Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 104 - 13 of My Favorite Chapter Books When I Was a Kid

- 1

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

- 2

Farmer Boy

I could never get enough of this series - but Almanzo's story was my favorite.

Of course I was a huge fan of the Little House TV series.

- 3

Little Women

- 4

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

- 5

The Bastard

As you can imagine, reading this book while still in elementary school seemed somewhat scandalous. But by grade five I was definitely reading adult fiction. I loved the Kent Family Chronicles - an introduction to commercial historical fiction that has remained with me today.

- 6

The Crystal Cave

I'll always remember finding this book in the used book section of the Christmas Tea and Sale, at the church where my Girl Guide meetings were held. To say that this book changed my life would not be overly dramatic. Its time period, its Arthurian legend subject matter, its fresh idea for the character of Merlin - all of it affected the way I tell stories myself.

- 7

The Horse and His Boy

I could never get enough of this series, either - but Bree's and Shasta's story was my favorite.

I'm a massive fan of the current series of Narnia films. I hope, hope, hope they all make it to the screen.

- 8

The Story Girl

Of course I read Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon - but The Story Girl and its sequel, The Golden Road stole my heart. Featuring Felix, Felicity, Cecily, and Sara Stanley (the "Story Girl"), imagine my delight when Road to Avonlea debuted on Canadian television in 1990 - and there were all my beloved characters from The Story Girl.

- 9

The Trouble With Tribbles

This was a non-fiction making-of-the-episode account. Had me in hysterics. Foreshadowed the future film student chapter of my life.

- 10

The Witch Tree Symbol

Other than The Crystal Cave, there's no book that's had such a profound influence on my life. In grade three, a new student just arrived from New Brunswick had this book on her desk. I asked if I could borrow it. That began a 37-year friendship with my forever friend, Connie.

- 11

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

I read this one out loud to my sister before bed.

- 12

Then Again, Maybe I Won't

Can you see the trend I've always had toward gravitating to the books featuring male protagonists, rather than female?

- 13

Thor and The Giants

How I love me some Nordic mythology.

Grace says I grew up reading Nancy Drew books through a friend - we've been best friends for so many years now!

Shelley Munro says I used to love Nancy Drew books. The Hardy boys as well.

Anne MacFarlane says I loved Nancy Drew. I wanted to have titian hair, drive a roadster and date Ned.

Wordless Wednesday - 97

Bobbi says So that's what lungwort looks like!

Sandee says I see spring has sprung in your neck of the woods.

Sherry says That's lungwort? I didn't know.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Through the Opera Glasses - 14 - John McCain Should Look in His Own Arizona Backyard Before Blaming Canada With 9/11 Myth

"I shouldn't overreact to what I see in the media," says Bill Elliott, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "But there was a suggestion that the Secretary of Homeland Security in the United States made some reference linking terrorist threats in Canada to the 9/11 attacks. And there is certainly no link to be made there." - Tonda MacCharles, The Toronto Star

"On Friday, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he believed some of the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States from Canada, triggering a new round of frustration and anger among Canadian officials - only days after a similar remark by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Mr. McCain, an Arizona senator who has championed free trade ties with Canada, told Fox News Ms. Napolitano was accurate when she suggested the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington crossed into the U.S. across the Canadian border.

'Well, some of the 9/11 hijackers did come through Canada, as you know,' Mr. McCain said when asked if he was worried Ms. Napolitano was misinformed." - Sheldon Alberts, The National Post

"Two men identified as hijackers Mohammed Atta, right, and Abdulaziz Alomari pass through airport security at Portland International Jetport in Maine on Sept. 11, 2001.

They did not enter the US from Canada.

'They didn't hijack Canadian planes,' a rankled Canadian spy told reporters at the time. 'They got through airport security in the U.S., not here.' - Andrew Mitrovica, The Toronto Star

"As the 9-11 Commission reported in July 2004," said Canadian Ambassador to the US Michael Wilson, "all of the 9-11 terrorists arrived in the U.S. from outside North America.

They flew to major U.S. airports.

They entered the U.S. with documents issued to them by the U.S. government.

No 9-11 terrorists came from Canada." - CTV News

"On January 15, 2000 Nawaf al Hazmi arrived in Los Angeles. It was a convenient point of entry from Asia and had the added benefit of being far away from the intended target area.

On December 8, 2000, Hani Hanjour arrived in San Diego, having traveled from Dubai via Paris and Cincinnati.

