Hypergraphia is a condition that causes people to transcribe their thoughts uncontrollably. I don't suffer from it in the clinical sense, but I may be borderline. My blog is the cyber-wall where I spray paint my thoughts for all to see. By the way, if you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at www.hypergraffiti.com, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

SSP and Book News

Time for a little more Shameless Self-Promotion, although at least this is group promotion and not individual. The anthology A Charm Against the Pain has just been released by Flanker Press and is now available. This is an anthology of work by present and past members of the Newfoundland Writers' Guild, the group that has nurtured and nourished me as a writer ever since I were but a wee lass. There's a grand collection of prose and poetry in here by the likes of Helen Porter, Lillian Bouzane, Bernice Morgan, Janet McNaughton, Jennifer Morgan, and many many more. What a nice Christmas gift this would make for you or someone on your list!

There are also two short stories by Yours Tru(d)y. The select few of you who have read the draft version of my novel Prone to Wander may be interested in these two stories because they are sort of forerunners of the novel -- they are stories I wrote several years ago while I was playing with a group of characters in my mind. Those characters, some of them under different names and with slightly different resumes, eventually became the lead characters in Prone to Wander, so if you're wondering when that will ever be published and want something to do while you wait, you may want to read "Through a Glass Darkly" and "Ten Thousand Years" in A Charm Against the Pain.

Charm will be officially launched Monday evening, December 4, from 5-7 p.m. at Bianca's in downtown St. John's, by far the classiest location for any book launch I've ever been involved with. I will be one of several writers reading a little piece of my work at the launch, so if you're in the area do drop in!

In other writerly news, NaNoWriMo ends at midnight tonight. I have written a total of 69,837 words since 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1, and I now have a very-nearly-finished rough draft of a (short) work of inspirational women's fiction, tentatively titled Sunrise Hope. As such, I am entitled to flaunt this:

Congrats to all fellow NaNo'ers for giving it your best shot, whatever the final word count was! And don't stop writing just because November is over (but you can slow down a little).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad

I really meant to post this yesterday, which was my dad's birthday, but the day got away from me. I mentioned awhile ago that some of my time this month had been absorbed with a project which I couldn't blog about due to secrecy concerns. The project was a memory scrapbook for my dad's 70th, full of pictures and tributes from family and friends. It did take up a lot of time but I loved doing it -- I am a bit obsessive about archiving photos and memories; I hate to think of pictures and stories being lost in the mists of time, which is why, despite my utter lack of artistic or crafty skills, I do the odd bit of scrapbooking (I made a similar scrapbook for my mom on a significant birthday a few years back).

Anyway, since it was a big important birthday and my dad is an important person in my life, I thought I'd dedicate a blog entry to him and reproduce here the first page of the scrapbook, and the tribute that I wrote for him in the book.

My earliest memories of my Dad are of him playing the guitar and singing. It seemed like music was a constant background to life in our house when I was a child. I remember listening to and learning from his vast repertoire of songs, which ranged from hymns to old love songs to a wide variety of silly songs. The fact that I inherited my Dad’s love for music without inheriting his excellent singing voice has always been a great sorrow to me, but at least I know where the roots of my lifelong love of music lie!

The “silly songs” included novelty classics such as Alan Sherman’s “Camp Granada.” I remember how excited I was years later, during my college days, when in a second-hand record store I found a copy of Sherman’s album “My Son the Folksinger” and bought it as a gift for my dad. Nowadays we’d just go online and find the album, but back then something like that was a real discovery and I was proud to be able to give it to him!

Other “silly songs” were not originally intended to be silly, but became that way under my father’s unique treatment. It was years before I learned that the old song did not go:

“Cab driver, drive by Mary’s place,
I just want to throw this pie into her face.”

I suspected, however, that there was something amiss with the Christmas carol that began,

“Watch that torch, Jeannette, Isabella,
You’ll burn the house down around our ears.
Call up the man at the fire insurance,
We’ll have a new address this Christmas.
Hush! Hush! Don’t tell him how it happened,
Hush! Hush! Don’t breathe a single word!”

