Monday, August 20, 2012

The Great White Combine

Well, summer is passing into autumn. Though the days are still long here on the southern prairies of Alberta with the light lingering till ten in the evening, fall is in the air. Harvest has begun, but what might have been a bumper crop has fallen victim to the Great White Combine in some areas. Last Tuesday was hot and dry, the sun burned bright in the blue Alberta sky. Bees buzzed happily in my garden, clinging to the bobbing stalks of delphinium and crawling into the sweet depths of the roses. I hung my washing out to dry in the sweet prairie air. Peace lay on the land in a blessing as the prairie dreamed under the sky.
In a mater of minutes, the sky darkened to a greenish gray, almost black, and the clouds gathered on the northwestern horizon. Piling up and moving fast until there was almost no light at all. Darker than twilight. The wind rose and howled through the wires, the huge lilac tree that embraces the whole southwest corner of my little house beat itself against the window. Tree branches whirled and danced in circles. The rain came in sheets, waves of it blowing like curtains across the yard, the wind increased and the rain became horizontal. Then the storm demons opened their pockets and hail bounced six inches off the ground as it hit and rebounded. I ran to hold a pillow against the only north window the house has to absorb the force of the ice balls hitting the single pane glass. (I live in a very old small farm house built in the early 20th century. The caraganas whipped in the howling wind, their tiny lace like leaves plastered against the glass. The visibility was non existent, the air so white it appeared to be blizzarding outside. Thirty minutes later and the thunder rumbled to the southeast, on its way to the Siksika Nation where it tore the roof off a house and tossed grain bins around like toys. The earth drew a sigh of relief. The yard was covered in broken limbs, shredded leaves and puddles of icy water. Hail lay in drifts where the wind piled it like seaweed on a beach. My laundry was everywhere, blown 50 feet or more from the line. Broken clothes pegs littered the lawn. My beautiful garden lay trashed and broken. But out of the chaos comes hope. They will recover and bloom again in the spring. We have been spared many storms this summer and having the chance to enjoy my garden this far into the summer is a boon. Life on the prairie is never predictable.The barley fields all around me are full of broken stalks and shattered seed heads. The shredded leaves and almost ripe grain are strewn across the road, there are so many leaves ripped from the trees on the road that there are two tire tracks through the mass of crushed green where cars have passed. The Great White Combine of the prairies always leaves a devastating path behind it. It is a good thing farmers and gardeners are an optimistic bunch, because just like the end of hockey season- There is always next year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August Dreaming on a Summer's Day

The blue cup of the sky is above me, deep and infinite with that intense blue that only an Alberta sky is capable of. The water breathes against my skin cooling my body as the sun heats my face. Behind me the snap and pop of caragana pods bursting is a sharp counter point to the chatter of birds crowding the weeping branches. High above the cry and echo of the hunting hawks pierce the somnolent dance of the afternoon. The land lays dreaming under the sky as do I. The ripening barley ripples in the wind as it sweeps out of the west.
Great anvil thunderheads gather in the north, beautiful in their power they tower thousands of feet in the air. The tops white and silver touched with gold, darkening to pearl and gray and finally the dark plum of bruises as the behemoth nears the bottom. Somewhere, there is hail and rain and strong wind, but here on my little bit of prairie the sun shines and the breeze dances in the delphiniums of my garden. I dream with the land of the days when the buffalo were spread across the undulating landscape. Moving to the rhythms of the seasons and the earth beneath them. When the storm demons lash the earth buffalo do not run before the storm like cattle and horses do but instead turn those shaggy heads and massive shoulders into the storm and meet it head on. Rather than be driven by the elements, buffalo challenge it and by going against the wind travel through the weather and emerge on the other side into the sun.
A hawk settles on the fence post nearby and takes my attention from the buffalo memories to focus on the fierce feral golden gaze. The bird preens his feathers for a bit and then stretches his wings wide. In a single motion the hawk is airborne and floating on the updrafts, circling the city of gophers by the slough. Tiny whistles of alarm ring sharply into the dust gold air as the dark shadow slides over the prairie grasses. August dreaming on a sunny afternoon, peace and stillness spilling over me.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Hi Everyone, I got a very nice surprise this morning. In my inbox was an email from the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America International Digital Awards YA category co-ordinator. A STEP SIDEWAYS-book 2 in the Cornwall Adventures-was named a Finalist. While it did't win it is quite an honor to be a finalist. This is the first award for A Step Sideways and I am very proud of it.
They have sent me a nifty badge to show off so here it is!
To read short excerpt from this story you can visit my webpage and click on the A Step Sideways page. More soon, it is Monday and I played hooky all weekend so now I must play catchup.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Clothes Waving In The Wind

