry Doe, I could not resist.

All jokes aside. Thank you Gail, Carol and Doe for a truly memorable day. Here’s to friendships, old and new. And here’s to creating your own recipe for fun.

What are some special ingredients that you would add to your recipe for fun?

The Christmas List

December already and I’m attempting to get my Christmas shopping done. I haven’t yet given serious thought to baking, decorating or wrapping gifts yet, but that’s nothing unusual for me. Eventually everything that needs doing gets done before the big day. I’m not one of those people who thrive on the “preparation part” of Christmas. I want to go into Christmas relaxed and able to enjoy the time with my family. When my kids were small that was next to impossible. Sometimes change is a good thing.
This Christmas there will be laughter, food, gifts, and most of all the laughter. Did I mention laughter? Of right, I did. We’re a pretty silly bunch when we get together. Last year seemed to be the year for poetry as a good many poems accompanied the gifts. I’m inclined to think that, for all of us, the poems were the best part, certainly the part that we remember first.
I always ask my kids to make a list of gift suggestions just to make it a bit easier on dear old Mum. I have a full head of hair and I’d like to keep it that way. My kids all know this list is more of a wish list than anything because I’m not about to try and track down everything on it. Besides, now that they’re all earning more money than me I’m thinking that perhaps I’m the one who should be making up a list. It never seems to work that way though. Ah well, that’s the way.
Last year I shared with you a bit of my son’s list where he claimed to have suddenly gone Atheist and therefore didn’t want any Christmas gifts.You can read a portion of last year’s Christmas list. here. It was a fairly substantial note intended to obviously amuse me, which it did. I’m a pushover when it comes to silly. My kids know it.
This year, after an enormous amount of prodding from me, I received this lovely list in an email which he titled “short and sweet.” I thought some of you might be interested to see what’s on the wish list of your typical 24 year old these days. Hmmm, did I say typical?…Tell me what you think. This is how the email arrived to me. I added my response. I simply couldn’t stop myself.

short and sweet:

-A 1000 pk bag of sugar twin.  (I’m assuming he’s developed a sweet tooth, but doesn’t want the calories)
-A 50 pound bag of potatoes.  (This one really threw me..For the love of God who asks for a 50 pound bag of spuds? When asked to specify, he said he’s partial to Yukon Gold.)
-Nair for men (Is there even such a thing as Nair for men? Okay, this one had me worried a bit. But wait, my mind is telling me he’s been lifting weights at the gym, could it be he’s going to become a body builder? Body builders remove unwanted hair, right?)
-Grecian 5, colour AC242  (I have no idea if this is an actual colour, but me thinks not. I’m sure he pulled that colour number out of thin air.)
-Cardamom— (hmmmm.This is one bachelor who knows how to cook and obviously knows more about spices than his mother.. I had to look that spice up. Perhaps it’s an attention getter, you know for when he invites his date in for a meal he’s prepared. Every woman loves a man who knows his way around the kitchen. Right? But will she even know what Cardamom is?)
-Pickled Herring (I knew  sooner or later there would be something fishy about this list of his.)
-door stops –(Yup, what every young man hankers after these days—door stops.I’m sure there are a few rocks around here that would do the trick. In his spare time he can paint them up and make them look quite nifty if he’s truly ambitious.)
-those little pads that go on your cupboard doors ( .Ah yes, those little pads, the ones my second child chewed off my cupboards when she was a toddler. Apparently, they even lack a proper name ..)
-2, 5 gallon SunSpun oil buckets (Free at the superstore)  (Need they be SunSpun, I wondered? Won’t just any five gallon bucket do the trick? I’m assuming these will double for chairs as well as storage, right? You know, for when he invites his date over a gourmet meal of pickled herring and potatoes that he’s prepared himself. He can even sweeten that dessert he’s making with sugar twin and let’s not forget the cardamom, heavens to Betsy we can’t forget that.)

So there you see what I have to deal with. Although, truthfully, it serves to remind me that we needn’t take life or Christmas too seriously. There are far more important things in this world than wanting everything to be perfect.  Perfection is a façade, something that builds up our expectations to greater heights when really it is the simpler things such as peace, hope,joy and love that we will remember and cherish. Let’s not forget the love and support of family. It won’t be that big ticket item you purchased that you’ll look back on with fond memories, but the happy times that you created with your loved ones near.

Now to get back to my Christmas shopping. Anyone know a good place to buy Yukon Gold potatoes? I SO want to get him a bag just to see the expression on his face come Christmas morning.

Stormy Weather

No snow for Christmas this year in Nova Scotia, and yet it didn’t make it feel any less like Christmas. My children were all able to make it home because of the good travelling conditions, and we’re having a glorious week so far with Miss Charlotte and Mel.

When I was growing up, no snow for Christmas would have been totally unheard of. I can’t seem to recall a single Christmas when weren’t buried in tons of snow.

But, as you can see, here it is three days later and it’s a totally different story. Oh we’ve got snow all right. No worries about that. The older I become the less fond I am of snow. I’ll agree it’s pretty to look at, and I’ll even admit there’s something appealing about sitting inside the house while a snowstorm is raging outside. There is this feeling of closeness that makes me feel safe and content. It’s a great time to curl up with a book or work on a story. I find storms—snow, rain, and wind— to be rather inspiring. The thought of people travelling out on the snowy, icy roads is the real reason why I don’t like the snow.

As I watch the snow still accumulating outside, I realize how anxious I am to get back to reading and writing in the New Year. I have some books to read by some friends I met online this year. One is a suspense thriller by Joylene Butler (Mum is reading it right now and she’s been raving about it!) another is a MG by Darlene Foster, a fellow contributor to the Country Roads Anthology. I’m sure I’ll be mentioning these books on my blog later in January.

The receipt of a gift certificate for the local bookstore will ensure that I’ll be making a book purchase sometime very soon in the New Year. Any suggestions of what book I should buy?

So while there’s nothing I can do about the winter weather outside, there’s plenty I can do to enjoy these cold, dark days of winter.

Anything exciting on your to be read list for the New Year?

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