And of course, what Christmas would be complete without a rendition of,

“Don we now our gay apparel, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la, la, la,
You kiss Charlie, I’ll kiss Harold, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la, la, la!”

After all these years it is sometimes difficult to remember the correct versions of songs. In church recently we rose to sing “At the Cross, at the Cross” and I turned to my dad to mouth the words, “At the Bar, At the Bar, Where I Smoked My First Cigar…”

Musical evenings with my father were usually pleasant times except when my parents conspired to make me cry. I was a hard-hearted child who was not moved by tales of human sorrow, but my folks learned quickly that any song featuring a dead dog could make me cry. Just a few bars of my dad singing, “Old Shep Has a Wonderful Home,” or “Why Don’t You Send My Dog Home, Uncle Sam?” could send me running from the room in tears, accompanied by gales of parental laughter. As with my parents’ favourite trick of removing the head from my toy lamb “Poor Sin,” this was all done in a spirit of love … I think.

Dad knew how to make everything fun and I learned early on that having a good sense of humour was one of the most valuable qualities a person could have. I remember him reading my Sabbath School lessons to me on Friday nights and making jokes out of all the stories so that I giggled all the way through it. Of course, this is the same parent who answered my question, “What is a Rhodes Scholar?” by saying, “Someone who pays their way through school by working on the roads in the summer.” I quickly learned to take many things my father told me with a grain of salt.

His sense of humour stood me in good stead throughout my adolescence as Dad usually saw the funny side of things. The gargantuan task of teaching me to drive fell to him and I vividly remember rolling gently past a stop sign with my father in the passenger’s seat chanting, “Brake! Brake! … Break on thy cold grey stones, O Sea, and O that my heart could utter, the thoughts that arise in me!” I’m sure there were many thoughts arising at that time that he didn’t utter. Fortunately for me he always kept it light. I can probably only remember my Dad being angry at me once or twice in my entire life, and it was always short-lived.

The fact that he could quote Tennyson while I ran a red light was typical not only of his patience and humour but also of his love of literature, books and reading which made my family an excellent one for a writer to grow up in. At a gathering of writers recently some of the other people present were talking about how various family members didn’t understand or appreciate their ambition to become a writer. When they asked about my experience I replied that in my family – of printers, English teachers, and avid readers – becoming a writer seemed like a perfectly natural career choice! I’ve often wished more of my Dad’s stories were written down and I was very pleased a few years ago when he released the very-limited-edition “Don’s Dissertations” which gathered together some of the short pieces he had written as Superintendent’s Remarks during his years as a Sabbath School Superintendent.

As my Dad and Mom approach 45 years of marriage next year I am deeply impressed by the example they have shown me of a lifelong relationship between two people who are there for each other no matter what. One of my greatest hopes is that in 30 years Jason and I will still be best friends the way Mom and Dad are.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the stories I could tell, but I am grateful to my father for the heritage of music, books, faith, love and (especially) laughter that has shaped my whole life and that I hope to pass on to the next generation! Jason and I wish you every happiness, Dad, on your 70th birthday and many more wonderful years.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cute Kid Moments

Just a brief entry for tonight ... I had to share two kid-funnies from today.

We went to watch the Santa Claus parade this afternoon. At one point a limo drove by with the sunroof open on top and, sitting up in it, three young ladies in the garb of beauty-pageant winners -- gowns, furs, tiaras -- waving at the crowd. Emma, who obviously knew what she was seeing even if she couldn't remember the proper terminology, shouted, "Oohh, look Mommy! Drama Queens!"

We were all out to supper tonight at a very nice restaurant to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday with a whole lot of the family. Since we have had some quite harrowing restaurant experiences recently I drilled the kids before going on the importance of good behavior, seeing that this was Grampa's special night and the venue was not particularly family-friendly. Well, they both behaved like little angels (in my humble motherly opinion) and I made sure to tell them so afterwards. "You were both nice and quiet, spoke pleasantly to the grown-ups, and used good table manners," I said as soon as we got out of the car. "I was very proud of you both."

