Thursday, 31 July 2008

No answer

sunny, humid, temp 27

We're in Toronto. Got up at 4am - drove to Montreal and stopped briefly at the apartment there to see if Michael's suit was there...after searching every closet at home in country for it - twice. We kept thinking - where could we have left it? When was the last time Michael wore it? Did Gary take it?

It was hanging in the Montreal apartment - feel quite badly now about locking Gary in the basement as punishment. Oh well, I'm sure he can gnaw himself loose. He did last time.

Stopped at The 5th Wheel in Cornwall for breakfast, and a change of driver. Easy drive, though we skirted some pretty impressive thunderstorms. Amazing fork lightening off to our left. But it never hit us. Then sun came out around Kingston and we rolled into Toronto about 1pm

Just had lunch and will have a nap, then off to the funeral parlor (such an old-fashioned word, isn't it?) for the visitation. Having done this for my grandparents as well as mother and father I always think there is something kind of barbaric about the funeral rites. I agree there's a sense of closure - but what torture for the family! To have a sort of somber cocktail party in the same room as the deceased. Make small talk. Or crying everytime someone new arrives. I remember being so tired at my mother's I could barely stand. And I kept thinking, 'I have to call Mom and tell her how it went.'

That feeling lasted a long time. Have to call her about the delicates cycle in the dryer, about how to make Yorkshire pudding, about the roses now in bloom, about the great deals at The Bay. All the little things no one else would ever be interested in. Mom was.

I remember the first time I laughed after she died...I felt horrible. That took a while too - to know that life indeed goes on.

Mary and her family are going through that now. Poor ones.

We have tons of fudge for the kids. If Earl Grey tea is the opiate of the Anglos, as Peter says in Still Life, then candy is the gentle drug for kids.

Speak to you tomorrow. Funeral's at 11am, so will probably be later in the day.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Busy, but good, day

mainly sunny, warm, temps 27

Just took the laundry off the clothes line. Couldn't resist plunging my face into one of Michael's nightshirts. No aroma like it in the world.

Wayne came and cut the whole lawn - big job. We got caught up on village gossip over a pink lemonade. Who has opened a new vineyard, how belts are made, strange uses for septic tanks. Ask me anything now.

Had a lovely email from niece Sarah in Edmonton. Her knee won't need a big operation after all. But mostly it was about the death of Auntie Mary's father, Don. Like me, Sarah knew him as a kind and gentle man. Sarah also said how sad she was for young Brian, Rozie and Charlie. She was about their age when she lost her grandma (my mother) and it felt as though her world had shattered. And I realized this would be the kids first death in the family. So hard...and so difficult to see their mother in such pain too.

Am off in a few minutes to Vermont to tank the car up for the trip to Toronto tomorrow, visitation in the evening and Don's funeral on Friday. After getting gas I'll pick up the organic vegetables and then some fudge for Brian, Rozie and Charlie. When they come to Sutton the home-made fudge store is always a highlight.

Spent about 4 hours editing today...interspersed with 2 fun conversations. One with an aquaintance, Anna Maria Tremonti - just comparing notes. Anna Maria's a well-known journalist in Canada, and I used to be a journalist (famous for the hog market reports, thank you) and the other conversation was with a woman with the great name of Flannery. She writes for Chatelaine Magazine and was doing an interview. I had a riot...she was terrific. One of the most fun interviews I've had!

Editing went well - thank God. Am at page 202 in a 267 page manuscript (single spaced still). Word count is hovering around 117,000. Not bad, since we started at 140,000. I know there's stuff that needs to be added later in the manuscript, so I'm thinking the appropriate length is around 120,000.

Off to TO tomorrow. Pat has said she'll look after our 2 dogs - which is amazingly kind of her considering she has her infant grand-twins (4 months old), their 3 year old brother and two other children under the age of 5 visiting. I suspect Tony will come and spend the nights we're away here, and house-sit/dog-sit. I would too, if I was him!

Am off on my appointed rounds. We leave about 5am tomorrow. Try to get across the Champlain Bridge into Montreal early (construction on the bridge too)...the off to Toronto. About a 6 hour drive from here.

Probably won't blog tomorrow, but will try to do something from the hotel on Friday.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Don Lingman

Sunny, cloudy, rainy. Temps 25

Pat and her dog Magic left today. Very sad. But we had a great time. After Sunday's Spa day (now look less like a lobster and more like a rose - a ruddy rose) we went to visit the abbey at Saint Benoit du lac. Benedictine abbey. Wonderful. I mention it sometimes in the books. Their vocation is to made cheese and sing Gregorian chants. Ironically, for men who chose to isolate themsevles from the world, they became world-famous for their chants and now people travel from all over to hear them. Eventually they surrendered to their success and have opened a little store, where they sell their cheese, as well as the produce from other Quebec monestaries - most notably the Trappist Brothers at Mistassini - whose vocation is....chocolate making.

Dear Lord! the best chocolate in the world. Yum, yum.

We spent 45 minutes in the shop, and 5 minutes in the chapel. Though, have to say, I really like the chapel. It's very austere and not every one likes it, but I find it restful. And when the brothers come in in their long black robes chanting, it's electrifying. But we weren't there at a service time.

Pat bought us salmon dinners from a local caterer and we had a quiet, relaxing evening at home.

This morning early, though, I had a call from our beloeved sister-in-law, Mary in Toronto with the sad news that her father had died.

Don Lingman - a gentle soul who'd suffered a stroke years earlier and struggled with that. Then was diagnosed with cancer. Still, his decline was so rapid it took their breaths away. mary called in torrents of tears.

So we're cancelling everything and heading to Toronto for the visitation Thursday and the funeral Friday.

So hard to lose a parent, no matter what age. And her children, Brian, Roz and Charlie (the guys who visit us) were so loving and strong. Hugging their grandfather, wiping his brow, whispering they love him. Imagine having the courage to do that at age 10, 12 and 13?

Remarkable kids - with an amazing mother. And father. And grandfather.

Am off now. Need to re-group a little. Had to cancel tea with Bal and Linda Mount on Thursday - but they're coming over briefly this afternoon with their daughter Bethany. So looking forward to seeing them.

Also needed to cancel lunch with Bernard and Pat Lemieux. Michael worked with them on the Neuroblastoma study. They invited us to lunch, then Michael was going to tour the lab again and talk to Bernard about the research...all in aid of Michael's book. So we're disappointed about missing that - but it can and will be re-scheduled. The main thing in our lives now is to get to TO.

have a phone interview with Chatelaine magazine tomorrow - but that's before we leave.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

So this is what 'stupid' looks like

sunny/stormy, temps 25

Slightly cooler today. Had a couple massive thunder storms last night and that broke the heat and humidity.