Ahmed al Ghamdi and Majed Moqed, sent to America to serve as muscle hijackers, arrived at Dulles Airport in Virginia on May 2.

Marwan al Shehhi came on May 29, arriving in Newark, NJ on a flight from Brussels.

On June 2, Mohamed Atta traveled to the Czech Republic by bus from Germany and then flew from Prague to Newark the next day.

Ziad Jarrah arrived in Newark on June 27 and then flew to Venice, Florida to attend the Florida Flight Training Center.

From Pakistan, the remaining operatives transited through the United Arab Emirates en route to the United States. Arriving in the US in late April, 2001, in most cases, they traveled in pairs on tourist visas and entered the United States in Orlando or Miami, Florida; Washington, D.C.; or New York. By the end of June, 14 of the 15 muscle hijackers had crossed the Atlantic.

The last muscle hijacker to arrive was Khalid al Mihdhar. On July 4, 2001, Mihdhar left Saudi Arabia to return to the United States, arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York." - The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission)

Let's recall that Janet Napolitano was Governor of Arizona until being named as Secretary of Homeland Security.

And which state does Senator John McCain serve as a US Senator?


"The fact that Hani Hanjour spent so much time in Arizona may be significant. A number of important al Qaeda figures attended the University of Arizona in Tucson or lived in Tucson in the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of Hanjour’s known Arizona associates from the time of his flight training in the late 1990s have also raised suspicion." - The 9-11 Commission

Let's look at McCain's quote one more time:

"Well, some of the 9/11 hijackers did come through Canada, as you know."

Is an almost-president really that removed from reality? Or does he find it convenient to blame Canada when he is fully aware of his own state's reputation as a hotbed of al Qaeda activity?

"There are 59 references to Arizona in the 9/11 Commission Report. But it tells only a fragment of the story when it comes to terrorists in the Grand Canyon State." - Arizona Monthly

As a Canadian, I am pleased to inform all of humankind:

The 9/11 terrorists did not enter the US from Canada.

Perhaps Senator McCain would like to repeat his quote here in Nova Scotia, where people took in stranded air travellers when "the United States Federal Aviation Authority ordered all international flights to the United States to be diverted to the nearest airport after the attacks. There were close to 500 aircraft affected." - CBC News

"General consensus places the numbers at 44,519 passengers (most of them Americans) on 255 diverted flights to Canada (most of them of U.S. registry). More than half of the flights landed in Atlantic Canada. Halifax International Airport received the highest number of flights at 47.

After the initial task of diverting the flights was over, thousands of stranded passengers and flight crews had to be housed and fed until the crisis was over.

The Canadian Public Relations Society presented Halifax International Airport an Amethyst Award in the Crisis Communications category, to honour the authority's response to the situation." - Operation Yellow Ribbon

Leah Braemel says Napolitano needs to state publicly that she was WRONG WRONG WRONG and apologize to Canada.

Kathleen says During this awful time in history Canadians were the first to offer help and send our firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers to the aid of those who died and who were brought to safety.

Wylie Kinson says When I saw this story break I immediately thought of that South Park song, Blame Canada. Of course, THAT was a spoof *snort*. Perhaps McCain and Napolitano didn't realize...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poetry Train Monday - 98 - The Legacy

Today I'd like to feature my third guest poet since I've been riding the train.

My first guest poet was my husband Brad - you can read his poem HERE.

My second guest poet was my brother-in-law Jeff - you can read his poem HERE.

And now for my third guest poet. Peter Baccin-Smith is my nephew, the son of my husband's eldest brother, Ken. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario with his younger brother and his parents, and is thirteen years old.

His class did a project this year about family history and ancestors. His mom emailed me for some of that family history, as I'm a big genealogy buff and have gathered as much data as I can.

She emailed me recently and said Peter had done really well on his project, which included this poem, and wanted to share it with me. And now - ever the proud auntie! - I'd like to share it with you.

To ride the Poetry Train, CLICK HERE.

The Legacy

From the icy north we chipped our way,
Workers who would dare,
Sailing with the wind to Red River,
A home we carved in Métis Land,
But not all of us were there.

In the heel of the boot,
Bodies strewn around,
Children had to clear the dead
Which the fighting giants left aground.
Soldiers, chauffeurs, and corpsmen
Left to discard the waste,
Many ventured to start anew
In the land of the free and opportunity,
Because all is fair in love and war.

Many seeds were scattered,
Artistic girls, scientific boys.
Before long, the worlds collided,
And parents to be fell in love
Then gave breath to all their joys.

