Monday, June 29, 2009

toronto vacation

After the Writers Conference, hubby and I spent a few days holidaying in the Toronto area. From our motel in Mississauga we were within easy motoring distance of Lakeshore Drive and the Waterfront Trail. We took many walks along the waterfront. This is the wrecked boat seen from Port Credit.



During our time there the weather was hot and muggy and the sweet smell of roses and clover hung heavy in the air.



This family of swans was out almost every day.


On Monday we met with nephew T. That's our rented PT Cruiser. I always wanted to drive around in one of those!


We also drove to Newmarket where cousin J. served us dinner in her pretty back yard.


Tuesday we drove to Niagra Falls. Wow!


I'd seen the falls one other time - on our honeymoon - but had forgotten the raw power of this natural phenomenon. This is a short video I took.


video

Wednesday saw us in hot and garbage-plagued Toronto (garbage-workers on strike). Along the way, we stopped at another park for a walk.We crossed the Humber River on this pedestrian and cycling bridge.



On the other side a very nice woman volunteered to take our photo. We chatted for a bit and discovered she was a teacher on her first day of holidays with summer plans to take a trip to Israel with her kids (lucky kids!).


Thursday it was back home after a long day killing time in the gigantic Sherway Gardens mall and then in the the airport lounge, waiting for our evening flight home.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Write! Canada 2009

Hubby and I got back early yesterday morning from a trip to the Toronto area. We took the trip in conjunction with Write! Canada, the annual writer's conference put on the The Word Guild. (E. also wanted to take a sentimental journey back to Toronto where he spent four years of his career in financial services.)

We arrived late Tuesday afternoon (the 16th) and in good time to attend the awards gala on the 17th, the night before the conference began. I got to present the poetry prizes sponsored by Utmost Christian Writers. Here I am presenting the Award of Merit to Lori Wiens-MacDonald. (Marcia Lee Laycock won the Word Guild Award for her poem "Dying to Live," published by Utmost.)



The conference ran from 2:00 p.m. on the 18th to 5:00 p.m. on the 20th. I had signed up for Chip MacGregor's continuing class, which was fabulous. If you read his blog, you'll be aware he knows writing, agenting and publishing inside and out, upside and down. His lectures were full of common sense and wisdom on how to build a successful writing career, even under the current changing conditions (each session laced with his quick wit of course).

Here's a sampling of some of the things he told us -- this particular list delivered at breakneck speed to fit into the four minutes each speaker-expert was alotted during a symposium about the future of publishing: "Where will we be in five years?"

I taught a workshop on Friday afternoon. It went okay, I think...

A highlight for me was interviews with the pros. Because we were advised to schedule these in advance, I had given them some thought -- to the extent of putting notes on paper. I'm so glad I did because I was able to get right to business and not waste any of those precious 15 minutes.

I met with Stephen Kennedy, editor of testimony, my denomination's publication. He remembered me and that I had recently submitted an article. From him I got some tips about the kinds of articles he's looking for.

I also met with Steve Barclift, an editor at Kregel, and came away with an invitation to submit two proposals!

Finally, I must tell you about the plenary talks, given by Audrey Dorsch and Brian Stiller (I missed the last one by Ray Wiseman; I'm sure it was excellent as well) packed with stories and inspiration. Some gems from Stiller's talk:

"If you have a desire to write, you probably can write.

"In the development of your writing material, let the brew be heated by the Spirit. Don't be in a hurry to get everything on the page. Test your ideas. Allow them to percolate and refine.

"Learn from others. Borrow shamelessly.

"Writers transform by breaking down defenses. They open windows and doors for people. We write in secret and our writing is read in secret. The Holy Spirit is the agent God uses. We are dependent on the Spirit both for the writing and its application."


...he said so much good stuff, I bought the CD. (More from Brian Stiller here.)

Unfortunately I got sick on Saturday morning and had to leave early, before I got a chance to talk to others I had hoped to connect with. I didn't even get to say goodbye. That's the way the stomach turns I guess.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

aging: warning

One way to handle aging is to thumb your nose at it while getting all the mileage you can out of the old lady cliches. I've always loved this poem for its attitude.


Warning

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only eat bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.

by Jenny Joseph




For another fun poem about aging, Linda introduces us to an old cat: "When I Am An Old Cat."

Monday, June 22, 2009

aging: characters

Continuing with the focus on writers and aging - have you noticed how many books lately have aged heroes or heroines?

- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson is a story an old preacher tells in a letter to his young son.

- In Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner the heroine is 80 (review).

- I've just finished another - Sometimes a Light Surprises - also by Jamie Langston Turner. Ben Buckley, main character in the book celebrates his 58th birthday during the story (review).

