Friday, November 30, 2007

Rain, Gift, Writing, Gym

It's bucketing here today. This is very unusual given that we get less than 12 inches of rain annually. Dorothy the Dog is refusing to go outside to use the facilities. This can only result in grief for us both. I ended up driving my children to school so they wouldn't sit all day in wet clothes. What would these creatures do if they lived somewhere that had real weather? Like where I grew up.

Anyway, all this rain gave me another good Christmas gift idea. A super lightweight umbrella. SIX ounces. You barely know it's in your purse or backpack. I love mine. Click here if you're interested.

And here's a link to my favorite dictionary in the whole world: Flip Dictionary

BTW, I got a nice email from Pastimes thanking me for mentioning them on the blog.

In writing news, I've been to the gym four times this week. Wait, wait. It is related. Because I get some of my best ideas at the gym. I hop off the treadmill or elliptical, race over to file cabinet and jot down my thoughts. I can't write (or even read) while on a machine because I'd probably fall off. Which shows you just how athletic I'm not.

In gym news, I bought a new pair of sweatpants, but am very unhappy with them. Who invented plumber sweatpants? There is no sense in that!

Next post, to word counter or not?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Writing, Today, December

So, I got my outline for book #2 back from Editor Wendy. Let me just say that this is the absolutely-most-detailed-of-my-entire-life-planned-out outline I have ever written. I suspect it's better choreographed than my wedding was.

Naturally, Editor Wendy found some holes. Because this is her job. And she is very excellent at her job. Lucky for me. I'd much prefer to fill in the holes and iron out the wrinkles (sorry about the awkward mixed metaphors) now than after many, many, many hours of typing.

I am clearing my calendar for December so that I'll have lots of writing time. Or as much as possible given the festive season. I have already been invited to FIVE Christmas parties. This may surprise some of you, but I can actually be a lot of fun at a party. Ha!

This year, however, I will be the woman with the beautiful highlights (thank you Hairdresser Jamie) in the black, sequined dress (thank you fashion-conscious child #3) in the corner on her lap top. I'll have to be in a corner with an electrical outlet because my MacBook battery died (shame on you Apple Customer Service for leaving me on hold for 30 min.) which means I'm always plugged in.

Right now, I'm seated at my kitchen table with a steaming mug of Irish Breakfast tea, a delightful oatmeal cereal bar, and my plugged-in MacBook. Dorothy the Dog is asleep at my feet. Next to me is, of course, the trusty MULTI-paged outline.

Wish me luck. I'm off to write, write, write.

I will take a break in a while and check out all your blogs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It's my ISBN.
I think I'll have it tattooed on my forehead.
I'll spend the rest of the day chanting these numbers.
Somehow I will creatively work these numbers into conversations.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not about writing, about board games

If you're thinking of giving a board game(s) as a gift, you might want to check out those offered by Family Pastimes.

Family Pastimes makes games with a slightly different slant. They make COOPERATIVE games. So, it's the players working together to beat the game. You can imagine how this totally changes the tone of table talk! Two that have been favourites in my family are: The Secret Door and Investigators.

Family Pastimes has been around for about thirty years now. It's a family-run business in Perth, Ontario. They have a workshop where family members, summer students and others manufacture the games.

If, after checking out their website, you have any questions, just phone them. That's what I did.

Click HERE for the link.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Plans gone awry...

I had plans to post early.

Instead I am caught up in a book: If Looks Could Kill by Kate White

Before reading just one more chapter though, I must report that I did make it to the post office (which was empty!) and mailed off my gifts to Canada! Yay! I am now on the lookout for a gift for myself. Double yay!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thank you

Thanksgiving is officially over. Once again, everyone is asleep except me. And the crickets who are loudly chirping away, unaware that tomorrow they will be veiled chameleon dinner.

Anyway, I had a quiet cup of tea with Anne Murray singing Christmas carols in the background. All the Canadian gifts are now wrapped. I've even filled out a few of the custom forms. I do not like those nosy forms which force you to list the gifts you're sending. I try to be as general as possible, so there's still some vestige of surprise for the recipients.

I am thankful for a gazillion things, but here's a short list:
-DH (darling husband) who is very different than me, but takes it in stride
-four interesting and creative children
-my sisters
-online and offline friends
-my health and the health of my family (including DH's successful hernia surgery)
-the book deal which validates the hours I spend with imaginary people
-my gym membership

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving...

and, all through the house, everyone was sleeping. Except me.

I'm And I'm cooking such exciting dishes as mashed potatoes and stuffing and a bean casserole. All so I won't have to cook tomorrow, but will only reheat. And yawn. A lot.

I made my mother's famous Irish sausage stuffing. It is truly delish. For some reason, and I can't really explain it, I decided to tweak the recipe. Just one of those wild and crazy culinary moments. And now that I'm sitting here and having a small bowl of sausage stuffing (I never got around to having dinner and I almost exercised this morning, so it's not as unhealthy as it sounds), I think the tweaking may have constituted a culinary faux pas.