- Peter Baccin-Smith, 2009

Anthony North says Peter, make sure you keep up this poetry thing.

Unknown Writer and Almost Lover says I agree with Anthony. Keep it up..:)

Sweet Talking Guy says Nicely done, Peter, it's good to get to grips with history.

Friday, April 24, 2009

2009 Blog Improvement Project - 8 - Making Your Blog More Comment-able Wrap Up and Third Row Center Seats at the Halifax Comedy Festival

The Blog Improvement Project focused on comments for our last assignment. Upon reading a few articles on the subject, I decided to start responding to everyone's comments here at my blog, as well as continuing to return the visit of everyone who comments here. I also decided to hoist several comments into the body of the post to get the conversation started. And I've tried to incorporate a question towards the end of each post, to encourage readers to answer it by commenting.

Hoisting the comments has been fun. Responding to the comments artificially inflates my comments numbers, so I have to spend some time subtracting my own comments before I can tell how many comments I actually have.

In taking stock of my comments before this assignment and afterwards, there was actually no discernable change in the comments level.

The two weeks of posts prior to the assignment resulted in an average of 11.7 comments.

The two weeks of posts following the assignment resulted in an average of 11.2 comments.

Perhaps two weeks is a little soon to see real changes in the habits of readers who normally lurk. But I'll continue on with my new responding and hoisting.

And I'm just back from a taping of the Halifax Comedy Festival at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. My mom's friends from New Brunswick sent her two tickets - they'd been planning to come to Halifax for the show but couldn't make it. After a week at work where things built up and I nearly blew a gasket, tonight's performance was a godsend.

We had amazing seats. Third row from the front, right in front of the mike. There was a camera on a crane shooting the audience, plus a camera operator onstage shooting past the comedians - so I'm fairly certain we'll be visible at some point once it airs.

Mom and I laughed so hard we were in tears. My favorite performers:

Host Mark Critch

Had us all in hysterics while he ribbed the young stage hand who fixed the mike stand between comedians. Critch pointed out how pubescent the stagehand seemed - then just started calling him Pubes.

John Beuhler

The first comedian of the night to make me cry with laughter. He riffed on taking his cat to be spayed or neutered - how should he know? - and perhaps tattooed.

Sean Cullen

I saw him at a comedy club in Toronto, once upon a time. He was surreal and instigated more tears with his tales of parenting and his song dedicated to his man child.

Steve Patterson

This guy was my favorite, though. His tale of attempting to use Ontario classroom conversational French in his new city of Montreal - and his need for winter tires - was the winner of the evening for me.

Travis says I think you'll find that answering comments is reward on its own.

Apprentice Writer says Scientific research on your blog! Very cool, yet unnerving.

Isabella says I would love to go to a comedy show!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 103 - 13 Questions For Thomma Lyn Grindstaff, Author of Mirror Blue

For my second interview here at A Piece of My Mind, I've got Thomma Lyn Grindstaff joining me from her home in East Tennessee in the United States. A big Down East welcome, Thomma Lyn from me here on Canada's east coast.

1 - Your novel Mirror Blue releases May 1st. Will you be doing anything special on that day?

I'd thought of having a Virtual Book Release party on that day, but I've decided to postpone the party until my book trailer is ready, date TBA on my blog. Otherwise, on May 1, I'll be working on additional promotion activities, and my hubby and I are planning a celebratory hike on the mountain!

2 - Is this your first sale?

No. In 2006, I sold a novella, Thy Eternal Summer to a small e-publisher which went belly-up the next year. Yeah, bummer. But it's okay - I kept on plugging.

3 - Mirror Blue tells the story of a web site designer who meets an acclaimed author she's admired for some time as a reader. The designer and the author begin a relationship that spins her world onto a path she couldn't have foreseen, but must now fight for.

If you were in her shoes, which real-life author would tip your world upside down if he arrived in the flesh?

What a fun question! Well, I'm married, so its my hubby who tips my world upside down, but thinking as though I were single, I have several answers for this one. Authors who are still living: Sherman Alexie and Neil Gaiman; authors who are no longer with us: John Gardner and Ernest Hemingway.

4 - Your book is published by Black Lyon Publishing. How did you and your publisher get together?

Thanks go to my friend Ann Pino. She sent me a link to Black Lyon Publishing and told me that they were looking for Literary Love Stories, which sounds much like what I write. I thought immediately of Mirror Blue (which I had recently reworked) and sent Black Lyon a query.

5 - Your female character, the web designer, is Aphra Porter. Tell us a little about her.

