Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Writing - Postcard Competition

Here is a postcard story I am thinking of sending in to a competition here in Canada.  The rule is for 250 words --- this has 251.  I am sure I can find a word that I can delete.   :)  

Gone!  (working title)
    Janet's love for Lewis had been haemorraging for a long time. The fact that he had made a fool of her again, in front of their friends was a moment of freedom. She looked at him, at his haughty face, thinking himself so clever, so superior. “We are talking business, Janet, because that's what puts food on our table,” he said, the sarcasm dripping from his mouth like invisible vomit.
     Janet sighed, thinking back over the last few months. She knew he was having an affair because she had hired a private detective to get proof . At last, she didn't care anymore. She would no longer be a victim of his beligerant moods; awoken late at night with lying excuses, the other womans' perfume wafting in the air of their bedroom. Lewis thought she was stupid, that she needed him, and that he could get away with anything. He didn't see her leave the party.
     Janet had prepared for this day. She had quietly sought legal counsel, and had set aside money in a separate bank account. She had already sold all her jewelry, even her engagement ring; replaced expensive paintings with cheap prints, the same with furniture; all sold for that possible future when she would get the courage to leave. The fool actually believed she was redecorating.
     She left the house defiantly littered with the photos of him and his mistress, doing what they thought was secret.  One, blown up to human size at the front door.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Movies - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

My daughter and I went to see this movie in 2D last Saturday night.  It was good, but I preferred the first Narnia movie.  I bet most people will say the same.  I do intend seeing the 3D version, and maybe that will change my opinion.  The dragon and monster scenes were exciting, and in 3D, must look even more thrilling.  I found the evil/good contrast very weak.  I liked the bratty cousin who finds his courage and new attitude.

For me, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader gets 3/5 stars.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holidays - Happy Hanukkah

I found this awesome song about Hanukkah, and would like to share it.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holidays - Christmas is Coming!

Slowly, but surely the Christmas lights are appearing on our street.  Some people really go all out, to the point you can barely see their house, so loaded are they with lights and other decorations.  Our house, so far, has only an outline of white lights around our front door.  We are one of those minimalists ... a string of coloured lights around the eaves, white lights around the front door, and a Christmassy wreath hanging on said front door.  Inside, we put up our tree, but not nearly as soon as our neighbors.  We decorate ours mid-December.  I guess you can see who the immigrants on the street are, 'eh!!!

The shops are getting busier by the day.  I'm already getting sick of the same carols playing throughout the malls, and stores.  Sometimes, I send gifts through Amazon, or similar online outlet, just so I don't have to go out to shop.  So much easier for me to send to those loved ones living far away. 

What I love about Christmas is the smiles on peoples faces.  Joy fills the air, not just the commercial kind, but the true type where people are thinking of others, helping each other, and giving more to those who have little or nothing.  This is the time when food bulges at the Salvation Army containers at the doors of the grocery stores. I hope it stretches far into the new year, when it slowly slacks off.

More comments to come about Christmas .......

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cooking - It's Soup Makin' Time!

It's been snowing all week ... the snow that should've been non-existent in this so-called temperate climate here on the west coast of Canada.  The snow and cold that drove us away from the interior, where -20 deg. C in winter is a balmy day.

I made my first pot of soup for the season yesterday, and it was delicioso, if I do say so myself.  This is how I made it:

I slightly braised a large chopped onion in a blob of butter (just until it was cooked through, not too browned), then chopped a red pepper and added it to the large pot with the onion.  In went two celery stalks, 1 large sweet potato (the white kind), a bunch of carrots (I think I had about eight medium sized ones left in the 'fridge) and a potato, all peeled and chopped.  I also added some chopped ginger, all the while adding a dash of water here and there to prevent burning.  The stove was on medium.  Then I poured in a whole carton of pre-prepared chicken stock - 500 ml, and a teaspoon of crushed garlic, and let the pot simmer for a long while at medium/low (about 30 minutes or so, until all the veggies were soft).  Once that was done, I whizzed it with my immersion whisk until everything was slush.  I continued cooking, threw in some salt to taste, white pepper, and a small carton of half and half cream.  Also, 2 teaspoons of hot curried mixture (I like a bit of a bite). I cooked everything through for about another half hour, then left it to cool just a tad - five minutes or so.  I served it with hot rosemary bread.