In happier news, I actually did some Christmas shopping today. Child #3 and Child #4 were thrilled to be dragged s-l-o-w-l-y (I'm a very slow shopper) around two stores. Maybe a little less than thrilled until we stopped for pretzels and plastic cheese sauce.

In even happier news, I have finished all my Canadian shopping. By this I mean, I have finished buying all the gifts I must send back to the homeland. This is tres wonderful because if I get the Canadian presents sent off before Thanksgiving, I get a prize.

A prize? you say. From who?

From me! I give myself a reward for good organization! I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement, and I practice what I preach. I don't know what the reward is yet, but I do know I will like it!

Did you actually send off the gifts? you ask.

No, I didn't. But I gave myself an extension until Monday. Ha! I'm covered.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I will post tomorrow (in between yawns and trying not to be grumpy to my guests due to fatigue) about a few of the things I'm thankful for.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hernia Boy

Hernia Boy is hernialess. Yes, he underwent a left lingual hernia repair.

Do you see how I bandy about such medical terms as "left lingual hernia repair"? Just a little perquisite due to my wannabe-physician status. Along with too much time spent surfing the Net.

At the crack of dawn on Friday, I delivered HB to the outpatient clinic, got him settled with his clipboard and forms, then raced off to take kids to school. Dr. D. did not await my return and, as a result, I have a couple of questions for the dear doctor. They'll have to wait until the post-op appointment later this week. Unless he reads this blog (doubtful) and responds here (more doubtful). Just in in case, though, I was wondering:

1. Did you have to GLUE HB closed? I'm from the era of small stitches and a big cover-all bandage--much less of a visual shock to the nursing spouse.

2. Could you please phone/email/fax the pain prescription to the pharmacy instead of leaving a paper copy?

All that said, it looks to me as though the surgery was a roaring success. HB has been an excellent patient--diligent about his ice pack, stoic between pain meds times and uncomplaining about what food I prepared.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A true medical story

The other day, I took Child #1, the one who broke his wrist six weeks ago, for his second follow-up visit with the orthopedic surgeon. The appointment where the doc tells you to trash the splint.

I also took the bill, convinced someone at the doctor's office had mistakenly input the wrong billing code.

Child #1's bones didn't need resetting. There was no call for surgery. As breaks go, it was simple and corrected with a cute blue splint held on with velcro.

Why, then, did the orthopedic surgeon bill Blue Cross just under $700.00 for our last visit? A visit that, generously speaking, lasted 15 MINUTES.

Here's the bill:

New Patient: $ 73.00
Office Visit: $526.00 (YOWSER!)
Medical Equipment $ 75.00
Total billed to Blue Cross: $674.00


Holy freaking Toledo!

Had a very civilized (seriously, I'm not being sarcastic here) chat about the cost of a 15 min. office visit, the value of years in medical school, socialized medicine, how washing dishes would rehab Child #1's wrist.

At the end, the doctor shook my hand, thanked me for the discussion, told me to write him a letter explaining what amount I felt would be reasonable and promised that he would make that amount work!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am changing the face of American medicine DOCTOR BY DOCTOR!

Probably Hillary Rodham Clinton will be contacting me tomorrow to ask my advice on the American healthcare system. Probably she'll want to blurb my book. Then she'll tell everyone on her MySpace to go buy it. That's like 33,372 people!


A couple of things to keep in mind: Off the top, Blue Cross deducted $122.98 from the bill as per their contract with the doctor. Blue Cross will pay $212.41, sticking us with the remainder of $338.61. Blue Cross did not pay one cent toward the splint, (but would've paid for a cast. Who knew?)

What do you think? How much should we pay?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham

BEFORE I DIE is the story of a 16 year old with terminal leukemia. Tessa makes a list of all the things she'd like to accomplish in the next few months. Before she dies. Those around Tessa are forced to help her live out the last of her life on her terms.

Yes, it is depressing. But not as depressing as you might think.


Well, maybe because the characters arcs are really well done. Tessa's friends (new and old), her family and Tessa herself all go through amazing changes. And Tessa is pretty flawed, pretty human, pretty teen.

Or maybe it's because the language is so lyrical. For example: "I like it - the stall and shove of traffic, the deep thrum of a bus engine, an urgent siren in the distance."

Or maybe because it makes you think about what's important vs unimportant in your own life. How the rules would change if you had a dying teen in your household. And how perhaps some of these rules should change anyway. All good food for thought.

Also, I actually laughed out loud at some of the exchanges between Tess and her younger brother. Dark humour, but really funny.

At any rate, BEFORE I DIE is phenomenal. And the film rights sold in September. Yay! Major kudos to Jenny Downham on her debut Young-Adult novel!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

psychic fair

At first, the psychic fair went exactly as I'd expected. I walked around with pencil and paper, taking notes for the scene in book #2 where the protagonist visits a pyschic fair. I sniffed incense, watched different healing practices, drank a cleansing tonic, chatted with vendors about various objects my 13 year old fictional character might need.

Then...I went for my psychic reading. In a soothing, restful British accent, the medium said I'd been sent to the fair for a reason. And it wasn't a pleasant reason. She proceeded to tell me some really, really sad stuff about one of my children.

