More Inspiration and Motivation

Inspiration and Motivation are funny things. Sometimes we have all kinds and sometimes we seem to be running on empty. Sometimes both can come from unexpected things.

As I said in the blog last week, I was running on empty for the last few months but the workshop I attended the first of June inspired me to start writing regularly again.

This past weekend another writer friend and I did a writing retreat weekend (or was it a wine drinking weekend? – the jury is still out).

We removed ourselves from our everyday lives and booked into a wonderful resort on Nova Scotia’s South Shore a couple of hours from where we live. The resort is off the beaten path a way, down a road toward their own private golf course and beach front. The property is comprised of small cabins that are stand alone, double, or quad units and retreat buildings that house up to 8 rooms. Our room was in one of the retreat buildings where we found ourselves with only one neighbour at the other end of the building Friday night. The perfect setting for getting some words down.

Fridays weather was not great. We left home in a rain storm. The weather forecasters were calling for 50 millimeters of rain and high winds. We certainly saw the rain on the drive down and witnessed the winds strength as it buffeted the car. In spots, the highway was riddled with puddles that when you drove through the water sprayed up the wheel wells and onto the windshield. Not to mention when the transport trucks drove by us they near caused a tsunami.

How bad was the rain you ask? When large transport trucks are driving at 70 to 90 kms per hour on the major highways you know the roads are not the greatest.

On the up side, the waves on the ocean were amazing rising tall and rolling over, crashing against the large granite boulders sticking up from the ocean floor and against the rock-strewn beach. We sat in the lounge at the resort while we ate lunch and watched them crash. The storm whipping up the sea in conjunction with the full moon is a surfer’s dream and they were out in full force trying to ride the wild surf.

The ample parking in both the main lodge lot and near our building became somewhat limited when Saturday brought a wedding to the resort and all the guests and bridal party arrived filling the resort to the brim. The wedding was held outside in the afternoon and we watched as the bride made her way across the property toward the group gathered to share in her special day.

The people watching, the storm and frothy sea, and the setting gave me lots of ideas for plot twists and new stories. Who could ask for more? And oh yeah, Saturday’s weather was phenomenal – high temperatures and sunshine. We even got a bit of a tan while writing on the deck. I managed to write 1000 words each day. It was wonderful to be back in the zone.

Unfortunately, Sunday morning came too quickly. It was hard to believe we’d been there for two days already. The staff were really accommodating and didn’t mind us taking up space in their lounge for a few hours a couple of times a day.

Since neither of us had any pressing engagements that required we speed away from the blissful and inspiring time we were having, we checked out of our room after we had breakfast and sat in the lounge and continued writing well into the afternoon. The sun was shining and the temperatures were hot – the car thermometer said it was 28 degrees Celsius outside.

We took our time driving home, stopping for lunch and a little bit of retail therapy along the route, neither of us really wanting the weekend to end and have to face the reality of our lives. As much as I like to fantasize about living the life of being pampered and with nothing to do but write, eat, and sleep, I’m sure it would get boring after a while. A long while maybe, but…

Here’s hoping the last few weekends continue to inspire and the ideas and words keep flowing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where does inspiration come from?

Inspiration for stories can come from almost anywhere. Sometimes, even when you don’t think the subject matter in question is for your stories.

This past weekend I attended the year-end workshop of our local Romance Writers group. It was amazing. I can’t thank the executive enough for arranging the day.

When I looked at the agenda I wasn’t sure if I would use anything I was going to learn in my stories but being a curious sort, like most writers are, I was eager to attend and learn new things. I loaded my purse with a pen and a writing tablet and headed to meet the group.

First on the agenda was the K-9. We listened to one of the handlers from our local police department talk about how his dog and the other K-9 officers work. He gave us a hand-out which will come in handy for those writers who wish to write a scene with a K-9 unit featured. I didn’t think that was me but the wheels started churning while I sat in the bleachers at the training field listening. I may not have a tracking dog in my story but other ideas were prompted by what was said, and what I watched. After a question and answer period with the handler we then got to witness the dog work. Even with all of us standing around and talking, he remained focused on the task he was there to do. He was certainly well trained and understood his role.