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen," Christopher said, "You've been a wonderful audience!"

Friday, November 24, 2006


Last night at 12 midnight I uploaded the writing I did on the laptop yesterday, onto our main computer where my NaNovel is stored. I did a word count and discovered that I was at 49,454 words.

Obviously I couldn't go to sleep with that situation ongoing.

So I stayed up till 12:30 and wrote another 500 words, just so I could post on the NaNo forums and see that green status bar next to my name indicating that I had officially completed the 50,000 word goal of NaNoWriMo.

I'm not finished yet, because my goal originally was to have a complete first draft of this novel by the end of November. It needs to be more like about 90K, and I don't see myself writing 40K in the next week, but I do want to get closer to having a completed book, so I'm going to push onwards. But there is a nice sense of accomplishment in knowing that, for the fourth year in a row, I have "won" NaNoWriMo. What that actually means to me is that in a life that is crowded on all sides by committment and responsibilities, where my own creative writing usually sinks to the bottom of any To-Do list, for the month of November I can manage to make it a high enough priority to produce at least 50,000 words of fiction. And if I can do that much in November, I can keep doing a little all year long.

And, my writerly friends (because I know some of my friends are writerly) -- even if you didn't do NaNo, even if you did NaNo but didn't complete it, my message to you is: You can do the same. You can make a little time every day to write; you can say "My writing is important, even if I am a busy mom/dad/university student/teacher/engineer/cubicle drone ... and I will make time to do it."

And then you just do it.

Here endeth the lesson. I'm now going to get dressed (it's 7:15 a.m.) and go dance in the streets to celebrate passing the 50K line.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beautiful Things

Big news du jour: I got a couch in my office/classroom at work!!

This came about because my friend Darryl is getting rid of what he refers to as his "old life stuff." I think it might be more accurate to replace a letter there and call it his "old wife stuff" but whatever; the bottom line is he is recorating, renovating and donating. And the Murphy Centre benefits.

As my commitment to making my workspace cozy, inviting and homelike knows no bounds, I was ridiculously excited by this acquisition and spent all day taking pictures of my students enjoying the new couch. After I revealed to them the circumstances under which I got it they have all taken to calling it the "Divorce Couch."

I really thought getting the couch was going to be the biggest thing in my life today and I was going to blog just about that. But as I left work I saw the most amazing, vivid and gorgeous rainbow. And I hate to be all twelve and everything, but I still love rainbows. This one was a complete half-circle stretching from the roof of the CONA building over to Pleasantville, and the Pleasantville end of it just glowed. As I drove home I saw that the rainbow had acquired a faint echo and was actually a double rainbow.

I tried to capture the moment with a few pictures, but I think that rainbows are among those things in life that are best enjoyed in the moment, because photography can never do them justice.

The same, of course, may be true for couches.

The only downside to my rainbowy, couch-tastic day was that I haven't added any more words to my NaNo total because, when I haven't been dancing about celebrating the simple joys of life, I've been very busy with two other projects. (Apart from my ongoing projects of parenting and teaching). One is a paying freelance job, and one is ... top-secret and time-sensitive. I'm sorry, I can't tell you anymore about it right now because then I'd have to kill you. So just take my word for it that my NaNo total is staying static at 45,695 for today, and bask in the rainbows and Divorce Couches life brings your way.

45K and Pressing Forward...

After my last post filled with stress, angst, and spousal dishwashing, things took a turn for the much-better. If Saturday was one of those days when parenting seemed like too much of a challenge even for me (!), Sunday was the kind of family day where I wouldn't consider selling the kids even the circus was paying top dollar.

This might be because we had a complete Day of Fun Activities planned for them. But I doubt it, because as any parent knows, it's entirely possible to plan a Day of Fun Activities and have it turn out like a real family Bataan Death March if even one person is in a bad mood.

