Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Sound of Amazement

mainly sunny, warm, temps 27

Now we get summer! It's gorgeous. Another quiet day. In fact, I could have written this blog yesterday since nothing at all is happening. Phew. I love it.

I did want to pass on something really fun that happened a few weeks back. As these things sometimes happen, it was actually at a very sad event - the funeral for sister-in-law Mary's father. At the visitation the night before Michael and I met up with Rob and Linda Snoyer, old friends of my brothers from Toronto. Are you following this??? Well, enough names and characters, I'll cut to the chase.

Rob and Linda's daughter, Michaela, had just been told that she'd won the role of Louisa in the Toronto production of The Sound of Music!

Now, there were HUGE casting and audition calls. Practically every girl in Canada tried out. Michaela had never acted before and barely sang. She was in a small local choir. But she and a bunch of others decided to try - nothing to lose.

And after any number of call-backs and auditions and stress - they got the call.

It's like this fairy tale. fortuntately for Michaela her parents are sensible, loving, grounded people who don't themsevles have stars in their eyes. (though I must say I did when I heard!)

I was so excited for them - and impressed with her. Not everyone would have the courage and poise to keep going.

After hearing Linda and Rob's description of the process I know I'll be watching the Toronto production of The Sound of Music with different eyes. No matter who's performing I know I'll be seeing remarkable kids. But we're sure going to do our best to see Michaela Snoyer as Louisa.

I just wanted to tell you about that - be well. I'm off for breakfast tomorrow morning with Cheryl. Then more relaxing.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

A do-nothing day

cloudy, showers, temps 20

Not a bad day, really, just some occasional showers.

This is a wonderfully lazy day! Still in my flannels. Walked the dogs a few times around the pond, made breakfast, watched TV - had mid-morning cereal and later a cappuccino. Watching The Great Escape on DVD.

Michael's working away on his book.

Lovely day. I have to chair a meeting tonight to need to put some work in on that, but this is really a wonderful, relaxing day.

I gave Robin Agnew, the owner of Aunt Agatha's mystery bookstoe in Ann Arbor an advance copy of book 4 - THE MURDER STONE (A RULE AGAINST MURDER when it comes out in the states in January). She wrote last night to say she loved it.

I never take those things for granted - so it's a huge delight to hear that, especially from someone as knowlegable and influential as Robin.

More reason to be loving this day. It feels very good, and oddly natural, to be doing nothing.

I'll speak to you tomorrow.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Fair Day

Sunny, warm, temps 25

A perfect day for the fair! This is the big event of the year around here. The Brome County Fair. It's always over the Labour Day long weekend and is the bittersweet event that marks the end of summer holidays and the beginning of school/autumn.

We go, along with many locals, on Friday. Today. Since it tends to be a little less crazy. There're the aminal judging, the horse show, the crafts, the midway and food. Guess what we're there for.

Actually, Michael brings his sketch book and draws the animals. We have 9 years worth of drawings. It's marvelous. We eat Derby Burgers, made by our neighbors down the road at their booth, and watch the animals and people.

This is just so much fun. I feel like a kid.

Indeed, in Still Life Jane did a painting of the fair called Fair Day that plays a role. That's inspired by the Brome County Fair. And book 5 (just editing) is set at this exact weekend and there's a scene at the fair with the villagers and Gamache. Fun today to move between the real and fictional worlds. Hope I can tell them apart.

Maggie's feeling better today. Phew.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

When the time is right

mainly sunny, temps 24

Another beautiful day, though not sure any could match yesterday. Perfectly calm all day, and hot. Michael went for a swim. Really, these late summer days are stunning. Cool at night so great for sleeping, and hot in the day. Some trees are already turning. We have a bright red maple in the field and out the bedroom window we can see a tree turning orange. The light hits it in the morning and it looks like amber.

Had to take Maggie to the vet yesterday afternoon. She seemed to be limping more than usual. She hurt he back left leg last winter - the joint - and it's been deteriorating. Now the other leg is getting bad because it's taking all the strain. He gave us new pills. Mostly for pain. But she seems happy. Tail wagging, nose wet and cold. Eyes bright. Great appetite. She hops around the pond and loves it.

It's an interesting choice we have to make. Do we stop her from running and playing and doing pond walks so that there'll be less strain on the leg? Or do we let her do those things and run the risk of more damage sooner?

It's the classic quantity of life vs quality. We're under no illusions, though we'd like to be.

After loads of talks we decided to let her have her fun, and we'll do our best to manage the pain. Hers and ours. The little pills help, though. Yum.

We faced a similar issue with my mother a few years ago. She'd had an episode with her heart and I was there. I called her doctor and Mom got very angry. Told me it was none of my business. That took me back and I struggled with that.

Then I realized she was right. She had all her marbles. She could make informed decisions about her own life. It might not be my choice, but I had to respect hers.

She died six months later, quietly in her sleep. At home. The way she wanted. Too soon for us, but we don't get to choose. Just support.

We're hoping Maggie will tell us when she no longer wants to hop around the pond. But for now, we're all enjoying the beautiful weather and the great late summer.

This is an especially fun time for me since the fifth book is set at exactly this long Labour Day weekend in Three Pines. So I get to see if my descriptions of the weather, the garden, the smells, the sights are accurate.

