Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Found, One cat. Lost, One Heart

It started when my youngest daughter phoned me Saturday night. We were catching up with old friends at the lake, and she was back at our cottage. There's a cat outside, she said. A kitten, actually. What do I do? Tell her not to feed it, said my husband. Too late, she replied.

At first I tried to ignore this little cat. She hung around the cottage, meowing hellos every time I walked by a window.

She followed me up the road, and disappeared into the woods towards one of the rental cottages next door. I figured someone must have brought her up to the lake and she escaped. Maybe she'll find her way home.

She turned up again the next morning, and wrapped herself around my ankles. My husband took one look at my face and said "absolutely, positively, NO MORE CATS." I could hear her pitiful meowing in the woods that night, and prayed one of the hawks or local foxes wouldn't find her. In the morning, she was back again and for the past four days, she has slept under the porch and popped out from under the steps every morning. It's your fault, said my husband. You fed it. It won't leave now, it won't ever leave.

No More Pets, he said again. Then he left for the city and I stayed at the lake with Fred. (Well, I have to call her something.)

I posted notices. I called every shelter, vet and animal rescue place I could think of. I fed Fred and resisted patting her. I didn't want to get attached. But her fur was so soft, and she has a habit of reaching up and batting my hands with soft paws until I relented. She bounces up to reach my hand, closing her eyes in rapture.

I posted notices. I phoned neighbours. After calling every shelter, vet and animal rescue place I could think of, I called Hilary who runs the shop where I buy my pet food. She suggested another couple of pet rescue places but they too said no sorry, too full. The problem is, everyone moves on July 1st in Quebec, and many people (too many) dump their pets. So the SPCA and shelters and vets are full to the rafters with abandoned pets and if I give up Fred she will most definitely be put down.

Hilary then thought of someone she ran into at the grocery store the other day, a former customer who had lost her cat and was considering another one.

I called, we talked and I explained the situation. Fred is a lovely calico cat, with an engaging personality. She is sweet and gentle and comical, everything a cat should be. She is not afraid of Buddy, in fact she walked up to him and sniffed his nose, then rubbed against his chest. When I pick her up, she flips upside down and stretches out fully, then drops to the ground as though made of liquid.

As the woman and I exchanged information, she called me by the wrong name. I laughed and said how odd it was to use that particular name, as it's an unusual one here in Quebec and it's my daughter's name. Then when I corrected her and gave my full name, there was a pause and she asked if my husband was a dentist.

Turns out we met on an airplane many, many years ago, as we both flew back from London. We exchanged stories of lost luggage and delayed flights. Then we learned that she knew my niece from soccer. Small world, we chuckled. What a coincidence, we agreed. And we got off the plane and never spoke again.

Until today.

I've tried for three hours (and counting) to email a photo of this lost cat. Now I'm trying one last time to get a photo up on my blog. I'm hoping this works and that Fred will be adopted. She's too sweet not to go to someone who can love her.

So here is Fred, the cat who showed up on my doorstep this week.

Here's hoping.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vicki Pettersson and City of Souls

This impossibly gorgeous, funny-as-hell friend of mine Vicki Pettersson is not only an amazing novelist and brilliant workshop leader (seriously, her workshop at last year's SiWC was inspiring, moving, and simply one of the best classes I've ever attended) but Ms Vicki is a former Vegas showgirl.
She just posted this Showgirl 101 video on YouTube in which the "bevel" and the "full slap" are explained. Maybe you've always wanted to give it a go. Vicki tells you all you need to know. I would try it, but it turns out I'm just not tall enough. Otherwise, I'd be covered in glitter and feathers and strutting my stuff, oh you know it, baby.

Vicki's latest book in the Zodiac series, CITY OF SOULS, is coming out June 30th. Go to Vicki's website for more info (she's doing a live podcast on July 2nd) and if you haven't read any of her books, just stop what you're doing, right now, and go get 'em. The first one, THE SCENT OF SHADOWS, has just gone into its SEVENTH printing!)

Go Vicki!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Pioneer Woman Cooks up a Book!

Bless Ree Drummond's little country heart, her alter ego and mega-blogger extraordinaire The Pioneer Woman is publishing a cookbook.

Now a lot of her recipes contain more butter and cream than my local superstore's dairy case, and that's just....well...that's just...oh for crying out loud, if I'm being honest, that's pretty awesome actually. What's wrong with a bit o' butter and cream?

AB-so-lute-ly noth-ing.