Spent yesterday with Michael and Pat in our bathing suits by the pool. Michael and Pat very sensibly put sun block on. But, since I'm invincible, I didn't. Today, they still look like human beings, and I look like a root vegetable. A cross between a carrot and a beet.

I'm almost purple.

It's been a long time since I was this tanned, or that stupid. Remarkable, really, to know that while misjudgement might lie dormant, it never actually goes away.

The plan today, and so far it has gone off without a flaw, is to rise late (check), make coffee (check), laze around (check), make brunch of blueberry pancakes, bacon, Montreal bagels, cream cheese, Lise's strawberry jam, cappucino and cherries. (check)

Will do a few emails - responding to a personal appearance request, a couple readers and a book club in Oregon - then....

Pat and I are heading to the spa! Will do a half day package. Facial for me - see if they can bring the purple down to a soothing pink - and a massage. Pat'll have a massage, a manicure and a pedicure.

Michael will have a quiet day - I think he's looking forward to it even more than we are.

Steak on the BBQ tonight. Nice to be away from the editing, though of course I think about it quite a bit. Good place, really, to pause since it was a bit of a problem area...but I think I've solved the problem.

Speak to you tomorrow. Enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, 26 July 2008


sunny, gorgeous day, temps 30

Spectacular day. Such a gift...especially with Pat visiting. And especially since the forecast was for rain.

Spent the day in our bathing suits, reading and swimming. Had Dom's quiche for lunch and Michael made a salad and it was heaven.

Oh, and that "killer" German Shepherd of Pat's? It's a poodle.

All's well.

Friday, 25 July 2008


mainly sunny, warm, temps 27

Finally! A gorgeous day. Went for beakfast in Knowlton. Took Danny in the bookstore a raspberry muffin. Headed home in time to bother Gary and John doing the renovations. We've decided to go with Michael's suggestion and put in an electric heater in that guest bedroom upstairs. We hardly use it anyway - prefering to put our guests in a separate cottage. Sometimes we prefer it they were in a separate country.

We keep meaning to ask Gary about solar panels. We think it's time to seriously investigate that. I can't imagine why we aren't all doing it, given the environment and the economy. Thought I might find out soon. They probably cost a fortune.

We've watched oil go up and up in cost - as everyone has. My big concern about that is, quite naturally, what it'll mean for the price of gummy bears, which are after all, an edible oil product. As am I, by now.

In fact, Michael and I now have a nice little Plan B, in case our home should ever run out of oil, or the car run dry...just hook up my thighs. I'm good for days. Of course, once I die I'll be considered a toxic hazard. Non-biodegradable. On the plus side, I guess that means I'll live forever.

Worked for a few hours today, editing book 5. Hit an awkward section. One of those horrible places, where I love the theme of the chapter - but I suspect it's not necessary. Am struggling toward the inevitable decision to cut it. Oh well. I can always use this idea in a later book. It really does become clearer what the themes are that belong, and those that are just dressing...and as the book goes on I want/need less dressing. I want it to become more and more streamline - like a sword. I want the book to race, in the final third, toward the pointy end.

My friend Pat called from ottawa at 1:30 - planning to leave there about 2:30. That means she'll arrive here about 6:30 or 7.

she has a German Shepherd named Magic, who she said is 'less aggressive' with other dogs if the other dogs aren't on a leash. My plan was to introduce Maggie and Trudy (on leashes)one and at time to Magic - so there's some control.

Oh oh. I think what I find most disconcerting is her use of the word, 'less'.

So now we have collars on the dogs at least, and will let Maggie meet Magic first. Give Michael a golf club, in case.

Wish us luck.

Barbecued confit du canard for dinner, with grilled portobello mushrooms and wildrice salad. Tarte Tatin and Coaticook ice cream for dessert. With fresh baguette (bought warm this afternoon) and cheeses.

Be well, and I'll try to report in tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Duct off!

rain and more rain!!! temps 19

Apparently we've had 50 percent more rain this July than normal. Not surprised, and I know I'd rather have too much than too little. But still...

yesterday's posting was a shambles. Sometimes this Blogger thing drives me nuts. I'd written the whole thing, then suddenly it refused to save. Then when it posted you got what you see below. It was as though I'd been struck dead in the middle of a sentence. happily that wasn't the case, so I suppose things could have been far worse.

Can't remember what I was going to say, except the good news that St Martin's Minotaur is so pumped about A RULE AGAINST MURDER they're making it the cover of their catalogue! Yay.

Gary and John arrived around noon to start work on the new TV room and immediately ran into a problem. What else? They have to move a door and when they opened the wall they found....a vent. (thought I'd add a bit of tension. But not too much) Damn vent for heating goes all the way up to the bedroom above. Anyway, they called in Dwayne the plumber, who confirmed that...but Michael, clever boy, provided the answer. Close off the upstairs vent, take out the duct work, and we'll put an electric baseboard heater in the guest bedroom. Freeze out the guests. Works on so many levels.

Odd, but I quite like working in chaos. I hardly notice. All those years in the newsroom at the CBC - you get good at focussing. Alarms could, and often did, go off and I wouldn't notice.

Wrote all to be at the stage where revelations are happening. Always a bit of a guess about what the reveal when and how. But again, that's what editing is for. It really is quite clear as I read it over what works and what doesn't.

Off to make hotel and flight arrangements - Toronto, Baltimore, Muncie.

We have a friend arriving tomorrow. Pat. She used to produce the show in Winnipeg I hosted on CBC Radio. The Afternoon Edition. Then I left and she got promoted to Executive Producer of the whole thing. Then she left Mother Corp.

Now she's driving across from Winnipeg, stopping along the way, and ending up here with her dog, Magic. Hope Magic gets along with Maggie and Trudy. I'm sure they will. After all, almost nothing ever goes wrong in this house.

Pat's staying for 5 days - but she's very self-sufficent. And I'll take a few days off to show her around. All part of my realization that friends and social events are at least as important as work.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Rain, rain and, yes, rain. Temps 20

Funny day - rain, then timid sun, then rain again. But we still found time to have an ice cream in Sutton. The chocolaterie - where they make wonderful handmade chocolates - also does homemade ice cream. Honestly, this is my idea of Heaven. Michael had a scoop of vanilla and one of chocolate. I had a scoop of pistachio and one of praline.

Picked up the organic vegetables. Fennel, kale, coriander and all sorts of things.