Aphra is a free spirit. Her family loves her, but they don't understand why she isn't more normal, like her sister Di who is married and has a baby on the way. Aphra works as a website designer and has never been in love, at least not with a man she's met. For years, though, she's had a crush on Isaac Lightfoot, an acclaimed regional author. Since childhood, Aphra has felt second-best to her sister Di, who is more conventional and outgoing and wants what, in their mom's words, "most women want." Though Aphra wants love in her life, she marches to the beat of her own drummer and doesn't want the same things as her mom and her sister.

In Mirror Blue, Aphra's dream comes true: when Isaac hires her to update his web site, they fall in love. At that point, her challenges begin in earnest. Isaac's ex wants to reconcile with him, she turns their grown son against Aphra, and even Isaac's mom wants Aphra out of the picture. In order to become the person she wants to be, Aphra must learn to hold on to what her heart desires most, despite her fears of pain and rejection, and despite a lifetime of feeling second-best.

6 - Your male character is famous author, Isaac Lightfoot. What does he write about?

Isaac draws on his experiences as a Vietnam veteran. He wrote two nonfiction books, one about the origins of the Vietnam conflict and another called On Self Reliance in which he chronicles and laments the decline of individual self reliance in America. He's written several novels, and it is his novels which have garnered him the most recognition. Some of them are about the Vietnam conflict, such as The Lion and the Cobra, about the struggles of an American medic following his return from Vietnam, but not all: his first novel, Red Sands was about a young Appalachian soldier in World War II who was part of the D-Day invasion, and his most recent novel, The Smallest Survivor, is the story of a young orphan boy's struggle to survive in the frigid ruins of Stalingrad during the height of the pivotal World War II battle.

7 - There's an age difference between the characters in your book. How does each character feel about that?

Isaac is fifty-three and Aphra is thirty-three. Despite the twenty-year age difference, they have a great deal of common ground in their interests and in their characters. But the age difference presents plenty of challenges. Aphra worries that Isaac sees her as a groupie and that he is secretly ashamed of how their relationship looks to others, particularly to his son. And though Isaac is not ashamed - he loves Aphra for herself - he doesn't want his son or his mom to view Aphra as a Trophy Wife in the Making.

Aphra shares the same concerns, and their age difference exacerbates her insecurities over Isaac's history with his ex. Isaac and his ex were married nearly thirty years. How, Aphra asks herself, could anything he might share with her compete with all those years he shared with his ex, even though their marriage was far less than ideal?

8 - Isaac has been through experiences Aphra can never truly share. How do you think this affects their relationship?

If they're not careful, it hinders communication. Because of their age difference and the vast discrepancy in their life experiences, misunderstandings can easily arise. They have to be sure that they're talking to each other, not around each other. The discrepancies in their ages and experiences also work to hammer at their insecurities - Isaac worries that perhaps Aphra would be better off with a younger man (like the one her sister Di has been trying to set her up with), and Aphra worries that perhaps Isaac would be better off to reconcile with his ex, to go back to what's familiar to him instead of taking a chance on someone new.

9 - Do you have any other projects coming up?

You betcha! *wink* Right now, I'm working on a novel called Patchwork Stained Glass. It's a story about a young atheist woman who falls in love with a graduate student who's also a country preacher. To have a future together, they must work not only to find common ground but they must deal with disapproval from those around them - everyone from the preacher's family and congregation to the atheist's closest friend.

Next up is my novel Heart's Chalice. I started work on it last year, but because of the complexity of its world-building, I'm letting it bake in my mind's oven for a while. It's a magical realism tale: through sightings of a mysterious cat, a piano professor mired in an unhappy marriage is empowered to travel to an alternate reality in which she built a life with her first love, whom she desperately hurt but never forgot.

10 - What are your writing habits? Do you write daily or do you write in bursts of creativity?

I try to write every day. When a story is rocking and rolling, every day sparkles with bursts of creativity. But for a story to rock and roll for me, I have to be emotionally invested in the characters and their situation. Also, I like to write at night. I'm a night owl, and nighttime is the most peaceful time of day for me - I can better relax my mind and allow creativity to flow.

11 - When you're not writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I love to play piano and write music. I'm a classically-trained pianist, and at some point, I'm hoping to fuse my music with my writing, perhaps on my web site in some way. I'm still brainstorming the possibilities! And I'm fortunate in that I live close to mountains, and I hike regularly for exercise, for mental and emotional renewal, and to recharge my creative batteries. I'm a voracious reader, and I also love to blog, cook, and ride the Harley-Davidson motorcycle with my husband. And you could call me a crazy cat lady - we have four cats, and guess what: they have their own blog (which they manage to share without too much hissing, haha!).

