Monday, 28 April 2008

It's All Fun and Games Till Somebody Sets a Car on Fire

Don't get me wrong. I love the Leafs. But I also love my hometown heroes, The Habs.
When my beloved Montreal Canadiens won the seventh game in the first round of the playoffs last weekend, I glowed with pride. However, when I found out about the bunch of yahoos that cruised St. Catherine Street, setting police cars on fire and looting stores, I blushed with shame.
Those hooligans weren't Habs fans. They were allegedly a small organized group using the victory as an excuse to wreak havoc on the streets of Montreal. I sure hope the local police don't let that happen when the Habs win the Stanley Cup. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt, but the event sure doesn't help the reputation of the people of Quebec.
This reminds me of another Montreal riot in another time, when Maurice "The Rocket" Richard's suspension stirred the wrath of real hockey fans.
My mom met The Rocket when I was born. She was resting in a chair in the hospital hallway when a big man passed her. He stopped and turned, looked at her and asked, "Do you want my autograph?"
She knew exactly who he was, so she said "Sure!" All she had was a used envelope, so he scrawled his name on it. By this time the nurses and other staff had gotten wind of his presence, so they crowded around, asking for autographs, too.
The envelope was divided into tinier and tinier pieces, until Mom was left with one little scrap with The Rocket's signature.
She told me this story about fifteen years after she lost it in a move. Now, if she'd just given the autograph to me earlier, it would have been safe and sound.
For years I yearned for his autograph. There were others, but not his. I missed a glorious chance when he visited town with the Old Timers as a referee, but when I had the chance to attend a game, he was already ill with cancer.

I bought a copy of the children's book The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carriere with the intention of offering it as a gift in our annual Cormier Clan Christmas Gift Exchange. I dutifully wrapped it up and threw it into the box, but upon reflection I decided I wanted to keep it. When my turn came to choose a gift, I snatched the book from the box and unwrapped it.
The rules of the game dictate that anyone who chooses afterward can trade for a gift already selected. My cousin saw the book and insisted on a trade. So I had to give it up. I tried to negotiate for it later but he wouldn't let it go. Apparently, the appeal of this book is universal.
I figured I'd buy another copy, but for six years I searched with no luck. Finally, I found a whole shelf full of them at the Hockey Hall of Fame gift shop. I bought a copy and treasured it ever since. I even had it signed by the likes of Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and Ron McLean.
But not The Rocket.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Evil Editor's Anniversary

Two years ago, I meandered the Internets looking for advice on how to write a query letter.

I discovered Evil Editor through Miss Snark's brilliant agent blog. He had just started up, and it didn't take me long to cruise through his first few posts.

Hey. Funny guy. I figured I'd send along my query to see if it measured up. On May 26, 2006, Face-Lift 36 (Hey, that's three sixes!) he posted his critique for my query of The Space Between (Hey, buy a copy - I get such a thrill when my Amazon ranking sinks below a million). Scroll down to see the entry. I laughed so hard I started crying. I printed out the post and ran all over the office showing it to my comrades. I was such a cyber-newb back then...

That was when I became a Minion. I visited regularly, offered comments and used EE's suggestions for my own queries and first pages. The other minions gave lots of advice and laughs.

Today is EE's Second Blog Anniversary. A couple of the Minions (Phoenix and Robin) have set up a special surprise celebration page here. Through Wednesday April 23 and Thursday April 24, you can drop by and offer congratulations, play a few games and win some great prizes. I provided a custom watercolour painting as a prize, depicting my take on the true identity of EE. True, it's not Quagmire but my imagination tends to drift sometimes.

And now, here's the first thing I thought of while thinking up a tribute for The Evil One:

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Spelling Bee Results: I Suck

Oh! It was so much fun! We made it through four rounds. The other team at our table included an older gentleman who was very good at spelling and he didn't let us forget it.

The fellow who was supposed to read out the words was the Mayor of Georgina. They dubbed him the 'MisPronouncer.' He read out 'carousal' but pronounced it 'carousel'. We got a good laugh over that one.