We're off to North Hatley and lunch with Bernard and Patricia Lemieux. They worked with Michael on the study into Neuroblastoma. His book is about that seminal study and the shocking results. So we'll have lunch then head off to their lab...both Bernie and Pat are medical researchers.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


sunny, beautiful day, temps 22

Gorgeous day. But sad news that the good friend of a friend just died. Our friend's name is Elizabeth and after a couple of divorices she spent many years on her own, happily. She's very independent. But in her 60's she met Peter. He was widowed. They clicked, and for the past 6 years have been almost inseparable.

Peter had a stroke late last week and died. He'd played golf that morning.

There'll be a memorial service on Friday in Knowlton, which we'll be going to, of course.

Really, our hearts just break for Elizabeth.

On the home front here, I got my computer all hooked up at home - though while it'll receive emails it won't send them. Most frustrating. Have a call in to the remarkable Nancy, who sorts us out on all things computer.

Have also realized that my schedule for this fall and next winter in becoming nuts. So I'm in the process of cancelling a bunch of things. If it's a personal committment I've made I won't cancel, but other things, yes. This is all part of focussing on priorities.


This list bumps around a bit. Michael is always on top - but sometimes friends come before writing and sometimes they don't. It needs to be flexible. And I realize I can't do everything.

Bet that sounds familiar to you!

And I totally know that there really is a season for everything. Sometimes I need to put my head down and totally concentrate on writing. Other times it's promotion.

I just realized I forgot to put me on that list...but I think all those things give me pleasure, so in many ways it's all me. All me, all the time. What a life.

Off to cancel some more travel. And write the September newsletter...which if this computer continues to refuse to send might have a limited readership.

Be well. And kind and loving thoughts to Elizabeth.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Never mind

sunny, cool, temps 19

Beautiful day - but cooler than usual. We turned the heater off in the pool while we were away and now it's got a long way to make up.

We're actively exploring solar power for the home and perhaps for the pool too. Gary dropped off a 20 page print out - along with season 3 of Saturday Night Live! I watched Steve Martin be a 'wild and k-ray-zee guy' and read all about solar heat. We're also considering thermal heat. Before long we might also have windmills, and be sending strange packages through the mail. I seem to be growing the survivalists beard. I wonder if I get to keep my blueray and cappuccino maker?

Had breakfast in Cowansville this morning, dropped Mackinac Island fudge off at the bookstore for Danny, Lucy and their three boys. Dropped Michael off at home so he could continue writing his book - then headed into the loft/office in Sutton.

We've decided to close the office since we work most of the time from home anyway. That's why Gary's here - building bookshelves.

Brought the desktop computer, printer, and a couple boxes of books from the office. Little by little it comes over. the home looks like a survivalists camp - if what we were trying to survive was an apocalypse of books.

My cold is much better - not a bad one after all. Drugs help. Little yellow pills during the day and little blue ones at night.

Heard from Bouchercon. they've asked me to be on a panel with the wonderful Deborah Crombie and the amazing Rhys Bowen. Just the three of us. Probably Friday afternoon. In a sort of free-form talk - without a central theme. Can't tell you how thrilled I am about that. LOVE their books. And love them. Really fantastic women. Not only gifted mystery writers but wonderful women.

Bouchercon's a huge mystery readers/writers annual convention. It's in a different city each Ocotber. last year it was Anchorage, Alaska - loads of fun. And this year it's Baltimore. Now, I wonder if they'll be doing the whole alphabet? Cleveland next year? Actually, it's Indiannapolis next year, organized by one of the true gentlemen of the mystery community - Jim Hueng.

I'm off - fresh corn to shuck and a Weekend Update to watch. God wasn't Gilda Radner brilliant? Rosanne Rosannadanna - never mind.

Monday, 25 August 2008


cloudy, temps 20

We're hoooome!

Wow did we ever have a great time on Mackinac Island! But it's good to be home. And with nothing to do except a luncheon on Thursday with friends for Michael to research his book. Looking forward to that. Looking forward to making Michael the centre of attention.

Long day yesterday. I tend to break days like that into segments in my mind. yesterday was in 9 sections. The horse-drawn carriage to the ferry. The ferry to Mackinaw City. The 2 hour limo drive to Traverse City. Getting through airport security. The American Eagle flight (45 minutes) to Chicago. The 2 1/2 hr layover in Chicago (happily spent in the first class lounge, a by-product of the around-the-world flights on BA last year), the 2 hr flight to Montreal. Canadian security, taxi home.

That way I just live in each segment and the day doesn't seem too long. As someone who's goal-oriented this approach seems to work. The day 'speeds' along.

Have figured out the Mackinac - Mackinaw issue. The island, with the hotel, is spelled 'Mackinac' but pronounced 'Mackinaw'. The city across the bay is pronouned and spelled 'Mackinaw'. Don't know why the difference.

Finally finished section 9 last night at 10pm. Got into the Montreal apartment. But everything went very smoothly - thanks once again to Robin Agnew's family. They'd arranged for us to fly from the island straight to Traverse City airport. 40 minute flight would have saved us 3 hours of ground/water travel. But scaredy-cat here decided I didn't want to get back onto the small plane. So they re-arranged everything. Without a murmur, without mocking.

A relief to be around people who are kind, not sarcastic. I was and am most grateful.

This morning we didn't set the alarm, but got up whenever, then went for breakfast in Montreal. Michael had a lunch with his great friend David and I went back to the apartment and cleaned up a few things. Then we drove back down here.

God, does it ever feel amazing not to have to edit or write book 5! Am taking the week off. Will read a hard copy of the manuscript during the week or so we're in England. We travel late next week.