We shared some laughs and learned a lot about the process of tracking. The handler said most of his calls were for tracking people, and most of those were not criminals. They get a lot of missing persons calls.

The dog we watched is trained to track and is also a drug dog. Some dogs have other duties, such as bomb detection and finding cadavers. Just as our session with the handler was ending he was called to work a crime scene including drugs. He was on duty and duty called.

Next on our list was to visit the Forensic Laboratory in our city. This lab is responsible for all the autopsies for accidents victims, homicides, suicides, and sudden deaths with no previous medical history.

We toured the autopsy suite. It was quite the eye-opening experience. For the most part people do not want to think about what goes on there, but we all have our own ideas, some of which are not right. The forensic pathologist and the nurse that works with her were informative and they were wonderful at explaining things without making it off-putting. Think of the challenging job they have – trying to discover the exact cause of death, when the person cannot speak for themselves. Their compassion for others and the passion for their jobs certainly came through and they were more than willing to share their expertise with us.

We saw the equipment used and were able to ask questions about different things we saw. The pathologist also explained the law that governs them and how they meticulously keep data to ensure their files are the best they can be should they have to appear in court. Lots of ideas for scenes in a story started circling in my imagination.

The last stop on the tour was at a local fire-station. We were shown around the building and told what a normal day in the life of a firefighter at that station would be. Although people like to joke about the fact they are always cooking, they do spend 24 hours on shift and they need to eat. Hey wait, there wasn’t a batch of cookies waiting for us.

They may have a quiet shift, but that does not mean they just sit around all day watching TV. There are lots of chores that each station is tasked with and must be completed by the end of the shift. Fires are not their only hazard. The station we attended also has the hazardous materials van and team. Fighting fires is dangerous work, but some of the chemicals they come in contact with today can be even more hazardous to their lives.

We saw the equipment on each of the trucks and were told what their use was. The latest tool in their arsenal is the drone. They have firefighters that are certified pilots to fly them. We were shown how one works and as a bonus they took our group picture with it.

The platoon of firefighters we met were all interested in talking with our group. Each had their jobs as part of the team and were there to walk us through all the parts they were responsible for. Like the other presenters we met, they were passionate about their jobs and more than willing to help us understand what they do.

All the way home my mind was working overtime. How could I use all or part of the information I learned in my work in progress or other stories? I opened my notebook as soon as I got in the door of my house and added in little tidbits I’d heard but not recorded. I didn’t want to forget anything.

The next day I started writing ideas in my ideas book, and now three days later I am still thinking up ideas and itching to put them down somewhere safe to use at a later date.

Lately, I’ve been having a bit of a writers’ slump, but this session has set my thinking gears in motion.

Well, I’m off to write in my book some more. Until next time…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The end of May

The last full week of May is upon us. Where has the first 5 months of the year gone? I’ve been in a writing slump and have not managed to finish anything worthwhile to send to an editor, let alone publish. I’ve continued to slug away at stories, trying to keep my writing practice intact. My business plan is getting slashed but I am still hopefully I will have something ready to upload before the year is over. I’ve tried to figure out what is causing the lack of motivation but can’t quite pin it down, or more truthfully, I’m not willing to admit to the root cause! The lack of motivation has also spread to posting on this blog.

Here’s to better days ahead!

On another note, the end of May signals the end of Lobster Fishing season in my area. My husband went out on one of the boats yesterday to give the captain a hand. (He has his license to be on the boat, and has been on board previously.) The early morning weather was perfect. A little cool but the seas were flat calm. Noon hour saw the winds pick up and with them the waves. Not big swells, but big enough that after 8 hours in them one tends to find their body still swaying when they get home.

