Archive for January, 2010

8 Things

I’m a bit slow with this one, but my friend Pam at A Novel Woman recently posted this and invited readers to participate, so I decided to give it a shot. And then I forgot all about it until I found myself with a little time today and remembered. Like Pam, I won’t tag anyone, but if you decide to do it, post a comment with a link.

8 TV shows I watch
1. Amazing Race – we watch it as a family, and it’s my favourite.
2. Community
3. CSI
4. The Office
5. Rick Mercer Report
6. Grey’s Anatomy
7. The Big Bang Theory – we just started checking this one out after accidentally seeing ten minutes of it and laughing through the whole thing
8. Relocation, Relocation – and other British and Canadian HGTV shows

8 favorite places to eat and drink
1. Kim’s
2. Cuddled up on the couch with my family, watching a show together
3. The Boathouse Restaurant – 3 mustard salmon and garlic mashed potatoes, thank you very much.
4. Pistou Grill, Pender Island – now closed *sniff*
5. The Keg, but only the one closest to my house, which is consistently excellent
6. Moderne, when we feel the need to indulge in excellent burgers and shakes
7. Pajo’s for fish and chips right on the water
8. The lounge at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel every October, for the company and the conversation.

8 things I look forward to
1. Time spent in Victoria and on Pender
2. Returning to Scotland someday.
3. Email from friends
4. Spring blossoms
5. Getting published.
6. SiWC
7. Lazy vacation days
8. Blenz dark hot chocolate

8 things I love about winter
1. Rainy nights
2. The rare days when the rain stops and the sun gleams off the snow on the mountains and everyone seems a little giddy from the blue sky
3. Christmas
4. A fire in the fireplace
5. Dark mornings
6. Windstorms
7. Being cosy under my down duvet
8. Snow, when we get some and it falls in big, fat, silent flakes.

8 things on my wish list
1. More time with friends.
2. Days when the words flow effortlessly
3. Succeeding in the work I take on
4. Going to France, Italy, England and Scotland
5. Star Trek Transporters – who needs air travel?
6. Going to NYC
7. Being done with puppy housetraining
8. Time

8 things I am passionate about (in no particular order)
1. Writing
2. Limiting homework
3. Living in a country where everyone has health care and every couple has an equal right to get married
4. Family history and my Scottish roots
5. The people I care about
6. Books
7. Giving kids time to be kids
8. Chocolate

8 things I have learned from the past
1. To trust my instincts about people
2. Consistency is key – true in so many areas
3. Kindred spirits are worth holding onto
4. The golden rule holds that title for a reason
5. A good cry sometimes makes everything better
6. I cannot watch movies that have sad animal stories (okay, so that’s not a life lesson, exactly, but it’s true.)
7. Books are always a worthwhile thing to spend money on (thanks, Mum)
8. Having a good sense of humour will keep you sane

8 things I want/need
1. to laugh every day
2. more hours in the day
3. a good sleep every night
4. to always have a good book on the go (reading AND writing. Why not?)
5. to finish this MS
6. and find an agent
7. a new kitchen and bathrooms (mine are original, circa 1982)
8. to wake up in the morning and find my house has been magically cleaned and tidied.

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Just came home from a Friday night outing to the bookstore. Does that sound pathetic? Probably not if you’re one of my friends, who is just as likely to spend free time at the bookstore as I am. To the rest of the world, perhaps, but I enjoyed it. I love shopping for books. Love bringing them home, all shiny and new and full of possibilities. It’s my one real vice, I suppose, if you don’t count chocolate. Book shopping. My mother laid the foundation when I was about seven or eight and didn’t have quite enough allowance for the book I wanted to buy, A Little Princess. She gave me the extra and told me that books are always worth spending money on. I never forgot that. I still have that copy of that book on the bookshelf in my hallway. And mum still loves the bookstore, too.