Until then I'm on vacation. I'm very good at working hard, and very, very good at doing nothing. Watch me.

This blog, by the way, is going to get extremely boring over the next week. Consider it valium.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The centre of the labyrinth

stormy in am, but beautiful and sunny now. temps 25

It has turned into a stunning day. We just came back from a walk around the pool, named for Esther Williams, and shaped like a big fish. Then a walk around the perennial gardens. They have sweetbrian roses here. The grounds are sweet-scented, especially in the sun after the rain.

we also walked the labyrinth, which, unlike a maze, isn't meant to confound. Just the opposite. The one here is based on the design found in the Cathedral at Chartres and is meant to be a meditative, peaceful experience. It's in a small clearing in the woods and Michael and I were alone there. We walked quietly around and around, following the path and our own private thoughts. In the centre we met, held hands, said a little private prayer. And kissed.

Then we got lunch. Yum. Corn, lobster and coriander chowder for him, plus half a roast beef sandwich. I had a pear, cardamon and yoghurt cold soup with half a roast beef sandwich.

And we talked about how we could come back. Perhaps next October/09.

The event at the village library was wonderful. People came in throughout since the skies opened and it poured down. Thunder and lightening. Horses aren't allowed out in lightening (wise policy) - and the people didn't want to make a dash for it either...judging for some reason that an author talk might not be worth endangering life and limb.

But by the end the place was packed, and the sun came out, and it felt full of friends. Great feeling.

Then Robin and her mother and father, Amelia and Dan Musser invited us back to their splendid home across the street, overlooking the lake, for a cocktail party. Amazing group of people including at least two Episcopalian Bishops...we call them Anglican in Canada. The Mussers are amazing people - so generous. Then they invited us to join them for dinner at the Grand Hotel. Big round table with wonderful floral arrangement designed by Robin's sister Mimi.

It felt like sitting at the captain's table on a fabulous cruise, and Michael and I enjoyed every moment. Sat next to Robin and we yakked on and on about books. Bliss.

Slept like a baby and woke up with the beginnings of a cold. We're invited to a Musser BBQ tonight at their home, and I think we'll go, but briefly. This makes us sad because we genuinely enjoy their company and I adore Robin...but I don't want to spread too many germs and I'm feeling a little under the weather.

Home tomorrow. Arrive back in Montreal 9pm so won't have time to blog, but will try to do one Monday.

If you ever get the chance, or have a big birthday or anniversary coming up, consider the Grand Hotel. We went to a wonderful talk this morning on the history of the hotel, which was riveting and hilarious...but Bob who spoke said something that struck home and I know it to be true of the great hotels...the Grand, Hovey manor, Royal Crescent in Bath - no one pays that amount of money because of the food or the rooms or even the's the whole experience. They're selling lifetime memories.

This is one trip Michael and I will never forget. The room, the food, the location, the library, the clip-clop of horses...but mostly the kindness.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Murder in a cozy library

rain, temps 20

Wouldn't you know it? They're in the middle of a drought here - haven't seen rain in a month. We arrive and it rains. Forecast is for rain and storms tomorrow as well. happily we don't care, and it's clearly needed. In fact, all we really want to do is swan around the hotel, sit in a rocking chiar on the wide verandah and read Gourmet magazine.

And eat.

We woke up this morning to the mournful sound of a fog horn and the clopping of horses hooves beneath our window. At breakfast we sat by a window and had coffee, omelettes, hot oatmeal with brown sugar and a banana and strawberry smoothie. for lunch we had nothing.

Then spent the morning walking all over the nearby village. The Grand Hotel closes in mid-October, and the water freezes in January. There are about 350 fulltime residents of Mackinac Island who have to figure out how to live with isolation, turn of the century transportation and each other throughout the winter. I'd love to try. Need to work on convincing the Mussers (who own the Grand Hotel) that the only thing missing is a Writer in Residence.

It's now thunder, lightening and pouring outside. My event at the local library starts in about 40 minutes. Sounds a bit like my last tour where a snowstorm hit almost every venue. Well, no snow so far.

We visited the library on our walk. It's right on the water's edge. There's an open area in the centre of the library where they've set up chairs for my talk. Right in front of a huge open fireplace. And on either side of the fire there are doors that open to a small deck, and the great lake beyond. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more magical library.

Must be off. We think we'll take a taxi, which of course is a horse-drawn carriage.

Hope you're enjoying this trip as much as I am! I'll tell you how it went tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

A grand Grand Hotel

mainly sunny, mild, temps 25

Dear god, we've found Heaven and it's called the Grand Hotel and it's on Mackinac Island - on lake Michigan. Spread the good word.

Wow, is this place wonderful!!

Michael and I got up at 3:30 for a 6am flight from Montreal to Chicago, then another flight to Traverse City. Easy flights, not crowded. I was a little tired because I never sleep well just before a really early flight, for fear of missing it. Well we got into Traverse and Robin Agnew (who owns Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore in Ann Arbor along with her husband Jamie) said she'd arranged for someone to meet the place and get us to Mackinac...which being an island requires a ferry ride. We looked, waited...and couldn't find anyone. Except a nice young man about 12 holding a sign for a tiny airline.

We ignored him.