Spoke to my new publicist at St Martin Minotaur, in NYC - Sarah. She sounds amazing. Very exciting. Did I tell you Minotaur had chosen the cover for A RULE AGAINST MURDER? It blew me away. I think it's the best yet - of all the covers. Fantastic. It's very simple, but strong. It shows stone steps curving upward on a country path, leading into a forest. A great mix of shade and light, or natural and unnatural, of calm and foreboding

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Gary's Days are Numbered

sunny, then storms in the afternoon, (like now), temps 23

Well, I've finally figured out how to do in Gary. We're giving him a nearly impossible deadline for renovating the new TV room! It's brilliant. He'll either die trying to accomplish it, or kill himself. but, wait a minute, he might kill us!

Gary, if you're reading this, it was all Michael's idea. I tried to stop him. Begged him not to do it. Really.

Michael, if you're reading this...I love you.

Today we had breakfast in Cowansville (I know you find this riveting) - won't tell you what I ordered because there must be some boundaries - then bought a sofa bed and TV for the new TV room. The Sofa will be delivered in 10 days, at which time Gary must have the new TV room ready.

Are you still conscious, Gary?

Had an email from More Magazine (great mag. aimed at women over 40) about doing a photo-shoot next week. Happily they'll provide a make up artist and hair stylist...but they want to do it in Montreal. Also have an interview with Chatelaine magazine next week, and Bravo is trying to organize a time to film an interview for their Writers Confessions series - next week. If I do it on the same day as the MORE shoot I can use the same makeup and hair. Even the next day - if I sleep sitting up, and don't mind looking like The Joker.

this is one of the flaws in my 'take-it-easy' editing pledge. Other things come to crowd it I end up with almost no time to do the actual editing. I seem to have fallen off that wagon.

Actually, this might be the cappucino talking, but I'm not worried. I'm loving this book and the re-write and I'm going to take my time. If I don't finish til Christmas, that's OK.

Had to say 'No, thank you' to doing another Books and Brunch event in Montreal this fall. It's a HUGE event with 3-400 people, but it's just too much. Schedule already crazy. I asked if I could do it next year. (the Scarlet O'Hara approach to book marketing).

Great news - at Nancy's suggestion I bought a bottle of that canned air and sprayed it on the 's' key of the laptop and voila. The effin esses are back! Might spray some of that oxygen up my nose next week. There's a shot for MORE. What the mature woman does for fun and profit these days.

Life is good. Unless you're Gary. (sorry about the ungodly schedule, Gar)

Monday, 21 July 2008

Was that a raspberry I heard?

sunny, then thunder storms, temps 25

Great day until just now when storms have rolled in. Went to exercise...I always find it surprising when I actually go. It's twice a week for an hour. Stretch and strength. So far Michael and I haven't missed a single one.

Still adoring the editing. Had a funny moment this afternoon - had been editing for a few hours and came to the end of a chapter...or at least about 3 lines from the end - and it just didn't work. I took some stuff out and had these two lines floating at the end... I needed to find just one sentence to knit them to the rest of the chapter. But I couldn't think of what to put in.

I must have stared at the page, tried different things, went back and re-read... for an hour. I was so close to finishing for the day - and just couldn't make it that last few words. Like my recurring nightmare where I need to run, but can't.

Anyway, I finally realized what I needed to do, and it got done. But, must say, it wasn't upsetting or scary...I knew I'd find it.

After reading Saturday's post Lise wrote this email to me:

Hi Louise!

Boy book 5 is going to be a whopper, so far you've tried to poison the gardener and now you have also tried to kill the carpenter. What is it with you? At least we lived to tell the tale.

Take care

She has no idea what eeevyl plans I have yet to hatch.

heard from the Globe and Mail - they liked the column on 'Romantic Love' - we're pinning down events in Montreal for the launch of THE MURDER STONE, trying to arrange a half-day photo shoot for a magazine, and heard today from Bravo! that they want to shoot a TV interview here for a show called Writer's Confessions. (and I haven't even managed to do in Lise or Gary yet - must hurry or I'll have nothing to confess).

I spend about 1 1/2 to 2 hours a day replying to readers who are kind enough to write in, juggling interview requests and personal appearance requests...and odds and ends from the publishers. If I ever lost my agenda I'd explode. Now, if anyone's ever trying to kill me, that would be a good start. Hide my agenda. of course, I'd take a lot of people down with me.

Tomorrow we're off to Cowansville for breakfast, then looking for a sofabed and new TV... have figured out how to get the Sutton office (which we're closing) into our home. Turn a tiny bedroom into a TV room (with sofabed) and turn the current TV room into my study.

Gaarrryyyy!!!!! Time to get off that cot in the basement and do more woooorrk! Should probably take the chain off his leg.

Had a capuccino and breakfast cereal for lunch - then Michael and I and the dogs went out raspberry hunting. Found a ton. Ate half and put half in a bowl for tonights dinner (dessert).

Speak to you tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

In bliss

rain, cool, temps 19

Not a bad day - rain didn't start until about 1pm. Went for a walk with the dogs this morning, then had breakfast on the screen porch then to work. Michael worked in the living room too, on his laptop, and I worked on mine.

I'm at the amazing, blessed stage where I'm totally enjoying the book and the process. I love doing it, and the only reason I stop everyday is because I get tired. There's no fear anymore.

I've come to realize how riddled my life can be with fear - and how crippling that is. It's both a weight and a barrier. Fear stands between me and inspiration, creativity, gratitude, enjoyment. It's not always 'nightfall', but more like a perpetual twilight, of semi-enjoyment, of bliss sampled then placed just out of reach.

But when fear is gone, wow. Even if the book is crap - and I know now it won't be - but even if it is, at least I'm loving writing it.

I almost always reach this stage in the books - sometimes sooner, sometimes later. But once achieved it so far has stayed with me for the rest of the process - until I have to show the book to someone other than Michael. Then night falls.

But I'm not there now.

Today I worked for about 4 hours, and would have worked more but we wanted to visit a few artist friends on the Tour des Arts and today is the last day.

I think that's also a big part of my enjoyment - I'm being far more reasonable about the editing. Taking my time, not riding myself so hard. There is no way this book won't be written and ready by the deadline. And even if it isn't, well, worse things have happened. Losing the pleasure of writing is a 'worse thing'.

Last year I practically killed myself to get book 4 written/edited/polished and to Teresa my agent before the end of the summer, so that we could go on the world tour. For various reasons she chose not to give it to the editors until November anyway - they took a month or more to get back to me, then even longer to give me the notes and I was still doing their edits in April, when I'd hoped to be enjoying a month off in London.

I think that shattered my nerves a bit. Now I've decided to just slow down, write and edit to my needs and see what happens. The editors are reasonable people - and I'm hoping they'd rather have a healthy, creative, inspired and happy writer producing a good (perhaps even great) book - than a mess churning out drivel.

