Friday, August 29, 2008

Why I love my job.

Have I mentioned before that I love my job? Here's ten reasons why being a letter carrier is the perfect job for me - an emerging writer.
1. I get to meet the most amazing people. Person of the week is this sweet, tough older woman who lent me one of her books. It's about the Russian offensive back in 1945 that she lived through. But a detail she told me the other day, was worth more than the 300 well-researched pages. She said that she had to carry a footstool for her grandmother during the rushed evacuation of her village. It was so cold that her 9-year-old-hand froze to the footstool. And she's only one of almost five hundred other calls I make daily. All with real stories.
2. I get to meet scary dogs and I either try to make friends or I learn to gulp away my fear. (I do this with some scary people, too.)
3. I get to meet friendly dogs. (Cats generally just scurry away or glare at me with resentment.)
4. I get to make faces at babies in strollers and see them wiggle their fat little toes.
5. I get to admire flower beds and learn what grows best in the sun, in the shade, and the timing of all the blossoms. Really, I've learned a lot about gardening just by admiring my customer's plants.
6. I get to walk in the rain. (A total perk - even if I look like Big Bird bouncing down the street in my yellow raingear.)
7. I get to feel the wind - warm or harsh - it's got such unfettered energy - exhilarating!
8. I get to make people happy when I deliver parcels or checks.
9. I get to commiserate with people about all those darn bills and flyers.
10. Oh, and I get time to think about my life and capital L Life, and my characters' imaginary lives. Plus I get to exercise and enjoy food without guilt and I even get a paycheck out of it. (And that's about 6 reasons all tucked into 1!)

Okay - another day after a snowstorm, or a twisted ankle or a nasty (and maybe unfair) complaint I might feel different - but today, I can say, I love my job!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good reads

I finished reading Jacqueline Baker's The Horseman's Graves. It's a book for adults and it's about place and people and time. 'The place' is the Sandhills on the edge of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. 'The people' are the German Russians from the old country and 'the time' is the early 20th century. It's a beautifully written book hinting at ghosts and magic. It's the kind of book that whispers, which reminds me of a favourite quote by Logan Pearsall Smith: "What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers." The reviews she got for this book weren't whispers, though. They were shouts of praise.

I got to meet Jacqueline Baker at a geneology conference near the Sandhills of her novel back in June. She's a wonderful, vibrant person. I look forward to reading her future work. One more thing, I notice a different cover on the Amazon site. I have the haunting cover of a white horse on my copy. The Amazon cover shows the bottom half of a barefoot young woman sitting down with her hands in her lap. Interesting.

Now I'm reading a book (in German, it's called Die Flucht und Vertreibung by Werner Arndt) lent to me by a woman who was a nine year old in Dresden during the massive bombing. I deliver her mail. She lives in a tidy, not-so-little house which she maintains on her own, even though she looks frail and walks with a cane. So many little girls hidden behind the wrinkles of time.

So many stories.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A photo to share and our new Buddy


Just got some photos from Dorene Meyer's June 30th launch of her book Meet Manitoba Children's Authors. I got to participate in this launch over at the new McNally Robinson - for which I was so grateful - because I don't really feel like an author yet. (It's just a disguise.)

But here's a shot of me hanging out with a couple of other Manitoba children's authors.

In other news ... we have a new dog! He's a reject; someone's discard and he is so sweet and lovable. His name's Buddy and our thirteen year old cat, August, hates him. But today they did actually share the living room like civilized pets and not like animals at war. So gradually things might work out.

Our dear cat - who hasn't hunted in years - actually left us a 'gift' on the front steps yesterday. She's trying to show us (I think) that she's still worth something. And she sure is. Animals are amazing. All emotion and instinct.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Halfway

It's the halfway point of summer. Why can't it stay forever? Why can't the flowers always stay in bloom? Why can't my pets live forever? Why can't my kids go from being cute, controllable kids to happy and responsible adults without the chaos of teenagehood? Why, oh why?

On another note... At a recent trip to the library (and I prefer bookstores so I can read a book at my speed, which often involves getting distracted by other books) I came across a book by Gayle Friesen called Men of Stone. I own a more recent book by her, The Isabel Factor, which I really enjoyed because of its wonderful depth of character development. Men of Stone was published back in 2000. It caught my attention because it connects with the Stalin years in Russia and since my upcoming book is about those years, I was intrigued.

Men of Stone is not historical fiction. It's a story set in the present and connects to the past through an old woman's memories. I loved the way the author was able to do this. It's very different from what I did - setting my story completely in those Stalin years. What I really loved was how the characters were not black and white. Even the guard from the prison camp was shown to have some kindness in him. I tried to do this in my book - to have kindness in unexpected places. I think that's what confuses us all - and yet it's what makes life so interesting and livable and it's what gives us all hope. I also liked how she used the various pairs of eyes in the book to give depth to the characters.

By page 212, I was blinking back the tears. Good book.