Finally it was just the three of us left and I was about to call to find out what to do when the young man asked if we were going to the Grand Hotel. I said yes, and he said that our airborne chariot awaited. He and his co-pilot (about 6 years old) took us to this toy plane, squeezed us in, and took off. For about the first 20 feet I was fine then I rememembered the main thing Gamache and I share. Not patience, kindness, tolerance or courage. It's a morbid and rabid fear of heights. And it seemed likely this boy-pilot planned to go more than 10 feet off the ground.

I immediately had a panic attack and spent the rest of the 40 minute flight with my head buried in my considerable purse. Michael was saying things like, 'Oh, wow, look at that.' He was all but giggling - not at me, but at his delight. He adores small planes and was once a rock climber.

I hate him.

One Atavan late (hard to swallow when I have no more spit left) and about 20 minutes and I can raise my nose from the belly of my purse.

And Michael was right! It was stunning. But the best was still to come. A horse-drawn carriage met us at the tiny airfield and June Carter Cash and Johnny (back now as Clydesdales) took us to the most astonishing hotel. Huge, sweeping, overlooking the great lake. No motorized vehicle on the island. gracious grounds...and a lunch buffet that includes oysters, shrim and bread pudding. After lunch we strolled the verandah and discovered a fleet of men serving ice cream, with a 'condiments' bar of caramel, chocolate, strawberry and raspberry sauce.

I won't get off this island alive, I know that now.

This trip is a gift from Robin Agnew and her family who own the Grand Hotel. When Robin invited us, last year (she invited one mystery writer every year) I said yes. it was clearly a great honor...but I did it, frankly, thinking it was a favour to a friend. I'd come and do a reading at the local library.

I had NO idea I'd fall so hard for this gracious, lovely, peaceful place...where ice cream and oysters are served to dozing guests.

This is also beautifully timed. Michael just announced he'd completed his book!!!!!

Amazing, wonderful man!!! and we wanted to celebrate!!!!

And hours before we left I finally staggered to the end of the revision for THE BRUTAL TELLING _ book 5. Another reason to celebrate.

Lucky, lucky us, to have such a friend as Robin.

Well, off to dress for dinner.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


cloudy, cool, temps 17

Feels like an autmn day.

Had a great day writing...came to the end of the book!!! But tomorrow morning I want to put in a few hours going back over the last chapter and smoothing some things out. Phew. What a relief.

And, you know, I quite liked the book. Especially the end. Needed work, still does, but there were times I was reading I didn't know what came next and I was stunned. Feels quite weird when that happens.

Didn't write yesterday because worked a lot on the book and I was tired.

We're packing and will leave for Montreal tomorrow. heard from our good friends David and Linda Rosenblatt that Linda's father died. So we'll go in and sit Shiva with them tomorrow afternoon.

have a 6am flight to Chicago then on to Traverse City. We're taking the laptop so I'll try to blog from there. I have an event at the library on Mackinaw, as I mentioned before.

Off to relax, pack, and watch Olympics. So relieved to have reached the end of the book - or at least the first edit. Now I'll have it printed out - single spaced, double sided, and bound....and take it to England with us at the beginning of Sept. It's quite different reading it from a hard copy. Will do more editing then from the manuscript. In the meantime am really looking forward to a week or so off.

Might not blog again until mackinaw. Hope you're packed, it should be fun.

Sunday, 17 August 2008


sunny, mild, temps 25

Another beautiful day. Couldn't mention this before because I don't really know who reads this blog, but we spent today at a surprise birthday party for our friend Jacques. left home at 8am and drove to Laval, which is on the other side of Montreal. Party started at 11am - we got lost for almost an hour and arrived just in time. Surprise!

Loads of fun. it was his 60th birthday, and his wife/partner Louise had spent almost 2 years organizing it, or at least, thinking about it. His mother was there and all sorts of relatives. Amazing buffet lunch, and just a hoot.

Drove home and arrived back about 4:30. Nice to be back.

And had a lovely long chat with my brother Doug, who is just back from his annual visit to India. he visits Amma there, just outside Chennai. Goes for a bout a month every year. There he finds peace and renewed faith. I have so much respect for Doug to go from a high powered, high paid job as an investment dealer in Toronto, give it all up, and decide he needed more meaning in his life. So for 11 months of the year he works building homes in Toronto, and looks after his children, with his amazing wife Mary - and one month a year he spends in India, pursing and working on his practice.

I learn so much from him. he was saying he was taught this time that the outcome of what he does, whether it's gardening, building homes, even raising kids, is beyond his control. All he needs to do is each thing with love, humility and faith.

How beautiful. I hope to remember that.

Oh, and wanted to tell you about Ryan's Books, in Johnson, Vermont. What an amazing time! met Isabeth the owner, Bradley the manager and the two really wonderful women who work there. And Susanne (sp?) the former manager. And a whole lot of people who came out for the talk/reading. It felt so comfortable. And the bookstore? You'd LOVE it. Exposed brick, wooden floors, wooden shelves - and a pie vault. Anyplace with a pie vault is fine with me... I thought it used to be a bank, but someone explained (oerhaps pulling my leg) that it actually used to be a bakery and they really did lock up the pies. That sounded more likely when said outloud - written down it sounds ridiculous. Ph well. Locking up pies makes perfect sense to me.

the drive from Sutton to Johnson was exquisite. Like moving from one postcard to another. Stunning.

Before I go wanted to pass on a fun email from a friend - Art - about being Canadian...

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May,you may live in Canada .

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you may live in Canada .

