Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Celebrating Canada Part II

Our holiday continued, travelling though the province of Alberta. 
Day number 5.

I hoped to see the Columbian Icefields; The Athabasca Glacier, but the 2 ½ hour journey would take us through some incredible sights, so no promises. We rose the following morning, packed a picnic lunch and began traveling north, towards Jasper.  The road took us through mountains and past gorgeous glacier fed lakes. My husband and I took turns driving. 

We couldn't help but pull over at the designated sight seeing locations and just 'take it in'. Spectacular scenery wowed us around every turn.  We stopped at the side of a road, ate our lunch and simply enjoyed the lake and mountain.

Arriving at the glacier late afternoon, the ice field is worth the trip.  At an elevation of about 3000 metres, it's spectacular. The area is well fenced off so a tour company takes those interested onto the ice.

Unfortunately, it's melting at an accelerated rate. Signs shows how it's receding.

Posted signs remind those that are a little too adventurous that rescue teams will come out if you happen to fall into a deep crevice, but you will probably lose your life to hypothermia. 
Dressed in a t-shirt, capris and a cardigan, we hiked up the mountain, along with a lot of other tourists and gazed at the ice and the scenery surrounding it. 


Leaving the ice, we headed for the tourist information centre and bought tickets for the Glacier Skywalk. 

This glass bottom walkway was the brain child of a tour bus driver. Nice! That person deserves a raise and perhaps a promotion for thinking outside the box. 
I had reservations heading to this attraction. I have been up the CN Tower, a landmark in Toronto a number of times, but struggle to step onto the glass bottom. My fear of heights kicks into high gear. 
We were offered audio devices to listen to a narrator. 

Interpretive stations are set up with pictures and descriptions along the short walk to the lookout. I approached the glass, took a look down and thought, I can do this. 

Catherine was still taking pics when I took my first baby step. No problem, I took another. I took a few more steps, looked back at my friend and said, 'Look at me' and grinned like a fool. 

We were on the far side of the walk when Catherine dared me to jump on it. The tourists around us thought we'd lost it as a few hung on the railing for dear life, but we jumped and took some foolish pictures. 

We were on the top of the world. Well, really high up in Canada. The pictures do not do this area justice. If you have the opportunity, plan a holiday. You won't regret it. 

Happy 150th birthday to our glorious nation. 

Last month I mentioned a super high waterfall. I promise, I'll tell you all about that on next month's blog.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Celebrating Canada

Happy Birthday Canada!  

We spent Canada's 150th birthday preparing to fly home after a fantastic holiday.  For those of you on Instagram, I posted a few pics. 
Taking advantage of the federal liberal government's generous officer of free park passes, we headed to Alberta. Each province within Canada offers something very unique and Alberta is no exception. 
We flew into Calgary, rented a car, bought bear spray, just in case, and drove through the mountains. What a sight. 

We settled in Canmore, home for the next 6 nights and went to a local pub for dinner.
Number one on our list of adventures, Banff. Who hasn't heard of Banff Springs Hotel. Beginning our day trips, snow covered mountain peaks gave us a spectacular sight around every curve. Nestled within the mountains, at an elevation of 1414 metres or 4500 feet, just outside the town, Banff Springs opened to the public in 1888 as a Canadian railway hotel in Canada's first National Park. 

Leaving the town of Banff, we headed toward the famous Lake Louise. On route, we saw a sign indicating a gondola to the right. Lake Louise to the left. We headed left only to discover it was swarming with tourists, just like us. Signs instructed us to park at overflow parking  and get shuttled in. A smart idea, if you like crowded areas. Not today, thanks. So instead we headed down the hill, turned and steered toward Lake Moraine.

Lake Moraine is 1884 metres above sea level and the view is spectacular. Wow. Simply wow. I've never seen turquoise, emerald, I called it teal lake water. Glacier fed, beautiful doesn't begin to describe it. If my shoulder had been in better shape, we would have rented canoes and gone onto the lake. But I can't guarantee I can paddle, yet, so we hiked around the lake instead. Serene, a touch of heaven, we took our time and let it soak in. 
Not ready to head home, you guessed it, we headed for the Gondola. After an ice-cream bar, we walked to the lift. The gondola was part of the ski lift so of course we opted for the open lift and up up up we went to the top of the world. A photographer's  paradise. We had dinner in Banff and headed back to Canmore for some sleep. 