But this Sunday, nobody was in a bad mood, and we started off with family swim at the Aquarena. Christopher and I got lots of trips down the waterslide. Emma got to show off her swimming skills. At one point she wanted me to stand with my legs apart so she could swim between them underwater. "Watch in amazement!" she commanded Jason. Apparently it's not enough just to watch -- you must watch in amazement.

In the afternoon we went to see Flushed Away. This movie has been getting very mediocre reviews but I honestly don't know why. I enjoyed every minute and Jason & the kids did too -- it's smart, sweet and funny, which is exactly what I look for in a kids' movie, and I think it compares favourably to the rest of the movies both Aardman and Dreamworks have produced. Liked the movie; loved the singing slugs. Plus, combined with the actors' English accents, all the scenes of Roddy ineptly piloting the Jammy Dodger through the sewers reminded me vividly of our vacation this summer and my own attempts to steer a canal boat through the locks.

One interesting bonus to the movie was that before it started, when the previews began, it quickly became obvious that they were showing previews inappropriate to a kids' movie. They started with Stranger than Fiction, which was odd and random but OK, but then they showed a movie for something called Alpha Dogs, clearly a violent and disturbing movie, and parents started to voice loud concerns while shielding their children's eyes. The theatre staff showed up by the third preview to apologize -- they had accidentally put the reel for The Prestige on instead. We had to wait awhile for the proper movie to start, and out of concern for our inconvenience, not to mention our traumatized children, they gave us all free movie passes and concession discount coupons on the way out. Gee, that was almost worth having my six-year-old watch the preview for Alpha Dogs.

With all that action and excitement I did not get my usual writing trip to Chapters on Sunday afternoon, but I have been working hard to make up the slack and hit 45K this evening -- and am gradually thinking my story is salvageable. So all's well on the home front and the NaNo front, and now I really need to get some sleep!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hi! From the Crazy Place!

Actually I am not now in the Crazy Place. I was there earlier today, but I am on my way back now, driving slowly and enjoying the scenery.

The last few days (or were they weeks?) have been a little, ahem, challenging, from a parenting perspective. And since, as I pointed out some time ago, my children have reached the age where they don't enjoy having their crimes and misdemeanours blogged about in detail, let me just say that those of you who have kids will recognize that "challenging" is code for: "Mommy is calling Social Services, the Gypsies, and the Circus, and whoever gets here first with booster seats in their van can have the two of you."

Today I invited my mom for lunch after church (my dad is out of town) and then, to make it even more fun, I invited Sherry and Aunt Gertie. They are all very good company and they were gracious and pleasant and well-behaved. Which is more than I can say for all the people who live in the house.

Once the company had gone I wanted us to go out for a walk. Yesterday and today we have tumbled into a sort of Indian summer, or something -- totally unseasonal temperatures in the mid-teens with sunny skies and soft southwest breezes. Obviously I didn't want to miss this. But our walk had to be delayed for yet another round of sibling squibbling (Little Sister: "OK, I'm going to dance. But don't anyone laugh at me!" Big Brother: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!" Little Sister: "Aaaiiiiieeeeeeeebooohooohooohoohooo SLAMS DOOR!")

We finally got out through the door with about half an hour to go before sunset. We walked Max to the nearby playground and the kids took their bikes for what I told them would probably be the last bike ride of 2006 (as I am confidently expecting snow any minute now). Then we went out to rent a movie for the kids for later tonight (I succumbed to Sherry's earnest entreaties to abandon my family and go watch Stranger Than Fiction again with her this evening).

We are now back home, the kids are playing quietly (and separately) with no yelling or death-threats. Best of all, Jason is down in the kitchen where he has spontaneously decided to clear the dishwasher and reload it with all the dirty dishes from our lunch today. He does this while listening to his "Jason's 80s" CD at top volume, so I am blogging to the music of Billy Idol (accompanied by Jason) singing "Rebel Yell," with a percussion section of clinking cutlery. What a splendid husband. Rinsing, scraping, putting away dishes: I now know just what Billy Idol was doing that made that girl yell: "More! More! More!"

Ahhh yes, serenity is attainable. For minutes at a time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

NaNoWriMo, Day 16 ... on the downhill stretch

Nov. 16, Day 16: 36,106 words.