It was so scrumptious! The kids loved it too.  Does anyone else have off the cuff soup recipes you'd like to share? It's one thing I know how to cook well, so I make it a lot during the fall/winter season.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Writing - Estrogen Evening

This is a non-fiction piece I will be handing into class today.  I had to write about an immersion experience in 800 words.  I probably have loads of grammatical errors ... a weakness of mine.  Sigh!  Debbie

Estrogen Evening

Chocolate was everywhere. The Bernard Callebaut type of chocolate, white, silver-wrapped, nutty chocolate, custardy balls of pastry dipped in chocolate, and chocolate cakes cloaked in chocolate. Everything sweet seemed to be dripping with chocolate. There were also some savoury snacks: cheese, crackers, cold meats, the odd hot wing at the end of the evening. Champagne with bits of chocolate at the bottom of the glass was served by smartly dressed waiters, and you could also grab a glass of pink bubbles at a central table.
My friend, Beth, kindly treated me to the Chicks and Chocolate function held on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at the Port Theatre in downtown Nanaimo, British Columbia. The event was to raise funds in support of the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra. It started at 6.00 p.m., but we arrived a little late, so we missed the chocolate and champagne fountain and being greeted by the Timbermen B and VI Raiders players. I was not keen on going. I am not a girly type of woman and neither is Beth. But she got the tickets for free, and there was chocolate to be had, so we decided to go.
As we entered the foyer, we found ourselves amidst a sea of women of every size and age, some dressed casually, and others seemed to have just come from work. The Red Hat Society ladies were flamboyantly spreading their rosy joy through the crowd, chatting and joking. They stood out with their red and purple hats, some with ribbons and bows, and others with feathers and shiny metals of silver and gold. Shades of crimson, white, coral pink and yellow roses were placed in large containers throughout the space, knitting the scene together. We resolutely waded into the perfumed, chatty, feminine ocean of sights and sounds and smells.
There were wares and services intended to attract female customers at various tables. I vaguely remember jewelry, cosmetics, a health and wellness clinic, botox information, and there was a Mystic Room, where one could get a peek at your future. We got a guest pass at the Nanaimo Athletic Club table, which I intend to use after eating all that chocolate. There were also classes throughout the night teaching ladies how to build an outdoor Christmas bell, how to make cheesecake, accessorizing outfits with scarves and other accessories, salsa lessons, and so on.
I was getting somewhat bored until we came across the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue, Chocolate Cabaret, which was held inside the auditorium. It was a cheeky, fun program of burlesque dancers. Yes, the clothes came off, and bums were seen and boobs were jiggled and swung with their little tassels. There was even a feather fan dance, much lauded by burlesque enthusiasts. Beth couldn't sit through the whole program. She felt uncomfortable at all that flesh on stage, so she left. But I was quite fascinated, especially by one of the dancer's gorgeous, sparkly shoes. It was hilarious, and the crowd seemed to enjoy it and hooted and clapped when the clothes came off (which I thought was strange since we were all women in the room). Perhaps the applause was for the dancers' bravery for unclothing themselves in front of a crowd of females. How sexy could a dancer get? The dances were cute with their fifties theme. The performances were professional and well choreographed, so undressing was somewhat unnecessary, I felt. But, that is part of burlesque, therefore, part of the act. I imagined men would find the experience quite different.
I met up with Beth again. Then we found the Vancouver Island University Spa Institute, Esthetics and Nail Services, from the Parksville campus. They had set up three tables with three students attending each one. We were lucky that two chairs had vacated just as we came into the passage where they were positioned. I had a hand and arm massage, and Beth opted to have her nails painted. The massage was delightful. I felt as if every muscle melted. And each arthritic knuckle was put in place, and all stress seemed to flow from my finger tips. It was totally relaxing.
We left early and missed a few events, such as the baritone singer, a couple of health seminars, the bachelor auction (Jason Cook, the baritone singer, was one of the bachelors), and more burlesque, including a class showing you how to dance in that style. But we did not leave before having some chocolate wrapped cheesecake. It was delicious, as was the whole evening.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Health - Kiwifruit

I was pealing and chopping a kiwifruit the other day, and wondered how much good it did my body.  It is such a pretty fruit once you get the skin off (although the contrast between skin and inner fruit is almost poetic in its disparity).  I found this site.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today ...

... I went for my first post-menopausal mammogram ... nuff said.  :(

News - Politics Politics

So, our esteemed Premier, Gordon Campbell, has resigned.  I almost missed that with all the action down south.  The House is now the Republicans, but the Democrats retain the Senate, barely.   Wowee!  Them tea partiers know how to party at the voting station.  I'm not sure if I like the tea party express, but not that cool with unions being involved so deeply in elections either.  So, I guess it all balances out.  Anyway, not my country, but it is fascinating.  I wonder who will be our next Premier here in British Columbia?  I hope he or she will get rid of that HST, since 70% of the voters did NOT want it, but Mr. Campbell (as is typical of many Liberals) knows what's best for us little citizens.  We can barely tie our shoelaces without the government showing us how to do it.