12 - Where will readers find your book?

My book can be ordered from Black Lyon Publishing, and it will also be available for purchase online from (United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, England and France),,, and The novel can also be ordered from book stores in the United States and Canada.

13 - Will you be doing any book signings or online events for Mirror Blue's release?

I'm planning on doing some local book signings, and I will be holding a Virtual Book Launch Party once my book trailer is available. I'm currently in party-planning mode, and keep an eye on my blog, because I will announce the date for the party as soon as I get it figured out. I hope to see everybody there! There'll be lots of fun and prizes, too (including autographed copies of Mirror Blue).

Thanks so much for the interview, Thomma Lyn! It's hard to say who's more excited - me or you! Well, okay, probably you. But I'm pretty psyched!

Hehe, yes, I'm stoked!

Lori says Thanks. :)

Colleen says Good interview. Thanks.

Claudia says I like the way you draw her out to talk about the characters. That's not often done!

Wordless Wednesday - 96

Image created by Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA

Combination of data from two satellites

Dorte says Happy Earth Day all the way from Denmark.

Mary the Teach says Incredible sight, our dear old earth.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Through the Opera Glasses - 13 - Actors' Sexualization Versus Talent, Part 2

Last week I looked at high profile, cerebral actors and actresses - and how easy it was to locate super-hot sexy shots of the actresses. But not the actors. I wondered whether the actresses felt the need to portray themselves as highly sexualized, even though five of the six women are Oscar winners, and the sixth (Julianne Moore) has been nominated for an Academy Award four times.

On the other hand, I also wondered if these women felt that they had every right to be sexy, especially since most of their film roles were not. A revenge-of-the-nerdy-girls kind of thing.

This week, I'm looking at a different group of actors and actresses. These are the acknowleged hotties.

I'll start with the actresses.

Jessica Alba

Kate Beckinsale

Jessica Biel

Angelina Jolie

Eva Longoria

Eva Mendes

Among this group of women, the only Oscar winner is Angelina Jolie. Other major award winners in this group are:

Kate Beckinsale - London Critics Circle Film Award

Jessica Biel - ShoWest Star of Tomorrow Award 2005

Eva Longoria - Screen Actors Guild Award

The obvious question arises: are these actresses not taken seriously because they showcase their beauty and sexuality? Every one of them have an edgy film in their CV's (the showbiz resume) - except for Eva Longoria, who has an edgy TV show instead.

Jessica Alba - Sin City - directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

Kate Beckinsale - Winged Creatures - directed by Rowan Woods

Jessica Biel - The Illusionist - directed by Neil Burger

Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart - directed by Michael Winterbottom

Eva Longoria - Desperate Housewives - created by Marc Cherry

Eva Mendes - Once Upon a Time in Mexico - Robert Rodriguez

Now, let's have a look at the hottie men. Last week I could barely find a shirt-opened-to-expose-some-chest shots of the actors. This week...easy peasy!

Jensen Ackles

Jamie Bamber

Vin Diesel

Josh Holloway

Dwayne Johnson

Jason Statham

What do we make of our men here? Are they merely brawny, not capable of being brainy?

Half of these actors are television actors. Half of them are action film stars. Believe it or not, the roughest-toughest of them - Vin Diesel - is also a writer, a director and a producer.

Do you suppose the hottie men will have their chance to give outstanding performances in cutting-edge films? In this group, surprisingly, the women hold the slight advantage over the men in the quality of roles they've been able to play. Will Josh Holloway be doomed to play good ole boys after Lost wraps? Will The Rock be forced to play Scorpion Kings, or will Dwayne Johnson find a challenging role he can truly inhabit?

Watermaid says Isn't it a question of age and the times in which we are living?

Thomma Lyn says there is an unfortunate tendency to typecast talented actors and/or actresses into "same old, same old" roles to showcase their Eye Candy Quotient instead of their acting talent.

Jeeves says these actors also become showcases.

Poetry Train Monday - 97 - As Prisons Go

This is the next in my found poetry series, which I've been doing since the new year. I've taken it from one of my manuscripts, featuring Jocelyne, Lady Moncrieffe, the Dowager Countess of Kinnoull. It's the early 1820's near Crieff, Scotland.