Our team had to spell words such as reticule and bassinet. The one that stumped us and threw us out remains somewhere in the recesses of my mind. I can't remember it for the life of me. Perhaps I obliterated it from my memory. My teammates might remember the word, but I'll have to provide it later when they are in the office on Monday. All I know is it ended with 'ie' instead of 'i' and Mister Know-It-All at our table didn't get it either.

My team mates were too shy to get in front of the microphone, so I was elected to do the spelling.

A nice dinner and a silent auction rounded off the evening. I bid on a 'his and hers' watch set by Montres Carlo and I'm not sure if it's worth the $75. It was valued at $250, and I'll keep checking to see if I wasn't ripped off.

The Master of Ceremonies (Kevin Forget of City TV's Breakfast Television) turned to me while we were on stage and remarked, "Nice costume!" Heh, heh.

BTW, I'm Peter Pan, and my friend Rebecca is Tinkerbell. Carrie is supposed to be Wendy but apparently she didn't get the memo about wearing a flannel nightgown instead of pajamas! Now I have a costume all ready for Halloween. You can't see it, but there's a red feather in my hat, and I found a real kickass brown belt for only five bucks!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Grate Groan Up Spelling Bee

Tonight (Thursday) I am helping to represent my newspaper by participating in a spelling bee for adults. The Second Annual Grate Groan Up Spelling Bee is a fundraiser for Georgina Public Libraries and family literacy.

The teams dress up as their favourite literary characters. We chose Peter Pan and I get to be the star. My two team mates will be Tinkerbell and Wendy. I'll keep you posted and definitely provide pictures if I don't look too silly!

I hope we don't embarrass ourselves. After all, we have a writer and a proofreader on the team.

In other news, I provided my monthly post at The Writers Vineyard. In honour of the Stanley Cup playoffs, of course it has a hockey theme. Check it out.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Romance of Trains

John Elder Robison posted today about trains. He went into extensive detail about the different tracks and how they had changed over the years. He showed us some really keen stone bridges that have held up for a hundred years.

John loves trains. He shows us the practical side of those wonderful beasts, and his post triggered my own memories of trains.

Sometimes, when I'm awake in the darkest hour of a hot summer night, I hear a train's call as it passes through town. It's a spacious and lonely sound. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only one who hears it.

When I was young, I often wondered where it had gone, and where it was going. When I was about thirteen years old, I heard a distinctive whistle, different from the usual deep-throated blare of a freight train's diesel horn. I ran outside and looked down the street. A white cloud of steam rose above the trees, and I knew it was a steam train.

I jumped on my bike and sped down my street and around the corner. Two blocks away, the steam engine paused at the train station on Davis Drive. It was huge, black and shiny. I stared at it with awe, then remembered that my sister and brother hadn't seen it. I rode back home to tell them, but by the time we all trooped back, it was gone. I hoped to see it again throughout that summer, but had to accept that it was a one time deal. Perhaps it was being delivered to some museum.

Years later, I kept my brother-in-law company while he volunteered to restore an old track line for the South Simcoe Railway. He was a train nut with an extensive model train set and antique conductor outfits which had once belonged to his grandfather. He even hosted a half-hour video for children, featuring old cartoons with train themes.

After a lot of hard work, the Tottenham Steam Train took to the rails, and I took my kids for several day trips on it.

There's something seductive and sexy about a steam train. Its curves and lines hide the hardness and power underneath all that metal. Its insides are all soft and frilly, with gold-fringed curtains and brocade upholstery. Imagine yourself in an overstuffed bench, watching a stranger at the end of the car, or perhaps diving under the bench to avoid a gun-slinging train robber.

If you wrote a train story, what would it be?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

My Other Other Blog

I hope you don't think I'm neglecting you, but I'm not! Hop on over to the Romance Writers Unlimited Blog and read my post about making a good breakfast great.

In other news, blog friend Holly Kennedy released her third novel, The Silver Compass today. Congratulations, Holly! I keep trying to win your book, but I guess I'll have to scrape up the cash and buy one. I know I won't regret the expense.

Liane Spicer, aka Wordtryst, received the cover design for her upcoming novel from Dorchester, Cafe Au Lait. So very funky!

So much excitement all around me. My best news is that the snow has nearly melted, and I got to wear a spring coat today for the first time. Huzzah!