Because of a tiny little boat problem early in the day, they didn’t get in until after 8 pm. When he arrived home an hour later he had a couple of lobsters with him that needed to be cooked. It was too late to sit and eat it hot, dripping in butter, so we cooled the lobster and put them in the fridge. Today for lunch we had yummy lobster sandwiches and there was enough lobster left over to freeze a bag full for a lobster dip. The dip is one of my signature dishes to take to parties.

Our 3-year-old cat has never shown interest in lobster, our poodle however, usually drives us crazy begging for it. We couldn’t pry the dog off the coach with a piece this morning, she wasn’t interested. But the cat nearly drove my husband and I crazy wrapping himself around our legs while we were shelling them. His meows became louder and louder until he was practically screaming at us for a taste. My husband caved first and put a tiny piece on his food tray. Our dainty eater gobbled it up faster than I’ve ever witnessed him eat anything and came back asking, very loudly, for more. After another couple of pieces, he was finally satisfied and went off to our bed where snoozed off his treat. I wish I could join him…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Change or Rest?

“They” say a change is as good as a rest, so I took a much-needed break from writing to fill up my creative soul.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on different types of crafts. My grandchildren look at Pinterest with their mother and they send me Pins they would like Nana to make. Below are the results of two I recently received. The large Unicorn and the large “Batman” like figures. They are 18 inches tall.

There is also a local fundraiser for a children’s camp starting in the next couple of weeks and I thought why not make them a couple of superheroes to sell tickets on. So, I took a pattern I had for a small unicorn and I transformed it into a “Batman” like figure and a “Wonder Woman” like figure. The two for the charity are 11 inches tall. Unfortunately, once my granddaughter saw the “Wonder Woman” like figure she asked me to make her one. I’m happy to report it is almost done. I’ve also come up with other ideas to expand on my creative side. Some may be to sell at craft markets, or at least I’ll have some items made for gifts.

I had fun and using the creative side of my brain to work out designing these dolls has also refilled my writing well. I think I may be ready to head back to the writing cave for a bit.

It’s true, a change is as good as a rest. I can truly attest to that now…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Earth Day 2017

Friday April 21 is Earth Day. The theme this year for is “Earth Play for Earth Day”.

I won’t give you a “when I was a kid” story. I know, I used to roll my eyes when I heard that line come from an adult’s mouth, but…

I moved to the country a couple of years ago. We have a couple of acres of land, some of which is not cleared. My grandchildren love to play outside. Our land has lots of large boulders on it and my granddaughter has named one of them “castle rock”. It is a large flat piece of granite that sticks out of the ground and is bordered on one side by small trees. She and her brother gather up their toy trucks, dolls, shovels, buckets, and sometimes a container of water to mix with the earth to make mud, and take them out in the yard to play with. They will stay outside for hours, and if they are not at “castle rock”, they are in other parts of the yard extending their stories and their adventures. I love to hear their stories as bits and pieces float on the wind to where I sit on the deck.

My favorite place to work is my back deck. I wheel out my laptop desk to the screen gazebo that is there. I get settled in on the comfy love seat or chairs, and the words seem to flow better. The sun, the wind, and the amazing landscape help feed my imagination. It is glorious.

I miss this spot terribly in the winter when the temperatures are freezing and the snow is piling up. The spring finally arrived to my neck of the woods last weekend and we were able to get the gazebo back up. I couldn’t wait to get out there. I’ve spent every possible minute out there since, even if I have to put on my winter coat to do so.

Here’s to a great summer full of sunshine and warm temperature so we can all get out and play!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pet Day

Today is Pet Day.

I can’t remember a day in my life that I didn’t have a pet. Mostly dogs and cats but I have also had a rabbit, a rat, and lots of fish.

Each has held a part of my heart. The dogs that graced my life over the years were my best friends and confidants. My partners in adventures. As an only child, they filled the role of siblings. Someone to go for a walk with, someone to take to the lake swimming and then put in the basket of your two-wheel bike and drive home. Someone to get me out of the house and get me active. But the best part about all of them was the unconditional love. Ceileigh is really good at the unconditional love part.