Catherine, our travelling companion read about a wonderful walking trail so we packed a picnic lunch and headed to Johnston Canyon on Sunday. The parking lots were full, making it a long hike to go for a hike. About to give up, I insisted on one more drive around to look for a spot. As luck would have it, a family were finishing their walk. We waited for them to load their car and slid into their parking spot before heading to the canyon. 
Once again we were treated to that glorious glacier fed coloured water. The highlight of the canyon is the waterfall. The catwalk takes hikers over the gorge where the mist from the falls rewards you for your effort. A warm day, we appreciated that cool mist tickling our skin.


Driving back along the two lane road, I spotted something dark by the ditch. Focusing in, I identified a black bear on all fours, nibbling on something. I called out 'bear. there's a bear.', startling both Catherine and my husband. Of course my camera wasn't in my hand, ready to snap away. That would have been too convenient. With too many cars on the winding road, we couldn't stop, but we saw it. 

Did you know there's a water fall higher than Niagara Falls in Canada? Tune in next month to find out where it's located as this Canadian celebrated Canada's 150th birthday in style. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Eye Spy

There has been a lot of media coverage lately about bees. How they are on the decline. If you like to eat anything the least bit healthy, you need bees. The collect the nectar and pollen from flowers.This is used to feed their colony. As they collect they pollinate. The nectar eventually turns into honey.

There has been a lot of media coverage lately about bees. How they are on the decline. If you like to eat anything the least bit healthy, you need bees. The collect the nectar and pollen from flowers. This is used to feed their colony. As they collect they pollinate. The nectar eventually turns into honey.

I live in rural Ontario. Our property is bursting with flowers and trees. Enough trees, we rarely use our air conditioner. Even on the hottest days, we sleep with our windows open at night, allowing a beautiful breeze into our bedroom.

Spring is beautiful around here. The trees and perennials are coming to life after the winter. We have a cherry tree on the property that the birds love. We were outside in mid May, doing some yard work. My husband was working a short distance from me, close to that tree.
 "Heather. Come here. Listen."
As I walked toward him, I heard the buzz. A small orchestra could have been suspended in the air. I looked up at the white blossom filled cherry tree. Honeybees surrounded every branch of the vibrant tree, buzzing around those blossoms. What a gorgeous sight, and sound.
I just smiled.

The joys of living in rural Ontario. we buy my honey and honey products from a local bee keeper. I support our local famers and buy pure Canadian maple syrup from a 'Sugar Shake.' We can watch them tap the trees.

An interesting little fact. Bees don't sleep. They have a short life span, around thirty days. They work the entire time. Keep the bees alive and healthy. We need them.

If you're able, buy wild flower seeds and plant them. The honeybees will thank you. 

Where to find me?  I'm out there...

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

It's time to Celebrate

Celebrating Canada - blog post

This year my great country turns 150 years old. July 1st. We're young as a nation, but this is worth celebrating. It's a vast, diverse, beautiful country. I'm proud to call Canada home.
A Toronto radio station did a poll in April. If neither money nor time were an issue, where would you travel to. 
British Columbia is gorgeous. We have been a few times. Tofino on Vancouver Island, the coast of BC with the ocean and the Rockies in the distance. And of course the wineries. 
Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta. Words can't describe how beautiful this area is. We are heading to Canmore and the Badlands in Alberta for our summer vacation this year. I'm looking forward to it.
Ontario, my home province is amazing. Rolling countryside, rocks and lakes and waterfalls. North, south, east and west. It's an incredible province. We take day trips, with picnic lunches regularly with our dog.
I love the east coast as well. It's relaxed and the people are so friendly. The food. The aroma alone is mouth watering.
The answer to the poll?  
Newfoundland. Otherwise known as "The Rock"

We went to The Rock two years ago with our best friends. It was on my bucket list and it didn't disappoint. It's best described as heaven on earth. We drove the western arm and stopped a number of times along the way to hike or just appreciate the view. Gros Morne is a must see. We took the boat to Labrador and had a wonderful meal in a lighthouse. 
We saw icebergs and humpback whales during our trip. And we saw one moose. Woohoo. Rumour has it there are more moose than people in Newfoundland.

The hospitality is second to none. 
We were on the final days of our holiday, and looking for someplace for lunch. We pulled into a small restaurant / convenience store and walked in. There were probably eight tables, all of which were occupied. 
A young father hopped up from the table. He asked in his Newfie twang if we were there for lunch. 
We informed him we needed a table for four.
I just about died when he responded. 'He would kick his family out.'
I'm not quoting here. It would be impossible to remember his exact words. The Newfies have a dialect all of their own, but it's something you can understand. 
He told us they ate there all the time and that they were done anyway. 
He turned to his father and two kids and told them to make room. They got up with their drinks and we took their place. We enjoyed a fantastic meal.
We have travelled a lot over the years. We've been to Europe, travelled the USA, have been to Caribbean islands and to Central America. 