Contrary to the title of this post, I am not running sky clad across the prairie with my garments streaming behind me. But I got your attention didn't I? What I'm actually referring to is hanging laundry on the clothes line. I know, how mundane is that? Every thing is relative I suppose, pinning clothes on the line in bright Alberta sunlight with the blue cup of the endless firmament above me turned out to be a spiritual thing. Who knew? I lugged a load of sheets out to hang up to dry. They smell so much nicer when they dry in the prairie wind. While I threw the material over the line the sun shone on my garden which is just behind the clothes line and I caught the orange of day lily, the purple and green of chives and the brilliant magenta of painted daisies. The honey bees wrangled with the bumble bees for the best spots to drink nectar while the heavy buds of the peonies nodded in the breeze. It is a miracle how those tiny ants stay stuck to the bouncing buds without getting hurled off. I straightened the sheet and plucked clothes pins off the hem of my sleeve to secure the material to the line. The stiff breeze bellied the sheet while I attempted to pin it in place, the ends snapped wetly in their attempt to escape and follow the wind over the ten foot high caragana wind break. I emerged the victor and reached for the next victim, I mean sheet. I stood for a moment with the sun warm on my face, the wind swirling my hair in my eyes, holding the wet sheet in my arms. The magpies gossiped loudly in the maze of moving caragana branches, this year's babies now fledged and clumsily attempting to catch the updraft and land on the roof of the barn. This even involved much loud screaming by the rest of the fledglings, whether it was encouragement or derision, is hard to say. Returning to my task, I wrestled the sheet onto the line and pinned it securely while the hot dry prairie wind attempted to steal it.
One of the Swainson's Hawks that nest across the road hung on the wind current above me, head turned to fix me with that steely gaze. It lingered for a moment and then soared to land on the top of the hydro pole where it sits every morning. It must be a good place to survey the gopher city that exists in my pasture. The barn swallows are raising a family in the rafters of the barn again this year and zip in and out oblivious to the huge raptor perched close by. Soon there will be tiny heads poking out of the nest and then they babies will learn to fly and perch themselves on the old wires in the barn all in a line.
Such treasures are mine, and I pause to give thanks that I have the time to see these wonders with my heart and my eyes. So many things we take for granted in our modern lives, the life giving warmth of the sun, the movements of the wind, the rush of water from out taps. Take a moment to think how wonderful the return of the warmth of the sun is after the long dark days of winter, lit by moonlight on frozen snow. How the thawing of the earth and the first sprouts of green were a life giving miracle after a winter of dried provision gathered the previous summer. Water at the turn of a tap is a great boon, imagine having to carry any water you required from the stream or well. Five gallon pails of water are heavy and when you are doing a wash or filling a bath it would take a few trips. Then, there is the issue of hot water, how precious it is when you have to heat each gallon over an open fire, something not to be used frivolously. Without the bounty of the natural world mankind could not flourish and I am reminded constantly to express my gratitude and thanks to the wonders that surround me. Each time I turn the tap and water spurts forth I say thank you. I have been without water and it is truly a desolate feeling. When I was young our well ran dry each summer and even during the rest of the year we were very careful with it. Baths were less than two inches in the bottom of the tub and showers were short.
I finish pegging the last sheet to the line, laugh one more time at the antics of the magpies and call a greeting to the hawk who lifts off the pole and drifts on the wind toward the gopher city to the north of the barn. I turn to go back in the house with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. All this from hanging a load of laundry. I am truly blessed. May your world be filled with light and love.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