Sounds good eh?

And I actually like my story and my characters. Unfortunately, I'm consumed by authorial self-doubt about this project, more than almost anything I've ever written. Sure, I like it -- but I'm convinced everyone else will think it's dull. My story has no plot. My characters do nothing but sit around talking. My main character is a cipher, a passionless nonentity whose only purpose is to fall in love with the hero. I am the Dullest Writer Ever. What's the good of writing 36,106 words of boring, repetitive, meaningless drivel?

Worse yet, this self-doubt has bled over into ALL my writing. I am now convinced that EVERYTHING I write is horribly dull, that I never have any concept of plot, that I cannot write an interesting character or situation to save my life.

Clearly, some kind of NaNo-induced malaise has crawled out of my keyboard, up through my fingertips and permeated my brain. Or I just have the wrong channel of Radio KFKD playing inside my head. Don't worry, it's not serious and I'm sure it will go away. And there are probably some valuable lessons to be learned from this malaise. Such as: in the current novel, my heroine really is kind of bland. Largely because I haven't gotten to know her well enough. She needs to be more well-rounded as a character, and this will require lots of rewriting.

But I will think about that when November is over! For now, I'm past the half-way mark in the month, I'm past the halfway mark to the official NaNo goal of 50K words and well on my way to my own personal goal of having a complete first draft by the end of the month. And I am going to tune in to KFKD and turn up the OTHER channel, the wildly self-aggrandizing one which constantly plays how I am the greatest living writer and on which I am constantly being interviewed by Shelagh Rogers about my Governer General's Award and my Giller Prize. I'm turning up that channel REALLY LOUD, so if you want to tell me my novel's dull, La-La-La I can't hear you.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

He Brought Her Flours!

Last night Jason and I had our long-awaited night out to celebrate Jason's 42nd birthday. Yes, that's right, my wonderful husband is now 42. He, himself, now embodies the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. (If you didn't get that, don't worry about it).

My parents took the kids over night (blessings upon them) and we had supper at Boston Pizza and then went to see the movie Stranger Than Fiction.

I think I have a new favourite movie! I loved Stranger Than Fiction. I loved it passionately. It's the perfect film for a writer or reader or anyone who loves books. Not to give anymore away than the previews do (because you ARE going to see this film!!) but Will Ferrell plays (very well) a guy who discovers he is a character in writer Emma Thompson's novel ... and she's going to kill him off. It's a sweet romantic comedy but also a thought-provoking movie about writing and the responsibility writers have to their work, their characters, their readers and themselves.

I am toying with whether to kill anyone off in my current NaNo novel and this will make me take that decision much more seriously! I don't want any characters showing up on my doorstep begging me to spare their lives!

As for the NaNovel, after a nice long session at Starbucks with my laptop (and Natalie, and her laptop) this afternoon I am at 23,269 words and happy with my progress (though still secretly convinced that my novel is dull). (And that I use too many brackets). (But how many are "too many"?)

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I have an undergraduate degree in History and I have taught Global Issues, Canadian Issues, and World History. I think I'm a pretty smart person. But I'm finding it harder and harder to understand the news.

This may be some kind of age-related brain decay. Or it may be that the news is actually getting harder to understand. Specifically, I have more and more trouble understand why forty-two Canadians (four of whom were Newfoundlanders) have been killed in Afghanistan, and what they were doing there in the first place.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no fan of the Taliban. Quite apart from their repressive attitude towards women and their other crimes against humanity, this was a regime that wouldn't allow people to listen to recorded music. That's a major atrocity in my books. If I were in Afghanistan I'd be glad to see the back of them. But it becomes more and more difficult for me to understand what's happening there and why it continues to cost the lives of young Canadians.

On Remembrance Day we wear a poppy to honour "those who died fighting for our freedom." We listen to "In Flanders Fields", a World War One poem by a Canadian poet which simulataneously evokes the tragedy of death in wartime, and urges its readers to continue the conflict.