However, there is a lot about the publishing industry that is surprising me, so I could be wrong about that.

But for now I'm in absolute heaven with this book.

Hope you're enjoying yourselves too and getting a chance to re-new yourselves this summer. You probably don't need me to say it, since I'm fairly new to the concept myself but - be kind to yourself.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

White Anglo Saxon Protestants, swarming

mainly sunny, warm, temps 28

Lovely day, but started off a little foggy and threatening. This wouldn't normally be an issue except Gary and his son Evan were meeting Tony and me at our sutton office to help move furniture. We're givien, as I mentioned, Evan a double bed for his new Montreal apartment...that bed is in our home. But we needed to move the bed in our office (yes - we had a bed in our office - my idea, go figure) back home. So Gary and Evan and Tony came to the office at 9am to lug the queen bed out of there, strap it to Tony's cart behind his pick-up and bring it home.

From there the guys toted it up the outside stairs.

and then disaster struck (go figure). Gary and Tony, and the dogs, disturbed a wasps nest hidden in the wooden floor. Someone must have stepped on it.

Well, they came shooting out and swarmed everyone, except Evan, who was inside, and me (also inside) and Michael, downstairs. The puppies yipped and ran down the stairs, as did Tony. Gary backed up and called to Evan to shut the screen door. Which was quite heroic since it trapped him on the balcony with angry wasps between himself and the door and/or the stairs. No escape.

We all shouted advice - all contradictory. Come inside. run down the stairs. Stay where you are until they settle down. Gary was too busy batting the wasps away to pay any attention. probably a good thing. After a minute or so Gary decided staying on the balcony was probably not the best idea. So he ran for it, taking a cloud of wasps with him down the stairs. But they disappated quite quickly.

That left us with a problem. How to get the bed upstairs? It wouldn't fit up the inside stairs. And they also had to get Evan's double bed out.

After some discussion, and more ignoring of my advice (try to take it inside) they decided to try to sneak past the wasps. So they tip toed - not an easy thing when carrying a Queen bed - over floorboards they knew contained a wasps nest. I called to Michael for our fly swatters in case we needed to bat them away from the guys, but Michael ignored me.

Seems everything was fine even without my sage advice. oddly, when I offered a capuccino, they heard. And agreed to that. Perhaps they're more away than I of my level of competence.

So the Queen got in and the Double got out and Evan and Gary headed off to Montreal.

Later Guy and Nicole showed up with their two grandchildren, Rachel and Sarah, for a swim. We served pink lemonade and watermellon.

Worked for a few hours on the book. Feels good. Had a great capuccino and biscotti. Yum. Took a couple of swims, and now need to run off to Sutton to a meeting.

Quiet day tomorrow...I think.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Privations, with a bit of froth

Thunderstorms, temps 20

A dramatic day. Love them every now and then. Montreal and Burlington really got walloped by some strong winds. Trees down, power out. We ran the water into the tub, in case we lost power - but all we lost (briefly) was the satellite.

Wrote a lot today...still having to substitute z for s. Then once in a while I hit replace and all the 'z's turn into 's's. So now size become sise. And sizzles become sissles. We've gone from book 5 sounding like it's narrated by Boris and Natasha to someone with quite a lisp. Well, at least the writing's going well.

Off to see Pina's show tonight.

The espresso machine arrived! We immediatelty cooked up two double's, and Michael did the froth. We sat in the screen porch as a thunder storm struck, dipping orange biscotti into our capuccinos. God, the life of a writer. Why me, oh Lord? When will it end?

Must go make dinner then get out of my flannel pajamas for Pina's show. It's also very hard being a trophy wife.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Ezprezzo countdown

sunny, hot, beautiful, temps 29

wonderful day - went exercising this morning. Very hard. I find some days I feel stronger than others. Especially those torturous leg lifts and bicycles. Ugh.

Pina - our neighbor/exercise instructor - is also an artist who's on the Tour Des Arts and now an actor. She and two other women have written a play called Three Old Bags. They workshopped it last year and this year they've had HUGE success. They were at the Montreal Fringe Festival and sold out one of the biggest theatres in the Townships, in North Hatley. they're putting on shows during the Tour as well. I thought she'd be a great profile for MORE magazine, so I'm going to pitch her to them. We'll see. Hoping to get to the show tomorrow night.

From exercise we did our shopping - the pharmacy's moved into the biggest building in Sutton - drugs, drugs, drugs galore. This is a great community. Drugs, and condoms.

Got home in time for a swim, and Wayne mowing the lawn.

Then put in 4 hours work. Didn't get as far with the editing as I'd hoped. Seems the 's' key has really given up now. So after pounding away at it I grew weary and frustrated. Then decided to substitute the 's' for 'z'...zo now wordz are zpelled ztrangely. Must say, it cuts down on the creativity when I have to do that.

Michael thinks it's a riot...says I've bagged so many zzz's in my life, at least now I have a use for them. har, har. Nice thing is I realize none of the main characters has an 's' in their name, except Lacozte.

Perhaps it's time for a new laptop. Was hoping to get through this book. We actually have one in the office I could use, but I find it's tempermental - skips lines and I don't realize it so that I'm writing happily away and it doesn't make sense. Oh well. probably better than the 'z' solution.

Espresso maker supposed to arrive tomorrow! Then everything will be right with the world.

Speak tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Tour des Taxes, and des Arts

mainly sunny, humid, growing hot, temps 29

It started out sunny but cool and has grown hotter and more humid as the day's gone on. Spent this morning at the Canadian gov't tax place, but finally got the forms stamped for the German publisher. We seem to need to do this every 2 years. Also got the Spanish contracts signed and mailed.

Then Michael and I headed back to the country.

One of the really fun annual events out here is called the Tour Des Arts - where artists who live in the area open their studios to the public for 10 days. There are 40 artists on the Tour, from all different disciplines. Cheryl called the other days and made a few suggestions so when we drove back to the country we decided to do the 'Tour'.

Started with the Potton Valley Quilters - a group of elderly women who do fantastic quilts. We put our name in for the raffle. Fingers crossed. Then we had lunch - home-made. I had French Canadian pea soup - which is made from yellow peas and loads of smoked ham. Michael had a hamburger soup - which was good, but not as good as the pea. We segued directly to dessert. Michael did the carrot cake and I had the jumbleberry - both with vanilla ice cream.


These quite substantial elderly women floated around the small room sometimes serving, sometimes sitting and eating, sometimes just chatting. We all sat at each other's tables, since there wasn't all that much seating. It was great. Went next door where there is a permanent garage sale. Bought old Life, 17, Chateleine and Saturday Evening Post magazines. Dollar each.

