Book Launch: A Behind the Scenes Look.

The other week as I was going through some book launch photos, I found a few that made me giggle just a little. Most of these were candid shots taken by the lovely Dawn Alexander my official photographer for the day. Dawn showed up the night before while were setting up for the big day and she stayed pretty close by all through launch day. Now that’s dedication!

So, just for fun, I thought I’d post some of the behind the scene photos no one ever gets to see.

Setting up for the launch the night before was great fun. Of course it helps to have a few silly friends to take charge.  I’ll be the first to admit that decorating is not my forte. I’m more about the written word. Therefore, the decorating I leave to those more qualified.

Hard at work. Recreating the book cover was a little tricky since the vision of it only existed in Bonnie’s creative mind prior to setting up. Judi made all the silhouettes. It was a pretty cool idea. Wish I could take the credit but, as I said, I’m more about the words.

The end result kind of speaks for itself. I loved it. So did everyone at the launch. I warned you that I have some talented friends. They added all the extras they knew would make me happy: dark chocolate, Mars, beautiful white roses and my books. The tea pot of flowers was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter.

There’s always someone in charge of the ironing. All those little details count. Thanks Barbie.

The look on my face suggests surprise, doesn’t it? You’s almost think I was expecting something to jump out of the box when, in fact, I knew there was a cake inside courtesy of the Monday Craft ladies. Seriously, they went above and beyond to make the day special. These ladies know how to show some author love. I don’t know what I’d do without the help and support from my friends and community.

And here’s a much better view. Just so you know it did make it out of the box It was delicious!

Launch Day: I could have told Bonnie it was a little late to be playing shy. Dodging the photographer isn’t as easy as it might seem when you get to be our age. Dawn was relentless in her mission to gets photos, but Bonnie using me as a human shield just doesn’t cut it! Oh Bonnie, oh Bonnie, when will you learn?

When the Nimbus publicist, Jeff Arbeau showed up, author friend Jan Coates offered to help him sell books. I love this photo taken when our MLA Leo Glavine showed up. Now there’s the look of a woman who can hardly wait to get her hands on some money. The next photo in the series (that I decided not to post) shows Jan actually prying the money out of his hands.. Okay, I’m just kidding about that! Seriously, Jeff said Jan was a huge big help!

There you have it, just a few of the candid shots from the launch of “Cammie Takes Flight.” Life is not just about the perfect moments that get capture on camera, it’s more about the moments that go unseen, but it’s all those silly, imperfect moments that create the best memories.

My Rainbow

Rainbows introduce us to reflections of different beautiful possibilities so we never forget that pain and grief are not the final options in life. ~~Aberjhani

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I like to think that rainbows are kind of special. And when one touches down in the lake where you live well maybe it means something….

This weekend I went to a celebration of life for a friend of mine. I’ve been thinking a lot about her since she passed away, remembering her laugh, the way she’d crinkle her nose and give a little sniff, and the times when she’d wag her finger at me and jokingly say, “Listen here little girl.”  We didn’t see each other often, although at one time we did work together, but some people you feel a certain connection to even when you’re not exactly sure why. Times like this I’m reminded of how fleeting life is and how, at the end of the day, we are the memories we leave behind in the lives of the people we’ve touched. In this journey we call life, it is the most precious gift we can give to those we leave behind.

Peace to you, my friend, as you continue to live on in our memory. Your journey is not over.

You will be missed.

The Memory Tree

Every year there is a lot of emphasis put on decorating the Christmas tree. Some people even have multiple trees because one simply isn’t enough. Colour schemes are selected, decorations chosen with care…Everything must match. It needs to be perfect.

And while that’s all nice, it certainly isn’t me. The decorations on my tree might seem a little simplistic to some but, for me, they create a tree full of memories every year.

I always loved the ornaments the kids made at school and how proud they were to hang them on the tree. Here are a few that seem to make it onto the tree every year.DSC06873

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I saw this blue jay one Christmas and picked it up for my next-door neighbour because she loved blue jays. When you squeeze it it sounds just like one. After she passed, at the age of 100, her daughter gave it back to me as a remembrance of her. This ornament reminds me of the time I spent with her and the Christmases I helped decorate her tree.

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This Christmas tree owl my daughter made the year Miss Charlotte was born. It came with a poem—a story about a little night owl named Charlotte who didn’t like sleeping at night. I’m happy to report that she did outgrow that night owl stage.

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I posted this one on Facebook a few days ago. It was made from Miss Charlotte’s hand print the year she was two.

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This is a painted bulb of our house more than ten years  ago. Some subtle changes dates this one for me.

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Aunt Elsie made a few ornaments that adorn our tree every year. This one she made my daughter and it doubled as a tag on her gift that year. That has to have been nearly 30 years and dear Aunt Elsie is no longer with us.

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Here’s a silly one my daughter made last year. It brought plenty of laughter on Christmas day. I posted this one on Facebook, too. Cracks me up!