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Canada

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you may live in Canada

If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Canada

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you may live in Canada

If you have switched from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again, you may live in Canada

If you can drive 90 kms/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you may live in Canada

If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked, you may live in Canada

If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you may live in Canada

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you may live in Canada

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction, you may live in Canada

If you find 2 degrees "a little chilly", you may live in Canada

I don't often pass on 'jokes' but this one seemed to have quite a bit of truth to it.

Speak tomorrow. Hope you've had a great weekend.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The Gold standard for friends

mainly sunny, temps 25

It's about 8am on Saturday - and Canada did really well at the Olympics yesterday. A gold and bronze in women's wrestling and a silver in the men's pairs rowing. Didn't see any of them - too bad - but hope to catch it on the highlights reeel.

but have a busy day today. off for breakfast with Joan, then heading to Johnson, Vermont and a noon event at Ryan Books. Our friends Jim and Sharon are coming down for that. Then we have a small birthday celebration for Jim tonight.

Pat came last night to pick up Maggie and Trudy...what a wonderful woman she is. We're SO lucky in the people we have in our lives. As someone mentioned in the comments from a post earlier this week, Lise is amazing. Gary is fantastic, when he isn't chained up in the basement. Wayne and Anthony and Pat.

Michael and I seem to be in the way most of the time. Oh, well.

Must be off - will try to speak to you tomorrow. Be well.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Frankly, I don't give a damn

mainly sunny, warm, temps 27

Another beautiful day. Went swimming, sat outside, read People Magazine and ate cherries. Went into Cowansville to the bank and stopped at a roadside vegetable stand for fresh corn (doing BBQ steak and corn for dinner)...and noticed a diner we'd never seen before. Danny's Diner. it was lunch so we wandered in. Through a porthole, into the 1950's. Everything but a waitress on roller skates. And the best burger. Homemade.

Having an odd sort of day though. Writing/Editing went very well this morning. Solved the problem. Added tension, pivotal scene now zips along and is full (I hope) of dread, emotion, cliff-hangers. But - having solved one problem I've created another one for a little later in the book. But I'll solve that one when i come to I've mentioned before, I belong to the Scarlet O'Hara school of writing. tomorrow is another day.

I don't know nothin 'bout birthin' no babies!

Yves came and gave us a loaner TV for the haunted TV room. Haven't had it on yet - but I suspect this one, like all our other ones, will show Canada not winning medals at the Olympics. Mongolia has more medals. In fact, any country that had won a medal has more.

I was a little annoyed about this, and embarassed, but now I really do think as long as they do a personal best, well that is genuinely fantastic. Who could ever ask for more? It's when they don't that I get confused. I used to be an athlete, and quite a good one. I am stunned when an athlete doesn't perform at the very top for the Olympics. Now, I know accidents happen. You lose your grip on the bars or your balance on the beam. Absolutely. But in the running and swimming and tumbling? When it's just you? No.

But, as I say, today's an odd day for me. Morning was OK - but then suddenly all these things started happening. Phone calls to return, emails, people asking for things...books to sign, books to donate, events to go to, talks to give, bios that need to be sent, right away. Tributes that needed to be written, endorsements, speeches. I just wanted to scream.

Then i felt bad and thought I should have more grace, more gratitude. Then I wanted to scream even louder.

I was raised to know how lucky I am. And I do know it. What a blessing that is. But it can be a burden too. Not feeling I can also be angry at times, unhappy. Complain. Feel stressed. Cry. Want to run and hide and curl into a ball. Eat chocolates and ignore the phone. And tell everyone to go away. And not feel guilty, and ashamed of myself.

I've had one of those days. Tomorrow, though, is another day.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

A great deal of crap

sunny, beautiful day, temps 25

A perfect summer day. hardly a cloud, no humidity, warm without being too hot. Wonderful.

Woke up and decided to go into Knowlton for breakfast. Scrambled eggs, melted brie, croissants and bowls of cafe au lait, on the verandah of the Cafe Floral, overlooking the village green and mill pond.

Dropped by the electronics store to talk about why two perfectly good, brand new Aquos TV's haven't worked in our new TV room. They're stumped. Though my theory of ghosts got a boost from Gary when he told us yesterday his nail gun, battery operated and in use for years, suddenly started smoking while working in the new TV room.

I can feel a Catholic priest in our future. Will let you know if there's any green vomit or head spinning.

Speaking of disgusting things, Lise pointed out yesterday that far from a ghostly visit our garden had been visited by a family of ravenous deer. They'd eaten the heads off the phlox and the hostas right down to the ground. It was either the deer or Wayne went nuts with the whipper-snipper. Wayne seemed sane, so the deer get the blame. Something slightly poetic about that sentence. Lise's solution to the deer? Spread a concoction of dried human waste product.

You know what that means.

She wrote today to say she'd done it.

Can you believe it? Ghosts in the TV room and crap in the garden.

Do you think Lise has finally found her revenge for the Welcome-to-the-job urinal? Or our gas plant that burned her? Or the snakes?

We probably deserve it.

Michael went swimming today and tried out the butterfly kicks we've been watching at the Water Cube at the Olympics. He stayed stationary. He tried it again. Still nothing. Not even a personal best. On getting out he said he'd heard that the best temperature for an Olympic swim was 78 degrees, and since we keep our pool closer to 85 he thought that was probably the problem. Too hot. It sapped his strength. That's the only thing standing between him and an Olympic swim.

Seems some of what Lise spread landed on my husband too.

