Animals of Canada

ONE: I’ve started a podcast for 2017, and I hope you’ll join me over at Animals of Canada for some sweet & savoury & salty stories, straight into your ears.

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TWO: I’m writing articles now-and-again for the Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse, so pop over there from time to time to brush up on your end-of-the-world skills. You’ll find me under codename “Skookum”.

THREE: I have a short story included in Hic Dragones’ upcoming anthology, Nothing, and from the looks of things, it’s going to be a wonderful collection. “Bleak and disturbing tales”… sign me up! ūüôā

FOUR: We’ve been busy over at Fox&Bee filming promotional and educational work for our clients, but the blizzard and power outages gave us a little time to slow down, write by candle light, and check out how well the camera films in low light. We hope you’re having a wonderful and creative winter!

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2017

Well, here we are. We should be proud of ourselves — after all, we’ve made it this far, and the year looks promising. Already, the days are getting longer and the nights don’t seem so dark, and even though the snow is falling outside my window as I type this, the wind doesn’t seem so bitterly cold.

There’s just a hint – just the barest whisper – of spring in the air.

So Happy New Year, if I haven’t already wished you that. Let’s make our¬†next trip around the sun so fun-filled, so gleeful, so adventurous, so sweet, that by this time next year, we’ll be gasping to catch our breath, grinning madly, and our hearts bursting with joy.

Review: Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw

I’m going to start my review with a little story.

Two years ago, I bought a 1992 Mitsubishi Delica van, and in an uncharacteristic but enthusiastic fit of outdoorsiness, we took the van on a road trip through southern British Columbia. It seemed like the perfect summertime vehicle, with plenty of room for the kids and camping gear.

What we didn’t realize is this: old Delica vans are very very very¬†SLOW. There’s no power in the poor thing — it just plods along, generously allowing you to admire the scenery, while scooters and VW Bugs race passed you on¬†even a moderate incline. Our top speed as we came up the hill towards Hope? 60 kph.

We decided¬†not to risk driving the Coquihalla Highway, because we were bound to roll backward if we tried to ascend those mountains, so instead, we chose to drive through Manning Park, a longer route but also quite pretty and whatever, we’re on vacation, right? We toddled¬†along empty roads, bounded on either side by icy turquoise creeks and thick¬†evergreen forests, as slow as a turtle.

And I guess, because we were so slow, we were also sort of quiet, because as we rounded one curve, we surprised a GRIZZLY BEAR eating roadkill in the middle of the highway.

Up to this point, my bear experiences had extended no further than the little cute black bears that inhabit Vancouver Island, which I can scare out of my apple tree with a shout and a hand clap. But this beast! HOLY URSUS MAJOR! The hump on its back was higher than the windshield of the van. The Delica has no motor in front, so suddenly, the only thing separating my knees from this cinnamon-colored Godzilla was a dashboard, a bit of glass, and a windshield wiper.

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It looked like this, but with more of an ‘OMG!’ expression.

Lucky for us, this mighty bear¬†was not a fan of the Japanese automobile industry. It took off running down the middle of the road, and we found ourselves driving behind¬†a gargantuan grizzly butt. It was huge. It was really, really huge. (Clarification: Not just the butt, but the whole animal.) I was much humbled by the speed of the bear, by the ease and grace with which it ran, and above all, its immense size and power. Man, those bears. They’re awesome. It made me love and respect them even more, which I didn’t think possible.

Anyway, all this to say, I’ve been sipping on a cup of Kicking Horse Coffee’s Grizzly Claw blend, and as I think back to the size, speed, and power of that wondrous creature, I’ve decided that this coffee is aptly named. It’s robust. It’s got a powerhouse swing. It’s fierce and ferocious and confident,¬†with¬†a clout that leaves you a little breathless. Grizzly Claw¬†has a dark chocolatey sweetness surrounding an indomitable strength. I couldn’t possibly drink it all the time – it’s too strong for that – but when I need a little reminder of the brutish nature of the wilderness, a cup of Grizzly Claw will do just fine.

Final Verdict: If you want a bold coffee¬†that savages your tastebuds and fills¬†you with feelings of wild exhilaration, I’d recommend Kicking Horse’s Grizzly Claw. Plus, added bones: it’s safer than bumping into a real grizzly in the middle of the road. ¬†Four beans!

 

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Fare thee well, 2015

I’m a day early, but tomorrow will be busy, so forgive me if I sneak my best wishes for a healthy, hearty, happy New Year¬†in a little earlier than everyone else. Over the past two weeks, I’ve discovered a couple of things. I’d like to share them with you, here at the close of 2015.

