I have a warm place in my heart for the Here’s the story thing. I was a fan of the Brady Bunch way back when. That annoying little prelude, then the jingle and the tic-tac-toe portraits of the Brady’s popping onto the screen sent thrills pulsating through my veins. For me it was all about Marcia. Yes Jan, I know. It must have been very painful. I spent several years of my life wishing I could look like Marcia and dress like her and live in a house with a maid.
But that is really an aside. My story of a story will be brief. Okay maybe not, depending on your definition, but I’ll try. And it’s not about Marcia. FYI, the following could be deemed an infomercial, but oh well.
I wrote a story a few years ago. A writer (a real one, at a course I was taking), suggested it could be expanded, like into a book. So I started to write the book. Then I moved across the country, finished the book, and entered it into a contest, not expecting anything other than a critical analysis of the work, which was promised for the $35.00 entrance fee. A minor hitch was my submission was creative non-fiction, and the contest I entered, for some reason, was no longer accepting submissions in that category. It had, when I first found out about the competition. But I wanted the feedback, so in the box on the form I wrote: Novel, Adult fiction.
A few months later, as promised, I did get feedback. All of three judges stated that what I had submitted was clearly not fiction and it wasn’t a novel. But I got third prize. One of the judges approached me at the awards ceremony and expressed that it should be published.
That was lovely to hear, but easier said than done. It requires submission letter writing and I’m horrible at that. Not that I’ve actually tried, since it scares me. So I went with an emerging, ‘assisted self-publishing’ company. Some books were printed, some sold, but sadly the company went bankrupt—too much work for too few staff. The experience was disappointing for that reason, and because there were a fair number of editing mistakes, punctuation missing, etc. And I ‘d wanted the book available on eBook, which hadn’t happened. The leftover books havebeen sitting in my basement for two years.
But here’s the thing.
My book, which was called Mennonite Girl, is cleaned up and available on eBook and print-on-demand at http://www.friesenpress.com. This new and improved version is called Mennonite Girl at the Welcome Inn.
So that is the story of my story. Maybe you already read Mennonite Girl. If you did and you liked it, please tell your friends. It is available now on eBook for less than 5 bucks.
See the link, just here to the right. I suppose this is kind of an infomercial. But as my traveling light blog friend Colleen says, “Order what you want. Take what you get.” I like that fine as long as I don’t get served raisin pie.
Oh yes, I offered a deal. If you want an original print copy of Mennonite Girl (slightly flawed but highly readable), please write to me at email@example.com, and I’ll arrange to have one sent to you, right from my basement. All for the amazingly low cost of $12.00. Canadian funds. (That includes shipping if you live in North America). Please write ‘Mennonite girl’ in the subject line so I don’t delete you. If you want more than one, each additional copy is $8.00. So two books is twenty bucks. Three books is $28.00 Delivered. OR get the eBook. Even less. Oh how I love good value.
And who knows? If we’re both really lucky, that book may become a collectors item. Because that is what I want.
But then again, I must remember, “Order what you want…
I’ll explain the title in a minute.
I had a birthday recently which is always nice since people call, send emails, greet on Facebook … in a surge. And I realized I do that.
As though I have a corral of ponies that I ride, one at a time almost exclusively before taking it back to the corral to rest and saddle up another. Little ponies with names like ‘Fix up Helen’s House’ or “Do Some Maintenance on This One” or “Paperwork” or “Write Another Book” or “Tend the Garden”. This current pony is my little business, “Saltwater Angels” that seems to be galloping with no sign of slowing down. So I have been either making angels or being outside enjoying the stupendous summer we’ve been having.
Why talk of this?
Partly to explain my blog absence and also to put the name Saltwater Angels on the web. I had the web domain name for two years, but didn’t actually make a webpage and it seems to have expired, and is in some kind of holding tank. Seems like a lot of fuss to deal with trying to re-aquire it so I am marking a claim, so to speak. Just to put the name somewhere in cyberspace.
Until recently I’ve subjected myself to emotional dilemma with the whole ‘craft’ thing, since that is what Saltwater Angels is. Meaning I had issues justifying spending time collecting glass and making angels from the pieces I collected, due to a nagging voice that haunts me regarding making valuable use of my time and/or being a useful citizen. But somehow as loud as that voice is, there is an even louder voice saying, ‘gather glass, wrap some wire, add a bead, add a halo, glue some wings’. And the phone keeps ringing with voices that say, “Can you send more angels. We are almost out.”