Guthrie Carmichael is a Highland Scot working on her lowland estate as the gamekeeper. His decision to stop poaching from her estate requires one last delivery of game in town.

I've based Lady Moncrieffe on Canadian actress Neve Campbell. Guthrie is based on English actor Sean Bean.

You can read a previous poem about Jocelyne HERE.

You can Ride the Poetry Train by clicking HERE.

As Prisons Go

I arranged to be taken into Crieff
Meet up with my sister coming in by coach
First time in four years. Four years!
Disheartening thing - if not for Finlay’s death

Would this visit even take place?

The MacDougal resentments
Only stretched so far, thank Heaven
Whom did I see seated across the square
But the gamekeeper, Carmichael

Soldier stopped before him

Gaze traveled up to the red jacket
Before he had a chance to blink
One of those booted feet kicked
The pipe from Carmichael’s mouth

Scarred hand reached down

Took up the sacks. Carmichael
Kept his gaze trained on the soldier
“What would this be? Eh?
You wouldn’t be the lord of these parts, now?”

Carmichael neither moved nor spoke

Soldier lifted grouse from sack
Dropped the rest into the dust
Dangled bird from taloned feet
Too close to Carmichael’s face

“Name!” the soldier barked

Black boot planted on Carmichael’s hand
“Stop! Stop, I beg you! What is going on here?
Let him be!”
Pulled at red-jacketed arm
Sergeant shook me off angrily

Until he saw who it was

Guthrie snatched hand to chest
Soldier saluted sharply
“This man is poaching from the estate.
I’ve apprehended him for you.”

I recalled these very sacks

Fixed to the back of the gamekeeper's saddle
That morning after the storm
That morning when he'd found me
Wet, bedraggled, desperate

Had seen me safely home

I'd sleepwalked but
He'd found me
Found me with these sacks
Fixed to the back of his saddle

Carmichael hung his head

Cradled his hand
I stared at his crumpled hat
Lying in the dust
“You have made a rather unfortunate error, Sergeant.

This man is my gamekeeper.”

Carmichael looked up
Soldier’s bravado paled
“Can you stand, Mr. Carmichael?”
I extended my hand to him

“Don’t be too concerned, Milady.”

Carmichael's voice so ragged
“Where is your regiment stationed
I asked
"I should like to have a word

With your commanding officer.”

Soldier colored till his face
Was indistinguishable from
Scarlet fullcloth of jacket
Bead of sweat trickled its way

From under black-plumed bonnet

Down his rough-skinned jawline
It vanished in the gap between
Neck and stiff white collar choking throat
“May I speak to you privately, Ma’am?”

“By all means, Sergeant.”

We stepped aside, walked a few paces
Along the wall. Stopped
Bent our heads together
In rapt discussion for some minutes

Soldier broke away abruptly

As though he’d been stung
He saluted, then moped from the square
I turned toward the carriage
Carmichael helped me up the step

My sister waiting for me

Carmichael withdrew his hand
Cradling his sore one
“You had better get in,” I said
“You have been injured, after all.”

He nodded toward his horse

Waiting patiently across the square
“Then be quick about your business.
Make a point of stopping at the castle
When you return."

He opened and closed his mouth

Like a fish in the grass
He nodded his assent. His hand
Moved up to tug at hat that wasn’t there
His fingers hung suspended in midair

For an awkward moment

Then ran through his hair
“Drive on, Willis,” I called out
Old man clucked to the horses
Carriage lurched forward

Carmichael stepped out of the way

Before wheels ran over his toes
I stood, my back to him
In the pale green drawing room
“Thank you for coming,” I said

“Your servant, Ma’am,” he answered

Bowing slightly
“Are you?”
“I am.”

I broke from where I stood

Moving slowly round the edges of the room

“I would question your definition
Of ‘servant’, Mr. Carmichael.
You have been using my late husband
And me to suit your own purposes.”

he croaked

I halted, turned and faced him
“If you were poaching that morning
After the storm...why
Did you come to my aid?”

Carmichael spluttered

As if he’d swallowed a
Gulp of water down the wrong pipe
“I couldn't very well leave you out there!”
“Another man might have done just that.

Well, we are in a fine pickle, are we not?”

“Aye, Milady. We are, that.”
“You should be turned over to
The magistrate, and have done with you."

He returned my gaze, giving himself over to me.

I shuddered

“Why did ye tell that lie for me?”
He asked
“Laird Moncrieffe - he would have
Had me in gaol by now, sure.”