I don't outright reject "Flanders Fields" but I think Remembrance Day ceremonies should also include readings of Siegfried Sassoon's "Suicide in the Trenches" and Wilfrid Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est." Just to round out the picture.

For a die-hard pacificst like me, Remembrance Day is a difficult holiday. I appreciate freedom; I feel great sorrow over people who've died in war. Yet I don't always believe you can draw straight lines between that freedom and those deaths. The main thing I remember on Remembrance Day is that, in the words of the great Eric Bogle, "a whole generation...was butchered and damned." And I wish a species as smart as humanity could figure out a better way to solve problems.

Yesterday, in the midst of getting all my Christmas shopping done in a three-hour period, I sat down at a coffee shop in the mall that has a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. Having nothing to read, I stared at the soundless TV while I ate my sandwich. While I was sitting there, they showed the names and photos of each of the 42 Canadians who have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

I have no family members or friends in the armed forces. I don't even have any former students overseas, although if things continue as they are I imagine that will change in the next few years and some of "my kids" my be over there. Yet seeing the faces -- especially those of the Newfoundlanders, who are hugely over-represented in the Canadian armed forces in proportion to our population -- brought home to me the losses. And it made me question again why they died, whose freedom (if anyone's) has been won by their sacrifice, and why we can't come up with a better way to settle the world's disputes than getting beautiful young men and women to shoot each other.

John McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields" in the middle of one of the most ill-conceived and apparently pointless wars the twentieth-century has seen. The headlines were easier to figure out in those days. Everyone knew who the "bad guys" were and who was fighting whom. Yet the motivations for it, the value of fighting and dying, was no clearer then than now.

I struggle with Remembrance Day recitations of "In Flanders Fields" because I don't want to "take up [their] quarrel with the foe." I honestly believe rhetoric like that is an attempt to justify what is often beyond justification, to give meaning to meaningless deaths. I want to lay down the quarrel, to find other ways to deal with "the foe," to learn to see others as something other than foe.

Half an hour after I sat in the coffee shop crying over the faces of the dead in Afghanistan, I passed a woman in a store wearing a red T-shirt with a maple leaf on it and the slogan "Support Our Troops." We don't get as many admonitions to "Support Our Troops" as our American friends do, but they are becoming more popular here in Canada, along with the assumption that if you question the wars in which our governments choose to become involved, you are failing to support our troops. If you don't agree to take up their quarrel, they won't sleep in peace.

I usually wear a poppy on Remembrance Day, although often with conflicted feelings -- I'm not about to switch to a white poppy anytime soon, because I think the blood-red symbol of those green fields of France reminds me well enough of the loss of life in chaotic and sometimes stupid conflicts. When I wear it, I want to say that I support our troops.

I support our troops in the only way that makes sense to me: I want them to stop dying.

I want them back home shovelling snow off the streets of Toronto so we can laugh at the mainlanders who can't handle a bit of weather.

I am proud to see Canadian soldiers engaged in peacekeeping in places where there is actually some semblance of peace to keep.

On November 11, I remember those who died in war and honour them even if I don't always believe in the causes they died for.

I remember World War One and the slaughter of the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont Hamel.

I remember the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I remember the forty-two dead in Afghanistan. I remember especially, though I never met them, Cpl. Jamie Murphy of Conception Harbour, Sgt. Vaughn Ingram of Burgeo, Warrant Officer Richard Nolan of Mount Pearl, and Sgt. Craig Gillam of South Branch.


And try to find a way to make it stop.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

That Hamster Wheel Feeling

Yes, I have had the hamster-wheel feel the last few days ... but it's hard to know what I would have dropped if I could, because everything I've done has been so enjoyable (well, except making Christopher do his homework and listening to the resulting howls of protest. Everything apart from that). I'm at 16,962 here on NaNo Day Nine, and things finally seem to be settling down a little as we head into the long weekend.

Apart from the usual teaching and parenting stuff, there has been a lot of added value this week. Yesterday was especially hectic. After school, homework, etc., we had our usual Wednesday night activity with the kids, the Adventurer Club at church, of which Jason and I are the leaders. Last night we filled boxes for Operation Christmas Child, which was chaotic and fun.