I also have a Maine Coon cat that I’ve mentioned many times on this blog. He is the one that sets my mornings to rights. We have a morning tradition, that on the rare occasions when we don’t participate in it, are both a little off all day. I will sit at the kitchen table to drink my first coffee and scan through my social media, he will jump up and cuddle in. His constant purring while sitting on my lap sooths my soul and puts a smile on my face. What better way to start the day?

Not one to miss out on the action Ceileigh, my toy poodle, will come over and request to be patted at the same time. Both Coed, and I will lower our “paws” and give Ceileigh what she needs, a little rub on the head.

Both animals follow me to my office in the morning. The cat will either lay on the desk behind the lap-top until I am done or lay on the bench by the window. Ceileigh has her own cushion beside my desk, and she will curl up in a ball and stay there for hours. Most days I leave the office before she does. Her dedication is beyond. If I choose to write on my chaise in the living room you can be assured they are both there with me, either on my lap or laying beside.

I don’t think I see a day when I won’t have at least one pet in my life. The entertainment, the friendship, and most importantly the love makes it all worthwhile.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Make Your Own Sunshine

Mother Nature has her own agenda and nothing the calendar or the groundhog says will change her mind. We had snow on Sunday and there is a Special Weather Statement for our area for tonight and tomorrow. The statement suggests we will get snow, ice pellets, and freezing rain. Accumulation will be anywhere from 5 – 10 cm.

To cheer myself up yesterday, I made a lemon loaf. The sweet, yet tart flavour tastes like spring and sunshine. It is an old recipe I’ve used for years and it never disappoints. We always have an argument in my house over the end pieces. The loaf is glazed with sugar and lemon juice on all sides when it comes out of the oven. The end pieces get more glaze than a centre cut of the loaf so everyone wants one.

To add some sunshine to your day here is the recipe:

Lemon Loaf

½ cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk

½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice


1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice and peel. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; gradually stir into creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.

2. Pour into a greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean.

3. Combine glaze ingredients. Remove bread from pan; immediately drizzle with glaze. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Note the recipe calls to drizzle the glaze over the top of the loaf. I always brush the glaze on all sides of the loaf, with the biggest share being put on the top. And although the recipe says to serve warm, it is equally good served cold the next day.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Where has the time gone?

One year Anniversary Really?

This week marks my one year anniversary as a Retired person. Well, at least in the employer/employee realm. I still work, for myself now a days.

I left my full-time job at the end of March last year. It was a scary time, but also a time to celebrate. I’d been in the work force a long time, over 40 years to be exact. I started my work life at the age of 15 with my first part-time job.

I used to laugh at people when they retired and after a couple of months would say, “I don’t know how I ever managed to work and do other things. The hours fly by, my days are filled to the brim with things to do and yet I feel I don’t accomplish anything.” I was determined that would NOT be me, I would know where every hours was spent and I would be productive.

Before I left my employer for good I sat with my scheduler and made sure I had something in there for most days. It was fat with stickers, tape, drawings, and wonderful colored deadlines and events. I was going to start my new life as an entrepreneur, and nothing was going to stand in my way of succeeding. Look at all the hours I would have each day just to spend on doing those things I always wanted to do…

Fast forward to this week. I have accomplished some of what I set out to do, but life has certainly got in the way of some of my goals. I can’t believe this is the end of March already.

I have bruises and a concussion from two of my set deadlines that ran me over as they flew by. My to-do list has grown, not shrunk, and every day before I know it the morning had turned into afternoon and all the boxes are not ticked in my scheduler. I have turned into one of those people I said I never would.

Ughhh… I’ll have to add another task to my To-Do list. Or maybe I should go back to work for someone else so I can get more things done… NOT!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


According to Webster’s Dictionary this is the definition of the word:

1: responsibility for having done something wrong and especially something against the law.
2: a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct.