Edited more today...but hit a small snag. A necessary section, but one that feels as though it's slowing this part down, just when it should be storming along. Not sure what to do about it, but I stopped, had a bath, and will spend the evening thinking about it. Get back to it tomorrow. I know a solution will present itself. Always does.

Take care and talk tomorrow.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Is that organ music I hear? I'm sure it is...

mainly sunny, temps 25

Unexpectedly nice day. Wayne came and rain held off. Lise and Donna spent most of the day in the gardens, dodging the snakes. Gary put his 12 year old son to work. Someone really should report us.

Michael wrote his book and I edited mine. Only 30 pages to go. Yay. Jim and Sharon arrive Friday and I have a noon event this Saturday at Ryan Books in Johnson, Vermont. This looks like a wonderful bookstore, and I had a very kind reader write with suggestions on what to see and do in Johnson. Sounds like quite a happening town. Really looking forward to it.

Next weekend we're flying to Chicago and then on to Traverse City airport, then a boat to get to an event on Mackinaw (sp?) Island...organized by Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha books in Ann Arbor. Her family runs the Grand Hotel there and she's invited Michael and me along to do a reading and talk to the local library and stay in the hotel... more suffering.

Good day. But feeling tired these days. Not much reserve. I inevitably start planning my funeral when this happens. I'm not much of a hypochondriac since I can't be bothered to go to a doctor...and the one I'm married to ignores my aches and pains. Says he'll pay attention when I'm on fire, but not before. Probably just as well.

Anyway, he'll be sorry when I'm gone. Everyone will. So sad.

Actually, I'm feeling better so it was probably something I ate. Never mind. Cancel the flowers.

Speak to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

C'est la vie

mainly sunny, temps 22

Of course it's sunny. Susan goes home today. Poor woman shivered through cold and rain for a week - and now the sun comes out. C'est la vie. Which is French for: we're screwed.

Lovely day - Tuesday, so we went to Cowansville for breakfast. Eggs, bacon and french toast (pain d'ore - which is French for: our diet is screwed) Then to the bank. Picked up some fresh corn on the way home. planning a wonderful dinner of fresh fruit and vegetables - corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, salad.

No editing today but need to make some calls to pin down some research and ask permission to use the real names of some stores.

The new television - flat screen Aquos - won't work in the new TV room. this is the second one that's gone kaput. Brand new televisions right out of the box. They replaced the first - but when the second refused to work the TV people said it must be the electricity. But the electrician's been and gone - put in a dedicated line - tested for current fluctuation (we already have a surge protector, in the country you really need one) - and everything's fine.

We're frankly completely stumped. TV people never known anything like it. Gary stumped - electrician amazed. The only rational explanation is ghosts. But why a ghost would object to a flat screen TV is beyond me. Maybe ectoplasm and plasma don't mix well.

I mentioned this to Gary this morning. We might need to do an exorcism. Will get Gary, the TV guy, the electrician and a priest in later this week. It reminds me of one of my favorite couplets...from Hilaire Belloc I believe:

A smell of burning filled the startled air,
The electrician was no longer there.

We'll keep you informed. Michael thinks it's the TV, but he's always been a little woo-woo inclined. We ignored him. Might smudge the room later tonight.

Nothing tomorrow except writing - and possibly banishing evil spirits from the TV room. Can't risk it also taking offense to the cappuccino maker.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Couch Michael, and his Olympians

mainly sunny, temps 20

Finally, some sun - but thunderstorms in forecast - of course.

Wow, it's nice to be home. But I had a wonderful time on Wolfe Island. Didn't even know there was a Wolfe Island. it's just off the city of Kingston, Ontario. A 20 minute ferry ride takes people and cars there. So calming being on the ferry - lovely trip.

I was there for the Scene of the Crime mystery festival. It's an annual event in which 4 writers are invited - and a fifth writer is a guest of honour. This year it was Joy Fielding. The other writers with me were Jose latour - a Cuban writer of noirs. Linwood Barclay - who's had huge and deserved success with No Time To Say Goodbye. Mary Jane Maffini - whose traditional mysteries have won all sorts of awards, and was the president of the Crime Writers of Canada a few years ago. And me.

Most of us stayed at the Queens Inn, a hotel with a great location near the water in Kingston - but a more dreary place would be hard to find. it was like sleeping in one of those miniscule VIA Rail sleepers, only without the gentle rocking (thank goodness) My feet were practically in the shower. And the doors didn't seem to fit properly so that everytime someone arrived or left there was a great thumping as they slammed the doors closed. My room had a spider, which I decided not to kill, then spent the night wondering where it was.

But Wolfe Island is charming - and the people very welcoming. The event lasted all day - from the 10am meeting and greet over coffee to readings and a panel discussion...and a fascinating interview with Joy Fielding...who is lovely by the way. Very gracious too, and funny.

Speaking of funny, one of the best lines I've heard came from Mary Jane Maffini in our panel discussion when someone in the audience asked, 'Who do you think your readers are.'

Mary Jane answered: 'Intelligent women with colds.'

I thought I'd wet myself laughing. It was perfect. Certainly describes how I view people reading my books. I know men read them - I know you don't need to be sick to pick one up....but they were written with myself in mind - and there's nothing more comforting when you're ill than crawling under the covers with a honeyed tea, cookies and a good mystery. Sometimes I'll lie under a blanket on the sofa in front of the fireplace.

