FUN Today at LOCAL AUTHOR BOOK FAIR

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I was lucky to be there!! LOCAL AUTHOR BOOK FAIR, NIAGARA FALLS PUBLIC LIBRARY (CANADA)

While we weren’t mobbed by throngs of people after our books, it was a very pleasant day. It was well organized, with library staff and a crew of volunteers on hand the whole time.

People were directed to our room of displays as they entered or left the library itself. Individual readings were conducted in a separate room adjacent to the book tables, each writer was introduced. All this was done to a schedule that was posted.

I hammed it up a bit. That’s me up there reading when it was my turn and, yes, that’s a squirrel climbing up my left arm. But of course, it’s SHELBY himself. He’s like that, has to get into absolutely EVERYTHING!!

The contraption in the other photo is my ‘tree’.  One wants to attract attention at these events, and I wondered how many children’s writers would be present. Operating on the assumption that I might be the only one, I put the ‘tree’ right up on my table.  And wore SHELBY the whole day. You wouldn’t believe how many people, young and old, liked squeezing his tail and body to make him squeak!  ( it’s actually a dog toy!!)

The little winged critter on the right corner of my ‘tree’ is the closest I could come on short notice to The Wise Old Owl, a central character in the book. Found this one at ‘Once Upon a Child’ and he has magnets in his wingtips, so it was easy to rig up the display with a couple of leaf  sprays from Dollarama, a large green sheet, and dress-maker pins.

I liked the cartoon of a flying squirrel that I found so made him my mascot for the day, leaping into the air like a furry miniature Superman.

The day gifted me one young fan that was so pleased to have my book bought for her, that she gave me sweet lovely hugs, and we posed together for a photo to remember the day.

All in all, today served to show me and the others that the love of books is alive and well, and with a little encouragement, things really do happen!

Thanks to everyone who came to browse, and took away books, fliers, business cards. Thanks for bringing your interest in reading, your enthusiasm for books, and your support!

Amazon link: eBook:     http://amzn.to/1FCeKGQ

Paperback, Colour:    http://createspace.com/5399580

Paperback, B&W:    http://createspace.com/5648006

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LIFE CAN START AT 70!!

HOW MY LIFE STARTED OVER AT THE AGE OF 70

I’m beginning to think that too many of us as we age can begin to suffer from some form of depression. The end of our lives is approaching; there’s no denying it once we are in our seventies and older.

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I’m no psychotherapist but I have experienced a slow drop into my own depression over several years brought on by a few things that happened.

Life was just ticking along very contentedly, and I was busy. Even though I was no longer a member of the local Symphony (that’s another very interesting story that I’ll bring here soon), I had a full week of private students coming to our home. I mainly taught flute, as that was always my primary instrument, playing professionally since the age of 19. Later I added piano and then recorder, so that gave me lots of variety.

I was also playing weddings and small programs with two long-time partners, also dear friends, one a harpist and the other a classical guitarist. Then after coping with cancer for about a year my harpist died, so that partnership came to an end. I still miss her, we were Scrabble mates too! We both loved the Upwards version. I played several jobs with my classical guitar partner that summer.

Then in October of 2006, at the age of 63 I had a heart attack. During the period of recovery my back became a real pain issue. I began teaching again, but the back pain was really getting in the way.

When months went by with the same level of pain, my teaching became a thing of the past, and it was no longer easy to play my flute, so the weddings and other jobs also diminished to almost nothing.

By the time I was 66, life was no longer the same as it had been for all those years. I didn’t know how to fight the pain and wasn’t getting answers, so my active days became a distant memory and a lot of time was spent in bed, really beginning to feel sorry for myself.

Inspiration comes from very surprising quarters at times. Learning of a close friend’s experience with stage fright that threatened a future of performing on the world stage, and how that was overcome, changed everything.

I decided to try stronger medications, slowly narrowing it down to what worked without overdosing. I still use the same pills, but monitor very carefully. I keep a calendar and make a note of every dose, then I tally it at the end of each month.

