Still writing -plus murals, trombone, etc
Merry Christmas - 2010

NaNoWriMo, a scattering, jazz, Christmas, and annoyances

Time to take a break and write something. I dropped by my local Bridgehead today and Devon mentioned she hadn't seen me in a while. When I explained that I'd been too busy being retired to sit and relax, they were all pretty amused. But here's what I've been up to:

NaNoWriMo - I "won", as in I reached the limit of 50,000 words in November. That's about 200 pages worth. Actually, was 50,403, but who's counting. Only a final draft though - lots of editing to do before even think of publishing.

A scattering - my mother Marie took ill suddenly, just before her 95th birthday. It was mainly pneumonia, she lasted only another 5 days but luckily it was enough time for us all to be with her and help her along - talking and joking almost right to the end. A long and mostly good life we all thought - ups and downs like all of us, lots of friends lots of places. Some places she lived - Sturgeon Falls, Cheminus, Kirkland Lake, France, North Bay, Toronto, Mexico. We scattered her ashes in the cemetery in an Oak grove. Her maiden name was Beauchesne (beautiful oak), so a nice touch we thought.

Jazz - Our New Horizons band played last night at a fundraiser in Barrhaven, five pieces. Slightly nervous with our first public performance, but went well. We will be playing again Dec 8th at Dominion Chalmers Church.  

Christmas - I'm having the kids over to my new place December 11th, so will need to get going here on decorating and presents. Oh, and finally unpacking everything, as there's not really anyplace to hide all these boxes. I may have to carry more stuff out to the curb, or down the street to the St. Vincent de Paul store.

Annoyances- We finished all our mural projects for the summer, to very positive feedbackl from our customers and communities, we're just wrapping up now. Our "friend" Frank contacted our latest customer, Odawa, in mid November, with the same old same old in his email, even further off the mark this time, it is annoying in a way but does give more opportunities to enlighten all those included on the mailings.  We're hoping to do more projects over the winter, indoors of course, some Art For Action type projects with some schools and youth groups.

More details below on all the above.

NaNoWriMo was definitely a challenge. I was glad I was over enthusiastic at first, as I had to basically take a 10 day break in the middle to go to Toronto for my mother. I did add a few words here and there, and also spent about 5 hours one quiet afternoon in the library - headphones on, typing away while listening to NRJMix . It's my new favorite radio station, from a set of them in Zurich, via my brother. He has a new radio system, Sonos. It's a wireless system, with remote players around the house. Plays from the Internet, or tunes on your PC, you even can control it via an iPhone. He had a relative visiting that brought along a bunch of teenage girls from Zurich - he amazed them by promptly pulling up NRJEnergy - their fav top 40 station. It has a different - and better - top 40 than I've heard here. I prefer the mix channel, there are some great DJ's, with some unusual mashups. Anyways, to make a long story short (too late) great tunes to write along to. I'd done an outline for my book before the start in November, using a Windows beta version of a writing tool, Scrivener. I started off with index cards for key points in narrative, as scenes, then filled in the timeline and background with scenes on other cards. The writing process was then basically expanding on each scene, with some rearranging and backtracking. I finished my plot at about 42,000 words, but it was no trouble at all to go back and add more description and detail. This is a first draft, I will let it sit for a few weeks while I do Christmas stuff, and then start editing. I need to add more RCMP info as well as more Ojibwe "lore" - consulting with friends. Going forward, I find I've become even more observant of things, events, people - as potentials to be included in a novel. I have started collecting them in a notebook, but would prefer online somehow. Maybe just a Google Docs spreadsheet, with a column for tags? Suggestions are welcome.

The scattering was a nice finish for the whole process I went through with my sibs. Emotions can be funny at that time - anger for someone dying, guilt for opportunities missed, celebration of a long and happy life, appreciation of cooperation, annoyance of misunderstandings. And of course overlaying it all sadness for the end of a life. Just the day before my mother's final ambulance ride she'd had friends over for a late evening of wine and cheese - good for her! She always tried to enjoy life - a good lesson. They tried a ventilator but didn't really help much - just postponing the inevitable, as there was a new problem with a heart valve. And with the ventilator it was like trying to breath - and talk - with your head out of the window of a fast moving car. Once she was just on a bit of oxygen we were all able to talk and joke with her - we thought was a nice way to go. Hopefully she did too - I think so. I'll do a separate post in a bit I think, with the obit, pics, some "moments", and info on where the ashes were scattered. And maybe something on the amazing amount of details that have to be looked after when someone dies.

Jazz band, as well as the New Horizon's Advanced Band - has been a challenge but fun. For Jazz we've had five "charts" thrown at us, meaning "here's a new piece, take a quick look, listen to this recording and follow along, OK, lets play from start to end and see how we do". Then we work on the troublesome bits. One is a nice ballad, Cathy's Army, with a nice trombone solo for me. That link is to our concert last night at a local Indigo store. all five pieces are there. It was a fundraiser for our conductor's school, Longfields-Davidson Heights. Next concert is all the bands, at Dominion Chalmers Church on O'Conner. December 8th at 7 pm. BTW - I should add that Mandar's throwing of charts at us is a "good thing", makes us learn fast. I'm very glad I joined the Jazz band in addition to the regular one - both are challenges, but different. Here's a link to the New Horizon's site for more info on all the bands. All levels welcome.

Christmas will be early this year, daughter and husband are gone for the 25th, and her mother is having an early Christmas for the kids on the 18th, so mine will be the 11th, here in my new place. We're keeping it simple and low key. Except for some toys for the wee ones, it will be an edible Christmas for the rest of us. Spoiler alert - I'm surprising people with some of my tourtiere, from the secret family recipe. Now that novel and mural work are not taking up hours, I can use the time to finish unpacking and put up some decorations. Getting harder to find ways to procrastinate.

Annoyances - the latest email to our customer apparantly expressed, again, some supposedly genuine concerns: that they may have not known what we were going to paint, or that it was a tag, or that most of our artists were taggers, or that the customer has been made to look foolish by us. Supposedly it ended with confidentiality statements, but I've heard from legal sources they don't mean much on the internet, although you still see them - even in press releases sometimes. Go figure. As we've seen all too often, once things get out there on the web, that's it. A lesson for us all. At any rate, is mis-informed on all counts, as we pointed out to the somewhat concerned customer. The design was pre-approved, graffiti style lettering is one of the design elements the youth wanted, artists are not taggers, and in fact the lettering - a shape on the back of a giant turtle - spells "Wise". Linking in nicely with the Ojibwe creation stories. As I mentioned, once again this does give us an opportunity to further educate people. Can't remember if there were negative comments about our Nanny Goat Garden - it does have graffiti style lettering in the design.

BTW - one of the benefits of writing a novel is a chance to incorporate favorite or not so favorite people into your characters - with the appropriate changes and disclaimers of course.




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