So what was once a hobby is now a job. And that is good, because I used to have a pony called, “Classroom Teacher” but I traded it in for “Substitute Teacher” and that pony was getting awfully hungry what with the shrinking number of students around here, the growing number of teachers graduating, and the number of retired teachers that miss the classroom so much they too get onto the sub list.
And there be Saltwater Angels. Someday I’ll make a page for that, right here. No need for another website. So I shall be frequenting beaches this fall with my little bucket…
I say that kind of in jest, but not really.
I meet regularly with a group of wonderful women who read discuss/try to incorporate spirituality/nowness and presence into our dailyness. And am trying not to ‘mind’ what happens…
But Lord almighty, when will good common sense prevail? I was at our community hall last night to watch the a documentary film called Salmon Wars. Good in a sadly disturbing way, and very relevant as many of our community members were in the movie.
I am here to beg, plead, beg and plead, beg and plead some more for all you folks to take an hour and watch this film. I know you are busy and there are so many causes to support with time and money. And you might ask, why should I care. I’m not crazy about that word should, but this is relevant if you eat anything from the sea, especially salmon. See http://www.salmonwars.com/
Here are two photos. And I apologize about this NIMBY potential. but this is the type of thing that is happening around here. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (yes they are the same department) plans to plant aquaculture sites in every bay in Nova Scotia. See this beautiful and PROTECTED beach? The second pictures speaks for itself, taken near fish farm site after 15 months of fallowing. We had pens in our bay. They took them out to fallow. Now they are back again. Long story. Please watch the movie, and please don’t buy farmed salmon. It’s full of pesticide and dye. Maybe if people stop buying the farmed salmon …
I feel like I have so much more to say, but I won’t at the moment. Thanks for listening.
I was just outside drinking coffee, listening to birds, watching lobster boats puttering around in the bay and old fellas driving along our road at neck breaking speeds of 25 kph. They do that here, many of them twice a day, coming to a full stop if they see an unfamiliar car in the neighborhood before heading to the wharf for a yarn with their salty pals.
I sat contemplating the idea of blogging. Today as well as last week I woke up with a familiar feeling of, not so much dread, but some nagging anxiety around having an assignment due and not having any idea how to do the thing. I think I might have blogging-phobia.
I have learned a few things about myself. One of which is that I love structure. I love projects with a beginning and an end and a little elbow grease. I have also learned that I do not like routine. A little is okay, like cleaning on Mondays, but other than that, not so much.
Another thing I know is that when I try to be funny or entertaining, I am generally not. I succeed only at being annoying. Bringing me back to the blogging thing on Sundays… I don’t feel like it is working. Not to say that I don’t like writing. I love it. But I love it when I sit down and write with no deadlines or expectations. Like when I was in school, yes I know that was eons ago, let it go, but the idea of some skirted woman standing in front and ordering me to write something almost gives me chills. Like I stated I would retell a story about a Geranium, and then didn’t do it. Why? Not sure.
Okay, maybe because I have a guest here. This is day five of the Liverpool International Theatre Festival, and last night we attended plays number 9 and 10. Today at 1:00 we go see Egypt perform. The festival is non short of amazing, but also the kind of thing I cannot begin to describe adequately. Last night we saw a play from Poland; four women preforming around the theme of journey and femininity … I can’t begin to do it justice, but one part had one woman grating a head of cabbage and flinging it everywhere while two others dressed in aprons and kerchiefs danced around with wooden spoons and mixing bowls slinging flour all around the stage. And that was one small scene of a mix of Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the Grapes of Wrath, all in Polish. Following that, a company from the USA did a rendition of Charlie Brown with all manner adolescent issues including bullying, homosexuality and suicide. First Snoopy was put down because he got rabies and killed Woodstock. Charlie Brown visited Lucy in jail, who was serving time for lighting the red headed girl’s hair on fire, Charlie Brown kissed Beethoven, Pig Pen broke Beethoven’s hands and Beethoven committed suicide. Friday we saw Noah and his wife build and ark onstage and bring forth a multitude of animals, all in German. After that four women ate real chicken with cuttlerly from plates suspended by wires from a wooden frame, the plates suspended not in the way they would sit on a table, but in the way they would hang on a clothesline…while they gesticulated wildly, discussing issues around four generations of abandonment, single parenthood and alcoholism… in Romanian.