But the most exciting and amazing was the treatment for my mind that I received at the Musicians’ Clinic, with Dr John Chong and Dr McMillan. I learned how to think properly with their help, a simple clip on one ear monitoring my heart rate variations. It’s break-through work, and it changed my life. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/07/10/torontoarea_doctor_urges_injured_musicians_to_speak_out.html The knowledge that I can control my brain rather than letting it control me was so enabling and surprisingly normal. So much has been discovered about brain function. The most simplistic way of explaining is that if a brain is constantly told negative things it will function negatively. Sending and even vocalising positive thoughts allows the brain to tell and teach the body positive things. It’s a computer that operates on what it is fed.

The other important aid is my wonderful chiropractor, Dr Tracy Drynan. Her hands are magic, her mind knows my inner body and everything about it. With her touch every 3 weeks, I can do most of what I want to do.

I also read Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. And took it to heart in all seriousness. You have to believe in changing, believe you CAN change. Many people refuse to try, are not able to enter into the state of discovery and willingness that is needed. http://www.louisehay.com/

My 70th birthday was when I started over, feeling positive and renewed, full of joy for the simple things in life. In short, I learned not to let the pain rule me, keep the loss of my professional life a precious memory, celebrating rather than mourning it.

I so much wish that everyone existing in a state of non-function for any reason, will be able to find that magic solution and discover that life is absolutely worth living. I still play my flute and now it’s just for fun. I’ve written a children’s book and am having a real adventure as an Indie Author. http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Adventures-SHELBY-SQUIRREL-Friends-ebook/dp/B00UY8VQOW/

One doesn’t have to discard one’s life philosophy to change in this way, it’s a simple matter of opening a door.

How Many ACRONYMS Do YOU Use?

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ACRONYM, SCHMACRONYM!

Have you ever noticed how often acronyms are used these days? They’re everywhere, in print and in person. No one says Royal Bank of Canada any more. It’s become RBC permanently. Of course, a great many are very familiar and have been around a long time. For instance NATO. Everyone knows what that means. And OPEC. Most people might not know what the letters actually mean but we all know it’s an alliance of a bunch of countries and something to do with oil.

The really long titles of organizations have become acronyms because it takes too long to say the whole thing all the time, but does anyone remember the original any more? Here in Niagara we have two NHS acronyms, one being Niagara Health System and the other being Niagara Health Sciences. Now isn’t that totally silly? They’re rivals, of course.

The acronyms that become pronounceable words are really daft, though. The widely used NIMBY and its counterpart PIMBY sound hilarious when you say them out loud. And all this creativity is simply to be able to say or write things more quickly. Well, I suppose it does serve to get a message across with more punch than writing it all out and reading five-word phrases! 

Since our society is becoming more and more antisocial, with the use of all the electronic gadgets, we are spending less and less time in personal contact with each other. Just imagine what it would be like to have a few choice acronyms which would speed us all on our separate ways.

At the grocery store it would expedite things if instead of saying, “Have a nice day” to every single person that goes through the checkout, the cashier could just say, “HAND!” The response would be, “TASTY!” which stands for, “Thanks and same to you!”

When you meet someone you know you could cut to the real conversation by having an opening exchange like this:

Person #1: “HAY?”.

Person #2: “IFTY! HAY?”

Person #1: “IFTY!”  (How Are You? I’m Fine Thank You!)

We all despair when the phone rings and it is a telephone solicitor. What does one say to convince the doggedly persistent caller that there will be absolutely no success at this number? There just is no response to, “NIDWI!!” repeated strenuously in his ear! Think of the arguing time it would save if everyone knew that NIDWI meant, “No, I Don’t Want It!”

The guy at the gas station would probably appreciate it if we all yelled, “FURP!” instead of making him stand there while we go through the whole schmear. Most of us would be saying, “Fill Up Regular, Please!” anyway.

So, HAND! And remember to LOL!!   Took me a while to know that doesn’t mean Lots Of Love!!