As I get older I realizing I'm spending more and more time trying to crawl back - not to the womb, but to the 1950's. This place was a good fit.

Then we hopped in the car and went into the mountains and found two other stops on the Tour des Arts. A woman who makes jewelery (bought 2 necklaces) and a man, Craig Skinner who does oil painting. They both live next to, almost on top of, the Ruiter brook. Stunning location, this is a stream that really rushes and tumbles, eddies and pools. Wonderful.

Craig's home is like something out of a fairytale. Cheryl said we'd love it and she was right. It's a tiny place, which he built himself, out of wood. There's a winding stone path with bushes in flower and steps up to an old wood door. Inside it's one room, with old kitchen one side, living room the other, dining table in between, and stairs leading up, with a walkway from one side to the other of the cathedraled room. One open bedroom up there. His bathroom sink is a flower urn. I just wanted to curl up there and never leave.

But couldn't. Had to scoot home, pick up puppies, change cars, get the organic vegetable from Yan's farm and am now at the Sutton office waiting for Gary to come and take a chest of drawers away we're giving to his son Evan, who is leaving home to go to CEJEP in Montreal.

CEJECP is a system unique to Quebec, as far as I know. After grade 11 kids change schools and take 2 years in this kind of college. It's meant to fight the drop-out rate, prepare some kids for vocations and others for University. It seems to be working quite well, except...

In the cxountry there aren't any CEJEPS, so kids here have to move to Montreal, or Sherbrooke to go to school - which means leaving home at 16. It've very hard - on the kids and the parents. Evan though is a great young man and will do great. But it's still scary.

I'm off - take care...Gary's knocking. Too bad the chest of drawers is so awful. But I suspect a 16 year old might not notice - here's hoping.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Our compliments to Iga

mainly sunny, cool, temps 20

As you can see, our weather is wildly unpredictable. Scorching and tropical one day, sweater weather the next. Had a bath this afternoon it was so cool.

Went to exercise. It really does feel great - except when I'm actually doing it. Then did some mailings, then lunch with Joan Rose, her husband Edward and a few other guests. Joan, a wonderful cook, has decided she's not cooking anything anymore (she was quite ill this past winter and doesn't have the heart for it anymore). Now she gets everything already cooked from the Sutton IGA - the grocery store, and tells everyone she has a Chef named Iga.

Since we're in exercise class together, which is the peacetime equivilant of a foxhole, she told Michael and me the truth.

Not doing any writing today, but a few ideas have come up - lying fallow is not such a bad thing, especially if it's in a bubble bath. But Michael kidded me this morning, after he'd saved what I wrote yesterday on his 'stick'. I always advise new writers to stop that days writing where you know what you're going to do next.

Seems yesterday, for reasons that totally escape me, I ended the days writing in the very middle of a word. Oliv

I was either writing about olives, or Olivier or Oliveena or maybe I was writing a sonnet: O live with me...

I'm sure it's obvious.

Am off now to try to finish the column for the Globe and Mail. Tomorrow we head in to Montreal to try to find the Canadian federal tax office that can stamp my German publishers form.

Don't ask. Missed the delivery of the espresso maker while we were enjoying Iga's creations with madame Rose. Next time they can try is Friday. The joys of living in the country. Still, best not to start complaining about a lack of an espresso maker. that's when the gods, quite rightly, give you something real to worry about.

Be well - talk tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

A quiet day

Sunny, hot, lovely, temps 28

Fabulous day. Hot but not steamy. Wrote all this morning then took the dogs for a walk and laid on the dock, hearing the bass jump and the water glug. So peaceful.

Yesterday, after breakfast and doing some chores we came home. Nancy came by to help set up the satellite connection for the internet, which seems to be even slower than dial-up. Something isn't quite right. Poor Michael spent most of this morning wrestling with it.

Then I coaxed him into the pool to cool off. then made lunch. Had the BEST organic peaches ever. No need for chocolate or pie or even gummies when fruit is that good.

Now we're just relaxing. I'm getting back to people about dates and details. Wrote part of the Globe column.

We're off to Kirk and Walter's for dinner. Kirk's father has vision problems but loves to read so I take him whatever books on tape I collect on travels. have a bunch to give him.

Hearing back from people who read the Advanced copies of The Murder Stone about how much they've enjoyed it. the best so far. Such a relief.

Friday, 11 July 2008


partly cloudy, cool, temps 23

Lovely day, really. Cool enough we needed a sweater for most of the day.

The delphinium are in full bloom and even some hollyhock! The garden's just exploding.

Woke up feeling very relaxed and invited Michael out for breakfast in Knowlton. There's a place called Cafe Floral that serves wonderful cafe au lait and the biggest freshest muffins in the world. We had a raspberry muffin, still warm from the oven, scrambled eggs with brie and a croissant. Then, just as it was time pay, the owner said Danny, who runs Brome Lake Books, had called to say he'd pay for our meal. (how he even knew we were there remains a mystery)

Danny clearly had NO idea how gargantuan our appetite was. We tried to pay for half, but the owner refused. So we bought Danny a warm muffin and took it to the bookstore where he and Michael chatted while I signed a pile of books.

pretty good work.

Then off to the Sutton food bank to make a delivery. Kept running in to people we know, and that's always great.

Lise and Donna came by this morning to work on the garden. I saw Lise's wounds from the noxious Gas Plant - it looks as though someone took a lash to her shoulders. Poor woman. But she just laughed and said it was all right. We gave her a cream, with very high SPF value. She gave me this huge basket full of her amazing home-made goods, like strawberry jame, bread and butter pickles and pickled beets. A gift for my 50th. REally, so kind. Can you imagine what she'd have given me had we not poisoned her?

Spent the afternoon editing book 5. Made great headway. there are times I'm just throbbing with excitement about this book. Really excited about the themes and how it's all coming together.

So, to recap. Book 5 is either the most brilliant mystery ever written, or it's crap. It changes from day to day, sometimes from minute to minute.

Kirk called and invited us for dinner tomorrow, and we had an email from a friend inviting Michael to give a speech tonight. So we're off for that.

Chateleine, a huge circulation Canadian magazine, has asked to do an interview with me for their October issue, which co-incides perfectly with the launch of THE MURDER STONE.

Still haven't written that Golbe and Mail column, and Scene of the Crime festival on wolfe Island wants to know when we're arriving so their volunteers can meet us. Need to do that, and send Left Coast Crime a bio and photo for the Feb. 09 event.

Our friend Nancy spent a couple of hours here this afternoon working with Michael to get our new satellite high speed internet working.

And now it does! Brilliant. A real revolution for us.