And that is just a tiny tiny tip of the iceberg, pardon the cliche. I could go on and on…
It all makes me re-realize the mind-boggling creativity which exists. There is so much talent out there and it seems so many people are exploring and contributing in one way or another. Through acting, singing, writing….
So much to see, to hear, to learn.
And so many bloggers.
If I want to profess to be a writer, I have to admit I write sporadically, and I do believe I am not so much a writer as a storyteller, if that makes any sense. And I would rather write another book during my inspiring moments of wanting to be at one with the keyboard.
So maybe blogging isn’t for me. I’m still not sure. Having said that I don’t really feel comfortable with a ‘weekly’ thing, it may be that I do. Or maybe not.
We’ll see. That too I know. That we will see. And perform, preform? I really should have listened more in high school. I fear if I took grade 10 English right now I would fail. And I didn’t even proof read this, not that that would change anything, but the sun is shining.
Maybe I shall jabber on next week, or maybe next Thursday. Or the Tuesday after next. We’ll see. In the meantime, there are millions of blogs out there…
Have a great week. And celebrate all the talent out there.
It’s nothing short of amazing.
Seems I’m a little behind. I saw that inside a birthday card once. On the front was a rear-view drawing of a tiny naked boy, with peachy buttocks. The caption on the front said, ‘Sorry I forgot your birthday.’
First, thanks so much to all of you who did a review for Mennonite Girl on Goodreads.com. I was waiting for my husband to return from Newfoundland early Sunday evening so he could help me do the draw. He was late due to a malfunction and them needing to get another plane to fly. When he did get home, we did what we always do. We sit with a beer and he gives the play-by-play of his time on ‘the rock’. I ask him to start with his arrival at the Halifax airport. He started talking. 45 minutes later he was still talking about the guy he was sitting next to on the plane. Which was great because he was a really interesting fellow. Two hours later he was through with the 4 day synopsis. I love every minute of it and this is all to say why I didn’t announce the name yesterday. Just got sidetracked.
The other thing I was going to do yesterday, in honor of Mother’s Day, was to tell a story that my mother told in church one Sunday many years ago. This was during ‘children’s time’, when all the children all called forward during the church service.
Don’t worry. It isn’t actually a church story because there are no Biblical characters in the story. It’s about a little old widow who lived alone. The widow doesn’t even attend church. She’s a recluse.
The story is called, The Geranium. But right now, I am needed elsewhere. I will finish and post the story sometime soon. This week. But I shall now do the name draw and at least get that done. But due come back later in the week for the story. And next week, I shall try to post on time.
And the winner is Janet Schmidt. Congratulations Janet!!!
Thanks again to all of you who did post ratings and comments.
This may look like an ordinary pile of rocks on the beach, but look closely … very closely. If you are a sea glass collector you will see a jackpot of sea glass. And if you aren’t a beach glass collector and want to be, look carefully at the colors and shapes, and you should begin to be able to pick out the whites. They are sort of frosted. Another thing before I continue, picture that this is one very small section of a harbour I stumbled upon. In other words, there was loads of glass on this beach. On most beaches you can walk for five minutes before you find one piece of glass. Imagine sitting down and picking up a bread bag full of the stuff. So that was the situation I found myself in.
Thing was, we were in Stornaway, Scotland. This is located in the Outer Hebrides. Islands way out there.
Backtracking a wee bit. About 10 days.
Naw, I won’t tell you ten days worth. Short version. It was May. A wild windy May, and if you think you’ve experienced wild windy Mays, go to the northern parts of Scotland. I thought I had experienced extreme weather changes, but this was something else. Suffice it to say, all of our clothing was well used, and thank goodness for Mountain Equipment Co-op clothing. Layers and quick dry became deeply meaningful to my heart. Maybe I’ll just show you one picture so you can see how nice it was at times.
Aren’t they cute??