That's where taste comes from, people! Do I make her chocolate sheet cake everyday? No. Do I want to? Never mind. The point is, that chocolate sheet cake is perfect for special occasions, like days that end in 'y'.

Some of The Pioneer Woman's recipes have become family favourites. Take Penne a la Betsy. (If you can - you have to move fast in this house because it disappears quicker than teenagers when it's time to do the dirty dishes.) The only recipe I haven't like so far is the Asian Noodle Salad - far too salty and garlicky for my tastes, but I just made a few adjustments like cutting back on the soya sauce and garlic and voila - crunchy, healthy awesomeness. And you can have chocolate cake for dessert, guilt free.

The Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies is the next recipe I'm going to taste-drive. We have a cottage party coming up, and they look like the perfect appetizer to serve with cold beer on a hot summer's night by the lake. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Movie UP

My son, my eldest daughter and her boyfriend, all in their twenties, invited me to join them to see the movie UP. We went on a whim to a matinee, knowing nothing about it except it was a Pixar film. I knew I would be in for a treat. Pixar never disappoints.

UP is a beautiful, funny, soulful film with a deep abiding message of hope and love.

Then I saw this article today which is making the rounds on blogs and news sites. It seems to be legit, as Snopes has nothing on its site to dispute it.

Colby Curtin, a 10-year-old with a rare form of cancer, was staying alive for one thing – a movie.

From the minute Colby saw the previews to the Disney-Pixar movie UP
, she was desperate to see it. Colby had been diagnosed with vascular cancer about three years ago, said her mother, Lisa Curtin, and at the beginning of this month it became apparent that she would die soon and was too ill to be moved to a theater to see the film. After a family friend made frantic calls to Pixar to help grant Colby her wish, Pixar came to the rescue.

The company flew an employee with a DVD of Up, which is only in theaters, to the Curtins’ Huntington Beach home on June 10 for a private viewing of the movie.

Colby died about seven hours after seeing the film.

Pixar not only went out of their way to grant this child her dying wish, but they are downplaying their involvement. They refused to release names of those involved and declined to comment on the story. This is a company with heart.

What's in your garden?

While I was meandering about in my (neighbour's) garden last week...
trying to figure out what is what,
and having little luck, (seriously, what IS that, above?)
I decided to just stop and smell the - - well, you know.
and it was all fine and dandy.
until I came across this, below. This really caught my attention. It was just sitting there. In a window well. Begging to have its photo taken.

What is it, you say?
Roofing nails, held by copper wire, resting on top of a rusty tin can of leftover tar, with the beauty and symmetry of an old nautilus shell.

Cool beans. Beauty can be found in the oddest of places.

What's hiding in your garden?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Brink!

It's my sister's birthday today and I didn't send her a card. I'm a bad sister, bad.

So I'm going to wish her a very (public)

Happy Birthday, my dear sistah, Brenda!!

I shall go forth and eat cake in your honour. It's the right thing to do. No, no. Don't thank me. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for you.

Check out the cool special effects I applied to this photo. They call it "seventies effect" and I think it looks pretty authentic. Yup, you would almost swear this was taken in the seventies.

Now someone tell me, why am I sticking my fingers in her neck like I'm checking for a pulse?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Habitat, Surfers and Montreal

Last weekend we had dinner with friends at their Habitat 67 condo in Montreal. I've seen photos of Habitat, and I've viewed it from downtown, but I've never been inside one of the units. The architect, Moshe Safdie, designed this complex as part of Expo 67, initially as an exhibit and it served both as a pavilion for visitors and as housing for dignitaries. Safdie's vision was to build a thousand of these units, but only 158 were completed. Once Expo was over, they turned into permanent housing for a lucky few.

These are stacked, modular units with more than a dozen different floor plans, made out of concrete and designed to give "privacy, fresh air, sunlight and suburban amenities in an urban location." The units are surrounded by water - the harbor was to the north, and the rapids of the Saint Lawrence to the south. It presents almost like a child's set of building blocks left on the floor but it's described as being in the shape of a ziggurat. (Yes, I had to look it up 'ziggurat' too.)

There's real movement and excitement when walking through the complex and your eyes can't stay in one spot long because there's so much to see. Pedestrian walkways zigzag throughout, and there's a covered walkway along the roof to a shared deck area. Despite being minutes from downtown Montreal, you feel as though you are in a special oasis. Each condo is designed to have its own private deck, which then forms the roof of the unit below. It really was an amazing place.