 

IN A LIGHTER VEIN

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IN A LIGHTER VEIN

It’s a quirk of mine. But I think I’m probably the only person in the world who keeps an old comforter in her trunk, stuffed into a grocery tote from Basics.

Winter or summer, that’s where I put my bags with frozen or fresh items, and cover it all snugly with the plentiful lengths of puffy stuff.

I sometimes wonder, while I’m busy packing and tucking it all neatly together in the supermarket parking lot, why nobody stops to ask what on earth I’m doing! Hmm, maybe they think I’m too crazy to approach safely. A batty old lady who does totally weird things – better to avoid getting entangled with someone like that.

But I have to tell you how it came about in the first place.

In my twenties I met people in Germany, and heard about a dangerous snowstorm that had stranded hundreds of cars, with the people in them dying, on the autobahns all over the country. I met a woman who had only survived because she had a quilt in her car and some chocolate, which kept her from freezing and becoming weak from hunger. But it was years before the penny dropped and I started making sure there was at least a warm blanket aboard.

And a few years ago, when a bedspread comforter was worn enough, with the stuffing slipping heavily into the corners and edges, I couldn’t throw it away!! So it ended up in my trunk, and there it has stayed.

It’s a perfect cooler, or heat retainer. I can shop and then continue on other errands for a few hours knowing my frozen foods will still be frozen, my meats will still be cold even in the hottest summer weather.

And in the winter, I have no fear of lettuce, tomatoes or other soft foods wilting from partial freezing in the back seat. It’s that simple.

Plus no blizzard will freeze me to death! There it is, just a crazy old lady? Well, not if you ask her, that is – me!!

A QUESTION OF RESPECT

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A QUESTION OF RESPECT

I have a lot of respect for someone who stands up and asks for fairness.

And I’m glad I live in a free country where that can actually happen. We know all too well that in other places on the globe such a stand could result in prison, exile or even death.

So let’s ponder this personal issue of the niqab. A young woman who decides to wear the niqab in her teens, has not been coerced but chooses to for her own personal reasons, is in the public eye for defending her right to wear it when taking her oath of Canadian citizenship.

Here is an excerpt of a fellow Canadian’s take on this issue which I applaud:

Did not we, our parents, our grandparents, come to Canada to escape tyranny, famine, poverty with a promise of freedom to be able to worship and retain our heritage in Canada’s multi-cultural society? If you think, against the laws of this country, that Zunera Ishaq and others like her, should disregard her beliefs, then it is you who should leave, because you are missing the whole point of what it is to be a Canadian.”

Now let me try to explain how I look at this.

The way a person is dressed cannot in any way reveal his /her worth, goodness or evil intent.

I for one would not suspect a young man carrying a backpack, in a crowd of others, of carrying a weapon. But he could be. Nobody is checking the contents of his backpack. He might be stopped at an airport, and would certainly be halted at a courthouse entrance. But anywhere else he can carry whatever he wants in the backpack. (I had to turn in the nail file in my purse when I went to drop off a letter at the local courthouse, so I guess I am usually carrying a concealed weapon.)

To enter the building with me that day Zunera Ishaq (pictured above) would also have been required to answer whether she was carrying anything, be subject to walk-through and wand search. So would you. Because we are all considered equal. It has nothing to do with dress.

Just because a woman is wearing a niqab doesn’t make her a suspect. What about intentional deceit like face-altering surgery, dark glasses, longer hair or beard? Should every man have a short haircut and not be allowed even a moustache? We’ve already long established that it’s not okay to force such things, or expect them. Do we want to live with Ira Levin’s controlled society, having our arms scanned daily to check we are still the same, haven’t eaten something forbidden and above all are not trying to be different? I don’t think so! (‘This Perfect Day’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Perfect_Day)

Personal choice starts early in our society. Parents give their tiny children choice options from babyhood nowadays. It follows that those kids refuse to conform to a private school uniform’s dress code requirements, like the length of the skirt or tucking in their shirts and blouses.

