Sunday, November 30, 2008

sunday quote


"When you carry out acts of kindness, you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, 'Yes, this is how I ought to feel.'"

- Rabbi Harold Kushner

Saturday, November 29, 2008

book review: The Boomer Burden


Title: The Boomer Burden - Dealing With Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff
Author: Julie Hall
Publisher:
Thomas Nelson, June 1, 2008, paperback, 208 pages
Genre:
Non-fiction, How-to
ISBN-10: 078522825X
ISBN-13:
978-0785228257

In The Boomer Burden - Dealing With Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, Julie Hall, a.k.a. The Estate Lady, shares expertise gained during seventeen years spent working in estate liquidation. As a professional estate contents' expert and certified personal property appraiser she is well qualified to give advice. It is not only welcome, but also desperately needed. Parents of baby boomers — Depression survivors who have found a lifetime of security in their possessions — are aging, then dying, and leaving behind a lot more than memories.

In an "Author's Note" at the beginning of the book Hall promises, "This book will provide you with the trustworthy counsel you need when facing the monumental task of walking your parents through their final days and then settling their estate." She proceeds to keep that promise in fifteen chapters that deal with things like:

  • how to tell your parents are failing
  • the importance of a will
  • what an executor is and does
  • how to protect the estate from grasping neighbors, friends and relatives
  • how to ascertain the value of estate items
  • how to clean out your parents' house, and more.

Important points covered in each section are repeated within the chapter as slimmed-down lists, definitions, and words of advice in sidebar-type boxes. Each chapter concludes with "What Can I Do Now?" - a checklist of three pertinent actions for the reader to perform at that particular juncture of the process.

The book ends with three appendices:
  • a checklist for parent care
  • a list of helpful resources
  • a list of estate documents and information that children should locate and keep accessible.

Though the subject matter makes this a hard book to read, Hall's sympathetic tone and reasoned approach helps the reader quell naturally arising angst in favor of paying attention to what needs to be done. Her wealth of stories and anecdotes keeps the book interesting. If the story of neighbors who cleaned out the valuables of a senile lady's house, paying her mere dollars when the pieces were worth hundreds, doesn't outrage you, some of the stories of family treachery will.

Hall's real goal is to move the reader beyond outrage to action. If you are a boomer with aging parents, The Boomer Burden will motivate and guide you. It will show you how to set things up now while your parents are still alive so the estate isn't a nightmare to settle later when there is no will, no knowledge of where important papers are kept, and no list of who gets what. (However, if your parents have died intestate — without a will — it walks you through that scenario as well.) If you are a boomer or a boomer's parent, this book was written to motivate you to look after your stuff yourself and not leave it to your kids.

So, if you're a boomer with failing parents, get this book. As someone who was executor of my mother's estate two years ago, I can vouch for how bang-on its advice is. I only wish I had had it then.

If you're a boomer or younger, get this book in any case, not for your parents' estate but for your own. Follow its advice and leave your children one of the best gifts you can give them - a straightforward and well-administered estate.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I blogged here today.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy thanksgiving!

soft



Study in gray

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Thursday challenge

Next Week: HEALTH (Exercise, Exercise Equipment, Sports, Good Food and Drink, Sleep, Fun with Friends or Family, Vitamins,...)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the interviewee


I've been interviewed - by Koalabear Writer (one of my FellowScript editors - and a talented writer too) in her "Writers On Wednesday" series.

The interview is here.

Thanks Koalabear Writer, for the great questions, and the nudge to remember how I got started in writing.

U of Calgary "totalitarian regime"?

CALGARY, Alberta, November 19, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The U of C is again attempting to censor student members of the campus pro-life club by threatening them with arrest and sanctions for non-academic misconduct (including the possibility of suspension and expulsion) if they do not comply with an order to turn Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) displays inward. GAP is a graphic exhibit which includes photographs of unborn babies who have been aborted.

U of C lawyer Paul Beke addressed a letter to pro-life club members which said, "The university has the right to control what people do on its private property," and stated that the university wants the display set up so "passersby could avoid the displays if they were to wish."

.... Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, commenting on the university's attempt to censor the pro-life club said, "There is an important principle of free expression on campus at stake here. Universities should not be allowed to censor controversial, unpopular or minority viewpoints. If the University of Calgary can censor GAP (on the basis of anonymous complaints from people claiming to be offended), this will have direct implications and consequences for all persons on university campuses throughout Canada (not to mention the state of free expression off-campus)."

"Can you imagine them making this demand (turning the displays inwards) of animal rights activists or those who protest the genocide in Darfur?" Gray asked.