And, according to Webster’s Thesaurus here are a few synonyms and antonyms:

Synonyms: Antonyms:
blame innocence
culpability guiltlessness

This is the first time I’ve looked the word up in the dictionary and I have to say I’m surprised at the definition. Why? Well, I’ve been using the word a lot lately when talking to myself and this is not the definition I would have used. Let me explain.

A. When I don’t get to my writing desk or I don’t meet my word goal for the day. I say I feel guilty. I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong and it certainly wasn’t against the law – well maybe Linda’s law but…

B. Someone asks me to do something and I have something else on my schedule for that time period so I say no. Again, I didn’t do anything wrong or against the law…

C. I take time for myself. A nice long walk, a bubble bath, or meeting with friends instead of working on my manuscript or leaving my days open in case someone wants me to do something for them. Is it wrong to do that? Bad conduct? Against the law???

Even more astounding now that I’ve read the definition, is why I think I should feel guilty for any of this. I’m entitled to look after me first or make my own decisions as to what I do with my time am I not? Why is it I feel that everyone else’s priorities are more important than those I’ve chose for myself?

Here’s the thing. I’ve always been this way. I was taught to put everyone else above/before myself. It was the right and neighbourly thing to do. My role models always did, and I live what I learned.

We show/train others how to treat us. I’ve dropped everything and gone to help others so often now it is the expected response from me. Even I know I will say yes. Others don’t feel guilty calling me because they know I will do it. I’ve trained them well.

Problem is, I’m older now (not necessarily all that wiser so I’m finding out), and I struggle with being the one everyone expects to say yes. I still believe it is a good thing to help others out, and I’m all for it, and I will still say yes to some things, but sometimes my needs and wants have to come first.

When I try to tell myself this, I feel guilty (there’s that word again). Then I get angry with myself for feeling this way or for giving in and saying yes when I wanted to say no. Why am I angry at myself? Because I said no and disappointed them, but mostly, because I feel I did a disservice to myself.

I know the world won’t stop if I say no, although the first time I said it, I was in a real state. Heart palpitations, sweaty palms, waiting for the hammer to fall on my head! I held my breath for the reaction from the other person. First there was a shocked look on their face and then they shrugged their shoulders and said. “Okay, I’ll ask someone else. No big deal.”

Even though I know this, I still feel guilty every time I don’t say yes. Old habits die hard and I need to work on this some more.

After all – If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting Ready for the Green

This Friday is St. Patrick’s Day. With the name O’Toole I have no choice but to celebrate, right?.

We will have stew made with Guinness Beer and Irish soda bread to go with it. I can’t wait!

Of course, I will have on my St. Patrick’s day shirt and I even have green color for streaks in my hair.

What is Irish Soda Bread?

The essential ingredients in a traditional Irish soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The acid in buttermilk reacts with the base of the baking soda to provide the bread’s leavening.

You can bake it in a cast iron frying pan –the traditional way- or on a regular baking sheet. I will use a regular baking sheet this year because I will be making two of these loaves to feed the crowd.

Soda bread dries out quickly so is only good for a day or two. It is best eaten freshly baked, warm from the oven and slathered with butter.

Irish Soda Bread

• 4 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute 1/2 the all-purpose flour with whole wheat if you like)
• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups buttermilk (I usually don’t purchase buttermilk but use the substitutions below so I don’t waste the left-over milk.)


In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in middle of the flour, and add buttermilk all at once. 

Use your hands to mix buttermilk into flour to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the dough a few times to make a smooth ball.

Place loaf onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. With sharp knife, score a large ‘X’ on the top of the dough. Bake in the center of a 425 F (220 C) oven for about 35 minutes. The loaf is done when browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve warmed with butter and honey.

There are a number of substitutes for buttermilk in baking. For each cup of buttermilk, you can use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes. (I use vinegar when I am making mine.) You can also use 1 cup of plain yogurt or 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar plus 1 cup milk.

Thanks to Canadian Living Magazine Website for this recipe. I’ve taken the liberty to change it to suit my taste.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment