Writing a Sequel

The undertaking of writing the second instalment of False Hope is beginning to make me nervous.  I remember how time consuming and all-encompassing it was writing the first book and I’m beginning to feel bogged down.   I have one chapter completed with work starting on the second.  The struggle of carving out time to write characters and scenes and implement accents and plot points is difficult when summer weather decides to make an appearance.  The sun shines and I want to be outside, not locked in a room in the basement writing the next big adventure.  The rarity of sunshine makes it all the more important for me to head outside while it lasts.  Autumn is packing its bags getting ready to move in and wave summer off into the grand abyss where the seasons-that-barely-happened go to die.   Before I know it, I’ll be welcoming students back for another year, scheduling tests and skipping lunches in favour of one more hour for testing.   I’m fearful my penchant to procrastinate will overtake me and I’ll finish Book Two around the same time any grandchildren I’ve been promised have graduated high school.  

I’m ever-aware of my tendency to simply give-up or to throw my hands up in the air and proclaim it all a bit too much before I’ve even given it my best shot. I managed to stay focused and finish the first round and I’m hoping my determination will see me through to the next.  I have big plans for Claire and Jimmy in Book Two and I’m hoping it will all come to fruition.  They may even run into some old friends from False Hope.  (That was a hint, by the way in case you missed it.)  

My notes are gathering in the purple notebook I used for the False Hope.  I’ll simply keep it moving with more notes chapter-by-chapter and flesh out some new characters I have in mind.  I always change around chapters and events according to how things logistically work out.  For example, in False Hope Julien was supposed to be accused of nefarious activities with the women he was photographing.  If you notice in the book, there are references to a rapist running around loose in town and even a dark hooded stranger bumping into Julien when he was standing outside the office building where Ashley worked.  That incident was initially a set-up to a much larger sub-plot.  I backed down at the last minute not wanting Julien to undergo any further scrutiny and bias from his colleagues.  He had enough on his plate.  

My work continues on Book Two and I hope my characters move forward with their lives, but not everything can go easily for them in their new circumstances.  I’ll try to keep the momentum going through bouts of soaking up the intermittent sunshine and my tendency to walk away.

 I’ll keep you posted on the progress and maybe drop a few more hints along the way, like Jimmy Feherty.  He’s an Irishman straight from Belfast with eyes only for Claire.  Or so he says….

 

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The Hibernation of Summer

It’s mid-August and I can feel the imminence of Fall.  It’s in the back-to-school supplies that are crowding every shelf at Walmart.  It’s in the woods jackets and plaid flannel shirts that are hanging on racks.  It’s in the now-dark 5 am mornings that greet me and the cooler evenings that now descend before 9pm.  Summer hasn’t yet arrived and here we are readying for another season.  I’m lamenting a summer I never had.  I’m still waiting for that everlasting full day of sunshine and sultry heat that stretches into a dusky evening.  I’m waiting for days full of water-balloon tossing and garden hose spraying and evenings of open-windows and flies eating me alive.  Where was all of that?

Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland

We missed an entire season.  It was a summer of spring-like days at best.  Cool winds, rain and almost hot-enough-but-not-quite temperatures.  We will be back to wearing coats and boots before I even broke out my shorts.  I don’t mean to complain, but this is why most people in St. John’s need a break and head to the liquor store.  Or try to find solace and heat either more west on the island or head south to anywhere else.  We know that soon enough, it will be a full-frontal assault into cold and ice.  We desperately cling to those final few evenings of near-warm-enough temperatures to steal away on the back patio for a fire and a glass of wine before the gale-force wind of 100kms/hrbegin to blow through.   It’s hard to go to work on a nice day knowing that when we are on a treasured day off, the wind will howl and the rain will pelt our faces so hard we feel the sting for a week.  We flee the office building in the midst of theevaporating sunshine holding our faces skyward in hopes to feel the last of the rays beat upon our skin and feel some semblance of warmth.  We shed the office pallor for some fresh air and bright light, not the fluorescent kind.  

Sometimes, we get lucky.

Today, the wind is high but the air is warm.  I’m hoping to retreat to my back patio for a little sun before the clouds elbow their way through the sky, squeezing it behind their billowing puffs of air.  If the sun can manage to appear in our sky a few more times, I will be grateful for that.  