Canada ranks right up there. If you haven't been, it's worth the trip.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Smooching - How much can you take?


Last month on the blog I discussed the average attention span. Picking up on that theme, I heard another interesting statistic. 
This one has me equally baffled. According to a survey, people are willing to watch a kissing scene for twelve seconds. Now granted, twelve seconds doesn't sound very long, but think about it. 
This survey wasn't using a couple having short sweet kisses while talking or giggling. We are referring about a full blown, wet, get the heart pumping kiss. 
I challenge you. Set a timer for twelve seconds.
Now, imagine watching a couple go at it. Not a couple on the big screen, but an average couple. 
One thousand…two thousand. 
Keep watching that couple.
You're not even half way there yet. 
When you've had enough, how many seconds area left on the timer?

There is a reason the camera angle changes during a 'Hollywood' kissing scene. You've watched the characters in that relationship grow and develop, but still, enough is enough. I think that is why the director uses sheer curtains, a fence, something, anything to add dimension to the scene. Even the character's hands get in the way of the lip lock. 
As you can guess, twelve seconds, in my mind, is way too long to watch. 

So, back to the 8.5 second attention span. I think during the kiss the viewers mind is wandering for at least 3.5 seconds. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Something Shiny

Listening to the news a short time ago, I heard a rather interesting statistic. Interesting may be the wrong word. I’ll leave that up to you. The statistic was on the average human attention span. My first thought was, seriously? Someone or a group of people are actually paid to monitor and record attention spans? 
It gets worse. 
Last year, the average attention span was 12 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly. So unless you’re a speed reader, I’ve already lost you. 
I’ll give my readers the benefit of the doubt. Readers are an intelligent bunch.
So, are you curious? Would you like to hear that we’ve improved? 
Drum roll please. 
I’m listening for the tap of your fingers to prove you’re still paying attention.
No-o-o, we’re flunking, and badly.The average attention span had actually decreased. It now sits at a dismal 8.5 seconds.
As if it can’t get any worse, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.

Yes, that is correct. We have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. 
Aren’t we proud.
Now the big question. How the heck do they measure what’s going on in the mind of a goldfish. Do they put the little orange critter on a plastic bed and give it a PET (brain) scan? 
I admit, I’m impatient, but to prove my attention span is longer than a goldfish, I will put my cell phone down and allow my computer to have a nap. I will play with the dog. Afterwards  I will initiate a conversation with my husband. Just like the good old days before cell phones invades our lives. I'm sounding like an old fart. I'm not!

I guarantee, the dog has a longer attention span than a goldfish. She will sit and stare at me while I make my breakfast. Two big brown eyes with this, I haven’t been fed in forever look while waiting for a piece of toast in the morning.

My husband's attention span is above average as well. But then again, oh, look, something shiny. 

The Natasha Saga
Empowerment shatters traditions and lives. Greed and pride have devastating consequences. Sacrifices must be made. Written on multiple levels, the saga deals with hope, relationships, and giving, set against a background of conflicting values. 

Through a series of dreams, modern day couple Keeghan and William follow the triumphs and tragedies of multiple generations of the Donovan family. A chance encounter changes Natasha’s life, forever. In her diary, Natasha writes of her dream, and her hope to escape a horrid dictated future.

Will Natasha's legacy survive an uncertain future?

Are you still with me? Oh good. You pass!

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Joys and Challenges of Writing - Part II

     On my last blog, I had given my latest attempt at writing to my husband. An avid reader, he gets the first look at my work. If he likes it, I celebrate. If he doesn’t, well, been there, don’t think much of it.
     He took his lap-top into the living room, sat on his favourite chair and began reading. Being the good, patient wife I can be, not, I bit my bottom lip and left the room. I went to the lower level of our home to watch some television. All was quiet on the upper floor. A half hour later I couldn’t help but think, is he still reading or did he get bored. Is he surfing the net? An hour and a half later, I couldn’t wait any longer. I slowly crept up the stairs, every so quietly, listening for signs of movement. I almost made it. Almost.
     “It’s just you’re mom,” hubby lectured the dog. “She’s being silly.”
     I stepped into the kitchen and looked toward the living room. The dog was curled up on the couch, her chin rose as she looked toward me. Hubby was still sitting on his chair. He hadn’t moved. It’s a good thing it’s comfortable or he’d have pins and needles in his butt.
     “Well?” I asked. “Are you still reading it?”
     He looked up from his computer. “Yes–”
     “What do you think of it?” I knew he wouldn’t be done the entire book, yet. “I like it, so far.”
     “Hallelujah!” I bellowed silently. “Yes.”
     He was only ¼ of the way through the book. He had a long way to go but it was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.
I watched a documentary on the band The Eagles a little while ago. One of the artists discussed handing lyrics and music to the rest of the band and the awful feeling in the gut. Will they like it?
I supposed all artists experiences the same anxiety.
     Anyway, when hubby finished the book, he gave me the thumbs up. Now we have to work on editing it. He’ll point out the silly mistakes that I have made. The type that an author simply misses. He will make suggestions and I will rewrite sections. This isn’t a short process but I want it to be the best it can be before, well before I cross my fingers yet again.
The next step isn’t any easier. Anxiety round 2. Finding a publisher… Publishers reject a lot of manuscripts. As an author, I look through their website and try to get a feel for the company. I search for reviews of the company.  I want a publisher that will market my books in places I’m not capable of reaching on my own. I don’t want a publisher that will be looking for a new manuscript every three to six months. I don’t need or want that kind of stress in my life.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it! Not!

     Would you like in on a wee secret?  Book number two, currently called ‘Done’ is a stand along novel. To classify this one into a genre, I’d say it’s a suspense, but not a ‘who done it.’ Intrigued? I hope so.

The Natasha Saga
Empowerment shatters traditions and lives. Greed and pride have devastating consequences. Sacrifices must be made. Written on multiple levels, the saga deals with hope, relationships, and giving, set against a background of conflicting values.
Through a series of dreams, modern day couple Keeghan and William follow the triumphs and tragedies of multiple generations of the Donovan family. A chance encounter changes Natasha’s life, forever. In her diary, Natasha writes of her dream, and her hope to escape a horrid dictated future.

Will Natasha's legacy survive an uncertain future?

Monday, 2 January 2017

The joys, and challenges of writing

   I finished my latest manuscript and gave it to my husband. My fingers, toes and everything other body part were crossed. He probably assumed I had to urinate given the intense expression on my face. It’s always a nervous time. Writing isn’t only creative, it’s a  personal endeavour. Each manuscript is a labour of love. Allowing someone else to criticize it, takes thick skin. I don’t have thick enough skin. I doubt I ever will. This manuscript had to show that I had grown as an author. That I had read the reviews from The Natasha Saga and applied what I had learned.

   I remember writing The Natasha Saga thinking, ‘what will hubby think?’ Given the amount of time I’d spent on it, I didn’t want him to say. ‘Seriously? This is what you’ve been doing? What a waste of time’ Of course my husband would be far more diplomatic, but the point would be there. I’d need another hobby. Worse still, he may consider sending me back to full time employment.
No-o-o-o. Don’t make me!
He didn’t say that. He finished The Saga and said,‘I like it, but you can’t stop it there.’
Shock to the system, he liked it. Hubby Liked it! I jumped up and down for joy that day, and then I continued working on the manuscript. The plot grew. 

   I always had a problem classifying The Saga into a specific genre. It has a romance component, but it isn’t a romance. The plot breaks the rules of traditional romances. Therefore, it isn’t one. It’s a family saga. 

   When the book(s) were ready, I sent the first one to three publishers. I never considered self-publishing. In my mind, if it was a worthy plot, I’d find a publisher. Mission successful, one of them accepted my manuscript. I was assigned not one but two editors and a cover artist. Today, I’m a traditionally published author.

   With The Saga behind me, I finished my second novel, more than a little optimistic. After all, all four books within The Natasha Saga were available at major on-line distributors. 
Hubby read my second labour of love, yet to have an official name, while I kept myself entertained. When he finally finished reading it, he said, and I quote, ‘You’ve done better.’
It was as if he hit me with a sledge hammer. That comment could have sent us to divorce court. Boom, you’re out of here. It didn’t. Common sense kicked me in the butt. It brought me back to earth with a hard thud. Plunked me down, right on my arse. That plot is still on the back burner, otherwise known as a file on my computer. I haven’t decided what to do with that story, yet.
So you understand my fear handing this manuscript to him. Offically, labour of love number three.

   Well, you will have to wait for the second part of this blog post for his reaction. Now you know how it feels. The anxiety of not knowing. 
I ended each of the saga books with a wee cliff hanger as well, but lucky for you, if you’re interested in reading it, they are available. Amazon, Kobo, iTunes. They are even available in the library system. You may have to ask your library to bring them in. I did, but I do like borrowing books to read.
If you ask and say please, I’m still in the giving mood. I’ll email the PDF copies of the book to you. One wee request. Please post a review after you finish reading Natasha’s Legacy, the conclusion.

Happy 2017.