National Pet Day

I can’t recall a time when I lived without a furry friend.  Most of my life I have had more than one at the same time.

Currently I have the honor of two wonderful furry friends, both long term residents who allow us to share our home with them.

My toy poodle, Ceileigh, has been with us for nearly 12 years now.  Coed, our Main Coon Cat who is bigger than the poodle, has been with us for over 4 years.

There is just something about the unconditional love of a pet.  They know when you need some loving and make it their goal to sit on your lap or interrupt what you are doing whether you want them to or not.  And in the end, they are right life is so much better after a cuddling session.  In my case both of my animals can fit on my lap so life is good.  Although Coed, when stretched out on my legs, occupies all the real estate there is.  His body is 36 inches long from shoulder to rear-end, so he has to rest his head on my tummy and his tail falls down over my feet.  Ceileigh on the other hand only needs the space from my hips to my knees.  Life gets interesting when they both want to be on my lap together.

Both animals run to the door to greet us when we get home.  The dog is a bit livelier dancing on her back feet and whining, then giving kisses all over your face when you bend to unzip your boots.  The cat sits back a few steps, trying to pretend he is not really interested by looking away or licking a paw, but don’t walk by him or he will weave in between your legs until you near trip or bend over and give him a scratch.  And don’t be fooled by his sitting and being quiet for a few minutes, he is a Main Coon after all, and he can certainly can use his voice when he wants, just ask the birds that land in the yard outside our living room windows.  He lets them know whose property they are on!

I would be lost without either of them in my life.  The love, the calm, the joy, the laughter they bring make our house more of a home.

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Life Interrupts Our Plans

Life sometimes throws us curve balls that we don’t see coming and certainly don’t plan for.  That is what happened to me over the last several months and I had to back away from my dream of writing.  Fortunately, things are mostly back on track now and I have a new lease on life. I’ve read, as I’m sure you have, that life is short and we should make the most of each day we have.  A simple concept but one that is hard to follow smetimes, but I’m striving to live that way.

Over the past few years, as I was starting on this wonderful dream adventure of becoming an author, I read everything I could and listened to those who had been there before me.  I strived to do everything the right way, the way others had.  I’ve now realized this will not work for me.  Yes, I learned a lot from all of them, and i will be forever thankful for their guidance, but the best piece of advice I can give is follow your own path.  That is what makes you authentic, and makes YOUR dream come true.

I put a lot of stress on myself trying to make everything perfect.  I threw away story ideas because they were not the hot new thing, only to find a few months later they were.  I made changes to my manuscripts to fit the mould and then disliked the stories I’d written and got discouraged.

I like to learn and I love the feedback I get on my stories from my beta readers and editors but sometimes we have to agree to disagree to keep the story the one we want to write – for better or worse.  There have been many authors before me who stuck to their guns and after a long, arduous path their stories were finally accepted as they were written.

With my new lease on life I will be writing the stories that call to me.  I will no longer put all the stress on myself to be something I’m not.  I want to write authentic, well written stories that my muse tells me need to be written.  Taking my time to get them right before they are released out into the world.

In January I set out to tell a story that rattled around in my brain for a couple of months and wouldn’t let me go.  I have a first draft and I’m working on self-edits, getting the story ready to send to an editor to have a look and help me make it even better.  The story will be set around the shores of Nova Scotia, Canada.  It is historical fiction with romantic elements, and has a bit of time travel mixed in.

The idea for this story came to me one day while I was driving along the south shore.  An island close to where I spent many summers, years ago, took my eye.  I remembered lots of great things about the area.  Some of the best times of my life were sailing up and down the local shores.  One thing led to another and the concept was born.  Through the research I did the story bloomed.   It has been fun learning more about the area where I spent a lot of time and I had a great time writing the story.

I don’t have a release date yet, but it will be this year.  I’ll announce when the dates are set.  Stay tuned.

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Warm Weather Party Punch

We have been extremely fortunate this summer to have lots of sunshine and warm weather. There have been many afternoons and evenings that were perfect for sitting on the deck and sipping cooling drinks while enjoying the company of family and friends.

The following punch is one that is perfect for these occasions and it is family friendly as well as long as you add the vodka to the adult’s glasses and not the punchbowl.

Party Punch

Very refreshing on a warm summer day.

1 large bottle white pop such as 7-up
I can frozen pink lemonade – diluted as per instructions on can
I can pineapple juice
I bottle cranberry cocktail
1 bottle vodka (add this to your taste or pour shots in glasses and add punch on top)

For a fancier presentation, add fruit to the punch (pineapple chunks, lemon slices, lime slices, cranberries)

Serve over ice. Enjoy!

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International Cat Day

Today is International Cat Day. I’ve blogged before about my Maine Coon Cat, Coed, but on this day, it seems fitting to do so again.

He’s a mama’s boy. We have our daily routine. It starts with me making my way to the coffee pot. He jumps down from the front window, where he’s spent the last little bit waiting for me to get out of bed, and follows me. All the time I’m making the coffee he is intertwining between my legs and, as Main Coon Cats do, he is chirping and talking to me. Sometimes I think it is just “hurry and get food in my dish”. But other times I swear he is telling me about guarding the house all night, or on the rare occasion I sleep in, I believe he is telling me how bad a mother I am for making him wait for his breakfast. I make my way to the fridge for my coffee cream and his can of food, holding on to the island countertop so I don’t trip over him. I divvy up the mornings ration to his dish and place in on his placemat on the floor and he settles in to snack away.

Once the coffee is made, my cup poured, and his breakfast done we make our way to the kitchen table. I sit with my feet up on another chair and he jumps up for his routine cuddle time. We sit like that while I read my emails, drink my coffee and coast my newsfeed on social media or until my legs get numb from his weight I have to put him down so the blood can start to circulate again.

Next, it’s off to the shower for me. I learned very early in our relationship that I must close the door to the en-suite or the cat will find his way into the shower with me. Maine Coon cats like water!

He waits, impatiently, outside the door for my return. He will chatter away and swish his paw back and forth under the door making sure I know he’s still there waiting and that I should hurry.

He jumps on the bed once I open the door where he waits for me to get dressed and then we head for my office, me in the lead and he, tail held high, waddling along behind. I sit in my chair and turn on the computer and he jumps up on the desk and lays behind my laptop. When he figures I need a break he will stand up and try to walk around the laptop, stepping on the keyboard and adding his paragraph to my story. No amount of talking or pushing will get him to leave until I push the laptop back on the desk to give him room to lay in front of it and I stroke his coat a few times and tell him how handsome he is. Then he settles back in his spot and we are off for another writing sprint.

As much as he can be a pain when I’m in a hurry, or trying to get that last sentence down, I’d never part with him and I know I couldn’t live without him. He’s a whole lot of unconditional love wrapped up in a furry, purring body. And did I mention that face?

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How quickly the summer is passing

It’s August already! Where has the month of July gone? Holy cow, summer is half over, but what a summer it has been. The weather forecast for this week is sunny skies and high temperatures with a fair bit of humidity. Yesterday it was 32.9 degrees Celsius before 10 am on my back deck. The deck faces the direction of the rising sun and is always hotter than the actual air temperature with the sun beaming on it from early in the morning until late afternoon. It is my favorite place to work on my stories, under the gazebo in a bit of shade with a light breeze and the warmth of the sun. Yesterday and today it was not the ideal place to work. The air temperature and humidity made it very uncomfortable to be out there for more than a few minutes at a time.

I had a writing dry spell for a while in the early part of this year and figured maybe I needed to get out and interact with people again. I found a part-time job for the spring and summer at a local shop that carries clothing and jewellery and among other things, books by local authors. They kindly accepted print copies of my books for their shelves.

The number of tourists visiting our area has risen quite dramatically this year. We are seeing lots of people from all over Canada and the United States.

Last week a group of ladies were in from South Carolina and along with other things they bought my book. I had a great time chatting with them about where they were from and places for them to see or that they’d visited while they were here. They were headed home last weekend and sad their time here was coming to an end. They commented how much they’d enjoyed their month-long visit to our area.

They were surprised when I told them I was the author of the book they’d chosen. The lady who purchased the book was quite interested in an author’s life and asked me many questions that I enjoyed answering.

Work is progressing slow where my writing is concerned. I’m still a little confused where I want my career to head. I’ve got a couple of different ideas. Recently I tried my hand at a different genre, and am happy with the story. It is far from finished, but the first draft is done. I’m still playing around with another idea and I spend time working on both projects. I find when I jump from one to the other my creativity stays sharper and I am more focused.

Yesterday was a good writing day, today I spent a fair amount of time on the computer too. Here’s to progress for the rest of the week…

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Life is a story, make yours the bestseller.

I have a few inspirational quotes on my office wall. One that sticks out every morning as I sit at my desk and glance up is “Life is a story, make yours the bestseller.”

This is so true, only you can make your life the best it can be. Your attitude toward the things that happen in in your life determines what kind of future you have.

We’ve all heard the stories of people who were down on their luck, or so we all thought, but they were the happiest people we’ve ever been around. How can that be? Attitude.

The way we perceive things is the way life reflects them back at us. Just like the little ant – if you think you can, you can, if you think you can’t, you’re right too.