Luckily I had the foresight to bring my camera, because when we went up to the rooftop deck, this is what I saw. See that little black speck in the rapids?

That's a surfer. In Montreal. In the rapids of the Saint Lawrence River. A surfer.

They surf on what is known as a 'standing wave' or stationary wave. This is a spot in the rapids that remains constant, so these crazy souls propel themselves via a giant rubber band into the river and ride the wave until they get tired, or they fall and are swept away, like this guy:

There's also something called a 'recycling hole' which can suck you in, and spin you around and around until you drown. It was freaky seeing these guys fall off their boards and get swept down the river, I'll tell you.

I followed their progress downriver and spied this, our famous geodesic dome, the Montreal Biosphere, formerly the American Pavilion of Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller.
And as the sun began to set, I was coaxed back to the party. The rest of the gang was drawn to the TV and the Stanley Cup playoff game. (Hey, it's Montreal. Hockey is a religion, not a sport.) So I sat on the deck, sipped my drink and ate exquisite appetizers offered by a tuxedoed young man. The breeze lifted my hair and cooled me, the faint roar of the rapids lulled me, and I watched as the city slipped into night.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Life as a Book Editor

In the form of a cartoon. You can have a look Here. Thanks to Nathan Bransford for the link.

And if you've ever attended the Surrey International Writers' Conference and the "Surrey Idol" - where a panel of agents listen as Jack Whyte reads the first page (paragraph, sentence, word...) from a pile of unpublished manuscripts until enough agents raise their hands to indicate "STOP!" - you'll know it's not too far off the mark.

Bon week-end à tous! I'm off to prime the pump.

(I know it sounds like a euphemism from the urban dictionary of slang but I'm being quite literal.)

And here are some random photos for Brenda. Because she asked. Go Nikon D200! And kudos to the 50mm lens. I'm in love with that puppy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Poppies Have Finally Arrived

Look at these beauties, bursting into life.
The petals are like crepe paper crushed in a handbag.The rain left its mark, and the petals fold inward, protecting their hearts.

And there are other flowers in the garden, if you can look past the blinding beauty of the poppies.
These peach coloured iris made me swoon.

Oh, look. Here's the one who does the actual work along with her mistress and commander, Kathy. I say commander, but in truth, The Boss makes homemade muffins, hard-boiled eggs and coffee for her garden minion before sending her out to tiptoe through the tulips. Sweet.
Saying hi, from the mosquito infested garden down the street.

(I thought I'd try a black background for a change. Thoughts?)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Red hair, palindromes, vegetarians and diaries

Just stumbled across this post today and I think it's worth sharing.

Joelle Anthony wrote a list of 25 most over-used things in YA and MG fiction. She called the article RED HAIR'S NOT AS UNCOMMON AS YOU THINK, and it came about when she was reading a lot of novels aimed at young readers and noticed some common threads.

First she laughed, then she took notes. She ended up with a list of 25 things that show up repeatedly. Things like best friends with red hair (#2) and the mean-spirited cheerleader (and her gang) as the story's antagonist (#13) and the dead mother (#12) a theme which Disney seems to embrace as well. See if you can name one Disney movie where the main character has two parents. (Cinderella? Nope. Dumbo? Nope. Bambi? Don't go there.)

If you want to read the whole list, check out Joelle's blog HERE.

(more flower photos tomorrow!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dragon Boat Race

I was lucky enough to be part of the annual Dragon Boat Races on the Lachine Canal yesterday, albeit in the form of photographer, not paddler along with fellow photographer Brenda Chance who was responsible for some of these great long shots. Despite the chilly temperatures we had a blast, and not only did our team, the Lake Louisa Loonies, take first place in the race, we raised the most money for the Missing Children's Network! This year, the total was a record $104,621!

Our team consisted of a great group of friends from the lake, generous people with big hearts and can-do spirit, led by the indomitable Tom Ropeleski (back row, far left.) This is a man who retired from teaching, then cycled across Canada to raise money for this charity. Go Tom! Go Loonies! There was something profoundly moving about participating alongside our own kids when so many children go missing every year. It was wonderful to be able to support such a fantastic charity and spend the day with friends.

There are some nice portraits
(that's Cap'n Tom above)

some congratulatory hugs

Boys will be boys....
Bonus points for the first one to identify what this is. It's made of an old tennis ball, duct tape and hockey tape. And no, it's not a fake mic for singing karaoke.