The coffee for the new espresso maker arrived. But no machine. Still, pretty exciting to be this close to making our own espressos.

Speak to you tomorrow. Be well.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

frothing up

partly cloudy, cooler, temps 20

Cool, blustery day. Bit of a relief, really. Off to exercise class in a few minutes and thought I'd jump onto the computer and write while I can.

Been meaning to tell you about the garden. The Clematis are now out all over the bird house and up the trellis's. The foxglove are blooming and even some phlox. I adore phlox. Bad name, though. sounds like phlem. And the daylilies are out. The oriental lilies like Casablanca and Stargazer are just about to pop.

Ordered an espresso maker yesterday. We had one in our room at Hovey and every morning (except when it rained) we sat on the dock, drinking our espressos and looking down the lake. So tranquil. Had been thinking about getting one for a while. Normally, when we go into Sutton to the office we get our cappuccinos from the creperies next door. But they closed and we're moving from the office - giving it up - to work from home. So - we were missing our cappuccino's.

Spoiled. Well and truely and irreversibly spoiled.

The otehr thing we give up by writing exclusively at home is our highspeed internet. We're in the middle of nowhere - a sort of plateau surrounded by mountains and highspeed here. Very frustrating.

Bu this afternoon a fellow from knowlton is coming to install a satellite disk so we can pick up highspeed (actually more 'medium' speed) through it. That'll be perfect.

Now we can download pictures of a dock, and sit in front of the computer with our cappuccinos.

My body still hurts from exercise class on Monday - God knows how it's feel after todays. But my mind sure is glad we're going.

Take care.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Salvaging the day

mixed, cloudy, rainy, cooler, temps 23

Much more livable today. Quite a relief. It rained last night but this morning was sunny and steamy. We went for our walk, went swimming, were lying out by the pool without much on (towels, thankfully) when Wayne drove in. Now normally he cuts the lawn on Thursday but he wanted to get it done before storms moved in.

So we scrambled to cover up - not wanting to give Wayne a heart attack - then headed in for breakfast.

Pretty good way to start the day. but it went south after that. Worked for about 3 hours on the book - doing quite a bit of re-writing, not just editing. This fifth book, as you'll see, is fairly complex. But the trick is not to make it appear all that complex, but allow the layers to naturally appear. And now that I know what those layers are, and the progress of each character, I need to go over the existing manuscript chapter by chapter and re-work it. shape it.

Each book seems to be different. This feels more like A FATAL GRACE/DEAD COLD. Not in content at all, but in the approach to writing it. but where I was filled with fear writing the second book - not uncommon apparently - this time I'm not at all. A little tired perhaps. Not of the writing, but of everything else. My own fault. Really do need to get better at saying 'no' to things. Though I am at least getting better, but room for improvement. But I do hate saying no when I got so much help when starting out.


Then, just as I neared the end of a complete re-write of chapter 15 the screen went blank then came up, but the Word programme wouldn't work. The entire ms had disappeared. i stared at the screen, disbelieving. then I (what else) called Michael. Gallant, wonderful man. He dropped what he was doing (writing his own book) and hurried down.

It looked as though I'd lost at least an hours work - which was odd since I save at least every 10 minutes and I thought the machine automatically saved. But it was showing the last save as an hour earlier. I felt nauseous. Sat in a chair across from Michael trying not to ask 'How's it going', and remembering what his books about - treating and screening for Neuroblastoma in children. Whatever his diagnosis of my book and the computer, the news would never approach some news he's had to give.

it was strangely calming. But I was still upset and anxious.

He finally re-booted - and Word came back - and showed I'd only lost 10 minutes of writing...bascially the last page and a half. Which I could re-create.

As some of you know, I've also been toying with the idea of coming out with a cookbook based on the first 4 books of the series, now that all 4 will soon be in stores. Well today, after consulting with Teresa, the agent as well as the editors in London and New York we decided this might not be a good idea. Their reasoning was interesting...

-Cookbooks are a very competitve market
-to do it justice it would need loads of colour photos not just of the food described in the books, but of the 'three Pines' area - setting the atmosphere - and colour photos are expensive and could drive the price up to 50 dollars or more.

And the last point really cinched it for me. They explained that it was important this series not be mistaken for 'cozies'...and putting out a cookbook was a very 'cozy' thing to do.

I thought about that, and realized they were right. It wasn't, at this stage in the career development, worth the risk. The struggle with the series, especially in the UK, was to have people stop seeing them as comfortable, fluffy, village mysteries. there is an intentionally cozy element about them, of course, but with a philosophical, emotional, even spiritual underpinning that holds the series and characters together.

I'm happy that some people read it on just the 'cozy' level - but it gives me great pleasure when people read the books I actually wrote. And I suspect if you're reading this, then you know what I'm talking about.

So - while I think I see a higher-end more amazing cookbook than I was able to explain to the others, I do appreciate their point. And we can always do it later. The great thing is that these thoughtful women gave me their advice - but understood it's my creation, my career, my books. And they stood back and allowed me to make my own decision.

Was a time when I worked with bullies. never again. Honestly, there are lots of times I don't want to write, or get up in front of an audience or go into another roomful of strangers - when all I want to do is stay home with Michael and enjoy our lives together. Lots of things about this business I don't like or understand...But what I love so far outweighs them.

When that stops, I stop writing...or at least publishing. I think I'll always write about Gamache and Clara and Ruth and everyone in Three Pines, even if it's just for Michael and me.

Must go. emails to send and dinner to make. Be well. And for all of this days disappointments and stresses, it wasn't nearly as bad as some people's days.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Burning Bush

sunny, blistering hot (for some), temps 34

Unbelievable day. Scalding. We're so lucky to be in the country. Can't even imagine how hot it is in Montreal, with the heat radiating off the buildings and the pavements. Out here our feet burn when we walk bare-footed to the pool. Happily, we have a ... pool. amazing relief.

Well, I think I'm on the shortlist for World's Worst Employer.

you might remember back in the autumn when Lise joined me as my assistant and we gave her a special vase (since she's also a gardener) as a welcome gift. Turns out that vase, made out of some funky rubber material, looks a lot more like something men are given during long hospital stays, than a vase.

Seems we'd given Lise a "Welcome to the Job' urinal.

Now comes word that with the summer season, we've poisoned her. In the summer she shifts to outside and does our gardens as well as others lucky enough to have her. She's wonderful...even worse then that we've, well, you know...poisoned her. here's an excerpt from an email I received yesterday:

Well guess what.... there is actually a plant in your garden that does not appreciate me.

You should see part of my back shoulder and my neck. I am blistering right up. The culprit is your Gas Plant (Dictamnus albus), the little devil did not like the fact that I staked it back up in the proper position. Well, let me tell you I will not make that mistake again.