Tonight, I had a funny little communal experience with the other book shoppers. I was in the bargain books section, the best place, I think, to discover new authors. I end up buying an author’s whole backlist because I took a $5 or $6 chance on a book that turns out to be wonderful. Anyway, I was browsing there, along with a handful of other people, and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” came on the store’s stereo system. I defy you to listen to that song, whatever you think of Neil Diamond, and not be tempted to sing along. So there I am, quietly singing “Sweet Caroline”, when I realized that every other person in the section was doing the same. There we were, shopping for bargain books, un-self-consciously singing Neil Diamond in the middle of the bookstore. A couple of other people came through the section, also humming or singing. No one acknowledged anyone else, but you could see from the little half smiles that we’d all noticed. And then the song ended, and we all went back to shopping quietly, without comment. It reminded me of those flash mob videos you see on youtube, only with no mob and no plan, but just a bunch of people just shopping, then suddenly singing, then just shopping again.

It was great, and I came home with a big stack of new authors to try, thanks to a gift card I’ve been waiting to use. And so did my daughter, who browsed in the kid section and picked her own books while I chose mine. I’ve passed on that same lesson my mother taught me to her. As we were leaving, I said, “I love book shopping. Makes me happy,” and she said, “So do I.” That’s my girl.

Happy Friday!

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If I didn’t have you

I meant to post this before Christmas, but the time got away from me, and I missed the chance. And then I forgot. But when I was chatting with my friend kc dyer today, she happened to mention Tim Minchin, and that reminded me.

You may already be familiar with the Australian comic, but he’s brand new to me. I was introduced to him by another blogger’s link to his Christmas Song, “White Wine in the Sun”. It isn’t comical, but sweet and sentimental. I’m posting it here for those of you who can stomach a little Christmas sentiment in January.

Once I’d seen that one, I went looking for other videos of his, and came across this one. It’s a love song to his wife, whom he apparently met when he was a teenager, and it gave us a good laugh at my house. Of course, that might have something to do with my husband and I having met when we were teenagers, too. 🙂


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We’re working on housebreaking our puppy at the moment. It’s awfully reminiscent of potty training a toddler: the adults learn to adhere to a new routine to promote success in the toddler, whether she’s human or canine. The process has, of course, disrupted my usual routines and made me really aware of how ritualized my workdays usually are, filled with little habits that make the difference between a productive, happy day and a grumpy, useless one.

No matter how varied our lives may be from day to day, I suspect most of us have certain rituals we adhere to, the absence of which upsets the balance of our days. What seems paradoxical about them is that rituals take up time, but somehow I get a lot more accomplished when I follow them than when I’m not able to for one reason or another.

My own list of little routines and rituals is long and boring to anyone other than me, but here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about:

The very first thing I do when I come downstairs after dragging myself out of bed (where I hit snooze two times on the alarm) and brushing my teeth is check my email. It’s an integral part of my morning, and it happens before I let the dog out, before I make breakfast or lunch for my daughter or anything else. Down the stairs and to the computer. I don’t have time to respond then, but I can think about them while I’m going through the rest of the off-to-school routine and be set to reply when I sit down to get to work. And if there’s social email there from friends, that sets a better tone for the day, just as personal snail mail has such a different feeling from bills and junk mail.

There are a handful of websites I have to check before/as I get started on work.

I always shave my left leg first.

Why? The letting-the-dog-out-every-hour routine has some benefit (please, let it have some benefit!), but what of the rest? Why are we such creatures of habit? Nothing would be different if I shaved my right leg first, and checking my email at 7:50 in the morning affects nothing more than my mood. And yet the world seems off-kilter when these things are disrupted.

I know I’m not the only one, because I’ve heard too many people talk about their days being messed up by being out of their routines. What are some of yours?

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Back from Away

Well, not away, exactly, but I was offline over the holidays, and am playing catch up today. Apparently not everyone went offline for a few days when I did; there’s a lot of stuff out there to catch up on!

Happy new year! I’m excited about 2010. Ten months from now marks my first Surrey International Writers’ Conference (www.siwc.ca) as the conference coordinator. As I’ve mentioned before, I started the job right after the 2009 conference ended in October, but the work really picks up now that the holidays are over. And I still have a book to finish. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions. I spent too many years in school as a student and as a teacher to really think of January as the beginning of the year. I always find myself thinking about new year sorts of things in September instead. But back-to-school after the holidays for my daughter means back-to-work for me, and I’m excited about getting on with both jobs. I’d love to have a second finished manuscript behind me by the time the conference rolls around. We’ll see!

Thanks to all of you who stopped by here in 2009. Hope to see you back in 2010.

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