Then my parents came to babysit around 8:00 p.m. and Jason and I headed out for the final evening of VOAR Sharathon. I love the last night of Sharathon, where there's always lots of people and lots of energy, especially on a night when the phones are ringing and it's clear things are going well and we'll make the goal (in 15 years of Sharathons, I've seen every possible outcome: making the goal, exceeding the goal, falling far short of the goal ... you just never know). Things got really fun after about 9:00 when Tina and I took over the controls and started playing more upbeat music (we said that everything had to be on the "T&T Approved List") and I was dancing around the studio (or was that "praise movement"?) to such songs as Randy Travis: "Pray for the Fish." It was a very successful night; we exceeded the $40,000 fundraising goal by making $46,750 ... very exciting. Got home at about 11:30 completely wiped out but very happy.

Today was a busy day at work too. We have just launched the Arts Smarts project I applied for, in which we have a visiting artist (Cara Coleman, a graduate of the Murphy Centre's Youth Arts program) coming in to work with my Writing 2203 students on a unit called "Exploring Creativity" -- linking visual arts to writing projects. Today Cara did a painting workshop with my writing students and then a puppet-making workshop with my Theatre Arts students, which was fun and very high energy. I made a puppet I called Red Angus, the demented Scottish bagpiper. Here's a picture of me and Angus! (I also included some pics of my students with their puppets below -- they were really creative and came up with great ideas!)

After school I escaped to Chapters for an hour with my laptop and got a couple of thousand words further ahead on my NaNo story. I'm loving the novel but convinced it's so dull that no-one but me will ever want to read it! That's OK; right now I'm just writing to amuse myself.

Then it was time to pick up the kids and resume normal parenting routines. One parenting moment that amused me tonight: After Emma's bath, she was standing in the hall clad only in her towel when, in one of those random utterances I can only assume must have been inspired by a story or TV show, she raised her hands in the air and said, "Great Spirit, take me now!" Pause. "Well, not while I'm naked!"

Anyway, one more workday this week, and some shopping tomorrow afternoon -- taking advantage of sales to get some Christmas shopping done -- and then I get to step OFF the hamster wheel and have a relaxing long weekend with very little planned (except the kids have a sleepover at Grammy and Grampa's on Saturday night, so Jason and I will have a night out!) It's been crazy to be so busy these last few days but as I said, every bit of it has been busy doing something I loved, so it's hard to know where I would cut. I don't really mind the frenzy as long as it's short-lived and quickly followed up by long weekends, dates with my husband and maybe a few bubble baths!

As promised, a few more puppet pics from work today:

Jen and Kim with the "Jen puppet" that Kim made.

Chris with his "dirty hippie" puppet, complete with pom-pom facial hair.

Vanette's old lady puppet.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NaNoWriMo, Day Seven ... on track at 12,600

I broke 12,500 words today! GO ME! That means I'm right on track with where I should be for the end of Week One ... not as far ahead as I'd like to be, but given what this first week of NaNo has been like, I'm amazed I'm doing this well.

Last week's challenge was getting my grades in on time. This week I've been helping out, as I do each year, with Sharathon, the annual on-air fundraiser, at
VOAR. After work I've been running into VOAR to do an hour or so on the air ... I really enjoy the fun and energy of those few days. So I have my head full of totals, little thermometers that need to be filled. "Wouldn't it be great if we could make $25,000 tonight ... I need to hit 15,000 words tonight..."

Of course, the big difference is that with NaNo, making the word limit is entirely up to ME and my own best effort. With Sharathon all I can do is go on-air, make my best appeal, and sit back and wait for others -- the listeners -- to call in and donate. The outcome is out of my hands.

Being the control freak you know me to be ... which do you think is easier for me?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Amazing Gail

Tonight I went to a meeting of the Adventist Women's Association -- fairly rare for me, since I only manage to make AWA meetings when they're doing something particularly interesting. Tonight definitely qualified, as we were going to Gail Dempsey's house to hear her talk about her experience with breast cancer.