That's my opinion, for whatever it's worth ... I guess = 1 vote, 'eh!  :D

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

News - Toastmasters

I re-joined Toastmasters this month.  It really helps to practice public speaking when you're a student, and especially when you have to do presentations.  I first joined a few years ago, in Calgary, but we moved, and I couldn't find a club I particularly liked until now.  They meet at a convenient time for me, whereas, most of the other clubs had times either really early in morning, or lunch-time.  The club I have joined meets at 5pm on Tuesdays at the university.  So, that's where I'll be this evening.  Ugh!  I already have butterflies in my stomach.  I have always wondered why some people can speak to a crowded room, with no problem, while others (me, in particular) would rather jump into a caldron of boiling water, then face that crowd ... and speak ... words ... that make sense.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Writing - It's Weekend!

I'm sitting here at my computer trying to figure out how to flesh out a story that I am writing for a competition.  My mind is blank, the monitor is blank, so I thought, I may as well write on my blog.  I have the whole story typed out, but it's rough.  And, I keep bearing in mind (quite obsessive about it now .... thanks Les .... ha) that first sentence and first paragraph.  Well, here it is, the beginning of my story:

        He kept typing, his reply robotic in its distraction. “Yes, honey,” not hearing or knowing clearly what she had said.  Something about going somewhere? He was concentrating on the numbers on his computer. The job always came first, always. This was Wallis Becket's problem. He was addicted to his job; married to it; in love with it. Yes, he loved Helen too, but in his heart of hearts he thought his career was the love of his life. He joked about it, but the joke always had a tinge of seriousness to it.
       Wallis Becket had a problem.  He was addicted to his job; married to it; in love with it.   Yes, he loved Helen too, but in his heart of hearts he knew his career was the love of his life. He joked about it, but the joke always had a tinge of seriousness to it. The day his fiancee left him, he was completely unaware, lost in the financial world of his clients.  He vaguely heard her say something, but was too distracted to understand the ramification of what it was she had said.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review of book, Hooked by Les Edgerton

I read Hooked - write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go by Les Edgerton this year.  This is a book about beginnings, a book for writers that they may improve their first sentence, and initial chapters.  I loved the book ... it was written in an easy style with lots of examples, and ideas, in an effortless banter that keeps you reading.  Although, it seems to be like a textbook in some ways, it is never boring.  I will be referencing this book for a long time.

You can find the book at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Monday, October 18, 2010

News - Pumpkin Time ....

... and oh, yeah, Halloween.  Bleh!  Not too thrilled about that part.  I am sorry, North American readers, but I was quite astonished, when we moved here, at an event where kids can come pounding on your door, demanding treats, or they'll trash your house.  Say what????  I am from South Africa.  We don't do that there, unless it's caught on since I left 14 years ago (as so much else from America has done).  I am happy to say, it seems to be dying out now ... last year, not one knock did I get.  I wonder if I should bother putting the porch light on this year?  Probably not ... save on electricity and grocery bill.  Instead, I will relax with some hot chocolate, and a good movie sans the irritating pauses when getting up to pass out the candy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Life - My First Post

Awfully simple, straightforward title, but what the hey ... I'm not feeling terribly creative today.  So!  What to write?  What amazing and world exploding words can I place on this little white block that may shock, titilate, amuse, or just ho-hum you, my possible readers.  And, I do imagine you all to be in the thousands, feasting on the buffet of my words.

Well, I'm sorry.  I don't have much to say at this particular time.  Nothing happening today.  Oh .... wait!  I did volunteer, very briefly, at the air cadet HQ this morning.  And!  I am having coffee with a friend this afternoon.

That's the only little treat I can report, but tomorrow may bring exciting adventures. One never knows what's ahead of this time continuum stream.  Sometimes you float along happily, then find yourself (hopefully not too often) in the rapids that is the contrast to joy, trying to avoid the rocks, shooting the rapids into calm pools.  

At this point in my life, I am floating around in a calm pool, concentrating on my writing and studies, just after the the last two years of falling over a waterfall straight into the rapids, bumped a few rocks, and here I am .... I triumphed over that difficult journey.  Yesssss!

Yellow daisies

Yellow daisies
taken in Nanaimo

White daisies

White daisies
field of daisies taken in Nanaimo