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My son’s Baby’s First Christmas ornament. This year he has two babies celebrating their first Christmas. Exciting times!

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I have a few of these birds that I always put on my tree. We had the same kind on our tree when I was a kid and I loved them. I bought these in 1979 the year we got married.

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Over the years a few friends have tole painted ornaments for me. Can’t help but think of them, the fun we’ve had over the years, as I hang them on the tree.

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So there are a few memories from my Christmas tree. While my tree is not fancy and will never make the cover of a magazine it warms my heart every year.  I couldn’t imagine not finding a spot to hang these ornaments among the branches. And really, isn’t that what Christmas is all about, the memories, the love and laughter?

Wishing you all a Christmas filled with much love and warm memories, and may 2016 surpass your expectations and dreams.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Chatelaine–1968

I was eight years old when this magazine was printed. I know we’re not supposed to give our age away, but age is one thing I’ve never been ashamed of.

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My daughter came across this old magazine in a thrift shop recently and thought I’d enjoy it. She was right. And who knows it may come in handy one day if I decide to set a story in that year.

I thought it would be neat to share some of the photos and ads. Love the clothes.

This outfit is a little far out there, man!

This outfit is a little far out there, man!

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Imagine painting a room wearing this! The 60's made the world sit up and take notice.

Imagine painting a room wearing this! The 60’s made the world sit up and take notice.

Dominion was a chain of grocery stores back in the day. I Immediately remembered their logo when I saw this.

Dominion was a chain of grocery stores back in the day. I immediately remembered their logo when I saw this.

Lady Scott products I believe went the way of the dodo. Colored toilet paper--Must have been a man's idea.

Lady Scott products I believe went the way of the dodo. Coloured TP– Tell me this was a man’s idea.

This was back when tobacco ads were everywhere.

This was back when tobacco ads were everywhere.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip into the past. For some of you this is all new, but to many of us it brings back memories. I’m looking forward to reading some of the articles to compare how attitudes and ideas have changed in the past 45 years…Was it really that long ago?

 

Farewell

Farewell deare flowers, sweetly your time ye spent,

Fit, while ye liv’d, for smell or ornament,

And after death for cures.

GEORGE HERBERT, Life

My mother-in-law grew peonies. The year we were married she dug some of her bulbs out and gave them to us to plant. Young and busy at the time, we didn’t fully appreciate the gift. They were planted in front of the house in some fashion but didn’t came up the following spring. We gave them little thought after that.

The year she went to the nursing home we dug out some of the bulbs, planted them properly, and waited. It was a sad time as we struggled with the memories and emotions involved when emptying her house, and packed what things were to go with her. During that time the peonies suddenly took on new meaning for us.

Their subtle presence in our lives, the memories they evoke each time they come in bloom, brings a smile to my lips, a warm tug to my heart. It is all the proof I need to know we live on long after we have left this earthly  abode. We touch more lives  than we are aware of, without ever knowing the importance of our actions and words. We leave a myriad of sweet memories in our wake. We bring tears of sadness and joy with us in everything we do. We come into the world with nothing, what we leave behind in the minds and hearts of others is what gives our lives meaning.

Farewell Frances, you still make us smile…

A Wrinkle in Time

We have spent the past week watching old home videos. It’s part of the healing process. Death brings us back to the past, reminiscing, recollecting, and repeating the old stories that we haven’t told in years. And we smile.

Memories are who we are, who we’ve been. Looking back, seeing ourselves for who we were during a specific moment in time, is an eye-opening experience. We aren’t aware of the subtle changes that time brings until we see old photos or videos from five, ten, or fifteen years back.

That’s why I titled this post A Wrinkle in Time. Actually a wrinkle is a huge understatement. There have been several wrinkles, and not just in time. There’s no point denying it. They’re written all over my face.

My daughter suggested the other day that I start taking some photos now in hopes that it will save a lot of anguish later on when I try and find a suitable author photo. I’d kind of like to have an outdoor photo this time. Sounds good. Sounds easy. Snap…snap…snap. Digital cameras—how did we ever survive without them? I mean we can snap hundreds of photos if we need to, crop them just so, and basically change them to suit ourselves. Camera heaven.

Almost.

However, this I have discovered: while outdoor photos offer many different backgrounds, they also seem to offer more wrinkles in the process. I swear. Tis true. And none of it’s good.

Okay, I’m willing to admit the wrinkles are there. I’m 51; it’s a part of life. I don’t consider myself a vain person, but for the love of God must the wrinkles appear to be so…so crater-like? Seriously. A cruel joke by my calculation. As I told my sister on the phone the other evening, they certainly aren’t that deep when I look in the bathroom mirror. “I believe it’s the digital camera. Maybe it’s on the wrong setting or something.”(I was willing to look for reasons. I’m like that, you know.) My sister calmly replied, “Maybe it’s the lighting in your bathroom.”  Thanks sis! I owe you one.