But we were in a rental car, traveling many roads, and at the time of finding the mother lode of sea glass were in Stornaway, as previously mentioned.
How we happened to find the beach was this. We had arrived on the ferry, toured the Isles of Lewis and Harris, by the way the white sand beaches to the south are stunning. Arrived at our B & B hungry after all the beach walking, but on the way out the front door to find a restaurant heard boisterous talking and laughter from behind the closed door that said ‘lounge,’ so in we went to seek advice regarding food. Inside we found six people, sitting with open Scotch bottles and weeny glasses and trays of lovely little food spread on the coffee table. I know this sounds corny, but these six people live about 140 km away from us in Nova Scotia. Yes. We sat for a while and had a wee dram to warm our appetites for food.
Off we go and found a pub on the harbour. Very nice. Not very busy. Big fancy restaurant upstairs. We order a pint, decide to sit a bit before ordering food to enjoy the atmosphere and listen to the accents of the locals. The moment comes when we need food. Right away. We flag the waitress and I ask twelve or thirteen questions about items on the menu before choosing. This used to drive my husband a bit crazy but he’s grown tolerant.
She leaves, but returns shortly with bad news. An extremely large party at the restaurant upstairs, which is where the kitchen is, has just ordered their meals. Oooh. Very bad timing on our part.
We wait and wait, and wait. Meanwhile my husband gets up to go for a little walk outside, to stretch his legs. He returns about 5 minutes later with a big grin on his face. No the food hasn’t arrived. But he has good news for me. He tells me he stepped down into the harbour, and as he has learned to do, since my sea glass fetish began, looked down, and so discovered the abundance of glass.
I’ll skip the part of us wolfing down the food.
The next day, we came back. And I filled two bags in very short order. That was all fine. We had a car. It went into the trunk. And the glee on my face was a site to see.
Fast forward to going home. We flew with Air Canada. They only allow one bag these days, unless you pay. My husband has Scottish roots, so he had been busily collecting Scottish things to take home to give to family. So his bag was full and heavy. After the Scottish part of my adventure, I was going to spend a week in Cambridge, England with my smart-as-a-whip niece who studies there, and two other lovely women. From there we were heading to Florence, Italy. That is all relevant because I did not want to lug around two bags of sea glass. The stuff is heavy.
So herein lies the dilemma. What to do?
I love the glass. I want the glass. It is free. But now what?
Royal mail to the rescue. But this decision is made after careful consideration. I always carry a little calculator but still manage to get confused with local currencies.
The bottom line is, I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity. Sea glass. I didn’t need it. I wanted it. I mailed it. It arrived at our post office several weeks later. In two boxes. And when the assistant post mistress picked one of the boxes to hand it to me her face went gray and her eyes grew wide.
“It broken!” she said, looking at me.
I just laughed.
This is pretty exciting news for me. My first newspaper review appeared in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record a while back.
I would also love a review from you, if you’ve read the book. Please go to http://www.goodreads.com and do a review and/or rating there. If you do this by May 13, you could win a copy of Mennonite Girl!! Thanks to those of you who’ve already done so. Have a blessed week.
There was a time in my life when I commuted to work. For three years, I lived in Mission, BC and worked as a teacher in the Burnaby School District. As the crow flies the distance is probably 60 km. As the cars drive, the distance is about 75 km. According to Mapquest, the time to drive from A to B should be just over an hour. I was thrilled if the round trip could be completed in 31/2 hours … because I drove in rush hour.
I shan’t delve too much into the joy involved in leaving my house each work day at 6:25, speeding along the country-roads part of my journey in the dark, half the time in the rain, before zipping onto the highway, speeding with the other vehicles or suffering with being tailgated, slowing to a crawl as we got closer to the bridges, shifting into first gear, second gear, stopping, first gear, second gear, first gear, second gear … merging onto the bridge with 100,000 other vehicles then weaving through urban neighbourhoods behind sleepy, slowpoke, oblivious-to-my-obvious-haste drivers to reach my destination. Suffice it to say my dentist asked me after I had been doing this for just over a year, “What are you doing to your teeth? You’re grinding them down to pulp.”