Right now, I’m grateful for the liquor store’s cache of wine…

 

I’m Going To Need a Shirt And My Lotion

The wind is blowing a gale today and I’m feeling a little disheveled.  My book is up and out and I’m now grappling with the idea that there are actual people out there in the great wide world who are reading my words.  In a book.  I wrote.  I shake my head and try not to gauge reactions and try not to have thoughts of, “I wonder what they thought when this happened.”  

Instead of obsessing on things I can’t control, I’m choosing to play with my dog and post random shit that I think will entertain the masses as much as it does me.  You. Are. Welcome.

I’ve also been given the opportunity to observe the strange and irksome occurrences around me on a daily basis that keeps my mind busy and cause me to walk into arbitrary walls.  On purpose.   Here are a few:

Old People Driving – I am NOT the old person I am referring to.  I was cut off on the highway merge ramp today, by an ‘old’ lady driving her Honda CRV at 60kms an hour who refused to go the obligatory 100kms an hour, almost causing an accident and causing me to swear profusely.  Fun, wha?

No Shirt Sheila – Unfortunately, I was not privy to the shirtless woman wandering aimlessly around the mall, yesterday in her bra with a sweater tied around her waist whilst yelling into her phone, “I NEED MY LOTION BACK!” however, my niece and her daughters, and my daughter were witnesses to this craziness.  Sad I missed it.  And Gaawwddd Debby, give her the lotion BACK!

Irate complainers who complain about complaining – It’s a thing!  I love it!  No, really tell me more about how I piss you off when I fucking swear all of the fucking time, Goddammit.  I love you, tho.

On a positive note, puppies are in the world so, there’s that. 

 

Fall Feels

September winds are on the way.  Summer weather is hanging around like a bad house guest who refuses to leave.  Pretty soon we’ll be packing the suitcases and hastily pushing them onto the front porch, the awkward goodbyes impetuously tossed around like a kid’s unfinished homework.  It was good while it lasted, but for Fallies like me, it’s time to move on to the chilliness, pumpkins and spooks; AKA, THE BEST TIME OF YEAR EVAH.

I love autumn like Mags loves her donuts; fallen onto my lap and gobbled up with feverish joy.  The leaves turning colour, the frosty mornings and chilly afternoon sunshine.  Early fires and warm coffee with a good book.  Warm socks, cozy sweaters and candles lit with vanilla or cinnamon scent.  This is the time of year I start the bread making, D1’s birthday, a new school year with challenges and the preparation for Christmas ( I know, I hear you groan).  This year, D2 will be coming home after 4 months away and only 2 months left to go in her training.  IT’S GOING TO BE AN EPIC CHRISTMAS.  She’ll be squished so much, she’ll be begging to go back to the -40 degree temps and desolation of Regina.

The family unit is changing with thoughts of both daughters moving onwards and upwards and the boy starting his second year of Uni peering down the tunnel of med school, career and ultimate move to parts unknown.   We’re holding on to the last of the full nest, pondering the future of where they’ll be and where we will end up.  It’s a bit daunting, but the natural progression is unstoppable.  That train left the station once that new pink fat baby was placed in our arms and we dedicated ourselves to securing her future.

Now, three fat babies later, we have to let them all go.  We would rather it be a progression of one at a time, but like a sticky bandage, maybe its better it be ripped off all at once.  Maybe it’ll be less painful if all three decided to leave home en masse instead of one at a time.

Or not.

The boy will be home for the duration of Uni, so that guarantees me another three years.  Yay!  D1 has one foot out the door with the collecting of “things I’ll need when I move out”.  Huh.  Am I supposed to help her with that?  I think I’ve been suggesting dishes and pots and pans, instead of the marble coaster set and random pink throw she bought, but she looks at me like I have three heads.  I’ve clearly failed her as a mother.  “I CAN’T COOK”  Ugh.  My reply:  “LEARN. RACHEL RAY IS ON TV FOR A REASON”    “Okay, Mom.”  Of course then I regrettably say things like “Maybe you’ll get a nice boyfriend who can cook for you, then you’ll NEED nice pots and pans.”     She looks at me like this:

Ain’t parenting grand?!