Wonderful. My books are meant to comfort. Either when we're physically sick, or just sick and tired of coping, of stress, or reality. of too many demands and too little thanks. Of a world that can seem cold and cruel. My books are meant to re-assure. That goodness exists.

Intelligent women with colds. perfect.

Got home yesterday and Susan came over for dinner...brought the dinner actually, clever woman. Pizza and home-made peach crisp. Michael and I made a salad and we sat on the screen porch until the rain drove us inside.

Oh - I have a website if you'd like to lookup bed and breakfasts in the North Hatley area...if you're interested in coming to the launch of The Murder Stone.

The website is: and for location, put in North Hatley. We're having the local launch at Brome Lake Books on Friday, October 17th at 5pm. that's in Knowlton. then on Saturday, October 18th we're going to Hovey Manor for afternoon tea and a launch celebration. Tickets are 20 dollars, and cover tea. We decided to do this since Hovey is the inspiration for the Manoir in The Murder Stone. It's also a fantastic place.

We're enjoying the Olympics. I wasn't exciting or even interested before they began, but now I'm addicted. We're watching as much as we can. What Michael called, 'Couching' the Canadian team.

Gary, the electrician and Yves are arriving this afternoon to try to solve the TV mystery.

Wrote this morning. Being away from it for a few days is difficult since we're down to the short strokes now and every clue counts. Quite exciting. But frustrating picking up the pieces.

Must be off to walk dogs. Sun's out.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Globe and Mail - and mail

mixed sun and clouds, sprinkles, temps 20

Odd day - great threatening clouds, but then nothing happens. heavy Scotch mist as I walked the dogs this morning.

Heading off to Sutton to do a massive mailing...all sorts of things waiting to be sent out. Went to Cowansville this morning for breakfast and to do the bank. And have a laundry in for clean clothing for the Scene of the Crime Festival this weekend on Wolfe Island, near Kingston. leaving 5:30 tomorrow morning to drive there.

The Globe and Mail today ran the column I wrote for their Romantic Love series. Such fun! An artist even illustrated it. Must find out if we can get the original drawing. The column is about Michael and my courtship.

And, Hope - my US editor at Minotaur Books - sent a blog which lists the top debut books (in terms of awards) since 2000 - and Still Life was number 5! Julia Spencer Fleming was number 2!! Clever woman and wonderful book - in the Bleak Midwinter.

Must run to the post office. probably won't blog again until Sunday...might see if Michael could, but I know he's busy writing his amazing book.

Take care and will speak to you soon.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The stem man felt the house

rain, heavy rain, torrential rain. temps 20

Well, we're building an ark. Sadly for mankind I'm menopausal so that's it for the species.

Cannot believe the amount of rain. Still, have to say, while I'd prefer a hot and sunny summer I don't think I'm one of those people severely affected by the weather. Perhaps because I spend so much time in the bath anyway, this is just another variety of wet.

yesterday - miracle alert! - was actually not rainy. perfect for the MORE Magazine photo shoot. the 4 of them arrived about 10am and left at 4pm - having done 3 set ups. One on the island in the pond, by a set of iron gates we have there, another in the living room, by my laptop (the requisite author-at-work) and for the last - my favorite by far - they took out a big, comfortable, oversized armchair, a rug, a stack of books, and plunked them all in the garden by a dry stone wall. So I sat there, holding a book, and looking as though this was how we normally live. With living room furniture littered about the garden. it was very fun and playful and I felt most comfortable. In the others, despite the friendliness of the photographic team, I felt like a waxwork statue.

But it was fun to be fussed over (as opposed to the normal, oppressive life I lead). A woman did my hair and make up, then a guy did 'wardrobe' - all Armani! At one stage I had my arm slung rakishly over the back of a bent twig chair on the island and the stylist whispered to me to try not to rub the arm of the jacket. later, when I took it off, I noticed the price tag. 3,875 dollars. Dear God, some madman entrusted me with probably 10,000 dollars worth of clothing. Clearly they haven't read the blog, and had no idea until that moment I was a woman more at home with duck poop and rubber boots than designer labels. Still, there were no mishaps.

But it was exhausting. No stops for lunch - though dear Michael ran into town to pick up great sandwiches from the bakery. And it really is work. 'Please move your little finger', 'please unclench your left hand' 'please smile' 'please don't smile'...look moody...look thoughtful. Look natural.

I've long thought those hollywood types were unbelievably spoiled. All they do all day is swan around having their photos taken for Vanity Fair etc, or going on tour to promote their latest film. Well, let me tell you - it really is exhausting.

Not, it must be admitted, nearly as exhausting as almost any other job in the world - but way more tiring and way harder than it appears. But I'm not really a natural at this sort of thing. Quite stressful for me, and stress for that long takes it out of you.

Today I edited for much of the day, had a bath, Susan came over and we watched Phil and kirsty do Location, Location, Location, then we went off to get the organic vegetable from the farm. Susan cooked us a fabulous dinner at the guest cottage - and now we're home.

We've decided that I should go to the Wolfe Island literary festival on my own this weekend and Michael should stay home and watch the dogs. Poor guy gets dragged all over the place and we're both a little weary, so this will be a nice, quiet time for him.

We finished doing the proofs for the US version of book 4 today. A RULE AGAINST MURDER. Shocking, really, how many typos we're still finding. In one sentence 'a stern face' became 'a stem face'. In another 'he left the house' became ' he felt the house'. I wonder if a dyslexic is doing the type-setting. Hope not. Though there is a certain poetic quality about it.