I just hope it doesn't spread the word to all the other plants in your gardens to attack me!

Then later, this update...

Found out the "gas plant" also known as the "creosote plant" is considered a poisonous plant in Canada.

Went to the walk in clinic and it is very rare that they see this particular dermatitis....s.s.s. (whatever on the spelling), but it turns out that it is the combination of the oils on the plant and the ultraviolet rays from the sun that cause the burns to happen. I have never before had to stake that particular plant because it is such a strong standing plant. But all the bad weather knocked it down so I staked it. Being a warm day I had on a tank top and used my shoulder to help with the staking, from there I kept cooking. Anyway, I know have a tube of "steroid" cream to apply for 7 days and it should go away.

Poor Lise. Hope she's this understanding when she realizes we're paying her in licorice sticks. Might change that to nettles for next month.

Went to Dave's funeral this morning. Lovely. Especially the hymn Abide with Me. Went to the basement after for sandwiches etc and realized in a rush that this was the exact setting for Jane's funeral at St-Thomas's chapel in Three Pines. Felt very comfortable being there, which is a real gift on a sad occasion.

Have had a busy day fielding invitations. Had to decline to run a workshop for a Canadian government initiative for artists and to host the CBC Radio Morning programme for two weeks this summer. Editing book 5, as you know, and I have too much respect and affection for the current host, Mike Finnerty to want to 'break' his show.

Did however agree to an event in Collingwood, Ont. next year and one in Bancroft, Ont in Sept 09. We're booking a year and a half ahead, and getting packed. Will soon need to push bookings into 2010. How strange to write that.

Did agree, as well, to a signing at McNally books in Toronto in Nov 08, as well as speaking to the Grade 11 boys at St George's school in TO this fall, where DEAD COLD is part of their curriculum.

And said 'yes' to contributing to a new column the Globe and Mail is running for the next couple of months called, 'The Summer of Love.' They're asking authors to write about a romantic experience. Michael was pretty chuffed. Ego. But, of course, he's right. It will be about him. Who else?

had some good news too from the vet. Took our eldest, maggie, in because of her limp and she seemed bloated. The vet decided we were just worried parents and the bloating was in our heads. Not the first time that's been the diagnosis.

speak to you tomorrow.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Murderous thoughts

Sunny, not and humid, temps 31

Anotehr amazing day. We don't use air conditioning but Gary put a ceiling fan in our bedroom last fall and it's on all night. What a difference it makes. And it's silent. Amazing. Hot and sticky day...classic Quebec summer day.

Went exercising this morning - which is far from 'classic' for us. Pina Maku's class. she's a friend, neighbor and ruthless exercise class leader. I thought it might be a good chance to tone up but also have an hour to let my mind work on a couple of editing issues that have come up. By cutting out a character I've created a few structural 'weaknesses'. Holes really. Great, gaping gaps in the logic of the story. So I thought doing an hour of Stretch and Strength would give me 'time off' - or at least my brain.

We'd done exercise with Pina a few years ago, so really there was no excuse for idiocy like that. Of course I wouldn't have time to think of anything except why this seemed a good idea, and how to kill Pina. And how long, Dear Lord, how long? Looked at my watch every 30 second and time at first stood still then seemed to go backward. We'd created a black hole.

Eventually, after a century and a few lifetimes had passed, the class was over.

On this side of it, it feels great. My goal (modest as always) is to be like the ancient Greeks and have a balance of mind, body and spirit. I believe the mind and the spirit get regular workouts, but the body is lagging behind. On the sofa. With a pastry.

I'm never going to be slim, certainly not skinny. Have no desire to be. I love food too much. But I know I feel better when I exercise. And can touch my toes.

Had another wonderful email from Dolores Gordon-Smith, a wonderful writer from the UK we met at Crimefest in Bristol. We'd been corresponding about children and she said she quite liked them. I thought she had 2 daughters, so I agreed if you actually have some it's probably best to like them. here's her response...

As a a matter of fact, old thing, I've got five daughters. There's about 18 months to two years between them all, so it was a busy time, but good grouping, wouldn't you say? Eventually we found out what was causing it, so that was that.

I've just had an email (thank goodness for emails!) from Helen in Cambodia. There was one bit that was so nice, I'm going to paste it in. She went round the huge Angor Wat Indiana Jones-y ancient temple and, while she was feeling temple fatigue, met some children.

"They came up to me whilst I was sat on a bit of temple reading a book about Angor, so I was showing them the photos and the 13 yr old saw a coloured one of Cambodian dancers which she kept wanting to turn back to because she was learning how to dance like that. She was so taken with it I couldn't say no when she asked me to rip it out for her! Nice to give someone here something other than money."

Isn't that lovely? It's those moments which I treasure, where you stop being a tourist and become more of a traveller.

Now, if I could give birth to an adult Helen I'd do it. She sounds wonderful. But then her mother is too.

Must be off. We have a few things to prepare for tomorrow including a funeral. Our friend Dave Crandall died in the winter and like so many Quebec funerals, his had to wait until they could dig in the ground. I believe he was cremated and this is the service for his friends, and to bury the ashes.

A reminder, as always, to cherish each moment.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A perfect summer day

sunny, gorgeous day, temps 30

Sunny and sizzling hot, but no humidity. Stunning. Michael and I got up about 7:30, went for our 2 kilometer walk, swam in the pool then had breakfast. Halfway through Pat brought the dogs back - Maggie and Trudy. We'd asked her to keep them through to today since yesterday we'd be out so much.

It feels so odd when they're not home. I realize how often I look for them (mostly to make sure I'm not going to trip over them...acres and acres of space and they lie down right beside us - quite endearing).

Spent this morning editing...took 3,000 words out today, most of a chapter, a wrote a new scene involving Ruth. Very fun. But loads of work. The book is much clearer in my head...the superfluous threads are being chopped away, the themes sharpened, but at the same time made more subtle, I hope.

About 1pm I quit, made lunch for the two of us, walked the dogs, went for another swim, then sat by the pool and looked up the fastest way to us from Shawville, Quebec. A friend, Pat, is coming to visit later in the month and needed directions. I'd never heard of Shawville, (she's from Winnipeg and is renting a cabin there for a week or so, then on to us). But I found it and wrote a long, detailed, and I hope accurate email to her.

Then I decamped for the hammock and lay in it, eating an ice cream cone and reading a manuscript someone sent with a view to endorsing it.

Sadly I've had to say 'thank you, but no,' more and more often - no time I'm afraid. I feel horrible doing it, but there is a certain deluge right now. I realize it's a huge honour to be asked, and I feel honoured. I also feel a genuine sense of obligation to give back to a community that's been so generous to me.