Read entire...


Related:

Calgary Herald - "No good reason to squelch this debate"

World Net Daily "College threatens pro-life students with arrest"

Calgary Campus Pro-Life Club from where you can download pdfs of the threatening letter sent to the club and the club's response.

Center for Bio-Ethical Reform which sponsors the GAP Project.

View the 24 signs which make up a GAP display.

Quotes from people who have viewed the display.


Is there anything the layperson can do about this? Since education is a provincial responsibility, you might want to contact your MLA (if you live in Alberta):


- Search for your Alberta MLA by postal code

- Write the appropriate government minister

If you'd like to write your member of parliament (federal) find out who your MP is and the contact information here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

christmas in one month!

I probably don't need to tell you, but today is one month from Christmas. Yikes!

I probably feel more geared up for Christmas than many. By now we've been working on Christmas music for months in choir. What a wonderful way to get ready for the festive season! The dates of our series of productions (six in all) are fast approaching and my calendar is packed with rehearsals.

Last night I spent about an hour working on my 'ding dongs' in "Carol of the Bells". Though the choir part is very small, the song is fast and we need to come in at the exact right time and on the right note. Add to that the fact that each 'ding-dong' segment is slightly different and it's all a bit of a challenge. Thankfully we have practice CDs.

Here's the Celtic arrangement of "Carol of the Bells" that we're doing... (turn off the automatic player by clicking on the II button - jukebox in right sidebar.)




How are you getting ready for Christmas?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

sunday quote


Wait Patiently Wait

Wait patiently wait
God never is late;
Thy budding plans are in Thy Father's holding,
And only wait His grand divine unfolding.
Then wait, wait,
Patiently wait.

Trust, hopefully trust,
That God will adjust
Thy tangled life; and from its dark concealings,
Will bring His will, in all its bright revealings.
Then trust, trust,
Hopefully trust.

Rest, peacefully rest
On thy Saviour's breast;
Breathe in His ear thy sacred high ambition,
And He will bring it forth in best fruition.
Then rest, rest,
Peacefully rest!

- Mercy A. Gladwin

Saturday, November 22, 2008

book review: Hot Apple Cider Edited by N. J. Lindquist and Wendy Anne Nelles


Title: Hot Apple Cider - Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul
Author: Edited by N. J. Lindquist and Wendy Anne Nelles
Publisher: That's Life! Communications (May 15, 2008)
ISBN-10:
0978496302
ISBN-13:
978-0978496302

True stories that deliver a shot of inspiration, non-fiction pieces that get you thinking, Robert Service-like poetry that champions the cause of the poor and hurting, and fiction that delivers truth with a pinch of drama and humor: Hot Apple Cider - Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul has them all. This anthology of 44 pieces by 30 Canadian authors was conceived and compiled by N. J. Lindquist and Wendy Anne Nelles, co-founders of The Word Guild, an association of Canadian writers who are Christian.

“Today many Canadian Christians are realizing that they’d like to read literature that reflects their own culture, values and experiences,” says Lindquist in the introduction. Janette Oke in the foreword says, “I feel a bit proud in knowing that we, here in Canada, have so many skilled, inspirational writers who are able to present their work – their words – in this way.”

Hot Apple Cider does feature writing from across the dominion (although it's light on writers from Quebec, the Maritimes, and the Territories). In it you’ll read about a Lethbridge pioneer woman who championed the rights of women and the poor, a perceptive Yukoner who kept showing up, like an angel, when a lonely soul needed her the most, a childless Ontario couple who had their prayers answered in a most unexpected way, and many other accounts about the intersection of life and faith. Stories from abroad are also well-represented and include a tale of tragedy in the Australian Outback, a birth crisis in Nepal, and a terrifying night in a drug dealer’s apartment in Boston.

Besides being a powerful book in its own right, Hot Apple Cider also has value as a sampler. Many of the pieces are extracted from full-length works. Don’t be surprised if this book has you adding titles to the list of volumes you’ll want to read in their entirety – books like Seven Angels for Seven Days by Angelina Fast-Vlaar, Where Have all the Mothers Gone? by Jean Froese, M.D., Why Does God Allow Suffering?: An MD Examines by Brad Burke M.D., and a host of others.

Hot Apple Cider’s honest and thought-provoking writing combined with its tasteful cover and apple-themed photo illustrations may find you thinking of purchasing copies as gifts. And what better gift could you give than a book brimming with heart-warming stories to sip at over the Christmas season – or any season for that matter?