(1) Saga – oh my! How did I miss this remarkable graphic novel? My sister-in-law gave me two of the five issues, and I think that’s just cruel, getting a girl hooked on a fantastic story and then leaving her hanging! What have I done, to deserve such torture? The art is superb, the characters are compelling, and as a 40-something mom, I love the way they’ve incorporated children – historically an underrepresented demographic in comic books – into the tale. Graphic novel readers are getting older. We’ve left our carefree youth behind, taken on new and exciting responsibilites. It’s kind of cool to have a story that reflects those experiences.

(2) Podcasts – I love podcasts. I’ve been listening to a ton of ’em. I want to make one of my own and I have stories to tell. That’s all I’m going to say about that at the present time.

(3) The¬†Third Book – the third novel is underway, following Bucket of Blood and Mark of the Magpie. I’m planning to release it in the autumn of 2016, but we’ll have to see what the year ahead holds. I love being back in 1898, hanging out with Lizzie. She’s probably the craziest of all my imaginary friends.

(4) Spine – I am in really bad physical shape. That has to change. I mean, I know everyone starts their new year with vague resolutions to lose weight or jog more, but I’m serious, I need to change my habits. Since November, I’ve spent a couple of weeks flat on my back, nursing an old injury to my lower spine that I incurred in a tragic bed-related accident over 15 years ago. Basically, the act of sitting for too long in a poor chair flings me into apoplectic fits of agony – if I want to continue to write books, then I need to be active, too. So watch out, 2016. I’m going to be outdoors more. Doing what, you might ask?

(5) Detecting – While flat on my back, I did a lot of crochet and started watching a British television show call ‘Detectorists’.¬†I didn’t tell¬†my extended family that I loved the show, so I’m confused by how they knew to buy me a metal detector for Christmas, but I can honestly say it was the BEST GIFT IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. ¬†I actually squeaked when opening it. Of course, it’s December in Canada and there’s snow on the ground outside, so I haven’t taken it out of the box yet, but I CAN’T WAIT for spring. By all the goats of Thor, it’s going to be EPIC.

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So on that note, let me take this opportunity to wish you and all you hold dear a very Happy New Year, and may we cross paths¬†again in 2016. Can you believe it? 2016! We’re living in the future, with casual space travel and talking robots and face transplants and bacon-flavoured seaweed. That’s pretty¬†awesome. Let’s live a little longer and see what else turns up!

Validation

In the last post, I talked about the dream house… thinking that I must’ve surely¬†constructed the building from the fabric of an overactive imagination, I decided to ask my brother. Did I make it all up? I asked him if he remembered visiting a certain house, described the location, and before I could say another word, he replied,

“The house with all the secret passages? Yeah. That was a great house.”

OMG! IT WAS ALL REAL!

I’ve had things on my mind.

The last few weeks have been strange and stressful, involving things like ‘facial surgery’ and ‘hospital tests’ and ‘late nights lying awake at night, wondering what’s coming next’.

I’m happy to say that news arrived today – all is good, test results are normal. What a relief! The stitches came out on my chin and I don’t look like the Bride of Frankenstein, so yay! As he was removing the stitches, my doctor admitted that he had fretted for days about how the scar would turn out – huge and red? or seamless and unnoticeable? what have I done?!?! – but he’s a wonderful physician and an all-around lovely guy so I appreciate¬†his honestly. And I think the scar will fade away into practically nothing, so it’s all good.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ve been moping around my house.¬†Remind me to tell you about our last four days of filming, hiking through the wilderness with filming equipment strapped to our backs, up to our thighs in water…

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This morning, I actually answered a phone call from a telemarketer because I’m sitting, staring at an empty page, feeling like the merciless weight¬†of writer’s block is crushing me into jelly. I was disappointed that the call was not a live human being, but a recording. Or, a robot, as we say in our household, if only to give the experience more a sense of wonder and futuristic allure than it truly deserves.

The fact of it is, amongst the six projects we’re currently working on, we’re filming¬†a short piece about end-of-life care, and while it’s a noble, beautiful story that we’re trying to tell, it’s also a mournful one.¬†So there have been many hugs in the last few days. I don’t feel much like writing about frivolous things.¬†When I sit down¬†at a keyboard,¬†the black dogs¬†consume me.

As soon as the project is done, later this week, I’m going to fling myself in a freezing lake to wash all the sadness off me. I will delight in the agony of cold water, because nothing is more life-affirming and inspiring than the frantic feeling of escaping the lake’s clutches¬†before hypothermia hits. If it blasts the writer’s block to pieces, I may have found myself a new cure.