Due to subtracting 3-4 hours of quality time each working day for three years, I felt obliged to use the rest of my time wisely. So there was no dilly dallying around. Time was like gold. One thing I love to do is read. And so I frequented the public library to get books. But who has time to browse?
My method in selecting books was to stand in one aisle and randomly pull books off the shelf until I had selected between 8 and 10. This usually took less than three minutes. My theory was that there was likely to be at least one or two really good ones in the batch. Maybe more. But I always had something to read. The trouble with this method, I often picked books I had already read. Many times I would read to the middle of a book and realize I had already read it.
And one glorious day I got a job teaching in Mission. My commute time went from 3-4 hours a day to 12 minutes. Each day when I got into the car I said a prayer of thanks, almost weeping in gratitude.
I also started buying books. Because I had time, sweet sweet time. And more money with not filling the gas tank three times a week. And, I figured with the stiff library fines I was paying each month, I might as well be buying the books. But several times I bought the same book twice. Which was good and bad; good because I could give the new one as a gift, bad because the reason I bought the book a second time was the first time it left no impression or I read it halfway or not past page one. Therefore probably not what I considered a ‘must read’. I bought Mercy Among the Children three times.
I often thought how nice it would be to have a list of books I have read. A friend of mine has one. She has a notebook with each title, author and a rating for each book. So when people asked her for a recommendation, she pulls out her little book and recommends away. When someone asked me for a suggestion, I usually stared while my eyes glazed over. Not because I haven’t read any good books. I have read many. One or two may have come to mind. But I knew there are many more lurking in the deep recesses of my brain so I might get flustered, becoming less likely to make an intelligent suggestion.
So I got a notebook I began the practice of recording, but after writing three or four titles, it would get misplaced. I tried again and again, using different size notebooks, but the practice didn’t stick. Someone suggested a spreadsheet. Great idea, I thought, then forgot about it.
Very recently a wise friend (whose blog link is to the right), introduced me to the Goodreads website. THIS has become my answer to the ‘what have I read problem’. The site is like a virtual library; call up an author, and their books come up pronto. Or a title. So I went through lists of books, and gave them a quick rating, which added them to ‘My books’, creating a list of books I have read. And I have only started this process. Now if my mind goes blank, I can consult the list. I listed them according to my ratings so my favorite books come up in the list first. Very wonderful! It also gives review and ratings from other readers. AND it makes suggestions based on what your ratings, AND you can join book clubs on line, save some driving. Just kidding … I like the talking with real people approach to discussing books. And the wine.
So I am here to recommend joining Goodreads. It is free and they don’t sell anything. If you love to read, it is a fabulous place to go for ideas.
Now I have a favour to ask. IF you join and IF you have read Mennonite Girl, I would love for you to rate the book and write a quick review. By ‘review’ I mean a few words, like, ‘I really enjoyed this book’, or whatever comes to mind. If you give a review or rating before May 13th, I will put your name into a draw for a free book. Yippeee.
And it is easy to do, the review thing. Go to http://www.goodreads.com and sign up. They won’t bug you. They just need a name and email. Put my title in the search box at the top and my page will come up. It is pretty easy to do, just click on the number of stars and a comment box will come up. If you need further instructions, go to the bottom of the page and see ‘About Us’ and click there, and on that page there is a ‘help’ button which will help you through.
Blessings to you this week, and if you are commuting any great distance, my tip of the week, besides joining Goodreads, is to look for another job.
Oh yes, and I will announce the winner of the book on May 13. Thanks for the review!!!!!
In 2001, when we returned home from our 6 week trip to Africa, travelling with only a backpack each, one of the first things my husband said was, “We have way too much stuff.”
We looked at each other and nodded.
Almost six years ago we moved form one side of the country to the other. Before we left we gave much of our stuff away. Reason one, we were moving to a much smaller house. Two, because moving stuff across Canada translates into roughly a dollar a pound. So on examining each article for packing, one had to consider; is this item worth $1.00 per pound to keep. Three, we had way too much stuff.
There were several weeks between the time we arrived and our moving van delivered our goods. We subsisted with minimal dishes scrounged from relatives, two lawn chairs, used inside and out, and a blow up mattress from Walmart. It was a relaxing and wonderful time. All was so simple. Coffee, food, deck, beer, beach, sunshine. No paperwork, nothing to dust, nothing to put away. Glorious, really.