As I hungrily await the first fallen leaf, the first bite of air, and the first murmur of “I’M NEVER COOKING MEAT.  EVER.”, I remain ever steadfast in my belief that I am one of the lucky ones.  The parent that GETS to see her children grow up and move on; I am one of the privileged ones that is allowed to see my fat pink babies have careers and be employed and be secure in their development.  I am ever aware of the unique honour it is to have the opportunity to be here for our children as they become adults, help them move out, and say things like “Gee, that handsome Cardiologist is single…”

And I am eternally grateful for it all…

Draw Like Da Jesus!

My conversations with the ever-absent D2 are infrequent and fraught with awkward silences.   We no longer have that day-to-day mundane interaction to share or joke about, so we get lost in the abundance of stuff and so little time within to tell it.  She’s monstrously busy and I’m monstrously trying to fill her absence.  D1 and Son give me sideward glances when I beg them to talk to me or sit with me outside and tell me about their day, or come with me to Walmart JUST ONE MORE TIME.   I may have to borrow a neighbor kid with whom I could drive around and tell sarcastic bad-driver stories.

The questions that I invent for D2 are different than Hubby’s, but then again they should be.  He was in her exact spot a mere 29 years ago, so of course he wants to know what it looks like, have you done this course yet, who is your drill Corporal, blah, blah, blah.  My questions are far more important and revolve on actual survival skills that only moms understand: have you made any nice friends?  Are you eating enough?  How’s the food?  Are you getting enough rest?  How’s that cleaning, ironing and washing going?  Need another bed-making tutorial?  (Yes, I actually sent her a tutorial on hospital corners that she shared with her troop mates, since I clearly failed her as a mother and neglected to demonstrate this in person during her ENTIRE LIFE AS MY CHILD) Don’t get sick.  Wash your hands all of the time, STAY AWAY FROM THE WEAPONS FIRING AREA.  You know, SURVIVAL.  I’m thinking for Christmas, I’ll give her a throw pillow that reads: JUMP LIKE DA JESUS.   It’s a bit kitschy.  She won’t be able to have it on her bed at Depot, since obviously, EVERYONE WILL WANT ONE.  I needed a short and catchy phrase, since my embroidery skills are as lacking as my motherly teaching skills.  Ugh.

Hubby is entering a new decade today.  Fifty is the new I-made-it-this-far-so-may-as-well-get-shitfaced, so there’s that to look forward to.  Not that he’s going to drink himself to all out oblivion, but I may be tempted.  This new age of being older-than-dirt in the eyes of the youngsters, quite frankly, sucks.  I get eye-rolls and the ‘oh, mom’ when I ask about something Millennials with their hipster jeans and Birkenstocks can only decipher.  By the way, WHEN DID BIRKENSTOCKS COME BACK AS COOL?!  They’re ugly as shit and I don’t understand the appeal.  They’re like wearing hard rubberized sole-deforming casts on your feet and if you were TOLD you HAD to wear them as punishment, one would rail against the establishment as being cruel and unusual and anti-freedom-of-feet!  I see you shaking your head and holding up your rubberized-foot sling as something I should try and that I’d ‘surely love them as soon as I wear them awhile’  NO.  UGLY. AS. SHIT.

I’ve also decided that being over fifty is life’s way of getting back at you for all the crap you said about EVERY ADULT YOU KNEW when you were in your teens. All your eye-rolling, oh-mom comments, ripped jeans, non-sensical friends….STOP DRAWING THAT CIRCLE.  I see it.

Your body decides to play games, your now adult kids make fun of you and you finally understand everything your parents ever said to you throughout your entire life and feel the need to spout same to YOUR children/adults.  Their time will come when they will say the same thing.

WHO BROUGHT FUGLY

BIRKENSTOCKS BACK?!

See?   Okay, you can draw now.

Cue the Lion King theme song.  I’m done.

Just Breathe

I was in my bootcamp class today, mid-mountain climbers, and realized I was holding my breath.  “Oh, Gawd BREATHE”.