“Perhaps. The man who fancies himself

The new lord of Kinnoull
Would be even more severe than that.
Think hard, now, and consider carefully
What I am going to offer you.

I once offered you a room here

To recuperate from your wounds
But you refused. I’m afraid I must
Make that offer again
And I beg you to accept this time.

I have need of your cottage.

As prisons go, I hope you’ll find
This one to be exceptional.
I, myself, have always considered this
To be a home.

Mr. Carmichael, I possess information

You would prefer me not to pass along.
You likewise hold secrets of mine.
‘Men do not despise a thief
If he steals to satisfy his soul

When he is hungry.'"

He looked as if he'd just
Dashed the contents of an upset stomach
Extending my right hand, I said
“I believe we must shake on it.”

Carmichael rallied

Taking my hand in his
After one shake for form’s sake
We let go with expediency
“I’ll ring for Kearney,” I said

Picking up the bell to shake it furiously

- Julia Smith, 2009

Sweet Talking Guy says The pictures add a little extra chemistry.

Anthony North says Quite a saga being enacted here.

Shelley Munro says Sean Bean is one of my favorites. Excellent inspiration. :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Bucket List

I've seen a few of these lists roaming around the blogosphere and on Facebook. It's always fascinating to see what my friends have been up to. One of my blog friends was able to check off Visited a Nazi concentration camp on her list, one had Saved someone’s life, and one had Ridden on an elephant.

I've decided to really personalize this list, as most of the things on the roaming ones wouldn't truly be on my Bucket List. There are 100 items on two of the lists I've seen, and about 70 on the other. So I'll average it out and put 85 items on mine. This is a list of things that would have been on my list if I hadn't already done them, plus all the things I long to do.

Things I've done will be in bold.

1 - Sit in an audience watching a film and see Written and Directed by Julia Smith appear onscreen. (my fourth year student film - 27 minutes long and my heart pounded the entire time)

2 - Watch a King Arthur film that makes me weep with joy because it's so perfect.
(lots of almosts - still waiting for bliss)

3 - See the Northern Lights.

4 - Find out where my ancestors came from. (the Poitou region of western France)

5 - Own a black Jaguar XJ6. (currently have a monthly bus pass)

6 - Get replicas made of my original engagement and wedding rings. (they were lost when I moved back to Nova Scotia.)

7 - See Mikhail Baryshnikov dance live onstage. (1994!)

8 - Travel to Saint Petersburg, Russia.

9 - See the Faberge eggs in the Kremlin Armoury.

10 - See The Police in concert. (1982, Pine Knob, Michigan! Ghost in the Machine tour!)

11 - Create a Food Bank cook book. (This is an idea I've had for awhile. I think I'll brainstorm it in a future post.)

12 - Live in a Big City. (Toronto! Woo hoo! 1986 - 1999!)

13 - Watch a meteor shower.

14 - Become a bride.

15 - Go to the Romance Writers of America national conference to meet all of my blog friends face to face.

16 - See the Narnia books get made into films that make me weep with joy because it's so perfect.

17 - Have employee of The National Ballet of Canada on my pay stub.

18 - Visit Portmeirion in Wales, the location for The Village in The Prisoner.

19 - Promote win/win conflict resolution.

20 - Get a university degree. (Bachelor of Applied Arts - yes, BAA!)

21 - Eat fish and chips at a restaurant overlooking the sea.

22 - Visit the British Museum.

23 - Get paid for writing. (narration script for a television documentary)

24 - Go to my own book signing.

25 - Sing in a concert hall.

26 - Grow an heirloom shrub from a cutting I started. (A quince and a rambler rose)

27 - See a pod of whales in the ocean.

28 - Get the box set of The Prisoner. (Christmas present to us from Santa a few years ago.)

29 - Use a transporter to get home.

30 - Stumble upon the perfect book for writing research.

31 - See the Amber books get made into films that make me weep with joy because it's so perfect.

32 - Go to Victorian Week in Cape May, New Jersey and stay in a bed and breakfast.

33 - Go Christmas carolling door-to-door.

34 - Attend the Chelsea Flower Show in London.

35 - See the Lipizzaner stallions perform. (They came on tour to Halifax!)

36 - See the Lipizzaner stallions perform at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

37 - Sail on a tall ship. (The Mar)

38 - See the can-can performed at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

39 - Have an incredibly intimate, emotionally uplifting relationship with my dog.

40 - Travel to Stockholm, Sweden.

41 - Watch the Musical Ride performed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (They came on tour to Halifax!)

42 - Watch a proper Dracula film that makes me weep with joy because it's so perfect.

