Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Inspiration!


I was going to blog about dogs...in keeping with my latest thoughts, it was going to be about old dogs, but I got sidetracked (a common occurrence in my life) by an article in the Books section of my local paper. I’m usually way behind on my newspaper reading. I let other family members go through it first, then later I get to snip out pieces I like. (Yes, I’m a hoarder of newspaper snippets!). So I was looking for a piece by Helen Norrie, the children’s book reviewer about my friend Jodi Carmichael. Jodi just had her second book published.  We share a writing group, The Anita Factor, that meets every two weeks at the our local McNally Robinson Bookstore (such a friendly and supportive retailer of books). Anyway, I found a wonderful piece on Jodi in Saturday’s paper. It called her “promising” among other  things—all of which are true. Jodi’s worked very hard to be the success she is today and deserves all the praise coming her way. Go, Jodi, go!  

Speaking of my Anita writing group...Jodi’s not the only talent receiving acclaim. Melinda Friesen’s dystopian YA novel, Enslavement, is being well received and another in the series is due for release next year. Mel Matheson has a picture book, Hokey Dowa Gerda and the Snowflake Girl, shortlisted for awards and she’s competing with friend and fellow Anita member, Deb Froese and her book,  Mr. Jacobson's Window! Both of these authors also illustrated their books—yes, their talents run deep. (Can’t there be a tie?!) And then there’s Suzanne Costigan who’s also short-listed, in the Older Children’s category. Her YA novel, Empty Cup, is gritty and tough. And I can't forget dear Pat, who put years of teaching into words of support. Her book The Other 'R' in Education is a must-have handbook for young teachers. 

These women make success look easy, but they have each worked so hard for this. They're dreamers, writers, artists, mothers, busy women with a multitude of responsibilities...working word by word towards actualizing their goals. Each of them is an inspiration to the rest of us in our Anita group. And to Anita Daher, our mentor, whose book, Wonder Horse, coming up this spring—thanks for getting us started!

I wish them all success. Manitoba Book Awards are coming this weekend! For those short-listed..fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Old trees


I’m into old things, which makes things a tad easier when I look in the mirror. I’ve always been curious about old, because for me old is just a veneer, a mystery to be solved. As a kid I loved to explore abandoned houses left behind in empty fields. Behind old is a lot of time, a lot of experience, a lot of story.

Some of my favorite old things are trees. Old trees creak in the wind, provide shade in the heat, give homes to birds and scampering space to squirrels. They inspire poets (like Joyce Kilmer), give wood for our houses, for our furniture and fire up our nights. They even provide inspiration to map our pasts—where would genealogy be without the arms of a tree? Where would books be without trees?  Would we have read stone tablets while waiting for the invention of e-books?

I’m fortunate to have a yard filled with trees. Most of them were mere sticks when I planted them. They’re living testaments to the wonders of time, of aging, of enduring. Long live old trees. They pair perfectly with the young—room for a tree house, a swing, a shady spot to read a book. Old trees and children belong together kind of like old stories and young people. Everyone needs old trees in their lives. I hope you get to hug one today!

Back when I researched my family's Soviet past, it was trees that marked forgotten places and lives. Trees and people have strong connections. One of my mom's favourite songs mentions a linden tree. Old linden are scattered throughout Eastern Europe. Oh, the stories they could tell!