It’s not the first time during exercising I’ve had to remind myself to breathe.  I often find myself holding my breath doing whatever it is, then realize that turning blue in class is probably not a good idea.  Also, being passed out on the floor would likely be frowned upon…not to mention a tad embarrassing.  “HEY COACH, WHY IS SHE LYING DOWN?!  IS THIS A NEW BURPEE MOVE WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT?!”  Then, everyone would be pissed and trying to do the new move that’s really not new, I’m just PASSED OUT THANKS, BUT DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME.  Now, I’ve taken to telling myself to breathe before class starts and whenever I find myself getting too caught up in an exercise.  It’s also a good idea to remind oneself to BREATHE during the day, even when not doing Burpees x 100, or face down doing plank jacks.

It’s not something that one should forget easily, I mean, breathing is as natural as, well, breathing but today I did catch myself NOT breathing.  It got me wondering how many other times I neglect to breathe during simple things and should be more self-aware.  Like, do I forget to breathe when I’m driving?  When I’m sleeping?  When I’m working?  HOW DOES SOMEBODY FORGET TO BREATHE?!  It’s ridiculous, really.  It’s like saying “Oh, I forgot to eat today.”  THAT NEVER HAPPENS TO ME.  Or, I FORGOT TO BUY WINE.  If that happens, I’m sure to be headed for the home.  So how does something so basic, so part of BEING HUMAN, be forgotten?

I guess it’s in line with so many other basic nuances of being a person that gets shoved aside during a busy day or week or life.  We forget to appreciate a warm day, a smile from someone we haven’t seen in a while, or a hot cup of coffee.  We forget what being little is like or that being a teen is dramatic and exhausting, and being a young adult can be scary.  We forget that not so long ago, the internet was new and exciting technology and playing hide and seek outside was the ONLY thing we did that was fun.  We forget that the simple act of walking is a gift many of us cannot enjoy and that living and breathing every day, is our greatest joy. We forget the basic simplicity of being human; the basic everyday pleasure of being alive and breathing.

Trying to be mindful and self-aware takes practice; one that I am in need of, obviously.  I read that a simple deep breath can calm your system down and give you the much needed oxygen to your brain to enhance those thinking cells and good vibrations.  It releases bad toxins and gets some much needed space to feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  A simple deep breath can do all of that.  Huh.

So can a bottle of wine, but usually drinking at one’s place of employment is not looked upon favourably.  AND, side plank with a sip-dip, anyone?  Yeah.  New exercise.  BYOB…

I have to try to remember to just breathe through all of that negativity people throw around like, “You’re doing that wrong” or “You should really rethink that shirt” or “Giving people the finger through their office door is not the professional behaviour we expect of you.”

IT WAS ONLY ONE TIME AND I FORGOT I HADN’T HAD A BREATH IN A WHILE.

GAAAWWWWDDDDD.

I’m going to go take a few deep breaths, now and appreciate that I CAN.

And open that wine…

Sip and breathe, and sip and breathe….

Me. After wine.

The Visitor. A Remembrance Day Story

Every year on this day, I post this story as a reminder of the sacrifice of so many for our freedoms.  I wrote this a few years ago hoping to pay homage to those brave men and women who continue to fight for us every day. 

Lest we forget. 

New-Poppy-Flowers-Free-HD-Wallpaper-03

The Visitor

I watched as the plane landed with a thunderous roar, the engines coming to an abrupt halt as if the pilot had simply turned the switch to the ‘off’ position.  I stood with my back hard against the biting wind, wondering if I should prepare a salute or simply stand at attention.  I waited for some direction from my superior officer, but none came.  I believe the shock of the arrival and the excitement of having such a prolific visitor come adrift upon our rocky shores had sent us all into a wave of silent awe.