I know it’s hard some days to see the positive when you are feeling like your world is imploding all around you. Like everyone, I have those days too, and struggled to get myself back on track. But, if you want to be happy and have the best life you can, you need to take a moment to think about how your reaction to this bump in the road is going to affect you.

It’s okay to be angry, grieve, show feelings, but then you have to shake it off and let it go. It has happened, you can’t go back and change time and make it not happen. Carrying guilt or anger over it, or blaming others will not make it disappear and only make your life miserable for as long as you continue to feel this way. I’m not saying forget it has happened, it has. What I am saying is don’t waste precious minutes, days, weeks, putting your life on hold because of it. Forgive, but you don’t have to forget.

Believe or not in good Karma it’s up to you, but I’ve witnessed the benefits over and over. On the days I’m feeling upbeat and happy and believing in myself, amazing things happen. Out of the blue I receive information that will enhance my life – something pops up on my social media news feed that is an opportunity or something I’ve been looking for, I get an email from an acquaintance with a crazy opportunity attached, etc. Everything I do, works out magically on these days.

On the days I’m allowing myself a poor me day, I continue to see more negative things happen. It could be as simple as others pick up on my negative vibes and become grumpy too, which makes my day worse. Or I hear of more negative things from others, stub my toe on something that I’ve walked by millions of times without getting caught on, burn my toast, the list goes on. Regardless of what I do, nothing works and nothing moves forward in my life.

What makes a bestseller, is characters we can connect with and the growth of these characters as they work through life’s ups and downs. Like our favorite characters, we need to grow from our experiences, learning from our past but not letting what happened determine our future.

Start today and make the story of your life a bestseller.

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Celebrating Teddy Bear’s Picnic Day

Yesterday, July 10, was Teddy Bear’s Picnic Day. The neighbourhood bear decided he would be a taste tester, having a few practice runs to check out what dishes I was serving from my green bin.

I think he wanted to make sure things would be perfect for picnic day because he’s come back, three times just to make sure my culinary skills were up to his expectations.

The first night he showed no fear of us. As a matter of fact, he turned towards us and sat back on his haunches, raised his front paws and basically said come and make me leave. We shouted and banged on our deck, but he didn’t seem as if he was going anywhere. After 20 minutes, something must have finally spooked him and he took off down over the bank beside our garage and into the woods. Unfortunately for him, the green bin had been emptied that morning and there wasn’t anything yummy inside.

The second time he came back he worked feverishly for 5 hours banging the bin on rocks until he finally cracked the top enough so it would give when he pushed down on it. This allowed him to slide the previously too tight ratchet strap over to one side of the lid and get his paw inside to sample the buffet being offered. No amount of lights lit around the property or shouting at him or making all kinds of noise made him leave the gourmet feast. He slid the green bin beside a small car parked beside our garage so we couldn’t see him and every so often he would look around the edge of the car to see if we were still on the deck. We watched for a bit while he bashed the bin against the rocks but eventually we closed the door and went to bed. He made so much noise we didn’t get much sleep until he was finished feasting around 4 am.

When he returned for his third sampling, he arrived at 6:15 am. I heard the green bin moving over the gravel in our driveway. I assumed it was my father, dragging the green bin out to the end of the driveway for collection because it was collection day. When I got out of bed an hour later I looked out the windows in the front of the house and couldn’t see the bin at the end of the drive. When I questioned my father about where he put it, he said he hadn’t put it out yet. We both went to the back door and sure enough the green bit was not where it was supposed to be.

The bear had drug it in a different direction this time, across in front of the little car, scratching the front fender and then his path took him through our vegetable garden. Our plants were all uprooted and laying on top of the stirred-up soil. He took the bin to a little flat spot just beyond the garden, and by the look of the the way the grass was all flattened and the things he didn’t like in the bin were strewn around, I’s say he enjoyed his breakfast. I’m sure he was particularly happy this week because his meal included local strawberries and whipped cream for dessert!

We were not sure quite how big he was because we never got a clear look at him with the little car between us and the fact he’d come at night the first two times, and then he was gone when I realized he’d taken the cart on Friday morning. However, that all changed on Friday night. A friend and I were sitting on the back deck in our screen gazebo around 8:30 pm. All of a sudden, this thump – de – thump sound came from the side of the deck. We turned to see what the commotion was. There was the bear running down the side of the deck and heading towards the woods at the back of our lot. We were both too shocked to say anything as we watched the bear speed past.

Once he disappeared we both turned to each other and yelled “BEAR”. We quickly headed to the patio door and into the house.