Friday, November 21, 2008

frivolous friday

A Brandal?

goodbye pastor don


Today we say goodbye to a wonderful man of God. Don Cantelon, former pastor of CLA and father of our current pastor Brent Cantelon, passed away November 15th.

Although I didn't know him well, the little I had to do with him showed he was a man of hard work, vision and humor. A few years ago shortly after his book The Day I Burned The Hotel Down came out, I invited him to speak at our Fraser Valley Writer's Group meeting (and had the privilege of introducing him). He shared with us some of the experiences he related in the book. He did actually set a hotel on fire when he was a kid. The book is full of stories about pastoring, and holding tent and camp meetings all around Canada. It's a telling window into the life of a Canadian Pentecostal minister. (Earlier this year, he celebrated 60 years of ministry.)

He wrote a second book - Out of the Closet of Depression. He speaks of his experience with depression in the Canadian Christianity column "Moving through depression, back to the pulpit."

I will miss the sight of him, frail at the end, but still faithfully at the altar each Sunday, praying with any comers.

Pastor Don, you will be missed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

hobbies



One piece of my collection of street art in megapixels

This Trompe L'oiel mural (located on 3301 Coldstream Ave., Vernon, BC, west-facing wall) shows a little boy looking through a broken wall into a museum. The "museum" mural shows women working in an orchard during W.W.II. The painting is so realistic, there are even parking stops painted into it.

***************

Thursday Challenge

Next Week: SOFT (Feather, Pillow, Cushion, Chair, Soft Focus, Soft Drink, Fluffy Animals or Toys, Hair,...)

*********
A bit more about my hobby - as I explained it in the opening post of my mural blog, Murals and More:

For years I’ve had a fascination with murals. I love the audacious bigness of murals and the way their presence adds interest and splendor to an ordinary street.

I also love observing the subject matter of murals, which is wide-ranging. Some are symbolic. Others tell a story or focus on a community’s historical events. Still others border on propaganda or advertising.

People put them up for a variety of reasons, it seems. In some towns mural-making is used to memorialize history or give artists a platform. Some cities put up murals systematically with a view to draw tourists. Institutions and businesses put up murals to illustrate their ideals or what they support. Sometimes city governments fund mural projects to give their youth something to work on. Other times shopkeepers put up murals to transform ugly buildings and attract customers.

Regardless of why they’re there, most of them are pretty easy on the eyes and the understanding. I think of them as the art of common people (though usually by uncommonly good artists). If murals were music, they would be folk, or jazz, or country and western.

I’ve taken photographs of murals for years – photos that have customarily moldered in albums or boxes. But now, with my digital camera and access to a blog, I can do more. Which is why I’m putting up this blog – to share my finds with whoever cares to come by.

There won’t be a lot of writing here – mostly pictures. I’ll try to tell what I know about the various murals, like their artists and the message behind the depiction. I’ll also give general locations. Mostly, though, I want this to be a light-hearted, fun place to ogle street art.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

cutest baby on earth

We are just back from visiting the cutest baby on earth!




He is also fast becoming the busiest.






Sunday, November 16, 2008

sunday quote




"Great tranquility of heart is his who cares for neither praise nor blame"

- Thomas a Kempis

Thursday, November 13, 2008

sound




Nothing sounds like a Deere

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: HOBBIES (Gardening, Aquariums, Collections, Games, Woodworking, Photographic Equipment,...)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

homemade christmas!



Would you love to give homemade Christmas gifts but you're craft-impaired. Do I have a list for you!

Semicolon (the Semicolon who assembles the list of book reviews on Saturdays) is putting together a list of "100+ Homemade Christmas Gifts for the Craft-Impaired."

Check it out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

exploding parcel close to home

Update - Tuesday
Here's a link to the CTV news item about the incident from last night (Nov. 10) and a link to the CBC news item also from last night.

******************

It's a little scary when you hear of a package, wrapped to look like a gift and left anonymously on a doorstep, exploding shortly after being picked up - and this in your home town. That's what happened in the Walnut Grove area of Langley Saturday morning.

Imagine our surprise to find out yesterday morning that the man to whom this happened attends our church (CLA) and works for Campus for Christ at SFU.

Saturday was moving day for Gary Stevenson and his family (wife and two little girls). Gary picked up a tissue paper parcel that mysteriously appeared at his front door and got as far as the garage when it exploded. He was badly injured in the blast, with shrapnel puncturing his body. He is under guard in hospital. (You might want to pray.)