It was November 1942.  The world was engulfed in the biggest conflict known to man, the classic battle between good and evil personified by the leaders of European nations struggling to define the world on their own terms, ignoring the plight and suffering of those they plundered into despair.  Leaders who were so enmeshed in their own agendas they took no notice of the people being tortured and beaten or of children being left to die on the streets with explosions and gunfire rattling their souls, shattering lives and dreams without a second thought.   Our little part of the world seemed so distant and removed from such gross atrocities against humanity, save the work our army was doing to assist our allies.  Our shores were vulnerable and England knew the possibility of oncoming attacks, sending reinforcements to protect our rocky cliffs by setting up battlements to keep constant watch over our ocean.  I say ‘our ocean’ as if we, the country of Newfoundland, could even suggest possessing such a thing.  This living, breathing entity entrusted to us by God to forever protect and nurture, and in return permission to fish her open blue waters.  She bestowed food in abundance to feed our families, nourish a growing country and sustain our people through long harsh winters, all the while, the stars beckoning fishermen to take to their boats and sail beneath their watchful gazes, enrapturing them in the ocean’s song of freedom and peace. The salty water blowing upon our land giving weight to the wet laundry strung out to dry on the tenuous lines, the gale force winds blowing it skyward.  Salt we could taste upon our lips, and feel the sting in our eyes after waiting and watching for our husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles to return home from months at sea.  Our lives hung in limbo, much like the laundry blowing haphazardly across the blue horizon. We were left to protect our waters, land and people with nothing more than a few strong men and the good sense God had granted us to outlast the evil dictators who were waging war against England.  We watched as our men and women departed for lands far out reaching our own, with the ever present knowledge that they may never return.  We applauded their bravery, mocked the suggestions of indignant retreats and prayed for their eventual safe return to Newfoundland’s humble embrace.

The wind blew out like a blast from God as I blindly stood, tears streaming down my face with my hands frozen by my side.  The Botwood air base was abuzz with excitement, people milling about in the cold waiting for the slightest chance of catching a glimpse of his surly expression, most likely with a lit cigar firmly planted between his teeth as ashes trailed his every step.  This was the man who held the fate of England in his hands although promising years of struggle and grief, he never wavered in his belief that we could withstand the loss of lives brought upon us by Hitler’s egocentric views that embraced the inane and contemptible.

The entire world watched as England waged war against the tyranny of this dictator. The population poured passionate and all-encompassing faith into a beloved and respected Prime Minister, believing he could lead the world to victory over the malevolent force spreading across Europe.   I was excited by the prospect of meeting the leader of almighty England, but nervous he may look upon me as subservient.  His stellar military career had ignited my own aspirations of service, however I knew that I was not his equal.  His brilliance was far beyond my capacities and I was quickly daunted by the challenges of such a life during this tumultuous time. It was as if people knew this was an era of change and historic will; nations rose together in allegiance to restore peace, hope and the conviction that all people should live without having to witness death and destruction in their backyards. It was a time where the future seemed uncertain, the constant news of battles and resulting casualties the topic of every radio broadcast, but when he took to the airwaves, we rose in unison to hope the end of such senseless slaughter would soon be upon us.  I recalled hearing the warnings from the Prime Minister years before this terrible outbreak regarding Hitler’s rampant greed for superiority and his assembling of armies in the name of ‘white supremacy’.  Although he was politely ignored, Churchill could see Europe’s demise propelling forward and he was prepared to rally a nation to stand tall and fight.  His inspiring words sprang intense patriotism that only war time mentality could comprehend, and years later as he took his seat as Prime Minister, he became England’s savior as well as our guide into the dark abyss of war.

I watched in wonder as the man of whom I had been inspired emerged from the plane, the propellers slowing as the engines died.  He stood, his long trench billowing about his ankles and lit his cigar surreptitiously beside the plane’s engines.  I smiled as I watched, seeing the horrified looks from my superiors at Churchill’s disregard for such trivialities as an impending explosion from a lighter in proximity to the plane’s fuselage.  They hurriedly escorted him away from the danger zone and into a path leading directly to where I was standing.  The smile must have still been securely glued upon my face as he approached and smiled back at me.  His hat had almost succumbed to a violent gust of wind and he forcefully replaced it upon his head.  He looked me up and down as if inspecting my presence in such a desolate and isolated place and said loudly, “Hello, Sergeant!  So, how do you like it up here in Newfoundland?”  I was momentarily stunned staring into his bright blue eyes and the energy and warmth behind them tempted a reply from my gaping frozen lips. “Fine, sir” I sputtered, “I like it fine.”

KJ