If I had to name the top ten women outside my own family who have been influential and inspirational in my life, Gail would definitely make the list. She has been a church friend throughout most of my life; she is about 10 years older than I am and I taught one of her children in school and had both in my Sabbath School class and youth group for many years when I was a church youth leader. Gail and her husband Erin have been around for so many of the milestones in my life -- in fact, I'm pretty sure Gail gets some of the credit for getting Jason and me together in the first place (long story).

Gail had surgery for breast cancer last year, and the fact that she chose to celebrate this occasion by inviting all the church women to her house to inform and educate them about breast cancer says everything about her. Many years ago when her eldest child was diagnosed with epilepsy, Gail's response was to found Epilepsy Newfoundland and Labrador, an organization which didn't exist in this province until she started it. She is a person who meets things head-on and never backs down from a challenge.

For so much of my life I've observed that the typical "good church lady" is self-effacing, quiet, meek and traditional in all her views. None of those terms applies to Gail: she is loud, outspoken, funny, opinionated, a feminist, an activist, and the best church lady I know. Tonight she whipped out her breast and showed her lumpectomy scar to 25 church ladies and gave us an hour of funny, insightful, moving commentary on what it was like to go through this experience. I wish I'd brought a camera so I could illustrate this with a photo -- not of Gail's breast! but of Gail herself -- so that those of you who don't know her could catch a glimpse of this tough, beautiful and amazing woman. I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting at her house tonight!

A quick look at the NaNo stats for those following this saga: I'm up to 9231 words and have finished my second chapter; I still like the way the story's going, and today I met with fellow NaNo'ers Natalie and Lori for a write-in at Chapters/Starbucks. That was another time I wished I'd had the camera as a shot of the three of us at one table with our three laptops up and running would have captured the spirit of NaNoWriMo ... but again, 1000 words (or less) will have to replace the picture.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Shameless Child Promotion

Today I took a Sabbath rest from NaNo (I'm at about 5600 words and started on Chapter 2, for anyone who's interested).

Hope this video works ... it's Christopher singing in church this morning, and doing (may I say in my unbiased parental way) an extremely fine job of it. Jason is accompanying him on the guitar -- what talented men I have.

We had lunch with my Aunt Bernice, Jennifer and David -- my mom and dad were there too, so it was a nice family afternoon. Jason & I and the kids, and Jennifer & David, went for a walk down the Rennie's River trail afterwards, and there was much fun and games and throwing of autumn leaves.

Back to the serious novelling tomorrow!

Friday, November 03, 2006

NaNoWriMo, Day 3: 3660 Words

This has been a crazy week at work because I have to have my midterm grades submitted by the end of the day today. I haven't had nearly as much free time as usual as people have been finishing up tests and assignments and I've been calculating marks. In the midst of all this I have managed to get 3660 words written on the first chapter of my NaNo novel and I am genuinely having fun with it -- so I'll consider that a successful start to November.

Today is the first day of this month that really LOOKS like November -- overcast, gray and rainy. Yesterday and Wednesday had that sunshiny, crisp-fall-air, October-blue sky thing going on, at least for part of each day. It's easier now to believe this is really November, month of dreary skies, midterm grades, fires in the fireplace, untold midterm angst among my students ... and month of writing a (more or less) complete novel in 30 days.

November ... bring it on.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaNoWriMo, Day One

I guess I'll get this posted while it's still November 1. I have many deep thoughts to share on the wisdom of writing 50,000 words in the month of November, and on the month of November in general, which is always kind of an oddly reflective time for me.

But these thoughts must wait till tomorrow. Because I have written 1770 words today on top of my teaching, parenting, and other duties -- all of which have been rather tiring today. On the good side, I like what I've written of my NaNo novel so far and I'm glad to be embarked on the annual adventure once again.

In place of Deep Thoughts, I give you the last of the Hallowe'en pics from yesterday, and leave you to ponder them as I go to sleep. Good night.