If we nurture that kind of individualism, how can we challenge garments like the niqab and the burka? It’s off-balance to disapprove when a woman’s apparel covers her body, while the sight of bare flesh everywhere is not considered remarkable. To my way of thinking that fits the definition of hypocrisy.

I don’t accept the argument that if we visit a country where a woman is required to cover herself we acquiesce. The reason we do that is because there is no freedom of religion there. Here we enjoy that right, as all people in Canada do. And it’s not acceptable or correct to cast judgement or try to change another person’s way of living or dressing in a free country like ours. 

Let’s all try to be fair-minded, stay smart without being paranoid and live in peace, and remain thankful for the gift of freedom of choice that comes with being a Canadian.

GREAT NEW FIVE STAR REVIEW!!!

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The Complete Adventures of SHELBY F SQUIRREL and Friends (newest review on Amazon)

This is a super cute collection of stories as Shelby and his twin sister Darby adapt to their surroundings, learn to use their new skill of gliding, and experience the wellspring of life all around them, from dealing with humans, making friends with other woodland creatures, and even getting to meet special guests like Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Young readers would also be fascinated by all the tidbits about squirrels, some of which I didn’t know, like that flying squirrels don’t hibernate. I loved the photos starting off each chapter. It made the book even more charming and adorable. Though broken up into small nuggets that are perfect for bedtime reading, this collection reminds me of tales by Thornton W. Burgess and Beatrix Potter.

http://amzn.to/1FCeKGQ

WELL and TRULY PUZZLED

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Well, tonight I sat in my comfortable recliner in the living room and went through Friday’s and Saturday’s newspapers.

It’s not a long task, since the articles in our local paper often don’t absorb me for long. The editorial page used to be fun when they still published letters from readers, but those appear only rarely now. We need a full page of those, come on, Editor of the St Catharines Standard, give us back our letters from readers!

Oh, and while I have your ear (if I do, that is), could you please find a way to organize the pages so that the paper is in the same order every day? And out of respect for the seriousness of birth and death notices, will you kindly refrain from mixing them into classified ads and\or sports pages? And worse still is your habit of printing them on the extra ad page that annoyingly folds itself across about 9 inches in front of a couple of sections. Awkward, unwanted, quit doing that. Keep ads with ads. If I have to abide those horrible stuck-on partial pages, have the courtesy to exclude any ‘news’ so I can toss the useless unmatched thing aside without looking at it.

The local arts don’t get much more than a blip in the ‘Substandard’ (sorry, but it’s well-known by that name), so if you want to know what’s going on you better find another way. A listing might be included in the DO-IT column, but since that’s now plastered over several pages, playing a squeaky second fiddle to quarter-page ads, it’s a mind-boggling undertaking to spot something of interest. I gave up on it long ago, it’s visually annoying and shouldn’t include extra future dates. Keep it short, neat and readable, please.

As I turn through the so-called sections (which are endlessly different for each issue), I separate the pages containing the Sudokus and occasionally the L A Times crosswords. Let me tell you why it’s only occasionally. Most of the time the L A Times puzzle is so blown up that it covers more than a quarter page. My eyes and my neck hate the amount of travelling to and from the clues, which is why is I do not indulge in the large weekend crossword. It’s too _____ big!!  Tone it down a little!!

Anyway, tonight I found the L A Times taking up a perfect quarter page in the Friday paper. Now that’s late enough in the week to be fun to do (hate the early-in-the-week easy ones, put me right to sleep) so I folded it easily on the original folds and set it aside with the Sudokus.

Imagine my smile when the Saturday issue also yielded the L A Times on a quarter page. Although this time some edified layout person managed to squeeze it vertically to be almost a quarter inch shorter than it should be to make squares in the grid. In case nobody noticed, I would like to point out that the clues were now crushed together with only tiny horizontal gaps between them. More eye strain, but I decided to do it anyway.

So, well and truly puzzled about an hour and a half later, 2 Sudokus, 2 Jumbles, and both L A Times are filled in.

And I didn’t do much reading of the newspaper.

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