As to why this happened - no one knows. Of course the police are investigating.

canada remembers - two wars

Langley Cenotaph, 2007

Nothing brings Remembrance Day to life for me like watching war documentaries. The youthful faces, with war songs playing in the background, then the comments of those same people, now old, telling about that time... it's enough to bring a tear.

The National Film Board has some wonderful resources online - numerous black and white film clips on the World War I page (like this 11-minute montage With General Ironside's Forces in North Russia 1 from 1918-1919), and three almost hour-long movies on its World War II page:



Or check out this short clip called Rosies of the North about the home front effort of women as they went to work making planes in factories.

Thank you to all veterans old and young, for your sacrifice for Canada - for us!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

canada remembers - vigil

Langley Cenotaph - 2007

Tuesday is Remembrance Day in Canada. This year Remembrance day is just days before the 90th anniversary of the end of WW I. The last veterans of that war have died, but the National Vigil project is designed to keep their memory alive. The project began on November 4th and ends at sunrise November 11th.

Here is how it's described on the Vigil website:


At sunset November 4th through to sunrise November 11th, this site will present a vigil commemorating the 68,000 Canadians who lost their lives in WWI. The names of the 68,000 war dead will be projected over a week of nights onto the National War Memorial in Ottawa, buildings in other regions of Canada and onto the side of Canada House in Trafalgar Square in London, England.

On this page you will see the Ottawa National Vigil streamed live from the National War Memorial. It will run for seven nights, starting at 5:00pm each evening. The first name appears at 5:15pm. Each night’s vigil will be 13 hours long, ending at sunrise the following day. The vigil will then recommence at 5:00pm and run another 13 hours. The last name will appear as dawn breaks on November 11th.


The Ottawa National Vigil site is here.

What a great idea to keep the names of these people alive! How thankful I am for these men and women, who gave their lives to preserve our country and its freedoms.

sunday quote



"Is death the final sleep?"

"No, it's the final awakening."

- Walter Scott

Saturday, November 08, 2008

canadian reporter free in afghanistan

CBC television journalist Melissa Fung was released by her Afghan abductors today after being held for 28 days. What great news, though we never knew she was ever captured. That happened on October 12th (three days before the Canadian election), from a refugee camp outside of Kabul. She was visiting the camp as part of the story she was putting together about the plight of refugees in Afghanistan.

Besides being relieved that this Canadian reporter, whose face I could visualize the moment I heard her name, was back in Canadian hands, I was amazed by another element of the story. No leaks! For the entire time Fung was in captivity, all the Canadian and foreign journalists who were in-the-know stayed mum. I'd say that kind of self-discipline by the media is rare these days.

Here's a short video of Melissa's relieved parents' in reaction to the news that she was free and safe.

Related:
CBC story: Abducted CBC journalist released in Afghanistan
MSNBC - Associated Press story: Canadian TV journalist freed in Afghanistan

Updated Sunday - November 9
CNN story - Freed reporter: I was kept in a cave

Friday, November 07, 2008

frivolous friday



I also blogged here today.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

thankful



The beauty of changing seasons

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: SOUND (MP3 Players, Record Players, Speakers, CDs, Musical Instruments, Wind Chimes, Singing, Loud Cars or Machines,...)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

book marketing - out of the box, onto the web


Lately book marketing has jumped out of its box. Though the touring author making appearances to read and sign at the local bookstore might still happen, there is definitely a trend toward virtual marketing. Here are some strategies that I've come across (even participated in) in the past few years.

1. The blog tour:
A publishing house or author lines up bloggers who are willing to do one or both of:
- review a newly published book on their blog.
- interview the author on their blog.
Each blogger is assigned a date to post. The interviews are usually done by email -- or podcast if that's the medium of preference.

For example, I participated in Sharon Hinck's blog tour for The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House) in 2006. Here's the author's side of it. And here's my interview.

The blog tour puts the book on display in front of various audiences and helps connects readers with authors.

2. Social networking:
If you're a writer and a member of Facebook, you've probably been asked to be part of a book promotion network. My latest experience is with author Jeanne Damoff. Her book Parting the Waters, the story of her son Jacob's life-changing accident, is scheduled to be released soon. The "Parting the Waters Group" includes information about the book, a photo album, lots of opportunity to comment and has 273 members. As one of those I'll get word as soon as the book hits the street (in fact, I'm already aware that I can pre-order).


3. Virtual film festival:
David Athey, author of Danny Gospel (Bethany House), is sponsoring a contest for videographers. The challenge is to make a three- to five-minute video of a scene from his book (not from the final two chapters though), submit it to YouTube, and email the link to him. There will be a big screen viewing of submissions in real time and a cash prize to the winning video. (Now there's a way to get people to read your book -- and closely too!) Danny Gospel also has a Facebook page.

And how is David Athey getting the word out? One way is by asking former reviewers -- moi, for example -- to post a notice.


4. Sizzling web page:
Your book should have its own web page. The page for Ted Dekker's newest release Sinner (www.dontdenythetruth.com) is an example of how multi-pronged such a page can be. It includes:

  • video clips of the author explaining what the Sinner is about and talking about the process writing it.
  • a club to join.
  • free youth leader resources.
  • link to YouTube channel with five short videos that explore issues discussed in the book.
  • a form to email the site's URL to a friend.
  • an essay discussing issues in the book.
  • a podcast about the book.

What's common to all these ideas? They all aim to:
- Get people involved with the book and its ideas.
- Get people involved with the author.
- Get people to spread the word.

For more about what's happening in the realm of writers, books, readers and the media, especially in Canada, visit the Future Tense blog.

Monday, November 03, 2008

poetry gift ideas for Christmas

Are you a poet or lover of poetry? My latest Poet's Classroom column, "Give Poetry for Christmas" is full of ideas on how to give away your poems and the poems of others. Check it out.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

sunday quote



"In the name of Jesus Christ who was never in a hurry, we pray, O God, that You will slow us down, for we know that we live too fast. With all of eternity before us, make us take time to live -- time to get acquainted with You, time to enjoy Your blessings, and time to know each other."

- Peter Marshall, 1902-1949

Saturday, November 01, 2008

book review Wind River by Tom Morrisey

Title: Wind River
Author:
Tom Morrisey
Publisher: Bethany House, July 2008, paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Christian fiction, Adventure, Outdoors
ISBN-10:
0764203479
ISBN-13: 978-0764203473



Tyler Perkins returns from the war in Iraq weighed down by what has happened to him. To his wife Angie he seems like a different man. So when Ty’s 86-year-old friend Soren Andeman drops strong hints that he’d like Ty to take him on one last hike to Clear Lake in their beloved Wyoming mountains, Angie urges him to go.

Right from the start this sentimental fishing trip — the story author Tom Morrisey tells in Wind River — has its complications. Why does Ty remove his wedding band before entering the lodge where his old flame still works? How will Soren hike all the way up to Clear Lake with his gimpy hip and fragile heart? The men do eventually get there but a few days later even tinder dry conditions and word of a roaming bear don’t deter Soren from setting out on the even more challenging hike to Cirque Lake. Why is it so important to him? Ty discovers there are lessons for him too in the events that haunt the place.

The Wyoming mountain setting is one of the things that makes this story special. Morrisey has obviously hiked and fished in these places. His respect for nature and love of spending time in it is contagious. Throughout we feel as if we’re part of the action – fly-fishing, cooking on open fires, eating fresh-caught trout, sleeping under the lightning-washed sky, and hiking the high ridges.

The two main characters Ty and Soren come alive in Morrisey’s hands. Ty, seen first in his Stafford Virginia home then later in the mountains, seems authentic in both places. We can’t help but admire his loyalty and like him for the way he respects and takes care of his old friend. From our first meeting with Soren we are struck by his determination and stoicism in the face of pain. Later, when he tells a large chunk of his story in first person, his salt-of-the-earth personality becomes even more lifelike.

Morrisey’s writing style brings to mind realist paintings. His descriptions of nature are detailed and lyrical. His way of recounting the minutiae of the most mundane tasks puts the reader in the middle of the action. Note, for example, with how much particularity he describes the simple and familiar action of lighting a camp stove:

Soren put his thumb over the air hold and began pumping up the stove, building pressure in the fuel reservoir. He opened the gas orifice and turned the little striker in the burner bowl. Yellow flames danced up and Soren adjusted the burner, bringing it down to a ring of small blue flames. In seconds the stove began to hiss as the heat of the burner warmed the generator tube.
But the story turns out to be about more than nature’s grandeur and the joys and challenges men face when they interact with it. As Ty and Soren spend time together they confide secrets and learn about each other, themselves, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, facing the past and the importance of truth. Thus Wind River becomes the story of a double exploit. Not only is it an outdoor adventure of a young man and his old friend revisiting their favorite Wyoming mountain fishing spot (fly fishers will find Morrisey an especially kindred spirit), but it’s also a spiritual adventure about finding the courage to face the past and live truthfully and responsibly in the present. Whichever side of the story you’re after, Wind River won’t disappoint.

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