Off to bed. Sleep well.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A blank (and slightly damp) canvas

overcast, mild, temps 22

It started out at stunning day. Sunny, and of course it all gleamed off the grass and greenery soaked by the recent rains. We had breakfast on the porch, and then the clouds rolled in. Not totally unexpected, but I was hoping for a gorgeous day since today the photographer et al are arriving from Montreal to take the MORE Magazine shots. Still, it isn't raining yet. maybe it'll hold off. And maybe I'll become a size 2 by the time they arrive.

Am wearing my flannel pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. No make-up, hair still damp from shower. I'm a veritable blank canvas. Lucky them.

Didn't blog yesterday - got unexpectedly busy. Edited in the morning - now have about 50 pages to go. It'll need at least one more going over, but that's really for details and picking up small threads. Am pleased.

then Yves arrived with the new TV for the new TV room...and Gary arrived at exactly the same moment so they worked to put it up. New TV wouldn't work! But Yves drove to Knowlton to get another one.

After editing I zipped over to Richford, Vermont for gas, and did some grocery shopping in Sutton for the photographer and the otehr 3 arriving...lunch and snacks. Since they're coming early I decided cappucino and croissants would be a good start. if you see the shot and I have flakes on my face and chest, you'll know my plan worked.

Then home in time for Gary and John to arrive to remove the old TV - and re-orgainze the former television room into my new study. Sofa out - into Michael's study - and big old pine table in, for my desk. But - after an hour of heaving and twisting and trying everything, the desk wouldn't go through the door! These guys tried everything - and even with my brilliant and helpful suggestions it didn't work. Finally Gary, like Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot, Gary got a saw and simply took an inch off the desk legs. In it went.

Have you noticed that while things might be lots of fun very few things are easy?

Then Susan arrived to stay in the guest cottage for a week, and came over for dinner. Rain let up long enough to BBQ the steaks. Had a nice salad, then yogurt and fresh blueberries for dessert. Yum. A family meal.

Will blog tomorrow and let you know how the photo shoot went. If they've brought scaffolding and cement I'll be mighty annoyed. Hope they don't decide to take an inch off the legs too.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Carbing up

rain, torrential rain, then more rain. Temp? who cares.

Actually I did venture out around the pond - now overflowing its banks - with the dogs. Squelched around in my big rubber boots. A great look I don't care who you are. Besides that, spent the day sipping cappucino, eating orange biscotti and editing book 5.

It feels SO great to be home!!!

Drive back from Toronto yesterday was easy. Weather good, which makes a huge difference in a 7 hour drive. Michael got the worst part - just getting out of Toronto.

At some stage we stopped for gas and Tim Horton's double double coffee and a large box of Timbits. I think it's a law in Canada - you must do up your seatbelt and have an open box of Timbits. And a double, double, of course. Or you get fined.

Michael noticed halfway home, as I popped the mini-doughnuts into my mouth (they're actually the holes in the doughnuts - ingenius) that the Penny mouth seems genetically designed for this purpose. To survive endless hours on Canadian highways, lurching from Tim Hortons to Tim Hortons. And I think he's right. Generations of genetic selection brought the Pennys to this point of perfection.

Michael - being handicapped with an elegant little Whitehead mouth - was at a disadvantage and had to actually bite into the Timbits instead of eating them whole. He'd never survive long without me. This is definitely Darwinism at it's best. Survival of the fattest.

We only do the double double fiascos on the highway between Montreal and Toronto. Makes it almost pleasant. Until I realize I've gone one Timbit over the line, sweet Jesus. Then it's less pleasant.

Gary's been busy and the new TV room's almost finished. TV etc arrives tomorrow - we hope. Oddly, so does our friend Susan. This might not be a co-incidence. She's staying at the guest cottage. If it ever stops raining we'll do steak on the BBQ for dinner tomorrow.

Then - 4 people coming out from MORE Magazine for a photo shoot. 4! I wonder how bad a shape they think I'm in that they need 4 people just to make me presentable. Though they might have heard about the Timbits and rubber boots.

Speak to you tomorrow, if we haven't sunk into the mud.

Friday, 1 August 2008

The Dark Knight

sunny, warm, temps 29

The funeral was this morning at Blessed Sacrement Church in Toronto. Lovely service. What made it extra special is that two of Don's grandchildren, Joanne and Brian did eulogies. Really, the poise of those kids. And what they said was amazing. Painting an image of Don Lingeman - his love of cards and fishing, baseball. How he'd fish with Joanne, and take Brian to baseball games, and they'd buy the peanuts in bags which no one else ever bought.

They had us all laughing, then getting teary-eyed.

I realized, sitting there, that when I'm at a funeral I never think of my own mortality. But I do think about others...about losing people I love. And I get scared and upset. I'm never afraid to go, but I'm almost always afraid of being the one left behind. I'm a big fat coward.

After the service we considered driving home, but it's the beginning of a long weekend so decided to stay. Instead we went to the Dark Knight, the batman movie. Wow, was it ever violent...lost track of the deaths. I love action flicks, and there was a lot to like about this. Heath ledger really is fantastic as the Joker. So sad. And lots of other great performances. But the violence just became a scream that over-powered everything for me.

Nice popcorn, though.

Quiet evening in the hotel - then driving home tomorrow. Probably won't blog tomorrow, but will try for Sunday.

Be well.