Eventually the moving van arrived. Oh we thought we had given so much away, and honestly we did. But imagine having all of your belongings organized on top of a king sized bed. Then take that stuff and organize it neatly into a crib.
That’s what we were dealing with.
The unpacking began. We filled all the cupboards and closets and shelves and there were still more boxes. Many with nebulous names remained stacked in the basement but each time I Charlie Chaplinned down the stairs to get something from the freezer those boxes unsettled me. They did get unpacked over time, the contents added to another pile somewhere, crammed into a closet. This unsettled me more. Digging through closets on the off chance of finding what I was looking for was enough to make me want to a smash a dish or two, even though I began meeting with a small group of women who work on becoming ‘present’ and zen-like. So frustrated with losing valuable ‘present’ time, digging through various cupboards or closet I shoved items back in a messy heap, thinking, ‘I’ll tend to that later,’ creating even more angst upon subsequent opening of that closet door.
Often we would go buy another of the thing we couldn’t find, just because we needed it which just exacerbated the problem and made me nuts really. I’d know we already have three hatchets. But where are they???
About once a month I woke up with the sole purpose of organizing the house from top to bottom. The day would start with me hauling everything out of a number of closets and drawers and making a huge pile. Then I began to sort and put items into various boxes and bins and put them away. Did I label anything? No need for that. Surely I would remember where things were because my orderly scheme was so masterful. That night I’d go to bed exhausted and content. I was organized.
And then I would pursue other things. Like painting. And I’d wonder, Where are the paintbrushes? Geez I can’t remember. The nails to hang pictures? The gardening spade? The light bulbs? Haven’t got a clue. And so I rooted, tearing closets apart, shoving things back in again in complete disorder.
Oh it was a viscous cycle. Kind of like Groundhog Day, only not so frequent. Get up. Haul everything out. Reorganize. Put it away. Labels? Notes? No need for that. This time I have it all figured out. I am so clever.
Then I need something. I root … create a mess … shove it back … close door…
That was going on for two years.
During that time I have two drawers under the stove-top where I keep kitchen utensils. Yes, I have that much figured out. Thing is, there are two drawers, so the utensils go in one drawer or the other depending on which has space available. Several times a day I need one of those utensils. I open one drawer, searching for the garlic press. Dig around. Can’t find. Open other drawer, dig around. Can’t find. Open first drawer again. Rummage through the items. Can’t find. Close drawer. Try the other drawer again. Still can’t find. This may sound trite and silly but it takes me two minutes to find the garlic press. And you may be thinking, so what. But imagine if it takes two minutes each time you need a spatula, or the ice cream scoop, or the potato masher? I could be doing something fun!
One morning in our third year I wake up with a purpose. I am going to organize those two drawers.
I take all the items from both drawers and lay them on the kitchen table. I sit down at the table and look at the pile of items. And I look at them for quite a while, drinking coffee, thinking, ‘how will I do this thing?’
And the answer comes to me. Some of the utensils are all metal. The whisk, the cheese grater, the ice cream scoop. Others have wooden handles and plastic parts. The spatulas, the oatmeal paddle, the vegetable peelers.
Suddenly I have a plan. I put the all metal things into one drawer. And anything with wood or plastic parts into the other. It is done.
Being in the kitchen many times a day, I open those drawers. I realize I don’t mind being in the kitchen so much. All I have to think is, ‘I need the rice scoop. It is plastic. It is in the drawer on the left.’
I love my utensil drawers.
And so I continued with my quest to organize. But with a new rule. One little space per week. I set up criteria for a shelf or drawer then organized it that way. Extra stuff went elsewhere for the time being. Then I learned it, lived with it; and anytime I found an item that matched said criteria, I put it there. And when the space became crowded, I gave some of it away. For example, when all towels were gathered and stacked, they are upwards of 20. Who needs that many towels? Not a family of two. Out some of them go.
After almost six years, there are spaces around the stuff in our closets and drawers. I know where things are, all because of those kitchen utensils. Okay, not all of the time. There are still occasional moments of rooting and slamming doors.
But for the most part, finding stuff is easy. And putting stuff away is too. And less is more. I like it.
More time for the beach.