We laughed about our response to his streaking through the yard for the rest of the evening and all-day Saturday.

Right on Schedule he showed up sometime through the night last night to picnic on his special holiday. We’ve since added another ratchet strap to the top so he was unable to get the bin open. His patients must have been limited because he left without dragging the bin off or making too much of commotion. I didn’t even know he was here this time until I got up and saw the bin lying on its side. I’m sure he was disappointed. I’m hoping the second strap has frustrated him and he’s decided to move on to a place with far better culinary delights and easier access to them.

I don’t have any pictures of the bear because I was too stunned to get my phone up and take one, but here is a picture of his paw print in my garden. He certainly is a big guy but don’t think his size slowed him down. He was running faster through the yard than I could have.

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Celebration Days

Over the past few days both Canada and the United States have had celebrations.

Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary of Confederation on July 1st. There was major fanfare in cities, towns, and villages all across our vast land. Lots of food and fun and fireworks.

Today marks Independence Day for our US neighbours. 241 years ago, on July 4th 1776, the US Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. There will be major fanfare in the US today to mark this occasion.

Both countries should be proud of their heritage and truly have reason to celebrate.

On another note: July 4 is a personal celebration day for me – my wedding day. Although we have not made quite the number of years as the above mile stones we have made it 37 years – also reason for major fanfare and celebration!

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Happiness is… When all things come together.

What an amazing day I had yesterday. The sun was up and shining brightly with nary a cloud in the sky and the temperature was a balmy 16 degrees on my back deck before 7am. It was shaping up to be the perfect day for me to sit in my girly gazebo and make some headway on my manuscript. The gazebo is my favorite place to work – the sun warming my skin, the fresh air, the birds singing. Unfortunately, the climate I live in only allows me to do that for a few months of the year, and then only on the days that are not rainy.

First thing in the morning I downloaded a writing program, imported my WIP file and set it all up before I even started to write so I wasn’t expecting to grow my word count by many words.

I’d used the writing program before on my PC and loved it. When I bought my Mac, I downloaded the version for it, or so I thought. I tried using it a few times but it didn’t seem to work very well. I contacted the developer, but because I didn’t buy it through them, but another broker, there was little they could do for me, but being the great company they are they tried to give me some pointers unfortunately nothing seemed to work. I was frustrated and a little angry that I’d purchased something that didn’t work, so I put it aside.

I went back to using word, but it just wasn’t working for me. I’m not a linear writer so I was finding it really frustrating to search through my word document trying to find the place to add in the scene I wanted to write at the moment or cutting and pasting parts here and there later on. So much so I was not very productive the first 6 months of this year.

Yesterday I decided enough was enough and deleted the version of the writing program I had and download the “real” version directly from the developer’s web site (where I purchased the PC version), something I should have done months ago.

Early in the morning I was a little overwhelmed with what I perceived would be a lot of work to get my WIP imported and set up into chapters and scenes, I’m not techy at all, but truly it wasn’t that bad and I’m so glad I did.

I must have been truly inspired because I even shocked myself when I looked at my word count at 4:30 pm and it had rose by 6000 words.

Finding and using tools that help you write the way that is most productive for you is like winning the lottery. Time flies by and word count grows before you even realize it. It takes all the worries and frustrations out the equation so that the creative juice can flow like a fountain and brings the fun back into writing.

When all things come together: Sun, gazebo, fresh air and a writing program that works it’s the perfect combination for a highly productive and inspiring day.
This morning will be another day like yesterday. Already 31 degrees Celsius by 10:00am on the back deck. I’ve set up in the gazebo for another productive day.

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First Day Of Summer

Tomorrow, June 21st is the first day of summer where I live. The day with the most hours of light all year. Both good and not so good realizations occurred to me as I wrote the date.

The good: Summer, I get to use my gazebo as my office. Warm temperatures, fresh air, nature’s soothing sounds, and lots of great sunshine. So far, spring has not shown us a lot of warm weather or sunshine so I am looking forward to summer to deliver on that.

It is also strawberry season. Who could ever be unhappy when there are ripe, juicy, plentiful, fresh strawberries? Think shortcake with yummy sponge tarts and whipped cream, daiquiris with fresh juicy berries, rum and ice and those little umbrellas in your drink? Strawberry pie, oh the memories…

Family and friends gathering on the deck to enjoy BBQ’s and fun times. Trips to the beach and out on the boat. Fireworks and celebrations. Outdoor movies and lobster suppers.

The not so good. The days will start to get shorter again. The pesky bugs will be out in full force, tormenting. The year is half over – Yikes!

Summer is my favorite time of the year and my list of good certainly outnumber the not so good. Here’s to a wonderful summer to all.

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