Next...I went to the Avon tarot card lady. Along with the reading, she gives away a bottle of Avon perfume and a cosmetic clutch bag. You have to admit this sounds a bit sketchy and, therefore, more fun and entertaining. She dealt out the cards, turned over one pile of them and said that whatever work I do would somehow end up connected with a sitcom or screenplay. Yes, this is more like it! Not that anyone is considering I So Don't Do Mysteries for these things. But, who knows, maybe in the future someone will. Or maybe something else I write will be considered for the silver screen. So loving the Avon tarot card lady.

Then...she turns over another little pile of cards and tells me very, very similar sad stuff as the medium.

I don't know what to make of it all. Except to say that the psychic fair was a disturbing experience. And I have a headache. Maybe it will make a little more sense tomorrow. Maybe not though.

Friday, November 9, 2007

my mailbox

Today in my mailbox I got...
-THIRTEEN pieces of total junk mail (including a glossy magazine from Porsche. Not a good use of their advertising dollar.)
-No doctor's bills. Yay.
-a book I ordered from amazon: First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner. Should be interesting. I can't think of anything of consequence that I started and completed in 30 days. Well, perhaps a relationship or two. No, I'm not talking about Hernia Boy. Obviously.

Depending on how the first-draft-in-30-days thing goes, I might be tempted to sign up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) next year. Yikes.

Happy Weekend to all!

p.s. I'm going to a psychic fair on Sunday. Wish me luck in hearing loads of good news. Anyone else doing something of interest?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gimme a laugh...

I've just been reading a bunch of really, really funny blogs. And now I'm not feeling at all humorous. More like blah. I'm thinking I should turn this blog into a poltical commentary. Tomorrow I will discuss George Bush and his strategies to combat gobal warming. Oh wait. That would be humorous.

Now I'm starting to wonder about all those years of HB and child #1, child #2, and child #3 (not child #4 who is still young and sweet) telling me to stop laughing at my own jokes. Like this one:

Question: What goes "Ha, ha, ha, plop?"
Answer: Someone laughing his head off.

(giggle) Actually, that joke has stood the test of time. (more giggle) ROFL.

Tomorrow for dinner: brown sugar + vinegar + misc ingredients + chicken simmered for too many hours in a crockpot. Ha! Joke's on you, family!

writing and crockpots

Writing and crockpots go hand in hand. The upside: Crockpots deliver an entire meal with a minimum of fuss. Which gives me more time to write.

The downside: I have only discovered ONE crockpot recipe that everyone in my family likes. ONE. Two nights ago, I tried a new brown sugar + vinegar + misc ingredenients + chicken dish. I liked it. No one else did. So, I won't be making it again. Just a little too much overcooked, slightly dried-out chicken for one person.

Feel free to post in comments or email me a decent crockpot receipt. I'm desperate.


Irish Stew Adapted From Child #2's Friend's Father's Recipe (Thanks Mr. R.)

2 pounds beef or lamb or a mixture, cubed
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon each, salt, pepper, paprika
1 1/2 cups beef broth (or chicken broth if you're using all lamb)
1 teaspoon worstershire sauce
1 bay leaf, 2 crushed clove garlic
8 carrots, sliced
4 potatoes, diced
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, diced (I added extra celery because I love cooked celery)
another vegetable (zucchini, yam), opt'l and depends on how much room you have

Place the vegetables on the bottom, then add the meat.
Stir salt, pepper, paprika, worstershire sauce, garlic, four into broth. Pour over mixture. Add bay leaf.
Cook 10 hours on low or 6 hours on high.

If you try it, lemme know what you think.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

a little more on the wildfires

Listening to NPR radio in the car the other day, I heard the best story. This woman, Joane Cosentino, was on tv during the fires and signed for over TWENTY hours straight! She reported a sore back, but said her arms were fine. Okay, I cannot even imagine standing for twenty hours, never mind standing AND interpreting. Joane also mentioned that "it was a lot of work" to keep up with spelling the names of cities, streets and evacuation times. Because she had to literally spell out all this info. So, "a lot of work"??? Quite frankly, it sounds impossible. I hope the county provided Joane with a massage therapist and a twenty-hour shopping spree. :)

Kudos to Joane Cosentino! We're lucky we had you!

Still about the wildfires--did you know that out of the thousands and thousands of evacuated houses, only one was burglarized?

You can't help but feel good about all this.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The loonie's flying high!

According to The Toronto Star, "the loonie set a new modern-day high yesterday." It closed at slightly above $1.07 US!

Holy Loonies and Twonies!!

I have a $10 bill with a pic of King George VI on it. From, like, 1937. What's it worth?

Here's a problem: book covers haven't changed. So, even though the Canuck buck is worth more than its American counterpoint, you still pay more for a book in Canada. Just another example of how slowly the publishing world can move.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I'm having some trouble with the second mystery.

Sherry wants to solve the crime by the middle of the book.

I suspect that wouldn't fly with Editor Wendy.

I am so not being outsmarted by a 13 year old. Even a fictional 13 year old.

Back to the old drawing board manana.