Out with the old, in with the new (not years)

Who still has hanging flower baskets blooming in December here in the Pacific Northwest? Even the local nursery has abandoned attempts to keep theirs presentable so I’m not sure why mine are still growing. Admittedly, the blooms are few and small, but geraniums are geraniums, regardless of size, right?

My hubby had taken all the other tubs of anemic annuals off the deck in mid-October after Thanksgiving, and carried the patio furniture down to the basement where it will wait out the winter months. But the baskets still provided a minimal bit of cheerful colour as they dangled outside our family room windows.

At least, they did until this weekend’s frost. Despite the protection of the overhanging eaves, sometime during Friday night they shivered themselves out of attractive into bedraggled. Without its tiny white blossoms the bacopa maybe didn’t look too bad, but everything else…? Meh!

Yesterday we ventured out to a tree farm and cut our Christmas tree, and as my hubby was setting it into its stand this afternoon, he decided it was finally time to remove the waning greenery.

I kind of hate to see the baskets go. They’ve hung there since early May and survived through blustery late spring winds, summer holiday neglect and torrents of fall rain. I feel like I owe them something in exchange for their persistence.

Then again, it IS Advent now and the outside Christmas lights twinkling above them seem a bit incongruous.

So, “out with the old and in with the new”…greenery, that is. The sickly lantana and geranium leaves have gone to compost heaven and from the other side of the window pane I’m now enjoying the fragrance of fresh fir adorned with cheery baubles, not blossoms.

I’m sure I could find a writing analogy in this if I tried hard enough, but at the moment I’d rather just sit here squinting at the tree lights and pondering Advent thoughts. Taken totally out of context I am reminded of an applicable scripture verse:

“…the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 🙂  [2 Corinthians 5:17b]

~

Wishing you abundant Hope on this
first Sunday in Advent.

 

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Conference Reflections

It’s been a week and I still haven’t quite recovered (but it’s all good).

Waaaaaaaay back in 2004 I attended my first writing conference with a dear friend, Earlene Luke. At the time, given how much it cost, I was pretty sure it would be a one-shot thing, but two years later my daughter Shari Green was attending her first and convinced me to register again. Last weekend we counted up the years we’ve attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference since then and were surprised to find it took more than two hands to do the tally — this was my twelfth year and Shari’s eleventh.

Maybe we would have stopped after the first ones if our experience had been merely enjoyable, but it was and continues to be exceptional.

We’re both more-than-a-little introverted, so it takes significant effort to psych ourselves up to step into the crowd of hundreds who attend every year. But once we do, the four-day whirlwind of shared workshops and master classes, keynote speakers, banquets and socializing sweeps us up and carries us on a high that lasts for months afterwards.

With more than fifty presenters (authors, agents, editors, publishers and screenwriters) and the opportunity to choose from over eighty workshops in ten time slots, plus all the extras that fill the evenings, it would be easy to be overwhelmed, and indeed we do come home exhausted and with ‘information overload’.

But it’s more than a whole weekend sharing the ultimate writers’ learning experience with one’s ‘tribe’ that makes it worthwhile. It’s the atmosphere created by so much kindness, helpfulness and mutual respect shown by both seasoned professionals and novice writers. There is no ‘us and them’ at this conference. There is a unique camaraderie that stems from a shared passion for writing.

Besides all that, it’s a fabulous mother-daughter writing weekend retreat. 🙂

I’ve never really been able to afford this indulgence — I’d hate to add up the dollars I’ve spent through the years — but at the same time I’ve discovered I really can’t afford not to go. It’s a professional development opportunity like none other! Kudos to all the SiWC organizers for providing this superb conference year after year.

Now it’s time to take a deep breath, pour myself a coffee (or maybe a glass of wine) and go put this year’s accumulation of knowledge and enthusiasm to work.

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Time and Time Again

We’re ten days into September and my brain is reacting in disbelief, “Really???” I want to say, “where has the time gone?”, “time flies”, “the older I get, the faster time passes” — cliches I’ve repeated all too often, but there is truth in them … even a scientific explanation for that truth:

“Our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period.”*

As an infant, a child, a young adult, we’re constantly having new experiences, each seeming to be a lifetime of its own. But as we age, the tendency (at least for many of us) is towards fewer new experiences and more familiar ones and they slip away almost unnoticed. It makes sense but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As I get older there’s less time spread out ahead of me and I know it’s going to zip past. The sense of my mortality begins to hover like a doomsday cloud. Well, not really; but I’m well aware that more of my life is behind me than is ahead. That gives an urgency to those goals yet unreached. Get them done soon or give them up!

Trust me friend, a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink.”

[From ‘Don’t Blink’ by Kenny Chesney]

 

I suppose I’d better knuckle down and get a few more things done while I still have time!

~

“Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires.”       