When Words Collide Festival in Calgary this August

There's lots going on in Cowtown this summer. Not only is the Calgary Stampede celebrating 100 years but the fantastic writers and readers festival, When Words Collide is happening again this August. This is a great place to talk books whether you read 'em or write 'em. Tons of authors, published and non-published, editors, publishers, there is something for everyone. Mark August 10-12, 2012 on your calendar and plan to attend. The cost is a mere $55 for the whole weekend until August 1, 2012 when the price goes up to $65. Still a deal. There are readings, pitch sessions, a Blue Pencil Cafe where you can show your work to professional editors and the ever popular Live Action Slush where author can submit a couple of pages of their work and have it read aloud while a panel of four editors and/or publishers assess it. This event was so popular last year that they have more than one session this year. The room was packed last time. I am honored to participating this year. I am sitting on two poetry panels, a Live Action Slush panel and a Blue Pencil Cafe. I will also be doing a reading from one of my published novels on Sunday at 3 pm. I am still deciding if I will read from Laurel's Miracle, A Step Sideways (both from The Cornwall Adventure Series) or Christmas Storm-A Longview Romance. I love them all. I'm just saying, putting it out there...there might be some free stuff if you show up to listen...just saying... Okay, yes it is bribery of a sort, but it would be nice to have a full room. I guess I should tell you all where the Festival will be held shouldn't I? It is at the Best Western Village Park Inn, Calgary, Alberta. If you visit the When Words Collide website there is a link to the hotel reservations and festival goers get a special rate. So don't delay, do it today! I'll even make it easy-- here is the link to the site When Words Collide I hope to see you there. Be sure to stop and say 'Hi'. I am thrilled to represent MuseItUp Publishing at this event. MuseItUp Publishing is a Canadian house situated in Montreal, Quebec. The publisher is Lea Schizas, a dynamic lady who goes the extra mile for her authors. MuseItUp Publishing is a traditional royalty paying house. Books are released first in eformat and there is an option offered in the contract to give the house print rights for the period of one year from the release of the ebook. If MuseItUp chooses not to exercise that option, print rights revert to the author. Looking forward to meeting tons of interesting and talented people this August. See you there!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ACK Social Media is going to be the death of me!

Just this morning I see a note saying I should sign up for Pinterest. I mean, for heaven's sake, I could spend the whole day just updating my social media accounts. Twitter, Facebook, the MuseitUp Publishing Blog, my own blog, my website and a host of other places I have a presence. Does it never stop? It would seem not.
Not to mention that once I get the hang of posting and tweeting and Lord knows what else, they go and change the dang thing. If something isn't broke please don't 'fix' it. Seems like ever few months one site or another gets a 'new look', whether its a new timeline or a new feature which I can now access but will never use, something is always changing. I suppose maybe it is the way of the world now, a whole generation has been raised with the expectation of instant gratification. No longer do we have to wait for the mail to bring us news of loved ones, email does that. Pictures and images appear instantly on our computer screens, no waiting to have them developed or to arrive via snail mail. Weddings and family gatherings are at our fingertips and with Skype and other similar media we can be there virtually.
Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this, per se, but there is something to be said for learning patience.
To get back to the point, however, I'm just not sure how many more social media sites I can juggle. But I do have to admit, the thought of one of my book covers going viral is very appealing. So, perhaps I will jump on the Pinterest  band wagon and try not to fall off and be ground into dust by the ever quickening wheels of social media. See you on FB, twitter, Triberr, etc  Don't you think it would be cool if one of my covers went viral??? Oh, be still my beating heart!