- And then there are all the Mitford Series books by Jan Karon - where the main character, Father Tim, is an Anglican priest in his 60s. (Interested in finding out how Karon came to write these books? Go here, click on "Multi-Media" and watch/listen to her tell the story in a talk from the National Cathedral.)

There may be more ... .

I'm thinking since senior citizens are getting so much main billing, there must be something wonderful to recommend the stage of life!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

aging: creatively?

On the I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) blog, author Jan Greenberg writes:

"Here is a question that comes up every now and then in my writers workshops with adults. How does aging affect your writing, especially your ability to connect with kids? I usually answer jokingly. “ Who me? Age?” or something to that effect.
Recently, when I was invited to be on a panel, sponsored by Washington University Medical School, entitled “In the Words of the Artist: The Influence of Age on Creativity and Expression,” I was forced to give this subject more thought.

"I mentioned to my daughter that I actually had agreed to participate on such a panel, and she remarked, “Perhaps you’ve decided finally to act your age.” It occurs to me that our children expect us to age gracefully, to age with dignity. What popped into my head was a line from Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.” “Rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Well, forget the rage. I prefer to age creatively."


What does she mean by that? Read all of "Writing, Creativity and Aging" by Jan Greenberg

Thursday, June 18, 2009

aging: John Updike reflects

John Updike, who died in January 2009 at 76, reflected on the challenges and satisfactions of the aging writer in Books section of seattlepi.com (November 2008).

The caption under his pensive mugshot reads: "Revered literary figure John Updike writes: 'With ominous frequency, I can’t think of the right word.'"

Despite that, his article reads as Updike-polished as ever. The thoughtful piece begins:

"Young or old, a writer sends a book into the world, not himself. There is no Senior Tour for authors, with the tees shortened by 20 yards and carts allowed. No mercy is extended by reviewers; by then it is not extended to the rookie writer, either. He or she may feel, as the gray-haired scribes of the day continue to take up space and consume the oxygen in the increasingly small room of the print world, that the elderly have the edge, with their established names and already secured honors."

Read all of "John Updike reflects on the challenges and satisfactions of the aging writer."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Write! Canada


I'm Write! Canada-bound - and excited! It will be so fun meeting face to face with many of the folks I've only had contact with on the internet.

On Friday the 19th I'm doing a workshop on Writing for the Children and Teen Christian Market (prayers appreciated if you think of it!).

Otherwise, on top of doing a few interviews and talking with several people whose manuscripts I critiqued, I'll be soaking in the expertise of agent Chip MacGregor (whose continuing class I signed up for) and others, as well as rubbing shoulders with my kind. YES!!

aging: what's going on - and off?


Have you ever noticed when a person approaches you but is still a good way off, you already have a sense of their age? I'm not talking about the obvious difference between children and adults, but subtle signs of age in a full-grown person who could be any age. We pick this up pretty much subconsciously, taking in a multitude of body language clues -- a thickening of the body, a face slumping ever so slightly into jowls, a wrinkly neck, the beginning of stooped shoulders, the spring or lack of it in the step.

We can't talk about aging without mentioning some of the physical changes. Of course we all know about gray hair, wrinkled skin and going bald. Here are some of the less known physical changes that aging also brings:

1. Some men grow hair in their ears.

2. Irises lose their pigment.

3. Gums recede.

4. People lose height. It's estimated that one loses 1 cm. every 10 years after age 40. In total, that could be a loss of 1-3 inches by the time we're age 75.

5. Fingernail growth slows, nails become dull, brittle, yellowed and opaque. Nail ridges may develop and tips of nails crumble and chip.

6. Toenails become hard and thick.

7. Skin thins and is more fragile.

8. Senses become less acute. Hearing, for example, may begin to decline at about age 50. Hearing loss is especially noticeable for high frequency sounds.

9. Aging eyes produce less tears.

10. By 60 years pupils decrease to about one third of their size at 20.

11. The number of taste buds decreases.

12. The mouth produces less saliva.

13. Ear wax gets dryer and more likely to get impacted in the ear - making hearing even worse!

Depressed yet? Because that's just a start. We haven't even begun to look at the changes that happen inside our bodies to bones, muscles and organs.

But there is one ray of hope. The Medline Plus website encyclopedia where I found all this enlightenment assures us: "Dementia and severe memory loss are NOT normal processes of aging."

Oh really? With everything else that's going on - and off - maybe memory loss would be a blessing!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

golden ears bridge opens

Our adventure today was walking the new Golden Ears Bridge. It's opening for vehicle traffic Tuesday but today Translink invited the public for a mass look-see.

We drove to the Langley Events Centre and parked there to catch a shuttle. (Just as we were parking the car, we heard something on the car radio about three-hour waits for people catching the shuttle at Colossus - the theatre complex just down the road in Walnut Grove -- oh my!)

We were on the bridge deck by around 12:00 noon and already it was teeming with people. (The bridge opened at 9:00 a.m. for some kind of a race, I think, then opened to the public at 11:00)

It's a beautiful bridge...

The bridge seen from a distance.

On the deck. Note the two eagles suspended from the pilings (or whatever they're called).



...in a beautiful setting. There are wide bike/pedestrian lanes on both sides with metal slat barriers so you can look out at the river and scenery around you.

The bridge spans the Fraser River over log booms.

Cranberry fields.

Along the deck there were stations with passport checkpoints (we were handed an event passports at the first one and then encouraged to get them stamped at other checkpoints), numerous food and ice-cream vendors, a display of antique cars, tons of porta-potties and three stages for entertainment and the opening ceremony.

Our plan was to walk the entire bridge.

Our plan to walk the entire bridge was foiled by the bottleneck at the north stage (Maple Ridge side). The stage was pretty much the width of the bridge deck and for a while even the pedestrian lanes on both sides seemed to be blocked. When it became apparent that the crowd had stopped moving, Ken Hardie (Translink CEO) stopped the Brazillian band that was playing and tried to direct traffic.

What a mess! People were shoving. Families and scout troops were trying to stay together. It seemed that the pedestrian walkway was the only way to get moving north. So people of all ages were squeezing through or hopping over the 4+ ft. guard rail that separates the deck from the pedestrian lane. At that point we turned around and headed back.

We got to the shuttle bus lineup around 1:00 p.m. As we were waiting, two fire trucks roared by onto the people-crowded deck with sirens blaring. We found out a few minutes later, when our buses weren't coming, it was because a woman had gone into labor and the buses weren't allowed on the deck until the emergency was settled.

The shuttle bus did come soon after that, though, and we were home before 2:00. I heard via twitter/the news that there was a time when police physically blocked any more people from getting onto the bridge deck because it was just too crowded. A woman got separated from her kids (with the accompanying and very understandable histrionics). And apparently striking paramedics hassled the premier during the opening ceremonies.

Altogether, it was a beautiful, crowded and at times dramatic first day on the Golden Ears Bridge.



(With reporters estimating the number visiting the bridge today at 40,000 to 60,000, it's no wonder the best laid plans weren't quite sufficient. Global evening news called it "chaos." Sounds like we got off the bridge just in time to miss the serious crowd gridlock and frayed nerves.

CBC's report of the party.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

aging: new roles

On the topic of aging, I love Deborah Gyapong's reflections in a recent blog post. She begins:

"I'm approaching one of those milestone birthdays, one that is making me pause to reflect on what is now likely to be the final quarter of my life. This year my birthday on June 19th falls on the day we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I was born on Father's Day. I want to dedicate the rest of my life to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. How that will pan out, I leave to Him. But I want to resist the urge to gradually "retire" or fade into just looking after myself and my needs, to give up, to rest on my laurels as modest as they may be. Some day I may not be able to be as outwardly active, but I pray that the Lord will draw me into intercessory prayer and other forms of more hidden ministry."

Read all of "Some Reflections on the Final Stretch" (and notice, by her photo at least, Deborah is far from entering her dotage).



In our culture, where it's considered almost an embarrassment to be old, we need more of Deborah's graceful, accepting attitude which looks forward to new roles of usefulness instead of thinking of only me, me, poor old me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

frivolous friday - bighorn edition

Thursday, June 11, 2009

old


Section of a fence, a collage of old round things - Fort Langley, BC
(click on photo to enlarge)
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Next week: SWEET (Candies, Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Honey, Nice-Sounding, Beloved, Charming,...)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

aging: gray-listing

Not all of us started our writing careers in our 20s, 30s or even 40s. More and more people are beginning to write after they've tucked their first careers to bed. I know writing isn't my first career - though I hope it is my last.

Is being old a liability to getting published? I know I've wondered about that. As I've read the job description of agents, which includes managing a writer's career I've asked, how long does that perspective career have to be so that it's worth their time taking you on?

Ron Benrey (who, with wife Janet, teaches the Fiction after 50 seminar) writes about aging and publication in a guest post on Novel Journey:

"Whether you call it ageism, age discrimination, or “gray listing,” the idea is simple – a novel is rejected by an agent or editor because of the author’s age, not because of the manuscript’s lack of publishability...


Read all of "Have You Been Gray Listed?"

(Ron and Janet Benry's Fiction after 50 seminar.)

Have you experienced this kind of age discrimination? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

promptings themes - June: aging

I've been giving some thought to having monthly themes here on promptings. I'm going to give it a try. Thus, without further delay (seeing as how June is already over a week old), I'll announce the theme for June. It's AGING. Yep - hardly a spring-like theme. But old age keeps creeping up on us no matter what the season.

So come back throughout June for more posts about aging - facts and lots of thoughts (from others and maybe a few from me). I'll deal with aging mostly as it affects writers. The first post on the grey-listing of writers will be up tomorrow.

(If you're aware of resources or anything of interest to aging writers, please let me know via the comments or email - Thanks!)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

top 100 hymns

Sherry has tabulated the results of the 100 top hymn meme she got going some weeks ago. She's posting results throughout June. Keep track of the countdown here.

Are you finding many of your favorites on the list? I certainly am!

Friday, June 05, 2009

frivolous friday - sofa edition

Have you had a hard week? Relax in one of these.

Egg Carton Sofa

Now if this egg carton sofa has you sitting on edge, this stuffed animal sofa will put you totally at ease - may even take you back (battling an urge to suck your thumb anyone?).


Stuffed Animal Sofa

On the other hand, if it's a fashion statement you want your sofa to make, choose this combination of elegant good looks and emotional metaphor.


Climbing Wall Sofa

Whatever your decorating needs, you're sure to find something to suit your taste in this exhibition of Creative and Unusual Sofa Designs.

Hat tip: Anne Mazer (via Twitter)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

machines



Windmills

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Thursday Challenge


Next week: OLD (Wise, Grey, Wrinkled, Vintage, Out-of-Style, Antique,...)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

spring critters



Come on in, kids, the water's fine!

"So is the shore, mama!"

Monday, June 01, 2009

book review: Your Best You by Bonnie Grove

The winner of the author-signed copy of Your Best You is Jan Keats.
(Jan, please email your address to me, and I'll pop your book in the mail ASAP!)

Thanks to all who entered the draw!

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Title: Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You
Author: Bonnie Grove
Publisher:
Beacon Hill Press, February 2009, Paperback, 192 pages
ISBN-10:
0834124394
ISBN-13:
978-0834124394

If you're one of those people who have looked at your life and thought, I need to make some changes, Your Best You is the book for you. Not to worry if there is a secret addiction, a hurtful past or even a history of failed attempts at change. Author Bonnie Grove, a program developer and trainer, covers all those angles in this compact but complete self-help manual

Grove starts out by explaining her strength-based approach and how it differs from the commonly used method of effecting personal change by working on one's areas of weakness. Using questionnaires, quizzes, self-tests, personal inventories, and journals she guides the reader in discovering personal strengths and then shows how to exploit them to make the desired changes.

In fifteen chapters Grove moves the reader step by step from identifying personal strengths and determining what really matters to him or her, through making the actual changes, to establishing long-term goals. All along the way she stresses the importance of being patient with oneself and acknowledging the progress already made.

Though her method is complex, Grove's instructions are always clear. She uses word pictures to clarify her ideas, e.g. she compares trying out new behaviors to trying on clothes in a store - a visualization which takes some of the heavy seriousness out of what can be a stressful process. She precedes each assignment with a detailed example of the kinds of answers the reader might give when dealing with a variety of issues (e.g. lose weight, stop smoking, deal with a difficult relative). She also states how much time each assignment should take and if it should be done in one sitting or spread over several sessions.

The multi-week program described in Your Best You is built on a solid biblical foundation. Grove explains how acknowledging and using one's strengths is a form of worship. She demonstrates the place of prayer and encourages the reader to be aware of God's presence in every aspect of the change process. Her own transparency in describing her relationship with God serves as an inspiring and encouraging model.

My one small quibble is with the physical design of the book. Though I didn't do the assignments, the book, with its lines, charts and tables to fill out, is meant to be written in. However, the tight paperback binding would make that awkward and the small boxes in the tables and charts are too tiny to hold all that's required. A workbook-sized coil-bound book would have been more practical for such a hands-on program. Of course there's nothing stopping the reader from using a separate notebook instead of the paperback textbook to do all that writing. And that would preserve the book for more readers too - always a good thing.

Though I only read through the book and didn’t actually do the program, I wouldn't hesitate to try it in the future or recommend it to others. It is designed primarily for individual use but I'm thinking it might also work well with groups. Each person could work on their own issues with the group members to fall back on for encouragement, feedback and accountability.

From the already successful person who wants to maximize their potential to the one who desires to change destructive lifestyle patterns, Your Best You is a detailed and versatile roadmap to a fulfilling tomorrow.

Read a sample of the book here. Check out the Your Best You blog for news and promotions.

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  • Would you like to WIN an author-signed copy of Your Best You?
  • To enter just leave a comment (including your name) in the comments section of this post.
  • Contest ends May 31st. I'll announce a winner here on JUNE 1st. (Sorry, Canada and U.S. residents only)

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