43 - Go to Disneyworld. (Went with my family when I was 16. They were still building Epcot Center.)

44 - Go to a Broadway musical.

45 - Sing Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. (with my university choir)

46 - Travel to Copenhagen, Denmark.

47 - Discover new actors that inspire my muse. (Keeps happening! Thank heaven.)

48 - Dance naked in the rain.

49 - Own a sword.

50 - Go to a writers retreat.

51 - Identify the constellations.

52 - See a bluebird in nature.

53 - Hear someone say that something I wrote made them cry.

54 - Travel to Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands.

55 - Go to mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

56 - Sing Mozart's Requiem. (with my university choir)

57 - Visit the Old City of Jerusalem during Holy Week.

58 - Realize the most handsome, intelligent, funny, talented, compassionate man you've ever met has fallen in love with you. (I keep pinching myself, but I'm still awake!)

59 - Become a published poet.

60 - See the Malloren books get made into films that make me weep with joy because it's so perfect.

61 - Travel through England. I'd especially like to see the Arthurian sites. A lot of those are in Wales, actually.

62 - Become a permanent employee with benefits. (Squeee!! 10 months since that glorious day!)

63 - Visit Ottawa during the Tulip Festival.

64 - See Kimba the White Lion again. (I had longed to see Kimba again, ever since I'd watched it on TV in the late 60's. Brad special ordered video copies for me as a surprise gift as soon as they were available for purchase - Kimba was mysteriously unavaiable in any format when Disney released The Lion King and for several years afterwards.)

65 - Walk along the beach at sunset.

66 - Visit Venice during Carnival.

67 - See a lady slipper in the woods. (behind our house)

68 - Attend a Victorian Ball re-enactment event.

69 - See The Rockettes. (They were on tour in Toronto when I was there for a visit a few years ago! They performed at my old theatre, and my friend Jacquie got me a comp ticket to the dress rehearsal! I'd still like to see them at Radio City Music Hall.)

70 - Get The Ballet Ball poster from the Ballet Boutique. (I'd always loved that poster best, which was sold among other posters to raise funds for the purchase of new choreography for the National Ballet of Canada. But it was expensive, and I never bought it. On my last day of work at the theatre where the ballet performed, the woman at the boutique told me to pick whichever poster I wanted as a parting gift. Then - my friend Jacquie, one of the usher captains, brought the poster backstage. When she brought it back out, it was signed by the whole company!!)

71 - Work downtown. (I've worked in downtown Toronto and now I work in downtown Halifax.)

72 - Attend the Cannes Film Festival.

73 - Get swept away by an intoxicating story idea. (It happens over and over, thank heaven!)

74 - See the Saint Germain books get made into films that make me weep with joy because it's so perfect.

75 - Walk the red carpet on my way to the Oscars ceremony.

76 - Dance the night away.

77 - See all the great ballet companies perform in their home theatre venues all around the world.

78 - Raise money for child-centered organizations.

79 - Do the sword dance.

80 - Walk in the woods at night. (I don't find this spooky - I find it energizing and beautiful.)

81 - Get a second university degree.

82 - Swim in the sea.

83 - Attend a gallery showing of my mom's work. (Twice!)

84 - Visit the most beautiful rose gardens in the world.

85 - Have my heart filled every day with joy because my love loves me.

Nicholas says You're going to be doing a lot of weeping in cinemas!

Travis says I need to get my list down on paper.

VaBookworm says Let me know when you achieve #2... I'd like to know which film is worth watching lol

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 102 - 13 of My Favorite Books When I Was a Kid

I was inspired to do this T13 by Shelley Munro's previous list of her favorite childhood books.

1 - Anatole

2 - Blaze Finds the Trail

3 - Come Back, Amelia Bedelia

4 - Dorrie and the Amazing Magic Elixer

5 - Go, Dog. Go!

6 - Gypsy Girl's Best Shoes

7 - Madeline

8 - Miss Suzy

9 - Scuttle the Stowaway Mouse

10 - The Little Red Hen

11 - The Magic Carousel

12 - The Owl and the Pussycat

13 - The story of live dolls: Being an account by Josephine Scribner Gates of how, on a certain June morning, all of the dolls in the village of Cloverdale came alive

Gattina says My childhood books were all German ones, I don't know yours, :-)

Thomma Lyn says Oh, I loved Madeline. I also remember Blaze and Amelia Bedelia -- also favorites of mine!

Nicholas says You can't beat The Owl & The Pussycat!