It’s a known fact in this family that I take lousy photos. My kids can verify. I can’t even begin to tell you the horror I put my husband through last time when I suddenly needed a photo for the back of my book. I remember pleading and lamenting, bringing out the big guns as I whined, “I hardly ever ask you for anything.” This was probably hundreds of shots into it, and he was sporting a blister on his index finger. Okay, so the blister is an exaggeration, but you’d have thought he had one the way he protested. I was getting desperate. Every photo looked, shall I say, less than acceptable. One hundred and one weird facial expressions…It seems I could write that book. Back then I had only a week to come up with a decent shot, one I was happy with. Looking back I can’t much blame him. The whole experience was enough to make the most patient person complain. But this time I vow it will be different. I won’t be left scrambling at the end. And if worse comes to worse I’ll use the same photos as on my last novel.

So here’s what we ended up with. The only photo that didn’t show those many wrinkles in time.

 

What can I say? My daughter made me do it!

Now seriously, the only wrinkles I see in this photo are the wrinkles in my pants and since I’ll only need a head shot… Relax, I’m just kidding.

Hopefully in the months ahead I’ll narrow it down with some decent shots, and while I really don’t like having my photo taken I’m at least going to have a little fun in the process.

Do you have any tips for taking good outdoor photos? I could sure use some help..

Making Memories

Look how quickly a month rolls around. Today you’ll find me over at A Hopeful Sign. I hope you’ll drop in and say hi, maybe check the site out while you’re at it.

I’m sneaking in a little computer time while Miss Charlotte has her nap. I don’t expect to do a whole lot of writing this week what with Miss Charlotte here until Saturday, but that’s okay.  I’m just excited for the extended visit.

She’s growing mighty fast and, at seventeen months, has a larger vocabulary that some adults I know. It’s a great feeling to know that one day she’ll be reading the stories her nanny has written.

Earlier today, when the subject of a quilt was brought up, I mentioned to my daughter that I had helped a neighbour with the quilting and she later gave the quilt to me as a gift. I have wonderful memories of our times together. My neighbour lived to be 100.  My daughter said something then that struck a note with me when we spoke of the quilt. She said that everyone should make something to leave behind for others to remember them. This is how I feel about the stories I have written.

Yesterday, Miss Charlotte helped plant some tulip bulbs. With a little luck we’ll have a patch of tulips for many years to come.

It doesn’t matter how old or young we are we are all capable of making memories for the future.

Memories May Be Beautiful And Yet…..

Perhaps I should have called this post : Memories May be Beautiful and Yet Totally Inaccurate . Sound remotely familiar? Sure does to me.

My contributor copies of Country Roads: Memoirs From Rural Canada arrived late last week. You know the book, the one edited by the lovely and talented Pam Chamberlain with the funky chicken on the front. Before writing, The Place I Call Home —that’s my piece in the anthology— I’d never written a memoir piece. In fact, I’d never considered there was anything about my life worth writing about, certainly nothing that anyone else would ever want to read. That’s why I write fiction. But it was kind of fun to see the piece come together and even more exciting to see my words printed in the book. Thanks, Pam! You’ve been super to work with, not to mention very patient.

People who have only known me as an adult will learn a bit about my growing up years here in East Dalhousie when they read the book. It’ll all be news for most of them. But the truth is most of it will be news to the people who have known me my whole life, too.

I got to thinking about the human mind and our ability to remember events from the past. We’re all told to live in the moment and that’s good advice, but without our memories, those small random remembrances of our past, who are we really?

When my older sister read my piece in Country Roads she was surprised to learn that I was one of three girls who had made a mile long swim to an island in the lake we frequented as kids. It really shouldn’t have been such a shock since she was also one of the three. Talk about a memory malfunction! Okay, just so you know, she remembered making the swim. She just didn’t remember me being in on it. Sheesh! Thanks sis! Didn’t ya remember me being there, singing my head off, when we reached the further shore?

The headline in the local paper read, “Long Swim No Big Feat For Three Girls.”

My point is, had my older sister been writing this same piece, she’d have written an account with a headline that would have read, “Long Swim No Big Feat For Two Girls.” Heck, who am I kidding she wouldn’t have remembered there being a headline.

Memory is a tricky thing, no doubt about it. What causes us to remember some things while other memories are lost along the way? Just where do memories hide out? Ever find yourself remembering something right out of the blue, something you didn’t even know you remembered?  Sometimes it’s scary, other times it’s rather pleasant especially when the memory is a fond one. Dwelling on the past is unproductive. Reminiscing, however, is pleasant. It tells us who we are by where we’ve been. It gives us a sense of where we belong in the world.

I’ve always known that each person has his or her own recollections of events. And when two people tell two slightly different stories, I’m willing to accept the fact that they’re probably both right. That’s why memoir pieces can be so tricky. How much is the real truth and how much is the truth as we remember it? And does it really even matter?

So what are your thoughts about the mind’s ability to recollect memories?  Have you ever suffered from a memory malfunction?  If so, I’d sure love to hear that story.

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