But I'm afraid I'm just being worn down. So now I say 'no, thank you' more than I say yes. And I also am quite rigorous about the ones I do endorse when I do agree to read them. have a lower tolerance for things that just aren't to my taste. Doesn't make them bad, of course. Just not my 'thing'.

Michael and I had a BBQ for dinner, and a salad with fresh organic lettuce etc from the young farmer in Sutton who makes up 'paniers' once a week. Need to eat fast because the next delivery is Wednesday.

Aiming to go to exercise class tomorrow morning - 9am. First time in a year. Pray for me.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Happy Birthday, Gary!!!

sunny, stunningly beautiful day, temps 28

This is a picture perfect day - and the day our good friend Gary turns 50! Cheryl, one of my best friends, organized a huge party for him at their place (such courage - or perhaps it was foolishness - but she's young, not yet 50) So she's been cooking, cleaning, organizing for weeks. They have 2 almost grown sons so you can image how much use they were. Fortunately sanity prevailed and Cheryl allowed some of us to bring things. Michael and I brought a bulgar and lentil salad.

We were all watching the forecase for today. Normally with these things the weather turns foul. Unbelievably the forecast started out bad, but as the week progressed it got better and better, and today was simply the best day of the summer so far.

People came from all over. Gary's brother Glen from Calgary and his father Pete from Vancouver (a surprise for Gary). And we let Gary out of the basement, just for today.

There was badminton, a swimming pool, trampoline, music, fantastic food, two barbecues.

His lovely mother, Joan, had spent about a month going over all her old photos and putting together an album of his life. it was deeply moving. To see a good man's life condensed like that. His childhood, his wedding to Cheryl (who is gorgeous and I hated her the first time I saw her...imagine that. Happily I'm much more evolved these days), the birth of his two children, Evan and Sam. His parents. And it was strange and impressive, to see him age so quickly. In a matter of moments we watched as he went from newborn to 50 year old.

It re-enforced how quickly life really does go by. How really very fleeting it is, for all of us. But also how lovely it can be, and is.

We had a great time at the party, then had to rush away to our regular Saturday night event. And there my friend Janet brought flowers for my 50th birthday, and gummies and a gift certificate for the Station in Cowansville, where she knows Michael and I go for breakfast every Tuesday.

Ain't friends grand?

Friday, 4 July 2008

Ralph Michael

manly sunny, mild, temps 23

Happy 4th of July to all of you who are American. Hope the weather where you are is as gorgeous as here, and good for picnics, BBQ's, fireworks.

We've just returned from four days at Hovey Manor, just about my favorite place on earth. As you might know it was my 50th birthday on July 1st (Canada Day) and Michael, dear one, said we could go anywhere I wanted. So I thought about Paris, Africa, a cruise. But decided on the stunning country Inn, only an hour away.

Michael was relieved.

When we arrived in our cabin right on the lake (most rooms are in the main Inn, but a few are scattered around the lodge - this is the only one right on the lake with a private dock) there was a vase of roses. Then another, and another. I turned around and around. I'd never seen so many. I kissed Michael and he said, 'How'd you know I did it?'

So I looked for a card and found one. It read:

Have a happy, happy birthday. Ralph Michael.

'Who's Ralph?' I asked.

'Who?' he snatched the card out of my hand, then started to laugh.

'They must have mis-heard. I said 'Love Michael', not 'Ralph Michael'.'

So from then on we whispered to each other, 'I Ralph you.'

We met Danny, Lucy and Debra in the rose garden for Afternoon Tea and a discussion with Jason and Kathy Stafford about launching book 4 - THE MURDER STONE - at Hovey in October. It was a magical meeting. What an office! We schemed and planned - and if and when it gets worked out I'll let you know. It sounds like such fun. It would be wonderful if you could come!

The rest of the time we read, and ate and napped. We swam in the lake and ate lobster rolls and vichysoisse on the verandah. It was peaceful and beautiful.

And it was my best birthday ever. How lucky am I that my 50th is my best? Never would have dreamed it possible when I was 20.

At my 30th I was living in Quebec City and quite miserable. I knew no one and was very lonely. My mother came from Toronto for my birthday and we made reservations at a great restaurant in Old Quebec City (and there are many). But she got a cold and couldn't go. I remember feeling terribly sorry - for myself! Poor Mom.

At my 40th I ended up cooking a meal for Michael and his son - really wanting to go away, but still struggling to create a 'family' with his children, after years together. So we celebrated my birthday at home. His son showed up having stepped in dog poop. And I offered to wash it off his shoes.

I still remember that with a shudder. Not that he allowed me to - I mean really, who wouldn't? But that I'd offered. I remember standing in the kitchen scraping dog dung off the shoe while the two men sat outside with drinks. On my birthday. It should have been a warning. And I guess in some ways it was.

I decided, never again. It's bad enough when others treat you like crap - but I don't need to do it to myself.

And so these last ten years have been amazing. Filled with joy, some sorrow (of course), some anger, some loss - but mostly filled with light and laughter and friends and family - this decade has seen my books written and published and a re-adjustment of people in my life.

I try not to take crap anymore. From anyone. And I sure try not to give it to myself.

More than anything, this decade, this year, this day, this moment is filled with Ralph.

It's good to be home.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Happy Canada Day!

mixed, mild, temps 25

Happy Canada Day! July first is celebrated here as Canada's birthday. 1867 was our official confederation - though many consider the battle of the Somme our actual birthday.

As you might know, because I've been telling you, this is my 50th birthday! And we're off to Hovey Manor to celebrate. Will be there until Friday and probably won't blog while there. Won't be taking my laptop either - though I will have my notebook. Can't actually walk without it. Not sure if it's a miracle or a crutch.

It's funny, but turning 50 feels - just kind of normal. I'm certainly not upset at all. It helps to be married to a man who I know loves me no matter what my body, or even my mind, decides to do. That's a relief.

Joan, Cheryl and Gary are taking us out to lunch today. Gary (who takes all the photo's of me you see and is a gifted photographer, and a great contractor too - he built our new bedroom and bathroom) is turning 50 on Saturday! Cheryl's throwing him a huge party!!! Not a surprise, anymore. And while I generally dislike parties, this one I'm looking forward to.

Must run. Doug and the kids left at 4am. That's not a typo. So we've been busy righting the furniture and doing dishes and laundry. Hovey really will be bliss.

Be well - and as I look back on my life I can't quite believe I'm happier at 50 than at any other time in my life. And an element of that I cherish are the books, and your very generous support of them. That makes me feel wonderful, deep down. Thank you.