[Charles Caleb Colton]

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* https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-time-seem-to-speed-up-with-age/

Time Out for Renewal

Many of us love renewing our homes (ahem…yes, guilty). Most love shopping to refresh wardrobes (meh…not so much). Some love travelling to discover new locales (hmmm…it depends on the locale). Too few of us take time out to renew, refresh or discover ourselves.

It could be as simple as snatching ten minutes to sip tea on the porch, a morning to wander or work in the garden, or a day to turn aside from social media and focus on something we’ve been wanting to do just for ourselves. Summertime is when we are most likely to take a break, but there is no ‘right’ season. For writers, it might be whenever the words are piling up against an invisible barricade; for parents, when exasperation is approaching an explosion point; or maybe for workers, when demands of the job have become numbing.

(Consider clicking on photo to enlarge)

None of those scenarios really describes my situation, but I am taking some time out to renew something important to me. August is usually my time to escape from social media. It’s my scheduled ‘time out for renewal’. My camera and I will capture my under-the-radar doings and share them when I re-emerge.

What will you be up to in August? Are you planning anything that will help you renew, refresh or discover?

~

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
[Romans 12:2]

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
[Jeremiah 31:25]

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Renovation Celebration!

WhooHoo!!! Our ensuite bathroom reno is complete! Hubby tells me he’s taking me out for a steak dinner tonight to celebrate.

Huge kudos to contractor Ron Cobb (RNC Renovations) and his crew for keeping the process pleasant and creating exactly what we had hoped for.

When we moved into this built-in-1991 home it was only five years old and we were thrilled with all it had to offer. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed it over the past twenty-two years and hope to continue here for several more. But neither of us is as young as we need to be to keep up with its maintenance or the 2-1/4 acres of property. Eventually there will come a day when we have to downsize. It’s when we thought about that, and looked around us with the eyes of a potential buyer that we realized how much updating it really should have.

The budget dictated when and how much we could tackle. In 2015 we did a minor renovation of the kitchen. In 2016 we totally renovated the main bathroom. And this year we finally got to our ensuite bathroom.

We kept the original odd floor plan (a reverse “Z”), because it works fine for us, and we would have had to cut into the bedroom’s walk-in closet to change it anyway.  We chose the same tiles and colour scheme to coordinate with the main bathroom which was renovated in 2016. I never disliked the old bathrooms, but the new decor feels so much brighter.

A few people have said they wanted to see Before (L) and After (R) pics, so here they are.

 

The Jacuzzi tub that only our grandchildren used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now a freestanding soaker tub with floor mounted faucet and hand-held shower.

 

 

 

 

The old brass trimmed shower with full tiled walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replaced with a frameless shower with half glass wall (to allow more light into toilet enclosure), rainhead and hand-held showers.

 

 

 

 

Our 1991 oak vanity with laminate countertop and blinding “landing strip” lightbar.

 

 

 

 

 

Grey vanity with matching mirror, quartz countertop, updated light fixture (plus there are pot lights around the ceiling), and a heated floor.

 

 

It isn’t a large room, and it isn’t as fancy as some people might have chosen when renovating, but it’s a significant upgrade for us and feels serene and luxurious. Now it’s time to go luxuriate in it.

~  ~  ~

 

 

 

A Musician Wannabe (and Denise Jaden’s cover reveal)

I’m a musician wannabe. My smattering of mid-life piano lessons left me able to stumble through a piece of music well enough to discern the tune, but not well enough to keep up if someone wanted to sing along. How I fell into being a church choir director for almost nineteen years is a story all its own, but sufficient to say, it fed my love of music even if it didn’t provide any additional proficiency. Maybe it also contributed to why I like inside peeks at what life is like for musicians.


I have a cousin who is the lead singer for the classic rock group ‘Trooper’. When Ra McGuire wrote HERE FOR A GOOD TIME: On the Road with Trooper, Canada’s Legendary Rock Band (Insomniac Press 2006), I loved being immersed in his experiences on tour.


Then I discovered Denise Jaden’s LIVING OUT LOUD YA series. There are currently six titles available, with a seventh coming soon. Today Denise reveals its cover:

The synopsis of PAPARAZZI:
Eli and the band can barely believe they’ve made it so far on the Hold That Note reality show, but thanks to Kass’s vision, they’re some of the last few competitors. Unfortunately, the profoundly-talented Fennel Winthrop has taken a liking to Eli, and with the amiable part they have to play in public, coupled with all of Kass’s insecurities surfacing in the wings, Kass and Eli can’t seem to hold a relationship together.

When the band expresses concerns about Eli’s focus, Kass and Eli are forced to keep their distance from each other. Kass focuses on her new job in order to be able to stay in town, while Eli gives his all to his band and the show.

But his all, without Kass by his side to inspire him, may not be enough.

You can pre-order Paparazzi today!

~

While the LIVING OUT LOUD series is aimed at the young adult market, I’ve found the stories and characters intriguing. Perhaps it’s the fangirl in me — the wannabe musician, if you like — but there are complexities of both plot and personalities that make this an engaging series.

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